Saturday, January 29, 2011

Even Not-So-Unexpected Compliments Are Nice

My Mitchell is not normally the sweetest of boys.  He is not mean or rude or even unpleasant to be around, but "sweetness" is not one of his top 5 virtues.  He is more likely to wrestle me to the ground than snuggle me.  He prefers a high five to a kiss or hug.  He will mumble some half-intelligible response when I tell him I missed him while he was at school.

There is one area where Mitchell suddenly shines though in the sweetness department.  Somewhere, he picked up the idea of paying compliments to his mom.  I suspect it was started by Matt as a one-time thing some evening I was moody or needed a compliment, but has morphed into his own version since then.  

At least once a day, usually more, Mitchell will pay me a compliment.  They almost always go like such: "Mom, I love you and I think you are pretty and beautiful and cool!"  They stayed just like that for a couple weeks, but then when Ben started joining in the "I love mom game," Mitchell began adding a few twists to it.  Now he adds one or more of the following: "I think you are fine, great, and awesome!" "I think you have pretty eyes!" "I like your socks!" 

My favorite one came a few days ago as we were driving somewhere though: "I love you, mom.  I think you are pretty and beautiful! [pause] I think you're a good driver, mom!"  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Love My House, I Love My House, I Love My House...

I found myself chanting this today: "I love my house, I love my house, I love my house..." and it is not the first day I have resorted to this type of purposeful zen-like meditative activity.

Last summer, around July, I discovered that my house was a bit on the warmish side.  As I got warmer and warmer, I continued to mess around with the thermostat, trying to get the air conditioner to work.  Thinking myself just a bit of a dummy, I assumed I was just not understanding the mechanics of the thermostat, so I had my brothers take a look at it to try to get it turned on.  They laughed at me and told me I had no air conditioner!  What?!?!  My top floor has it, but not my bottom floor.  That was the first time I practiced my chanting.

This morning, when I woke up, I found myself chanting it again, only for the exact opposite reason: my house was freezing!  Again, upstairs was just fine, but as I descended the stairs, I could feel the temperature drop severely first on my feet, then engulf my entire body as I continued down.  I checked the thermostat and it was low - very low.  

As I waited for the repair man, I wore my snow boots, down jacket, and scarf while sitting on my couch in my living room.  When he knocked on my door and I answered it in this attire, he laughed at me.  I had on more clothes than he did!

It took him a few hours to fix the furnace and I kept reminding myself that I really am thankful we found this home.  It is just exactly what we need for right now and we were so amazingly thankful when we finally found it.  It really does meet our currant needs well; all except our climate control needs, that is.

What Are They Doing In Their Sleep?

I have recently found a new obsession: finding my big boy, Ben, some big boy pajamas.  I don't want Sponge Bob or Scooby Doo or Spiderman or Batman or skeletons riding skateboards.  I want simple, cotton, plaid or single color pajamas.  I have searched high and low for these jammies for a few months now and, let me tell you, they are hard to find!  

While most of what I can find are covered in super-heroes or... sponges (Sponge Bob is a sponge, right?), most of the rest of what is out there is not made out of cotton, but polyester.  I'm not really sure what polyester is, but I do know that all pajama-makers are quite proud of this material, based on one aspect of it: it is flame-resistant!  In big yellow or red tags is written in bold, capital letters: "Flame resistant."  

I am left wondering what the big deal is here.  Maybe some of you more knowledgeable moms can help me out here, but why exactly is this an important factor when considering the merits of your children's sleepwear?  What do we expect them to do in their sleep that their clothing needs to resist fire?  Am I to assume they move so much in their sleep that they cause enough friction to start a fire, or is this merely a safety precaution in case a fire starts in their room?  If that is the case, should I depend on these amazing jammies to protect their skin from the inferno blazing around them?

I am not impressed.  Polyester may indeed have flame or heat repelling properties, but I don't like the feel or look of it and will continue my search for good old-fashioned cotton minus the weird sponge-ish characters, even if it means I have to run into their room a few seconds faster to save them in the event we actually have a fire at night.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Well That Was Fun!

