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A DIY Memorable (and budget friendly) Milestone Birthday Party

frugalistablog diy party on a budget

I love a lavish party. But the thought of paying for it and organizing it makes me break out in hives. I also know that my mom detests big and grand affairs but was turning the big 75 this year and wanted something special.

Brainstorming ideas gave inspiration to things like: a trip to Paris, a hot air balloon ride, a sky writer wishing her a Happy Birthday. None of these were feasible.

I kept thinking to myself, “How do I make a fabulous 75th birthday party??!!” And then the answer came to me-

What does any grandparent want? MORE TIME WITH THEIR GRAND KIDS!

So I did what I could. Emma and Owen were available. But her other grandchildren were traveling both abroad and back east. It would rely heavily on Emma and Owen. But we could do it.

First we piled on the sap.

Not the tree sap kind, but the sentimental kind.

We made a list of 75 things we loved about my mom. Our Oma we call her. She’s German. Then Emma cut the list in little strips of paper and we put it in a very affordable apothecary jar (found for cheap at TJ Maxx!). We tied a little ribbon on it.

DIY birthday parties grandparents milestones frugalista blog

I bought an amazing cake at our local bakery, found some glorious, yet not too pricey champagne at Whole Foods, and we ordered vegetarian Vietnamese food from a family run restaurant in town, which I knew my mom would love.

We took a poster board and folded it in half. We found so many old pictures through the years, scanned them and printed them and pasted them in the card.

I found a DIY banner at Michael’s that we also clipped photos too. I also picked up at Michael’s a chalk board sign that we used for the mantle. Using my coupons everything came to around $15!

DIY birthday party grandparents milestones frugalista blog

I picked out two photos of our families featuring the grand kids and printed them off Shutterfly for just a few dollars. I found 8×10 frames at Bed, Bath and Beyond and used coupons there too. This way she had some prints of her favorite people to display in her home.

In our digital age, sometimes, a good old framed photo of loved ones is just what a 3/4 centenarian could hope for!

frugalista blog, diy, birthday parties, birthday table, grandparent ideas, milestone

So without a lot of expense or embarrassing fanfare, we celebrated my mom in the best way we could. She loved the hours of hanging out at our home, listening to her family read 75 reasons why we love her, and cherishing the people closest to her.

I also picked flowers from my yard to add to the decor.

If you have a special birthday coming up for a grandparent, or loved one that you want to add some memorable little touches- feel free to borrow any of my ideas.

 

 

Uh oh. Your kid watched a scary movie- now what?

What to do if your kid watches a scary movie Frugalista Blog

I remember it a few summers ago. Owen was probably 9, maybe 10. He had been having lots of sleepovers at his friend’s house in the neighborhood. Staying up late playing video games, playing baseball in the cul de sac past dark; it was just easy to let him crash there. What I found out later is that sometimes they would watch a scary movie, something involving the paranormal. The other kids didn’t see the big deal. But Owen has never liked scary. Doesn’t like it when someone sneaks up on him, doesn’t want anything with ghosts or just that creepy factor. He watches all kinds of action and adventure films that don’t scare him. He says when they have fictional fantasy aspects, he can differentiate that it’s just a movie, it’s not real.

But in some paranormal films, the plot and storytelling are just TOO real. And you can really wonder what that sound was you heard downstairs, or are the lights playing tricks on you.

So. What do we do when our kid watches a movie that scares them and now they want to sleep with the lights on?

I have partnered with Grace Hill Media and Warner Bros. to bring you some tips on what to tell your kids and help them through this. Also, I have a GIVEAWAY for the grown ups that LOVE to see scary, intense movies with real plot lines and great story telling. The Conjuring 2 is opening Friday, June 10th and I’m looking forward to this sequel.

• The first thing you need to do is sit down with your child and give them the chance to discuss the film openly. Ask them what they saw, what they thought about it, and how it made them feel. Whatever you do, don’t make light of their fears or dismiss their feelings as silly or immature.

• Once their emotions have been aired, assure your son or daughter that this was only a story, just like the imaginary tales they may have seen in books or other action movies and cartoons. Bad things weren’t happening to real people – they were actors playing a pretend game, like they and their friends do.

• Reassure your child that you, as their parent, are dedicated to protecting them. Let them know that it is one of your most important jobs – ensuring they feel safe and are safe. Reinforce that message with plenty of hugs.

• If you are a Christian family, you can explain that God has promised to be with them at all times, even in the midst of danger. Read some Bible verses together that show comfort and protection. Pray with them about the scary movie and their fears, and encourage them to pray on their own when they become frightened at night. If it seems appropriate, you can also practice some coping techniques with them, like deep breathing relaxation exercises or visualizing a happy place.

