Archive - March 2006

Little Tomatoes from God
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Baby in the House
A Name for our School
A Glimpse into our Day
A Quiet House!
Random thoughts for a Friday
So much work, so little time

Little Tomatoes from God

Our oldest son is being tomato staked.  I have reached the end of my patience with him in regards to how he treats his sister.  He loves her very much (though he’s too embarresed to admit it) and they are best friends.  But he just doesn’t know how to take "no" for an answer from her.  Every day during school, I need to stop and put the baby down for his nap. I tell them to finish their assignments and then take a break. Then I tell him, "Do not touch Pumpkin Girl," and to Pumpkin Girl I say, "No screaming at Boo." I tell them every single day. He is always doing something to her to provoke her. It could be pushing her, sitting on her, tickling her or even just ignoring her when she’s trying to talk to him. This results in her screaming at him. Part of this is because she is only 5 and is still learning to express herself with a talking voice, not a screaming one, and part of it is because he just won’t listen to her. In 5 years he has never once stopped doing whatever it is he is doing to upset her, so now she just goes right to screaming at him. I have literally pulled him off of her to stop him. I have talked to him and punished him until I thought my head would explode. I have told him that he needs to stop because he is abusing her and if he were an adult, he would be put in jail. That got him to stop for about a week. Then today, I went up to put the baby down and forgot to warn him. I came back down and continued reading to them when out of the blue, ds says, "I scratched myself" and shows me three welts on his arm. After a little bit of probing, he admits it was dd that scratched him. I turned to her and she immediately started crying and when I asked her what happened, she tells me that ds made her angry. OK, to make this already long story short, he was tripping her and wouldn’t stop grabbing her legs, so she scratched his arm. I was so angry at both of them, I sent them to separate rooms and went to read about tomato staking.  I am angry with dd to a lesser extent, for not using her words, but really, they are ineffective against her brother. I am very, very angry with ds for 1)being a little you-know-what to his sister, 2) continuing this behavior, 3)causing her to sin in an effort to get him to stop hurting her.


So now he is being tomato staked.  You can read more about that here. Look for it under teaching obedience.  The bottom line is, until he can demonstrate his ability to be trusted with his sister, he will be staked to my side except for quiet time and when he’s in the bathroom.  This is a very different experience for me as a parent, and I made a mistake earlier, leaving them alone while I took our lunch dishes to the kitchen.  He ended up hitting Pumpkin Girl again, causing him to lose all the rest of his time outdoors today, with or without my supervision.  The resulting afternoon was one of the best ones I’ve spent with him in a long time. Pumpkin Girl is not being deliberately staked at this time, but she tags along anyway.  After quiet time, they sat together playing with their Leappad books.  I was RIGHTTHERE with them, but not getting involved in their interaction and they were getting along so well. Then the three of us watered our newly planted flowers. Pumpkin Girl wanted to keep playing in the backyard and I went inside.  Boo stayed staked to me.  We ended up cleaning off the front porch together, with Boo volunteering to do most of the work.  He is a very good worker.  Then we made dinner together.  We are having one of his favorites, a very simple ravioli casserole.  He has asked me to teach him how to cook and said that this was the first thing he wanted to learn how to do.  I showed him how to do the first layer and let him help me.  Then I stood back and supervised him putting the second layer on.  He did a great job.  I really enjoyed the time with him.  I’m not sure how long he is going to be staked to me for this offense.  But in the meantime, we’ll have no more rotten tomatoes!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Another beautiful day!  I tried really hard to spend my 15 minutes decluttering my living room, but the outdoors was calling. I also needed to plant my flowers.  I had already sent the children outside so I joined them. Pumpkin Girl helped me weed out the flower beds while Boo carted off the weeds in his dump truck.  Later he raked the beds and Pumpkin Girl helped me place the flowers.  The beds are in full sun, so we left room to plant tomato plants as soon as they come in at the garden center.  In Kentucky, they always say "Plant tomatoes after the Derby."  That is the first weekend of May, but I’ll be keeping my eye out for them in the meantime.


