Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Threats n' Bribes....

[Click on Charts to read the fine print] My mama always said that raising kids is just "threats n' bribes, threats n' bribes..." which is a pretty simple philosophy considering all the tomes written on raising children. I've known this, but haven't been applying the "bribe" portion very well.

You see, just about every mom I know of is struggling with their kids right now. For me, it was the battle with the 5 yr old over throwing away Sam's stinky diapers. The feelings of guilt that swarmed every confrontation, not to mention his pleas for a play date were just getting to me because I didn't want to add ONE MORE KID to the mess I was dealing with! Then I noticed my sister had a very simple notebook paper "chart" on her fridge. So, I asked her about it.

"Allen (her husband) made that. When she's good, she moves forward a space, and when she's naughty, she moves back. Too far back and she'll end up on her bed..."

"What happens if she gets to the end?"

"Oh, she gets a package of M&M's..."

So SIMPLE! And a cheap bribe too! It eliminates motherly commentary on behavior, "What is WRONG with YOU TODAY!" and just simply, and emotionlessly, inflicts a consequence. BAM, you moved back a space. Wanna go another?
So, I made up a chart for my two kids. Service and being ready on time gets you points, sass & backchat moves you back. I printed it off, got some of those cheapie flat magnets off the fridge and had it all laminated together so it sticks on the fridge. Each kid has their own magnet to move forward and back.

Has it worked?!

YES! We have had two play dates, and the kids are excited now to get a point for any ole thing. My kids very own chart is probably the crappiest of the three, but I've been happy to switch the template and help others with their chidlren to gain some ground in the serenity department.

Cost? One bag of M&M's. Threats n' bribes baby, threats n' bribes...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Organize This!

We have been chasing keys for awhile - you look at them and think, "What is THIS one to?" and in sum, we have lost some that we really needed.

Tonight, my SIL Em and I had a polishing party, where we did keys! The downstairs to my house has many wonders that can be pillaged unchecked, so we have locks on the following doors:

1) The furnace room: you wouldn't THINK a kid would want to play in there, but you'd be wrong!

2) The Harry Potter closet a.k.a The Christmas Closet: This one, of course is the closet under the stairs, and it has all of our Christmas decorations/tree and festive knick knacks.

3) The toy closet. Due to incredibly generous friends, neighbors and family, we have accumulated quiet a few toys, games, and puzzles. I like my kids to have them, but not all at the same time, so this closet - along with Mom's vintage clothing, is also locked.

Throw in a house key, back door key, keys to different cars, old keys, keys to locks not currently in use, and you start to see a lot of silver! So, just like a girls night out, Em and I pulled out her collection of fingernail polish and stickers. We had a blast putting on base coats and colors with teeny decorations to our various keys. The result is that they look fabulous! AND - they are all different colors! AND, we now know which keys are duplicates, which ones go to what closet, and where we're going to store them.

It's a small step in the key department, but a big relief for our overall organization. Now we can finally open the furnace room which has also been lacking organization and get started on that. And I have Em's fabulous nail polish and sticker collection to thank. It's smooth sailing in the door department, and all because we got our heads together and had a painting party. Genius!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thoughts on 38

Having just celebrated my 38th birthday, I've tried to think about what it "means" to be this old. I know that when I was a kid, and I met someone this old, you knew that they were an adult. You assumed that they could/would tell you what to do, and had attained just about all the knowledge they were ever gonna get.

They could drive, and have kids, and make dinner. And though I didn't know the in's and outs, I pretty much knew that an adult could buy ANYTHING they wanted. They could own every Strawberry Shortcake doll, plus the Berry Berry house, AND the scratch n' sniff stickers! Though they never ever EVER seemed to want to. Which was weird to me. I KNEW in my heart that I could spend money better than my folks. I would skip the phone bill and get all the cool toys.

Much wiser, I know how little I know about the world we live in, it's history, and what the future holds. So what has 38 years taught me? Well, here's a sampling:

Driving is scary. I fear for my kids lives every time we get in the car. There are some stupid people out there, and I have seen trucks run into cars, cars slide off the road, and even overturned cars that make my heart skip a beat.

The garage is one of the best cleaning investments. You see it every day, and it will stay cleaner than nearly any other part of the house.

Kids are not handed out on merit. I know many terrific people that struggle, or will never have biological children of their own. They seem to deserve kids more than some thoughtless kids who are in no way prepared to bring children into the world, and don't care.

Learnin to spel helps others understand you easily - and wearing clothes isn't just identity, it shows the world that you give a modicum of a darn about how you present yourself to them. Tuck in underwear - no one wants to see your panties, and beware of those who do want to see them - their intentions are not good. Don't physically damage yourself for fashion. Be gentle with the elderly.

