Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Loving the Mess

So today my mom picked up me and the kids and hauled us to Meijer, Payless, Sears, and Cosco. Now that I'm not driving, I'm more thankful than ever to live by my mom. I'm even more amazed that she loves my kids because their behavior, was at times, down right embarassing.

Now, I've always known that my mom loves me. She's always made that very clear but the fact that she loves my brood is beyond me. Today, there were moments when even I wanted to pretend I didn't know them. Like wwen my oldest found the hand sanitizer in her car and helped himself and her car to gobs os it....and then proceeded to blame his sister. Aye!

I think it goes to prove that nothing warms a mother's heart more than when somebody loves her kids. Nothing makes us feel more accepted, more understood, or more valued. So to all the people who can see passed the mess and the sass...thanks for seeing their hearts and loving them!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Free Babysitting

I'm a big fan of date nights but between dinner and a movie and then paying a babysitter, they can be a killer on the budget. Not to mention, how many times can you really hit up your mom to watch the kids...Here's the solution. Free babysitting or really a babysitting co-op.

When our oldest was all new and snugly, we set up a system with a group of our friends who were in the same boat. We traded babysitting and to keep it fair we
Here's how to set up your own group...

1. Find like minded friends who are also looking for babysitting. You can include as many families as you'd like to but you really only need 2 families to pull it off.

2. Set up the payment plan. We decided that 1 Popsicle stick was good for 1 child per hour. That way if you have 2 kids and your friends have 4, it's still fair. So, for an example, if a family with 3 kids needs babysitting for 4 hours, they owe 12 sticks.

3. Make the sticks (i just used a permanent marker on craft sticks) and start out with an equal amount. We passed out 6 sticks per family to start.

4. Use them. The system fails when only one family is really using the sticks. Make sure that you call your friends for free babysitting and when you're getting low on sticks that you invite friends to take advantage of your babysitting. Also, if you and your spouse are already babysitting for one family why not call and ask another to join in on the fun and earn more sticks!

Of course, you can still use a driving babysitter for those late night dates but this is a great way to pad the calendar with dates!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now

I thought communicating with my 5 yo, mind of his own, son was static-ky but put us both on a bike and watch out! Even on our own 2 feet we often but heads about who's in the lead, where we're going, and what's next. Being on bikes together is like taking all of that and putting it under a magnifying glass.

There was a moment when, after we had agreed that I would go first with his sister in the trailer, he passed us...in an intersection...realized his mistake, hesitated, and then rolled out into the next intersection. Holy pajamas, I don't know if I was more scared or mad. He Huffied it back to the bike path and took one look at my face, dropped his head, and walked his bike up to mine. We put our noses together and that's all. Sometimes, when you want to yell, and lecture, you just need to put your noses together. He knew I felt angry and terrified and I knew he felt foolish and regretful.

Let's hope that our next biking adventure isn't so traumatic but still produces a nose to nose moment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I was at Target recently and it felt a bit like Christmas. The aisles were packed with people looking to score a deal. Mothers had half crazed looks on their faces while their children begged for the latest. Target marketing was in full swing, boasting the latest and the best at the lowest prices and half of the shelves and bins were empty. I stopped and remembered that it is, in fact, the most wonderful time of year...back to school!

We have 24 more days until school starts. 24 days to soak up that last of the summer rays and 24 days for me to be with our 6 yo all day every day (whaaaa). I'm a SAHM, but this time of year I still get school fever and the former teacher in me kicks in. The single greatest thing that you can do to ready your kids for school is get their bedtime reinstated. But hey, I've got at least 21 more days to procrastinate that...Instead, I'm helping jog my 6yo reading skills.

It's amazing how much a brain can loose when it's not worked out regularly. I'm not trying to get him ahead...just regain what we lost over the Summer. Kids always seem eager to do a little bit of school work this time of year so take advantage of it.

Here's what I do for sight words. First of all, sight words, in general, are words that you cannot sound out, appear frequently in text, and should be known at first sight. What I do is cut write out sight words on slips of paper. I toss in a ton that I know my son already knows as a confident booster and then add in the next set that he needs to work on. I call them hug and kiss words because every time he gets one right he gets and x or an o on the back. Once he gets 3 x's and 3 o's on the back of the word, he can kiss that word goodbye. If you weren't given words to work with by your school, there are a ton of resources out there. I like to use Fry's lists...here's a good website that you can use.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Clogged Memory

Sometimes I get frustrated with my memory...faulty memory that is. I can't recall the year the civil war started, the capital of Ghana, the names of the constellations, the author of Catcher and the Rye,... It's all gone. I knew it at some point but since becoming a mother my memory has become clogged.

Instead I can...

10. Tell you the best price of diapers per unit.

9. Recite Good Night Moon.

8. Make 5 varieties of paper airplanes.

7. Recite the full script from Dora's Pirate Adventure.

6. Sing the full soundtrack to the movie Potty Power.

5. Make Kraft macaroni and cheese without reading the directions.

4. Know the meaning behind every cry, moan, whine my kids make.

3. Know the exact level of quiet that is too quiet.

2. Track a time out without a timer within 10 sec.

1. Locate every park, family friendly restaurant, and potty with a 25 mile radius.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Juicy Idea

Really. I don't let my kids have juice all of the time. I have to admit though, it's awfully convenient to tuck a few juice boxes in the car, the beach bag, and even my purse when we're on the go.

