Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teaching Greed or Good Planning?

As an Oregon expatriate who has moved through Washington, Virginia, and finally settled (for now) in Texas, I sometimes feel like a fish out of water. Less so now than I used to, but sometimes events occur that just smack me in the face with shock and confusion. You know, metaphorically-speaking. While these things can be disturbing, they reliably lead to self-examination, research, and eventual growth. Oh, and blogging...can't forget the blogging!

So here's the situation: Last week, Monkey Boy came home from after-school care with a birthday party invitation from one of the girls. Let's call her Amber, for the sake of protecting the innocent and their not-so-innocent parents. Monkey went to preschool with this girl, so they've known each other going on 3 years now, but this is the first time he's received in invite from her. Amber is turning 6. I reviewed the details on the card and was checking his calender when I noticed the last line: "Amber is registered at Toys-R-Us."

Um, what?

I re-read. Oh yes, "Amber is registered at Toys-R-Us." I got it right the first time. My initial response was shock, which quickly turned into more a feeling of oh-my-gosh-did-this-mother-seriously-write-this-on-this-invitation?!?!?! I texted my husband at work, "You are not going to BELIEVE what Monkey brought home!" I put the invitation down and turned to more pertinent matters of the evening, but that sentence continued to bother me.

When did it become socially acceptable to include a gift registry for you child with birthday party invitations? Did I miss something in the mommy rules? And what about the wording, the expectation of a specific present, the sense of entitlement? It wasn't, "If you don't know what to get Amber, she is registered at Toys-R-Us." There was no qualifier on that invitation, just a command to get thee to the store and don't forget your wallet. Yuck.

I posted a status update on Facebook about the invitation (naming no names, of course) and asking for input from my friends. Was I overreacting? Was I out of the mommy loop, as previously suspected? What would other parents do in this situations? Responses were overwhelmingly negative to the birthday gift registry, but some of my friends didn't hate the idea. Some select quotes, for your reading pleasure:

"I have never encountered this, and personally I don't consider it to be in good taste." ~ from a mother of 4 and grandmother of 6, music therapist

"We register for weddings and baby is this any different...hmmm?" ~ newlywed with no children (to which I replied, " someone who didn't register for her baby showers or wedding, I was a little shocked!"

"No like. Doesn't like it? Gift receipt." ~ mother of 1 and fellow ex-Oregonian

"I think it's a little ridiculous. Gift receipt or no gift...that's my 2 cents :-)" ~ my sister, a SAHM of 3, childbirth educator

"At that age, kids might benefit from a gift they didn't know they wanted. They mi
ght gain a new hobby or interest from a surprise gift. I think it's doing the kid a dis-service." ~ pregnant mother of a toddler, research scientist

"Really? Was there an RSVP also...because I would gracefully (which would be a pretty easy job to do...considering the level of grace already present) DECLINE!!! You know me. Why deliver reinforcement following behavior you don't want to be continued in the future?" ~ mother of a teenager and a behavior specialist (clearly, LOL)

"Registering your kid for bday gifts seems unbelieveable to me. When you're getting married and getting started, there are usually things you need. When your kid turns 6, really??? ANOTHER toy???" ~ mother of 2, music therapist

"No. That is odd. Maybe they could say cash or checks only if they don't trust you to pick a gift! :-P ~ mother of 1, speech therapist

"Definitely not something Martha would condone. I have seen people enclose a card with the child's current interests - which I thought was tasteful - but this is over the top. Though, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing it more and more." ~ newlywed, no children, who also happens to be a pastor

To me, this is an example of Everything's Bigger in Texas gone bad - is materialism something we really want to cultivate and model to our children? I'm tempted to attend this birthday party just to see what happens with the gift registry, but that would be ugly and, besides, we had already RSVP'd to another party that day by the time we received this invitation. I just hope I don't run into Amber's mother anytime soon, as I may not be able to keep my opinions to myself.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Meal Planning - October 24

I'm starting to think that I actually prefer ignoring my kitchen during the week and then staging a hostile takeover each weekend. It's gross, I know, but it's much more satisfying to take it from icky to pristine than to work on it each and every single freaking day. Okay, yes, I will not give in to this base instinct of living in periodic filth, but it sure felt good to say it to you!

