Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let Me Inspire You With My Failures and Idiocy

After reviewing some of my blog posts, I realize that some of them sound pretty sanctimonious.  It can seem like I have everything under control.  Oh dear readers, you should know the truth. 

Sometimes I forget that most of you don't know me in real life.  You aren't privy to all my screw ups.  I think I try to erase most of them from my mind, unless they make for a particularly good story on my monthly Mom's Night Out. 

The problem with sharing only the things I am confident about or I do well is that this little blog baby of mine could turn into so many other Mommy Blogs - filled with an unrealistic view of how everyone else's life is running smoothly.  It involves a fake world where kitchen floors always sparkle, kids never talk back, and mothers are supermodels who never lose their temper.  Sharing only the Hallmark moments and parental triumphs is not helpful.

One of the main reasons I started this blog is to encourage other families out there.  Presenting a Martha Stewart/Supernanny lovechild facade is not going to make people feel better about their lives - it will just leave people feeling either insecure or annoyed.  Neither is the response I ever intended.

Every parent has what I call "Barely Adequate Parenting" days.  I've had a gazillion.

So, for your reading pleasure, I am sharing a list (in no particular order of mortification) of many of my bloopers, bad habits and inadequacies.  Welcome to my real life:

Sometimes you've just got to wear a mullet.  Yes.  Unfortunately that is me.

 *  My oldest child has very few good baby pictures because we didn't have a digital camera then and I am apparently a horrible photographer.

*  I finally got around to ironing last week.  The overflowing ironing basket was like an archeological dig with long sleeved shirts on top and a mound of Hawaiian shirts in a crumpled heap at the bottom.  How long has it been since Hawaiian shirt weather?  The sheer number of tropical print shirts that we have per capita in our family is reason enough for embarrassment.

*  I have passed gas and blamed it on one of my children. 
*  I have called Santa to tattle on my kids' bad behavior.  I relayed Santa's disappointment to a crying child.

*  One of my children used to say he felt like throwing up whenever I had a chore for him.  Once when I told him he needed to put his school things away he used this excuse.  I told him, "Go ahead and put your stuff away and then throw up."  Poor kid actually put his stuff away and then threw up.  How was I to know that he really meant it that time?

*  You know those bars that hang down in parking ramps showing how tall your vehicle can be to drive in?  Yeah.  Forgot about the cargo topper on the truck and totally ripped the thing to pieces.  Then got stuck in the parking ramp.
*  I have forgotten about picture day at school.  More than one year.

*  I have closed the windows in my house before yelling at my kids.  No, I don't advocate yelling.  No, it is not the most effective parenting method.  Yes, I have lost it with the kids, requiring the closing of windows.

*  Of course I dig into their Halloween candy.  I don't know if they have ever eaten their own hard-earned Milk Duds.

*  That garage door that I thought was all the way up?  Well I guess it wasn't.  Fortunately the garage door only scraped the truck high enough to take out or windshield washer fluid dispenser thing for the back window.

*  When I am sick, I have let my children watch PBS Kids and eat snacks all day.

*  I only dust when company is coming over.  Even then its iffy.

*  In a moment of before-bedtime desperation, I took away my child's "Tooth brushing privileges" that night.  It was late and I couldn't think of anything else I had the energy to enforce.  I was then lectured by a young child about the importance of good oral hygiene.  I stood my ground.

*  I have accidentally given my children some really horrific haircuts, but not told them how bad it looks so they are blissfully unaware of how Mommy messed up their heads. 

*  "I'm not exactly sure where that large, messy art project is."  But I am guessing it is somewhere in the garbage.

*  I don't teach my children to tell time.  I wait (and dread) the time they learn it in school.  Before they can tell time, bedtime and wake-up time is whenever I tell them it is.  If it happens to be 30 minutes earlier on a bad day they don't argue.  If I get them up an hour later on the weekends, they don't know.

*  I never share good chocolate with my kids.

*  When doctors have discussed discharging me from the hospital after my babies are born, I always beg for that one extra optional day that insurance covers because facing a houseful of kids after a C-section seems more daunting than having my vital signs checked every 10 minutes at night.

*  I pay my children prison wages to do things like rake the yard, shovel the steps and weed the garden.

*  I have asked my young children to perform the "sniff test" to see if their baby brother or sister needs a clean diaper.  Sometimes I have asked them to double check.  When they are young enough they are very enthusiastic sniffers.  This makes me giggle.  Shame on me.

*  We haven't had a professional family portrait taken since Riley was a baby.

*  When picking out a family picture for the Christmas letter, it is impossible for everyone in the family to be looking good.  So I always choose the one where nobody has their finger up their nose or down their pants, and I look the good.

