Friday, April 29, 2011

The Clash

Guess who got herself dressed this morning?

I did turn her shirt around and change her into some jeans and tennis shoes before taking her to the library and the park. At the library, though, they heard a story about Pecos Bill and made "spurs" out of foil stars and pipe cleaners. I forgot to take those off her before taking her into Jimmy Johns with me. I noticed several people pointing at her and smiling, and thought they must just be saying how cute she is. Then in the parking lot I noticed the spurs.

Seriously, I should have just left her in the flowered leggings.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Threat Level Midnight

Recently, our children have gotten into the habit of using threats in an attempt to get their way. The problem (for them) is that many of their threats are, well... not threatening at all. For instance:

-"That's it! I will NEVER be your grandfather!" from Eva, upon being denied candy before dinner. She has also threatened to not be Daniel's father anymore.

-"Fine. If you make me leave now, I will NOT wear my coat outside!" from Daniel, upon being told that it was time to go to school. He was unmoved by Kyle pointing out that this does not make anyone else cold on a 40-degree morning.

-"I am going to walk out of this room right now, and you won't have ANYONE to fight with!" said Daniel to Eva when she wouldn't give him a toy this afternoon. Wouldn't that be a shame?

Sometimes, though, the threats are annoying, childish, and repeated so many times that I think I might lose my mind:

-"I will not be your friend ANY MORE!" said in response to any perceived injustice.

-"If you don't stop that I'm going to flush you down the toilet!" is a new favorite, a special gem introduced to us this week by Daniel's buddy Gus.

Occasionally, the threats get dangerous, abusive, or just totally out of hand, like when Daniel threatens to jump out of the moving car and actually pulls on the (thankfully child-safety-locked) door in the backseat during any of he and Eva's auto altercations. I've also recently overheard:

-"You aren't allowed to come play at our house anymore!" to their friend Peter, after an argument over a toy.

-"You are getting kicked out of this family."

-"If you don't we will rip your arm off," said Daniel to Eva (on the way home from church, no less), in support of Kyle politely asking Eva to remember to keep her hand in her lap instead of pulling on her hair in the car.

Really, it's these last ones that get me. Did they hear them from some tyrant child somewhere, or are they exercising their creativity in a seriously misguided way? Even considering my less-than-perfect parenting, the kinds of threats we make around here are, "Do you need a time out?" and "Should we move your behavior clip to yellow?" Certainly we don't use violent limb removal as a deterrent, and I'm fairly sure Eva's grandfathers have never mentioned disowning her...

Does Daniel threaten kids like this at school? If so, are we on some DFS watch list?

As funny as it can sometimes be, I hope this is a phase that passes quickly. I feel like the threat of threats is constant around here, and like I am a drip of water, trying to wear away a stone of unpleasant behavior. I've tried explaining, imploring, reminding how these words make people feel, suggesting alternate ways of solving disagreements, praising their kind words, repeating myself, complaining about the issue. I have downright forbidden talk of stunt-jumps from our moving vehicle. I am officially open for reader suggestions.

Seriously, though, if they don't stop it soon, I might NOT let them come play at our house again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Funny Things Are Everywhere (Photo Edition)

This is my family making the letter Q. Now you all know what we do around here in our spare time. One of the kids actually called me in to see this, saying, "Take a picture of THIS, Mom!"


Eva is very good at playing by herself right now, and in the mornings while I am cleaning up breakfast or taking a shower she often gets herself so engrossed in some sort of made-up game that it is difficult to talk her into getting dressed and leaving the house. The other morning she started playing in the bathroom while I was fixing my hair, and then continued playing there long after I'd left to do some housework. When it was time to go pick up Daniel from school, I stopped to use the restroom before we left, and found this waiting for me:

Good thing I am used to having little people follow me into the bathroom. This kind of crowd could downright give a person performance anxiety. Of course she chose the toys from the movie where all the toys actually have feelings and watch everything their owners are doing...


Daniel is very sweet, and one way he has been displaying that lately is by picking me handful after handful of dandelion bouquets. He is very disappointed to find out that the dandelions have usually died by the next morning. The other day he sighed, put a determined look on his face, and said, "I guess I'll just have to pick you new flowers every day."
Lucky for him, our yard looks like this:


Finally, I was dusting a few weeks ago, and noticed this little still-life on one end of our dresser:

I call it "Nerd Love." Kyle, of course, was the one reading The Brothers Karamazov. One night about the time this picture was taken, I was reading Philip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew before bed while he read The Brothers next to me. "My book is quoting your book!!" I excitedly exclaimed. Yep. Cue everyone pushing up their glasses and doing a little snorty-laugh together.


Not really funny, but something I should post while I'm loading pictures, are Daniel's latest triumphs. He has gotten very good at writing:

He did that while he was supposed to be "resting" one afternoon. Hard to be mad that he didn't stay in his bed for that.

He also read his first book the other day; one of my favorites, Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss. Here's a link to the video, (which I will warn is VERY long).

Hope everyone out there is having a funny week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scary Mommies

I read a lot of parenting books. A lot. And I spend a lot of time thinking about what I feed my children, how I talk to them, discipline them, what kinds of things I let them watch on TV, etc. I love them so much, and want to be the best possible mother I can be for them. I want very badly to be that whole-food-feeding, every-day-full-of-teachable-moments-believing, full-attention-giving, attachment-parenting, good-emotional-example-being, earnest Mother of the Year that I swear I see at the library every-other week.

In reality, though, I'm not sure I am.

The thing is that, as hard as I try, I think I'm more of a chicken-nugget-buying, Disney-movie-playing, sarcastic-comment-making, "Just a minute!"-saying, sometimes-yelling, paint-mess-avoiding, nap-enforcing, introvert good-enough parenting mother that you swear you've seen bribing her kid to be quiet while she just makes these 25 copies really quickly at your no-children-allowed workplace.

