January 2015

The other day Max said, “When I really think about my younger self, I think I had a really low IQ!”

At some point in another conversation he said, “The only girl who my heart’s on a journey about is Rebekah”. He talked about how having a girlfriend who’s shy is better than having one who’s not because she won’t be bringing you to all her friends who are so loud and might laugh at you. We got into this conversation somehow after talking about how he wants to go visit Aunt Kelly again (but really because they all watch so much TV!). I asked if he had fun and he said they had a water bouncy thing one time, but he didn’t want to go on it because there were just a bunch of girls. He told me he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want to go around a bunch of girls when he has a mohawk or sunglasses or something because then all the girls will be noisy about him and say stuff about how he’s cool. This is how we morphed into the Rebekah thing. When I asked him what he thought about Rebekah he said she was pretty, and shy, and had cool parents, “But really all my friends have cool parents because they all have their own iPod or iPad or something.” (If only that were the only thing keeping me from being a cool parent!) Some other place in this conversation (it was only a couple of days ago, but I was cooking at the time and didn’t have time to jot down too many notes) he said in an exasperated voice, “…and please don’t say I get all my info on romance from movies!” I asked him where did he get his romance ideas from and he grudgingly said it was movies. Humph.

Tonight at supper he asked me what age I thought having a girlfriend was a good idea. I asked him what age he thought. He said around 12 or so. I asked him what a girlfriend was for. He said to see about marrying or something. I agreed and said having a girlfriend is getting to know someone well enough to see if you want to marry her…and if you’re not ready for marrying then you don’t need a girlfriend. I hope he has friends who are girls, but I didn’t think he should be thinking about girlfriends until he was 16 or so. We’ll see where this goes.

In Jack news: I’m hoping we’ve finally gotten his allergy meds worked out. We had to go to the base to pick up a new prescription yesterday and as we were leaving we stopped to see a tiny service dog on a lady’s lap. Jack asked me and I asked if he could pet the dog, and then kiss the dog’s head, and then kiss his paw. The lady explained that the dog wasn’t around kids much and was nervous but Jack was being gentle and they got along together well. At one point I guess Jack saw the dog lick so Jack put out his extensive tongue and licked his own nose and the lady commented on how long his tongue was. We talked a bit about DS and his tongue. After a minute or two of chit chat I saw Jack lean close to her leg, and then he licked her!!! Oh that was sooooo funny! He’s licked plenty of things in his life, but the few times he’s licked people it’s just hilarious. Mom says he’s a service boy. Wonder if we can make any money lending him out? He would make other people so happy. :-) He barked loudly three times as we were leaving. That’s my boy!

Tj and I have been so blessed since we’ve been married. We haven’t struggled so much like so many couples do. He’s always had a great paycheck, if his job hasn’t been the best, and really for many years he’s had some really great jobs, too. It was a real struggle when he retired, first for a while there he was submitting resumes like crazy and not getting any feedback at all. And then when he did get a job it was non-flying, which has never been what he wanted, but he tried to make it work. He struggled, too, with just leaving the AF; it’s the only job he’s had for so many years, and he loves the AF so much, it was hard to leave it though it seemed like the best thing for him to do. We finally came through that, though, and have been settled for the most part for a while now. Life has been rocking along.

Right at the end of September of last year is when I first remember hearing serious things about his job. A new firm got the contract so there would be a changeover. Tj said everyone said generally these turnovers went smoothly with basically the only change being where the check came from and what logo you had on your shirt.

Sometime in October there was a meeting where the new firm said they were cutting everyone back to part time, no paid vacations, not hiring any schedulers, etc, etc, crap, crap, crap. We began to get a little nervous. We’ve operated with no debt for practically our whole marriage, but we went on a big cruise in May, and then both of our cars needed serious repairs, and then…and then, by the end of the summer we weren’t paying off the credit card every month like we’ve always done. It was weighing on our minds. By this time I’d cut out frivolous spending, and was trying to cut down on necessary spending as I could as well.

