Thursday, May 24, 2012

Things to do with teens--Cheap, but not always

I have four teenagers in my home.  Yes--four.  They are 17, 17, 16 and almost 15 years of age.  And yes I know that is crazy.  But I love every moment with them.  Okay, maybe not EVERY moment, but for the most part, most of the moments.  They are fun, they keep me laughing and hey, they can dress and feed themselves! How awesome is that??  I can carry on conversations with them and get responses.  We can discuss world peace (ha ha ha, okay the boys are more concerned with world domination) and future plans (insert deer in head lights look least that is what I always get!  SIGH) 

The biggest thing is the knowledge I only have a short amount of time before the guys (and one girl) and grown and gone out of my home.  I only have a short amount of time getting to know them more and influencing them (ha ha ha AS IF I had that power! LOL) Before I know it, they will be grown and gone (at least that's the plan) so for now, I choose to spend a lot of time with them.  So I have been thinking of things I can do with them to not only entertain them, but to also get a little bit more time in with them.  I wish I could say this list is full of free ideas but it's not.  I would like to say the ideas are cheap, but I haven't found anything cheap when it comes to teens!!  ;)

Tada--The list, as it is now

1.  Drive them to and from work. 
My guys work.  So I drive them.  I realize it is not always possible or feasible, but that is a few more moments to spend with them if you can.  Maybe just one day a week.  This is not a time to harp on their bedrooms, laundry piling up, the fact they didn't take the trash out, or have they applied to a college.  This is simply a time to chat, sing out loud to the radio, tell jokes, laugh.  Have fun with this time.  You can lecture later.  But for now, enjoy.  Your teens will soon be young adults and you will need to foster a new relationship with them.  You will always be their mom (or dad if you are a guy reading) so start now showing them you are human and not always the evil tyrant they think you are.

2. Drive-In movie. 
Of course this only works if you have one nearby.  A lot times they will charge by the car load and offer two movies for one price.  Plus you can bring in your own snacks.  So much cheaper than a regular theater.  Plan to arrive early.  Out here in West Texas, movies start at 9pm in the better be there by 7:30.  Grab some lawn chairs and an extra radio if you have one handy.  You just tune into the station to listen to the movie.  And here is an added perk--your sweet teens can sit out in front of the vehicle while you and your sweetie snuggle up in the vehicle.  So, fun, and a chance to snuggle!  What more could you want?

3. Museums
I think everywhere has a museum or two or three.  Your teens probably haven't been since their 5th grade field trip.  Why not take them back now?  They are older and you generally don't have to worry about them touching things.  They might actually read the little plagues and learn something!  You may be pleasantly surprised at their response to the museum.  My guys take FOREVER in them.  I am the one wanting to hurry along to the next exhibit. 

4.  Play tourist in your area
Okay so this also a continuation of museums...but go play toursit.  What sites are there available to you in your area?  Historic homes?  Amusement parks? Cool places to eat?  Head over to your city's Chamber of Commerce and grab up the brocures for your town.  Then pick some things to do. 

5.  Nature
Grab your sunscreen, big floppy hat and go outdoors.  I have boys (and one tom-boy of a girl) so being outdoors is great.  Of course out here in West Texas we miss a few things such as wildflowers and trees and water, but hey, it's all good.  Take a picnic and head out.  Lake, Federal or State parks or even city parks.  My daughter will swing on a swing if it is available and she is 16yrs old.  Trails to hike guys are gone with a "see you at the top mom"

6.  Crafts
These aren't for just little kids.  You can do actual crafts that are not made of popcycle sticks and glue.  My son, Alex and I have a plan to do make a bird bath incorporating the poured paint process.  He and I have a Lowe's trip planned and then we will be ready to pour!  Do you know how to sew or knit or carve bears out of logs? If so, pass this down to  your children.  Of course don't bully them into it, persuade gently....ha!  Also don't be a hard ass about it either.  It's for fun, you want them to have need to scream because the chain was pulled too tight while knitting or whatever.  Get your teens on Pinterest and pick out something to work on together.  It is also a great time to learn something new.

7.  Volunteer
Do you have a "save the Earth" kinda teen.  It won't kill you to go and help them volunteer somewhere.  Four hours a week, a month or whatever won't upset your life. something.  And who knows you might like it!  Let your teen decide the project and call and go in .  And who knows maybe you will get a cool free t-shirt out of the deal.

8.  Concerts, plays
Drag them!!  Take them to listen to bands they may have not have heard of.  Expose them to new sounds.  Often times cities will host free concerts in the park.  Hello??  FREE!! Grab a blanket and some drinks.  Go sit and listen and if its good--dance!  Of course unless your family is really into Polka or something, I would skip those.  No reason to torture the ENTIRE family! 

