Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You can't win!

I've decided that I'm a failure as the mother of a school-aged kid. Seriously, this is a whole new world... one where you can't win! And, he's only in Kindergarten!

I feel like there's so much pressure, and I'm starting late in the game so I'm the new kid in town when everyone else already knows what they are doing. I walked into school with him late yesterday (only by a couple of minutes, and because as were leaving he decided he didn't want to go to school). I begun walking him to his classroom and I got a dirty look from the hall monitor. "Excuse me, you need to sign in." she said. Great, I'm already being recorded as a bad mom on the beginning of our second week of school! I hang up his backpack just outside the classroom and I suddenly realize I don't know what to do with his Friday folder. Do they check his bag, or does he need to bring it into the classroom?

I step inside to ask the teacher, but I feel like I'm interrupting because we're late already. I might as well walk around with a big L on my forehead. Anyway, the girls and I (Titus stayed the night at Aunt Suzy's) walked out of the classroom and went on our merry way.

A few hours later I do the pick up thing. And here's where you just can't win. If I get there on time, or early, they come out 5 minutes late. If I get there even 2 minutes late, Logan is the last kiddo there. Of course, this makes me feel like the big L on my forehead is written in neon.

Then, this morning, determined NOT to be late again, we left in plenty of time. Okay, let's be honest I was barking at all four kids the whole way out the door. "Get your shoes on! Hurry up. Come on, buckle in, we're gonna be late!". We drive the .2 miles to school trying not to hit all the little uns on their way to school. And then we pull into the little drop off area that only fits like 3 cars (okay, I'm exaggerating just a little!), but they haven't let the kiddos inside the school yet, despite the fact that it's 5 minutes after the doors are supposed to be open. I don't want to drop Logan off in the mass of kiddos not yet allowed into the school because he's a known bolter. So, I'm realizing I have a 5 minute window of opportunity to drop Logan off between when the doors are open and when he's considered late. There's no where to park, so I loop around again as they're opening the doors. 400 other parents converge on the school at the same time and it takes me just about all of those 5 minutes to loop back around into a drop-off spot to drop the kiddo off at school. I'm pretty sure he wasn't late... but darn close.

I can't win! It's a conspiracy I tell ya! My kids are never going to school. We're going to go hide out in the mountains somewhere. How do all these moms everywhere function? I'm beginning to wonder if I'm cut out for this job!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bed Time

I was on my own for bed time tonight because Rob got a last minute invite to an OSU basketball game. I took on this challenge with zeal, and it somehow only took me several hours to actually get all four into their beds! Seriously, why do these things take so long? Arg, I'm pooped!

I have actually been too worn out on most nights to make myself a bowl of ice cream... you know it's bad when I don't even think ice cream is worth the effort!

Tonight's only really rough spot included a crash between siblings where Logan got his lip split open. It gushed blood really good which, of course, made him hysterical. I was trying to help him not get blood all over everything, wash his hands, clean up his face and not fall apart too badly all at the same time. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy! Leeann, my little nurse, was of course a big helper. Titus and Hope on the other hand--well, not so helpful!

Logan got a Popsicle (our equivalent of an ice pack for lip/mouth injuries), and by the end of the night all 3 of the other kids had sympathy injuries and requested Popsicles to help them feel better. Hmmm, yeah, that one didn't work out too well for any of them. The proof is in the blood!

After phone calls to Logan and Hope's parents, jammies, injury clean-ups & room clean-ups we sat down to do nickels. This process took like 20 minutes as they each counted their nickels over and over again. Leeann got to choose a prize from our now over-flowing prize box (thanks Aunt Barb for sending such great prizes for the kiddos, they all love them!), and she chose a Hello Kitty mini stationary set. The other 3 are close, so they were all scoping out what their next prizes will be, which seemed to take another 10 minutes.

Then we sat down to read a book that Logan brought home from school today. Of course, it was a long one that took forever to read. By the time I got the kids into bed I begged politely asked them to have mercy on me go to bed without any problems. A few tears later and minor squabbles later they finally drifted off into la la land. Some days we get 1/2 hour fits, so I was happy to see that my pleading seemed to have some positive effect.

After they were all in bed I remembered that they should have all had baths tonight. Whoops! I'm not sure I could have handled it anyway, so it's probably best I forgot. Besides, it was already past 9 by the time everyone was down, I can't imagine how late it would have been if we'd done baths.

I'm not really sure why I even sat down to post tonight. Hmmm. Apparently I thought you all needed to know how bed time went tonight. I know, isn't my blog just riveting?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

We make a good team

It's fun being married to your best friend! Sometimes I feel like Rob and I work so well together that I'm living in a dream-land. Seriously, growing up I never imagined that marriage could be such a blessing and so much fun!

The joy of marriage is never as noticeable as when things get tough. Right now, we are obviously in one of the tougher stages of our lives taking on two full-time foster kids (er, uh siblings?), and it's complicated our life quite a bit on so many levels... yet so much of it is a strange joy.

