Wednesday, December 11, 2013

That Creepy Elf...

I have been avoiding the Elf on the Shelf for the last few years. I see people posting pictures, and sometimes it seemed cute and funny...but mostly it just seemed creepy. The thought of a little doll that moves around at night and watches you to see if you've been naughty or nice would have given me nightmares as a child. I think it would have freaked out the older children, too. Marissa had a doll given to her by her grandmother one was very...realistic. The doll terrified her. She asked me to remove it from her the doll ended up in the corner of the hallway, until it scared ME one night coming out of my bedroom. With much guilt, we finally decided the doll must go. I think we waited a few years before we admitted to Grandma that her loving gift had terrorized our family.

Irelynn is a different child. She thrives on magic...and everything has a life of its own. She encourages magic, and wonder...and at times, creepiness. She claims to have ghost friends who take her through magic portals at night. While part of me is in awe and loves her imagination...I'm not going to lie, part of me is a little freaked out at times. Needless to say, upon hearing about the Elf on the Shelf (and who hasn't?) she started asking for one. She wrote me letters. She won't let it go in my room. I can help name the elf. She will keep an eye on it for me. After her pleas did not work, she turned to the elf itself. Someone told her that if you write a letter to the elf, it will appear. My child is nothing if not determined.

We now have an elf.

He showed up this morning. I read the book to the three younger kids, explaining how the elf flies to the North Pole at night to report to Santa on their behavior. Then it was time to name the elf.

"I know...Chris!" Owen was proud of himself.

"No, it's a girl," said Irelynn, "I think it should be Elfie or Lollypop."

"How about Tiberius?" Bruce is never going to give up on that name. He WILL find a way to honor Captain James T. Kirk.

The kids glared at him.

Irelynn replied, "I doubt elves even watch Star Trek."

Connor, quiet this whole time, piped up.


I looked over at him and said, "do you mean 'Schnitzel?'"

Connor shook his head "no."


"Yes," he said, "Snitchel."

Irelynn looked at him, shocked, and said, "Connor! That's not very nice! He's an ELF...he has to report to Santa!"

Connor just smiled.

The final decision was Elfie Schnitzel (pronounced "Snitchel.") Now I have to start coming up with creative ideas on what to do with her (Irelynn assures me that Elfie is a girl.) The idea of an elf causing mischief and then reporting to Santa on the children's behavior seems a little wrong to our elf will have to be silly without causing trouble.

I suppose I should enjoy these years where the magic is still alive in the home. I don't have much inside me...but Irelynn is finding a way to squeeze it out, little by little. Who knows...maybe by Christmas I'll think that Elfie is actually kind of cute. Doubtful...but stranger things have happened.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Destruction of Spyro

I do not normally spend much money on Halloween costumes. I have a difficult time justifying spending a good deal of money on something that will barely make it to Halloween, let alone past the holiday. Through the years we have used hand-me-downs, gotten creative, or *sometimes* bought particular costumes through Craigslist. This year I broke down and spent $30 on a Spyro costume. I'm not proud. However, if you could have seen Owen's eyes light up when he saw his favorite character hanging on the wall in between Batman and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle...I'm pretty sure you would have caved, too. You see...for some reason, Owen loves Spyro...and all the Skylanders. We do not own the game. He has never played it...nor has he seen the show (I hear there's a cartoon...I'm not even sure if that's true.) We are actually quite baffled as to how he KNOWS about Skylanders, let alone why he's obsessed with them. Spyro is his favorite, though...with his birthday money he bought a small stuffed Spyro...and sleeps with it every night.

Connor saw a pirate set that included a sword (I think the real reason he wanted it,) an eye patch, a gold hoop earring, and a hook. This was much cheaper, and we can get creative with the actual outfit, so I was okay with this choice.

Irelynn decided to be a fox. The costume, I have to admit, is pretty stinkin' cute. However...I'm also ashamed to say that I spent only *slightly* less money on the fox costume. The reason she wants to be a fox is because of this song:

She is also contemplating gathering some friends and creating a dance routine to this song and performing it at the school talent show later in the year. This is why I caved and bought my daughter a fox costume.

Back to Spyro. Owen was so excited to get this costume...he wanted to try it on right away. You see where this is going. Connor also had to try out his pirate stuff...and weapons in the hands of either boy always ends in disaster. The Spyro mask was on the couch...and I'm not sure what prompted the act of violence. Perhaps the boys were arguing? Or maybe Connor was just testing the strength of his sword, not thinking it would actually do damage? The sword came down...and the mask cracked...into several pieces.

