Hit the Road Jack…

I’ve been on the road a lot the last few weeks, and it looks like it’s going to continue on for just a bit longer…

It happens every summer, without me even realizing it.  You know, there are things you don’t put on your calendar because you know they are happening… and then you fill in your calendar and then realize you’ve got your staples and…

Well, if you’re like me….

I’ve been tearing the high way up.

It started at the end of June when Thing 3 had his internship in Tennessee – which was really his one on one week with Papaw learning how to do all kinds of things…. I met my parents halfway in Kingsport, Tennessee.  (Bonus… got to have lunch with the ‘rents AND go to Hobby Lobby…we don’t have one here.)

Mile racked up there and back?

340

Then, the following Friday he had to be picked up.  (Now, I’m going to be honest… the hubs ended up being off this day and so he went to get him for me… how nice, right?)  But for the sake of our car?

Another 340 miles…

math… that’s 680 miles…

Then…

Thing 2?  She spent the week with her grandmother in Philly… however, I wasn’t quite ready to put her on the train here for six hours and up and back to Philly was out of the question… so I took her to DC….

500 miles round trip…

Two days later, I left for an overnight missions trip with some kids for church….

150 miles…

I get back and take a group of kids in our summer program on a field trip to Mabry Mill…

120 miles…

And then back up to get Thing 2 in DC when she comes home…

another 500 miles…

Phew….

If my math is right (and it probably isn’t…) that’s 1950 miles in the last 3.5 weeks.

I’d like to say we’re done….. but the boys and I leave Thursday and head to Houghton, NY for Bible Quiz Nationals…

Another thousand miles…

and then?

That’s it until we go on vacation the first week in August…

Many people would HATE to be on the road this much, but I have to tell you.. I’ve had a lot of time to think, process, time with the kids, time with my hubs, and time to just marvel at the beauty of God’s creation…

And the experiences that our children have had this summer make it all worth it.

So what have you been up to this summer?

 

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Preparing to Pop the Question…

No, not THAT question…

the “will you be my valentine?” question…. and I’m not asking because I ABHOR valentine’s day, however, my children don’t… and if I didn’t give in to all that is Hallmark on that day, there would be a revolt.

Last year, I got creative with their valentines.

And by creative I mean I stole ideas from others via Pinterest.

See?

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I got the idea from here… but it was quite simple… I just took a picture of Thing 4 (holding the wreath I made – instructions here) and doctored it up with Pic Monkey.  (And she helped.)

Fired it off to Walgreens or CVS and had them printed up.

Easy peasy.

Thing 3’s were a little more complicated.

We got the idea here…. (actually, it started off with Julie’s post… and I ended up there…)

So we started off with this picture….

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And then doctored it up with Comic Life (which she says is free, but I couldn’t find it for free… so I used a 30 day free trial)… and we came up with this…

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We sent that off to Walgreens or CVS…

And when it came back we cut the sides of his fist and inserted a lollipop.

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Fairly simple. (It had to be or I would’ve NEVER been able to finish them.)

I was looking for inexpensive and easy and these fit the bill.

How about you?  Store bought or handmade?

Any great ideas?  I have to get them done this weekend!

If you’re looking for other awesome ideas (not mine of course) you can check out my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board

 

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Washing Machine Woes

Thursdays are my days off.  I use the term “off” loosely.

Because really, Thursdays are the day that I get caught up, or volunteer or do my Jesus work… just not in the office.

Today, I made hamburger patties for the Bubba Burger Burn at the school.  After hanging out with the Bubbas (the dad volunteers of the school), I headed to the food pantry where I volunteer and then headed to pick up Rhoda’s remains.

(I hate the word remains.  But ashes isn’t all that better either.)

Can I just admit something, right here?  Out loud?

