Sunday, April 28, 2013

Domestic Goddess Status

... Not reaching it.  There just aren't enough hours in the day. 

I suppose this was a bad week to judge myself on--Jimmy had his wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday, so that day was spent split between the waiting room (where they didn't allow coffee at seven in the morning...) and then taking care of a semi-high husband.  The rest of the week was pretty much hanging out taking care of him.  Yesterday we managed to get out and see a movie (Olympus has fallen, which was awesome by the way), and today we took the dogs out down by the Riverwalk. And I swept the downstairs for the third time this week.  But that was really all. 

Have I mentioned that I really can't handle all this dirt?  I literally have to sweep every day or it just becomes unmanageable.  I tried going to once or twice a week, a week, but by the end of the week we look like the filthiest people ever, and I look like a terrible housekeeper.  The only solution I can come up with is getting area rugs for the living room and front hall (in front of the two doors), but Jimmy is for some reason diametrically opposed.  I feel (and Caitlyn has confirmed that it worked for her) that it would cut down on the visible and tangible dirt--my hope would be that I could vacuum once a week instead of sweeping seven times... But I digress.

In any event, I made a chore list.  Tomorrow I'm going to print it and have it laminated at Kinko's and then stick it on the fridge.  It's broken down into Daily, Weekly and Bi-Weekly columns.  The daily column includes: dishes, sweep first floor, water plants, feed fish, feed dogs, feed cat, and cook dinner.  The weekly column is the longest and includes: empty trash, check bill folder, clean out fridge, clean yard of dog "presents", clean the litter box, dust living room, clean kitchen appliances, laundry, sweep second floor, and mop.  Then the bi-weekly column (because if it's a monthly column it'll never get done) includes: meal plan, grocery shop, wash bedding, scrub bathrooms, mow lawn, and clean the fish tank.

The plan is to put it on the fridge with two different colored highlighter, so items can be highlighted as they're done.  Then, at the end of the pay period, whoever's done the most chores gets to pick the takeout menu for the night.  This way, we both know exactly what needs to get done, and when, so there will be no excuses about not getting things done when we have a little spare time.

Please God it works. Because otherwise I'm going to have to hire a maid, or the mess is just going to make me go apeshit.

I can't afford a maid.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Holy Busy and Star Wars Pancakes

Oh my goodness. 

My blog has been so neglected this last week.  Between working a few twelve hour days, cleaning for another friend's visit, and I don't even know what else, this is literally the first time I've opened my laptop in a week.

So, my week in a nutshell:

Multi-surface Pledge, coffee, cover your mouth when you cough, Finding Nemo, bad dog!, take your medicine, sweep sweep sweep, grocery shopping, Veggie Tales, drink your juice, All Dogs Go To Heaven, coffee, no more zombies, I can't handle all this dirt!, coffee, Tom and Jerry, Tom and Jerry, Tom and Jerry, Gavin DANIEL!, the cat's trying to kill me, Disney Junior, Oh my God it's Friday, Croods 3D, clean like a crazy, coffee.

Now my friend Hannah is visiting, and we're totally being adults and making Star Wars shaped pancakes, so that's all I have time for just now.  But soon I'll be back with a for-real update.

In the meantime, here's a pancake Millennium Falcon for your enjoyment:

It's okay to be jealous.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Was I Up So Early? and Working Out at Home


It's 11:30 in the morning, and already I've had my coffee, talked to my mom, read some of my book, crocheted a little, watched some TV, AND worked out.  Most days off, I haven't even had my coffee by 11:30.

Jimmy had an overnight guard duty again last night, and accidentally woke me when he came home at 6:30.  I laid in bed for another hour and a half or so, but couldn't manage to fall back asleep.  So I got out of bed and apparently put my productive pants on.

River was less than amused by my choice to get up early.

Not much of what I did was really worth blogging about, except the workout I just did.  I still haven't gotten up the courage to go to an on-post gym, and Caitlyn isn't a class kind of person (Zumba, Yoga, etc) and I'm too socially awkward to go alone.  So, where did I turn?  Pinterest.  Duh.

I actually have a whole board of workout type stuff.  I still haven't devised an every day plan yet, but here's what I did today.

This is literally everything I used to work out this morning.  No fancy equipment, no expensive programs or DVD's.  Just a pillow, a chair, two cans of soup, my TV and my phone.