What we did for Owen was talk to him about his fears during day time. Waiting until it was right before bed seemed to remind him of the images he saw in the film. I explained that there’s special effects and people on the set that are either waiting behind walls or in a control booth that create the images and situations for us on screen. We see the finished product set to music and it just plays with our emotions. Those people in the movie got up and laughed after the director yelled “CUT” and went to go have lunch. Also, we let him sleep with as many lights on, night lights on and stuffed animal fortresses that he wanted. I also used lavender oils and some aromatherapy and breathing techniques like mentioned above.

He is 13 now and will still not go to a scary movie. I’m fine with that. His friends also respect that he doesn’t want to watch them. I know kids even younger than his age love the scary stuff, and that’s okay. The horror and super natural movie genre is one that some grasp onto early and for some others, never enjoy.

My daughter and I love a good scary film. She and I will definitely be going to see The Conjuring 2! And we’re going to wear our T shirts from the film. Which you can too if you win my Conjuring 2 prize pack.****

In it is:

2 movie passes to see the film

1 Conjuring 2 T-shirt

1 Leather bound and embossed Conjuring 2 journal

2 Creepy tumbler cups with a movie image screened on it

1 Keepsake Conjuring 2 candle

Conjuring 2 prize pack frugalista blog

 

All you have to do is comment**** below if you like scary movies or not. And if you do- tell me which is your favorite because I might not have seen it and need to check it out!

Grab your Rosary beads and light your candles and check out the Conjuring 2 this weekend in theaters!

****giveaway now closed, thank you for your responses!

frugalista blog The Conjuring 2

 

 

 

 

How To Not Get a Cold

frugalista blog colds and flu, health and wellness

I’m not a doctor. And I don’t play one on TV. But I do know a thing or two about keeping crud away.

Remember in that Seinfeld episode when he was so proud of himself for his non vomiting streak? Well, I’m kind of like that with cruds. Okay, last spring’s food poisoning was not the flu! Sometimes you just can’t help it.

But for the most part (knock on wood) I don’t get too ill. A sniffle. Maybe. But my days of bronchitis and sinus infections seem a thing of the past. Why? Because adamantium, that’s why. No. Just kidding. I think it’s because I’m looking after myself.

Here’s how I protect myself and my family from yucky stuff all year long, not just winter. But let’s face it, winter sucks. How many times are kids sick in the winter? All the time.

Tip #1-

WASH YOUR HANDS! This is not optional. This is required. And here’s how you do it. You come in the house, you set down your purse, keys, phone, and YOU WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS! This goes for EVERYONE. If someone isn’t washing their hands, it kind of blows the purpose of keeping germs at the door.

My husband will be all, comes in, gets a glass of water, sits down, pulls out his laptop, and I say, “did you wash your hands?” And he replies, “Oh, yeah, no. I forgot.” And then I flog him for his lack of cleanliness. Just kidding.

But seriously. Wash your hands as you enter the house.

Tip #2-

GET PLENTY OF REST. I know what you’re thinking. “Fudge you Rebecca. If I wanted sleep I wouldn’t have had children.” I know. I know. But seriously. Not resting is what gets you rundown, your immune system compromised and your body out of whack. If you can feel some crud coming on- go to bed. Say no to that PTA meeting. Don’t take your kids to the bounce house. Let them play in the street while you take a nap. Okay! Just kidding. I know. But do what you can to slow down.

Tip #3

INVEST IN A GOOD QUALITY AIR PURIFIER IN YOUR HOME. This would be the Venta Air Purifier in my home. It’s the best German engineering available. It humidifies, purifies and signifies that you’re smart. Smart because you know that dust particles and dry air are a bonanza in your sinuses during the winter, and you are preventing that party from starting. Clean air and moistened nasal passages are helpful in keeping colds at bay.

 

venta air washer frugalista blog

Tip #4

Acupuncture. Oh for crying out loud! Stop being a baby and telling me you think it’s hokey placebo stuff or scary needles. My kids have done it. It’s not scary. I do maintenance acupuncture once a month that helps keep my chi flowing like a river through Montana. I don’t get migraines anymore, I don’t have sinus headaches or infections anymore and I can see through things. Ha!

Tip #5

DRINKING LOTS OF TEA. I’m a huge tea drinker. I drink coffee too. But I pretty much keep it to one shot of espresso per day. Tea is everything. I’m drinking it constantly. Oh, and I don’t smoke and I eat kale. Sometimes. But I don’t do weird things with coconut oil or have my lady bits steamed. So I draw the line the line somewhere!