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.  I never thought that I would miss her this much… but I do.  Not only did we get a little box with her ashes but a little baggie with some of her fur, a little card and this…

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If you’re local in Roanoke, and you have a pet, please consider Big Lick Vet.  They have been nothing short of amazing when it came to Rhoda.  And no, they didn’t pay me or give me anything to say that.  They are just amazing.

A quick glance at the clock and some not so quick math (curse you math genes for skipping a generation!) I realized that I had a little over an hour before I had to pick up the kids.

Decision time.

What to do for an hour and a half?  I could go home.  I could go to Target (after all, I have a gift card….oh, and you could have one, too if you wanted!).  I could go to the mall.

My life is just so happening.

After I went through all the reasons why I didn’t want to go home or to Target, I finally settled on the library.

My whole reasoning?  It was quiet.

And really?  My house would’ve been, too.

But it needs cleaning.

And they have coffee at the library. (and that’s exactly what I told the barista.)

So here I sit.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been to the library without the kids.  I attempted to find an audio book to listen to since I’m in the car a minimum of 90 minutes every day, but the one I knew I wanted they didn’t have… and then I decided that I needed something that would also be kid friendly.  And then I decided that I should just look online for something I can download to my phone, so that if I got into the book, I didn’t have to wait until I got in the car again… since I have no CD player in my house.

First world problems, I know.

I really probably should’ve gone home and attempted to clean up the mess in the basement.  The washer broke last night and there was water everywhere.  I’m thankful for a husband who took it apart and is getting the part we need today.  Otherwise, I would’ve been using this hour and a half to shop for a new washer.

The problem with the washer breaking is that I was already behind my weekly wash schedule.

(Not that anyone in the house cares but me…)

And, Thing 2 came down frantically needing her uniform washed for today.  Explaining that I was off duty for circumstances out of my control, she was none too happy.

“What will we do?  I NEED my uniform and it stinks,” she exclaimed.  I smelled it.  I was of the opinion that she could slide by with a little Febreeze but I guess when you’re playing in the regional tournament, you want it to be really clean.

Not just spray clean.

After convincing her that 9 at night was too late to ask the neighbors to borrow the washer I told her I would hand wash it.

“Hand wash?” her face had a quizzical expression.

“Yes.  Hand wash.  In the sink.  With some soap and water.  What do you think they did before washing machines?’

So, in the sink at 9:30 at night I hand washed her uniform.

And then I prayed that the part would be available today and that I could have my washing machine back.  It’s not anything spectacular, but as much as I love history, I don’t really want to relive the good ol’ days when it comes to our dirty clothes.

Nope.  I don’t.

I would, however, like to go back to the days when there were no cell phones, caller ID, call waiting or voice mail and answering machines…

but that’s another post for another day…

Until next time…

 

 

 

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Teens and Technology: What We Expect, Won’t Allow and Why

teens_and_technology My 14 year old thinks that I’m the worst parent.  (I’m sure the other three think this… but none are as vocal as she….yes… I know… the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)

I’ve been accused of “ruining her life” (more than once).

I’ve been told that I’m the meanest mom ever.  (Which, while I would love to stake claim on that title, I can’t.  My mother, until the day that she dies, says that SHE’S the meanest mom.  And she’ll tell anyone that who attempts to take the title from her.)

I’ve been told to “calm down” (to which I’ve told her that she doesn’t want to see me “not calm.”)

She’s informed me that other parents aren’t as strict.  (Clearly she never lived under my father’s roof.)

It’s been mentioned that no other parents have the same rules that I do.  (Which is a lie because I’ve talked to other parents.  There are a few of us who feel the same way.)

But here are the biggest bones of contention….and where we stand

We do not allow SnapChat.

I don’t care that other kids have a snap chat account.  My children will not.  Snap Chat, if you are not aware, is a messaging system that deletes the message/picture 10 seconds after it’s opened.  It was created by a group of college kids as a safe way to sext.  If that’s what it was created for, then don’t you think kids will do that with it?

