Sunday, February 24, 2008

Better or Worse?

Okay, I messed with this layout again this afternoon. The lack of stuff on it was bothering me, so I added more. You know me & my messy scrapping. I just can't seem to leave simple things simple. ??? Anyway, is this one better or worse?

Round & Round

Here's another Cedar Point layout I did last night. I thought I'd wait to post it since I went a little post-crazy last night. I'm still not totally sold on this layout, so I may end up messing with it or adding some stuff or moving things around a bit, but this is the basic idea.

Journaling: you can't seem to get enough of going 'round and 'round in circles. from jeeps to cars to planes, every ride in kiddy land does the same as the last. still you're sure to ride them all.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pennies from Heaven

I've been praying for a creative way to address some 'issues' with the kids - not the least of which is their massive quantity of time playing, or thinking about, or talking about PlayStation or Wii or computer. My kids - at least my boys - are electronic junkies. I don't mind the electronics. What I mind is the significance they seem to be playing in the lives of my kids. I mean, they can't seem to think of much else, and if given a choice, they would almost certainly choose a screen-driven activity over an imagination-driven one. Very sad. My goal is not to eliminate it entirely. Simply to restrict the amount of time and to establish that it is an earned privilege rather than an entitlement.

My other issue has been the general degradation of their manners and behavior. I know some of it is a pretty normal 'boy' thing, but at times they are crossing the line between normal and obnoxious.

Well, you may remember about a year ago, we did a thing with pennies to encourage better bedtime behavior. It worked wonderfully until it became irrelevant - they established good bedtime habits and the pennies were no longer needed. Well, we have decided to revisit the pennies. Only this time, the deal has changed a bit. Instead of starting with 3 pennies in their jar, they start with zero. Their goal is to earn five pennies. Once they have five, they can trade their pennies in for PlayStation, Wii or computer time. We've also given them the option of trading their 5 pennies in for $1.00 that they can spend or save however they choose. We've laid out pretty clearly for them the things they may do to earn pennies - like being kind to each other, helping each other, helping in the kitchen after dinner, cleaning up when they're done playing, listening the first time they're asked to do something, etc. They can also lose pennies for bad behavior - excessive fighting, back talk, having to be told more than once, leaving messes (and thumb sucking...I'm bound & determined to help that boy give up his thumb!).

We talked to them about it tonight at dinner. We listened to their ideas for what could earn or lose pennies. We explained their options and their rewards. They were super excited, and started making plans for what they would play first, and what they would start saving money for and on and on. As soon as dinner was over, they hopped up, cleared the table, and started cleaning the kitchen. Sebastian did some dishwasher duties and some recycling. Isaac cleaned the table and chairs.

At bedtime, I gave the usual 5-minute warning. I didn't even have to ask them to clean up. As soon as I said 5 minutes until bedtime, Sebastian said, "Isaac, we have to clean up what we're done playing with so we can earn a penny." It was done in no time. By the time they went to bed tonight, they had each earned 3 pennies.

As for Meagan, she has sort of caught the helping bug. She helped with the dishes a bit, and she helped some in cleaning up toys in the boys' room. We figured she's a bit too young to really understand what the whole thing is about, but she likes putting pennies into a jar. So, if she's being good, she gets to put a penny in whenever the boys do. She seems to be pretty happy with that.

To Recap....

Monday was a no-school day, but I still had to work in the morning. I worked quickly, and left by noon. I picked the kids up from Nicole's and then took them over to a friend's for lunch. We had gourmet grilled cheese, cheez-its, pickles and orange slices (which went over quite well with everyone!). Then the kids all hung out and played - all seven of them (if you count the baby, that is). Three boys, three girls, and one baby (boy) - and two mommies who were thrilled to have a chance to sit quietly on the couch and talk and drink tea. What a great afternoon! Around 3:00, the two younger girls were quickly approaching melting point, so we said our goodbye's and parted ways. I'm already looking forward to the next time we have a chance to do that!

I didn't work Tuesday. We had story hour in the morning, and from there headed to the chiropractor. After that, not much else happened...until that evening, I guess. Sebastian had wrestling, so I decided to take the other 2 to the grocery with me. Now, I NEVER get the TV carts. I just haven't wanted to start it, so I don't have to fight that fight every time we walk into the store. However, as we walked into the store at 6:45 pm - my full list of groceries, and my 2 kids who were bordering on tired - I decided to give it a shot. I thought maybe I could get done more quickly if their attention was occupied by cartoons rather than by wanting to "help" me with groceries. I envisioned being able to walk at an adult pace through the isles instead of at a distracted-2-year-old pace. I broke down and rented the cart.

