Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Red Can Opener

so much depends

a red can

graced with silicone

beside the can of chicken

(with apologies to William Carlos Williams)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Camp Cluttered Garage

The garage became home to the three boys Sunday when Ethan set up his tent to dry out from the scout camp out over the weekend.

At first everyone was all on board with sleeping in the garage. Ten minutes into the camp out, Isaac bailed. Jonah and Ethan slept two nights in the tent, and Jonah an additional 2 solo nights after that.

Figuring 5 days was long enough for the tent to properly dry out, I announced that I wanted to park my car in the garage once again and that for the kids own good, they could all help take down the tent and clean out the garage.

For the most part, this was a fine plan that resulted in only one child crying.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here's the Thing

I need my own computer.

This one is too old, too in demand, too slow.

See, for some reason, I can't post pictures right now. I can't post here on my blog or on Facebook. I can't change the picture of the book I'm currently reading.

I find it mildly annoying that everyone thinks I'm still reading "Countess Below Stairs" which, from the cover (which you shouldn't judge) looks like a step up from a Harlequin Romance, but if you really read it, you'd find it's more like a baby Harlequin Romance with none of the bodice ripping, but all of the overdone descriptions of the main character's delicate hands and her relative's goiterous necks. It's true.

I've read, "By These Ten Bones" and "Mrs. Miniver" since "Countess Below Stairs" and I have no way of showing that.

I also have a picture of the tent that is currently set up in the garage in which the kids have spent 3 of the last 4 nights. Jonah wanted to sleep in there again tonight, but he would have been all alone and it just kind of made me sad. I had to bribe him to sleep in his own bed with a back rub.

I think he liked the sleeping bag in the tent in the garage because he didn't have to make his bed in the morning...it was already made from not sleeping in it.

But see, I don't want to give this all away now without the picture to go along with it. Camping in the garage has to be its own post! With a picture! Which I can't seem to post because of this sad, sad computer which is all I have to use.

Which brings me to the need for a new computer.

It's got to be a Macbook. Sorry, but that's the way it's gotta be.

Also, it has to be mine. No kids allowed. As for Robert? I'll think about it.

A Macbook is probably more than I need. Certainly it cost more than I should pay, but I don't care. I want it anyway. I'm saving money from writing, but it's going slowly because...well, because of this stupid computer that is slow and always seems to have boys hovering around it asking me when I'm going to be done so they can play on it. (And when I say "asking" I really mean whining and complaining until they wear me down and I turn the computer over to them and go upstairs to read a book that no one will ever know I'm reading because I can't post a picture of it.)

So I'm not getting much writing done.

Except, I'm obviously writing right now, so...anyone want to buy this? I charge 10 cents a word.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Boiling the Frog

Welcome to yet another installment of, "this thing is going to change my life."

The thing that is currently changing my life is a chore can. The chore can is our summer 2009 work/incentive program. I predict it will last for 2 weeks. Because that is how long every other work/incentive program has lasted. I'm just saying.

Here's how it works:

Each kid has their own can with chores written on sticks. Currently there are 2 chores each child has to do before they can play with friends, watch TV, play Wii, or participate in any act of awesome summer spontaneity. Currently those chores are:

Make your bed and pick up your clothes

Read for 20 minutes

I know, I'm being too easy on the kids, right? Well next week, I'm adding another chore. And each week after that, they will get another chore. This could potentially mean each kid will have 13 daily chores by the end of the summer.

That's the part where I "boil the frog," so to speak. Soon they will be mine...all MINE! I'll have them doing dishes, making dinner, cleaning the garage, taking out garbage, mowing the lawn, giving the cars oil changes and more.

Unless this whole program goes kaput after 2 weeks.

The incentives for completing chores are as follows:

Weekly: for a week of 100% completed chores, each child can choose from rewards such as, taking a walk with mom or dad, picking out a family movie, choosing a special dessert or dinner.

Long Term: Each day kids get to add a piece of elbow macaroni to a jar for every chore they do. When the jar is full, we get a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

The long term reward inspires kids to help each other with their chores because the more chores completed, the sooner the trip to Chuck E. Cheese is earned. To be perfectly honest, this was a benefit I stumbled upon after implementing the program. I lucked into it.

The other thing I lucked into is the ability to assign extra chores. During the day, when I come up with something extra that needs to be done, I offer an extra piece of macaroni or two, which is currently enough incentive for the kids to do what I ask.

What I love is that I'm not doling out money for chores.

It is so wrong that I should have to pay my kids for something they should be doing for free; for room and board for crying out loud. I can't stand when they expect money for helping out. With this plan, no one is asking for money. They are all working towards a common goal.

This could be the greatest, most life changing program of my whole mothering career.

Or, it could all peter out after next week. I'll be sure to let you know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Lunchable Experiment

Now that the kids are on summer break from school, I get to take them grocery shopping. It's so fun. They whine, they complain, they have to go to the bathroom at the most inconvenient times.

