Friday, July 24, 2009

the drama of our lives

we have only 1 credit card...which i'm quite proud of (we paid off the others when we remortgaged our home and took cash out to pay off a bunch of stuff). and we rarely use it. recently we've had to use it, unfortunately, but we are paying it off as soon as adam gets some more money in from jobs that owe him money. should be pretty easy to pay it off, its still under $1000.

we've had to use the card recently for a few needed items (including groceries) and because of the whole dryer drama: thought we needed to replace our old dryer because it wouldn't heat anymore...so i recycled it (got a whole $4 for the metal, woohoo!) and we paid for a new dryer at best buy (way too much, we just weren't thinking and just wanted to get something fast. i had been without a dryer since the day before tyren's bday party, so july 9, and laundry was seriously piling up.) this was on monday, july 13. they said it couldn't be delivered til thurs july16. i wasn't happy about that, but resigned myself to a few more days of laundry piling up (and i am short on clothes, too, ugh). and doing the necessary items and hanging to dry as needed (which i hate doing...extra work and crunchy clothes=grouchy mama). got a call from best buy on thursday saying that the dryer STILL hadn't come in yet...should be delivered friday or saturday. never heard back...spent quite some time on friday trying to get someone at best buy to answer their stinkin phone to let me know what was up with our dryer (when they FINALLY answered their phone, they said i needed to talk to the clovis store and transferred me and then THEY wouldn't answer their phone!) FINALLY got ahold of someone that could tell me about my dryer and they tell me that it now won't be delivered til TUESDAY! (8 days after we bought it!) unbelievable. i was PISSED!

so i ran around town and did some research on machines...found used ones at salvation army but they were all gas (we needed electric)...didn't want to go the craigs list route because you really have no idea who you're buying from and no recourse if the machine doesn't work once you get home.

found some other used ones, but they were all around 10years old. didn't make sense to spend half as much but get something 10 times as old, so i went back to looking into buying new. went to a bunch of stores and found out that lowe's had a really cheap machine that was actually quite good! roper, which is made by whirlpool. all over the internet it was praised as being top of the list for least repairs. it just is a no-frills whirlpool basically. and it was the cheapest i found! so i went to best buy and got a refund on that dryer, and went to lowe's and purchased the roper and brought it home (which was a bit of a deal because i had to ask my dad to help get it with his truck). then turned it on and....it doesn't heat either! so we had to call an electrician to look at the outlet...turned out the breaker had indeed been tripped (it was something 2 different people had already looked at and apparently didn't flip it back right). paid $85 just for him to flip the switch properly. but luckily we also had some other work for him to do while he was here...the outlet that the front sprinklers are plugged into in the big room stopped working and i was having to do the sprinklers manually again (annoying), so he fixed that while he was here...so it was worth the money and the time to get both of these issues fixed.

then...get this...he leaves and adam discovers the dryer stopped heating again! looked outside and sure enough, the switch had tripped again. flipped it back on and voila! heat again! but now we know we DO have an issue in that outlet. the electrician said it was fine. so now adam is miffed that we have to have them come back again...and they better give us a deal on fixing that outlet! but at least now, i can do laundry. adam showed me where and how to flip that switch if it trips again. yay!

and i should mention that this whole dryer fiasco started july 9 and its now the 24 and its not yet over and during that time tyren got sick twice and maeven got sick twice! (she's sick again today).

not to mention the above 100 degree temperatures that have been sizzling us all out here (don't think we've had a day under 100 this whole month!)...and bad air days when we are advised to keep our kids indoors.

its been a rough few weeks! actually, tyren's bouts will illness started july 5, so its just been a rough month. he's been sick 4 times this month and maeven twice. and these are kids that really never get sick. so its just been a hard month all around.

when it rains, it pours. i'm looking forward to august.