One of my pet peeves is when the box leak's juice from being held by chubby toddler hands. The kids and I were having a play date with some friends when the mom brought out the juice boxes like this......isn't it cute?! Next time you hand off juice boxes to the kids, pull up the little side flap. Kids can old onto these flaps with ease and you won't have juice to mop up! Simple and handy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Coming Soon....CSN Rreview

So I'm feeling spoiled by CSN. I love that store! ...well, technically I love all 200of their stores. CSN has given away 2 gift certificates to PBJ (No, turn your mom brain off...not peanut butter jelly...Parenting in Blue Jean) readers and has worked with me on a review. Once again, I'll be reviewing one of their products.
Now I just have to choose what that product is. And here lies the conundrum. I like pretty things but I have a house that is well, ugly would be a polite way of saying it. We're still dreaming of painting the exterior of our house by the time the snow flies and so the practical side of me thinks I should buy some new outdoor lighting. It's hard when one side of your brain is suggesting needs and the other is going, "oooh, look at those pretty throw pillows". Either way, CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from cookware (you know I love my Caphalon pans) to lights to furniture (ooh, and throw pillows) so...Coming soon, a review and you'll be able to figure out which side of my brain won out.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review: You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be

You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be, written by the well published Max Lucado, proves to be the perfect book to tuck away in your college kid's boxes or tuck into your high school student's backpack. The book sends a motivating counter cultural message to inspire young adults into finding their "sweet spot" and purpose for their unique abilities.

Truly, American culture has trained us all to believe that we can be anything that we want to be. Max Lucado questions the core of this ideal by writing,
"If God didn't pack within you the meat sense of a butcher, the people skills of a sales person, or the world vision of an ambassador, can you be one? An unhappy, dissatisfied one perhaps. But a fulfilled one? No. Can an acorn become a rose, a whale fly like a bird, or a lead become gold? Absolutely not. You cannot be anything you want to be. But you can be everything God wants you to be."

Divided into 29 sections, this book breaks down the basic steps to discovering one's purpose. The book, which uses selections from Cure for the Common Life, motivates young adults to define the unique talents they possess and live a purposed filled life.

I found this book to be a great graduation or back to school gift. The reader is freed from the generic notions that possibilities are endless, anything is within your grasp, and the sky is the limit. Unlike a generic Hallmark card, Max Lucado's book teaches that the very thing you were created for, what you desire the most, and what you were tailor made to do is yours if you work to seek out what that niche is.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dog Day Radomisms

Hello August. What have you done with June and July?

Remember back when I posted our paper chain count down of summer? It was even color coded so my kids could visually see when our vacations were. Well, it's all blue from here on out which means we have no vacations left...no plans. And even with the summer bucket list I'm struggling to find something exciting enough to keep them out of trouble.

On top of that, I'm a little overwhelmed about all the back to school ads. I think our local grocery store started putting out their back to school stuff on July 5. That's ridiculous! Don't rush me people...I still have one more month with my baby before he starts going to school full time!

With August here I also have this need to soak up as much sun as I possibly can. Today, we're hitting the pool and tomorrow we're heading off to the beach. I need to store as much Vitamin D as I can in preparation for February when here, in west Michigan, we don't see the sun...ever.

Today marks my first friend taxi too. I have awesome friends. I'm looking forward to leaving the house and I'm starting to realize how home bound my life is going to be. Every few seconds I think, "Oh, I'll just run and get..oh, that's right. I don't drive." It's a bit frustrating but I'm choosing to be thankful for the things I can do. I have 2 healthy legs to walk and bike with (okay, they're a bit out of shape but they still work). I have much more to be thankful for but for today these things rang at the top of the list...awesome friends and 2 legs.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


How can something so important slip by unnoticed? We've all witnessed love, friendships, money just slowly drift away. It rarely happens overnight. Instead, a little bit slips away unnoticed until one day you realize it's gone.

It's that way with me and my sight. As a teenager I noticed a change in the classroom... not quite catching all the notes on the board. I noticed the details of friend's faces fading from far away. And yet, it just seemed to fade gradually to the point that if you asked me what I can and cannot see...I can't quite articulate it. I don't know what I've lost. My world is shrinking slowly; the details were slipping away unnoticed until now.

Yesterday, I had to renew my license. I didn't pass the eye exam. It wasn't a great surprise to me. I've been seeing a specialist at U of M for years, and while they can't give me a prognosis, it seemed that things would keep deteriorating. In the last few years my family has been preparing for this step. We moved to a location where I could walk to our kid’s elementary school, church, grocery store, library...still, it feels like my wings have been clipped.

I visit the optometrist next week. As my sweet sister put it...having your vision tested by the secretary of state is like having your foot measured at Payless. Ha...that still makes me chuckle! I don't want to have false hope...but, I may earn back part of my driving privileges. I may, I may not. The truth is I don't know. If there's one thing I've worked through these last few weeks, it's that I'm not a good judge of what I can see. My sight is slipping away unnoticed by me. I don't know what I can see compared to you. Somehow, I've moved past that desperate need to drive to a desire to drive only if it's safe.

I have hope. I know that my God is big enough to give me back sight. I also know that His plan might be greater for me. While I may be focused on just achieving car pool status He might have something greater. Either way, I will still say He is great. He is loving. He is good. He is in control. He wants the best for me. Glory to God...either way.

This post may be a bit heavy....but it feels good to share. After all, we've all experienced loss...slipping. It's a part of my blue jean life that I wanted to share with you.