Initially I chose Thomas the Train, but the TV wasn't working in that one, so we switched to Dora. I must say, the cart worked like a dream. I FLEW through the grocery. There was no "Meagan put that back" or "Watch out for that display" or "Stay out of other people's way" or "Stop fighting" or "Keep your hands to yourself" or "No running" or any other phrase that has become a typical part of our grocery trips. It was wonderful. My only complaint, if any, would be that the cart space for groceries is smaller, so I had to be creative in loading the cart. Other than that, wonderful.

I ALMOST made it to the end of the trip with no incidents...ALMOST. I pushed the cart back to the 'parking spot' and opened the door to get them out. As I did, I noticed that Meagan had these two bars of some sort - one in each hand. My first thought was, Oh no she broke something. I tried to grab it out of her hand, and complete pandemonium broke out. As she got out of the cart, she threw herself down on the floor in a full-on tantrum. I was dumbfounded, still not knowing what was in her hand. But, it all quickly became very clear to me what the problem was, as a candy wrapper fell out of the cart after her.

While I was paying for the groceries, she had snatched a Spree Rope Candy off of the candy rack and started chowing down. This was even after they both had asked for candy and I specifically told them no. Isaac, although he didn't take it from the shelf, was guilty as well, because his mouth was shoved full. He couldn't even talk because his teeth were sticking together from all the chewy gunk in his mouth.

We marched straight back to the isle we had just been in. I took the candy from each of them and threw it in the trash can (which DID NOT go over well with Meagan - she actually tried to go in after it until I pulled her back). Then, we waited in the line to pay for the candy that had been taken. They each were made to apologize, and they each got an age-appropriate lesson in respecting boundaries. Let's say, I doubt Isaac ever does that again...I wouldn't put anything past Meagan, but I'm hoping for the best.

Church night. In the 5th & 6th grade youth group, we've been doing crazy nights throughout February. Wednesday was backwards night. Let's just say that I had a tough time finding pants that would zip up backwards...LOL!

The night was going really well. We got there on time. The kids were all well behaved on the bus. They were listening well during service. We even had time to play an extra game before we left. But when we got out to the bus, it wouldn't start. Something in the fuel system wen bad - it was just a tiny little piece, but I have no idea what it was. Anyway...they pulled up a different bus; we transferred all the kids over and headed off.

A little something about this replacement bus. We don't usually drive it because it's a little, shall we say, Quirky. We have lovingly dubbed it the beeping bus because, you guessed it, it beeps...non-stop. Something related to the power steering sensor or something or other. It just beeps. And it's a loud beep. And it causes all the kids to act like lunatics and scream and yell about how the beeping is so loud. So we try not to drive it if we can help it, but this time it couldn't be avoided.

So. We set off. We got to the first stop, slowed down, stopped, let kids off. Then the bus started rolling. While the driver still had the brake applied. Bad. By the time she had gone through the next stop, it was clear that the brakes were failing. Clearly, we couldn't finish the route like that. She was able to make a few more stops as she went around the block to head back to church, so we did get about half of the bus delivered safely home. The remaining 15-ish kids, we hauled back to the a snails pace. It took us about 35 minutes to go down the street, around one block and back to church. By the time we got back, the kids that were remaining on the bus were tempted to panic. While the driver and the other captain were concentrating on the brakes and driving through traffic, I was left to tend to the kids and keep them calm. Man, you should have seen how fast cell phones were flying out of pockets the minute they figured out something was wrong with the bus. I had to ban cell phones just to keep them from passing along incorrect information to parents. Sheesh!

Anyhow, we made it safely back (I've never prayed so hard in my life I's quite a scary thing to be approaching cross-traffic with a bus full of kids and no brakes...we prayed for clearings in traffic...and got them every time...very cool). Between the adults that were present, we were able to fit everyone into cars and vans and deliver them all safely home. It was about 20 minutes later than normal, but at least we were all safe.

The most uneventful of nights. Sebastian had wrestling. We left early because a cut on the bottom of his foot had ripped open and was bothering him too bad to practice. End of story. We went to bed early.

Friday nap time was a NIGHTMARE! Meagan pitched a fit for 2 straight hours before finally crashing hard in the floor in the hallway outside of my bedroom (where I had put her to prevent her from further trashing her room and playing the second I walked away). She only slept for about 45 minutes, even after all that. Grrr.

After nap time was over, my friend Kim brought her granddaughter over to play. She's two, and it was the first time she and Meagan had met each other. They played quite well together after they got used to each other. So that was kind of nice. Meagan has a new friend.

