Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keeping up with everything!

 Soccer season has started once again!  I love it and it drives me crazy all at the same time! 
I love watching them, I love the activity, I love how much they love it... but keeping up with all the *stuff* gets a little crazy sometimes!  But when I see how happy they are at the games, it makes it all worthwhile!
Jack gets so intense when playing!  His face can pull some pretty crazy expressions!
2 of our 3 games have been rained out, so that is quite a bummer!  Maybe next year we will just do the fall season and not the spring.
My newest baby nephew was born!  Love the squishy cheecks and the mop of hair!  I love that we live close enough to see him!
I have been sewing up a storm, completing many of the projects in my "unfinished" bin.  It feels so great to make the progress!  I also sewed skirts for Abigail and all her friends to match- 5 skirts in 5 hours... not bad!

All of this is in addition to the job of being The Enforcer for our new schedule.  It is still working fantastically well!  Snacks are under control, homework is getting done, and everyday the kids and I get a cleaning project finished.  I love it!  I realized that we are taking the weekends off.  They get all sorts of treats and snacks and very little work.  But, I am totally fine with that.  It helps add to the rhythm that we are in a work mindset during the week and we can relax and play on the weekend.  I am just happy to not have all the fits and screaming when I ask them to help out.  They really do it willingly now, and most of the time try to finish as fast as they can to go play!  Thank goodness for things that work!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Extortion

Aidan got his first loose tooth this week.  It got really loose really fast, and by Wednesday it was just barely hanging on.  We had tried to convince him to just pull it out, but he was nervous, and refused to let us near it or try it himself.  Being Aidan, he couldn't pass up this "first tooth" milestone without a little drama, so Wednesday morning he was attempting to eat his breakfast, and was crying and fussing about his tooth.  It hurt, and he couldn't eat anything because he wasn't able to bite or chew anything.  It was making my boy very distressed, especially as I was packing his lunch and he was getting more and more upset at not being able to find any food that was soft enough to eat with a very loose tooth.

I finally, finally convinced him to just let me try to pull it one time.  I was talking up a good game, telling him to get himself ready and squeeze his eyes shut and take a deep breath.... meanwhile I reached in and popped that sucker out in a second.  By the time he closed his eyes, it was out and done.  He couldn't believe it, and was so happy to run to the bus and tell everyone he saw that he lost his first tooth!
Isn't he cute?  :)

So, now that the tooth was out, he was SUPER duper excited for the visit from the Tooth Fairy.  There was a lot of discussion about how much money the Fairy leaves, and Abigail and I were happy to weigh in, telling him that for Abigail, she got $2 for the first one, then various amounts of coins for the next ones.  I felt pretty sure that the Tooth Fairy generally does the same thing for each kid in the family, but Aidan had a different idea.

He really likes these Hot Wheels Monster Trucks, and they cost about $3, so he was turning wheels in his brain trying to figure out how to get enough to buy a truck.  He asked me if he could write the tooth fairy a letter to leave with his tooth, and I said sure.  He then asked me to help him write it so that she would know exactly what it said....


He added the * and the line himself, then asked me to write "sign here" for him.  I imagine he not only wanted the extra dollar from the fairy, but he wanted her to be contractually obligated.  The Tooth Fairy was so surprised and enamored with his cleverness that she not only left the $3, but she signed the note in her special Tooth Fairy language. 

Aidan then spent the rest of the week having an internal debate- should he stick with his original plan and get his Monster Truck, or should he take his cash to the dollar store, and get THREE toys instead of just one?

It was a difficult decision.

He finally went with the dollar store, ending up with a suction cup gun, a police play set, and 25 balloons. 

I have been so entertained this week, with all of his explanations and ideas and happenings.  The only problem is that these kids, at just 5 and 7 are already outsmarting us.  We thought it was so cute and funny that he asked for an extra dollar and were so entertained watching it all unfold.  

But now, Jack and Abigail are planning to ask for $100.  We might have set a bad precedent.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fear and Comfort

When you are watching a cute movie that has a really, really scary part (The Sandlot).....