POSTSCRIPT: just remembered that it seriously could be worse. i'm counting my blessings that dryer drama/heat/kid illness is all i'm contending with right now... a dear friend of mine lost her father this month...my heart goes out to her and her family.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

photoshop for kids!

wow, i never thought of teaching my kids to use photoshop! i'm still learning myself, and i think its just so complicated...but this article really has me thinking. maeven and tyren have both played around with computer paint programs and such...what an idea, to look for tutorials and videos to teach them how to use the photoshop tools to create art. wow. i think i'll be doing some research on this!

if you check out that article, scroll down to read the article and notice the kid's art work! wow!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

back to routines & schedules

i'm back working on a routine again. haven't gotten past the planning phases yet, but i dug out my old checklist i made awhile back and looked over it again. i do that from time to time when a blog entry makes me think of it again. and since the lazy organizer is talking schedules again, i thought i'd think about mine again. give it another shot.

i know how important it is to have a schedule for your children, but damned if i've ever been able to sustain one. this checklist i made awhile back is really quite good. i've done a little tweaking of it (it still had a nap for tyr on it, that's how old it is! he hasn't napped for like 2 years!) and i'm going to give it a shot again.

one thing that i can feel proud of lately (because i'm learning to hold onto these little moments of pride, since i fail so often at domestic duties, i gotta hold onto something!)...we have NOT fallen back into eating in the living room again. woohoo! go us!

its really odd...i find that things are really hard to change for a really long time and many attempts, but then all of a sudden something will just click and it will work. NO idea what makes it suddenly click, but for some reason i have been able to be adamant about not eating anywhere other the kitchen. despite the whining that they want to watch this show or that show or its too hot in there...i've been very firm about it and they've not really fought me on it. really a shocker. and of course, adam's wanted that rule for awhile so he's happy.

this seems to be the pattern for me. i wish i knew what it was that made things all of a sudden just click for me, but that's how its worked out for me with many things that i've finally accomplished after many failed attempts. if i knew the secret word to make them just finally click, i could solve so very many issues in this house! LOL!

anyway, we'll see how it goes...i don't want to get my hopes too high, but then who knows? maybe this will be the time when things finally click. i know that assuming i'll fail just sets me up to fail...and i already feel pretty dang down on myself for all the stuff in my daily life that i feel like a failure at. but i am not a quitter. i will forge onward! and someday i'll figure out how to get more things to work the way i want them to...and if i don't, then i'll learn to let go of my high expectations and just go with the flow. either way, it will all get solved, somehow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

what to do in this heat?

seriously things are bad around here. it was 112 yesterday! i'm not surprised. we didn't even attempt to leave the house.

we're watching videos and playing on the computer far too much for my liking...but really, there's not much else to do. well there is, but i haven't yet thought of something i actually want to do that the kids want to do. i want to take them swimming but the air is so stinkin bad. and frankly i don't want them out in the sun that much. but we'll go anyway, at some point this week. because, well, you have to swim when its this hot. i wish i could get a membership to swimamerica...they have indoor swimming. then the air and sun is filtered and i wouldn't worry so much about it. hm, i know they're expensive, but i may just look into it anyway.

i've been trying to think of stuff to do that the learning village could have something like a "summer fun" type thing...maybe like a drop-in summer camp, but for moms/dads and kids together...not just dropping the kids off and paying a fortune. a co-op. but there's not a big air conditioned building to do this at TDC. there's small buildings, but i was thinking something big enough to have several different activities going on at the same time. like a gymnasium would work. i guess i could look into a church fellowship hall...but i'm sure they'd all cost a pretty penny to rent them. plus i'd really rather be at TDC. they do have a bigger building, but they use it for summer camp...which goes on til mid-august, i think...plus if we were using that too, we'd need to rent it. i guess i can just think smaller scale and use the little building that we are already renting. it might not draw that many people anyway. i just need to have ideas for activities to do. that shouldn't be a big problem.

there's so much i need to get worked on but the heat is making me just lose sight of it all. i'd love to take my kids somewhere out of the heat...yosemite would have been nice this weekend, when it was free, but maeven was vomiting all day on saturday so that day was out. and sunday we just didn't feel it was a good idea to take her anywhere just a day after being that sick. so we just stayed indoors.

i have to say, though, we did get a few things done (grocery shopping, for one) including making some cardboard creations for the kiddos. i'll have to post pictures when i get some taken. maeven now has a cardboard playhouse in her room (takes up the entire room!) and tyren has a cardboard firetruck in the living room. he's in there right now, watching tv through the windows, LOL.

we also got a bunch of videos/dvds from the library on saturday when maeven was sick, so we still have some that they haven't watched. so that's something to do. but i don't want them in front of the tv all day.

well, i just have to think harder and get something sorted out. if only i had the energy! this heat seriously sucks the life outta ya!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

things i'm proud of

ok, this heat and the state of things at my house has put me in a depressed mood today...so i need to think of things to lift my mood.

