Archives for March 2008

Wiener Dog Monday

After Friday’s post I thought I should follow up with something more serious and mature so I wouldn’t lose the incredible readership I’ve built up in these past few months.

(I’m grateful for each and every one of you who keeps coming back for more – really I am!)

Then I realized that I needed to be true to myself and honestly, I couldn’t think of anything serious and mature to write about.

Stealing Ann’s favorite line once again…

“I got nothing.”

Maybe because Ann and I have spent the weekend calling and text messaging each other laughing about our new favorite word.

Yes, I know it’s immature and it’s also why we get along so well.

In that spirit, I thought I’d post a couple of pictures of our wiener dogs. Between us we have three wiener dogs.

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Oh wait, that’s Roger Leroy in the dog crate, not Sabu.

I think my kids have way too much free time.

FYI, I just discovered this picture when I was downloading my pictures to iPhoto.

In case anyone was thinking I put her in the dog crate and then took a picture of her.

Perhaps this is why we’ve always called her our little circus baby.

Mostly now though, we just call her a strange freegan.

I thought I had a picture of Ann’s wiener dog to share. I know you’re disappointed but I’m sure we’ll have another Wiener Dog Monday soon!

Okay, I found an actual picture of our wiener dogs.

I posted this picture of Sabu and Dudley in February and I was very surprised that NO ONE made a comment on how darn cute this picture is of our two wiener dogs.

I think the cute got lost because you all were way more fascinated about
the high school principal calling me than the pictures of the dogs.

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Come on. You gotta admit they’re pretty cute.

Even if you don’t like dogs.

Which I don’t.

Except wiener dogs. 🙂

Dog lover? Not a dog lover? Here’s your chance to comment on how cute wiener dogs are…

College Boys and A New, Unique Approach To Meeting Girls

As promised, I will now share how we were greeted upon arriving at our beach villa last week.

Since we are both moms with teenagers and we each have a son, we are always watching how the high school and college students behave in public.

We do find it fascinating to see how they act once they are “free” of the watchful eye of their mothers and fathers. We can’t help but wonder if our kids will be these kids we’re watching in a few years.

Just a refresher first about my girlfriend retreat last week.

Ann flew in to Atlanta from Illinois and we drove to Destin, Florida which is my very favorite beach. As much as time flies in the car as we talk non-stop, we were both tired and it was past midnight when we arrived at our beach villa.

We pulled up and turned the car off. Our unit was dark but the unit next door had the outside light on and two young men were standing at the door talking to young girls inside.

As we gathered our purses and looked for the envelope with the keys, we looked up to see one of the young men “drop his drawers” and was standing in his boxers. We both laughed and found the villa keys. Oh, the wild abandonment of youth.

We were about to get out of the car when the young man dropped his boxers and proceeded to moon the girls inside their villa.

What College Boy #1 didn’t realize was that he was facing our car under the bright porch light which means we were getting a full view of his frontside.

The girls shut their door at this point which we thought was a good decision on the girls’ part. College Boys sauntered into the parking lot near our car. As we got out to get our luggage, they very politely approached our car and College Boy #1 said “Ladies, as a fellow VW bug owner, can we help you with your luggage?”

Ann replied in a terse voice, “No thanks, we’ve got it.” She proceeded to hoist her giant suitcase out of the trunk and started wheeling it towards our villa.

Dang, I was tired and the car was loaded and I definitely wanted some help. Ann is usually more sociable than that.

I countered with, “YES, we’d love help with our luggage but only if you can keep your pants on.”

College Boy #1 a.k.a. The Flasher feigned embarrassment and said “Oh my gosh, did you guys see that? Oh man, are you serious?”

He might have had a few drinks – just my observation as a non-drinker.

I really wish I could have a little sound bite here that you could click to hear Ann’s voice when she whipped around and said,

“HELLO, we saw your WIE#%R.”

It really went downhill from there. College Boys didn’t realize they were in the presence of two moms who could more than hold their own with the back and forth that transpired. It’s hard to shock a mom of four and a middle-school teacher.

In their mom’s defense–and I don’t even know their moms–they apologized profusely, carried in all our bags, cooler, cookies that PhilBillPaul baked for us (Yes, you read that right – I’m telling you he’s nice like that) and apologized some more.