Now. If Murphy has its law about me and I drop ill from some Shanghai flu tomorrow, I will burn this post to the ground.

But truthfully, I just wanted to share with you my wisdom so that you can stay healthy and well.

Cheers!

*********************this is not a sponsored post. All words and opinions and mine and I haven’t been paid to write them.****************************

Be Your Best Panda

Everybody’s Kung Fu fighting.

And now YOU have the theme song in your head too. You’re welcome.

It is time for the student to become the master. Can you reach inside yourself and overcome doubts, and be the best you that you can be?

This is what Kung Fu Panda 3 is all about.

Kung Fu Panda 3 via Dreamworks

So recently I received an email from a media company asking me if I wanted to preview Kung Fu Panda 3, interview the two directors and tell my readers about it.

Uhm, sure? This is the fun side of blogging!

I immediately started thinking of questions to ask these directors- Jennifer Yu and Alessandro Carloni. Both of whom worked on Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2. AND Jennifer is the first female lead director on a Dreamworks animated movie with Kung Fu Panda 2, that was also nominated for an Academy Award. Kind of a nice resume.

My first question I thought of was will there be snacks at the interview? Okay, I know. That’s not really a question, but you know how my mind works. Then my second question was Why Kung Fu Panda 3? Aren’t we done already?

Well, let me explain.

Here’s the gist of the film- Master Shifu tells Po that he needs to pull his weight. Po will now be the master and do the teaching. That’s right. Well, that’s a tall order for a Dragon Warrior who likes to eat dumplings and high five the villagers all day like he’s a rock star. Because by now, Po IS a rock star where he lives and folks love him. It’s the same gang back- Tigress, Crane, Monkey, as well as a new villian- OF COURSE.

But since the KFP2 movie finished with a clip of a panda looking off in the distance wondering if Po was his lost son, director, Jennifer Yuh felt that story arc needed to finish and for Po’s panda dad to find him.

Thus, we get to meet Papa Po, Li, and it’s a fun reunion that really connects audiences with the way Po has his adoptive father, Mr. Ping, and meets and gets to love his biological Panda dad. Big stuff regarding adoption that is beautifully handled in the story line to make everyone happy.

A new villian, Kai enters from the spirit realm and is stealing the chi that flows from Kung Fu masters in order to take over the world. Kai is headed to destroy the panda population, who are the Masters of Chi, and Po must  save his village from the evil Kai.

KUNF FU PANDA 3

This requires Po to travel with his panda father to the secret panda village in order to learn the ways of being a Chi Master. When they arrive and Po can see every little baby panda, old panda, grandpa panda, chubby pandas, roly poly pandas- he feels right at home.

Here’s where when you’re watching the movie you say in your head, “wow Dreamworks, way to nail the merchandising.” There are adorable pandas everywhere. Panda babies galore. Dang are they cute. And roly poly. And cute. And they love dumplings. And finally Po is back where he belongs with his people, er pandas.

But wait. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are many lessons learned, there’s good over evil, and there’s self acceptance. Pretty great for kids of all ages to see played out. Oh, and parents, don’t worry- NO ONE DIES! You don’t have to worry about any trigger moments for your kids going in to this because, thank goodness, it’s not going to have a giant zinger at some point that makes you scream at the screen going, “REALLY?” and comfort your kids or have any crazy explaining to do.

When I sat down with Jennifer and Alessandro, I had a great time asking my questions, and I think they enjoyed answering them. Here’s my interview:

Me- Why KFP3?

Jennifer- We wanted to finish the coda of what we started in the movies all along and have Po meet his Panda father. We wanted to bring the story full circle to Po’s origins.

Me- What’s your favorite message of the movie?

Alessandro- That the struggle within continues. Even when you triumph over one thing, there’s always something else to tackle. You’re never finished.

I asked Jennifer about Dreamworks’ future plans for more female lead characters in their animated films. Jennifer was the first Dreamworks female lead director to work on Kung Fu Panda 2.

I found that Alessandro’s answer was the most interesting. He said that he talked to actress Geena Davis, and she said the day we can accept our leading ladies with flaws is when we’ll have more female characters. Po is very flawed, and chubby, and obnoxious. And when we can portray women like that without any offense, we’ll level the field. Because both Jennifer and Alessandro agreed, that of course, more lead characters should be female. But also to hopefully come to a time when we’re no longer keeping score of boy versus girl because great stories are not gender specific.

Jennifer also loves when she can talk to film students about their work and their passion. She says whenever she talks on campuses, there’s a large majority of female film students and she loves to inspire and make those future colleagues proud.

