Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nit Picking

Winter means cold and flu season.  Unfortunately in cold places like Chicago it often means head lice season too.  Kids bundle up to go to school but toss their hats and coats on top of other kids stuff or share hats, all perfect ways for the little buggers to go from one kid to another.  Last week it was our kids' turn.  I wrote about it in today's post on Chicagoland Moms Blog

A Small Step In the Right Direction

Last week my dishwasher died. It was over 9 years old and the last time I had had it serviced the repairman told me it was on its last legs. After a month of houseguests it had gotten quite a workout and finally quit on me.

After having the service guy check to make sure it wasn't just clogged, I went to Abt picked out a new washer. My repair guy offered to come on Sunday to install it. While I am excited to have a new washer the thing that makes me the happiest is that because I had some emergency money in our bank account there was no stress about how we were going to pay for it. Had this happened last year, I would have been in trouble. Credit cards were all maxed out, no reserve funds anywhere. I would have had to pay some bills late in order to make this work.

We still have debt but we're making progress. No new charges to the cards, keeping up with monthly payments, and paying big chunks whenever bonus money comes in. Once the Super Bowl is over I plan on taking time to get really organized with our finances. Update Mint, make a bill paying spreadsheet etc. why after the Super Bowl? Well, we're having 60 people come to our house to watch the game and it needs a thorough cleaning before that as well as a lot of food prep.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Is It So Special?

Yesterday I noticed that Little Hugger had outgrown the shirt she was wearing. Sleeves were too short and her belly was exposed a bit. When it was time to get ready for bed I asked her to throw it out since it was too small and has a stain on it. She said ok and went upstairs to get ready for bed.

A couple of minutes later she came down crying and clutching her shirt. I asked what was wrong and she said she didn't want to throw it out. I told her it was too small and because of the stain we can't sell it at Kids Sale.

She looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, "ok but can we take a picture of it first?". Done

Once she was all tucked in I asked her why it was so special. She said, "I don't know I just like it". I guess I'll never know more than that but now she has a picture of her shirt in her photo album along with pictures of crafts that she didn't want to keep the actual thing, but didn't want to forget about either.

How do you deal with things that are special to your kids that you want to get rid of?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Argo

My husband and I watched Argo last night and it was really good. It's the story of 6 employees of the US Embassy who managed to flee to the Canadian embassy during the attack on the US Embassy.  Over the years most of the fosus has been on the hostages who were held in the embassy for 444 days (understandably as their situation was much worse).  Yet this story was still suspenseful.  Making a historical movie interesting can be tough when you already know the outcome but Affleck pulled it off. I was honestly scared for the 6 "Houseguests" as they were going through the bazaar and the final sequences at the airport. Yes, they were all diplomats but their jobs were more along cultural lines these were not the kind who were used to having to remember cover stories, or hide their own fears to make their cover seem credible.

I don't know how much liberty he took with the story especially the sequence where they are at the airport going through the various security checks to be allowed to leave. Still it was very well done and I can see why he got the Golden Globe for it. Of course the fact that the story includes other nationalities not just Americans also helps get votes from the Hollywood Foreign Press.

All this talk of Ben gets me thinking about Matt Damon. Did you see him on Jimmy Kimmel the other night? It was awesome. I don't watch Jimmy very often but have always found their supposed feud and the videos that go with it really funny.  If you're not familiar with them here are my favorite two - Sarah Silverman with Matt


And then Jimmy's rebuttal


Here are some of the clips from the show that Matt took over the other night.  He had an impressive bunch of celebs involved and it was a lot of fun.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why Are People Religious?

That was Little Reader's question last night at dinner. It was prompted by someone in her class saying that only good people go to Heaven. Not sure how they got on that topic but if sparked a long discussion at our dinner table last night.

As you've probably guessed we are not religious people. We don't believe in God, and don't attend church. Having said that I don't consider myself an atheist. I feel like that is too strong and is disrespectful to those who do believe. I have no proof there is no God, so for the most part I keep my non-believing opinions to myself and let others believe what they want. I teach my kids to be respectful when other kids talk about religion. In a public school it doesn't come up all that often, but it does come up. My daughters are in 1st and 3rd grade so I feel most of the time when kids talk about religion it's based on what their parents taught them not because they necessarily believe it themselves. Some of my daughter's friends are in CCD so maybe they are thinking a little more about what their faith means to them but I don't know.

