Monday, July 27, 2015

An Interview with a New-ish Four-Year-Old

I conducted this interview a few days after CJ's fourth birthday, but he has been exploring his wild side since that big day and due to THAT drama, I'm just now posting it a full month later. Learning to deal with a kid who has all of a sudden realized that bedtime is optional has taken most of my energy!

(It's not all bad, though. Since his birthday he has learned to open his own string cheese, which cuts down my workload a lot).

 Ok, CJ, are you ready for your four-year-old interview?

1.      How old are you?
Do you like being four?
Yeah,'s hard being four.
What's hard about it?
I don't know. But--but--it's 9:30. That means it's time for snack.
What's your favorite thing about being four?
Um...messages...and calendars...and Magformers. And--and--INSPIRE Magformers!
(He got a set of Magformers for his birthday and saw in the manual that there is a sets that he doesn't have yet--and has been overtly hinting that he wants the INSPIRE set added to his collection. He doesn't care one bit that they are marketed for girls, and I kind like that about him.)

2.      Where do you live?
At 206. First we were at the house 135. Then 3053. Then 206. That's our new house! Uh, mom...I like INSPIRE Magfomers. 

(Those are indeed the house numbers for our previous residences. He forgot the 1712, but to be fair to CJ we moved out of that house when he was six months old.)

3.      What is your favorite thing to do?
What? Legacy Academy and INSPIRE Magformers. Playing Play-Doh. Can you write that down?
Sure thing dude.

4.      What makes you mad?

5.      What makes you scared? (I immediately regret asking this question.)
What do you do when you feel scared?
I scream about the Ghost.
On ghost duty.

6.      What is your favorite book?
40 Short Stories. And this calendar.

 (To be clear, he is not a Willa Cather fan. This is his favorite book because 40 stories = 40 chapters, and chapter headings are his jam right now.)

7.      Who do you love?
Who else?
Pippin. What's number eight?

  He forgot to mention Ender. Even though he is a colossal grump most of the time these days, he always has a smile for "his" baby.

8.      What do you want to be when you grow up?

10. What does daddy do for work?
Uh, he eats something.

11. What does mommy do for work?
Write also.

For your further reading pleasure:

Interview with an almost three-year-old

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Shopping at Aldi (With Children)

Aldi is a grocery chain that keeps it's overhead low so it can provide food and a variety of household items at as much as 50% less than other stores. As our family has been doing about 90% of our weekly shopping at Aldi for over a decade, I can verify that 50% number. Thanks to Aldi's cost saving measures I can provide my family with a varied, healthy diet consisting mostly unprocessed foods for less than $400 a month.

I could go on and on, extolling the virtues of shopping at Aldi, but to keep this shortish I'll just say: Aldi is awesome, it can save you much money, and if you aren't already an Aldi shopper I hope you try it out some day!

Aldi operates a little differently than most American grocery stores (read their FAQs here), which can scare off some potential new shoppers. Well never fear, with me as your guide you will be shopping like an Aldi pro in no time.

Here is a look at how I manage shopping at Aldi:
(** designates advanced steps, which involve including three young children, two of whom still poop their pants)

Step #1: Prep work
a. Write a menu for the coming week.

b. Make a shopping list that you have every intention of sticking to.

c. Throw some bags or boxes in the vehicle, as you will be responsible for packing up your own groceries. I prefer boxes (specifically banana boxes from Aldi), which fit quite nicely in the cargo area of the van.

 Step #2: Arrive at Aldi; Get a cart

**a. Insert baby into Ye Olde Boba Carrier so she isn't taking up valuable real estate in the shopping cart.

**b. Hold a hand next to ya, walk to cart corral.   

c. To get a rent cart (another cost-saving measure), insert a quarter into pictured slot. This will disengage the chain that connects to it the other carts, allowing you to take it into the store. Don't worry, you'll get the quarter back once you return the cart.

**d. Get a quick workout in by lifting your 40-lb toddlers into the cart. Some stores have the double seat in the front of the carts, but not all. Remind the toddlers that if they pinch each other, eat the groceries, or act up in any way, they will not get to watch "Cars" in the van on the way home.

Step #3: Do your shopping

First stop: Wine. I do recommend the Winking Owl Pinot Grigio. Totally doesn't taste like a $2.89 bottle of wine.

Pro tip: You might want to "steal" a couple of these banana boxes for future shopping trips! Seriously, just take the bananas out of one box and pile them up on top of one of the other boxes, then take the empty one. The employees won't mind; in fact, it saves them some work!

Step #4: Check out
**a. Enlist toddlers to help unload groceries onto the conveyor belt.

b. After the clerk scans and item they are just going to place it in an empty cart at the end of the conveyor belt, which leaves you with this jumble:

But the inconvenience is worth the low, low bill.

Step #5: Pack up your groceries

There are counters in the back of the store that exist for shoppers to pack up their groceries. I don't typically use them because there isn't an adjoining toddler jail. Old ladies tend to scold if your toddlers are attempting to do back flips off the counter while you're occupied bagging up a week's worth of groceries.

Instead, after checking out I wheel the cart **(the displaced toddlers walking or riding on the back of the cart) back to the van, instruct the big kids to get in their car seats and work on the buckles, then I transfer all the groceries from the cart into the boxes that I threw into the cargo area in Step #1.
This part kinda sucks when the weather's bad, but after a decade of Aldi shopping, this is honestly the most hassle-free way (for me).

I try to sort the groceries so that one box contains items destined for the fridge or freezer, while the other contains pantry items. 

