Family 2013

Family 2013

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Education Gaps!

A Facebook friend of mine shared a post on "getting your kids to want to help around the house".  I confess, I never had much luck with that.  I think that was mostly because my kids were too smart to see housework for anything other than work!

In the interest of keeping the house "less attitudinal", I abandoned "clean your room".  I opted instead for "keep it clean enough to keep DCF and pests away".  However, the common areas of the house were a different matter.  We parents had a right to live comfortably as well.  Additionally, my job titles did not include "slave to my children"!  Each child had "chores" to complete--mowing the lawn, emptying the dishwasher, (eventually) doing your own laundry, or cooking the occasional meal.

Now that the kids are out on their own, I see advantages and disadvantages to this plan.  The disadvantage is easy--now I have no additional help.  Although they would complain, they were a LOT of help.  And although we don't have as much laundry or as many dishes, the lawn is no smaller and the dust piles up just as much. I am also older...much, much older.

The good news for them is that, over time, they learned how to do all the basics.  They even learned some tricks.  So, we didn't have to have a last minute cram session before they moved out.  Here are a few tips my kids found particularly useful--

If you have the money for conveniences--

  • Laundry and dishwasher pods are particularly convenient
  • My son didn't like cooking initially, so he found frozen entrees to be the cheapest, most convenient way to eat.  It was still cheaper than a meal plan.  Bagged salad was a great side.
  • Swiffer dusters and sweepers are quick and easy for floor cleaning
  • Vacuum once a week.  Use the bare floor setting if you don't have time to swiffer
  • Windex and paper towels will clean countertops, kitchen appliances as well as the bathroom surfaces. (Remember that if you have natural stone countertops this isn't a good idea)
  • Toilet gel stamps will keep cleaning to a minimum.
  • Shower cleaning sprays will keep your shower "good enough"
But if you don't want to invest in a lot of consumable supplies
  • Socks are great cleaning rags.  Get a package of tube socks and turn them inside out.  Put them on your feet and use a spray bottle of windex to clean your floors.Add a little music and the job will be fun!  Put them on your hands and use windex to clean your mirrors, kitchen and bath.  I use a dry one to dust.  Then you can just wash them with your whites each week.
  • It's easier to clean as you go.  If you have a scrub sponge or shower scrubbie in your bathroom, it's easy to scrub your shower and sink with a bit of shampoo.  A spray bottle with a bit of rinse agent for your dishwasher (diluted with water) will keep the soap scum from sticking to the shower walls.  You can use your hand towel to wipe down the counters before you throw it in the wash.  One of those "touch up" bottles of cleaner on a bit of toilet paper with keep the toilet company ready...pretty much.
  • Try to keep the kitchen counters clean.  If you don't think the dishes are fun on day one, they really won't be fun on day 112!  If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, it's probably builder grade and not up to challenge of running it "over capacity" or with food residue that has been hardening for months.  Do yourself a favor and run it every few days.  You'll thank yourself!
  • Don't forget to vacuum regularly!
Household maintenance-
  • If you keep a supply of extra light bulbs, laundry soap, drain cleaner and basic maintenance tools (get a plunger before you need one)'ll be able to head a lot of problems off at the pass.
  • Parents- teach your kiddos basic maintenance on the house and car.  Write the instructions down in a notebook, along with favorite recipes and hints for what to take when they don't feel well.  My daughter calls this her "mom hug book".  I included a kit of basic over the counter meds and household items to get her started.  Remember that it's hard to remember all of those emergency things emergency!
  • In the "mom hug book", you can also include reminders on tipping or phone numbers for the pizza place and the insurance company or any other "adulting" things your kids may need to remember how to do/call.  If you put everything there, they will continue it and it will be a powerful resource.
  • Calendar reminders will keep you from forgetting to keep up with home and auto maintenance.
So, parents, how have you done preparing for this "education gap"?  I have found that a lot of my daughter's friends think that cleaning must be a marathon of perfection.  But they're busy studying and so they put it off until it really is a big job.  Remember, mom, good enough is good enough!  And if you have a child heading off to college in 2016, it's not too late!  Teach 'em how to wield a windex bottle now!

Oh and parents?  Remember that when the last little chick leaves the nest all the jobs come back to you. You might want to study up on the "easy cleaning" list now!  I invested in a bunch of "you don't have to bend over or crawl around on your hands and knees" cleaning supplies.  And I keep saying "good enough is good enough" (although my knees say it before I do)!
Feeling blessed, how about you?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Jesus is Coming! Put down the duster!