One of the most joyous parts is seeing how Rob and I work together to get things done, make things happen, and help each other survive the craziness that we now call life! I am consistently amazed at how he knows so much without ever having to ask. Somehow he just knows when I need a break, or a hug, or some encouragement, or when I need him to step in, or back away, be firm or loosen up.

Of course, this isn't the case 100% of the time, but it happens often enough that I can't help but think that God designed marriage to be quite an amazing thing. I'm so grateful that he gave me such a wonderful man to walk through life with!

Did I mention he's a rock to take on 2 extra kiddos for an unknown period of time on virtually no notice? AND to do it all with such love and grace? Yup, I must say that I am one incredibly blessed woman to be sharing life with my husband. I LOVE YOU ROB!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I was at Target in Albany last night and I almost didn't look... but I decided I probably should... and voila! Mater! MATER! Not one, not two, but THREE MATERS... and I bought them all! I did the happy dance and called Rob in the middle of the store. I FOUND MATER!

I haven't decided whether to let them earn them or to save them for Easter Baskets yet.

For those of you who haven't been keeping track of my saga, I've been on the hunt for Mater for probably a full year now. I mean, looking every time I go to any store that might possibly carry the Cars cars. Even going out of our way to stop at malls to see if they have a store that would carry a large enough selection of the Cars to possibly have Mater. He's been elusive, unavailable, never there. But he's like the second to the main character, so no collection is complete without him.

Last week I finally went and bought a 'brand new Mater', even though he's only brand new for like 2 seconds of the movie. Titus has been carrying him around and sleeping with him for a whole week now. I can't wait til he gets his Mater!

Yes, when you are a mom, some things are worth blogging about and this is most certainly one of them!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Public Confession

Aunt Pam, I pilfered your 5 remaining delicious cookies and took them home with me when I left your house on Saturday. I thought about just taking one or two, but I couldn't help myself. They were too yummy to leave sitting on your counter... and I just enjoyed one. I've been rationing them but now I only have 1 left. It's calling my name and I can no longer resist the Keebler malted yummy temptation. So there you have it, there's my confession.

Oh, and I ate some peanut butter and honey toast at your house yesterday while you were gone.

And I gave some toast to my kids too.

Oh, and I took a bottled water. I think that's all... until the next time :0)

Still Chuggin' Along

It's day 19 as 'mother' of 4, and we're all still alive and doing well for the most part... I'm not sure I can ask for a whole lot more!

I wish you could listen in for a little while just to get a small glimpse into my current world! These 4 have such unique personalities, and they all come into play all day long.

Leeann is sensitive and emotional and gets her feelings hurt right and left, so she'll come crying to me several times a day.

Logan is black and white and is constantly 'tattling' on whoever isn't following the rules. This, of course, doesn't apply to himself.

Hope plays pretty well for the most part but she can get really angry really quickly and then we settle in for a head-ache for everyone!

Titus is just loud. Really loud. The kiddo never stops talking and jumping and running.

It's funny, we have fun moments around here where all seems calm, peaceful and manageable and then we have moments of sheer and utter chaos. It's like a roller coaster!

Well, for the first time in what feels like forever we don't have any plans today. No school, no visits, no appointments, no plans. I have a really long to-do list, but nothing that has to be done today. It seems like today ought to be a 'catch-up on blogging laundry and housework' day. We'll see how this goes!

Did I mention we're trying to sell our condo? Watch me scramble the first time someone wants to come look at it! You try keeping a 1224 sqft place show-ready with four kids ages 3-5.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Baby Jace!

I got a little bit of Auntie time this weekend, and I'm happy to share some pictures of baby Jace.

He looks like a little birdy in this one!

It's so strange to hear my brother refer to himself as daddy. It was cute to see them together, and for Jason to be all ooey and gooey with Jace :0)

And this is Jace with Great Grandma Beaston.

Here's Jace with his parents, Heidi and Jason.

And finally, Jace with his parents and big sister Chelsea.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's a whole new world!

My life has radically changed recently in many ways, but one was especially notable this morning. Perhaps you are already aware of this strange phenomenon, but my eyes were once again opened to this reality this morning:

There are tons of people who are up, dressed, fed, groomed (with all of their kids that way too!), and out the door by 8 something in the morning. And they make it look easy!

I was reminded of this taking Logan to school today. There were mom's and dad's walking their little ones to school, kiddos riding their bikes, lots of kids being dropped off by there well-groomed looking parents that I'm sure are off to bigger and better things as soon as their child is safely inside of those doors.

Me? Well, my kiddos were all dressed, fed and mostly groomed, but I threw on a sweatshirt and some jeans and stumbled out the door. I empathize with those parents who look like they just rolled out of bed when dropping their kids off. I had grand ideas of showering before dropping him off, but the extra 10 minutes of sleep sounded more appealing! Maybe I'll get the hang of it? I can't help it, I like my sleep, and I'm NOT a morning person.

