Need Adventure? Try Geocaching, Mamas! "Pleasure Cache" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

NOTE: You can hear this on MP3 HERE.
This is an overlooked oldie post.  Hope you geocachers & geocacher wannabees enjoy.  

Pleasure is a funny thing.   It can show up to stretch with a feline nonchalance  into unexpected moments. This morning I stretched before I got out of bed.  It was delicious.  I forget how much pleasure can be found in a slow leisurely full body stretch.  Later in this day, walking in winter sunshine with my friends was pure pleasure.  All three of us pushing our tiny people in strollers hoping they would doze in the sun and fresh air.  We had no agenda or particular destination until I suggested we go after a geocache

We are mothers.  We fill many of the stereotypes of the un-showered unkempt un-private bathroom time many people have of motherhood.  We struggle for alone time and live for naptime.  The baby’s nap, not ours.  Well usually not ours.  If we could dream and indulge in pleasures I think it would be us all alone and it would probably be quiet.  Or loud, it could be loud music that makes us smile, that makes us feel a little naughtier like when we were younger and more careless.  We would probably chat with a friend or make a craft. Most Mamas wouldn’t geocache.
Recently we cached at McCormick Creek without luck.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt for worthless things in surprising places.  I bet you there is a geocache within ten miles of your home right now.  In the Michiana area there are maybe several hundred alone.  Enough to keep you busy hunting.  They can be a puzzle where you gather information to solve it.  They can be a container as small as your fingertip or as big as a barrel hidden somewhere that cachers can find and re-hide again and again. is a great resource if you are curious and want to know more.

When I was single I would go geocaching constantly.  I would adventure out at night at all hours to be the first to find a new geocache.  I even went out in winter snow because it is easier to find something when you can follow other people’s tracks.  I spent entire days hunting for caches alone and with friends.  I found over two hundred and placed several of my own.  Now I do not geocache.  I have these two small people to lug in and out of the car.  I don’t drag my children through the woods or bushwack in brambles.   So I do not cache.  I miss it.

Until I got a smartphone I also had technological stumbles too.  But now.  OH!  Now I can turn my phone on when I have some time to kill and search out a nearby cache.  I have taken my husband and older daughter and shared the thrill of the find with them.  And today I took my mama friends geocaching.
Another post fete geocaching adventure with John:
how else would we find this random military 'museum' in Crown Point?

We pushed our strollers through mud.  We appointed one of us to watch all three strollers while the other two of us foraged.  We wandered.  We laughed.  And we found it.  A peanut butter jar geocache wrapped in camouflage tape with a log book inside to sign our names.  None of the trinkets interested us so we put it all back as we found it.  We smiled and laughed at ourselves and I think the two of them will look again for caches.  We enjoyed the unexpected fun of hidden treasure and instead of mamas with great responsibilities, we were kids again.  Kids playing in the mud, in the bushes.  The pleasure of a surprisingly warm day and a hidden treasure were ours.   And the small people in those strollers?  They were stretching and sleeping in the sun.

Lust, Sin & Money in Marriage (AKA Dave Ramsey and Andy Stanley on a Cargo Bike)

The next time you and your spouse fight over money, ask them one simple question:  "Honey, would you please feel insecure in our marriage and develop deep anxiety about our relationship so I can over spend our budget by $100 at Target? Yeah.  Ask them that.  Before you go shopping.  Or maybe try "Dear, could you spend money on that fancy car you want and not pay our mortgage on time so I can feel afraid that we will loose our house?"  It's a technique I keep to myself most of the time.  I learned it from Andy Stanley and you can read the story about it here.  

As I look over my daily life, I know I have it good.  We live under our financial means so while we don't go to Disney like everyone else, we also do not fight over credit cards and debt like everyone else.  But we do disagree about money, and that is usually my fault.  Our latest stressor wasn't repairing and adding an addition to the front porch, we had money saved for that.  It wasn't spending $3,500 on a new air conditioning system, we had an emergency fund set up for that(thanks to John's dedication & our Dave Ramsey education). What we have been discussing heatedly for weeks is an $1,800.00 bicycle. Whaaaat?  Yup.  And I've been a $50 used bike girl in the past.  