I asked both of them who their favorite characters from the stories are- Tigress is Jennifer’s answer. Why? Because she’s a bad ass, of course! Alessandro’s answer was Po. But when he described his reason for it, I had to agree, even though mine is Tigress too. He said he loves how Po is enthusiastic about everything. He has joy in his friends, his Kung Fu, his appetite! All of it. I brought up the example of how a dog is happy to just go outside and doesn’t look at it as ‘oh I have to do this run now’, but instead, ‘Yay! Outside!’. That’s how Po is. A happy panda that comes to life with 100% enthusiasm.

When I asked both of them how they feel when they see the finished product, I was surprised by their answer. Coming from my personal background of writing, or even performing on stage, I’m highly critical of my individual work. I asked if they watch the movie with a lense of how it could be better, or do they sit back and enjoy it.

Both of them, and especially Jennifer, shared how much they appreciate the finished product. And it’s because that they have a team. A whole army of animators, creators, writers, and more that put their work and love and life into the project. When they see these gems of gold or treasures throughout, even they are in awe of the finished work. In their words, they still ‘geek out’ over the results!

Jennifer described even the score that went into this movie. She said that they were sitting in on the orchestra scoring the final battle and culminating scene and they were literally composing it as they went. Honing it, fine tuning it (for lack of a better phrase!) as she sat there and watched the screen and heard the music simulatenously. She said it was such a goose bump moment that she truly appreciates every piece that goes into the final work.

My last question had to be about food. There were no snacks during the interview. Just water. But THAT’S OKAY. Really. Even though every time I watch a Kung Fu Panda film or even see a trailer, all I want is Dim Sum. I asked Jennifer and Alessandro if they could only eat one thing for a year, which would they choose- noodles or dumplings?

Jennifer- Noodles. (That’s my girl! I’m a noodle lover too.)

Alessandro- Dumplings. And he said that every time Jack Black came in to the studio, they always had a big platter of dumplings that they would eat! That’s the job I want! Because basically, Jack Black IS Po, and Po is Jack Black. I mean right?

If you can’t wait to take your kids to see Kung Fu Panda 3, it will be in theaters, January 29th. I got to see it in 3D and it was truly beautiful and entertaining. If you don’t want to shell out the dollars for 3D, I don’t blame you. You’ll enjoy it just as much in 2D. And then save that money to go out for Dim Sum after!

Thanks Jennifer and Alessandro! I look forward to your future Dreamworks projects.

Frugalista Blog, Jennifer Yu, Alessandro Carloni, Kung Fu Panda 3

Jennifer Yu, me and Alessandro Carloni

 

 

I’m being a bit of an ass hole this holiday

frugie blog being an ass hole

It’s the week of Christmas and I’m pretty much panicking. The presents need to be wrapped. Some still need to be bought. I have all of my 75 or so cards to be addressed and posted. Some need to be sent overseas, so that requires a trip to the post office- WHICH I ABHOR!

So I’m feeling panicked.

And then I had a reality check.

I’m an ass hole.

I’m worried about the abundance around me when others have hardly enough.

There’s my friend Beth. She’s the one with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I’m sure in her mind she’s wondering if this is her last Christmas with her kids. Especially since just this week she lost 5 or so friends of her’s in the metastatic community. Not to mention the jerk face guy from Komen who basically walked away from her when she asked him for more dedicated funding for research. I would say Beth isn’t worried about Christmas cards. (http://cultofperfectmotherhood.com/komen-is-not-coming-to-save-us/)

I have a cousin Clare, also stage IV breast cancer. It’s not often you know two people who are dying from the same disease. We wish for more time at Christmas to get everything done. They’re just wishing for more time period.

When the song on the radio comes on, “I’ll be Home For Christmas” by Josh Groban, and the men and women stationed overseas serving our country leave recorded messages to their loved ones back home, I can’t help but cry. They know it’s their duty. They serve and protect no matter what. But missing out on your kids’ Christmas morning would break my heart. And they do it. They are our heroes.

We tell ourselves that we only need to do so much. That it’s okay if the  cookies don’t get baked or the packages get sent late. But deep down we’re still resenting our lack of over achievement. We look at Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook and think, ‘why can’t I do that?’ We look at damn Elf on the Shelf set ups and smack ourselves on the head for forgetting that damned Elf for the second night in a row.

So I know what it feels like when we let our self loathing seep in to cloud our supposed Christmas joy. And here I’m telling you once again how to look past the minutia to remember the important things. Right?

I’m not preaching. I’m just trying to give myself a kick in the pants.