I should have known better, and put the costumes up somewhere safe until Halloween. I just thought I would let them try them on for a few minutes...and a few minutes was all it took to ruin Halloween for Owen. We then began the search for a Spyro mask. Apparently, unless you order one online, you cannot buy just the mask anywhere. Luckily Bruce found a mask on Amazon, and ordered it promptly...which brought the total cost to just over $40 for a Halloween costume...for a five-year-old.

I'm pretty sure that Owen will be Spyro for Halloween for the next three years. If he doesn't want to be Spryo...that's okay...he can be a fox. (The fox costume is actually a dress with leggings...but it's okay...I'll convince him it's a Scottish fox.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Super Glue, Duct Tape and Public Nudity

I was hoping over the summer I would have more time to update my blog. As it turns out, having five children around you every.waking.minute does not give you any real opportunity to sit down and write. Well, I could have written, but I don't think it would have been very coherent. My typical day anymore seems to involve breaking up arguments, cleaning up accidents (of all varieties,) watching the food disappear in the house at an alarming rate, and covering my ears with my hands while singing, "LA LA LA LA LA...I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" These are in my better moments.

I was actually starting to think, now that the kids are getting older, will there be much for me to blog about? The boys will be turning five in September...FIVE. They will be starting Kindergarten. No more babies. No more toddler antics. Just when I thought maybe I've run out of content...the SEVENTEEN-year-old managed to super glue Connor's Angry Birds piggy my kitchen counter. In his defense, he was trying to fix part of the piggy bank for his little brother that had broken off...but how he managed to get super glue all over the piggy bank, therefore cementing it to the beyond me.

The Angry Bird's butt now firmly a part of the counter.

The antics are not purely limited to teenagers. I think our entire family manages to entertain both the instructors and students at Tae Kwon Do. This cycle involves using a bo staff. During class, we were practicing our strikes on the bags, when suddenly a loud "crack" came from Bruce's direction. He literally snapped off the end of his bo staff. I did a face palm, shook my head, and proceeded to (more gently) strike my own bag. Suddenly..."CRACK." My bo staff split right in the middle. The instructor decided that perhaps the class should move on to the next segment of class. Bruce was able to get a replacement bo staff...mine has been fixed with duct tape. 

Our family also amuses Donatello.

Even getting ice cream is still an adventure with this family. We decided to take all of the kids down to the local ice cream stand. This was after I had driven my mom across the state to take her back home, so Bruce was responsible for taking the little ones to Irelynn's friend's birthday party. Apparently during the party, Owen had an accident, so he was going commando under his pants. I want to stop right here to say how lucky I am to have a husband willing to take three small children to a birthday party at the house of someone he doesn't even know. I can only imagine him trying, by himself, to gather the kids to leave...and then deal with Owen's accident. So, anyway, after the party, he picked up the teenagers from the mall, and met me back at the house (I had just gotten back.) We went down to the ice cream place and sat at the tables outside, enjoying our cones. Well, most of us sat at the tables. Inevitably, the younger ones get up and run around. Owen was the culprit this time...not only running around, but deciding to try and climb on the fence at the side. I turned to look, and there was my son...hanging from the fence...with his pants around his ankles. Facing traffic on a major street. Again...the kid was not wearing anything under the his pasty bottom was glaring in the sunlight. 

After attending to the child, he decided to run around some more, causing a few more episodes of public nudity...and then him tripping and landing, face first, into a wooden bench. We cleaned him up, with me going back and forth on whether it warranted a hospital trip (I was reassured that mouth injuries heal quickly and he was probably fine.) He did end up with a very fat lip, but I think the only real damage that took place was to his ego.

I see that my daughter keeps peering around the corner at me...through binoculars. I guess my writing time is up. Hopefully once school starts I will have more time to update my blog. The kids, for the first time, will all be in school all day. While the thought of that conjures up images of me dancing around the house, taking long naps, going to the bathroom in peace, and reading books that involve plot lines that don't rhyme or involve barnyard animals...I'm pretty sure that this will be a pivotal point in my life. I will have to figure out what it is that I actually want to the REAL WORLD. I'm pretty sure my dusty Communications degree will not be so significant now that I've been out of the workforce for ten years...and all of that great video technology I learned back in the day would be deemed archaic now. I suppose I have some time to figure things out. Now I guess I should focus on the child who just threw his bedtime Pull-Up at his brother.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Baking Disasters, Birds, and Bubble Pop

Why is it that every time I attempt to be all Martha Stewart-y, things go terribly wrong? Even when I actually do things right (or almost right)...inevitably something has to go wrong.

