Fall Sports Sign-Up Time Again. My Wallet is Flat.

It’s fall sports sign-up time.  Our checking account cries out in pain.

How do you decide what to sign your child up to play? I think sports may be out for the boys after some thought last night. It’s something they like to play at home but they’re not really into it.  It’s not their first love, if you will.  Henry would prefer Jr. First Lego League, but he missed the camp he could have greatly benefitted from because I was in the hospital (he went the year before though!).  Poor thing.  I was afraid Dave was going to buy him the Mindstorm Robotic Lego set to make up for it and at almost $400, I thought that was a bit much, especially since summer is birthday season.  And THAT is an egregious amount for birthday season.  Or Christmas.  Or both combined.

Rhys wants to take guitar lessons at what will be Henry’s elementary school which are very reasonably priced along with guitar rental, and “when we move” (a nebulous, meaningless term at this point) we’re going to get a piano. He will probably take piano lessons at that point too.

Sarah. Sarah. I guess you will take dance unless someone offers kickboxing princess lessons. She’d probably beg me to do pageants if she knew they existed and there was no requirement that hair had to be brushed, let alone styled.  I can’t be a pageant mom.  No, that is a bold-faced lie.  I could be a pageant mom.  I am great with make-up and I love dresses.  I just hate the rest of it.  I’d have to get her a coach.  But she would not be caught dead or alive wearing any of those flipper things or that other device I’m not even going to mention and hope they don’t force on little girls.  I have seen TO.  MUCH.  BRAVO.  Or maybe it’s TLC?  Sad when you can get The Learning Channel’s programming mixed up with what could be renamed “Smut TV.”  What’s happened to cable?  Note to self, cancel that garbage today, we never watch it.  We watch the Roku (I still wish we had an Apple TV instead, they would have been the same price).

All this ruminating over what to sign the kids up for started because I got a letter from our community sports league and I went to sign the kids up.  Much to my dismay/relief, they aren’t offering U5 soccer.  Sarah is SO.  FREAKISHLY.  GOOD at ball control and would have been an excellent soccer player, way better than Henry at that age, and he was very good if I can toot my kid’s horn for a sec.  He didn’t get it from me!  I may check and see when Kicking for the Cross is taking sign-ups and hope I haven’t missed it.  I added the “relief” part because it’s $80 a player.  For…

  • a jersey
  • playing on a public field that’s maintained by tax dollars
  • an inexpensive trophy at the end of the season
  • 3 or 4 practices
  • 8 games
  • a volunteer coach who does a lot of work (just ask my ex-coach husband)
  • work done by higher-ups who may or may not be paid (I can find this out as I know the head of the organization)

What the DOODLE am I paying $80 for?!  That jersey is NOT cashmere!  I’m already maintaining the field with my tax dollars.  We play on public fields and at my son’s elementary school.  They’re *really* nice fields.  You know what we’re paying for, right?  The older kids to go to All-Star Games and tournaments.  We are subsidizing their trips.  Uh-uh.  No.  Sorry.  That is why you have a FUNDRAISER.  Have you heard of Thirty-One?  :D  It’s not fair to ask the parent of a 5-year-old to pony up for the expenses of a 14- or 15-year-old.  So our choice is to either do this, or not join the league.  So we won’t, and I won’t kvetch.  But they’re still welcome to approach me for fundraising opportunities, maybe it would help even out the cost over time and the younger ones could end up paying for just a jersey and a trophy so families with three kids or even TWO kids could afford to participate.  The thought of spending $240 in a few years just to play soccer makes me a little queasy.  That is a lot of money just for an extracurricular activity.  We could get some friends together and form our own league for free, say, from church or CC.  Hey!

Monty Python Gets a New Character

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and before I recap the disaster that has been the first half of our summer in my next post, I have to give a nod to the funny Henry came up with yesterday.

Between my doctor appointments, our neighbor Maureen came over to talk to me about some Thirty-One business and when we were through, we sat and watched the boys (and when I say “the boys” I include Dave in this)  play Minecraft three-player on the Xbox.

An aside to my aside – have you ever seen three people play three entirely different first-person perspective games on the same television?  If you ever need to vomit, skip the charcoal and try this first.