First, I did an arm workout, found here. It's a Tracy Anderson ballet-inspired arms workout. It's eight minutes long and hard as f***. But I can already tell it's going to work like a charm if I do it every day.  And really, who doesn't have eight minutes?

This is the actual video if you want to watch it here.   It requires no equipment except a phone or computer to watch the video on.  I recommend a computer or tablet--it was kind of hard to see all the moves on my phone.

Then I did this workout:


This was  also kind of hard, because I'm overweight and out of shape, and also because I did the arms workout and some squats on my own before this.  The wall sit and plank times were cut in half, but I plan to work up to longer.

The final workout I did was my favorite by far.  It can be found here, and it's actually titled "The Lazy Girl Workout."  It's timed for a 30 minute TV show with commercials.  You do the weight exercises (which is what the cans of soup and pillow were for) during the program, and some cardio like jumping jacks or running in place during commercials.  I was using Netflix, so I just added in a minute or two of cardio where the commercials should have been.


This workout makes me feel WAY less guilty about my TV watching.  I'll probably do another round later on tonight as well.  I'm going to pay for it tomorrow; my whole body (ESPECIALLY my arms) really hurts.

So there you have it.  I worked on my entire body, WHILE watching TV, and with no more tools than what you probably have in your living room and kitchen right now.

The only problem?  Now I'm hungry, and I think I'm going to be down a weight tomorrow, because that Italian Wedding soup is looking pretty good...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Nanny Chronicles, Take Two

So I told you all last week about that long, wonderful post of awesomeness that I created, only to be lost to the void of cyberspace.  Remember?  It had pictures, and hyperlinks, even.  It was basically the best post ever.  This would be me, trying to re-create it.  This post is kind of long, but if you have any tiny humans that you interact with on a day-to day basis, I think it'll be worth the read.

Gavin and I had a pretty good week last week. I've been his nanny for six weeks now, and we've got a pretty good rhythm going.  Does rhythm really not have an "e" in it???  Now it doesn't even look like a word...

Sorry, got distracted.  Does that happen to other people?  Sometimes I spell a word right the first time, but it looks so WRONG that I look it up, and then I've stared at it so long that no matter how I spell it, it doesn't even look like a word anymore.  Is that just me and my weirdness, or does it happen to other people too?

Anyways, we had a few bumpy days at first.  We've had to work some on transitioning between activities, keeping on task, listening, and using an inside voice.  Of course, Gavin doesn't really realize we're working on these things.  For him, these things translate to a magnet schedule, a sticker calendar, and a prize box.

The magnet schedule is the most self explanatory, and I cannot take credit for the idea.  I found it here, via Pinterest of course!  However, I can tell you that Gavin and I have tested her idea, and it totally works!  This is what Gavin's schedule looks like:

His schedule goes in chronological order of things that we do every day.  In the morning, we get dressed, brush his teeth, make the bed, and read at least one book.  Then we usually take a little break and do something fun--play outside with bubbles, go to the museum or library, maybe watch a movie.  Then, typically after lunch, we do "homework," (which I'll explain), take Wilson (the dog) outside, eat dinner, and take a bath.  Then, if I'm there, bedtime is exactly at nine pm.  No whining, no tantrums, no exceptions.

Sometimes our overall schedule varies a little.  For example. Tuesdays are our "Library Day."  There's a pre-school story hour at 10 AM on Tuesdays, and there's no way we're going to get dressed, brush teeth, make the bed, read a book, and get in the car and get to the library by ten.  So usually, we leave the bed and the book until after we come home.  And then there are some days that Gavin's mom comes home before dinner, so I'm not there for that.  But on the days that I'm there, we stick to the schedule.

Gavin gets SUPER FREAKING EXCITED about closing those little flaps.  They all say "Done!" on the outside, and whenever he finishes a task, he says "I have to go to my calendar!!!" And then he runs through the house to his schedule and closes his flap, and then tells me what's next.  Instead of having to nag him a thousand times to make the bed, he runs and does it all on his own so he can close the flap.  The same goes for all the other tasks.

The best part?  This was ridiculously easy to make.  All it took was some construction paper, glue, a few pieces of clip art, a sharpie, and some magnates.  The magnets were the hardest part to find.  Once I had all the materials, I put the calendar together in an afternoon, and it cost less than ten dollars to make.  Believe me when I tell you it was worth the ten dollars.