Our decision to begin our weekend trip to Michigan at 10pm was based largely on the idea that it would be the quickest and most peaceful way to go about the drive. We knew there would be no traffic to fight causing us to fight each other out of frustration, and, more importantly, our kids would all just sleep the whole trip away, be carried in at our destination without waking, and settle peacefully into their beds at the end.

Well, we were right about the traffic. That's all we were right about. While the big boys did eventually fall asleep out of exhaustion, Jack never did give in to the sleep monster. At about 11pm, I kept hearing "Boo!" A little while later, the game was whack mommy in the back of the head with your blankie. Next up, spitting contests. I'm going to need to scrub that window pretty thoroughly today and his jammies were soaked. When he tired of that, he began round one of yelling, which eventually gave way to repeating the same syllable over and over again: "bububububububu..." When that got old, he decided to start pestering his sleeping brother next to him by grapping an entire handful of hair and yanking him awake! We must have searched for his blankie 30 times.

Perhaps he was just too distracted by the swirling vortex of snow and wind we traveled through. I know I was pretty focused on it myself. There were times along the way that the highway was completely covered in snow and the snow really was hitting us from every direction, giving the impression that we were flying rather than driving. At times, the only thing we could was the dim tail lights of the big rig directly in front of us (also adding to the swirling mess of snow, but at least giving us something to follow rather than rely on the side bumpy strips on the road to tell us where the road was. That is just plain annoying!)

We did finally arrive at our destination in the middle of the night, but the problem of getting Jack to sleep continued on. His crib mattress must have been made of lava or something because just being lowered down into it, barely touching his toes on it set off a scream of torture. As we are staying in someone else's house, I gave up quickly on the torture baby bed idea and brought him into my bed, thus beginning a 2-hour, middle of the night wrestling match between us. He poked me in the eyes, he sat on my head. He crawled under the covers to the foot of the bed and got stuck. He body slammed dad. He head butted him awake. He discovered the head board makes a funny sound when you bash your head against it and repeated that delightful excercise over and over again.

When I woke up a few hours later, I hadn't realized that I had even fallen asleep. I felt like Ben when he claims he hadn't slept when he gets up in the morning.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Knew It!

Jack confirmed one of my fears this morning as I attempted to do a little workout in my living room.  

Matt had my car today and the weather was too cold and snowy to walk to the gym, so I improvised at home.  Now since I no longer have a chunk of my day to myself at home due to different school schedules and only one napper, I had to do this while Jack was up and ready to play.

It began fairly well; I wasn't going to go too crazy in my living room and I didn't anticipate it taking more than 20 minutes or so, so I got Jack some Cheerios and a cup of milk and set him up in the corner of my living room with some of his favorite books, hoping he'd basically ignore me.

Well, it just so happens that one of my chosen exercises was one of the most ridiculous ones as well - one I usually skip at the gym, sure that everyone around me is watching and either wondering what in the world I am up to or outright laughing at me.  It only took one of these to get Jack's full attention and he burst out laughing at me!  I knew I looked silly!  I just knew it!  

It was all over from there.  I managed to actually finish my workout, but he laughed at me the whole time.  He was so entertained, in fact, that he did the unheard of - left his snack unfinished - and tried to join in, laughing all along the way.  I don't know how Matt does push-ups with all three boys on his back.  I can hardly do it with Jack, but he insisted I try!  Leg lifts are impossible with a 30 lb baby sitting on your legs, and I he stood directly in front of me while I did my squats, kissing me (or slobbering on me, whichever way you want to look at it) each time I came down to his level.  

I did manage to get everything done and it was pretty fun to hear so much laughing from him, even if it was at my expense.  All the same though, I think I prefer going to the gym.

I Knew It!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Works Every Time!

Jack, like many babies, is not at his best in the evenings. He is quite high maintenance the hour or two before bed time and the whole family spends quite a bit of energy either trying to ignore the crankiness or distract him from it.

There is one thing that always works though, not just in the evenings to distract him, but all day long because it is his favorite game!

I have a large, heavy quilt in my living room that I must fold and put back on the back of the couch a dozen or more times a day because Jack is obsessed with putting it over his head! He absolutely LOVES the game of peek-a-boo, but no minor covering of eyes or face will do for him. He must completely cover his entire body with this heavy quilt, then frantically try to untangle himself from it, emerging finally with a sweaty head, huge grin, and a loud "BOO!" or, more often, "BOE!" He loves this game so much, that any time he comes around the corner, he shouts, "BOO!" at anyone he sees. He says "BOO!" when I open the door to his room after a sleep. If anyone he knows says "Hi" to him, he responds, "BOO!"

