Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Does anyone else remember the Halloweens of our childhood?
I don't know what it was like for you, but I grew up in a rather small village. Now, the houses weren't all crowded together; far from it, they were greatly spaced apart. On Halloween night, it would take us a good two hours or more to go around the whole town. Our feet would be aching by the end. And we would have about a half a plastic grocery bag to show for it (more than enough!) I remember a school friend who lived on the outskirts of town who would get driven into town so she and her sister could trick or treat with their friends. Otherwise, she wouldn't have any fun where she lived.
Now, I live in a modern subdivision, in a city. On my street, the lots are slightly bigger than adjacent streets' lots. Across from my house and down a little is a crescent. On that street, the houses are rather packed together. And that's the hotspot. Kids come from other subdivisions to trick or treat in ours, because either they feel that their subdivision doesn't have enough houses, or they are too lazy to walk around to the houses spread farther apart.  They do the crescent across from me, and work their way back up our street. Some kids, by the time they get to my house, have told me they are on their second (!!!) pillow case! SECOND?! Really? And they've probably only been out for about a half hour.
When we were little, we gave out one piece of candy to each child. Not two, or three, or a handful. One. And everyone was ok with that and most said, "Thank you." Now, you're considered cheap if you hand out only one or two. This year, everyone is getting one from me. Maybe none if they tell me it's their second pillowcase!
We used to have kindly old neighbours that would bake us treats, or give us homemade caramel apples. Yum. We knew our neighbours. We knew most of the town, well, I guess that's what you get for a small town. But our neighbours would put a small tag on the cookie, or apple, or whatever that would say, "From the Johnsons" or whoever. And yes, we would get apples from some people, and no, we didn't care we actually would eat them! If I did that today, I know it would be a wasted effort, since most people wouldn't know who we were and would just throw it out.
We used to make our own costumes. I see very few kids these days with homemade costumes, and when I do, I am sure to praise them and comment on them. I appreciate the effort, even though we are guilty of the same thing here (store-bought costumes). Actually, the store-bought costumes from my youth weren't that great. They were plastic aprons basically, with fake ugly plastic face masks. You'd feel sorry for the kids that had to wear those. The best costumes were always the homemade ones made by the kids' moms or grandmas. They were the lucky kids. 
My dad used to delight in finding new ways to freak out the kids coming to our house. That was great. Again, we are guilty of not doing anything spooky or creative here, but it seems to be a dying art in general.
The only thing I feel that has actually gotten better about Halloween, is the pumpkin carving. No one in my youth ever had anything as elaborate as this:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What To Do, What To Do....

I'm in a bit of a pickle. A bit of a conundrum, as it were. I'm not sure what to do here. For the past two years, as a family, we've been enjoying skiing. Ok, when I say enjoying, I guess I mean three out of four of us. Apparently, L doesn't like it. 
Last year, he protested going quite a bit. But once we would get there, he didn't seem to mind too much. 
I still felt we were dragging him along. And this bothers me. I really want him to like it, to enjoy it with us. I need for him to like it, since its something we can do as a family, and it really helps the long winter go by faster when you have something fun to do on the weekends, instead of staying home and staring at the same walls all the time. 
And here lies the problem - L is perfectly happy to stare at the same walls all the time. So is R, but he does like skiing. I swear, both of my kids would easily turn into hermits if I let them. And I'm a home-body too, but even I get cabin fever during the dismal winters we have here. 
So I'm not really sure how much of L's dislike for skiing is spurred on by his dislike for leaving the house,or if he truly doesn't like the sport. He's like that with every activity he's tried: gymnastics, swimming, art class, t-ball, soccer, etc. He just can't be bothered to leave the house. It's also a huge reason why he hates going to school. Because its not home. (But that's not the only reason.) 
So here is my dilemma - we are in a very tight financial situation now. In all honesty, I really shouldn't even be considering skiing this year; it's an expensive sport as I'm sure you know. But I can also honestly say that before we began skiing as a family, I would feel depressed in the winter. The whole SAD thing did, and still does, get to me. When you compound that with stresses about money and other things, it's not great. I don't want to feel that way. Having this to look forward to really does help. And while I don't want to incur more debt on ourselves, I think it's worth it to save my sanity a bit. 
The thing is, is that I have a small window to save money in respect to this sport. The kids annually need new(ish) larger equipment, which I can get at the ski swaps held in October, and the ski resorts often offer discounts on passes and such if you buy early, usually before November. 
I talked to L last night, and asked him if he'd mind if R and I went skiing without him. He said he didn't care, indicating as long as it wasn't during school hours (that pretty much never happens due to work!), which made me think that he really doesn't hate skiing as much as he says if he's willing to go to get out of school. But he did express to me his desire to have more family time. I tried to get him to  give me some of his ideas of what family time means to him, but that's another post. 
So do I :

