Monday, February 18, 2013

Interesting Observations

I mentioned in my last post that we started working on some independence and responsibility tactics in our household as of late.  I have to say that I have been impressed with the impact on my kids - and on my way of thinking about my kids.  Man, am I glad that I love to read!

Unintentional Outcome #1 - The Pool.
Every Sunday afternoon, the local YMCA has an open swim time on Sunday afternoon.  The kids look forward to it every week and I love that I can incorporate physical activity and quality time with my kiddos into one trip across town!  So, as usual we jumped in.  My little Joey (3) is fearless and often wants to jump into the pool before I get in to catch him.  Something that Kay Wyma said in her book rang in my ears, as I was supporting his wriggling body up and down the lanes of the pool.  "By always sheltering our kids, we are telling them that they can't do it on their own." OK, so I can't exactly let my just learning to swim 3 year old alone in water over his head, but I can equip him for his own independence.

I popped out of the pool, sitting my over eager preschooler on the side for just a moment and ventured into the supply closet that houses the floating toys and dive sticks and came out with a child size life jacket.  Oh how Joey fought that thing, stating that he didn't want to put it on. "Let's just try it." I coaxed and before long I had strapped him into the flotation device and plunged him back into the pool.

Before my eyes, a reaction that I read about but not allowed myself to put in practice fleshed out.  Joey started swimming, without me holding on to him.  He kicked his feet, paddled his arms and called out to me from  a whopping three feet away "Mom, I'm a great swimmer!" That three feet felt like an enormous distance for me who was used to constantly having a slippery little boy pulling at my arm hairs and clinging to me for two hours every Sunday. It felt huge for Joey too being just barely out of mom's reach was an enormous source of independence and I couldn't help but yell back. "I knew you were buddy! Look how good you are doing and all on your own." That night he couldn't WAIT for dad to get home so he could tell him all about how he swam all by himself **happy mommy heart**

Unintentional Outcome #2 - Clean Socks
Monday mornings are a particular challenge for our family.  Chad goes to work early, Jackson drags his feet and tries to squeeze as much time in bed or snuggling out of the morning as he can, and Joey and I have our day together at home so none of us move too very fast.  This morning Jackson was dressed before he came into my room to nudge me out of bed, however when we got downstairs and finished breakfast I found that one article was omitted, the socks.  As usual, I had to direct my child that socks were required and told him that I just put clean socks in his laundry basket upstairs.

Five minutes went by, then ten, unfortunately this is not uncommon as my distractable little man often forgets his intended goal in favor of an action figure, etc.  I was about to scream up to him when I remembered that I'm not screaming anymore.  So I climbed the stairs to see what caused the delay and give "The Eye" to hurry up the process.  When I reached his room, what I found was amazing.  In order to get to the clean socks which were at the bottom of the laundry basket, he started *shock and amazement* hanging up the clothes that were laying on top of the basket rather than just scooping them off on his bed, grabbing the socks and dealing with it later.  I couldn't believe it.  The kid that just goes slow in the morning was taking the time not to monkey around with his Lego table, but to put his clothes away on hangers even!

As hard as it is to see my kids growing up and gaining independence I am immensely proud that they are learning responsibility at such a young age and I hope that serves them well going through.  Now if I could just apply that work ethic to my own project A.D.D. I might get some stuff done around this place!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Some new rules around this place

I just read an awesome book that really changed the way that I want to approach parenting my children.  The book is called "Cleaning House: A Mom's 12 month experiment to rid her home of youth entitlement." by Kay Wyma.

It was one of those "fate steps in" reading choices.  I thought I had transferred an audio book to my iphone that didn't go all the way - so I went onto the Overdrive Media site (which hooks into my library card)  and found this book instead.  It was meant to be - I was frustrated with the way that our household was running (or walking as the case may be).

So when I got into this book, things started clicking and making sense.  Kay is a recovering slob, mom of five and trying in vain to change the culture of her family.  Sound familiar? Her idea is to introduce meaningful work/chores and rules into their lives and the transformations that happened with her children.  So I took some of the concepts and whittled them into our own household.  It's only day 2 but there have been some unexpected consequences.

Step One: Sitting the kids down.
Together, Jackson, Joseph and I talked about the problems that we were having and identified the top three.  Then discussed consequences if you don't keep up your end of the bargain.  The kids surprised me by not only knowing the things that were turning my hairs grey (and only the ones in my part grrr...) but also came up with appropriate and fair consequences.  For being three and eight they really do have a lot of insight into what makes their momma's blood boil.

