Thursday, January 31, 2008

Maybe the angels want to save a little money.

Stephen and Zachary found a Nemo birthday card that Sweet Hubby's grandmother had sent for Zachary's birthday (this is the same grandmother that passed away last month). Zachary was excited because he "found Nemo!". Stephen read the card and looked at me and said, "Mom, how did Great Grandma send Zachary a card? Do they have Wal*Mart in heaven?"

A friendly Public Service Announcement

When attempting to steam vegetables, it is wise to actually use, you know, water. Not doing so may result in a ruined pot, ruined vegetables, a smelly house and well, you may just piss yourself off.

Not that I have any experience with this particular situation, though. I just thought I'd pass that little helpful tidbit along.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good influence, or bad? You be the judge.

First Dunkin' Donuts, then blogging, now this. I'm addicted.

There are a couple of you reading this who are responsible for my addictions. You know who you are......I don't have enough time or money to keep jumpin' on your bandwagons! :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Dearest Stephen,

How can it be that you are already five? Seems like just yesterday we met and I fell in love with you. Seems like just a few minutes ago that you were so so tiny and yet changed us forever. And now, here you are. A full five years old going on 35.

You have accomplished SO MUCH this year. Your daddy and I just can't believe how smart you are. We started dipping our toes in the waters of homeschooling this year and you have just taken off. You just won't stop reading anything you get your hands on. Sometimes, you'll ask me to read a book to you and Zachary and as soon as I open it, you start reading it. You are reluctant to do your math, but you excel in it as well. You can do simple math, count to 100 and skip count by 10s. We also delved a bit this year into bugs and dinosaurs because you were so interested in them. But school isn't the only way you are so's easy to hold a conversation with you and your logic always surprises me. You just seem to "get" things that seem way beyond you.

I have loved watching your personality develop. Everyday, I feel like I'm getting to know who you are and who you will be. You are full of energy from the time you wake up until your tired little head hits your pillow at night. You love playing superheros, jumping from couch to couch and back again, saving the day. You love loud movies, fast cars and rough-housing. You love to wrestle with just about anybody. But you also have your serious side. We all have to be careful not to tease you too're a little sensitive to being laughed at and unlike your brothers, you don't usually like being the center of attention.

Your innate sense of right and wrong is so strong and although I worry about you a little when you get among other kids, I know deep down that you will stand up for what's right (I'm not sure it's even normal for a 5 year old to do that!). One day a few months ago, while playing with a new little girl friend at a play area, the girl told you that a bigger boy had just pushed her down. You immediately asked her who and started gathering a posse to find him and tell him that that was wrong and he should not have pushed her down. After I talked you down (and took the torch and pitchfork out of your hand), I was so proud of you. I knew right then and there that I would always be able to trust you to do the right thing. And because of that, you are also and awesome big brother. When you think I'm not listening or watching, I've seen you guide your little brother to do the right thing (and when he still doesn't do the right thing, I can trust you to quickly come and tattle). You struggle with being the big brother sometimes, but I can always see how much you love your brothers...hugging them and kissing them. And I know you didn't see me there, but I saw you making sure Zachary had his lovey and enough covers on that cold night.

You are becoming such a little man. And it is so much fun getting to do all the things with you that I've waited for. Your first bike, your first theater movie and today, I signed you up for T-ball. Your daddy and I have waited for to share all these things with you. Watching you grow up has been the most fun I've ever had. You are sweet, fun, kind, smart and just a blessing to know. And I'm the most blessed of all, 'cause I get to be your mom. I can't wait till you get to be a little older because I just know that once you understand the world a little better, you and I are going to be great friends. You've already taught me so much. I thank God every day that I get to be a part of you growing up into the wonderful person you are becoming. You are one person who will leave the world a better place than it was before you were in it.

I love you, Stephen. For so many reasons, you're first five years were the best of my life....and it only gets better.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

More things I can't believe I've had to say:

"Stephen, give your brother back his arm. Zachary, give Stephen his eye back."

"No, you may not spit on your underwears. "



Monday, January 21, 2008

Just a bunch of words.

I don't have much to say, but feel like I should blog. I just always have this feeling that I'm not interesting. That my life isn't interesting and worth typing out on a public blog for other real people to read. I think the only people truly interested in what I put out here are (is? are? ahhh, whatever) my parents. So I have a hard time thinkin' up things to blog about. Because you don't really want to hear about how we had to leave the children's museum early today because it was so.stinking.crowded and I was panicked that I would lose track of one of my children. Or about how I want to highlight my hair and bought a box of DIY stuff but am nervous to use it. Or about how I can't find a good solution for cleaning my floors. But those are the most interesting things in my life. So I have to dig deep for blog fodder.