Ah, but now I'm locked in by the school bell. I must be at school precisely at drop-off time and at pick-up time. This is the beginning of the my next 15 years as I know it. I knew the day would come, but Leeann won't start kindergarten til the Fall (she has a late summer Birthday and we're starting her late), and I was secretly hoping to get her in afternoon kindergarten, delaying my new reality for at least another year!

The other funny thing is that it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get everyone ready (longer if I'm actually doing hair and make-up and such), another few minutes to get shoes and coats on and out the door, 5 minutes to buckle everyone in, and .3 seconds to actually drive him to school. Then we come home, undo the damage that we did leaving the house and now the timer quickly starts counting down to when we do it all over again. This time, it's the 5 minutes for shoes and coats, 5 minutes for loading up and buckling in, .3 seconds to school to pick him up, and I wonder if the few short hours he's at school (2 hrs. 45 minutes) is a fair trade off for the amount of time it takes to actually get him there and pick him up!

Well, I better be off to the shower so I can be ready to do this whole thing all over again!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stealing a Great Idea!

My friend Jessi recently posted on her blog how she knows everyone on her blog roll. It was fun to read and make some connections. I thought I'd steal that idea and do the same. Thanks for the great idea Jess!

Rob is my husband, and my favorite person in the whole world!

Suzy is Rob's baby sister and one of my bestest friends, and mother of 3 of my favorite boys.

Michelle is a friend of Rob's from his growing up days.

Megan is someone I went to college with.

Tim and Hannah are married. Tim was a good friend of Rob's in college. He and his wife are now serving on a medical mission ship in Africa.

The Kershners are some friends of ours from our college days also. They throw great parties!

Tara was one of my college roomates. She's an amazing woman in so many ways, I'm so glad she blogs so I can peak into her crazy world (she has a son younger than Titus and twins too!)

Rebekah is the daughter of our adoption lawyer. This is journey of being diagnosed with, battling and winning cancer.

Jessi is one of my favorite friends even though our paths only crossed for a short (yet so impactful) period of time. We lived in the same hall (4th floor Henkle baby!) during our short stints at Western Oregon University. I'm pretty sure meeting her is the reason God sent me to that school for 3 short months! She married a Canadian and now lives way too far away... but she blogs, so I'll forgive her! In fact, she's the reason I went to Corban... and met Rob. Hey, Thanks Jessi!

Jennifer is an amazing mama that goes to our church. She's full of life and spunk and all sorts of good stuff. I like Jennifer lots, but our combined busyness doesn't let us spend nearly enough time together!

SaraJane is also a friend from college, though we really spent very little time as friends in school. We mostly started hanging out after she graduated and have just stuck together as friends since then. A whole country separates us now, but we chat on the phone often thanks to Verizon!

Becky is a super sweet lady I used to wash dishes with during our days working in the dining hall at Corban. In fact, it used to be Becky, Thad (her now husband) and I working the Sunday night shift. I knew there was something special between them! I was on student government with Thad too. They have 3 kids younger than Titus. Yikes!

Mike (of Mike and Becka) was one of Rob's best friends growing up. There were four of them that were inseparable. Every story about high school starts with, "When Mike, Steve, Chris and I..." I only met Becka at their wedding, which is what led to our unforgettable Disneyland trip in '07 with Mee Maw.

Stacey is Rob's little cousin who lives in Indiana. There whole family always looks like they walked off the cover of a magazine! Of course, she's just as beautiful inside as she is outside too :0)

Breanna is one of those people that I feel like I'm good friends with, even though we mostly know each other through blogging (and her letting us stay on our way down to see Mikey!) She was one of Suzy's best friends growing up, and also the daughter of Rob's youth pastor in high school. She was also an ex-girlfriend of Rob's too... but don't worry, it was a really long time ago and not even kind of awkward.

Krista was a good friend, and accountability partner of mine in college. We also kept in touch playing some mean rounds of fun games in the years after college, but lots of kids seem to have dissipated those fun times. Bummer!

Eroica is one of my bestest friends in the whole world. We met when she started attending NACC and somehow just stuck together like glue.

Edwards. They are also some college friends that we've kept in touch with during our post college years, mostly for the occassional dinner and game night... which also seems to be getting longer and longer between meet-ups. I'm beginning to think we need to make more social arrangements!

Jenny is Suzy's bestest friend, sister of Breanna, friend of Rob's growing up (by default since Suzy and Jenny didn't go ANYWHERE without each other, and daughter of his former youth pastor. She's another one I feel like great friends with through blogging, though I think I've only actually met her twice?

Aspen is a girl in our church who spent the last year + trying to figure out what, if anything is medically 'wrong' with her. It's been a strange journey but she appears to be doing well! She and her sister also sell girl scout cookies :0)

Sarah is a friend of mine from college too. We were on Student Government together. Ah, those were the good ole days!