*  When cleaning before guests come, inevitably I run out of time and shove a bag or two of miscellaneous stuff in my bedroom. 

*  I don't usually take off my makeup at night.

 *  My kids think the Neil Diamond song "Sweet Caroline" is actually "Sweet Pal O' Mine".  They sound so cute I haven't corrected them. Some day they are going to figure it out and be really upset with me for not correcting them after all these years.

*  I don't actually listen to my kids when they go into great detail about some stupid cartoon or video game that I don't give two hoots about.

*  I have justified skipping bath night for the kids by saying "Pioneers like Laura Ingalls Wilder only had baths once a week and they lived on a farm."  Like the fact that they didn't have running water and bathed accordingly somehow translates to my life now.

*  I have forgotten a child in time out.

*  I actually discouraged a child who wanted to sit on the potty from potty training because I was big pregnant and assumed they would regress when the baby came out anyway.  But, when a kid is ready, they are ready and he basically potty trained himself with (I'm embarrassed to admit) minimal encouragement. 

*  Skip pages in the bedtime story?  Guilty.

*  I don't actually mind that my kids have trampled to death most of the grass in our yard because that means I rarely have to mow.

*  I anticipate and countdown to my half birthday.  I celebrate my half birthday with lots of singing from the kids.  I often forget their half-birthdays.  I have told them it is their responsibility to remember their own half birthdays.

*   Since about our fifth kid, we seem to be at least five minutes late for everything.

*  When my child informed me that the Tooth Fairy forgot to visit, I sneaked downstairs and was quickly able to procure a note from the Tooth Fairy explaining that all the screaming from the tooth pulling the previous night hurt her tiny ears so she had to leave the money on the kitchen table.

*  I kill every plant within five feet of me.

*  I have boycotted Candyland since my second child was young.

*  I am too irresponsible to be part of this no land line revolution.  My not-smart flip phone is usually lost, turned off, stuck in a random purse somewhere or has a dead battery.  I am surprised all of my friends haven't abandoned me with how many phone calls I have left un-returned.   I miss rotary phones.

*  With the amount of library fines I have paid over the years, I think they should name a wing after me.

*  When the toothbrushes were replaced, I clearly should have confirmed whose was whose.  I brushed Child A's teeth with Child B's toothbrush for a week.

Now don't you feel better about yourself?

Rememeber, nobody's life is as perfect as they portray on Facebook and their blogs.  Cut yourself some slack.  You are doing the best you can.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


 27 Times.

That is how many times I put Levi back in his bed.

It has been a while since I have had such a persistent two year old.  I will not call him stubborn.  Or obstinate.  Or defiant.  Or headstrong.  Persistent has a much nicer ring to it.

Our family has a rule that young children must stay in their beds until parents come to get them in the morning.  I cannot sleep well imagining my children wandering the house foraging for who-knows-what.  Getting into all kinds of mischief while I am unaware of the impending doom about to take place from unsupervised toddlers.

For example, one of my children, who was about four years old at the time, decided to sneak out of his room.  He grabbed a full container of baby powder from the bathroom and proceeded to squeeze that baby powder container, sending plumes of powder all over his room.  And all over the hallway.  And the living room.  And the kitchen.  And the cat.  Oh, that poor, poor cat.  By the time I woke up, the entire container of powder was empty.

It took hours to vacuum that white snowstorm of baby powder.

So, staying in bed till a parent gets you up is a pretty firm rule in our house.

But sweet Levi decided that the time has come for him to take charge of his own destiny and get out of bed whenever the fancy strikes.

27 times in a row.

Each time he came out, I would put him back in his bed.  Then I would leave and close the door.  I'd wait a good minute before I heard him shout "No!  No!  No!" and get out of bed again.  Then I'd put him back in.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

I tell you this story not because I have incredible counting skills to share.  Nor because I want all of you to insist on the same bedtime behavior that our family has.

But instead, I want to show you all that persistence is a good thing.  I mean my persistence, not the imp getting out of bed when he isn't suppose to.  Because what happened after the 27th time?  He stayed in bed.

And he stayed in bed the next night.  And the night after that.

When I hear parents say that they would like their children to do something, but they "just won't" I get a little frustrated.    If a rule is important enough to make (and not all are), it is important enough to enforce every time.  Do you insist that they buckle up in their car seat, or booster, or regular seat belt? (And I sure hope you do)  Why should your other rules be optional?

I also don't buy the argument that one child is exceptionally strong willed, so it won't work.   It might take more time and effort on the part of the parent, but it will work.  My children have a wide range of temperaments.  A couple have been accurately defined as "spirited".  But they can learn live life within a set of boundaries.  (This is assuming that the child has the cognitive abilities to understand what is asked of him or her and does not have a diagnosis that would prevent them from being able to follow rules.)

