Last Saturday, I decided I had to change the kids sheets since I hadn’t done it in two weeks. On the way to the washing machine, I noticed the Christmas tree and decided that was my next project. In went the sheets and on to cleaning up the Christmas decorations.
The kids wanted to “help,” so the family gathered in the living room. Nate showed the kids pictures and home movies of themselves when they were young. I took down the Christmas tree. An hour later, I was ready to put all the boxes boxes back into storage.
That’s when I noticed the file boxes containing records from past years. It occurred to me that I needed to shred the 2005 files. I left the Christmas boxes sitting in the middle of the room and started unloading the file boxes out of the storage closet. Finally, I found two boxes of 2005 folders.
I went downstairs to the office and started shredding paper. Four huge garbage bags, a lot of confetti on the floor, and nearly two hours later, I finished. That’s when I noticed the filing cabinet and realized that I might as well make the new folders for 2009 and box up 2008.
I ran upstairs and grabbed a file box and some folders. I spent the next hour making new folders for 2009, cleaning up the 2008 files, and boxing them. That’s when I decided the office looked totally trashed. I took all the garbage upstairs, cleaned up the shredder and vacuumed.
Then, I returned to the forsaken storage closet. I pulled everything out so I could get it “organized.” That’s when I started the pile of stuff I should sell on eBay or Craigslist, like the iSub speaker that’s really old and the PacknPlay for my baby who is turning five this week. I did manage to restack all the file boxes.
Of course, I had to notice the 72-hour kits that haven’t been updated in 18-months. Naturally, I pulled those out and opened them up. My kids and Nate discovered clothes they haven’t seen in ages and have really been missing. Nate took back his “favorite” flannel shirt, and Anya put on a pair of 2T shorts that look like bright pink Daisy Dukes now. And she won’t take them off, even though it’s January, and the snow won’t stop. And don’t ask why Nate had a flannel shirt in the kit, and Anya had shorts. I don’t know.
Obviously things needed to get updated, so I sorted through everything. Good thing too, because, while there was PLENTY of water, there was no food in any of the kits. Apparently, it’ll be a 72-hour water cleanse for us in case of an emergency. I also decided it would be ok to remove the Pull-Ups from the kits since both Dylan (age 7) and Anya (5 on Thursday) have been toilet trained for quite some time. This is when I started the pile for my neighbor who can use the Pull-Ups and the cast-off Halloween costumes.
After sorting through the closet and stacking back most of the boxes, I called my friend to tell her about my pile for her. A few minutes later she came over to collect her inheritance from my storage closet. I told her how I needed to make some posters for a church activity by the next morning, and how I was procrastinating it, because I’m really not crafty like that. She offered to help me out.
That’s how I ended up at her house 20 minutes later stenciling out a poster. Turns out that can take a really obscene amount of time. (But they turned out SUPER cute!) Nate fed the kids dinner and put them to bed while I was gone. When I came home at 9:30 p.m. this is what I found:
1. Kids asleep in sleeping bags on their sheet-less beds
2. Christmas boxes still stacked beside the storage closet
3. A Craigslist and eBay pile all over the floor
4. 72-hour kits on my bed
5. Four bags of garbage in the kitchen
(If you have not read the book that inspires this post, you’ll enjoy a quick summary.)
So we’ve got the grandparents settled down, I’ve made it through the holidays and I’m coming back.
You may notice that most of the videos have very ugly stills. (It’s kind of hard not to, but you’re kind not to say anything.) This is due to a transition away from Podango and to Blip.tv. My podcasts have been hosted by Podango, which has been a great site. Most sadly, they are closing down as of today. This is sad for two reasons. First, I’ve got to get all my content moved somewhere else and fast. Second, my husband has been employed by Podango, so he’s got to get a new job and (hopefully) fast.
So, I am in the process of moving all my content to Blip.tv, and until I get the stills uploaded, the movies look a little weird before you hit play. A few things might not work for a bit while I get things straightened out. If you notice anything broken, I’d appreciate you letting me know, so I can get it working again.
And by next week, we should have new content up. Yay!
Due to some unexpected family challenges, I’m going to be on break for a bit. We’re all fine, so don’t worry. I have had the opportunity to help care for my husband’s grandparents for the past year or so. This week is going to busy with doctors and such while we help them get a few things figured out. But I’ll be back! Hope to see you soon.
Now that my kids are old enough to be in elementary school, I am astonished by the constant bombardment of requests for money. Do not be confused. A public education is anything BUT free. And don’t think paying taxes took care of your responsibility to fund your child’s kindergarten education. My gripe is not so much about whether or not schools should have resources adequate to meet their needs. They should. My gripe is about the methods used to get those resources.
