Day 1 of Superhero Summer Camp at home.

Today was our first day of my Master Plan to have Summer Camps at Home.  This week is Superhero Week.

Today we had some fun.  With our library being closed today for the holiday, we took our weekly trip to the library a couple of days ago so we started off our morning with some workbook pages and reading our library books.  We had quite a bit of free play this morning also because of no library trip.

Things took a turn toward fun when we made our superhero capes.

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They were very simple – made from t-shirts we picked up at Goodwill.  I really should cut the collar and add a velcro enclosure so it will break away.  Both boys wore their capes all day and I anticipate that they will be looking for them first thing tomorrow as well.  Smallest Blonde was disappointed that he couldn’t fly but they both spend a lot of time on the trampoline trying to fly.

After cape making, I made their first badge for the character building exercises we are trying to do.  This week we are working on being helpful and Small Blonde has been working really hard on being more helpful.  Smallest Blonde sometimes does what you ask him to, but he’s 3 so that’s pretty expected.

Here are the badges.  Small Blonde is excited about adding his to his cape at the end of the week, but we have a little more work to do yet.

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Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and then Smallest Blonde was down for a nap. During nap time, Small Blonde had the opportunity to play a superhero video game but when his dad needed some help with a project outside, he gave up some of his gaming time to be helpful….hmmm….what a nice development.

Once nap time was over, we got to the other main projects for the day which consisted of making our superhero snow globes and superhero snack mix.

We picked up jars with lids and glitter at the dollar store and found a couple of superhero figures and baby oil at Walmart.  We glued their figure of choice to the inside of the lid and added our glitter and oil to the jar.

Small Blonde chose Falcon.

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Smallest Blonde went with Captain America.

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Here we added the oil after adding the glitter.  Small Blonde chose gold while Smallest Blonde went with pinkish/purple.

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While we were waiting for the glue to cure, we started making our Super Hero Snack Mix. Here we are with all of our dry ingredients.  Really, it’s a modified Chex mix…because I like Chex mix and chances are that I will end up eating most of it.

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We took turns adding scoops of our ingredients.

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Next, we mixed everything together, added our butter and seasonings, and got it ready to bake!

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Unfortunately, we burned it a bit.  However, we still ate some while we finished our evening watching Batman.

Tomorrow should be a new adventure and I hope it goes as well as it did today.

 

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Today is the last day.

Today is the last day of school.  In light of the holiday weekend and our library being closed on Monday, we decided to take our trip to the library today.  We all renewed our library cards with the Smallest of All getting his first library card.  We are now going forward with our plan for summer camp at home and we start on Monday.  I’m a bit nervous because I’ve been building this up to the boys and I honestly hope I don’t disappoint them in this endeavor.

I have this daydream that it’s our best summer ever and we all do some serious bonding and have a super awesome time.  I’m not sure that it will go that well, but I’m at least hoping that we minimize the sibling arguments and have some fun while still learning something.

Our first week will be Superhero Week and we have picked up some superhero books during our library trip.  I also found this while on Pinterest.  There are some fun things there and definitely some harder character development concepts (like self-control) that we already try to practice at home.  However, since there are more lessons than days in the week, we’ll carry some superhero fun through a few weeks as we work on these.

Right now our schedule looks like this:

Monday we will be sure to do our workbook pages, and some reading, We will make superhero snow globes, start making our superhero capes, try some yoga (renaming things for superhero poses), weather permitting we will head outside to fly our gliders, and we will make some superhero snack mix (which will be a souped up version of Chex mix).

Tuesday we will also do our workbook pages, and some reading, design the superhero logos for our capes and finish them, some coloring pages, try to make superhero masks,  and do a little bit of drawing/story writing on what kind of superhero would you be?  What would your superpowers be?  How would you use them for good?

Wednesday we will again start off with worksheets and reading (sense a theme?), Nerf gun target practice, yarn obstacle course in the hallway, jumping practice on the trampoline, scavenger hunt (as a teamwork exercise), and superhero bingo.

Thursday we will do workbook pages, reading, make our own comic books, use blocks to build what our superhero hideouts would look like, popsicle stick puzzles, make a paper bag superhero, and some coloring/learning pages with a superhero theme.

