Friday, August 30, 2013

Financial Friday Failures: Beach-Gingerbread Houses

Activities I did with the kids, that they hated. 

I try to do inexpensive yet memorable activities with the kids. You know, happy childhood memories and such. I fail sometimes though, and the kids have no problem telling me about it.

I thought that I would light candles in the bathroom while Za soaked in the tub - nice and relaxing. She wanted the candle off and the light on, because you only use candles when the lights go off in a storm. It was not raining and she was not taking a bath until that candle was out. 

I tried to make colored starch for a science experiment with the kids. Either the recipe was wrong, or I can't measure. It smelled funny too. 

I found this cute little file-folder activity online for free. I printed it out, took lots of time gluing and cutting neatly, put the velcro on, and got Za all excited to practice it. We started and even though I had purposely ignored the direction to laminate it, was shocked when the paper tore apart with the velcro. I'll reprint and assemble it again, and follow the assembly directions. 

Another time, I bought a gingerbread house on clearance. It was early spring, and the kids were weary about making a Christmas decoration. I told them to imagine it was a beach house. They played along for about five minutes and did add some decorations. I ran to grab a laundry basket and just as I was thinking to grab my camera, I heard the television. 

I went downstairs to see why they had stopped decorating, and couldn't find the house. When I found Ty and Za, they told me that project "was no fun" and had fed it to the dog.  

Why can't we use our imaginations and pretend that a green and red gingerbread house with snow is a beach house? 

Any kid-project failures you care to share?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Organized SAHM: Mommy Napping

You can take a nap, but there will be consequences.

Recap: My friend J wrote me an email, asking for advice because she's a new SAHM and wanted advice. This is my third attempt at sharing my wisdom. Previously I've confessed that I lack wisdom, but have a few ideas about saving money in the kitchen

But napping - I understand that. Here is what J wrote:

I thought I would have time to clean, to cook, to engage/teach/discipline the children, take a nap, fit in some work, maybe even exercise, and sleep - boy was I wrong!!

My friend J has what I like to call overly high expectations with a combination of supermom-itis and disillusionment. It happens.  

(Let me stop here and explain that this is my experience- I am in no way a trained counselor or therapist or medical person. I have never been diagnosed with ppd and am not an expert on mental health. If you struggle to get out of bed, struggle to stay awake, please speak to a doctor. This post is not for mental health issues). 

Back to napping: napping with a baby curled against your chest, or a sick toddler who needs snuggles; napping after drinking hot chocolate and falling asleep with a book. It's picturesque and romantic. It's what I envisioned when I planned to be a SAHM. 

It's also nonsensical when applied to motherhood.

Cuteness overload: chubby hands attached to a sleeping child. She has dimples on her chubs.

You will have moments of precious napping - staring at chubby fingers and long eyelashes. Kissing cheeks that beg for smooches.

If you fall asleep though, you will have consequences.

For one, you might not be tired later. I am the queen of this: I nap because my eyes cannot stay open at two o'clock in the afternoon, but end up staring at the ceiling at midnight. My kids still wake up at six, and I have created a nasty cycle.

Two, this is prime dinner making time. Throw chicken in the crockpot or defrost a lasagna. Plan something or succumb to the idea that you will serve cereal for dinner. Otherwise you might be making dinner while the kids use you as a jungle gym.

Three, you will be overwhelmed. This partly depends on your personality, but I need alone moments during the day. Do something alone - read a blog, journal, stare out the window. My alone time today might be a shower. I may splurge and shave my legs.

Of course every rule has an exception. If you stayed up late cleaning puke or stripping a wet bed, take a nap. If you have been sick, take a nap. If you have a newborn, please take a nap.

This late-night baby is awake because she and her momma napped at about six o'clock at night. Bad idea. 

Sleeping needs some sort of a schedule in my SAHM life. I am loose with the nap-time of my babies, because that works for me. My older two don't nap, but the baby gets a morning nap and an afternoon nap. If she doesn't, she's grumpy. She can nap at nine in the morning, or eleven.

Like so much with a SAHM life, find out what works for you and your kiddos. I doubt that you will get to nap every day, but you might.

Again, the expectation of what the SAHM thought she could do, is bringing her down. Expectations met with real life?

