Advice for the Future Landlord

Having been a renter now for two full years, first of an apartment and now a house, I’d like to offer this piece of advice for anyone thinking about getting into the renting business. Semi-gloss paint. It’s simple. I don’t think it costs that much more than flat paint. And if you have the potential for children to be living in your house, it’s just the smartest choice.

Flat paint attracts pencil lead, crayons, face paint, and finger smudges faster than a picnic attracts flies. White flat paint, in particular. Elbow grease will dampen the whole thing, but not really remove much of it.

Having been a home owner for five years before that, and having each room in each house painted a fun, bright color using semi-gloss paint, and having four children in various stages of toddling and wall hand-printing, I know for a fact that semi-gloss paint is easier to wipe down than flat.

It’s something to consider, that’s all. Now excuse me while I go see if Book 4 has any advice on magical cleaning solutions…

Now What?

I cleaned my desk tonight. That seems like an innocuous little phrase, but if you’d seen it before I started, you would know what kind of feat I faced tonight. You see, I’m a stacker. And even to say it like that doesn’t give credit for how my desk normally looks because I’m the queen of the sliding stack. No flat surface is safe around me. My 8-year-old has inherited this disease and I got frustrated with her this morning for the way her desk looked, as if it were so much worse than my own. Once I remembered the state of my own desk, I was forced to apologize, though I should have apologized anyway, but I digress.

Tonight I took everything off of it and everything out of each drawer. It all got dumped on the kitchen table. My desk looked great and everyone said so as they walked by it – then they turned around and offered a moment of silence before the kitchen table which held the office equivalent of Mt. Everest.

To shorten my long boring story, both my desk and the kitchen table are presentable right now. My goal for the evening was to get my desk put back together and to have the table breakfastable before I went to bed. Mission accomplished.

So now that I’m actually able to sit here with my laptop plugged in and sitting level on the wood and not at a slant (I’m not kidding – I’m usually typing here on a serious slant), I’m looking around and thinking, “Now what?” It seems so anticlimactic to just go to bed when I have this freshly cleaned off desk (and table) just waiting for something. A stack, perhaps?

Craig said I should have taken a picture before I started and I said, “No worries. I can always take one next week when it returns to business as usual.” It’s not that I want it to, nor that I’ve got one ounce of pride in my problem. It just happens and I can’t help it. The stack elves think I like it that way and they seem to surprise me overnight.

So for now, for this one moment in time, I just want to sit here with my uncluttered desk and enjoy it. For come tomorrow…

This is Nice

I just got my order of books for our “do it yourself” speech therapy for Katie for this year. All of the books came with a companion CD that is basically the book on CD – I can print any of the pages I want to do with her right off my printer and not have to mess with finding a copy machine somewhere.

It would be so nice if all my homeschool books came this way!

Explain This

At dinner last night the two older girls were giggling for a bit and we finally asked them what was going on. Chloe said, “Dad, what’s a tomboy?” He smiled and said it was a girl who enjoyed doing boy-types of things. “Why?” he asked. Chloe giggled again and said, “Maddie says she’s a tomboy!” Craig shook his head and said, “Yeah, Maddie enjoys doing some of those things sometimes.”

There was a slight pause at the table while this information absorbed and then Katie said, “So, is a tomgirl a boy who likes doing girl things?”

A Post About Grace

My 3-year-old, Millie, was not happy with lunch today – potato soup. She was eating crackers and pretending to eat the soup, but I’m a little smarter than that. After telling her she had to eat it to get the popsicle, I then tried to make sure she followed through. I picked up her spoon, filled it with soup and made a move for her mouth. She clenched her lips tightly and would not take the soup. She was disciplined for this move and afterwards I thought she’d finish the soup on her own, but five minutes went by and she didn’t. I took her bowl away and informed her there would be no popsicle.

She cried like only a 3-year-old who has just been scorned her beloved popsicle could. Her lips were pouty and she just looked so so so sad. I had a change of heart. I went to get the popsicle and brought it to her. I looked down at her with the popsicle extended and said, “This is called grace.” I explained that the next time I told her to eat something I expected her to do it, but that today I was going to give her the popsicle anyway. She nodded and took the popsicle and I thought maybe we’d had this great understanding about grace.

Two minutes later as I was wiping down the table, I overheard her exclaim to her sisters, “See this popsicle? Its name is Grace.”

Looks like we’ve still got some things to clear up.

Let the Planning Begin

Homeschool moms everywhere might gasp when they realize it’s August 11 and I’m just now pulling out my catalogs and making my list of what we need to get so that I can begin the process of planning out the school year. I am shaking my head myself. Isn’t it a well-known rule that you don’t place any big homeschool orders in August because of the potential for backlog and super slow shipping?

We made the decision to enroll the girls in the school yesterday. The postman just came for the mail which included our registration forms and tuition deposit. I am going down their list of required books for the year and preparing to place an order for items we need. We have much of it already, thanks to several years of Sonlight use thus far, but my original plans didn’t have child #3 doing Core 1 History – I was planning to do the PreK Core with both the 5-year-old and almost 4-year-old this year. I may still tweak things a bit in order to do that, but I can’t deviate off the school schedule very much or she won’t be up to speed with the other kids on the days she goes.