Friday we will do workbook pages, reading, go on a nature walk with our capes and masks collecting things for a wax paper collage, make mason jar banks, popsicle stick superhero craft, and some batman science involving how to melt ice to save our superheroes (which I hope will prove to be another team work exercise).

I’m sure some days there will be too much and on other days there will be too little and I still need to come up with some kitchen ideas, but I hope to keep myself flexible so I can shift activities around as needed or include some quiet and free play/free time as needed.

Wish me luck as I hit the Dollar Store and Goodwill this weekend to pick up our supplies for the week!

I almost forgot!  If you would like to see the projects I’ve mentioned above, you can view my Superhero Week Pinterest board here.

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I’m about to become “that” Mom.

I’ve left this blog alone for quite a while.  It’s not really been forgotten, but I haven’t made any time for it either.  No excuses.  It’s past time that I made an effort to come back here.

To that end, I thought I would share my adventures as I stray into the realm of overachiever moms thanks to the internet and Pinterest.  I’m sure you know what I mean.

Summer is rapidly approaching and that means no school.  No school means that both boys will be home and they can’t go more than 10 minutes without some kind of screaming or fighting or having some sort of altercation.  I’ll bet you can guess that I’m a little less than thrilled at the prospect of going through that all day long.  Last year I tried sign up the older one for lots of summer camps so that he would have something to do and cut down on the fighting while also saving my sanity.

This year I’ve got the older one signed up for a couple of things, but multiple summer camps really add up.  So, I got a crazy idea.  Why can’t I make up some summer camps at home?  We could have a theme for each week and do some planned activities every day and maybe I could save on restocking the liquor cabinet and help these brothers learn how to get along a little better.

I’ve had a lot of help from Pinterest.  It’s truly amazing the things that you can find there.

There are some things that I want to incorporate every day: a couple of workbook pages (so we can stay fresh on the things we learned in school and to prepare for next year), exercise (especially if we need to get some craziness out), some quiet time (because everyone, especially mom, needs a little bit of that), time for chores (both theirs and help with things around the house), and time doing things in the kitchen (helping with lunch, or making snacks or helping with dinner).  Truthfully, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make sure to include all of that, but I’m certainly going to try my best.  My number one rule for myself is to remain flexible because I’m sure some activities will go well and some will not. I will just have to see how it goes.

Thankfully, we have one more week of school because I am still in the planning stage.  So far I have plans for a Superhero Week, Dinosaur Week, Circus Week, Disney Week, Pokemon Week, Gamer Week, Space Week, and I’m still looking into some more ideas.  Like Animal Week and Ocean Week.

I’m also planning on starting off each week with a trip to our local library where we can get some books regarding our topic for the week and ending each week with a nature walk or trip to our local zoo or museum.

Over the weekend I told the boys about this crazy idea of mine.  They both seemed fairly excited, although I’m not sure that the younger one really knew what I was talking about.  I’m sure when we get started he will be excited to play along.

First up is our Super Hero week which will culminate with a trip to our local ComiCon.  I’ve got my list planned out and I started my list of things I need to pick up (hopefully at the Dollar Store).  I think with a little tweaking I will be completely ready.  The key for me is flexibility.  I hope I can keep that in perspective.  Wish me luck!  And stay tuned, before our first week of Summer Camp at Home begins, I’ll be sure to share what my final itinerary will be for the week and a review on how well that boys and I handle it.  I’m really optimistic that this will be a good thing for all of us.

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Another writing prompt.

I had so much fun yesterday I thought I would do it again.  We are still staying status quo in the house so I’m hoping that will continue to be a positive.  I think tomorrow will see me being able to clear out the rest of the stuff in the front hall.  I’m kind of excited about that.

Today’s writing prompt is about objective criticism.  It says to create a list of objective criteria for evaluating a story and then critique a fellow writer’s work.  I don’t have work to critique so I’ll go with the criteria.

Offering objective criticism is difficult.  It is much easier to criticize something when you don’t like it.  It is also harder to criticize something that you do like.  However, critiquing is something very important to writers.  An objective critique offers a writer a way to grow and improve.  Criticism for the sake of criticism does not help the writer develop his craft.

If I were to create criteria for criticism, I would include the following:

Overly describing everything.  Let the reader use their imagination, they don’t need to be told every minute detail.

