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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why You Need Friends Without Kids

If you are in a similar stage of life as my hubs and I right now, making plans on the weekend is an extremely complicated process involving the intersection of energy at the end of a long day with toddlers, extra money that is not earmarked for college and a high schooler's Saturday night availability. It requires a Herculean effort and by the time the big hour arrives, you'd rather just put on comfy pants and watch Netflix. Can I get an Amen?

Six long years ago, B Daddy and I were among the first of our set of friends to have kids. As such, we could fill our social calendar by inviting our kidless friends over for dinner after we put our kids in bed. We'd get to hang out and socialize without the trouble and cost of hiring a babysitter and we didn't even have to leave the house.

But once our friends started having children of their own, it felt weird to ask them to get a sitter just to come over to our house for dinner. (So that we wouldn't have to get a sitter...) I'm not going to knock my food (my kids do enough of that thankyouverymuch) but if I'm already going to the trouble of finding a sitter, I want food prepared by a professional and a waiter who is trying really hard to earn my tip.

Uncertain of how best to proceed with our old friends, and after spending too many Saturday nights watching Netflix marathons of Mad Men, we made a hard choice. We traded our old standbys in for some new friends. The kind without little kids. Of course we still love to hang out with our little kid-parent friends, but now it happens at the pool or in the hallways after church lets out.

Sidebar: How is it anyway that we end up socializing primarily with people in the EXACT same stage of life as we are? Could it be that our current educational system has set us up with this false societal expectation?! I love my people, but the vast majority of them are in the same boat as I am. Harried, hurried, women with lots of kids and little free time. Meanwhile I see women ten years my junior and ten years my senior with whom I LONG to hang out. They seem to have more independent children and/or more options with their time. Why couldn't they come over to play? We need to be friends!!  But that's another post, for another day... 

Our new friends tend to be young married couples or 20somethings who have more money than cooking knowledge and are as of yet unaware that bottle of wine they brought as a thank you is worth more than the entire meal I am serving them. We also have a few older couples we occasionally hang out with (who are well aware that the wine they bring costs more than the meal they are being served...) In either case, these no-kid friends have more energy, more disposable income (for that bottle of wine) and no need to consult a high schooler's schedule in order to come hang out with us.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, having friends who don't have young kids is SUPER AWESOME. We get to have social lives without booking a sitter and our guests never bring up potty training during dinner. These friends usually think children are a delightful novelty. They read to them, indulge their appetite for pre-dinner wrestling matches and have even offered to babysit on occasion. And if that isn't reason enough for you to invest in some similar relationships, I've got nothing for you.

So - friends without kids - do you have them? Do you need to find a few? Are you just now realizing you ARE them? (If so, know this post is dedicated to all of you, not just the bearded man pictured above. Thanks for enhancing our social life one home-cooked meal at a time.)

I highly recommend you go find a few today. Also, we are currently accepting friendship applications from non-little kid-parents and will be doing so for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Here's To You Sis

This post originally published on Crazy Joy 08.20.2009

My beautiful big sister turned another year older today. I won't tell you how old she is, because we're both getting to the point where it's just not that interesting. She's older than me, which is the point here. 

Anna is the quintessential big sister. She's tested every road I've ever walked down, both paved and unpaved. I started playing volleyball in middle school because she did. I took Spanish in high school because she did. I chose to attend a big college down south because...well you get the point. 

She invited me to play in a soccer scrimmage with her high school team when I was just an eighth grader so I wouldn't be intimidated when I got there. She continually let me hang out with her back when 2 years really was a big age difference, which in hindsight was probably due to the fact that we moved around so much. If she wanted to have a friend before school started in the next town, I was a pretty attractive candidate.

But for all the times she could have, Anna never told me I was too little, rarely left me out and never left me behind.

Somehow I earned the reputation as the adventurous one, the child who was more outgoing, the risk-taker.  But Anna broke virgin ground for me most of the way, all I had to do was take a few small steps past her.