There’s a lot I didn’t do. I didn’t attend church this season. That bothers me because I love the Advent time. I just had interruptions or things going on that prevented me from getting up early on those Sunday mornings. I didn’t give to the Giving Tree this year either since I wasn’t there to collect the tags. But I’m also freaking out about my own bank account. Which is dumb since we have all that we need, but yet, it still seems to end up with more month than money as the days go by.

However, there’s a lot I did do.

I got up at 5 every morning to get Emma off to choir. I got the tree up, the gifts bought, the house in order and still continued working on my YouTube channel. Which, hello? is like a job. It is my job. As much as people wonder what the heck it is I do, that’s what I do. I didn’t have a complete melt down-throw-myself-on-the-floor-freak-out, even though I wanted to. Which hey- that’s something right??

And the best part- Emma is world’s better than she was at this time last year. We had visits to the ER for chronic pain, we missed out on things like choir concerts, visits to Santa, and hanging out with friends. She missed school, she was miserable. Not this year. She’s babysitting, singing, decorating, wrapping, going to school, giving me all the sass she can!! And I am so grateful for it. It really is last year’s Christmas wish come true. So what if it’s 12 months late.

Here’s my advice for managing these next couple days.

Pick one thing. Pick the thing that gives you joy, that you can send all your positive energy to that says, ‘this is Christmas. This is how I will remember the season and embrace it.’

Give yourself the allowance to not get everything done. To lasso your sanity or whatever is left of it by letting things off your list. Watch frickin’ Hallmark Channel movies. These completely help me forget all my troubles. And then remember again how dirty my house is and why I can’t wear heels in snow.

I’m embracing the children I have who are healthy, the roof over my head, and the husband that hogs the covers.

My Christmas memories as a child are the feeling I had in my house with my parents- feeling cozy, feeling safe. I remember Cabbage Patch dolls and Barbies, sure. But I remember the cups of tea my dad made, the goose my mom cooked that filled the house with savory scents that if I smell today, takes me back to 1978. We didn’t have fancy trips to the city to see the Nutcracker. Or big parties to attend and lavish gifts. We had each other. I remember the hand made matching Christmas outfits for me and my sister! Mom was very good with a sewing machine and a Butterick pattern.

Our children will remember how they felt. Not what they didn’t get.

They will remember the joy you gave them just by not losing your shit.

 

When you sh** your pants at Tiffany’s

First of all, I’d like to clarify that I wasn’t the one who did the pants shitting. It was Emma. Second, this was last year and not when she was in diapers. Third, she gave me permission to tell her story. Because she’s awesome and it’s funny.

Forgive me, but there’s some back story here. I want to give a quick run down of how I have always wanted a little something something from Tiffany’s. You know, the fancy American jeweler with the little blue box. Dammit all- they have good packaging. And marketing. Because Audrey Hepburn wasn’t in a movie called Breakfast at Ben Bridge. Or Breakfast at the Sear’s jewelry department. When there’s a movie called Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it sort of makes the place iconic. Not sort of. It does. [Read more…]

She could have been a doctor, but she’s just my mom – (repost)

Author’s note: I originally posted this last year on my mom’s birthday. It’s her birthday again today and it deserves to be read again. I couldn’t have rewritten it any better.

Love you Mom.

 

 

*******************************

(2014)

It’s my mom’s birthday today. She is 73. Sorry mom. I suppose divulging your age is the first rule of lady code I just broke.

Well, I say wear your age proudly. Because when you’ve lived 73 years and seen what my mom has seen, I think you just throw your hangups about age out the window.

My mom is my compass. She’s my lighthouse in the dark. She is my mom and that’s my everything.

I am probably one of the luckiest humans to have such a woman in their life that breathes into her hope, inspiration and security.

My mom doesn’t have it easy. She takes care of my sister, who is disabled. Mom has had her own bout of hardships. Three joint replacement surgeries, a life saving surgery when her intestine was blocked and she could have died. OH, and she’s a cancer survivor. So, there’s that.

Also, when you’re born in Frankfurt in 1941 you are surrounded by a world at war. To think this little being and many others like her, came in to this world under Germany’s darkest years. But if there’s a light one can not extinguish even during this dark period, it was my mom coming forth. Little Uta. I think she was born speaking and solving problems, but that’s just my admiration for her. I know she was a regular little girl, a person with her own hopes and dreams before she was my mom. It’s hard for us as children to picture our parents as people. I mean, you’re telling me they had lives before they devoted it all to us? Indeed. This is a hard fact for my own children to accept sometimes. When you wear the badge of ‘MOM’ it’s hard to be seen as anything else.

Sure like other children, I have fond memories of the way my mom smelled (Chanel No 5 during the 70s) and the smells of her kitchen too. We would have her homemade pizza every Saturday night. We watched the Muppet Show from our kitchen table my dad built. Kermit was smaller then on the 18 inch color television that wasn’t even remote control yet.

