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I gonna come out and admit it.  I am very overwhelmed right now.  I want a pause button.  Although, I feel like over block leave we were paused, and now we are in fast forward to make up for it.  Thanksgiving, Christmas with Chase, Chase leaving, all while doing PWOC, FRG, school, laundry and all the other stuff that makes up life.  I feel pulled in so many directions.  Add the emotion of an upcoming deployment.  I’m not worried about Chase, I just know the next year will be full of a lot of stress for both of us.  And we are in Alaska so you can subtract heat and light from the equation.  With a long to-do list that has to get done in the next three days, I was very overwhelmed this morning.  I wanted to crawl back into bed and pretend that none of those demands existed. However, I know that pretending things don’t exist doesn’t make them go away, so I did get a start on them.  I’m glad I did.  I’m feeling much better now.

Not everything that needed to get done today got done.  I had to prioritize.  When I saw the huge crowd at the commissary I knew that it was either grocery shop or pay the bills.  So I grabbed a bag of Splenda went to the express checkout and decided I’d brave that mess tomorrow.  Being that one of the bills on my list was due today, bills had to come first.  The kids helped me get a lot more accomplished around the house than I thought I could though. Xavier took care of the driveway.  It wasn’t perfect, Chase almost went out to help it out, until he realized it had started snowing again.  Austin cleaned the bathrooms.

It’s amazing how money motivates kids.  That is until I sat down and had a little talk about what they have to do with their money.  They will tithe at least 10%.  It’s a good habit, so why not start them off young.  And they will save some.  They can decide what they are saving for.  But I have to okay how they spent the money that gets saved.  Xavier asked if he could save for the Lego Millieum Falcon, I informed him he could save his spending money for that.  Savings is for a car, college, computer or something like that. I have decided that I will have say over all of their spending of money.  That’s another change from how I used to be.  I used to think, it’s their money, they can do whatever they want, as I watched them make really bad decisions.  Now, I think I’m the mom, I need to help them make good decisions.  I may let them still make bad decisions, but we will have talked it out and they will know they are making a dumb choice.

I love Alaska.  I really, really do.  I’m so blessed to be here.  I can’t imagine a more perfectly beautiful place to live.  I was awestruck this evening by the peaceful beauty of the snow.  It was like a magical, fairy land.  Snow falling silently and constantly.  Big, beautiful, fat flakes that seemed sprinkled with glitter.  It was like being in a snow globe, not one of the plastic cheap one, one of the really nice ones.  And I love snow globes.  I think I’d have bought half a dozen for myself and my kids already, but knowing we will someday have to move has stopped me.  This last winter move to Alaska destroyed all globes but one.  The one not destroyed was not packed with the rest, but made the trip in the van, always being hand carried into the hotel when we stopped for the night.  I was taking no chances with that globe, it would have broken my heart to see it broken.  I was sad to see my children’s globes, I had purchased for them for Christmas two years ago, broken.  They were so perfect and matched each child’s interests.  For Xavier, General Lee and Traveler; for Austin, the space shuttle; and for Clara, ruby-red slippers or in her world sparkly shoes.  I thought the packers would refuse to pack them, like they were supposed to. Therefore, I made no efforts to move them out of rooms.  We had been told that because we were moving to Alaska items like that would not be moved with household goods.  We shoudl have been told items like that should not be moved, so you better get them out of the way of our packers because they will do their job well and pack everything in sight.  It’s okay, those globes can be replaced and new memories can be made.  My globe was with Christmas stuff and I knew the packers wouldn’t check those boxes to ensure all items were acceptable.  I’m so glad I did that.  My globe was a gift from my parents my last Christmas with my mom.  I’ll admit the globe is cute but not particularly my style.  The music is cool because it’s Christmas, but not my favorite songs.  But it’s from that last Christmas.  Granted, I don’t remember much about that Christmas.  I can’t even tell you how we celebrated.  The globe didn’t even mean that much until I saw the catalogue it had been ordered from with my mom’s handwriting “for Lori” written next to the globe.  It’s now special because my mom chose it especially for me.  I don’t know why, and it doesn’t matter.  Just knowing my mom saw that globe and wanted it for me is enough to make that the one treasure I carted in and out of hotels along with as few suitcases as we could manage.

