Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Teachable Moment Fail

There are moments as a parent when you see an opportunity to teach a lesson to your child using real-life consequences. And then there are those other times...
Monday morning I took the boys out for breakfast. Jonathan is a terribly messy eater and we have been working really hard on this over the summer. He is almost 8 years old and ends up with food all over himself and the entire neighboring vicinity. This is more than dropping crumbs or getting his face sticky. It is a flat-out disaster area when he eats. So there we are at the Quickie Chickie (not the real name) and he has a breakfast biscuit. I remind him to lean over the table, show him how keep the wrapper around the sandwich, etc etc. I remind him over and over as he eats. By the time he is done, there are chunks of biscuit all over the chair, the table and a large portion of the floor. He then proceeds to sweep all of the mess off the table onto the floor. Oh...No...You....Didn't! So I decide this is a teachable moment and go and ask for a broom and dustpan. The older, motherly employee picks up the broom and says she will get it. I politely tell her that I want my son to clean up his own mess, but she keeps insisting she will get it. I try several more times, but she is not having it. As she begins to sweep it up, I let her know that I would have really appreciated it if she would have let me teach my son to clean it up. At this point she gives me a dirty look and hands the broom to me. I give it to Jonathan and show him how to sweep up his mess. The entire time he sweeps she cheers him on telling him what a wonderful boy he is and what a fantastic job he is doing. Um, no, he is not doing something fantastic, he is doing what he should do - clean up after himself. So instead of the lesson he needed to learn, he learned that if he makes a big mess in public and then looks all sweet trying to clean it up that A) others will offer to clean it up for him, and B) he gets positive attention for it. Fail.

Ahren struggles with anything that requires fine motor control. Buttons, zippers, etc. Yesterday he wanted to make his own pb&j sandwich. Okay, lets do it! 

Trying to get the peanut butter on the bread.
 Backwards knife....
 A little HOH (hand-over-hand) assistance
 Jelly. Lots and lots of jelly. (I cringed but let him go for it)
 Flip the top onto the bottom. 
 Squoosh the bread down and eat the best sandwich ever!
 Levi gave Ahren the robe he grew out of and Ahren has been wearing it non-stop. 
 The bunnies we inherited, Gray and Chester. Very sweet and snuggly.
 Chester, chillin.
 Unfortunately these are boy bunnies and as Levi said, they are "Pee Cannons". They pee out of their cage every night. Chris is building a new outdoor hutch for them, but until it is ready, I made their cage a ghetto pee-stopping creation. How can something so adorable be so nasty???

Friday, July 19, 2013

On a Posting Flurry!

  It's amazing how much tome I have right now. No school, no work. You would think I would be tackling a hundred different projects around my house. Um...not so much. I am relaxing with my kids, baking and cooking and playing all day long. Each evening I am exhausted but happy.

  All right, let's talk RAD fallout during the summer/vacation/ch-ch-ch-changes. We all know it's going to happen. We just don't always know what form it will take or when it will rear it's ugly head. This summer we had minor deregulation after school  let out. As we got closer and closer to time for me to stop working, my school to end and our big vacation, I did my best to prepare everyone. I told them every day exactly what was going to happen, when, who, how, what, etc etc. Unfortunately the best laid plans can be scuttled by family. Hah! My parents understood my need for controlling our visit. They have spent many hours on the phone talking about the need for consistency, reliability, control of expectations to avoid major meltdowns. Still, our big plans for the amusement park, Levi's Birthday and celebration were tossed on their ear. Just days before e were to leave we were quickly re-arranging and regrouping, but the damage was done. In those last few days one small boy stole the multi-tool off of my keychain and then proceeded to lie about it. We knew it was him. Still, he stuck to the story and became more and more hyper. Then, we found a pair of children's prescription glasses. These were not ours and we had no idea where they came from. We got one story and then another. We checked with neighbors, vacation bible school, and friends. We never found where they came from. We still cannot get the true story out of him, although he does admit he had them.

  During the trip we had a mostly-good time. There were times he worked incredibly hard to be miserable. We just ignored him. Despite himself, he had a lot of fun. Then one night my Mom's cigarette lighter disappeared. My Dad asked the child about it and got the wide eyed, um-um-umming denial to knowing where it was. Miraculously, a short time later, the lighter was back in it's original location, found by the child himself (who proclaimed it was there all the time). Now taking a pair of glasses is bad enough, but knives and lighters are getting into the dangerous category. My parents live in a manufactured home that would ignite like a Roman candle. Very scary!