gonna list things i'm proud of that i've accomplished in my life, mostly recent stuff. just the things i feel the best about right now so i can get my focus on the positive and away from the negative, which gives me a stomach ache.

ok, so lets see...

in no particular order:
  • my daughter is an amazing reader and bookworm now (she's 8 and a half). yesterday she was reading words at the gas station that i had no idea she could read, much less with no effort whatsoever! this is a girl who just a year ago really didn't enjoy reading much (she could do it, just didn't enjoy it so didn't have a lot of experience yet because it was still such a chore to her)...and *I* taught her how to read! ok, i used a book to do so and the rest she did on her own, because really, she did all the hard work. but i got her moving in that direction! i'm so proud of that! and when i'm feeling hard on myself for our homeschooling experience, i remind myself of this. my view is that as long as they can read, they can truly do anything.
  • my son is FINALLY fully potty trained! he just turned 4. i swear i thought he'd never be potty trained! he really fought it. did the same for weaning, but he's been weaned since last october, so i'm proud of that too. he's just becoming such a big boy and i tell ya, i'm happy to see it happen. i enjoy how cute they are when they are little, but it sure is nice to not have to do EVERYTHING for them anymore.
  • the learning village--my brainchild. its something i needed for me and my kids and i'm proud to be founding it, with the help of some wonderful families. as the president and executive director...i feel very proud to have put the wheels in motion and continue to move things forward. we are so close to being officially open. paperwork should be finished at this point, just need to go over it one last time to make sure i didn't leave anything out.
  • the fresno babyfest--i'm proud to have founded this and helped to successfully run it for 6 years. i'm also proud of myself for being able to finally let it go.
  • the discovery force, at the discovery center--volunteer group i'm forming (already have team leaders and moving forward in many ways) to kick butt at bringing the discovery back to the public eye.
  • fresnofamily.com--my local family resource website...even though i don't work much on it these days, i am still very proud of what i have there and how so many people benefit from it.
  • the fresno AP mommies group--another group i founded (back when maeven was a baby), and even though there aren't any regular activities happening anymore, the egroup is still hopping and there are still people finding it on a regular basis. its a great resource for local AP moms.
  • my children's birthday parties--i seriously love doing parties for my kids...and i always do them big. sure sometimes the preparations can get to be a drag, but once things are well underway, i really enjoy it. and i think i do some kick butt parties, i tell ya. i recently went through old pics and was reliving parties from the past and was impressed with what i had done! i had forgotten so many of the details...but i rock at parties, man! LOL!! i really enjoy making memories for my kids and the kids at the parties. i even did it on a budget this year! :) got a great idea that maeve and i are working on for her birthday this year already too! can't wait to see how it goes!
  • our financial situation--i'm very proud that adam and i have gotten out of debt, other than the mortgage. we do owe some to our credit card right now due to some unforeseen circumstances but his next check he gets (from a side job) is going to pay that bit off and we will be back to being debt-free again. this took a lot for us to get to this point and i'm VERY proud of both of us for maintaining it. its very tempting to think about going into debt again for different things but we've resisted. and along the same lines, i'm very proud that we are doing so well financially. sure, things keep happening that make it hard to stay on top of things and very difficult to get ahead...but despite having about 8months of living off of 10% less income (from adam's pay cut) and despite how everything is horrid in the economy right now...we are actually doing quite well. we are not at all drowning in things. we are doing quite well and i think we will continue to do so because we have our focus on the right things. we are not interested in having all sorts of new things all the time...just when things bust, basically...oh sure i'd LIKE to get more new things, but realize that realistically it ain't happenin. so we're doing good and i'm proud of us for that. and all this on one income. my websites bring in very very little, so it really is all adam that supports us. bless his heart...and with that i will add...
  • i'm so very proud of adam, my sweetheart, for busting his ass to provide for his family, every day. often extra days and nights, with his extra work. i tend to dwell on his faults and this is one time that i want to toot my horn for him that he is an AWESOME provider and really cares about his family first and foremost. he doesn't like to do anything that takes away from us, and he does this of his own volition...not because of me guilting him into it. i don't have to. he truly prefers to spend time with us and do things with us than anything else in the world and that's, i think, how it should be. so i am VERY PROUD of my wonderful husband. :)
  • i'm also proud of myself for being a good mom. because even though i doubt myself and criticize myself regularly...i know deep down that i truly am a GOOD MOM. i don't yell and scream at the kids all the time (not saying never, because i'm not perfect), i don't ever hit them (not that i've not been tempted, i tell ya! but i am adamant that it is NEVER ok to hit a child, and both my husband and i are in agreement on this and are firm on never faultering on that.) ...i am proud that the phrase "i love you" is, as it was in my family when i was growing up, the most used phrase heard in our house. not only us parents to the kids, but the kids to each other. tyren has been known to say to maeven "but i just love you SO much!" ...i'm proud of the things i decided early on to take a stand on...and am still firm on. the no-violent-toys/games/shows rule, for one...i still believe strongly in this and am proud of myself for this.