After trying not to spend so much for a few weeks on groceries and failing, I started thinking about a no-spend November. I kept going to the store to pick up just a few things, but would see a staple on sale and would stock up as I normally do. And then there was that last trip to Sam’s…our membership was expiring so I made a last run. It’s hard to buy just a little! So I decided I wouldn’t buy any food for me or the boys for the whole month of November. Tj was still eating fresh fruits/veggies every day so I’d get his normal things, but I thought I had plenty of food in our pantry (and the garage food shelves, and the ref/freezer, and the garage freezer) that it wouldn’t be too hard.

We made it through the whole month…we ran out of milk 3 days before December, we were almost out of eggs, and the biggest tragedy: we were completely out of hot chocolate mix!!!! But we had veggies every day, and fruit probably every day. Heh. I’ve come to the realization that I’m a food hoarder (I won’t mention all the other things I hoard, it’s enough right now to only talk about the food hoarding.) But really, that hoarding really came in handy that month. :-) I really enjoyed the challenge. Two surprise helps: our church hosted a luncheon for G-lab workers and we got to bring home some leftover baked ziti and enough salad to last us a week. And then my girlfriend moved and I cleaned out her refrigerator. I mixed the creamer I brought home with some chocolate chips I had from my stash and made us hot chocolate. Heaven! :-)

In December I challenged myself to only spend $100/week for all 4 of us for food and whatever else I’d normally buy at Wal-Mart. I had already been price matching Kroger’s sales at WM for the last several months, but I’ve really stepped up my game. I’ve compiled a price list in Excel, and now when I go to the grocery store I pretty well know how much I’ll spend. I did go a little crazy with the sales last week: Kroger had milk for 40 cents less than usual per gallon so I bought 5, and eggs were 50 cents cheaper so Tj and I decided to make breakfast burritos to freeze for him to have on the go so I got 5 dozen eggs. Then when I was there I saw that WM was selling their pepperoni for $1 less than normal! I bought it all. :-) That combined with other sales I found I think I’ll only buy a few fresh veggies next week. I’m enjoying the thrill of the hunt with these sales, and I like being better informed when I shop about what actually constitutes a good price, but it’s hard not to stock up on a good thing if I’ve already spent the money for the week. If he ever has a job where we’ll actually have to live with this budget I’ll be a lot more prepared and confident now. Other areas we’ve cut way back on: eating out (we’ve eaten out once in November to celebrate an interview, and twice in December to celebrate him being hired and hearing from A), we haven’t opened the hot tub (we have to buy a new cover before we do), and we didn’t buy a Christmas tree.

We told Max that Christmas was going to be slim because of the job situation and he took it like a champ. Because he knows Santa isn’t real, and because Jack still doesn’t understand Santa (although he definitely knows what presents are), Christmas was almost kind of a let-down. We planned on staying home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas to save money, and really, the boys and I had a whole month off of school by then, so Christmas day was not too much different than the other days we’d had. I forgot to mention that Thanksgiving wasn’t as fun as it had been the last couple of years when I spent the day leisurely cooking after we delivered meals and then we all sat down and had a nice dinner. This year I cooked and Tj mostly filled out applications and worked on keeping himself employed. We were convinced the week before Christmas that Tj wasn’t going to be offered a job with the new firm. They had to hire in order of seniority, and he was 7th from the bottom! Finally, 8 days before Christmas he was sent an email around 9pm offering him a job! We were so relieved!

Even though we’re so happy for Tj to have a paycheck, the crap hasn’t stopped. The first thing his boss said to him in front of the other hundred or so employees was, “You don’t take a good photo so you can’t get a company badge today”!! When I asked him what he’d done that was such an affront he said that the guy taking the picture okayed the pic even though Tj had his eyes closed. Whatever. From them dangling unemployment in front of 90% of the staff for months before Christmas to them letting go of 20% of the staff to them not having good business etiquette (showing up to an 8am meeting at 8am and still not being ready for it by 9:20), they’ve really created a hostile work environment. I really wonder where this will take us.

