Lamp Oil and Living Ready

Are you getting ready for the rain?
Are you getting ready for the rain?

Remember that parable about the girls and the lamps? They wait and wait for the bridegroom, but they’re not sure when he’s coming. Half of them thought ahead and had extra lamp oil just in case. Half just had what was in their lamps and ran out. And then they missed out because they left their posts to go get more. While I do know the actual meaning behind the parable, it’s also a good warning as to how to live our regular physical lives. Make sure you look to the future and provide enough, because you don’t know when something will happen.

I admit to being something of a prepper. I love camping, I was in the girl scouts, and my dad brought a prepared mindset from being in the army. I really enjoyed challenging myself to be prepared for anything when I was younger. Friends used to joke that I could live out of my backpack. Really, it was just my high school essentials: hair ties, quarters, snacks, a book or two to read, and a change of PE clothes. In the last big El Nino, my dad helped me pack a duffel so if flood waters rose near our house I could grab and go. In camping with the girls scouts, they told us we had to be able to carry all of our gear ourselves and I took that to heart. I still get a little anxious if we go camping with a lot of stuff and end up not using it. But somewhere along the way I got out of the habit of thinking ahead. Then I had my son.

I went a bit crazy.

The Hubs was suddenly working nights and here I was alone with an infant. I had PPD and undiagnosed gallstones and sleep deprivation. I was actually, truly afraid zombies were going to happen and then end of the world was near. I made sure I had shoes near the bed and my diaper bag packed to last a week every night. I was a bit stressed, to say the least.

I’m better now, but I do know the ease of mind being prepared brings me. With another El Nino predicted for this winter season, I’ve been thinking about getting ready a lot. I wasn’t entirely sure where to start. I follow a few survival blogs like the Survival Mom, but there was a lot about snow and not a lot about rain. Today we are getting a summer storm and so I realized a few things:

My house needs to be cleaner. Since I have trouble with that, a cleaning routine seems like the thing to try.

We all need rain gear. My neon green Florence Nightingale-style cape is apparently not waterproof.

Ditto for rain boots.

I really need to think through our daily activities and then picture doing them in the rain. Since it’s September, I think a lot of the country is used to starting to think about these things since it’s fall everywhere else. SoCal just doesn’t have that fall mentality. We just wish we did. What about you? Are you getting ready for winter? Is that a part of fall for you? Are you looking ahead to the future and trying to get ready for it?


Preschool, Curricula, Learning – Oh My!

We can’t afford to send R to preschool right now.

As far as I can tell, it’s quite expensive. At least for our family. I would have to go back to work full-time and make at least as much as my highest paying job in order to afford it. Needless to say, that’s not happening. After a little investigation, it turns out preschool is currently being debated over whether it’s ‘necessary’ or not. After a little more investigation and assessment, I decided to put together our
own homeschool curriculum.

It’s been a little crazy. While buying a premade curriculum was quite tempting, I had a few hangups. R is interested in what he’s interested in, and so if I try to introduce something he doesn’t care about, I figure it won’t keep his interest very long. Secondly, they’re also expensive, and involve a lot of home printing (we don’t have a printer right now). So I knew that I would have to put together my own. And lastly – I have a hard time keeping myself on track and self motivated. How was I going to k
eep to a homeschool schedule?

The answer to the last question is: be kind to myself. This is new and I’m still getting the hang of it. I’m also adjusting to R’s learning style which is quite different from how I learn. I’m having to learn teaching strategies and then see which ones work the best. But the good thing is, R is actually ahead of where I thought he would be, so we have a little time to figure it out.

The printing aspect is still a hangup. I was hoping to get my printing done at my MIL’s on the weekend. However, her printer is down too! So right now I’m doing what I can with dry erase and my own handwriting. All my supplies are fr
om the Dollar Tree, and I spent about $10 setting up. And I drove us down to get a library card, and do my best to get the books I see everyone else with, since there seems to be a required reading list. Not really, but the same books tend to repeat across websites so you know what I mean.

I do want R to get more social time in since he’s never been to daycare and is a bit isolated. However I have a hard time making friends in general and mom friends in particular. In fact, we just lost the best friend he had, since that family moved to sit in the ‘big church’ (the main body of the church, not the cry room) and apparently that means they socialize with only their own family again. Maybe that’s for another post since it makes me want to cry. I’d love to get him into a class but that costs money. I wanted to ask for cla
sses for his birthday but honestly had no
idea how to do that.