We put the rules on some posterboard that we painted over with chalkboard paint and the kids helped me put the vinyl letters on It aint pretty but we have it posted up on the dining room wall as a reminder.

1. Cleaning: This applies to body, hair, rooms and mouths.  Every night before showers/bedtime routine, toys have to be picked up...any errant toys left on the floor get confiscated in "the mom box" Toys go in but they don't come out!!! My kids need to know that the stuff that they have need to be taken care of, if not they are not going to be in their care and control any more.

In the mornings, beds are to be made (read: covers not on the floor and halfway straightened up and pillows in the right location) and pajamas put in the laundry basket.  Pretty simple right?  I was hoping so!

We also discussed expectations during this part of the conversation.  Jackson knows that, in the morning he is expected to get dressed, and take care of his dog before he comes in for snuggles or permission to watch television.

2. Respect: This is a HUGE point of contention right now with us.  Both the toddler and the 2nd grader are both testing boundaries pretty thoroughly at the moment and its causing some real tension in the house.  So Rule 2 is simple, don't yell at each other or at your parents, no sass talk, no complaining.  The consequence for breaking the favorite part...THE CHORE JAR!

Together, we came up with simple household chores that they could do if they broke the rules, I made up 3x3 cards and folded them together.  Some examples of the chores were, vacuum the dog hair from the couch, wipe down kitchen tables and chairs, backyard poop patrol, sweeping the dining room and dusting the stairs.  All easy tasks and all ones that I HATE doing.  I call that a win-win situation if ever there was one!

3. Listen: Listening is a HUMONGOUS problem in our house.  I blame the electronics situation, if the Wii, TV, DVD, DS, or computer is on, the amount of times that I have to ask something to be done. So the rules to this one are simple.  Three strikes and its off! If I have to ask more than two times for anything to get done then all electronics are turned off and stay off until the end of the day.  This also includes forgetting to listen to the dog's clues that he needs food, water, or to go out!

The Results
Granted it has only been two days now but I have noticed a shift in the household.  The last two days, Jackson has come into my room to wake me up having woken up on his own with his alarm clock.  He was fully dressed and when I walked into his room THIS is what I amount of sunshine would make my heart feel lighter than seeing this!

We got through the first few hours of the morning without incident but then - the inevitable kid fighting happened. Our first visit to the chore jar produced "Wipe down the refrigerator and door handles" for Joseph and "Vacuum the Hallway rugs." for Jackson.  Get this: the kids were EXCITED to complete their tasks AND they worked together on both of their consequences.  Joey did the freezer drawer and Jackson did the refrigerator.  Joey went to go get the vacuum from downstairs and Jackson did an amazing job getting all of the dog hair out of the rugs! 

This morning was more of the same, made bed, fully dressed, breakfast made for both kids, and all toys picked up in both rooms before I could stumble to the bathroom or make some coffee.  A mom could get used to this!  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy (late) Valentine's Day!

Valentine's day is a little bit less amusing when it falls on a Thursday, you have to work all day, and you have had a kid home after an unfortunate stomach incident on Tuesday (darn the 24 hour rule).  But it's been an exciting week either way.

Monday: Blue And Gold Scouting Banquet 
Accepting the badges
Monday night was Jackson's Blue and Gold banquet for his Cub Scouts Troop.  He earned his Bobcat Badge, his Wolf Badge, his gold arrow and his Bowling Belt Loop!  We couldn't have been prouder! 

The den leaders did a great job with a dinner and presentation.  It really made things special!

He was also in a skit with his troop that I'm trying to get to load so I can share but haven't had any luck yet so we will settle for pictures instead.
Proud Scout!

 Look at all of those badges.  Looks like this momma has some serious sewing to do!  That's OK! I really hope that this is just the first of many many many chances to get out my needle and thread and adorn the uniform with achievements!

Tuesday Blues
The morning after the award ceremony is when the illness hit, Jackson woke me up to tell me he had some loose poo but, of course, I shuttled him off to school anyway. No less than an hour later I got the call from the school nurse that he had thrown up and I was on my way to pick him up again.

The cardboard TV please note the cord and socket :)
I got him home, set him up with a glass of water and the remote control in his bedroom and prepared to disinfect.  I had no sooner hauled out the Lysol than I heard the dulcet tones of Jack and Joey arguing in their bedroom.  I guess the sickness had passed.  *sigh* 2 hours of an upset tummy bought my kid 2 days off of school thanks to the "24 hour" rule

The rest of the day the kids flexed their creative muscles and made their own TV stage out of a cardboard box and put on "shows" for me all afternoon (again there is video and again it won't upload)  I was impressed with their creativity and use of action figure plot lines as well as their lack of electronic and maternal assistance in creating these awesome memories.  (I did help with the "sharp scissor" part of the production but that was IT!