But I also have memories of my mom when I was in high school and college. The morning after a late night out, she would sit on my bed while I would sip a cup of tea she brought me. I’d share details of the night like I would share to a girl friend. I would preface certain stories with, “Okay, you’re not my mom right now, what I’m going to tell you.” And she would listen without raising an eyebrow. She didn’t judge or scoff. Let’s be real though. I was a pretty square kid. I didn’t really drink, I never did drugs, I was usually home by midnight, and my male conquests were theater boys I would crush on from afar only to find out they were gay. Translation- I didn’t get much action in college!

So there really wasn’t a whole lot for her to judge me on anyway. BUT, I still felt comfortable sharing all my funny stories, crazy happenings when there were some, and girl to girl details only other women get.

I remember one time either in my early adult years or when I was still in high school, my mom and I were having a heart to heart. In one of her somewhat bleak moments, she said to me with tears in her eyes, “You know, I could have been a lot of things. Maybe a doctor. Maybe a scientist. But I’m just a mom.”

It broke my heart. How could this woman not be satisfied with anything more than being my mom?! Had she been a career woman and not stayed home with her kids, what would life have been like? Selfishly, I was glad this was all she was. My mom. Our mom.

But I told her that she is more than ‘Just a Mom’. She is patience, and trust, nurture and light. She helps the downtrodden, she advocates for the helpless. She friends the homeless and the addicts. She counsels the stranger she strikes up conversation with.

She is an amazing woman that is more than just a mom. But a person who betters this world just by living in it. She raised me and my brother and sister. She looks after my dad and is his partner of 55 years. She reads and swallows up information by the libraries. She is one of the smartest people I know. She can cook up a pie crust and help you with your 401(k) paperwork. I don’t know how this woman does it.

Did I mention she moved here from Germany when she was 17 after marrying my dad? They had my brother a few years later and within less than 10 years had their own two children and fostered troubled children. Mixed race children in the 60s! They took a road trip with their black foster daughter and their own two children down to Atlanta. The guts they had. This is how my parents live. By example.

So yeah. You turn 73 with 3 grown kids of your own, 4 grandchildren, a husband you’ve been married to for 55 years; you wear that age proudly.

And mom,  if you ever think you’re ‘just a mom’ and there was something else you could have been, think for a minute the lives you’ve touched. The ripple effect of what your living has created. How there should be more people like you that are as selfless, reliable and loving. I have never been more proud of you to just be my mom.

Happy birthday.

 

She could have been a doctory but she's just my mom by Frugalista Blog

My mom in the 1950s.

My kids are growing up and it’s freaking me out!

I’m sitting here in my room, typing on my lap top. My bedroom window is cracked open to let in the fresh air of this June rain we’re having. It’s nice. Refreshing.

But also, about a half mile away is the high school. And it’s the last day of school, class just let out and I can hear the cars honking, the tires squealing, and the shouts of ‘no more teacher’s dirty looks’. Well, not that last part. But amongst all that hoopla is Emma. Her last day as a freshman. She’s off to spend the day with friends and I texted her to be careful and watch out for the crazy drivers because kids are stupid. And kids are stupid when they are goofing off especially.

So I just get to sit here and fret over my kids being out in the big wide world. Which isn’t even the real BIG WIDE WORLD yet like the kids who have graduated this year and what their parents must be feeling! This is what keeps big pharma in business- the Xanax that parents like me will be popping like PEZ squares to keep from literally pulling out my eyebrows one hair at a time.

Owen is thrilled to have his first year of middle school under his belt and tucked away for good. Not because he enjoyed it, but that means he’s down to 2 more years in that place and he can’t wait to get out. Face it. Middle school sucks. He’s doing well, and it’s not horrible, but it’s still- well, middle school.

Middle school is only fun in your 40s when you’re at a themed dance for other moms and bloggers. But the real middle school is just shit. What is with the administration being so freaking uptight? I guess when you’re dealing with 1,200 11-14 year olds, it makes you kind of a tight ass.  You breathe wrong and the Vice Principal hands out a detention.

But high school has been the opposite. Emma has flourished as a freshman and has enjoyed more autonomy, responsibility and new friends than ever before in a school. She’s been lucky that her teachers ‘get’ her. During her health class when they were in the Sex Ed unit talking about STD’s, there were wooden penises on each desk to be used for a demonstration on proper condom application. Emma picks up her wooden penis and shouts to the teacher, ‘Hey! Look at my woody!”

