Friday, September 28, 2007

This day in history...

September 28, 2004
Baby Tigger

Then there were four (of us)

Polly holds Tigger for the first time.

Mommy and Tigger resting together. Tigger would rarely be this still and quiet again in her life, but we didn't know that at the time...

She's exasperating, part of the time.

She's funny, most of the time.

She's sweet, some of the time.

She's a light of my life, all of the time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Works for Me - Just Call me Bag Lady

I've mentioned before about our bags hanging by the door. So we can, you know, actually leave this house on occasion. This post is kind of an addendum to that post. Sorry but my originality is pretty much shot these days. It'll come back, along with a full night's sleep and time to actually finish reading my Bible before the next toddler crisis. Right? Please don't tell me if I'm not right.

Anyway, back to bags and their amazing powers of organization. For instance, I give piano lessons. Just a few "on the side". One of those students comes to my house. One of them has lessons after church on Sunday, in the oh so lovely church basement. To accommodate this disparate arrangement I keep my "piano teacher's bag" ready to go (or stay, as the case may be). This is a nice leather case my parents gave me many years ago. It has my piano teaching tools ready to go (or stay): sight reading books, pencils, pens, flashcards, important papers, and, most importantly, stickers. Lots of stickers.

Another example: in the bathroom I have one make-up case. It has my few items of makeup, two combs, hair pins, basically anything I need to make myself look great
presentable. So if I have to quickly flee the country state I just grab one bag and I'm ready to go.

Bags can contain food, toys, games, etc. And there are so many to choose from: cloth, Ziploc, leather, plastic... I think I just went into an organizing day dream there for a minute. So anyway, it works for me.

Wordless Wednesday - Lollipops

Here are two more pictures of the girls with their ginormous lollipops. (You can see the first one here) And again, I did not let them eat them all at once. Even so, can you imagine the sticky mess I had to clean up?!
Find more Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Strong Willed Child: A Case Study

As I may have previously mentioned, oh, here among other places, we are having some issues with the bouncy member of our family, AKA Tigger. Personal issues. Obedience issues. Control issues.

Lord, give me patience.

Or mercy.

Or self-control.

Long-suffering would be good, too, Lord.

I, and here my naivete may be showing, fondly thought we were almost through the "terrible twos". After all, Tig's big birthday, yes the big 0-3, is this Friday.

But no. She is fighting her daddy and me on every front. And in between, um, episodes she is just as cute and loveable and sweet as a little girl could be. And yet my beautiful baby has turned into the Temper Tantrum Queen. Not in public, I'm
confusedhappy to report, just at home.

And today she cut her hair (you knew that was coming, right?). Then - with the evidence on the floor before me - she denied having cut it. As if a fairly good sized hank 5 inches long of reddish-blond strands just decided today was their day for freedom. Sob. After a serious talk she admited cutting it. I sent her to her room as I cleaned up the hair with a lump in my throat. When Prince Charming came home (early, due to a frantic call from me) from work he, ahem, disciplined her and spoke to her about it. Then he took her to the lady that cuts his hair to see what could be done. Me? I remained home and tried to pull myself together.

So, $8 later, her hair is now cut. She's still cute as can be, though the hair stylist suggested barrettes on the side might be a good idea for awhile. She seems to regret her tresspass. But what next? I don't remember this type situation when Polly was Tigger's age, although maybe those are the brain cells I lost while in labor with Sweet Pea. Hey, it could've happened.

Any advice, anyone?

Meanwhile, I've decided I need to borrow a book from my parents, The Strong Willed Child. Maybe Dr. Dobson can shed some light on this situation. And, just out of curiousity, I wonder why my parents own that particular book? Must be because of my younger sisters. Right. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Whaddya mean it isn't real?

Here's my precious Sweet Pea with one of the omnipresent numerous baby doll toys around our house. Bear in mind that this is the child who has never taken a bottle - that's right not once has she used a bottle for any type of nourishment. She's actually already using a sippy cup. But Sweet Pea is always optimistic that food/drink is forthcoming.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WFMW - Chores for Children

This Works for Me Wednesday I thought I'd mention how we handle chores around here. We have a chart on our fridge of "commission" chores (as described by Dave Ramsey). If the girls finish these items they get paid their commission. Now is probably the time to mention that this wage is much less than slave labor. I pay it out of my change box, if that helps you any. The chores on this list for Polly (almost 6) include:

- gathering the inside trash cans the night before the
garbage mensanitation workers come.

- pulling the empty big trash can and the recycling bin up from the road.

- putting the silverware away from the dishwasher two times.

- setting the table twice.