This next idea I came up with all by my lonesome.  Gavin and I were having some problems with his general behavior.  I'm talking about temper tantrums, not listening when told to do (or not to do) things, and just generally being naughty.  Intellectually, I know he was just testing his boundaries with me, because I was the new nanny, and he wanted to see how far he could push his luck with me.  But for me, the answer needed to be not at all.

Let me take a moment here to say I firmly believe in authoritative parenting (or nannying, as the case may be).  This means high expectations, but high levels of warmth, love and nurturing.  Kids should have rules and expectations that they know and understand.  They should be taught to be respectful and polite. When they behave badly, there should be consequences.  When they behave well, they should be rewarded.  But they should also always know that the adults in their lives love them, no matter what, and that they can trust them to take care of them.

So I do NOT believe that you should be your child's best friend or buddy, nor do I believe that you should be a cold and distant disciplinarian; there has to be a balance.  It's a difficult way to parent, but I believe it builds the most well-adjusted children, and that it also builds the best relationship with your child.

It's A LOT harder when it's someone else's child.  Which is why I came up with the sticker calendar and prize box.

This is the sticker calendar.  It doesn't actually have any stickers on it in this picture, but it's just a basic desk calendar that I bought at Target.  It's hard to see, but it is color coded.  The weeks that Gavin is with his mom are colored green, and weeks he's with his dad are colored blue (his two favorite colors). Then, any day that he's going to see me is circled in purple (one of my favorite colors).  So basically, Gavin always knows what's coming.

The stickers I bought are pretty awesome--they're little emoticon stickers.  I found them at a dollar store, I think.  If Gavin has a Good Day, he gets a Good Day sticker--likewise with Bad Days.  The last thing we do before I leave for the day is pick the appropriate sticker.

The rules for picking which sticker to use are pretty simple: if Gavin's had a time out, it's a bad day sticker.  There are several things that lead to a time out--a temper tantrum is an automatic time out.  If I have to count to three when he's being naughty, it's a time out.  And if I have to ask him to do something (i.e. put his dishes in the sink) three times, it's a time out.  That one I remind him after asking him the second time, because he hasn't quite grasped it yet.  So far, he's only had two bad days--once following a time out when he kicked me when I took a toy away, and once when he threw a major hissy fit about not wanting to get out of the bathtub. 

Once Gavin has five good days in a row, he gets to pick a prize from the prize box, because I am not at all above small amounts of bribing.

I will admit that this craft was a tiny bit expensive.  The box was six or seven dollars, the "G" another three; the paints were two dollars each and the little wooden pictures were a dollar each.  Plus there are ten dollars worth of dollar store prizes inside the box. All in all, it was around $25 to make the box and fill it with prizes.  BUT, as the box was a one time deal, and it's going to take us a while to run through the prizes, it's pretty worth it.  Plus, we had a good time collecting the materials.

Gavin came with me to Hobby Lobby to get the box, the "G," and the paints.  Originally, it was just going to be a plain painted box, but I couldn't resist when I saw the little wooden pictures--they were only a dollar, and much more adorable than anything I could freehand.  Then, when I gave Gavin ten dollars and told him to go wild in the toy section of the Dollar Tree, you would think Christmas had come early.  It was a lot of fun.

So there you have it!  Two of the secrets to my nannying success.  Maybe I should make myself a sticker calendar to reward myself for doing housework... Hmm...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Case of the Mondays and "First World Problems"

Ugh.  I'm feeling very "bleh" today.

Steffany, Shylo, Dyann and Jim left yesterday afternoon, and the house already feels way too quiet without the girls around.  That's depressing enough, in and of itself.

Then Jimmy's phone took a nosedive last night, and we had to spend quite a bit of time and money at Verizon this morning to get a new one.  It actually worked out okay--my dad was due for an upgrade he was never going to use, so instead of dealing with insurance claims and being without a phone for a week, we were able to get Jimmy a brand new iPhone 5 for just a little more than it would have cost to replace his old 4.   They also gave us about $90 back for trading in his old (basically useless) broken phone, so that knocked down the price some too.  We also found out that I'm due for an upgrade in June, which is the good news.  Sadly, I need a new case now, and it seems silly to buy a nice one for just three months. BUT I found a decent one on Amazon just now for about ten dollars:


So that was nice.  But this was after looking at three separate places for a case.  Verizon, Wal-Mart, and the PX had next to no cases left for iPhone 4's or 4s's.  The few they did have were either pink and glittery (ICK!) or way too expensive for something I'll only use for a few months.  So the trek all around town was frustrating.