Wow, that wasn’t what I had intended to write about.  I was going to write about the awesome craft fair we attended today.  I will say I love the talent that Alaska brings out in people.  The art we saw today was amazing.  I plan to make my house into an Alaska art gallery during the time we are here.  And everywhere else we go everyone who walks into my home will know where my heart is.

If we’ve talked in the past couple weeks I may have expressed annoyance about Senator Begich and his event scheduled for today.  May I now recant.  I did not understand what was really going on.

I’ll admit, I’m a little jaded.  While I have attended some great events for military families, the most recent events I’ve been to have been more about people making a name for themself.  A commander wanting to impress higher-ups, a politician wanting a photo-op.  While it’s all supposed to be about families, I have felt more like a prop than anything else.  So that is what I expected.  Lots of speeches and hand-shaking was what I envisioned. That’s why I haven’t attended much over in the last couple years.

First, Senator Begich didn’t set his up, his wife did. And yes, she made a speech, but as it was under five minutes I dont’ mind.  I’m so used to all speakers saying that they know time is important and they will keep their speech short.  That tends to lead for interminable speeches.  She showed us her heart for military and then allowed the event to progress, without telling us that she’d keep it short.  The colonel spoke as well, but his speech was short too.  There was a video presentation, but it was the guys from the Fox Sports desk giving our guys a shout out.  It was short and funny and very cool.  I don’t remember hearing that anyone was trying to respect my time, but I sure did feel it.

Then there was the bounce house.  And things were scheduled that each battalion came at different times so there weren’t lines for the bounce house.  And not just a bounce house, but an obstical course and salmon riding also.  Can we say I had happy kids?  At least until I said it was time to see what else was offered.

Then there was the free stuff.  Military events often have free stuff, but this was beyond the norm.  The firemen were there serving hot dogs and burgers.  Even though it was 0 outside they had snow cones.  Yep, we each had one, Xavier had two.  ASYMCA was there promoting their free quilts and pillows.  Basically, when a service member deploys he sends in pictures that will be made into a quilt for children under 7 or a pillow for older children.  Each child can receive one.  A program set up by Dolly Parton was there.  The program is free and sends children books monthly until age five.  Toys, movies, jewelry and knickknacks were donated by different companies and each person attending received a ticket to exchange for one item.  The forest service was there with cool posters.  There were crafts and cookies for kids to decorate.  It was pretty darn cool.

I’m glad I went.  Not for the free stuff, though that was cool.  We are enjoying watching the movie Chase got with his ticket right now.  But I am glad I was there to witness the love that was shown.  All these people and companies just wanted to show troops and families love.  I came close to crying a couple times as I was overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion present.  I have a bit more faith in humanity than I did this morning.  Not that my faith in general was lacking, but it was lacking for politicians and commanders.  They can do things for motives other than self promotion.

I’m gonna just admit it.  Right now I am being super selfish with my time.  I’m not normally this way, but for the next month I’m being über selfish.  Granted for the last couple months I’ve been a little selfish.  I’ve allowed myself to get behind on stuff because I’ve been busy.  But for the next month I’m also not participating in anything that may take time away from my husband.  Normally, I’d totally stay late to help clean and decorate the chapel, but that’s at a time I plan to be having lunch with Chase and Chase wins.  Tonight was a totally fun sounding party for the ladies of PWOC.  But I stayed home and watched a the comedic stupidity in The Darwin Awards.  Funny movie.  But it wasn’t about the movie.  It’s about spending time with Chase.  So I’ll catch up on e-mail later.  I’ll get everything done that needs to be done, just on my terms.  And in January I’ll stay late and come early, babysit, clean up and tear down. And all that stuff may very well happen in December, but right now I’m so overwhelmed at the thought of Chase leaving, going to Alabama, leaving my kids for five days, and Christmas with a visitor and kids that miss Daddy that I refuse to think about December.  Granted the wedding and Sarah’s visit will be so much fun, but everything all together makes my head spin.   Anyway, right now I’m being selfish and saying no to anything that doesn’t include Chase or takes time away from him.