I tried to make homemade bread...for two reasons, really: one, I have just always wanted to make homemade bread, and two, we are extremely short on cash over the next few days. I found a recipe on Pinterest, and *almost* followed the directions (I had to use more whole-wheat flour than called for because I didn't have enough all purpose flour. And I didn't use enough warm water to dissolve the yeast.) The bread didn't rise like it should have...and we ended up with sort of a mini-loaf of bread. Which, although disappointing, wasn't a still tasted okay. In fact, it must have tasted pretty good...because after leaving it to cool on the back of the counter, we walked in to find this:

Onyx obviously approved of the bread. I also learned (only took twice) to put any food in the microwave/oven/cabinet now to avoid doggy disappearing tricks. My second loaf (which looks MUCH better,) is now the microwave.

My other attempt at a project was to put up a bird feeder, as requested by Irelynn. We bought the feeder, and a pole with hooks, to assemble and put up in the yard. We also had a little bird house that she had painted a few years ago to hang from the pole. We came home, and I attempted to put it up in the yard. I soon realized that they tell you to use a rubber mallet for a reason. I used a regular hammer to bang the bottom section of the pole into the ground. I'm sure you can imagine what happened next: I bent the metal, rendering it impossible to put the next section on top. I tried re-banging it into place. I tried forcing it together. I cut my hand. I shed some tears. I (somewhat loudly) discussed the pole's family background. Irelynn watched me from the window, and came outside to tell me, "it's okay, Mommy. It just won't tried...don't cry, Mommy." Which, of course, made me cry MORE.

Later I went back out to try again. Somehow, the gods must have been smiling down at me, I managed to get the stupid thing together. We filled the feeder with bird seed and waited. And waited. A few days went by with no birds. Then a big storm came through, and knocked the whole thing down. We finally put it back up...and eventually...the birds came. The kids are so excited...which makes it all worth it in the end.

The latest disaster was not of my least, not intentionally. Bruce called me from work the other day, wanting to know if I would bring the boys and meet him for lunch down by his office. The boys were excited, and we met him there and walked down to a little restaurant nearby. The boys were behaving, for the most part, outside of Connor giggling loudly about a whoopie cushion he brought. We ordered our food, and Bruce took Owen to the restroom (he actually informed us that he had to go potty...which is good, because we've been having issues lately.)

Our food arrived, and suddenly Owen decided he wasn't hungry. He told me his belly hurt...and he had to go potty again. You know that feeling you get when you just *know* your kid is about to be sick? I remained calm and focused on getting him to the restroom...we almost made it...we got just outside the door...and then it happened. He spewed all over the carpet. A woman and her kid at a nearby table looked over at us. Connor had followed us, and stepped in the puddle.

"Connor...I need you to go get Daddy."

"But I want to stay with you. What's wrong with Owen? OOOOHHHHH...OWEN THREW UP!"

"Yes, Connor, and I NEED you to go get Daddy!"

After much coaxing, he went back to the table, and I grabbed several paper towels to try and mop up what I could, as Owen sat down on the toilet and continued to have an explosion from the other end. Bruce came back with the waitress, who had a mop, and I tried to apologize profusely as Owen's butt was making the loudest noises I have ever heard.

After he was finished, we waited while the waitress boxed up all of our food, and added a can of Vernors to the bag for the sick boy.

As soon as we left, he perked up and seemed to feel fine. We got home and he ate his lunch, and drank his "bubble pop." As far as he was concerned, he had the best day ever because he was the only child to get "bubble pop." I'm glad the day turned out okay for someone.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the is steadily going through the family. The good thing is, I have a wonderful loaf of bread cooling right now (it actually looks great,) there are several birds hanging out at our bird feeder, and the next time I can get away to the store, I will stock up on "bubble pop." And beer. Definitely beer.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Turkey Basters and Ramen Soup

Sometimes I think Owen was put on Earth for comic relief. Not my own comic relief, but perhaps someone else's.

