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."

Visit my website for unique school fundraiser ideas

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.)

Visit my website for big brother and big sister t-shirts, custom t-shirts with your child's artwork, custom invitations, and school fundraiser ideas!

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?


     UPromise Scholarship Give Away   

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oil changes, pap smears, root canals....I LOVE Waiting Rooms!

I got my oil changed today! Now, to most people, this might not seem like a sentence that should end with an exclamation point. However, most people don't have six children. I also end sentences like "I have a pap smear today!" and "I get a root canal today!" with exclamation points.

Now, don't get me wrong. It isn't the oil change or the pap test or the pulling of teeth that causes me to be so happy. It's the time I get to spend in the waiting room. The peaceful escape from the otherwise chaotic existence that defines my life.

I've read and heard about so many people who complain about this waiting period. There have been articles written and emails forwarded about people who actually send invoices to their doctors for the time spent sitting in a waiting room, or people who deduct dollar amounts from doctor bills equivalent to the hourly wage that person believes he or she is entitled to have been paid for his or her time spent waiting.

But as a work-at-home mother with six children, I say "Can't that lady over there go first? I haven't quite finished reading this article about Angelina and Brad. I'll just be another five or ten minutes."

I have actually always kind of felt this way about waiting rooms, even before my husband and I decided to take over the task of populating the earth. I think most businesses go to a great deal of trouble and expense to make waiting rooms cozy, and the trend is getting better each year. Take magazines, for instance. Where else (besides the library) do you have such a wide selection of magazines at your disposal? Fashion, pregnancy, tabloids, relationships, hunting, cars. It's a veritable free-for all. Sometimes the hardest part is deciding which magazine to read!

Don't want to read? Then how about television. And I'm not talking Disney Channel or Cartoon Network.....I'm talking NEWS! Really! News! I so rarely get to sit down and watch the news, that this is another one of those words I like to end with an exclamation point. And the news channels not only give you never-ending insight into the top stories of the day, but, apparently understanding that we are a nation of multi-taskers, the television news programs also have a scrolling bar (sometimes more than one) that let you know about stock prices and other top news and weather stories. All news. All the time. Ahhhhhhh.

Oh, and, please, let's not forget the refreshments. The car dealership where I got my oil changed today had a wonderful selection of coffees, teas, even hot cocoa! There was a basket filled with mini muffins --- poppy seed, blueberry, even apple-walnut (I know, I tasted them all!). The black leather chairs were big and cozy, and the flat-screened, wall-mounted television was quietly playing the news to an audience of one (that would be me).

Yes, oil changes, pap smears, root canals....bring 'em on! All completely uninterrupted by children tattling on one another. All completely uninterrupted by children asking for another snack, or climbing on the kitchen table. All completely uninterrupted by children fighting over the remote control, or flushing important objects down the toilet. What's not to love?

I actually considered asking the mechanic to go ahead and put a new engine in while he was at it.....I was in no hurry.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Did you SERIOUSLY just ask me that?!

Having 6 children can pretty much guarantee that you will be asked – in all seriousness and in no particular order – at least one of the following questions when a person first learns of your propensity to populate the earth:

1.   Are you crazy?!

2.   How in the world do you do it?!

3.   Are you Catholic?!

4.   WHY!?

And, my all-time favorite:

5.   Don't you know what causes that?!

My answers? “Some days”; “Well, when a man and a woman love each other...”; “Yes;” “Because my husband and I decided we didn't want 7” (thank you Bill Cosby for that piece of wisdom-filled reply); and “I sure do, and I have no intention of giving it up!”
Looking for a truly unique FUNDRAISING OPPORTUNITY for your school or daycare?  Visit

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How Do You Embarrass YOUR Child?

My eldest son was about 13 years old and neck deep into that “please-don't-talk-to-me-in-public-or-act-like-you-know-me-or-even-open-your-mouth-to-speak-to-any-of-my-friends” phase when I was seven months pregnant with baby number 5.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was in the front yard wearing a tube top, maternity bib overall shorts, and my hiking boots, carrying a 40 pound bag of compost manure on my shoulder to put in my garden, when my #1 son ran frantically out the front door and demanded to know what I was doing.

Thinking he was concerned that his 'advanced maternal age' pregnant mother was over-doing it, I immediately experienced a profound feeling of love and pride for my first born, and thought he might actually offer to help me.

“Do you think maybe you could possibly work on the garden in the BACK yard today, mom, so the whole neighborhood (translation, “my friends who might possibly ride by on their bikes”) doesn't see you dressed like that?!” he asked me in a frantic tone.

I could have been offended, but instead I smiled at this loving, caring, concerned, considerate child of mine, the one who used to insist on wearing the same Ninja Turtle t-shirt, shorts, and cowboy boots to daycare when he was younger, and I explained to him that God had put me on this earth for two reasons:
  1. To give birth to him; and
  2. To do everything in my power to humiliate him.
I told him I'd accomplished the first, and that I was working as diligently as possible to see that I accomplish the second as well.


Looking to add to your child's home library? Here are some of my absolute, all-time favorite kids' books (you know, the ones that get read over, and over, and over, and over, and over....)

Visit for unique gifts and apparel made from your child's artwork.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If only life were this simple....

I love the way a 5 year old thinks.   Luke's logic is so simple and uncomplicated.

Yesterday afternoon, he broke something of his Dad's. When I expressed concern that his Dad was going to be very upset with him when he got home, Luke asked me,  "When will Dad get home?"

I told him his dad would be home when it was time to eat dinner.

He thought for a minute, then said, “Don't make dinner.”

Problem solved!

Ahhhhh.  If only life were this simple.


Have you signed up for Inbox Dollars yet?  I've already earned $22.30 in the last 5 days, in just 1-2 minutes a day!  Do you have 1-2 minutes?  Here's $5 just for signing up....and it's free!  Just click the link below and get started.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Do Not Disturb....Needing Some Quite Time?

We had a particularly looong weekend.  Cabin fever is at its highest, and tempers were flaring.  I'll admit (but please don't tell anyone!) that I've never been so happy to see a Monday morning.

I learned over the weekend that if I want to be sure that my children will talk to me when I'm older, apparently I will only need do one of the following:
  •  Call someone on the telephone while a child is in the house;
  •  Go to the bathroom (whether to use the facilities, take a shower, brush my teeth, anything!);
  •  Tell them I'm going to my bedroom to read a  book because I want to be alone and need some quiet time.
 I truly believe that when Hannah Montana, Spongebob, or the Waverly Place Wizards have my kids under their spell, I could stand in the middle of the living room, naked, with my hair on fire, and they would not even know I was there. Until a commercial.

You see, commercial breaks for my kids means that either they're going to be convinced that they will die (or be the least popular kid in the class) if they don't immediately own what ever is being sold them on that particular commercial, OR they use the commercial break time to stretch their muscles by hitting, kicking, tripping, flicking, or otherwise bothering which ever sibling is sitting nearest.

Once the commercial break is over, everyone tends to settle down to what appears to be a drug-induced stupor, watching the television. 

I've always told my children that if I ever ran away from home, they could find me at the local library. That's the quietest place I know.  Now I'm really, really wishing I hadn't told them! 


If you're looking for some truly unique AND inexpensive custom Valentine cards for your child to exchange with friends at pre-school, or even to mail to Grandma and Grandpa, check these out!   We can do dogs, race cars, flowers, kittens, peace signs, you name it!  Completely customized.  Just $5 to set up, then $2 for 6 cards.  Email me at for details.