I know, today is the 18th, but I didn’t write yesterday.  I was too busy having fun with my best friend.  Time to spend with him is growing short, so I’m sure you don’t mind when I take time for him. There are ten months when he will be gone and I will have all the hours after the kids go to bed for blogging.  So, I will now write what I was going to write yesterday.

Last night was our monthly FRG meeting and it got me to thinking about the upcoming deployment.  I’ve only done  one deployment before and lets just say I failed big time.  The complete and utter failure of that deployment has me nervous about this one.  However, even though my husband hasn’t bee .. I’d say out of country, but he has been up to Canada.  So while he hasn’t been in the sandbox, he’s still been in the Army and has been gone almost as much as he’s been home.  Now, I’m not comparing a week up in Canada or months off at yet another Army school to deployment, they are two completely different things.  But he has been gone a lot so I have had some time to practice for this deployment.  I now have up my sleeve a few tricks that I am hoping will help.  And some thoughts about military deployments in general.

1) Don’t try to go it alone.  This was the main cause for my horrific failure last time.  My life was just me and Xavier, who was about two at the time.  We went to church on Sundays, Uncle Larry’s on Mondays, and that was about it.  I hadn’t set up other activities and I don’t like imposing myself on people so I never invited people over.  Just one of the quirks of how my mind works, I don’t see other people as an imposition, but I do feel as if my just being in the same vicinity of other people is an imposition on them.  Now I have added to my weekly schedule PWOC and a Bible study.  I also am working on getting over myself and making plans with other people.  I will invite people over to the house bi-weekly, if not weekly, so I will have to keep up with housework.  I will get out of the house regularly to do things that aren’t shopping, so that I don’t rely on shopping to get me out of the house.  Now, I’m gonna admit, this works over the short-term, but it’s overwhelming for me.  So I’m gonna need the help of all my wonderful friends up here to help me keep up with it over a whole deployment.  I do worry that around month six I will feel as if I’m just a big bother to others.  I will be tired of trying to find ways to have fun and connect with people.  And I worry that, even though I know better, I’m going to retreat into myself and not go out and do all the stuff I to do need to do to keep sane.  But knowing that I will need people is the reason I started building a family up here as soon as we arrived.  That’s why I didn’t church shop, but found a church that my family could become a part of and immediately began the work to make it home.  Now, as far as advice goes, don’t settle for any church, do make sure it is one that is doctrinally sound and that your family will fit into.  We went to three churches up here.  One was too far away and too big, I saw myself easily getting lost in the crowd which would not be helpful when at month six I may be trying to hide from the world.  Another was a great church, but some of the doctrines made us go hmmm.  Nothing bad, but just stuff that when taken the wrong way could lead to bad.  Then there is ACF.  It’s not the perfect church.  But not all churches can be G-Creek.  It is a good church with good doctrine and amazing people who treat us like family.  Even if you aren’t a church going person, I’d find a church family.  If you’re a Christian, it’s biblical to go to church, you should go.  If you aren’t a Christian, find a good church and go.  A good church won’t judge you for not being a Christian.  Yeah, they are going to try to get you “saved,” but because they love you and want eternal salvation for you.  It’s what we Christians do, we want to share Jesus with the rest of the world.  But a good church will also rally the troops and be there for you when you need them.  It’s our way of showing the love of God.  Now, don’t go to church trying to use the church to get stuff. Do it to build relationships with people who will be there for you when you really need them.  I also got involved in FRG.  Here’s the thing about FRG, it’s only as effective as the people who go.  I’ll admit that with all the other things in my life, I don’t always want to be a part of FRG and I don’t need it now as much as I did that first time.  But it’s the first time for a lot of the spouses up here, and their first deployment is here in Alaska.  Take separation from spouse, worry about spouse and subtract sunlight.  Life is tough up here, Alaska in number in the US for alcohol problems, drug problems, suicide and divorce  For first-timers being here isn’t going to make things easier.  At this point FRG isn’t about me, it’s about helping others who are looking for a lifeline.  I wish more people would participate.  I know it’s not perfect, but the more people who attend the better it can be.  New spouses should come to get advice, help and, if nothing else, time with other people in the same boat.  Spouses for whom deployment has become routine need to go to be the voice of experience.  Tell others what works and what doesn’t.  And even if deployment is the norm, we all need the support of others, it doesn’t hurt to have one more support group.  I also joined PWOC for the first time.  I am so glad I did.  Those will bef the ladies I’m leaning upon. Those are the ladies I will impose upon when I really need to talk to another adult.  And those are the women who I know love me enough to make sure that I don’t crawl into my shell.  There are those of you out there who will do those things and aren’t in PWOC, it’s just that the majority of the women who make up my safety net are in PWOC.

