Monday, August 23, 2010


This isn't a great post for those who don't have toddlers at home, but I still wanted to share what I've been doing. I know I'm not the only one looking for other options right now!

So I can't help but be all into the hype of school starting.  My kids aren't even old enough to be in school but can I say that I'm a little jealous?  Not that I want them out of the house or anything but the 5 year old in me is saying "me too, me too!"  It's actually something Brian and I frequently talk about.  Ella is 3 now so she can go to preschool.  She needs the interaction with other kids her age and she is practically begging me to teach her.  She's already starting to read words and write her name.  I thought I had 2 more years of lolly gagging around until I had to start being a real parent!

Well as much as we want her to be in preschool, it won't change the fact that we can't afford it.  So last week I finally got tired of sitting around and bumming about it.  I'll do preschool myself!  I'm an educated individual with a little craftiness up my sleeve.  I mean how hard can this be, right?  A little ABC's here and some counting sweat.  (OK I have to admit though, I did spend practically all of my 'working' years in schools and kindergarten classes.)

So my first order of business was to set up my curriculum.  I Googled it of course, and found a couple of websites to get me on the right track. These are the ones that I've bookmarked:

I had already decided to do a letter a week, and I found this:
not too shabby for what I had in mind.  I also had a song I really wanted for the kids, and with the few lyrics I could remember I managed to stumble across it on YouTube.  I don't know what it is, but something about this lady's voices seems to mesmerize little kids.  Unfortunately, though there isn't a free download of the song and I'm not paying $15 for the CD.  I'm on a budget here!
I also found this website, and the kids love it for 'computer time'.  Let's get real here.  Our kids are growing up in a technology dependant world now, so it would be crippling of me not to expose and teach them how to use a computer.  I'll step down from my box now...
I've also decided to implement, days of the week, weather, colors, counting and a word for the day.  So our 'school' basically goes as follows:
8:30 Breakfast:  they watch the YouTube ABC video while they eat.  They also listen to a hand me down Kindermusik CD (which I've basically done their whole lives...breakfast has just always been music time, I don't know why) then they get bathed, and I put Riley down for her nap at 10...that's when school is officially in session.
I don't know if I can call it Preschool, because the way it's set up will not prepare them for what real school is like.  I've got limited space and no room for a school setting.  So I've used my refrigerator as my board and they sit in our kitchen floor on little foam puzzle pieces.  So for kicks, I'll call this Refrigerator School.  Or just plain ghetto.  Hey, it's better than nothing!
I start with them sitting on the floor on their mats in front of the fridge.  We do the days of the week song, then today is...yesterday was...tomorrow will be...   Then it's weather time.  They look outside to see what the weather is and we dress 'Weather Bear.'  We then move to colors and mixing colors, blue and yellow make green...  Next is counting 1-10.  Then the letter of the day and the word of the day (starting with the same letter).  I let them trace the letter and learn to draw connecting lines. They do a worksheet or two (printed from that preschool website) and we do a craft with the letter.  
Today we did 'A', ant, and they glued cheerios onto Aa.  After that is computer time.  Our whole school experience only lasts an hour.  Mainly because Riley wakes up at 11, and because they're only 2 and 3 years old.  I think an hour will suffice for now.  They really enjoy it.  I can't say that I'm surprised though.  I knew they would.  It just took me actually sucking it up and finally doing it. 

Now you can buy all this stuff online, but I made ours and I have to say, I'm happy with the results.  I tend to brush it off, but I know I'm good at what I do.  OK, there I said it.  I'm awesome.  Can I just mention too that I haven't spent a dime...these are just scraps I've found around the house.  FreeSkool-PreSkool we're going to Refrigerator Skool!

All of these are just made out of scrapbook paper. No, I don't have a's clear packing tape. There is magnet tape on the back of each piece.  Since Aiden and Ella take turns dressing Weather Bear I've made clothes for a boy or a girl...I might have gotten a little carried away with the wardrobe choices.  What can I say?  Every season coordinates!                  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scary Monster

You would like to think that your kids aren't scaredy-cats, that you've raised them to be tough.  You feel like somehow it reflects your parenting when they are scared of silly things.  For instance, Aiden.  He is a dare devil and will jump off pretty much anything, dive into anything with no fear.  But then a little tiny gnat flies in his direction and he completely freaks out.  I mean thunder and lightning are one thing, but a gnat?  Really?  I have come to grips with it I guess that yes, deep down my son is a marshmallow.

Ella's fear has always been other people.  Mostly her relatives.  More imparticular the men in her life.  So basically I can boil it down to her uncles and grandfathers.  Sorry guys.  You know who you are.  You are also well aware of the fact that you have made her cry on more than one occasion just by saying "Hi."  Now it's safe to say that after 3 years of therapy she's doing much better!  She's not nearly as freaked out just based on appearance alone.  We're still working on being approached though.  Her philosophy is 'if I ignore them, maybe they will go away.'

