Making you reconsider having children, one post at a time

Category Archives: Life Organization

So I found myself up and out of bed at 5am, in the hopes of being able to watch The Quest from last night online and do my recap. Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m recapping that train wreck? Well, there, consider yourself informed.

 

Anyway, ABC didn’t have it up on the site yet, and I didn’t want to turn on the living room tv to see if it’s available On Demand yet, because I didn’t want to wake the kids up two and a half hours early.  What ensued was two hours of peace and quiet, while I cleaned the kitchen and listened to Spotify’s Acoustic Morning mix.

 

I was thinking about how my mom told me that she used to get up before me and my brother, to get all her housework done before we started our days of interruptions.  Of course, our interruptions looked more like “MOM! Can you help me put this dress on my Barbie? Danny’s playing GI Joes and Barbies with me and she has to get ready for the Marine Ball.”  (Not an actual quote. Maybe.)

 

When my kids interrupt me, it’s usually due to bloodshed or impending bloodshed. And it happens no less than six times an hour. No, really.  Most days, I’m pretty sure they hate each other. Other days, I think that it’s ME they hate, and they’re just pretending to hate each other to drive me further out of my mind.

 

This summer has been rough. My girls are of a certain age. I can practically see the hormones starting their surge through the nine year old. And the six year old? Well, she marches to the beat of her own drummer to begin with. Trying to deal with her almost-tween sister is not helping matters on her end, either.

 

I have no real point to this post today, except to brag that my kitchen is clean. Mostly.  And it’s 7:30am. And I got to see a mommy and baby deer cross my yard shortly after sunrise.

 

Baby deer are kind of doofy. Adorable, but doofy.

 

It’s time to wake my kids up, now. Kimmie got up a little bit ago, actually, when I was making too much noise changing the garbage bag. She walked across the house and climbed into my bed and went back to sleep. I don’t know if she even realized that I wasn’t in there with her. Sleepwalking for the win!

 

Maybe I’ll get up ridiculously early tomorrow and clean something else. Or just take my coffee on the patio and look for that doofy deer again.

 


It’s ten after three in the afternoon, the oldest O kid isn’t even out of school yet, and I’ve got dinner in the oven.

This is largely because the beef bourguignon needs to cook for a good three and a half hours, and we need to eat around 6:30.

It’s also because I meal planned this week.

Yes, I know what you’re saying. “Shaaaaaaaa…… you tried this already and not a single one of us were the least bit interested in your meal planning angst. Are you really going to talk about it again?”

I am. If you don’t like it… well, come back tomorrow and I’ll write about something else.

So here’s what I did. I went to Food.com and found a bunch of great recipes. I looked at my calendar and figured out what I could handle where (For example, the four hour extravaganza we’ll be experiencing tonight wasn’t feasible on Monday when we were going out right after school.)

And then I used Food.com’s new Menu Planning feature to drag and drop my meals to the days of the week. No, for real. I don’t need to leave Food.com ever.

I’ve added some of our family favorites that I can’t find on Food.com to my own online cookbook there, and now I can drag and drop them, as well.

Then, I can add all the ingredients to an editable shopping list, and send it to my phone. Or my husband’s phone, which is much more likely, honestly.

Genius. And FREE.

And that’s all I’ll say about meal planning. At least for now.

 

*I am in no way affiliated with Food.com, I just think it’s an awesome site. I’ve received no compensation for this post. Except, of course, the peace of mind that comes from having a plan set up for the week.


A quick update on The Ending Entitlement Project: We went on vacation recently, and I was worried about how that was going to affect TEEP. It did take a couple days, but we are largely back on track.

In addition to that, Joey has taken on some added responsibility by learning how to do the laundry. Yes, LAUNDRY!

But that’s all for another post.

Because, today, we’re going to talk about my nemesis.

Meal planning.

It seems that I have always been struggling with the “what’s for dinner” conundrum. Before we had kids, my husband and I decided it was just easier to eat out most nights.

We said it was just as expensive to cook, if you’re only cooking for two, because you can’t get two servings of pork chops. (We are liars. And if you’re also telling yourself these things, you’re also a liar.)

And besides, we could never agree on what to eat anyway.

Well, we could never agree on which restaurant to go to. Once we were there, we usually got the same dish.

You’d think, at some point, we’d just make a list of our favorite dishes at restaurants and start figuring out how to make them at home. But no.  That’s not how we rolled.