2) Have a written budget and stick to it.  You get a lot of extra money when your spouse is deployed.  It will be nice to have some of it when my husband gets home.  I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself.  Our dollar amount for “fun” will not be going down just because there is one less person having “fun”.  I will be needing more “fun” than norma,l so it evens out.  Groceries will go down, but the amount that I “blow” will go up.  That’s okay.  But I need to write it down and then work the envelope system (thank you Dave Ramsey for the envelope system).  That way I can “blow” money on things that make me happy; Starbucks, frames for all our unframed artwork, art projects for the kids.  But there is no guilt and no explaining to my husband just where all the extra deployment dollars went because some will be left.

3) Schedule fun.  This is important for me.  I will sit at my house and do nothing and let time pass me by if I don’t make myself get out.  I will be visiting the Anchorage museum regularly, we have a membership.  I figure it will be a great place for me and the kids to go when the world is dark, frozen and lonely.  I will also be making regular pilgrimages to Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  We may freeze our booties off watching the bears and the buffalo, but we will have fun.  And the drive is amazing.  And there are so many other fun things to do here, in the winter and in the summer.  I just need to make it happen.

4) Now, this one is just from watching other people.  Don’t go home and live life like you aren’t in the Army.  It might make for a great time during deployment, but there is re-deployment to think about.  I know it’s hard doing life without your soul mate.  And I know Alaska is tough (although this advice goes for any duty station).  But you will be needing all the tools you have put in place during the deployment to get through re-deployment.  You’ll need the babysitters you have found so that you and your hubby can have some time alone.  You’ll need the friends you have made to continue to hold you up as you deal with all the stuff your husband’s going through.  Even the easy deployments can leave scars on the men who go through them and they will be working through that.  It will not be making things easier if both of you are newly adjusting to being back.  Military life can be hard, teasing yourself by spending a year living a “normal” life just makes it harder.  Sticking to it, surrounding yourself with others who understand it, and making it work for you are your best tools to not only survive it but to make a wonderful life.

5) I shouldn’t have to say this, but this isn’t my first time around the block and I know what goes on.  While you can’t do it alone, those you surround yourself with had better be the same gender as you.  Even if it seems innocent: it’s just dinner with a co-worker, hanging with a fellow military spouse, movies with another parent.  It’s a long time without your spouse and you’re lonely.  Just don’t put yourself in a situation where things could even come close to happening.  My rule of thumb, the wife has to be there, or it is a whole group of people doing something.  Even if there are kids present, there still need to be other adults.  You don’t want to get comfortable with someone who isn’t your spouse, because when you’re comfortable lines between what’s okay and what isn’t get fuzzy.

6) Use this time as time to go to God.  Ultimately, He’s the one who will get you through this.