It really helps to have a brother to hold on to!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning peace and quiet

I can't believe how well my new strict plan is working.  There was a bit of easing up this weekend, we watched tv and there were several treats eaten, but they still did a bunch of work and were generally more agreeable and happy as we went about our days.  This week we are adding in some TV tickets, but the work won't decrease until next week.

There was a huge Aidan meltdown at soccer on Friday- the first meltdown since we started The Plan.  I blame it partly on myself- usually I make them eat dinner at 4:30 before we go to practice, but they always throw such a fit and give me so much trouble that I decided I wasn't going to battle- if they didn't want to eat then they didn't have to.  But I should have forced it, because Aidan went into full meltdown mode almost as soon as we got there, and was miserable.  Lesson learned for me- we will eat before going next week!

This week is busy, as usual!  I work tonight, then Abigail has her musical performance tomorrow, plus I am working like crazy to complete my 40 projects- so far I have 14 done and just 26 to go! 

I find that I am enjoying the peace and quiet that Monday brings.  I think in general things go much smoother when we are all home together, but I can't deny that it is nice to have an empty, quiet house and I can get my work done!

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2011

It is working

The new plan is working.  The tantrums have completely stopped. 

The requests for things continue, but when I tell them "no", they simply move on rather than have a meltdown. 

The crying is minimal.

Resistance is futile is disappearing.

The kids are cooperative, happy, and (for the most part) well behaved.

The other night at dinner Kydon made the remark... "the kids seem a lot happier than they have in a long time".  He was right.  They are  happier.  Yesterday we finished our work 30 min early, so I told them they could have a little extra playtime.  You should have heard the shouts of joy. 

The sassiness and backtalk have gone away.

And, as a bonus... my house has never been cleaner.  Just in 3 days we have:  cleaned out the car, scrubbed the bricks, picked up sticks, worked on laundry, dusted every piece of furniture, cleaned all the bathrooms, washed windows, and cleaned out closets.  Today we will tackle the backyard! 

I knew it needed to happen, but I have to admit that I am shocked at how quickly they changed.

I have had numerous emails from parents who are going to implement this plan, and last night at a dinner 3 different people asked me details so they could try it as well.  (If you have any questions, feel free to email or comment, and I will answer them).  What can I say... I'm ruining the lives of kids everywhere.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

40 Projects

Once again, inspired by an inspiring blogger.  Sarah is once again doing her "40 bags in 40 days" cleanout of her house.  I joined in last year, and it was fabulous to purge that much stuff.

I'm not going to join the 40-bag challenge, since I actually just purged about 10 bags in December, and I just don't think there is any way I could come up with that many.  Instead, I'm changing it to "40 projects in 40 days".  Little things around the house that need to be done, and have needed to be done for a long time, but I just never find time to get to.

The tasks range from things as simple as cleaning out a couple of drawers, washing some windows, and touching up paint to painting rooms and chopping down trees.I started Monday, March 14.  That gives me until April 22nd to finish.  (Sarah coordinates hers with Lent, but I got started late!).

I have finished 3 items, with several others underway.  The only downside is that in order to finish the list, I have to clean my oven {dread}. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

There is a new sheriff in town

I have actually put a lot of effort into being super nice to my kids lately.  I don't like fighting with them, and they were so busy and doing so well at school that I wanted them to enjoy things.  I found myself saying "yes" way more than I probably should have.  If they asked for cookies, I would make them right away.  If they asked for playdates, I bent over backward to arrange them.  Snacks from the "school-only" bin?  Sure.  Stay up late?  I guess so.  We were having dessert for dinner almost every night.  We even had two visits from the Mommy Fairy, who left toys on the beds of kids who went to bed nicely.  I got them out of school for a boring fun day with their Aunt.   I was doing all the cleaning during the day, so that they could just play and relax when they got home.  I know it sounds crazy when I write it all out, but it developed slowly, bit by bit.

All of this accomodation made the kids so sweet.  They were gentle with each other, they were cooperative with me, and our house was filled with joy and love.

Oh.
Wait.
Nevermind.

All of the spoiling ended up... guess what.... spoiling them!  I cannot believe how demanding they became so quickly!  They would scream and cry and throw fits over pretty much every little thing.  The cookies I made weren't the right kind, so they would cry for 45 min.  The dessert we had for dinner wasn't what they had in mind, so they would scream at me at the top of their lungs.  Playdates became an excuse to break every house rule we ever had. 

