Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Food Fight

"...the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"

I confess I had to do a double-take when I read the 1st reading from the book of Numbers today. I had NO idea the Monkey could quote scripture at the age of three.

'Cause I am pretty sure he says this every dinner time.

Few three-year-olds are adventurous eaters, so pickyness is not surprising. However, the Monkey is the worst of all my children. His palette is, shall we say, limited.

Chicken nuggets - yes. But only certain kinds.
Chicken - no.
pasta - no
vegetables - no
applesauce - yes
cereal - yes
string cheese - yes, but only certain brands

You get the idea!

I have a great book on how to get picky eaters to eat with manners, and we are working on it all, but man! Is it tough! Oddly enough, I had to do this with The Young Adult, as well. He was slightly younger, but just as bad. Funny, because now he eats everything. Including the sushi we will get later today.

For now, I do strategic stocking of my pantry, so I will have an arsenal of healthy options for the The Great Stubborn One. Lately, the battle has been going more in my favor. A tad.

Ring the dinner bell - time for wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Breaking

The weather is gorgeous here in North Central Texas. The windows were open all day, the breeze was blowing, and our allergies are all going haywire!
It is also Spring Break time for the local schools. Now, in the recent years past, we have not partaken of this break. We usually wait until Holy Week, as it seems appropriate and we are usually pretty far behind in our school work.
This year, as almost everything else we are doing is also taking a break, I decided we would, too. The Young Adult still has math class tomorrow, I still have choir practice Wednesday, and we still have homeschool cool Friday, but no dance, we skipped Scouts, and no soccer or youth group.

Sometimes you just need a break!

Today we did yard work, played video games, played board games, played Legos, read, took a nap, and played outside. It was a one-day vacation.
Tomorrow, we visit friends and celebrate Romeo's 10th birthday.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The High School Decision

It is almost spring, which means it is time to think about the next school year.

After 9 years of homeschooling, we are at a crossroads. The Young Adult will be in 9th grade next year - high school.
(Am I really old enough to have a child in high school? Didn't he just get out of diapers? They told me it would go fast when he was little, but I scoffed at them. I was too tired to even care. But now? Some days, I would love to go back and hold my little boy for a while. Sniff!)
The Young Adult announced last year he thought he wanted to try public school. My rule with the boys is that we are okay with them trying public school, but they cannot enter during their middle school years. I mean, there is so little good about middle school....shudder.....
Besides, 9th grade would be an ideal time to enter the school system, as everyone is headed to a new school, and being new would not be so hard.

I felt mixed by his decision.
 Part of me cheered - I could relax and let a school keep track of all his work, grades, classes and assignments. I would not have to worry about keeping a transcript. Or college requirements. And he could try that attitude he gets on some school teachers and see where that gets him!
Part of me was sad - He is getting such a great education at home and through the parts of homeschooling that are not at home. He would be giving up a lot of freedom

But, I understood his reasoning. He wanted to see what he had been missing, to be with peers, and to meet girls.

But he, too, has been conflicted. I gave him the deadline of March to make his final choice. He has talked to friends on both sides of the schooling fence, asking opinions, weighing options.

The Decision has been made - he has chosen to continue his homeschooling journey.

And I am starting to figure out exactly what I am going to need to do to help him with this adventure.

Pretty funny. The woman who said, when this same child was an infant, "I am not sure we will be able to afford private school when he is older. We went to public school and we turned out okay. All I know is - I am NOT homeschooling."

Here is to a new adventure!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Will He, or Won't He?

Enemy #1

The Word of the Day?


As in, "Wow, he is one strong-willed child!"

He, as in The Monkey.

It started this morning, around 10:30am. As a family,. we attended Romeo's Blue and Gold ceremony for Cub Scouts. I thought to throw a portable thingy of applesauce into my purse. I figured:

a) it will help the Monkey make it through the long, and sometimes boring, ceremony.
b) it will help the Monkey make it through the lunch of pasta afterwards.

The Monkey is a notoriously picky eater. As the baby of the family, he has been indulged more than the rest, although many times without us even meaning to. Lately, I have been giving him an eating plan that is a tad more strict.

Like today.

I brought the applesauce. He said no.

No biggie. I figured when he refused, it was still early and he would probably cave in at lunch.

He did not.