My last note is not about me, but about my kids.  It will be hard on them, and I love that people have donated all this stuff to help them get through this deployment.  But right now isn’t when they need it, they will need after Daddy’s gone.  Just a thought when you are planning giveaways.  The stuffed animals are awesome, but they would mean even more a month or two from now.  If the kids didn’t already have the stuff I’d hide it and save it for later.

I don’t know if that’s all I have to say, but I need to live my life now.  Plus, I’m about to cry.  I try not to let myself think this much about deployment because I get all emotional.

My kids like to cook.  I’ll admit it took a while for me to let them into the kitchen.  Number one, whatever the prep time is for making something, it will go up exponentially per child in the kitchen.  Number two, I’m OCD about how things are done.  Cutting must be precise with perfect edges, and all pieces must be the same shape and size.  Number three, cooking relaxes me, it is fun me time. Kids in the kitchen add a certain amount of stress, especially with the aforementioned OCD.  But I realized that I needed to put on my big girl panties and be a mom.  Being a mom includes teaching your kids valuable lessons like how to cook.  Being a mom also means sacrificing me time, perfection and control.

I am glad I finally let my kids in the kitchen. Number one, once I got over myself and my desire for perfection, having kids in the kitchen is fun.  And guess what, the food tastes just as good when the pieces are different sizes and shapes.  I still try to help the kids do things a bit more perfectly, but I don’t let it drive me crazy and I refrain from taking over for them when it isn’t up to my standards.  Number two, after cooking for around two years now Xavier is fairly proficient and we get stuff done in a decent amount of time.  Number three, I am glad to know that my kids will not be those guys at college that don’t even know how to boil water.  My husband had a couple of roommates with that affliction, and well, it’s pitiful.  Plus, it might be nice someday to have dinner prepared for me by my kids.  I’ll admit, I am picky and generally prefer my cooking to everyone elses.  Not because I think I’m a better cook, I’m just picky and I know what I like and I make things my way.  But, being that my kids have been under my tutelage, they are learing to cook according to my specifications.

Dinner was pizza (I wouldn’t call it that, but the recipe called it pizza and I don’t have a better name), popcorn and ice cream sandwiches made by Xavier, age 9.  He’s even the one who picked the recipe.  I gave him a cookbook and carte blanche to choose whatever he wanted.  I’ll admit, I added a bagged salad and helped with some of the cooking, but he’s nearly to the point I really only have to help translate the recipe.  You know, what exactly does simmer mean?  Can I say that it was extra good eating food that I tought my son to prepare?

Yesterday, I knew I’d be paying for just hanging out all day.  I just didn’t know how much.  But such a great day yesterday was worth it.  I sure am tired now though.

It started with getting ready for PWOC.  I knew the songs we were going to sing, but hadn’t made the slides yet.  Fortunately, I have progressed from my first week of doing slides.  It took an hour per song my first time.  I can now knock a song out in 15 minutes.  So thankful for that.  I planned to get to it in the morning, but after not being able to fall asleep last night, I just went downstairs and took care of it.  That led to not getting to sleep until way too late.  Then I got to PWOC early this morning.  That was planned, I wanted some extra time for set up.  But I was too early, I got there before the doors were unlocked.  I found out a good lesson, the power to the stuff I need doesn’t tend to get turned on until about the time I normally arrive.  I no longer need to feel guilty about not getting out the door early.  PWOC went very well though.  My class was good, but my class is always good, the ladies are all so wonderful.  Worship was interesting.  My singers are sick.  When I took this position, I had no intention of ever singing.  I like running the slide show from the back of the room.  I secretly think microphones are evil, they distort my voice so that I come across sounding like a little girl.  But today, I didn’t have a singer and I knew the songs.  So I sang.  Then I made the announcement to the group that unless they wanted to hear me sing again they needed to step up to the plate.  Funny, I did have a couple offers for running the soundboard and projector which would free me up to sing more often.  Maybe I’m not such a terrible singer after all.