So any time Jack starts to get cranky, we tell him to go get the blanket and he will come stumbling or crawling to us with a giant quilt, ready to be buried. He loves it even more if you will get in with him, which works out well for Mitchell, who loves to do that with him!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Not Your Usual Chore

Occasionally, we have to mix up our reward system with the boys; we change the reward, we change the chores or behaviors to be rewarded, that sort of thing.  Doing one system for too long looses its effectiveness for us.  It gets old and ignored and I, more than the rest of them, loose interest and momentum.  

A good change is needed every once in a while.  

I just discovered a new system that I love, and have spent part of my afternoon deciding what behaviors and chores and actions I want to put on them this time around.  I had my top 5 or 6 picked out before I asked Matt for his input.  He thought about it for a second or two and said, "Exercise for sure!"  Really?  You think we need to reward them for exercising?  Their whole day is exercising of some sort!  They never sit still!  They run to the bathroom, they jump on the couch cushions!  The do flips onto their giant beanbag chair and try to roll it over each other before jumping on top!  They sit on and race their big Tonkas up and down the hallways, narrowly escaping the certain injury that would result if they were a couple inches off and rolled right down the stairs!  They tromp in the snow, choosing the "high snow" over the sidewalks on the way to school.  

When I reminded Matt of this, he rolled his eyes and said, "No, real exercise!  Not playing!"  So, in an attempt to actually take his opinions seriously, I have added "exercise" as a category to be rewarded in my kids.  Hey, who says behavior charts can't have some fun too?  It's time to resurrect The Exercise Game, I think!

They have already earned their stars for exercise today, by the way.  I took them out to play in the softly falling snow and made them pull each other up and down the soccer field in the sled.  They had a fabulous time pulling and dumping each other, crashing into things and getting tangled in the rope.  Ben reminded me that this just had to be exercise because he was so sweaty and because it is just like Daddy when he pulls them around on his weight sled!  Yes, Matt has a weight sled that he pulls children around on the soccer field, getting plenty of evil eyes from mothers and nannies.  I'm not sure what they take exception to more, the fact that he is putting children on his sled and pulling them quite fast, or the fact that he is wearing spandex from head to toe...

A Sure Way To Get Some Attention

As I sat down to blog this afternoon, I wasn't exactly sure what I would end up writing.  My direction suddenly became clear though the moment I began to write, thanks to my loving husband.  

All afternoon, he has been watching a football game and playing/working on his phone.  The boys and I have been in the same room, but decidedly not doing those things.  I have been available for conversation or activity, but Matt was relaxing and doing what he wanted to do, so I did the same with the boys.

So all afternoon I have been doing nothing that I couldn't do while giving him my attention and he did not require it.  But, I kid you not, as soon as I started to write my blog, he suddenly sat down next to me and began a serious conversation requiring my attention and comments and opinions!  

I think maybe next time I want to talk and he doesn't or am in need of some extra attention, I will just open my computer and pretend to be "busy" and it will immediately draw his focus onto me!  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Little Mirrors

And now it is time again for "reflections on motherhood," by me, the expert on all things parenting.  (For those of you you who don't know me well, that was written with a heavy dose of sarcasm...)

I have discovered that I hold special powers in my home.  One of these special powers is the power to influence every other person's mood/attitude.  It's true.  Only Matt is slightly immune to my powers (he must have a potion for it or something.)  

Lately, I have been finding that when I am happy, positive, and upbeat, everyone is happy, positive, and upbeat!  It really is amazing how just "being happy" myself makes my boys happy.  If a fight breaks out or tempers start to flair, all I have to do is do or say something goofy and step in and be a part of things in a fun way and suddenly, the mood has lightened and everyone is moving on, and, most likely, laughing.  There is rarely a fight or lack of harmony when I am actually actively involved in the game of the moment.

When Jack is fussy and nothing I give him seems to work, I find just wrestling and laughing with him restarts him and defuses the whine.  Telling him to stop whining has never worked.

