TechNO-Christmas

I’m sorry son, I can’t afford your Christmas List.

We’ve been sold a bill of goods that technology is the way to go…not if you’re on a budget.

My 12-year-old son’s Christmas list is an array of Steam Gift Cards and Amazon Gift Cards. Woohoo! What a boring Christmas!

Since he is a gamer, he’s all about the technology right now. There’s no changing his mind, unless I just simply pull the plug. But since the kid’s school district LOANED them all their own personal computers for the year, he will find a way to game no matter what.

So, I put out a plea to my friends who also have boys in the same age group and we’re all in the same club.

But I wasn’t really Gobsmacked until I googled “Gifts for Middle School Boys” and up popped a list from heavy.com called “The Best Cool Gifts for Boys: the Ultimate List 2018.” If you want a good laugh, google it. No offense heavy.com, but your budget for a middle school boy is WAY out of touch, in my opinion.

Of course, there are a few items thrown in for budget-conscious moms like me like the “Kingdom Come: Superman Graphic Novel” for $12.19 or the “1ByOne Bluetooth Sport Wireless Earbuds” listed for $38.99. But the list got downright hilarious as I scrolled past the “ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501VS Gaming Notebook” listed at $2299.00!

There are some varied other selections to choose from: An Ergonomic Gaming chair for a mere $349.99, or a Logitech Gaming Mouse for a conservative $126.99, or the budget-conscious AKAI Professional Mini Keyboard and Pad Controller falling just under $100.00 at $99.00.

Whatever happened to the days of Stretch Armstrong or video games like Aztec or Oregon Trail for the Commodore 64? Somehow, we could afford those things.

Ahhh, but I digress. Those days of old (yes, I know I sound like my mother) I remember well.

So, until I win the lottery (which I would actually have to play to win, right?) or Publishers Clearing House comes to my door (again, I have to play the game), I guess my kids will never know the joy of the gift of a $2299.00 computer until they earn the money themselves.

Until that day, they’ll be forced to unwrap presents of worth and not extravagance.

I’m sorry technology, but your price is too high for my family.

Happy Christmas shopping to you all! And if you have any ideas for affordable Christmas presents that don’t require taking out a loan, I’d love to hear them. By the way, you can still get Stretch Armstrong if you’re interested. Amazon has almost EVERYTHING! LOL

Advertisements

Confession – I’m Guilty of Enabling My Kids

“I’ll just do it myself.” Even if I don’t say it out loud, I often think it. Not out of martyrdom, not out of self-pity, but just because I can do it faster, and get it done when I want it done, whatever the “What” may be.

Am I alone on this?

I wouldn’t say my kids are spoiled, not in the traditional sense. They don’t have the latest iphone, they don’t get showered with unnecessary gifts, I don’t buy them brand name clothes. They aren’t spoiled in that sense. But when I step back and look at what I do around the house in comparison to what they do around the house, I realize that I am an “enabler.”

It started because I was a stay-at-home-mom, and my only job was to take care of the kids and the house. But the kids got older (12 and 16) and yet I still do almost everything.

I do their laundry, I make their lunches for school (except the 16 year old makes her sandwich), I make dinner AND wash the dishes AND put them away when they’re dry. Our dishwasher is broken, so I hand-wash everything. I dust, I vacuum, I clean the bathrooms, I empty the trash and take the bags to the garbage…I do way too much.

And it isn’t helping them AT ALL.

These are vital survival skills they need. But rather than engage in yet another argument, I just do it myself.

But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

With my back being injured this past couple of weeks (it’s getting better), it’s become very apparent to me how I’ve cheated my kids out of figuring things out on their own.

Please don’t misunderstand, they are good kids. Put to the test, I’m sure they would survive. But I’ve made it really easy for them to sit back and not have to take responsibility.

But this week, due to necessity, I’ve been forcing myself (and them) to take on some more responsibility. Doing the dishes without pushing back has been the biggest change. And when they argue about whose turn it is, I’ve stepped back and let them figure it out for themselves.

