Friday, January 25, 2013

Promotions, Products and Pets.......Oh My!

I wasn't going to do a post of products I love, but there are a few things lately that I have received that I like and wanted to highlight them for you.

But first off, I have to give a shout out to my husband (he very rarely reads this blog) because he's receieved a promotion at work and is now a manager in charge of the office staff.  He's been at his company almost 10 yrs (even his boss didn't believe it - but his boss is not the one who hired him, this boss came after my husband was hired, so he would have no clue when my husband started with the company).  He has worked at every position in the office and now it's his turn to become a manager.  I know he's ready for this job. I'm happy as he can set his own hours (no extra pay though or overtime anymore) so he can come to school functions, he and I can take an hour to meet for lunch, and he can come home earlier if his work is done.  He will still work a day on the weekend, but I enjoy having him off on the weekday he's off, so that won't be a change.  I'm really proud of him.  :-) So far 2013 is starting off nicely, let's hope it continues...........after last year, we could really use a good year.

Now, you frequently if you read blogs with any regularity, know that some of the blogs out there do a What I Wore Wednesday (I wish I could participate in this but you know, I have a mom wardrobe and while I could dress up, I really just don't want to and I have accepted that- however, I do like to look at the outfits people link to, it's kind of like a What Not To Wear - or wear as the case may be) an Instagram Friday (this one I could do but I have not found any inspiring pictures to take nor would my house be one I'd like people to see, it's small and 4 people and 5 pets have outgrown it, and I haven't been anywhere this year that would inspire me to take pics.  But I'd like to try this one), sponsored products (no one ever sends me anything because I am not ad sponsored) and to take a picture that inspires me from the week.  I like to see what other people have posted, although I have to admit I don't link up at all because I don't feel as inspired as these bloggers do.  So I read and I enjoy reading the posts.

However, I do have a few items I have been enjoying this winter, both products, tv, and clothing.  So I am gonna do a link to some of my winter favorites (just because it's a bit of fun and sometimes this blog can lean towards two very special girls and it's time for a bit of some fun stuff).

I have picked up reading in the last month and I am enjoying it. I used to be a reader who could only read in extreme quiet (because when I was single and living on my own, that is what my atmosphere - except for my cats' meowing - was) but I am learning to read while noise is going on in the background (although I do not care for it but I am trying to accept it because that is what my household is like).  So on to favorite number 1.

1.  Downton Abbey.  I am addicted, yes, I am.  I can't help it.  My friend came to visit last year, at New Years and got me started on Downton.  She and I started watching it but the kids were around (PBS was having it's marathon lead up to season 2) so I decided to DVR the rest and the start of season 2.  When my friend left, I stayed up one night to watch all of season 1 in anticipation of the start of season 2.  Now they are on to season 3 and I'm still hooked. 

So this past Sunday PBS did a special on Highclere castle, where they film Downton Abbey. I watched and became fascinated with the estate and the Earl and Countess.  So I ordered this book, based on one of the Countesses of Highclere:

I also ordered this book as I am now fascinated by the American heiresses who came over in the early 1900's to marry the British Lords and supplied the much needed cash (dowery) to get the estates back on track (ie Downton Abbey style):

I have also read the books of this author, who was an actual parlor maid:

This maid definitely has the salty British humor going. 

2. Clemmentines - the orange.  I have really gotten into this sweet little citrus fruit.  My mom was eating them towards the end of her life and I have not really been an orange person but LGA likes oranges, and I always buy the small ones for the girls.  I started eating one at a meal one day and was hooked. I can't find them in the stores anymore so I think they are only in season a short while (I could look this up to add more 'facts' to this post, but I am too lazy to do that right now).

3.  Hot tea.  British black tea to be more specific.  We have a Keurig coffee maker, and I have been brewing a cup of tea in the afternoon with my lunch.  It reminds me of being back in England with my cousins and having an afternoon cup of tea. I even bought an English cucumber at the grocery store last night so I do see cucumber sandwiches in my future........yum.  And yes, I have been to the Ritz for high tea.  Loved it.

Do you see a British theme going on????  Hm....when did that start??

Now I am going to switch to a lotion that I have been really loving.  My skin since my 2004 hysterectomy operation, has been dry in the winter and sometimes the summer months. I discovered this brand when my cousin gave me a hand creme she didn't like the smell of. I was hooked and had to have some.  This product is the best lotion I have found for dry skin:'occitane-en-provence-usa,82,1,28281,333753.htm?cm_mmc=Email+Newsletter-_-Week+3+Friday+Honey+Best-_-Promotional-_-Logo&utm_medium=Email+Newsletter&utm_source=Week+3+Friday+Honey+Best&utm_content=Promotional&utm_campaign=Logo

I have a problem with wool sweaters and found that some of my sweaters were a bit heavy and a lot of wool/angora, which if it's around my neck, can make me itch.  So I found these sweaters at Old Navy that I can wear a tank or tshirt under and I like them:

I have worn them all winter long, and I really like them. I have found Old Navy's clothing does not always hold up so I have been trying to wash them and hang them to dry to extend their life. Of course, I have loved Old Navy's fleece half zip pullovers, fleece hoodies, and fleece pullovers for years and have worn them (along with their yoga pants, yes, I like their yoga pants, even though I do not use them for yoga as they were intended) for years.