Serah is a friend of mine from WAY back in the 1st-3rd grade days before she and her family moved. It's been fun to read her blog, but she doesn't keep up on it enough :0)

Becca is a friend from college whom I shared a number of education classes with. She's just one of those genuinly neat and super cool people. She blesses those around her just by being her!

Bill is a college friend, husband of Krista, brother-in-law of Becky, computer geek extrodinaire. Excellent photographer. I like to say he got his start at our wedding!

John is Suzy's husbands cousin, and he's got all sorts of great adventures out-lined on his blog. He's got an amazing heart for God and people.

And crazy mom... well, I don't know her but I find her blog hillarious so I try to catch up on it from time to time.

So there you have it... well, at least those posted on my blog roll. I have others I stalk, but I keep forgetting to put them on my roll. Jill, Jack, Cake Wrecks, Steve... those are the ones that come to mind first... maybe someday I'll update it!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Boys!

This is my brother Jason, and his son Jace. This will give you a better look at the little guy! I can't wait to meet him tomorrow! More pictures to come, I'm sure!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Baby Pictures

These are a few pictures that were emailed to me from my cousin, so they are a little bit little, but they show my new favorite baby!

Forget newborn diapers, this kiddo's probably already nearing size 2!
I can't believe my brother's a daddy!
This is Chelsea, Jace's big sister. Isn't she adorable?

The family. Yay for babies!

Nickel Game Update

I'm making adjustments to the nickel game as I've been going along. Just in case you are tempted to institute something like this at home, you might benefit from some of these tips and changes I've made in the last couple of days.

When dealing in the 5 and under crowd, tangible is best. I now own a prize box, that is full of goodies the kiddos are gawking over. They each have their eye on something specific that they are working toward. Though the things in the box are of various values, they can pick a prize when they get to 20 nickels. It keeps it super simple so they always know they're trying to get 20, then the get to pick a prize. It also allows us to continuously be counting to 20... in a way that they don't even know is sneaky learning!

Oh, and the other rule is that you can never lose more than 3 nickels for the same offense. Remember, the goal is that they earn them, not lose them (unless it's necessary!). So a minor offense is losing 1 nickel, a moderate offense means you lose 2, and severe offense warrants losing 3, but never more.

9 pounds 9 ounces!

Jason narrowly escaped having his first-born son on Friday the 13th. Jace Austin was born at 1:31 am on Saturday March 14th. He was 9 lbs, 9 oz and 22 inches long! After a long day of labor they finally took Heidi in for a c-section early this morning. He has arrived!

I showed the picture (that my cousin sent to my phone in the wee hours of the morning) to the kids this morning. I told Titus that this was his new cousin, Baby Jace and he said excitedly, "Mommy, he's my best friend!"

I should get to see him on Monday, hopefully, and I can't wait! This makes 1 niece and 2 nephews on my side of the family and 3 nieces, 4 nephews on Rob's side. I think being an auntie might be the best job in the whole world. I'll be sure to post baby pictures as soon as I can!

Friday, March 13, 2009


My older brother, Jason's girlfriend Heidi is all checked in at the hospital and ready to have a baby! This is Jason's first and it's slated to be a little boy named Jace... born on Friday the 13th. If you know my brother this is rather fitting I tell ya! Anyway, keep an eye out for baby news, and always, if you think about it, your prayers are always appreciated.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's so unfunny, it's hilarious!

Caution: Everything you don't want to read about below... continue at your own risk!

Withing maybe 1/2 hour today this is how the events unfolded. Children's identities have been reduced to numbers to help protect their identity :0) He he he...

Update: I didn't want to name the children in this post while they were in foster care because I was still unclear of the rules surrounding sharing information about the kids in our care. But now, 2 years later, there doesn't seem to be any harm in identifying the kids for clarity sake. Child #1 was Titus (3 years, 3 months). Child #2 was Hope (4 years, 1 month). Child #3 was Logan (5 years 7 months) and child #4 was Leeann (5 years, 8 months). This day unfolded about a week after moving my half siblings into our home. That day was so traumatic, I still remember it like it was yesterday!

Child #1 gets sent to bed for a nap because of behavior and a bad attitude that obviously indicated a need for one.

Children #2 and #3 get separated into different rooms while I put child #1 down (who obviously didn't want to be put down).

Child #2 gets mad that something she wants is on child #3's side of the baby gate, so child #2 throws something large on the the other side of the baby gate, and starts screaming. Child #3 actually handles this whole scenario nicely!

Sister/Mommy places child #2 onto her bed for a time out that she's secretly hoping would turn into a nap since her behavior also indicates a need for one.

Child #2 spends the next 1/2 hour screaming at the top of her lungs, and removes every sheet, blanket, toy and pillow from her bed in an angry fit. Child #2 then bolts to the other side of the room to sit in the rocking chair.