Yesterday I got a little insight to this whole fear of hers.  We were coloring and she drew this picture:

"What is it?" I asked. "A scary monster." Apparently her idea of a scary monster is a man with little to no hair and a goatee. Interesting. Now I'm not saying that anyone's a monster, but you know those male relatives I was talking about before? Well, here are their pictures:

In her defense, I think I'm a little scared. 

Well, I guess there's only one thing I can say about this.  Thanks guys for traumatizing my daughter for life.  If you want to be on good terms with Ella, let's rethink this whole facial hair thing.  It's scary.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Rescue

So it's been one of those weeks.  I was on the phone with Brian this morning and telling him how unmotivated I am to do anything.  This is so out of character for a degree anyway.  I find my old self slipping away and I desperately want me back!  Something about this third baby has really done a number on me.  Nothing against Riley of course, but it's just the nature of things that it's harder to be as organized as I once was.  My old self is escaping me by the day it seems like.  It's like I've stepped out of my skin and I'm waving myself goodbye.  Blah, this is so depressing!  But, I typically spend a lot of my 'free' time working, as been pointed out to me by observers.  Clean after breakfast, give the kids a bath, Riley down for a nap, I shower, make lunch, clean after lunch, clean up all toys, all kids down for a nap, ME down for a nap.  But this week, nothing seemed to matter.  What's the point in cleaning up after breakfast when we are just gonna mess it up again at lunchtime?  What's the point in getting dressed if we are just staying home all day?  I spend most of my days in a night gown!  What's the point in showering if we are just going to be outside sweating in the heat or swimming in the pool?  This new me isn't sounding half bad, less work!  Oh, but I hate it when things are a wreck!  It makes me feel like I'm surrounded by chaos.  Everywhere you look just has a label that says 'Clean Me'.  And then I just start to feel claustrophobic in my own house as the piles of laundry and dirty dishes close in on me.  Get me outta here!!  It's not that hard to pick up after everything, it's neglecting it that becomes the problem.  What could have been 10 minutes worth of work becomes 30, then 45 then an hour.  Everybody just seems so much happier when things are in order.  Ugh, I've gotta bounce back from this!  

So just as I updated my 'status' on Facebook (which I rarely do) to say:  Someone save me from my rut!  Who comes to my rescue? 


This is the planner in me (which is not gone yet, thank goodness):  I set the kids up with Play-Doh in the kitchen while Riley was taking her nap so I could do some stuff, make a phone call, etc...  When Riley woke up from her nap I was finishing up my call to Netflix (of all people) so I just sort of plopped her in the floor, gave her a toy and went about my business.  Well next thing I know, she's on her stomach (which is what she always does now, she's really wanting to crawl) so I didn't think much about it.  But I did a double take at what she had in her hands.  It was poop!  Then my eyes scanned over to the trail that she had left behind her.  
*Heavy Sigh*  While taking her to the tub I decided to grab my camera.  My intention was to send the pics to Brian in an email with the subject line: Help!  I'm sure he will get a kick out of this considering the 'I don't want to clean' conversation we had earlier.  Then it occurred to me that people like taking pleasure in other's bad parenting and misfortune.  You know, as long as no one gets hurt.  So I hope you enjoy the course of events that followed. 

So Riley is is going in the bathtub, Ella and Aiden are in the kitchen with their Play-Doh.  Before the poop, they had made balls and were throwing them at each other...which was a red flag to me that they were getting bored and it was time to clean up.  So I threw a towel over the poopy carpet and told the kids to stay away from the poop.  I started washing up Riley and I noticed the poop on her face...oh, I hope she didn't eat any!  What do they put in this baby food that makes it so explosive? I mean all she had for breakfast were apples and bananas. How is it possible to do so much damage in such a short time?
I have to say though, there was something in her eye that told me she was enjoying this bath a little too much.  It's like she wanted to say "This one's for Aiden.  I'm getting you back for the noodle incident."  Meanwhile, Ella and Aiden went from throwing Play-Doh to chasing each other with it up and down the hall, and not in the ha-ha fun kind of way.  Ella was whining and crying, Aiden close on her heels and tackling her, and I was yelling at them to clean up and leave each other alone. 
I quickly got Riley dressed and exiled her to the Exersaucer.  What once was just a small mess before was a very big mess now.  Not only do I have to clean poop, but the blue and yellow Play-Doh smeared all over the kitchen and squished into the carpet down the hall.  Where to begin?  Well at this point, no where.  I'm a stickler for our schedule, and it was time to make lunch.  So I put a movie on for the kids and they ate their lunch on TV trays in the living room.  That's never happened before so I hope they don't hit me up for that tomorrow.  Then after lunch I cleaned the kitchen, the poop, the hall and vacuumed. 