We think they would have sat down and visited with us but we gave them some cookies and sent them on their way. But not before Ann grabbed her camera and took pictures.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think quick enough to ask them to sign a photo release. Maybe because I really didn’t think about posting this story at the time. Even though I’m not comfortable posting their pictures, I will tell you their first names; Jake (flasher) and Chad (sidekick).

I didn’t let them leave without asking a couple of important questions as a service to all the moms out there. This is valuable information whether you have a son and you want to know if he’s doing this and of course, if you have a daughter, you can warn her about the likes of Jake and Chad.

Q: Did you know those girls?

A: Nah, we just met them on the beach today.

Q: Is this a new strategy in the dating game?

A: Huh?

Q: I mean you just met them earlier today and you just show them your WIE#%R and you get a date?

A: Not really but I was just showing them my great butt – you all weren’t suppose to see my WIE#%R.

Q: So do you think you’re going to score with them tomorrow?

A: Chad (who did not show his private parts) said “No, I don’t have any game so I never score.”

Final comment I couldn’t resist,

“Gosh Ann, back in our college days, we had to at least dance a few songs first, didn’t we?”

JUST KIDDING, MR. & MRS. JONES (Ann’s parents – in case they’re reading this)!!

Here are pictures of the beautiful beach and the boys from afar with their group of 10 buddies who all came to Destin from LSU.

Beach1

Chad came over and talked to us the next day. It was no surprise that Jake was busy with a fascinating drinking game on the beach involving drinking alcohol from a plastic baseball bat and spinning around till they fell down.

Beach2

Our observation was that Jake was really the one with no game and back in the day, we both would have danced with Chad. 😉

On a final note, Ann and I both have WIE#%R dogs and for some reason, this made us laugh the whole time we were at the beach. Because frankly (oops, no pun intended) it takes very little to amuse us and we still think WIE#%R is a funny word. We refuse to grow up to be old, grouchy women. We prefer to be old, funny women who never stop laughing.

If you could have heard Ann squeal at Jake that she saw his, you would have laughed like I did. It was a classic one-liner that we’ll probably still be repeating it when we’re both 82 and sitting at the beach on our annual girlfriend retreat.

You’re laughing now, aren’t you? Oh come on, laugh – it’s good for you.

Life Lesson (LL): Mamas, you gotta let ’em go and hope they keep their pants on in public. But when you let them go, remind them that even when you’re not there, somebody else’s mom is watching!

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Any good stories you can share about observing our next generation of leaders in social settings?

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Little Lesson #3
Kids & Responsibility

If the Eyre’s Peg System didn’t float your boat last week, here’s “The Wheel.”

I always like to give credit where credit is due as I rarely have an original idea but I just cannot remember where I read about this one. If anyone recognizes it and knows the source, please share it with me.

I do remember they made it with two paper plates and a brad in the center.

(You can find brads in office supply stores in case you’re wondering what the heck a brad is – they’re also called solid brass prong paper fasteners – I like to be thorough with directions; thanks Google.) Or you can rip one off of a pronged pocket folder instead of buying a whole box.

I improved on their version by actually making it on my computer, printing it on card stock and cutting in with a handy, dandy circle cutter I have at home. Doesn’t everyone have a circle cutter?

Okay, so every once in a while I like to be seen as an overachiever when in fact, it was actually easier for me to make it on my much-loved iMac. Added bonus when we changed the jobs, I had saved the file and could make a new one. This is the 3rd or 4th generation of our job wheel.

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It looks better hanging on the fridge than the paper plate version.

The job wheel is very easy to implement. You simply take the number of kids you have and create a list of jobs you want them to learn to master around the house. We chose daily jobs and twice-a-week jobs and then paired them up with input from the kids about their degree of difficulty.

I also typed up a detailed description of the expectations of each job and went over it with the children. The job details were put in a sheet protector in our family binder in case someone needed to refer to the checklist of what their job entailed. Sometimes mom or dad had to whip out the job detail and reiterate what was expected.

We started out changing it weekly but I quickly saw that they were not going to master the job in a week. We changed it to monthly and it was easier for all of us.

If someone did not master their job, we reminded them that they could have their job for another month. This usually got them in gear to do a better job because they all do seem to like a little variety in their chores.

We do not change the wheel until everyone had done their jobs with gusto at the end of the month. That way no one took over on a job that had not been done well. Just ask Roger Leroy who came off of two months of kitchen duty.