Back to my story, the boys were talking about the game with Maureen who had never seen it, explaining it’s more-or-less Legos with zombies and creepers and then the topic of the Lego movie came up.  Dave bought it for the boys the other night and they’d been watching it yesterday morning.  At the very beginning there’s a man in a horned outfit talking to someone who looks like Gandalf.  I couldn’t hear the dialogue, naturally, because, well, kids, but I’d thought to myself “That looks like Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python’s Holy Grail…” so I asked Maureen if she’d seen the movie and if indeed it was Tim.  She confirmed that it WAS Tim (AHA!) and then, as only those who know MPSFHG could appreciate, she broke out with the,

“Some might call me…Tim?”

Henry has seen the Monty Python movie, but like any boy of seven, lost interest immediately after the Black Knight had his limbs hacked off, which is fine because there’s a bit of lewd stuff in it and he didn’t need to see it anyway.  He just took away the coconuts as horse hooves and the Black Knight and a British accent which surfaces quite a bit.  He didn’t remember Tim the Enchanter, which is very near the end, so he off-handedly parroted as he continued to play the nausea-inducing game of Minecraft,

“Some might call me… Tim Challies?”

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume at this point only my mom is laughing along with maybe a few others from my church and my former church who read Tim Challies.   And maybe Tim Challies himself if he takes the time to look at all the ping backs.  Which would be super cool and neat and I sound 14 and not 37.

for the record, I’m going to squeeze in that I’m 37 as many times as I can before I turn 38.

How Do You Manage to Eat Organic With A Peanut Allergy?

It’s actually easier than you think.  We’re sort of forced to do so, which is what I realized as I wrote what began as an email reply to reader.  Amanda wrote and asked:

Hi!  I just stumbled across your blog while researching Classical Conversations and from your title I am assuming you have a peanut allergy in the family?  I also notice you do a lot of organic/no dyes/healthier eating and I was wondering how you manage with the peanut allergy?  Thanks!

At first I giggled at the thought of us being “healthier” eaters (maybe that’s why she said “-ier” instead of “-y,” hahaha, spot on!) recalling how I watched Rhys chomp down on a piece of cold pizza for his breakfast yesterday morning.  We don’t actually know what’s in the crust, we just assume they don’t grind up peanuts and put them in there.  If they offered any kind of peanut toppings I’d be leery.  Side note:  we don’t eat at Chinese places anymore, except for PF Changs and their spin-off, Pei Wei because they provided us with a list of dishes that contain peanuts.  PF Changs will do this for any food allergy – just ask, very cool!

We have two in the family with peanut/tree nut allergies and one is also allergic to coconut – wish I’d known that before I let him eat half a bag of that dried kind from Costco!  No adverse reaction though, so that’s good.  Both of my little allergens are the boys (almost 8 and almost 6).  Our daughter can eat anything but I am actually horrified to give her nuts even though rationally I *know* she is fine based on skin tests and blood work.  I guess I’ve just had “no nuts” driven into my brain for so long it’s hard to think the other way.  Plus it’s dangerous to feed her something nutty since she’s around them, likes to touch them, lick, not sure what all else, etc.

I did not *think* it was difficult to manage feeding them until we tried going gluten free.  OH.  MY. GOSH.  There is basically one brand of flour that I’d have to mix together along with xantham gum (which has not come yet – hope it’s nut-free) to make any kind of bread/crust/muffin unless I want to buy Namaste and pay $7 a box for a mix that makes 12 muffins or one loaf of bread.  Uh, no.  I made muffins from the mix once, which I thought was pretty good, maybe a bit chewy, and they ate the tops off and left the bottoms.  Coincidentally, I’d sprinkled turbinado sugar on top.  Weird how they just ate that part, hmm.
We do no food dyes because it makes my oldest hyperactive.  Not in that “boyhood energy” type way, but in that, “This child needs a hamster wheel,” kind of way.  It doesn’t really seem to effect my middle or youngest, but they still don’t need dyes regardless.  We never gave them juice or soda to drink before I cut out food colorings, so I didn’t have to worry about eliminating any beverages.  Instead I started looking at the backs of cans and boxes and buying them lollipops from Whole Foods.  One advantage of the peanut allergy is that they really can’t eat any kind of candy bar/chocolate – everything has nuts or is made in a nut facility.  They’re weirdly understanding about this, so I figure if we buy them some unreasonably priced suckers every now and then we’re actually spending less than most Americans do on candy for their kids.  We are (fortunately?) forced to eat a healthy-ish diet.  The downside to the no-dye thing is that you do pay more for things like boxed mac and cheese (I’ve just started making my own with noodles and Kerry Gold Dubliner cheese) or anything made by Annie’s, which they do not like –  save the mac and cheese.  It kept getting more expensive on Amazon Subscribe and Save so I cancelled it in lieu of homemade.

