Friday, April 29, 2016

Two Big Things

If I could change only two things in this country today, this is what I would pick.

1) No person working for government can accept any type of gift - including campaign donations personally. Basically, NCAA standards would apply to anyone in federal government. If it's wrong for a college student to accept help paying rent or an electric bill, then it's wrong for a government official making $170,000 to accept hotel stays, rental cars, $1,000 meals, and more. All campaign donations should be made anonymously to avoid the current process of kickbacks and corruption.

2) Pharmaceutical sales representatives would not be allowed to verbally transmit any information regarding their products. All product information must be written (or digital) and approved by the company's legal department. Also, they would be prevented from "bringing food" and other gifts of that nature to doctors and hospitals. The cost of many drugs has risen exponentially over the past several years. And drugs are being offered to patients with by doctors who have absolutely no idea what the drug does, but the pharmaceutical rep said "it has everything" so it must be the best.

As an example, I was offered by my physician in Louisville a prescription to take a prenatal supplement to help with my B-12 deficiency. She said it "had everything" so it would be the best one (I wasn't actually pregnant or trying to become pregnant at the time, this was before our first child). After doing some research on this expensive, name-brand vitamin, I realized that not only did it NOT have ANY B-12, but it had very few vitamins and minerals. It also was high in folic acid which can interact badly and interfere with the absorbency of B-12. So, instead, I chose a sublingual over the counter B-12 supplement, for a tiny fraction of the price. Not everyone has the ability or capacity to check behind their doctor on every recommendation, or even to price check for lower price options.

Hence, the average monthly cost of drugs to treat cancer patients has "inexplicably" climbed from an average of $1,800 per month for drugs launched in 2000 to over $11,000 PER MONTH for drugs launched in 2014. So, which drugs do you think those "sweet, nice" pharmaceutical reps are advocating for in their weekly lunch meetings with doctors and hospitals?

Yes, if all this happened, a lot of jobs would likely be lost. But I think we would also have a lot better laws in this country, a lot lower costs for prescriptions and healthcare, and a lot more peace of mind about our government, and our doctors.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Best Schools - Not the Best Scores

I know some of you are tired of the ever-present "crazy, homeschool mom" posts. So, I thought I would change things up a bit with a post that applies to public or private schools.

Having been a teacher (briefly) at one of the lowest performing public schools in Louisville, KY, I thought I would share my "best practices" and "pet peeves" for choosing a "best school" for your child (if you don't homeschool of course).