And this can be done without belittling children or hitting them.  What it takes is a willingness on the part of the parent to follow through every. single. time.  

I am not insinuating that children will never break rules or test boundaries.  I sure am one of these nights Levi will try coming out of his bed again.  But I'm also guessing that it won't take him 27 times to test that rule.  He knows I won't budge.

There is another good thing about persistence - your child's this time.  When it is channeled appropriately, it is a awesome gift.  Persistent people are the ones who can persevere through difficult situations and setbacks.   It is our job to teach our children how to apply this amazing characteristic.  And getting out of bed and powdering the kitty is not the way to do it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Here Kitty Kitty

Unfortunately, our 15 year old cat Floyd Bigglesworth is now buried in our backyard, right next to our other cats Xena the Warrior Cat and Yoda Bob.  (Shhh. I think there might be an ordinance against this in my city).

Much crying and sadness ensued.   And life progressed with just one cat.

But the kids and I felt like we really are a two cat kind of family.  Ben did not agree.  After much begging, whining, and pleading, enlightened discussions, we decided to get another cat.   We found the perfect kitty for us - a nearly 5 month old cat from the local Humane Society.

Meet the newest member of the family.  Isn't he adorable?

Hello sweet kitty

Whenever a person or pet joins a family, a name must be selected.  While we give the children absolutely no control over naming a sibling (for reasons that will become very apparent soon), we do let them provide suggestions for pets.

Here is a list of names suggested for our darling new kitty:

Coochie Woochie Bear
Mr. Noodle
Kitty Num Nums
Secret Agent Stinky Pants
Hello Kitty
Mr. Popaulie
Mr. Paulie
Chipmunk Cheeks
Josephine Jellybean (remember, its a boy cat)
Mr. Panda
Justin Beiber
Justin Flea-fur
Kai, Zane, Jay, Cole, Sensei Wu (going for a Ninjago theme)
Santa Claws
Kristin (Shockingly not suggested by me)
Mr. Mama (also not suggested by me)
Mr. Peabody
Cow Pie
Be Dude
Milky Way
Yellow Puppy (again, reminder that this is a cat.  A black and white cat)
Mr. Meowgi
Mr. Meowser
Mr. Magoo
Chuck Norris
Chuck Tucker
Chuck Finley (my personal favorite)
Darth Maul
Darth Vader
Fuzzy Wuzzy
Adrian Peterson (this Packer fan nixes this idea)
Brett Favre (this Packer fan again nixes it.  Why couldn't they have suggested Rogers instead?)
Hello Kitty
Mr. Alligator
Senor el Tigre

After much deliberation, we decided to compromise on the name (like we did with our other cat, Miss Ninja Snugglebug).  The final decision was:

Mr. Batman Popaulie

Welcome to the craziness, little kitty.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Feeding a Family of 8 1/2 People

People often ask me how I feed a large family on a relatively small budget.  Food is expensive.  There is no way around it.  When you go through 7 or 8 gallons of milk a week, its going to add up.  But there are definitely ways to cut the costs.

I've taken pictures of a month worth of meals I prepared.  These aren't special or fancy for this post.  This is just a typical representation of the types of meals I make - most of them are very inexpensive.  I serve dessert with most meals, but didn't take pictures of them.  Often they are homemade cakes, cookies, bars, pudding, cobblers etc. Sometimes I serve ice cream or Popsicle.  Sometimes it is just a couple of marshmallows, but we all tend to like something sweet after a meal.

Full disclosure - These were from about a month ago before my morning sickness really took its toll.  And, we had several classroom dinners during this time, so those potluck meals aren't included.  I also did not include meals where we ate at friends' homes.  These are just the meals that we prepared at home.

I'd love to hear about or see what your family typically eats!

Roasted beets, cooked beet greens, corn on the cob, black beans with diced tomatoes and peppers and a dollop of sour cream.

Buffalo wing turkey melts, cole slaw, homemade pickles.

Taco salad.  (I like my chips separate from the actual salad)

Grilled chicken and broccoli

Spaghetti squash topped with a mixture of pork sausage, beans, and peppers with feta cheese on top.

Farmer's Market tomatoes and fresh beans.  Leftover diced bbq chicken over Basmati rice.

Rice and Cheese served with applesauce.  This was a childhood favorite.  You boil some tomato juice.  Slice in some hot dogs.  Add rice and boil till rice is cooked.  Then add chunks of cheese, covering the pot till the cheese chunks melt.  This is always served with applesauce.