Once Joey was born, we continued eating out more than not. To be fair, I was deep in the throes of PPD and going out to eat was something I could look forward to.

Yes, it was so bad, I was looking forward to a trip to Applebee’s. Like, all day long. Not kidding.

And then, this crazy thing happened. Joey actually started to eat. And then, suddenly, she started eating enough that it warranted buying her own meals. And THEN I realized “OMG I AM FEEDING HER CRAP AND MACARONI EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!”

And then I started cooking more. Not at all enjoying it, and we were still going out fairly often, but I’d cook.

Then Kimmie came along and something ELSE happened. My BFF, Lianne, came to visit to help me with the baby and the toddler. She brought with her a love of Food Network.

I knew who most of the people were, but I’d never actually sat in front of the TV and watched their shows.

Turns out, watching the Food Network is fairly inspiring. And one day, while Joey and Kimmie were both napping, I found myself nodding along with Paula Deen as she breaded and baked some taters and told me how awesome they’d be.

And then I realized I had everything I needed to make those taters myself.

And suddenly, I was REALLY cooking.

So now I like to cook. I hate to figure out what to cook.

There was a time, for about a week and a half, where I had every meal and snack planned out the day before and that was an awesome week and a half.

I don’t know what happened. Probably, I didn’t get to the grocery store on time and it all fell apart.

And here I am, hoping my husband takes my kids to Fuddruckers while I’m at work this evening so I don’t have to deal with it.

Again, it’s the PLANNING and NOT the cooking that bugs me.

Tell me how meal planning works at your house. Unless you’re like me, and don’t do any meal planning. Because I don’t want to be like us anymore. If you just come here and tell me “Oh, I don’t figure out what’s for dinner till 3:02 every afternoon and then I run to the grocery store to get the goods and cook it up,” NOT HELPFUL.

And I’m not talking about just dinner here, folks. I want to plan out breakfasts, lunches AND dinners. And maybe even a couple snacks. YES I AM SERIOUS.

If you’re like me and don’t want to be like us anymore, stay tuned and we’ll work this out together. If you have advice, there’s a little comments button down there. USE IT.

Also accepting links to sites that spell this stuff out like they’re talking to my dog. Patient and authoritative, that is.


Sorry I never got around to doing that promised blog last week. Let’s sort of do it now.

My original plan was to show up here with a list of things I eventually want my children to be responsible for, and then pop my list into a calendar and neatly compartmentalize a to do list for each goal.

I’ll bet you already know that didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ve decided to approach this with a bit of a freer spirit. That doesn’t require me to do much thinking or planning because…lazy.

The first thing I decided to shoot for is a clean bedroom. My girls share a bedroom, so cleaning it can be a real PITA.  “But that’s not miiiiiiine.” “She’s not dooooooing anything!” etc etc etc. Barf.

I took a gander at my overall goals. Raising productive, well adjusted adults who can work together. And, you know, not having to spend three hours cleaning their room every time company comes over.

Also I want to reduce the amount of stress in this little house. Messes are stressful. Even more stressful than having a mess is trying to get two kids to clean up the mess. I needed to motivate them.

I thought long and hard about what best motivates my children. They are not spurred to action by promises of treats or rewards. Which is just as well, because I hate bribery. They don’t like being told they can’t do something, though. 

For example, under the threat of losing her Duplo blocks, my little monster cleaned up her Duplo blocks. When she was told she would not be allowed to go to have her friends over if her art stuff was still all over the living room, my princess cleaned up the art stuff.

I hate being the police officer though. I hate being punitive. (Not being punitive is not the same thing as not teaching discipline, but we’ll just save that for another blog if it’s all the same to you.)  So I started trying to think of something that would work in every situation, that would spur the kids to action, and that wouldn’t make me feel like I was taking something away.

At about this time, my kids started arguing over the remote control. “Spongebob!” “NO! Timmy Turner!” “NO! SPONGEBOB!”

And then it hit me. Not the remote control. The solution.

The next day, over lunch in a public place (to hopefully avoid them slicing me open and leaving me for dead), I spelled out the deal.

“Every morning, you guys will be responsible for making your bed and making sure there is nothing on the floor of your room. I’ll come in and check, and if everything is cool, everything is cool. But if someone forgot to make their bed, or one of you leaves toys out, or clothes lying on the floor, no TV for the day.”

“THE WHOLE DAY?”

