Friday, January 28, 2011

Chores

**This is the first post in a new series I am trying to do. This blog is basically my journal / family history. Sometime I want to bind it into a book. Some things that I think are really interesting in reading family history is what every day things they did. Not just special days or fun trips, but what a normal, boring, average day looked like. So that is what I want to do periodically here. These will probably be boring to most everyone, hopefully until 100 years from now when my great-great-great-grandkids read it!**



Can you tell just from looking at this picture that I was (am still at heart) a teacher. I think that some people are born (or maybe they just become) some things. Some people are natural scrapbookers / designers, some are natural organizers. There are lots of things that I see in other people that I wish I could get as easily as they seem to, but for me, I think like a teacher. I have a hard time making the cute-designed-hip-modern stuff, but I certainly can design like a teacher!

This is how we do chores at our house. I have no idea how others do chores for their kids, but after a few years of trial and error, this system works pretty well for our family. Each day the kids have their chores that need to be done. They have to have that days chores plus the everyday chores/homework done before they can either play on the computer or watch tv. At our house tv time starts at 5pm and goes until dinner is ready around 6pm. We discovered that we really like this because I can cook in relative peace, and when Jonathon walks through the door he isn't bombarded by children.

Starting at 5pm they also each get 15 minutes on the computer. On the little chart next to the day of the week is how we tell who goes first. We weren't doing this a few weeks ago, but those extended snow days put too much pressure on the kids kindness at computer time. So now everything is fair and square. I even set the timer. Each kid-15 minutes. They know that they can't do "Just I minute mom, I need to finish this one thing!" They've tried it a few too many times! :)

Their chores are pretty easy. They grumble a lot, but I can't imagine that any of the chores will kill them. They are partly in charge of their bathroom. Mostly it just means that they wipe down the sink and the potty with a wipe (2 wipes, one for potty, one for sink.) Aspen is in charge of collecting all the garbage on Monday then bringing the empty garbage can from the curb to the garage. She also gets to clean out the hamster cage once a week. This one takes the longest, but she really likes it. (which is good!) Olive has a lot of vacuuming the couches. Since we have a cat, I like to have the couches vacuumed. Especially during the spring when she sheds. Olive also gets to clean out under couch cushions. It's amazing how much stuff migrates down there! Cedar and Aspen get to vacuum their room on Saturdays and lucky Cedar gets to strip the beds down and bring the laundry down to the washing machine.

Each year on the kids birthday they get another chore. I know, what a birthday present! But, they also get a raise in their allowance. We pay $1.00 per year old. I know, slave labor. But for now, what we really want to teach them is to pay tithing, and to save. Though they are learning from each other the pitfalls of borrowing money and being in debt. I figure for now, that all of their needs and most of their wants are being met so they don't NEED much money. Someday they will want to do more, so we will tackle that monster only when we must!

ps-Do you like how Olive signed her name on the chore chart. I asked her if she wanted to redo it and put the e on the end of her name. She said no, that you don't need the "e" in cursive.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

happenings

I know that most of you will be shocked to see that I am NOT posting about school being out due to snow. Shocking! (Though there is a chance for tomorrow...)

Sometimes life is funny. And when I mean funny, I mean expensive. You know what I mean, right?

Our "funny" lives began in November when Jonathon's car wrecked. (And I mean that literally, it was just the car.) Thankfully we have really good insurance. We still had to swallow a deductible, but they treated us more than fair, which is a LOT to say about a car insurance company. So we decided that my van was the most dire need we had. We would use the insurance money to put a good down payment on a new (to us) van. After all, I carry around our most precious possessions every day in it.

So we did. Jonathon took over driving the green van and I got the (hopefully) more reliable one. We knew that as soon as we could we would replace the green van for something more efficient. But for now, it got him to and from work.

That was our first "funny" thing.

Fast forward to our anniversary. I wish I could say that our next funny thing involved a romantic getaway, but it didn't. It involved our fridge.

After making those huge snowmen (scroll down a few posts to see them.) and finally putting the kids to bed we found a puddle of water between the kitchen and living room. I was confused at how it got there because I am usually fairly anal about getting snow cleaned up when people come in from outside. We have the pergo type laminate floors that look great until they warp from water damage. And when they get damaged, you have to tear up the entire floor because of how they lock together.