My husband asked me to buy a turkey baster because our lawn mower isn't working, and he thought he might need it when trying to fix it...I'm not sure what he's going to do with it, but I generally don't ask when it comes to those things. So, we have this turkey baster lying around the house, which for some reason, is a fascinating object for children. Irelynn carried it around and would aim it at people's faces and blow out air at them. Connor used it as a drumstick. Owen put it down his pants.

" NOT put the turkey baster down your pants." A phrase I never thought I'd be saying, ever.

I could probably fill a book with phrases that I have uttered throughout motherhood that I never thought I would say:

"Owen, stop pretending your butt is a guitar."

"We do NOT throw poop at walls!!"

"The plunger is NOT a toy."

"Stop shooting the cat!"

Oddly enough, most of the phrases were directed at Owen...or a combination of Owen and another child.

The turkey baster was actually the more tame part of the day. The oldest girl came home in a mood that made the dog cower and her siblings try to steer clear. I'm not sure what happened at school that day, but I pity the fool who pissed her off.

While she was storming through the house, I was trying to figure out an early dinner because we had two Tae Kwon Do classes that night (Irelynn takes the older kids class, followed by the boys' Tiny Tigers class.) We had to be ready and out the door by 6pm. I decided to grill some turkey burgers. I seasoned them, and walked away for a moment, to see what the boys were doing. They were occupied by the old Nintendo downstairs, and Jay was with Irelynn on the neighbor's trampoline...okay...all kids accounted for, and busy. I turn back to the burgers to find Onyx...paws on the counter...EATING THE RAW BURGERS.

"ONYX!!!!  Bad dog! NO!!!"

Jay and Irelynn walked in the back door...both of them sans shirt.

"Irelynn...where is your shirt?!"

"I took it off. It was hot out there. Besides, Jay took HIS off..."

Thoughts of creepy neighbor guys watching from their windows drift into my mind, and I explain to her that she is getting old enough now that it is not appropriate for girls to take off their shirts outside. I really didn't think I'd have to have that conversation yet.

Back to dinner. I call Bruce to whine about the dog, and we decide that I should just make some Ramen soup, and that he and I could eat a salad. Okay. Oh, and he mentioned that he was running late because his boss called and requested something. Perfect.

So, we somehow got through dinner, got kids in uniforms, and got out the door on time.

Irelynn has informed me that tonight she wrote "spaghetti" on the menu calendar. Perhaps I should have a back-up plan, just in case. As long as it doesn't require the use of a turkey baster, I think we'll be fine...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Adventures with Onyx

I don't always run away...but when I do, I pee on the neighbor's garden gnome.

My dog is usually pretty laid back, very friendly, and fairly obedient. He seems happy to be inside, playing with his toys or laying on someone's lap (even if he's crushing them.) Once in awhile, though, he wants to run.  As hard as we try to not let him slip out without a leash, inevitably he will spot a chance when a young child opens the back door. Then nothing can stop him. His ears flopping in the wind, he sprints back to the woods...through the neighbors' yards, and circles around again. Usually he will come back when we call him...but today he decided to go on an adventure.

Luckily car rides outrank trail blazing right a small margin...and we were able to coax him into the van. This has made me more desperate, however, to fence in our backyard. We would have done it already if it wasn't for the fact that we live in a community that has a Home Owners Association. You cannot just build a fence on your property. You have to jump through hurdles and present the right materials or the board members stand there like Gandalf..."YOU SHALL NOT PASS." 

So, in the meantime, my furry little hobbit dog will be taking us on many more adventures, I'm sure. I just hope I don't receive a letter from the association regarding my frolicking mutt. I'm sure the same people who will only allow certain kinds of fence materials, properly painted porches and exterior lighting to remain on all night would not approve of my dog's friendly exploration. 

Hopefully they will approve of my latest submission of plans...which will require us to put the fence up ourselves, because after material cost, we can't afford to pay someone else to do it. 

I am anticipating a "fence raising party" by the end of the summer. We shall celebrate having a small amount of privacy...and the end of our dog's adventures. No word yet on whether the Tooks or Brandybucks will be in attendance.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Letter To My Dad

Dear Fodder,

I was thinking about you today, as I often do when I eat M&M's, drink diet soda, or wish the beer I was drinking was actually a Mohave Red. Or Lobotomy Bock.