Homemade pizza made with homemade dough and homemade sauce.  We like turkey pepperoni best.

Spaghetti with a tomato sauce.  We diced yellow squash into the sauce. 

Cold pasta salad.  Great make-ahead meals for a busy day.

Homemade meatballs, roasted red potatoes, garlic bread, peas.

Splurged and ordered pizza for my birthday. 

Beans with sauteed zucchini, tomatoes and onions

lentils with tomatoes and carrots served over Basmati rice.  Corn

Cold tuna noodle casserole

Quinoa with black beans, tomatoes and corn.  Melted mozzarella on top.  

Grilled caprese sandwiches.  Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.  Yum!

Corn on the cob, cheeseburger, and watermelon

Turkey, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, peas.

Grits, fried eggs and tomatoes.

Tuna melts on leftover hamburger buns, watermelon.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cucumber slices.

Kielbasa, cabbage and sour kraut hotdish.  Served with homemade biscuits.  This actually tasted much better than it looks here. 

Frozen pizza.  See how adding the banana gives the appearance of a well-balanced meal?

Salad.  Crock pot chicken and potato recipe.

Chili and bread.  I'm from Wisconsin, so of course the chili has noodles.

Pasta with a vegetable/tomato sauce topped with feta cheese.  Served with bread.

Disappointing new recipe.  Pineapple and kielbasa - bad combo.  Served with peas.

Pork chop, home fries, salad.

Pasta salad.

Looks like a Manwich, doesn't it?  It is actually a "Beanwich"  Made like a sloppy joe only with beans instead of meat.  Served with sweet potatoes and salad.

Here are some of my big tips on feeding a family inexpensively.

1.  Don't go out to eat.  Seriously, our family goes out to eat only a few times a year.  It is a big treat.  I go out once a month with some mom friends, and Ben might go out for lunch once a month, but otherwise we rarely go out to eat.  For a "date" I'll occasionally take one child out for lunch (usually when we have a coupon for the child to eat free).  And we splurge on getting ice cream now and again.  Otherwise, breakfast, lunch and supper are all prepared at home.  Ben and the kids all take lunches to school.  We save HUGE money by preparing our own food.

2.  Buy what's in season.  Self explanatory.  Whatever is in season is likely to be inexpensive and taste great.

3.  Cut down on meat.  Many of our meals are meatless.  The ones with meat still often have bits of meat diced up rather than a huge slab of meat.  There are other healthier, cheaper ways to get enough protein.

4.  Know where to shop.  Most of my shopping is done at Cub Foods for convenience.  But we also like going to the Asian food store for vegetables, rice, and other misc. items.  We shop at Mike's Discount Foods, the farmer's market, and Aldi's. 

5.  Plan your menus around what is on sale.  Don't buy beef if chicken is $1 a pound.  Don't buy oranges when apples are cheaper. 

6.  Buy in bulk.  This might not work for every family, but we earned our large family credentials when we bought our first 20# bag of rice.

7.  What you see is what you get.  I refuse to make separate meals for picky eaters.  I hear many parents say they can't make the kind of food that I make because their family won't like it.  I don't believe that.  If they are hungry, they will eat.  I make the food.  They can choose to eat it or not.  And with rare exception, all my kids eat all the different kinds of food I make.    

8.  Dried beans are your best cheap food friend.  I cook a couple of bags in my crock pot and then freeze them in meal size portions.  They thaw in a jiffy, have no sodium (unlike the canned) and are way cheaper than canned beans.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stupid Insurance

Are you kidding me?  Stupid insurance decides that the medicine that has been keeping me from puking 7 or 8 times a day is not a necessity.  Stupid insurance thought I will be fine with 15 pills total for the next 2 months.   My doctor prescribed 3x daily.

I went through a bunch of paperwork with my doctor, having her sign some form that says, it actually is really, really important. Clearly her prescription meant that only maybe I should have it?

After reviewing the paperwork, insurance has decided that I am entitled to 12 pills every 15 days.  The only way they will pony up the money to cover the medicine as prescribed is if I am hospitalized with dehydration.  Apparently preventing dehydration is lower on the priority list.  

This leaves me paying out of pocket over $5 a pill (generic), even though we already maxed out insurance on a couple of surgeries for the kids this year.

I want to throw up in a manila envelope, send it to the insurance, and tell them THAT is why I NEED the pills.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Goodbye Fat Pants

Time to pack away the fat clothes and dig out the maternity clothes.  Yes, I am only 11 weeks along.  But doggone it, after popping out four kids previously (3 of them by C-section), my stomach started pouching out as soon as I peed on the stick confirming this pregnancy.