My current bike is so much nicer than anything I've had before and was a freebie from Whitney and Richard!  I buy used things, cheap things, and budgeted things.  But after learning about cargo bikes a few years ago and then my friend Joshua having a Yuba Mundo I can touch, ride and see:  I'm in love.  Or lust.  I'm a little obsessed.  I have been biking instead of using our car a lot during the past two years and I love it.  I'm empowered by the connections I make in the town we live in.  I enjoy using my body instead of fossil fuel to go places.  I appreciate that I cannot buy as many groceries or things I do not need from Target when I only have the bike trailer.  I love how using the bike instead of a car makes life move slower on purpose. After researching and experimenting with additions to my current bike, I really want this serious cargo bike.  I look at as almost replacing a car, so the cost doesn't seem as outrageous as it is.  Right?

Since we do not use credit, I know we need to save up for any big purchases.  We save monthly towards things like our new used car, the porch project, a new computer.  It takes time but having a goal helps.  Sometimes.  

We use Pear Budget to track our spending each month and we have wiggle room built into our spending plan.  As John and I discussed the cargo bike and our budget, I realized a painful truth:  If I hadn't overspent our budget every month for the past year, our finances would be in a place NOW where my husband might just buy the cargo bike for me.  Even though it is incredibly expensive.  

There is a reality where we might just have had resources to do the porch project and paint the garage and take care of the air-conditioning system and buy the cargo bike.  But we do not.  I am EXCEPTIONALLY grateful we could take care of the things we did take care of.  How blessed we are in our life. But.  I am reaping the sin of my over indulgences; $10 here, $30 dollars there...and I thought the little things didn't matter.  They do.  So when we choose to happy NOW, we may defer a later, bigger happy.  

I could tell John was upset about our budget.  He was upset with me for always going over our budget and not being too worried about it.  We were in our room as John got ready for work.  I'd been campaigning to buy the bike and our conversation grew more intense. I began praying and asking for God to help our conversation, to help change me.  I suddenly remembered the Andy Stanley talk I shared with you before about taking responsibility for ourselves in life. It taught me that when I choose to be Irresponsible, I am inadvertently asking someone else to Be Responsible for me.  Like John and me and finances.

As I realized I'd shot myself in the foot for getting the cargo bike, I looked at John and thought about how things looked from his perspective. I thought about what he must feel like as the sole breadwinner of our family. I asked him the question I mentioned earlier.   "John, would you please be tense and angry and worried because I spend too much money?  I know regardless of how much I actually spend, any spending makes you uncomfortable.  I'd like you to worry about our future, about paying for college for our daughters.  Darling, would you please be torn between loving me and being grateful I am fun and being disappointed in the way I poorly steward our money?"

John looked at me with love as my eyes filled with tears and he said, "This is why it is so great being married to you."

We are honest with each other.  We know our weaknesses and we talk a lot and this strengthens our marriage. We didn't, however, resolve our situation that day.  It has been an ongoing issue in our marriage and I ache over it because I cannot seem to stop myself from indulging in these little shiny things I want now.  I wanted to share this painful life lesson with each of you hoping you never have to ask your spouse, your friends, your family to take responsibility for you...You are strong enough and smart enough to do this yourself.  So am I. We were made to be responsible.  

p.s.  Thank you, John for bearing with me as I grow as a person and your wife.  Thank you for being responsible for me and to me.  I love you.  You are a gift to me and I will continue to work on myself so I continue to be a gift to you.  

Friends, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and stories about living within a budget in the comments.  Please share!

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Girl Powered Friendships: I'm All About That Bass!

My Best Friend in Valparaiso is moving to North Carolina tomorrow.  Whitney is the kind of friend who calls and offers to take my kids to the park.  A lot.  I needed that kind of friend as I navigated the waters of toddlerhood.  Whitney's daughter Corinna is Libby's BFF.  Whitney reminds me to take it easy, to roll down hills, to live life in a more physical, active way than I would naturally.  I expect we will stay friends even over the miles, but the daily interaction will be a loss to me.  Even amidst my many other wonderful girlfriends.