Last night I came late to a Mom's Night Out dinner organized by some of my friends, and when I got there I was informed that the unofficial topic for the night had been, "Venting. A lot of Venting. About (teeth clenched) Our Children." As the topic moved from how not to laugh when your child says something totally inappropriate (but hilarious) in the middle of being disciplined to whether it's really that insensitive to send your (annoyingly, and probably poutily) crying child to finish that outburst in their room, I felt myself relaxing. THESE are my people. That's right, the one who just said her kids had cupcakes for breakfast because that was the only breakfast food she could find, and who reasoned that an unfrosted cupcake cannot really be any worse than a doughnut. My ladies.

At Bible study yesterday someone commented that the Holy Spirit's continual work in us gives rest to the perfectionist, who can then relax in the process instead of fretting over not being a finished work yet. I wonder sometimes if I spend so much time stressing over whether I'm doing the "right" things with my kids to really enjoy the relationship I have with them. I think that reading about, hearing about, and talking to other mothers who are okay with not being politically, socially, or psychologically correct all the time allows me to relax a little bit and have a good laugh at the beautifully awkward situations our family finds itself in.

Here are some good reads for that purpose:

First, the blog Scary Mommy.

Next, a link sent by my friend Melanie, to a blog post that printed an essay by Tina Fey.

Finally, an article my husband shared this week, which says that research suggests good parenting isn't so much about the parenting style you use, but the appreciation your kids feel for the relationship you have with them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Funny Things Are Everywhere

Here are some funny things from our week:

-Eva throwing herself from the moving merry-go-round just seconds after I said to another mom, "She's pretty tough. I'm sure she'll let us know if it's too fast and she wants to get off." She hit the ground rolling and just got up and kept playing.

-Ballots for this year's Name of the Year competition came out today. This year, I'm torn between Ebenezer Noonoo and Yolanda Supersad, while Kyle is leaning toward Monsterville Horton IV. Check it out for yourself.

-Things I never pictured myself saying in such a serious tone, like:
(In response to Eva telling her toy elephant he can't have imaginary cake until he's finished his plastic breakfast) "I think that's wise. You don't want him to fill up on junk before he's eaten some healthy food."
(To Daniel's friend Gus, who complained about always being left to wear the chicken costume to Daniel's dragon when they play their dress-up/animal face-off play-fighting game) "Actually, boys, chickens can be fierce fighters if they're bred and raised in certain ways. That beak could do some damage."
Sorry in advance to Jennifer for teaching her kid about cock fighting...

-Me, after yesterday's windstorm blew the lid to our recycling container open. Slipper-clad, hair blowing, frantically collecting and clutching to my chest half a bin's-worth of milk jugs and cardboard boxes... Trying desperately not to let Eva see how many of she and Daniel's art projects were being recycled...

Hope everyone else's week is as fun as ours!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Quiet Weekend at Home

This past week has been my spring break, so of course I got sick. I started feeling run-down on Tuesday afternoon, lost my voice on Wednesday, and by Friday morning I was asking Kyle to use our Maglite flashlight to check out whether I had sores in my throat (one of the few things that, for me, justifies paying for a doctor's visit).

Upon confirming that I did, indeed, have a nasty-looking throat, Kyle went straight to work and found a sub so that I could rest while he took care of the kids (Seriously, I hope all you ladies out there are jealous of what a fantastic husband I have). I lucked out and got into our doctor on a Friday, and I was just sure I'd be diagnosed with strep throat and given some magical antibiotics to take care of that right away.

"So your strep screen?" said the Intern at our doctor's office, "Is NEGATIVE! I know, I thought SURE that's what you had, too." While I kicked myself for shelling out the money for the visit, she explained that I just had a bad cold, swollen tonsils, something about post-nasal drip, we're prescribing some steroids... And then she said:

"You have serious laryngitis and should really rest your voice. Try not to talk for a day or two. Just use sign language or point to communicate for a while."

I almost laughed out loud at this twenty-something student-physician. CLEARLY she does not know what it's like to live in a house with two very attached small children. When I got home I told Kyle about this ridiculous suggestion, and he said he thought we should actually try it. And in that second it occurred to me that perhaps I AM a little arrogant to assume that I am SO important that I couldn't just shut up for a day or two and let him handle things. So I just agreed.

And so Kyle announced to the kids that Mommy will not be talking this weekend, and that all questions should be addressed to him. He agreed to do all the book-reading and phone-answering, and suggested some gestures that the kids might look for me to use to replace important phrases (like "I love you"). The kids thought the signs and enforcing a "no talking" rule for Mommy was great fun, and I did spend the rest of the evening mostly silent.

The irony, of course, is that where before I had somewhat of a cough with my cold and sore throat, now I have a cough (literally) on steroids. So while I spent our evening being quiet, I spent the ENTIRE night coughing my brains out. Around 1:30 in the morning I moved to the couch to avoid keeping Kyle up, and couldn't get back to sleep. I read Counselling for Eating Disorders, Second Edition for a while (because if I'm not sleeping I might as well work on some CEU's), hoping that would bore me to sleep, but no dice.

So this morning, Kyle again came to the rescue and got up with the kids, getting them fed and dressed and taking them to Daniel's soccer game while I went back to bed to continue hacking. I have not talked today, other than a few sentences of goodbye as everyone went out the door. I have to admit, I find the whole idea of laryngitis funny, mostly because I have a continual mental image of Carol Brady in one of the (seriously there were at least two) episodes where she can't talk.

Like this one.

Yep, it's kinda like that around here.