Doing Yard Work

Confession: I do not have a green thumb. Hubs makes fun of me for it, but the thought of working in the yard makes me cringe. I’m actually not really much of an outdoor person at all. I was never athletic as a kid. Was always among the last to get picked in dodgeball (and I was skinny, so I really don’t know why!) When I see a bug, I run 180 degrees in the other direction (which, ironically, makes me a great candidate for any dodgeball team). Doesn’t matter how big or how small it is. And I get my husband to kill spiders for me, even if they’re tiny. He laughs at me when I call him into the room to kill a spider.

So… yard work. I hate it. That should come as no surprise considering I’m not a fan of being outside in the heat and I hate bugs. But when you’re a homeowner with a yard, somebody’s gotta do it. That leaves hubs or a landscaping company. Hubs is busy enough with his own stuff. Even if I wanted to do it, I’m busy too, you know, being a mom and working full time and all.

We recently hired a landscaping company to make the front of our house a little prettier. They did a good job, but it was pricey. I think they quoted me way too much money. We called a friend of ours to come and prune the trees in the backyard, and he did a fantastic job. That’s the great thing about having friends who own small businesses. We can call them anytime and get a discount on their services because we’re friends. They hooked us up, for sure.

Pretty soon, we’ll have to get our roof repaired. The summer storms last year were not very nice to our house. If you guys know of any good roofing companies, let us know. We found this one: They put all new siding, windows and doors on my mom’s house and did a great job, but they’re about an hour outside of our area and I’d like to find someone closer.

Anyway, back to why I hate doing yard work. Besides the fact that I hate bugs, do not do well in heat and don’t have a green thumb or an athletic bone in my body … wait. I guess there really are no other reasons. But those are all good reasons. Wouldn’t you agree?

In all seriousness, I hope our kids turn out differently. I want my son to play baseball and my daughter to play soccer. I want them to enjoy getting sweaty and I want them to learn how to plant a garden so that one day, when the shit hits the fan, and the world is all out of whack, we can go off the grid, grow our own food and live together as a family. That’s basically my dream for the future. Maybe then I can find a way to enjoy doing yard work and being outside. At least I’ll be with my family while I’m doing it, right? :)

I can see it now. We’ll spend time on the front porch of our house together and sing songs until the sun goes down. It’ll look something like this, but with people and smiling happy faces:

front porch with swing

Our grandkids will be born there, and we’ll get to watch them grow up. They’ll be talented and love doing yard work so hubs and I won’t have to. Once we reach a certain age, we probably won’t be able to bend over anyways…

Oh, who am I kidding. My kids are probably gonna grow up and move across the country, and I’ll see them at weddings and funerals like most families in this God-forsaken country…

Sorry for the pessimism. Hubs just called me outside to help him do yard work, and I got frustrated, which prompted this post, and now I guess I’m gonna join him and give this green thumb thing another go… wish me luck!

On Limiting Screen Time

All of the things that come into the house  to distract us! Somewhere, somehow we had fallen into a habit of being on some kind of device during any possible free moment. It was bad on weekdays. The kids would rush inside after school and have their snack, reaching for the iPod or the keyboard or the TV remote at the same time. At some point of the evening I would pull them away for twenty minutes so they could work on homework but they usually jumped right back on as soon as that was done.

The weekends though, were so much more worse. I had no idea how much time they were spending on devices but I knew it was a lot. I wanted a way for not only myself to keep track of it all but for the girls to notice it too. I think especially with using things like Netflix, episodes blend into one another and you don’t realize that you’ve sat there for an hour or two already.

Each of the girls gets four “bucks” for the day. I started out saying that each buck was  worth 30 minutes of TV time, iPod time or computer time. I’ve had to revise that to mean one episode of something when my daughter tried to reason that one Netflix episode was actually only 22 minutes so that four bucks should really equal five episodes. Likewise two bucks can mean one movie even if that movie is longer than an hour.

There is the ability to earn extra bucks for a day. Because of this I added things besides screen time  that the girls could spend their buck for, things like playing a board game as a family or if they save up four bucks that can  equal to a trip to the dollar store.

We have a bank pocket where I hold the extras, a pocket for each of the girls and pockets for all of the things they can spend their bucks on. Only extra bucks can be saved up for something big but the 30 minute cards can be traded at the end of the day for an extra card if it hasn’t been used.  I’m thinking of adding things like a trip to an Italian ice place or an hour at the park or library to our board.

Things that can earn extra bucks:

Cleaning windows

Wiping down doors

Taking a trash bag outside

Tidying up your bedroom (We clean their room together once a week but this is upkeep and helps a lot when they do it before then.)