Sister/Mommy tries not to scream and throw a fit herself. Sister/Mommy sees so much of herself as a child in child #2 that she wants to laugh and throw a fit all at the same time.

Sister/Mommy sends child #3 downstairs for a snack.

Child #4 runs to the bathroom and starts upchucking in the sink.

Sister/Mommy sets child #2 back into her bed for the 3rd or 4th time.

Sister/Mommy wants to cry. Instead, Sister/Mommy calls in reinforcements, who happens to already be on his way home from work to get something. Talk about timing. Child #2... still screaming.

Sister/Mommy tucks child #4 into bed with a towel underneath and a bucket just in case.

Reinforcement walks in and immediately goes to try to calm down child #2. After a few minutes with the reinforcement, child #2 starts to return to a normal state. Reinforcement sets time-out timer for 5 minutes.

Reinforcement walks out of child #2's room hoping to recap the chaos that just ensued.

Before any words can be exchanged between Mommy/Sister and Reinforcement, child #3 walks upstairs, finished with his snack. Mommy/Sister smells something funny and asks if child #3 is poopy. Child #3 denies. Reinforcement asks again, if child #3 is poopy. Child #3 starts to deny the accusation, but then decides to fess-up.

Reinforcement gently escorts child #3 to the bath tub to get him (and his clothes) cleaned up. Child #3 is not in diapers, mind you. Reinforcement and Mommy/Sister team up to tackle the clothes, one rinsing the other spraying Shout like mad. Reinforcement (who doesn't do well with bodily fluids) nearly gags himself into his own upchucking session, but regains his composure, and helps get a bath going.

Timer goes off in child #2's room. Child #2 apologizes to Mommy/Sister, and we have a hug fest and get on our merry way.

Child #1 wakes up. Seriously? What kind of a nap was that?

Sister/Mommy gets snack for children #1 and #2. Goes to check on child #4.

Reinforcement finishes child #3's bath and informs Sister/Mommy that he has to go back to work. Sister/Mommy tries not to cry over this information!

Children #1 - #3 go off to play merrily together now that all the chaos is calming down. Child #4 drifts back to la-la land for the 3rd time today.

Sister/Mommy decides that when life hands you lemons, the best way to turn it into lemonade is to blog about it and at least let others have a good laugh! Just as Sister/Mommy starts to blog, Child #3 starts shrieking about the smell permeating from the diaper of child #1. Delightful, just delightful!


While re-reading this post prior to posting, child #3 is in time-out as is child #2 who is throwing another large screaming fit. Calgon, take me away!

Sick again?

Leeann woke up this morning telling me that she didn't feel good. She's been snuggled up on the couch with a blanket and a bowl all morning, watching movies. I just went downstairs and she had fallen asleep, but she hasn't thrown up yet... so hopefully it's just a wipe you out bug? I'm honestly okay with one child being wiped out for a little while... is that terrible?

One Day at a Time

We seem to be settling into a better and better routine each day. It seems like there are fewer and fewer time-outs or negative behaviors, but just as much chaos as ever! You see, the reality of this situation is that we have 4 kids less than 2.5 years apart living under one tiny roof (well, 1224 sqft, which used to feel like plenty of room!).

So, even when the kids are all somewhat well-behaved, it's still sheer chaos. The happy squeals are almost as loud as the sad or mad shrieks... so the volume is always sky high! Both boys spend their days driving anything with wheels up and down our hall way, making all the appropriate vehicle noises. If they're not driving they're chasing each other so there's a constant pitter-patter throughout the house.

All of the kids seem to have pretty much the same needs, and that's the part that's truly overwhelming. They all need help getting food, cutting food, buckling in (or at least being checked for accurate buckling techniques), bathing and wiping. They all need tucked in, stories and snuggles. They all need reminded to do basic things. They all cry when they get hurt and need comforted. They all want to run in 12 different directions at any one time, yelling just to hear themselves yell! They all stain and soil heaps of laundry. None of them are incredibly skilled at picking up after themselves. They all see the world in black-and-white, so they LOVE to tell the others what they should or shouldn't be doing, and when!

It's a beautiful mess around here!

So really, I'd say we're holding up rather well, but it's still overwhelming just because of the constant go-go-go that we're dealing with, and the reminders, and the interventions :0)

People keep asking what we need, but really, we're doing well. The kids were each given $125 in clothing vouchers for Target which allowed us to get them some of the basic clothes they needed, and we have some friends who do foster care that have been storing 'just in case' clothes of all sizes that they're letting us borrow (and some car seats too!). There are a couple of trivial things we need to get (like egg timers for upstairs and downstairs to help facilitate time-outs, and more hand towels for the bathrooms). That's just a matter of getting to the store though. Other than that we really are doing okay. I did tell my cousin that for the health and safety of the children that we could always use starbucks gift-cards in large denominations, and maid service however! (Please note severe sarcasm above... it's a funny. Get it?)

