Just Heather

2009-06-051_595Those of you who know me and my frugal ways may be surprised by the quote of the day: “Why don’t you like cheap things, Mommy?” ~Brenia

The truth is, she’s absolutely right. I’m frugal as all get out, but I hate cheap things. It’s one of the many reasons I don’t shop at Walmart. The girls have really taken to spouting my favorite line—When you buy cheap crap from Walmart, you get cheap crap from Walmart. Now, whenever something breaks Brenia asks if I bought it there.

The answer is almost always no, since I avoid the place at all costs. This week, we had to discuss the difference between inexpensive and cheap. I gave it to her on a 1st grade math level. Which is cheaper, a $5 shirt or a $2 shirt? Obviously, the $2 shirt. However, what happens if the $2 shirt has to be replaced 3 times in the same amount of time that the $5 shirt will last? You’ve then spent $6 on the cheap shirt, but only $5 on the higher quality item.

Even my 6-year-0ld could see which one was really the better deal.

The Middle of Nowhere

The Middle of Nowhere

This past weekend I took my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop camping. I drove 2 hours to the middle of nowhere leaving my wonderful hubby alone with two kids, one of whom puked as I was walking out the door. Then I proceeded to spend 2 rainy, sometimes cold, days sleeping on the ground. When I come home tired, sore and smelly I want to say I’m too old for this shit but I know I’ll be doing it for years to come.

PreTeen Angst at Bay

PreTeen Angst at Bay

There is something about the camping weekend that brings out the best in Stacia. She’s affectionate, cooperative and barely even embarrassed when I dance the Hoedown Throwdown with her friends. Maybe it’s having me all to herself. Maybe it’s knowing her friends wouldn’t have these experiences if I weren’t willing to volunteer. Or maybe it’s just the way I let loose myself when we camp.

Trying Something New

Trying Something New

I am not an outdoor person. At all. I hate every part of it—the mud, the bugs, the air, the creepy crawlies, the wildlife. I want no part of it most days, but I love Scout camp! I love the goofy songs, the campfire cooking and the new shared experiences (my girl is quite the archer!). I love the friendships—those camp friendships that seem so intense for the week or weekend you’re camping, but who you’ll probably never see again.

I remember all of that from my own Girl Scout years and it is so fun to watch it all over again through my daughter’s eyes. Some things just never change, but on these camping weekends I do. I’m a different person—romping in the wilderness, stomping through the mud, sleeping on the ground, singing silly songs and feeling those same fleetingly intense connections with my fellow camp parents as the girls in my troop.

Campfire Cooking

Campfire Cooking

I hope some of it is lasting. I hope my daughter always knows that I’m the mom who will sleep outside in a thunderstorm, cook over a fire in the rain and take her friends on a journey when she’d ordinarily rather be anywhere else. I hope the girls in my troop always know I’m someone they can count on and see that I really am in it all for them. I hope someday they remember that while the camp cleared out in the rain (1400 people down to 200 by nightfall), their leader stuck with them.

A Calm, Relaxed Me

A Calm, Relaxed Me

Part of me wanted to leave in the torrential downpour, but my competitive nature prevailed and I wanted desperately to “beat” the other troops that surrendered to the storm. Plus, I left it up to my troop; they decided since we survived the first night, we should stay the rest.  We did survive and I’m so proud of the girls. They weren’t scared at all even when the thunder and lightening started at 2am. They were cool and calm, just enjoying one another and having a great time. And so was I. I need to remember to bring some of that home with me.

The latrines, mud and zero cell phone reception can stay, but I hope I brought a little bit of the carefree me back home.

This week’s Wordless Wednesday post is inspired by the school carnival, featuring a rousing game of Extreme Cabbage.

School is out in just 3 short weeks. After that it will be me vs. 3 (maybe 4 and sometimes 5) kids. There will be no panic. There will be no fear. I have a plan! Because I learned that lesson years ago.

My first summer home with 2 kids was pretty much a disaster. Stacia had gotten used to the structure at school. Brenia and I had gotten into our own routine. The two didn’t mesh and, thus, chaos ensued. I tried different tactics week after week, summer after summer, until I finally figured it out. We needed a schedule in the summer just like we had through the school year.

Our yearly calendar is made up of school holidays, Girl Scouts, dance lessons, choir rehearsal and a number of other after school activities. We know that Tuesday is Scout day, Thursday is dance class and Friday is gym. The girls anticipate what is coming and respond accordingly.

All of those activities end around the same time that school does. It seems like it should be a relaxing summer, what with not having 3 places to be every day. Instead our summers were chaotic, with the 3 of us running around not knowing what to do or what was coming next. There was no time for the girls to prepare for each day because we had no idea where we would end up. There was nothing but instant reaction, often as a tantrum.