I know that crying, screaming, rule breaking and kids telling me "I hate you" is par for the course with 3 kids.  I like to think I have a pretty tough skin.  But the frequency and intensity and duration was at a new level.

It was time for something new.

Something different.

There is a new sheriff in town.  \

We will call the town "Mean Mommy-ville".  And I am the sheriff.

We started in the Bible....  When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden they didn't have to do any work- ever.  Then they got kicked out.   Now the rule is "By the sweat of your brow shalt thou eat bread".

We have a new after school schedule:

Homework, cleaning, 45 min to play, then dinner and bed.  If they accomplish each of the red star items WITHOUT throwing a fit/crying/screaming, then they can put a star on their chart.  Once they have 25 stars (yes, 25- this ain't gonna be easy for them), they can choose a reward.

You want a playdate now?  Better work for it.  You want me to make cookies for dessert?  I wanna see your brow sweat. 

We skipped our music class yesterday to fully implement the new schedule.  They actually did everything on the list with a minimum of trouble!  We did have 2 separate tantrums (hey, perfection doesn't happen overnight), which resulted in loss of stars, but all the homework and cleaning projects got done.  Abigail cleaned out the car, Jack picked up all the sticks in the front yard, and Aidan scrubbed all the chalk off our bricks.  Also included in this is zero tolerance for disobedience.  If I ask them to do (or not do) something, and they disobey, they immediately get a punishment (an extra job or time out, depending on the crime). 

It isn't really how I want to parent, but it is what needs to be done.  I'm sure I will lighten up after a little while, but for now we need a reset button.  Welcome To Mean Mommyville.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A bit of sewing

I saw a favorite blogger of mine posted about making these cute shirts from sisboom.com, and I had to try it.
10 minutes later my paypal account was a teeny bit lower and within a few hours I had the pattern on my printer.  Love not having to wait for things!

This one I made from some fabrics in my stash.  I love how it turned out with the 3 different fabrics.  I was also playing a little with some different lengths.  This one is the shortest, it falls right at the hips.  Abigail told me it was too purple. 

A trip to my favorite quilt store found some super cute fabric, so I made this sweet top.  I bought some extra of the green and attempted some shorts {craft fail}.  I still have enough that I think I can make a skirt- at least I know that will turn out right!

I also wanted to try the dress, since we seem to always need new dresses for church.  I have bought several knee length dresses in the past couple months, but she is growing like a weed, and within a few weeks I am cringing at how short they become!  So I made this one extra long!  It was so easy to put together.  I really have to applaud Sis Boom for their wonderful pattern!

Now for the cutie:
I am always so worried when I make something new that she won't wear it!  But she LOVES them!  They are very much her style- colorful and soft with no "bumpy spots".  I did leave the elastic out of the sleeves, because I thought that might drive her crazy.  This one was a bit longer than the purple.  I was thinking it would be cute with leggings, but I think it would need to be just a touch longer to really look right with tight leggings.  I'm just happy that she likes it!  She was begging and begging for me to let her wear it dirty, but I stayed firm and forced her to let me wash it!

And here she is in the dress.  After I snapped the picture, we put a wide pink ribbon around the waist- it was absolute perfection!  I'm going to have to add in some belt loops, because the belt looked just divine on this cute dress.

Some links:
One Crafty Mumma (where I originally got the idea)
SisBoom.com (where I bought the pattern)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Most Boringest Day Ever

Sometimes I surprise myself with how mean I am to the kids.  It is almost like I have a sadistic sense of humor, and get pure pleasure out of finding new ways to torture my 3 complaining cute kids.

My sister lives far, far away, and she visits only once a year or so.  Unfortunately I had to work during her visit, which means that I was completely out of commission for about 4 days while she was here.  To make up for lost time, I decided to steal her for an entire day and just be able to spend time together.  Also, I did want to take advantage of her massage therapy expertise!  (It was lovely- if you are ever in Eugene, OR, please visit About Touch)

After getting my neck massage, we drove over and picked the kids up early from school, then headed up north to one of the most amazing waterfalls.  I had plans for hiking, playing, a picnic lunch, and clues to find a letterbox.  On the way up, after the initial excitement of getting out of school wore off, Abigial declared it to be The Most Boring Day Ever.  Thanks, kid.  Remind me to bring you along the next time!