If I ever get it all organized and written out and pretty, I’ll post it for all to see. But right now we’re doing a little of this and a little of that and seeing what works. I’m still figuring out why everyone has ‘themes’ for every week. Seems fun but is it necessary? The themes are killing me! Hah! What about you? Do you preschool at home? Did you have a hard time getting started? What are your favorite curricula? And how do you get in your child’s social time?


A New Dream and Beating the Little Voice
I have always wanted to try out for Jeopardy. So why not do it?

I have always like Jeopardy! I am not very good at remembering the date or what I need to do today, but I certainly remember weird details. It makes for a fun evening. I can’t remember to call the electric company to get the bill fixed, but I can certainly tell you that the word used the most in Agatha¬†Christie titles is “Murder.” (That was a Final Jeopardy question!)

Reflecting on that this morning, I wondered if I should apply. Something inside me said, Nah. You won’t even be picked and if you do, you won’t win.I hate that little voice with a passion. It reminded me of the little online Jeopardy quiz I took and did not do well on. Then it made a mistake and told me I couldn’t even answer most of the regular questions while watching.


My brain went into action. What percentage of the totals questions does the average winner answer? How do they train? Why was I not applying? I play plenty of games just to play. For the experience. Why NOT try for this, something I have a modicum of confidence I could do any be fairly good at?

There’s no reason why not.

So I’m going to start training a little for it. Look into the application process. Make it a priority for me right now. (Also I banned myself from Facebook today and I need a diversion.) Have you had something the little voice in your head had slowly, subtly, and for a long time prevented you for even considering? You know, there’s always reasons why not. Make it a priority anyway.

I Play With Dolls

My New American Girl Felicity

I am not the great doll lover that some girls are. I had my favorites. I didn’t take them everywhere with me. To be honest, I’m more of a stuffed animal fan. But as I was working with my friend at my last job, I found out something.

She had American Girl dolls.

Now most of you will know what I’m talking about. If not click on the link. I had the books, but not the dolls. You could get the books at the school book fair. But the dolls. You could only get them through the catalog.

The catalog that didn’t show up at my house until I was in at least 8th grade.

The catalog with the girls from my books.

And expensive enough that I knew not to ask. I could do the math. All the accessories and dresses and such, it all added up. I did do a little math and thought about my earnings (I started working about a year later) but decided I would rather do other things with them instead, as it could easily take a whole paycheck. (I only made $200 a month at the time.)

And I also knew that those cute little outfits where you and your doll dress up together? They would never fit. I was pretty tall already (5’8) and I had had some pretty disappointing results with other little girl things. I had been 5’6 in 6th grade, so I had tried a few of these sorts of situations on for size, so to speak.

So I let it drop to the wayside. Not too big a deal. I kinda kept them in the back of my mind, something I knew about and noticed every once in a while. And then my friend dropped that bomb. She had American Girl dolls. Not one. Not two. Something like ten. She’d been collecting them over the years. Now one of her little cousins was into them, and so she was getting them out. Dressing them up. Making cute little things for them.

After a while of squeeing over them and kinda hanging out on her doll periphery, I found out people like to purchase crochet accessories for their dolls. I can make that, I thought. So I did. I have a hat done. But I’ve no idea if it’s the right size. So I asked her if I could borrow a doll for a few days. She said she’d work on it. Then she tells me that for my birthday this year, she got me Felicity.

She got me an American Girl doll.

You guys. I have my own American Girl doll.

There’s a lot of freaking out going on over here. I can’t wait for her to come in! I’m barely holding off on making stuff for her. I want to be able to make sure it fits. I feel like I’m ten again. Have you ever had a resurgence of something you wanted from childhood? I feel like such a dork right now.

A very happy dork.

Sunday Readings

I read this article a while back about the Gospel piercing our hearts. Their very first tip was to read the Gospel ahead of time. Apparently it was very common advice; advice I had never heard or truly thought of.

I was excited! This was great! We almost always talk of spiritual things on the way to church. This would just be an extension of that. I envisioned reading aloud every week in the car! It would improve and deepen our experience at Mass! Our lives would be better! My husband would take another step on his journey to becoming Catholic!

Then we took two weekend trips, interupting our normal Church routine. And my husband received a few contracts in a row for Sunday work. (I know, I know) And the most disruptive thing? I neglected to remember that I get ver very carsick if I read in the car.

But little setbacks can’t stop me! I’m turning to electronics to help me out. I’m looking for either someone who has already read and published the readings in something like a podcast format so that we can listen to it in the car. If this isn’t already available, then I’m seriously considering doing it myself! I’m not certain how to start something like that, but that’s never stopped me before! As soon as I figure out which I’m going with, I’ll let you know. Have you taken any steps recently to improve your faith experience? Did it go the way you envisioned?