My favorite pajamas to date are these (the girls love them and say "look at mommy's monkey pjs!"):

And my favorite boots this year:

I think the Bearpaws are much better than the Uggs that everyone is wearing.  These boots are the warmest and have kept me plenty warm this winter.

My favorite scarves to date are the infinity scarves. I recently ordered some from The Pleated Poppy:

They are comfy and easy to wrap around your neck for warmth.

The products I listed above are just some of the favorites I have been using/wearing/reading this winter. 

Now on to the pet part of this update.  The girls (and Dave) desperately want a hamster.  We have been to Petsmart to look at the hamsters and even seen them up close. LGA got very upset the last time we went (as we were looking at cages and reading the pamphlets they have near the cages) as we left without a hamster.  I know who would end up cleaning it's cage (even though Dave rather begrudgingly said he would take care of cleaning/feeding it) and feeding it.  I had two hamsters growing up, Charlie and Seymour.  They fought (as they were two males) so we separated them in to two cages. They also were night animals so got out and roamed the house (till we found them hiding in the bathroom laundry hampers in the am).  We thought about it, but part of the pamphlet said that the hamsters will bite if you poke them inside their cages or tap on their cages a lot.  I know this would be hard for OCD LGA to leave it (her as we'd get a female) alone.  Also the first time it got out and ran, the cat and the dogs would chase it.  And one or two little girls would probably drop it the first time it peed or pooped (and my hamster did that to me once, GROSSSSSSSSSS) on them and then it would run and we' have to try to get it.  So we didn't do it, but they still want one. I told them that daddy and I would talk about it and decide.  We do not want a guinea pig, even though that might be the more logical choice.  However, I am sure the dogs and cat would chase a guinea pig for sure. So we will pass on that type of animal for now. I have always had pets and never had an issue saying no, but this time I pretty much said no.

The sun is out today after two days of foggy and then rain (yesterday) so I am happy.  The 49'ers are in the Super Bowl (we just need them to win and then we will have two teams that won World Series and Super Bowl) so life is good.

Enjoy your weekend, those of you still reading the blog (the few of you that there are still reading).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


We all know how hard homework can be, those of you who are parents or remember it from your school years.  Well, here at Family of 4, we are facing one little girl who does not want to do her homework. 

Part of it I attribute to the ADHD brain and not being able to focus.  Part of it is she just doesn't want to do it.  I'm having some issues as her report card came out last week (BGA) and in the section for homework, it was marked for the VERY first time ever, "Unsatisfactory." I think my jaw dropped and I was really surprised when I saw that U on her report card.

A bit of background..............BGA's teacher is a bit older, she sort of reminds me of a 'lived hard' sort of person.  I can't really describe it in more detail, but I'm sure you know what I mean.  Little details have come home with BGA about her teacher and her life, etc.  I know way more than I thought I'd know about her teacher, but I think that is what teacher's do these days, they relate their life experiences to the kids they are teaching.  At least that has been the experience here in our section of N CA and our school district. Not to say this isn't bad, but some of the life choices teachers discuss, in my child's case I really would like to be able to know ahead of time to talk to BGA about it. might remember that BGA's teacher was very glowing in her reports about her right before Christmas, telling me that she never gave her any problems, other than she likes to chat (and according to her report card, becomes involved in 5th grade girl drama......part of that is my fault, after listening to it and BGA not heeding any advice I gave her, I told her to talk to her teacher about it, since it was occuring at, ahem, that might be why she has that on her report card and I probably should not have given that advice).  There was a previous mention to the teacher, in a note, that asked if BGA was supposed to be doing a whole page on her reading summaries (after BGA told me that she didn't need to).  Note was answered back that teacher does not always give homework.  So I assumed when I asked BGA if she had homework (and we all know what assume can mean, don't we?  Egg on my face most definitely) she would say yes, "I need to read a book and draw a picture."  Or "No I don't have math today."  So assuming, (based on what the teacher wrote) she had no homework, we would proceed on to our afternoon.  I would make sure she did at least read a half hour, though.

Imagine my surprise when the report card comes back and says that she has a "U" for not turning in homework!  I immediately write a note asking what we can do to help her remember, stating that last year this was a VERY big issue and her teacher kept wanting her to be organized (last year's teacher was a bit milquetoast in my opinion but we dealt the best we could with it) and insisting that she MUST have an afternoon booster ADHD med to focus.  We never did get it set up for pm at school as I was not sure it was the way to go.  I have asked this year's teacher repeatedly if we need to add in the pm booster med to help her.  Teacher has not replied, but then BGA said, "I don't want to take my meds at school"and this is mainly because no one else in her class (as opposed to last year) takes meds in school.