Also, all thanks to my sister for taking all the pictures and letting me use them!

Look at that beautiful waterfall.  I figured it would be gorgeous with all the rain we've had recently, and it did not disappoint.  I can't remember when I last saw something so boring.

We made our first stop at the visitors center where we saw live snakes, a taxidermied display of all different woodland animals, we ate a picnic lunch, played on a playground and went to the bathroom 37 times (some of us more often than others).  It would have been mind-numbingly boring, but luckily Jennifer pulled out the cool Aunt card and bought everyone a piece of candy.  Nice save, Auntie!

We took advantage of the hard work of GA inmates and climbed up all the stairs they built- over 400 steps to the top of the beautiful waterfall.  At the top, we played around and enjoyed the views.  When we recovered our energy, we hiked back down all those 400-something stairs and took a 1 mile loop trail that held the promise of a letterbox.

After mistaking a couple of trees, and getting confused about stumps, we DID find the letterbox spot, and it was actually still there!  Pretty awesome!  We stamped up, then the kids all jumped on top of Jennifer and rolled her around in the dirt and leaves for a while.  I felt like I was at a fancy weight-loss spa:  massage in the morning, fruit and pasta for lunch, a nice hike, and then mud bath/exfoliation.  See- you don't need those fancy places, just come visit me and I will sic the kids on you for free!


We tried our best to figure out how and when this truck got high beamed into a tree.  It was facing up a pretty severe slope, and the tree was growing all around it.  Pretty cool sight, but also boring.

Hiking is also boring, just in case you are wondering.  See how bored they are as they run and play and climb? 

So is climbing up huge rocks and skateboarding down.

The trail we took led us in a loop, starting out at the waterfall, then hiking around, and ending up back at the base of the falls.  It was really beautiful, but Aidan was getting a bit tired.  They all had done so well, but catching sight of 175 more steps started the complaints anew.  I stopped at one of the viewing decks, and said to Aidan- "isn't that beautiful?"  He didn't miss a step telling me that no, it was not beautiful.

I couldn't help but ask that if the waterfall wasn't beautiful, what in the world was?  His reply- "only me".  Can't argue with that one!  Jennifer and I put one foot in front of the other and made it up the steps.  The kids took off at a trot and kept calling down asking why we were going so slow!  It was a beautiful day- a little chill in the air without being too cold, relaxing and fun. 

We took one last view of the fall as we walked back to the car.  I love it!  I can't wait to go back in the Summer and see it all green and gorgeous! 

We got home and Jennifer tried to solidify her status as favorite Aunt by jumping on the trampoline with them, but lost a few points when she refused to play the ever- popular "Head Butt Horsey"  (don't ask- it was invented by a 16 year old boy, and I pride myself on knowing as little about the game as possible.  I only know that it involves head butts and riding people like a horsey.  Use your imagination for the rest).

Goodbye, Jennifer- we love for you to visit!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Frustration

What an adorable one year old! 

I was all set to write a post complaining and griping about all that is wrong in life.  That is how I was feeling last night.  Then I decided to add a picture, and looking at my baby girl, and seeing her grin, I just don't feel it anymore.

Things are fine.  I am fine.  The house is fine (and the laundry will get done eventually, just in time to get all dirty and need to be done again). 

Today I am forgetting all my worries and I'm going to play with my sister.  She is in town for what feels like a very short time, and I'm taking the kids out of school and we are going to the North GA mountains to walk, hike, see a waterfall, and look for another letter box

And tomorrow, right after I get some tags for the new car, I will be in full sewing mode.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Goal Update

Yes, I know it is March, and I am still talking about my new year resolutions.  Weird, right?  I'm actually still thinking about them all and trying to accomplish them!  What can I say- I love a good list!