Anyway, we grabbed a towel to mop up the floor and soon realized that it wasn't snow resting on top of the wood, it was a puddle of water coming up underneath the wood. A little investigation and we realized it was from our fridge. A little more investigation and a lot of water later we learned that the water filter for the water you get out of the door had overflowed the condensation pan under the fridge and just kept spilling out. It leaked under the floor between the gaps of flooring and then gravity took it to the lowest part of the floor it could find. The well worn path between the kitchen and living room.

Thankfully we were able to figure out that all we need to fix the fridge was a new filter (and a little more vigilance to make sure it doesn't happen again!) The "funny" part is that now there are 3 rows of wood flooring that are nice and warped in that entry way. We are choosing not to do anything about the floor right now. We just caution the kids to watch their toes. If I can find a rug I like we might hide it better until we can fix it.

Move on to last week. Monday Jonathon called me on his way home from work saying the "check engine" light came on on the green van. We knew it would be happening soon so it wasn't a big surprise. He dropped it off at the mechanic and I came and got him. We wanted to see what it was and if we should try to fix it.

It turned out to be several things and $900 was too much. So Wednesday Jonathon took the day off work went car shopping. It took all day of looking and test driving before we even knew what we wanted. We knew we wanted a little gas saving car, but how much to spend? How much would we end up pouring into a used car? We can't afford another big car payment. It was exhausting. Finally after dinner Jonathon called me and was about to give up and come home. The most tempting car was a Civic. Jonathon really wanted another Civic, but there weren't many used ones around. And they didn't fit very well into our budget. (especially if you figure in unknown repairs!)

As the Honda dealership was closing we decided to go for a lease. We've never tried a lease, and they aren't for everyone. For some people they can be a really bad idea. But we figured how much Jonathon drives each day. How many longer trips he or I or both of us would take in it. (Our whole family won't fit in it in a few months!) And it seemed like it might just work. We were running all sorts of numbers and in the end decided that would likely work for us right now. The payment was really low. They even took the green van as a trade in and lowered the monthly payment. We bought the extra miles up front since they are less expensive that way. And Jonathon drove home in a shiny, new 2011 civic with 12 miles on it! We have a car payment, but it's totally manageable and we have a warranty which I am VERY glad about. I don't really like paying the mechanics boat payment!

At least this "funny" experience turned out better than we thought. And it's shiny and pretty too!

Forward again to last Saturday. I had done a few loads of laundry. Jonathon will open the washer door when it's done on his way through the garage so that the mold doesn't grow on the door gasket. When I went down Saturday morning to see if Cedar's uniform was there I was frustrated that he had opened the door before the clothes had spun dry. They were full of water. I reset the washer to do another rinse and spin and headed back upstairs. After Olive's game I came home and went to change laundry over when I noticed that he had done it again. Opened the door before the clothes were done. They were still soppy wet. I tried to just do a spin but I couldn't get the machine to just spin. That's when I realized that maybe Jonathon wasn't the culprit. After all, you can't open the door unless you cancel the wash or it is finished. I took out the load of soppy clothes and rung them out as much as I could then tried a new short quick load with just 2 towels. Jonathon wasn't going to be home for over an hour so if he was the culprit, he wouldn't have a chance to open the door.

Turns out it wasn't Jonathon. We stayed up (way too late) Saturday night tearing apart the washer trying to find the blocked hose. That's what we thought it was. (sometimes the internet can lead you in the wrong direction. *Just in case you didn't already know that.*) In the process we found the diagnostics sheet and ran the test. Our control panel is out. A little more internet searching gave us a last ditch effort to salvage it without paying the between $100-$200 for the new part with many people who have had that problem reporting it didn't fix it and they still had to pay for more parts until it worked again. It was frustrating. Our machine is only 3 years old. We thought it was a good one. It was a good one until it died.

Take a mini time out here to move to Sunday afternoon when Jonathon says to me that the dishwasher leaked that morning and there was a puddle on the floor. What do you say to that? We just looked at each other and laughed. It happened again Sunday night. We figured that thankfully it is just the door gasket. We've replaced it once before, but still... (Update on the dishwasher. I think that the powers that be must have decided that that was maybe too much for one week, so He gave us a break. The dishwasher hasn't leaked since Sunday!)