I get to take the kiddos for a visit tomorrow, which will prove to be a fairly long day (2 hours driving each way, plus the visit time), but it will be nice to get out of the house for a while. I think Rob will stay here and spend some quality time with our kiddos. I'll spend 2 quality hours at Wal-Mart while they're having their visits :0) Oh the dreams I'm already dreaming... spending 2 kidless hours at Wal-Mart! The decibel volume should decrease significantly for both of us tomorrow, which will be a welcome relief!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's not bribery, it's incentive!

God bless the nickel, and whoever (or whatever) originally inspired me to create a game to bribe provide incentives to change the behavior of moldable young children!

I have reinvented the button game that I used to use with the kids I baby sat for (where each button they earned was worth a nickel, or 5 minutes of special play time, like x-box). Now, the game is essentially the same, but to help wrap young minds around the concept, they just get the nickels!

Here's how it works: We deliberately give lots and lots of nickels throughout the day to reinforce the behaviors we are trying to work on. The more nickels, the better! They get nickels for doing things without being asked like putting their dishes on the counter, putting their shoes away when they get home, putting their laundry away, getting their socks and shoes on and lining up in their spot when it's time to go (without fuss), participating in clean-up time, doing home-work, taking a bath without complaining and without getting water on the floor, brushing their teeth and my most favorite of all, GOING TO BED AND STAYING IN BED when it's bedtime! Bedtime went from extremely stressful to absolutely beautiful in just one day. They can also earn them to reinforce good behavior. "I really like the way you let Leeann go first, I'm going to give you a nickel for that." It's genius I tell you! Genius. Sheer genius!

Here's the catch. They can also lose nickels. This works especially well because it provides some leverage that wouldn't necessarily be there otherwise. They can lose buttons for things like using bad words, bolting off (we have who's a bolter), getting out of bed, kicking, hitting, spitting etc., or if they have an especially bad or whiny attitude. Basically, anything can be included on this list as long as I first warn them that they'll lose a button if they make that bad choice. "If you choose to not keep your hands to yourself in your car seat again you'll lose a nickel." The ones mentioned above are automatic nickel losers, but the game can be tailored to fit the moment. Likewise they can earn nickels for special projects. "I'll give a nickel to whoever wants to help me clean out the car."

The object of the game though is to help them earn more nickels than they lose. The point is to help them succeed, and help me not lose my mind in the process! Instead of always trying to figure out creative consequences, we can just go back to the nickel jar... and it doesn't have to be a battle. They're the only one that their bad choices hurt. It helps me not to be emotional about whatever is going on, but just to matter-of-fact. "If you make x good choice, you earn a button. If you make x bad choice, you lose one." Period. Besides, I found with the kids I babysat for that they were so fixated on earning the buttons that it curbed most bad behavior, because they were trying so hard to be 'caught' making good choices most of the time.

AND, their rewards for earning x amount of nickels, is getting to spend them on a special date with Rob or I, which is something that we want to do with them anyway. They might choose a trip to the dollar store, or to ice cream, or to Starbucks. Or they might save up for something really cool like a special toy. It's a win-win situation. Perhaps I'm blogging about it soon, since the jury is still out on whether or not it will work well with kids this age... but it seems to be working well so far! Well, Titus seems a little less-enthused, but he still likes getting the nickels. I'm not sure he quite connects how to earn them yet though.

Anyway, it's day 6, and everyone is still happy and healthy and the house is even... well, not as bad as one might expect given the circumstances of the last week! The whole time I've been writing this post all four kids have been coloring without any problems. Hmm, I think that's definitely worth a nickel for each of them!

Monday, March 09, 2009

2+2=Hard Work!

Friday night Rob and I brought my little brother Logan (5) and my little sister Hope (4) to Albany to stay with us for a while (well, until further notice anyway... don't ask... haven't I told you my family tree is weird, and full of twists and turns?)

Anyway, as you can imagine these last 3 days have been tiring! Has it seriously only been 3 days? It all seems like a blur, I feel like I've been walking around like a walking zombie! Last night, after 4 baths, potties, jammies, teeth brushed, tuck-ins, phone calls, more tuck-ins, re-tuck-ins, fits, screaming, time-outs, snuggles re-re-tuck-ins... the kids were finally in bed. 3 hours after the first shower I looked at Rob and said, "I can't keep my eyes open anymore. I've gotta go to bed." I crawled in bed and was in virtual la-la-land in about 3.2 seconds when I heard some more of the above going on, but Rob was fantastic and dealt with all of it. And all 4 kids slept until 8:45... so did I!

Today was my first day with all of them by myself. I even got all of us dressed, ready, fed, hair done and out the door. We went to Eroica's house for a little while and then took a long walk. We stopped by Jill's house along the way and she and her dog Josie walked with us for a while too. It was good to get out and walk for a while. In fact, it was really good until we were about half-way done, as far away from Eroica's house as we could be! Go figure!

