Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Family goes to see Jack Johnson

The first time the Dad and I saw Jack Johnson in concert was on my 30th birthday. Since then we have made it a family tradition to take in a concert every year around my birthday. Last year the Boy joined the tradition with his first concert- Jimmy Buffet. This year we were fortunate enough to see Jack Johnson again (the Mom and Dad) and for the first time (the Boy).
It was everything an outdoor concert should be. Beautiful weather, clear sky and bug free! Jack goes above and beyond to make his concerts as eco friendly as possible. This year Jack created a area called the "Village Green" were concert goers could learn about eco causes, register to vote and donate to various charities. We all had a blast and can't wait to pick our concert for next year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's My Birthday!

Today is my 33rd birthday- I am here to tell you that I got sh*t for my birthday!. Told the Dad I was going to say that because he bought me a compost machine for my birthday. Given our growing commitment to a green lifestyle it is a welcome present.
Even more touching is the fact that the Dad used the money he earned by selling his comics and brewing equipment for my present. Previously the money had been earmarked for a new laptop so he sacrifice is very touching.
The Boy had a modified day at school today (half day) and he made me a grilled cheese for lunch. So sweet of him. He is all about helping out in the kitchen these days and learning how to cook.
It was such a treat today to get happy birthday wishes from my CS friends across the country.
I received a wonderful phone call from Elle and Pants as well as cards and pictures in the mail from them. Pants sang me a beautiful rendition of "Happy Happy" which is her version of the Happy Birthday song.
S.R. my sister in law also called to wish me a happy birthday. It was fun hearing about how big my goddaughter is getting.
Sadly tomorrow marks the end of my birthday-palooza until next year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Squirrel on the Loose

The events of today provided me with further proof of the theory of karma. Not sure exactly what I have done recently to deserve all of the events that happened today. I have some ideas- nothing major but I have probably been a wee bit too snarky this week for my own good.

The day started off with the discovery that $445 worth of debit charges that weren't mine on my account. 4 charges to Target and one to Toys R Us. The result was a couple of hours worth of phone calls to the bank, Target and Toys R Us. The lovely people on the WIR gave me a few suggestions on steps to take to protect my bank accounts.

Just as I was finally able to control the panic attacks from the banking mess, my partner Derek yelled "shut your door!" So of course I left my office to find out why I should shut my door. Lucky me I was just in time to see our new friend scurry across the floor.

You know it's never good with the word "scurry" is used in a sentence. Seems some wayward squirrel has decided that my place of business makes an excellent rodent hotel. A quick Google search on "squirrel trapping" answered most of the questions that I had on evicting my new friend.

Awaiting to see the effectiveness of our attempts-- one live trap cage baited with a Reece's peanut butter cup. Not sure why we landed on a candy bar to lure the squirrel but the convenience store was much closer than the grocery store.

Fingers crossed in the hopes that the squirrel likes chocolate and has his bags packed for his new home (at least 3 miles from the office as per Google)

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Mom likes to Brag

So far the new school year is off to a smashing success. The Boy proudly came home with his first two tests of the school year- both A+. It is wonderful to have the Boy so proud of school and happy to be back in the swing of things.
What a relief to have us in the third week of school with no breakdowns, no arguments, temper tantrums etc. He is still showering without much complaint, doing his homework and going to bed without a fight. It is so great to see him growing up and getting older but it is a little sad to know that my baby is nearly a teenager.

The Dad is feeling a bit guilty about the Date Night that never was and has some secret plans for my birthday on Wednesday. Since we have virtually eliminated eating out from our lives I have been having a terrible time trying to pick a restaurant to have my birthday dinner at. I solved that little problem quite easily tonight.
The Boy is now scheduled to make dinner (with supervision) one night per week- he has decided to make dinner on Wednesday for my birthday!

