Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Resolution #3

The coupon resolution is going well, despite some hiccups related to the learning curve. Here is my first receipt showing my accomplishments. **disclaimer** as mentioned before I am not aiming for title of "extreme couponer" and hoarding a bunch of things I can't possible use. I was tempted to buy 20 pounds of Uncle Ben's brown rice this week, but I controlled myself and put it back on the shelf.

This receipt claims that I saved $45.27, $11.75 of this being directly from coupons. Not bad for my first week, AND I am most proud of the fact that these are all things I would have bought anyway. Except the Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese by Kraft. Aquaman lives for Velveeta shells and cheese, and I thought I could fool him, but he was not fooled. He ate absolutely nothing for dinner last night because these noodles had a "bumpy" texture that he was not ok with. He is, however, none the worse for wear this morning.
JT and The Dude loved the macaroni. Not that The Dude has a very discerning palate. This is the child who, on a recent trip to Jason's Deli, barked his orders at the salad bar by yelling "DAT, DAT, DAT" at the fresh dirt-flavored beets. He also ate cold mushroom barley pilaf for lunch two days in a row. Oh, and he likes to pick food out of the garbage can when I'm not looking. I don't think JT is above this either.
I have decided, after a lot of wasted time and few false starts combined with research, to focus my couponing energy on Publix with the help of the I Heart Publix blog. As I get more efficient, I may branch out to some drug stores as these seem small and manageable. Wal-Mart was too overwhelming for me. I did get 12 rolls of Bounty Basic for $9 at Target last week, so that was a pretty good score. I'll keep an eye out there as well.
For the mid-week grocery trip, I went to Aldis for milk, eggs, and some more produce. All in all, we did save a total of $45 this week from our usual food budget. Nevermind that poor Aquaman went to bed hungry one night. He drank his berry/veggie smoothie at least.
This stuff can get a little addictive, so I am definitely going to have to use self control. It defeats the whole purpose to save money if I am missing out on playing with my kids, or if I am barking at The Dude for trying to eat my coupons. I've surprisingly found it to be a bonding experience with Aquaman though, as he likes to help with just about anything. And I even managed to do my shopping and checking out with both boys in tow. Having 2 shrieking redheads in the cart makes that awkward moment of pulling out 10 coupons a little more bearable.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Your 3 yr old: Friend or Enemy

I am loving this book.

It is mostly an expose on the psychology of the 3s. My older sister first mentioned these books, about the disequilibruim of the 1/2 ages, quite a while ago, but this is the first one that I've read. I now plan to go back and start in the 1s again as we near The Dude's birthday. While Aquaman did seem to have an "equilibrium" period at 12 months and 24 months (with amped up clumsiness and frustrations at 18 months and 30)...he never seemed to hit a stride at age 3 like this book suggests he might. Perhaps it was becoming a big brother just 6 months prior, or more likely, it is because Aquaman is Aquaman. He came out of the womb so full of fury and zest for life that he skipped the sleeping stage and just screamed for 3 days straight until he had no voice left. He does not believe in following the books.

But the 3.5 descriptions...well they make me want to cry with happiness and relief...and I'm only a couple chapters into this short book.

"Three and a half attempts to control his environment in ways that will, perhaps, make him feel more secure, more sure of himself. 'Don't look, Don't laugh, Don't talk' he commands those around him. But in his immaturity, he is often inconsistent. 'Don't look' he may order at one minute, and the next may become very angry if not given full attention....he may refuse to let Father read his paper or Mother chat on the phone, or any two adults talk to each other."

Since starting Fire Academy, JT and I have begun to refer to Aquaman as the Incident Commander. Somehow, it seems like a nicer, more productive term than Dictator.

But this is paragraph that has most encouraged me so far:

"First of all, accept the fact that at this age the child's big emotional struggle is with his mother. She is the one who matters supremely to him. She is the one he needs to conquer. Almost any young child is at his best, but also his worst with his mother. Never more so than now."

Oh, thank you, Louise Bates Ames, for confirming what I have long suspected.

And I know one of the biggest reasons why.

On March 4, 2011, Aquaman was supplanted.

Everyone glosses over the reality of a new baby with pretty pictures of children hugging each other, but nobody tells you how much it hurts. How something bleeds inside of you the first time you really know what it is to be angry and even dislike your older child because he (accidentally or purposefully) hurt the tiny new bundle that you are biologically programmed to protect at all costs. Aquamanand I have always been close. Painfully and beautifully close. He has always been hard to comfort, and I have always been eager for the task. As an infant he was as attached to me as if he were a part of my body as long as I wasn't at work. I can't imagine, as I, a grown adult fully capable of regulating my emotions and thoughts, bled from the heart in this experience of emotional separation from him; the raw terror that Aquaman must have felt. And we are both still recovering from the shock of it all.

This new little creature is attached to me day and night. And he's no pushover little girl either. He is rowdy and feisty and clingy and funny, and quite disgustingly cute. He even has the red curls. It has been a bitter pill to swallow.

But the bitterness cannot outweigh the joy of seeing them play together, or hearing Aquaman softly telling The Dude, in the backseat, that everything is going to be ok, and we are almost home. And there is also something satisfying about the opportunity to teach Aquaman that the world does NOT indeed conform to his every beck and call. I want him to learn that in the safety and comfort of his own home, and not be cruelly taught it by the world.