No, it doesn't help that my favorite pregnancy book tells me that I "Might be thinking about looking at pregnancy clothes, but shouldn't need them yet."  Stupid book.  Written by a man. 

Before I actually needed to make the switch to elastic waist pants (which are so comfy) I headed out to buy a few new items.  Remember folks, most of my maternity wardrobe was purchased 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest.  Think back to what you were wearing 12 years ago.  Care to make that your exclusive wardrobe again? 

Fortunately, my go-to cold weather look is a short sleeve shirt and cardigan.  Since I own enough cardigans to warrant my husband nicknaming me "Mrs. Rogers" after the beloved TV icon of our childhood, all I really needed were a few short sleeve shirts to go underneath them.  And I should pick up at least one more pair of pants - no matter how great the elastic is to start, asking maternity pants to make a fifth tour of duty is just too much.

So several weeks ago I went to the mall to get a few clearance summer shirts - basic pieces that will layer easily under my beloved button down sweaters.  Unfortunately, at Motherhood (carrier of overpriced but cute-ish maternity clothes) the sales lady always asks your due date when you check out.  They enter it into some privacy intruding database that results in you getting on mailing lists to get free samples and coupons for baby stuff. 

I had forgotten about them asking.  And I was so embarrassed as the sales lady -with her very flat stomach - was staring at my too-soon-to-be-showing belly.  

Confession is good for the soul, so I'll admit it.  I lied.  I said I was do almost 2 months before I actually am. 

Shame on me. 

If I wasn't feeling nauseous, I'd be indulging in a guilt-induced bowl of ice cream right about now.

No, my belly isn't this big...yet.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lucky #7

I changed my mind.

I know I said I was done with pregnancies.  I really meant it at the time.  But I changed my mind.  And now, we're expecting another little one in May.

And I am thrilled.  At least when I am not puking, getting ready to puke, or trying to avoid puking.  Fortunately, thanks the the genius pharmaceutical industry, I have a good few hours every day where the urge to vomit is lessened.  (Thanks generic Zofran).

Many of you readers have children.  You have experienced the joy of telling people about an expected blessing and having people squeal with delight and hug you.  They offered hearty congratulations and you felt surrounded by love.

Things can be different when you tell people you are expecting your seventh child.

We had our share of squealers and huggers. My heart is filled with joy over the excitement some people have shown to us.

But once you get past three or four kids, you can also expect some responses like these.

1.  Another one?
2.  Really?  Why?
3.  I would never want that many.
4.  Oh.  (followed by a full body shudder)
5.  Was it an accident?
6.  Don't you already have enough kids?
7.  And the always uncomfortable - Don't you know what causes that?

Yes, people we love and care about have had these responses.  I don't believe they  meant to be rude or unkind, but they just didn't quite know what to say.   Let me share the proper response instead.

"Wow!  Congratulations!"

That's it.  Not too hard to remember.  Although I have gotten a couple of funny, but still acceptable responses:

1.  Hooray!  Now you can get that big van you've been wanting.  (hopefully we'll find a good used one)
2.  Oh, now we're going to have to have another kid to pass you up.  (from a father of 7 kids)

Because while most people don't choose to have quite as many kids as us, you can still remember that each child is a blessing to the family.  My seventh child is as eagerly awaited, prayed over, and loved as my first was.

Here's to several more months of nausea, bloating, heartburn, aches, pains, and exhaustion - leading up to another miracle from God.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Bee in my Bonnet (or Under My Skirt)

So I had a bee - actually a hornet - trapped in the billowy fabric of my skirt.  It wasn't fun.

Yesterday I had all of the kids with me to watch Bridget's soccer game.  We were sitting on the bleachers on a beautiful day.  The sun was shining, the breeze was gently blowing, and I was surrounded by well behaved fans watching a soccer game. It was one of those days that everything seems perfect.  Except it wasn't because some of my kids are whiners.

There are one or two in particular that drive me bonkers with the whining trend they have committed themselves to.

They begged for a snack, ("No"), wanted to play at the playground instead of watching their sister ("No"), and tried to unsuccessfully human-pyramid themselves precipitously close to the out of bounds line ("No) With no other outlet for their whining tendencies, they focused on the bees.

There were just a couple of bees and hornets flying around and my kids started whining about how they wanted to go where there weren't any (like the playground).  I kept repeating that if they would just sit still, they won't get stung.  Isn't that suppose to be accurate?

Apparently the hornet stuck in my skirt didn't get the message.  I felt a weird little movement first by the waistband of my skirt.  (Picture a loose skirt like Ma Ingalls might have chosen if she went to Target today).  Turns out that funny little tickle was the rapid fluttering of hornet wings against my bare back.