So we have been spending a lot of time together...and FINALLY hit Silver Spoon Saturday night for Kereoke Night!  We both sang, had a few bevvies and talked.  As I waited for Whitney to pick another song to sing, I people watched.  It was good looking people watching at the Silver Spoon.  I grinned as I watched a young thin tall blonde pick up another young thin but petite in stature blonde.  They laughed and kept doing it, egged on by their companions.  

I had to jump in.  Since I quit Weight Watchers and am embracing my curves as best I can...I sauntered up to them and said, "Yes, but can you pick ME up?"  I probably weigh twice what her little friend weighs...or three times?  THIS is what happened.

Then I got challenged.

Pretty funny, I am sure.  Ah, to be young and in my twenties again...NO WAY!  I love my life, if not my thighs.  Heck, I have never loved my thighs properly anyway.  I love being my age now and living my life.  Good friends, great family, good life.

Then I found this video on my Facebook Feed this morning and had to play it about three times, even letting my littles watch it with me.  Despite a bit of language.

Mehgan Trainor "All About That Bass"  even with some language, is a fun body image anthem I enjoyed.  I am pained when my five year old talks about eating less "to be healthy" (what we say instead of referreing to weight loss efforts) or when she teases me about my "fat arms" as she plays with my batwings.  I meant to be so careful with what I say about myself, other people, and yet...the message communicates.  

As Portia & Libby watched with me and I tried to say it was a Body Anthem song I choked up.  I want them to feel beautiful all their lives.  I want them to have good friends who live an active life with them.  I want my girls to love themselves and other people with open peaceful balanced hearts.  And I hope they love that bass!

Tales of a Horror Story Basement NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

You can listen to the audio of this piece by clicking HERE.

Have you ever seen a movie, like a thriller or a horror film where you KNOW that person shouldn't go in the basement?  They kind of write the scene that way to get your adrenaline pumping.  Going into that basement just means they will never come back out of it.  I have one of these basements.   In my dark, damp, ugly basement Things Get Lost.   We call it Storing Stuff,  but really, if we are honest, we just Loose Stuff in our basement.  Down the rickety Needs Paint stairs are mildewed walls and a cold bare floor.  Is it just cold, or is it wet too?  I often idly wonder, but not for long.  My horror story basement stands guard over all our sentimental crap and extra house decorations.  It also gives the dog a place to hide when it thunders outside. I suppose one could also do laundry in it.  If you are into that kind of thing.  

I've tried to reclaim the basement.  I lured some gal pals down with cheap wine to sit like high school girls and brainstorm options.  We didn't do anything, just talked.  And drank wine.  We priced waterproofing the whole damp thing.  We have shop vacced water out many times.  My husband may have cleaned out...umm, not water from the sewer drain.  Once.   We know where to put things (dry floor) and where not to wet floor wet floor wet floor put them.  

In the act of storing a downsized dinner table in the basement, I now have a craft area.  The table is covered with a plastic tablecloth to protect it from paint and glue. It is usually covered with boxes and bins of craft debris.  If all the lights are turned on and my girls and I are working together, it feels almost safe to be down there.  But if I am alone...well, that is why the laundry is always not done.  Because I am scared to be in the basement.  Right?  I'm not lazy, it's self preservation!

One time I fought some mildew on one basement wall so the kids could have one sacred place to play Down There.  This is for when I am doing my semi annual ironing pile purge.  I put an area rug down and painted the wall with killz paint.  It looked inviting enough for them to spend a little time, but not alone.  Never Alone!  We leave some toys down there and since they see them so rarely it is like getting new toys!  

There is one thing about my basement that does lure me, on occasion.  Besides the deep freezer and the chocolate I hide by John's workbench.  It is cool down there.  As our summer days heat up and get muggier and muggier, the basement lures me with it's cool damp floors and chilly air.  When it is 80 degrees upstairs,  just standing on the landing the temperature will drop at least ten degrees.  Free air-conditioning!  If you make it back out alive.

