Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kid Sayings Catch-up

I haven't recorded cute kid sayings and doings in a while, so I'm feeling a need to catch up for my memory banks. Here's a few highlights from the past few months:

Thanksgiving: We hosted Thanksgiving at our house last November -- just us, my sister's family, and my mom. That resulted in my five-year-old, my sister's four-year-old and her then-seven-year-old, who had declared themselves "the superheroes" at a family lakeside vacation in August, attiring themselves in superhero costumes -- at one point, this was blankets used at capes; later, they raided the dress-up bin to become a super ballerina/fairy, a super mouse and a super flower-headdress-wearing/tutu-attired/wand carrying something. (I suspect that may have also been a fairy.) They also had "flying practice": jumping off the steps leading down to the lower level of our split-level home. They never jumped off any steps higher than the third one up and, while I was speculating on whether we adults should stop this for safety reasons, my mom happened to inform me that, "I'd tell them to stop, but I remember doing the same thing." The things you learn about your relatives.

Christmas: The eve of our departure for Iowa -- which had been the last day of school before break -- Nora had a somewhat predictable meltdown. Her response, however, when I tried to reassure her about the part of her worries that entailed that she wasn't going to see her "best friend" for a "whole week!" by telling her that, "Well, you'll do different things over break, and M will do different things, so when you do see each other again, you'll have lots of new stuff to talk about" -- was met with, "But Mo-o-m! We don't wanna *talk* about stuff at recess! We just wanna run around!" How dare I.

January: Nora is taking dance lessons, and is immensely excited about the upcoming recital -- the one at the end of the dance year. She found out the date at a lesson in January and *immediately* upon coming home, had to tear up pieces of construction paper so that she could write the date on them so that her teachers knew when her recital was. (Yes, it's six months away.)

We had one day in January (a far cry from last year, for sure!) when the good sledding hill at the nearby park had enough snow upon it be open and we had time to use it, so we seized the day by spending an afternooon sledding. Several other children/families had had the same idea, and it may have been inspiration from some of the boys that led Nora to begin a practice of perching her plastic sled on the very crest of the hill, and launching herself onto it with running jumps so that it began its descent with extra momentum. (There are some days I think I gave birth to
Evil Knievel.)

February: Ah, the vagaries of elementary-age relationships. Nora knows a boy from our neighborhood who rides the same school bus, and she sees him sometimes at school. She told me that, the other day, W was "having a hard day. So I gave him a hug in the lunchroom. I think I made his day worse." We had a little talk about how second grade boys don't always like to be hugged.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Menu Plan Monday, Challenge Update, Weekend Review

Well, this weekend, I got my closet and dresser mostly cleared out. I still have a couple of drawers to organize and a couple of other categories to organize in my bedroom. There are a couple of big bags of clothes that will be traded and/or donated at an event this weekend, plus I worked some more on sorting the "stuff to shred" pile as a continuation of January's paperwork concentration. I'd say there are at least 29 items among both these categories (one for each day of February, as per Carla's challenge). While they haven't left my house yet, they will!

I worked on some of that paperwork stuff while the family watched the Puppy Bowl and Shrek (the latter as part of our free Blockbuster Online membership) over the weekend. I think I actually may need to start watching more TV in order to get things accomplished. Hmm.

I also finished reading The True History of Tea over the weekend and started on the book for church book group, Altar in the World, An: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor.

Saturday started out as a cozy day, lying in bed reading a bunch of books to the five-year-old. She and I also baked another batch of cookies on Saturday afternoon; this time, Sparkling Sugar Cookies. (They're sparkling because you flatten them out with the bottom of a glass dipped in colored sugar before you bake them. I have had colored sugar containers in my cupboard for...years, possibly...but I'm thinking they're not going to have the same shelf life as the five-year-old gets more involved in the cooking.) For the record, I keep offering chocolate chip cookies as one of the options for these baking sessions, but she keeps turning that down.

We also attended a children's theater production of Llama Llama, Red Pajama, based on the book by Anna Dewdney. It was part of the premiere run of this show, and, of course, they had to make some changes from the book -- primarily by expanding the cast to incoporate six different baby llamas and accompanying mama llamas. Each baby llama had their own personality -- a soccer player, a tap dancer, etc. -- and each also had their own "dolly llama." (Say that out loud. :) )

We went to the show on Sunday afternoon, in part because we could then incorporate our family's traditional weekly meal out into the day, without adding a restaurant meal to the week. We tried a newly opened barbecue restaurant in our town. It was OK, but I've had better. On the plus side, kids eat free there on Sundays.

So far, we have had one no spend day in February: the 1st. Today could have been another one, but DH has to go to an out-of-state funeral, so he will be buying gas. This is the last family member of that generation on his mother's side to pass away; the last on his father's side passed away last fall. That means it's down to his generation. (He is one of the youngest.)

At least my doing after-school kiddo care for a couple of days will give me time to bake Zucchini Bread with last summer's shredded zucchini that I thawed from the freezer, and thereby provide breakfast material. (ETA: No, it won't. I did make brownies from a mix in the cupboard.) I am also going to try to have my book group at my house tonight instead of trying to reschedule everyone (we usually meet at a bookstore's coffee shop). We will see how that goes.

Here is this week's menu plan, starting with what we ate over the weekend.

(You can see more menu plans at Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday link-up).

Saturday: Apple Oven Pancake.

Sunday: DH was happy with chips, salsa and chili cheese sauce in front of the Super Bowl. Nora and I partook of a few of these, but we also had a "real" supper -- of Scrambled Eggs and Toast (with "Grandma Jam," as we call it -- my mom makes it from her rhubarb patch every spring).

Monday: Goulash: we have enough macaroni left in a container for a two-people meal, but not three. It will get thrown in with some already-browned hamburger from the freezer.