I suppose I could talk about my neighbor girl, the 11-year-old I mentioned in my last post or last week or something like that. She is such a sweetheart. And I'm growing to love her like one of my own children. She was with us all day today because she was out of school for MLK day. I just have the best time with her and I half-joked with her that I wish she could hang out with us all day, everyday. She's great with the boys (and they adore her) and we seem to have the same kind of sense of humor. Her mom is thinking about moving at the end of the school year and I begin to get a sick, panicky feeling when I think about that possibility. Being with her makes me ache so badly for a daughter of my own and the thought of her not being around on a daily basis anymore makes it worse.

On a lighter note, I feel the need to mention that Marc-Adam climbed out of his crib last week. Without hurting himself. At some point in the process of getting out he had to have fallen some distance. But I had no idea he was out until I heard him banging on the door. Silly kid. He drives me batty, and yet, I just can't seem to get enough of him.

So, does anyone else feel like they have nothing interesting to say, but they just blog anyway?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's like looking into the future...if I had a daughter

I've been "tutoring" (and I use that term loosely) our neighbor-girl in math. When I was her age, I hated math. Now? I love it. It's fun to me (my how things have changed). But her? She LOATHES it (notice the capital, bold AND italic letters). But she likes me and I think she likes spending time with me so I think that helps her get through the couple of hours we spend on her homework a couple nights a week. I have dreams of grandeur of turning her attitude about math around and helping her become a whiz at math. However, I'm beginning to doubt that I'll even be able to get her tolerate it long enough to have a working knowledge of the facts and the whys.

So at the end of the evenings that we work, I think she starts to wonder why she liked me to begin with. I don't let her get away with "winging" it. I don't let her pout or slouch or whine. I don't let her move on from a mistake unless she understands why she made the mistake and why it was wrong. I make her do a problem over and over till she gets it right (although, the third time or so, I'll look over her shoulder to help her correct her mistakes immediately to avoid doing the whole thing wrong again). That's about the time that she starts looking at me like I think my own 11 year old daughter would look at me...probably the way all 11 year old girls look at their mother at some point or another. The look that says that she wishes that the floor would open up and swallow one of us. But I want her to understand it. I want it to click for her and I want her to be proud of herself when it does. And above all I want her to not hate it so much. I'm just not sure that's possible.

And this whole experience has solidified in my mind that I don't want my kids to go to public school. At least not until they have learned HOW TO LEARN on their own. She comes home with this homework that takes 2 hours to do and she says that the teacher hasn't gone over how to do any of it. Or the teacher explained it in such a way that completely baffles my neighbor-girl. But then I've had a hard time figuring out how she learns so that I can teach her in a way that she understands.

I love this girl....but I'm going to need lots of patience and prayer to get the both of us through this.

Monday, January 14, 2008

And if you ask us to do anything, we'll tell you we saw the movie

*Updated with the link that I forgot to add that explains exactly what "The Pirates" are.

In honor of my 26th birthday, we took the boys to see The Pirates on Friday. Actually, the two things just happened to coincide, but honestly, it was one of the best birthdays I've ever had.

Stephen and Zachary had never been to a movie before. I've just been too afraid of what might happen and movie going is too expensive these days to risk having to leave half way through. But they're older now and more able to control themselves (or be controlled). So we got there really early and let them check everything out and get all the wigglies out before the movie started. They each got a popcorn or candy and a Sprite (a treat because we don't buy or supply them with soda, ever). Stephen had to call his Grammy to tell her that the movie screen was even bigger than her TV.

Once the movie started, they were already calmed down from their excitement and were more than ready to watch it. They both snuggled in after their Sprite was sucked down and the popcorn/candy had been inhaled (Zachary actually hand-fed me most of his popcorn, sweet boy) and giggled, laughed out loud, gasped and squealed. I think they had a great time and I was so glad that all went well. I was a little disappointed that the pirates didn't actually sing their song and the one time it was played at the end, it was interrupted.

Now we'll have to wait another 5 years for another appropriate movie to take them to.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm pretty sure I'm an idiot.

Okay, okay, so I know I'm not idiot. Most of the time. But I might be too scattered to be doing anything that involves any kind of contact with human beings. Or use of the english language.

Lately, I've been much better about checking over comments and e-mails I've been sending out and I can't believe how many mistakes I make. Spelling errors, extra words, words left all must think I dropped out of school in the third grade (not that I think 3rd graders are idiots).

So let me assure you that I'm neither an idiot nor did I abandon formal schooling at the elementary level. I just think that my fingers move much slower than my brain (and if you've ever heard me talk, so does my mouth).

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

WFMW, Backwards Edition--Help with young toddler, please!