While she was over, Kim offered to watch the kids for us that night so Lucas and I could go out to dinner together, kid-free. We took her up on her very generous offer. That was awesome. So, we ended up at Bennigan's. It was SLOW service to put it mildly, but it gave us plenty of time to sit and enjoy our free hands and our uninterrupted adult conversation. Nice.

Today we slept in until about 9:00. That was heaven! I got up and made breakfast pizza for a late breakfast. After we cleaned up breakfast, I got in the shower, leaving Lucas to tend to the kids. To his credit, he got off the computer, and came up into the living room so he could see and hear what was happening. Even still, Meagan slipped under the radar and found a way to make a mess. She went upstairs to play dollhouse...innocent enough. Then she decided her dolls needed water in their bathtub. So, she took the tub into the bathroom (the one I wasn't in) and filled it with water and took it back to her room (leaving the water running when she left the bathroom). At least once, she must have spilled the water (because the dollhouse was flooded) and gone back for more. At some point, a tube of Goldbond cream (not even sure where she found it) and a bottle of lotion (from their bathroom) got into the mix.

Just as I finished getting dressed, Sebastian came running in "Mom, come and see what Meagan did." Never my favorite thing to hear. I followed him into the bathroom to find the water running, sink near overflowing, bathroom floor flooded, squished Goldbond tube on the counter (cap missing), a trail of water and lotion from the bathroom to her bedroom, a flooded dollhouse, a saturated bedroom floor, and lotion smeared all over the carpet as well as in the dollhouse sink and toilet. Lovely.

I called for Lucas. He came up and manned Meagan's clean-up while I took care of the floor clean-up. My hand-held spray carpet cleaner wouldn't spray, so I had to bust out the big ol' carpet shampooer. When that girl gets into stuff, she does it up right.

Outside Looking In

My first layout in weeks! And my first Cedar Point layout! I have TONS of Cedar Point pictures to scrap. I'm thinking an album is in order. So here's the first layout of it.

Journaling: all the boys - big and little - hopped on the bumper cars for the first real ride. meg, you just weren't big enough yet, and were sentenced to stand on the sidelines and watch. grandma and i staid with you, but it was little consolation as you watched the boys - and grandpa and daddy - crash, spin and laugh. i know it doesn't mean much now, but your day is coming little girl. you're only 2, but before you know it you'll be big just like your brothers. you'll be tall enough to ride the bumper cars. in no time, you will have grown. until then, you'll have to watch and wait, on the outside looking in.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Day out with Grandma

This morning was the Valentine's party at motor development. Since there was no school, Sebastian got to go with us. Every time he goes, I realize more and more how grown up he is. I feel kind of bad for him because the programming is really geared toward 3 & 4 year olds, and he is basically bored. He was getting a little rough - climbing walls, turning the lights out on everyone, and just being rambunctious, but we had a talk and he settled down. From that point on, he did really well.

When we first got there, they made Valentine holders and got to decorate them with fancy hearts and stickers and such. Meagan the glue queen was in heaven! Then we did our normal playing and stations (like balancing and jumping on trampoline, and ladder walking and so on). But the best part was that after the stations time, we did a Veggie Tales - The Pirates Who Didn't Do Anything carnival. They got to 'walk the plank' on a balance beam, fish for prizes, read a message in a bottle, and play lots of games and get lots of prizes. Very cool. Even Sebastian liked that part.

Grandma B. is up visiting for the day, so after motor development, we, of course, headed straight to McDonald's for lunch and play-land time. Just before 1:00 we headed home to lay Meagan down for nap. Currently, the boys are 'teaching' Grandma how to play Play Station. I think next on the agenda is how to play Wii.

I've been nominated!!

I'm so excited! I've been nominated for Mother-of-the-Year!!! And I owe it all to my wonderful children! Close on the heels of Sebastian's mooning excursion, his sister steps in to drive home the fact that I am worthy of such a nomination.

Yesterday at Nicole's the kids were playing together in the floor, watching TV and just chillin'. In the midst of action, a little boy named Brandon rolled over and smashed Meagan's already-purple thumb - you know, the one she's still not using since she had it shut in the door by her big brother. So she yells at this little boy with all her might, "You stupid idiot! Get off my thumb!" Nicole said she had to turn away to keep from laughing. When she regained composure, she turned back to Meagan and said, "Meagan, that's not a nice thing to say." Meagan's response to that, "Well, Cole, he shouldn't have got on my thumb!"