Just think with Teens, you can skip Disney on Ice and go see some real grown up type plays.  Make it a date night (if you teen is cheaper than four!) or be brave and take them all.  And as much as they grown and grumble about how lame it is to go see the play, drag them anyway.  For our family, EVERY time they come out talking about how awesome it was.  Even Drake, my 17yr old, told me one time about being drug somewhere, "you know I am gonna tell you I don't want to go, but we always have fun and I am glad I went" 

9.  Sporting events
Even if you are not a sports fan you will survive a couple of hours at a game.  Here in West Texas we have hockey, soccer, football both indoors and outdoors and minor-league baseball.  So we get to take our pick.  Check out your local teams website because out here almost every home game comes with a freebie.  Magnets, jerseys, caps, bobble heads.etc.. 

10.  Take a drive
Yep, just get in and go.  Last weekend we took the soon to be 15yr old on one of our famous Conner-Jimerson, seat of your pants, road trips.  We got up early, went and had breakfast and then took off down the road.  For once we had a destination in mind, but normally we just take a road and go.  We took the long way to Fort Stockton and stopped and read every historical marker.  Yep, I learned about Blue Mountain (how it isn't really a mountain and Rattlesnake Butte) We stopped at convenience stores for drinks and chips and drove.  Well Mr. Looks Good in Wranglers drove.  I, on the other hand, looked like a puppy dog in the car..looking out this window then that window and back and forth I would go. 

If you are bit scared by a big random trip, just take one in town.  Is there a street you have never been down?  Who knows what you will find?  Then you can branch out.  We go for hours driving just to drive.  If it wasn't for random drives I would have never learned about Notrees, Tx.  Or that Wink, Tx is where Roy Orbinson grew up! 

To help cut costs you can bring food and drinks with you.  Stop at a random roadside park and grab a bite.  We have been known to pull over in a decent ditch and eat out of the back of the car.  Sounds very redneck doesn't it?? And the fun part...if the teens see something interesting they want to check out--we stop and check it out!  We don't have dvd players in the suburban (I'm mean that way) but we do allow them their phones and PSVita.  I don't want to torture them too bad! ;)

This list is to simply get you started.  Hopefully it opened a few ideas on how to spend some more time with your teens.  And yes, raising teens is like nailing jello to a tree sometimes
But it is possible!! Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to put off housework!! Or the $6 wreath

So yesterday I was not very motivated to clean house.  Not even close to motivated.  More like, yeah---I soooo don't want to clean house.  But I still wanted to keep my Domestic Diva status and in order to accomplish that goal I had to find something to do make it look like I was truly in my Domestic Divaness role.  So, being the best at putting off work, I decided to make a quick (well not so quick) wreath.

This wreath could be free if you have the supplies lying around your home.  I, did not have the fabric so I bought some at Wally-World.  I bought 6 fat quarters (99 cents each) in cordinating fabric for my little DIY project.

I had a wreath from the fall, that I bought years ago.  I even think, if I am not mistaken, it survived the house fire.  So this wreath has been around a time or two.  But the flowers and leaves were falling off.  I cleaned out the laundry room last week and was going to throw it away, but decided to upcycle it instead.  I started pulling out the stems and off with the flowers. 
So here it is in the process of being destroyed...err I mean taken apart.  Once upon a time it was a pretty little wreath.  Now, I will confess I did not save the flowers or leaves.  I couldn't come up with something to upcycle them into and since I live in a small home and am not able to always collect supplies (in mass quanties) I decided...the trash it goes.  So they did.
Here is my naked wreath and my fat quarters.  Sorry the picture quality is not the best, but you get the idea.

Now here is where the fun started.  I did have one issue and lost half a fat quarter to trying to figure it out, but we survived and now I will tell you the RIGHT way to accomplish this, given the tools I had available to me. 

Cut fat quarters in half and then half again.  Because the material is cotton you can make one cut, then rip.  (but not the little strips....hence loosing half of one fat quarter, little streamers makes a lot of threads flying everywhere and looks horrible!)

Then take each quarter and cut into strips.  Oh wait, let me back up...the wreath I am using is small in diamater, so if you are using a larger wreath you need to have longer strips and will need to cut your differently.  Wheww...I almost forgot to pass along those words of wisdom!! 

After cutting strips for a while if finally dawned on me, I could fold the 1/4 of a fat quarter in half and cut strips that way and save some cutting time.  For the record I did not worry about my strips being straight and neat.  All I was doing is making a wreath.  If you need to have straight fabric strips, then by all means have at.....if I owned a rotary cutter and mat, I would have straighter strips then I ended up with.  Of course if you have pinking sheers, those would make cute fabric strips as well.  I didn' you get the point.

Once all my little strips were cut, I just got to tieing, tying?  How in the heck do you spell tie-ing?  Anyway....I tied strips on there forever.  There was a point where it was starting to loook very ugly and I was worried, but thankfully it all came out.

