Friday, October 20, 2017

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Party Take Two

It's that time of year again. The leaves are colorful, the air is crisp, the kids are back in school, and this means that fall is upon us. As soon as the calendar switched over to October, I began to feel an enormous sense of pressure take over on how we should celebrate Mahlon's tenth birthday. We originally planned on hosting it somewhere outside of the home, especially since we got so many comments about how we shouldn't of hosted the party at our house, but we recently purchased a new home and then my husband suddenly lost his job without any warning. Financially things haven't been so great for our family (will update more on all of the other stuff that's been going on in our lives these last several months in a separate post). Since paying hundreds of dollars to invite his entire fourth grade class and fall soccer team to a fancy party place was definitely out of the question, we decided to just invite a handful of his closest friends over to our house for pizza and cake again. I wont post the actual party date as I don't want any media showing up on my doorstep.

Basically we're having a Diary of a Wimpy Kid party, take two. 
In case you're wondering why we would dare to repeat last year's fiasco, Mahlon is dead set on having the EXACT same birthday party he attempted to have for his ninth. I'm talking he wants every single detail to mimic last year's party....same cake topper, games, decorations, goodie bags, pizza, literally EVERYTHING exactly the same (except for the whole nobody showing up thing of course). Bless his little heart. When I asked why he didn't want to just pick a fresh new theme (I was trying to convince him to do a Halloween theme since he loves scary movies and costumes), he looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, "But mom, I didn't get to play any of those fun games with my friends last year because none of them came. I just want to share those games with them". I know, I know, this kid sure knows how to punch you right in the emotional stomach, huh?  Plus, he still loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid more than anything (who doesn't?)

I got a bit emotional digging up these photos 
One of the games we had planned on playing last year (hey Gershy, remember these are names of DOAWK characters, not party guests who didn't show up..hahaha!!):
 Still one of Jeff Kinney's biggest fans!!!
Here's Mahlon with his little brother at the latest DOAWK movie last May: 
So, there I found myself digging through boxes of miscellaneous party supplies in my drafty, spider infested attic, trying to find the leftover Diary of a Wimpy Kid invitations from last year, and the memories and emotions of everything that took place last October, came flooding back. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the cold, hard attic floor, blubbering like a baby.  My biggest fear of course being "What if this happens to him again?" but I had already told myself that if we didn't get a single RSVP this year, then we would not be going ahead with the party and would try and reschedule for another date. However, this time around, we've literally gotten an RSVP from every single guest and everyone has said "yes", minus one who has a family conflict, so I'm fairly confident that at least one child will show up. Honestly that's all Mahlon wanted last year. If even just one child had showed up, none of this would've ever happened, and I wouldn't even be writing this follow up post.

Custom Diary of a Wimpy Kid invites we had made last year: 
This year's DOAWK cake topper:
he chose the blue book cover instead of red this time: 
 Last year's cake...
I ordered a bigger cake this year as I could barely squeeze this baby onto a quarter sheet cake and I screwed up the pretty frosting border in the process:
If for some evil twist of fate, history repeats itself and no one comes, we'll be much better prepared on how to handle it. Plus Mahlon knows he is loved, and he is much more confident in himself. He has lots of friends from school, soccer and our neighborhood who care about him. Not to mention the tens of thousands of people from all over the world who reached out to show him some love. We are forever grateful to each and every one of you!!! Mahlon would like to record a special video message for all of you on his actual birthday, so I'll be posting a live video, hopefully on his actual birthday which is Oct. 23rd. Of course his birthday just happens to fall on a Monday this year, and it's a school day, so once we figure out a time, I'll post an update on my page.

Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for the incredible outpouring of love and support that you showed our family. I wish we could invite ALL of you to Mahlon's birthday party!!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Want to write a memoir but don't have the time?

For many years now, I've been telling friends and family that I'm going to write a book or memoir about my life.  Although my blog is primarily humorous, I've been through many difficult life experiences, some of which are so crazy, I could easily star in my own cheesy Lifetime movie. Well, I wouldn't personally be starring in it as I'm not as actress, but maybe I could get Tori Spelling to play me or something, as she's the only actress I can think of off the top of my head who has a million kids like myself.

It sounds easy enough to write a book, right? I mean I've been a blogger for several years so writing a book shouldn't be too far of a stretch. But for whatever reason, the second I sit down in front of my laptop, I end up staring at a blank screen with a small blinking cursor looking back at me, almost mocking me in a sense. Before I know it I'm adding more cleaning supplies to my online shopping cart, or ordering more clothes for the kids who seriously don't need anymore clothes (as I sit in the same pair of stretched out yoga pants I've owned for over a decade). I don't know why I can't just buckle down and get started, but writing a memoir, especially about yourself is so much more difficult than it sounds.

Hello, my name is Seanie Mac 
and my mom orders me lots of clothes because I'm adorable 
Did you know that there are people out there who will do this monumental task for you? It's a dream come true, right? Yes, you can still shuttle three kids off to three different soccer practices across town, come home after 7 pm, cook dinner, clean up the mess, get four kids in bed and actually relax on the couch (or go to bed if you're smart which I'm not), and not have to kill yourself trying to write a book in those rare few hours that most people call sleep.

