Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

I bought a new trashcan for our kitchen, and since it is slightly larger than the old one which fit under the sink, I had to find a new place for it.

Although the new one is conveniently located and easily accessible, I have still opened the cabinet under the sink, looking for the trashcan, about seven thousand times this morning.

I have high hopes that it will only take me a few days to get used to the new set up, but in reality it may take me as long as a month. I am a creature of habit of the highest degree.

It bothers me the way many kids call adults by their first names, often at the prompting of the adults themselves. I realize this makes me a fuddy-duddy, but so be it.

Growing up, we always called adults by their title as a sign of respect: Mrs. Smith, Mr. Johnson, etc . . . It has been my experience lately that a lot of adults encourage children to call them by their first names, as if they are buddies they would greet in the schoolyard. "Oh don't call me Mrs. Smith! That's my mother-in-law! Call me Sharon, honey."

Sharon (a completely fictitious woman, by the way), I think you're great and my kids think you are great, but they are not your peers. They will call you Mrs. Smith, despite the fact that that is also your mother-in-law's name. It teaches them to respect you, and I know that when other people's children call me "Mrs. HomeFront" I act more like the responsible adult they are counting on me to be.

It especially bothers me when teachers introduce themselves with their first names as the preferred moniker, like Francie's music teacher.

Um, no.

You are the teacher, she will call you Mr. Jones, not Jim (not her real music teacher). I don't care if you are twenty-four, and having a class of bright-eyed fourth graders call you Mr. Jones makes you feel old. To them, you ARE old, so get over it.

At least they don't call you Mudder.

I realize the theory behind the automatic sinks and towel dispensers in public restrooms is to save water and towels, but I think there needs to be some new R & D put into this area. I end up locked in a battle of wills with almost every automatic dispenser I encounter.

Last night, standing at the sink with soapy hands, the water would not come on no matter how many times I waved my hands in front of the sensor. I waved up and down, side to side, from a diagonal, from below, from above -- all to no avail.

I finally had to walk away from the sink, acting all non-chalant and finished with the whole hand-washing thing. Then I had to walk back to sink and pass my hands under the sensor as if I had never used that sink before. Come on now!

When I passed my hands under the sensor for the paper towels, it dispensed a sliver of paper towel that was not big enough to blot my lipstick. Not feeling like repeating the dog and pony show from the sink, I did the best I could with the little slip of towel it gave me.

As I was putting my coat on, the dispenser turned on by itself and released about three feet of paper towels. Right into the trashcan below it.


I've been thinking seriously about closing the comments to this blog as part of my Lenten sacrifice.

Excuse me while I lie down and do some deep breathing.

I'll write more about my thoughts on Monday, but just the fact that thinking about closing comments makes me a little sad and panicky tells me that I am more attached than I thought.


I always thought that the more children I had, the more confident and sure of myself I would become.

In fact, just the opposite has happened. The more children I have, the more I realize I don't know a blessed thing about how they will act. I think I'm just too tired to get as worked up as I once did.

Case in point: Bun will not feed himself or hold his own cup. The kid eats everything and is hungry all the time, but he won't pick up his own food. I have to drop it into his mouth.

He uses his hands for everything else, so I know they work, and to be frank, I am counting on him feeding himself and freeing up some kitchen time for me. He is cramping my style.

Even my pickiest eater (any guesses as to who that might be?) was an early self-feeder, so my experience is very limited. I've tried leaving food on his tray, giving him his own spoon, putting food in his hand and pushing his hand to his mouth -- he wants no part of it.

Has anyone else gone through this with their child? Am I going to be cutting his meat and dropping it in his mouth when he's eighteen? Somebody throw me a bone, please!

A few years ago, Rob and I went on a fairly aggressive program of paying off debt and cutting out credit card spending. We used many of the principles from Dave Ramsey, added our own twist, and threw in a dash of Catholic social teaching.

I am so excited to tell you that it has really worked! We are very close to having NO DEBT other than our mortgage, and we see that more as an investment anyway.

This seems so huge to me because just a few years ago we were living on credit cards. Rob got called up with the Navy reserves, he lost more than a third of his income, and our financial boat was swamped. I used credit cards to keep us afloat, and it worked, but at a tremendous cost.

When Rob got back, we decided that was the end of the credit card era. We stopped using it, and that was hard. That credit card was so glossy and seductive, but we had to treat it like a drug. I took it out of my wallet and buried it in a drawer for at least a year.

If we didn't have the cash, we didn't buy it. Ouch.
But here we are, a few years down the road, and the credit card bill is long gone. As are my student loan, one of Rob's student loans, and the van payment. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders.
We do still use the credit card if an emergency pops up, but now that most of our debt is gone, we know that we can pay off the total when the bill is due. It's a good feeling.

I want to revel in our success now, because I know that we will need a new van in a few years, and college will be here before I know it. Hello, Debt, welcome back.

I'm sure I am the last person on the internet to discover this, but I found a new blog that has captivated me. The Nesting Place makes decorating your home fun, easy, and accessible to people who are deficient in those talents. Like myself.

The Nester has great ideas, many of them free or very inexpensive, and I find her much less intimidating than HGTV. Plus, she puts up gorgeous pictures of her home that look like they came from a magazine. Check her out if you get the chance.

For more quick takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary, and take care of yourselves until I see you on Monday.


  1. Well, I've already told you I will miss comments, but that is what email is for, right?

    I actually made notes on what I wanted to say in the comments today. Hello, I am a nerd.

    1. We had to do the same thing with our trashcan a couple of years ago and it took me forever to remember. And we still have family members visit and forget and put trash in the recycling can (under the sink, where the trash can used to be). So good luck with that.