Recently I went down there to move the laundry along.  It felt so cool and wonderful I lingered.  The girls wandered down.  I straightened some piles.  I folded the laundry there on the craft table.  I looked around for more work to do, more reasons to stay in the cool air.  My eyes fell on the drawers I kept random crafts in.  My gaze travelled to the cast off baker's rack we now use to store dog towels and Costco toilet paper.  I began to form a plan.  I knew what to do to stay in the basement a little longer.

I went quickly upstairs and grabbed the label maker from the office cabinet.  Back down to the basement again.  Friends, I labeled everything in sight!  I brainstormed, organized and punched more letters in to label something else.  I labeled like a madwoman.  I may have laughed in delight as I put things where they should go instead of wherever they had landed.  I moved things I needed to use more often to easier places.  I knew labeling areas, bins and drawers would help me to have a place for everything and everything in it's place.  I was on fire.  I was a crazed labeling lunatic.  

I was labeling things to make using them easier.  Pinterest knows what matters: there are a jillion posts and boards on organizing (I have a few up of my own).  I wanted to do work in the basement that day to stay cool, but also labeling meant faster forays into the murky depths later.  I wouldn't have to search all over for something before running (for my life) back upstairs.    

I was so excited about the labeling and organizing, I realized I was the only scary thing in my horror story basement.  Seriously: who gets that jazzed about labels?  Who gets high on organizing a basement?  

We get a lot of hot, humid days in Indiana.  After how big of an impact I saw in just an hour with the label maker, I may keep going.  I may find some lost things Down There.  I may reclaim another wall for my children to play near.  I may even think about painting those basement stairs.  Heck if I use enough labels, the basement may waterproof itself!  

Do you want to come down into my basement?  C' is so nice and cool and organized down there....c'mon it's ok...don't forget to bring your lables.

Buy Local by Bicycle: Silcott's Shoes & Attitudes Salon in Valparaiso, Indiana ROCK!

Can a frugal stay at home mom really shop local on a budget?   Can she go to a boutique shoe store like Silcott's Shoes instead of Target's shoe *ahem* aisle?  Could she get a haircut, go to the bank and not use a car? In same same day?  YOU BET!  I just had a great urban cycling adventure today and have to tell you all about it.

I had to have a haircut.  Most salons are not open on Mondays, but this HAD to happen today.  I decided to give Attitudes Salon another try.  I had an unremarkable haircut from there four years ago, and my bar has slipped down a bit from that time.  I called in, explained I was a difficult customer and the woman on the phone warmly welcomed me and said I should see Lo for a funky haircut.   I had childcare lined up so I made an appointment.

I try to ride my bicycle instead of driving when I can, and since I wasn't trailering kids behind me, I biked.  I could have brought kids with me to the hair salon by the of the things I loved as someone new in town was that Attitudes Salon has a kid room and welcomes kids.  WOW.  I biked there kid free though, got a great haircut from Lo Hernandez. I basically always say I want my hair really fun & sexy, shorter but I want to keep the length, then I show a dozen Pinterest photos of hair cuts mostly belonging to Meg Ryan and Jennifer Aniston.  Yeah.  I am THAT hair client.

Lo Hernandez at Attitudes Salon did a great job with my hair.   I probably wanted it cut a little shorter (maybe a little more drama) but for just getting to know me and being accosted by all those Pinterest pictures, she did awesome & I will be back to her in about two months.  What she did I liked the best was she took the time to show me two styles for my new cut, took before and after pictures with enthusiasm and really listened to my  questions.  She had sass & style and I really like that in my stylists.  

THEN I biked to the bank to deposit a speaking fee I was thrilled to have and stopped at Silcott's Shoes.  You have heard me rave about Silcott's Shoes before.  I only buy about two pairs of shoes a year, usually to replace a worn out pair from the year before.   I have foot & back issues so I really need good comfy stylish shoes.  On a budget.  You may think Silcott's Shoes is an expensive store, but they do not have to their sales, bring a friend for Buy One Get One Discounted options.  
Me: Please notice my Bike helmet.
Brent: I'm smiling, aren't I???