Plus think about how incredible it would be to own a copy of your special, unique personal life story to gift to someone in your family, pass down to your children or grandchildren, or just to keep for yourself if you aren’t ready to share it with others. I lost my mom when I was young, and my father’s memory isn’t the greatest (plus let’s be honest, many men have trouble recalling those crucial little details that a woman never ever, ever forgets).  To have a memoir written about her life experiences would’ve been so precious to me. I would love the ability to pass something like that onto my children, but if it were left up to myself, it would probably never get written as I just don’t have the time or motivation.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, please visit Nechamie of Writing the Soul to view her packages and to get a free consultation. In addition to memoirs and biographies she offers so much more, including children's books! Yet another dream of mine that I have yet to accomplish.

Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post and I received compensation in exchange for a review. However all opinions are my own. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Pizza. It's what's for dinner...every single night until we die!!!

If it were up to my kids, they would seriously eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They love anything pizza related too, pizza rolls, pizza pockets, pizza wheels, those pizza on a bagel thingies, etc. I'm just waiting for a cereal company to finally make their dreams come true and release a pizza flavored cereal, because I have no doubt my kids would eat that too.  I know exactly where they get their undying love and adoration for pizza from too....their dear old dad.

When I first started dating my husband, he was a bachelor living in his own man cave, otherwise known as a one bedroom apartment. The inside of his refrigerator was completely barren minus some ketchup and soy sauce packets from various fast food places and a twelve pack of Mountain Dew. He ordered pepperoni pizza for dinner pretty much every single night of the week. In fact the place he ordered it from, immediately recognized his number on the caller ID, so they knew his order before he even had to say hello.

I like pizza too, but I don't wish to eat it for every single meal, especially as I get older. I swear if I even look twice at a slice of veggie or cheese pizza (really the only two kinds of pizza I can consume since I'm a vegetarian), I gain about ten pounds, pretty much all around my waistline. It may be warm, cheesy, saucy and delicious, but it's best when eaten once a week (twice tops). However, tell that to my dear, sweet, children, as they literally don't want to eat anything else.

Last night I attempted to cook some spinach and cheese ravioli from Costco. You would've thought those little pockets of pasta were stuffed full of rat poison judging from their expressions. They ate one or two little bites of pasta (they literally chewed the outside ring of the ravioli so they didn't have to touch any filling) and then ate a thousand pieces of french bread with butter.

I try very hard to cook them a variety of meals.  For example, I can cook a mean vegetarian crock pot chili but that has *gasp* beans in it so they carefully lick the sauce off the spoon so that they don't accidentally swallow a bean because that would be apparently equal their sudden and immediate demise and then they eat all of the cheese off the top of the chili. Then of course after they get told "No you can't add more cheese on top of your chili until you actually eat some of the chili" they dump their bowls into the sink and then complain about being hungry. This is precisely why I don't kill myself cooking complicated meals because I'm probably the only one who would eat them, along with our dog Olive, who eats absolutely everything with Seanie Mac's poopy diapers being her all time favorite meal.

Our typical meal rotation consists of things like vegetarian hot dogs, veggie burgers, spaghetti, teriyaki ChikN and rice (notice I said ChikN not chicken as it's not really chicken because we don't eat meat...which by the way, things were absolutely no different back when we did eat meat. They still hated everything I cooked), baked macaroni and cheese, tacos, loaded baked potatoes, etc. These are things that I can at least get them to partially eat, but they still would much rather have pizza if given a choice. I on the other hand am sick to death of all of these things. I've tried cooking other meals in the past like lasagna, enchiladas, tofu stir fry, curry and rice, various homemade soups, casseroles, etc, and the majority of the meals ended up going to waste. It's frustrating because people always say, "They will eventually get hungry and eat what's on their plate if you don't give them a choice" but these people obviously haven't met my stubborn little angels. Getting them to do something they don't want is like trying to catch a cat in a carrier to take to a veterinary appointment. Think of the little girl in the Mommy Dearest movie who refused to eat her bloody raw steak (okay so I can't say that I really blame her on that one), but it's pretty much an FBI style standoff every single time, especially with Peanut. This kid could seriously sit at the table for two solid days to avoid eating something that he views as yucky or disgusting (which again is pretty much anything besides pizza or peanut butter and jelly). 

All I can hope is that their palates mature and their minds open up a little as they get older, and that maybe eventually, someday I'll actually be able to feed them a vegetable without them barfing it back up on their plates (yes, this actually happened once with our oldest). I'm not holding my breath though, as I really don't foresee this happening anytime soon. As for what we're eating for dinner tonight? Yep, you guessed it. Pizza.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The most amazing tofu tacos you've probably never had

I know what you're thinking...tofu? BARF!!! Is this chick for real? But before you click out of this post and take me off of your blogroll forever, please just hear me out. These tofu tacos are so ridiculously good you'll want to slap your husband (okay, so you'll want to slap him anyways, for reasons other than tofu tacos, but this gives you a valid reason).

It's extremely unusual for me to post recipes on my blog because as you all know, I suck at all things domestic, but on the rare occasion when I do actually hit one out of the park, I figure it's only fair that I share my success and wisdom with others. Sure, there may be some of you out there who've achieved successful careers, nice homes, fancy cars, vacation condos on tropical islands that I can't even pronounce, but I can cook tofu. We all have our special talents and do the best with what we are given. 

I'll admit that a block of tofu straight out of the package looks pretty unappetizing (AKA pretty damn gross). It kinda reminds me of a giant Magic Clear Eraser but it's wet, slimy and crumbles like blue cheese when you touch it. I haven't had a chance to clean my tub with it yet to see if it has the same cleaning capabilities as a MCE, but I'll get back to you on that one later. 

