Saturday, July 25, 2009

Basement or Bachelor Pad?

Chaos has been a daily part of my life since the day after the last day of school. If you're keeping track, that's seven weeks today. Amazingly, I'm still alive. I have yet to pull my hair out, but I will admit that I've:

*Lost my cool with the kids more than I will care to admit.
*Cried a few times because I was so frustrated.
*Yelled at my husband because the kids were driving me crazy. It's his fault ya know!
*Wondered what I could do to get me arrested for the weekend. A 72 hour hold would be a vacation, dontcha think? Three meals, adult conversation, no lego's to trip on...
*Devoured a few Dairy Queen chocolate ice-cream cones.
*Developed several charts (behavior, cleaning, reward, etc) and none of them have worked.

In our house we have 5 bedroom's. Brenden & Braden share a room, Casey & Caleb share a room and Chloe has her own room. Rob and I have the Master and the last room is my craft room. I have grandiose plans to make amazing things in there, but I'm always too busy. Everybody's room is messy, including mine.

Since the beginning of this year we have decluttered and organized not one, not two, not three, not four, but five times. Five times that I've blogged about, I might add. That means I've spent the majority of this year contemplating and stressing about clutter and being unorganized. That's simply not okay.

It is pouring like mad outside right now. It's 12:31 AM, everyone is asleep and it's quiet (finally) except for the loud thunder, pelting rain on the windows and the waterfall coming from the front porch gutter. I love the rain...and the quiet...

But, I digress. The first thing I did this morning, before getting out of bed, was to pep talk myself into going downstairs. I knew what I would find, no matter what the kids said. It would be a huge mess, a disaster, broken promises, bold-faced lies and disappointment. I am never prepared for this, but I really didn't have a choice. I was down to my last pair of panties and I had no clean clothes left.

The basement (lower level where the boys rooms are, a bathroom, dance room, laundry room and living room) is my biggest nemesis. I hate going down there. Mostly because no matter how much I implement cleaning and laundry schedules, they never seem to get done. I've even stopped going downstairs to tuck the boys in or say goodnight because I just can't take it. Yep, that's me, avoiding the problem.

After hitting the bottom step I forced myself to look around the corner. I was shocked at the mess. I guess it's good that I was shocked (I still have hope), but that could mean I suffer from early onset dementia. I'm not sure which it is and I'm not ready to find out. The basement was worse than I thought and I could feel myself start to boil. I yelled for the twins to wake up and for the rest of the kids to come downstairs. I then yelled for Rob to come and see the mess. I wish I had taken pictures because you would have been absolutely horrified. There was laundry all over the place. We have tons of baskets and the kids had told me they sorted out the clothes. They had not. There was food, bowls, plates and cups hidden here and there. When we moved the sectional pieces food fell out. Animal crackers, chocolate chips and wrappers fell all over the floor as well as itty bitty Lego's. Burrito wrappers and napkins (at least they used those) were stuffed in the cushions. I was disgusted for several reasons:

1. We had just gone through this whole scenario a little over a month ago. We disciplined the kids, took away privileges and had a nice discussion about helping out and finishing chores. It stayed that way for a week or so, but then the kids destroyed it again.

2. Our major rule is that we only eat and drink in the kitchen and yet a few of my children are quick to not comply.

3. I had a busy week and I trusted that they were doing their chores. I was tired and did not follow through with checking on what they said, but at 15 and 13, I shouldn't have to. They lied to me and I allowed them to do things I wouldn't if I knew what the basement looked like.

I was just too tired and lazy to follow through. Partly because I knew what I would find and I didn't have the energy to deal with it at that moment and partly because I wanted so badly to trust that their word was good. I was disappointed in myself and them. More myself though.

So, today (a Utah holiday) was a fruitful day. After my inital freak out session, Rob and I gathered the kids in the basement and put them to work. Casey, Chloe and Caleb were sorting out all the clothes and Brenden and Braden were helping me re-organize the living room. My mom bought us a used sectional when we moved in here last August, but the kids have distroyed it. I'm so glad we didn't spend the money on a new couch! They, mostly the twins, are just hard on couches and I don't know why. Anyway, I asked Rob nicely if he would mind getting it out of the basement. It's uncomfortable to sit on and takes up so much room. The twins and Rob moved each heavy piece out to the garage so we could try to sell it or give it away. We moved our smaller couch into place, dusted all the furniture and sorted all the DVD's.