When Ben and Mitchell have run out of things to do and are driving everyone crazy, I just have to stop being annoyed, switch gears, and play with them and their mood instantly changes!  Telling them to play nicely or "be a little quieter" never works.

Now that I reflect on it, I cannot think of a time when I tried to fix an attitude by adding humor or silliness along with personal involvement and it hasn't worked!

This power is amazing to talk about, but much harder to actually wield sometimes.  Selfishly, I want to be grumpy or annoyed or tired of playing mommy.  I don't actually want to act goofy or silly.  I often prefer to pretend my kids are just annoying and there is nothing I can do about it, so I might as well do something else and just long for bedtime.  

This is where my super-power shows its negative side, unfortunately.  Where I have the power to change negative to positive, I also have the power to turn happy kids into whiney, grumpy, annoying, on-edge kids.  It is on my selfish days that I snap at them for running around or for growling like dragons (apparently, they can actually understand each other in this language, but to me, it is just noise - LOUD noise!)  It is times like this, where I change the mood of the room from playful into stressful, and I will hesitantly say, this happens more than I like to admit.

My boys are a mirror of me in so many ways.  When I am having a good time and am positive, they mirror me.  When I display poor coping skills and am easily annoyed, they mirror me there too.  When I shout when frustrated at them, they mirror me and shout at each other in similar circumstances.  They learn how to react and how to behave mostly from me still.  They learn positivity and harmony, or the lack of, from how I interact with my family.  If I find a troublesome pattern in any one of them, perhaps I need to look in the mirror a bit more myself and see what my reflection is telling me there.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

He Does What He Has To

Mitchell is not one to let something get in his way.  When he encounters an obstacle, one that his older brother would sometimes get stuck at and immediately ask for help, he figures it out, takes care of it, and continues on his way.  He is especially good at solving problems if the solution allows him to get into something or do something questionable.  That kitchen tool has been purposely put out of his reach.  The candy stash has been hidden.  That toy you and Ben fought over is off limits and up way too high for you to possibly get to.

Mitchell always finds a way and often improvises to do so.  I find him using all sorts of things as stools, and he can climb like you wouldn't believe.  A couple days ago, I heard him messing around in the kitchen, and when I checked on him, I discovered him accomplishing his mission of reaching something too far back on the counter by using my juice pitcher as a stool.  This time he was not doing anything naughty, just trying to reach something.  

I do love his ability to think through a problem, find a solution, and then just do it without help.  It really is pretty impressive sometimes! 

Angry People

Yesterday, while walking with my children, minding my own business and enjoying being outside with them, I experienced quite a verbal attack on my motherhood from some crazy nut.  He was crazy enough that I felt he deserved a spot on my blog!

I was on my way home from Starbucks with my two youngest.  Jack was all bundled up in the stroller, singing away and getting quite a kick out of the fact that he could see his breath in white puffs.  Mitchell was riding his bike for the first time all winter (his idea which he was super excited about!) and we had basically empty sidewalks mid-morning.  It was quite cold, but the sun was shining, we were properly dressed, and just having a great time together.  

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I hear a car slow down next to me out on the street and some man hang his body half out the window and tell me, "Hey you!  You need to get that kid closer to you!  Don't you watch your kids?"  Now I don't keep Mitchell on a leash, nor do I even want him to ride his bike so close to me he can touch me (that is just asking for toes to be run over and collisions with the stroller are certain) but he was no more than a few yards in front of me.  We were nowhere near an intersection or driveway or alley and I have no idea where this guy came from all of the sudden!

He didn't stop there either.  When I, as politely as I could manage, replied, "Thanks for your concern, but I have this under control," the man went crazy!  He leaned farther out his window and started cursing me and swearing at me and calling me all sorts of things I would prefer not to hear myself, let alone my kids!  He told me I was a terrible mother and shouldn't be allowed to have kids at all.  He drove along side me, not letting up with his angry tirade until the end of the block!  At one point, I told him to mind his own business and go away, which really set him off and he said, "This IS my business, you ******* ****** ****** *****!  When I run over him in my car, then it will REALLY be my business!"  Was he really threatening to run my child over just to prove his point that I am a lousy mother?

