Just Heather
  • We still own our first house and the last tenants skipped out without paying the last months rent plus their dog trashed the carpets. All of the savings we had set aside to pay Brenia’s tuition has been spent on the house & mortgage over the last 3 months instead. We’re shooting for RTO this time in hopes of finally unloading it.
  • They ended up fully promoting Brenia to 1st grade even though they were going to “interim” her for a semester. By the time we got to graduation, they decided she would be ready after all.
  • I think her new glasses helped with that. At the end of the year, a basic school screening showed vision problems. Turns out she’s legally blind in 1 eye. They are slowly correcting it as her doc thought she would reject glasses at her full prescription. Her follow-up exam today went well and he doesn’t think we’ll have to patch it as previously feared.
  • In some of the best news of my life, Spencer’s mom moved to NC over the summer. I can’t begin to tell you how much that rocks for us both as a couple and a family.
  • In related, hilarious news, she is now engaged. Yes, again. I think that’s 8 rings thus far, but only 5 have actually resulted in divorce (I mean, marriage).
  • Stacia is at the intermediate school, which seems better than the elementary. I would still love to move her to Montessori, but we just can’t afford it right now.
  • Fox59 is still going well, I think. I haven’t seen anyone with authority in weeks. I just show up, with my segment prepped, the props ready and do the show with an anchor. I’m assuming that is a good thing as there is clearly a lot of trust on their part in that. Normally, guests have to be escorted around the studio, but I can never even find anyone available to ask. They just let me in and I do my thing.
  • We got a Wii Fit a few weeks ago. I am loving being back into Yoga, but frustrated that after 30 minutes per day of mostly aerobic activities I have actually gained 2 pounds instead.
  • I got involved with a domestic violence shelter in the spring. Mostly, I just decluttered my house (must read: It’s All Too Much) and helped the owner transport everything she needed or priced things for the charity yard sale. Then, I organized a school supply drive because the yard sale didn’t net enough for the 35 kids she has now (5 times more than last year). I bought backpacks for each kid, collected supplies all over town and obtained Mom sponsors so each child could have a new outfit & shoes. I am so pleased to say we met with great success-each child had absolutely everything they need.
  • It tugged on my heartstrings a lot, though, and now I’m not sure we’re done with little ones. There is a Safe Families program that places at risk children with volunteer families. It is a way for the families to house children while they get their lives together instead of remaining at risk and possibly losing custody or parental rights.  It’s on my list.
  • I signed Brenia up for dance class this year. She is so excited. The studio was planning an adult ballet class and I had decided to take it. I have wanted to get back into something like that forever. The very same day they announced that it wasn’t happening, I went to my church’s new auditorium kickoff where the dance ministry performed. I signed up on the way out and we start on Wednesday.

I am a stay at home mom, in large part, because I saw the benefits as the daughter of a stay at home mom. I appreciate that my mom was there for field trips (even when I didn’t want her to be at the time), class parties and carpools. She was my Girl Scout leader. She was a band booster. She was the Friend Mom. It was our house that my friends congregated. It was my parents they called Mom and Dad.

I want to be That Mom. I don’t care that it’s our food they eat. I don’t care that I am the one who drives them all over town. I like that. I know how much kids, even teens, are willing to say from the backseat that they would never tell you to your face. That is why I do what I do.

My favorite memory of parental involvement is from 1st grade. I came home in tears because the kids all played jump rope games on the playground and I just couldn’t do it. My mom went out and bought a jump rope which she proceeded to twirl with my dad on the other end night after night until I was a champ.

Tonight, my daughter told me a story about recess today, her 3rd day of 1st grade. “One person held a big rope and another person held the other side. Then I jumped, but I’m not very good at it.”

I guess I’ll hit Target tomorrow.

I have recently found the Discovery channel Planet Green so I have a new love. My favorite show is Wa$ted. I thought we were doing so well, but I think Annabelle & Holter would still have a lot to say about our lifestyle. I know they would like that I have started taking Gladware to restaurants rather than bring home styrofoam. I know we are doing well with composting (but now I want one of these) and recycling.

I switched from paper napkins to cloth. I stopped using paper towels (well, except for greasy bacon) in favor of cheap bar mop towels (2 for $1 at Dollar Tree). We have been cloth diapering for 2 months now and it is going well. I can’t even let myself think of all the money and landfill space we wasted by not trying it sooner. If I were going to start all over, there are things I would do differently:

  • more prefold diapers—we only have 3 good ones, but she’s a toddler. A newborn would probably need 15-20. I would like to have about 5-6 more for now.
  • a larger diaper pail—we currently use a small step can for wet diapers and a tote on the back of the toilet to soak dirty diapers.
  • We need to get some type of holder for the diaper bag. I generally just grab a plastic bag from a store to bring home the soiled diapers, but they make bags that would probably do a better job of controlling odor.
  • We are still working on an overnight solution. The best solution would be to get Lorelai to actually sit on the potty at night and first thing in the morning, but that idea isn’t flying with her. We use a convoluted system of prefolds, doubler & an absorbent cover, but it gives her a bubble butt and I’m sure there is a better way.