All of the boys cleaned their rooms and organized their belongings. The twins even changed around their bedroom and I was pleasantly surprised. They did a great job! They straightened up the bathroom, too. I told them they should look at everything that is in their room and ask themselves these things:

1. Do I really want to save this?
2. Do I want to clean it every week?
3. Is this trash? Clothing too worn out/holes?

They listened to me. I didn't even have to stand over them and hound them about every little piece of trash. I did have to tell them they couldn't go out with some friends to a skatepark because they wasted the day away when they could have been cleaning their room. I told them they could either do it right or they could just wake up Saturday morning and start with the room. They knew I meant business, but I didn't imagine they would really clean and organize! Maybe some of me is wearing off on them. Hey, I'm only thinking about my future daughter-in-law. I will raise son's who are willing to get up in the middle of the night with a crying baby, ready to cook a meal, clean the house and do the laundry. I will.

I've been able to venture downstairs many times today and, believe it or not, I was happy. I didn't have fears of possible anxiety attacks and that is a good thing. I wish my children would understand how much energy I have when things are clean and picked up and how miserable I feel when things are messy and overwhelming.

When the big cleaning fest was over, I was able to get six loads of laundry done. Today (Saturday), we will wash the remaining clothing/towels/sheets. This will put us back on track for Monday morning when our previously defunct laundry schedule will be resurrected once again.

Laundry Schedule
Monday- Casey & Caleb
Tuesday-Brenden & Braden
Thursday-Mom & Dad
Friday- Make up day so we can remain a little flexible.
Saturday- Sheets, towels, blankets.

My first set of schoolers will head off to school in just three and a half weeks. That's not long. We have tons of things to do (swim, bbq's, pay school fees, etc) before then and I am going to try hard to make this schedule work. Again. So, unless I want to live off anti-anxiety meds I need to start crackin' the whip. On me!

No more being lazy! It doesn't take long to check if chores were completed.
Check the basement each day, no matter what.
Follow up on what needs to be done, redone. Don't let it go!
Issue proper restrictions if needed.
Keep at it! It will get better!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Is it really only Friday?

I chose this photo because there is absolutely NOTHING on the floor. No clutter, no trash and nothing hanging over the railing to dry. Amazing! I also chose it because I miss Casey and his sense of humor. I can't wait till he comes home from Youth Camp.

Tomorrow is the last day of Irish Dance Camp. I love dance camp, but it's very tiring for upper level dancers and their parents. Especially if you have more than one dancer in different levels. I feel like I haven't been home much at all. I came home yesterday with the intention to do laundry and clean a bathroom, but I made macaroni & cheese & frozen taquitos and popped in a movie while the kids played. We then went to Dairy Queen for some ice cream cones because I'm a nice mommy and well, a yummy chocolate cone sounded scrumptious. Today was dance camp and from 10 AM - 9 PM I was gone. We also had our annual Dance Camp BBQ at a local pool, so coming home to finish the laundry I started yesterday start the laundry I've been neglecting didn't happen. We arrived home around 9:oo and I am too tired to do anything, but type this blog, read some blogs and go to bed in approximately 15 minutes.

Chloe has learned so much at this dance camp and I'm very proud of her amazing growth this past year. Casey has been at youth camp, but will be home tomorrow to catch the end of dance camp. He will have to work hard to catch up with everyone else, but he can do it.

Rob has been up at youth camp with Casey and things have been amazingly calm around the homefront. I didn't get anxious or frustrated and I didn't cry because I was overwhelmed. In fact, I never was overwhelmed. This is an amazing accomplishment for me.

Only a couple catastrophes happened this week while Rob was gone:

1. Lilo dumped a tall glass of water on our iHome. It's making funny noises, so I unplugged it, let it dry and took the batteries out. I'm so bummed!

2. Brenden & Braden (TweedleDum & TweedleDee) went swimming yesterday and didn't put on any sunscreen. They came home as lobsters and today Brenden has been pretty sick with tiny blisters on his back. I'll keep watching him.

Not so bad, but two things I wish didn't happen. I am extremely tired and need to relax, so I'm going to take a break from the blog for a couple days. I need to get my house in order (too many loads of laundry) and spend some time with my hubby when he returns. A very special day is coming up next week. I'm so excited! Can anyone guess what it is?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Big Canyon Ranch

This is where our daughter is until the middle of this week. I'm sure she's loving every minute of it. I miss her, but I'm glad she had the opportunity to go. Our 13 year old will get his chance starting Wednesday evening.

Now this is my kind of camp!

The Grove, where they worship and pray. It's beautiful down here!

When you walk in the front door, this is what you see.

Chloe's bunk. She wanted top bunk and got it! She loves her leader, Lauren. I'm glad she is comfortable there. I hated leaving home. I think it was because I knew I couldn't just call my mom and say "Hi, I love you." Very scary for a small child. Anyway, Chloe had to be coerced to come downstairs and give her daddy and I a kiss and a hug. She happily gave us one of each, but was having so much fun she forgot to say "Bye!".