So yesterday was shopping for a washing machine day. I felt like Jonathon did after spending all day car shopping. I had looked at a lot of machines, called a lot of places and read a lot of reviews. Late last night we finally settled on a Maytag. Consumer reports gave it a "best buy" label, and, more importantly, the user reviews were much higher than any of the other ones in our price range. Our one big difference this time, (because our old machine was just as well researched...) is that we bought the 4 year extended warranty. A total of 5 years. That pretty much guaranties us that it will run great for the next 5 years and 2 months. The not so funny ending to this story is that the machine has to be ordered and delivered. Apparently no one keeps a lot of inventory of washing machines. 7 more days without a washing machine. UGH!

That's our "funny" update. Sometimes life is like that. Just like the snow days, sometimes they happen all at once and you think that the sun is never going to come back out. But it does. To be honest, I'm glad all this happened now, while our new little baby is still safely tucked inside me and the kids are in school so that we had the time and energy that it took to take care of all of this. It would have been much less funny (no quotation marks there!) if it had all happened when I had a brand new baby to take care of. Or in the beginning of summer when the brand new baby is here AND the kids are home. Or during one of those ice storms when we were all trapped in the house. You know what I mean...

Here's to an end of "funny-ness." At least for a little while!

Monday, January 17, 2011

They're Baaaaack!

At school that is!

Yes friends you heard me right! While every other kid in the country was out of school for Martin Luther King day, my kids (finally) headed back.

It was lovely. I went grocery shopping. I actually remembered everything I needed (almost) and wasn't distracted by running/skipping/shouting/twirling/singing kids. I was even in and out in 30 minutes.

I got the rest of Aspen's art supplies for the class she starts tomorrow. I even took the shortcut through the glass decorative stuff at the craft store!

I cleaned the living room. It stayed clean for 3 whole hours!

I listened to whatever music I wanted and I didn't once listen to McDonalds girl, Last Christmas or Owner of a Lonely heart. (The danger of letting your kids have their own portable music player is that they don't get sick of a song nearly as fast as you do!)

I even think I know what I will make for dinner. I might even have all the ingredients!

I will sign off a happy camper tonight. Tuesday night looks a bit ugly. We'll keep our fingers crossed though!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This is Aspen. I have not blogged in a while! But a couple days ago, my dad found these "cool" snowballs.

Then we went to Mcdonald's with some friends. (Sorry, forgot my camera)
And then we went roller skating.


And a couple days later, we had basketball games.(Cedar is #5, Olive is #)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Set free!

School is canceled again tomorrow, but I think I can handle it.

We were finally able to get out today. The kids and I met some friends at the pool. It was super lovely to get out of the house. The roads are pretty good as long as you stick to the main ones, and for some miracle the county decided yesterday to plow and use some of their precious salt on my road. Thank you, Thank you!!! My friend walked down and drove with us because their little road didn't get plowed and was a steep sheet of ice. She's hoping for tomorrow.

So swimming was fun. We could have been doing practically anything as long at it wasn't at my house.

We have already planned a play date at McDonald's tomorrow. I think we will go to the library first and then meet up with all of our friends. Since Monday is already a day off school, I am in need of some reading material!

I still have a likely 5 more days till school is back in. But I think that I will survive. There is some bad weather over the weekend. Jonathon will be home. It's always more tolerable when he's here. Then it's back to normal. 48* on Tuesday! Hip, hip, hurray!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Groundhog day

Have you seen groundhog day? It's not one of my favorites, but it is so often talked about and compared in regular conversation, it's worth being up to speed about it. (Why isn't it one of my favorites you ask? It's not one of my least favorites, so don't think I'm anti something or the other, it just moves too slow for me. I know, that's the whole point, I get it, I just don't find it compellingly entertaining. Sorry.)