Back to her question, my answer was that people who believe in God often find comfort in their faith when they are faced with questions or challenges that are difficult to deal with. I gave the example of a kid in her school who is in remission from leukemia. I know that that family does believe in God and that their faith and the prayers of others helped them get through a very tough time.

Little Reader's natural follow up question was if God is all powerful, why would he give the boy cancer in the first place? I told her that the experiences you go through in life are what shape you and prepare for your future. People of faith often feel that God doesn't give you more than you can handle, and this family's life will be impacted in some positive way by what they went through. I know the boy is already volunteering at the ward he was in helping other kids with leukemia. He probably wouldn't have done that if he hadn't gone through it himself.

Then she said that another kid had said that God causes floods and earthquakes when people are not being good. I said I don't think God would purposely be mean, but believes in the good of humanity. I said that how I've heard it explained is that God maybe did feel that people weren't being good and knew that in difficult times people do usually come together and help each other in ways they normally do not.

It ended up being a pretty lengthy discussion and I love that she is already asking these questions. She definitely is more analytical than I was at this age, and often makes me think of things in a new way because of the questions she asks.

I realize that my family is very much in the minority that we are not people of faith, and therefore I hope that as much as we respect everyone else's right to believe, that you respect our right not to.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DeChristmasing

It's my least favorite part of the holiday so I put it off as long as possible. This year I probably procrastinated a bit too long though. We didn't take the tree down until the 16th. It still looked pretty good with the ornaments on, but any time we touched it tons of needles would fall. After getting the ornaments and lights off, this is what our tree looked like.....

On the bright side though, after dumping all its needles as we took all the decorations off there were hardly any to drop on the floor on the way out the door ; )

Trying to Get Back On Track

I've been a total slacker blogger as we've had houseguests for the past month. My parents left on Saturday and I am now trying to get the house back together. Our guest room is also our playroom so when we don't have guests staying we take the bed out so the kids have more room.

Little Hugger came home from school with lice and it quickly spread to her brother and sister (luckily the latter two only got nits no live lice so easier to deal with)

My dishwasher is on the fritz (clogged due to my well meaning houseguests not rinsing/scraping plates off enough before loading it) Luckily the repair guy is coming tomorrow, and hopefully I'll be able to get caught up and next week start working on my New Years resolutions.

Until then I hope you all are doing well and hope 2013 is off to a better start for you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sky fall

Saturday night, my husband and I took advantage of having free and willing babysitters in the house (my parents) and went to a movie after dinner. We got the kids completely ready for bed and went to see Skyfall. I wasn't impressed with the previous Daniel Craig Bond films, but this one was good. I won't give away any of it. It is a bit grittier than the days of Connery and Moore but of course you need to change to keep up with the times and what the audience wants.

The standard elements were still there - a casino scene, the martini, the standard Bond introduction, etc - and given that this was the 50th anniversary of the movies there were a few homages to the older movies (some subtle some not so much).

It was nice to get out and something that we need to do more often - just the two of us. Lately when we've gone out it's with other couples which is fun too, but we need to make time for the two of us. I need to start scheduling date nights for us at least once a month.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Found My Half

As any of my long term followers know I've been planning on running a half marathon. The Hot Chocolate 15K was a good test - I think I can, I think I can, I did it!!!

After quite a bit of consulting calendars (husbands, schools, mine) I am committing to the 13.1 mile Monster Dash in October. I was hoping for an earlier race as I'd love to get it done, but school, vacation and the reality of Chicago weather got in the way. Also, while the course map may change, last year was pretty much the same as the Hot Chocolate just a little further so I am already pretty confident I can do it - I mean it's only 4 more miles from what I did.

I figure if I start working out again once school starts, and then running once it warms up, I'll be fine for October, who's with me?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Catching Up and January Goals

I've been pretty busy with the holidays and houseguests so it's been hard to find the time to blog. Still I find myself composing posts in my head before falling asleep so need to get some of these things out of my head and on to "paper".

This past week has been about catching up. I finally took some time to catch up on neglected chores yesterday. Still more to do today. But before I lose focus I want to get my monthly goals down.

1. Start working out again. I totally fell out of the routine In December as I needed my kidless time for Christmas prep. School starts on Monday and I need to get back to the gym 3 days a week.

