29 April 2012

A New Opinion.

But it's not really new. Millions of Moms around the world share this same opinion. I just happened to find mine particularly strong this week. I am a Stay at Home Mom. By choice.

My dear friend is a working mom. By choice. Is she wrong? Nope. She just made a different choice than I did. Are her children terrible? Absolutely NOT! She has wonderful children! Am I better than her because of the decision I made? Nope. I just made a different choice than she did. And, I've been in her shoes. I didn't like the way they fit, so I got my own.

Why am I all up in arms over this? Because recently a political figure has had his wife's status as a stay at home mother demeaned. Millions of stay at home moms got their undies in a bunch, and I must admit to being one of them. I may not bring home much income (piano lessons just don't pay well unless you have more than two students...), but I certainly work!

How much? Well... here's an outline of my typical day.

  • Up before 7 AM, because my children are all up at 7:30. I have 5 children.
  • Breakfast, then breakfast dishes. Then lunch, and lunch dishes. Then dinner, and dinner dishes.
  • School starts at 8:30. I home school all my children. One is in the fourth grade, one is doing kindergarten/first grade. One does preschool work, the other two are still working on using the toilet instead of the floor. 
  • Tuesday's my fourth grader goes to her church youth group, once monthly on a Friday she goes to her History Heroine's club where she's learning about influential women in America.
  • Every Friday ALL my children go to our home school co-op. Sometimes I teach it. Last Friday we went on a field trip. Every OTHER Friday, we go to the Library, where the children each check out 25 books - all of which I am required to keep track of so that they can each find their books when it's time to return them. I haven't lost one yet.
  • Every Other Thursday I teach a piano lesson for 45 minutes. Every Friday I teach a violin lesson.
  • I do two loads of laundry, daily. Sometimes I fold it and it gets put away. Sometimes it matures in my living room until I can get to it. I folded 6 loads today. Three of which I washed today, too.
  • I am constantly teaching my children how to pick up after themselves. I am also constantly picking up after my children.
  • I cook 99.89% of the meals. From scratch. I wash my dishes by hand. Yes, that's my choice. I have no dishwasher in my 1922 Farmhouse kitchen.
  • I help my husband cut and stack wood to fuel the 5 woodstoves we have. Most mornings, I start the fire in the kitchen to get the stove going.
  • I have no maid. I am the maid. I do the majority of the cleaning.
  • Sometime in there, I spend time with my husband.
  • I'm reading a book I started three weeks ago. I'm still on the 5th page. It's a fascinating book, filled with interruptions.
On Monday, we start a new routine. Each of the children will have their own laundry days. They will each have a day to clean both the bathrooms. They will each have a day to clean the living room, and they each have a day to help with the dishes. This is the 750 thousandth different chore chart/assignment we've tried. It is my hope that this is the last.

I will gladly admit that my life is not typical of many stay at home moms. I have three children who were born in three years. Most women don't have that. I also live a pioneer style life in a farmhouse built in 1922. I can most of my own food. I grow my own garden. I sew many of my children's clothes. I sleep on average 7 hours nightly. I used to sleep an average of 4 hours. I am trying to remember to work out daily.

So... for anyone who thinks that Stay at Home Moms don't do anything, you can come to my house and do all the things that I DON'T Do. We'll see how long you keep your opinion. My daughter changed her opinion pretty quickly when she was given that option, and I can use the vacation. Just remember, the monetary pay is non-existent. The love, on the other hand, is unconditional; the laughter, spontaneous.

Another thing: You can't quit. No matter the hours. You also can't take a sick day, you're always on call, and you have to take those hard questions. No one else is going to answer them. And no matter how annoying the "WHY?" question is, it's not ethical for you to duct tape your child to the wall. People will talk. (No, I have never done that... yet.)

Did I mention that your boss will always be younger than you and you will always have to answer to whatever needs your boss (or bosses) will have. You get puke duty - all the time. You also get to take care of the poop in the bed when your daughter doesn't wake up. (did that this morning.)

And now, I think I'll get off my soapbox. Just don't call me a housewife. My work is just as important as my good friends who teach in the elementary schools or who are bookkeepers and accountants. I just chose to be home doing my work. Some of them wish they could too. And no, I won't trade.

25 July 2011

Grocery Store Madness

I was in the grocery store this afternoon. With all 5 children in tow. Thinking to myself: "What things do I need?" Needing to THINK, because the ever-so-handy list that I had diligently made was sitting on the front seat of the Suburban on the OTHER side of the parking lot. So, row by row, I pushed my cart. And row by row, it got heavier. Not with groceries. With children.

Surely there are other mothers who take their broods with them when they go places, aren't there? Surely there are other moms who save on food money because once they load the children into the cart there isn't ROOM for food?!? I'd like to believe that there are other moms who: a) stay at home because they don't want to go insane prematurely by taking their children with them; or b) mom's who drag their children around because they (the mom's) need to develop more patience.