I think I entered some 5th dimension and got stuck in my own life's version of Groundhog day. (You know, like the guy in Tron got sucked into some other dimension on "the grid?" **BTW, I went to see Tron with Jonathon and Seth over Christmas, and NEITHER of them liked it. I have never seen two guys less excited about a guy flick. They looked like my kids look when they have saved up for something at the store, bring it home, play with it for about 5 minutes and then it breaks. My point, Not only is Groundhog day not my favorite, neither is Tron, and I have two guys to back me up on that one.**)

I will add to last post. My kids have now gone to school 2 1/2 days in the last 32 days. The paper today said that the town and county have ran out of salt for the roads and won't get any more until next Monday. It's not going to get above freezing until, you guessed it, Friday. So that means that the busses won't go out, which means school likely won't open. Big sigh.

See what I mean. Groundhog day. Over and over. Only I am not learning to play the piano, I am not saving kittens or people, I am simply living what feels like the same day over and over.

I should be fair though. Good things have happened and my days aren't bad, just strikingly similar. Yesterday we started EFS again. That is our version of keeping the kids brain from rusting over the summer. Officially it's English Family School. You know, a few manditory math worksheets, mom gets to choose a book that you read a few chapters from a day and summarize in a journal, handwriting, phonics. I wouldn't say that the kids are learning anything new, just keeping things in working order. Yesterday Aspen said something about it being a great day and I said, "See, maybe things do go better when we have EFS." And she actually said, "Yea, maybe." (Today she wasn't so excited. She doesn't like long multiplication. Maybe we'll go with long division for tomorrow instead?)

Another good thing is that Cedar had the chance, and more amazingly took the chance to do some service. All you out there in places that get real winter probably have lots of chances to shovel someone's side walk and for it to be meaningful service. We have actually never had that chance. A few reasons for that: Snow USUALLY melts within 8-12 hours of it falling and is rarely enough to need to shovel. We don't have sidewalks. We don't own a snow shovel. Yesterday I borrowed our neighbors snow shovel and had Cedar and Aspen help me shovel our driveway. (If you've seen our driveway, you will know why it takes all three of us.) They did great, but it took forever! So today, when our neighbor was out shoveling her driveway (no gloves, tennis shoes) I suggested to Cedar that he go out and help her. Shock of my life, he did. No complaints. (I did say he could play computer when he was done, but we all need something to look forward to when facing something like that!) He did it! He didn't quit early, he didn't complain and ask to be done. He just got to work and helped until the job was done. (I'm his mom and this is my blog, so I can brag if I want. You don't mind, do you?)
Good thing #3 is that we actually do have a few kids in walking distance. So there are a few kids to play with which helps a lot in breaking up the day. Aspen is at a friends right now and Olive has a friend here right now. It helps.

Here is to hoping that tomorrow, even though the chance for school is slim, that our roads will be clear enough to get out. Until then, it's groundhog day at my house!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snowed in...again

In the past 31 days my children have been to school for 2 1/2 days. True there was the scheduled Christmas break in there, but there also has been quite a few days that have been canceled due to snow, or fear of snow.

Last night after dinner the kids did their nightly check to see if a: the weather forcast had changed (hopefully to include MORE snow.) and b: if school was canceled yet.

They were pleased on both accounts. I on the other hand was not. When they canceled school the sky was clear and the weather cold, but fine. I had just gotten back from visiting a lady who just had a baby. Nothing scary outside.

So often here they cancel school because the weather says it's going to be ugly the next day, only to find out that the winds (or whatever) had shifted and we simply got to enjoy a free day off school. Or the problem could be solved with 2 or 3 more trucks that can spread sand or salt on icy roads. I get that my town is very ill prepared for real winter weather, but something as easy as salting or sanding would really go a long way. They close school if only a handful of roads still have ice on them.

It so happens that today they were right. We did get a few inches and there should be more to come. There is an unidentified car in front of my house that obviously couldn't make it any further up the hill. I hope they didn't have too long to walk. Jonathon headed off to work this morning. I told him he could take the new van but he said if he were going to get in a wreck he would rather wreck the old van. We want to replace it soon anyway. So, since he wouldn't mind it wrecking, I know he'll be perfectly safe. Slow getting to work for sure, but safe. :)

The rest of the week doesn't look too promising for school or much of anything either. The kids MIGHT go to school on Thursday. They don't quite get that they only have 3 more built in snow days and then either spring break or summer break will be chipped away at. At the moment they don't care. They are headed outside, so that is my cue to ready the hot chocolate.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's Aspen. Everybody had a great time, even my cat, Kitsy.And I invited my friend, Lauren over, so you might see some new faces.