  1. Get him and his brother the equipment they need anyway,and continue to drag him along, hoping he'll get over it and start enjoying it? **I need to mention here that at the end of the season last year, he ended up falling on the last run of the day and spraining his thumb, so he's probably also scared to ski again, and therefore leads to the whole "Get right back on the horse" adage.
  2. Get R what he needs, passes just for the two of us and only take R when we want to go, leave L with Daddy, also hoping next year he'll change his mind? This means that if he does change his mind in say, Feb he's SOL because he won't have equipment. Then I'll feel badly about leaving him behind.
  3. Give up on skiing altogether for this year and concentrate on trying to be more frugal, risking SAD? 
Thoughts anyone? I'd love to hear them. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It Never Rains...

So by now I'm sure you (all one or two of you, lol) know my financial woes. The stress is getting to me, as my mind is constantly going over all the bills waiting to be paid, how much money is in the bank, how my one and only full time daycare kid has less than two weeks left with me, how I haven't grocery shopped for nearly two weeks now, and even though we still have plenty of food around, I'm trying to stretch it all out. My heart goes into failure every time one of the boys hands me yet another note from school asking for money for this and that.
I refused to pay the $25 for R's trip, which is a ridiculous amount of money, so the school covered it, but then he didn't end up going anyway because he was sick. They just brought home notes about some dance thing they're doing at school, for which they wanted $4 each. That annoys me, because its supposed to be part of the curriculum. Both R and L don't want to do it, as it's taking away from their regular gym time PLUS library time. If they want parents to pay for it, they should make it optional, otherwise, the school should pay for it, or not do it! Plus, L's teacher apparently told the class that "if your parents don't have the money, that THEY should pay out of their OWN money, because she's sure they have some." Um, what?! That's just rude.
But I'm going off on a tangent here...
So, I'm stressed, and it's affecting my sleep, which makes me more emotional and worried, and it's a vicious circle isn't it? I have no idea how I'm going to buy ANY Xmas presents this year, since I'd like to keep whatever credit we have left for a real emergency. But that's another two months away, thank god, so I'll try to push that to the back of my mind for now.
Now, to add some icing to this wonderful cake, my washing machine needs to be repaired. I know I mentioned that before, and we've managed to limp it along for the last few weeks, but I have to wonder if we're causing more damage by continuing to use it. So,this afternoon a guy is coming to look at it. He said he'll fix it for $80 plus parts, and he better stick to that. It's certainly better than what Sears wanted. They wanted $75 just to look at it. Hopefully the part is not too expensive, and it's fixable! I suppose the Sears card will be getting a workout if it's not fixable, and I'd rather not have that since its one of the few cards we have that has only a very small balance on it, due to the high interest rate.
And although it may seem unrelated, DH graduates next week. And since I have to work, I can't attend. I feel really badly, although a small part of me is glad because those things are soooo booooring. (I didn't even attend my own grad ceremony from college.) Since it's the last Tuesday I'll have with two kids here, I feel like we can't really afford for both of us to miss a day of work. DH wants to have the boys there, and I'm feeling ambivalent about that because they've both already missed several days of school this month (R can afford that but L can't) and they'll be bored stiff. There's no way they'd enjoy sitting through a two + hour graduation ceremony. Plus they'd probably act silly or fight or something. But I don't want to make DH go to his grad with no one there to watch him. He's going to ask his mom, and I hope she can get off work to go.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Daycare Musings

