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...