Using the word “said” for every line of conversation.  Developing strong character voices to make it easy to determine who is talking.  When I see the word said used in every conversation line, I find that the voices talking are not strong enough to stand on their own.

A series of sentences that all start with the same word.  If there are more than two sentences in a paragraph that start with the same word, one of them needs to be reworded.  Sometimes I am guilty of that myself and it bothers me even in my own work.

A lot of this is truly subjective and particular to me, but these would be on my list of criteria.  Of course, I may be off the mark on this one.

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Making it work.

Well, so far things are going my way.  I’ve managed to just about clear out one room in the house.  I have just a couple of things left to do in that room.  A small pile, some things to go upstairs and the secretary (which is already partially done).  I’ve managed to clear out our shoe “garage” and dispose of old worn out shoes, put away the sandals and find a basket for the gloves and hats.  I’ve cleared off and around the side table where we can now get to the charging station and an empty basket for mail.  The floor has been swept, stuff boxed for the yard sale,  and the junk has been pitched.  The boys are in the process of being trained to put their shoes in their cubby and their coats on their hook.  Ahhh, sweet sweet success.  At least for now.  I will enjoy it while I can.  I look forward to finishing off a room and hopefully having this be the first step of getting rid of all the clutter.

So, to celebrate (and because I found my book of prompts) I think I will start to make good on my other goal, writing.  I’ve been dabbling in writing here and there and as such I have added numerous books on writing to my collection.  Today I found one that is a collection of daily writing prompts.  So, here goes today’s prompt.

A list of personal experiences, and once a week for 5 weeks develop one into an essay.  Feel free to turn away at this point if you like.  I’m a bit rusty.

Since this is for 5 weeks, I will list 5 experiences and expound on 1 for this first week.

1. Finding freedom at 30 – finding the value of my own self worth, confronting an abuser, struggling with leaving my 20’s behind.

2. Hands through glass – finding the body on autopilot, behavior in a crisis, my secret shame in leaving Small Blonde behind, fear and nightmares.

3. Birthing 2 children – if every woman is “supposed” to be able to do this why does my body fail, amazement at creation, earning a “tiger stripe”.

4. Owning a dog – the pitfalls of loving something that doesn’t live as long as you, bonding with the four-legged black and tan

5. Living with Clutter – deciding to start a blog, being constantly and paralyzingly overwhelmed, pitfalls trying to get rid of clutter.

Living with clutter has been my downfall for most of my life.  Even as a child I wasn’t neat or tidy.  My room was a disaster.  Clutter followed me everywhere, even when I left for college.  Is it laziness?  I would have to say that is only partially true.  However, even when I have the best of intentions I am simply not one who was born organized.  Have you ever met one of those?  Maybe you are one of those people, someone who has a knack for organization and knowing where things ought to go.  Maybe it’s something you learned at your mother’s knee.  I believe that there has to be more than learning it.  There has to be something more, a part of your brain where all of this makes sense.  I have finally had to accept that my brain is not wired that way.  You wouldn’t think that would be much of a struggle.  After all either you have the knack or you don’t, right?

I only wish it was that easy for me to accept.  I have spent at least 15 years waiting for those instincts to kick in.  Wondering how people just know how to organize and purge and how they know what to keep and what to throw away.  Then came the television show Hoarders.  Wow, talk about frightening!  I would watch that show and during commercials run around the house with a garbage bag throwing out anything resembling trash that I could find.  I would fret at my husband that this is what we would become if we didn’t immediately change our ways.  He was less than impressed and probably thought that I was starting to lose my mind.

At times I did think that I was starting to lose my mind.  I could spend an hour standing in one of our cluttered rooms just staring at it.  For part of that time my mind would be wondering where to start and trying to come up with a viable game plan.  For the other part of the time my brain would just shut down because it was just too much to process.  I’m certain that this was another point where my husband thought I was losing my mind – finding me standing in the middle of room stone still for no apparent reason.  I should be clear, he is not one of those born with that knack either.  He just isn’t terribly bothered by clutter.  Isn’t that something?  One of us who hates clutter but doesn’t have any idea on how to deal with it and one of us who can walk past it and not even recognize that it is there.  That has made it difficult in my crusade to get rid of our clutter.

