Monday, October 25, 2010

New CSN winner

Well, I never heard from my first CSN giftcard winner, so using, I have chosen another one. 

The winning comment is #6:
mamipdx said... what a fun giveaway! i see that they carry everything under the sun!

Congratulations, Shenais!  

36 hours

Ever been in the same room for 36 hours?  Ever been in the same house as your kids, but didn't touch them for 36 hours?  Ever banish your husband downstairs for 36 hours?

Ever love your family so much that when you get a "just kill me now", awful, terrible stomach bug that you quarantine yourself in your room, hold your own hair when you throw up and don't allow anyone in for  36 hours?  Ever spend all you limited amount of energy the next day to Clorox and Lysol everything in sight all the while praying that no one else gets this awful virus?

That's how I spent my weekend.  Hope yours was better!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Preview

We'll have to work on our shoeless Vader's shoes and straightening our Clonetrooper's helmet, but we're mostly all set.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CSN winner

I still haven't heard from the winner of my CSN giveaway last week. Elaine, if you are out there, please contact my by tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 22) at 5 PM. You can contact me by leaving your email address in a comment on this post. If I haven't heard from you, I'll pick another winner.

Scheduling Future Vacations

How far in advance do you schedule vacations?  5 years? 1 year?  A month? 

Several years ago I was reading a book by Jill Savage and in it she talked about a very different way to plan family vacations.  It is somewhat revolutionary but I really liked the concept and Tim and I decided to adopt it for our family.

What Jill and her husband did was list every destination that they wanted to visit on vacation with their kids.  Then they decided what the optimal ages of their kids would be for each destination (for instance, you would probably want your kids to be older to visit Washington, DC then you would for Disney World).  Then they planned all the future vacations for their family from now until their kids graduated from college, taking into account things like the time needed to save up for those trips.

This concept is right up our alley.  Tim and I are huge planners.  We also believe in paying for our trips in full with cash, not credit.  Meaning we need to plan our vacation far enough in advance to save up all the money for it.  So, we followed the same steps that Jill family did and now have a list of our future vacations (in a spreadsheet of course).

These are our plans:

2011 - Next year it's Disney - Ages almost 6 and 8 (all potty-trained and no naps needed)
2012 - Beach
2013 - Beach
2014 - Cruise - Ages 9 and 12 (hopefully don't have to worry about them falling off the boat at those ages)
2015 - Beach
2016 - Disney again - Ages 11 and 13 (older and will enjoy different things then the first time they went)
2017 - Washington, DC - Ages 12 and 14 (old enough to know enough American history to appreciate it, but hopefully still young enough to not think it's all stupid)
2018 - Beach
2019 - Cruise - Ages 14 and 16
2020 - Beach
2021 - New York - Ages 16 and 18 (the age when they will really enjoy the city, not complain as much about all the walking and, hopefully, LOVE Broadway shows)
2022 - Beach

By that point Julie will have graduated from high school and David will be close.  Do I think we're going to stick to those plans exactly?  Probably not, but it gives us a good starting point and a plan for saving our money.  It also helps us define what places we want to go with our kids instead of looking back on their childhood and thinking "I wish we had taken them there."

So what do you think?  Too structured or a good idea?  How do you decide where to go on family vacations?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5K - Misery or Magic?

Tim ran his first 5K the other night...with absolutely no training.

Our church sponsored a 5K run/3K walk.  I chose the walk because of previous foot problems and so I could watch the kids who were riding their bikes around the coarse.  Tim decided to run the 5K, which is great - except he has never really run before.  We do the elliptical at the gym and he does 3 miles there.  So he thought "no problem, this will be just like the gym."  Ah, no.

While I am so proud of him for running and trying, we just may have to get stock in Advil if he does that many more times in the future.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

aMAZEing Field Trip

I love Kindergarten field trips.  They go on lots of them and the kids are all so excited.  I got to go with David last week to a local farm and corn maze.  He was so excited all week and asked every day "Is it Thursday yet?"  When Thursday arrived, he was bouncing off the wall waiting to go to school.  The trip didn't disappoint.

First stop - talking to Fenderella, the big, plastic talking cow that told the kids all about farm life.

Then it was a hay-less hay ride to the petting zoo, where goats were everywhere...and so were children.

(See the three little piggies houses?  Unfortunately the farm only had two little piggies, so I answered LOTS of questions about that.)

Then onto a kid-sized chain-linked maze.  They loved it and we could see them the whole way to make sure no one was lost.
Then came the highlight of David's day - picking stuff.  He got to go to the pumpkin patch and pick his very favorite pumpkin, then decorate it.  Then he got to pick an ear of popcorn.  Finally they each got a gourd.  He was so proud of each of those.

Off to the actual corn maze.  Because these are 5-year olds and we didn't want to spend all day there, they led us through the maze.  Even so, the kids thought they would "NEVER" get out of there.

 Notice the sky - dark and overcast all morning.  Thankfully it wasn't actively raining while we were there.

