Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three of My Favorite Mom "Come-Backs"

When Ivy comes upstairs and I say something like, "Ivy where are your socks?" and she says "Downstairs" and I say go get them and she of course starts ranting and raving that she was JUST down there and I say:
"Perfect! If you were just down there then you know the way!"

When I ask any of the four to do a chore and they say something like "I just did that one yesterday!" "You always ask me to do that--it's not fair" "I ALWAYS have to do that" then I say, with relief:
"I'm so glad you already know how--it will go so much faster that way!"

When the neighborhood girls (who are 2-3 years older than him and have been driving Nathan crazy for well over an hour while I was teaching piano) come to me and say "Nathan is chasing us with a stick!" and I say:
"You should run away." They say we are and I say:
"Good! I knew you could run faster than him!" and they say yes, but... and can think of nothing else and then go away. So later I go find Nathan who is hiding out with a very big stick and tell him he can't chase girls with sticks (although I am secretly hoping he chases girls away with sticks for the next several years) and he says "Mom, they won't leave me alone" and all I can think of to say is "Just don't do it anymore" because I know they were tormenting him and he was defending himself.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Waking Ethan up in the mornings has turned into a game of sorts. He pretends to be asleep and I do shocking, gross, and disgusting things to pull him out of his pretend stupor. This has been going on for well over a year and so far Ethan is able to fake sleep--by fake sleep I mean not move any muscle including his eyelids and mouth--through:

*wet willies--yes, this is thorougly disgusting but I was in a crazy mood one morning and it totally shocked him and made him sit straight up and jump out of bed but it doesn't work anymore. A wet willie is a wet finger in the ear--YUCK. I'm glad it doesn't work anymore.

*elbow massages--these are just annoying and I got the idea from my Uncle Hank who used to do it to my mother.

*Tickling the bottom of the feet--this only worked once. Another time I made it work by tickling the bottom of a foot and then "sneak" tickling him in the side but that won't work anymore.

*ice--I used to put it on his arms or slip it down his shirt but it doesn't work anymore.

*flashing the lights on and off--I've only done this a couple of times because I have to feel really annoying and stand there and do it for about 5 minutes before he gets annoyed enough to quit faking it.

*bacon--it's true. If I cook bacon he'll wake up every time. Unfortunately I don't cook bacon much for time/health reasons. I should just cook one piece a day and give it to the first kid up.

*'this little piggie'--worked one time, I think mostly because it was so ridiculous.

*popping toes--my grandma used to do it and I always hated it so I've only done it a couple of times. He 'sleeps' through it anyway.

*sitting on the edge of the bed and singing soft lovely lullabies and 'I love yous'--I want to try this but I haven't had the patience.

*water sprinkles--I'll just get a cup of water and flick it on him with my fingers. It doesn't work.

*squirt bottle--better than water sprinkles but not totally effective.

Anyway, you get the idea. I have to do crazy, creative, disgusting things and eventually one of two things will happen. (1) I will get frustrated and just pull his blanket off him and pull him off the bed--that means he won or (2) he will 'wake up' sputtering or even laughing--that means I won and we get a great start at the day.

But I have one surefire things that ensures he wakes up every time. I have full confidence that it will never stop working. And it is the least annoying (in my opinion) thing I have ever tried.

A kiss. How else to wake a sleeping beauty?

If I kiss him on the cheek he immediately rolls over, coughing, gagging, choking, sputtering, spitting, rolling over, and saying "Why? Yuck! Ooooh that's gross? Why'd you have to do that? That is sooooo disgusting! Get out of my room!!! I'm getting up OK?!! eeeewwwwww!!"

'Cause everyone knows a kiss on the cheek is so much more disgusting than a wet willie.

Friday, February 19, 2010

How We Train Babysitters

Eva wants to go to Violin Suzuki Camp--badly. She has spent the week fundraising and advertising for weeding for money opportunities during spring break and has been very successful! One neighbor pointed out that a very popular babysitter will be moving this week and that Eva is a logical replacement. She also said that at least one of the families are "hard" to babysit. I scoffed. I seriously doubt Eva is going to experience anything she hasn't taken part in herself or witnessed in our home. Here are a few of the 'highlights' (I'm not saying who did what):

--Running from the babysitter, accomplished in one of two ways: (1) running away into the neighborhood (2) when kind neighbors offered to watch ours they would run home and hide in the house.

--Hiding under the bed and refusing to come out because the babysitter insisted the child wear pajamas. Parents had to come over to diffuse the situation.

--Oil spill in a bedroom. 'Nuff said.

--Various bodily fluids in various rooms of the house that have to be cleaned up--but I still maintain that this kind of thing happens in most homes with kids!

--Blue jello stains in the carpet--they were dipping and licking and there was a spill.

--Miscellaneous holes in the walls. My favorite is the baseball sized hole created by the child who wanted to (1) create a shelf in the wall (2) see how the wall was put together. There was a similar incident to that child's mattress. All I have to say is that the child had better be a wealthy engineer one day and pay for my new house with perfect walls.

--Pushing out the window screens to let the flies out of the house.

--Writing on the walls. Every one of my kids did this. One of them created a huge apple tree mural with dry erase markers on a wall in the bedroom.

--Hammering the TV. Surprisingly, the TV worked for several more years but is now being retired so the hammering evidence will also disappear. An inside door was also hammered a different time by a different child.