Tonight was a big step forward for me and the kids. We decorated the Christmas tree (we have an artificial tree and it’s our tradition to set it up the day after Thanksgiving). And for those of you who “re-decorate” after the kids have had their shot at the tree (you know who you are), you know this is a big one.

I didn’t hang a single ornament…not a single one! I couldn’t. The mere act of getting up and down off the floor and bending and stretching hurt my back. I even passed the torch of arranging the lights on the tree to my oldest and she did a fabulous job. It was my job to take the ornaments out of the box and hand them to the kids (and my hubby) to hang.

Somewhere along the way, I lost track of time, and forgot that they weren’t babies anymore. I forgot where my responsibilities ended and theirs began. I forgot when “helping” became “enabling.”

My hope is that I can keep it going and not slip back into my old enabling ways when my back is better. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason.

Can you relate to this? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one.

At the Mercy of Others

I haven’t posted anything all week because when I haven’t been working on my NaNoWriMo Manuscript, I’ve been in pain. A lot of it.

Over a week ago, I did something to my back, though I can’t remember anything in particular that I did, and I’ve been in horrible pain. I can’t lay down, I can’t sit up, I can’t stand for very long without a LOT of pain…you get the idea.

I’ve thrown out my back before, but this pain is different. It even hurt to lift my leg to go up the stairs. I finally broke down and went to the doctor. But I didn’t like her prognosis – “It’s either a kidney stone or you have a bulging disc. Go home and drink lots of water, and if it gets worse, go to the emergency. Oh, and take these super strong pain killers in the meantime.” Are you kidding me?! How about I go get a new doctor! (I’m going to get a second opinion tomorrow).

Because of the pain, I’ve had to rely A LOT on the mercy of others.

The first day I was laid up was laundry day. I watched my dear husband do all the laundry and fold and put away the clothes. Even the kids got involved. Being the control freak that I am, that was hard to do. Watching the laundry being folded by someone else as well as hearing the washer be done and waiting for people to put it in the dryer drove me crazy. As I said, I’m a control freak.

It also showed me that I’ve spoiled my family entirely too much. They don’t know where anything is in the house! I have failed as a wife and mother! And trying to describe to my husband where I kept the heating in the bedroom closet while I reclined on the couch downstairs, was a true test to our marriage.

It has been a mixed bag of blessings all week.

Towards the end of the week, I had to go back to work, where I am a stock clerk in a grocery store. My male co-workers, who treat me as their equals and not as a “girl,” were super helpful. They lifted the heavy boxes and pushed out the heavy carts for me without complaining or judging. I need to make those boys some cookies.

Instead of going out to lunch with a friend, because it hurt to sit in a regular chair, my friend brought lunch to me.

My husband made dinner (or brought it home) several times and my kids helped with the dishes.

The worst part, besides the pain, has been the boredom! I’ve watched more Dr. Phil and sitcoms than I’d like to admit. But at least the Hallmark channel has been running their Christmas movies round the clock. Although that makes me want to go Christmas shopping, and though amazon is practical, it doesn’t take the place of being out in the decorated stores to really get in the mood.

I’m glad I have people in my life that don’t mind helping, and even get mad if I try to go ahead and do things even if I hurt, but I’m about done with this pain. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s doctor has a better solution than drinking lots of water.

Have you ever had a situation where you’ve had to rely on others and give up control? I’d love to hear about it.

Why I Hate Shopping for Myself

I’m not much of a shopper, at least as far as fashion is concerned.

I don’t shop at Nordstrom’s Rack, I steer clear of large department stores, unless you count Target. But I think we can all agree that none of us go to Target ONLY to clothes shop. Not when there are so many other things there that I could check off my list at the same time.

I’m not a fashionista. I prefer second hand stores, or amazon if I can help it. Now shopping for my kids or my husband? No problem. Shopping for housewares or necessities (socks, underwear, etc), or anything I don’t have to try on, is no problem.

But there I was today, in Target, shopping for shampoo, razors, pencils (it was a random list), when I walked past the women’s clothing department and paused. My husband was with me, and he sighed. He knew what was coming.