Each child got a chance to ride the cow-train pulled by a four-wheeler.

Last was lunch, then 45 minutes on the playground.  Wear those kids out before you send 'em home to their mommas.  Seriously, though, they loved this part.  David did fall asleep on the bus back to school :).

It was an enjoyable day and I love spending time with David and getting to know his friends and their parents.  Can't wait for the next one.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finding your child's Niche

As mothers we hear it all concerning our kids ...

"Put them in every activity you can.  They need to experience it ALL."

"No, don't!  They will get stressed and develop anxiety disorders."

"All kids must do sports to stay in shape."

"All kids must do music or dance to explore their artistic side and be well-rounded."

Ahhhhh!!!!!  I just want to cover my ears and scream sometimes when I think of all the things I "must" do in order to be a "good parent."  I certainly don't want my kids scarred for life either way - because of doing too many extracurricular activities or because of doing too few.  So where is that happy medium?  How do we make sure our children are well-rounded but not overwhelmed?  More importantly, how do we find their niche - that one activity that our child will excel at and love through life?

There's no easy answer to that, but I think it takes lots of discernment about your child as well as trial and error.  For our family this is still a work in progress, but here are a few rules we go by.

When Julie was very young, Tim and I talked about what we liked about our childhood.  For both of us, we had activities we loved - piano and band for me, and Boy Scouts for Tim.  But as much as we loved doing those things, our fondest childhood memories came from just being allowed to be a kid and run around outside and play.  I remember playing very elaborate pretend stories with my sister and our barbies or Cabbage Patch kids.  I also remember all the neighborhood kids getting together after school and riding our bikes around together.  Tim's best memories include playing baseball outside with his brother and cousin.

In light of that we decided that that was the kind of childhood we wanted for our kids - a few well-loved activities and lots and lots of time for playing.  In order to achieve that, we have limited how many activities our kids are allowed to participate in at a time.  From birth to age 4, they could only do 1 activity at a time (not counting church or preschool).  Julie did dance and when that was done, she tried out Upward Cheerleading.  When Cheerleading ended, she tried out soccer.  David took gymnastics for several years.  When he decided to quit that, he tried out soccer, then T-ball.  During that time, they got to try out several things, but always only one at a time.

At age 5, they have both gone into Kindergarten.  In my opinion, Kindergarten is the hardest year so far.  They go to school all day every day from 8:10 - 3:10.  That's a long time to listen, be still and be good.  Too many evening activities just make them tired and cranky for school the next day.  We didn't realize this when Julie was in Kindergarten and we still allowed her to be in one activity - dance.  That was a mistake.  She was way too tired and didn't handle the nighttime classes well.  So, with David we decided no activities this year. When he goes into first grade next year, we'll re-evaluate that.

Last year, when Julie was 6 and in first grade, we relaxed a little and allowed her to be in 2 activities - dance and piano.  My main reason for doing that was that piano was immediately after school and didn't take up another evening in our week.  Dance was not her favorite and we didn't re-sign up for that this year.  However, piano is her new passion.  She loves it, rarely ever complains about practicing and is doing very well for her level.  Obviously, this year she is once again taking piano.  We are letting her add Girl Scouts (Brownies) starting this week.  Her Brownie troop only meets once every 2 weeks and all the extra activities are at our discretion, meaning we don't have to participate in them if we don't want to.

I feel like we have found Julie's niche.  She loves piano.  It fits well into our schedule.  It's on the expensive side, since it is a private lesson every week; however, when that's the main extracurricular activity she has, we can afford to spend a little more on it (Brownies is costing us $42 for the whole school year, or $4.20 a month - pretty much negligible).

We are still working on finding David's niche.  We've tried several sports.  He enjoyed T-ball but that is such a short season; it would be nice to find something else for him.  He wants to try out karate, but it is very expensive and very time-consuming so I haven't OK'd that one yet (for next year, of course :)).  Do I think we will eventually find his niche, his passion?  Yes, I do.  It may take a few more years and a few more activities to try out, but I think we will find it.

What about you?  What do your kids love?  What's your view on limiting or not limiting extra curricular activities?

Note on quitting an activity:  Our rules:  If I have paid for the activity for a certain amount of time, such as the length of the T-ball season, our rule is our kids have to finish that season out.  Likewise, if I have paid for a uniform or recital costume, our kids have to finish the season or semester out.  However at the end of our obligation, if they are not enjoying themselves, they are allowed to quit.  But I will only allow them to try something twice.  The second time they quit, it's over - no more of that activity.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!

OK, so the prize isn't really a chicken dinner...

It's better - it's $45 to buy anything you want at .

And the winner is....
Drum roll, please........

Comment #8
Elaine said... I'd love to win!!!

Congratulations, Elaine!!

Please comment on this post with your email address and I will pass it on to CSN.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Little Inventor

Don't forget to enter my CSN giveaway!! You have until Oct. 13 to enter!