My friend airborne
Then I had a back injury.

And we went in for snacks.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Piano

This is Aspen. My Grandma requested some videos of me playing the piano, so here they are.
It's Aspen. Grandma gave us some cool legos. Cedar just finished the police station.

Thursday, January 6, 2011







This is Aspen. Look at our poor snowpeople. And the poor snowkids.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Perfect Snowman Snow!

Within three hours, we had 2+ inches of perfect packing snow. Here's what we made:

It's Snowing!




It's Aspen.
It's snowing! I know I already blogged today, but here we go again!Then earlier today, Cedar and Olive were playing Zhu Zhu pets (they are loving them) and they were playing where you put all the Zhu Zhu pets under a box thingie jiggle it around. Then you lift up the thingie and the Zhu Zhu pet that is standing up wins. Crazy,huh?

The real blanket game

My mom is right. I will blog more than her. But anyway, I am proud to present the real blanket game!



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ahhhhhh

The kids went back to school this morning! I probably shouldn't be as excited as I am, but I am! It's been almost a month and I am loving the feeling of sitting in an empty house with no one needing anything, no one fighting, no one hungry (well, I might be a little hungry, but I think I can manage it!) Anyway, you get the idea.

For Christmas I gave the kids each an envelope with 6 coupons. They were things like, "You can still have dessert, even if you don't finish dinner." "Mommy will take you out to lunch on a school day." "Mommy will do your chores today." and the kicker, "Mommy will clean your room for you."

So yesterday, I wrote down a list of things that the kids needed to do before they could turn on the TV or computer at 5pm. At 2:30 all of them came to me and handed me the same coupon. "Mommy will clean your room for you." One look at their rooms would explain why they all wanted to use it on the same day. Cedar and Olive had had a "sleepover" in Cedars room on Sunday night. I had insisted that all Christmas items be put away or risk being disposed of. The answer my kids had to this was to take everything they got (fragile or not) and dump it on the floor a foot and a half into their rooms.

(Side note: I know that if my parents are reading this they will be feeling a huge sense of satisfaction knowing that the circle has come around to catch up with me. Gloat if you must. I finally feel your pain from all those years ago...)

I was able to finish Cedar's room yesterday. I must say it looks pretty good. He didn't even want to get under the covers of his bed because he didn't want to mess it up. I should take a picture because I know it will only last another day or two.

The girls room didn't get done yesterday. I finished with Cedar's around 5:15 and choose to make dinner instead of starting on their room. It will take several hours and still only last a few days. Couldn't they have inherited Grandma Loveridge's knack for cleanliness? I wonder if there has been any research on THAT gene. Then I might be interested in genetic baby manufacturing!

This morning you should have heard the girls go on and and on, "Mommy, don't forget to clean our room!" Over and over.

Cristy, do you still have that OLD recording of Charlie? I think I might need it today!

Happy New Year everyone.

ps
Do you like my new assistant blogger? She will probably post more than I do. I am excited to hear her start to put out some of her opinions as well as the photo updates.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wisconsin or Bust!

Aspen here! We just got home from WI, and I've got a lot of pictures. So:


Day 1
We opened presents and we were off!



Day 2


Day 2 was a Sunday, so we didn't go anywhere. But we did go outside and play in the snow you would never see in TN. We made an cool snow fort that after some rain looked like this.

Day 3

On day 3 we went to Jelly Belly.To bad I didn't get any pictures.


Day 4
Today we went sledding and bowling. But I didn't get any pictures of sledding because my camera is not water proof (Did I mention I got a camera for Christmas?) but tons of bowling pictures!


Look at the only one who got a strike!(Alex)
When Olive bowls, she dances. It is so cute!

Day 5

We went roller skating.

Day 6

On day 6 we went to the Museum. If you have read my aunt Julie's blog, that is where we went.
We played the life sized board game.

In the space place was this thing that if you were glued in, you could go upside down. We only needed my dad.

Day 7

Cousins Sub
After that, we left.

Day 8
At the end of day 8, we slept in a hotel.
The funny way they arrange their towels.

Bonus: The Blanket Game

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