We are doing well with some things:

  • I only bought 3 Bum Genius diapers. I use them for when we are out and about or need a less bulky diaper for certain outfits. I rarely use all 3 in a day so I think we are set there.
  • Snappis—the greatest cloth diapering invention ever
  • Thirsties wraps—this could go in both categories because they are great covers, but I need more.
  • I didn’t buy one of the toilet shower kits because the toilet in the girls’ bathroom is right next to the shower. The hand-held shower head reaches for rinsing when needed (it rarely is).
  • Cloth wipes—It didn’t take long to figure out that the two should go hand in hand. Without having a diaper to wrap the dirty wipes in for the garbage, it was a bit messy. I make my own with baby washcloths and a simple solution (1 part baby oil, 1 part baby wash and 3 parts water). Tossing these in the pail with the dirty diapers is easy and painless.
  • I run a quick load of diapers every night. I think even if I had a larger supply, I would do it this way. On the few occasions I have gone a little longer between loads, the diaper pail is a bit stinky and the dirty diapers are harder to get clean.

Today was the last day of school for my oldest daughter. Her last day of elementary school. I feel like I should be waxing nostalgic or something, but I mostly feel a strange mixture of relief and dread.

Relief that the year is finally over. It was not a fun end to her elementary experience. Let’s just say I really hope the rumors of her teacher’s impending retirement are true, for the sake of all future 4th graders. I’m temporarily relieved of twice daily carpool duties. The girls are attending a few day camps that require transportation, but that is only a week or two here and there. I’m also relieved of my PTO webmaster duties. Whew!

My calendar pen is finding a bit of relief this summer, but I do still try to keep the girls on a routine for sanity’s sake. They also have a few summer activities and camps, but not to the extent of our regular weekly jaunts.

The dread is on many levels. For the immediate future, I am dreading the fights, whining and tattling that comes from having more than one child. I’m dreading the heat and the outdoors. I’m just not an outdoor person, but the girls definitely are and some of them still require supervision.

As the summer wears on, I’ll be dreading the return to school. I’m uneasy about our decision to leave Stacia in the public school system. I think it was the best decision for us at the time, but I worry she’ll get lost in the shuffle and continue to struggle the way she did this year. Her school struggles are strictly a failure of the system. She’s a bright kid. She tests well. She reads profusely. She loves to learn. She’s just not great at assignments and deadlines. She was also bringing home a lot of homework for things she hadn’t yet learned. If I’m going to have to teach her math every day, I might as well homeschool.

Next year is a different school, albeit in the same system. I am hopeful that it will be a different story, but I am reserving judgment. If all else fails, I know I can pull her out at any time and send her to Brenia’s Montessori school. That has been a complete success story. She started kindergarten a year early and is ready to advance to 1st grade. Her teachers have some minor reservations about her social skills so we are trying an interim option. She’ll stay in her current classroom, but take academic lessons with the elementary class. They hope to fully transition her after winter break.

I still contend we made the right decision for her. She stands a head taller than 1st graders. She’s smart—too smart, sometimes. She was reading by her 5th birthday. She is a quick learner (I had to show her how to tie shoes only one time). She just wouldn’t have been well served by waiting until this fall.

My hope for the summer is that I can let go of all my concerns (at least for the summer), relax and enjoy my kids.

We have been making a concerted effort around here to “go green.” We have always recycled, but we wanted to do more. Last year we switched our light bulbs to CFL. Saving $10 per month on the electric bills was a nice bonus. In the past several months, I have found many other ways to “save the Earth” as Brenia says. I switched most of our cleaners to vinegar (glass cleaner, dishwasher rinse aid, fabric softener) and started making my own dishwasher detergent (borax and baking soda). Our compost experiment seems to be going well, which has us down to 2 bags of trash per week. One of those is practically all diapers so the overwhelming guilt of disposable diapering finally wore me down.

I’d been considering cloth for a couple months, but it was the math that finally did it for me. We spend about $15 per week on disposable diapers. In my research, I discovered that I could spend about 2 months diaper budget on a supply of cloth diapers that would last. We discussed, I researched and finally ordered a day’s supply last week. We made the official switch to cloth diapering over the weekend.

My mom just about flipped when I told her I was considering it, but I assured her that things are different now. I bought 3 pocket diapers by Bum Genius. I like these because I pre-stuff them when they come out of the laundry and they are basically like a disposable. You can also buy all-in-one diapers that come that way, but this was cheaper and it takes me about 30 seconds to stuff them myself while I do the laundry. I liked the Bum Genius because they are adjustable from newborn to toddler. I’m pretty sure we’re done, but they will last through another baby should I change my mind some day. Plus, they have a really high resell value so I’ll get most of my money back when I’m done.