I realize it's only Monday but I really hope the rest of this week flies by.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Date Night that Never Was

After surviving the work week I can home from work on Friday ready to enjoy the weekend. The Boy was invited to a sleep over at J-Dog's house. So like any reasonably minded female I started thinking- woo hoo date night!
I should have known from experience that when The Mom comes up with a little mental plan things always go awry. The nerve of the men/boys that live at my house with me!
The Boy decided I should feed him before his sleepover so The Dad decided was should have dinner a a family. Ok- nice family time but that canceled any opportunity to have a nice quiet meal at a restaurant with the Dad. No big deal.
So I get back from dropping the Boy off at J-Dog's and start thinking- "Ok maybe now we can go out and do something". What a fool I was.
While I was driving the 4 blocks to J-Dog's the Dad was putting on his pajamas and getting comfortable for the night. Ok- cancel leaving the house. So I start thinking- Oh maybe we can watch a nice movie together. Again- what a fool (you would think I would learn my lesson).
The Dad claims the remote and suggests we watch Zodiac. No big deal- not my first choice but I can deal.
All was going along smoothly until I scolded the dogs for snoring so loudly and found out it was my "date" aka The Dad who was snoring!
So my Date Night schedule was as follows:
6:00 Made dinner for the family
6:30 Drove the Boy to J-Dog's
7:00 Started watching Zodiac
8:00 the Dad fell asleep on the sofa.
10:00 Zodiac ended and I woke up the Dad and sent him to bed.

I tell you what- he owes me do-over on Date Night!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Case of the Blah's

Today I am experiencing a small case of the Blah's. No discernible reason for it other than "because". I'd like to imagine that I am not the only one out there that just wants to stomp there feet and march back to bed.
I heard today that our own Miss Pants had a case of the "my day is going terribles" and voluntarily went off to take a nap. As I sit here and type this I am pretty jealous of Miss Pants. She had a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day and sulked in her playroom until Elle came home from work. As a grown up I don't really get that option.
I fought the urge to go shopping today since the "I wants" go hand in hand with the Blah's. I want new clothes because all of my old ones are ugly. I want new books because the ones I checked out from the library are boring. The list can go on and on but you get the basic idea.
I text The Dad to warn him and tell him to not let me go shopping under any circumstances. His solution "You can always go to the store and buy me a graphing calculator". Not sure how driving to the store to buy him something for school is supposed to cheer me up.
So I am resigned to the fact that I can't very well get away with a croppy flop of a temper tantrum. When I get home from work I won't be able to take a nap since the Boy needs to do his homework and will want to have dinner.
You know, it's days like this when being a grown up is no fun at all. I am calling this current mood "Frugal Fatigue" I am tired of being responsible and mature dammit. I want to...... honestly, I don't know what I want. I think I mostly just want it to be Friday.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Boy Goes Swimming

On Saturday we spent the day hanging out with The Boy's Nana and Papa (The Mom's parents) at their vacation home in Palm Springs. As with most of our visits at their house- the day wouldn't have been complete without a quick dip in the swimming pool.

Nothing says afternoon fun with your grandpa quite like using him as a diving board!

Of course with the temps hovering well above the triple digits a trip to the pool becomes all most mandatory.
Sadly the weekend came to an end and Nana and Papa have flown back to MN.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Successful School Week

We have nearly reached the end of the first week back at school for the Boy. I believe we can chalk this week up as a successful one.
Highlights as follows:
According to the Boy:
Teacher- super cool because she went to adult space camp this summer
Room- biggest classroom in the school square footage wise (apparently that's a good thing)
Students- same kids as the last 2 years so all of his friends are there.
According to the Mom:
Parents- the Dad and I both made it through the first day of 5th grade dry eyed
Teacher- let the parents see the classroom (much to the Boy's embarrassment)
Room- towards the front of the school so when the Boy forgets something I don't have to wonder through the entire courtyard to get to his classroom
Students- same as last year so I am used to the parents

The Boy has taken this whole being a 5th grader seriously. As previously agreed upon he has taken all showers without complaint, gone to bed on time every night, started his homework exactly at the pre-agreed upon time, and started riding his bike to school.
The bike thing was almost worse than the first day of school for me. He took off while I was still locking up the house so I had to yell my good-byes when he was half way down the block. I did follow behind him in the car but was able to resist the urge to park and help him lock up the bike. I will admit I was a nervous wreck waiting for him to get home from school yesterday (first bike day) and call to report he was safe and sound.
Today watching him ride off on his bike was a little easier- especially since the Dad and I decided that the Boy isn't allowed to drive until he is 30 or date until he is 40. PS. please don't tell the Boy because he is still under the impression that he'll get his license at the same time as everyone else.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Boy goes to 5th grade

Today was a sad day for me and the Dad. Our boy went off to 5th grade this year with hardly a backwards glance. In fact when the teacher gave us permission to go into the classroom to say good-bye he was borderline embarrassed! The nerve of that kid. Of course we had been harassing him all morning long about being a 5th grader.