Yesterday, I also decided not to go grocery shopping.  That meant I went after lunch today.  Lunch was awesome though, food court with Chase.  Grocery shopping after PWOC generally leads to cranky mommy.  When the three children shopping with cranky mommy start whistling in the commisarry….mommy nearly lost her mind.  I love my kids but they sure do know how to push buttons.  But I get it, they are tired too, they have been out as long as I have and been playing hard with friends.  I know Tuesday shopping is hard on them.  But seriously, whistling?  And not stopping until I practically had to shout STOP IT.  However, they are wonderful kids who  helped to put all the groceries away.

Being so busy today I never had the chance to double-check time and location for a meeting I was sure was today until I arrived for the meeting and no one was there.  The meeting is Thursday.  Do you know how much stress could have been avoided today if I had checked on that earlier?  We could have sat down for dinner instead of eating in the car.  I could have cleaned up the kitchen from cooking dinner.  Note to self, always double-check these things before you leave.

Now, I am going to get off and spend some time with my husband.  I haven’t seen him today except at lunch and I miss him.  I’ve gotten so very used to spending all day with him.  And I love spending time with him.

I don’t want today to be over.  Tomorrow is back to work.  And back to work with a vengeance, I might add.  I have been so lazy these last two weeks, I have some major catching up to do this week.  I should have started today, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It’s okay, I’ll have plenty of time to do all sorts of things  in just over a month.  Things will be crazy from here until I go to Alabama. Thanksgiving (for which we will be having company so I need to start planning), Christmas with Daddy (and presents have to be bought and we need to figure out when we’re doing this), Chase leaving, Sarah coming and me getting everything ready for me to leave.  I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.  Chase’s birthday is in there as well, but I don’t expect him to be here for that and he already ordered his birthday present, so I don’t have to do much for that day.  When I get back I will still be busy showing off Alaska to Sarah, trying to keep her warm and doing Christmas stuff, but that doesn’t require much work and is all fun.

As my kids are still excited about getting paid to do chores, I shouldn’t have to do as much cleaning.  Today we spent some time in the Lego aisle at Fred Meyer.  All my boys were drooling over the sets.  I picked out Christmas presents and decided what I would ask Santa to bring my family.  Xavier found a small set that he could buy with his birthday money.  He didn’t bring the money, but I figured we could float him a two-hour loan.  Austin also wanted to get his own set.  But his birthday money was spent months ago and with his birthday still months away he didn’t see himself getting money to buy things for a long time.  So I told him I had a job for him around the house.  Cleaning bathrooms.  I told him I would pay a dollar a bathroom a week.  I’m not really asking much.  We have Lysol wipes that he needs to wipe down the sink and the toilet with.  So tonight he asked if first thing tomorrow morning I would teach him what I want done in the bathroom.  Not tomorrow, but I love his enthusiasm.  Xavier is ready to snow blow and vacuum.  Hmm, what else could I have the kids do?  I’m thinking about teaching Clara how to do the job I had as a child, emptying trash cans (not the big kitchen one, but the little ones in bed and bath rooms).  She might be young for that right now, but I can always try.

In the last couple weeks or so we have received over a foot of snow here in Alaska.  The trend of snow will probably continue until April.  My husband is a wonderful man who takes care of snow removal.  My husband will soon be in the Middle East making it hard for him to remove the snow from my driveway here in Alaska.  This presents me with a problem.  I hadn’t worried about it too much because everywhere else I have lived there have been enterprising, young people who showed up at my doorstep after snows.  I was able to pay these enterprising, young people and the snow would disappear.  But it’s been snowing for two weeks and no one has knocked on my door yet.  I don’t think it is a lack of enterprising, young people, but that we live in Alaska.  And our neighborhood is made of Alaskans.  And as Alaskan as I claim and want to be I do not have one particular Alaskan quality (Chase does have this quality, in case you wondered).  And that quality of which I speak, why pay someone to do something that you are perfectly capable of doing yourself.  I saw it over the summer with all the men taking care of their own lawns.  (A problem I will have to tackle come summer).  Men worked on cars in driveways.  This is the wrong location for a snow shoveling (or more likely blowing) business.  Bummer, it looks like I may have to learn how to use the snow blower.