there are other things that i also feel proud about, but my kids are needing me now, methinks...as i hear some squabbling happening. time for me to go be a mommy again! i am feeling better now after listing those things and i am going to come back and read this again when i feel down again. sometimes you just have to remind yourself why life really IS good, ya know? :)

another hot day

did i mention that our dryer died? well it did, and i recycled it (got a whole $4 for it!) and the search for a new (used) one, began. to make a long story short, i did my research and found some used ones...but...salvation army didn't have any electric dryers, only gas...we don't have hookup for that...and a used place i visited had used, but they were half the price of new, but 10 times as old! so we went with new. *sigh* there goes $400. i didn't have the time or energy (in this heat, with these cranky kids) to do more work to find something cheaper.

then it was supposed to be delivered today...which is a week after it died (and laundry started piling up, just before tyr's party, ugh!) but got a call yesterday that its not in yet and won't be delivered til fri or sat now. UGH.

so my parents kindly offered to let me do laundry at their house. actually this was a nice solution because now the kids have cable on demand to watch to entertain them while i get this laundry done. and obviously, i have access to the internet so i'm happy, LOL!!

its another hot, red (worst) air day. so i didn't want to do anything outside or spend much time going places.

yesterday, another red air day, 107degrees! we went to the met, to the central library (one we hadn't gone to for a long time, so it was a new thing for the kids), and then to friends later. usually wed was our swimming day but because of the bad air warnings, i told the kids they had to play inside. well at least they got play time. then adam got paid yesterday so we went home around 6pm and picked him up and went out to deposit his check and get dinner. i was NOT dealing with dinner in that heat, and with very little food at home.

tonight i must go grocery shopping, ugh. oh! but i can plot out my menu here, because i have an account at recipezaar and can access, yay!

anyway, my head hurts too cuz i appear to have woken up with another migraine. luckily its pretty minor.

the next question is what the heck do i do with my kids when they lose interest in nana and bompa's house/tv.

well i best get back to the laundry. i think i can fold the first load.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

switching gears again

so i spent the vast majority of yesterday plotting out what i feel i need to get done to feel better about maeven's education.

i'd been going in an unschooling direction (though not radical) for awhile, but not really in a very high quality way...just going where the wind blows...just trusting that i'd loop back around and that in the meantime she's still learning. all the time. really, she is! just the other day she told me in a flash what 2 numbers added up to (don't remember what it was about or what the numbers were)...so her brain is still moving and grooving, even though formal math has been on hold for awhile. but i want to kick it up a notch. i've been wanting to for awhile but life has gotten in the way.

i say i want to kick it up a notch, not because of what anyone else's opinion is of my girl's education. no, that's a sensitive subject for me that i won't go into right now (its a real sore spot for me, and i don't want to start today off pissed). no, i think i am just more of a tidal homeschooler...i tend to ebb and flow in how i do things. and yesterday i felt a surge of passion about plotting out this coming "school year." so, we'll see how it goes, but for now i'm enjoying figuring out what i want to get done in the year and figuring out how much we'll have to do weekly to accomplish that and putting it on my planner.

i really cannot say that i am TRULY an unschooler, for many reasons, not the least of which is that i really don't have a problem with structured education. i don't really believe that she's going to get anything and everything she needs simply by stumbling upon it of her own volition. no, i've never really felt that way. she doesn't know what she doesn't know and its my job to put things in her path. which many unschoolers would agree with...but i don't have a problem with sitting down and working with her on things, when it feels right. and right now i'm feeling like i need to gear up do just that for a period of time (we'll see how long it takes), and get to where i feel i'd like her to be.