Pet Peeves
  • Choosing a school based on test scores alone. Test scores are primarily affected by the income level of the students at the school, not the teaching or administrative qualities of a particular school. If you look at test scores alone, you could end up sending your child to a really terrible school that happens to have a lot of rich kids AND missing out on an opportunity for your child to become a leader in a diverse community and learn a lot more than their multiplication facts.
  • Choosing a school based on "pricing out" students. Unfortunately, some people still subscribe to the theory that a school is higher quality if it costs more money. The school will obviously point to higher test scores, college admittance, and low class size. However, there is no correlation between dollars spent per student and a better education (once average income is taken into consideration).
    • Choosing a school based on extra-curriculars. Don't choose the school based solely on the soccer team, or marching band or anything else likqe that. You can definitely make it a factor in your decision, but it shouldn't be the only factor. Your child that wanted to be on the top soccer team in the county may drop out after their first year to focus on their year round team. The child that really wanted to join the flag team may find themselves joining the marching band instead to be with their friends. And your STEM loving student may end up enjoying the violin more by the time they finish up at a particular school. You never know!
  • Choosing a school based on your personality, not your child's. Don't choose the arts school for your non-artsy child just because you want them to be like you. Don't choose the STEM school just because your husband is an engineer. Don't choose the "open" model school for your Type A child or the foreign language immersion school just because "you were never good at languages either". In the same vein, don't eliminate a school based on your personality either.
  • Choosing a school (or not) based on the personality of one person at the school. One of my acquaintances mentioned that they didn't pick a certain school because they just "really didn't like the attitude" of the principal. Now, normally this could be a concern, but knowing the particular person, I'm pretty sure the attitude was more a consequence of my acquaintance's attitude rather than the principal's, if you know what I mean.
  • Not doing any research whatsoever on your child's school. I know people who say things like, "I went to X school as a kid, and had a great experience, so I'm really glad my grandkids are going there too." That may be true that the school was great 40 years ago, but, unfortunately, schools that were great 40 years ago could be awful today, and vice versa.
  • Making a decision without visiting (preferably with your child). At the very least, you ought to be able to take a school tour with a principal or administrator once your narrow your list down. That's where you find out how the school really is. That's where you see the true attitude issues of the principal (in dealing with students) and the true safety issues or educational concerns or facilities/transportation questions. You can also typically see whether you child's personality and learning style will mesh with what's going on at the school.
Best Practices
  1. Before visiting any schools - make a list of what you are looking for. At a minimum take notes on your child's personality, learning styles, and any skills or special interests your child may have (athletics, foreign language, STEM, etc.)
  2. Make a "Short list" based on location (near home or work), transportation options, and familiarity (knowing a friend, neighbor, or teacher at the school already). Keep this list at least 5 schools, but aim for no more than 10 unless you are in a very large district with a LOT of options. DO NOT make this list based on demographics or test scores.
  3. Narrow the short list down by reviewing the school websites and visiting your districts "school fair". It's great to have a "short list" before you visit the school fair or you might fall in love with a school that's 45 minutes across town with no transportation availability - or you may just be overwhelmed at the sheer number if you visit a "Showcase of schools" with no plan in place.
  4. Visit at least 3-4 schools. Check out the buildings, the traffic pattern, the classrooms/teachers (if possible). Review the policies, class schedule, textbooks/materials used, extracurricular activities offered, and general personality of the school. I know I vetoed one high school because the principal snatched a sucker out of a girl's mouth while we were on the "school tour". 
  5. Keep an open mind and honestly assess each school based on your criteria - style of learning, style of discipline, educational philosophy, and more. Look at your list honestly. You may not write down "race" as an issue, but ask yourself honestly when you are thinking about crossing a school off the list if the reason you are crossing it out is objective or subjective. We can complain about busing and go to school board meetings and be upset about the "lack of diversity" in our communities, but all it really comes down to in the end for most of us is a more genteel and underhand version of "white flight".
So, don't tick off your friendly neighborhood blogger. Make your school choices wisely, but remember, there's always next year if you change your mind.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Look in the Mirror

One of the more recent problems caused by the social media takeover of culture is the idea that we are the center of our own universe. A side effect of this unusual philosophy is the "you have a problem" syndrome. Of course, this particular issue is not a new problem, but it certainly seems to be getting worse. Unfortunately, I've found that this syndrome occurs just as frequently in those that are not attached to social media, perhaps as a defense against the you-centric philosophy of culture, but perpetuating some of the same mythology.

I can't tell you the number of conversations I've over heard (see my previous post on Life as a Reserved Extrovert to find out why I am listening in on conversations without necessarily participating) where someone is completely bashing someone for X activity without realizing that what they are bashing someone for is incredible similar to what they are currently doing.

Let me give you a few examples of what I'm talking about, to see if you've noticed this in your world.