Other things:  As I said, we buy Dubliner cheese and cut it off in slices for sandwiches, it is made by the same company that makes Kerry Gold butter and is an extremely good cheese.  I buy Boar’s Head sliced deli meat because it is nitrite-free and waaay better than that stuff in plastic (noo plastic either) boxes.  I try to give them the Cascadian Farms (?) version of fruit loops for breakfast, or I’ve started making smoothies with frozen berries, milk and raw honey.  I have been guilty lately of buying Frosted Mini Wheats which breaks so many rules, but at least it’s dye-free.  Somehow chocolate Cheerios  keep finding their way to the pantry…not the best choice but the cereal fairy can’t be stopped completely, I suppose.  I’m a libertarian after all, far be it from me to limit another adult from what they buy for breakfast.  But maybe they could disguise it in a box of Grape Nuts?

I have to use dye and scent-free laundry detergent on them because they have really bad eczema and any sort of scent makes their skin break out.  I use those wool balls in the dryer instead of dryer sheets.  Love those things.  The one oddity that sticks out is that the only soap they can tolerate is Dove unscented.  I tried switching out all our soaps for Dr. Bronner’s (because why NOT go whole hog and completely restock all your soaps before you’ve even tried Dr. B’s?) and got the Baby Bronner’s for them but it burned their skin.  I kind of scoffed because they can be dramatic and I have no idea where that came from, but I have some eczema on my hand, so I lathered up and WOW.  Burned like fire. So, we can’t even use hemp-based non-soap soap that’s supposed to leave the natural oils in your skin which is exactly what they need.  The only thing that’s worked is Dove soap and prescription strength steroid cream which I hate using on them but nothing – literally nothing – else ever has.  I have tried coconut oil and wondered why it made Henry worse (gee, maybe because he’s allergic to it!), essential oils with a special eczema synergy blend, Vanicream which is suppose to fix everything because it’s parabens,  phlalate, on and on and on-free but it burned their skin too.  ARGH.  Egyptian Magic and Blessed Bees (something something) work well but they are so.expensive.  And Dave doesn’t show any discretion when digging in that jar to slather them up.  I’ll get a jar of Egyptian Magic and after one bath, 1/4th of the tub is gone.  Fail.

I’m going NOW to look up and possibly join a CSA.  We have a juicer but I’d rather get all the fiber and bulk from the produce if we juice any so I might look at a Ninja for a Mother’s Day gift, though I really *wanted* another piece of Le Creuset.  I have absolutely LOVED my dutch oven.  It really does make a difference what you cook with – it distributes the heat so evenly and the for always tastes wonderful.  Still haven’t made my loaf of bread in it yet, though!  I’ll try that when my xantham gum arrives.

ALSO!!  Please check the sidebar!  I am fundraising for therapeutic massages for orphans in war-torn Ukraine.  These kiddos were bed-ridden but because of the massage treatment, they are learning to WALK, they are happier, more interactive and have a much better quality of life!  Therapeutic massage is healing for the body AND mind!  Help bring some joy to these little ones and just think – your donation may help one of these bedridden cutie pies get up and DANCE!!  Just watch and I dare you not to smile!

Please donate today, these children need these services and you can help them feel sooooo much better!  With the power of a click, you can help an orphan go from listless to happy, smiling and relaxed.  Please visit my Crowdrise page here to donate.  I am working with Maya’s Hope, a wonderful foundation that gives aid to orphans in need in the Ukraine and the Philippines.   Visit her page as well to see the HOPE she is giving orphans – personally! – in these countries.

Getting All Up In Your Prayer Life

If someone says “I need prayers” or “Please pray” on some social media outlet and you type “Praying for you…” do you do it?

I fully expect a chorus of guilty people hollering “Naw,…”

I admit, I have typed it a lot and then forgotten to do it – many times over. So I’ve started typing it and then STOPPED what I’m doing and prayed. No long, elaborate prayer is needed, one of my sweet friends taught me this. Just a simple prayer based on the person’s request.  Some people I pray for I don’t even really know so I’ve got to follow the rule of “KISS” (keep it simple, snapperhead).  I can’t use the regular word because Henry reads this and he’ll be like, “You said ‘STUPID!’ and then I have to explain how it’s an expression.  So my kids are going to grow up with some weird takes on familiar expressions until a peer corrects it.