He is in the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) class again. Actually kind of nice since there is only one GATE class in every grade he has had the same kids in his class since 2nd grade. There are 160 kids in his grade so being with the same 30 year after year has it's advantages.

The downside of GATE is that the kids have a LOT of homework and extra projects that they are expected to do. Plus since they have all tested at Gifted Level the teachers have no patience for laziness. Their motto is "there is no greater shame than a bored gifted kid". Needless to say homework becomes a battle some nights at our house.

So the Boy is now a 5th grader. He has once again abandoned the nest and ventured out into the world. We did manage to get some action shots of a 5th grader before he started just giving us dirty looks. You can tell by the time he was at the door ready to leave he was done being amused by his parents.

Action shots:
This is how a 5th grader eats breakfast

How a 5th grader brushes his teeth
And how a 5th grader barely looks amused as his mom begs for one last picture before he leaves for school.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Proud Mommy

I recently ranted about kindergarten stealing my son and making him grow up. Apparently I may be having a slight change of heart. This weekend the Boy reminded me why his growing up isn't necessarily a bad thing. My parents used to tell me that one day I would be punished with a child just like me. I am finding it isn't as much of a punishment as they would have hoped.
The Boy is starting to really grow in to his personality and it is an amazing thing to watch. Our parenting philosophy has been to expose the Boy to as many cultures and lifestyles as possible and raise him to be an open minded person. So far we have surpassed our expectations.
The Boy is growing into his opinions and wears the hat of an environmental warrior, champion for gay rights and political dynamo.
There is something magical about the Boy. I saw that knowing full well that it sounds like parental bragging but he really does have this inner glow. People want to talk to him and be his friend. This is a skill that he uses only for good. When the kids on the playground at school use a derogatory term for a homosexual he scolds them. Tells them that it is a disrespectful term and that he can not be friends with people that use those terms. So far 100% of the time the offending kid has apologized and stopped using that term. They aren't calling the Boy names just using things like the phrase "that's so gay."
As a environmental warrior and animal rights activist he is finding his footing there as well. He recently announced his desire to only wear vegan footwear. He doesn't feel it is right for animals to die just to make his shoes. When we became vegetarians we let him switch on his own and he continued to eat meat a couple of times a month but has now decided that he doesn't want to eat meat at all anymore.
It makes me proud of the Boy to know that he is willing to have his own opinions and stand up for them. I am looking forward to seeing what the next chapter brings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Trying to Give Money Away

As part of the save the world and our pocketbook campaign, the CS ladies have a weekly challenge. Some weeks it's about putting money into savings, other weeks it's about clearing out the clutter in our homes, etc.
This week our challenge is to purchase and donate school supplies to those in need. Sounds like an easy challenge right? Yeah, that's what I foolishly thought too.
Had I just gone straight to Staples and done an in store purchase I could have dropped items off in their collection bin. But, no that was too easy for The Mom. I was determined to ensure that the donation would go straight to local schools and kids. Not an easy task mind you.
I started with the Salvation Army, thinking maybe they were collecting school supplies. After trying to reach them via phone half a dozen times I gave up trying.
Apparently no one answers the phone at the Boy's elementary school during the summer months. The school district office assumed I was a nutcase.
Finally I found a number for a local charity and called them. They put me in touch with another charity that was exactly what I was looking for.
It's a small charity called Operation School Bell. They collect school supplies and hand them out to families in need. I spoke with the organizer and have a list of items they are looking for. Step 2 is to actually make it to the store and stock up on the items they requested and drop them off at the charity.
This fiasco reminded me of our Christmas experiences. In an effort to teach the Boy about the importance of helping others we tried to adopt a family at Christmas. This proved nearly impossible as well. Again, charities refusing to return phone calls or not answering their phones.
Why is it everyone that I don't want to give money to wants my money? And those that I would gladly donate to don't answer their phones?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't let your kids go to Kindergarten

