Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top Parenting Tips

Once upon a time, I started blogging on a different site. It was free for a limited time, I got a lot of spam comments, and then the whole site went up for sale. I don't think they exist anymore. Anyway, this was back before I could do wayyyyy technologically advanced things like copy and paste, so instead of transferring my old stuff over to blogger, I just deleted everything. Long story short, one of my most popular posts was something like this:


1. "The Disappointed Look."  This is useful for when you need to pack your kid's bags and take them on a guilt trip. It only works for sensitive souls though. Actually, it doesn't really work at all, but we still use it frequently. You can partner it with a long, drawn out sigh. Maybe squeeze a few tears if you can, but don't try too hard. Kids can smell manipulation, just like they can smell fear. The only child of mine that The Disappointed Look works on, is Anna. Sometimes I shake my head sorrowfully to go along with it. She immediately starts yelling, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't really eat my green beans - look! I'm eating them now! I'm SORRY!"

2. "The Furry Hand of Discipline." This was is a misnomer. I think once Mike gently tried to explain to his little angels the term, the firm hand of discipline. It didn't go over well since they burst out laughing and shouted, "the furry hand! Not the furry hand! aaagh!"  To this day, we still call it the furry hand of discipline, and we picture it like Grover's blue hand coming out of the blue to strike fear and obedience into the hearts of little sinners everywhere.

Unless your kid has a fear of blue muppets though, this probably isn't the most effective threat. Which leads me to my next technique:

3. "The Idle Threat." This technique is as old as time. Eve probably used it on Cain and Abel, and look how - um, never mind. Bad example. But we can't seem to stop ourselves as parents with this one. We know we have to NOT let little Sue slide with whatever naughtiness she is currently involved in, but we really don't feel like full-on parenting at the moment. So we idly say something like, 

Stop these shenanigans immediately or I will cancel Christmas!

Sometimes it's not that scary or over the top. Sometimes it's something like,

Stop these shenanigans immediately or I will come in there, so help me, God!

Either way, we're lying and we're not canceling anything or getting off the couch.

4. "Talking Them Half to Death" or "Preaching." This is especially effective with teenagers. They will do anything, ANYTHING, to get you to stop preaching. Even delete bad songs off their Ipods. Even if Lil' Wayne is the only one who understands them.

I'll leave you with some great parenting quotes. If you know of any others, or have one yourself, leave em in the comments! (and admire my copying and pasting skillz, will ya?!)

A child is a curly dimpled lunatic. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. I have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there is wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. This is sick.
Erma Bombeck

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first one being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
Erma again

Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.
Phyllis Diller

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found." 
 Calvin Trillin 

To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. 
Oscar Wilde

Even very young children need to be informed about dying. Explain the concept of death very carefully to your child. This will make threatening him with it much more effective. 
P. J. O'Rourke

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I love throwing stuff away

My garage is calling me. It's saying,

Come get these free craigslist chairs you acquired last year and put them out on the curb.

If I obey the call, I can get to the important stuff in there - like my box of sewing supplies, the kid's off season clothing, and the contraband supply of Hagan Daaz in my freezer. 

Truer words were never spoken.

Anyway, one of the best feelings in the world (okay, yes, that's an exaggeration. There are probably better feelings: feeding orphans, saving lives, winning the lottery, a really good sneeze, eating secret ice cream, etc) is the feeling I get when I throw things away.

Not only do I love shopping at the Goodwill, but I love having a pile of stuff to give to the Goodwill. This is recycling at its finest. 

It works for toys too. Want that ridiculous, overpriced piece of junk, do you? Okay, but you'll have to give away two ridiculous, overpriced pieces of junk out of your exploding bedroom, kid. Win, win. 

Today, I threw out an empty shampoo bottle and a very nearly empty bottle of conditioner. I probably could have added some water in there, shook it around, and had enough to rinse my curly locks with, but I was feeling giddy with the thrill of throwing things out. This gave me opportunity - nay, NEED - to replace them with two shiny new bottles. Which, if you're a girl, is super exciting. Or maybe I don't get out much. Don't rain on my parade. I like products. 
As much as I like em though, I limit myself. Once upon a marriage, Mike had this in our shower:

A bottle of Suave shampoo.
A dull razor.

