Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Skipping School

Call it sluffing or playing hooky--I actually don't know what the kids today call it--at our house, we call it boredom.

Yesterday #4 took her time getting ready for school. So much so that when I drove away in the van with her siblings, she was still lounging around in her underpants. (Kent was upstairs, in case you wondered where her supervision would come from.)

When I got back from dropping off her sisters, I promptly turned off the TV--which of course was turned on in my absence--and asked her to get dressed. She was happy to learn that she could wear whatever she wanted, i.e. no school uniform. I reminded her that meant that I wasn't going back to the school until the end of the day, and she didn't seem too bothered by an unexpected day off. Then I told her what I do all day at home: clean. I invited her to clean with me, but also gave her the option of sitting in her room. After all, since she wasn't sick, I was going to pretend she was at school and go about my day as usual, which includes not seeing or hearing from her until school is over. Not surprisingly, she chose to stay in her room.

About an hour later, I cracked her door open to find the scene above. I was pleasantly surprised that she had cleaned her own room, though I don't know why she wasn't reading one of the many books in her room. Oh well, I'm glad she didn't think to un-bore herself.

After taking the photo, I again offered the cleaning option, and she went for it. I got a clean dining room floor out of the deal. The consequence faltered a bit while she played with preschoolers during a presidency meeting, but I reinstated the boredom by taking her to two meetings at the school for the rest of the afternoon. She did her homework there, and then sat for over 30 min. watching her friends in the hallway while I met with more boring adults.

The icing on the cake came when her sisters all brought their report cards home and asked to go to Krispy Kreme. (They give up to six glazed doughnuts, one for each A on a student's report card.) That pitched her into a fit, and I just gave her a hug and expressed how sorry I was that she had missed getting her report card. We headed out for our FHE treat, and though we did buy her one doughnut, it really didn't make up for the boxes of doughnuts that her sisters brought home.

Guess who was the first one showered and dressed today? :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Home-Grown Dinner

One of the things I love about this time of year is harvesting the production of my garden. Sure we've picked a little here and there since spring, but the amount of food we've been able to harvest these past few weeks for our own food storage is encouraging. I'll plan next year's garden around those plants that take up a small amount of space in comparison with the amount of food they produce.

Here is a dinner we had recently. There is nothing like eating fresh and homemade food. (I don't know why my computer refuses to rotate this photo, but it's a round plate, so hopefully you aren't offended by the fork at the top. I promise, I ate with it at the side of the plate!)

I tried pole beans this year. They are stringless if picked on time. So tasty with a sprinkling of lemon pepper after steaming.

My kids love these sandwiches. We spread Kent's homemade oat bread with mayo, lay on some freshly picked basil and sliced home-grown tomatoes, sprinkle with cheese and broil in the oven until the cheese is slightly melted.

I was excited to come up with this other side dish. It's mashed crookneck squash and potatoes. I cut up the squash (any summer squash would be good) and boiled it until soft. Then I drained off most of the water and added about a half cup of potato pearls, which are dehydrated mashed potatoes that are already seasoned with butter and salt. Then I mashed. The potato pearls rehydrate in the squash's liquid, and the flavors are great together. This is my kids' new favorite way to eat squash.

So good! And so nice to have this meal from our own back yard and food storage.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Frantic Family: Part 4

The last step we took in answering the Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family was to define our Rallying Cry.

The Rallying Cry is a family's current top priority. When a family gives a second of thought to this, it is pretty easy to know what one thing needs the most attention at the time. This Rallying Cry is something that will take between two and six months to tackle. In the book, one family identifies their top priority as getting the husband/father healthy. Another decides to get serious about a house remodel. For Kent and me, we knew ours is to put our finances in order.

Once the Rallying Cry is defined, a family decides what four or five things need to happen to accomplish that priority. We attached a timeline to ours because one step generally feeds into the next. However, if we had decided that our family needed more quality time together, we could make time for each other without deadlines. (Note: The Rallying Cry can focus on a Standard Objective, although it doesn't have to.)

To achieve our Rallying Cry of Putting Finances in Order, we defined the following points:
Update our Books by Oct. 15--this means categorizing all receipts in Quicken and balancing all account statements
Increase our Income by Nov. 1--this step stands on its own, but it was very helpful to have a deadline for it
Establish a Budget by Dec. 1
Create a System for Handling Bills and Mail by Dec. 31--so we don't get overwhelmed and lose track of our financial health again
Clean the Office by 2/28--this long-term deadline may sound silly to you, but the whole thing still sounds daunting to me because we have to Purge All Old Paperwork and Create a Working Filing System

(Another note: If you have a system for mail/bills or filing that works great, I would love your input.)