At one point I entertained the following ideas: renting a dumpster and clearing out everything that wasn’t remotely useful, renting a storage space and clearing out everything but the furniture, and going room to room removing everything and washing the walls and floor and slowly putting everything back into the room that belongs there.  It seems like no matter which way I turn with it, I am still left with a pile of stuff that needs a home.  I think that is where I become the most stuck, with making the decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of along with where to put the stuff that is left behind.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly sentimental.  I just don’t want to be wasteful and there is a bit of “what if I need that someday?”.

I’ve tried to combat that mentality by engaging in donation.  For two years I have bagged and listed over 1,000 items that we donated to Goodwill.  That’s a lot of stuff.  Some of it is fairly small like candles and some of it was substantial in number like t-shirts.  There have not been a whole lot of items that were substantial in size.  As I embarked on this crusade, I did have to battle my husband because he is even more firmly entrenched in the “what if we need that later” camp and is also a member of the “we paid money for that we can’t just get rid of it” club.  Those are hard battles to fight.  So, most of the stuff I’ve purged has been stuff that was not directly his.  While bagging and listing the items for Goodwill, a friend convinced me to join her in her annual yard sales (at least 3) during the summer.  Her reasoning is that we might as well make a little money while getting rid of stuff.  This was our second summer doing so.  It is nice to get a little cash, but part of me wishes that we could just bag it and list it and get it completely out of the house.  However, at this point, I have some boxes of items that need to be tagged for next summer’s yard sales.

It is a lot of work for me to deal with the clutter.  Especially with two small people in the house.  I feel a lot of pressure to teach them better habits so they don’t grow and continue the cycle.  Basically we are kind of learning together.  I’ve developed some better coping mechanisms for dealing with the clutter and blogging is a part of that.  It is kind of anonymous so I don’t have to say who I really am, but at the same time I can be honest with myself and have some reference points to go back and read when I need it (when I remember to blog).  I wish I were one of those people who have that knack.  It would certainly make things a whole lot easier.  Unfortunately, I am not and it is something that I have to work at.  I wish I didn’t have to battle with this on an every day basis.  I wish that I didn’t feel paralyzed while trying to figure out what to do.  I wish I could make snap decisions on what place items need to go to and what is really not worth keeping.  My skills must lie in a different direction.  So, for now I will have to continue plugging away slowly but surely and taking the proverbial one step forward and three steps backward.

I continually hope that eventually things will all balance out and I will accomplish that thing that I desire the most – a cleaner and more organized house.

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Feeling Defeated – Time for a new plan of attack.

I think it would be fair to say that over the last few months I have just given up. While I was doing pretty good for a while keeping the core area in a somewhat organized and cleared up state, I got behind. I got behind in a bad way. In fact I got so behind that I might a well have not done anything at all.

I will admit that I don’t care much for how that feels, that feeling of futility, of being overwhelmed, of being defeated.  It is not a fun place to be and I hope to not visit it again.  I know it sounds like it should not be that big of a deal, you just pick up and start over.  For me it is not that simple.  I get overwhelmed and it is paralyzing for me.  It overwhelming to have so much clutter and not have a plan to deal with it.

So, after getting my brain squared away, it is finally time to do what I need to do and get started all over again.  Yesterday was my Day 1.  It was fairly productive for a starting over day.  Once again I plan to work my way through the downstairs rooms before heading upstairs.

Where do I begin this time?  With the entrance to our home – our front hall where I was able to clear out the shoe “garage” and put away the spring/summer shoes and the other things that accumulated there that don’t belong.  Spring jackets were put away for warmer ones and I found a basket to hold the gloves and hats for the small people.  The floor got swept and the umbrella holder was found.

But I didn’t stop there.

I started up with the “Load of Laundry a Day Plan”.  I really do like that plan and I threw in a load of laundry to wash and dry.  Still a bit of Mt. Washmore to climb, but at Mary Poppins says, “Once begun tis half done.”

But I didn’t stop there.