They also beg.

I can't stand begging.

One of the things the kids always beg for is that marvel of marketing called the "Lunchable." Whoever figured out how to charge $3.59 for this low quality, culinary mess is probably laughing it up on his huge yacht while he sails around his own private island and drinking Dom out of a golden chalice while sitting in a hot tub full of diamonds.

The worst thing about the Lunchable is that my kids never eat the whole thing. Two out of three kids can't stand the cheese and leave it in block form in the little tray. The other one doesn't like the meat.

I figured if the kids wanted cheese and crackers for lunch, I could make my own version of the Lunchable for much less and ease my mom-conscience at the same time. I'd pick healthy cheese, real meat and whole wheat crackers.

Not surprisingly, the kids objected.

What was it about the Lunchable that made it better than anything I could make at home?

Was it the unhealthy crackers they would miss? I offered to buy Ritz.

"It's the pudding snack," Isaac suggested. I added a 4 pack of pudding to the cart.

I'd have better cheese, better meat, I told the kids. But they still were not convinced.

Finally the truth came out. It's the box, evidently. The box gives you an exciting chance to win something. They wanted the crap-shoot of the box.

"I'd be happy to tell you "Sorry, you're not a winner," when I give you the cheese and crackers," I suggested.

That was not the answer they were looking for.

Still, they got a homemade lunchable for lunch today.

One child still opted out of the cheese and one didn't like pudding. The other said, "This tastes just like the Lunchable from the store."

The most important thing, however: I got through another lunch today. Only 74 more to go!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Getting Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

I caught my picky eater, who has recently only wanted to eat anything that was a "nugget" or french fries, wandering around the backyard with a snack in his shirt pocket.

Yes, he really ate the peas. He loves them.

What's great about having pea plants in the back yard is that the kids can get their own snack while they are playing instead of coming inside the house to beg for it.

Any time I can eliminate the begging, it's a good thing.

Eliminating the constant in and out has also made me a happy mom.

As far as I'm concerned, the kids can eat peas all day if they want. I planted more than enough for our family, so the neighbor kids are welcome to snack too.

The only drawback is all the empty pea pods littering the ground, the garage, the lawn and sometimes the kitchen floor and family room carpet. I even found one in the dryer after it made it's way through the wash. Even though I've presented no less than 3 pea pod disposal options, I am still finding pods all over the place.

It's a small price to pay, however, to get my kids to eat their vegetables.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, Thank-you Gift

Today is the last day of preschool for Isaac. For the last two years, Isaac has attended Little Apollo Preschool, some days more willingly than others.

His two brothers preceded him at Little Apollo, which means I've been walking the halls of Sunset High School for the last 8 years.

The teachers at Little Apollo are wonderful women and have really been a positive part of my kids lives, so I wanted to do something to thank them. Thus, the painted pots, garden gloves, tools and geranium.

A chapter closes.

Jonah and Ethan still have 3 more days of school (including today).

Jonah has a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Wilmes, who has taught him not just for this school year, but during reading camp last summer. She has inspired and indulged Jonah's creativity in ways I never could have, and allowed him to develop at his own pace.

Mrs. Wilmes' class is called "The Bug Catchers" so I thought I'd throw together this little "Bug in a Jar" wall hanging as a little thank you for her dedication and overall awesomeness.

I know it probably looks like "flowers in jar" from this distance, but trust me...there are bugs in those jars. The first jar is a Jonah creation, thanks to a set of $14 fabric pens (which we will use on other craft projects this summer...so stay tuned) and features his ant-covered name and a few other juicy bugs.

Ethan has also been lucky to have the worlds greatest teacher. Mrs. Liesinger has been more patient with Ethan than I ever would have been, or have been, for that matter. She praises his strengths and helps him develop his weaknesses into strengths.

Because of something called "looping," Ethan has had Mrs. Liesinger for 2 years. I couldn't have picked a better teacher for Ethan if I'd tried. Mrs. Liesinger is also getting a plant and garden tools, but instead of a painted terra cotta pot, she's getting a lovely hanging basket with coco fiber liner.

This brings me to the elephant in the room...

Summer break is here.

Well, ALMOST here. I have 3 more days (including today) thank you very much.

Don't get me wrong...the kids and I will have a fabulous time together. At least for the first 2 weeks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reading the Signs

Today Isaac spotted this sign while we were out running errands. He asked me what it meant. I decided that rather than tell him right away, we could have a little lesson.

I asked him if he knew what the "circle-slash" meant. He did.

I asked him if he knew what the letter in the middle was. He did.

Then I asked him to guess what the sign might mean, based on the two things he knew about it.

Isaac's voice got real quiet and he said, "I think it means no going to the bathroom on the street."

Well, I guess that's one way to read it.