  1. "I'm voting for Trump, because he's the only one who's honest about what he's doing. He's not really as bad as he seems, he's just putting on an act of being so abrasive, he'll calm down once he's president."
  2. "People are so intolerant that they won't even bake a cake for a wedding for somebody they don't know just because it's two guys. I mean who do they think they are to refuse to do business based on their personal religious beliefs like that? Hey, I'm so glad that so and so cancelled their concert/business/porn site for North Carolina because that HB2 law just goes completely against my personal beliefs, can you believe the governor hasn't changed his mind yet, with all the money they are losing over this?"
  3. "Those anti-vax people are a bit crazy, I mean don't they do any scientific research on this stuff? Did you see the natural, organic, seaweed based sunscreen on sale at Whole Foods for $30? I bought like 3 cases, because regular sunscreens are full of toxins, I can't put that on my baby."
  4. "As a Christian pastor, we really need to find out why people are leaving our church so that we can convince them they are wrong. We are a very inclusive church, so they should never have grounds to disagree with us and go to a different church."
  5. "Women can do everything men can. I mean except for sports and math, they are pretty equal."
Did you catch the problem? We're so convinced that our "way" is the only right way, because everyone on Facebook or in our small circle of friends "likes" or "agrees" with us, that we don't notice the ways in which we are blind to our own problems. Now, I'm not going to claim that I've never perpetuated one of these (probably closest to # 3 myself). However, I try to think things through from all sides and think before I speak.

The Bible says in Luke 6:41-42 "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye."

So, realistically, how do we stop judging others and look more honestly at our own behavior? Here are a few tips:

  1. Stop thinking about whether other people are judging you. I will admit that I had a BIG problem judging other people, especially around the ages of 14-21. There were several factors that needed to fall into place to stop this negativity, but the biggest and most profound was ignoring or not focusing on what other people were thinking of me. Especially as a young woman, we often feel like people judge for everything from our clothing choices, hairstyle, or attitude, and we may react with defensive and judgmental tactics ourselves. Now, as a young mom, it gets even worse, as we may feel we are judged on our parenting style, job (or choice to stay home), breastfeeding and more. I noticed that when I was able to ignore what I thought were the judgments of other people, I suddenly found myself less likely to judge them (and vice versa). As I grew into this ability, I realized it was pretty foolish of me to care so much about what someone else was doing in the first place.
  2. Set up accountability partners. My husband is my biggest source of accountability. If I'm in the car with him and make a comment on someone or something around me, he will call me out on it. He's not doing it to be rude or mean, he just points out, "That's your J coming out again." and I take some time to think over what I've said or how I've reacted to see whether it was truly accurate or just a snap judgment.
  3. Look in the mirror. Think through all the times when you've said or done something similar before you get offended. Sometimes, people say things completely without thinking. However, rather than focus on what other people say to offend you and think back to things that you might have said or done without meaning to offend someone. For example, I had a conversation with an acquaintance who doesn't have kids yet about how difficult it was to give birth, and how it's a lot different driving 20 minutes with kids in the car. Then, I thought late about the fact that I don't know for sure whether or not her lack of children was a choice. Maybe they have been trying and unable to conceive, or had a miscarriage that I didn't know about, and I could have so easily offended this person without even knowing it. 
  4. Pray and seek help if needed. If you are truly experiencing anxiety that you can't control, or find yourself in a deep depression or uncontrollable rage or if you have sudden unexplained changes in your mood, you may need to seek counseling and get a medical opinion. If you are just struggling with this issue of judging, I suggest you read and study the Bible, and pray - seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I can truly say, that if it weren't for the intervention of the Holy Spirit, I would not have addressed this issue of judging in my life when I did. Some things, we just can't do on our own, but anything is possible with God.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

One-Size Fits All

I know, it's been awhile since I've posted. Between being sick and the nicer weather, and the never-ending schedule of activities, work, and housekeeping, I haven't had much writing time. The one day I did take some writing time, I worked on one of my novels (estimated date of publish 2022). However, I've been steaming over something for a little while, and finally decided to write about it.

In order to get a discount through my husband's work for our insurance, we have to get our "numbers" done at a laboratory every year (cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, etc.) AND spend 20 minutes (or so) doing an "online health assessment" through the insurance company.

I'm not upset (right now) over the health information they have on me, because honestly, Facebook probably has more information on me than I want, and people are much more likely to hack into that than my insurance company.

However, in scanning through the "red, yellow, and green" lights or warnings I noticed something a bit strange. My weight was healthy, my overall cholesterol and blood pressure were healthy, but my HDL cholesterol was low.

