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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Know You Are Raising Dave Ramsey Kids When.....

We have been trying to follow Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover Plan for about 9 months now.  We are doing really well and - now that Rainman and I are on the same page - have made some great progress.

The big kids sort of "hate" Dave Ramsey right now - because many things aren't in the budget, so we say no to doing them - for right now. 

Short term sacrifice for long term gain.

D-man's joke for me is that anything the kids want to buy, my standard reply is to just say, "Oh, we can make that!" 

But S-Girl seems to have taken a shine to all things Dave.

She loves to play pretend games.  She will play restaurant, hospital, going to work/store, mommy....and house.  Playing house consists of the usual, making meals for the kids, cleaning up, a little pretend yelling about living in a pigsty.....and "doing the budget". 

She has made 3 of her siblings play it in the last two days with her.  She says things like, "Let's do the budget. " "Honey, bring me the calendar.  I need to see what we have coming."  It also consists of listing off items and their prices.  Most of these are pretend, things that Rainman and I do not spend our money on - but apparently in her "house" she does!  Things like bubble gum,  limo rides (no idea how she even knows about these!) new cars, trips to McDonald's, going to the movies( "We have to choose - we don't have money for both Monte Carlo and Cars 2"), and trips to the spa.

She got the trip to the spa idea from this "event" that A-Girl hosted in our living room the other night after we brought home cucumbers from the store.  I can't remember the last time I was at a spa....sigh...

(I love her little Kool-Aid mustache and everyone's chipped nail polish)

Every single game of "house" and "doing the budget" crack me up and gives me hope that some of the lessons Rainman and I are learning about personal finance are rubbing off on her little 4 year old self!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Good News.....

I survived VBS. 

I think there should be a special spa for all the VBS volunteers to go to after it is all over, don't you? 

We had 87 kids this year.  That is a lot of kids.  My church in Georgia does VBS differently than my church in Minnesota, so I had a bit of learning curve this year.  I helped out with music.  In Minnesota, we taught music at the opening assembly and at the closing assembly and the kids rotated in between to craft, story time, snacks, recreation, etc.  In Georgia, although you sang at opening and closing, music was one of the rotations, so I ended up singing for 3 hours straight every day.  I almost lost my voice by week's end....but, I survived!  I also danced around and did silly motions for those 3 hours (my special cowboy dance was the best), so here's hoping that it kick started my weight loss!!!  The kids were sweet with only a handle of "know it all" children and too cool to be there 5th graders.  It was exhausting...but I think we made a difference to the kids. 

In other good news, I have been selected to be part of the TOS Crew. 

What is that, you say? 

The TOS stands for  The Old Schoolhouse, which is a homeschool magazine.  I have subscribed for about 6 or 7 years, I think.  It is the only magazine that I read cover to cover - ads included - because they are so interesting and always give me ideas for school or new curriculum to try.  If you are a public school teacher, you may want to give it a read too - there are a lot of good classroom ideas and fun unit studies that could be integrated into a regular classroom also. 

Anyway, one of the things this magazine offers is product/curriculum reviews and I have been selected to be part of that "crew".  I am excited to get started and try out some new stuff in our school and give my feedback on the products.

So, I survived VBS 2011 and am getting a chance to serve on the TOS crew for 2011...that is all good news.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I am working at VBS this week.....I will be back....if I  survive the heat, the children and the chaos!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Undeserved Trophies.....Yay!

My girls finished their softball season a few weeks ago and had their end of the season party.  They had a great time swimming with their team.  They had a great time eating hot dogs, chips, pop (aka - soda - or in Georgia - Coke) and cupcakes.  They enjoyed hearing the really nice things the coaches had to say about them and really enjoyed the photo montage that one of the coaches wives had put together of them.  We love the coaches/wives.  They put in a lot of time and effort into making the girls better players.  They pray with the girls before and after games.  Yay for living in the Bible Belt!  They are awesome!  So, I enjoyed all of this too....except I didn't swim or appear in public in my swimsuit.  But, the last event of the day, is where our enjoyment of the day went it opposite directions.  They also enjoyed getting trophies. 