Chores on this list for Tigger (almost 3) include:

- helping gather the little trash cans.

- putting the silverware away from the dishwasher two times.

Chores that are not on commission and are simply your duty as a member of our family: making your bed, helping pick up toys, carrying your dirty dishes to the sink, help folding your laundry (o.k they're not very good at this yet!), watching the baby, sweeping the floor, etc.

Some of these chores may eventually become commission chores. And no, my girls don't do these things perfectly. But even a two year old is capable of dropping her dirty dishes in the sink (here's a free tip: don't use your fine china if you want your toddler to do this...). Even a two year old can attempt to pull up her sheet and quilt. Does it look perfect? Of course not. But she's learning. You should see Tigger's pride as she helps me fold her little unmentionables or our wash cloths. Don't underestimate small children. Of course we grown-ups could do these things faster ourselves but that is not the point!

My goal is to have Polly doing the family laundry by the time she's ten. Kidding, kidding! Sort of...

Hey, Is Hers Bigger?!

Polly and Tigger enjoying a treat from Gram & Granddad.
No, I did not let them eat the whole thing at once.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Modesty and History

Despite her lingering illness Polly persevered with school work today. Hey, she's homeschooled - and her teacher is tough! For History we are using Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World. So far we've enjoyed it. We have a stack of 50+ books to "supplement" but the textbook & activity book are also really good.

We've worked our way up to the second chapter which is about the Ancient Egyptians. Very ancient. Ancient as in - wearing very few clothes ancient. Polly brought me her activity page, which was a picture of an Egyptian myth. And my sweet, sweet Polly had helpfully drawn (more) clothes on the figures. The men are now wearing brightly colored - possibly Hawaiian inspired - shirts. The ladies (and I'm using the term loosely, of course) are wearing rainbow-hued dresses suitable for any formal occasion.

And my not-quite-six year old is now explaining to my almost-three year old which one of the colorful characters drowned in the Nile before coming back to life (it's Osiris, in case you were wondering). Ah, homeschooling!

Sick kids or "What did you give her?"

We've had a busy couple of days around here. Last Thursday the older two girls spent the night with one set of my grandparents so Prince Charming and I (and Sweet Pea) could go to a Dave Ramsey Live Event. It was almost a date, seeing as we were down by 2/3 of our children. We almost didn't know how to behave.

Saturday was full, full, full with visitation, meetings and a church activity. Sunday was our church's "homecoming" or anniversary for those of you not familiar with the term homecoming. A big day. A big long day.

And did I mention that our girls are sick? Not sick enough to call the doctor...yet. Not sick enough to get out of our numerous obligations. Just what my dad would call "puny." And here's the clincher: none of them are sick with the same thing. Polly has some cold/flu type thing. She's downing Robitussin and chicken noodle soup like they're going out of style. Sweet Pea may be teething. Maybe not, but she's got something bothering her. Tigger...she's suffering from her own stubbornness. She has issues regarding certain internal processes, shall we call them?

So it is that each girl requires a different medication. Sweet Pea gets a tiny bit of baby acetaminophen. Polly gets the aforementioned cold medicine. Tigger gets, well, let's not talk about what Tigger gets. Just know that, despite the fact it is the same color as Polly's medicine, they cannot be switched. So I've taken to writing down what child has had what, when. Just one of those side effects of having more than one child. Pretty soon I'll be carrying around one of those medical charts and asking them what their pain is on a scale of 1-10.

Oh, and one of the less attractive things about being mother to sick children? To your children your skirt is much handier than the box of tissues sitting three inches away. That's all I'm saying.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fun with Flikr

k A R e N

Go here to play with this. It's addictive fun, at least I think it is. Of course I haven't had three consecutive hours of sleep in the past week. So I may not be the best judge.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Grandmas are For...

Grandma's lap is for taking a nap when you're done swimming.
Sweet Pea is catching a few minutes of shut-eye after some fun in the sun on Labor Day.

WFMW - Getting out of the House

Here I am, having participated in Works for me Wednesday only a handful of times, and wondering if my tips are dried up. Surely something else works for me even if it isn't the most creative, insightful tip you've ever read. Right?

I'm scraping the bottom of my creativity barrel right now. I'll blame too little sleep and too much going on but it might just be one of those mentally dry times. I can't be the only one who gets these. I hope.