However, when I answered the questions, I mentioned that I was not currently trying to limit fat in my diet. Guess what, apparently that deserves a yellow light in and of itself.

REALLY?!? An otherwise healthy person who just needs to exercise and eat less sugar gets dinged because they are not specifically limiting fat in their diet? No wonder our nation is overweight and unhealthy. There is NO correlation between overall fat in the diet (within certain ranges of a % of calories and as long as it's healthy fat) and weight gain or unhealthy habits. They should have asked how much added sugar I eat in a day (I would have gotten a red light on that one, but I guess since they measured my blood glucose and it was fine, they don't care). In actuality, that would be the better question, since overall American diets have decreased in fat intake since the 1970s and yet our weight gain and overall unhealthy lifestyles (myself included) has continued to cause health and obesity problems. As a matter of fact, many of the nations that we consider "healthy" overall have a LOT of healthy fats in their diet.

Some ways that I can increase my HDL include eating fatty fish, less sugar, more vegetables, and exercising. None of the ways I can increase my HDL (or overall health) include limiting the total fats that I eat during the day. I have no high blood pressure, no high overall cholesterol, and a healthy body weight, so blindly telling everyone to "eat less fat" is absolutely the worst thing an insurance company can be doing.

Fortunately, I know better, but it still is frustrating to see a "one-size-fits all approach". I guess the only thing I can do is be glad they gave me a yellow light for it, and not a red light.

Now, who wants to go for a walk with me, so I can raise my HDL. Maybe I'll bring an avocado for my snack today...

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Dave Matthews - Live Trax Volume 14


DMB Live Trax Volume 14

1) Don't Drink The Water
2) Old Dirt Hill (Bring That Beat Back)
3) So Damn Lucky »
4) The Dreaming Tree
5) The Idea of You
6) Corn Bread
7) You Might Die Trying
8) The Space Between
9) Sledgehammer
10) Eh Hee
11) Louisiana Bayou
12) Out of My Hands »
13) Everyday »
14) Ants Marching
15) So Much to Say » Anyone Seen The Bridge? »
16) Too Much
17) Sister
18) Pantala Naga Pampa » Rapunzel
19) Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

This Live Trax is a somber one.  One look at the album cover and you see Leroi Moore, founding saxophone player of the band who passed a couple of months after this show took place.  The band dedicated this release to him.

Obviously, any fan of the band wants to purchase this.  It's historic.  But I'm going to do my best to treat it as "just another show" for this review.  It's June 2008, which means there's a freshness here that was absent over the previous few years.  But, this show, admittedly, falls short of a lot of that month.  But, even with that said, there are a still a few highlights here worth discussing.

Don't Drink The Water is great as an opener and was finally starting to come into it's own here.  Old Dirt Hill is another tune which came out of the ashes of Stand Up to turn out to be pretty good.  The version here also has a little different outro at the end - the riff which developed into Why I Am.

So Damn Lucky is up next and, is one of the first (if not THE first) to have the extended outro.  Dave is very restrained singing over it and it's really good.  It precedes a fantastic Dreaming Tree.

The show starts slowing down and declining at this point.  I like The Idea of You, but this version has the alternate drumming on it and isn't very good.  The lyrics are pretty well set at least, but the drumming is distracting.  I'm glad that went away.  Corn Bread is next and...well, it's Corn Bread.  It can't be saved.  You Might Die Trying is a bright spot here, but it's a mediocore version.

Next up was a bit of a surprise, the return(-ish?) of The Space Between.  It was played basically by Dave solo.  I didn't mind the song or the full arrangements of it, but there are some folks out there that hated it.  (It's not in my top 50% of the catalog, but it's no Everybody Wake Up.)  Either way, it was played this way a few times for the next few years before it finally came back in full form.

Another surprise, a cover of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer, comes next.  This was the only Sledgehammer Leroi got to play on and, of the two that have been officially released to date, I like this one the best.