Here I sit, watching and listening to the kids playing. Today I have three, which these days, is a lot. It`s sad, and I`m feeling kind of desperate. I`ve got to get some more kids in my daycare, or there`s going to be trouble! I don`t know what the problem is, maybe word has got out that I just suck, or something. I want to write LOL after that, but I`m really starting to wonder. I`ve had for the most part, two families leave me in the past month. I know the reasons mostly, but there`s always that doubt in my mind.
One family of the two little boys I love have a crazy schedule now. Mom is a cop, and dad is in fulltime school training to become a nurse. My hours don`t fit their needs, and if it was a case of bending a little on my hours, I`d likely do it, but the bending part would be too much in this case. Like, 6:30 am to 7 pm or something crazy like that. I`ve seen the kids getting picked up at school by a teenaged babysitter, and I miss them. So do my boys. Their mom and dad are both super-nice, and have always been very good to me. I`m sad to lose them, but life changes. There was never any official end date to their time with me, it just kind of happened, which is the sad part. Their mom was convinced, I guess in her mind, that she could make it work somehow for them to still come to me. Ah, well.
The second family I`m not so sad to say goodbye to. I`ve been waiting for this day for a LONG time! So this is the kid that has been a bee in my bonnet, the pebble in my shoe, the, well, you get it...I can`t remember the nickname I gave him previously on here, I think it may have been X, or PIMA (pain in my ass). He`s the one that never got along with my L, who drove me crazy. Finally, his mother has decided in a weird sort of way that he is old enough to go home on his own. We had an issue (of course we did, we ALWAYS had an issue) at the beginning of the school year. It involved him completely disobeying me, and while we were at the park, he took off to the surrounding small wooded area (which we call the forest, although it`s pretty small to be a forest). On occasion, I would let the older kids go off to play in there, while I stayed at the park with the younger ones. But there were rules. If the rules weren`t followed, then there were consequences, namely, no longer being allowed that freedom anymore.
On the evening I told his mother about his infraction, we discussed that he might be old enough (he`s turning 11 in November) to go home on his own. He was bored at my house, and of course the ongoing issue of not listening. My R, who is the same age, is more than mature enough for this himself (but that doesn`t mean X is!) and had generally lost most interest in playing with X anymore. Over that next weekend, X`s parents decided that they would give it a try. I no longer had to collect X from school, just his younger sister A, who is in grade two. And BTW, I like A, she is a sweet girl.
Now, I said earlier that this was in a weird sort of way his mother had decided. What I meant by that is that at first, she was very reticent to give him this freedom and responsibility. But instead of easing him into it by, for example, letting him go home on his own once or twice a week at first, or setting very strict rules, she just proverbially threw up her hands and said, "Go, be free!" I found out later that he wasn`t sent straight home from school to immediately call his mother to let her know he was there. He is allowed to leave school and go to the park, to the forest, or wherever and to be home at five.
Perhaps I`m showing too much of my over-protective side here, but that just seems extreme to me. What if something happened to him? What if he left school at 3:20, went straight to the forest, fell out of a tree, or became kidnapped? His parents wouldn't know until he was missing for several hours. I know, I know, what if, what if.... I know when I was a kid, I roamed free, and I'm still here. Have times changed? Maybe. But when R goes to the park with his friend, I send him with my cell phone, just in case. He has been eased into his freedom, starting with small amounts of time of being left alone at home, and being allowed to walk to school alone and such. Then came walking to and from a friend's house alone, and then bike rides without an adult, taking the dog for a walk alone, and now he goes to the park with a friend, sans adult.
Anyway, it's her kid, her decision. I don't think this kid is mature enough to make the right decisions for himself or to handle that much freedom all of a sudden, but whatever.
So that's how I've lost a bunch of kids. A is only coming to me once or twice a week now at most, as I think her mom has adjusted her work hours in order to be home earlier or something. Maybe she realized she would rather save herself the money, I don't know.
Now I have Kady-bug three days per week, J is in JK now and is here once a week plus his alternate Fridays, and MM is my only fulltime kid. And her mom is having a baby in a month. So that will be it for her. Great. I'm starting to think I will have to get another job. Which will suck, because I have NO idea what to do, other than pour coffee at Tim's, or scan groceries at Zehr's. Which would mean I'd end up working weekends for sure and missing out on family time. Not good.
Maybe we just should win the lottery...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Feeling Bummed