My husband and I discovered the awesomeness that is tofu tacos at this amazing, trendy restaurant in Bend (which will remain nameless because I would die of embarrassment if they saw my photos which are pitiful compared to their artistic culinary masterpieces). We loved these silly little tofu tacos so much that we were going daily for awhile. Not only did we start to feel a little stalkerish about going to the same restaurant and ordering the same food item every single day, but dining out really starts to add up. We needed to figure out a way to make them ourselves so we could save some money and completely pig out on them without judgment (e.g. someone taking secret cell phone photos of us stuffing our pie holes with tacos) in the privacy of our own home. 

Although we have no idea what the recipe or ingredients are in the tofu tacos at our favorite restaurant (my husband first suggested that we should ask them for their recipe but I was like, "Um, babe, we eat here everyday. Do you really think they're going to just hand us their super top secret recipe so we can copy it and stop spending money at their restaurant? Probably not!"), so we decided to try our own knock off tofu tacos.  Although they don't look anywhere near as pretty as their tacos, the knock offs turned out incredible and now my husband and I are literally gorging ourselves right into the next pant size.

Ingredients you will need for the tacos:
white corn tortillas
olive oil 
tofu (I bought two firm blocks because I wanted leftovers)
cajun seasoning (I use Weber N'Orleans Cajun Seasoning)
lime juice
Salad/spinach greens or cabbage or both for the topping (I like both but my hubby hates cabbage so I leave it off)
cilantro for the topping
jalapeno peppers for the topping (optional)

Ingredients you will need for the spicy chipotle sauce: 
1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce  (you wont use an entire can unless you want to set your mouth on fire, which I did the first time I made this sauce....lesson learned)
3/4 to 1 cup of mayo (didn't measure out very accurately..told ya I sucked at cooking)
1/2 cup of sour cream (feel free add more if you want)
1/4 tsp of minced garlic (I may have added a couple of these as I love garlic)
lime juice to taste
lemon juice to taste

Directions for the tofu tacos:
*Drain the tofu, blot well with paper towels, cut blocks in half width wise into two equal pieces and then cut into smaller cubes
*Add cajun seasoning into a plastic bag or container. Squirt tofu squares with some lime juice. Shake cajun seasoning onto tofu until it's well coated
*Cook tofu on a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil until it starts to turn slightly crispy
*Warm corn tortillas on a frying pan with a small amount of oil and heat on both sides
*Cut up cilantro, salad greens/spinach, cabbage, and jalapenos and set aside

Directions for the spicy chipotle sauce:
Add mayo, sour cream, minced garlic, 1/2 can of adobo peppers, and a few squirts of lemon and lime juice. Blend in blender (I use my NutriBullet) until smooth. I will admit, I adjusted amounts until it tasted good to me (adding more lemon or lime for example) so there is no right or wrong way to make this sauce. I know, I'm super duper helpful.

Once you warm the corn tortillas on the skillet (a couple of min on each side usually) with a little oil, it's time to arrange your tacos. There is no exact science to this process. I put about 4-5 cubes of tofu in each taco, add some salad greens, cilantro and the spicy chipotle sauce on top. My final step is to squirt some additional lime juice on top (I love lime juice if you haven't noticed). You can also add some freshly sliced up jalapenos on top, but I find these tacos are spicy and hot enough without them so do what you wish but definitely have some water nearby because these tacos have quite the kick.

I know, I know, you're super jealous of my mad food photography skills, along with my fancy puke green fine china--courtesy of Walmart
I promise you that these babies taste so much better than they look. And I should probably mention that I added WAY more spicy chipotle sauce than a normal person would (hence the reason why my mouth was on fire). You probably wont want to start with this much sauce and had I not dumped a crapton of sauce all over the tacos, you actually would've been able to see what they looked like underneath (sorry). I told you there's a very good reason why I don't blog about cooking. I promise these tacos are good, and before you know it, you'll be buying the large boxes of tofu at Costco.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

To buy or continue renting, that is the question

This house is falling apart, much like my life at the moment. I know, I know, a tad over dramatic for a Tuesday afternoon, but hey, I'm a drama queen, so just be grateful that you're not my husband. Right now we're stuck in a teeny tiny rental house (that we're paying way too much for), and everything seems to be going wrong with it all at once. That's typically how life seems to go though isn't it? When one thing goes wrong, there's usually another disaster lurking right around the corner.  I swear I'm just waiting for my husband's vasectomy to fail next...kidding! That is the ONE thing that cannot break down and you better believe we'd be taking a road trip to Portland with all four kids in tow, and marching into his Urologist's office for a full refund (we paid for his procedure out of pocket and it wasn't cheap)!!  And, once again, I'm totally getting off track! I'm supposed to be talking about houses, not my husband's private parts. Moving on....Luckily we don't own the house, so we aren't responsible for the repairs, but it hasn't been easy having repairmen in and out of the house for several weeks, especially when they always seem to come over during Seanie's nap time and I'm left to entertain a fussy, exhausted infant and a barking Vizsla, who suddenly thinks she's Cujo whenever someone new enters the house.