The show CRAWLS next, with Out of My Hands, Louisiana Bayou, and Everyday leading into Ants Marching.  I don't mean crawls as in it's slow (Louisiana Bayou is an upbeat tempo if nothing else), but that's not a very good run of songs.  Ants is good, but not as good as Live Trax 13.

The main set concludes with swing through So Much to Say >> Too Much.  I like the way Anyone Seen The Bridge developed some pauses for effect here and it plays well on the recording.  I think I'd like it if it popped up occasionally that way every so often (it seems that it has been abandoned recently).  Of course, even with that, the second half of the set really dragged.

The encore is okay.  Sister isn't a great choice, but this is one of the first versions to have Tim in the background filling in the song a little.  I prefer it that way, but that's like saying I prefer my chicken burnt to raw.  Neither is too good.  Rapunzel is nice and would've been a fine set closer, but it's 2008, and Thank You was required to close the show.  The band has fun with it, and it's not as bothersome to me here after Rapunzel than it is after Louisiana Bayou from Live Trax 13, but it's never going to be my favorite encore song.

The mix is sort of boomy on this one.  It definitely sounds like you're hearing it more and more from "in the crowd" on these releases than that of a "studio album recorded live."  I tend to like that in mixes but I know it's not for everyone.  This one is fine for me.

Overall, I have to give this show 2 stars.  I want to give it 3 stars but I'm counting about 5 or 6 tunes which really stand out, and the rest is pretty much "eh."  I want to like this album more than I do, but it hasn't hit me yet.  That's not to say that it couldn't ever happen, but so far this one hasn't connected to me.

But, I'm still marking this as a purchase.  It's Leroi's last show and no fan of the band should be without it.  I suspect it'll likely be my lowest rated purchase in the series.

Live Trax 1: 4/5, purchase
Live Trax 2: 2/5, skip
Live Trax 3: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 4: 3/5, skip
Live Trax 5: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 6: 2/5, skip
Live Trax 7: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 8: 3/5, purchase
Live Trax 9: 0/5, skip
Live Trax 10: 1/5, skip
Live Trax 11: 4/5, purchase
Live Trax 12: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 13: 4/5, purchase
Live Trax 14: 2/5, purchase

Overall: 3.2/5, 9 purchase, 5 skip

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Unschooling Myths, Facts, and Reality

Let's be perfectly clear here, I'm not an unschooler, and I don't know many who are. However, I thought I would write from the perspective of a "schooling" mom as to what unschooling can be, is, and should be.

Unschooling, in the truest sense of the word, is letting your child's imagination drive the learning process. However, that can look very different from family to family and age to age.


  • Unschooling requires less time and effort than an "in the box" curriculum. In the early years, this is probably true, because most early learning (Kindergarten and below) happens naturally in the car, at the breakfast table, and playing outside. Once you get a bit beyond that, if you're truly unschooling, you will spend a lot of time running to the library or pulling up websites or Youtube videos to answer your child's most recent queries and trying every trick in the book to ensure a well-rounded education without formalizing it too much.
  • Unschooling means your kids won't get all the basics. The basics of life are really pretty simple. A few minutes a day of basic math prep and reading quality literature and you'll cover most of the "basics". However, unschooling can mean that your child misses out on certain topics, or needs a refresher before moving on to tackle more difficult subjects. The trickiest part of this is knowing when and how to present this "basics" so that it applies to what you child is currently studying and without implementing "traditional" learning methods.
  • Unschooling means letting your child "figure out" how to learn to read or answer a math problem. I get it, some kids can figure it out on their own if given enough time. But if your child is struggling with a topic, you still need to be prepared to step in and give them some guidelines. Kids do learn most things naturally, but unless you live in a science lab/museum/library/foreign language speaking house there is likely to be something you need a little help to encourage them by showing or doing with them. Math and reading are two subjects where a little gentle help can encourage explosive growth that would take an eternity (in kid time) to figure out otherwise. Also, you can't expect them to decide to learn about history or science if you don't first peak their interest by exposing them to a particular topic.
  • Unschooling means no textbooks. OK, this one might be more true of unschooling than anything else. But be prepared. Your child will likely need encyclopedias (online or in print), living books on every topic imaginable, and a library close at hand for special requests. If you don't have those easily available, a more traditional "in the box" education might be a better fit. Math books that fit your style are also a must have (the books don't have to be traditional or have a lot of problems, as long as you can figure that part out on your own, but they do need to present an interesting variety of math ideas).
  • Unschooling requires a tutor/parent/teacher who can find information and answer questions from any subject with little notice.
  • Unschooling requires a self-motivated child.
  • Unschooling may require a change in schedule, location, and lifestyle.
  • Unschooling requires the ability to withstand answering the question "Why?" 90% of the time from ages 2-10 and 50% of the time thereafter.
  • Unschooling requires patience, courage, creativity, and a strong sense of family.