I never buy clothes for myself. My wardrobe basically consists of jeans, yoga pants, and t-shirts. But every once in a while, I need to replenish my wardrobe before the thin spots on the knees of my pants turn to actual holes. And I could use some warmer clothes since temperatures are starting to drop.

But I HATE to shop! I really HATE it! Nothing ever seems to fit. The pants I tried on wouldn’t go over my feet (I’m not kidding…I have really high arches, and narrow-cut pants sometimes won’t go past my feet), the sweater was super soft, but didn’t come down long enough to cover the top of my jeans (I’m long wasted).

I’m tall and slender. And, contrary to popular belief, I CAN NOT wear anything off the rack as I please. Skinny girls have just as many clothing issues as heavier women. (I can hear the collective sigh now, but bear with me.) I’m 5’10”, and I wear the same size as my friend who is 5’1”. How is it possible that designers expect the same clothes to fit her and me?! The truth? They don’t. But that isn’t their problem, right?

So, back to my Target run…I tried on 4 pairs of pants, and 5 shirts and walked away empty handed…and frustrated. And so did my husband. Because, though he’s sympathetic, he just doesn’t get it. Men have it soooo easy. If he wants a shirt, he picks up a “medium” off the rack and 99 out of 100 times…it fits. And pants? They are sized by waste and length! Wouldn’t it be fabulous if women’s clothes came that way? Or better yet, if they came with adjustable waists like toddler’s pants do. LOL

It sure would make Target runs much more enjoyable…and much more expensive. So maybe there’s a trade-off.

And don’t even get me started on bathing suit shopping. At least some places are merciful, and sell the tops separate from the bottoms.

The last time I took my daughter shopping, she was shopping for a jean jacket. All the jackets in the women’s section were “crop jackets.” Cute, but not practical for winter. She wandered over to the men’s section, pulled out a black jean jacket in a small, and tried it on. Her grandmother happened to be with us and was horrified that she was in the “wrong department.” But when my daughter pointed out that the jacket came all the way down to her hips, and the pockets were made to fit an “entire hand,” in fact, there were additional pockets on the inside as well, then her grandmother changed her tune.

My daughter gets it and she’s only sixteen! Why don’t designers get it.

So, I guess until I start a clothing line of my own, I guess I’ll continue to sigh as I try on outfit after outfit until I find something that fits.

I know my female followers feel the pain.

Never Buy a Model Home

This is a bit off topic from my usual posts but consider it a tongue-and-cheek PSA from someone who made that mistake. On the surface, buying one of the models in a new home tract seems like a bonus. It’s move-in ready, right? Well, not exactly.

We sort of “fell into” buying our house. We were renting, and our landlords offered it to us for a great price. Since we were looking to buy, we were familiar and happy with the area, and not having to pay to move was a huge plus, we decided to jump in. And for the most part, it was a good decision.

But there was one main drawback – it was originally one of the “model homes” for our townhomes.

That means a few things, which I’ve learned along the way.

The first drawback is a term I learned almost immediately. EVERYTHING IS “BUILDER GRADE.” And I mean everything! Every home repair person we’ve had to the house grimaces when they see what they have to deal with. In fact, just today, I went to clean out the p-trap under the bathroom sink only to find that it doesn’t have a nut on the p-trap which could be easily removed. Our p-trap is GLUED TOGETHER!  A short cut the builders took to hurry up and get the model home done first.

Now, getting the model home did mean it came fully decorated, which, at first glance, looks fabulous. But the more we started looking at details and corners, the truth started to make itself apparent. We have crown molding in several rooms. But where the crown molding ends and a new room begins, for example at a corner, they didn’t bother to miter the corners. The molding just ends…chopped off…sometimes before the end of the wall. This would have frustrated my engineer father to no end.

Let’s talk appliances…all builder grade. Not just the cheap built-in microwave and stove either. We’re talking toilets, faucets, shower doors, bath tubs, and garbage disposals. Not a single brand name.

And counter tops? Tile? Granite? Soapstone? Marble? Not even close. Try plain white laminate that stains the MOMENT something like a drop of red juice is spilled on it. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is my new best friend.