i say it very carefully that way. "where i want her to be." because i don't agree that there is a place every child needs to be at each age. i don't agree with the public school model of education in the least. assembly-line, or institutional education is something i abhor, honestly. i don't like the idea that all children are supposed to learn certain things at certain times. i don't believe that in the LEAST. in fact, i told someone rather emphatically recently (and realized later, perhaps too emphatically), when she asked about testing maeven to see if she's where she should be in comparison to the schools that "i don't care where she's at compared to others. i only care where she's at for HER."

now that doesn't mean that i don't succumb to the same comparison-making that all us moms find ourselves sucked into since our children were born...noticing how other's kids are doing compared to mine. sure, i noticed last year that while maeven was barely interested in reading picture books that all her friends (around same age) were reading chapter books...and wished she was more interested in reading. but she came around, and has already read 50 chapter books this year alone! so she caught up, and now i'm feeling silly for ever doubting her. so i try to apply the same trust to other subjects.

right now, though, my biggest concern for her is math. not because she's not doing any or understanding much...because frankly i suspect that she could beat the pants off a lot of public schooled kids since so many do so poorly. but i want her to be more comfortable with the basics because i do truly believe its important. so i've created a schedule for us. a loose one.

i bought this fabulous math curriculum a couple years ago and haven't used it much, so i really want to get back to it. and i've come back around to the mindset that she just needs to get some things done. i still believe that education should be fun and enjoyable to the student. but there are some subjects that i'm ok with pushing harder to muddle through because i do feel they are important. math is one of them. i will continue to try to make it fun, but we're going to get through this so that she can be adept at all that i feel she should be adept at.

another aside, though, i don't feel like these learning experiences need to be back-to-back throughout childhood. i don't like to see childhood as a means to an end. childhood is important in and of itself. i don't see it as the time to be pouring all sorts of things into her brain. i want her childhood to be full of quality experiences, educational and not, social and individual, that give her a foundation of strength and valuable experiences to judge the rest of her life by. she's not a cup to be filled for pete's sake, she's a child meant to experience life!

so i'm ok with not touching upon subjects sometimes for months at a time only to spend several months working hard at concepts so that she can truly "get" them to the point that i feel ok with just letting her be to do her own thing again for months at a time. i feel much better about this form of education...grouping the education into clumps. and then letting her be the rest of the time, to learn what she will learn.

perhaps i will coin my own homeschooling term, "clumpschooling", LOL! yeah, that sounds catchy, LOL! (not)

anyway my point is that i'm ok with not trying to make every experience for maeven (and tyren eventually), educational. i don't believe for a minute that this is the only way she will get all that she needs to know.

and i resent people who haven't spent even a fraction of the time (if any time at all!!) reading up on all the educational methods and ideas that i have (for HOURS and HOURS and HOURS...i mean really, i've spent YEARS reading up on this stuff, since before i ever had kids! and i'm STILL learning about it and trying to figure things out!!), trying to tell me what i should and should not be doing. grrr!! sorry, i wasn't supposed to go there. ok well there, i said it. i'm not naming names because that's just not helpful nor kind...but this is a sort of discontent with me right now, so i just wanted to get it out. :)

anyway, i just want to be trusted that i have my child's best interests at heart and there's no way in hell that i am taking any of this lightly. trust is huge here. i really do care more than anyone about my children's education. so just trust me that i'm doing what's best for all of us.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

tyren's animal party (aka "so much for simplification")

well it was a huge success! and i'm pooped!! but i learned my lesson from maeven's last bday party--so i better get this up before i forget to do it entirely! :)

first of all, i had tried (key word-tried) to plan this event as one that once it was set up, i could sit back and actually enjoy the party. don't know what i was thinking because that is so not how it happened. there's always a ton of stuff i forget to do and i end of running around like a madwoman getting them done during the party as people ask for them. (like plastic utensils, doh!) oh well. i just am not as organized as i like to think i am, apparently.

anyway, so tyren picked "animals" as his theme. pretty broad, i know, but i figured it could be pretty simple because there's tons of animal stuff out there, right? well, strangely i had a harder time finding things for his party than i have for previous parties. dollar stores usually abound with items which work well to fit with my kids' party themes. and while i did find a good amount of stuff at them, i didn't find at all what i was expecting. oh well.

anyway, so we decorated with an animals theme. maeven drew animals and we hung them under the canopy that i borrowed from the discovery center.

