Wednesday, August 31

The No Fast Food Challenge That Might Make Me Bonkers

I have been arguing with myself for a few weeks now. I've managed, so far, to keep the discussion in my head, so as not to sound like The Crazy Lady who Fights with Herself. In any case, it's really a losing battle. Either way it goes, I'm hearing voices or talking to myself. I lose.

Finally, after much debate and a mental pros/cons list, I blurted it out to my husband a few days ago:



Also, wha???

My motivation for this possibly crazy-making plan is twofold:

Fold One: It is, generally, a better idea to eat food that is prepared in your own home. Whether it's an all-organic, gluten-free, dairy-free home-cooked meal (Holy Hyphenation, Bat-man!) or it's frozen deliciousness from a bag, so long as you don't indulge in a steady diet of Cheetos and Dr. Thunder, house-prepared food is just... better. Right? Healthier, yes. Cheaper, too.

Not fast food, but DANG that looks delicious/disgusting.

Which brings me to...
Fold Two: The Cheapness. On average, our family buys out-of-home food, I'd say, 5 times a week. (That's not a real average- I just made that number up. Some weeks we buy out-of-home food thrice, some weeks, it's more like ten times.)
Here's how my spending usually goes:
Monday: Medium Diet Coke from McDonald's. Maybe a few hashbrowns if the girls notice we're in the drive-through line.
Tuesday: Stop by my once-a-week place of employment, pick up lunch and charge it to my house account.
Wednesday: Happy Hour at Sonic after school!
Thursday: I don't feel like fixing lunch, let's just grab more McD's.
Friday: Celebratory "It's Friday" lunch at Chick-Fil-A.
Saturday night: If there's money left over from all the gorging paying bills, our family might go out to eat.
Sunday: Extended family time at Pizza Inn, courtesy of the my husband's grandmother.

That list just grossed me out. It's a fairly typical schedule. And that's not including the nights during the week when neither Jeremy nor I can handle the kids bear to make dinner, so we go for an impromptu night out.

I don't want to add up either the cost of all the gluttony or the calories consumed.

So, I'm thinking, just as an experiment in willpower, budgeting, and healthy choice-making, that I'm going to refrain from fast food joints and semi-fine dining establishments for the month of September.

*big sigh*
*huff, puff, stomp*

I know. I'm already having an internal dialogue, pre-rationalizing my imminent failure.

The only caveats? My mother-in-love and I have reservations at Chick-Fil-A one morning early in September. Reservations, y'all. For a free chicken biscuit. I can't say no to that.
Also, the weekly family gathering at Pizza Inn. Much as I'd rather bow out and spend that precious Sunday afternoon time curled up in my bed... I really like seeing my extended family on a regular basis. So I'm gonna go. And I'll probably eat some of that dadgum delicious cheesebread. But, not a lot, ok?

No popping by the restaurant for freeish food. No waiting in line for carbonated, caffeinated ambrosia. Not a single French fried potato if it isn't fried Frenchly in my own home.

This is gonna suck/rock.

What about you? Have you ever willingly/begrudgingly given up something near and dear to your arteries heart? 


Tuesday, August 23

The Best Person I've Ever Met

We were introduced five years ago today.
When I met her, she was literally a hot mess. She was angry and loud, fearful and fearsome. It took a long time to gain her trust. For over a year, all of our conversations were one-sided. I talked my head off, and she just stared at me, daring and begging me to go on. For another year after that, she flew into hysterics when people looked her in the eyes. Like a regal, breathtakingly beautiful tyrant.
Once I convinced her that her secrets were safe with me, she started sharing her heart, bit by bit. I have learned to trust her at her word; she is honest and true. I see in her the epitome of grace and compassion. I once watched her give the last of her meal to a hungry boy, knowing that she would have rather polished it off herself. She holds doors open for strangers, she treats old people kindly, she is gentle with babies and small animals.
She dances with abandon, like she has hot coals under her feet and ants in her pants. She curls around a good book in such a familiar way that it brings tears to my eyes. She laughs loudly and from deep inside her soul. When she cries, you have no choice but to cry with her; your heart breaks alongside hers.
I am fairly certain she has a better relationship with Jesus than I do. She is keenly aware of His presence in her life, and she loves Him with her all of her heart. Every move she makes begins and ends with an observation of His will in her life.