Thankfully, the teacher burst into laughter and said that in all her years, she’s surprised that Emma was the first one to make that joke. Emma was just all, ‘How can you NOT make that joke?”

Also- just the idea of kids her age becoming sexually active- I mean. No. Just no. But I’d be dumb to pretend that’s not the case, so that’s why we talk about stuff all the time. Because OHMYGOSHNOTMYBABY!

She’s overcome so much in the way with her health issues; maintained a great GPA and has signed up to be the football team’s water girl/ team manager in the fall. What the hell you ask? Same here.

She knows little about football, isn’t athletic, but apparently is a hoot and a half filling the giant water jug and taking it to the field for the players. And the coaches like her and think she’s responsible. So hey, good for her.

Emma will also be taking Driver’s Ed this summer. Driver’s Ed. She’ll be maneuvering a car in traffic. Among other cars. And drivers. I mean, that’s how it works, I know. But still. OHMYGOSHDRIVERSED!!!!

SEX ED AND DRIVER’S ED!!! My baby!! I need to get a grip.

Owen is happy to be a 7th grader. He keeps counting the days to when he’s in high school. And then eventually both of them will be on their own and won’t need me for everything (thank GOD) but I will feel useless and it will force me in to some hobby or crisis that will cause me to wall paper our house in hideous floral patterns and install track lighting. Maybe even wear elastic waist pants.

I guess I have to just sit back and enjoy the bloom that emerges from the flower. It’s so freaking hard though!

Everyone knows that the best thing is for them to leave the nest, but I just don’t want them to fly too far.

I’ll stop making metaphorical comparisons to nature and my children growing up.

I was kind of hoping that as my kids got older I would like them less. You know, the teen years being so awful and all, it would just make me glad that they move out and go off to college. But it’s the opposite that’s true. They’re pretty cool though. We have fun together and I love them even more now than when they were born. Dang it!

My kids are growing up and it's freaking me out

 

When the fear of being wrong keeps us from doing what’s right

I’m not an expert on psychology or people’s motivations. I didn’t major in sociology or anthropology or any other subject at school that would make me know the inside of the human mind’s functions. But I’m a parent. And trying to teach kids from knowing right from wrong is pretty much what we live and breathe by, college degree in the subject or not!

One of those lessons happened to Owen in second grade. I remember it so well because I think it applies to most adults these days. Politicians caught in a scandal. Police officer questioned for misconduct. A spouse suspected of adultery.

When you do something wrong, the fear of the consequences makes for greater motivation than the interest of doing what’s right.

Owen is a good kid. He is one who listens, follows the rules, and really doesn’t like to get in trouble. But he’s human, so he does goof off. And occasionally he can manage to go too far. But he never got in trouble at school. Unlike the three detentions Emma got in 1st grade. I know, right? He’s my golden boy.

Okay, so he comes to me one day stressed and in tears. I ask him what’s wrong. He doesn’t want to tell me at first. His guilty conscience is heavy and he has a hard time facing me when he knows he’s done something that might disappoint me. But he also knows he needs help. So the need for help prevails and he bursts into tears and tells me the whole story.

He was stressed over some hoodlum in his class extorting him for money and toys!

This kid, Joey was getting a dollar here and a dollar there, not to mention some prized Legos out of the deal. I asked Owen what on earth he did that gives Joey so much power over him!

Owen said that one time at lunch in the cafeteria, he spit his food out to be funny. Some of it flew off and landed by Joey and he threatened to report Owen to the lunch monitor. Owen freaked out! He didn’t want to get in trouble so he said to Joey he would do anything to keep him from telling.

The first thing Joey extorted was a Lego key chain that Owen had kept on his backpack zipper. A friend gave it to him as a sympathy present after a kitten we had for a few weeks died suddenly. Then came Joey asking for a dollar for Owen to bring him the next day. Then two dollars another day.

Finally the toll of Owen giving up his money, and not to mention that he missed his key chain, put him over the edge.

He came clean with his story to me and I told him how we would handle it.

I pointed out that what was the source of his anguish was his first offense in spitting at lunch. He wanted to avoid the wrath of the lunchroom monitor and a possible detention, so he panicked and jumped to damage control.

I parted his sweet little blond hairs from his blue eyes and held his face in my hand. I told him that if he got in trouble at lunch, I would understand that we make mistakes from time to time. And that even though it wouldn’t have been much fun, his punishment would have been completed so that he could move on with this life. But instead he handed power over to Joey. And that power was his own guilty conscience.