  • While I do quite a bit of unschooling myself (if my kids ask me a question I will answer or find the answer) it is way too difficult for me to implement as an entire curriculum. My oldest thrives on routine, and unschooling just doesn't provide us with the means to do that at the current age/stage.
  • Unschoolers can easily lose focus or miss out entirely on a subject if proper care isn't taken to sculpt the learning process. Think of a bonsai plant, it takes patience, and gentle direction to get it to grow into a beautiful creation rather than a hot mess.
  • Unschooling isn't automatically a bad or good way of learning - but it needs to be a conscious decision based on your personality and your child's.
How do you school?

Monday, April 04, 2016

Grumpy Mom Syndrome - and how to prevent it

My oldest has been joking a bit lately that mom is the "non-fun" one and dad is the "fun one". Some of this is his age (5.5 years old) some of it is an increase in behavior problems lately, but some of it is actually true, Now, I'm not going to lie and say that being a Mom is naturally stress free and all you have to do is let go a little and you'll magically feel better. But, as a fellow GMS sufferer (Grumpy Mom Syndrome) I did come up with a few ideas of what it is and how to help.


  • Overconfidence. You know those times that you think to yourself, "Sure, I can take two young kids to the Lowe's and buy 10 bags of mulch even though only 3 of them fit in my car and my husband isn't here to help." No - just don't do it. Don't say yes to everything someone suggests. Even if you think you can handle it, if you are currently (or have recently been) suffering from GMS, don't do it.
  • Overscheduling. I currently have one main part-time job with total work hours that vary between 8-15 hours per week. I am a volunteer assistant coach for my son's soccer team (also responsible for closing up the church after soccer practice now). I homeschool my oldest son and try to keep the younger one out of mischief. I volunteer in the nursery. I have a small group every week that we have to bring food too. I signed up to bring food to an outreach program and mentor someone from that group (in the future). I have park dates and playdates, vacations and family visits. I have fundraisers and planning meetings and occasional delusions of becoming self-employed. All of this can easily lead to flare ups of GMS. None of that even touches on the "normal" mom duties of shopping, cooking, and cleaning (most of which I don't do much of - those 50s housewives made it look way too easy).
  • Overplanning. I have a lot of amazing field trip ideas. What I really want to do is line them up on my calendar so we can get to more of them and I can invite more moms and maybe have a field trip Facebook group and it will be so awesome! Wait - breathe - what I really want is someone else to do all that work of planning the field trips and I'll sign up for the ones that fit in my calendar!
  • Underplanning. Some days we take a break from school, or I have a few hours of work to do in the morning. Many of these days are not planned and I just try to get it all done anyway. Sometimes kids don't nap when they are supposed to. One kid loves screentime, the other gets bored after 5 minutes. If I don't have a back up plan for those times, my planned one hour of worktime is quickly broken up into 3-4 20 minutes work flashes smashed in between long bouts of yelling at the kids and downing mini-Snickers from the economy-size clearance bag. 
  • Unrealistic Expectations. This is probably the biggest cause of GMS. You may have dreamed of being a stay at home mom and always loved babysitting, Maybe you were even a nanny! Maybe you were one of those starry-eyed young-adults like me who thought life was easy because the only two bills you had were the credit card and a rent payment (utilities may have even been included). Maybe you thought having kids was nothing more than playdates and park visits, but you ended up with doctor's appointments and therapy sessions. Maybe you just look at the mom next door and think that she has it altogether (and maybe she does, if so, ask her for me and I'll share her secrets here). The point is, those days that I expect chaos and everything goes smoothly are much better than the days I expect my boys to be on their best behavior and they aren't. 
  • Your kids call you "grumpy mom".