Owen asks about you. I showed him pictures...and I think he understands, but I'm not sure that he does. He is sad that he never met you. He reminds me of you at times...his sense of humor, his blue eyes that sparkle, and his love of Star Wars.

I wonder what you would say to me now if you could see my see that I ended up with twins, AFTER having three kids (which I'm sure you thought I was crazy to have at the time.) It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I flew out to California with my brother to say feels like yesterday. The phone call still echoes in my mind: "your father's dead." I remember dropping the phone. I remember kissing my baby, Irelynn, and hugging the older kids, knowing that it would be the first time I wasn't there for their first day of school...and the first time I was away from my baby for that long.

You held Irelynn when she was 3-months old. She will be 7-years-old in two days. You would smile if you could see her...she's very smart, and you. She has your wit.

You would be appalled by our vehicles. They are dirty and due for oil changes. There are random Cheerios and possibly old french fries hidden between the seats. I am not organized like I used to be...our house is in a  state of chaos at all times. I haven't labeled binders with our videos in alphabetical order. I still can't play chess. And my college degree is gathering dust somewhere in the basement. I'm hardly the person you dreamed I would become.

I think, though, that you would be proud of me. If you could see...and know...your grandchildren, I think you would be proud. That's the one great accomplishment I can claim.

I wonder if you were alive today if you would be on Facebook. I think your posts would be hilarious. Sometimes I imagine what you would say if you read mine.

I know it's not much...I think my religious path is similar to your's...but I do think about you.  Every time I see a crow. Every time I see a movie with a scene filmed in front of Vasquez Rocks. And every time I look into Owen's eyes.

I miss you...and though we weren't always great at saying it to each other...I love you.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Garbage Collector

My oldest child used to collect seashells.  He had a pretty decent collection.  My next child collected stuffed animals...and had a name and background for each one (which was pretty impressive, considering she had around fifty stuffed animals.)  Irelynn used to collect shells.  Then she collected rocks.  She even collected bottle caps for a brief time.  Now my child has started a new collection...trash.

At first I was impressed by her creativity and penchant for going "green."  She wants to recycle everything into art projects.  Pizza boxes, sucker sticks, pudding cups, wrappers...she somehow finds a reason to save each and every one.

Now, as people who have known me for several years know...this kind of behavior bothers me. Greatly. I have overcome many of my anal tendencies after having several kids and realizing that there is just no way you can remain anal with five kids. You would drive yourself insane. I do still go in spurts, though, and randomly declutter the house, rendering my family speechless.  I also have resigned to merely cringing when the children put things back in the "wrong" place, instead of immediately moving it back to where I feel it should go.  I wouldn't say I've reached a zen-like acceptance level, but I have come a long way.

Until now.

As I was cleaning the kitchen, and Irelynn was quickly removing items from the garbage that I had just disposed of, my eye began to twitch. I tried to be reasonable, and let her keep some items. I tried to take deep breaths as I saw her "collection" pile up in her bedroom. I was reaching the end of my rope, though.

The other day she wanted to fish out all of the unpopped kernels from the bowl of popcorn my husband made.

"WHY??" I felt the eye twitch coming on.

"I want to save them until the summer so I can try to plant them.  Or I can glue them to paper and make a cool picture."

She also wanted to save the wrapper to Owen's Star Wars sucker...for an art project.

I don't remember what item it was that made me snap...the burger wrapper? The empty cat treat bag? The cardboard toilet paper roll?

"Just throw it AWAY!!  It is GARBAGE!  You are NOT keeping anymore GARBAGE! Go collect normal coins, or shells, or even the stupid Obama trading cards your dad collects!  JUST NO MORE TRASH!!"

Yesterday she told me she wants to start collecting the Magic Tree House books. I think I can live with that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Endings

Tonight is one of those nights where I am thankful for good friends, long phone conversations with my mother, and having some peace and quiet after finally putting children in bed.  Oh...and alcohol.  I'm very thankful for alcohol.

I can't pinpoint the moment things started to go downhill...but I do remember the moment I realized that the evening was not going to get any better.  Bruce called to tell me he would be working late tonight.  This meant that I would have to take care of kids, homework, dinner, getting them (and myself) ready for Tae Kwon Do, and getting to and from the martial arts building...with five kids.  I tried to mentally prepare myself...which never goes well because I've been through this enough to know that things will not go well.