If it is kind, it is always best to think out loud: I love that shirt! Your hair is super cute today! What a cute baby you have! I want to look like you do in those jeans. The most secure and put-together people are surprised that others think well of them without wanting anything in return, "Can I have yo number?".

Giving stuff to Goodwill is 99.9% always a good idea. I can count on one hand the number of things I've given away in 38 years and wish I had back. I can't think of one right now...

Instead of hoping for a boys or girls, it is wiser to hope for good kids, whatever they are!

The best way to secure laziness is to be supremely organized.

Everyone, at some point, will disappoint you - even God (though he may have the best intentions for doing so out of everyone...). Unless it's a toxic relationship, you forgive and forget, then remember that you too have disappointed people. Move on and be better friends tomorrow.

If you think, "Gosh I love you!" then say it as soon as you think it! Make a shortcut from your brain to your mouth. And say why. It is water to a parched soul, and no one is ever told enough that they are loved. Never.

Art is not a luxury. Keep yourself surrounded by the beauty that moves you - even if you can only afford the print.

Try to smile at yourself in the mirror instead of hunt for flaws. Children do, and adults don't.

Wherever possible, buy a balloon for your kid. You never need an excuse to have a balloon...

Help elderly and handicapped people without being asked. A simple, "Can I help you with that, " doesn't cost anything, and brings out the best in humanity.

Birthdays are a big deal. Even if doesn't end in a zero. Thanks to everyone who made mine spectacular!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What We're Having...

Let me start off by saying that this baby was a surprise. I was 10 1/2 weeks along before even considering that perhaps this nagging "flu" the kids had given me, might be something more. As soon as we confirmed it, I threw up. Ooooohhhh, the excitement.

Though we are backing into this, it is with great anticipation that we welcome #4. I was fairly certain that I knew the sex too. A girl. I was right with my first, Abigail. Then Benjamin, I predicted with my inner pregnancy eye, had to be a girl as well. As did Sam. And after my OB confirmed my suspicions a few months ago, saying that he was 60% sure that THIS one was a girl, it all seemed to fall into place.

Why? Because the Good Lord knows that I DO girls. I do hair, I do ruffles, I do ribbons & tutus. I do clothing colors that match skin tone, and I also did summer camp with 10 JAP's ten-year olds rather successfully.

Abigail's younger girl cousins have been enjoying a plethora of Daisy Kingdom dresses with sparkles, tulle skirts, bloomers and full slips. I also have ample advice on getting that perfect 'do. (Put 'em on the edge of the sink with their feet IN the sink so the fear of falling makes them not squirm as much when you do their hair...). I am courted by Gymboree, Wooden Soldier, Pottery Barn Kids, and Chasing Fireflies. So, the two boys were a surprise - but we worked it all in.

You see, in my 17-yr-old Life's Plan, I figured that it would play out this way; marry the awesome guy (check!), then have 4 kids in this order: girl, girl, boy, & girl. Putting the boy between two girls would ensure that he was raised to put the seat down and flush, or face their communal wrath. So, the girl, boy, boy was... not as planned, but okay. This last one was sure to finish out the set. Even Stevens. Two of Each. Matthew thought so as well. It's time for a girl... TLC, Tatiana Lisbon Crane. :D
So, ultrasound day, the sunny sonographer asked if we wanted to know what we're having. Heck yes! Show us that cute face! So, she goes immediately to the area and announces: it's a boy! (Imagine here a really long pause that can only be described as shock...) My three sons. You could have knocked me off the table with a feather - I nearly fell without the feather.

What the HECK! My last child will be a fashion dead end of bugs, dinosaurs, jobs and automobiles? The balance has shifted, irrevocably, to more males than females?! This is WACK. Matthew has 5 sisters and 1 brother! I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers. I did the math! The odds were in my favor!

I don't understand the Eternal Meaning of all this, but this is for certain; there's gonna be a lot of scouting in my future. Camp-outs and Pine Wood Derbies. The triumvirate of S's: Spit, Sports, & Scatological humor. All three boys will be within 5 years of each other. Based on the first boy, I believe that they will, collectively, destroy the house... all together; all at once. I'm cringing already. But, if they even THINK of rabbit hunting, i.e. dating a young, stupid airhead, they will go into an immediate course of Women's Studies from their mama.

But, for awhile, this baby will be mine. He will get loves and cuddles. I will swing him around, laugh with him, and tickle his tummy. He'll wear hats with bear ears, matching outfits, and have to put up with mom kissing him a lot. He'll be my baby, and our last. Welcome Lil' Baby Boy, to our nutty family. Hang on tight, and brace yourself, you're gonna fit right in kiddo - simply because you have no choice. :D