That is what one Organized SAHM has learned to overcome, to think about.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Goodreads and kids.

I love reading. Aside from kissing and loving on my kids and hubs, reading is probably my favorite activity- closely followed by writing.

Alas, I am on Goodreads. I really am having fun reading other reviews and meeting readers who like the same books I do. My to-read list is growing terribly long.

Such pride in reading!

Because I have so much fun, I started letting Ty and Za record their books. They give me their reviews, and I write them. They also debate about how many stars to assign a book. (They give way more 5 stars than I do).

It is wonderful, really. They are analyzing what books they like and why. They are discussing the merits of books. Plus, we are recording what books we have read together. I imagine in a few years, it will be a fun activity to review them together.

The biggest benefit might be that the kids see that I take their opinions about books seriously. I value what they say about reading, and put their remarks on my account.

It is a free app, and a fun one for adults. If you have an account, feel free to friend request me!

This was not a paid review.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Pretend Image of It All

I sit here, melted chocolate chips and peanut butter swirled together, wondering about life.

Sure, it is 11:30 and I need to be in bed. I have a huge day tomorrow. Ty has "meet the teacher night" for first grade. The van needs an alignment. The children will want me to care for them. Here I am though, thinking about SAHM-life.

I got up early today. I cleaned tons of the house - window screens, curtains, vacuumed. I sold some maternity clothes online. Ty and I purchased, labeled, and stuffed a book bag with school supplies. I read books, talked about shapes, and intervened in fights. I also prepared meals and snacks. My kitchen is pretty clean right now.

An overall accomplished day. Why do I feel like I did nothing?

Is it because I don't get a paycheck? Is it because I grew up with an image of Clair Huxtable and Angela Bower? Did I form some weird super-human-mom-worker image in my mind, sometime during my impressionable youth or worse, the inspirational college years?

Where did this image of a mom come from? This mom must be pretend. The mom who comes down the stairs with perfect hair, body, and makeup, grabs a cup of coffee, tousles the kids' hair, kisses her husband, and leaves for work. The mom who has such a high-paying job she can leave for her kids' school activities early and grab dinner on the way home. The mom who stays up late but gets up early and starts all over and still looks great.

It's a bogus image of motherhood. Why do women think that can exist? When does this pretend image exercise? spend time with her husband? do laundry? scrub floors?

I guess she has a maid, or a live-in nanny like Angela.

This pretend image of it all, the image that my fellow moms and I strive for and lament because we can never chase her down, did we make her up? We must have. Can we disregard her? Can we erase this formulation we concocted in our heads?

Can we please just forget her?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ross Back To School Giveaway

We are clothes shopping for back to school!

The higher-ups at Ross Dress for Less emailed me a bit ago and asked if I was interested in hosting a giveaway for their new store in my hometown and neighboring town.

Gift card for clothes shopping? Yes, please. Tell my honest opinion of their stores? Easy. 

Ty and Za are prepping for school. Za is entering her last year of preschool, and Ty is a seasoned elementary student. They know the drill for school supplies and new clothes. They had never been to a Ross store before, and I had not either.

I knew where the new one was in East Peoria - in our new Levee District. It is sparkling new with a distinct atmosphere.

The kids and I spent about thirty minutes inside the store. It was easy to navigate and checkout (three open registers for four paying customers!). It was also clean and organized. The kids wanted luggage, jewelry (Za), and new bedding. I skirted them away from the extras, promising them another time, and steered over to the clothes and shoes.

Ty wanted shorts, and Ross did have a nice selection, but I wanted him to think longterm into the school year. I spotted jeans, sweats, and matching two-piece jogging suits. One (with a favorite character) caught Ty's eye and he was sold.

Za wanted everything - skirts, dresses, shirts, pants, shorts, socks, and a frog necklace. She left with a pair of comfortable pants and a matching shirt, and a denim dress. The dress has a special place in her closet, she is planning to wear it for school picture day, and she wore it to church today. Showing it off:

I washed the clothes and they washed well, and they are name brand - I recognize the tags from Ty's selection. A quick calculation shows that I saved about 30% on his outfit.

I wanted to get my kids shoes, but could not find any that were kid- acceptable and the right size at the store. I honestly felt the shoe selection was the only drawback. I know that inventory changes, and hope that will not always be the case.