One of Julie's aspirations in life is to be an inventor (along with school principal, mother, and nurse - she'll be busy).  She is always coming up with new inventions like the swimming pool playhouse - a blow-up house with water shooting everywhere and a pool in the bottom.  That one is actually doable...

But my favorite future invention of hers?

Spray money!

Yup, go shopping and see something you want?  All you need is your can of spray money.  You dial the amount you need on the side, hold out your hand and spray.  Waa-la!  The exact amount you need is right there in your hand.  There is one stipulation though, if you want to spray over $100, you'll need to wait a whole day after you "dial it in" before your money comes out.  That way you won't "spend too much without thinking about it."  I love the way her mind works.

What do you think?  How much would you pay for this?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Giveaway: CSN gift card

Visited CSN lately??

They have EVERYTHING (and I do mean everything) you could need or want in their 200+ online stores.

Need an ottoman coffee table??  They've got it!
Need luggage for your child??  They've got it!

Need a new treadmill??  They've got that too!

Need a $45 gift certificate to help buy all this wonderful stuff??  Lucky for you, I've got that right here.

CSN has graciously given me this gift certificate to give away to one of my wonderful readers (US and Canada only) to use in any of the CSN online stores.

SO....How do you enter?

Just leave me a comment telling me that you want to win.  It's that simple.

Want an extra entry?  Refer someone to this post (you can tweet about it, blog about it or send someone an email - whatever works for you).  After they leave a comment, just leave another comment telling me that you are the one who sent them.

That's it.  Simple as apple pie.  So, hurry up and enter.  You have until Oct. 13 to enter the giveaway.  Who knows?  45 free dollars could be yours!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday

I'm 32 now.

Yup.  That belated birthday is for me.  It's pretty sad when I'm late telling myself Happy Birthday :).  OK, to be truthful, I did it on purpose.  My birthday was Friday but if I posted that then, I wouldn't have been able to tell you about all the wonderful gifts I got.  So I purposefully waited (Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

Without further ado....the gifts....
Mom's Plan-it Calendar - Aug 2010 - Dec 2011
It's magnetic and hangs on my fridge.  Every mom needs one of these.

 New book by a favorite author

 Gorgeous new necklace with 2 pendants to switch out from my sis.

 New piano music to play (was getting bored with my old stuff).

 Fun and exciting - new white socks.  Hey, I needed 'em so I was pleased.

And the favorite gift of all, from my parents - loved by all - my new Kindle e-reader.  The only problem with it is that everyone else keeps taking it away from me to use!

I had a wonderful birthday.  Thanks to all my family and friends who made it special.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Sneeze: Your Money, God's Way

It's BookSneeze time again.

This time around, I read Your Money, God's Way by Amie Streater. 

I must start off by saying, I loved this book! Amie Streater is an Associate Pastor of Financial Stewardship at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO.  (When I read that, my first thought was "How big is that church?"  The answer is "huge!")  In writing the book, she addressed the 7 money myths that keep Christians broke.

I was afraid when I ordered this book that is would be another financial book telling me how to get out of debt, pay off my mortgage and save for retirement.  Don't get me wrong, as a huge Dave Ramsey fan, I'm all for those.  But I've also read a lot of those and wasn't looking for another.

I was very pleasantly surprised though.  Your Money doesn't address the how's of financial stewardship so much as the why's.  Why do we do stupid stuff with our money?  More importantly, what are specific reasons that Christians do stupid stuff with their money?

The author addresses 7 Christian money myths:
  • The Fix-it Fantasy - Money has the power to fix me and my problems.
  • Saviors or Enablers? - It's my Christian duty to be at the beck and call of everyone who wants me to help them out of a jam.
  • Self-righteous Slackers - God didn't tell me to go to work.  My economic success is up to God and I don't have anything to do with it.
  • You must be here to help me - Because my intentions are good, everyone else's must be too.  People who believe this assume that business opportunities presented by someone at church don't need to be scrutinized.
  • God is an ATM - Giving is like a magic wand.  I can spend recklessly and neglect to save because giving will prompt a blessing from God that will make all my past stupidity disappear.
  • The Scarlett Syndrome - I can leverage tomorrow's blessings to make today even more fabulous, because my next windfall is just around the corner.
  • Cliff Jumpers - My every impulse to do something bold is a calling from God.
In her no-nonsense way, Amie Streater addresses each of these myths with a timeless truth straight from the Bible.  Using real-life financial examples (some very humorous) she goes in-depth for each myth and tells you how to get out of that jam if you are currently in it and if you are not, she gives great strategies for avoiding those pitfalls.

At the end of each chapter, Amie adds a specific prayer that addresses the money myth in that chapter.  It gives you the words you might need to take that problem to God.  Also at the end of each chapter, she gives a bulleted summary of the chapter to refer back to and a list of solution steps to help you apply what you've read.  Tim read the book with me and these end-of-chapter summaries, questions and prayers really made the book stand out to him. 

I highly recommend this book to everyone who ever has to deal with money (which is pretty much everyone).  It's easy to read, entertaining and full of great info.