Nice. I'm fully expecting to win this award. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I See a Pale Moon Risin'

Let me set the scene for you. It's 12:00 Tuesday. Isaac, Meagan and I had just walked in the door from a busy morning out on the town - Library story hour, then to work to write a check and print a report, then to our treasurer's house to get a second signature on the check, then to my friends house to pick her up for lunch and afternoon shopping. We had literally followed Lucas down the road on our way home, so we all had just basically walked in and dumped our coats off. We were in the process of determining what to eat for lunch when the phone rang.

As I'm in the habit of doing, I checked caller ID before I answered the phone. The Public School? Oh no, Sebastian must be sick or hurt again. I answered.

"Hi, Rebecca? This is Deanna from Sebastian's School. We had a message today that Friday in class, Sebastian exposed his bottom - you know, mooned - someone in his class."

Stop there.....WHAT!! That was TOTALLY not what I was expecting to hear. Immediately, my mind got a visual of that, and I just started laughing. I know that's not the 'responsible parent' thing to do, and I'm sure the lady on the other end of the phone was hoping I would react differently. But I couldn't help myself. It was funny! I mean, it's just so out-of-character; so unexpected. I tried. I tried to concentrate on what she was telling me, but I was concentrating harder on not laughing. The only thing that saved me was that I could hear a bit of a chuckle in her voice too, so I don't think she thought I was a totally off-the-charts-crazy mother.

Anyway, she said that, from what she could gather, he was mad at someone and in response, he pulled his pants down. She and the principal had a serious talk with him - her words were, 'We both sorta raked him over the coals' - and she said he hid his face in his shirt the whole time because he was so embarrassed to talk about it. Good - he should be embarrassed. There's a reason they are 'private' parts! Sheesh kid! They explained to him that anything that a bathing suit would cover is inappropriate to share with others.

The whole time I'm having this conversation, Lucas and Kim (my friend who was with us) were watching me with curious looks on their faces. They knew it was the school because I had read it out loud on caller ID. They had heard me start laughing. And they had heard bits and pieces of a rather odd and unexpected conversation. As I hung up the phone, I looked at them to explain, but I was completely overtaken with laughter. I think through my laughing I managed to say, "Sebastian mooned a kid." So they both started laughing hysterically too. OH, CHILD! What were you thinking?!

Well, like good parents are supposed to do, we had a chat with him when he got home from school. When I asked him if he had been in trouble recently at school, he told us about it right away. According to him, it wasn't because he was mad at someone. They were all just playing and having fun. He doesn't know why he did it. No one told him to. He just did. Who did he moon? A little girl, of all people - the little girl he has told us before that he likes and thinks is the prettiest girl in his class (we seriously need to work on his pick-up techniques!) That poor girl is going to have my son's butt as a memory for the rest of her life! That hardly seems fair to her! Again, WHAT were you thinking?!

After we talked for a minute, I asked him if he knew it was wrong. He said, "I do now." I asked him if he understands why it's wrong. He said no, he just knows because he got in trouble for it. So we talked a little about the appropriateness of our bodies. As punishment, he lost the privilege of going to wrestling practice last night. He also lost all forms of electronics for the evening. And he was given a strong warning that if anything of the sort EVER happens again, he will have much more severe consequences.

And I think to myself, Rebecca, welcome to the world of raising boys.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Confessions of a Neurotic Grocery Shopper

Okay, Kelli. You did yours, so here's mine. I kept thinking about your post as I was shopping yesterday. I think it's so funny that I'm not the only one who is so over-the-top about groceries. Here's my confession...

I haven't always cared so much about grocery shopping. I didn't get all worked up about coupons and sales. But now it's bordering on obsession with me. It's hard for me to make an unplanned trip to the grocery, because I can't help thinking that I don't know what the sales are, the best deals, or what I might have coupons for. Before each trip, I cut the coupons, scour the Meijer add, compare the add to the coupons, then create a grocery spreadsheet that calculates the add price minus any coupons I have plus tax to get a total of what I'll spend before I go. I make my list based on a menu I've made, plus any coupons I have to get really good deals with, and I try to limit my list to $150. Print it off, and off to the grocery I go. This can be an all-day process if I'm not careful.

Once the list is done and it's actually time to shop, my OCD ways continue. I have a certain order and a certain way that I have to put things in the cart. And I will often choose a line not by the length of the line, but by the cashier. It drives me crazy when people bag my groceries funky. If I take the time to put all the boxes, cans, frozen food, produce, etc together on the conveyor, then they should make some effort to bag things in a logical order....shouldn't they? If ever anyone offers to 'help' me put things in my cart or in my van, I always thank them but decline the help. Again, my experience has been that they'll throw the smushables on the bottom and dump a bag full of cans on top...what's up with that! Nope, I'm pretty particular about how the groceries go into the cart and into the van.

