Saturday, August 30, 2008

Starbuck's Store Closings

I heard Starbuck’s will be closing 600 stores, and that is sad.

A lot of people hear “Starbuck’s” and say things like:
--“My Folger’s is just fine, thank you.” or
--“Who would be dumb enough to pay $4 for a cup of coffee?” or
--“How nice for you that you are rich and can buy Starbuck’s weekly.”

Look, I do feel guilty that there are starving people in my own city. But, aside from throwing wads of money at charity, what do you want me to do? I am sometimes sleep-deprived and Starbuck’s is the strongest thing I can find to get me going again in the afternoon slump. Do you want me to be a mediocre mom or a ZOWIE MOM?!

My friend Leigh says in her Southern drawl, “Kerrie, you deserve a nice coffee every now and then. You work just as hard as anybody and you don’t spend money on haircuts or highlights or boob jobs like other women do.” Come to think of it, I think she is nicely telling me that a little physical maintenance wouldn’t kill me.

So aside from the fact that Starbuck’s has the best-tasting coffee around, they have a few other things most places these days don’t.

-- Consistency – they’ve never messed up my order. And my mocha is the same in Phoenix as it is in Kansas City, Albuquerque or San Diego. The same.
-- Friendliness – no one has ever been snotty or acted like they didn’t want to be working.
-- Chit chat – how do they get those 20-somethings to chat on any topic in the drive-thru with a 37-year-old mother of 4 and act like they enjoy it?
-- Familiarity – they call you by your first name.
-- Employee health insurance – if you work there over 20 hours per week you get full medical insurance benefits for you and your family. I don’t mind contributing a little to that.
-- Altruism – they donate a lot of coffee and leftover food to local charities.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Locks of Love

Weight Watchers is soon launching a campaign called Lose For Good, which basically contends that lots of people are overweight but lots of people are also starving, so let’s balance it out.
Along those lines, I think some of us have too much hair and some have none (due to alopecia, chemo, parenting, etc.).
I say we long-haired hippie freaks need to donate our hair to Locks of Love.
And please don’t whine to me about how attached you are to your hair. That’s like being attached to your spleen. You can’t even SEE it most of the time.
I’ve done it 3 times and have never cried when the first cut was made. My hair does not define who I am inside (and you can print that in a philosophy book of quotes, friends).
You thought I was just a BABY factory! But you were wrong! I am SO much more than that. I am also a HAIR factory! At this very moment I am making hair for someone who cannot.
Some salons will even cut your hair for free AND send it to Locks of Love
I’d love to hear your story. I'd also love for Blogger to work so I could post my before and after photos!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Space Bags Received!!!

Michael said we need dirt and water (the commercial shows them throwing dirt and water on the sealed Space Bag). Joel said they have 4 layers of protection so nothing can get in them.

If only commercials incorporated some real learning into them, my homeschooling job would be done.

Took the Cube Space Bag downstairs to pack clothes into one and vacuum out the air. I made sure everything I put in the cube was totally outgrown by all 4 kids. I fit THREE large plastic tubs into one Cube Space Bag. It was wicked heavy, but I have Popeye arms from schlepping babies.

Armed with a Large and 2 Medium Space Bags (and the vacuum), I then tackled the cedar chest, which houses rarely-used items, like tablecloths and maternity/skinny clothes. They didn’t smoosh down as much as I’d hoped, but it’ll work.

The Hanging Space Bag will be the Christmas gift of choice to all my enemies. I want to know that they are wrestling with the damn thing like I had to do. It’s a joke, but if you can get it to work right, it’s nice. I smashed 6 fluffy winter kid coats down to only a few inches. About 10 minutes later, the clothes detached from the hanger part and re-inflated with air. I may be testing that money-back guarantee!

I suggest you buy Space Bags in a store because by phone is a ripoff AND they overcharged me AND almost didn’t let me buy them without expedited shipping (which would have been an unnecessary 10 bucks since they came in a week anyway!!).