I think I'm of the "needing patience" variety. I suppose I could do my grocery shopping all alone in the middle of the night. Would't that be nice. Actually having energy to go shopping all alone in the middle of the night. But that begs the question... "When do I sleep?!" Oh yeah. I WOULDN'T!!! By the time 7:30 PM rolls around, I am so tired from chasing children - or being chased by children - leaving the house is almost the LAST thing I want to do. Almost.

Our arrival back home signaled time for chaos to begin.

Esbe took a drink through a straw of some liquid that had been left on the table and sucked an earwig into her mouth. The earwig, not liking being sucked into someone's mouth, pinched her - prompting spitting and the ensuing cry from shock.

Sweetie Pie started wailing because someone blinked. I'm dreading puberty with her.

Bud wanted a drink, and immediately forgot how to ask politely.

Bug tipped the ironing board over on top of herself, getting stuck.

Boo got hungry, and cried because she needed to eat.

Somewhere in the middle of this, the phone rang.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to unload and put groceries away, shoo the kitten out of the house because Bug can't open the door and she's the one who brought the kitty in to show me... AND put out all the immediate fires of attention. All without loosing my temper or laughing at the bug bite or crying myself because sometimes crying is contagious... I truly believe that the Good Lord Above has a sense of humor. He wouldn't have given me five children otherwise.

24 July 2011

Personal Relationship

I have always been taught that Prayer is just another way to develop a personal relationship with Heavenly Father. Tonight, I heard a prayer that puts MY personal relationship on a totally different - and by different, I mean... I'm not sure I have this close of a relationship with my Heavenly Father... level.

I was watching Sports Center tonight with my Hubby for our date night. One of the highlights was a Pastor in Nashville, TN who was starting the beginning of a NASCAR race with prayer (how is it that NASCAR races can start with prayer, but school can't???) The portion of his prayer that was highlighted went something like this: "Dear Lord, Thank you for my SMOKIN' HOT WIFE and my two children (insert child's name here) and (insert other child's name here) ... Bless this race to go smoothly and without accident... In Jesus Name; Boogedy, Boogedy, Boogedy, Amen." And I'm not making the boogedy, boogedy, boogedy part up.

I had no idea Jesus was named Boogedy, Boogedy, Boogedy.

All I can say is: That is ONE CLOSE RELATIONSHIP. I mean, I was always taught to talk to Heavenly Father as a friend... I'm not sure I'm there yet - having heard this prayer. I would never stand in front of a congregation and pray for my "SMOKIN' HOT" ANYBODY... Although I would laugh really hard if someone prayed like that in church. And added the Boogedy, Boogedy, Boogedy part.

21 July 2011

This one's for...

Jill. And her eternal love for S'MORES... Several weeks ago I was in Target looking for the PERFECT birthday present for Bud. (Turns out it's a miniaturized baseball mitt and ball...) As I wandered, my thoughts turned to S'mores. (Kinda hard NOT to when every single display has one ingredient or the other stacked on top!)

And then I found them. StackerMallows. (They're new from KRAFT...) Marshmallows that look as if someone took all the air out of them and squished them flat. So I bought some. And then they sat. In my cupboard. Right next to the Brownie mix. Just BEGGING to be turned into S'Brownies. Chocolatey Fudgey Gooey Brownies - topped with Marshmallows, topped with crushed Graham Cracker, and drizzled with Chocolate.

Tomorrow we're eating them. After I get the crushed Graham Cracker and Chocolate Syrup to drizzle them with. And then, I'll take a picture of them so you can see what they look like and hopefully NOT drool all over your respective computers or desks or phones...

Now... Who else just gained 30 lbs???

16 July 2011

Ode to the end of an Era...

Our fantastically fabulous babysitter is leaving us. She's headed to college. I don't know what we're going to do. She's been our babysitter for the last 4 years. Exclusively. Why do I love her?

She doesn't take any guff from any of the children or let them tell her things that we don't normally do.
She doesn't tolerate fighting from the children.
My house is always clean when I get home.
The TV is rarely on when I come home, instead, she's reading a book or studying.
She can drive.
The children love her. I mean... the children LOVE her!
She knows how to work my wood cookstove.
She has been the Easter Bunny to my children.
She doesn't let me pay her, no matter how hard I try.
She's my friend.
She's become part of the family.
She's someone that my children want to be like when they grow up.
She's smart and has ambition.
She's not afraid to tell me that she really DOESN'T want to hold the baby because baby is really small... but then she holds baby anyway because she can see that I need a fourth arm.
She IS my fourth arm...

I'm really going to miss her.

So... T.J. Westerberg. May the force be with you as you head off to college. I get first dibs when you get home. After your mom, that is. And I promise to send fudge and packages and call often.

15 July 2011

There is Madness in my Method...