A-Girl getting her loot.

L-Girl getting her loot.

Am I really so old fashioned in my thinking that trophies should be given to people who earn them?  Is it really going to scar their psyche and cause them to have years of counseling and a scarred self esteem if they don't get a trophy for each and every activity they enter? 

Basically, to me, these trophies were just for showing up. 

Admittedly, they had a much better season than last year....last year they didn't win any games at all.  None.  Many of the girls hadn't ever played softball before.  They had a lot to learn.  Did they get a trophy for having an 0 and 10 season?  Why, yes, they did.

This year, they won 4 games, and looked much better as a team.  But, did they deserve/earn a trophy?  In my opinion, no.  I think this sends a message to kids, in general, to just show up and you will be rewarded...don't worry about trying hard or skill....just show up.  It also, to me, takes away from the kids that may have more skill and that work harder - whether it be - athletic - academic - musically - if they get the same trophy as everyone else. 

It also seems like a colossal waste of money.

Sports are expensive to have your kids involved in.  There is the fee that needs to be paid to the county, city, or organization.  Then there are the equipment needs - like cleats, mitts, face shield (which we got this year for A-girl after she was hit in the face with a ball that her coach hit at practice), and team/individual pictures with a professional photographer.  This doesn't include the gas money spent driving everyone back and forth to all of these practices and games.

In some cases, the fee you paid up front doesn't cover all the costs....which would be good to know before you sign up, wouldn't it?  This wasn't the case for D-man's baseball season this year.  We paid the up front fee.  We participated in a fund raiser for the team - which we thought was just to raise some extra funds for the team - for pizza or Gatorade at tournaments.    Then about half way through the season, we were informed we owed an additional....$180....$40 or so more than the original fee we paid up front.  That may not be a lot of money to most of you, but to us....that is a lot of money (remember - Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover???)....especially when we thought we had paid everything already.  They told Rainman about it first.  He assumed I knew what it was all about, so didn't ask any questions.  I was clueless.  So, I asked.  I was told it was for uniforms - they wanted nicer ones than they could get through the normal route, park maintenance fees, tournament fees, fees for umps for games, and a helmet for my son  (because the one we had purchased for him did not match the team colors ((gasp))...).  The money was also for trophies.  The fund raiser was not actually for the team, as a whole, but to help pay for these additional individual fees.

How about giving parents an option to opt out of trophies for their children?  How much would that bring down the cost of participation in sports?  Will it send our economy into a tailspin because trophy manufacturers businesses will plummet?

On the practical side, my kids started sports much older than most people and I already don't know what we are going to do with their trophies.  What happens when you have multiple children in multiple sports - for years?  Like those that begin with T-ball or soccer at age 3?  Do you have a whole room devoted to collecting dust?  Oops.... I mean a trophy room?

In my mind, it would be different if there was some merit behind the trophies, like 1st, 2nd or 3rd place....or Most Valuable Player....something.....besides....the Thanks for Showing Up Most of the Time.  I think I could find room for those kinds of trophies.....and might even find time to dust them.

What do you think?  Am I becoming a curmudgeon in my old age?  Or am I the only one making sense?  Is it time to stand up and stop the insanity?  (That reminds me of that bleached blond with the buzz cut that was a diet/fitness guru in the 80's.....can't think of her name right now.....but she used to yell, "Stop the Insanity!")

Really, am I crazy?  Should I start a revolution?  Will the economy crash even further if trophy manufacturers only crank out their wares for the deserving?

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I love Old Spice.  Classic Old Spice.  Not the new sporty ones.

I loved it before those new commercials with that guy doing all those things like riding a horse backwards and scuba diving came out.