Now I have more room in my house for … you guessed it, Reader: CHOCOLATE!

My Space versus Facebook

So I decided to give My Space a try to find some old friends, post my blog, etc.

I don’t get it.

I mean, on Facebook most people use their entire name. On My Space they have cool (which is questionable) aliases. So I look up people from my high school graduating class and don’t recognize ONE of them.

HELLO! We are TWENTY years older. PLEASE use your real name so I know who you are! Or at least post your picture from the yearbook, for God’s sake! How do you find people if you aren't psychic enough to know their aliases?

I get why adorable teens would need to use a nickname. Stalkers, predators, molestors, etc. But a 40-year-old man? Buddy, who do you think is coming after you? I mean, get an alarm system or something. Carry a gun. Jeez.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sibling Arguments at the Pool

Since I feel entitled to spend my husband’s overtime money in advance, I took us to Burger King for dinner (they have awesome Crayola toys right now in the kid’s meals). I was a good girl and got a cheeseburger kid’s meal with apple fries and Diet Coke.

Dear Lord, can I put more brand names in one paragraph??? Xerox, Kleenex, Starbuck’s, Dell, Sprint. Yes, it looks like I CAN!

Anyway, then we went to the pool, which was DEAD since it’s only 82 degrees and the pool was chilly. But we have braved the cold ocean, so the pool was fine. Until a lifeguard got worried about Callie’s blue lips. So I put a towel around her shoulders and made her sit out a bit.

From the sidelines we watched the Cain and Abel of the aquatic world (Joel and Michael) going at it. Joel likes to spit water at people and try to dunk them. Michael likes to scream at the top of his lungs at Joel, but keeps going back for more. Callie likes to call Joel an a**hole (only once, thankfully) for the whole pool to hear.

And I’m thinking, “Kids, where’s your dad when I need him? Right, he’s in Phoenix. He’d know what to do. He had siblings, after all. He knows what’s normal and what needs discipline.” I, however, alternate between pushover and yeller. There is no in between.

Came home, dragged the trash and recycling to the curb, and cried to Aron over the phone about how much I miss him. He’s hoping only 2 more weeks in Phoenix (for a grand total of 15 instead of 10, which has shot our entire summer with him, dammit), THEN ……. THEN!!!!!!!

… Then he is going to try to take an ENTIRE WEEK OFF! Which is the week I was going to start homeschooling, but WHO CARES? Either he can help me or it can wait.

Kid Quotes

8/14/08 I heard Callie’s 6-year-old girl friend (the one she wants to marry) say OUCH and she told me Callie pulled her hair. I asked Callie why she did that and she goes, “I just love it SO MUCH.”

8/15/08 Michael, frustrated over the silver foil lid on the chocolate milk from BK, “Why do they even PUT two lids on? So you’ll get mad and smash Burger King with a giant hammer?”
Callie about Joel, “Just throw him in the street because I don’t like him.”

8/18/08 Joel, “My brain is on vacation and I asked its cousin to get in my head.”

Oh, Crap. I'm Turning Into a Whole Foods Person

This is all Tresa’s fault. She’s one of my husband’s 10 million cousins and I love, love, love her! She knows how to do EVERYTHING: sewing, canning, attachment parenting, Whole Foods shopping. She’s also a work widow. AND she’s younger than me. And skinny and pretty (reminds me of Maggie Gyllenhaal). Wait, do I love her or hate her?!