--Magnifying glass destruction. One of my children burned a hole in the neighbor's mailbox with a dollar store magnifying glass. We no longer own any type of magnifying glass.

--Kitchen spills. My kids all became masters at various kitchen incidents. The best one was when a child spilled a gallon of milk on my stove, rubbed a couple cubes of butter in it, got a frying pan and added another cube of butter, a lot of cocoa powder, and some sugar and honey. Terrible mess to clean up.

--Poison control--yes we've called a couple of times.

--911. A few of my kids called them too--like the one time when one of my four-year-olds told one of my two-year-olds which numbers to push. And I had to call a few times like when one child disappeared and couldn't be found and when was finally located admitted to watching us look for them and thinking it was funny and another time when a neighbor called me to tell me that another of my kids was riding their bike down main street. Police had to bring that one home.

--Taking the 6-7 foot drop out the bedroom window to sneak out of the house and play. More than one child did this. My favorite was when I finally became very exasperated with the whole thing and decided to just lock the doors and wait. It was a short wait because the child, after working for 30 minutes, couldn't get the backyard gate open because of deep snow. The poor child came up the stairs and dejectedly knocked on the glass doors and said, "Mom, let me in!" I said, "How'd you get out?" The child muttered "Out my bedroom window" I said, "Then you can come in your bedroom window!" and went in the other room and left him out there in the snow for another 20 minutes. I think it's my favorite because it was the last!

--Toaster destruction--I don't know why but they managed to go through three toasters in two to three years afterwhich we didn't own a toaster for a few years. One I had to throw away because someone stuffed a cube of margarine in it and there was no way to clean it out to be certain there would be no grease fire.

--Locking the babysitter out of the house. The guilty child in this case promised us this wouldn't happen again because "it wasn't as fun as it looked in Calvin & Hobbes." The child was obviously disappointed.

I never thought that these experiences would work to our advantage but it seems that they make other families feel secure in asking Eva to babysit. One reason may be that she has a lot of experience and I can't help but think that another reason may be that families won't have to worry about anyone in our family judging what goes on in their home since ours was such a circus for so long!

Personally, I'm just grateful that for the most part it's all over! And another benefit may be that my kids seem to be very creative, hard working, independent, and self-motivated which is serving them well as they get older--all qualities which made the four of them difficult to parent from age 2-7. Perfect practice makes perfect, right? We found out today that Eva not only won first place in physical science for her science fair project at her elementary a few weeks ago but today she placed in the district competition and moves on! Ethan will receive his Webelos badge and 5 other badges tomorrow night. Ivy is showing real excellence and discipline with her music and schoolwork (finally). Nathan is learning to read--he can read a couple of little stories already!

Monday, February 8, 2010

What I've Learned About Fairness

Motherhood is educating me on the value, necessity, and rules of fairness.

Apparently I am a novice--I do not know what is fair and what is not fair. I do not have a natural ability for determining who is experiencing unfairness and who has more than their share of fairness. This must be critical information because it is a major topic of conversation at our house. Thankfully, I have four tireless teachers--without them I would live my life oblivious to the finer points of fairness.

For example, turn-taking: personally, I always thought I had a reasonable understanding of the concept. It seems self-explanatory. What I'm learning is that my original concept of turn-taking is too narrow. I need to "broaden my horizon", so to speak. I guess I'm supposed to remember who sat where in the car, at the dinner table, next to Dad at church, next to Dad at dinner, next to Dad during scripture study, ... I'm noticing a pattern here. Maybe Dad should have to remember this stuff! Then it would free up my mind to remember who last: got their food first, said the prayer, sat on the stool, played on the computer, cleaned the bathroom, got out of the car first (we have this debate EVERY DAY), found my keys (we have this debate most everyday too--maybe I should keep better track of my keys), tied Nathan's shoes (and everyday I wonder why I didn't buy velcro shoes), carried the laundry basket from the bedroom (we have two debates about this each week--one for each bedroom--maybe I should put them all in one room and save a debate each week), used the metronome first, practiced on the upstairs piano, helped cook dinner, ...

Maybe my problem with turn-taking is not conceptual--it's memory. I wish I could buy some RAM space for my brain.

Speaking of memory, what has happened to mine? I can remember a time when I remembered most everything. I imagine when I was a kid I had no trouble remembering all this "fair" stuff. Maybe younger brains are just more "active"--like their bodies. Somehow my younger kids are able to remember how much I read to the older kids when they were younger. That means they are retaining and drawing on information from when they were infants to 3.5 years old. Amazing! The only thing I know from that time is what my parents tell me and I also have a vague memory of my favorite doll hanging on the clothes line. That's all I remember--my mom tells me that she was hanging on the clothes line because I bathed her in the toilet but I think she's possibly mistaken because I don't remember that. It sounds very disgusting--I'm sure I would never bathe anything in a toilet!

Maybe my brain is only capable of retaining a certain quantity of information and it's filled up. That would mean this is my parent's fault for making me go to school and becoming educated--I can tell my kids that it's grandma and grandpa's fault for filling my head with all this knowledge that there is no more room for fair.

Honestly, though, why waste brain space remembering "fair" stuff when there are incessant, noisy reminders all the time. I guess I should be thanking my kids not only for teaching me the finer points of fairness but for helping me remember all the lessons.

P.S.--My kids did not think this post was at all funny.