Here is my March update:
  • Clean and organize my home
Major progress was made this month!  I cleaned out the entire basement, AND the craft room!  I took about 15 bags to goodwill and threw out another 2 bags.  Abigail's room could use a little work, but more just organizing what is there, not really getting rid of stuff.  Other than that, the house is in pretty good shape right now.
  • Increase exercise
Done.  I am consistently working out 3-4 times a week.  Now I just need to keep up with it.
  • Drink more water/ Stop drinking Diet Coke
Done and done.  They kind of go hand-in-hand.  I actually stopped drinking soda all together- maybe just once a week or so. 
  • Be proactive with education
Still thinking about it.  I want to homeschool, but there are a few issues that are holding me back.  Also, every time I go to their school or talk to the teachers, I just can't bear to take them away from it- it is really good for them right now!  But I am active and involved, so I think I could say done for now, but who knows what the future will be.  :)
  • New shoes
Major progress on this one.  I have found two pairs of cute new shoes!  Of course, they were both heels, so I still need another pair or two, but at least I have made progress!  (I find it is helpful to set goals that are fun to accomplish!)
  • Visit a dermatologist
Done.  Bleh.  They removed 2 of my 50,000 moles.  And they want me to come back every 6 months.  The moles all came back non-cancerous, and I can guarantee I will not be back for many more years!  Aren't you glad you read this blog and find out all this wonderful information?
  • Bake bread
Oops- forgot about this one!  That is why I need to check in every month!  I'll have to try and get to that in March.
  • Finish some home improvement projects
In progress.  I finished the painting in the laundry room, and also touched up the million holes in the boys' room.  I have started sanding the stair banister for that re-do, and I have planned out how I want my master bath renovation to look.  If only it didn't take so much time and money!  :)
  • Find the long lost church bag
No luck.  I thought I might come up with it when I scoured the basement, but I didn't.  The thing that bugs me the most is that I know for certain I put it somewhere- I just can't remember where for the life of me!  It doesn't really have anything important in it, I'm just bugged that I can't find it.
  • No more ice cream every night
Well... we did switch to sherbet.  That is better, right?  And it isn't every night, but I would say we eat it about 3 nights/week.  Hey, you have to have a treat once in a while!
  • Lose 20 lbs or so
I'm getting there.  Slow but steady is my plan.  Or at least slow.  I'm down 12 lbs... about halfway to my goal.
  • Renovate bathrooms
Thinking and planning, but the doing will have to wait for some money to show up.
  • No more messy basement
Done!!  I would also like to point out that I cleaned the basement out during a cold snap- it was freezing down there!  It made the satisfaction of having it done all the sweeter.  And I have kept it locked up tight, so it has stayed clean for a month now!  :)

Okay, that is the end.  I just need to keep plugging along!

A Special Place

I have one major secret to keeping my house somewhat organized.  It is called my special place.  I put so many things there, and it really helps to keep up with all the chaos that would otherwise overwhelm.

You know all those millions of worthless toys that come from treasure boxes, goodie bags, kindergarten fairies, happy meals and all sorts of other places?  They are cheap, usually broken, and will clutter your house in a second.  Also, they don't have a home- there is no place that they belong.  So I put them in a special place.
With 3 kids in school, I have a stack of papers every single day that need a place to be.  Some are just trash- advertisements, ads for after school care.  But some of it you might want to put somewhere- things like actvity books, artwork, samples of math and writing and cut and paste worksheets.  All of them get put in my special place.

If the kids make something nice for someone, like these cute letters they wrote to their visiting aunt... but she forgets and leaves them here, I just put them in the special place, and then I don't have to worry about it anymore. 

When a toy breaks, but it is a favorite and the kids just can't bear to part with it, I put it someplace special.  When they bring home a whistle that drives me crazy, it somehow ends up in a place that is very special.

Our special place is in our kitchen:
It is so handy to have and use this special place!  There is no end to the things it can hold and take care of for you.  If the kids ever ask me where something is, I can answer with full confidence in two different ways:
1.  "Mommy- where did you put that broken toy that I love?" "I'm sure I put it someplace special.  I'll try to find it later".

-or-

2.  "Mommy, where is that picture that I brought home from school that I worked really hard on?"  "I honestly don't know where it is".  (I have never actually been to the city dump, and I really have no idea where it is) 

If you are feeling overwhelmed with bits and stuff and papers, I highly recommend designating a special place in your home to put all those wonderful things!