I’ve put off blogging about this too long. This was from Max and Caleb’s boot camp 5 Sept 2014. For some reason Caleb and Max have never gotten along for any length of time. I think Max has been basically an only child for so long now, and Caleb is out to prove himself a big man to everyone he meets. So Max gets his feelings hurt by Caleb because Caleb knows how to push Max’s buttons, and Max hasn’t learned he’s not the only one who matters yet. Caleb is the little brother Max needs until Jack grows up enough to be that brother.

Amy and I concocted this plan that for boot camp they would each have the other over for a sleepover. They would have time to spend together without Adam and Dan to buffer them…they’d have more time to spend alone to try to get along. They had to serve each other, and be super great hosts, and they had to provide a gift for the other with money they’d earned.

Caleb came over and it was fairly benign, but there were some jewels:

Caleb told me I needed to vacuum my kitchen because they broke the water balls all over the floor…they made a huge mess! That really annoyed me so I fussed at him a little bit for that.

I was fixing ice cream and Caleb said ‘Am I right that I get first pick?’

Later on in the evening I sent Amy some text messages:

Just put J in the bed (only 1.5 hrs late) (not that it really matters…) and bit Caleb’s head off. Everything I do he’s sassy about. So I told him his sassy pants had to go, he had to be happy about something. He looked at me like he was thinking hard if there was anything he could be thankful for, and I finally said, like the ice cream??? He murmured thank you. Now he and Max are cutting out pocket knives out of cardboard

Heh, Caleb told me my phone alert was annoying…it went on too long. I said so things that go on forever are annoying? and gave him a look. He got it.

Ok, they’re eating a lot of sugar and start playing truth or dare. Caleb says I dare you to take off your pants, then it escalates since they’re both laughing, your underpants, your shirt. I said I didn’t think they wanted to see each other naked and one of them said something about seeing a mom naked…I put a stop to that right then!

Since the boot camp things have gotten marginally better, although after church last night Caleb came and told me that Max was calling him names. I asked what Max had called him (not really thinking it would be something I’d think was too bad) and Caleb said ‘big butt’. I told him to tell Max his mom said come right now, so he did. When I asked Max he said yes, he’d called Caleb that. I made him sit out the rest of the time while the other boys got to play. Tomorrow I’m making him make Caleb some cookies and I won’t let Max eat any of them (though the rest of us should try them out to make sure they taste good).

Boys.

We’re at the end of our second week back to school, and things are going pretty well. Max is having trouble waking up this week, though he didn’t last week, so I’ve told him to go to sleep at 8pm. If he starts getting up by himself with his alarm (at 6:30) I’ll let him go back to 8:30pm. Jack is doing fine with the wake-up, and even stays upstairs till 7am.

Max will finish 5th grade math next Wednesday, and starts 6th grade math Thursday. If he does this double-time till the end of school (like he’s done so far this year) he’ll be 2 grades ahead when he starts back in the fall! That kid definitely has his dad’s head for numbers (thankfully). We’re taking off Monday for MLK day (I’ve scheduled us off every PS off day) and Tuesday for his birthday. He was surprised to learn that PS kids have to go to school on their birthdays! I feel bad for them!

Speaking of PS, I found these notes I’d made to give to J’s teacher last year when he started school. I figured this is a good place to keep them:

Teacher: don’t chase him. He knows what you want him to do. Make him do it with your voice. (Several of his teachers/therapists think they have to chase him to force him to do what they want.)

Don’t ask him to do anything, tell him. Ask = high pitched voice; say it low. (When you ask him nicely to do anything he takes it that he can choose not to do it. Tell him to do whatever by being firm.)

He will repeat what he wants to a million times even if it’s not what you’re asking. (He still does this…pays no mind to anyone else talking, or to the fact that he’s alone in a room. He’ll just randomly ask for Animusic and expect me to hear him even if I’m in the bathroom, or at the store.)