He sat and refused to eat one bite of applesauce during the whole lunch. He would even rather stick to his principles than cave in for a piece of cake.
Yup - he refused the cake. Just to spite me.

And the story had not changed all afternoon.

It is now 3:40pm, and he has not eaten one thing since about 9:30 this morning. He is increasingly more grumpy and more exhausted. His stomach growled about ten minutes ago so loudly, it literally made me jump.

I KNOW he is hungry. And he LIKES applesauce.

"I'm not hungry" he says, as his tummy rumbles audibly.

This could be a good attribute in an adult - sticking to what you believe.

It might be a long day, for both of us.

"Nothing gets past this mouth that I do not approve." - this statement has been endorsed by the Monkey

Friday, March 2, 2012

Stacking Cups and Buying Milk

I hate grocery shopping.

There! I said it!

It is not as bad as it used to be.
Like, there was the time when The Monkey was little, and I had dragged all the kids to the store. We were almost done when we realized The Monkey had grabbed a bunch of stuff and had been teething on it all. We ate hot dogs (and buns) with teeth marks on them for the next week....

Or the time when Romeo was a baby. The Young Adult and Cookie Boy were small and seated in the toddler seats at the front of my ginormous cart. They were fighting and irritating each other the whole trip. I was so busy refereeing them, I did not notice Romeo, seated behind his brothers in the cart itself. He had been quietly, but busily, chucking items out of the cart, throughout the store.We got to play "Treasure Hunt"!

No, it is not like that, anymore. The three older boys are all big now, and do not fight (much) in the store. The Monkey is still a pain-in-the-you-know-where, BUT, I now own two babysitters! The Young Adult and Cookie Boy! It has revolutionized my life, I tell you! Cookie Boy is a Red Cross certified sitter, and so good with The Monkey. They are all glad to stay home and not hit the grocery store with me, when possible.

So, earlier this week, the boys all prepared to stay home, and I got my act together and went to the grocery store.

I have decided - I want a sign I can hang from the side of my cart. It will say,

"Warning: full cart! Shopping to feed 5 men!".

 Then, maybe people won't stare so much.

I love the grocery store near my house. It is close, usually well-stocked, and I know where everything is. But shopping during a weekday morning is a little different than other times I shop. It is mainly women shopping, and most of them are apparently not trying to feed an army on a tight budget.

There were two types of shoppers there that day: Couponers and Shopper-Lites.

1) Couponers = make me feel guilty!

I used to coupon. I saved gobs of money. BUT, it was like a full-time job. It took hours each week clipping coupons, finding deals, and driving to different stores to get the items. We were able to spend a lot less on groceries, but it cost a lot of time. Plus, we had to organize our meals around whatever I was purchasing.

So, I see these women now, flipping through their coupons, and I just feel like a total loser. I know I could be saving money, but I can never find the time to coupon anymore. The family has promised to help, but they never do. I am constantly saving coupons in my coupon drawer, and then throwing them away as they expire.

Nothin' like a little (extra) guilt with my shopping!

2) Shopper-Lites
These are the women who are pushing around their small-sized carts. They are wearing their exercise clothes (to let you know they just came from the gym), their hair is in a jaunty-but-styled ponytail, and their makeup is subtlety-but carefully applied. They shop while they talk on their phones (to let you know they DO have a social life). Some do this on their own, and some do this while ignoring the small child they brought along with them, who is crying or whining or pleading to go potty.

They push their mini-carts, and pause only in the fresh-fruits-and vegetables section, or the health-food section, to carefully peruse the nutritional value of an item before they place it in their cart.
They hold carefully crafted lists of nutritional food items and their carts are the ones with green leafy things waving around, under which reside fresh fruit and whole wheat pasta.

They look at me with disdain, as I fly by with junk cereal stuffed into the top of the massive mound of groceries already in the cart. I check the list in my hand, written on scrap paper,  in my "hurried mom" style of writing. I pause, interpreting the scribble that looks like "tiklas" to actually mean "tortillas", and with a sign, I turn my monster cart around, food precariously balanced on top sliding threateningly, muttering angrily to myself because I realize that I have to go all the way back across the store for this item.