Rob came home from work and I was cold (and tired, mentally tired more than anything) so I snuggled on the couch with my blanket. Next thing I know Rob has all four kids at the table, finishing up dinner, and almost an hour had passed since I first layed down. Have I mentioned lately that my husband is a rock, and amazing, and nothing short of the most incredible man alive? Well, he is! Seriously.

Tonight I was on my own for bed-time since Rob isn't yet back from a meeting for work. It sounds like I've got 3 down and 1 still battling. I'm hoping it will get easier as each day goes on and we simply establish routines and get to know each other's quarks and habits better. All things considering, it's going well, it's just a lot of work!

I feel like I've been doing mountains of laundry and loads of dishes, giving zillions of snuggles and feeding an army. Any activity some how takes 8 times as long as normal. Go figure? I feel like I'm just trying to exist... forget trying to actually accomplish something or make progress! Progress and accomplishments will certainly have to wait because these 4 won't be this little forever and for now, well, they all need snuggles, baths and clean clothes!

Don't be surprised if my blog posts are fewer and further between, with worse grammer and more misspelled words. It's my new lot in life!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cold Baths and Laundry

I have discovered that Leeann can take the clothes out of the dryer and put them on my bed (which she finds great joy in making my bed by the way!), and then put the clothes from the washer into the dryer with the help of a step stool. Together, we've already gotten more laundry done this morning then we manage to during most weeks! Okay, so maybe that isn't really saying much!

Speaking of laundry, I've been irritated by the fact that Titus's socks and t-shirts seem to have all but disappeared. Or, they were still packed away in a backpack that I hadn't unpacked from Shelly's house 3 weeks ago... that's the other option! Sometimes I amaze myself!

In other news, I've been operating somewhat on the notion that you should wait until your kids are ready to potty train them. Titus REFUSES to go on the potty. Pastor Joel said, "What motivation would you have to learn to go potty if you had someone clean you up every time you went?" He suggested cold baths to clean him up... something a little less comfortable. Well, I'll let you know how it goes. We've had three unpleasant cold baths so far, and we'll see if this helps motivate my little guy to at least take interest in the finer things in life... like potty training. He obviously doesn't like them, but he seems to understand that they are necessary (to clean him up) and that they are also avoidable. The reality is, Titus understands a lot of things at his age. And he's capable of a lot of things. He might be small, but he's an intelligent kid. His lack of being potty trained has nothing to do with him "not being ready"... it's a matter of having no motivation. So, here's to seeing if cold baths help motivate! I'll let you know how it goes!

Part of the reason I don't really care if he's taking his own initiative to be potty trained is because a box of diapers and a box of wipes at Costco cost me $60. In a day and age where everyone is doing everything they can to tighten their belts and cut down on unnecessary spending, it seems silly to throw away that kind of money on diapering a kiddo that's plenty old-enough and plenty capable of figuring out how to use the toilet. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Caution: Tears Ahead

I'm sorry for my lack of posts lately, but honestly, I just haven't really felt like posting much.

The truth is, I started blogging toward the end of my pregnancy because Rob's mom went crazy. Seriously! I remember the day. I got a random phone call from her and she was in tears speaking utter non-sense. It all boiled down to the fact that she was too far away to get to see Titus's birth and she had been in the room for the births of all her other grandkids. She suddenly communicated to me what she'd been feeling for quite some time I'm sure... she didn't like that we lived so far away.

It was one thing when it was just Rob and I, but a whole other thing when we brought kids into the picture. At that point she was getting sicker and already making her "bucket-list". I assume she had a good inclination that she was on borrowed time. I didn't know what was going on in her mind and heart but I knew after that phone call that I had to do something to make sure she was a big part of our kid's lives even though we were 4 hours apart.

So I blogged. Often. With lots of pictures and stories so that Mee Maw could be a part of our world. She was my target audience. I wrote stories in detail with her in mind. I'd see the kids do something during the day and think to myself, "Oh, I gotta blog this, Janice would love to hear about this one!" It was the least I could do to keep her in our world.

She thanked my often for blogging.

Even as she was in the hospital these last couple of months Carmin would print off my posts and take them to her to read the stories and look at the pictures. My latest post was on a t.v. tray near her bed on the day she died. I was hoping she'd get to see Titus looking all handsome in his glasses!

If I'd known time was so short I would have blogged everyday. I would have done a lot of things differently. I would have called more, visited more, had the kids send her drawings and pictures.

I would have written about her more in the last couple of months so she'd know how much we cared about her. I knew in my heart we'd probably never see her again when we said good-bye in January... but I didn't want to take pictures and tell stories because honestly, that isn't how I want to remember her. She was getting more and more sick everyday. I just wanted so badly to believe that she'd get her transplant and get better. I didn't want to deal with the reality of time being so short.