Homework ended in arguments between the teenagers because one asked the other one for help.  The helper was not very nice, and the helpee retaliated with some creative, yet derogatory name-calling.  While that was happening, Irelynn began crying.  She cried for the next hour, for various reasons:  Owen used all the blankets to make his tent, she used a permanent marker on a maze and messed up, people were staring at her, and she lost her pencil.  Connor began crying because he stole Owen's blanket Owen hit him with a light saber.

I decided that I was going to forego making dinner (which involved prepping vegetables and had several ingredients,) and opted for pizza.  I did not want the same battle that we had the night before when I tried to feed my children orange-glazed fish and a beans and rice dish.

Dinner was chaos as the kids had not eaten food like this in awhile (I have been on a kick lately experimenting with healthy dishes.)  The kitchen turned into the set of "The Hobbit," where five starving children hoarded pieces of pizza and breadsticks as though they would never eat again...I think I even heard one of them talking to the pizza, calling it, "Precious..."

Then, Owen yelled.  Why he yelled, I'm not sure, but what he yelled was, "DAMMIT!"

Connor then responded, "MOO-oom...Owen said 'DAMMIT.'"

Before I could reply, Irelynn piped up.

"Oh yeah?  Guess what Brendan said in class today?  He said, 'shut the f-u-c-'...."

"OKAY.  THAT'S ENOUGH."  I cut her off, but not soon enough.

"What?  I was spelling it so the boys wouldn't know."

After dinner the teenagers promptly disappeared.  The three younger ones started feeling the effects of the soda they drank with dinner, and all chaos ensued.  Owen began chasing the dog with a Nerf gun.  Connor started jumping on the couch.  I told Connor to sit down, and then went into the kitchen to see the dog...on the counter...eating breadsticks.

"ONYX!!  NO!"  And then glass broke behind me.  I turned around to see a pink snow boot laying next to the glass dish from my oil burner...on the floor next to me.


Irelynn had kicked off her boot, which went through the living room, over the counter, into the kitchen, and knocked down the oil burner.

At this point I decided that we would skip Tae Kwon Do tonight and I would just put kids to bed early.  I called my mom, who is always great at making me feel better, when I heard a knock at my door.  I was thinking, "uh what?"

I opened the door to find my good friend standing there...with a bag full of Smirnoff Ice.

"I read your Facebook post and decided I needed to come over."

The kids are now in bed, and the house is quiet.  And I am toasting my Smirnoff to good friends and skipping class (which I don't normally condone...but in this case, I'm glad I did.)

Perhaps I should watch "The Lord of the Rings"...and reheat some pizza for "second dinner."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

Irelynn, my six-year-old, brought home a letter for me that she wrote in school.  Instead of telling you about it, I will just post a picture:

  In case you can't read it, it says:

"Dear Mom,
You are my valentine. Did you now i love you so moch?  More then anething exept JB! Owen looks like he's five or six right mommy?
love your chield
sencerlly Irelynn"

For anyone who doesn't know, JB stands for "Justin Bieber."  She is completely obsessed with him, and I will take it as an extreme honor to be loved more than anything EXCEPT Justin Bieber.  And yes, Owen is looking older these days.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Allowance Day

I have decided that it is time to get the younger kids to help out more at home.  My goal is to at least get them to pick up their own toys...and not poop in their pants.  I would say that is another story, but I have actually included "going pee and poop in the potty" as one of the daily chores for the boys on their new chore charts.  Unfortunately, I did not think that one through...the first time they use the potty they will happily check off that chore...and then later in the day have an "accident."  I use the term "accident" loosely, as they are now four years old and perfectly capable of making it to the bathroom on time.  As you can probably tell...I'm getting very frustrated with the potty-training thing, envisioning my boys accepting their high school diplomas in Pull-Ups, and have succumbed to pure bribery in an attempt to put an end to accidents.  I am literally paying them to poop in the proper place.

But I digress.  Back to chores and an actual allowance.  I've gone back and forth on the idea of allowance for years.  On one hand, I understand the benefit of teaching children to earn and spend their own money.  On the other hand, I also think that they should be expected to help out and be a part of the family...without the need to pay them to do so.  As you can probably guess, that hasn't been working so well.  Chores rarely get done...and when they do, it's only part way and often times somehow manages to make more work for me in the end.  I'm determined to change things...I have five children...I should be able to expect some help around the house, even if it means I have to pay them, right?