I like to think that this age, the 3s, is exacerbated when mother/child have had an especially close relationship. Aquaman; strong, determined and wild-hearted Aquaman can sense that he is growing up, becoming his own, and the only way he knows how to do this is to push me away. Angrily, at times. Then reach for me, desperately. Not unlike the impending adolescence, on an incredibly smaller scale.

A part of me, even in frustration, rejoices when he shouts "NO!". There are so many times that are coming when that word will be important. When he will need that confidence to face the giants of this life, and the neverending temptations. I like to see how powerfully he can take a stand. I just hope he chooses his stands wisely.

The verdict? Aquaman is not the enemy. But though I love him to pieces, I don't think we're going to be friends for the next 20 years or so.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

To be honest, I've never been into New Year's Resolutions.
It's so contrived, like Valentine's Day. Just because it's a particular time of year, you're suddenly supposed to do these things that you should always be doing.
But the older I get, the more appealing traditions become.
This January snuck up on me, as they all have the past few years. It is no joke that life moves faster the older you get. Being that I am only 30, it makes me quite thoughtful about what is going to happen in my 50s, 60s, etc.
But there is something fresh and new about a new year, and around the 5th, I decided my resolution was going to be to start journaling during my quiet time again.
I have been pretty faithful about reading and studying my Bible every day, but I haven't always gotten a lot out of it. I hear of people who get up before their children do in order to have some quiet time to themselves, but this is impossible for me, especially on work days. On work days, my boys are often not in bed until 9 pm, and then are awake again at 5:30 am. And if I set my alarm for 5 to claim that extra half hour, my co-sleeping 10 month old would be on to me in seconds.
So then I guess there are other people whose children would quietly entertain themselves while they read their Bibles, but again, unashamedly, I say that my children are not among them. Maybe it makes me a bad parent, or maybe it just makes me a mother of two young boys. The pages of my Bible are tattered from The Dude's vigorous hands, and I have to admit that I find it very hard to concentrate on the book of Matthew when Aquaman is screaming "I need a diaper, I have to POOP!" (yes, at 3 years, 4 months, he still screams for a diaper when he has to poop, and yes, it makes me absolutely bananas, and no- no amount of gimmicks or threats or treats have made a difference).
So I'm reclaiming my sanity, because I need the word of God more than ever these days. I need more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness, and these only come from a heart that is focused on the Author of these things. The beauty of journaling is, even if I have to chase The Dude up the stairs 10 times during my 20 minutes of study, I can pick up right where I left off. It has been wonderful.
Since this resolution has been so productive, I've expanded to others. One, is this blog. I don't know how I'll have time, but I do know we have time for things that are important to us. And I love to write, and I want to remember these days. I can't say my boys will care to look back at this someday, because boys are well...boys. But I know it will mean something to me.
My next one is to get better with coupons...more organized so that I will use them more. Nothing extreme...I don't have the time, energy, space, or need for 15 bottles of hot sauce. But I do think there is some money to be saved if I can get more efficient, and these days, working part-time, I have at least a few more minutes than we do dollars.
We cut our cable and cut back on our home phone service this year, and that has felt great, though it has so far been one disaster after another. Our new internet/home phone service was "activated" 1/4, and so far we have only had internet 5 of those days due to wiring problems and then a defective modem. Our brand new Roku internet streaming device worked for 2 days before refusing to turn on, and another one is in the mail as we speak. And antenna tv, when all you choose to afford is a cheap tiny indoor antenna...well let's say it's pretty useless, though slightly amusing.
But through all the annoyance of the transition, one thing is certain...we don't miss cable tv at all, and I highly doubt we'll ever go back.

This is JT's last week of Fire Academy. I can't believe this 5 months of torture is coming to a close. It's been a wild finish. JT has had to work 5 days a week while going to school 4 days a week (Sat and Sun being 10 hour days), and we've all been fighting illness for what seems like weeks on end. I don't know what we'll do when we have time together as a family again, but I know that Aquaman badly needs some Daddy time. I'll have a whole post about that later, I think. But if you want to know how things are going with Aquaman lately, let me just say, I have recently reserved a book from the library called "3 yr old...friend or enemy." One thing about Aquaman, he always keeps me on my toes...and my knees.
There are definitely mixed feelings at the thought of JT possibly leaving ocean rescue for fire rescue in the coming months. He loves lifeguarding, he's good at it, he's dreamed of it. But there's some limitations to it. Like lack of promotions, and skin cancer, and, though I hate to say it...money.
As most do, I have a love/hate relationship with money. I've always kind of imagined myself poor and happy, just living on love. But of course, in order to do just about anything these days, you need money. What we have decided at this point in our lives is that the only things that are really important are that we stay debt free while still being able to feed our children with decent food, live in a safe neighborhood with good schools, and for neither of us to have to work too many hours in order to do that. I could never stay home, because it would mean JT would have to be gone ALL the time, making money, just to pay necessary bills. But my boys need me at home as much as possible, so it is a fine line to dance around.

So we dance. And pray. And seek the Lord, because "all these things the Gentiles earnestly seek...but our Father in Heaven knows what we need."
Looking forward to seeing the plans that He has for us this year.