I have a friend who says that "if you're coming to see the house, make an appointment.  If you're coming to see us, come on over!"  What a wonderful "Mary attitude"!

On the other hand, many of us treat the Christmas season as an opportunity to audition for the "Win a Chance to Host Jesus" reality TV show.  Every decoration must be perfect, everything must be homemade and every present must be perfectly chosen and wrapped.  How "Martha" of us!

Our children  will not remember what they got for Christmas ten years from now.  They will remember dancing to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" with you.  They will not remember designer cookies, but they will remember standing on a stool helping you cut them out...if you're having fun.

And that's the key, people.  It's better to be in the living room, living rather than creating the "perfect Christmas" like Attila the Hun conquering the East.  I mean, really, who wants Attila the Hun as a mom?

And to relate this back to Martha's desire to be Martha Stewart--she forgot a couple of important details.  This was Jesus, baby!  How often did she get to spend time with Him?  And...they were guys.  Guys don't need designer cookies.  Give 'em a plate of nachos and they're happy.  And then she could have been in the living room with a smile on her face.

So, enjoy this season!  Make a mess, have some fun!  After all, Jesus is coming and you don't want to miss it!
Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Letters

Over the years people have let me know how they feel about the infamous Christmas letter.  Some are for them, but many are against a "form letter".
My family has been writing Christmas letters for over 50 years.  I have a scrapbook full of them.  My mother would agonize for weeks over every word.  I do the same.  Does the letter hit the high points of each person's year. Is everyone equally represented?  Is it creative (some years I've been lucky just to finish the letter)?

But I have finally realized something about those letters.  They are a record of our family's history.  To you, they may be something to read and toss...but to me, they are a yearbook!

About 5 years ago, I started adding a photo greeting card to go with the letter.  Each year I save one letter for my scrapbook and one for each of the kids.  I have friends who are known for their creative letters.  I wish I was, but at least I have a record of each year!

So when you receive my Christmas letter, I hope you enjoy it.  But, if you don't, please understand that I am writing a love letter to my kids...and just sharing it with you!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Adulting is not the hard part...

Yeah, you read that right!  You know how it think that each stage you're in is the hard part.

  • Kids wanna be grown ups
  • Teens are smarter than grownups
  • Young adults are gonna "do life" better than their parents
  • There's no way I'm doing this better than my parents
  • I wish my parents were here to tell me HOW to do this

And, somewhere in there, your kids grow up.  Now they're adulting...without you!  And do know what the hardest part of that is?  You don't know what is going on in their lives.  Oh, sure, you know they're still alive.  You might hear about what they made for dinner or that they went to a party with friends you've never met.  You might hear about a work project that, frankly, you don't understand.  But remember when their car was parked in your driveway and you knew that it had good tires?  Remember when they asked your advice on what to wear?  Remember when you drove to their university with a "flu care package" because you knew they were low on groceries?  You probably even remember sitting up waiting for the headlights in the driveway, so that you knew they made it home safely.  You don't have that involvement anymore.  In fact, they don't live in the same state as you do anymore.

Really, it's not about that involvement.  You've raised your kids to adult successfully.  You knew it was coming.  It's just that you don't like the feeling very much.  And you realize that you never gave your parents enough credit for adulting with adult children.  They were far better at it than you could ever hope to be...

Monday, April 27, 2015

It Takes 8 Months OR The Frozen Dogs!

We have only had rescue dogs.  They have all been wonderful dogs.  The first 2 dogs were puppies when they came to our house.  The last two were 3 year olds--they are "The Frozen Dogs"!

When you adopt an adult dogs, you're getting a dog with a that you may not get any information on.  When I say that, I'm not saying that they are "bad dogs", just stating a fact.  When these dogs come to your house, they'll use their "company manners" least for a bit.  We had Lucky for a year before she made a mistake...she was too afraid to.  Sheba spent her first month marking her territory in every room of the house.  I read an article yesterday that might have helped us to avoid some of that...but oh well!

In both cases, though, the dog needed 8 months to settle in.  Don't give up too soon.  If your dog has guarding tendencies or any sort of aggression, please get help.  A returned dog has a much harder time being re-homed.  It is definitely worth the investment to help "Rover" fit in to your house!  Which brings us to the "Frozen dogs".

Lucky was very much like Elsa.  When she was little she had been abused.  For the entire time (14 years) we had her she worried about making a mistake.  She was a truly elegant dog, very empathetic, wanted to be loved.  She tried not to ask too much of us.  It took my husband 2 1/2 years to get her to trust him (a man had been her abuser).  Because she didn't want to be a bother, she was very easy to have around!