So back on 8-8-08 I decided to give Whole Foods more than just a passing try. I’d been there before, but only for yogurt and a NAUGHTY, flourless chocolate cake thing for my mom’s birthday. This time I was on a mission to try lots of different things in an effort to feed my family fewer chemicals. Some yummy things:

-- Veggie Straws (like healthy Funyuns) and Veggie Chips
-- Natural peanut butter
-- Bach’s Rescue Remedy (natural stress reliever)
-- EnviroKidz organic cereals … Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, Penguin Puffs, Leapin’ Lemurs, Amazon Frosted Flakes (some of the money goes to habitat conservation, etc.)
-- Coffee-flavored yogurt
-- Organic garbanzo beans
-- Chocolate and cheddar bunnies (like Teddy Grahams and Goldfish)

I don’t want to be a food Nazi (especially since we all love our sweets around here), and Tresa is the perfect role model for not going to extremes (we ate at Chick-Fil-A together once!). The prices were reasonable, except cookies were kind of expensive and I may NEVER buy eggs there. I’ll raise my own chickens before I’ll pay $4 for a dozen eggs! Oh, and organic produce is sometimes costly, so I’ve never bought it there.

Anyone have any good Whole Foods recommendations?

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Got My Baby Back!!!

No, I’m not talking about my husband. Or any of my children.

I’m talking about my Canon Powershot G7, which was in Illinois for the last week getting some digital therapy and has been broken since mid-June.

I’m thinking Aron mistreated it. He took it to Phoenix one week, then it worked for our Branson vacation, and then it just would not turn on.

The first picture I took since getting it back was of all 4 kids sacked out in bed this morning. My digital baby took a picture of my OTHER 4 babies. And if I could find the cord to download pix onto my computer, I’d pop a shot of it in here (by the way, sorry about not being able to leave comments; I’m working on that problem).

One weird thing: the camera whines like a dying baby seal when it tries to focus.

A few days of carrying it in the sling close to my body ought to fix that problem. HA!

Freaky #6: Homeschooling

Ah, the first day of public school, and I have a front-row seat from right across the street. I love getting up early and leaving my kids sound asleep so I can watch all the neighborhood kids walk to school while I drink my coffee. It makes me all emotional.

When Joel was just a baby, Mom told me that on his first day of kindergarten, she’d take me out to take my mind off of him starting school. Well, Mom, little did you know you planted the seeds of homeschooling in my little brain on that day.

I come from a family of teachers, and I was afraid everyone would FREAK OUT when I mumbled our intention to homeschool, but everyone has been so cool, at least to my face! I kind of worry when I see the principal looking at my house from across the street. But I know what I’m doing is not only legal, but that I’m actually giving my kids a darn good education.

A very cool woman we met in Phoenix couldn’t believe homeschooling was even legal. Oh, it’s legal, friends! Where I live you only have to be “competent” – quite the relative term – and do school for 187 days starting when the kid turns 7. You register with the state and they generally never contact you again.

In Arizona, a kid only has to be in school from ages 6 to 16, and actual instruction may be deferred till age 8, according to The Unofficial Guide to Homeschooling. It goes on to say that “there are no required teacher qualifications, testing or record keeping.” Check out this site to see the laws in your state.

Anyway, we don’t homeschool because we HATE public school or private school. It is true that all schools have their problems (including mine!). There are safety issues, that pesky No Child Left Behind debacle, apathetic teachers. And private schools cost a few thousand bucks per year.

So, we homeschool because I love being around my kids, because I know I can do a better job with my kid than someone teaching 20-30 kids, because they enjoy it, because one of my kids is a conceptual-specific learner and one is an actual-routine learner, because we have family time at night instead of hours spent doing homework, because my husband travels and we like to see him occasionally, plus many other reasons.

I know you want to ask about the Social Issue, and it’s really a non-issue. My kids are practically over-socialized. They have friends from the public school, the Catholic school, the neighborhood, the several homeschool groups we are in. They are friends with the kids of my friends. They have cousins and second cousins their age they play with. We even babysit some older kids sometimes.

This morning I heard a mother excitedly tell the crossing guard, “The first day of school! It’s like Christmas Day for parents!” I respectfully disagree.

Check out this article!
Youth Homeschooling: A Smart Parent's Guide to Successfully Homeschooling Children

Update from July 2020: We graduated our first homeschooler!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Organizing ... Revisited (Space Bags!)