Well, yesterday was my shopping day. I ended up spending a total of $194, but I had some things besides groceries to buy. Here's what I ended up getting for under $200.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Life as usual

I'm falling behind a bit on my 14-posts-a-month goal for February. But there's still plenty of time to catch up...if I can only get my act together.

I haven't posted much lately because there's just not been much to report on. I worked every day but Friday this week. We did not go to wrestling on Tuesday or Thursday because Sebastian has an ankle injury. Last weekend, they were feeling a little stir-crazy, so they were dancing and spinning in the living room. I'm not exactly sure exactly what happened, but Sebastian dropped like a fly and started crying, saying he heard something crack in his ankle. It didn't swell. It didn't discolor. But for the first few days he had a really hard time walking on it. By Wednesday he seemed to be doing better, but then yesterday in gym, his teacher made him participate, and he slipped and twisted it again. Now he's back to limping and hopping around. So, it looks like maybe no wrestling this week, either. We'll see. church Wednesday because of the weather. And I already told you about our day yesterday. So far today, we've done recycling, had lunch, and now I'm (supposed to be) making a grocery list. Maybe get some laundry done. Maybe. Pretty normal and uneventful around here, like I said.

One fun thing I can think of though...this weekend is the first drag race of the year! So we'll get to watch races tomorrow! I guess that's something! Until then, life goes on as usual. Sometimes, I am very thankful for uneventful, 'normal' days. I think I'll just enjoy it!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Never a dull moment...

I swear life with Meagan is non-stop! That child can get into things like nobody's business, and this morning was no exception.

Last night she woke up around 1:30, so I got up to check on her. As a result, I was AWAKE...I mean mind going 90 miles an hour, can't fall asleep. I tossed and turned until some time after 4:30, and got about an hour of sleep before Lucas's alarm started going off at 5:30. So, needless to say, I was not up before my children this morning.

Well, usually I try to get showered before Meagan wakes up and gets going. That way, I don't have to wonder what she's getting into or worry she might get hurt while I'm not watching. This morning, since she was awake before me, I couldn't do that. So, I decided it would be best if she got in the shower with me. She loves showers, so she was all for it. Like every other time she has ever showered with me, I got out first and let her stay in the shower and play in the water until I was ready to dry her off. I was talking to her the whole time to make sure she was okay. But while I was putting my contacts in, it got quiet. Just as I was saying, 'Meagan, are you okay?' she opened the shower curtain and had blood all over her mouth.

I grabbed her out of the shower and wrapped her in a towel. I couldn't tell where the blood was coming from, so I gave her a cold wet wash cloth to suck on for a second. While the wash cloth was doing its trick, I hurried and got dressed in the first thing I could grab, and then went back to check on her. She was still bleeding pretty badly, but I could see that she had a cut on her top lip - right at the dip right in the middle of her top lip. I checked the shower to see what the culprit was, and found my razor lying on the ledge - not where it had been a few minutes ago. Whenever she showers with me, I put it up out of reach to avoid just such a thing. But we have the little seat things in our shower, so obviously she climbed and got a hold of it anyhow. It's one of those razors that has the bar of soap-like stuff surrounding the razor, thankfully, so she couldn't push down on it very far at least. The soapy part was covered in doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduct that she stuck her mouth on the razor and sliced it. I just didn't know how bad the cut was because it was bleeding so badly. And for the life of me, I can't figure out what would possess her to do that in the first place. ???

Finally, about 10 minutes later, the bleeding slowed, and I could see that it was really just a knick - like when you slice the top layer off of your ankle or something - it stings like crazy, and it bleeds a lot, but it's nothing unmanageable. So that was good. I'm praying that it won't scar, but other than that, I think she'll heal fine. For her part, she has been clinging to that wet washcloth all day now. She's even taking it to bed with her for nap. Poor punkin - she needs to learn to stay out of things, for her own good, and for her momma's sanity!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Woohoo! I Finally Undecorated!!

Well, it's official! Christmas has FINALLY left our house! Meagan has given up on her constant Jingle Bell-ing, and today I finally took the tree down!!!! Yes, it's February. Yes, my Christmas tree was still standing until about 5:00 this evening. I started about a week ago to undecorate, but I didn't get finished. So, we've had boxes sitting in the living room for a week now, just waiting to be packed away. It's so nice to have my living room back! Only 10 months until we do it all over again! I love Christmas, but living rooms were not meant to have giant sized pine trees in them on a long-term basis *LOL*. For now, it feels good to say, 'Goodbye Christmas!'