As I slowly execute a 180, the bread from the discount, day-old section free-falls from the top of the cart, slides across the floor, and lands at the feet of a Shopper-Lite. I smile as I retrieve the bread, trying to project the image that I LOVE being chubby, badly dressed, and pushing a cart that looks like it is bound for a summer camp program around. I do not mind at all bending down to pick up the d#$% bread again. I am not at all embarrassed to be trying to find a place where the aforementioned bread can safely reside. (and where the #$%$ are the tortillas going to fit when I get back to them? I guess I will carry them in my mouth or something! Why, oh why, did I not bring ONE boy with me. Romeo could have driven a second cart!)

Yes, I do have fresh fruits and veggies in my cart....somewhere.....There is even soy milk AND whole-wheat pasta AND TOFU, for goodness' sake! Under the Pop Tarts, Fruit Loops, and boxes of heavily processed crackers. (okay, okay - the tofu is for this...)

It is not ideal, and I know some of my readers will cringe and try to tell me that eating healthily is actually cheaper in the long run than junk. And, to a point, I agree. But teenage boys take a LOT of food. And my boys love fruit and veg, which is great. But a bag of grapes to last my kids about two days costs $6 - ON SALE!  A box of Austin crackers is $1.50. Do you know how quickly my boys can go through cereal?

So, my cart is a balance of health items and junk.

"Just like Fruit Loops, only generic! And in a huge, monster sized bag!"

But it is always, ALWAYS full. Almost bursting. Even the workers were getting annoyed with me.
"Excuse me, ma'am, your bread fell off. Again." They watch as I retrieve it for the millionth time.

Fine. Whatever.

. The huge, giant cart is stuffed full of food that I know will only last us for a week or week-and-a-half, if I can really stretch it. I go to pay, and try not to pass out, feeling like it is money flying out the window.

That evening we sit down to a meal of pasta (whole wheat!) with homemade, made-from-scratch cheese and tomato sauce, which they all complemented, and meatballs from the freezer section (which they raved on and on about. Why do I even bother to "cook"!).

Well, at least they eat!


I have been trying to sit down for days to write a blog entry, without success! I cannot tell you how many days this has taken to do this - I am embarrassed!

So, I have mentioned before my kids tend towards the "alternative sports" route. Romeo plays soccer:

but The Young Adult? Well...

Not your traditional sport!

and Cookie Boy? Well, Cookie Boy often gets left out. Most of the money I make (small paychecks, for which I am grateful, bu they do not go far), goes for Highland Dance. Romeo's soccer does not cost a whole lot. But it leaves nothing left for Cookie Boy. Our goal this year is archery. We finally have a place near us. For the moment, I have neither the $ nor the time (beginner lessons are Wednesday nights, and we already have soccer, youth group and choir). Hopefully this summer....

Anyhow, Cookie Boy has also been into the sport of Speed Stacking or Sport Stacking. He is my shy child. His first competition was a year-and-a-half ago, with 500 other kids. I was so proud of my guy for overcoming his natural reticence and getting out there and doing it.
The only pic I could find on Cookie Boy (right). Bad Momma!

We could not attend a competition last year, due to schedule conflicts. But Fall 2011, I was able to teach a Speed Stacking class at our homeschool coop. It was tons of fun! Better still, I discovered a competition was coming relatively close to us on Feb 25, 2012. So, I signed Romeo and Cookie Boy up.

We went this past Saturday, along with a friend and fellow Speed Stacking student, Mad Max. Mad Max totally killed it in class, so I had lots of hope for him! Romeo competed in the 9-year-old division. Cookie Boy and Mad Max went into the 12-year-old division, the oldest age at this particular competition.
Results, please....
Cookie Boy placed 2nd in the two individual events for 12 year olds, the 3-6-3 and the Cycle.
Mad Max placed 1st in both events in the 12-year-olds, plus he won 2nd overall for the Cycle and 3rd overall for the 3-6-3!
I was so proud of them!
Mad Max and his awesome trophies on the left, Cookie Boy on the right

And Romeo....

Well, it turns out that the 9-year-old division was the toughest of all. Them buggers are FAST! Romeo did not place, and felt a little bad compared to the other two, but I was so proud of him. It was his first time and he was sooooo nervous!

Mad Max's time for the 3-6-3 - 4.11 seconds
In the 9-year-old division, the third place time was 4.0 seconds.

Yeah, they were fast! And apparently, you lose speed over the next few years!

Speedy Speed Stackers!

So, that about wraps up this extra-long edition of Deep in the Heart! Thanks for reading!