“The whole day.”

“But what if the stuff on the floor is Kimmie’s?”

“I want you guys to learn how to work together. If one of you doesn’t hold up your end of the deal, neither of you get to watch TV.”

“NO FAIR!”

And there was much whining and gnashing of teeth. But I stood firm. Even though, honestly? Yeah, I was thinking I was nuts. I wasn’t solving problems, I was creating them. I could hear the fights in my head already.

Part of me, though, was really hoping that this was going to work. That Joey and Kimmie were going to decide that being able to watch the new Victorious is more important than being right.  That they’d start helping each other out, as necessary.  That their room would be clean for more than ten minutes at a time.

Guess which part of me was right?

I’d be lying if I said there was no fighting. But not more than usual, really. And my kids are, in fact, working together. It’s true that the older girl is doing the lion’s share of the work in there, but little Kimmie dutifully makes her bed, to her own Kimmie-fied specifications, every morning. And she’s been better about putting her toys away when she’s done with them.

I added a little sweetness to the pot and told them that they get to do a room inspection in my bedroom every day, too. And if I’m found lacking, they can ban me from the television for the day.

We’ve been operating thusly for the past week, and today was the first day of a totally dark TV. We had friends over last night, so we were all tired and there was more than the usual mess in both our rooms.

When I walked into their room this morning, Joey said “I don’t think we’re watching TV today, are we?” and I said “No. But I don’t think I am either.”

Instead, we spent the day hitting Target for some vacation supplies, eating a yummy dinner and following it up with board games. It was a great day. With no TV.

This is a win/win for my family.  If we all clean up, the house is in order and everyone feels good about it. If we don’t, the TV is off all day and we spend more time connecting as a family. There is no downside, here.

I’m sure that the girls will get up tomorrow, make their beds and finish cleaning up their room, because they’re ready for iCarly and missing Big Time Rush. I know I will most definitely be cleaning my room in the morning, because Sunday night = True Blood.

Okay, homework time. Find out what motivates your kids. Don’t ask them. They will smell what you’re cooking and they will lie. Just think about it. It’ll come to you.

Figure out how you can use that to motivate them to begin taking the baby steps you laid out for them in last week’s homework. Get your partner on board, if that’s part of your thing, because this needs to be enforced by everyone in the family to work. Then it’s time for a family meeting.

Let me know how it works out in the comments!


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kind of adults I’m raising.

Well, when I say “lately,” I mean the past seven and a half years, really.  Yes, at some point, while I was pregnant with Joey, I started thinking about who she was going to be when she grew up.

The kid wasn’t even out of me and I already had her in the White House, people.

My most recent mental meanderings, though, are a little more practical. I’ve been reading Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement and it’s got me worried about my kids.

I am not raising productive members of society.

Everything is done for my kids, either by me, their father, or (most often) my amazing mother. Who did everything for me, too. Which explains why it took me a good eight years or so to figure out how to clean an oven. (And even then, it was with copious amounts of Google.)

My kids are seven and four. They’re not going to be cooking dinner any time soon. But, I do want to set up some responsibilities for them.

And it’s not because I’m sick of cleaning up their shit.

Okay, it’s not JUST because I’m sick of cleaning up their shit.

I want them to have the sense of pride that only comes from a job well done. I want them to understand the amount of work that goes into taking care of a house and family. I want them to work together towards common goals.

I want them to grow up to be mature, responsible adults, who do not have that amazingly annoying sense of entitlement that so many kids nowadays seem to have.

The world owes you nothing, kids. You have to work for it. All of it. Any of it.

Over the next week or so, my husband and I are going to be working on our plan to ban entitlement from our home. I’m hoping to start, with baby steps, in July.

How about you? Sick of your kids expecting everything to be done for them? Good. So am I. Let’s work together to make sure our kids feel valuable and capable.

I’m giving you homework.

Have a real discussion, with your partner or with yourself, as applicable, about what responsibilities your kids have, and about what responsibilities they probably should have.

Write down what you’d ultimately like your kids to be handling around the house, keeping in mind this isn’t (just) about lessening the adult work load, but also about teaching your children important life skills.

Meet me back here on Thursday morning and we’ll take the next steps together.

Optional “extra credit” (you’ll laugh your tail off about that if you read the book): Go get the book and give it a perusal. Barring that, check out Kay’s blog, The MOAT Blog, for ideas and inspiration.