Wait, I have an enterprising, young person.  I have a son who is always thinking of ways to make a quick buck.  From lemonade stands to trying to sell artwork, he’s always trying to figure out how to obtain more cash.  Now, I knew snow-blowing might be a hard sell, he has admitted to not wanting to work for the money, he’s in the market for a scheme.  And after having the snow blower blow the snow back into his face while learning how to use the blower, it looked as if I may have to suck it up and take care of it myself.  But I thought I’d try one last attempt to get him behind the idea.  So I gave him my offer, a flat weekly rate of $10.  It wasn’t the $20 he had been gunning for, and he was a little sceptical.  So I brought out my calender and starting adding up the money for each week until mid-April when I hope it will no longer be snowing.  At least 19 weeks of earning $10 a week.  Nearly $200 opened his eyes wide as he began to think of possibilities.  It also made me think a minute, was snow removal worth it? Haha, who am I kidding? It’s so worth it to me.  Then I told him if he did a good job he could keep doing it after his dad got back and keep earning the $10 a week for as many winters that we live in Alaska.  And I told him that could add up.  If we live here until he’s 16 (not exactly likely, but not impossible either) that’s 7 years of $200 a year, or $1400.  That could go to a car.  So we got on Craig’s List and he found a Mustang for $2500.  Then I told him about our version of the 401Dave plan.  Dave Ramsey told his children he would match every dollar they saved for a car.  He also told of his son looking at Lamborghini’s.  Chase and I weren’t quite going there.  But we did decide that we will match up to $1000 for each child’s first car.  This put Xavier at a possible $2400.  He got excited then.  He was going to master snow-blowing so that he could earn his car.  Then he asked if he could get paid to do laundry.  Now, I complain about laundry all the time, but I am also so very picky about how it gets done.  Plus, I’m not letting my kids handle my umm…delicates.  So I’d only let him do his own clothes and I’m not paying for that.  But I would pay good money for someone to vacuum every week.  He’s down with that idea.  This got me to thinking, what chores could I pay Austin to do?  My house may just sparkle yet, thanks to child labor.

Today was another great day in a string of amazing days.  I do not look forward to Chase having go to work Tuesday.  But someone has to work so that I can continue in the lifestyle that I am accustomed.

We had two extra children running around our house today.  Xavier and Austin’s friends came for Xavier’s birthday.  Clara loves those two boys too.  They were invited for dinner and came early. It was a rambunctious house today.  With all those little kids and all that time we did have a few moments.  Some hurt feelings, a little crankiness, but all the kids are so good they cleared things up on their own.  And in a good way.  I’m proud of all those boys.  We had issues earlier in the year with name-calling that bordered on bullying.  But the kids are really all good kids and today it showed.  I was proud of Xavier in particular.  I know he has the potential to be a leader, but this summer he wasn’t leading.  But today he led, he pulled all the boys together, kept them having fun and worked very hard to keep everyone happy.

I also loved today’s party.  A whole lot of fun, pizza and cake.  It didn’t cost too much.  I splurged on the cake and we got an extra pizza on pizza night, but it wasn’t bad.  I look at so much of what I see done for kids birthday parties and the cost is at least a hundred dollars.  It’s crazy.  The five kids in my house had a blast just being kids.  They didn’t need to be a Chuck-E-Cheese.  They watched movies, played video games, did Civil War reenactments, rode skateboards (in the garage) and more.  We also didn’t do presents, and that was not missed.  Xavier didn’t care, he was just glad he got to spend the day with friends.  He also got presents from family on his birthday.  I’m so down with how it worked that I’m thinking on asking for no presents with all birthday invitations from here on out.  There is no more stuff to just clutter the boy’s room.  Xavier certainly isn’t in need of any more stuff.  I wonder when it started becoming the norm for non-family members to give birthday presents.  From reading stories about people back in the day, it hasn’t always been this way.  Somedays I want to start a movement to go back to simpler times.