When Bip woke up, we put a hat on him and brought him out in his little chair.  After the flowers were planted we had lunch outside on our picnic bench.  As soon as quiet time was over, I sent them outside again.  It’s just too nice not to be out.  I wish the weather would stay like this.  It’s so nice that Phil even rode his bike into work.


Days like today are just one of many reasons I am glad we homeschool. Children belong outside in this kind of weather, just enjoying the sunshine, not cooped up in a classroom.  And they will be out there until the National Anthem plays at 5:00 when they come in for chores and dinner.  We as adults should get out more, too.  Had my children been gone today at school, would I have gone outside by myself?  Probably not.   I’m thinking of going back out with them right now…

A Baby in the House

Now that we have a name for our school, Phil has been “helping” me come up with mottos. He has suggested “Death before Dishonor” or borrowing NH’s state motto, “Live Free or Die.” Fortunately, more level heads have prevailed.

My aunt emailed me today and wanted to know who Rachel is! We have plans to adopt a baby sometime after Bip turns 2. We’d like a girl and we would name her Rachel. Boo and Pumpkin Girl seem more than ready for her to arrive any day now, and are already including her in the pictures that they draw.

Bip is such a sweet, easy going little guy. He’s just happy to hang out with the family, no matter where we go. He’s getting to be mobile, too. He’s been able to roll over for a while now, but he has just recently figured out that if he rolls he can get himself closer to his dropped toys. I found him on the bed, having rolled onto his belly, looking quite pleased with himself. If he’s sitting, he can s-t-r-e-t-c-h out, pressing himself almost flat to the floor to reach something. He can scoot just a little bit, mostly in a circle. It won’t be long until all the tiny toys will move upstairs and the baby gates get installed. He has a new trick, too. If you hold your arms above your head, hands in a fist and say “yay!,” he will very seriously, very slowly, raise his hands above his head, too. He also gives out kisses. A couple of weeks ago I noticed that he was looking at me during church. I smiled at him and he sent me a kiss. He often does this when I come into view, like from another room. He also does it to get my attention. There is nothing like entering a room to kisses from a cute boy!

Last night Bip didn’t want to go to sleep. Phil took him downstairs to let me get some sleep. With Becca, the Original Amazing Non-Sleeping Baby, we would take one hour shifts during the night so that both of us could get some sleep. When we need to, we do this with Bip, too. We suspect that Becca told him that if he stays awake at night, he can watch movies with Daddy. It doesn’t happen often though and Phil, who takes the first shift, hardly ever finishes out his hour before Bip is asleep. Last night after the two of them left, I just couldn’t sleep. I ended up going downstairs and getting them. I just missed my baby. We snuggled right up together and went to sleep.

It is always good when there is a baby in the house.

A Name for our School

Pumpkin Girl asked me if we would be adopting Rachel today.  I had to laugh.  We haven’t even begun to start adopting a baby.  Apparently they think that Bip is big now and so it’s time for another baby. Pumpkin pointed out that Boo is going to have 4 girls: Mama, her, Becca and Rachel.  After some thought he asked if we could adopt a  baby boy after Rachel.


We have been trying to come up with a name for our homeschool.  We wanted something that reflected our Christian beliefs, but nothing was forthcoming.  We decided not to worry about it too much and let God show us the answer.  He finally did:

  Eagle’s Wing Academy

(Phil wants to call it the Eagle’s Wing Academy for Cute and Gifted Children but I said it wouldn’t fit on a t-shirt)  It’s from Isaiah 40:31 – "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will  run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  During the Worst Week of Our Lives, my very good friend Tammy gave me a card with that passage written in it.  I have carried it with me ever since.  I repeated the phrase "I will walk and not be faint" every time I thought I couldn’t go on.  Relying on the Lord, hoping in Him was the only thing getting me out of bed sometimes, keeping me from not growing faint.  And while we may not quite be soaring yet, our strength is still there.  The most important thing we can do for our children is to teach them to hope in the Lord.  Everything comes back to this and all else will fall in to place from it.   Faith, hope and love.  Some day we may all soar again, but in the meantime, we will not grow faint.