But back to the topic at hand, it’s a lot easier to do early in the morning if you’re alone or at night as long as you don’t fall asleep while praying.  I’m guilty of that too, I’m probably the only person with a drool-stained Bible that’s not in seminary.

This “I’ll pray for you,” deal was something that was on my mind, I’m not trying to holy roll you, I’ve just felt guilty for saying I would and then not doing it and I thought “Hey, maybe someone else has had the same feelings,” so I wrote this out. Plus I can’t skate or use a rolling-pin for anything other than, well…okay, I have to go pray again now.

As an aside, as I was praying for my last friend, I extended my hand over to Sarah and asked God to heal her from this horrible cold she has going on.  The prayer went something like this:

“…and Father, please heal Sarah from her cold…”

*lays hand on Sarah’s head, she immediately swats it off*

“…because she is miserable and is in need of your tender touch and comfort…”

*moves hand down to her arm, is immediately swatted off there too*

“…as she has struggled all week and hasn’t gotten much sleep…”

*moves hand to leg and it’s slapped away*

mental dialogue: “Okay, so you’re a Presbyterian and taking that “frozen chosen” nickname literally, which is an outdated stereotype.  But fine.  No laying of hands.  I’ll keep my Baptist to myself.

“…and I pray she is restored to health soon in your Son’s Mighty and Powerful Name.”

Side note:  she’s sleeping peacefully on the couch now.  :)

Homeschool After the Plague

It’s 10:40 and people are prancing around, eating apples.  This is not appropriate.  I am reheating coffee and trying to rearrange papers, trying to figure out where we left off.  Sarah is pilfering my supplies, bringing me to the realization that my current setup is NOT going to work since she can get to everything (and draw on the couch).  

It’s like completely starting over.  Thanks, stomach virus from hell.

The Only ADD Here = All Donna’s Donuts

I’ll be honest, I’m feeling really inadequate lately.  The house has been an upside-down wreck, the closets are still horrors (well, ours and the guest room), the dirty clothes can’t ever seem to get resolves, dishes are always – ALWAYS – overflowing and Dave is always the one who ends up taking care of them and I barely find time to run the vacuum or sweep under the filthy kitchen table and around the island and counters.

How do these women who make “Happy Turkey Day” banners and heart-shaped pancakes do it?  Most days I can’t even get myself dressed before we do school!

We hosted our small group a few Sundays ago which necessitated cleaning the house.  I’m glad we volunteered for so many reasons and being forced to clean is one of them.  I actually vacuumed the bathroom wall.  It so needed it.  I don’t know how or why a bathroom wall would get dusty or any dustier than any other room, but ours was very gross.  Everything got scrubbed – I think, though, the guest bathroom looked suspect – so I feel like we’re starting with a clean slate.

In an effort to get our act together and get a bit more organized, I’ve bought Monday – “Weekend” clothes hangers for the boys and I’ve stocked each day with an outfit for them.  Their job is to put their pajamas under their pillow (thank you, Mom) and then get changed, brush their hair/teeth and come downstairs and eat breakfast.  The first day Rhys was dressed but NOT in what I’d put in his “Monday” cubby and Henry was still in his pajamas.  Neither of them had eaten and they were watching something scary on the Roku.  So.  A slow start, but at least it was a start.  I sent Henry up to right himself.  I guess Rhys is just going to have to stock his own clothes if he’s this picky.  I mean, I should have known, it’s RHYS.

And school.  I’ve been so discouraged the last few weeks.  I think, “I’d rather make banners and cupcakes and fun dinners and keep the house clean and just send them to school, rather than get a migraine from someone whining at me because they don’t want to do their spelling test first.” or “Our house wouldn’t be in utter chaos if they were in school.” or “I could actually GO TO THE STORE if they were in school.”   They’ve just been very disobedient, very disrespectful.


This was written last week, before I passed out into an hour and a half nap.  I feel better now, but they were still being disobedient.  I got up at 5 am and Rhys joined me downstairs not long after.  He’s my snuggle bug.  He’s also always afraid someone’s breaking in the house, so instead of cowering in bed like I’d want to do (but don’t, since I feel the need to protect the family and Dave won’t get up and patrol unless he takes the time to fully dress, by which time we could be killed because he puts on a belt) he comes downstairs, all sleepy-eyed, ready to confront the ne’er do well.  My brave, not necessarily intimidating, yet dauntless little protector of the realm.