Can we talk cabinets? Not a glimmer of chrome or brass hardware on any cabinet in the whole house. Not in the bathrooms and not in the kitchen. But they did remember to use industrial strength magnets to keep the cabinets shut. If only there was a handle to open them up!

Now there is one thing that none of my neighbors have. We ended up with what only a handful of the neighbors have…a two-car garage. Apparently, after they made our model, they decided that a two-car garage would not let them cram as many places in here as they could. So, they got rid of the two-car garage option.

Oh, we also have a fully painted and dry-walled garage complete with green trim and a small closet. It seems that our garage served as the “front office” for the complex. So at least our pipes in the garage don’t freeze every winter. And there were heating ducts in the garage when we first moved in until we sealed them up because having heating ducts in a garage that is attached to the house is potentially lethal. (Something the inspector missed, by the way).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am eternally grateful for our home. I love it and know that we are very blessed to be able to own a home. I just want others who may be looking to buy a home to be aware of what it means to buy a model home.

If you buy a model, just be prepared to make a lot of upgrades and get used to the term “Builder’s Grade,” and the pity look the repay people will give you.

What is the worst or quirkiest thing about your home?

NaNoWriMo…Here We Go!

 

Today marks the first day of #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 on November 30th.

So, here we go…

 

The Either Or Bookstore was a twisty maze of shelves that went from floor to ceiling. It was only about twenty foot wide but about fifty foot deep. There were a few new books, mostly from independent authors, but it was comprised mostly of used books. There were books piled on the floor in front of the shelves and boxes of books that hadn’t been gone through yet. Audra wasn’t sure how Roy made any money being so disorganized. But somehow, he’d managed to keep the store open for about thirty years, from what she understood.

She walked past the fantasy section and grimaced. She didn’t see how anyone could read that drivel. She stopped in the self-help section and looked around to make sure she was alone. She sat down in the ‘relationship’ section. There were books about catching a man, saving a marriage, taming a woman, etc. One with a bright blue cover caught her eye: “When You Don’t Have Time for a Man.” She sat down against the shelves, pulled it out, and began to thumb through it.

It was as though she was reading her own life right there in black and white. All her excuses were there in the chapter titles: No Time No Way, Let Go of Your Past, Putting Your Career Ahead of Him, When He Doesn’t Show Up

Someone appeared at the edge of the tiny aisle, and it startled her.

“Oh!” she said and dropped the book.

The tall stranger bent down to pick it up. She was mortified as he read the title.

“Do you recommend this one?” he asked and smiled.

She stood awkwardly and reached for the book. “Oh, uh…I’m not…I just…I haven’t read it.” She was sure she was bright red.

He laughed a little.

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said.

The guy was handsome, and she tried desperately to cover the smear of red strawberry jam on her tank top. She also fumbled with her hair and tucked a strand behind her ear, hoping to look a little better. But she knew there was no hope.

“Ethan! Are you here?!” a woman called.

“Back here mom!” he said, his tall, lean stature stepping back to wave to the woman.

Dotty ran up and hugged his waist tightly. She was only as tall as his shoulder.

Mom? Dotty’s your Mom? Audra thought to herself.

“Oh, Audra! I see you met my Ethan!” Dotty said. “Isn’t it wonderful? He’s home!” she squealed and hugged him tighter.

He pried himself away from her grip and reached for Audra’s hand.

“It’s nice to meet you…Audra, was it?” he asked.

Audra smiled and shook his hand. “Yes.”

Dotty pushed her way between them. “Audra, this is my Ethan! Isn’t he handsome?” Then Dotty turned back to Ethan, “Oh, I just can’t believe you’re home! And for good!”

“Now, Mom. I’m not sure for how long, okay?” Ethan corrected.

“Yes, well. Look at you! You’re so skinny! First thing you need is a home-cooked meal. Come on!” she said and dragged him out of the store by the hand.

He looked over his shoulder. “See you again?” he called to Audra.

She waved. “Maybe!” she said.

When they left the store, Audra said to herself, “He belongs to Roy and Dotty? But how?”

She also realized how homely she looked and knew he was way out of her league. Why did she always meet the good ones when she was a mess?

 

to be continued…

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, best of luck! Happy writing!