Our dog who acts tough but couldn't harm a flea...literally
she's completely useless at catching anything
After three unsuccessful attempts to fix the hot water/wimpy water pressure issues (they even ripped up our master bathroom at one point and left it in total disarray for a week while still not being able to fix the problem), they finally replaced the hot water heater.  I do admit that it's been nice to not have to stand at the kitchen sink for thirty minutes waiting for the water to heat from cold to lukewarm. However, it's not just the water pressure that drives me bonkers. The dishwasher sucks, the carpet in the bedrooms is matted and gross, the bedrooms have plain white walls but we're not allowed to paint them, the oven handle keeps falling off, the floors are chipping in certain areas, and the toilet in the kids' bathroom overflows all the time. My husband is convinced it's because the kids use an arsenal of toilet paper, but I've used their bathroom before (out of sheer desperation of course, nobody ever uses the same toilet as their children on purpose), and it overflowed for me too.  It's gotten to the point where I know exactly how many seconds I have to get to the toilet to plunge it before I'm running to the hall closet to grab an armload of towels to throw down on the poopy water filled ground.

 After being long term, serial renters, my husband and I have decided the time has finally come to buy our very first home. You'd think I'd be super excited about this process, but when you live in a very desirable tourist town, it's not nearly as exciting as you think.  To get the monthly payment where we want it, we have to lower our expectations quite a bit and unfortunately there aren't a ton of choices to begin with in this small town where housing options are extremely limited. It's even more depressing when you look at what you can get in other states for the same price (think mansion compared to tool shed).  Before we totally commit to buy though and sign on the dotted line, we still have a lot of really big, life changing decisions to make and since I suck at making decisions this could explain why my dreams have been nothing but natural disasters, violence, chaos and turmoil. For example, last night I was swept away by a roaring tsunami. Considering we live in Central Oregon, I have a much better chance of getting shot and killed by a deer hunter, but what can I say? Dreams are weird.

The main reason we haven't taken the plunge and purchased a home before is mostly because we have major commitment issues, at least when it comes to settling down in one place for the rest of our lives. My husband is an Air Force brat and gets stir crazy living in one place for very long.  In fact we've been in our current town for nearly eight months, and he's already thinking about where we should move to next. Needless to say we go back and forth about whether or not to continue renting, even though rentals are ridiculously expensive and hard to come by in this town, or settle down and buy something.  The amount of money we're throwing away in rent every year is pretty depressing. Plus, the rental we're in right now, just isn't going to work long term. Sure, we could stay here another year, but that's pushing it before we have to get a bigger place.  My husband and I are currently sharing a bedroom with Seanie Mac, our daughter has her own room and then Mahlon and Peanut share the third bedroom. The bedrooms are ridiculously dinky here, so half of the boys' belongings are currently in storage until we move to a bigger house.  Seanie Mac is nearing his first birthday and really needs his own room as soon as possible. He doesn't sleep all that great yet, and he's already accumulating quite a bit of baby crap, which is mostly stored in our living room for now. My husband isn't a fan of his living room looking like a BabiesRUs showroom.

And might I just add in here that after living in such a small space, I really don't get why tiny houses are so popular?  I'd personally rather remain being married, but maybe that's just me. My sister in law and her husband are permanent RV'ers and my husband and I joke all the time that we'd probably kill each other after just one week of being stuck in a RV or tiny house together, especially with our children. Okay, so it's not really a joke, because he would straight up get a frying pan to the back of the head the first time he spent an hour and a half stinking up our one and only bathroom, or left 900,000 half empty cans of LaCroix scattered all over the only counter top in the entire house which happens to be the size of pizza box and also doubles as an ironing board, your office desk and kitchen table. No thank you!

We've pretty much come to the conclusion that it just makes sense to buy at this stage of our lives, especially because the tourist town we live in will always be a highly desirable place to live. We can always sell later, or rent out our house should we decide to move elsewhere. So wish us luck that we don't become those annoying ding dongs on HGTV's House Hunters who complain about silly little mundane things like interior paint colors, ugly light fixtures or my personal fave, "lack of entertaining space" because seriously, who the hell entertains anymore? Well, okay, probably lots of you do, but we have no friends so there's one thing we can cross off of our wish list.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I took my four kids to the museum alone and lived to tell about it

Monday was a school holiday (President's Day) and my kids were bugging me bright and early to "take them somewhere fun".  Of course they typically choose crazy stuff that's not really possible for me to do on my own with three kids and an infant, like some type of skating, the local water park (the younger kids don't swim that great yet and I'll be damned if I'm going to squeeze my glazed donut filled hiney into a swimsuit in February), glacier luging, etc, you get the idea. I'm not a big fan of venturing out with all four kids alone, so I don't do it very often. It's tiring, stressful, and anxiety provoking (just the mere thought of it makes me bust out in the flop sweats with puffy hives).

For Christmas this year my dad bought our family a year long membership to the High Desert Museum, at my request since the thought of more toys coming into this tiny, overcrowded, cluttered rental house briefly turned me into the robot that goes haywire on RoboCop. Unfortunately Bend doesn't have a children's museum, or OMSI like we had in Portland, but the HDM is still packed full of fun, and the perfect place to spend an afternoon.  Plus, I was feeling a little guilty that I had only used our family membership once since Christmas, since we've been buried under 10,000 feet of snow and haven't ventured out much these past couple of months. So I told the kids we were going to the museum, and that was final.