Speaking of Rhys and Dave and getting dressed, yesterday Rhys was pitching a fit of monstrous proportions.  He wanted animal crackers.  Sarah had animal crackers.  Sarah doesn’t do homeschool and I’ll give her whatever (besides elicit drugs) to keep her quiet while I teach the boys.  So animal crackers it was.  They have high fructose corn syrup, something I overlooked when I bought them.  Yes, I *do* look at every single package of crap I buy, believe it or not.  I will not buy things with HFC because it makes my boys, particularly Henry CRAZY.  It just doesn’t come in this house.  We are not the model eaters (HAR!), but we don’t allow snack cakes, candy, HFC, potato chips, that colored drink in the soda-shaped bottle, koolaid, things like kid-marketed colored yogurt or squeeze yogurt that’s colored, artificial colors or sweeteners, fruit juce or soda (unless it’s a VERY special occasion)  to be consumed.  They drink water, or maybe milk for breakfast, although we limit their milk intake (grandmas cringe at this, calcium comes from other places, trust me) and only give them organic milk.  I would love to feed them organic everything but DUDE, have you seen the price of organic berries at Whole Foods?!  $7.99 for four blackberries?  Totally insane.  Sorry, we’re just going to have to scrub the pesticides off the outside and at least hope they’re non-GMO so their grandchildren are able to reproduce.  Well, I went off on a tangent there.  Oh and “natural” doesn’t mean anything, when advertized.  It’s just a word companies like to slap on products to make you think they’re safe – but it means nothing.  I think I’ve seen “natural bologna” for sale before. Okay. “100% All real meat!”  Well dang, I hope so!  What else would it be?  Part meat, part tires?

What was I talking about?  Oh, Rhys and his animal crackers fit.  It was LOUD and ugly.  He was lying in the floor in front of the pantry door screaming which eventually morphed into a guttural roar and I finally shouted (yes, bad mama but he was scaring me) “STOP GROWLING AT ME!”  Dave didn’t have to work and I guess he’d been hearing this melee from the bed upstairs and had enough because the next thing I knew, he stomped across the kitchen in his underwear, snatched Rhys up and took him upstairs with him.  Even Henry was taken aback.  “Dad was in his underwear!  He must really be mad!”   I have never, ever seen him walk around the house, nevermind the downstairs in broad daylight in his underwear.  The sight of Dad in his skivvies probably sent a shock of fear through Rhys’ heart, enough to make him forget about those crackers because I think once he caught a sight of that Fruit from the Loom he shut right up.  So the next time he pitches a fit, I’m going upstairs, taking my clothes off and coming down in underwear.  He’ll probably just laugh.

I don’t know how to get through to him.  I used to think he was like me.  He is like me, but 100 times worse.  I don’t know how to deal.

As far as Henry goes, he’s just a bouncy ball.  He’s all over the place.  If he were in public school, they’d diagnose him as ADD and maybe suggest medication (NO) and we might have a fight on our hands, or we might not.  I’ve never read a positive story about this because people don’t generally post positive experiences, only horror stories about how the drugs made their children “zombies” or something along those lines.  I take that back – I have heard one positive story, firsthand from a teacher who said it did make all the difference in the world and that the child wasn’t just a seat wiggler but actually in need of medical intervention.  From the specifics of the story I will agree on this point, and I am a strong advocate of only medicating children (even with pain relievers – and never Tylenol – only Advil) when absolutely necessary.

Instead, I am reading  a book called “Right Brained Children Living in a Left Brained World” by Jeffery Freed and it’s completely changed how I look at him and how he looks at learning.  It’s changed how I look at myself because I think I’m right brained as well,  if internet quizzes are to be trusted.  I just flipped through a book on right-brained addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division and stared in wonder:  that’s how I look at it in my head!  So I got Henry the multiplication book since he’s doing fine with addition and subtraction at this point, particularly subtraction, which he didn’t need any instruction on whatsoever.  What a blessing!  Something that has come naturally besides farting!

Oh – and we’re also implementing a gluten-free diet today to see if that will help him mentally as well as with his horrible eczema.  Please pray we all have the willpower to do this!  It’s going to be hard, especially with their nut allergy which cuts down on an already smaller list of food choices.  Thank you, friends!