Sometimes, I get annoyed or defensive with people for pointing out something to me about my kids, but underneath, realize there is a tad bit of truth to it - yes, they were being annoying.  Yes, he is being quite loud.  Yes, I let him put his candy back in his mouth after dropping it on the ground.  Yes, he is sword-fighting his brother with a large stick.  Those things are not a very big deal to me most of the time and still no one else's business to comment on, but I can understand their thoughts at least. 

This guy, though, was a nut job and his accusations were completely unfounded.  This time, we were simply enjoying some time together outside, all happy, all smiling, all behaving, all chatting away with each other.  While it was happening and after, I kept looking around me for someone to be there to back me up and at least scowl at the man, if not stand up for me, but there was no one around!  I was left on my own to defend myself and my kids, and for once, I actually gave him a piece of my mind.  It seemed to make him more irate for sure, but man, someone ought to give him a big, fat, punch in the nose!  I'm pretty sure Matt would have walked out into the street and done just that, had he been there.  

Angry people: chill out!  Do not take your aggression out on innocent and happy families enjoying simple pleasures in life!  Go join a gym or get a punching bag and leave the rest of us alone!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Drink For Doctors

Since I am not a big fan of pop, I never buy it for my family.  The only thing that ever gets drunk out of a can in this house is beer, so when Mitchell was given and allowed to drink a can of Dr Pepper of his own at Grandpa and Grandpa's house, he was certain he was getting away with something sneaky and drinking a beverage not intended for children.

He really relished that can.  He took little sips out of it, carrying it all over the house with him, hiding it from Jack's frantic attempts to get his little hands on it, and sighing with pleasure with each sip, saying things like, "This sure is delicious!" and "I sure love this drink!" and "We should get these at home!"  

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and he finally finished his pop.  Not too long later, I heard him ask Matt for another, saying, "Dad, I want another man drink - the one for doctors!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Inventing New Words

For the most part, I think I am fairly honest with my kids' abilities. I think they are all intelligent and each one has areas they are a little ahead in, but I don't pretend any of them are geniuses or prodigies in any area.

That said, I think Ben has a talent for language. He spoke early, he was conversational early, he has been clearly understandable by all at an early age, he has an advanced vocabulary, and he rarely makes grammatical errors. If he does make a mistake, he only needs correction once and the mistake is rarely made a second time.

Mitchell is also intelligent and even speaks well and understandably, but doesn't posses quite the flair Ben does in this area. Because Ben has always spoken so properly, I can't recall any funny or cute mistakes that were a part of his vocabulary for a time.

Mitchell, however, has loads of them! Knowing that Ben might be above average in this area has really given me a patience and even a delight in Mitchell's "mistakes." He calls propellers "impellers." Cement mixers are "cemix makers," and he "sinks" sometimes instead of "thinks." For a time, anything risky, exciting, or dangerous was "whoa, denrious!"  The Land Before Time is "Land For Be Time," and he does things "all bury himself," rather than "all by himself."

These words of his, and countless others of the like, are cute, funny, and make me smile every time, and although I usually do correct him when he uses them, I am always hesitant to because of the humor and happiness they bring me.

Lately, his words are becoming more and more correct and I find myself missing his "mistakes," but there is a new word that he has come up with that is pretty funny and has been invented not out of incorrect pronunciation or mix-up of letters but a combination of two over-used words. His newly invented word is: "binlook!"

When he wants me to pay attention or see something he says, "binlook!" Do you get it? He has said "Ben, look!" so often that it has become one word meaning, "check this out!" and he uses it no matter who he is speaking to!

I like this word quite a bit. I like it because it's existence symbolizes how close my boys are to one another.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Did You Eat That?

Matt's family made a birthday dinner for me with chocolate cupcakes for dessert last night. It was all quite delicious, but no one thought it more delicious than Mitchell, apparently.

Today, Grandma gave him a leftover cupcake for a snack. When I saw Jack wandering around with the cupcake, leaving a trail of chocolate crumbs in his wake, I had to check with Mitchell to find out why he had given it away.

When I asked him why he gave it to Jack, he said, "Oh, I ate the yummy part and gave Jack the rest! I ate that paper part around it!"

I didn't quite believe him at first, but I searched for some time and could not find the wrapper. He actually ate the paper wrapper and gave away the cake! Oh, he makes me chuckle...

Sent from my iPhone


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