2. Update my mint.com account and follow it. Set up a bill tracking sheet. I've found a bunch of different ones online now I just need to make my own.

3. As part of making my house more homey I plan on tackling the living room first. It's where we have all our Christmas stuff but once Christmas has been packed up and moved out it looks so empty. I definitely need a new plant to replace the tree and some other little things (maybe update my otherwise boring mantel).

4. Super Bowl party prep. For my husband, the Super Bowl is almost as important as Christmas and Thanksgiving. We have a party every year and it seems to get bigger and bigger every year. The guest list so far is 67 - mix of kids and adults but mostly adults. It's a crazy day but it's our one big party of the year, and is lots of fun.

5. Since my parents are staying til the 19th I won't have a lot of time to blog, but hope to make some updates towards the end of the month - cleaning up links and organizing stuff. Since I got a new iPad I'll probably do most of my blogging from there. Does anyone have an app to recommend. I use Blogger now but it's annoying since you can't add links or position pictures

What are your goals for January?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Holiday Sings

I never wrote about the Newtown tragedy as I couldn't find the words, but unfortunately because it happened right when we were finishing up with school here, I just realized I never wrote about my daughters' Holiday Sing. Their school is big enough that they have to divide up the grades in order to accommodate all the doting parents, grandparents and other family members, so Little Man, my inlaws and I went to 2 different performances. Luckily most of the songs performed were different.

Both Little Reader and Little Hugger played piano during the prelude portion of the program (any kid taking private music lessons is allowed to play a song on their instrument). There were lots of piano players, a few violins, horns, and even one girl who played the harp.

Little Reader played O Christmas Tree on the piano and at this point has performed before strangers probably 10 times so wasn't nervous and knew her piece from memory and played well. Since this was Little Hugger's first time performing her piano teacher offered to join her and play a duet of the song she had chosen - Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. While it was a very kind offer and I didn't stop her from doing it, it was a strange arrangement and I thought made the song sound a little strange. I think she would have done better with just a solo performance.

Still at least our kids played holiday songs as was the purpose of the concert. Some kids played other songs - most were classical pieces so that was fine but there were some unusual choices including one who played the theme song to Batman. Of course Little Man loved that.

After the prelude three different grades each sang two songs and then for the finale the three grades all filed in and sang a song together. I'm not the kind of person who usually gets emotional at these things but the finale song always gets me. Grade school kids may not be the best singers in the world, but when they are singing from every corner of the room and you are surrounded by music it really does sound pretty. I usually get a little choked up during this song but even more so this year in wake of the tragedy. The song they sang was called "When the Lights All Shine" I had never heard the song before this performance but it's all about people all over the world lighting candles in the name of peace. It's a really sweet song and they changed the lyrics using cities representing the nationalities of the kids at the school.

I don't know if it was because the song was about lighting candles, or a call for peace, or just the sweet sounds of those kids singing for their families and knowing that that is something that those little Newtown kids will never get to do again, this year I did shed a couple of tears and I wasn't the only one. I even get a teary eyed as I write about it now almost two weeks later.

2012 Wrapup

Overall 2012 was a good year. Certainly far better than 2011. We're slowly but surely getting back to a better place financially and should be out of credit card debt by the summer. I accomplished about 80% of my weekly projects that I set for myself last year and have definitely gotten more organized.

The second half of the year I finally was able to have consistent time to myself thanks to Little Man being in camp and then preschool. Even though it is just a couple of hours 3 times a week that I am kidless, it has done wonders for my sanity. I had time to exercise, get things done around the house without little ones messing up what I had just cleaned. Some days I just took some time to enjoy the quiet and read or blog. I also made a point of scheduling more time for me to get away either solo for a Mom's Day Off or out with friends.

I've posted my resolutions in a separate post so I won't rehash them here, except to say that I hope to continue the momentum of improved finances, making our house more of a home, continuing to make me time a priority.

I'm also very much looking forward to our upcoming trip this summer back to Denmark. We are overdue for a vacation. I haven't been back in 6 years and considering I used to go back at least once a year as a kid, it has been way too long. I look forward to seeing my extended family especially my cousins' kids most of whom I have never met. I also look forward to showing the kids some of my favorite places and favorite foods.

What are your hopes/goals for 2013?

2013 Resolutions

I've posted my resolutions on Chicagoland Moms Blog's page today.

Do you have any resolutions this year?