I bet these would look even more beautiful in the wild. Regardless of my personal feelings of killing things and stuffing them to hang on a wall, they do appeal to the rustic feel of the cabin.

A little kitchenette. How quaint! How come I didn't get to camp like this?

A lone picnic bench. I imagine many people were prayed for right here and possibly many lives (young and old) were forever changed.

The pond.

The temporary mess hall. The larger one will be built soon.

The patio outside of the temporary mess hall.

An innovative fly-trap.

Garbage can with a fly trap over it. They also had many fly traps hanging from tree's around the camp. I plan to find out what it is this week.

The view from upstairs.

I hope my daughter and son enjoy their time at the ranch this week. I pray that their lives will be forever changed, that they will boldly follow Christ and further their relationship with Him.

God Bless, my little ones. Jesus loves you!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Canning & Friends

I have three very creative friends. We'll call them A, T, and M. No, not the place where you swipe your debit card, enter a random four digit number and twenty dollar bills fly out. ;)

Whenever I am around these friends, for any length of time, I walk away extremely motivated to try something new. With M, it's crafty things, backyard homesteading and cooking. With A, it's photography and quilting. With T, it's being a backyard homesteader and canning.

I spent the day with A & T on Friday at the pool (M came along later and I enjoyed the time with her, too). A, T & M are three of my wonderful fellow feis mom's. In the last month or so, A and I have made big plans to do our first ever home canning session together. We are both completely stoked about it. So, when T told us that her husband (and her) love to can jams and other things, we looked at each other and knew we had found our mentor. We had a great time discussing canning and found out that T also has generous neighbors who offer cherries, apricots, apples and plums. They offered to let us come pick some fruit and we both jumped at the chance. We made plans to meet on Sunday afternoon to pick cherries.

After dropping off Chloe at camp on Sunday afternoon, Rob and I headed on over to T's house for our first pickin'. "A" had to drop out at the last minute so it was just Rob, me, T and her husband, M (and two of their three children). We went to a friends house who had the cherry tree and even though it is late in the season, we were able to get several cups worth of cherries. Most of them were a tad overripe, but I thought we had a good selection. Unfortunately, when we got home and I started pitting them, we found out that they each had a tiny white maggot in them. Yes, it was alive and quite fiesty, too. I hadn't eaten any cherries (Thank the Lord!), but Rob ate a few while picking them (Uggh!). He remembered that T had told us to watch out for the tiny worms, but we had no idea she meant maggots. I found out what they were after I googled "tiny white worm in cherries".

While contemplating what to do with the batch of maggot infested cherries, Casey decided to test whether the maggots we had dug out were, in fact, real by putting one in a container and dumping salt on it. Because, you know...fake maggots wouldn't squirm when salt was poured on them . You knew that, right?

I, sadly, decided to toss the few cups of cherries less my infatuation with canning come to a screeching halt. I feel horrible at just tossing them. I mean, would T have canned them and just gathered the maggots into a container and fed them to her chickens? What exactly did she mean by, "Watch out for the little white worms?" Was it a warning to not eat the cherries if they even had a hint of a "tiny white worm"? That, I do not know.

However, I do know (from reading my Google finds) that the eggs are laid by flies in the miniature fruit by making a tiny hole that is not usually noticable by us. The egg hatches and the larvae feeds on the pulp (future cherry pie filling). Then, as the fruits skin softens upon ripening, the larvae eats a hole in the fruit and falls to the ground where it will lay dormant until the next Spring. It will then emerge as an adult fly to repeat the cycle of reducing perfectly good cherry tree harvest to garbage. Here's another little tidbit. If you see a cherry with a small hole in the skin, it's probably larvae free. The hole made by the egg laying fly is so tiny we don't notice it. The hole made by the larvae is much bigger and usually means that the larvae has already fallen to the ground.

And that, my friends, was our homeschooling lesson for today.

We then went on to another neighbors house to pick Apricots. They weren't home, but T & M said it was okay to still pick them. High in the tree tops M & Rob were picking apricots by the dozens. Rob was standing safely on an OSHA approved ladder and M was perched (barefoot) amid various branches. He reminded me of Tom Sawyer in Huckleberry Finn. In fact, M says that he used to pretend he was Tom Sawyer when he was young. You know, I can totally see that, too! M (while still high in the tree tops) and I (ducking from dropping fruit) reminensed about our days growing up in the Midwest. Fond memories, like; Lightening Bugs, silverfish, walking sticks, cockroaches, locusts, humidity and tall, tall trees. Ahh, the memories it brought back.