My dad wore their deodorant.  He wore the original round stick formula - as noted in the above picture.  It came in a sort of whitish plastic tube and the deodorant was sort of see- through green.  In the summer time, he would smell like Old Spice, outside, freshly cut grass, and gasoline (probably from the mower).  In the winter time, he would smell like Old Spice, cold, outside, and gasoline (probably from the snowmobiles).  I can still remember when Dad would come home from a hunting trip, he would come home smelling...well, like someone who had been on a hunting trip....but underneath it was still the good ole smell of Old Spice.  He would be all scruffy and unshaven and all of us kids would all insist on a whisker rub from him before he would go get cleaned up.   We would get our whiskers rubs and he would disappear upstairs, and, when he came back smooth shaven and freshly showered, he smelled even more like Old Spice because he had also put on the aftershave!  Aahhh, heaven....

I dated guys that wore other colognes and some of them smelled okay....and frankly, some of them smelled awful.  Honestly, if I get a whiff of Grey Flannel, it still kind of makes me gag.  Yuck!  Then I met Rainman, and guess what?  He wore Old Spice.  Not exclusively...he mixed things up for me and wore Brut a time or two, and some Avon stuff  that came in decorative bottles shaped like ducks, and trucks and other "manly" things.  But, being the smart guy he is, he figured out that Old Spice was my favorite and has now gone exclusive - with both me and Old Spice.  ; )

I suppose it could be considered kind of weird, but I don't care.  I love it that much.  There are other colognes and scents that I like, but there aren't any other ones that I can name by smell alone.

While I like the new ads with Isaiah Mustafa, I sort of miss the old sailor ones with Matthew Perry's dad....and the whistling in the background.

I was brushing my teeth the other day and on the back of Rainman's Old Spice deodorant, I spotted this....

I think that it is safe to say that this is a prophetic statement for my future grandchildren!

Friday, June 3, 2011

12 Years Ago

Around this time, twelve years ago I had a very active toddler and was pregnant with number two.  Things did not go as planned. 

Some days I forget.  Some days I don't.  In some ways it feels like he died just a little while ago.....and in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago.

It was a shock.  I had felt him move.  I had seen two ultrasounds with him flipping and moving around.  In one of them it looked like his little legs were pumping like a runner.  The ultrasound technician told me I was about to have my hands full with 2 busy little ones.  I had no worries. 

But then, I had a few days where I couldn't  remember if I had felt him move....

I went to my next appointment with D-man in tow.  I had encouraged Rainman to go golfing with my dad and not come with me as he usually did when he wasn't working.  I shouldn't have done that.

She couldn't find a heartbeat.  She took me to the ultrasound room and all the while reassured me that I shouldn't worry, that there were all sorts of reasons that she could have had trouble finding a heartbeat.  She was very sweet.  The ultrasound technician started her job.... 

It was, sort of, an out of body experience for me.  I remember seeing D-man rifling through my purse on the floor and his look of triumph as he got my Chapstick out.  I also remember hearing a really loud kind of primal cry and thinking, "What was that?"  "Where did that come from?", and then realizing it was me.

I remember little D-man, still clutching the Chapstick, climbing up to me on the table and giving me a hug....looking deep into my eyes....and climbing back down again.  I remember the staff trying to shuffle me off to a room without having me see all the happy pregnant ladies in the waiting room.  I remember them trying to find my husband.  They ended up getting in touch with my mom first and she dropped everything to come be with me.  I don't remember much of anything else.  Just shock.  And tears.  Lots of tears.

We prayed and prayed for a miracle on the way to the hospital.  I made them give me one more ultrasound before they induced me.  I thought for sure there was going to be a miracle.  But, it was true.  He was dead. 

I went into labor.  It really hurts even if the baby is tiny.  He came out with one push.  I delivered a beautiful baby boy.  He weighed less than a pound and was 7.5 inches long.  He was tiny, but perfect.  He had little curlicue ears that just need the cartilage to be filled in.  He had 10 little fingers and 10 little toes.  He had perfect little bendable knees and a cute round little belly.