We went to the same college, married within a year of each other and left less than a year between each of our eight babies.  I'm sure there's material for psychoanalysis in that sentence, apparently I'm still scared of being left behind.

We've had our share of fights - over the light in the hallway, over whose shoes were the ones with the scuff marks - and we occasionally still tee the other off, but there's no one I'd rather have by my side through this stage of life. 

Happy Birthday Sister! I love you more than a Hallmark card can say. I owe more than I care to admit to consider this an admittance. 

Other posts featuring my one and only sister Anna:
Muddy Buddy Champs
Why I'm Not a Nurse
Bringing Christmas Cheer

Monday, August 17, 2015

The 5 Most Annoying Things People Say to Moms at the Grocery Store

Last Friday I went to Publix (where shopping is usually a pleasure) with my 4 kids in tow as per the norm these days. I innocently walked up to the seafood counter to request a center-cut salmon fillet and was treated to an exceptionally awkward interrogation from Mr. Seafood.

It doesn't even take a huge family to elicit stares and unwanted commentary at the grocery store these days. Twins will do it. Babies less than 2 years apart will do it. Three kids or more? Well you'd best be prepared to be stopped at least half a dozen times on any occasion you leave the house.

Here's a round up of my personal favorites - along with accompanying responses you can tuck into your back pocket. Determine the type of day you're having and choose a sweet or spicy response accordingly.

1. Well! You sure have your hands full, don't you!

Sweet: You should see my heart!
Spicy: Would you like to take one, or two?

2. I don't how you do it! 

Sweet: Oh with lots of prayer...
Spicy: You know, making small talk with strangers really seems to help...

3. Did you plan to have them all so close together/so far apart?

Sweet: (blush at un-solicited reference to your sex life) Oh no, just a happy accident.  
Spicy: Yup. It's been a life-long dream of mine to change diapers continuously for a decade/ Oh yes! Once one was in Kindergarten we realized how much we missed changing diapers.

4. Are they all yours?

Sweet: Every blessed one.
Spicy: Oh no! I just rented a few to run errands with.

5. You do know how that happens, don't you?

Sweet: (demure giggle)
Spicy: We do! We're surprised there aren't more of them...

For any of you who don't go to the grocery store with multiple children hanging off your cart, if you see a mom with kids at the grocery store and you cannot help but speak to her, here are two phrases that are universally well-received:

"What a lovely family you have." or  "You're doing a great job."

What do you think moms? Did I miss any of your personal favorites?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Current Obsessions 8.14.15

This article: 8 Tips for Kissing Towards a More Passionate Marriage
Y'all. 20 seconds is a LONG time.

This recipe: My Go-To Green Protein Smoothie
Blend together: 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk and 2 giant handfuls spinach. Add a frozen banana and one scoop of vanilla protein powder.  Calories: 292 Carbs: 34 Protein: 31 Fat: 6

This custom chalk art above my blogging desk (aka the kitchen table) by @flowersarelovely. Follow her on Instagram for more lovely in your day to day. 

This book: Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery I'm just finishing it up. It is hard to fathom the way this man changed the world by championing the abolishment of the slave trade in England. America looks different because of him. The WORLD is a different place because of the passion of his life. It's a fascinating read. 

The Class of 2015. Specifically Brantley, Christina, Corinne, Hanna B., Hanna W., Katie and Mary-Mac. I am texting these girls obsessively this week because they have moved off to college and left a very fashionable, very funny and very energetic hole in my heart. Athens, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are going to be changed places because of y'all.  
This movie: Interstellar. No I haven't actually seen it. Probably why I'm obsessed. All the people I normally watch movies with have seen it and apparently it's forever long. I'm not great at math, but given my habit of falling asleep on the couch at 11pm, I think I'd have to start watching around breakfast time. Which means with my kids, which means pausing for question answering every 1.24 seconds. Thinking I'll probably just wait and watch when Jude leaves home. Pretty pumped to see this in 2032.
This idea: Autumn. Jeans and a t-shirt weather. Football season. So close and yet so very far away. 