In other news, Einstein's Bagels was doing a punch card promotion during the past couple months, so I was rewarded for my "bad morning" bribes (a bagel, schmear, and iced coffee sure makes it easier to drag my tired behind to work!) with a free baker's dozen of bagels this weekend. If you count, there aren't 13 - I've already eaten 2. It isn't worth being skinny if I have to give up carbs, in my humble opinion. Into the freezer with you, my little darlings!

Here's what we will be eating this week:


Monday - PB&J on wheat bread, apple slices, broccoli with ranch dressing

Tuesday - Leftover spaghetti, baby carrots, applesauce

Wednesday - Turkey sandwich, apple slices, chips

Thursday - Leftover chicken spaghetti, apple slices, broccoli with ranch dressing

Friday - Turkey sandwich, string cheese, applesauce


Monday - Spaghetti & garlic bread

Tuesday - Friendship casserole

Wednesday - Chicken spaghetti

Thursday - n/a (we eat out on bowling league night)

Friday - Chicken taco soup

Need some more ideas for meals? Check out the Menu Plan Monday section on I'm an Organizing Junkie, where hundreds of other bloggers link up and share what their families will be eating each week.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Meal Planning - October 18

We accidentally slept through church this morning, so I'm feeling a little out of sorts this morning. So much to do! So little time! So off the regular Sunday schedule! In the interested of breathing deeply and regrouping, I figured the best place to start was with this week's meal plan. My husband graciously volunteered to do the grocery shopping this morning, so I figure I'd better get busy and pounce on that!


Monday - Chicken enchiladas for Mommy & Daddy/PB&J for Monkey, mango slices, broccoli & Ranch dressing

Tuesday - Turkey sandwich, chips, applesauce

Wednesday - Leftover chicken spaghetti for Mommy & Daddy/PB&J for Monkey, apple slices, baby carrots & Ranch dressing

Thursday - Leftover spaghetti, string cheese, applesauce

Friday - Turkey sandwich, apple slices, broccoli


Monday - Slow Cooker Veggie Beef Soup (made ahead & frozen)

Tuesday - Chicken Spaghetti (made ahead & frozen)

Wednesday - Spaghetti and meat sauce (sauce made ahead & frozen)

Thursday - n/a (we eat out on bowling league night)

Friday - Cheeseburger Soup (made ahead & frozen)

I'm going to wait on next weekend until later this week. October seems to have very busy weekends thus far - harvest festivals, dance shows, Halloween parties, etc. If you need more meal-planning inspiration, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday section, where hundreds of other meal-planners share their menus and recipes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Change of Seasons, Change of Wardrobe

Every six months or so I sit down and try to wrassle Monkey Boy into various articles of clothing from his closet in order to see what fits and what is lacking. Then the wrassling progresses into full-strength restraint holds in order to try on the next season's clothing in the next size (most of it will fit, but why waste closet space with things he'll never wear?). Every six months my sweet Monkey becomes a crazy little banshee while participating (against his will) in this project, interspersed with moments of silliness, destructiveness, and just plain belligerence. Every six month, my dear, sweet husband comes home halfway through this task and within 10 minutes is cracking up at the sight of me tackling our child with a sweater and Monkey's silly walks. After the boys' part is complete, I go through the pile of old clothes, separating out the ones nice enough that the resale shop will take them and putting the rest aside for donations. Then I sort the pile of new (or new-to-Monkey) clothes, removing tags, checking for holes, etc. One massive load of laundry later, everything is clean, dry, folded and put away.