Oh, how I wish I had just one more day. I didn't want to tell her all of the things I now wish I did because I wanted her to hold onto hope. Instead of telling her all of the things you tell someone when you know they're going to die, I hung pictures of our trip to Disneyland in her room telling her to keep fighting and keep getting better so she could go on our next trip with us.

I know you can't dwell in the past when the reality is what it is... I can't change anything that I did or didn't do and even if I could it wouldn't matter because she's gone... and frankly, I'm sure she doesn't care. Oh what a wonderful place heaven must be!

You have no idea how many things in our house her fingerprints are on. In this room alone there is a lamp on the desk shaped like a purse that she gave to Leeann. There's a Cherished Teddy that she gave me the a few months after Rob and I started dating. His name is Robert and he's a little teddy bear with overalls sitting with a ducky in a pail of water. The bottom of the figurine says "Love keeps us afloat." There's an IKEA bag. We loved shopping at IKEA together. There are John Deere sheets on the bed. We have 2 sets (she is the founder and main contributor of our tractor collections!) There's a doll blanket she made Leeann, some gifts she'd stored up for our kids in her "grandma closet" that we took with us after her death. There's a tote full of stuff that she made--blankets and burpies galore (oh, I LOVED her burpies... they were my favorite! Some day I'm going to start making burpies because I think they're the coolest baby gift in the whole world!). There are several pair of shoes that I got since we had the same sized feet.

Don't get me started... this is all just in our spare room! It's amazing the things that have made me think of her lately. Even spare change almost brings me to tears. She loved stuffing Leeann's pockets full of coins for her piggy bank! Titus has a room FULL of John Deere, and Leeann has princesses everywhere. Those were Mee Maw things. Shoes... she loved to buy Leeann shoes! Honestly, sometimes it drove me nuts that she would give our kids so much stuff. What I wouldn't do for her to give our kids more stuff now!

I was so blind. It was hard for me that she tried so hard to be 'the favorite'. Being in church leadership it seems like everyone wants our kids to love them so they give them candy and toys and other random things. So we tried to be protective of our kids lest they become spoiled at every turn. Some of this certainly spilled over into our conversations with her, asking her not to give them certain things, or to ask us before offered them something. Sometimes I truly felt like she was just doing certain things so that she could be the favorite one. On her bucket list (things she wanted to before she kicked the bucket) she wrote that she wanted to live until she was 60. 60. If she'd lived until she was 60 Titus would only have been 6, and Leeann 8. I don't blame her for wanting to be our kids' favorite. She wanted them to remember her. I honestly didn't think she'd die when our kids were so young. If they remember her it will only by vaguely. I wish I would have let her spoil them more!

I'm so sad for my kids, that they won't have her in their lives. By nature of life my parents have collectively seen my kids on 3 or 4 separate occasions in the last two years. I loved that Janice was an active grandma to our kids. My grandparents were an active part of my life growing up... every kid needs that! Sometimes grandparents do things that parents can't do. Or are too practical (or poor!) to do... like buy Leeann pretty fake red roses at JoAnn's so she could give them to her mommy. They're still by my bed. Or buy her shoes that are funky and entirely impractical. We have many. Or buy her a ridiculously expensive signature book at Disneyland with princesses on the front. I refused to waste money on something so ridiculous, so it was the first thing she bought once we entered the gates and Disneyland and it was the best investment of our whole trip! I'm so glad she went behind my back and bought the book anyway!

Our trip to Disneyland meant the world to us, and we couldn't have done it without her (and Carmin of course). She paid for 1/2 the hotel, we drove her car and she paid for gas. There's no way we could have taken that trip without her! Taking her grandkids to Disneyland was on her bucket list too. Shelly found her bucket list the other day. She had a picture of us in front of the Walt Disney/Mickey statue stapled next to the page that had her wish to go to Disneyland with her grandkids on it. What a divine appointment it was that allowed us to take that trip when we did. I wouldn't trade a picture I took, a moment of video we recorded or a dollar that we spent for anything in this world!

Who's going to buy Titus more tractors, or make a matching outfit for Leeann and her doll? Who's going to make blankets for her babies and stuff her pockets full of money? Who's going to come down and stay with us and love on our kids for days on end... and bring a bag full of grandma-goodies? I see how she's loved on and spoiled Shelly's kids over the years and I'm sad that our kids won't have that! Who's going to hem my pants, make me more apron's and teach my all her cool sewing tricks? Who's going to 'drag' me to IKEA just for fun and take me to the huge Jo-Ann's sales in the wee early hours after Christmas? Who's going to search for the perfect material and load me up sewing paraphernalia? Who's going to slip us a couple hundred dollar bills when she can read through the lines and see that times are tough? How she knew we had over-drawn our bank account before we went up there a couple of years ago is something only a mother would know.

It's not fair that she's not here! She was only 57. My kids are too young to lose her. I'm too young to lose her. I MISS HER! My heart aches. I still don't want to believe that she's gone. How can she be gone?