I am really not trying to rob your children of an education. I just want to warn you of what will happen when your sweet innocent child will leave the nest for his or her first day of kindergarten--- they will start to grow up!
Yes, it is sad but true. I remember so naively thinking how wonderful it would be when the Boy started school. The adventure of buying new school clothes and school supplies. Meeting his teacher for the first time. It all seemed so pure and wonderful. But it is basically the beginning of the end.
From their first day of school time speeds up to a hectic pace and all efforts to slow down and smell the roses are useless. Trust me, I speak from experience.
I remember the day like it was yesterday (mostly because I am convinced it was)...
I dropped the Boy, who at the time was still my Baby off at school- safely in the care of his new teacher. I drove to work with tears streaming down my cheeks, determined to make it to 3 pm when I could have my baby back.
I rushed to the school to pick up my Baby and a 10 year old boy walked out the door and hoped in the car. I swear it's true- because there is no way that 5+ years have passed since he started school. Where on earth did the time go?
Today when I go home from work I will not be greeted by a vibrant 5 year old. In his place will be a handsome 10 year old. A full on pre-teen kid!
In the past week I have been informed that:
1- he no longer has owies. He has bruises, scratches, etc. But not OWIES
2- he is too old for the kids menu at restaurants as they are for "little kids"
3- cartoon type movies are "Boring"
4- he has also informed me that he will be picking out his clothes for school this year.

Knock me over with a feather I tell you. It all started because of that fateful first day of kindergarten. My baby went to school and started to grow up. I have begged him repeatedly to stop growing up and to stay the age he is. Unfortunately he just laughs at me like I am kidding.

So, yes- I blame kindergarten. If I had it to do all over I wouldn't let him go.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Challenge Failure on Day #2?

I posted our family monthly challenge goals just yesterday morning. One of our first goals was to not purchase anything this month other than food items. Day one- success. Day two- bump in the road.
As a family we have decided to head to Laguna Beach tomorrow to do some body surfing and play in the sand. Sounds like a nice free day right? Wrong, as we haven't been to the beach yet this summer we forgot that our beach towels are somewhere in Mexico. We packed them on our vacation to Mexico last summer and sacrificed them when our luggage was too full. So one trip to Target to pick up some beach towels later our "buy nothing except food goal" has hit a snag.
However, we rebounded well and found some nice towels on end of season clearance. Success! Unfortunately our elation id not last long. After we returned home we discovered that one of the cables on the computer needed to be replaced as well.
But alas, never fear, I am not ready to throw in the towel for the month yet.

Friday, August 1, 2008

August Goals

As it is the first of the month it is time for me to be accountable for the month and put our family goals in writing.
  • No purchases other than food
  • Workout 20 times this month
  • Find a volunteer opportunity for the family
  • Build our green compost bin
  • Play 10 board games with The Boy (his suggestion)
  • No sweets for The Boy

Doesn't seem like a lot, but you would be surprised how quickly time gets away from you or how quickly you forget and give in to temptation. We have netflix so we shouldn't need to purchase any movies, right? Wrong, we failed on that goal by the 2nd of July last month.

One might wonder the reasons or logic behind our 30 days challenges. It all started with a bet between the Dad and I that we couldn't go 30 days without eating meat. That bet was made exactly one year ago. Since then we have decided to make it a monthly family tradition. Others have joined in with their own goals and challenges. It isn't about depriving yourself or punishing yourself. It's more a matter of finding out what in life you can do without and what changes you can make that will help you become the person you truly want to be in life.

The success rate of our 30 day challenges has varied. We have given up meat, soda, paper towels, plastic bags, cleaning products (store bought), etc. But, we still have problems with sticking to our workout goals and no eating out goals. Baby steps people. I can honestly say, that we all enjoy our challenges. We discuss our progress and plan out our challenges as a family. It has proven to be a rewarding experience for us and I would invite anyone reading this to try something similar in your daily life.