Can I just say this? For all my love of schooling them at home, there is also an enormous love of obtaining new school things. My kids have never had a need for lunch boxes or school supplies containers before, but will be getting those things this year and they will be thrilled. It will be a little fun.

I’m putting together our fall schedule and it looks a little nutty right now. We’ve had to say no to some good things in order to not have an activity scheduled between 4:00-6:00 every single day of the week. I’m not sure when I’m ever going to make it to the YMCA again and this may be the year I begin to wear a chauffeur cap as I drive them all over the city to things.

The mornings we have at home we’re going to have to be very intentional with to get our schooling in. I’m going to need to follow the schedule of the school and you know what? I’m glad for that. Yes, I love the flexibility of making my own plan and schedule and being able to just scrap it all sometimes if it seems better for us to do so. But for this year, I think I need a level to align myself with and the supplemental school will do just that.

And so, the madness begins. I’m about 1/3 of the way through with my weekly schedule (that’s a major project for me every year), and have made an initial list of what I need to order. I need to check it with items I already have so I don’t make the mistake of double ordering something (sometimes I forget we already have something and get it again).

Those people who told me that life just gets crazier the older you get and the older your kids get?

They were right.

Possibility

We have a family appointment this afternoon to visit a supplementary school we’re considering for the girls this year. It meets two days a week and allows me to continue homeschooling them the other three days. They utilize the curriculum we already use, so it seems like this could be a natural fit for our family if it all works out, but there are a lot of variables that need to be shifted into place before we know if it is going to work out.

It’s a bit on the bittersweet side for me, as I love having them home with me. I also realize that having them in this program for 10 hours a week isn’t going to break our family relationship. I’m hoping it might even help strengthen it a bit. The three older girls would go, leaving me with the Mini Mi (that’s what we call the 3-year-old – she also goes by The Wild Card) to do something else which I’m not at liberty to discuss right now (the short version is that it involves a really cool job/opportunity that Craig and I both think could be a win-win).

The main variable is whether or not the job will be able to support the school fees. We don’t know yet. But we have to enroll them now if they are going to participate, so we’re going to check it out today. If it seems good to us, we will take the risk, pay the registration fee, and trust it’s going to work out. If later we discover that it isn’t, then we’ll just go back to business as usual around here and only be out the registration fee.

As much as I like change in physical space (i.e. moving furniture, moving houses, moving towns, etc.), I don’t always adapt as well to change when it involves my kids. And making a move like this is really different than what we’ve done before. There is a little piece of me that feels like I’m giving up. I know that sounds silly, but there is a huge part of me that is terrified that my kids will think I prefer a job to them. It is perhaps my biggest fear.

So I live between the tension of not wanting my kids to feel abandoned and not making an idol out of the family structure as I’ve known it. It is a very difficult place to live.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

The girls scored some more free baseball tickets this week, bringing their winning total up to 20. The two older girls went with Craig to a game on Monday and they had tickets for a game for tonight. They were sort of doing the polite, "It's okay – you go," "Nooo, really, why don't you go?" "Oh really – I want you to go," thing tonight.
Think we've baseballed them out this summer?

The Country Wins

Chicken and Eggs

You may not have realized this (or cared), but for the past few weeks I’ve experienced an inner turmoil: if I could, would I choose the country or the city?

We’ve recently experienced both extremes in backing our country/city trips up like we did. The entire time we were in the country (I have to use this word when I write because, as Craig likes to point out, I cannot properly pronounce the word “rural”), I was thinking about everything I loved about it, while still looking forward to what was to come in Chicago. Then, while in Chicago, I was thinking about everything I loved about it while still thinking about the country.

The ideal? A little patch of land on which I can keep my own chickens and develop my gardening skills inside the Loop of Chicago. Because land like that is soooo available inside the Loop of Chicago.

Really, I’m torn. I LOVE both. But I may be more in love with the ideas of both.

I do want to have my own chickens now more than ever. I wanted them when we lived in Colorado, but there was something about living in a neighborhood with a zoning ordinance that prevented this from ever happening (that and the fact that Craig doubled over in laughter every time I mentioned it; he does do that sometimes, you know – double over in laughter).

I kind of lost my desire for chickens when we lived on the seminary campus (which I’m sure all the folks there would be relieved to know), but after visiting our friends the Gillmans a couple of weeks ago and seeing their land with chickens, goats, and horse, and taking organic living a little more seriously now, I have some serious chicken envy. I assured Craig that I didn’t want any goats or horses; just chickens. And possibly a cow. *wink*

But a week in Chicago made me really love that existence as well – being right in the middle of everything with good public transportation so easily accessible (and affordable). I realize I have a much greater chance of seeing the chicken dream come true than the downtown Chicago dream, and I’m okay with that. The next best thing would be to have a bit of land to do the green-living thing and be a five hour drive from high-living city action (because you know I did the high-living city action thing all last week running around Chicago with four young children).

Of course, all of this is just dreaming, as we’re in no position to make a move in either direction. I’m pretty sure our landlord isn’t going to sanction a chicken coop in our backyard, just as I am equally pretty sure our neighbors don’t want to hear any crowing in the morning.

But I have to decide for the sake of deciding. As of today, the country wins.