Tuesday: Macaroni and Cheese with Tuna: a childhood favorite, from boxes and cans  from the cupboard (not really DH's favorite).

Wednesday: Black Bean Taco Bake. Nora requested tacos recently, and we need to use up more of those tortillas from the fridge, plus some homemade salsa from last summer's veggies in the freezer.

Thursday: Brats and Sauerkraut. We have several jars of sauerkraut in the cupboard. We need to get eating.

Friday: Probably Pizza.

Saturday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup? It depends on the day's activities, and who needs to get where when at what time.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

February First Goal Post (and Carla's Challenges)

Happy Groundhog's Day! Evidently, Punxsatawney Phil saw his shadow, leading to a prediction of six more weeks of winter. Here in Minnesota, it was so foggy this morning that seeing any shadows was unlikely, and it seems like winter has already ended, we have had so little snow.

The year, however, continues apace, and it's time to look at another month of goal-setting. I'm trying out the challenges from Carla at My 1/2 Dozen Daily this time, and this post is my starting one for that, as well as incorporating my own personal goals for the month.

Carla is running both a Low(No) Spend Challenge and a Declutter Challenge for the month.

While I don't know how Low I'm going to go in the spending this month (there are a couple of purchases I've been putting off), I do have financial goals for the month. (And I think I'm "officially," for me, starting this challenge on Monday, because that works better for me -- and that gives me a couple of days in this week to achieve my unaccomplished January goals :). )

So, here are Carla's rules:

1. Choose a financial goal for the month!

My January goals to finish up:
             1) create a monthly budget

             2) changing direct deposit allocations into checking/savings (need to do because our bank is changing its accounts and we will get hit with fees if we keep our current configuration)

February financial goals:
            1) tally up taxes info (get in order and get totals for charitable contributions, educational expenses, extra income from online surveys, etc.)
            2) set tax appointment
            3) set up automatic deposits into Roth IRA

and, if I get really ambitious in February (although these parts of this year's goals may need to move to March)
            4) reallocate 401K
            5) open a savings account for the kiddo

2. How will you achieve your goal this month?

I have all the records for the tax stuff, but they're all thrown into one big folder and not sorted. I need to sort them logically (and, um, probably start keeping the 2012 ones in better order for next year... ) and just do the calculations. I also keep lists on Remember the Milk, which also helps in the tallies.

I need to complete the monthly budget -- again, I have the information (saved via documenting our spending on Spending Diary, thanks to Sharon at Midlife Mom Musings); I just need to work with it -- in order to figure out the proper allocations for changing our direct deposits. Then, it's just a matter of paperwork and potential phone calls to the bank...oh, joy.

Getting a tax appointment set up is another phone call -- but we're still waiting on a 1099.

Setting up automatic deposits to the Roth IRA is more phone calls/paperwork. Both DH and I are taking less in our dependent care FSA's this year, and there were some slight year-end raises, so I think the small amount of extra money from that can get shifted into IRA funding.

3. How will you allot your spending this month?

I don't know yet, because I haven't done the budget. :)

4. Track your purchases!

This, I already do through Spending Diary, and it is pretty darn helpful.

5. Are there any “exemptions” for the month?

The aforementioned "stuff I've been putting off," which includes a haircut, some stuff for the house that will help in the ongoing organization--file folders, for instance, and possibly some clothes for me, plus a family trip to a children's theater. I would also like to make a couple of book purchases. These are all things that fall under my other goals, for which the broad categories are "Family and Friends" and "Health and Beauty" along with "Crafting/Creativity and Faith/Spirituality." My fourth category is "Finances and Organization" -- and I think Carla has that covered. :)

Now, for Carla's Declutter Challenge:

The "Week One" is a Personal Space Challenge, for which I'm taking on: my bedroom. It will involve a closet purge, and a "top of the dresser"/"stacks on top of the cabinets" purge and organization. Photos forthcoming.

And, my own February goals. (This month's theme goal for me, since it holds Valentine's Day, is "Family and Friends.")

Family and Friends

• Work on building N's cooking skills, let her choose recipes
            1) Make at least one batch of cookies and one batch of muffins
• Read-aloud books using lists as suggested in Read-Aloud Handbook, Honey for a Child's Heart, Ambleside Online
            2) Read at least two books from "book lists"
                 - start read-alouds of Laura Ingalls Wilder books?
            3) Reward successful completion of school read-a-thon mid-month. Might let her pick out a new book at a bookstore. (I have a coupon that would make this free.)
• Encourage Bible reading/devotions

             1) Figure out something age-appropriate for Lent, beginning February 22

Family Fun
• Attend children's theater production
• Kid's church choir performance
• Plan family Valentine's Day meal and/or activities
• Plan family Mardi Gras meal and/or activities

Extended Family
• Re-extend dinner invitation to husband's cousin and actually get a date settled on the calendar
• Order Girl Scout cookies 

Friends (and also Extended Family)

• Read Facebook updates at least three times a week; post at least once a week
• Attend at least two women's group/friends events


• Read through Bible chronologically
         1) Follow reading plan here
• Read at least one book "off the shelves"(a book that I already own and that is on my shelves, thereby accomplishing potential decluttering and achieving a "should do")
       1) I'm thinking The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
may be a good candidate for this
• Update and improve style
       1) Purge wardrobe; any replacements or updates should follow style guidelines for body type and coloring
       2) Admit that I can probably only squeeze one more application of skin-treatment facial cleanser out of that bottle, if I squeeze really hard and hold my tongue the right way, and actually buy a new one (see "exemptions" to spending challenge above)
      3) Get haircut
      4) I might have to buy socks and underwear.

It's a short month, with a lot of goals -- which is why I'll probably be doubling up some of them to accomplish in a "two-fer."