And I had in the same shower:

Apricot scrub.
Four half empty bottles of shampoo.
Regular conditioner.
Deep conditioner.
Leave in conditioner.
Conditioner that didn't work well, but smelled great.
Conditioner that didn't smell great, but worked well.
Two razors. (I dunno why, stop interrogating me!)
Make up remover.
Face mask.
Shave cream.
Body scrub.
Homemade oatmeal facial exfoliating scrub.
Apple cider vinegar for rinsing.
A book for baths.
Bubble bath.
Nail clippers.
Tooth brush.

Anyhoo, a few years later, and I think I've gotten better. We can now move a fraction of an inch without causing a domino effect. Now I have:

One shampoo.
One conditioner.
One body wash that I don't actually use, but someone gave me and it looks cute sitting there.
One razor.
Small bottle of olive oil for removing make up.

Speaking of showers, does anyone else do this:
You're showering, minding your own business, singing television theme songs from the eighties and nineties, and everything's fine, all's good, the kids wander in and out, the dog walks by, yada yada. Then you go to wash your face and have to close your eyes. Instant mental imagery of a ax murderer outside the shower curtain.

No? Just me? Never mind. Forget I said anything.

So, the point is, throw something away today. You'll be glad you did.

P.S. If you need a place to start, think under the sinks. Kitchen, bathroom, it doesn't matter. Odds are there are things under there you DO NOT NEED. No one needs six different kinds of cleaners or seven bottles of body lotion you didn't like anyway, or three deodorants that didn't work for you, or candles with the wicks lost inside the wax. Throw it all out! Really. You're going to feel so much better. Today, the under the sink cabinets, tomorrow the garage!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gianni Be Good (Part Two)

Don't let the charming Ferris Bueller impression throw you.

Or the innocent toothless grin.  

This kid has shenanigans down to a science.
An evil science.
The kind with splattered lab coats and twirly swirly mustaches.

Today? I caught him with his pet chicken, CurlyFurly II. But he wasn't lovin' up on said chickie, no, no. He was spinning her around by her tail feathers like this:

The poor chickens aren't ever going to lay. They're too stressed out.  And who could blame them? 

Not I, said the little red hen.

So, remember, when you see a cute little boy named Gianni coming your way, don't be fooled by his sweet smile and offer to cuddle.
Cuz sometimes I look outside and this is what I see:

My only guess is that he knows just how rotten to the core he can be, and in order to save mankind, he periodically ties himself to the garden hose, wearing nothing but his jammies and rain boots. 

Whatever you do.
Don't untie him.

And pray for the livestock.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Well, he didn't DIE like he threatened...

but he fell asleep from boredom.

That'll show his mean mommy who wouldn't play "shoot the bad guys then resurrect them so we can shoot them again," because she was tired and had laundry to put away!

Especially when it's 9 p.m. and he isn't anywhere near ready for bed because he just took a three hour nap.

Wait a minute here...

Gianni: 1
Mommy: 0

Foolish, naive little woman that I am, I fell right into his trap.

He is positively Machiavellian, that four year old man of mine.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Back to school shopping

Normally, I avoid blogs that yak on and on about homeschool curricula. It's probably just me, because those kinds of blogs are uber popular, but they just annoy me somehow. I also throw away homeschool catalogues due to intense insecurities that I don't OWN EVERYTHING. But in case you're not like me, and you'd like to know what we are planning on doing this year, here it is:

Cora has gone through nearly all the Apologia Exploring Creation books, and since she wants to be a marine biologist, she should really eat this one up.

 Last year and the year before we chose Teaching Textbooks for math (pictured below). I absolutely adore them, but we're doing a cheaper route this year. Life of Fred. They are hilarious and well written, and practically a novel, so they aren't your typical dry textbook. Cora had a tough time with fractions this year, so we're starting there, then we'll move on to Pre-Algebra.

I just discovered these Drive Thru History dvds. They look like they will be right up my kid's ally! We also learn a lot of history through novels, but these look really fun, AND I can get them through Netflix. Win, win!

This is Teaching Textbooks, and I'm their biggest fan. I hardly ever have to "teach" math with these, and that's a good thing. Both for me and for my kids.  

