November 30, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

After the somewhat stressful process of deciding where my daughters would attend kindergarten, I thought my education decisions were over for a few years. Nope. Now I need to figure out next year!
A refresher on kindergarten choices: I had three options for my daughters. I could send them to the nearby charter school, send them to the public school we are zoned for or open enroll them into the public school where they attended preschool. I ruled out the charter school without ever speaking to anyone other than the secretary. During my initial phone call she informed me the school's policy is to separate multiples. I'm not opposed to separating my girls, but I want some say in the process. After a lengthy discussion with the principal where my daughters attended preschool, I made the decision to open enroll them there for kindergarten. First of all, he asked me to keep them there. I want my daughters in a school where they're wanted. He also told me it didn't matter how my daughters were separated in class (and also said they didn't have to be split) and left the decision to me on how to separate them. Plus, I visited the two full-day kindergarten classrooms and the teachers were fantastic. I don't regret my decisions at all. We have two wonderful teachers (which was important to me because we ended up with a not so wonderful teacher our final year of preschool) and we feel like we're part of the "school community." (I'm also on a first-name basis with the nurse/secretary as it seems she needs to call me at least every other week to alert me to a cut, scrape, fever, etc).
But now I need to start looking ahead to first grade. My daughters love school. I want that to continue, so I take this very seriously. (I know, I know. I make it sound like I'm selecting colleges!) The principal wants us to return next year. There are a lot of pros. My daughters have friends at this school. They're familiar with the school. We feel welcome. Plus one of the first grade teachers was Roo's speech therapist last year, so it would be nice to have Roo in her class. One of the reasons the teacher went to first grade is because she wanted more time with the students and felt like she could also address speech issues with those who need help.
I still have to consider the school we're zoned for. I have a meeting with the principal next week. Going to that school means my daughters would leave their friends at their current  school, but would be in classes with children from our neighborhood. I've heard good things about this school, so now it's time for me to find out for myself. I have a lot of thinking to do!

November 29, 2011

Is It My Turn for a Vacation?

We packed in a lot of activities during the girls' week off of school last week. The week included a trip to the library, a visit to our local butterfly pavilion, my midnight shift on Black Friday, a trip to the zoo for the Christmas display and to see Santa, a day of decorating the house for Christmas and, of course, Thanksgiving dinner. Phew!
It was actually nice to have the time to get out, even if it seemed we were constantly on the go. Sometimes during their school breaks the weather doesn't cooperate or work schedules don't leave room for much down time. The butterfly pavilion was crowded (we went the day before Thanksgiving) but manageable and while the nighttime visit to the zoo was chilly, we had fun looking at the lights and visiting Santa. 
Between our outings and work, I'm exhausted. My midnight to noon shift on Black Friday ended up only lasting until 9am. I came home and crashed for three hours and was in bed that night by 8:30pm. Thank goodness that's over until next year! Unlike the previous week when I dealt with an obnoxiously rude customer, on Black Friday a customer sought out my manager... and told him what exceptional service I had given her. (I swear I didn't put her up to it, either!) It was nice to end the chaotic week on a pleasant note!

November 22, 2011

Apparently They've Missed the Library

For whatever reason, kindergarten students at our school are not allowed to check out books from the library. This disappointed me because I remember how much fun library day was each week when I was in school. We have a nearby public library, which we used to visit quite a bit. With school, however, we just haven't had time.
The other day I mentioned the possibility of going to the library since school is out all this week. My girls were thrilled. Then I decided to capitalize on their excitement. Want to go to the library? Your rooms have to be clean. 
It worked like a charm. They cleaned their rooms without complaint. They purged the stuffed animals from their beds (one of them had at least 20 toys on her bed) and even crawled under their beds to retrieve books and more toys. Then one of the girls said "I bet we have to clean the entire downstairs, too, if we want to go to the library." They were game, so the house is in decent shape!
We'll be heading to the library soon to find some books and movies to keep all of us occupied this week.