Jackson after dentist
Wonderful Wednesday
Wednesday was an exciting day - Jackson got to go see his new Dentist here in Newton Dr. Kuhn.  The hygenist was AWESOME and Jack did a great job getting his teeth cleaned and X-rays done! Look at them pearly whites.  The best news is that we probably have about a three year reprieve on the orthodontia...but they are coming...

Joey went with us and did a great job watching his ABC mouse videos and being very patient and was rewarded by the office staff by getting to pick something out of the goodie drawer.

Cougars and Wolves and Bears OH MY!
Chad called soon after we got done to ask if we wanted to meet up at Merle Hay Mall after he got off work to have a special surprise.  He didn't even tell me what it was!  So we loaded up the van and I took my two rockstars out to the mall.  They got to play on the equipment, we walked through the stores and gazed at the merchandise AND THEN...the surprise...

Unbeknownst to me, the Red Rock Wildlife Association had set up a facility on the top level of the mall.  I didn't know what I was expecting but it was definitely more underwhelming than what the center held.  We paid our donation fee to the Wildlife fund and entered a space that I believe used to hold a Maurice's clothing store to find

Joey was terrified at first until we explained that the animals were in cages and they couldn't get him.  I can't tell you how floored I was that there were live lynx, cougars, black bears, bobcats, and coyote in the MALL!  All of the animal were native to Iowa and the kids were impressed with the pelts, taxidermy samples, skulls and of course, the live, caged animals!

My stinkers petting a stinker
Watching the wolves pace
We were just in time for an educational presentation by one of the wildlife guides.  To my shock both kids listened intently, asked really intelligent questions (Jackson: What are the skunk's natural predators, Joey: Do they eat ladybugs?)  The kids both got to get up close and personal and even pet a "descented" skunk (for more of my sordid history with skunks click here) and a brown bat (just a little one) Joey immediately recoiled and proclaimed that "Skunks stink, I don't want to touch those!" but he came around and pet him anyway.  If you happen to be in the area of Merle Hay mall - go check it out. It's very cool!
Not alive - still awesome!

Ghetto Build a Bear

After leaving the wildlife center, the kids were rewarded for being good and patient while Chad and I browsed the art store and Bath and Body Works for some V-day goodies by getting to go into the "Teddy Bear Connection" a locally owned wanna be Build A Bear.  We joke and call it ghetto but the reality is that it was very nice, affordably priced and the kids loved it!  They both walked away with a small stuffed puppy that they stuffed themselves and put a wish inside!

Our family Valentine's day celebration ended with dinner at my favorite Low Carb paradise, Buffalo Wild Wings where we tricked the kids into searing off their own taste buds on the Spicy Garlic wings and had fun playing video trivia.  A perfect end to a tremendously fun outing.  All planned and executed by my amazing husband without my intervention or suggestions.  That's the best Valentine's gift ever!

Actual Valentine's Day
I worked all day but got home in time to open the envelopes that Nana and Papa left behind before leaving for Arizona.  Both boys got a huge card and some stickers that instantly became artwork :)
That's how we roll Valentine's week in this house!

You know that it's a boy's Valentine when the highlight includes petting a skunk and seeing live bears but I wouldn't change it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The other page - and some Pinterest attempts

#12 - row row row your boat - Our first family canoe ride at the Isaak Walton League Outdoor Expo

My second attempt at a Pinterest recipe.  The first was just the crockpot spaghetti squash and it was awesome! This time
Pinterest Project #4 - Homemade Pizza Rollups
Original Pin: 

Well the recipe was super simple.  All you do is take crescent rolls, half a string cheese and some pepperoni's and bake them.

The verdict.  They turned out GREAT I thought - - however - - Jackson didn't like the string cheese and told me that next time I needed to use pizza cheese not just string cheese but gave a big thumbs up to the crescent rolls and pepperoni.  Joseph loved the rolls and cheese but didn't like the pepperoni (said it was too spicy) so this will be a repeat performance using pizza cheese and half with and half without pepperoni :)

Knitting Away

More knitting projects - I have been finding so many cool stitches and projects for knitting. My new favorite is the fingerless mittens.  So fun!

Pinterest Project #5: Fingerless Mittens
Original Pin -
I've done two of these so far.  One with just a straight knit stitch and a shorter one using the double moss stitch.