I am a person who functions much better when I am organized. There are some, my DSH (dear sweet hubby), who would successfully argue that I am not an organized person. Most would be on spot with that argument 99.99999% of the time. I am, however, trying to become more organized. In ALL areas of my life - not just the diaper bag part of my life. And yes, the diaper bag is organized. If it doesn't go on the baby's bum or isn't used to wipe the bum, it's not in the bag. I don't want to have to dig for an essential.

But. I digress.

In an effort to become better organized in my grocery shopping, I set up a numbers system for my menu. I have 36 different breakfasts (soon to be 37 since I invented a FABULOUS breakfast this morning...); 25 different lunches; and 115 different dinner ideas. (Yes, you read that correctly. 115 DIFFERENT dinner ideas) Theoretically, I can have a different Breakfast and Dinner every day for more than a month. (I can go 3 months without repeating the same dinner! Theoretically.)

Here's how it works.

Each menu item has a number attached to it. At the beginning of the month, I sit down with my handy-dandy-list of ideas, and ask random people (sometimes I'm at work) to pick a number between one and whatever the highest number is. Sometimes, they think they're winning something. They're not. (If no one wants to play, I draw numbers out of a jar... Or close my eyes and point to something. It's really quite entertaining...) I'm just planning my menu. I'm not allowed to repeat the meal, and try really hard to put meals next to each other if they're going to use a lot of the same ingredients - that way I'm using leftovers and don't waste food. I start with the first day of the month and put the first number down. Sometimes, if I know that I won't be home and there will be a babysitter, I'll put in a meal that doesn't require cooking (I'm not taking time to teach a babysitter how to operate my wood cookstove. Sorry. It's not in the contract.). Once a week "Smorgasbord" falls on the menu. (Some people call this "Cafeteria Night". It's really just a glorified name for "Left-Unders" (Left Overs means that it's become a science experiment. Left Unders means its been in the fridge under 4 days.))

Once the menu for the month is complete - (and I have to add here that I have two separate seasons for cooking: Wood Stove and Barbecue. I do plan in crock pot days because I want to make sure that my children eat, but we cook exclusively on a wood cookstove or on the barbecue (amazing what you can make on the barbie!)) then I plan out my grocery list for the month. I end up shopping at the grocery store twice monthly for a cartload of stuff - and hit up the store weekly for milk and fresh veggies. I have a form that I use to determine what I need; it's divided into categories.

Why do I do this? Because as much as I love grocery shopping (and I'm totally serious. I LOVE grocery shopping!), I am not insane. Yet. My children are all still young enough that I'm NOT carting them all over the store. And I'm NOT pushing one of those oversized-hard to push-never wants to turn-shaped like a car carts. Boo is the only one who gets to go. Sometimes I have to take Bug or Bud or Sweetie Pie or S.B. or ALL of them, but those are the days that they all go to bed early, and I bite my tongue to keep from yelling. So I have a list. I also have a budget. It's just over $300 for the month. If I have a menu, I keep within my budget. If I don't have a menu, I have to listen to "What's for dinner?" and "When are we going to eat?" (this last because I spend too much time trying to figure out what's for dinner...). AND, if I don't have a menu, I may as well forget about the budget.

The beauty of my system is that anyone can do it. And it can be personalized according to what your family will eat. The bonus of the system is that you don't have to eat macaroni and cheese 3 nights a week because it's now 15 minutes before bed and no one has eaten. And yes, I've done that.

If you'd like copies of my list, click HERE and send me an e-mail. If you want my menus because that's easier, click HERE and send me an e-mail. If you want recipes, let me know in the e-mail. Not only will I send you my lists, I'll send you my grocery form that you can personalize monthly. It's fun. You should really try it. Looking forward to hearing from you!

13 July 2011

Date Update...

I was right. The date to the dentist will NOT be on the tops of my list. Ever.

I have a good dentist. Really I do. I am not, however, one of those people who hates food (is there really a person like that?). As a result, I did NOT get my milkshake, and I couldn't feel my left eyeball until close to 4 PM. Something about numbing the entire face so that they could put a crown on a tooth... who knew?!?!?

I was a source of entertainment for Andrew who kept asking me to smile... because only one side of my face would comply.

Now, I am left with feeling in my face, a sore mouth, and an inability to eat solids until my teeth stop hurting. I'm sure I don't want to eat the baby food in the pantry, but yogurt may get old... hmmmm... maybe I'll have a smoothie for dinner.

So we went to a popular restaurant for lunch after my root canal and 6 fillings (yes, there really were six...). I ordered fresh salmon. It wasn't fresh. It just tasted really fishy. I'm an Alaskan. If I can taste the fish odor, it's not fresh. (If ANYONE can taste the fish odor, it's not fresh!) I did something I have never done before, and sent it back for a replacement dish of Cheese Enchiladas. Really what I wanted was the sweet corn dessert that they put on the enchilada dish, but the enchiladas were perfect too. Too bad my mouth hurts too bad to eat it! Maybe tomorrow...

Ah well. I am now off to the kitchen to see what I can come up with for dinner for my children who are convinced that they are starving to death.