Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say

"Use your words."

This is a phrase that becomes quite popular through toddlerhood as we teach our children to speak and not to whine. To ask for what they want. I like to tell my children, "I don't read minds, and I don't speak whines." (I have lots of little phrases like that that my children HATE!)

But 8 year old Quinn has mastered the art of using her words, and is quickly becoming a master negotiator.

Q:  Mom, can I have 5 cookies.

Me:  No, Quinn.  You may have 2.

Q:  4?

Me:  3.

Q:  Yes!   That's how many I wanted to start with!

I don't know where she learned this technique, but I do know that if she survives childhood, it will be an excellent asset to her as an adult in whatever field she should go into. 


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Thursday, March 11, 2010

This, I Won't Miss

As a mom to 6 kids, my friends often tell me how lost I will be when my children are grown. 

So, to counter that, and to prepare myself, I've decided I need to start thinking of things I WON'T miss.

This morning, after the kids all left for school, I walked into their bathroom to get some laundry, and spotted this:

Let me assure you.....THIS I won't miss.


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Saturday, February 27, 2010

House Cleaning: With Kids

I try to have friends over at least once a month for dinner.   It's the biggest motivator I know for really deep cleaning my house.  

Tonight, we're having 3 couples (and their kids) over.   My kids go loopy over the thought of all these people coming over to play, and are actually quite motivated to help clean up their rooms and the play room in anticipation.

I like to start cleaning a few days in advance, to get the really big jobs done, the corners, the cobwebs, under the furniture, behind the toilet, the stove top, and THE KITCHEN COUNTER (shiver!!!).   I was breezing along with my cleaning this week, and the house was looking pretty spiffy (under the clutter -- clutter is always last, because it's impossible to eliminate until the last minute for some reason).   I had only the stove top and the dreaded KITCHEN COUNTER to clean yesterday, when on Thursday night I realized that Luke did not have school on Friday because of a teacher meeting of some kind.   That meant my 3 hours of quiet organizational/cleaning time I had reserved for Friday had just disappeared.

His older siblings left for school, and it was just the two of us.

Here's where I'll confess:  I gave him cookies and told him he could eat them in the living room while watching Spongebob.   He was speechless!  This had never been done before (at least not when I was around), and he watched television for a good hour ("bad mommy!") while I scrubbed my stove top and sink and worked on organizing the chaos on my kitchen counter.   The errant clean dishes that were sitting on the counter because the kids can't reach the cabinet were put away.   The toaster was gleaming.  The counters were scrubbed and the paper work had pretty much all been put away.  I even got the shop vac out and moved the stove so I could clean under it. 

Ah, yes.  The shop vac.

That's when the fun began.  

Luke loves to help me clean.  He loves a big full bottle of Windex, a can of dusting spray, and a shop vac.   I have a spray bottle filled just with water that I give him so he can "clean" the front of the appliances and the kitchen table and the sliding glass door.   But he REALLY loves that shop vac.  And when he heard it, all bets were off.

So I moved the stove and he went to work vaccuming.   I hadn't mopped the floor yet, so I asked him if he'd like to vaccum the corners of the kitchen for me.

While he was busy "helping" I went off to the living room to do a quick dusting and clean up the bigger of the cookie crumbs he'd left behind..   The shop vac motor was humming along, and I was feeling pretty good about how quickly I was getting everything done.

Until I walked into the kitchen.

Luke had discovered that if he removed the hose from one side of the shop vac, and put it in the OTHER side, that the air would BLOW OUT.   This was fun!  This was exciting!  He had blown all the papers off the front of the refrigerator and the few that were left on the counter.  But more importantly, he had blown UNDER the REFRIGERATOR.   There was dust EVERYWHERE!   My formerly clean kitchen was now coated in a blanket of dust.   Gritty dust.  And a few good sized dust balls, too.

But Luke was so excited about how well he'd cleaned UNDER the refrigerator, that I did my "mommy smile" and thanked him for being such a "good helper" and then asked him if he wanted to watch Spongebob and eat some more cookies.

How do you keep up with your housecleaning with kids underfoot????


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

10 Things I Know About Parenting

After all these years of being called "Mom", the things I know for certain about it can be listed on my 2 hands:

10 Things I Know About Parenting:
  1. My life revolves around someone else's bladder and/or intestines, therefore I know where every public restroom is in a 25 mile radius of my house
  2. Within 3 days of paying to have my carpet cleaned, someone will vomit on it; within 24 hours of mopping my kitchen floor, someone will spill on it
  3. If I get down on my hands and knees to get toys out from under the couch, a child will jump on my back and want to play "horsey."
  4. The amount of time it takes to get ready to go anywhere increases exponentially with each child.  One child, 15 minutes; 2 children, 30 minutes; 3 children, 1 hour; 4 children 2 hours, etc.  
  5. Every time I back out of the driveway to go somewhere, I have to pull back in so I can run into the house to get something I've forgotten.  (This is called Mommy Brain, I believe.)
  6. I haven't gone to the bathroom by myself since my eldest child was born....22 years ago.
  7. Clutter is beautiful.  (I keep telling myself this, hopeful that I will actually eventually convince myself that it is true.)
  8. Children will argue. Children will fight. It's called sibling rivalry and has gone on for centuries.
  9. The laundry will NEVER be done.
  10. There is nothing, absolutely nothing! in the world as wonderful as when one of my children runs up to me, hugs my knees, and says simply, "I love you, Mommy."