i also copied all these animals with my color copier/scanner/printer doodad, and she cut them out and glued them around the bottom of a dollar tree plastic table cloth.

she also made a sign for the door.

and the day of the party, maeven, her friend brooke, tyren and i worked on the driveway...they drew chalk animals and we wrote messages to set the mood for the party.

maeven also used window markers that tyren got from the birthday fairy to draw animals on the front sliding glass door as well as the back one.

we decorated all over with streamers in blue and green. and i put up xmas lights in the canopy and the trees because the party was starting at 6:30pm so i knew we'd still be going at it as it got dark. just turned them on as i put them up and left them on so i didn't have to think "oh, its getting dark, i should turn the lights on." they were already on. :) especially needed since we don't have any backyard lights currently. (they died and we've yet to replace them).

so for the party, we did animal costumes. i bought plain plastic headbands from dollar tree along with sheets of craft foam to make ears. they cut out their ears and i hot-glued them to the head band (works fast, although i did burn myself quite a few times, argh.) for tails, they had an assortment of belts/scarves to choose from. they had a bunch of fabric belts and braided belts at dollar tree that i thought were really cool and we cut them up and safety pinned them to the animal's butts. (safety pins also purchased at the dollar tree...200 for a buck, how can you go wrong with that? i got enough for YEARS to come now!)

then i had my dad help me move maeven's dresser mirror outside and we put it against the fence and kids used stick face paint to create their own faces. (some with help).

i also had themed music playing...i bought the hampsterdance cd from the 99 cent store, and the jungle animal themed party cd from the fancy party store. kept playing those over and over.

by this point we had wild animals running amuck. and some really fabulous creations!

i also spent the good part of a week gathering up large appliance boxes (something do every year...free entertainment!) no easy task, i tell ya, since they don't hold them for you at the big stores unless you call in the wee hours of the morning when the deliveries are getting ready to go out! i had to do a couple days of setting my alarm for 6 and 7am, just to strike out a couple times, but i did get a fair amount too. and there's also clovis appliance, the only local small business that sells large appliances that just puts their boxes outside. snapped up within minutes of being put out there normally but i struck gold and made it when there were THREE outside! WOOHOO! so we had a good assortment of large boxes and every year i have adam put together a fun fort. this year it was tunnels/caves for the wild animals to play in.

oh i should mention that we use cardboard rivets, which work MARVELOUS!!! i can't recommend these enough!! these can be found at mr mcgroovy's and they are cheap and really worth it!! they make cardboard fort making FUN!! seriously! and some amazing creations!

so next i put out plain tshirts and fabric markers for them to make tshirts to enhance their costumes or for whatever they wanted to make.

then, as if they didn't already have plenty to do...i brought out the fixings to make ice-cream-in-a-bag. (what was i thinking? but it WAS a hit!) i set up moms around the small round table i had set up for snacks originally (but it kept morphing into other uses--note to self--BORROW more tables for next party! i simply don't have enough, and none are big enough.) each moms had an ingredient...so they were in charge of getting that one ingredient to the child and giving them the bags at the appropriate times, and sealing them, etc. we got quite a system going...would have been better if we had had a long table for moms on one side and kids on the other, though, but that's all i had, unfortunately. oh i could have brought out my larger round table but it didn't occur to me at the time. oh well.

the homemade ice cream was a hit, though!! and then i brought out cake and there was some storebought icecream as well.

it grew dark and the clear xmas lights hung up everywhere were lovely! i decided it was time for the goody bags because there were light sticks in them. (plus the bags were being used for putting the pinata booty in...so they needed them ahead of time). also in the goody bags were animal stickers and animal band aids (how unique is that? i thought that was too cool to pass up at the dollar store--wild animal bandaids, LOL!) i didn't get much for the bags because of all the other stuff they were bringing home. oh i forgot to mention the plastic animal plates i got also at dollar tree (2 for $!) which i gave the kids to put snacks on and then they could take home. another party favor.

then there was the pinata. have i mentioned how much i HATE pinatas? i really do. not only are they very ordinary (everyone does them at their parties...i hate ordinary, LOL. i'm just funny that way.) but they are just far too crazy and chaotic for my liking. and if it were my choice, i would have quickly nixed the pinata. but tyren decided he wanted one and daddy decided tyren REALLY wanted one, and encouraged it, so who am i to argue with what a newly 4yr old wants for his birthday when he has daddy backing him? so we did the pinata for the first time ever (and the last, i tell ya)...i bought small plastic animals to put in it (actually i kept hoping the pinata idea would be forgotten and i could hide the animals in the sandbox as i had originally planned)...and adam got the pinata and candy to fill in the rest.