Overall, my kids can wear these clothes for a long time, if not all winter. Za got two outfits and Ty got one two-piece outfit. Ross gave me $25 to spend, and I spent just a bit more over that gift card. So...

I would love for one of my readers to get a $25 gift card to Ross to help with back to school shopping!

Entering is easy. Comment below about what back to school clothes item you will need. The link is also on my Facebook page, under "Ross Giveaway." Good luck!

I did receive compensation in the form of a gift card from Ross Dress for Less in exchange for sponsoring this giveaway on Switching Classrooms. Opinions stated in this blog post and any subsequent blog posts, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, or other social media are my own. 

I've also joined Bloglovin!  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, August 9, 2013

Financial Friday: Broken Toys

Tearing up broken toys!

I saw this on Pinterest months ago: giving your kids broken toys and a screwdriver. We had a garage sale a bit ago, and we cleaned out the house for old toys and nonworking. I tried putting new batteries in this ABC game, and nothing. I declared it toast, and gave it to Ty and Za to "fix." They were thrilled.

Ty really thought he could fix it. He was very methodical in taking it apart, and separated the pieces.

He tried to reassemble, but never could figure out why the toy stopped working. I couldn't either - nothing was too obvious.

They spent the large part of an afternoon working on it and then threw it in the trash. It was broken, so I consider this a free project!

Note: I suggest spreading a tarp or old blanket down for the kids to work on. We spent lots of time finding tiny screws and pieces of plastic.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dealing With Disappoinment

It's part of life. Some things stink.

Last Wednesday, the 31st, is the day baby C.J. landed in the hospital. We had been at the doctor earlier that week and were giving her an antibiotic. Wednesday was a bad day - sick baby and older kids who could not leave the house. I couldn't take a feverish baby out, but they were bored. They were patient, but antsy.

That Wednesday, I told Ty and Za, we will take C.J. back to the doctor (to be checked) and then run by the library. I even contacted the library to see what time they closed because July 31st is a big deal for the summer reading program kids - the last day to report books. We were going to make it in time.

We never made it to the library though because we were at the hospital. We came home with a groggy baby days later who still did not feel great.

We made it to the library yesterday, a week too late. I knew it was late. I told the kids that before we went inside. I explained that the library had rules, we had read our next set of books but did not get them recorded on time. We would talk to the librarian, and we would see what would happen. I wanted them to behave and if they were sad, they could tell me when we left.

And that is what happened. We left the library without our final book prizes because we did not get them recorded in time. We got to the van, and Ty and Za were pretty sad.

I try to make the summer reading program a big deal. I talk it up, act excited about reading the books. I am excited and I want my kids to treasure reading. That's what I told them too - that they read 45 books this summer (the library awards prizes at 15 and 30 books so we did get two sets of rewards) and that is impressive.

Actually, we read more than 45 books this summer. I built them up again. I told them I was proud of them for not throwing a fit. I was proud of them for telling me their feelings, that they were sad and that they understand that C.J. had to go to the hospital and that was more important than recording the books.

I drove home. It's a lesson in dealing with disappointment, I said over and over again in my head.


The librarian did not seem to care. I think she thought I was lying, even when I offered to show her surgical stitches on my baby. She was so disinterested, I didn't even pull out the hospital paperwork to show her that I had brought in. She didn't seem interested.

I understand part of that. I had students and parents lie to me when I taught, and it frustrated me to no end. Perhaps the librarian had been warding off people who wanted to record their late books. I see that point of view. She thought I was another liar.

But! Hospital stays? funerals? extenuating circumstances? I worked with that - and always used those exact examples to tell my students I would work with them, if only they alerted me.

I don't think the awards from the library are unforgettable. Last year the kids each got a bag and both are already ripped. I think they wanted their final 15 books recognized. They finished the program and wanted their hometown library (that their mom builds up) to be proud of them.

I think that in 2013 as kids head back to school, librarians could perhaps take into account that many kids do not enjoy reading, that many kids sat at home all summer and watched television, that many parents did not take their kids to the library to check out books, that many parents do not read to their children.

My kids learned a lesson in dealing with disappointment. I did too.