Sheba is totally Anna!  She is now energetic, always happy and curious.  Sometimes she's clumsy.  She seems to think  that humans were put on the planet to love her.  If she's lonely at 1 a.m., of course you'll want to be woken up to be with her.  We needed every bit of that 8 months to settle her in!  Now she sleeps at night, I've learned to go for a walk twice a day.  Since she "marked" every room in the house, she does all her business outside.  She didn't bark when we got her, but now Miss Nosey alerts whenever someone is on our property...and she's so proud of herself when she does!  Since this was our year of the empty nest, she is really good company...and instead of talking to myself, people think I'm talking to her.

So...if you're looking at a rescue dog, good for you!  Please read the article linked above.  Then give yourselves 8 months while you watch your precious dog emerge.  You'll be so glad you didn't give up!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Thanks for the memories!

I'm coming to the end of my time with the Pinellas Parent Educators Association.  It's not because I don't support the organization.  It's not because I don't enjoy volunteering.  It's just time.  Some might even say that I stayed past my time.  After all, our last homeschooler crossed the graduation stage in 2012!
I leave the organization in great hands!  I have spent the last 10 years volunteering with a great group of people!  We've done a lot of really awesome things.  How did we know what to do?  Usually our board members plan events that they want to do with their own kiddos and then the rest of the membership gets to come along.  Some events were raging successes, some were a blip on the radar.  All you can do is try!

Naturally, there is a secret...and I'm going to let you in on it!  Are you ready?  Listen really closely...whatever you love to do, do it for your friends!  That's it!

I have a wonderful friend who has agreed to make sure everyone has something to eat at the holiday tea.  She loves to bake and cook.  She's organized.  And unfortunately for her, she's totally on my radar for our Holiday Tea.  And she graciously takes care of all the food tables for me on that one night--everyone enjoys the treats and the beverages that she has displayed for us.  And that one night makes a huge difference in the lives of 70 women!  For that one night, we aren't wives and mothers, caring for our families.  We are pampered princesses!

I have another friend who has been my "sanity keeper" this year.  This is quite an important position.  She stands beside me and takes care of all the little details that I'm not able to get to.  When she's there, I know that everything will get done...and I will even have fun.

And that's the secret.  You don't have to give your all everyday. If you are part of an organization and you enjoy their services and want the group to keep being awesome--volunteer to do one thing!  Just one.  Because if everyone does just one thing, there will be so many awesome things happening that it will be like winning the lottery.  There is another awesome advantage to helping.  Now you're part of the inner circle--where everyone knows your name.  Where you are loved.  And who doesn't need more love?
Feeling blessed, how about you?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Herd Dog's Gotta Work!

As I have said before, Sheba is our 4th dog.  In FIFTY years (only 3 of which we haven't had a dog) Sheba is our 4th dog.  All have been herding dogs.  This time is different...and I finally figured out why...

Dixie had 3 kids to supervise.  She was also pretty laid back.  We were probably pretty entertaining for her.

Casey had 2 kids to supervise.  She actually herded 2 labs and a German shepherd out of our yard once.  Another time DJ tried to go through a gate (when he was not quite 2) and this little dynamo blocked him every time until I could get there.  She weighed a mere 9 lbs...but she was quite a girl in those days!

Lucky was a couch potato.  She watched your every step...but it had to be a big deal for her to move off the couch.

Sheba was supposed to be less active.  She was for a little while.  As I mentioned in a previous post, she has now settled in and we're seeing what I believe to be the "true Sheba".  True Sheba is not so quiet.

Unfortunately for True Sheba, we are old.  There are no children to chase.  She doesn't particularly like other animals.  What True Sheba likes to do is to supervise her humans' work.  It's kind of a herd dog thing.  They work WITH their peeps.

In the "World According to True Sheba", work is NOT sitting on the couch with your laptop, figuring out SAT tips.  Work is--

  • gardening (she adores being outside, as long as I am there too)
  • vacuuming (although the vacuum terrifies her, it gives her something to supervise)
  • cooking
  • dusting
  • laundry
  • cleaning out the broken fridge (although I hope to not have to repeat this task for a while)
And before you suggest that I ship her out to the yard to lay in the sun while I work on my laptop...she will not go out in the yard without me (spoiled little dickens) and we have already established that working on my laptop is not working....

And since my house is the place that plants go to die...I'm not sure we'll be adding gardening to our list of chores

One thing is for sure, True Sheba will keep me moving.  Also, I think we all know who is in charge...
Feeling blessed, how about you?