I found that the Council of Bishops puts out a podcast with the daily readings! It’s called Daily Readings from the New American Bible! I’m going to try it out, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Toy Rotation Exploration

So I’ve decided to try toy rotation. I had inspiration here and here; but of course I had to do it my way. So I pulled out all of Roland’s toys and dumped them in the living room. Here’s what I started with (Sorry if the pics come out dark, that’s a learning curve for me along with the blogging):

Mid way through Toy Rotation  -
Mid way through Toy Rotation –
First I categorized them: trains, vehicles, electronic, weapons, balls, baby, water/outdoor, stuffed, and other. I didn’t have the water/outdoor category at first, but I ended up separating them in the end. Then I started putting everything back in containers. I wanted to make sure that he ended up with some trains and cars in every container.

Technically I ended up with 6 containers, if you count the toy box. I already had all of them and they are not all the same size. Ideally I would have large clear totes for easy labeling and storage. I didn’t have any in the garage and didn’t want to spend the money on it yet. So you, too, can try toy rotation, even if it’s not Pinterest worthy!

Finished Toy Rotation -
Finished Toy Rotation –
I also learned some things about myself as I went through my son’s toys. First and foremost, I think too much. I started with a few categories and they evolved into about 20 before I caught myself and simplified again. I also know waaaay too much about the toys. I remember in general who gave us they toy and why and what pieces belong to it and which we are missing. I can honestly tell you we are missing a Lightning McQueen lunch box with two dinosaurs, a few Hot Wheels, a few Fisher Price cars, and two Hello magazines. I’m pretty sure we left it at church more than a month ago. Why is it I can remember the container and exactly what was in it, but I can’t remember to take it home when we go somewhere? Just part of the mystery of me, I guess.

I think someone must have told me when I was young that’s it’s wrong to give away things that were gifts, because I’m having real difficulty weeding out what to give away right now. Many, if not most, of Roland’s toys were gifts and I can’t bring myself to give them to Goodwill. I’m hoping this rotation thing will show me what he truly values, so we can bring a little more simplicity into our life. Our first week is almost up and I’m seeing just a tiny bit of fatigue with the toys he has out right now. I’m also seeing what he comes back to over and over again.

I’m still deciding when to switch to the next box. Either Monday night after the craziness of the weekend, or Saturday night after the kids go to bed so we have fresh toys to keep Roland’s attention. I’ll let you know how it goes with an update post next time.

Potty Training…. In More Than Three Days

Potty training has had an effect on this house. It has apparently exhausted Roland. Hubs thinks it’s funny and is upset when I tire of it. My mom tends to want to give Roland what he wants, and he wants to pee and poop with abandon. So to her that means diapers. I’m frustrated because all the promises of the world have not delivered and left me doubting myself and my son. The only person who doesn’t care is Penny. So far, anyway. A three-month old doesn’t care about much.

You're making it difficult to be the parent I imagined I would be.
You’re making it difficult to be the parent I imagined I would be.

There are many posts out there that promise to help you potty train your child. Some in three days or less! I knew that probably wouldn’t be our case, but I thought it wouldn’t be too far off. Posts like this¬†are encouraging! We could do it! He’s got most of the signs of readiness. He can talk enough, he usually grabs himself if he’s wearing a diaper when he goes (and says ow, another prompt for me to start), and had been showing interest in Hubs using the bathroom. That spells ready, right?

Apparently not. We tried for a good week. He would go in the potty at least once every day, but it was more distressing than anything for him. Peer pressure and rewards don’t work for him. He does love stuff like candy, but not enough to work for it. We have conversations like this:

Roland sees Disney patterned Pull-ups at Walmart.
R: Mom! Mom! Jake!!!
Me: Oh! Jake and the Neverland Pirates? Those a are big boy pants! For when you pee in the potty! Do you want some?
R: *Looks at them* ….. Pee in potty?
Me: Yes! You can have them if you start peeing in the potty!
R: …. No.

Well alrighty then. We’re developing a new plan. First step is getting him to acknowledge when he’s wet or dirty. Right now he doesn’t care. Before you ask, yes, we’ve tried putting him in underwear so that he has to feel being wet. He doesn’t care. I’ve watched him pee, look down, and continue on like nothing happened. So maybe we’ll do potty training in three steps, not three days. Step 1: Get him to hate being wet!