Running to the end of the yard and back three times.*

*My husband didn’t understand why this was on the list but I figure if they are earning more minutes towards something sedentary, moving in order to earn that balances things out a little. And they like running so it’s not a punishment type of thing. If they decide they’d rather just stay outside and play then come in and watch tv? That’s an added bonus. Last week we had a tree service company come out to our house to trim some of the trees in our yard. Needless to say they kept him highly entertained. And I think they had a lot of fun themselves. They spent almost the whole day outside watching and talking to the crew!

The biggest surprise while using this system is that the girls almost never use up all of their bucks. The first day my oldest decided to do all of the extra tasks for extra bucks but she didn’t use them. She’s very careful with her money and I think that these bucks have become like money to her. She’s more selective of what she’s going to watch or whether she really wants to spend time on the computer or iPod. My youngest sees that and is also hesitant to pay up in order to gain screen time. They are playing more and even better than that,they are playing  together more. This is a really big thing for us because prior to this experiment they had gotten really short with one another. There’s a lot less fighting now and I’ve began to think that there is some truth to to much time spent watching TV or playing games leads to a more hostile spirit.

There is another thing that we’ve introduced lately that is helping with the sister conflicts  but I’ll tell you about that on another day.

Trying to Squash the Chaos Monster

I hadn’t really noticed how bad things were getting around here until the weeks before my in-laws visited.

Granted, I was constantly misplacing things and our days had no order…but it took trying to pick up a little that really opened my eyes.

We had 4 junk drawers and too many toys, no idea what we were going to buy from the grocery store before we got there and missing stuff daily. It was stressful with a capital S. I knew that we needed to get organized but trying to get organized right before you have guests coming in is kind of nuts. I did what I could,shoved a lot of miscellaneous  junk into unused suitcases and tried to not let it drive me nuts until I could get to it.

Flash forward to now; my in-laws have been and left and my mom has been and left (twice, actually but who’s counting?)  and I’ve been trying to get us to a more functional state of being. (Or at least stop us from making three to four trips to the grocery store every week.)

Let’s be honest, I felt over-freakin-whelmed. I went on Pinterest and while I got tons of ideas, I also realized that unless I focused on one area at a time- this getting organized business was not going to work. There are a lot of websites I visited and you-tube channels that I watched that helped me focus.Trying to figure out what I wanted our areas to function as has been a big help in itself.

The most helpful thing that I’ve learned has been to take all of the tips and make them work for me.  I divided rooms into smaller areas and worked on those areas one at a time. In the past I would’ve tried to tackle a whole room and just gotten frustrated. I also learned that it’s really hard for me to work on only one room at a time. Having five rooms that are in various stages of being “done” might drive someone else crazy but staying in only one room until it’s completed is totally against my hoppy nature. I have to hop from thing to thing and as long as it will all get done eventually? I’m hopeful that’s okay.

I let go of the idea that all of my organized areas had to be super pretty or matchy-matchy. It’s not in my budget to go out and buy tons of bins and boxes right now. I did buy what I could but I also tried to make what I had already work. If I had waited until I had the budget that I needed to get those areas looking the exact way that I wanted them to? I’d still be drooling over pretty pictures and not one step closer to my goal.

We are doing much better chaos wise. We aren’t finished yet, but there have been huge changes so far. We only went to the store once last week and I can see the floor in the girl’s bedroom now. (Yes, their room had really gotten that bad.) We only have one junk drawer left but I hope to have it turn into a homework station soon. The fact that school will be starting again  has really motivated me to get more organized and squash the chaos monster for good.

How does being organized work for you? Is it necessary or not a big deal at all?

Stranded Mom

So, there I was a stranded mom of two broken down on the side of the road. It was getting close to 10 p.m. and I had both of my daughters with me as I was picking them up from dance class. We were driving down Independence when the engine to my sedan locked up. “Oh great,” I said to myself, this is exactly what I did not need.

I called my husband to let him know what had just happened so he wouldn’t be worried when we did not show up when he expected. I was upset and he knew it, he can always tell when I am worked up even though I try to play it off like I am not. After he calmed me down he instructed me to call a towing company and have them drop our car off at our mechanic’s shop.

I got on my smart phone to look up towing companies. I didn’t care which one really so I went to the first one that I saw. I am so glad I clicked on that link and found that Charlotte towing company. The dispatcher was very kind and courteous and was able to send a driver out to me pretty quickly. The tow truck driver was very professional and made me feel safe and at ease.

By the time my sedan was up on the truck I was in my husbands car and on my way home with my family. Though it was not my best day I was happy to be able to be home surrounded by the people a love.  With a glass of wine in one hand and my husband’s hand in the other, it was a perfect way to end a stressful day.