we did the pinata, had a child howling because the chaos was overwhelming and she didn't get to get in and get anything...which is EXACTLY why i hate doing pinatas!! its just madness and someone often gets hurt or feelings hurt. but the kiddos shared generously with her and crying abated. (poor little thing, i really felt her pain, it was very crazy!) tyren got next to nothing since he doesn't quite get that you're supposed to go nuts and grab everything in sight...but he didn't seem to care. he had plenty of stuff...he got all the animals off the cake! so he didn't need anymore.

last was gifts and by now it was LATE. we finished off around 9:30 or so...guests departing and family sticking around later to chat. kids weren't asleep til after 11!! it was a long, exhausting, albeit successful, evening.

i do have a ton of pics, but i'm waiting on my husband to empty the card for the camera so i can get pics of the things i missed last night (the driveway, maeven's table cloth, the tunnels, etc...)

pics to come!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

a simplifying of birthdays has happened

just wanted to make sure to make note for all of those friends of our family that haven't been invited to tyren's birthday party. its not anything personal. i've just gotten to a point where i'm trying to simplify things and so i've narrowed down party lists greatly lately.

for one, we cannot afford party favors for 11-million kids anymore. for 2, i cannot fit 11-million kids and their families in my house anymore now that i have no big room to work out of (still under construction and there's no end in sight.) true, we are doing things outside for tyr's party but trust me when i say that adam's family alone is a LOT of people, and we also add mine, and the birthday child's closest friends...its quite a big event.

so i have been trying to limit the guest list (the children part) to a maximum of 10 children, including maeven and tyren. so that really means 8 guests that i plan activities and party favors for. this is totally doable to me.

but my kids know a lot of kids.

so i limit it to the children that have the most recent and/or strongest connection to my children.

this is a different group for each of my kids. there are always plenty of maeven's friends at tyren's parties because tyren spends just as much time with them and they all seem to love the tag-along brother (although maeven often does not.) but tyr has gotten a couple more friends lately, through classes he's been taking, so his repertoire is slowly growing.

anyway, there ya have it.

so its nothing against you or your family if you weren't invited. i just don't have enough room.

its such a sticky situation, parties. who to invite, who not to invite. just didn't want anyone to feel left out or feelings hurt. :)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Do Good Grades Predict Success?

Very interesting blog post: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/29/do-good-grades-predict-success/

i would agree with many of the comments on this post that grades measure very little...as some of the most intelligent and successful (in my mind) people i know did horrid in school. my husband and father, for starters. as i recall, my bro didn't do all that great either, at least up through high school. and i certainly was no A student.

i always kind of figured that if i ever did send my kids to school, that i really wouldn't put a lot of stock in their grades, because in many ways they seem utterly irrelevant. but then, i've not sent my kids to school so i don't really know how i'd feel if i did.

i find it interesting, tho, that our society always seems to put SO much emphasis on getting good grades. sure it means they are hard workers and they are able to spit back out the stuff that was thrown at them, and do the work for the papers and such that is necessary...and that's certainly valuable in some ways. but really, how much of that will they retain? some will, sure...but many of us that did ok, say, in college (i did better in college than high school, as i recall) couldn't tell you a thing about what we learned to earn those grades. i took entire classes that the entire semester or year's worth of info is completely lost to me. i realize not everyone has this happen though.

my point is that in my mind, the importance of education is in learning to love learning. and as such, your entire life is your "education." if you come away from school, whatever form it may take (be it public, private, homeschool school-at-home or unschooler), with that thirst for learning, and have the tools to enable yourself to regularly get that thirst quenched...(such as knowing how to read, which i feel is THE single most important thing anyone learns ever) then you've gotten a "good education".

and if you love learning, in my mind, you will tend to retain much of the info that you have obtained. probably not all, but a lot. i can tell you that my education was pretty mediocre because i didn't learn to love learning til well into my adulthood. and i didn't retain all that much info from what i "learned" in school.

now, i realize many people feel differently than me on this subject. and that's ok. everyone is entitled to their own thinking on any subject. this is just mine. :)