  Chris and I tried to think of a way to get through to him. Punishment doesn't work, talking to him doesn't work, threats, scare tactics, screaming rants....don't work. So we took him to the fire station and had them talk to him. I went in first and told them the story, including his background. Then I brought him in. The Captain sat him in a big chair in the middle of all the firefighters. They showed him photos of a charred baby's crib and talked about how the brother was curious about a lighter and this is what happened. They point blank told him they have to go into the scenes like this and remove the dead bodies. They talked and shared and got him to talk to them. He looked scared to death, but listened intently. We have talked about it almost daily since then trying to make the lesson stick. I have my fingers crossed!!!

  So this week he finally lost his shiznit completely. He spent an entire morning screaming, hitting, telling me I was mean, he hated it here and he wants to die. I just kept gently leading him back to his bed to vent in a safe spot. Once he was finally done, I held him and told him I knew he loved me and that I loved him. I understood he needed to vent all the negative stuff and that I would help him keep learning how to deal with it in better ways. A little while later, here is where I found him. Totally crashed. He has been so much happier and regulated since that morning. He released the demons....for a while.

Now, on to much nicer thoughts....
I found this recipe in a magazine and thought it looked like fun. If you can't read it, you take 3 Jolly Rancher candies, melt them in the oven and add a sucker stick. I used non-stick foil instead of parchment paper and craft sticks instead of sucker sticks. They melt for 6 min at 275 degrees. 

 Tada! Suckers! 

And a couple of Suckers enjoying suckers! LOL!

 I also made another stab at bread. This is a Victorian Milk Loaf. It looks beautiful, but it is still denser than I wanted. It does look exactly like the photo in the book, though, so that may be the way it is supposed to be. I am going to try a couple more recipes in the next week to see if I can find one I like.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


  I was sitting on the couch last night, tired from a long day of kid-wrangling and Mommy duties when it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. I will never see my daughter again. In fact, she will never be my daughter. I felt like the breath had been knocked out of me. Whoosh. Deflated. Flattened. I thought I was ok with it. I mean, it's been 6 1/2 years of waiting, not like I haven't had time to contemplate a poor outcome. So why does it surprise me? Ugh. Stupid hopeful heart.
  So now what? I don't know. I dreamed we had a little girl, about 2 years old, who was clearly Asian. Her name was Lily in my dream. Tiny and doll-like, I held her close and smelled the scent of her silky hair. Is this a message from God or just my over active mind entertaining me in my sleep? We are not spring chickens any more.  Soon we will be seeing kids graduating from college, getting married and having grandchildren. I am excited for that phase of our lives but I am not sure I am ready for this phase to be over. I am not good at big transitions and yet I crave challenges in life. Clearly I am insane! But......isn't one insane Mama better than none?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Art Project Fail

We had a little friend over today, Mina, who we have known since she was only a bump in her mommy's tummy. I decided to do a special art project. I had picked up solid colored t-shirts for each of the 4 kiddos and fabric paint supplies. I got everything set up and told the kids to think of what they wanted to paint on their shirts before they started. 

Mina immediately chose a Dolphin
(She took a long time to work hard on her shirt and it shows)

Ahren drew an 'Art' shirt with a hand going to pick up a crayon (pink thing). Good job!

Levi drew a sun shining down on a pink car that looks like hi s cousin Trista's car that he saw in Iowa.
 Jonathan/Seth....after many false starts and reminders to decide what to draw first then start drawing........drew a cowboy with a bloody hand and the word blood underneath it so you would know it was a bloody hand. The knife in the picture was totally accidental (or maybe Freudian) Needless to say he will not be wearing this creation unless we want to dress him up as mini-Dexter blood-spatter serial killer for Halloween. Fail.......

Tuesday? Really???

Things continue to perk along here as usual. I have several job leads but am being picky (cuz I can). In the meantime I am tackling many projects around the house and enjoying myself immensely. 

Levi and I made home-made lasagna, including home-made pasta. All the kids cranked away on the pasta machine, but only Levi stuck around to build them. We made three 8x8 pans, 3 layers deep. Enough in each pan to feed us twice. Two went into the freezer and one into the oven. Yum!