Brent Silcott does sell very elegant and expensively made shoes, but he totally gets the woman on a budget.  I've bought four pairs of shoes from him and have never been disappointed.  Born, Teva, Vionic...Tell him your budget and your desires and he totally can help you out.  He may not smile at you, but you aren't trying to date him, right?  He is too busy thinking about what you want and need for your feet to give you some schmaltzy sales guy smile.  

p.s.  Tell Brent you read about Silcott's Shoes on Heather's 'Live Your Love Out Loud' Blog for a little discount!

He loves shoes and he loves to sell you the right pair of shoes at the right price.  Wouldn't you rather buy a better quality, better fitting shoe for a bigger price tag than three pairs of crummy shoes from Target?  Horrible shoes you wear only once for two hours that hurt your feet and then hide them in the back of your closet so no one knows you cannot wear them?  You deserve better.  Plus, Silcott's is a locally owned store!  

Shopping local is better for everybody & the environment too.  You build stronger relationships with a local business owner or employee like Attitdudes Salon or Silcott's Shoes.  Lo the stylist at Attitudes Salon and I had great conversation and she made me feel sparkly again.  Brent Silcott and Savannah at Silcott's Shoes found me a super buy for a pair of Vionic shoes I can walk, bike or chase children in.  All day.  Shopping local in Valparaiso makes this budget minded mama feel like a bombshell and there is only one thing better:  Riding a bike there.

If you want to ride your bike more often, use your car less, want safer bike lanes, more pathways for bikes or just want to be included on an ice cream social bike ride check out "The Little Mouse NWI" On Facebook. Tell them Heather sent you!

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I've Ruined My Perfect Kids!

I am reading two books about not screwing up my children.  "Am I Messing Up My Kids?" By Lysa Terkeurst and "Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford.  The first book is for an online bible study I am doing that starts this week.   The second book we will be reading in my Valparaiso Indiana Modern Moms Group this Fall.  I'm obviously very worried or not at all worried because I just know I'm going to mess up my kids.  It is going to happen.  *cue therapist couch jokes here*  This morning as I sat with my two young daughters and talked about our plans for the day, it became horribly clear I have already done it.  I have stolen their childhood innocence.  I have trained them up into staid adults at the slight age of three and five years old.  I am a horrible mother.

I gave them a choice of playdough or painting and
they argued about which activity was neater.  

Like diminutive politicians they campaigned for their respective morning activity.  I had offered playdough or painting, two coveted crafty things both girls enjoy but we do not do daily.  Because they are messy.  I asked them to agree on what to do while I spent time today working at my computer.  

LIBBY:  Paint!

PORTIA: Playdough!

Uh oh.  My ace in the hole is that I planned for them to do both activities this morning, after they clean up from the first.  I have a lot to do today at the desk and I work sweeter without their cuteness all over me!

Libby begins, "Well, Portia, I do not like to clean up playdough.  It is too messy.  I don't wanna do that."  

Portia rebuts with "...but paint is messy too, it goes EVERYWHERE!"
They look at each other.  Libby says "I do not want to help you clean up if that is what we do. OK?"  She says this so matter of factly and with such weight I can barely cover my grin.    

My horrified grin.  Have I ruined my sweet beauties to the extent they do not have the goofy childish freedom to make a mess?  Am I truly so controlling that THIS is what they consider before doing a craft?  UGH.  UGH!

I almost want to just offer to clean everything up for them, but I do not.  We parent with Love & Logic to keep them responsible for themselves and I do not want to change this.  Hearing them discuss the ramifications of mess level involved with an activity is proof they are wise and thoughtful little girls.  

And that Libby will run for President.

And that maybe I should cook up a big messy activity for us to do together very soon.

Any suggestions for messy activities for this uptight Mama?  Share in the comments!

If you want a Mama Time Out and a great tribe of women to laugh, learn and EAT together, check out Modern Moms here in Valparaiso Indiana.  We do all sorts of things together and you can find out more on our Modern Moms webpage or our Facebook page Modern Moms at Valpo FUMC by clicking here.  All Moms welcome, childcare included!

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What to Do When You Don't Like Your Kid!

No matter how much you love your children, no matter how hard you worked to have these  children, there will be times you wish they would send you on a week long vacation.  There may be moments when you *GASP!* do not like your kids.  This doesn't mean you are a bad parent, it means you are HUMAN. I adore my children, but there are days when I would rather do what I want to do instead of making little bitty lunches or coercing them to dustbuster dog hair off of the stairs.  I want time for me.  