The job wheel has been much more effective for us than the peg system. We retired the peg system after about three years. But the peg system definitely created a good foundation before the wheel. Morning and evening routines along with their homework were set when we introduced the wheel. We have been using the wheel for 6 plus years and still use the monthly system to this day even though I’ve been too lazy to update the actual wheel. (I know this because the guinea pigs have all died so that job has been replaced.)

One other thing related to our job wheel. Our kids started doing their own laundry when they turned ten. I was inspired to start this fabulous family tradition from a good friend with six children. They actually got a laundry basket with their name on it as part of their birthday presents when they turned eight. I was very impressed by this mom’s ingenuity and ran right home to introduce this exciting event to our kids. Thanks Jeanette!

You will see a day of the week under each kid’s name and that is their laundry day. In addition, in between each set of jobs is “hot whites” or “towels” or “Scary Baby’s” and that meant that that was one additional load of laundry they were responsible for, in addition to their own, for that month.

Scary Baby added herself on the wheel but really has benefited from having five parents and very little responsibility. She rarely appreciates how much we all do for her. The big kids remind me of this often.

This overall system has instilled our personal value system and I know that our three teenagers are some of the hardest working employees who are now all working at part-time jobs.

Do they make their beds every day? Is my house immaculate? Um, yeah, that’s just how we roll at our house. Not.

But we have instilled a work ethic that will stay with them. Life skills that make us proud when they babysit and the mom calls to tell me they cleaned up and vacuumed and they were stunned and didn’t expect them to do that. Kids who can operate a washing machine before they get to college.

Hope this all makes sense. Perhaps it will inspire those of you with younger children to start them off with some household chores that I firmly believe are the responsibility of the whole family and not just mom (and dad)! Questions? Concerns? Comments? Always love to hear what you think…

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Girlfriend Retreat

I need my friends like I need air.

I cannot imagine getting through my life without my girlfriends.

Ann is one of those girlfriends who makes my world a better place. We went to college together and even though she lives in Illinois and I’m in Georgia we have a friendship that truly transcends the miles between us.

Collegefriends

Gosh, we were tiny little things back in the day aka “The 80’s.”

We went to the beach last week for her spring break. While we were sad that our friends Kim and Toni couldn’t join us this year, we decided to go anyway. (No big surprise for those who know us.)

Even with some wind and rain, we were delighted to be at the beach. Especially Ann who had been experiencing a bitter cold and snowy Midwest winter. Gosh, there is a reason I moved to Florida and now reside in Georgia – just a personal choice, I’m not gloating. 🙂

We relaxed. We talked. We shopped. We napped. We read.

We laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

The best tip I can give a woman of any age, at any stage of their life, is to make time to be with friends of your heart. There is no better gift you can give to each other or to yourself.

It is the gift of time.

Many people will walk in and out of your life. But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions about how you make time for girlfriends. I have some great tips on ways to plan a weekend retreat and how to find bargains especially if you’re on a tight budget that I’ll share in a future post. Email or comment if you’re interested in some ideas!

For now though, I just wanted to give a public shout out to my friend Ann for always leaving footprints in my heart. I’m still smiling from our days together. I love you, my dear friend.

SherraAnn

Thank you Ann, for the precious gift of your time…

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P.S. Later this week I will share what a unique welcome we received from some college boys when we arrived. The dating game seems to have changed significantly since we were in school. As parents with both daughters and sons, Ann and I feel it is our responsibility to share this with other moms!

Easter & Baked Pineapple

When I was growing up my mom always made a baked ham with pineapple rings that I just loved.

I’d like to tell you that I have carried on that lovely tradition but alas, I’d be lying.

Instead, I pick up our favorite Honeybaked Ham and cook this simple and easy side dish along with several other side dishes and two or three desserts. I got this recipe from a friend who served it at a luncheon many years ago. (Thanks Daylelynn!)

Baked Pineapple

  • Two 20 oz. cans pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tube/sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 stick margarine, melted

Mix all together in a 9×13″ pan. Top with crushed Ritz crackers and drizzle melted margarine over the top. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes.

It’s always fun to add something new to your traditional menu so please share one of your favorite Easter recipes here!

Wishing you all Easter blessings…

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Little Lesson #2
Kids & Responsibility

I am often asked how I get my kids to “voluntarily” do household chores.