This was also after finding the PERFECT painting for the giant empty space above our staircase (now that it's clean!) at Hobby Lobby, only to find out it wasn't really on sale for half off like the sign said it was, and would actually have cost seventy dollars... Which was way more than I was willing to spend.  So I left there feeling pretty annoyed.

These are all distinctly "First World Problems," I know.  But they've still left me feeling grumpy and irritated. So today I'm going to take a break from cleaning and being productive.  I'm going to curl up on the couch with my babies, do some crafting, watch some bad TV, and maybe later make something fun for dinner.

Hope everyone else's case of the Mondays isn't as bad as mine. :/

Friday, April 5, 2013

Alligators and Allergies

Today was Alligators and Agriculture Day at the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, which is run by Columbus State University.  Gavin, Steffany, Shylo and I all went. We got to see a bunch of reptiles, some farm animals, and learn about some agricultural and farming stuff. We got to eat soybeans, make a garden in a plastic glove, and learn about why it's important to keep our water clean.  Then we visited with the animals.

Gavin with Old Bess the cow.  No, I'm not kidding, that's her real name.

One of the full grown female alligators.

Maurice, the Nile Monitor who devoured three dead rats while we watched.

A weird looking black and white turtle.

A catfish almost as big as I am.

A giant tortoise, sunning itself under a heating lamp.  He's pretty chill.  We hung out for a while.

Two tiny baby alligators. They're kind of hard to see, but they're right in the middle of the frame. They're almost cute when they're that small.

We had a pretty good time--Shylo loved looking at all the fish, and Steffany even took Gavin to look at the snakes.  (I chickened out and hung out with the tortoise while they did that.  If it has more than four legs or less than two I'm really just not interested.)

Then pretty much immediately afterward, we went to Wal-Mart to get some Benadryl for me.  After we touched the farm animals at the end, I started breaking out in hives, on my hands and my neck, which I must have touched.  I'm fairly convinced it was Old Bess the cow that started it.  I've been around chickens and rabbits before, and I touched the goat when we first got there as well as at the end.  Old Bess was the last thing I decided to pet before we left, and by the time we got to the car, I had hives on my right hand (which I petted her with) and up my neck as well. So, I'm fairly certain that today I discovered a cow allergy...

So now I'm a little zonked out on Benadryl, covered in anti-itch cream (which I may take a bath in later), and we're all relaxing on the couch watching How to Train Your Dragon.  So the next time I get a bright idea about taking the kids to some fun, family friendly event... Some remind me about the cow, okay?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bad Wesley!

You'll have to pardon my lack of posts for the last few days.  Blogger and I are sort of involved in an argument, and I'm not winning.

See, here's what happened. On Monday, I started this long post of awesomeness about my job--some of the stuff Gavin and were doing this week, some of the tools I've come up with to make life with a willful four year old more manageable... There were pictures.  And explanations.  And a hyperlink.  It was basically the coolest thing ever, and it took three days.

And Blogger lost it.

Something happened with my internet, I think.  And even though I was hitting the "Save" button after every paragraph, it only saved the first one.  And then when I hit the "Publish" button, late last night, when I had FINALLY finished and was about to go to bed... Blogger refreshed to a blank screen with only my first paragraph at the top.

At this point, I did a *facepalm,* closed my laptop and, admitting defeat, went to bed.

Now, it's Thursday morning.  I have roughly seven hours before my best friend and her family get here (eeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!), and the house is, once again, a disaster.  I. Don't. Know. How. This. Keeps. HAPPENING. I cleaned all last week!  You remember. I scrubbed.  I vacuumed.  I mopped.  This place sparkled. 

And now it's a horrendous mess again. 

So you see my dilemma.  I really want to work on the amazeballs post again.  But, I have more pressing issues in the real world.  Sadly, cyberspace is going to have to wait.  BUT, don't worry, I will write it again.  Blogger will NOT defeat me.

*sigh*  Now I have to go clean again.  If you don't hear from me by Sunday, send in a search party--I've probably been kidnapped and tortured by the dirt.