So here's the incredibly simple tip of the day, otherwise known as what gets us out the door during crazy times: our bags are hanging on hooks right near the back door (our primary entrance / exit from home sweet home). My beautiful diaper bag (I'm not kidding, it is seriously beautiful!) hangs there. I keep it stocked with Sweet Pea's diapers, wipes, and an emergency Pull-up for Tigger. It always holds my sunglasses, keys, wallet, pocket calendar, chapstick and gum. It includes lotion, powder, sunscreen, and a few other choice items most of the time. And I always keep a bottle of water in the special water bottle pocket. (Yes, it is a big bag. But did I mention it's beautiful?)

Hanging next to the diaper bag is our library bag. When we finish reading a library book, or watching a library movie it goes right into this bag. No wondering where everything is when it's time to go to the library. (We go 2 times a week.) Also hanging on these hooks are other canvas bags that can be filled with whatever, whenever. Prince Charming has a nice black messenger bag (not quite a brief case) that he keeps ready to go from our house to church or school. This is usually too heavy to hang on a hook, but it rest near the other bags, you know, so none of them get lonely.

Some organizing systems call this a "launch pad." That sounds a bit too NASA-y or just plain silly to me. I call it "common sense". And it Works for Me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
God of Our Fathers by Daniel C. Roberts

Anything I would say seems like vanity. That day isn't about me or my feelings. But I will never forget.

Friday, September 7, 2007

They really did have fun...

I have no idea why they look so grumpy. We were at the park. With both sets of grandparents, two sets of great grandparents, one aunt, two uncles, one uncle-to-be, and three friends from Tennessee. And lots of food. Maybe someone told them they had to wait to eat?

Frugal Fridays - Brand Loyalty

While taking part in "Works for Me Wednesday" this week I had to list the brands I can't do without. It was pretty hard because I'm not very brand loyal. (Here are my choices.)

And that's my frugal observation for today: It's easier to be frual and work with a budget when you're not a "loyal" customer. Generics are often just as good as or better than the name brands. Homegrown or local options are even better.

I'm not saying you can't have some favorites but you'll find more wiggle room in your budget if you keep the "must haves" to a minimum. Biblical Womanhood hosts Frugal Fridays - go check out the other ideas!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

WFMW - Brand Edition

When I saw that the theme of this "Works for me Wednesday" was Brand loyalty my heart sank a little bit. I am about the least brand loyal person I know. I thought, maybe I should just pretend to be my mother-in-law. Maybe I should just pretend that some of the brands I've tried are my favorite. But, as Mr. Darcy says, "Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence." So here, in no particular order, are the few brands I am actually loyal to:

- Puff's Plus Tissues. I have year round allergies. Generic tissues make me want to chop off my nose with a blunt saw.

- Oxy-clean. This stuff is nothing short of miraculous.

- Prego Spaghetti Sauce. If you can't have homemade.

- Frisch's Vanilla Coke. This is the only restaurant I don't order water to drink. I think the crushed ice is their secret weapon.

- Coca-Cola. On the rare occasion we buy soft drinks I'm strictly a Coke girl, never, ever Pepsi or generic. After all, I was raised in Tennessee.

- Bath & Body Works hand soap. Comes in many different varieties. Most smell heavenly. I buy them when they really go on sale (not some fake sale!) and we have a simple indulgence. The girls really like the foaming ones.

- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It really is magic. If you have small children in your house you need this in your cleaning arsenal.

So, there you have it. "Stuff" doesn't make it into my loyal category very often. Check out Rocks in my Dryer to see what other people can't do without.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What's An HSA? Questions About Money

My Frugal Friday post generated a question about the mysterious "HSA". That stands for "Health Savings Account". The money invested in it grows tax free. We actually have insurance that includes the HSA. We have a very high deductible (more than $5,000). The insurance company negotiates lower rates on some things, like doctor visits and some medicines. After the deductible it is 100% coverage, unlike a similar type of insurance we used to have that was an 80/20 plan.

And (hold your breath here...) there is no maternity benefit. We've paid out of pocket for our three girls. Yep, they're bought and paid for. Signed, sealed, and
after much labordelivered. We were told about a clinic offered by a local hospital. The price they charge included all pre-natal visits, ultrasounds, blood work, delivery, etc. and a two night stay in the hospital, although I usually only stay one night. The care has always been excellent and I've really liked my doctors (Residents at this hospital). If there were to be any complications they negotiate a discount with the hospital for you, although we've never needed this, Praise God!

This works well for us at this point in our lives. It costs almost as much as our mortgage to self-insure but it is definitely worth it. We set aside money each month for medical costs. We can pay for dental and eye-doctor visits (which are not covered by our insurance either) out of the HSA, as well. As I said before, we're a generally healthy family so some months we don't use that money and it just saves up for the times we do.

This ends our commercial for HSA/High Deductible Insurance. Back to your regularly scheduled blogging. Or whatever.