I have been blessed ten thousand times over by knowing her. She is, far and away, the best person I've ever met. She has manners and modesty, wit and tact to rival any good Southern belle. She prays fervently for her enemies, nonexistent as they may be. She carries herself with confidence and assurance that while she may be the center of it, she has room in her heart for the whole world. I would do well to learn from her.
She is a fountain of joy when I feel like my own wells have gone dry. I have seen the faces of sad, lonely people brighten in her presence. She has certainly brought light into my life.

Happy birthday, Ladybug.
I love you louder than a lion, and stronger than steel. 
I love you fluffier than a tutu, and more colorful than a rainbow.
I love you higher than frogs jump, and more than you'll ever know.


Saturday, August 20

chasing my Bees featured on DailyBuzz Moms Top 9!

I love the DailyBuzz Moms site.

They feature a Top 9: posts from all around the internets on different topics each day. I had a post featured once about homeschooling (sorta). And then one more time about moms and social media, and my huge crush on tumblr.

Today, I have a post up on the #DBM9 again. This round, all of the posts are about nurturing marriage. Some are sweet, some are helpful, some are (ok, mine is) tongue-in-cheek.

I'm honored, and super excited to be on the same page with some pretty awesome bloggers: @WomenOnTheFence, @parentingsquad, @mommytracked, @Faiqa from @aiminglow, and, ahem, @dooce among others.

Wednesday, August 17

Jerks be jerks

When I was in eighth grade- after mono lightened me of baby fat but before I was introduced to the wonders of eyebrow waxing, and smack in the middle of two years of braces- I stood at my locker, equal parts transfixed and horrified at the scene in front of me.
The biggest jerk in junior high had just pantsed the most popular girl in junior high in front of, basically, everybody.
The Big Jerk was never this funny.

They broke up the night before, I later found out. The Popular Girl recovered more quickly than I would have, and slapped him full-on across his face. I think they got back together shortly thereafter.
The Big Jerk continued being jerky all the way through high school. I had exactly one class with him in the six years I went to school with The Big Jerk. The only time I ever had conversations with him were in our senior year AP World History class, and they went like this:
TBJ leaning forward in the desk behind me: "You know, my favorite {adult film} star's name is Savannah."
SB long since over the shock of such blatant ickiness, and long exhausted of the line: "So you've told me. Every day this entire semester."
TBJ leaning forward even further and whispering in what he surely thought was a seductive tone: "Do you want to be my favorite {adult film} star?"
SB weary for having to repeat herself daily, mustering up as much sarcasm as she possibly can: "No. Not particularly. But thanks for asking. Again. I'm incredibly charmed."

I wondered how many girls had fallen for his ridiculously bad attempts at... what? flattery? degradation? Was he trying to humiliate me or hit on me? Either way, I was immune to his particular brand of skeeve.
We graduated and went about our own lives, and I completely forgot about him.
During occasional fits of nostalgia with my girlfriends, his name only ever came up under the "Man, That Guy was a Jerk" category.

Ten years later, by some wild twist of fate, I was the one planning our reunion.
Since I was one of the few weirdos who actually enjoyed high school, I was (mostly) looking forward to seeing (most of) my former classmates, but I wasn't taking any chances. I armed myself with nerves of steel, brand-new invisibility glasses (should I need to disappear at any given moment-- a leftover reflex from junior high, which, by law, sucks for everybody), and the strongest shield available in my armory: my husband.

The reunion was a smashing success. I saw conversations between people I knew for certain had never spoken in high school. I saw two dudes who I once watched beat each other to pulp shake hands and introduce their wives. That one girl I could have sworn wanted to shank me back then? She gave me a bear hug. We're grown-ups now.
Most of us.

It was my self-appointed job to round up awesome door prizes to give away. Before I announced any of the prizes, The Big Jerk came up to me and threw his arm around my shoulders. "So, what's the biggest prize in there?" he slurred. When I told him, he asked, "Well, how much will it take for you to pull my name out of the bag? C'mon... I won't tell anybody. Just let me be the one to win it."

I have never been a cynical person. I believe the best about humanity in general, and people individually. But sometimes? 

Jerks be jerks, and they stay that way.

I'm just glad he didn't pants anybody.


Wednesday, August 10

Classic Kid Craft- Countdown Chain

My mom was pretty crafty when my brother and I were kids- before crafty became Crafty; before something to entertain and educate and kill boredom became a Way of Life and for some, a Job Title.