  • Your first stop at the grocery store is the Wine aisle (if available in your state).
  • You yell at your kids more than you play with them.
  • You find yourself seeking stress relief through chocolate, adult coloring, knitting, gardening, or one of a dozen other attempts at self-soothing.
  • You notice an increase in the number of headaches and muscle pain with no apparent cause.
  • You can't find time to exercise, read a book, or clean the house.
  • Your calendar looks like your kid got to it with a stray pen, but it's really just your actual activity for the week.
  • You miss bills, get easily upset over messes and spills, and don't have time for a sick day.
  • You hand your baby off to your husband when he gets home and walk out the door, or put a pillow over your head at night when the 3 year old is still awake at 11pm.
  • Just say no. Tell the PTA no, tell your husband no, tell your mother-in-law no. If your calendar is full - STOP WRITING ON IT. Don't say, oh yeah there's a double header soccer game that day, but I bet we can still go to X activity in between and write it on the calendar anyway. Speaking of which, I might need to buy some white-out for that one...
  • Ask for help. Hire a housecleaner, mother's helper, or send the kids to preschool (not for school, of course, but just to get them the heck out of your house for a bit). Ask your husband to grocery shop, cook, or play with the kids. 
  • Make a daily or morning routine. I know, I hate routines. I think they are silly and ridiculous. My current non-routine most mornings is to shower, get coffee, and get started on work before the kids get up. But then they get up in the middle of work, and I end up not having a chance t0 eat breakfast before starting homeschool, which is never a good idea. So, maybe I need to take the time to set up an actual morning routine rather than just letting entropy take over.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. If you aren't sure what that means, it means don't expect Pinterest or TV worthy activities or behavior from yourself or your kids. If you have preschoolers, don't expect them to amuse themselves for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. Don't expect good behavior if you haven't explained what that is. Assign age-appropriate chores and expect them to be done in an age-appropriate manner. If you don't have good self-control or anger management, don't expect your kids to do better than you do.
  • Play with your kids. Plan a time, preferably in the beginning of your day, to do something fun with your kids. It can be building a sand castle with Kinetic sand, playing race cars, or birthday party. It can be singing silly songs and making silly faces. Tickle games or running games. It can be reading with them or coloring or building puzzles, but take the time to engage directly with them. Look in their eyes, remember that first time you saw their wrinkled scrunched up red faces and remember that they are still just kids.
  • Be consistent and fair in discipline. We've had our share of discipline issues over the past few weeks, and it gets really frustrating. Rather than taking your frustration out on the kids, sit them down and go over your rules and consequences again to make sure everyone (including you) is on the same page - then keep that momentum going as long as you can. If needed, consider weekly or monthly family meetings to review goals and progress.
  • Be a good example. One of my oldest son's young friends is pretty mean. She talks in a nasty tone of voice to pretty much everyone. What I've realized is that she is completely echoing her mom's tone of voice and attitude towards her (as my kids echo my attitude towards them as well). So, when talking to your own kids - be patient, be calm, be polite (please and thank you are great) and try your best not to let your GMS show around them. 
  • Take care of yourself. You've heard it said, before - eat right, exercise, take time for yourself. If you don't have time - make it! If you don't have time to exercise, I highly recommend vacuuming or mopping your floors, gardening while the kids play outside, or popping them in the stroller or bikes for a walk in the park. 
So, if you're truly frustrated with your kid's attitude, and can't figure out how to fix their behavior, consider your own attitude, and put some treatment in place if you may be suffering from GMS.