Please donate $25 to our classroom fund. Please support our school by selling cookie dough so we can buy $35,000 playground equipment. Please send $2 for our field trip. Please harass your neighbors to support our walk-a-thon. Please join PTA for $5. Please shop at the book fair conveniently held during Parent-Teacher Conferences. Please come to our school carnival and buy overpriced food and rides and gift baskets. Please donate to the silent auction at the carnival. Please donate to our Teacher Appreciate Baskets. Please buy our coupon books. Please send in recipes for our cookbook so you can then buy our cookbook. If you don’t, we won’t give your kid a 25-cent treat, and he’ll feel sad. The requests are truly endless. Imagine what this would cost me if I had more than two children.
Of course, all these requests are actually optional. You don’t have to pay. Obviously, you don’t get to eat nasty, overpriced pizza at the carnival either, but that seems fair, maybe even a blessing.
But there’s a catch to most of these requests. The school doesn’t actually hit up the parents. They hit up MY KIDS to hit me up. They manipulate my emotionally immature second-grader into thinking that if he doesn’t bring money (and fast), he’s failed as a good school citizen. It’s pitiful to watch your seven-year-old beg to give all of his allowance money to the school, so they can get a new playground.
Do you have a playground? Yes.
Do you like playing on it? Yes.
Is it all broken? No.
Is recess fun? Yes.
Why do you need a new one? Because the principal said we do.
It’s like he’s been brainwashed. My favorite part of this particular funding request is that the school decided this critical project was worth pulling all the children out of their academic classes for a cookie-selling, playground-earning, indoctrination assembly. Never mind that we cut back on recess so we can have more instruction time.
Similarly, the kids took time out of their busy instruction schedules to browse the book fair. After that experience, they were conveniently provided paper and pencils so they could write down their wish list of things I should buy them during Parent-Teacher Conferences. It’s not like my kids don’t already have a serious case of the whining I-want-itis.
I am deeply irked me when my children are socially manipulated to come home and manipulate me into coughing up more money all in the name of being a supportive parent. It’s not fun to watch your child cry because you won’t let him go door-to-door selling cookie dough on your block of 8 homes (6 of which house other elementary-aged children). I’m even more peeved when instruction time is taken for this purpose. If you want my money, talk to me. Leave my children out of it.
For now, I just refuse to give them any money and throw the unopened cookie sales packet into the trash when my kids aren’t looking.
Our revised allowance system has been going for about six weeks or so. It’s definitely better than it ever was before, but it’s also been much harder than I expected. I think I’ve discovered the major flaw in our system:
Kind of depressing, really. I get frustrated or lazy or busy or decide I don’t want to do chores because it’s a lot of work to keep on top of things. I’m simply awful at monitoring the “family contributions.” In fact, after two or three weeks, the contribution of “Be nice and be kind” was completely dropped. I don’t even pretend about that one anymore. Nate was right.
Did you hear me, Nate? I said, “You were right!” And I did it publicly!
So the family contribution portion of our allowance system is still in flux. Last week I tried “Share love” in an effort to encourage the kids to serve others. Since I never managed to follow-up, it was an utter failure. But, I’m going to try again this week. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
Charting chores everyday has been problematic, mostly because I hate tracking on charts. (Yes, it is all about me–remember, I’m the problem.) For instance, the chore week starts on Saturdays, and I often do not have the chart printed off until Monday afternoon or so. Not exactly effective. This is also part of why I’m super bad at tracking the family contributions.
However, I’ve realized that homework time is the best time to work through all the charting we have to do: homework, reading, chores. This is kind of hard for me, because I like to get my housework out of the way in the morning. I like to get all the blah stuff done, so I have the whole day to do the yay stuff. But, I’m letting that go a little bit. Dylan and Anya really do need to learn about chores, and it just isn’t happening in the morning.
My kids have not been excited to add 20 minutes to their after school responsibilities. They are used to zipping through homework as fast as humanly possible and then dashing off to play with friends. It’s been kind of challenging to slow them down. Oddly, the way to slow them down has been to add yet another thing to the afternoon. We’ve started having afternoon snacks. We do a little homework, do a little chores, have a little snack, do a little reading, finish up any loose ends for chores or homework and then dash out the door to play. The snack in the middle breaks up the boring, hard stuff and makes the afternoon more fun.
Of course, I have to be with it enough to have some kind of snack in the house. Harder than you think.
Despite the challenges, I am starting to realize the advantages. For instance, I loathe taking my kids to the book fair to buy books that they never read more than once. But, Dylan was adamant that the world would end if he did not own Star Wars: The New Padawan. In the midst of this very dramatic conversation, it dawned on me: “This is precisely the kind of thing his allowance was intended for.” I think you could have seen the light bulb over my head. Our problem was promptly solved, because he had $3.99 to buy said book. Dylan actually read his new book at least once a day for the last week. The realization that allowance money buys all the stuff that they want, but I think is wasteful, has been liberating and adds greatly to our success. Also, we have less of that whining drama.
The final advantage to the system is that, despite my difficulties with follow-up, chores are being accomplished much more regularly, and the kids are starting to take the initiative do chores. That in itself is an amazing thing.
Here’s to finding my groove soon. I think it’s worth sticking this one out. How’s it working for you?