Starting with the Thursday park playdate that my church group had arranged, I landed on a summer schedule that works for us. It includes fun things to do, time to finish chores and a plan for each day. I think I’ve finally struck the right balance between enjoying a relaxed summer vacation and maintaining the structure my girls thrive on.

If you’re looking for ideas on free activities, check out my website. If you really want to know how my days will go all summer, read my ehow article on the subject.

We moved to this city, an hour away from all my friends, nearly 10 years ago. In that time, I’ve made very little progress in making new friends and done a crappy job of keeping up with the old ones. Part of that was being a stay-at-home mom. Where was I supposed to meet people?

When Stacia started school, I thought I’d finally have the opportunity. I met plenty of other moms, but that’s when I realized something—I am was a young mom. Stacia came along in my early 20s. As in, I turned 21 when she was 2 months old. That put me at a disadvantage in the making friends department because there was such a divide between the other moms and me.

Now that Brenia is in school, I have met several moms like me (that’s moms who are like me, not MomsLikeMe, though I’ve met several of them too). There’s a connection between Montessori Moms and natural living that I was not aware of when I researched schools. This has been quite helpful in meeting people who share my interests and lifestyle. Plus, now that I’m an old mom the age gap has been erased.

One of the moms I met was Angie. Angie was smarter than I when she became a mother in a new area and she has what I’ve been craving. She inspired me in ways she could have never known (except she will now!). I set out to find it for myself. I started a Bunko group and invited all the women I kinda, sorta knew from school, Scouts and IndyMoms.

To be honest, we rarely play bunko. Mostly, it’s just a group of women who share cocktails once a month, laugh, share stories and commiserate. Our group is small, but I cling to our monthly girls’ nights like a lifeline. I didn’t realize how much it meant to me until last month, when our regular night fell on Good Friday and we failed at scheduling a new date.

Last Friday night, my friend and I decided to go out anyway. It was exactly what I needed. I wore a little black dress, but not the little black dress (that’s still 40×40“>on my list) and we hit the Indie Lounge theater to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past starring my fictional boyfriend. We thought the movie was hilarious, but were apparently in the minority. Did I mention this theater has a bar? Clearly the other attendees should have taken advantage of the fabulous concession stand.

A chick flick, cocktails and girl time—obviously a new necessity.

I did it! I withdrew Stacia from school last week. She started at the Montessori school the next day. She’s very excited, which was a pleasant surprise. I thought she’d have more mixed feelings, but she’s so excited that when I got to the school to withdraw her she had already completed the paperwork and had the contents of her desk piled in the office. All they needed was my signature! I had sent an email to her teacher that morning letting her know so they did have reason to believe her.

She seemed to enjoy her first week. It’s funny, but she actually won’t have a full week until her 4th week there. Last week was the transfer, this week is an in-service day (they have 2 each year, I think) and next week they’re off for President’s Day. She’s behind on the science fair project, but she has a good idea and is having fun with it. I’m sure they’ll let her have more time if she needs it since she’ll only have 2 weeks but we’re doing our best to jump right in.

We’re going to have to make serious budget cuts and the Disney vacation I had booked with high hopes is going by the wayside, but it was the right decision for us. She’s having better days with both health and behavior so I know it is good for her. I’m already much more relaxed just having made the choice. I had some good ideas and loved the theory of homeschooling her, but having that off my back is such a relief.

And because I am the most embarrassing mom on the planet, I had to take a picture of her first day at the new school. And share it with the internets. She was her typical pre-teen self and forced me to take the picture at home before arriving at school in front of real, actual people. She did, however, allow a few pictures on her last day at the old school.

Montessori Stacia, Day 1

Her Former Teacher

Her Former Teacher

Never Again

Never Again

We are considering pulling Stacia out of public schools for a variety of reasons. Let’s just say that my extremely bright, off the charts child is getting Cs and Ds in school. Ridiculous.   Anyway, I’d really prefer to send her to Brenia’s Montessori School, but  I’m not sure I can do that. We’re looking into the homeschool option, and I’m a little intimidated by everything that’s out there. Ultimately, I’d love to unschool; I’m just not confident in myself.

She is shadowing today with the upper elementary at Brenia’s school. I just don’t think we can afford to send her there. I did sit and talk with the directress this morning and she’s willing to work with us. Sibling discount, locked-in tuition, 12-month payment plan instead of 9. We’re considering all our options, but if that ends up being as affordable as it sounds I’ll probably be transferring her there. I’m ashamed to admit I just don’t think I’m up to doing it myself. I will if I have to. She is leaving public school this week no matter what, that much I promise.

Today, Brenia’s school had a field trip. Brenia rode with me and 3 classmates. Her carpool friend rode with the teacher and 2 classmates.

When I picked them up from school today, she was telling Brenia how great Mrs. L’s car is.: “She had this really cool thing that you twist and the window rolls down!

Here we all are adding special automated features to our car that take away the coolest part!