 This is serious work. Have to get the layers just right.
 I usually pack my kids lunches for school. I like to choose the foods they get and give them lots of variety. The school lunches are better than they used to be, but they are bland and repetitive. This year I am trying something new. I had read about these bento-box like lunch containers and thought I would take a shot at it.
 The website is full of ideas for healthy lunches plus the pieces are all designed to work together.
 I got three of the insulated boxes (three different colors) one for each boy. 
The containers fit down inside the box with room on top for drinks, etc.
 I purchased three sets of 4 bento-like containers plus one set of 8 small sauce containers. That way I can make several days worth of lunches at a time. The containers then get washed but the boxes stay clean. I organized all of the items under the island where I can pull them out and assemble the lunches. It all looks and sounds so convenient but the proof will be when I put the system to the test. The biggest thing I am worried about is not getting the containers back from school. I just know someone (ahem - son, I am looking at you) will throw them in the trash can even though I have said not to a thousand times.
 Meet the newest member of Chez Chaos. This is 'Who Dat' the cat (that is the name she came with, not sure it is going to stay). She is a rescue, 9 weeks old, and hilarious. Huge personality in a tiny body.
 Buster lurves her so much!!!!! (He only gets supervised time with her since she is so tiny still)
 What a beautiful little girl. 
 And to whichever child/children decided that the place for spent bubble gum was under the dining room table, I have just one word for you. Paybacks. Someday you will have children and I will make sure you fully enjoy all the curious surprises that I have.........plus a few new ones!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Levi turns 10 at the State Capital Building

We asked Levi where he wanted to be at the exact moment he was going to turn 10 years old. He chose the Iowa State Capital Building! (We had been researching the capital building that morning and had watched a video of the renovation of the glass floor in the atrium.) 

 The view from inside up into the dome. They have spent many years now renovating the building and bringing it back to it's original grandeur. It is really impressive, much more than my photos can show.
 Levi, boy of the day, posing in front of a giant painting depicting the settlers coming westward in covered wagons.
 Exactly 2:18 pm on July 1st, 2013 we present out newly double-digit boy standing on the glass floor.
 Posing in front of the big bell (I think it was a bell off of the U.S.S. Iowa battleship..??)
 A replica of the U.S.S. Iowa battleship. I wonder how much model glue this one took....
 A better view of the inside of the dome.
 The law library. It smelled like wonderful old books, leather and wood policy. Absolutely gorgeous. I could have sat in their all day just staring and sniffing the smell of old knowledge.
 The staircases in the law library. These were all made entirely by hand. All the intricate carvings must have taken many years off the lives of the carvers....
 My happy boy, enjoying the library. (He was actually pretending here, in a rare moment of fun. Mama, take a picture of me pretending I am in time out!) Heh, who has to pretend. Just wait 5 minutes....
 A replica of the Liberty Bell in the parking lot. Chris held Ahren up to ring it. We were all expecting a weak pull of the massive clapper but he grabbed that rope and pulled with all his might. Chris almost dropped him, we all clapped our hands over our ears, and then Chris yelled 'Run, the police are coming'  just as we heard sirens. The boys lit out for the car like scared rabbits. The rest of us just laughed and laughed. The bell has a sign that says to try it out, but the boys didn't see that. Hahahahah!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation Part 2

Dawn - you grew up in Iowa? In Des Moines or nearby??? Where did you go to school? I am so psyched by that!!!!

The car situation. Everyone was in a seat (separated by an arms length of space) with a bag of activities and snacks hanging from the headrest in front of them. The van has built in cup holders and electrical outlets everywhere. It worked really well.
 My sweet hubby, doing his best imitation of Kaytee on Facebook. Hahahahahahah!!!
 Me trying to out-do his Facebook pose but not quite getting there....I forgot the duck lips. I do like the crazy eyes, though.....
 We arrived and the boys got swept into a long group hug by my parents. You can see only part of Ahren's orange shirt behind levi.
 We spent an afternoon at my brother's house where a huge nerf gun battle erupted. My brother claimed the biggest gun, since he IS the biggest kid!
 My nephew Quentin helping load guns. 
 My great-nephew Jacob, who at 2 years old did a terrific job of keeping up with all the big kids.
 The view across the river at downtown Des Moines. The bridge is the Principle foot bridge and the tallest, pointy topped building in the background is the Principle building (as in the insurance company).
 We walked the bridge and marveled at the massive amounts of water spilling over the dam below.
 Grandpa Jarman (Chris's Dad), Chris and the boys. One boy spent the entire time working very hard at not having any fun. Can you guess which one? Too bad, the rest of us just ignored him and his mood.
 Grandpa talking to Ahren about the water. Ahren said it looked like mashed potatoes and gravy. (His favorite food....)
 The Iowa State Capital Building. You may have seen this during election years, lit up like a Christmas tree on the first night of the caucuses. It is a stunningly beautiful building.
 We played football.....
 and then my brother took all the 5 boys (nephew Gabe, great-nephew Jacob and my three) for a little redneck hay ride around his yard. Again, I think my brother had the most fun. LOL! Somehow, even though I took a hundred pictures, I didn't get one single shot of Gabe where you can see  his face, except for this one. He is next to Seth)
 One last shot of Mr. Crabby Pants. At least I got a funny face instead of the snarling, pouty faces in most of the pictures.