We have been doing a lot of canning, pickling, and freezing vegetables and such from the garden.  We have brought home box after box of jars of tomatoes and beans and pickles, and relish and hot pepper butter and and and.  And it was hard to go through all the boxes to find what we needed.  So, my dear husband bought a shelving unit.  One, one shelving unit.  One shelving unit for boxes and boxes of preserves.  Anyway, the shelves are your typical garage shelving, they have holes in them and canning jars don’t sit very well on them so I emptied some boxes and broke them down to cover the shelves so the jars could sit on them as they should.  I believe that I was then able to shelve around 12 boxes of preserves.

After that I called it quits.  I figured that was a good enough start for Day 1.

If you struggle with the clutter like I do, I wish you the best and hope you can find your fresh start or the strength to keep going.

 

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Boy do I suck.

I suppose it would be more PC to say “stink”, but I really feel that I have passed that into “suck”. You may be thinking, I’m sure your are fine and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Trust me, I need to be.

First, I am going to throw myself a pity party. A great big whining crying pity party. It has been a crap year. The best thing that happened was Little Red (although he really is becoming more blonde…). And even his arrival was a difficult one. In the meantime the year has been like a year of Friday the 13th’s all stacked on top of each other. Lots of Murphy’s Law days and then there was my accident where I put my hands through plate-glass. It was an accident and required a tip to the ER via ambulance and emergency personnel had to stay with my littles while I was carted off to receive 38 stitches over both hands/arms. One of the major scars is right down the suicide line which is a real attractive look. And of course the scars are ugly and I wish the whole thing hadn’t happened. I am very fortunate (and grateful) that I missed the artery and tendons although medical personnel were not quite sure how. Of course where was wound care after and in the middle of that my husband’s father passed away. We also learned that our optometrist passed away (way too young) and now we need to find a new eye doctor (and I’m picky about my physicians so wish me luck on that!) A month after that his grandmother passed away and my mother ended up in the hospital. At some point in there my aunt ended up in the hospital as well. I know there are more things that I am forgetting, but those are really the big ones. Sometimes things are just horrible.

I think that makes me depressed to an extent. I had done really well with weight loss after Little Red came along and was hoping to use that as a springboard to continue healthier eating and exercising and losing weight. Yeah, I got lazy. I do blame the whole accident thing because I couldn’t do a whole lot on my own. Instead I decided to eat Cheetos‘ and sit on the couch. That doesn’t do a whole lot for you when you really want to be eating healthier and getting in a more regular exercise habit. Now my lazy tendencies have been fed and it is hard to break out of the rut.

Hopefully I can start to turn the corner here – I picked up some Zumba cd’s and Small Blonde likes to dance with me (when I can find time to do it when Little Red isn’t demanding to be held) and we picked up lots of fruit and not much in the way of Cheetos’. I even actually ate fruit yesterday and today. Most of the time I buy it for Small Blonde because he loves it so and it is good for him to eat healthy. However, it is also good for me to set a good example and I have been failing on that end for a few months now.

School has now started and Small Blonde is back to school so hopefully while it is just me and Little Red I can start to get laundry caught up again. I had been doing so well with a load a day and starting to make that a habit. Now I have piles of laundry. I think I probably have 4 more loads of adult laundry to get washed before I’m “caught up”. My lovely living room has turned back into disaster central and while I had made some promising strides in the kitchen, that work has also been undone. It is also safe to say that the dining room table is once again covered over.

I envy those folks who are just able to take care of a home where things are all neat and tidy and sparkly clean. I wish I was one of those folks. The truth is that I am not. My strengths lie in other areas and it is a lot of work for me to get this home organized. And it needs to be done soon because I know Small Blonde will want to have play dates at his house and I want him to be able to do so without feeling embarrassed about my house.

Actually it makes me feel like less of an adult, like I’m just a child pretending to be a home owner without really knowing what all of it entails. I do love my littles though and some of my strengths lie there. That I don’t mind the noise or the messes or trying science experiments or taking 10 minutes to watch the ants in coming and going from their ant hill. I just lose sight of that being overwhelmed all the time and not having what feels like a “clean” place to land in. Somewhere that isn’t chaos or cluttered or messy. I need that place where things are neat and put away so I can let my brain relax. Right now that place only exists in my mind.

Don’t worry, I know that I am the one responsible for this. I am the one who is an adult and needs to do the adult things and fix it.

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