This is me, on math:

There you have it. 
Wish I did.
Have it, I mean.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Near Death Experience

The other night I was sleeping on my little sissy's couch. It was either that or snuggle with her in bed and since her son is still nursing, I was afraid of awkward encounters of the midnight snacking variety. Anyway, I awoke to the sound of someone having a heck of a time with a baby-proof lid. You know? Like the kind on bottle of Tylenol or something? 


I thought perhaps it was Buck, my nephew, running his toys across the bars of his crib. But it wasn't coming from that direction.

So I wandered into the darkness of the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye I see something small and square move across the dining room.


The windows, which are low to the ground, the same windows that I lost my nephew watching license to because I was told to keep an eye on Buck and the only requirement was to make sure he didn't plummet out these windows while my sister brushed her teeth, and when she came back he was leaning out those same windows while I sat three inches away engaged in Pinterest. Those windows. I thought those windows were letting in enough of a breeze to move a toy across the floor. 

Yawning, I leaned down and picked it up.

The toy bit me.

In that flash of brilliance that only happens during a late-night emergency, I remember a mouse trap that had been set behind the refrigerator. It's a country home, you see, surrounded by farming fields of mint. Which is nice when you need a fresh mojito. But I digress.

I chuck the not-toy across the room and it runs beneath the couch. My bed. Still attached to the trap. The mouse, not the couch, I mean.

I cradled my hand and debated the merits of becoming MouseWoman. I could already feel an insatiable desire for cheese overwhelming me. Would I start scaring elephants now? Dress in tiny clothing and mend ball gowns? Would I teach large eared pachyderms to fly? Would I fit under a chef's hat and learn to cook? I could hear the opening strains of Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggety Dog in my head. The possibilities were endless and I could feel a hankering for Gorgonzola. 

Actually, the Gorgonzola thing was pretty usual for me, even before I became MouseWoman.

I had a dilemma though that didn't have anything to do with cheese. I didn't know where to go to sleep. I couldn't sleep with a Rambo mouse under my couch. I couldn't go wake my sister because she's only accustomed to small children waking her in the wee hours of the night, and I'm fairly certain she knows how to use a shotgun. There were small children in and on top of every piece of furniture in the house. And then came another dilemma, this one of a moral type. My son was on the other couch. I couldn't just abandon him to the mouse. 

I mean, he was blissfully unaware of the danger. And his couch was pretty high up. It'd be cruel to wake him...but crueler to leave him to his fate of Squeaky the Butcher Mouse.  I mean, he already had a taste of human blood...what if he was craving more the same way I was craving a hunk of Bleu?

But what could I do? Beat Squeaky to death with a shovel? Shoot him? Lure him with cheese to the salivating Cairn Terrier outside? Train it to do tricks? Tricks like not stopping my heart or eating my flesh? 

In the end, after standing in the darkness for ten minutes, my innate yellow bellied chicken-ness won out. But I couldn't abandon my Pooky Head. I scooped him up and slung him over my shoulder.

I needed my pillow. The creature under the couch hadn't made a single rattle or clicking noise since I threw him. 

I approached the couch and picked up my pillow, my very toes fearing for their lives.

A loud rattling noise erupted from beneath my once-a-bed. I died several times.

After I made a squealing sound which was all I could muster, I ran like the wind down to the basement, where I crawled in next to my sleeping friend (also visiting) for protection. Together, like a couple of school kids, we listened to the rattling and clicking and scurrying sound above our heads for the next two hours.

In my desperate attempt to redeem myself from the Buck window watching incident, I made a beeline for the first floor as soon as I heard my sister and him awake. I could just picture her setting him down for a minute and Buck's little pudgy hand reaching for that psychopathic rodent. 

I explained the situation - thereby saving everyone's lives in the process - and we began moving furniture. No mouse. 

Eventually, we find Squeaky. Under the high chair. Still attached to the trap.

Still freaking alive!

Seriously, this mouse deserves a medal. 

Instead, we get the shovel. 

No, not for bashing the little furry brains in. For transporting out to the mint farm. You know. So he can come back in tomorrow night.

But he kept crawling up the shovel every time my sister tried to scoop him.

Yes. Still attached to the trap. 

When she finally got him centered she used her sprinting abilities to leap across the house to the back door and then she used her discus throwing abilities to toss him. It was epic. 

I keep getting random giggle fits thinking of the whole debacle. 

I'm still craving cheese and I only wear red and white polka dot dresses with high heels now, but I'm sure that's only a coincidence.