I get the very flowery handwritten note back from the teacher.  It first tells me "don't worry."  Well, I really do not appreciate that as I'm getting to see I know more about ADHD than this teacher does and I can see we will have a battle on our hands to get what we need.  Don't get me wrong, I like this teacher and she has had a very positive impact on BGA this year for which I am extremely greatful.  BGA had to endure a new school and leaving her friends of 4 yrs behind so having a teacher that knows '5th grade' drama as well as she does, and has daughters, really has helped.  She gets BGA and I am SO glad for that this year.

The note proceeds to tell me that I should not worry about BGA and that she's "a treasure, a real prize" and "you have done a fabulous job with her."  I appreciated that very much. If you have read this blog or the previous one for any length of time you know how much we have all gone through to get where we are now. It also states that she does not know what a "pm booster" is and that she thinks we are ok for now.  Clearly we are not, but how much of a fight is this going to be?   I write back and tell her what a pm booster med is (ADHD small dose of meds given in the pm to help with focus and hyperactivity till bedtime) and thank her for her comments.

It's decided by Dave, the teacher and I, that we will put BGA on a homework contract.  So far it's working well, and she's either writing down her homework or the teacher is and signs off each day on it.  Then of course we make sure she does homework and then we sign off on it and BGA returns it.  All electronic devices have been taken away and will not be used (even though they were sparingly used, like when I needed to have peace to cook dinner and two girls were fighting, before dinner) at all until the "U" is brought up to an "S" (completely bypassing the "P" for progressing).  BGA is not happy, however, she contributed to it so there is the consequence.

But..........that being said, I am a bit peeved at the teacher.  My 80something aunt, a former 4th grade teacher, pointed out that there should have been some idea that homework was not being turned in and that there was an issue so it could be addressed before report cards came out........uh, yeah, I agree.  Why were we not told of this, so we could work on it before report cards came out?  Also this teacher has done NO parent teacher conferences at all.  So we have no idea where BGA really is, other than her grade in math also slipped (she might need a tutor) quite a bit.  Our former first grade teacher at the previous school (who previously taught 1st grade then got moved to 5th last year and BGA started out in her class till she got bumped due to the class being full) said 5th grade is when the grades start to slip, so I'm sure that and going to a new school, trying to find where she fits, friend wise, has a lot to do with it.  So we didn't say too much to her, other than we might need a tutor to bring up her math homework and she would need to bring it home and complete it.

The first part of 2013 has been working on homework each night and it's getting longer and longer, as I work with LGA on her homework (and she is doing fabulously as she got an "O" for outstanding on her homework) and BGA works with Dave on hers.  BGA, early on learned to act like she could not do homework which would frustrate us completely (when clearly she could as she would do one problem correctly and then claim she couldn't do another one just like it).  The first inkling we got was at age 6 when she could barely read and we thought we needed a tutor.  So I asked her first grade reading teacher if she felt we should sign BGA up with a tutor.  Her response?  "What???  She's the best reader I have in my class!"  So that has been the pattern, seeking out the negative attention for homework.  Dave gets frustrated because he knows when she does and doesn't know it.  Homework is a struggle.  And so to avoid the struggle, she chose not to bring her homework home.  Evidently the teacher found a few students lacking, as there are a few 5th graders on homework contracts.

Both girls are attending after school Girl Scouts on campus so one day a week I get two whole extra hours to myself, and I've been enjoying it immensely.  No having to rush back to pick BGA up (LGA gets the bus).  Last week was the first week and LGA's teacher attended with LGA and another girl and this week, LGA's 'semi' friend (they have a love hate relationship with each other, and the girl is autistic I believe) attended and the GS leader told me that they have to redirect and ask LGA to listen a lot, but that they felt it would be ok. I told them if they need me to be there to help I would, they could call me, but the leader assured me it would be ok.  LGA enjoys it so I really hope it is something we can keep her in. I know that girls in another troop won't be as kind to her so we will stick to the school troop, and the leader says she likes working with the younger kids.  I am hoping she can be a helper.  BGA enjoys it too, so I'm glad she got to go. She thought she missed the sign ups and would not get to go for the first time in 4 yrs, but the sign up sheet came home after the break and she was estatic.  I would think of putting her in another troop but I really think the school exposure is good for her and the right fit so we will stick with it.  And I really enjoy that extra two hours once a week!    The first two years BGA attended at her previous school the troop met after school, but then switched to the lunch break, which really shorted them some time.  This new school they meet after school.  They will get to sell cookies for the first time also.  I don't have vests for them, but they do earn patches (I can't remember where the patches are though..........need to find them and see about getting them vests).  I really don't want to get too involved in it, so I am really hoping it can just be a school troop for them. They do have breaks where the kids can go to a day camp when school is out, so we might do that too, now that LGA is old enough.

That is the start of our 2013 so far........homework.  The dreaded homework.  Hoping to get into a groove soon. I'm also trying to find my way in 2013 for myself, not sure where to start though.  I want to do something for myself but can't quite figure out what it is yet, but I know it's out there.