I freaked out a little when I realized what it was.

First course of action:  crossing my legs for obvious sting prevention reasons.  Then I tried to lift up strategic sections of fabric while keeping the two kids sitting on my lap still.

"Ouch!"  That little sucker stung me on my knee.

He kept fluttering around.  Weren't they suppose to die once they stuck someone?  I felt a slight pinched feeling by my hand.  I couldn't tell if it was trying to sting me through the fabric or if there was one of his hornet buddies that came in for a  dramatic rescue operation.

I got the kids off and tried to look casual while billowing out my skirt and shimmying around a little to get it out.  Finally it skedaddled from the folds of fabric, leaving me with a swollen, painful knee.

Maybe it wasn't quite this big. 

But here's the worst part.  I couldn't get the appropriate sympathy necessary because I had just told the kids that they would be practically immune to bees if they just sat still.  If I told them I just got stung, they would probably run around like lunatics, screaming and waving their hands all haphazardly. 

Next time, though, I think I'll just let them scatter and try to outrun the hornets.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sharing or "But I want that!!"

Child A has a toy.  Child B wants toy.  Much crying, whining, or fighting ensues.

How does a parent handle this situation?  Is this just a fact of life?  Can even young children learn how to share?

In these types of situations, kids need to know the right "script" through modeling.  I'm not going to spend my life refereeing every squabble when they are perfectly capable of saying what needs to be said.  I am not always going to be there with their friends, either.  They need to learn appropriate ways of settling disagreements.  Or they will be that selfish, unpleasant kid everyone remembers from their childhood - you know the one.

In our house, everyone has a handful of "special" toys that nobody else can touch without permission.  These are in the kids' bedrooms.  For the kids who share a bedroom, they each have special places in their bedrooms for their off-limits toys. 

All other toys are fair game.  If you aren't actively using it, you can't claim it.  So in this case, Child A has dibs.  Even if Child B is younger.  Even if Child B was playing with it 5 minutes ago.  Even if Child B loves that toy more than Child A does.  Even if you are tired and just want the squabbling to stop.

What to do?

The child who wants the toy can be taught to say, "When you're done can I have a turn?"  Yes, even toddlers can do this.  With practice, this will become automatic and not forced by Mom.

This phrase gives power to the child who has the toy.  A lot of time that is all they want anyway.  So they say, "Yes, when I'm done."  Then whenever they are done, they hand it to the waiting child.  The waiting child is placated because they know their turn is coming.  Their feelings have been heard and acknowledged. 

No, it doesn't always work out this smoothly.

Lets face it.  Kid's attention spans aren't that great.  One child will get sick of the toy soon enough (when there isn't a power struggle taking place) or the waiting child will get bored enough waiting so that they will find something else to do. 

I have heard the suggestion of getting multiples for each child to make things "fair".  Not for our house.  I wouldn't want (nor could I afford) 6 of everything in my house!

My kids know that sometimes one child gets something.  Sometimes another child gets something.  Sometimes one kid goes on a "date" with mom.  Next time it is another child's turn.  We are teaching our children to be gracious by saying "I'm happy for you" when somebody gets something they want.  Every time a child is gracious like that, we praise them to the moon, reinforcing good manners.

Nobody is entitled to everything somebody else has.  This is a fact of life you might as well teach them when they are young.

Does the waiting for a toy or not having your own toy cause frustration sometimes?  OF COURSE!  However this teaches children patience, conscientiousness, and the knowledge that they will not die if they don't get what they want whenever they want it.  It teaches the idea of delayed gratification which is a life skill that is so necessary, but seen too infrequently.

Sometimes the children still complain that "Its not fair".

Then I tell them, "This is your chance to overcome adversity.  You're welcome."  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Frusterated and Bothered

I don't normally use this blog to rant (well maybe a little).  But I have been so frustrated by a memoir book I recently read that I can't hold it in anymore. 

I feel a little bad posting about this because I don't want it to be an attack on the author.  He seems like a very wonderful person, somebody I would choose to be friends.

The book is called Resurrection Year and here's the book's premise - how to deal with the disappointment of when God says "No".  The idea behind the book was that there are many books available that talk about how God answers prayers and can provide miracles.  (Yeah, God!)  But there aren't as many books about what happens when you pray, and pray, and pray and don't get what your heart desperately desires. 

I found this idea extremely intriguing and eagerly read the book.  It chronicled the author and his wife's 10 year struggle with infertility.  This couple's heart's desire was to become parents.  My heart broke for them throughout the book when I read about their struggles.