I also bought about 10 pre-folds which are what people think of when they hear “cloth diapers.” You can’t just buy the Gerber ones at the store because they aren’t thick enough. Those are usually only 3-ply. I purchased 8-ply diapers. Then I got 2 Thirsties cloth diaper wraps, which look like a diaper with the Velcro on each side but have no absorbent material. They are just waterproof covers. You can reuse these throughout the day by rinsing if they get damp and air drying since they are waterproof. I bought 2 so I could switch out all day. I’ll use these primarily at home, saving the pocket diapers for when we are out and about since they are so easy to use.

I just ordered Snappi diaper fasteners-so much better and faster than pins for the cloth folds. They come in newborn and toddler sizes. I actually ordered those on eBay because they were so much cheaper. I purchased the diapers & wraps from Not Your Mama’s Cloth Diapers. Toasty Baby is another local seller I had looked into. Both offer in-home demonstrations, if you want a tutorial or would prefer to see everything before you decide what to buy.

The first couple of days, we switched back and forth between cloth & disposable while I waited for my full order to arrive. By the second day, Lorelai asked for the “better diapers” after her nap. She feels better in them and I feel better about them. The savings, which is what initially made my decision, is really going to end up just being a bonus.

Math Bowl vs. Birthday: Last week, the Math Bowl competition (why, yes, I am the proud parent of a mathlete!) was canceled due to snow. I didn’t get it at all. In fact, we went out to dinner that night 20 minutes away and didn’t have a problem at all. When my daughter called to tell me it was canceled, she was devastated to tell me that it had been rescheduled for my birthday! The disappointment in her voice was so nice to hear. She truly wanted me to have a better birthday than sitting at an academic competition. What she doesn’t get is there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be than watching my children do something (and excel—1st place in district, 8th place in state) they love.

Ice Skating vs. Broken Bones: It was a grand birthday overall, let me tell you. After the Math Bowl, after dinner, after the kids were in bed I managed to drop a cabinet door on my foot while putting away their toys. It hurt, but I went to bed. By morning it was bruised, but not too bad. By noon, after a busy day, it was all kinds of purple, swollen and hurting pretty good. I, of course, waited until the next day to call the doctor. She saw me, but couldn’t decide. Doc said I would be okay to wait the weekend if I wanted and come back for x-rays if it didn’t get better. Upon finding out that I would probably have to have “bone pictures” on Monday (I didn’t), Brenia yells “But I have ice skating class on Mondays!”

Pothole vs. Landscaping: My activist opportunity of the month came after several weeks of frustration over a huge pothole in our neighborhood. I spent a month playing the apathetic game, assuming the city already knew about it. It occurred to me that maybe all 50 families affected were assuming the same thing. I visited the city’s website and learned all about the Public Works Department’s partnership with INDOT. It went on and on about the landscaping in the median and new roads. I thought that was a bit much since they couldn’t manage to maintain the current ones. I emailed the Director of Public Works about the issue over the weekend. On Sunday night, I received a response thanking me for bringing it to their attention. He said he spent the afternoon driving the city and cataloged all potholes, giving the one I referenced a Priority 1. They filled it the next morning! The cynic in me figures it was already on the books, but the political side of me wants to believe I made a difference.

Next Up: Anyone want to place bets on the winner of Reading vs. Houseworks?

I love Lorelai’s “accent” even though I occasionally have trouble figuring out what she means. She speaks very well for her age, but sometimes what she says doesn’t come across because you would never expect a 2-year-old to know that word. Today’s lunch is a perfect example.

She’s eating already because she brought a can of veggie soup to me at 10 and asked for soup. I was saying no (repeatedly), until she said please. We’ve been working on that word so it resulted in lunch at 10:30 in the morning. I thought she wanted to watch the new Chinese show on Nick Jr. called Kai-Lan while she ate because while I was getting her soup ready she kept shouting “Tie-yan! Tie-yan!” Our kids have all had a strange T pronunciation for the K sounds so it sounded just like Kai-Lan to me.

Then I opened the fridge to grab a drink and she pulled out the salad dressing. The Italian salad dressing. She is now having soup and salad and thrilled to no end.

My girls are allowed to choose their own outfits each day so long as they are weather appropriate. I have threatened to lay out Stacia’s clothes recently since she keeps leaving the house in short sleeves. Why do I have to remind her that it is winter when there is snow on the ground?

Last week, Brenia insisted her pink shoes matched the red dress she had chosen because pink is made from red. How do you argue with that?

Today she is wearing a fancy purple dress with gold & pink polka dots. The tights she has paired it with are blue with red, green & yellow polka dots. Because polka dots match polka dots.

There’s just no competing with that logic.