It took me about two hours to get all four kids ready to go. Not even joking. Two freaking hours. By the time I got everyone locked and loaded into the car, I was already completely wiped out and dying for a nap. I was spoiled with having older, independent children before Seanie Mac was born. I thought my infant/toddler days were long gone and all I really had to worry about before we left the house was that the kids had brushed their teeth, were all wearing pants, and went to the bathroom so we didn't have to pull over to pee a million times along the way.

Now that Seanie Mac is here we had to wait for his morning nap to end (because taking a cranky, non rested baby on an outing on purpose is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, you know it isn't going to end well), feed him, clean him up, change his diaper, then change his diaper again because he took a dump as soon as I put a fresh diaper on him, etc. It seriously never ends with this kid. This is the same baby who almost always dumps the dog's water dish all over himself just seconds before we're ready to leave (or toilet water...he doesn't discriminate; he loves both).

I was really nervous that the kids were going to conspire against me and all hell was going to break loose and I'd have to use my one phone call from jail to call my husband at work to come bail me out, but to my surprise, the kids were all super duper well behaved, and no, I promise, I didn't drug them before we left.

We walked around the museum, checked out the exhibits (even though they really hadn't changed much since the last time we visited), the kids played in the kiddie area, and we even walked through the gift shop without anyone throwing a tantrum or breaking something, although my oldest started to get a little squirrely over an overpriced stuffed horse, but I held strong because if I bought her the horse, I'd have to say yes to the stuffed rodents that my boys were holding up and waving just inches from my face. Besides, I'm pretty sure we already have some rodents living behind our kitchen stove.

A shot of all four of them looking at the camera and I didn't even have to bribe them
Seanie was irritated that the stroller suddenly stopped moving 
A pathetic attempt at a selfie...we really could've used a selfie stick! 
Peanut loved this volunteer dude...he talked his ear off 
How I eat during PMS week
Seanie the rock climber. 
What do you mean your ten month old can't rock climb yet?
Kidding, he's still on the ground
I'm really happy I decided to take them out of the house and let them burn off some steam instead of yelling at them from the couch to be quiet while they ignore me and act like wild dingos at a rave.  Plus this gave me some confidence to know that not only could I do it, but that maybe I should be doing this kind of stuff more often. Of course you know what this means!! The next time I take them to the museum alone, I'll turn my back for one second and Peanut and Mahlon will end up falling into the snake pit. But at least I can always look back and say, "Remember that one time, when I took them to the museum and it was a total success?"  Yeah, I'll always have that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why I regret homeschooling my boys

This morning after the school bus drove away with my boys, my husband headed off to work, and I finally got my fussy ten month old son down for his morning nap. I grabbed my much needed cup of coffee, plopped my oversized rump onto my big comfy couch and started aimlessly flipping through the TV channels. There wasn't a whole lot to choose from, but I eventually settled on Dr. Phil. I used to be a huge Dr. Phil fan. I watched his talk show religiously every single afternoon, no matter what the episode was about. I'm not sure when or why I stopped watching it, but if I had to guess it's probably because I spend way too much time on my iPhone/social media and therefore I just don't watch a lot of TV anymore.  Not to mention I have 10,000 kids so typically the only shows that play in our house are Lab Rats or Paw Patrol.

Today's Dr. Phil show was a re-run (pretty sure all of the morning shows are older episodes as they show multiple episodes back to back), but the topic was "Parents who unschool" or something like that, and it totally caught my eye and I found myself getting sucked into the whole homeschool discussion/debate. It evoked a lot of strong feelings and emotions in me, because as some of you may remember, I used to homeschool two of my boys, Mahlon and Peanut.  I get asked a lot of questions about why I chose to homeschool them, especially because my older three kids were never homeschooled and attended public school from the start.

I don't know that I ever really had a bright, blaring reason for homeschooling. I didn't have anything against the public school system, and in fact my mother was an incredibly talented, dedicated elementary school teacher (who would be rolling over in her grave if she knew I homeschooled her grandkids) but rather it was more of a apprehension or fear of putting my boys in public school that drove me to it. I went back and forth over what to do, right up until the day Mahlon was due to start Kindergarten, but for some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to enroll him in our local public school.  I was afraid, really truly afraid. To understand, I guess you'd have to know that Mahlon had a bit of a rough start in life. He was born with moderate hypotonia (low muscle tone) and a pronated stance. He was a late talker as well, and it quickly became impossible to deny that he wasn't developing on par with his peers. So, he spent the majority of his toddler years in multiple, intensive therapies through our local Early Intervention center. He went to physical, occupational and speech therapy four out of five days a week for over two years. I will admit that I became very protective over Mahlon. Over protective you could say. It doesn't help that he's always been a momma's boy, and he definitely knows how to work his mom with a quick bat of those big brown eyes, blond hair and angelic face. I had many momma bear moments when he was little, as he would occasionally get teased or taunted by other kids on the playground because he wore big bulky leg braces due to his physical disabilities.  He also struggled to do a lot of things that other kids could do with ease, because he lacked the strength and muscle control and that hurt my heart (still does).

The thought of sending my darling, precious, fragile little Mahlon to public school where he would be away from me for more than six hours a day and could possibly get picked on by other kids or get hurt on the playground and I wouldn't be there to protect him, was more than I could bear (think full blown panic attack into a brown paper bag), so I just sort of stumbled into homeschool, even though it wasn't exactly a passion of mine. Sure, I made it work, but I didn't really enjoy it. I joined a few online homeschool groups, researched various curriculum options and tried to convince myself that not only was I doing the right thing, I was doing a better thing. I told myself he was getting more one on one attention, and receiving a better education than those poor neglected public school kids. And in some ways, he probably was. Mahlon took off with reading and by the time he finished the first grade, he was reading at a third to fourth grade level.  He loved to learn and actually looked forward to his lessons, sometimes even begging me to do more.  He had the perfect attitude/temperament for homeschooling, but something still didn't feel quite right.