We made the requisite macaroni noodle necklaces (though never with my mother. she had more imagination and less patience than the macaroni called for), we made mirror-paint butterflies (which is still my most favorite simple way for kids, and grown-ups, to create art), we made our own paper, our own potato stamps, and we made erupting volcanoes and crafts that blurred the lines between art, science, exploration, and good old messy fun.

My (second most) favorite kid craft project is the classic countdown paper chain.

Last week, on the five hundredth day of five hundred degree heat, the natives were restless. It was BFP time. Our stockpile of art accoutrement has been low this summer, so I had to think quickly.
Given The Boy's love of order and natural progression, The Girl's love of, well, everything in the whole world, and The Baby's love of annihilating things, we busted out the construction paper, scissors, crayons, and stapler. Easy peasy.

(Of course, being the freak that I am, I had to rearrange the paper colors into groups- they were packaged all willy-nilly. The colors need to go together, people! No red-purple-green-green-pink-purple-brown-yellow-brown... No! Red-red-red-purple-purple-purple-green-green-green... you get it, right? To further out myself as a crazy person- I was really irritated that there was no orange. That's how the rainbow goes! Red, orange, yellow, green, blue... Geez.)(Um. What was I just saying about The Boy loving order and natural progression. Hmm.)


I cut strips of paper (equal in length and width, duh) for The Baby's chain, and as an example, then set the two big kids loose with their own paper and scissors. Eventually, The Baby just started ripping the paper to shreds, which was kind of what I assumed she'd do anyway. The annihilation gene and all that.

The Bees colored on the paper strips and we numbered them for the countdown. 
Boy Genius: great reader, not a future calligrapher.

Wait, what were we counting down to? Good question. I probably should have addressed that a few paragraphs ago, huh? I'm not so hot on the How-To posts, huh? Huh.


The Girl's fifth birthday is August 23rd. Countdown One.
The Boy is going back to school, as previously mentioned, on August 15th. Countdown Two. 
The Baby decimated her paper, so. Countdown... Aborted.

After the cutting and decorating and the shredding, we were ready to staple. 

The Girl had a little trouble circling the paper, holding the paper, holding the stapler, stapling the paper while holding the paper, rinsing, and repeating. 
But she's a trooper.

The two big Bees and I decided to hang the finished products in safe places... which basically meant anywhere The Baby couldn't reach, even if she stands on something, which she'd totally do, that sneak. 

The Girl put her chain above her bed. And yes, that's totally a black fleece blanket hanging in front of the window. We're too cheap to buy blackout shades. What? 

The Boy, inappropriately clothed for photos, hung his beside the living room window. (Yes, again with the blanket. Since this photo was taken, my ghetto brilliant husband put foil up between the blinds and the curtains. So we're still cheap, but you can't tell by looking.)

They have all really enjoyed waking up at the crack of dawn every morning and tearing off another number.

I love that this supereasy craft:
  1. Is not messy
  2. Can be done with Bees of all ages
  3. Is fairly quick and painless (unless you staple yourself or your children)
  4. Reinforces counting and number writing
  5. Gives a visual aid to the idea of calendar days
  6. Can be done for almost anything- birthdays, special events, holidays...
  7. Can even be done in reverse- adding a chain for every day spent doing something (peepeeing in the potty, cleaning a bedroom, having a good day at school...)
  8. Cuts down on time that the kids spend begging me for either tv or popsicles and me telling them no because I am WAY mean. 

What are your favorite tried-and-true kid crafts? 

I realized that I didn't take a single picture of The Baby while we were doing this craft. I wonder where she wandered off to. Ah well. Here's a gratuitous photo of The Baby being all cute and muddy:

Monday, August 8

Back to School for the First Time, Again

So, The Boy is going back to public school. We had an absolute blast homeschooling for first grade, and, according to the standardized tests I made him sit through, The Boy learned a thing or two. I plan to post more about the decision to send him back to school, and the decision to homeschool The Girl, later. But for now, I'd love it if you click on over to read the Family Chatter piece I wrote about it for Little Rock Family magazine. 

(And... how fantastic is that artwork? I've never met her, but I'm a little bit in love with Hannah Alexander. She's illustrated two of my editorials for Little Rock Family, and both of them have been absolutely perfect.)