Now…I’m not accusing my daughter of sexting or even wanting to do that (because honestly?  I think way more highly of my children than they think I do…) but SnapChat provides a false sense of security to those who use it.

Sure, I’ll just tell my best friend (of the day) that I hate this other girl (that I was best friends with yesterday) because she <insert current offense here>.   She’ll read it and then it will be gone… she can’t forward it… it will just be between she and I.

WRONG.

She can screen shot it and even if she didn’t…. EVERYTHING is stored on the internet.

Kids today have so much drama in their lives and they FEED off of each other.  The internet, smart phones, Facebook, texting… it all just heightens it.  They don’t need to feel safe when sending something to someone else. We have a rule in our house hold and that is “if you would not feel comfortable saying it in front of a parent or the person that you’re talking about, don’t say it at all.”

We don’t allow Ask.FM.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ask.FM, it’s a social media site in which you can ask people to answer questions and then you answer them.  You can do so anonymously or attach your name to it.

Guess what kids do? They ask anonymously AND bring other people in to the mix.  Because kids are behind the screens they have this false sense of security in that they are safe in asking a question and don’t have to worry about the repercussions.

Because I can assure you, 99% of these kids would NEVER say/ask these things in person.

On that same note?

We don’t allow our children to participate in any TBH’s (or the like)

I don’t allow it anywhere… on instagram, Facebook (when she had an account, she doesn’t now because of it), twitter, etc.

TBH stands for to be honest…. and so you like their status and they will come over and say something honest about how they feel about you… and sometimes?

It’s not nice.

And it’s not nice because they have that screen in front of them. This is not my rule to protect her from what others will say about them, it’s also about protecting MY CHILDREN from saying something not nice about someone else! I’m not ignorant.  I have a fourteen year old girl and she has the potential to be just as vicious as anyone else out there, but I do feel that it’s my job as a parent to limit HER from being the bully.  She’s just as confident as everyone else with the screen in front of her.

Along the lines of the TBH they do the rate system… like my status and I’ll rate you.

How would you feel if you did this and expected some pretty high numbers but Jane Doe said 5 and got all her friends to go and comment a 5 or less.

And we wonder why teen suicide is on the rise?

We require a signed contract and for our children to pay their cell phone bills

The hubs and I are under contract with our cell phone, so why shouldn’t our children be?

The contract states that they will maintain their grades, that they have to have our permission to open an account, that their phone be turned off during school hours and during church, among other stipulations.

They aren’t harsh.

They are in an effort and attempt to help them with good cell phone/technology etiquette.  If we don’t teach them, how will they learn?

Also, they are required to pay for their cell phone.  I don’t ask much, nor do I ask for it in cash.  I simply ask for a simple chore to be done daily in exchange for the cell phone.

They are also allowed to call me on it if I’m breaking a rule.  Because I don’t think that I should be allowed to use my cell phone at the table if they aren’t.

Oh… and contacts?  Useless unless you enforce them.  I knew she got it the day she walked in the house and handed me her report card and her cell phone at the same time.

We make them turn off their cell phones/tablets in the evening and they must be charged in a public place

Friends have been over that were on their phones at 4am. (And when I asked if that would be allowed at their house… they normally don’t have an answer.) Kids have no business on the phone at 4am.

To anyone.  Unless there is a drastic emergency.

And at 4am, they are unsupervised.  (Clearly, because I’m asleep way before that!)

Plus?  If a cellphone/tablet is in a room, it’s pretty easy to be playing games instead of sleeping and they need to be sleeping.  They need that sleep!  (And I can attest and prove all those studies true — the brightness of the screen DOES keep me awake!)

We are able to spot check phones at our discretion and no texts are able to be deleted without permission

There is no sense of privacy (to a degree) at our house with those under the age of 18.  I am NOT snooping in bedrooms unless I’m given a darn good reason to do so.