Don’t spit (thankfully not actual spitting, but hissing/growling when he doesn’t like what he’s getting/being forced to do).

‘No hands’ when I see his hands in his mouth.

Things we’re working on:
Tongue in
Potty training
Please/thank you
Yes/no ma’am/sir
Excuse me after every burp and fart
I want _____ please teacher (not just demanding what he wants with one word).

“No thanks” if he doesn’t want something. I say ‘no fussing’ or ‘get control of yourself’ if he throws a fit, and I place a hand on his chest and back or on both of his arms to try to calm him down.

He goes overboard sometimes with crying/anger when he’s hurt. I tell him ‘calm down’.

I also made a list of things to feed him. I had most of his breakfasts made ahead of time, but we went through a time of smoothies, too.
Breakfast
muffins
banana

Lunch
boiled egg
cheese stick
edamame
cherry tomatoes
olives
veggie straws
pretzels
popcorn
banana

It sure was nice to only have Max to school, but I’m grateful to have Jack at home.

Well, so much for blogging during my Christmas vacation! With 6 weeks off I surely could’ve done better. But I spent my time cooking, eating, reading, watching and sleeping. Nice. Some of the things I made are: lots of biscuits (I learned hot to make those from scratch), orange cranberry bread (good, but not worth all the effort of that recipe), fudge, cinn rolls (Pioneer Woman’s recipe…tons of rolls!), cinn toast (also from Pioneer Woman…we had this a few times…like breakfast candy!), choc chip cookies, Pioneer Woman pancakes (Tj made those…too much work for me and I don’t appreciate them enough), hamburgers (the huge decadent ones from Cooks Illustrated), beignets, homemade rolls (the recipe made a ton so they’re in the fridge and every other day I go pull off a bit and bake it. Yum!) and cherry cheesecake bars.

Anyway, today was our first day back, and it was wonderful! If every day of school was like this everyone would homeschool. Jack did all his chores without fussing…I helped him pick out his clothes but he got dressed by himself while I got ready downstairs. He put up his dishes, brought the laundry to the laundry room, put a new bag in the garbage can and cleaned off the coffee tables like a pro! Max got up with the alarm (which wasn’t a sure thing since we didn’t follow my wonderful plan for the last week of vacation to gradually get us used to waking up with alarms again), dressed and made/ate his breakfast, did all his chores including sorting the laundry, and was ready for school on time. We read our Bibles, and Jack even read a few words. Then Jack copied his Bible verse pretty well. Max was finished with everything but math by 11am, and then (as usual) took much longer with math than he needed. All in all though, it was a wonderful day.

I’ve decided to go back to the basics with Jack…reading/writing/math. He did really well on all of those, so he and I went to the library and a couple of grocery stores while Max finished up his math. I thought we needed to celebrate such a great beginning so I used my (now twice used) two coupons for free ice cream cones for the boys.

The boys are upstairs (Max with a fresh pile of books [I’ve finally started taking advantage of the ability to place books on hold at the library] and Jack tucked into bed) and I’m about to fold the wash which is all clean now.

 

A couple of notes from our Christmas break:

Dec 25,2014 Max to his Minecraft toys: “Never use your head as a projectile.”

Dec 31,2014 Max wants Tj to get a job at the new Japanese restaurant so Max could ‘help old people get their food’. He’d have a sign on his head that said “Helper”. Doesn’t that sound like a great idea???

3 Jan 2014 Tj put Jack into bed and made Mutant Cuddly Dog (named by Max) ask Jack if he wanted in the bed. Jack then made MCD tell Tj ‘I want music please Daddy’!!! Reminds me of the time Robyn told Papa (through her stuffed raccoon) “I’m not a doggy, you idiot”!!!

And I can’t believe I haven’t written this one yet, but for the longest time Jack has been inadvertently sounding like a pirate/cowboy. When I call him and he really doesn’t want to answer, he replies in a very loud, super slow, slightly annoyed tone “Yarrrssum!”