Today (8-11-08) I ordered some Space Bags over the phone (versus dragging 5 kids to Target). That darn converter box with its new channels!!! One of the Channel 50s has these awesome product commercials. I’m not usually one to order from the TV, but even those pancake puffs have us all salivating!

I can’t wait to put tubs of kid clothes in Space Bags and suck the air right outta those things with my vacuum! And put all my maternity clothes in one of the hanging bags and watch it shrink! It’s like Shrinky Dinks for clothes! Oh, the crap I will shrink and cram in my cedar chest! And our hall closet … I am getting giddy thinking about shrinking all those coats and jackets at the start of each summer! I think the fine print on the commercial even said the Space Bags will somehow make me thin and rich.

Update: The paper trail in my home is getting smaller, despite my procrastinating.

And we plan to have a mini garage sale/Kool-aid stand this Thursday and Friday since we live by a school and school starts Thursday. It’s mostly books, videos and clothes, but what doesn’t sell I’m donating or taking to Half Price Books.

I’m already a more patient mom with less to clean and organize, and I have obviously found time to write.

Expecting in the mail: homeschool curriculum, our repaired digital camera, and SPACE BAGS!!!!!!!!!!!

A Day in My Life: Friday, 8-8-08

Joel’s little girl friend Alex spent the night, and the natives were getting restless in the afternoon. I don’t leave the house anymore unless I know I am in a very patient mood, and I was doing okay today.

Sooo … I threw them all 5 in the van.

First stop was Micro Center for a converter box because I refuse to get cable or a new TV. Got the box, then there was a long line at checkout, and Alex loudly states, “Someone farted!!!!!” (wasn’t me this time, thankfully). Finally we get to a checker, and he tells me we have to buy the box over at Exchanges.

So I drag everyone over THERE, throw the box down on the counter, throw my $40 off coupon down, then throw my keys down. The guy takes my coupon and DISAPPEARS for like 5 minutes. He comes back with some papers and a woman and starts to ring me up. I ask them what the hell? I saw their lips moving but all I heard was “government contract, ring you up as a business, blah blah blah.” What they REALLLY meant was that the government has to keep track of everyone with this digital TV smokescreen business. I’m no fool. I know there’s a camera inside that converter box watching my every move. Ha!

Next stop: Michael’s Arts and Crafts. Joel got some river pebbles (more stuff!!!) with his allowance. I got the others some crafty stuff to keep them busy, and Eva just HAD TO HAVE this little pink tin with an “E” on it (she's only 8 months old!). Yes, I realize that I contribute to the “stuff” delinquency of minors.

By this time Eva was whipped, so I nursed her to sleep in the van and the kids occupied themselves like little angels … yeah, right!

I had an ulterior motive for taking on the next errand to Whole Foods: Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a natural stress reliever in gummy-like form. I ripped it open right after the checker scanned it because shopping with 5 kids and 3 carts is truly an adventure. More on Whole Foods later, so don’t make fun of me just yet.

To cap off the night we went to the pool. After some chilly swimming and “Closin’ Time,” we hit the park. Aron called while we were there to say he was at the airport in Phoenix … yippee! Help is on the way!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Freaky #2: Breastfeeding (ecological and tandem)

FYI: if you are not a breastfeeder, I DON’T CARE. After all, the host of The Kerrie Show was never breastfed, and look how she turned out!!! (you may draw your own conclusions here). I am not here to judge you, only to tell my own story.

When Joel was born I had trouble nursing. I won’t go into detail, in case my poor dad decides to visit the show again after storming out on the episode about the family bed. Let’s just say there were many tears and contraptions, and I almost gave up. Once we got home and he DID latch on, I was in pain. He ate every 2 hours, and I would sit with my Boppy pillow and read and try not to fall asleep. After a couple of weeks I got the hang of it and have been breastfeeding ever since (7 + years).

