Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year In Review...and Hallmark

The eve of the New Year is upon us, and 2016 rolls in at midnight.  What the heck...I'm still trying to remember to write 2015 on paperwork.  True story, sometimes I really have to stop and think about what year it is.  This problem comes with having children.  I have a hard enough time remembering their birth dates with years, and you want me to remember what year it is now.  Calendars are hard...

You can't turn on TV today, or for the past week, without some type of year in review special running.  It's TV law - it's the same law that declares the Hallmark channel can't have any programming from November to New Year without it having a Christmas theme, and ABC Family must stretch a 90 minute movie into three hours because of commercials.  TV law.  Santa must save Christmas, and all news channels must have a year in review, otherwise TV viewing is worthless.  So, I am throwing in my own year in review.  It's like an end of year card, only more honest.

I'm not a New Year resolution person.  I resolve to do new things, or better myself, on a weekly basis all year long. I resolve to read more....I didn't read enough this year.  I resolve to read with my kids more (for crying out loud we will read for a whole month of Book-It if it kills me) - didn't do that well this year either. No Pizza Hut coupon for this family.  I resolved to wash the windows this year - I finally knocked that off my list in early December during one of our warm weather streaks.  For Christmas, we can see outside.  You're welcome kids!  I resolved to exercise more - Yep, I walked quite a bit, but let's not discuss the well intended elliptical that's sitting in my basement.  Torture machine, that's what that is.  I resolved to be more patient with my kids - I think I resolved that in a morning, and by afternoon everyone was in a time-out, including me.  I resolved to date my husband more - um, well...we sat by each other at my work Christmas party - does that count?  We dressed nice, and I think he put his arm around me.

Here's the thing - I am always thinking through ways to improve myself, improve my family, make us healthier, happier, more others oriented, more Jesus oriented, more kind with our words, more neat and organized with our home...oh, resolving for me happens all the live-long day.  I'm a resolve-a-holic.  "Hi, I'm Kristen and I resolve to do better ever day....Hi Kristen, we love you!"  "Look at Kristen all resolving and stuff, she's so cute and well intended."

I did resolve to get healthier this year.  Not at the start of 2015, but somewhere around Easter.  One too many Reese's eggs and I knew I could live better than I was.  I am pleased to report that I have taken better control of my health.  Except this Christmas...I'll just be honest.  We've been in survival mode this month, or so it feels.  Busy schedules, parties to attend, parties to host, kids that have been sick, I've been sick, and so on.  I know some do really well under this pressure and choose healthy eating despite the temptation.  Well, good for you...really, good for you....seriously, I'm just so stinkin' happy for you.  I am still learning and fumbling my way to good health.  I have taken off almost 35lbs this past year.  I am focusing on what I have accomplished, and I am determined to keep it all in perspective.  I have a better understanding of what my body likes and doesn't.  I have learned to listen to it.  This December, though, my body is begging for January to get here so I'll stop picking at Christmas cookies.  I do resolve to continue on my quest for good health this 2016...but I'll also resolve to talk patiently to my kids more, read more, walk more, clean my house more, take time out for my husband more and for Jesus more, and all those things.  I resolve to keep perspective of all my good intentions.  Or, I at least resolve to recognize that I'm a resolve-a-holic that can't do it all.

Welcome 2016.  I resolve to sleep through the ball dropping at midnight.  I don't have the energy to ring you in properly.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Thoughts on the School Christmas Party

So, here's the thing, I have read the posts and seen the pins as to what "not" to give teacher's for Christmas.  They're tired of mugs.  Candy and cookies are coming out their ears.  Homemade crayons and drawings are sweet, but what does one do with them?  One post suggested they want wine...nice, yea, I'll just have my kid deliver you a bottle of wine to school and we'll see what happens....6:00 news, anyone?  And on the list goes.  Believe me, I get it. I appreciate my kids teachers, so I try to do something for each of them to say thank you.  I've stayed away from mugs and candy, and if you ever get a hand-made gift from my house it's because I caved under pressure and hated the project the whole time I worked on it.  I typically buy scented hand soaps since it's practical, useful, and most everyone likes them.

But, here's where I get to switch things up a bit.  I would like to write a letter to teachers about class Christmas parties.  My kids love them.  It's fun.  It's a change in routine.  It builds enthusiasm for Christmas vacation.  All those things and more.  I completely support the party.  Here's what I'm having a hard time supporting....bear with me....the gift exchange!  The kids come home with the notes saying bring a gift for a girl/boy for $5 or less.  That was such a cute fun thing when I only had one in school.  I didn't think twice about it.  Well, several years later and here I sit with three out of four in school, and some are involved in extra curricular activities and every. single. blasted. thing. requires a gift exchange. Oh, I know, it's not a big deal to some of you, and that's fine.  But, this is my space and I get to write about what's on my mind, and this is on my mind.

When my middle schooler told me this morning that her class was doing an exchange I asked if it was another $5 limit thing. She said, "well $5 is the minimum.  We can spend up to $25."  I'm sorry, what?  She also told me that this budget was set by her class, not a teacher.  Obviously kids without jobs are so great at setting budgets.  I immediately informed her that $25 would not be spent and that's the most ridiculous budget I've heard for a school exchange, and I may have rattled off a few other thoughts, as well.  She assured me she didn't expect me to spend that much, and I said you're darn right I won't be spending that much...I don't spend that much on relatives I actually like, so I certainly won't spend that much for a school gift exchange.  Then we headed to Wal-Mart and she spoke softly to me the whole way there because I was clearly one $25 comment away from slipping off the deep end.