See you on Thursday (list in hand)!


In the interest of full disclosure, FertilityFlower.com is one of my clients, however, I have in no way been compensated for this post.

When I started trying to reproduce, I figured a couple months off birth control, and voila! Swollen ankles!

It doesn’t generally work like that. Well, for some, it might. It didn’t work like that for me, though.

I’m forever grateful that my best friend, Lianne, was pushed into my life at just about this time, because she taught me just about everything I know about fertility. And as it turns out, at this point, I know a lot.

We were both trying to conceive at the same time. She told me about a website where I could track my temperature every morning, like she did. I went months quietly chuckling to myself about this before I actually gave it a whole hearted attempt. This was something people did in 80’s rom-coms.

As it turns out, it got me pregnant. Well, technically, I suppose, my husband got me pregnant. But I don’t know how much longer it would have taken us on our own.  As it is, we finally got those swollen ankles a full year after I went off birth control.

Fertility isn’t as easy as it appears at first glance. Here’s the basic idea… once a month, your ovaries spit out an egg (sometimes two, look out!). That egg travels down your fallopian tubes and hits your uterus. If, during this journey, it meets up with a swimmer, it will land in your uterus and hang on. It’ll start to divide into more cells. About two weeks later, your period will be late, you’ll pee on a stick, and shriek. Or cry. Or whatever.  I shrieked.

So, how do you know, exactly, when this magical window occurs? How can you tell when your ovaries are going to push that puppy out? Well, there are all kinds of signs that your body gives you to let you know that you’re fertile. And listen, this magical window only lasts a couple days every month.  Doesn’t it make sense to track for these symptoms to give yourself the best possible chances of catching that egg?

One of the best signs of ovulation, is a temperature shift. Your basal body temp will rise the day AFTER ovulation, and it will stay up there till you get your period. By the time you see that temperature shift, it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to keep this temping thing up for a couple months and look for your body’s own patterns.

This is how I found out that I typically ovulate on the 17th day of my cycle, and not the 14th day, which is what most medical models are based on.  I’d never have picked up on it if I wasn’t charting, and probably would have ended up getting pregnant eventually, completely by accident. Or maybe not. After a year of trying, it was hard to keep going.

There are other secondary signs of ovulation, and there are all kinds of cool testing supplies you can use to check them. I have, in the past, used ovulation predictor kits, which you pee on every morning. It changes color to indicate ovulation. I have also used a spit-o-scope (not at all what it’s really called), which is a small microscope that I spit on every morning, let dry, and then blinked into to find “ferning patterns.” If it ferned, I was fertile.

One of the best signs of ovulation, next to temperature, is checking your cervical mucus. Hey, trying to get pregnant is no time for being squeamish. Snag some on your finger and check the quality. If it’s stretchy and elastic, like egg white, have sex. You’re likely fertile.

What makes all of this come to together in a neat little baby shaped package with a bow on top is quality ovulation calendar software. I’ve recently been doing some work with the good people at FertilityFlower.com and really wish I had them when I was trying to get pregnant. I did use another online fertility calculator, and obviously, it worked, but I love that with Fertility Flower, I can continue tracking things into my pregnancy. (Not that this is ever happening again, folks.)

I also love that it helps me track my nutrition, and my lifestyle, helping set up optimal conditions for making a baby.

I am currently using Fertility Flower, although, I’m  using it as a natural form of birth control. I mostly track my cervical mucus, as far as fertility signs go. But, from working so hard to make my babies, I’m pretty well tuned to my reproductive system. I can generally feel when I ovulate, which is uncommon. I know how my body feels when I’m spitting out the eggs.  It’s kind of amazing.

In fact, I wasn’t charting when I conceived my second baby, but just knew my body so well, that the next day, when I felt a slight cramping near my ovary, I said to my husband, “We made a baby last night.” And I was so right.

Fertility Flower allows me to track this ovulation pain in a way that the other software I’d used simply didn’t.

So. Are you trying to get pregnant? Check out FertilityFlower.com for more information on everything I mentioned here, and to get your own TOTALLY FREE account to start charting your own cycle. They do have a premium membership, with flexible payment options, but you don’t need to pay to use the basic charting software.

I love Fertility Flower so much, that I’ve stopped using the software I used to get pregnant and have been using for birth control, even though I paid for a lifetime membership there. If you’re trying to make a baby, go check it out and see what you think.  I sincerely  hope it helps.