After Michael was born, I was still nursing Joel to get him to sleep for his naps and bedtime and couldn’t imagine booting him off the boob. Like they say on Project Runway, we “made it work,” a.k.a. tandem nursing. Actually, Joel made it work. He wasn’t even 2 years old and figured out ways to nurse while Michael did. Eventually they were holding hands and grinning at each other while they nursed to sleep.

Michael, however, was not going to share at almost 2 years of age. When Callie was born he wouldn’t nurse with her, so he weaned himself quickly and angrily. I’ve told him I’ll pay half of his therapy bills someday.

We purposely put an extra year in between the girls, so Callie was almost 3 when Eva was born and was mostly weaned, except for at bedtime. The day after Eva was born, Callie tried to nurse, giggled and hasn’t nursed again.

Ecological breastfeeding means a few things to me:
-- Human Pacifier. I nursed the babies when they were hungry or sleepy. I’m with my babies all the time and rarely leave them, and I do that with no resentments, most of the time!
-- Birth control. There’s only a very slim chance I’ll get pregnant soon after delivering a baby. I’ve gone an entire year between each kid without a period. If you get pregnant while breastfeeding soon after giving birth, it’s probably because you are supplementing with bottles, pumping (your body is not stupid; it knows the difference between a machine and your baby), or feeding baby food or cereal.
-- Extended nursing. The longest I’ve nursed was almost 3 years. I’ve heard that in Jesus’ time, weaning at age 3 was the norm. Interesting.

These days I’m all tricked out in a nursing swimsuit courtesy of my friend Ellen. It’s nice not toting bottles and formula around; I always have Eva’s food ready. And it’s FREE. I figure I’ve saved our family thousands of dollars, which I happily spend on … chocolate.

Photos from the 1970s

I'm trying to buy some time while I work on the rest of the Freaky Things, so here are some photos from the 1970s (above is my mom and my dad's grandma, who I called Nanny) ...

Below is me in California at age 6. I still look like this when I wake up, and there's always a kid next to me ...

Dad, Kerrie and Mom

Great Aunt Eva Michael Wilkerson, the woman I named my 2nd baby girl after ...

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm Not Going to Cry When He Leaves

Written 8/3/08 Sunday night

Tonight starts Week 12 of what was supposed to be a 10-week travel schedule.

I’m not going to cry this time when I watch his truck drive down the road toward the airport.

I’m not going to go buy a pack of cigarettes and then only smoke one and give the rest to a homeless woman in Albuquerque (I’ll tell that story another time).

I’m not going to make an amaretto sour.

I’m not going to make cookie dough.

I’m going to do something productive: wrestle with the kids, work on that article about how hotels need to go “green”, mow the grass, tackle the 2-foot (seriously) stack of papers on my desk.

Later … instead of all that we all 5 packed into the van and drove to Aron’s* work to post blog entries and look up facts about rocks for Joel. Someone had brought in a ton of peaches for anyone to take, so we took a dozen to make cobbler and give a few to my mom (my stepdad hates fruit, isn’t that strange?!).

Someone had stolen my husband’s mouse off his desk. He’s been there almost 10 years and people still swipe his stuff! Someone also took his chair a few weeks ago. I told him to carve his name into the underside of the next chair he loves so he can hunt it down and kill whoever takes it. It’s things like that that make me REALLY glad I’m not in the working world anymore!

I am now going to break something to all of you that may come as a shock. Deep breath. Here it is: I AM NOT PERFECT. Whew. Felt good to get that out. On a SUNDAY, no less, (more on our Sunday blue laws some other time), I took us to McDonald’s for fries and Cokes. Comfort food. I am a bad mother, but we were all fat and happy for the few hours until bedtime.

*yes, I’m letting down my paranoid guard about revealing names

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Stuff" Bulimic

Okay, so I’m reading “Inspiration” by Wayne Dyer. I’ve only read a few pages and I got inspired to clean my basement like a crack whore. A. was making dinner tonight and watching all the kids. So I went to the basement to do laundry and didn’t return for half and hour (what a good wife!).