Our rules with the phones are that if you aren’t comfortable saying it in front of us, don’t text it. Therefore, there should be nothing in a text that you don’t want us to see.

If my children or husband were to pick up my phone right now and start reading through my messages, I would have no problem with it.  There is nothing in there that I wouldn’t want them to see.  I expect the same of the kids’ phones.

(And in case you’re wondering, I learned that the hard way.)

Computers/Tablets are only to be used in Public Areas of the House

We have two laptops in our house.  Mine and the school issued laptop for Thing 1.  Neither are to be used outside the common areas of the house.

Why?

Accountability.

There’s no pressure to be on a website or doing something that you shouldn’t when any one of your siblings or parents can walk by at any moment.

It’s not because I’m mean.  But I have accountability partners in my life… why wouldn’t I do that for my children?

These are just a few of our rules.

I’ve been called radical with my parenting.

I’ve been told that I’m hovering.

I’ve been told that I don’t trust my children.

Maybe I’m all of the above, but I don’t think so.

I was allowed three 10 minute phone calls a day when I was a teenager.  THAT was radical.   I’m surprised I survived!

I’m only hovering to teach… and as they learn and are responsible, I back off… the rules for the 16 year old have changed over time as he’s shown maturity with technology.

I do trust my children, but I don’t trust the world or the worldy influences around them.  It’s our job as parents to protect them… not shelter, but protect. And yes.  I know that’s a fine line.  I ask myself daily where I am on that line.

I LOVE social media and technology and I don’t want to even take that away from kids.  I want people to embrace it.  I want my kids to see the good in technology and use it for GOOD.

But I work with kids and teens.  I see the influences that they have on one another.  I see what they are faced with on a daily basis.

And if you thought it was hard for you to go through the tweens and teens stages, it’s 100x harder for them.  They are dealing with things now that we never even knew existed.

I’m glad that my kids think I’m mean and that I don’t care.  It means I’m doing my job. It means that I do care!

You aren’t here to be their friends… you’re here to love them, even if that’s sternly…. Because you have plenty of time to be their friend when they are out on their own. (And that was just as much for my benefit as it was yours!)

What rules do you have for your kids that they think are too harsh?  Do you monitor your kids’ technology usage?

Until Next Time…

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Airing My Dirty Laundry

Heh.

I just finished a load of laundry.  It belongs to Thing 4.  Yes.  The whole load.

It’s my new laundry system and it’s working FAMOUSLY.

So I thought I would share it with you….and where it derived from.

Now, first, I have to tell you that I’m pretty lucky to have a husband who doesn’t mind doing laundry.  However, he’s unaware of things like delicates, line dry, etc.

Additionally, he sometimes confuses my jeans with that of my 16 year old son.

I don’t mind so much as having to hear the whining from the kids when Thing 3 comes to me holding Thing 4’s clean underwear as if there are cooties on them asking why her Hello Kitty panties are in his pile of stuff.

But no matter who does the laundry there are always complaints… “I put that in the laundry three days ago,” or “It’s not anywhere and I know that I put it in the laundry.”

I hate that.

I hate being the target of the missing clothes because they put it in the basket and they aren’t sure where it is in the laundry process.

So my new plan?

Everyone has a laundry day.

I’ll still do it… wash, fold, and return to the owner, but in return, they must take it to the laundry room on their day.

We even have the schedule hanging in the kitchen.

house of chaos laundry schedule

It’s that simple.  Today, before we left for the dreaded commute, Thing 4 brought me her laundry and I put it in…

When I got home I threw it in the dryer and tonight it was folded and returned to her.

More often than not, they have it before bedtime.

Tonight, I slacked a little bit.

But she got back everything she put in.

Including all of her socks (matched, I might add).

And for me?  One load of laundry isn’t daunting.  It takes a total of 15 minutes a day.

Did I mention everyone is happy?

They are.

I just wish I would’ve started this earlier!

How do you handle laundry in your abode?

Until next time…

 

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