I have loved having a Rallying Cry. For years I've muddled through with a huge to-do list. The only items that ever get done are the ones with looming deadlines that stress me out. With no deadlines on family finances, home repairs, cleaning, etc., I get very little accomplished on any of those things and I felt guilty about my snail's-pace progress. The Rallying Cry has given me permission to neglect the rest of my deadline-less to-do list (I love hyphens!) and has focused me on the finances. When I have 20 minutes to kill, I don't wander around trying to sort mail and pick up the family room and load the dishwasher and water the roses. I know that time is now dedicated to entering receipts in Quicken. And we are making progress! The Oct. 15 deadline has me a little stressed this week, but I think it will propel me to get our books caught up and ready to serve our financial decisions again. Go finances! Yeah!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Frantic Family: Part 3

It's about time to finish this series of posts. I suppose my inability to find computer time for this demonstrates the franticicity of my life. (Yes, I know the word is supposed to be "franticness", but I like my coined word better. Even the sound of it is frantic!)

After we came up with our family's statement, we listed those things that must be underlying to all we do. In other words, the things that are are necessary for our family to be on the right course. When those things are neglected, we experience problems. These objectives are based on our values, and they tended to be the things that Kent and I both identified as necessary on an individual basis and overall for the family. The most important part of this step was agreeing on what these words mean. The vocabulary doesn't perfectly portray what we are getting at, but after discussing these objectives, Kent and I know what they mean and we can communicate their meaning to our children. The point is to have categories of family health that we can look at objectively on a weekly basis to determine if we are getting off track.

We call this list our "Standard Objectives". Here are ours.
Individual Well-Being (of every family member)
Maintaining our Household--we broke this category into Finances and physical Home Maintenance (cleaning, repairs, etc.)
Education--with subcategories for formal Schooling and other Individual Pursuits
Relationships with Others--we consider this on several levels: Date Nights (for spouses and parent/child), Family Time for all seven of us, and time with Extended Family and Friends

Your own list might include descriptions or not. Kent likes to think of these items as a dashboard. Just as the dashboard tells a driver if the oil is low or the engine needs to be checked or the radiator is not cooling--all things that could spell disaster for the whole automobile--our standard objectives give us critical points to look at that indicate how well our family is running according to what is most important overall.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Beehive Stories

I've started watching a series of short documentaries called "Beehive Stories". Each 5-10 minute film in the series interviews someone from a county or national park in Utah to get a collective look at what it means to live in Utah. They are nice, feel-good stories and I like to see how my fellow Utahns view their hometowns, which vary greatly across the state.

I heard about this project while listening to a KBYU "Thinking Aloud" interview with BYU professor Brad Barber, who created the series with his film students. (I also recommend the "Thinking Aloud" program. The archived interviews are the perfect length to listen to during a workout.) The documentaries air occasionally on KBYU TV, but you can also stream them from here. Take a look. (My favorite so far is the Sanpete episode.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Shooting Things

One of the items on my list of things that give me energy is "shooting things". Here's where I confess that I've never shot anything with a real, bullet-loaded gun. Or rather, I hadn't. In my sheltered life, all I've handled are laser guns, BB guns (I got one shot as a demo for the boys when I took the Cub Scouts to Day Camp--and I knocked a bottle off a rock!), and Airsoft guns. Though I've wanted a taser for awhile, I've never wanted to handle real guns. Frankly, they kind of scared me. But since I recognized that I really love taking aim and hitting a target, I thought it was high time that I face my little fear and pull the trigger of a loaded gun.

So for our date night last night, we went to the gun range at the Orem Rec Center. Our friends, the Gonzalezes doubled with us, which helped to defray the cost of ammunition. That stuff is pricey! Kent picked up a box of bullets for a big ol' Magnum revolver that belongs to our friend's dad. That beast of a gun takes huge bullets that cost more than a dollar a piece! I thought going to the gun range, where you can rent a .22 caliber rifle for $2.50 an hour, would be a cheap date. Not so; we managed to spend $40 in ammunition for both guns. I guess if we go back a few times to use up the bullets, then the dates will each be cheaper on average.

Anywho, we had a fun time. While everyone else gave the revolver a try, I decided against dislocating my shoulders and just stayed content trying the rifle. Here's Kent taking aim with the revolver. (ha ha) He really did try it from 15-20 feet, and was not able to hit the target because of the kick from the gun, (although David hit it with both of his shots). I still love you Kent.

Here I am looking armed but not so dangerous with Mindy.

I was at first frustrated that all my shots were hitting above the target, or missing my paper all together. Kent kept telling me to line up the sights, but I just could not line the tip of my gun and still line up the target. Finally, Kent realized he had left out a minor detail: I needed to sight with my right eye, not my left. Then I got a lot better! I even got one shot at the bull's eye!

After about an hour, we made a quick trip to the hospital. Not typcially a great way to end a date at the gun range. Here's what happened...

...nothing notable.
(Did I scare you?) We went to visit Kent's dad who had heart surgery the day before. Unfortunately, we got there when his pain meds were wearing off and the crew of nurses needed to check on him. So we stood in the hall for ten minutes before deciding to come back later. (He was in much better spirits tonight when I took the kids, and he's recovering well.)