Before I knew it, Peanut had approached Kindergarten age and because Peanut and Mahlon are best friends and joined at the hip, it was just sort of a no brainer to homeschool him as well.  However, unlike Mahlon, Peanut was a challenge to teach. He is stubborn and head strong and if he doesn't want to do something, it's a struggle to get him to cooperate (there were many days I threatened to toss the TV and the iPad out the window if he didn't buckle down and get his work done). He was also a big distraction for Mahlon and the two of them would team up against me, and it became very difficult to get through our daily assignments.  There were days I felt confident that I was giving them an education similar to their public schooled peers, and then days where I felt like a huge, colossal failure, and worried that they could possibly even be falling behind. Still I soldiered on, partly out of fear, and partly because I felt like I had made a commitment to homeschooling them and felt like I owed it to the boys to continue.

 One of the big arguments/topics of debate regarding homeschool is socialization. You cannot homeschool without hearing this term at some point (it was definitely discussed on the Dr. Phil episode I watched today). I used to get very defensive whenever anyone would ask me if I worried about socialization.  I scoffed at the mere notion, especially because my two boys are extremely friendly and social and seemed to make friends wherever we went. They were the boys who had new friends within minutes of arriving at a playground, and other kids seemed to naturally gravitate towards my boys. However, those friendships never lasted longer than the playground and we would say goodbye and go back home, and the guilt would set in.  Unlike their older sister, my boys weren't getting invited to birthday parties and had nobody to invite to their own parties. Each birthday was spent with just a few family members and I told myself that was enough because by this point, Mahlon was in taekwondo a few days a week and Peanut was in soccer, so how much socialization did these boys really need?  I told myself that what I was doing was enough, but deep in my soul I knew that it wasn't. Their older sister would come home with art projects, birthday invitations, field trip forms and more, and my heart started to ache for my boys.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I think homeschooling is a fantastic, viable option for many families, and I hope it doesn't sound like I'm throwing my fellow homeschoolers under the big yellow bus. I know many families who successfully homeschool and their kids are happy, bright, well adjusted, and just all around thriving in life, so I know it can be a very positive experience as well. It just wasn't for me because I wasn't a good homeschool mom. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was a sucky one. Sure, I hammered through their daily lessons, and my boys were definitely learning. Mahlon was an advanced, vivacious reader and Peanut a budding mathematical genius. But it just wasn't possible for me to provide them with those social experiences because I'm a bit socially dysfunctional myself.  Unlike my boys, I'm actually a shy, reclusive homebody and I found it super difficult (terrifying even) to jump in and get involved in the various homeschool activities. I did sign the boys up for some Mad Science Workshops over the years and they LOVED them, but those only happened once every few months, and that just fed my guilt monster even more because it was obvious that my boys needed more than what I was providing at home. 

Various Mad Science Workshops over the years
Mahlon loved to participate and was always the first to raise his hand 
Peanut with his crazy homeschool hair
Mahlon just loved these workshops so much! 
Their last and final year of homeschooling, 
this was taken outside of the workshop building
Plus, as I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm not very artistic, crafty, Pinteresty or whatever you want to call it.  I don't know how to make a butterfly habitat out of a toilet paper roll, nor do I even want to try. I hate that kind of stuff. HATE IT! But my boys love art and they craved more hands on activities. The few artsy fartsy projects we did do, they were beaming from ear to ear and so excited to show my husband when he walked in the door from work. "Daddy LOOK what we made today" as they jumped up and down, proudly displaying their homemade project, with big smiles plastered on their faces. I don't have a lot of positive homeschool memories, but those are the moments I remember and cherish fondly. 

I started confessing my feelings and concerns to my husband and he being the supportive husband that he is, said he would support me no matter what I decided to do. He did agree that the boys needed more social interaction with other kids. Mahlon hung his head once and said, "Daddy, I don't have any friends to invite to my party" and it broke his heart (and mine) into millions of pieces. After many serious conversations we agreed that once we moved out of Portland and into a better school district, the boys would be going to public school. As luck would have it we moved last July to a smaller town, with a highly rated public school system and we prepared the boys that they would be going to "regular school" come September.  The boys had a few reservations but for the most part they were really excited, and that just confirmed that I was making the right decision. I was nearly in tears during back to school shopping, which they were typically excluded from.  The boys ran up and down the school supply aisles, tossing items from their list into the shopping cart with pure joy and glee. Watching them pick out back packs, lunch boxes, and new shoes, was one of the happiest days of my life. They were so excited....and just happy.

The days leading up to their first day of school was nerve wracking, I'm not going to lie, but I didn't allow myself to show any fear in front of the boys. I reassured them that everything was going to be okay, and you know what? It was!!! Not only was it okay, it was even better than we ever could've imagined.  The boys love their new school, their teachers, classrooms, classmates, they honestly love everything about being in a traditional school setting. They actually look forward to getting up and going to school. They are up bright and early every single morning, and they get dressed without complaining, and they count down the minutes until the school bus arrives (they love riding the school bus).  I've raised two teenagers and have one in junior high, so I'm well aware that this could change in the future and to enjoy it while it lasts.