So, this afternoon it took four hours, but I can officially say Monkey will be warm, dry, and wearing clothes that fit for roughly the next six months. Still, there has got to be an easier way to do this. How do you deal with the seasonal/sizing changes for your children? Any advice to make this whole process easier?

Monkey running in the sprinklers outside our apartment this afternoon. Quickly followed by the protests, "Mommy, it is hot outside and I have sprinklers to play in! Why do I have to put on sweaters?" Good point, child :-)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meal Planning - October 11

Today all three of us have the day off from school. My district is having a staff training day, Monkey Boy's district is having Fair Day, complete with free tickets (yes, the State Fair of Texas is a big deal in DFW!), and I'm not really sure why my husband's district is closed, but they are. Columbus Day, maybe? Who knows. The point is, I plan on getting a lot of paperwork and cleaning done! Husband's plans seem to include going to the movies and going bowling. Monkey just wants to talk all day, LOL. I also got quite a big of cooking done this weekend. My freezer, which was down to a scant 10 dinners, is now bursting with 21 meals, with 3-4 more to be added today. Makes me hungry just looking at it!

So here's what we'll be eating this week:


Monday - Leftovers from the weekend (nice that we don't have to pack today!)

Tuesday - Turkey sandwiches, carrot sticks, applesauce

Wednesday - PB&J, string cheese, apple slices

Thursday - Leftover spaghetti for Mommy & Daddy/Mac & Cheese for Monkey, carrot sticks, frozen Gogurt

Friday - Chicken enchiladas for Mommy & Daddy/PB&J for Monkey, apple slices, chips


Monday - Sweet & Tangy Pot Roast in the slow cooker (I'll be preparing that as soon as I post this - I love it when my appliances work hard for me all day!)

Tuesday - Chicken Spaghetti (made ahead & frozen)

Wednesday - Spaghetti with meat sauce (sauce made ahead & frozen)

Thursday - n/a (we eat out on bowling league night)

Friday - Salsa Chicken in the slow cooker (made ahead & frozen)

Saturday - Potato Soup (made ahead & frozen)

Sunday - Baby Burgers

Need more meal planning inspiration? Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie, host of Meal Plan Mondays, for links to hundreds of other bloggers' meal plans for the week!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Welcome, October!

I don't know about you, but I am super-excited for October. Yes, it means cooler weather approaching, but after one of the hottest, and steamiest summers in recent memory in DFW, we are ready for the fall chill to arrive! Did I mention it is close to 90 degrees today? Plus, there's just something much more satisfying about October than September to me. August is a big month, school starting and all, but September just seems like a place marker until October arrives. To me, anyway :-)

Monkey Boy and I began our celebration of all things October with a visit to our local Calloway's Nursery, where they were hosting a free Fall Festival for local children. Monkey got to pick a pumpkin and decorate it using provided craft supplies (see picture above). Mr. Pumpkin (as he was named) is now sitting on our patio, scaring off potential intruders. That's right, Mr. Burgler, all eight eyes trained on you, and don't LET him twitch his feather mustache!

It was our first visit to a nursery, and Monkey was intrigued. After he completed the decorating, took a spin in the bounce house and got a cup of popcorn, Monkey decided it would be a good idea for us to take a walk around the nursery and look at all the plants. Perhaps he has managed not to inherit my or Daddy's gray thumbs! I figure it might be fun to take a trip back another day and ask about some hardy plants to live on our patio table. Currently, we are a plant-free family. Some days, it's hard enough keeping the child alive without worrying about things that can't ask for food or water if we forget to give it to them!

Now, off on an impromptu shopping/people watching trip with my boys. There are so many good areas for this in Dallas! Not sure if anything will be bought today, but I could use some cotton leggings to pair up with short dresses for work. Makes it much easier to work with the children when everything is decent, but I'm sooo tired of getting runs in the tight-like leggings. Bring on the cotton knits and, in a few weeks, sweaters!

How are you and your family celebrating the change in seasons?