As much as I don't want to admit it, there's something a little humbling about me being on my hands and knees scrubbing poop out of the carpet all the while having Riley sitting across from me grinning from ear to ear.  So thank you Riley for coming to my rescue.  Funny how things can come around full circle like that.  Thanks to her the house is clean, order is restored and we can all be happier for the rest of the day.  And as for me and my nightgown?  Well, you are going to have to pry it out of my cold dead fingers.         

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dumb thing #10,421

You know those times when you say to yourself,  'Now why did I do that?  That was dumb.'  It seems like that has been happening to me more and more lately.  Dumb thing #10,421:  Last Thursday.  Thursdays are our library days.  We go to the Rockin' Babies story time, then I take the kids upstairs to let them pick out some movies.  Now, usually this works out fine for me.  I have most of the influence as to what they choose.  It's easy for me to sway them one way or another (bad Mommy!).  I've seen enough Disney movies to be able to say whether or not they will like it. Unfortunately they're on to me because I will say, "Hey what about this one?"  And they will say "No, that one's dumb."  Well, Ella picked out Princess Sing-Along, Enchanted Princess Tales, Barbie Swan Lake and The Land Before Time.  I'm fine with these choices, and I don't mind her getting several so I'm not watching the same movie over and over again.  Aiden on the other hand was having a hard time just picking out one movie.  Like I've said before, he's a typical boy so he mostly comes home with a Train movie or Firetrucks or something.  I have to admit, those definitely rank in the 'dumb' category for me, but they don't bother me enough to boycott. 
So after turning down all of my suggestions I found one that we haven't checked out before in the return bin.  Lots and Lots of Monster Trucks.  Well he accepted this offer and paraded up to the checkout with his monster truck movie in hand.  See, they have their own library cards, so checking out their own stuff is a big deal.  So as soon as we get in the car he wants to watch his movie (yes, we are bad parents, he have a car DVD player).  So I put his movie in and needless to say, it's not the type of thing you want blaring in the back of your head.  All I can hear on my end is some hard core electric guitar music playing accompanied by the sound of crushing metal.  DUMB DUMB DUMB...THIS WAS A BAD IDEA.  Good thing it's only a 7 minute drive.  Now the problem is  he's learned to not only make deeper more guttural car noises, but to add steam rolling Ella to his 'car play'.  Why couldn't I have just kept him sheltered from the world of Monster Trucks?

Dumb thing #10,422:  Today, cutting Aiden's hair.  Now this is something Brian and I have talked about for a while now.  He's been wanting to cut it, and I've been wanting to grow it out.  But Aiden's hair is his thing!  I can't go anywhere without somebody commenting on those curls.  I mean, people pay good money to get hair like his, there's no way I'm going to go chop it off!  I'm not gonna lie, I like when people compliment my kids, even though I do brush it off like it's no big deal, but still...I don't want that taken away.  Once the curls are gone, what are people gonna say?  "Nice little bow legs he's got there..."  I don't think so.  Cutting those curls would be breakin my heart (as you can tell, this is about me, Aiden could care less what his hair looked like).  So this has been my argument thus far, and judging by the length of his hair, I've been getting my way. 

Now, I don't know if it's this morning's bed head that did it for me or the fact that secretly, deep down, I know that he's been looking a bit mangy and unkept.  Another thing is that Ella and I are getting haircuts on Friday and she's a bit nervous about it.  So I decided at breakfast this morning that I was going to cut Aiden's hair (and hopefully Ella would warm up to the idea in the process).  I have to say, once that first curl hit the floor I wasn't as emotional as I would have expected.  After the 2nd swipe through with the clippers I immediately started thinking, "I shouldn't have done this..."  Well, this was a bad idea from the get go.  You see, I don't have the greatest track record for cutting hair, and the only haircut I've been able to successfully pull off is Brian's and that's only sometimes.  So Aiden got Brian's style cut, which was dumb for 2 reasons: (1) Aiden's hair is nothing like Brian's so it doesn't look the same and (2) Aiden is a toddler.  This is a hair style that is meant to be styled...with gel.  His hair gets messed up 2 minutes after I fix it.  DUMB DUMB DUMB.  I won't say that I did a horrible job on his hair, but it does not look good just dry and kinda wavy.  I miss the mangy curls! 

The only comforting thing I keep telling myself is that it'll grow back.  And next time I won't cut it!  Brian says that the way to tell a good haircut from a bad one is 2 weeks.  If it still looks bad by 2 weeks, it's an all around bad haircut.  If it's looking good by then, you're alright.  We'll just see about that.  Now that I think about it, I guess everyone gets victimized by their parents at some point in their life. Right? I mean who hasn't been humiliated by their hair because 'My mom cut it...' Might as well get it out of the way now while he's too young to remember.