His funeral is a bit of a blur to me too.  I remember bits and pieces.  I remember going to the City to make arrangements for the gravesite.  I still looked pregnant and one of the secretaries asked me when my baby was due.  I remember we played Sarah McLaughlin's Arms of the Angels.  I remember D-man, wearing his little suit, trying to help carry his brother's little coffin.  I remember being surprised at some of the people that came....friends of my parents....some of my friends....nurses from the hospital.  I remember getting the autopsy results back saying that he was a seemingly healthy, baby boy with nothing wrong with him.  I remember not being able to eat.  I have always been a stress eater....but food was tasteless and made me gag. 

Like I said, many days I don't even think about him.  Other days I think about him and wonder what it would be like if he was running around with the other kids....not with sadness, but just curiosity.  I know he would be blond, but, would he look more like me or Rainman?  Would he be a good reader?  Athletic? If it came up in conversation, I could tell people about  him without crying.

But, this year, around his birthday, I was feeling melancholy and couldn't quite figure out why.  It was so apparent, that Rainman even noticed and asked me what was going on.  I didn't really know. 

Then I got the e-mail from my sister that included this picture she took on Memorial Day...

...and burst out sobbing.  My kids didn't really know what to do with me.  I didn't either.

She worried about sending it to me because she didn't want to make me cry.  But, I guess that is what I needed to do.  I am glad she took it.  I am glad she sent it.

When we lived in Minnesota, we would visit Stevie's grave a few times a year, but, always on his birthday and Memorial Day.  On Memorial Day, the little, country cemetary he is buried in, has a service where the Veteran's come and perform a little service honoring the fallen soldiers.  My sister, Kandi, posted about this year's service here.   It is a beautiful cemetary and a really beautiful service.

The kids would always bring him little gifts for his birthday and a few of them have survived the hard Minnesota winters.  The little greenish van on the left is the gift we left for him when we moved.  Remember a few years ago when Hot Wheels came out with the collector cars and had one for each state, license plate included?  It is the Georgia State car.

When we left Minnesota, I cried the hardest as we left the cemetary.  I felt like we were abandoning him....or something.

I don't know why it hit me so hard this year. 

It has been 12 years. 

I have 6 living, beautiful, healthy children.

I have had 2 miscarriages.  One we call Peanut Baby and don't know if the baby was a boy or a girl.  One we call "The Twins" (one baby died very early on, the other, a little boy, died around 12 weeks)

It has been 12 years.

I think maybe it is because the reality of living in Georgia, for the long term, is really starting to sink in.  I love Georgia. 

I guess maybe I feel like a traitor to Minnesota. 

I guess maybe I feel like a traitor to all my family who is still in Minnesota. 

I guess I am feeling like we are abandoning him all over again. 

I don't know.

Sock. Socks. And More Socks.

Rainman came downstairs recently and told me to come take a look at our bedroom.

Oh, I thought....Did he clean up? 

Did he make the bed? 

Did he find a disgusting bug? 

Were the kids doing something cute?

No, to all of the above.

He wanted to show me this.....

In case you cannot tell, this is our collection of unmatched socks.  We usually keep them in that little basket to the left to match up as we do our laundry.  But, as you can see, that is a pretty small basket  and, those are a lot of little socks!

We haven't given up hope yet, so they have all been shoved back into the little basket with the hopes that the next round of laundry will hold magical matches for every one of these little cuties.

There is just something about finally throwing out the sock....or moving it to the rag bag....that, like what happens shortly after saying out loud - (without knocking on wood) -  "Nobody in our house caught that bug that is going around" - that lets you just know that as soon as you give up on that sock and move WILL inevitably find the matching sock!

I am off to do a load of laundry.

Honestly, I do not have high hopes for a happy ending.