A Glimpse into our Day

So then it was nap time.  I came out of the laundry room to find the kids desperately trying to put the phone cradle back on the buffet table.  They’d been hiding from me back there where I told them to stay out of.  So after a quick but effective talk, I sent them upstairs for quiet time.  Only they didn’t get quiet.  It took them 7 minutes of running up and down the hallway, laughing maniacly (spell check doesn’t like that one) before they settled down.  So I called them both back down – they came down and said, "yeah?", which I gently corrected- and told them how very sorry I was that they chose not to go to their rooms like I told them, but instead to run up and down the hallway.  I informed them that they would stay an extra 7 minutes in their rooms this afternoon.  And obviously, they need more practice in obedience, so we will practice right now and however long that takes, will be even more extra time for naps.  So I said, "it’s time for naps, please go up to your rooms".  They went quickly and quietly and I waited until I heard both doors close.  I called them down again.  My obedient little sheep answered, yes mama.  I complimented their manners, then informed them it was time for naps and to go upstairs.  They went without complaint.  Then I caught a whiff of breastmilk poop.  I look over at Bip who is sitting on the floor while I fold laundry and he on has his "poop face"  and then I see it…yellow poop bubbling happily over the back of his diaper and making a lovely puddle on the floor, completely missing his pants.  I sigh, get up to get a rag and he leans forward, and more poop bubbles up and over.

And here’s your laugh for the day:

I’d rather hunt with Dick Cheney than
Ride in a car with Ted Kennedy

A Quiet House!

Well, the big ‘uns (as opposed the the little ‘uns) are off with their Dad at CCD.  Phil is filling in for Pumpkin Girl’s teacher today. Our Sunday mornings here have become less than idyllic.  Without school to do and Phil off singing in the choir, the children have tended to run amok and just not listen to me.  They have spent a good portion of their Sunday morngings with one of them sitting in the hallway and the other sitting in the kitchen.  Last week Phil and I decided that we need to have a Sunday schedule.  We moved chores and bathtime to the morning and added in time to watch a video.  At first they were disappointed that they would be having their baths in the morning until I explained to them why.  Everything went well, no fighting, no insane silliness, no time -outs.  The trash has been collected up by Boo, and Rose the Hermit Crab is enjoying her own bath.  I’ll move her back into her clean cage with her fresh food and water later. The bonus for rearranging things today is that our Sunday evening will be far less hectic.  Always a good thing.   Now, if only I knew what we were having for dinner…


As for me, after lunch I am going BY MYSELF to the PX to buy flowers for the garden.  I may wander aimlessly around the rest of the store, too.  I wish our library was open on Sundays, but then I probably wouldn’t come home until dinner time.  Not that I know what we’re having.


Well, the house is quiet and I should probably find a more productive way to spend my time.  Like rescuing Rose the Crab from her bath, folding laundry and figuring out what we’re having for dinner.  Until next time…

Random thoughts for a Friday

Busy, busy, busy!  I spent most of my time yesterday updating our family website.  We got a new computer when we moved along with updated software.  What should have been a very simple process turned into an all day ordeal, checking for broken links, losing the homepage and general frustrations.  I didn’t get a chance to write an entry here yesterday because I chose to use my computer time, and any spare minutes I could find, to work on the website.

Having both a boy and girl in the house makes for some very amusing imaginary play.  Boo is always willing to play house with Pumpkin Girl and her friends, as long as he gets to be the guard.  Yesterday the two of them were playing princesses. Pumpkin sets up all her Polly Pocket-esque Disney princess sets and Boo gets out the Bucket o’ Plastic Soldiers.  He sets them up on the castle walls like snipers on the White House.  All princesseses need top notch security, don’t cha know? Belle’s good friend Batman presented proper ID and was allowed in for a visit.  Other times, they play soldier. Pumpkin named one of the soldiers, "Oy".  Apparently, he’d fallen behind or had been captured by the enemy, and like all good soldiers , his buddies went looking for him.  Not being well trained in stealth tactics, they tramped around the battle field calling…wait for it…."Oy!  Oy!"