    2. We are those people. We don't mind kids calling us by our first names, although I prefer a Mr. or Ms. in front of it. We tend to defer to the adults in question. Our kids use first names with some, last names with others, but always last names with teachers.

    6. AWESOME! I want to be you. We are still in the debt snowball portion of Dave's plan, and we will be for a while because we are making very limited progress due to minimal income. We were in a similar situation with the credit cards a few years ago. Husband had more than one month where he made zero dollars and we used credit to bet by. We are still paying for that. But, we haven't used a credit card in close to two years and we have paid some off. It is such a freeing feeling to live on cash, even when it means going without.

    Happy Friday!

  2. We recently bought a new trashcan as well. Because Tigercub wouldn't stay out of it...So, I bought one with a fancy, shmancy just became even more tempting. Now he can remove the trash AND the lid...good times!

    We live in the south, so everyone is referred to as Miss first name or Mr. first name. I don't really mind as long as the miss or Mr. is there, but it makes my skin crawl to hear a child just use an adult's first name!

    I totally understand the comment thing. Although as Baptists, we don't do Lent, our church is doing a 40 day fast during the Lenten season and I have been wrestling with the same thing. I don't really want to stop blogging, because it is sort of a journal of our life, but I get way too consumed by comments and traffic. Last week, I took the first step by removing my site meter. Comments or no, I'll be here with ya!

    The more kids I have, the more I KNOW I don't know anything, I am just that much closer to a complete breakdown!

    I have been to the Nesting Place site a couple of times. It does have some neat stuff. However, I am in my elementary school girl jealous phase and have been boycotting blogs that don't talk back to me or have more followers than I can shake a stick stupid is that?

  3. 2. Someone once told me, when I semi-scolded Bella for calling an adult by their first name, that I was holding onto 'archaic southern manners'. It's good to know that my manners aren't so archaic or so southern.

    3. The other day at a restuaurant Bella went to use the automatic hand dryer and actually screamed and ran away - I checked it out myself (I was accusing her of being overly dramatc) and the wind speed on the thing must have been set at 'jet engine' level - I amazed the bathroom remains grounded in the force of such wind.

    4. I've been considering what to give up for Lent, and I'm seriously considering TV. Yikes! I don't have enough readers for a lack of commenting to really be a sacrifice on my part, so I could do that but I don't think it would count.

    5. Bubba is the same way - he will shovel food into his mouth, but he flatly refuses to hold a spoon for any purpose other than flinging food around. And he still refuses to take him milk from a cup. Water, juice, that's fine, but in his book, milk comes from a bottle. Period.

    6. Good for you! We are on our way there, too, but not close enough for my tastes. Baby steps!

  4. I don't like kids calling adults by their first names either. Period. It's a big rule in our house.

  5. #4. You are brave :) !!

    #5. I most certainly agree!

  6. Good for you on all of those! Credit cards have caused a huge crisis in this country. I try not to use ours very often and if we do, we pay it off when the bill comes in.
    My youngest took forever to self feed. I have no suggestions for you other than time will take care of it.

  7. The poor little west philly second graders I taught for a few weeks could barely manage to read the letters of my last name let alone put it into a coherent word. Hence, I had them call me Miss Johanna... for that matter, there are quite a few adults (most of my teachers fall into this category) who won't even attempt to pronounce my last name! I'm all for titles though... some of my cousins refer to their aunts/uncles by first name - it drives me CRAZY! I always want to correct them... it's Aunt Nancy!

  8. I hate it when the kids want to call me "Sara". Or grown ups who don't know me. Hate hate hate it! Even Miss Sara is better than plain Sara.

    Debt? Same same with us. House and student loans are all that's left.

    Trash cans: got one for food under the sink and one for paper in the pantry.

  9. Well, given my last name, we do accept substitutes....I am varyingly known as Mrs. Szyszkiewicz, Mrs. S, Miss Barbara, Aunt Barbara (by children not related to me), Miss Barb, and Mrs. Alphabet. I rather enjoy the last one. Oh yeah, Adventure Boy calls me "Little Brother's Mom."

    I don't like when kids call me by my first name. I generally correct them and say, "You should call me (fill in appropriate name). Just grownups call me Barb." I like it less when parents only use my first name around their children, telling them, "Please hand that to Barb" so that the child does not get the idea that to them I should be Mrs. S. Now THAT situation I don't know how to handle. I am not good at telling the parents to cut that out.

    I'm guessing Bubba likes all the attention he gets when he makes you feed him. What about when others give him the food? What does he do then?

  10. Anonymous7:10 AM

    I just wanted to say that we address number two by having the kids refer to many adults (i.e. friends of ours) by Mrs. Maria or Miss Amanda or Mr. Nik. Yes, there are some adults who tell them to use their first name and then, we also ran into some confusion because Tom and I were not refering to Jean as Mrs. Smith, but rather as Jean. They seem to have still learned the point of showing respect to your "elders" and we have alleviated the confusion.
    Mirabella Mom
    PS- Annaka was a feed me kind of kid and even after she had the concept would flip back and forth. I don't remember using any special trick just good ol' persistance. ( I know, not what you were hoping for).

  11. Thought I would leave you a comment just because of #4. I am hoping it will help hold you over until the end of Lent.

    As for #5, I got an adorable picture of Bun as a baby bird in my head when I read it. Very cute. He'll get it, eventually. :)

  12. GeeGee1:34 PM

    Bird would still let me cut his meat if I would do know that! But I do understand your frustration...I am Mrs.S, T is Mrs.B, and R is Mrs.O to all my kids (who are all adults, themselves). Sometimes, if a last name is particularly difficult to pronounce we would go to Miss Aimee, etc. which I still find respectful as long as there is a title which shows the child that there is a difference between them and the adult....


Go ahead and say it. You know you want to.