That question makes me laugh.

If you’re hoping for an easy, foolproof method to get your kid to help around the house–I got nothing.

But because we’ve been outnumbered since the twins were born, PhilBillPaul and I needed to develop some survival techniques.

Though I have been a mom at home since The Grunter was born, I have also had a homebased business . In addition, I have always had clear boundaries about what I would and would not do. I am all about teaching our kids life skills.

I certainly do not fit the old stereotype of the doting stay-at-home mom. I’m more of the Rosanne variety and often used her famous line “If the kids are alive when my husband comes home, I’ve done my job.”

Order and organization makes me happy. Disorder and chaos create stress for me.

I have had systems and checklists for most everything because they work for me. (Getting them to work for the children is an issue for another post.)

One of my criteria for an effective system is that it can be self-monitoring and always works on the honor system. A system is not suppose to create more work for the supervisor/manager/leader of the said system.

Teaching Your Children Responsibility by Linda and Richard Eyre is a book that presents a peg system that we found to be very effective. They are parents of NINE so I figured they could teach me a thing or two! I highly recommend any of their books – I found several nuggets that have helped me manage our home through the years.

You can use your creativity (or involve your kids and use their creativity) to create your actual peg system.

Lucky for us, PhilBillPaul loves his power tools and I let him use his creativity with wood and power tools and make the pegs. He basically created the system from the line drawing in the book on page 56. Pegs were attached with fishing line. Be sure they are attached. Don’t give them one more thing to lose.

I just picked the location which was right outside the door of our bedroom in the upstairs hallway.

KidsJobPegs

We fashioned our pegs much the same way as the book suggested. Each child had a morning peg, homework peg, job peg and evening peg. When they completed their morning responsibility which was to make their bed, brush their teeth and be ready for school, they put that peg in. Same basic idea with each of the pegs.

Above the pegs was a small shelf where we had a “family bank” which was an idea also taken from the book. Each night the kids were responsible for filling out a slip of paper and they got ten points for each peg they put in each day. These points were converted on payday but the key here was that each child was responsible for keeping track of their points, having them initialed by mom or dad and put in the bank each day.

Three kids and the honor system works two ways. We’re teaching accountability and personal responsibility. We ended up using this system with some degree of success for about four years.

But be prepared, as with most things, when the “new” wears off, the “fun factor” wears off too.

The age-old tattling system comes in to play.

“The Grunter put his cleaning peg in but he didn’t do his job.”

” Wizzy isn’t finished with her homework and she put her peg in.”

” Roger Leroy didn’t take all her pegs out from yesterday.”

Whatever system you use, remember your goal is teach them. It’s a hard lesson for both sides. The teacher (you, the parent) must let the student (your child) learn to do things for themselves and learn natural consequences.

The points, allowances and/or privileges you decide on will impact their personal motivation for completing their chores and actively contributing to family life.

The book really outlines the system well and you can adapt it to your family and your expectations for your children.

I’d love to hear if you try this system or if you have a system that is working well at your house! I’m especially looking for a good teenager system these days. 🙂

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those of you who celebrate this day.

My brother would be one of those people. Because it’s also his birthday!

So Happy Birthday Brother who I rarely talk to (but I like him, I really do.) I’m not even sure if he’s ever been to this website but this was cheaper than the card I didn’t send. So just in case you do lurk…hope you have a great day!!

The luck of the Irish has me sitting on the beach in Florida relaxing with my friend Ann. No kids, no husbands – don’t hate us.

We’re just LUCKY!!!!!!

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Words of Affirmation

PhilBillPaul is a man of few words. It takes him some quiet time to form full sentences. He’s always been like that. It’s probably what was attractive to me in the beginning of our relationship. Because he was quiet, thoughtful and low-key.

You all probably know what once was attractive can become rather frustrating as our years of wedded bliss have flown by. Four kids and a wife who all need words of affirmation living with a man who doesn’t can be stressful. Praise and positive reinforcement do not come naturally to him.

He does try. He really does.

After a cross country banquet at school, Roger Leroy brought home a gallon jug of sweet tea that was leftover. No one drinks tea in our house except PhilBillPaul. It was a nice gesture on her part. (And somewhat freegan-like even though this was before we learned she’s on the verge of becoming a freegan!)

The best part though, was his reaction, after the tea was gone. He uses gallon jugs for his aquarium obsession hobby.