When Pumpkin Girl was 2, she really wanted her own Batman, so we got her one for Christmas.  He was one well loved Batman.  One day she woke from her nap and asked me to put her hair up in pig tails.  She grabbed the Caped Crusader, who’d been resting with her and said, "Come on, Batman, let’s get piggy tails."  I can’t imagine what he thought about that.  I wonder if the other superheroes gave him a hard time later.

Chore time is now well established.  The children are doing a wonderful job and work without complaint.  However, they found some loopholes in their evening chores.  Their jobs are: fold the blankets in the living room, put all their books into the book bin, straighten up their shoes and return the toys in the basket to the playroom.  The toy basket is where I corral up any toys that have been left lying around during the day.  Well, they have decided that because the chore card says "empty toy basket",  any toys that didn’t make it to the basket don’t count.   Obviously, that was not my intent.  I’ll have to re-write that card. Pumpkin has a card for cleaning her bedroom that says "return all toys to playroom."  She took that to mean dump all the toys on the playroom floor for poor Boo to clean up.  Nice try!  Boo was rightfully outraged, so we fixed that right away.

So much work, so little time

Phil comes home today.  His plane is scheduled to land in about 45 minutes.  The planes come in right over our head and there is a park where they are particularly low.  If I can get everyone fed and ready, I’m going to try to get us out to that park, and watch for the US Air flight coming in at about the right time.  Then we’ll all wave at it.  I’m pretty sure the passengers can see us.


I don’t mind Phil being gone all that much.  I’m pretty busy with school and everything.  But picking up his usual chores really threw me off.  I don’t have them worked into my schedule, so I started falling behind last night and this morning.  I had to skip my 15 minutes in the FlyLady zone this morning just to try to catch up.  Plus, there is the Boo Factor.  Boo has labored for 7 years under the misconception that I am his playmate.  I could be elbows deep in hot soapy water and he would show up and say, "hey Mama, can you play with me."  Actually, I’m lucky if he asks.  He  usually just starts in on, "I’m the guard, show me your ID!"  I do have time set aside to play with the children – lots of it!  He just wants to play with me 24-7.  Or talk to me.  He was telling me some elaborate story while I was trying to make dinner.  I kept losing my place in the recipe.  I finally had to send him away so I could concentrate. I digress.  Phil’s going to be gone once a month for the next few months.  I may have to come up with a revised schedule, to allow enough time for the extra work in a way that doesn’t send me over the edge.


Evening chores were so much better last night.  Starting with rooms that had already been cleaned yesterday was much easier than trying to clean up the total disaster areas they had been.  In hindsight, we should have taken Sunday to get the playroom and bedroom all cleaned up so we’d have a fresh start on Monday when we started implementing the new chore system.  It would have been a good time to review my expectations, too.  Well, as Phil would say, lesson learned. Pumpkin Girl still needs a good deal of supervision to help keep her on task.  Boo does better working by himself.  I’ve been taking notes on the things I need to tweak in our system.  Some chores need to be done in a different sequence, for example.  I think most of the bugs will be worked out by the end of the week.


You know those rubber bracelets that Lance Armstrong made popular?  Well the children got some for St. Nicholas Day at CCD, but they aren’t really into them, so they gave them to me.  One says strength, one says courage, another says faith, plus I have a blue one that says "I love My Baby."  Today I am wearing strength.