November 21, 2011

Tis the Season... for Rudeness

Working retail means I definitely have my fill of rude customers. For the most part, I like interacting with people, but in the last week I encountered two women who were hard to deal with.
The first one I was at least able to help and send her on her way. The second woman, however, was clearly in a bad mood and felt it was best to take it out on me. 
I made a mistake in her transaction and when she pointed it out to me, I promptly apologized. She berated me and then demanded a manager. Then, when the manager arrived, she yelled some more and went into some racist tangent about illegal immigrants. It's really not worth explaining. I'm a blonde haired, blue-eyed, fair skinned American. I'm still trying to figure out the connection between what happened and illegal immigrants. (The woman behind her in line had no problem looking at the woman and telling her she was out of control, along with using some choice profanity. I must admit, I appreciated the fact that someone was standing up to the rude lady).
It bothers me when people are this rude and cruel. Clearly this particular customer's intent was to degrade and belittle me. Why? Who knows. Because she had a bad day? Because I'm a service worker and she knows I can't fight back without risking my job? Because she thinks anyone who works retail must not be educated? I've left stores angry over service issues, but I've never gone so far as to berate an employee. If I'm that hot over something, I'll go home and think about it. If it still bothers me, I'll write either corporate headquarters or the store's manager. On the other hand, if someone goes above and beyond, I'll write a glowing letter to corporate to let them know how much I appreciated the service.
I can usually blow off rude customer encounters. This one, however, has been hard to shake. It's not even Black Friday and already the overly rude customers are making themselves known. I'm a little worried about what's in store for the rest of this holiday season.

November 17, 2011

I Waited Too Long

Christmas shopping has been fairly stress-free this year. I've been using the gift cards I racked up through Swagbucks, so we aren't really paying for much. But, as luck has it, the one item Tortilla wants is becoming impossible to find.
She wants an Easy Bake Ultimate Oven. She's already talking about how we will no longer need to buy birthday cakes because she will make them all. I had it "saved" in  my cart through Amazon, but, apparently I'm a little too thrifty.  As I waited to see if the price would drop below $39.99 closer to Black Friday, it suddenly was out of stock. Now it's back on the site for.... wait for it... $52. (The other day it was $63!) I am not shelling out that much for a pretend oven, even if you can make cakes and pretzels in it. I don't care if my gift cards would cover the $52. Not doing it. Kohl's doesn't carry it. Toys R Us was out. I ordered the oven from another retailer, and if the price on Amazon drops, I'll return the other one. These cakes better be delicious!

November 14, 2011

Where Are the Leftovers?

I'm not ashamed to admit that for several years I've been making two separate dinners: one for my daughters, one for Hubby and me. They were so picky that making one meal for all six of us was a huge waste of food. Dinner with four is so hectic that it becomes easier for us to eat later. Most of the time we're so busy handling refills, etc. that we don't get to enjoy our meal. Lately, though, I've been trying to encourage my daughters to try new foods... meaning the same things we will be eating later. It's so much easier to pop in a casserole or a crockpot meal that will feed everyone, rather than try to figure out two different meals.
It's been an interesting experiment. They're not excited by acorn squash, but they devour spaghetti squash. Three of them like my white chicken chili and all of them ate pot roast and some asked for seconds. Hubby and I are glad they're trying new things, but it means we no longer have the luxury of taking leftovers for lunch the next day. Hubby was really trying to ration his pot roast serving so he would have something left for lunch. I think we had a small container of chili leftover, compared to the huge bowl of leftovers when just Hubby and I ate it.
So what does this mean? I'm going to have to calculate larger servings when I cook so we can still reap the benefits of leftovers.

November 09, 2011

What Do You Do With Your Clothes?

I've written before about how great the clothing sale is that's put on by my moms of multiples group. We hold it two times a year and we all tend to unload a lot of clothes and bring in some extra cash. Unfortunately, no one currently wants to head up the ginormous work of coordinating the spring sale. No dates have been locked in and it's looking like the spring sale is a no go. Bummer!
I have four Rubbermaid bins and one garbage bag full of clothes and toys just waiting to be sold. Have any of you sold children's clothes through Ebay? Is it worth my time? How do I figure in shipping costs? I'm seriously considering going the Ebay route with roughly 20 items to see if it works. 
Have any of you gone to a local consignment shop? I'm not sure how I feel about consignment since most stores give you a date to pick up whatever hasn't sold. I've read good and bad things about Once Upon a Child, which gives you cash on the spot. Anyone have an opinion?
A group called Just Between Friends hosts a sale twice a year near my home. The commission structure is similar to my moms of multiples group, but their "suggested pricing guide" is pretty high. I price my thing to sell and make a little bit of money to boot. I don't expect to be rolling in cash after the sales. 
To be clear: I do donate to local charities. A lot. As I prepare for the sale I make a few piles: things to pass on to friends, things to donate to the charity that has me on speed dial and things to sell. Right before our sale last month I gave one bag of clothes to a mom with triplets and donated four bags to the aforementioned charity. I like donating and knowing the clothes will either help a friend or help a charity. Still, there are some items I have that are in excellent condition and could definitely bring in some much needed cash to our bank account. (And just for the record, I don't donate stained, icky clothes. I currently have two bags in the basement to donate that are full of hats, jeans and tops, all in great condition. I tend to donate the items that seem too tedious to tag for the sales).
So, anyone?! I'm open to suggestions on how to bring in a little extra income for the "higher end" items that my girls have outgrown.