After several infertility treatments, the couple decided to adopt, while they mourned the loss of the child they weren't going to conceive.

Now I am a big advocate of adoption, and would encourage people to look into it, but my heart still aches for the people who come to adoption after the loss of the dream of a biological child.  And I would never offhandedly say that a couple could "Just adopt" like it is no big deal in the face of infertility.

This couple (from Australia) decides to wait for an infant in the country's domestic program.  Unfortunately, after two or three years they were never selected by a birth mother.  They proceed with more medical attempts to overcome infertility and eventually decide that God has plans other than parenthood for them.  And although they continue to be disappointed with it, they are trying to look on the bright side of what this means for opportunities in their lives.  They figure out how to move on after their dreams are shattered.

The author goes on about how they are trying to accept God's plan for their lives.  How they still struggle with the ramifications of life without children.   How the yearning for parenthood didn't leave, but they have basically resigned themselves to life without children, and looked for fresh start in life.

If this was the whole story, I'd think "Okay.  I can see you trying to find out how God wants to use your life. What a sad, but brave story to share."

But here's the part that I struggled with.  God didn't say there wasn't a way for them to be parents.  In one sentence, they summarily dismissed the idea of international adoption.  In one sentence, they said that many children have special needs or have trouble attaching.  So they ruled out the possibility of international adoption.

I realize not everyone qualifies for international adoption.  Not everyone can afford it.  But that was not the case with this couple.  They dismissed the idea of a child from another country because of the chance there could be additional challenges.  God did not say "No."  They just didn't want to deal with the unknown.

What they failed to see was this child that their hearts have been longing for could be waiting for them right now!  Perhaps God said "No" to a biological child or a healthy domestic infant because He wanted to bless them with a child like this:

Or this:

Or one of dozens of loved and loving internationally adopted children I have met.

No, I am not saying that everyone must have children, nor am I saying that everyone must adopt children internationally or with special  needs.  But to dismiss the idea of loving a beautiful child, fearfully and wonderfully made by God because there might be extra challenges and then say that God didn't answer your prayer to be parents really upsets me.  This does a disservice to the thousands of children currently available for adoption around the world, waiting desperately for a mom, a dad to choose to love them. 

Perhaps God was hoping to bless both a child yearning for parents and parents yearning for a child. 

There are currently over 2,000 children with papers ready and cleared for international adoption in China alone.  Dozens upon dozens more are made available every month.  Wonderful, amazing children just hoping somebody will see their picture and choose to love them.  Really, is not a single one of these children up to some artificial standard?  And lets face it, there's no guarantee of "perfection" with biological children either. 

And that's just China.  There are thousands upon thousands of children waiting for parents in other countries, too.

So to the author of this book, my sincere sympathies go out to you in your struggles to start a family.  Not having known the struggles of infertility, I can only imagine the pain it caused you.  The death of the dreams you built must be excruciatingly painful.  And if you are content with the path you are on now, I am extraordinarily happy for you.  You deserve joy.

But if you are still yearning for parenthood, I am not convinced God has denied you that joy. 

Maybe God didn't say "No" to you.  Maybe you said "No" to God.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

101 List

I bought all my kid's back to school supplies and I'm starting to get that familiar need to organize and structure my time better.  Whenever the weather starts to cool down a bit (and yes, that can happen in August in Minnesota) I start thinking about the fresh start we all got at the beginning of the new school year and I dream big dreams.  

Yes, most of those dreams die within a week or so, but some stick longer.  It functions like a pre-New-Year's-Resolution time.  My birthday at the end of August, so I feel doubly inclined to better myself.  Or at least start to better myself.  Or at least think about starting to better myself.

I also like making to-do lists.  I like crossing things off said lists.  Sometimes I add something that I have already finished just for the satisfaction of crossing it off.  On days that are particularly tough, I make sure to add things like "Brush teeth" and "Eat Lunch" so that I can feel like I have accomplished at least a couple of things.

So, in going along with fresh beginnings and lists, I have decided to start my own Day Zero project.  For those of you not familiar - this is a project where you get to make a list of 101 things you want to accomplish in the next 1001 days. (about 2.75 years). 

Publishing it online will give me some accountability and give you all some fodder to taunt, tease, or encourage as you see fit.  Some of these should be pretty easy and give me some momentum.  Others are tougher.  All are feasible to finish (in theory) in the time frame.  

I've got to admit, putting this list out is like letting people read my diary, so a couple of them are going to have to stay private.

Items that are black are ones I have not done yet.  Items in blue are in progress.  Items in red are finished.  For the purposes of this list, "one month" is any 30 consecutive days, not necessarily a calendar month.  Also a week is 7 consecutive days.  I will be updating this post regularly.