Last night, the chores took forever.  I think it was because we’ve gone too long with just saying, "go clean up" without following up and giving them the proper training.  At 6:00 I had to stop them so we could have dinner.  Phil called and we all chatted with him, then we went back to cleaning up.  Boo stayed with Bip while I helped Pumpkin Girl.  That girl is a packrat!  She’s squirrelled away all sorts of stuff, some of which I’ve been looking for!  I’m not sure what to do about that. She gets it from me.  I was, and still am, a collector of just about everything.  This morning she was admiring my collection of buttons.  And just this afternoon I unpacked my childhood shadow box.  I haven’t even seen it in years, it’s always been packed up.  The box was labeled "games" so I opened it.  It was filled with all my little treasures.  I remember almost all of them and why they were special to me.  But I think I’m ready to pack up all the little things into a good strong storage box.  Maybe I’ll take a picture of it all filled up and of each little peice and do a scrapbook page about it.  Or maybe a whole brag book size album.  Hmmm.  Anyway, back to Pumpkin.  It’s not that she’s hoarding stuff, it’s that some of it’s not hers to take.  She made off with Philip’s slippers last fall.  He vaguely knew they were missing.  I found them wedged between her bed and the wall.  I said, "Pumpkin!  Did you take Daddy’s slippers?"  She answered, "Yes," so I asked her why.  And she said so sweetly, with those big giant eyes looking at me so innocently, "I like them because they are soft and squooshy."  I laughed so hard I almost cried.  She got him new slippers for Christmas.  I have also found my calculator, Bip’s toys and even school books tucked away in her secret spot.  I don’t think there is any thought of stealing these items, it’s just something that attracts her attention.  Like I said, I don’t know what to do about this.  On one hand, it’s kind of cute, finding the things that she’s made off with.  Such an eclectic collection.  On the other hand, I don’t want her taking things that aren’t hers.  Wouldn’t call it stealing quite yet.  I’ll have to give this more thought.


But back to the chores. It took so long to get all of Pumpkin Girl’s room cleaned up.  I’m hoping that with proper daily maintenance, it won’t take this long again.  Same with the playroom.  Boo’s definition of cleaned up is very different from mine.  (Yuk it up, Mom, I know you’re thinking that it’s payback for years of my sty of a room!)  After I helped Pumpkin, we worked on the playroom.  It was 7:30 by the time it was all done.  They have way, way too many toys and a microscopic room to play in.  I’d love to go in there and just get rid of more than half of it.


Finally all chores were done and ChorePacks turned in.  Into jammies and there was just enough time to watch an hour long video.  I got Bip ready for bed, then got the others a snack, cleaned the kitchen up and then it was off to bed with them.  I was frustrated and tired and still needed to take a shower.


So today’s bracelet is strength.


Morning chores went so much better.  I had to retrain Pumpkin on not spraying the whole bottle of soapy water on to the school table.  Boo needed to work on his sink shining, but all went well.


For me, the Flylady zone this week is bedroom. Bip is usually asleep during my chore time, so I worked for 15 minutes on the children’s bedroom instead.  I unpacked a box and used it for a give-away box.  Then after lunch, I had Boo hang out with Bip while I worked on my bedroom for 15 minutes.  That’s when I found my shadow box.  I also tried a new recipe for dessert called brown sugar pudding.  We’ll see how it turns out.  Right now it looks like a cake floating on top of about an inch of syrup.  Maybe the syrup gets absorbed by the cake as it cools.


It’s only 2 o’clock and I’m just hoping that tomorrow’s bracelet won’t need to be courage.


Ah, Monday.  It’s like over the weekend, all the good behavior and positive attitudes we developed over the previous week have just disappeared.  Not to mention simple things like the correct way to hold a pencil, why one does not need to look up on the number line to see what 15 + 1 is, and the correct way to write an "f." And most importantly, unless you want to spend the morning sitting in a permanent time-out, one shouldn’t roll their eyes at their mother and say "I know."


Doesn’t help that Daddy is in New York for 3 days.


And why oh why does everything they say have to be the line from some movie?


OK, not all was irritating this morning.  We did get started using "Managers of Their Chores", by the same family that wrote MOTH.  It’s a great system.  Boo had all his chores done before I even came downstairs.  Only problem was, he had swiffered the floor before I had a chance to sweep it. Pumpkin Girl needed some re-training on not skipping a chore card (making the bed) just because she wasn’t in the mood.  She’s only 5, though.  It’ll come.  This was our first day using the Chorepacks, so I’m sure we’ll find little things that need to be ironed out as we work through them.  Someone on the Sonlight Forum asked about this new book and it was kind of cool to be the first one to have read it.  I gave it a glowing review and now several people have ordered it too!   Too bad I don’t get a commission, LOL!


And speaking of the Sonlight Forums, two people I "know" from there are moving here soon.  How fun!  We’ve got a huge homeschooling community on base, but it’s nice to have other Sonlighters here.  I’m sure there are others, I just haven’t found them yet.

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