I know I have a great life and that we are blessed.  But. Some. Days...

I want to run screaming from our house into my old house on Altgeld Street where I had days upon days of endless Me Time.  And Silence.  And only Myself to make the mess, Myself to clean it up, when Myself wanted to bother.    Some days I am so tired of hearing my sweet daughters talk.  I remember the sting of my own mom asking me to pleasejuststoptalking, especially when I am repeating those words like a mantra to my own two delightfully verbose Petites.  

A pal just asked about her own challenges enjoying time with her preschooler.  Why she would ask me, I cannot imagine.  I certainly do not model a loving flow of delight when bringing up my little darlings.  She made my day by asking, but then I had to give her an answer!  Here it is:  When you are sick of your kid, here is what you could do:

1) Stop What You Are Doing.

Before you start sputtering at me, let me tell you this works.  I find when my daughters are fraying my nerves, it is often when I am very focused on Something Else.  It can be work around the house or Facebook or blogging or meal planning or a phone call.  They KNOW I'm not thinking of them and must have my attention immediately.  

This is a double whammy as I get very irritated and crabby when I am on task and interrupted.  I pray, write scripture and journal, but this is an ongoing heart challenge for me in my development as a woman.  Instead of escalating the tempers and mood of everyone  in the house, just drop what you are doing for 5 minutes of focusing on your child. Read a book, color a picture, get them set up with a new game or toy and then they will have a small bit of your attention and you will be able to return to what you were doing.   Without all the yelling.  

2)  Run Away.

Sometimes this is the best option.  Swap child care or a drop off playdate with a friend and run away.  Take a walk, ride your bike, exercise,  meditate, get some nagging task accomplished, pray, find a labyrinth, sit and read a book at Barnes & Nobles...all free options.  Spend a little money on yourself and go to coffee at Blackbird Cafe solo or with an unencumbered pal.  Go into your bedroom or the basement or the front porch and shut a door behind you for five minutes of deep breathing and relative quiet. I have a friend who takes her iPhone into the bathroom even if she isn't GOING just to read and regroup.  Brilliant.

3) Ask A Question.

It is hard to be little.  We say that a lot in our house.  They cannot decide much for themselves, they cannot do everything themselves, they do not know how to express themselves fully.  Even if you are tired of your child, ask them a few questions.  Sit down somewhere fresh (For me it is the floor!) and maybe have a drink together and talk.  Ask them about what they are doing, what they are saying, or anything that comes to mind. Just five minutes of interested questions can fill your child's love tank right up.  The conversation can refresh both of you and help you appreciate your child more.

4) Reverse Roles.

I let my kids parent me sometimes.  I have a pretend tantrum, or refuse to cook dinner, need to be carried or put to bed.  They LOVE playing the parent and we all get a new perspective on our family roles.  They get a glimpse of how hard it really is to be the parent.  They are usually quite ready to go back to following directions or playing solo after this game.

5)  Give thanks.

No matter what your life situation is, your hard stuff is YOUR hard stuff.  It is easy to feel guilty for not enjoying your children, but even the most balanced parents need a little breather now and then.  Make sure you get alone time, friend time, spiritual time, creative time, exercise time... whatever refreshes you the most.  Even if you have it relatively easy, it is OK to struggle at times.  I find giving thanks for the little and big things on a regular basis help me to feel more balanced and calm.  Many families have great pain, so I give thanks for my kids, my husband and my life on a daily basis.  I know everything could change in one simple instant.    I teach my girls to pray, to give thanks, and to list off what they enjoy about their life.  Focusing on what I am blessed to have keeps me more content.

I remind myself I am in a relationship with my children.  Any relationship has its ups and downs and this is normal.  You love your children, but there may be times when you don't like them so much.  You are NORMAL.  And here is a newsflash:  Your kids won't always like you either, so brace yourself!

What do you do when you do not like your kids?  Please share tips with the rest of us in the blog comments...just in case we need them some day (or in five minutes)!  

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