Here's the thing - I want to appreciate the teacher's who invest in my kids.  I want them to have a fun party in class and I will gladly send in cups, or napkins, or pretzels, or all three if necessary.  But, spending $5 here and $5 there is feeling like a lot in a season of spending.  In the midst of Christmas buying I still have groceries and diapers to purchase.  We try to pay cash for gifts so we don't have bills into June from the holiday's.  We still need to put gas in the car and buy the food for Holiday baking and dinner parties at relatives and all the things that come with this time of year.  So, I'd love to offer a solution to the $5 gift:

-  Each child picks a name and has to make a card for that person with 3 things they like about them written inside.  That's's your card, the end.
-  One item from the Dollar Tree...Kids like candy or silly putty or crazy cups...what more do they need?
-  Everyone brings in a canned good and it get's donated to the local food pantry.  Thinking of others outside our walls, and make that part of your celebration on party day.

These are just a few ideas.  It's nice to consider your friends, but maybe the gift exchange doesn't need to happen?  Maybe the party and the party games and crafts to make and take home are plenty. Maybe it's fine to stop there.  I think it is.  Maybe the gift exchanges happen when they're older, have jobs, and can buy their friends gifts themselves?

I know, this won't end the class gift exchange, but perhaps it will provoke thought to consider an alternative.  Parents are maxed out with their time and least most of the people I know, are.  Let your child shop with you and choose their gift to their teacher, or they can make the card to include with their teacher's gift.  Let them consider their teacher who invests in them, and not worry about buying little Johnny a $5 gift that will break and be tossed in the corner of his toy box within a day or two.  Just a thought.

So, I'll send in pretzels for the class party and I won't buy you another mug, and you ditch the $5 gift exchange....seems like a good deal to me.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Do This. Please.

I need to do a little straight shooting about a subject.  Some of you might wonder why I'm taking on this topic, and others will be relieved that someone finally spoke out.  Mirror spit.  Yep, I said it. Mirror spit, mirror spit, mirror spit.  It's not easy to talk about, but it needs to be addressed.  It happens.  We all do it. We brush.  We spit.  We spray the mirror.  Our kids are the worst offenders. Flossing also produces mirror spit...but please, floss.  Don't skip flossing because you might cause mirror spit.  But, for crying out loud, wipe off the mirror spit!  It's nasty.

In keeping with my "Do this, you'll feel better" series, I'm challenging you to take a good look at those mirrors.  Do they have mirror spit?  Have you gotten used to looking through the cloud of spit at your reflection?  Well, you shouldn't have.  Shame on you.  That's gross.  

It takes less than two minutes to remedy this dilemma. In the bathroom that my kids use this problem needs remedied daily.  Yes, they can clean it off themselves.  No, they do not think this is as big of a problem as I do, so they don't clean it themselves.  They think I'm lame and that I overreact to the spit.  I think they're messy and would live like pigs if I didn't intervene.  We're at an impasse.  

Here's what I do to keep up on it:  I regularly change the hand towels in the bathrooms.  When I take an old towel down I wet a corner of it and wipe down the mirror.  Then I use the dry side to dry the mirror. That's it.  It doesn't streak, and it gets that nasty spit off the mirror.  No Windex.  No sponges. No paper towels.  Just a simple wipe off when I'm changing out towels.  If Windex is more your thing, go for it.  

You might be thinking, "what's her problem? It's just a little spit, who cares. I can see why her kids think she overreacts."  First, simmer down.  Second, I promise that if you clean off your mirrors you'll feel better and understand what I'm talking about.  And if someone could convince my kids that they, too, would feel better, that'd be great...  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Do This: You'll Feel Better

I'm thinking I should be making a list of all the things I'm not getting done this week, lest you think I have it all pulled together.  Which would be total hog wash, as I am just faking "pulled togetherness" like the rest of you.  At least I'm admitting it.  So, here's what I'm not getting done this week: Bathrooms, dusting, mopping, putting laundry away, ironing, etc.  I will get to those things, well most of them. Bathrooms are necessary.  Dusting and mopping can be put off until you get to the point that you need to invite company over as a motivator to get these things done. "Honey, the house looks like we need to have company soon."  Yea, yea, don't judge me...

However, there is a project I have been working on this week that is making me feel better, so I thought I'd share.  I know that Christmas is not that far away, so I've been taking the opportunity now to sort toys, clothes, and books to donate.  I've already given several items to friends that can use them, and the rest will be donated.  I try to do this project often, but Christmas is a great motivation, since you know the offspring will be gleaning new items in less than two months.

If your kids are like mine, they have more than they need.  They don't play with half of it, and they probably won't even notice it's missing.  A phrase I say often is, "if I find it laying around, and you haven't been caring for it, then I assume you don't love it and can part with it."  Usually there's whining and pleading, and promises to take good care of it (Dave can be so difficult sometimes...kidding).  After I've said this I might return it to them and give it a little longer.  If I find it tossed in a corner somewhere again, then it's gone.  Currently I'm working through an ugly red plastic cat with my son....he swears he loves this thing.  I swear it's hideous and I keep tripping over it.  We'll see who wins.  I don't get rid of keepsakes, and things I know they love.  But seriously, sometimes you need to invade their room with a garbage bag and a donation box when they're not around, and have all the evidence gone before they get home.  That's just smart parenting, yo!

Anyway, it's time to clean out the junk.  Christmas is coming.  More junk will be acquired.  Give it to someone who might really love it.  Anyone need an ugly red plastic cat?  Stocking stuffer perhaps?