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Have you read this awesome book yet???

Monday, February 22, 2010

I've never done a book review before....

I've never done a book review before in my life, and I'm certainly not going to try to do one now.   But since I spent the last 3 1/2 days of my life totally immersed in a book that I honestly could not put down I just had to tell everyone about it.  

The book is The help by Kathryn Stockett. 

Now, when I choose a book, I choose it in one of two ways:
  1. Someone refers it to me, simply by telling me "You've GOT to read this book!"  OR
  2. I read the first (only the first) paragraph on the inside jacket of the book.
I hate to know what a book is "about" because it causes me to think ahead and try to figure out what's coming next.  

So, instead of telling you what it's about (except that it is a novel, not a self-help book), I'll simply tell you how I felt while reading it:
  • Stunned
  • Amazed
  • Awed
  • Inspired
  • Ashamed
How's that for a list?   Got your curiosity piqued yet?

Now, get to the bookstore, the library, or, heck, order it from Amazon......but you MUST read this book.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hand Exercises for Pre-Schoolers to Increase Dexterity and Letter Formation

Luke's pre-school teacher sent home this amazing hand-out the other day, with a list of hand exercises to increase speed and dexterity and letter formation for elementary students.

Most of these look like a lot of fun, not exercises!   Not only do these exercises strengthen our pre-schoolers' hand muscles to help them with writing, but doing these together can really amp up your together time, as well!

  • Roll putty into a snake.  Pull off 10 pieces.  Roll each piece into a small ball using thumb and 2 fingers on just one hand.  (No cheating by using the table or your other hand!)
  • Flatten all putty pieces and roll into a large ball.  Rotate this ball in your fingertips (like the Earth rotating on its axis -- repeat for 30 seconds each direction).
  • Line up 10 pennies on the table.  Flip them over quickly from left to right and return back to the left side.
  • Put away the 10 pennies by picking up 3 and storing them in your hand by trapping them with your little finger.  Then rotate each coin singly out to your pinch and place the penny into a slot cut in the top of a margarine tub.  Repeat until all pennies are stored in the bank.  If 3 are easy, try holding 4 at a time.
  • Write 10 letters or numbers along the borders of an index card.   Then challenge your child by calling out a letter or number and having him/her quickly place a paperclip onto the correct letter or number.
  • Make an "OK" sign with your thumb and index finger.  Llink your fingers with a partner and play 5 tug-of-war games.
  • Play dice games.  Cupping the hand is very important to build the arches of the palm.
  • Fingerspell the alphabet, or have your child spell his name using his hands and fingers to make the letters.   See how fast he can do it!
  • Have your child hold a pencil in his/her best writing grip.   Then, walk your "tripod" up and down the length of the pencil.   Have a race!
  • Place 10 dots across a piece of paper.  Have your child quickly make a circle (not an oval) around each dot.  (This helps to develop greater distal control to form circles quickly.)

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Sharing.   Why is it such a difficult concept to learn?  Why is it such a difficult concept to teach?  Why can't we all just get along!?

My house frequently sounds like that flock of birds from the movie Finding Nemo: "Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!"

I've been a parent for 22 years, so one would think I would have figured this one out.  One would be wrong.

Nothing makes me more insane than dialogue like this:

"Mo----Om!   He won't let me play with his toy car!"

"It's mine!  I don't wan't her playing with it!"

It makes not one bit of difference that the owner of the toy car (or WHATEVER! the object of the moment is) is not only not presently playing with the coveted toy, but in all likelihood hasn't played with said toy in days or even weeks.

However, the fact remains, he owns it.  It is his.  He does NOT want his sibling to play with it.

I always try to intervene with a bit of mom guilt:

"Come on, sweetheart, is it really that big of a deal if your sister plays with your car?  You weren't playing with it.  How is it going to hurt you if she plays very carefully with it for a while, and then puts it away....?  It would make me so happy if you would share."

"No!   She never lets me play with her stuff, so she can't play with mine!"

Well, that got me no where.
How do you reason with that bit of logic?   Am I supposed to FORCE him to let his sister play with his toy?  Is that really sharing if I intercede with force?

I have absolutely no idea......any suggestions?


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