When I said that in the morning we would have a face to face with Mrs. Peterson, his teacher, and tell her everything, he felt better. I told him that if there was a disciplinary action that still needed to be carried out over his behavior, he would accept it. And that we would tell the teacher what Joey was doing so that she can address that issue with him so he doesn’t do it to other kids too. Because a real friend doesn’t make you feel bad and take things that are yours.

The relief Owen felt was palpable. I knew that he understood that his first course of action was a rookie mistake, led on by panic and fear. And now he felt he had the strength and confidence to face the music.

We went to the teacher. Mrs. Peterson understood exactly what Owen was telling her about Joey. She said that he’s done something like that before. She told Owen to point out the key chain and tell her exactly how much money he gave Joey. She would have a conference with him and he would get his items back. As for the lunch behavior, the statute of limitations for spitting food out seemed to only have a short time span. Owen knew not to do anything like that again. But if he did slip up, to face his consequences.

Isn’t it funny how we can use a simple elementary school cafeteria extortion scenario to play out life’s moral code? How much better the world would be if people could own their wrong doing up front instead of creating more and more mess to cover it up?

I actually think that Owen won’t forget this lesson. Even though it happened almost 6 years ago. He remembers Joey and to steer clear of him even now in middle school. I’ve told Owen that getting punished by a teacher or administrator for something he did wrong doesn’t make me happy. But the disappointment is greater from me if he were to try and cover up his errors with more wrong doing. I’m more proud of his ownership of his actions, than whether or not he gets detention.

Fear of being wrong blog by Frugalista Blog

 

A Merry little Christmas to you. Or whatever.

I’m saying Merry Christmas because I celebrate Christmas. But if you celebrate something else, I am still wishing you a merry time. Peace and love folks, right?

There’s so much reflection this time of year. We have holiday cards with beautiful family photos, Christmas letters (or blogs if you will), Facebook even likes to take us through the highlights of the year through pictures and posts.

Is it the lights on the tree? The candles flickering on my tabletop? The sappy Hallmark movie on TV? What is it that makes me cry with intense gratitude this time of year? The beauty of everything is decked with sparkle and lights, red pops of color and greenery. Spring is gorgeous too, but it doesn’t get this much attention!

However, this time of year can be somewhat ugly. It can fill us with resentment. Despair. Feelings of inadequacy. We can’t always give our kids what they want. Maybe our house doesn’t look like anything on Pinterest. Or you didn’t get the wreath up and the lights have been up all year to the chagrin of the neighbors.

Money is tight. End of year expenses come up. Kids are sick. Water heaters go out. Ugh.

My mom always took the time to show me that it’s truly the small things this time of year that matter the most. The big things, like hope, love and family, are of course front and center. But you truly have to look for the little things to make Christmas come to your heart.

I like to light candles, have a Christmas cookie with my tea, heck, have a cup of tea sitting by the tree, whenever I can, to remind me, Christmas is here. Enjoy it.

But sometimes we yell back at that inner voice, “I’M TRYING ASSHOLE BUT I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT!”

This year was such a mixed bag. I’ve never had to deal before with a sick kid. Emma’s chronic pain and endometriosis issues have been a struggle since March. Even since her surgery in June, (you can read about that here) she hasn’t been 100%. Every day she is in pain to a varying degree. She misses a lot of school. We’ve had two trips to the Emergency Room because of intense pain. The kind that registers a 10 on the pain scale when the nurses ask you.

I’ve gone around and around with specialists, psychologists, counselors, teachers, well meaning family members, who all want to help, but don’t seem to have the magic answer.

What’s hard for Emma is that she’s learning there is no magic answer, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. Sentencing a 14 year old to a future of chronic pain just because she happens to be female, doesn’t make sense to someone who just wants to sing at her school choir concert. Who would like to party with her friends at Homecoming instead of leaving half way through because of the misery she’s in. To do an after school activity or her passion- trapeze- again without being in agony.

That’s been our year. And here it’s Christmas time and she’s been too miserable to see Santa. Yes, I know she’s 14. But we still do the Santa thing. I told her and her brother they will be doing Santa for me until they are married with kids of their own.

She wants to do ALL THE THINGS. But she can’t. And sometimes she’s okay with it and sometimes she cries in her pillow.

Here’s the part that makes me feel like a butthead for complaining. We had an AWESOME year of experiences. Like meeting President Obama, going to the Emmys, going to Disneyland, even Emma meeting her favorite YouTubers was a huge highlight of our year.

I guess it just always proves that life is as much a bowl of cherries as it is a bag of dicks.

So I hope that even when the shitter’s full, you can have peace in your heart. This post sure went sideways didn’t it?!

Merry ________________ (Christmas) to all! And here’s to 2015 being more awesome than sucky.

 

Frugalista Blog merry christmas or whatever