The boys were so proud of their backpacks
 The boys checking out their new school a week before school started (they insisted on wearing their backpacks)
First week of school...they were so excited! 
The boys eagerly heading to the bus stop on a sunny September morning
Yesterday was their very first Valentine's Day in public school. They could not stop talking about their class parties. They came home with their decorated bags full of Valentine cards from their classmates, and guarded them if they were some kind of prized, breakable, valuable possession.  One of the many experiences they would've missed out on, if they were still at home with me. 

I realize that not everyone has these amazing, positive, rainbows and unicorns experience with public school, and we are very fortunate to live in an area with a highly rated, solid public school system. I'm also well aware that we may hit some hurdles in the future (bullies, peer pressure, teachers or curriculum we don't like or agree with, etc), but we will face those hurdles head on, should they occur.  Seanie Mac is only ten months old, but I've already decided that he will also start public school in Kindergarten. I will not allow fear to make decisions for me anymore. That's not to say that all homeschooled families choose to out of fear, but it was definitely the deciding factor in my case. I regret not pushing through that fear and placing the boys in public school from the start. I regret that the boys both missed out on Kindergarten and Mahlon missed those first few fun years of public school where free play and art projects are plentiful. 

Homeschooling is becoming a popular option these days and many families with young children are wondering if maybe it's right for them.  My advice to parents considering homeschooling is to seriously think long and hard, deep inside of your heart and soul to decide if you really have what it takes to be successful at it. Be totally and completely honest with yourself. Do you have the motivation, patience and enthusiasm to teach your child day in and day out, even when you're tired, sick, frustrated?  Are you willing to get out of your house and get your child involved in co-ops, play dates, field trips? Are you willing to spend many hours of your personal downtime after the kids go to bed planning and organizing lesson plans, art projects, different curriculum options?  Will you still want to homeschool as your kids get older, and the subjects aren't so fun or easy anymore?  And the biggest question, are you doing this for your child or for you?

For me, the answer to these questions were pretty easy to answer once I got real with myself, and realized that I just didn't have it in me to keep going, so I didn't. If you're like me, and you're already homeschooling and it's not working out as planned, please don't feel guilty for choosing not to continue. I had some guilt at first, and worried that I was quitting, or abandoning my boys by sending them off to school, but in reality I did the best thing for them and I have no regrets (other than wishing I had done it sooner). This parenting gig is overwhelmingly hard, full of difficult decisions and choices we must make along the way. Sometimes you just have to follow what your gut or heart is telling you to do, as there are no easy answers, unless of course it's to the obvious like, "Hey mom, can I have this Fun Dip for dinner?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine Schmalentines

I apologize for not posting every day like I promised. I haven't been in a very good place lately. I don't know if it's winter depression, or maybe some leftover, residual post partum depression or what, but I've been down and out and just blah about everything. The motivation has been sucked out of me like a vacuum and all I really want to do is pull the covers over my head and sleep (which can't and wont happen because I have a hyperactive ten month old who is now taking steps on his own).

So, it wasn't really any big surprise that I would be blah about this year's Valentines Day as well.  Not that I was ever really all that excited over it. I'll admit, I'm not very romantic. In fact I'm pretty dude-like in many aspects. If you absolutely must have an example, I just finished clipping my toenails on the couch and then I stuffed my face with nachos (after going on a taco binge earlier today). The sexiness is just radiating out of me today so ladies hide yo men!

Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy for those of you who have cheesy, romantic, flower filled, gushy Hallmark card holidays. Everyone should feel loved and appreciated, and just because I'm having a woe is me, poopy flavored lollipop of a year, doesn't mean that everyone should suffer (although I hope you all choke on your chocolates....KIDDING.....I choked on a Mexican pizza many years ago at Los Dos Amigos and it was pretty damn terrifying). 

My husband isn't much better. If it were up to him holidays wouldn't even exist at all.  Yes, it's true, he was super duper romantic on our first Valentine's Day, but let's just say that over the years it's just sort of become another day for us on the calendar.  Last night we had to run to Safeway so while we were out we grabbed a box of chocolates that were on clearance and then upgraded our coffee purchases to include travel mugs (they were offering them for half off).

Happy Valentine's Day honey, here's some discounted chocolates and a plastic coffee cup
I may sound bitter, but I swear, I'm really not at all. I'm terrible with flowers. TERRIBLE! I'm like the Black Dahlia of the gardening world where all living plants come to die a slow, torturous death (luckily I'm better with children, right?) And I don't wear jewelry, other than my wedding ring and my plain silver hoop earrings that I bought at Target for five bucks many (many) years ago. Romantic trips are out too because, well, do I even need to say it? We have four young kids still living at home.  

There is one teeny tiny little thing that I wish my husband would do that doesn't even cost any money, and I've hinted at it so many times that I've honestly just given up at this point. And that's okay. I know there are several things on his list that I've neglected, despite him nagging at me, so we're even, and that my friends is marriage. It's a compromise, and there are lots of good days and bad days, and many in between, just okay days. He shows his love in many other ways, as he's an amazing father and provider (hello, the poor man works his tail off so his wife can stay home with their 10,000 kids) and he does lots of little things for me that I probably take for granted and don't even recognize half the time. For example, sometimes he'll pick up little items for me on his lunch break, like a new pair of shoes, a pair of pj's, a dessert he knows I like, etc. He grabs our favorite vegan chicken strips at Trader Joes which we consume late at night after the kids are in bed, sometimes even with wine! Bonus! 