Yeah, this is a mopey, whiny post. You've been warned.

I'm just feeling bummed out. It started with something that happened with my mom. This is going to sound cryptic, but you'll see why by the end, and it's because my dad reads this blog. My mom did something without telling me about it. And I found out through one of my sisters. My sister didn't/wasn't supposed to tell me, but I kind of put her on the spot and in a situation that she either had to lie, or tell me. She isn't into lying, so she told me, then later told my mom she told me. I was kind of surprised my mom didn't tell me, and then a bit hurt. Apparently, my mom didn't tell me because she didn't want my dad to know. (So dad, when you read this, just leave it as is and don't ask questions please, PLEASE! And definitely don't say anything to any of the other "kids" or mom!) And apparently, she doesn't want my dad to know a lot of things. She said that he "always knows stuff, and it's none of his damn business". OKAAAAAYYYYY......
Really, I guess what she was saying was that I am telling him stuff, as if I'm going around gossiping about her to my dad. Which I don't. I tell him small things, things which I've never considered to be personal, but apparently they are. I guess EVERYTHING is personal according to her.
You see, she made me feel like some kind of snitch. Like I'm untrustworthy. Like a child. If she had just said to me to begin with, "Please don't ever discuss me or any aspect of my life with your father," then I could have done that. I didn't know that EVERYTHING was taboo!!
So she called and sort of apologized, meaning, she said she was sorry she didn't tell me but.... And because I didn't want to make our relationship more troubled or rocky, I didn't say anything, about the but part. And I really should have. I should have let her have it. But I didn't of course. Grrrr. And I'm sitting here thinking about the fact that even writing this, and knowing that my dad is going to read it, I probably shouldn't even write it, since it means technically I'm talking about her with my dad. But damn it, this is MY life too, and it has affected and upset me, so I have every right to vent about it, I feel.

So I've been stewing about that, and to top it off, it's the beginning of the month. Which means, bills, bills, bills. Now that DH is working fulltime, I had thought we would have some leeway with our finances, but no. I'm so stressed about money. We're still not making ends meet, and that's scary. I'm struggling to find new kids for the daycare, and now the washing machine has something wrong with it, and both cars have issues, and we really have to change our sliding back door before winter. Yikes! Our credit can't handle much more, and I worry about something happening to one of us. So it's all piling up onto me. Of course once I get my brain working, I think about EVERYTHING, so now I'm thinking, great, Xmas is less than three months away, and I had really wanted to get the kids skiing lessons, but that's out of the question now, and so on, and so on.... I even had to tell the kids we couldn't go to the movies this weekend because of lack of funds. It's my birthday tomorrow, and my dad has kindly offered to watch the boys while DH and I go out for dinner, but being the way I am, I'm thinking we had better not go. It's DH's 40th this year, in November, and that's going to pass by without much celebration either. Perhaps I can just get a few friends to come over for one afternoon for some homemade cake and coffee.

Wow, talk about getting off track! So, I'm moping. And I'm probably also freaking out a little that I'm one step closer to forty tomorrow. 
But thanks for "listening". Venting always makes me feel a tiny bit better. And a good cry, ha ha.