I’m inspired to clear out all the crap we don’t ever use or even touch. A few months ago I picked up a Little Tykes kitchen from next to a Dumpster and I want to make a teensy play area in our unfinished weensy basement.

Here are some examples of what I’m going through:

-- Holiday items. Would Christmas be Christmas without so much STUFF? Are you kidding me?! It would be AWESOME! It would so much more stress-free! A tree and a few ornaments is all I need. And folks, forget about a Christmas letter this year. You’re reading it. The blog is more up-to-date and more “real.” You get the straight poop on our lives, not just the happy little highlights!
-- How many colors of white paint exist? I think we own them all. Not sure what can goes to what trim or wall, but we’re prepared. Can’t get A. to part with them. Grrrr.
-- Kid stuff. A booster chair for when kids outgrow the high chair, a walker thing to walk behind to help teach them to walk, a donated carseat for when Eva gets bigger, a tiny bouncy seat for our potential next baby (don’t freak out if you just read that, Mom!), a hamster cage and wooden maze A. built for our dead AND for our possible future hamster.

If all that made sense to you, you have a bigger problem than I do.

Sorry, I know this is supposed to be a blog about Attachment Parenting and homeschooling, etc., but I had to get all this off my ample chest.

Closin' Time

Ah, “Closin’ Time.” What a lovely, philosophical song. I wish I had the smarts to put a link to the song here. Anyone know how to do that? Anyway, they play this song at our favorite pool at 8 p.m. to let everyone know to clear out. Some of our favorite lyrics:

· “Finish your whiskey or beer.” — I always ask the kids if they are done with their beer or if they want to take it in a to-go sippy cup.*

· “I know who I want to take me home.” — They know I’m the DD (designated driver), plus I’m the only one who can see over the steering wheel.

· “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” — We usually go to the park or grab ice cream before going home because we’re still in the mood to party.

· “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” So true. A baby comes from pregnancy. A better job (hopefully) follows a crappy job. A new day comes from yesterday.

Speaking of music, has anyone seen a middle-aged musician guy named Dan Zane on TV? He has cool, stick-up hair. When we leave the pool or purposely make our hair stick up, we say we have Dan-Zane’s-House-Party-Hair. Since San Diego, though, I call it “beach hair.”

*Don’t call The State on me; I don’t really give my kids alcoholic beverages!!!

Simple Living (I Have Too Much Stuff)

So the first thing I notice when we got home from our 3-week semi-vacation is this: WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF.

I have always been a hoarder-in-training; I come by it genetically. I need several of each pantry item (chocolate syrup, flour, ketchup) to feel complete. I also tear out magazine pages for the “just in cases” of life, like:

Household and cleaning tips (ha! Like I’ll ever use those!)
Cooking tips/recipes (again with the ha!)
Homeschool ideas
Things that back up other things I want to write articles about
Paranoid tips (how to stock up for an emergency, what to do if you are a victim of a carjacker)

Since becoming a mom, I have been progressively getting rid of MY stuff. I once had an entire room full of crap. I tackled that, but still have large piles (one on each floor of our split-level) of stuff that does not have a home. Okay, if we’re being honest here, I’ll admit that I have thousands of journal pages in the basement dating back to about 1992 (boy, will my kids have fun sifting through THOSE someday … not. Probably ought to burn them now).

Then my kids started aging, as kids will do. They collect rocks, soda can top thingies, stuffed animals, Pokemon items, coloring books, hotel Styrofoam cups. You name it. Not to mention our homeschooling area in the dining room.

All this stuff (theirs and mine, plus their growing materialism mentality that I am teaching them) is draining my energy and brain space. Just like I walk by A. and get pregnant, I walk by my piles of crap and want to take a nap/turn stupid.

So, dear Reader, join me on my Journey of Purging over the next few weeks. I have GOT to get this place in order before homeschooling starts.


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