Irelynn is very excited.  She helped me create the chore charts.  She does all of her chores and then asks if she can do more.

Connor and Owen are excited, too.  The like to color all over their chore charts and sometimes erase Irelynn's chores.  They like brushing their teeth (one of the chores.)  They do not like picking up their toys.  This is usually a battle as one won't do it if the other one isn't "doing his part."  They pick up one toy and want to go mark it off on the chart.  And then go brush their teeth again.

Somehow we muddled through this week...and though they didn't do everything perfectly, I decided to award all of the kids allowance just to give them incentive to do better next week with the warning that NEXT time they need to actually do all of their chores.  I gave Irelynn two dollars.  She proudly carried them around, waving them in the air.  Then she lost one.

The boys wanted to know how much a dollar was (they each received one.)  Then Connor wanted to know who the funny-looking guy was on his dollar.  I finally told them to go put their money someplace safe.  Then Owen came up to me, crying.

"Connor ripped my dollar!"  He held up two pieces of a one dollar bill.

Connor just grinned.  I then made him give Owen HIS dollar.

That evening I put to bed two unhappy kids.  Owen was fine, because in the end, he had a dollar.  I didn't have the heart to explain to him that his dollar was not, in fact, going to buy another Wii game.  Connor was crying because he felt that ripping Owen's dollar was not just cause for taking away his dollar.  Irelynn was devastated that she worked so hard for her money and then lost it. (We did find it the next day, so all is currently well.)

I obviously have a lot to learn about children and allowance.  This was an epic Mommy Fail.  And I don't even have a clean house to show for it.  Perhaps I should start more simple by keeping envelopes or jars or something for each kid that I keep track of...or just forget it and give the boys chocolate coins for allowance.    

I wonder if I can still spend it if I tape the dollar back together.  If so, it is totally going into the beer fund.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Look Out, Jackie Chan...

We have signed our family up for Tae Kwon Do.  The whole family.  We thought it would be a great idea for exercise, discipline, and to just have something we could all learn and do together.  The kids were all very excited, (outside of the teenage girl, who went back and forth between being very excited to hating us for "forcing" her to do a sport.)  Our oldest was starting at a yellow belt because he had taken it before...and has made sure we are all well aware of his skills.

The youngest three take class very seriously.  Irelynn is a proud Tiny Tiger, and tries to execute every move with precision.  She has earned several stars in class already.  What Owen lacks in skill, he more than makes up for in enthusiasm and charm.  He has charmed his way into earning stars after class is over...even though his front kicks involve running forward, kicking so hard he nearly lands on his bottom, and letting out a warrior yell each time.  I'm not sure Irelynn appreciates that he can flash the instructor one of his smiles and convince her that he deserves a star, too.

(Owen and Connor taking the moves seriously)

(Irelynn taking it seriously, Owen and Connor not so much)

Bruce and I are taking the adult class with the older kids.  The class is very physically challenging for us older out-of-shape people.  Honestly, I think I can do the forms much better than the warm-up, which involves jumping jacks and push ups.  However, I did have a shining moment when it came time to spar.  I had to go against our oldest son, neither of us having any protective gear.  He was trying to look impressive, sending kicks toward my head and starting each move with a stance that looked like something out of a Kung Fu movie.  After the third kick toward the head, I got irritated and grabbed his leg, mid-air, and tripped his standing leg, bringing him to the ground.  Twice I ended up taking him down, and the instructor said (quite loudly, I might add,) "Dude...your mom's kicking your ASS!"  Damn straight.

Better yet was the fact that apparently the instructors all thought this was pretty funny...the next class we went to another instructor came up and said that he heard I had "kicked his ass."  Poor Jay.  I think he took it all in stride...for the most part, anyway.

We will be testing for our next belts at the end of the month.  Hopefully that will go well, and I won't find Owen trying to charm his instructor after testing.  I'm still waiting for the instructor to correct Connor at the end of class, where the class is supposed to say, "Sabum-nim, Kam-sa-ham-ni-da."  Connor says, "Sabun-nim, Feliz Navidad."

Of course, the instructors are probably more concerned about the time Owen peed on the mat in the middle of class.  Or the time Connor licked the windows while waiting for us to order gear in the office.  Or that the mother of this family of seven takes out her aggression on her children during sparring...