As he filled it with water to add to his aquarium, he said (in a very animated voice), “Roger Leroy, this is the best thing you’ve ever done!!”

Roger Leroy: What?

PhilBillPaul: This clear jug is great. I love it.

I felt is was only fitting to document that moment with a photo.

Here is THE BEST thing Roger Leroy has ever done.

RogerBestJug

Life Lesson (LL): Take what you can get. (As in Roger Leroy took the jug and took the awesome praise from her dad.)

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Any little ways you find to praise your children and build up their self-esteem? I’ll pass on stories on to PhilBillPaul who always appreciates insight from others.

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School Conferences

Friends have asked me privately what that call from the principal was all about on that fun Friday in January. I’m certain I’ll write all the gory details here some day.

Until then, I thought I’d share this little funny about have a teacher/parent conference. You’ll probably only appreciate this if you have a “spirited” or “strong-willed” child. Those of you with “perfect” children are just hoping those of us without “perfect” children would take the bribe if offered…

CTH cartoon

Close To Home© John McPherson

I know we’re still in a drought here in Georgia but send up a little prayer for good weather today…I hope to play a little golf this afternoon. 🙂

Have a great weekend, my friends!

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Little Lesson #1 – Weekly Planning

A new series that will share little lessons learned through the years.

I’m a systems kind of girl. I thrive when repetitive tasks are made easier. We have a “Family Binder” that houses all kinds of important information that we need to find on a regular basis. (I’ll probably feature that in a future post and tell you what is in the binder.) I mention this binder because my Weekly Planning form is found in the binder in a sheet protector with extra copies.

Since the big kids were little kids, I have used this form and posted it on our fridge. I have used the form in presentations to several mothers’ groups and I’ve lost count of the number of moms who spied it on our fridge and have asked for a copy.

Such buildup for an 8-1/2 x 11 piece of paper. 🙂

Weekly Form

One of the best things about the efficiency of this form for me has been that anyone can write down a shopping item and when I have an errand day, I simply grab the sheet and fold it up and tuck it in my purse.

You can make something similar and put your favorite stores in each column. Keep an original as your master and make copies to have on hand or print from your computer. I do better when I can see what I need at each store rather than one giant list. Call me crazy, I’m just visual like that.

The second part of the form “Things to Do” is where I would first put all the activities for the week in the appropriate slots. I tried to do this every Sunday evening and then post it for all to see. PhilBillPaul and I would take a few minutes and review our separate calendars and plug in the items for the week. Since I’ve always had a homebased business, this was an excellent snapshot to see when I would be at a meeting or an event in the evening. Appointments, school events, basketball, etc., would all be recorded here.

Once that was done, it took less than 15 minutes for me to plan our meals around our schedule for the week. A weekly menu plan for dinner really helped us as a family. I believe that planning dinner is still a stress point for many. At the bewitching hour of 5:00 p.m. or so, the last thing I wanted to hear was a semi-whiney voice saying “Whaaaat’s for dinner?”

I rotated our meals around a master list of main dishes that we liked. We being me and PhilBillPaul. Now that the teens can make dinner (life skill), they have more input. The menu planning also helped with the shopping list and having them all on one sheet of paper really worked well for me! (Use the back if you need more room for your grocery list.)

I used the lunch planning when they were toddlers and in the years that we homeschooled. You can eliminate that portion of the form if all your kids are in school or you can use it for your own *healthy* lunch plans.

Here’s how I planned dinners in those toddler and tween days of chaos and Cocoa Krispies.

  • Sunday – chicken night
  • Monday – pasta night
  • Tuesday – ground beef night
  • Wednesday – breakfast night
  • Thursday – pork night
  • Friday – pizza night
  • Saturday – “wing it” night

Peanut butter or cereal was available if they didn’t like the menu.

Make your own theme nights and rotate your favorite recipes or try new ones. A little bit of weekly planning can save you a lot of time during the week!

I must confess, I don’t use it as consistently as I used to because with three teenagers driving and working part-time, we all go different directions on many nights. But I do still use it during the holidays and on vacations.

I hope this inspires you to spend a little time planning your week so you can save some time and avoid some aggravation during the week. I’d like to hear if this helps or gives you an idea to improve what you are already doing. Or maybe you have a great system or menu planning tip? Either way, share it by leaving a comment here!

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