Step #6: Get your quarter back.
All the carts have a chain dangling off of the quarter-eating device on the handle. All you have to do is push your cart against the others already in the corral (just like in a regular supermarket) then insert the chain belonging to the cart directly in front of yours into the BACK of the quarter-eating device on your cart..

And out pops the quarter.

Step #7 - Unpack groceries

Once home, I get another work out in my carrying my two boxes loaded with groceries into the house. Then I again bribe the toddlers so they will keep things to a dull roar while I get everything put away.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My 1,337th Day on SAHM Island

In a fit of nostalgia, I was recently reading over some of my first blog posts when I came across this gem, chronicling my first official day as a stay-at-home mom when CJ was four months old.

My days with Baby CJ had me at my absolute limit, and I couldn't fathom adding even a simple trip to the grocery store to the mix (Nemo did all the shopping and cooking back then).

Now, three-and-a-half years later, I am at my limit--but now I know that my limit isn't absolute! Every day that limit moves, sometimes two steps forward, sometimes one step back. Something I have over 2011 Eva is that I am much MUCH better at gauging where my true limit lies, and I know not to be scared of where my limit will or won't be in the future. Progress!

I thought it would be fun to update the snapshot of how my days go these days. My 1,337th day as a SAHM was a pretty typical day for us, although there were some brand-spanking new challenges that presented themselves.

But, whatever. I ain't afraid of no ghost.

(That's going to make sense in a little bit)

6:48am - Baby #3 is awake, and since Nemo got up with her yesterday I reluctantly take my turn. I get her up, change her, then put her in the bouncy seat.

6:55 -  I start a pot of water for tea, then get to work reheating some eggs and muffins for the big kids' breakfasts.

7:10 - Get the kids up. The hallway light is on and both kids are still sleeping, which tells me that they probably didn't sleep well last night. Yay.

7:15 - Sit the kids down to breakfast, scarf my own down, then give the hungry baby a bottle.

7:45 - Steal into the office to try to drink my cup of tea in peace, but am constantly disrupted by a war being fought over the ownership of a new toy. Finally screaming reaches the point where I send the big kids to their rooms for a time-out.

 A spontaneous game of "pile toys on the baby"

8:15 - Put Ender down for a nap.

8:20 - I go back to the office to try and watch some instructional videos for the open-source graphics software Inkspace.

8:37 - CJ comes in and tearfully confesses to me that there was a ghost in his room last night, and it ROARED at him. Comfort him and make plans to track down and smack whoever told him about ghosts.

9:15 - Get Ender up, pack the diaper bag and the toddler entertainment devices, then head off to a pediatrician appointment.

10:15 - Ender needs another nap, so we drive to the mall so the big kids can play in the play area while I bounce Ender to sleep in the Boba carrier. Noni has a random googly eye clutched in one fist the entire time so obviously she can't do any running and climbing. She sits on the benches and glares at everyone between requests to "go home now, mommy."

11:25 - Head to JCPenney's to ride the escalator up and down three times before heading home.

12:00pm - Arrive home, fix some lunch - odds and ends for the kids and a big salad with leftover roast chicken for me.

 Don't worry; I'm not starving myself. That's actually a serving bowl.

I don't get to eat yet though because the baby is awake and hungry.

12:45 - reading time

1:18 - Leave Ender, still awake, and race downstairs to put everyone in time out. Which makes everyone scream harder, so I opt to begin nap/"quiet" time early.

1:30 - Big kids are sequestered in their rooms and I check on Ender, to seems to have gone to sleep on her own. I start this blog post.

1:45 - Everyone is napping, so of course the UPS guy rings the doorbell - TWICE!!! - but it's ok because he's delivering the triple stroller that my parents recently purchased for us.

1:58 - Ender's awake! Crap. Well at least I can watch whatever I want. We settle onto the couch to make faces at each other while I watch some of my wildly inappropriate tv show.

 Don't look now, baby, but a guy just got decapitated right behind you.

3:02: Ender asleep. I start folding some laundry.

3:08 - Ender crying. Soothe back to sleep.

3:30pm - Release CJ from his room. Practice piano because his class is tomorrow and we've only practiced once in the last week.

 He likes the part where the cd tells him to play the white keys LOUD.

3:48 - We decide to read on the couch.

3:49 - After I've read 1.5 paragraphs of my book CJ decides he is done reading and requests to play with the marble tracks he got for  his birthday. I oblige.

4:15 - Get Noni up. The fun continues.

5:00 - Turn on the YouTube playlist I made for the kids so we can begin the downward slide to bedtime.

5:17 - Nemo home!

5:22 - Wake Ender up so she'll go to bed at a reasonable hour. Hand Ender off to Nemo so I can triple-task reheating dinner, writing a blog post, and do some laundry.

6:08 - Dinner.

6:30 - The big kids have turned into flying monkeys, possibly with rabies, so I announce early bedtime. And everyone looses their damn minds.

6:55 - Tucking CJ in turns into a 20 minute sobfest regarding his bad ghost dream of last night.

7:15 - Get back downstairs, retrieve sleepy baby, then put her to bed as well.

7:30 - I watch episodes of Psych and Love It or List It on Netflix while Nemo puts together the new stroller.

8:30 - My new favorite drink - Whisky Sour - magically appears on the side table. I congratulate myself on having the good sense to marry he who is clearly the best guy in the world, ever.

9:00 - I'm toast. But not toasted. I only had one drink, I promise! To bed.
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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.