This podcast: Start-Up. Another interesting podcast recommended by one of you!  Now that Serial is over this is keeping me going during my Kayla work-outs. Keep the recommendations coming!

This program: School of The World. B Daddy and I are planning to celebrate 10 years of passionate kissing at this place in Costa Rica over New Year's! Whoop whoop! ...we are still accepting applications for childcare...

What are your current obsessions!? 

Monday, August 10, 2015

How (I'm Planning) to Homeschool a First Grader

If y'all know anything about me by now, it should be that I am brazen with confidence in the face of uncertainty. Today is the first day of school where we live and yet once again we find ourselves not waiting for the bus or pulling the minivan into the carpool lane.

Last year the Squirt attended a homeschool hybrid program for Kindergarten, but this year, we're flying solo.

We aren't starting until August 31st. There's still quite a bit of summer left in the air and starting at the end of the month gives me 15 full weeks of learning til Christmas. Seems like an appropriate amount of time to me and well, I get to make these kinds of decisions these days. The grand plan is to do school 4 days a week, and take Fridays "off" for things like going to the library, doctor's appointments, field trips. I am hoping I'll be able to find a sitter who can come on Fridays for a few hours so I have a bit of free-time for myself. I'd imagine I'll be needing it more than usual this year. If you have any ideas on where to find a responsible yet available high schooler or college kiddo on Friday mornings, please let me know!

We are taking the "Classical" approach. (For those of you looking in on this homeschool thing from the outside, there are as many different kinds of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. You can buy a full curriculum with daily lesson plans laid out for you or you can go the unschooling route and let your child's interests and abilities lead your learning. You can also do just about anything and everything in between.) You can read more than you ever wanted to know about Classical Education here. It's fairly structured in terms of the body of knowledge to be covered each year, but the details are all being filled in by me, much to my delight.

Classical education places a strong emphasis on history. This was attractive to me because I HEART HISTORY. Our read-alouds will follow the timeline we are learning about in history, which is the ancient world this year. At least as far as history goes, we intend to "begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end, then stop." The mere mention of the Fertile Crescent at the start of our Story of the World history book got me so pumped to get started!! #nerdalert

We are using Singapore Math. It is pretty to look at and uses the concrete-pictoral-abstract progression for teaching new concepts. Math comes fairly easily to my first-grade guy, so this was an easy choice. He'll be fine with pretty much anything we use.

My little man enjoys writing so we'll continue basic handwriting practice and also include letter-writing and comic-book creation (which he loves) to round out his language arts learning. Let me know if you're interested in receiving a letter and/or custom piece of artwork from this kiddo and we'll make you a bona fide part of our first-grade year.

The Squirt has not been the most enthusiastic reader, (to put it mildly) so we'll continue using the Abeka reading program he started last year and work very. very. slowly. I hope he'll be reading with less reluctance by Christmas, but my mother (who is certified and Master's'd in these types of things) has encouraged me to chill the heck out and let the boy move at his own pace. It's great to have an expert to consult in my moments of doubt.

B Daddy is in charge of our art curriculum. Did you know he was a fine arts major at the University of Georgia for one whole semester? True story.

Science will be biology-based. I've got a few great encyclopedia-type books I'm taking my cues from, but I'll basically be making this up as I go. It's first grade folks. Not too worried. I have grand intentions of taking my kiddos to the Nature Center, the Aquarium and the Zoo. But there's four of them, so odds are very good we may just watch a lot of Animal Planet.

And that, friends, is how I plan to homeschool a first grader.

Who of you is sending their little ones off to school today?? Any questions for me on the whole homeschool thing? And for any fellow homeschoolers reading - what did you use for first grade? What are your biggest tips for this first year completely at home? Wish me luck! 
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