November 08, 2011

My How Times Have Changed

As part of the nightly homework in kindergarten, we are required to read together. This is not a big deal because my daughters love books. We started out letting each of them pick a book and reading to them one on one. For their birthday I gave them the complete set of Ramona books, so we have been working our way through those. (We actually read Beezus and Ramona about a year ago). 
You can tell the books were not written recently. The language is a little more proper than what we use today and every now and then my girls have to ask "what does that mean?" In one of the books I had censor what I was reading because Ramona was intent on proving that her dad was the Tooth Fairy. Not all of my girls have lost their first tooth so I'm not ready to spoil the magic.
We are currently reading Ramona and Her Father. I really struggled with last night's chapter. This book mentions quite often that Ramona's father smokes. After dinner he'll ask Ramona to get him an ashtray. Last night's chapter focused on his smoking and kept describing the smoke rings that he would blow. Ramona and Beezus spent the chapter trying to convince their dad to quit his habit. Let's face it, if this book were written today I'm pretty sure all references to Mr. Quimby's smoking would have been removed. It certainly never came up in the movie based on the books. 
Hubby and I don't smoke. No one in our family smokes, although he and I grew up around grandparents who smoked... a lot. I'm sure my daughters have seen people smoking when we're out and about, but it's never been an issue. I ended up using last night's chapter as a stepping stone to a bigger conversation: why you shouldn't smoke. It was a little bit much for them to comprehend, but I just couldn't read that chapter without making a point. I knew someday I would have to start addressing these issues, I was just a bit surprised that Ramona Q. initiated the conversation.

November 07, 2011

DST, Ruining My Routine Once Again

I used to love "falling back." Turning the clocks back an hour meant an extra hour of sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way with children. I have never once enjoyed an extra hour of sleep with my girls around. Yesterday they slept until what would have been 7:30 am just the day before. Today, they were up before the alarm for school. The last few weeks have been great. It's been dark until about 7 am or so, and I've had to wake them up for school. Now that we have set the clocks back an hour, I'll be lucky if they make it to 6:30 am! The sun is now up earlier and I guess we will be, too! One of these days my daughters will understand the luxury of sleeping in. Until then, I'll just have to hope they continue to whisper when they wake up.

November 01, 2011

The Winners Are...

The three winners of the Shutterfly giveaway are:

  • Heather
  • Ashamuhlee
  • mmunford2000

If you have not received an email from me within the next 24 hours with your promo code, PLEASE contact me! Thanks to everyone who entered.

She Picked a Twizzler?!

Until recently, I was a major chocoholic (chocaholic?!). My mom loved chocolate, so, naturally, I loved it, too. This, of course, became an issue around first grade when we learned I was allergic to caffeine (although now-a-days, doctors would say I have an "intolerance," not an allergy). Over the years I learned how much I could eat without becoming sick.
I used to need chocolate on hand at all times. I would buy bags of the miniature chocolate bars so if I had a craving I could cure it. One little mini and I was good. Two made  my stomach hurt. I can't remember the last time I wanted chocolate, so it has been quite some time since we've had bags of mini chocs in the house.
Last night was a chocoholics dream... Halloween. Almost every house gave out chocolate. My girls surprised me. Early in the day they said "If we're really good can we have one piece of candy after we trick or treat?" One?! Yes. When we came home I let them go through their buckets and pick out one piece of candy. Tortilla picked a mini box of Milk Duds (mmmmm), Sue Sue picked an mini Almond Joy (ick, coconut?), Roo picked a mini Twix (my fav, especially when frozen) and Cakes picked a Twizzler. What?! Heck no. I told her to pick something better. There's nothing wrong with Twizzlers. When I was pregnant and not really keeping down anything I could keep down Twizzlers. But honestly, if you're shown 50+ pieces of candy and told to pick one, why would you pick a Twizzler?! Cakes picked again and decided on a Twix. Good girl. Unfortunately, as I went through the candy bags I realized they had received two, count 'em TWO Twix and those were just eaten by Roo and Cakes. Sigh. Well, at least Hubby has a plethora of his favorite... Almond Joy.
Time is running out to enter my Shutterfly giveaway!