I don't need a dozen roses or a fancy box of chocolates to know that he loves me and is committed to our family. In fact, tonight we're actually celebrating V-Day as a family, which we've also done in previous years, and those are always my favorite Valentine memories to be perfectly honest. The kids will only be with us for so many years and once they're gone we'll have many years of intimate dinners and weekend getaways.  So for now it's quick trips to Safeway for discounted chocolates and plastic coffee cups. But hey, for dinner we're having cheese fondue (I make the best cheese fondue by the way), along with some chocolate fondue for dessert.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful, amazing, love filled Valentine's Day.  And if you're not having a wonderful, magical V-Day, let me leave you with this little fun filled image.....once I finish posting this, I will be heading back to my bathroom to continue scraping the stuck on, sticky icky Amoxicillin which spilled out all over my drawer, ruining what little make up I owned (it's a sign that I should never wear make up), with a butter knife. 

You're welcome.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Latest

I know I know...I disappeared again without a trace. I'm seriously struggling big time to maintain this blog and deal with the most hyper active baby I've ever had the pleasure of raising.  This one doesn't sleep y'all and he never ever EVER stops moving. Seriously, you guys have no idea how crazy my little man is, but I'll post more on Seanie Mac later because I could seriously fill up an entire post on the nutty, asinine things this boy is already doing and he's not even a year old. What can I say? He's gifted.....

Toy bins are made for climbing apparently
These two equal TROUBLE!!!
In other news I've decided that I'm going to start posting on my blog every single day (at least on the weekdays) to get myself actively writing again. I hope I don't run out of exciting things to post about, but then again I'm getting old so worst case scenario I can always talk about my changing moles, joint pain, and newest batch of grey hairs, right?

I'm so very sorry for not posting an update on the whole Mahlon/RSVP thing. I made a thank you slideshow with several pics and the video ended up being eight minutes long.  Rather than bore people to tears with the longest, slowest slideshow ever created (I seriously suck at figuring out how to use iMovie), I think I'll just post the pics on my blog instead. I will work on writing my post this weekend and have it up and running on Monday, and I'll try really hard to include a short video of Mahlon, either on the blog, Facebook, or both.  Mahlon is still begging us for his own YouTube channel and I know he's a charming, funny little boy and many people are interested in his life, but my husband and I haven't totally made up our minds yet. Part of me wants to shield him from the online world as some people can be unbelievably cruel while hiding behind a computer screen.  If we do allow him to start doing a weekly YouTube show, you guys will be the first to know.

Speaking of Mahlon, he is doing pretty great in case you're worried/wondering. He received an award at school (Growth Mindset) and he is so proud of himself, as are we. Academically he's doing amazing as well. As a former home school mom, I was so worried and anxious that he would be behind since he was thrown into public school as a third grader, but he's actually ahead of grade level.  He recently tested and got his upper green belt in Taekwondo not too long ago and life is pretty much back to normal for him, for all of us really. 

Upper green belt testing
Mahlon and I still get recognized from time to time since we live in a small town and that's kind of weird (and scary since it forces me to be on my best behavior at all times), but I'm actually relieved that the hype has died down. Going viral was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Occasionally I get asked how I went viral and I'm dead serious when I say, "Sorry, I have no idea" because that's the truth. I really, truly don't know how I did it. I simply wrote from the heart and my thoughts and feelings just poured out into my post, and it got shared......A LOT.

Despite what some jerky asshat in NY wrote about me, I never intended to go viral and to be quite honest, I didn't embrace the attention as many others probably would have.  What most don't know is that I turned down several offers to be on TV, which could've potentially turned into something else for our family (a reality show for example).  Yes, I write a blog and I share a lot of personal stories about our lives, but I'm also a very private person and I suffer from social anxiety, and it's very difficult to overcome and deal with at times. When my blog post first went viral I had many moments of sheer panic and terror over having to read comments about me from judgmental strangers, having to answer my phone for interviews, respond to emails, etc.  I'm not good at that kind of thing and it's also why I've been lying low these last few months and just trying to get back to normal.  No, it's not how most bloggers would've handled it, and most probably would've loved the sudden attention and ran with it, but for me, I had so much anxiety, that I couldn't even pick up my Macbook for several weeks.

There are a couple of things I've been contemplating about lately and one of them is writing a book about my life (but I thought about doing that long before my RSVP post went viral so stuff it Gershie).  Our entire family has been through some crazy stuff over the years, some of it is juicier than a cheesy Lifetime movie. I suppose I could write about it here, but I save this blog for more important, tantalizing topics like my dysfunctional bladder, my arachnophobic husband, and my dog who thinks our hardwood floors make a fabulous toilet.  I don't know if anyone would read my book, but I would still love to write one even if my family and a few friends end up being the only willing readers.  Another thing I've been working on is directly related to the RSVP post, but it's more of a pay it forward/mission type of project. Will update when or if we can get something going. I do have someone willing to help me so that's a good start. Now if I could force my ADD brain to focus on something for more than a week, I'd be golden.

Anyways, I could ramble on and on but we have company coming over tonight and my toilets look especially gas station worthy at the moment, so I need to go clean them before our company goes running out of our house screaming.

Have a great weekend and I'll be back on Monday!!