Although I just posted this, I officially started on July 30th.  

I better get busy, I've only got till April 26, 2016.
1.  Read 100 new books. (4/100)

2.  Submit a short story.

3.  Finish my novel and submit to an agent.

4.   Ride a roller coaster with my kids.

5.  Private.

6.  Go on a week long family road trip.


8.  Go on a silent retreat.

9.  Fast for 40 hours again.

10.  Give an anonymous gift.

11.  Answer the "50 Questions that Will Free Your Mind"

12.  Read 10 classic books that I haven't read yet.

13.  Shoot a gun.

14.  Remember how to solve the Rubiks Cube

15.  Leave a note inside a book for someone else to find.

16.  Leave a ginormous tip.

17.  Don't complain or say anything negative for a week.
18.  Take a free online college class.

19.  Take one picture every day for a year. (7/365)

20.  Don't watch TV for a week.

21.  Don't use the Internet for a week.

22.  Write a letter to myself to be opened when the 1001 days are over.

23.  Get a professional family portrait done.

24.  Play chess with my dad.

25.  30 minutes of exercise for 30 straight days - no excuses.

26.  Actually do 10 Pintrest crafts and/or recipes instead of just pinning.

27.  Blog every day for a month.

28.  Get a massage.

29.  Write 50 handwritten letters/cards. (1/50)

30.  Make a household inventory for insurance.

31.  Put all old photos in photo albums.


33.  Scan special photos.  Give electronic copies of photos to parents for safekeeping.

34.  Go on a weekend trip with Ben and no kids.

35.  Donate 100 books from our bookshelf.

36.  Make 10 Kiva loans. (1/10)

37.  Know 50 words in sign language.  (25/50)

38.  Make a souffle

39.  Don't buy anything for a week (including food, gas, etc.)

40.  Go to a play with my mom.

41.  Declutter my house - closets, garage, basement, and the rest.

42.  Hike up Barn Bluff in Red Wing again.

43.  Go antique shopping with my friends.

44.  Clean out my email inbox.

45.  Make a list of 100 happy memories

46.  Go to 5 new museums.

47.  Make a project out of mosaic tiles.

48.  Respond to children and husband in a calm manner for 1 week.  (Have started this many times already)

49.  Go to an outdoor concert.

50.  Clean out file cabinet.

51.  Take a weekend trip to Green Bay

52.  Win NaNoWriMo again.

53.  Travel out of the country.

54.  Take a community ed class.

55.  Take out hallway/stairs carpeting.

56.  Wake up at 6AM every morning for 30 days.

57.  Start an all-about-me scrapbook.

58.  Watch Citizen Kane to see what the fuss is about.

59.  Reupholster dining room and kitchen chairs.

60.  Figure out how to apply liquid eyeliner without looking like an idiot.

61.  Paint my china hutch

62.  Make video interviews of individuals in my family.

63.  Try 30 new recipes in one month.

64.  Finish painting all the floorboards, molding, doors, etc.

65.  Rip out ugly shrubs and make a new flower bed.

66.  Create a family cookbook.

67.  Floss every day for a month.

68.  Create at least one scrapbook page ever day for 30 days. (1/30)

69.  Electricity free weekend (except for fridge/freezer)

70.  Read and recycle all my back issues of magazines.

71.  Go 1 week without snacks or dessert.

72.  Save up for and buy a new couch.

73.  Go on a special outing with Bridget.

74.  Go on a special outing with Riley.

75.  Go on a  special outing with Connor.

76.  Go on a special outing with Sawyer.

77.  Go on a special outing with Veronica.

78.  Go on a special outing with Levi.

79.  Help start an anti-bullying program at kids' school. 

80.  Save up for and buy a 12 or 15 passenger van.

81.  Make a worry box.

82.  Write in my gratitude journal every day for a month.

83.  Build a snowman with the kids.

84.  Make a braided rug.

85.  Get back riding my bike.

86.  Eat food from a culture I have not yet tried. 

87.  Pare down craft supplies and throw away crafts that I am never actually going to finish.

88.  Buy and use reusable grocery bags.

89.  Learn a magic trick.

90.  Ride a horse again.

91.  Finish reading the whole Bible

92.  Spend the day by myself at the library or bookstore.

93.  Knit something.  Anything.

94.  Weed out the kids' toys

95.  Leave money for strangers to find.

96.  Stock up on gift cards to leave in the car for people asking for food/money

97.  Make rosettes for Christmas.

98.  Spend a whole, guilt-free day in PJs watching TV and reading.

99.  Be at least 5 minutes early for everything for a week.

100.  Chaperone 3 school field trips.