After the guys (and kids) had picked two buckets of apricots we headed back home. They followed us over to our house so that we could give them some liquid benedryl for their son. Their adorable son, who slept outside last night without an ounce of mosquito netting and looks as though he will rethink the possible consequences of his actions the next time an opportunity to sleep outside arises. We hope! If he gets sick in the next couple weeks T, you better have him checked for West Nile.

But I digress. I have lots of apricots to make something out of. As of right now, I am going to make several 8 oz jars of apricot jam, apricot leather and dried apricots. I will probably stop at a few thrift stores to see if I can pick up some canning supplies to lessen the initial start-up costs.

Thanks T & M for a great evening! We enjoyed spending time with you both. A, we missed having you there, but hope your foot is feeling better with some much needed rest. Especially after walking all day yesterday at the Scottish games.

Oh, and speaking of friends....

Do you have friends that encourage and motivate you?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gettin' Jiggy With It

Just some of the Crawford Novice-Prizewinner (and one beginner) dancers are shown here. We tried to gather up everyone we could. Jill is in the middle and looking quite proud I must say.


Casey & Rachel sporting their trophies. Casey had a great Feis. He had a few dances stuck in Novice and was able to win 1st in all but one them, his Hornpipe. He placed 1st AGAIN in his Prizewinner Light Jig and walked away with TWO big trophies and a handful of medals. He also placed in his figures and specials. Casey is now working on getting the rest of his dances out of Prizewinner and into Prelim*.


My beautiful Irish Dancer! I can't believe how much she has changed over the past few years. She is so close to being in Preliminary Championships we can taste it! Chloe did very well at the Utah Feis, too. She won lots of trophies and medals. This smile is because she actually placed 1st in her Novice Single Jig which means she now has everything in Prizewinner. She's also placing very high on her other dances (2nd, 3rd place). Just a few more Feisanna and she will be Prelim!!!


*Prelim/Preliminary Championships- This is the level of placement after Prizewinner. In order to move out of Prizewinner and actually start competing at the Prelim level, you have to win 1st place in ALL of your solo soft shoe (Reel, Light Jig, Single Jig, Slip Jig) and a Traditional Set (hardshoe) and two 1st places in your hardshoe (Treble Jig, Hornpipe). If there are under 5 competitors, the placements do not count. Chloe already has one 1st place in her hardshoe and has danced out of her Traditional Set by winning 1st place at the Utah Feis.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The past week.

I'm still waiting for decent photographs of my children at last week's feis. My friend, A, takes amazing photographs with her sweet camera, so I will wait to pluck some from her stash.  My camera didn't pull out anything really decent, as you can see in last post about Kaidan.  Everything is blurry or too dark. I certainly could not take a decent shot of moving dancers from my camera in perfect lighting, which means trying to capture my adorable dancers in fluorescent lighting would be darn near impossible.

I have been trying to regroup after weeks of feis preparation.  I didn't get as much accomplished as I had hoped.  We had a week off of dance, but the kids start back tomorrow afternoon and it feels much too soon.  Dance camp is the third week of July and we have several church camps this month, too. At some point, I'll have to start purchasing school uniforms and preparing the kids for school to start. Until then, I'm doing my best to enjoy July and keep the kids busy with trips to the library, the Gateway fountains and swimming at the rec center. I hope to plan a few hiking trips and picnic's, too.


Saturday, the kids were in the Park City, Utah parade. We always worry it's going to be too hot for all the dancers, but it was beautiful weather on the Fourth of July.  We were planning on spending the day up there at the festival and walking around the Outlet Shops.  I'm glad we decided not to stick around, though, the shops are too tempting for me.  My mom *dropped off Brenden and Braden at home and picked up Chloe.  Rob cooked chicken on the barbeque and we watched lots of fireworks from our backyard while we ate ice cream cones. 

*My mom has had three of our children, at different times, since Thursday afternoon.  It's nice to have the break and I can truly relate to MckMama's feelings as her oldest son was away and she only had three (instead of four) to wrangle with.  By the way, Thank You Mom!!!


School Uniform Update:  My mom took us to buy school uniforms for the kids on Friday.  Casey and Chloe now have a few outfits.  It was a major relief to Rob and I and we are very thankful.  All they need are new socks and shoes, which we'll buy in August.  This charter school allows students to wear any style of shoe as long as it has a back and a strap, so we aren't completely limited.  


Tomorrow I will be taking one of my older boys to the doctor, heading to the pharmacy and then back home to get some work done.  The kids want to go swimming, but I really want to get my craft room cleaned up so I can sew.  I also want to get all the laundry finished before my work week starts on Tuesday.  We do have to take some books back to the library, so maybe the kids will be happy with that instead.