The baby is 14.5 months old and by far the most stubborn, persistent child we've had up to this point. There are several things in the living area of our home that are off limits to him that he is obsessed with. I'm sure he's obsessed simply because he knows they are off limits, but he's driving me batty with his persistence. The four "hot spots" are the books on the bookshelf, the TV buttons on the TV (particularly the on/off button while the two older kids are engrossed in their show), the entertainment center doors and the older kids' chore cards. Even if I wanted to, I can't do anything about removing the TV buttons, entertainment center doors or the kids' chore cards. I could remove the books from the bookshelf for a while, but what's that teaching him? I don't remember the other two being nearly this obsessed with the "no-no" things.

So what do you do to teach them at this age that certain things are off limits? I've done the re-direction thing with him for four months now and it hasn't helped one bit. I could seriously re-direct him for over an hour but he's just so focused. I tell him "No. Not Marc-Adam's. Don't touch." over and over again, but it doesn't make usually make a difference. And if it does, he just melts into tears for a few minutes, I then re-direct him to a new activity and then 30 seconds later he's back at it again. At times, it even seems like he thinks it's a game because I rush at him when he's playing with the cards or the books because I want to get to him before he totally tears something up. He then starts giggling at me and gets excited. I spend a large chunk of my day dealing with this behavior, but I'm out of ideas on how to rein him in a little bit. So what can I do about that?? Is there hope? PLEASE HELP!!

Go to Rocks In My Dryer to see if you can offer any help to other bloggers.

Sometimes all you need is another set of eyes

Up until a few days ago, meal time around here had gotten pretty ugly. The kids' manners had started to fall away and they're attitudes about the meals were bordering nasty. There was silliness at the table, whining, fighting and they were never happy about whatever was in front of them. Every single meal I made was met with whines and eventually, they just quit eating my meals and started living on snacks. So a few weeks ago, I cut out the afternoon snack. That helped a little bit, but I was still enduring ugly attitudes at dinner time. I'd like to tell you that I'm a big enough person that the opinions of a 3 and 4 year old didn't get to me, but that would be a big fat lie. Because it did get to me. I dreaded making dinner because I felt so unappreciated. And I was the whining.

And then last week my BFF, Alison, and her darling daughter came to visit. I was lamenting to Alison about meal times and how they were really getting to me and how I needed to do something but I wasn't sure what. She said, "Well, how about if they complain about it, they don't get to eat at all. They won't starve if they miss a meal or two because of it."

Wow. That seems so simple, I thought. Why didn't I think of that? I thought. And then I realized why I didn't think of that. I've gotten a little lazy in my parenting in the last year or so just so I could survive. I've been doing whatever was easiest to keep the peace (and my sanity), even if it meant the kids walked all over me. But now I'm getting past merely surviving and the kids need me to be past that so I can give them more guidance in how to act properly.

So, out of desperation, we started with the new rule that night at dinner. Before I made dinner, I gathered the boys and laid it out....if you whine/complain/make one tiny nasty comment about dinner, your dinner will be over and you will be excused from the table. I knew and prepared myself for the fact that someone would not be eating dinner that night (and I had a feeling I knew who it would be) and then that someone would serenade the rest of our dinner with their wailing. But I had Sweet Hubby and Alison to back me up (and to keep me from caving into their cries). Sure enough, Zachary (the one I suspected would go to bed with an empty tummy) sneered at the broccoli and called it "yuck" (I know he doesn't like broccoli and he didn't have to eat it, but calling it yuck was not acceptable). He was excused from the table immediately and his plate was swiftly taken from the table. And as I also predicted, he serenaded our dinner with whines, cries and wailing. Stephen, trying to earn brownie points, went a little overboard telling me how good the dinner was, Mama, and it was so yummy, Mama, thank you, Mama. I choked down the rest of my dinner, almost near tears because it nearly broke my heart that my child was begging to eat and I was telling him no. But he didn't starve. He actually made it to breakfast the next morning.

The next day, I also added bad manners to the list of "Do not pass go, do not collect $200, you may get down from the table."

We only had that one incident on that very first night.

And I'll tell you what, not only do I have sweet, civilized children at the dinner table, but they are appreciative and actually EATING the dinner. No whining. No complaints. No 489 reminders to keep eating and you need to eat at least one bite of your vegetable. Seriously. It's so much more peaceful.

So I'm convinced I just needed another set of eyes that were way more objective than I could be....and a little kick in the pants to quit being so lazy just to keep everyone happy didn't hurt, either.

The land of perpetual free internet connection

We recently upgraded to high speed internet (God bless the high speed internet). I called the dial-up company last month to cancel our dial-up and instead of canceling my connection, the they gave me a free month. Okay then. So then I call back this morning since our free internet is up on Friday. And they gave me 2 free months. I like the way they do business!

If I had known about this a few months years ago (and if I were a less honest person) I would have played this game long ago when money was really tight!