And wah-la!!  Isn't cute.  If you look closely you will see a lot of speckle marks and places where the paint is gone on our door.  It rained out here and what we can figure is the rain knocked the paint off.  (if you have to understand, rain in West Texas is a B.I.G. thing!!)  So hopefully soon, I will have a bright blue door, as I have threatened to paint it that color. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to my Dad

My father raised me alone from the time I was 2yrs old and did not remarry until I graduated.  We made the newspaper here in West Texas

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The English Paper

Where Do I Belong?

            I have always seemed to have an identity crisis of some sort; never truly fitting in anywhere.  In high school I did not belong to the academic crowd because more often than not I floated by on a low B or C average.  I did not belong to the athletic crowd because I did not enjoy watching or participating in sports.  Friday night football nights where an opportunity for me to go to the other team’s side and check out the cute guys in their acid washed jeans, Van shoes and Polo shirts.  I did not belong to the druggie crowd because I could not afford to partake of that particular recreational habit and besides I was terrified of my father.  I did not fit in the goat-roper crowd, because I only wore my roper’s on special occasions and only owned one pair of red ones.  Those who were considered goat-ropers managed to have several pairs of ropers in a wide range of colors as well as the Rocky Mountain jeans and shirts. Now, as a mother of four teenagers, I have found myself again in the quandary of where I belong. 

            The first group of women are the Soccer-Moms.  These women began with a mini-van and worked their way up to a sporty SUV.  On the back glass are stickers of children’s names and megaphones, soccer balls, footballs, basketballs or the cute stick family stickers where everyone is displayed from father all the way to the family dog.  Their cars are filled with cute

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bags for organization as they whip around the town ferrying children to and from each group sport after school. 

            Soccer-Moms sit on bleachers with their hair carefully styled in the latest fashion all wearing capri pants and matching shirts.  The latest version of these moms has their feet adorned in Toms shoes.  They sit in groups and discuss husbands, mixed drinks and their children’s grades.  The tote bags beside them in the bleachers, proudly display names such as Hannah, Madeline, Ethan and Colby.  They sell candy bars and sit outside of stores all in hopes for raising money for their children’s newest organization involvement. 

            Another type of woman, I am not, is the Crunchy-Mom.  She is an adaptation of the Soccer-Mom, but she is more Earth and environment conscience.   She has her allotted 2.4 children and drives a hybrid car.  The stickers on her car speak of carbon footprints and gay pride.  As she pulls into the whole foods grocery store, she grabs her colorful bag, which easily slips over her neck and shoulder and hangs on one hip.  From the trunk she gathers her reusable shopping totes and heads in with her homeschooled children.

            If you stand too close you may notice a particular smell to Crunchy-Mom, she gave up deodorant because she does not want to the toxins to give her cancer.  Her hair, a bit in disarray, is its own natural colors as she does not want chemicals leeching into her scalp.  Children drink from washed out syrup bottles, as she reuses and repurposes everything possible.  At her home are a small garden and a compost bin.  Her children may be a bit more unruly than most but she wants to teach them love and not hate.  No spankings for these future environmentalists.


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The third type of mother is the Redneck-Mom.  Redneck-Mom is easy to notice because many times she heard before seen.  Tattoos on her legs, arms, shoulders, feet and around the ankle are her badge of pride; those and the deer head mounted on the trailer house wall.  She is the woman you think twice before letting your children go over because you are not sure the guns are locked up in the cabinet or on display.  Large trucks and car parts usually sit in front of her home.  And while she is hollering at her husband to stop drinking all her beer, her children, Bubba, Sue-Ellen, Junior and Sadie Mae run through the neighborhood playing cowboys and Indians with plastic weapons. 

            Mostly likely this mother is found shopping at Wal-Mart, pushing a basket while at least two scantily clad, dirty children clamor over and under the basket and hang off the sides.  Her motto is if you cannot buy it Wal-Mart, it is not fit to be had.  On a good day the Redneck-Mom will put on a bra and make up before heading out the door, however, most of the time she can be viewed in her natural habitat wearing pajama bottoms and a tank-top, bra-less of course.

            For myself, I seem to embody all three types of women.  I have tattoos, nine to be exact and yes, I do plan on more.  I live in a trailer due to the housing shortage however I will never be seen in public without a bra. Never.  I drive a VW Beetle which does save gas, but there are no window or bumper stickers.  I also own a SUV but it is for when my family of six goes on the road. I homeschooled my children up until four years ago, and begun again this previous fall with three of them.  I have one who attends public school. I have attended a few sporting events and even wore my school sponsored shirt. My children have been known to solicit for fundraisers.  I keep my nails done and I am choosey about wear I shop, generally choosing a

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better brand named item over Wal-Mart.  I do stop into the whole food stores to pick up vitamins and occasionally something considered healthy.  I have more than my allotted 2.4 children but I have been known to carry in a reusable bag to shop with.  The names of my children seem to be acceptable to each type of mother, Alex, Drake, Lynsie and Jacob.  As much as I would like to label myself a Soccer, Crunchy or Redneck mom, I have to face the truth and realize I am my own type of mother.  Maybe I should be known as the Red-Crunchy Ball Mom?