Sunday, November 29, 2009

proud mama

i have said here before that i tend to be very hard on myself and my parenting abilities and such. i am constantly critiquing myself and am my own worst critic.

so right now i feel like posting some things that i am very happy and even proud of.

something i was thinking about earlier today is how i'm very proud that we've finally managed to get both kids on a good bedtime routine.

for years tyren's routine was to fall asleep in the living room to a kids show on dvd. he just wasn't sleepy before about 11pm or even later and it was a battle nightly to try to get him to sleep so i just stopped battling and just let him be and darned if he didn't go to sleep when he was ready. but still i wasn't happy with this routine. i wanted him to be tucked into bed, like his sister. not in the living room on the couch. (i did take him to bed when i went to bed, though, so its not like he stayed out there all night).

well at some point a few months ago...not even really sure when this happened, it was so gradual. he started asking to go to bed in "the family bed" (he still sleeps with us, which is perfectly fine with us, that's not an issue right now). pretty soon we had your typical bedtime routine for him: shower (usually he showers w/maeven at night...his choice), pjs, teeth brushed, go pee, in bed with mommy or daddy for a story, then lights out.

it all happened on its own, and i'm SO RELIEVED! we seriously didn't make any conscious effort to make it happen, it just happened! but we did follow the momentum once it started.

usually i'm the one that reads to him and lies with him to go to sleep and generally its 5-10min after lights out that he's OUT. he's that fast now!

i am so very proud of this, even though i didn't really do anything...but i will take credit for being patient and setting up the environment to have it happen when he was ready. ;)

another thing i'm proud of lately is that i'm starting to get a handle on the electronic obsession over here.

computer games are verging on obsession lately with the kids and so adam and i have been discussing it and how we need to get a handle on things. tyren has been known to throw knock-down-drag-out tantrums when asked to get off the computer or when you want to stop playing a game he's enjoying watching you play. its gotten out of hand, so adam and i have been trying some things that seem to be helping.

first of all there's the timer on the computer, which has worked miracles. we've had it for months now but i can't say enough about how well it works to end the battle of keeping computer time to a certain time frame. not only that but i've finally realized i can limit the play time even more with this timer...and have a block of 4 hours in the middle of the day when neither kid can log on, the computer time is OFF during that time.

on top of that, i've gone from giving them 2 hours of computer time free (with at least an hour break in-between each hour of playtime), to only giving them 1 free hour. if they want a second hour they have to earn it by doing their chores. right now its just half of their chores because we're working up to full chores still. each child has 1 chore per year that they have been alive. so tyr has 4 and maeven has 8 (which i need to now add one more chore to her list since she's now had a birthday).

i have tried so many different ways of doing things and i have failed miserably. still can't get some things to work for us, like an ingrained daily routine (still working on that), so when i feel successful at something, i need to crow about it, dammit. :)

so anyway, just proud, that's all. its nice when things finally go well, for a change. :) i'm really proud of myself for noticing this problem and communicating with my husband about it (he noticed it too, of course) and figuring out some things that work. also working on getting the yard more popular, cleaning it up and researching inexpensive things to add to the yard to make playing outside seem more appealing to the kiddos. might even institute mandatory outdoor play time (weather permitting). not a bad idea, actually. :)

all this to get a grip on this computer obsession and get my kids to play physically and creatively more. going to work on filling up their schedules with more playdates and outtings too...get them out of the house and away from the computer. really excited by all this and just wanted to share! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

building up our immune systems

just came back from whole foods, where i spent a veritable fortune on illness prevention. but i think it will be worth it if it works. found out that yesterday we were all exposed to not 1, not 2, but 3 sick people (2 of which were running a fever during our exposure).

before i go further...i must note that i do hope all are well soon, and i especially feel for the mamas & daddies dealing with the sick little ones right now...that's so not fun. :(

anyway, normally this wouldn't really be a huge deal to me, being exposed. because frankly, its just life, ya know? i am not one to stress too much over my kids being exposed....not that i like it either, but hey, that's life, it happens.

no, the thing here is that our closest friends are unavailable to us if we are sick, or if we think we may get sick. this is because the family has to stay completely infection free because grandpa (the mom's dad) is undergoing chemotherapy and anything they are exposed to, he could be exposed to and could literally kill him. and since the mom is spending hours every day with her dad, helping care for him, it is quite serious that we do not at all even possibly expose anyone in the family to any sort of illness.

why this is more of an issue right now is that tyr was recently ill. a very mild cold, but we stayed away for nearly 2 weeks while i waited for his symptoms to go away completely and we were really looking forward to next week being able to play with them again, after a 2 week separation, since he's finally showing no symptoms anymore. this is maeven's best friend and she misses her a lot right now. :(

*sigh* well, such is life. shit happens and all that. i'll cross my fingers that the echinacea, elderberry and vitamin c i just stocked up on manages to build up all our immune systems so that we don't develop any symptoms and we will still be able to play with our friends next week. its worked quite well in the past for us. i'll hope it comes through for us again. :)

i've been researching it on the web and it looks like the common cold and flu usually have a 2-5 day incubation period. and some symptoms can show up as quick at 12 hours after exposure. so i figure by next wednesday if none of us have any symptoms, we're probably ok. we normally go to play over there on mondays, but its not the end of the world if we go on a later day in the week, just to make sure we don't expose anyone to anything.

found out this morning that one of the sickies was in emergency last night with croup, so i researched croup as well...seems to have the same info as far as incubation period and the emergence of symptoms.

anyway, on a different note...i was out of lotion (i get seriously dry skin during the winter) and really wanted to get some more lavender lotion but found that the body shop no longer makes it so i looked for something at whole foods and found a lotion that actually smells like lavender! yay! you know how hard it is to find something that says its lavender scented that actually smells like real lavender? pretty hard, i tell ya! this has lavender essential oil in it so it really smells like lavender! ok well it made my day, LOL!

anyway, jen, if you're reading this...we're pounding the echinacea (with elderberry, which i've read is good against flus) and vitamin c and building our immune systems and i'll let ya know how it goes! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

i'm just doing the best i can

i think. but maybe not. i know i can do better.

i struggle constantly with being what i think is a good parent. and i guess in the scheme of things, i am doing pretty good. but lately things have started to feel like they are going in a direction i'm not happy with.

case in point, my 4yr old son's current obsession with the computer game "plants vs zombies." i don't think i would have exposed my kids to this game, nor even checked it out, had my husband not gotten it and started playing it on his computer. then the kids saw it and started watching (adam's really good about not playing violent games in front of the kids)...and it seemed tame enough to let them watch. cartoon zombies eat plants, and you have to set up the plants to get rid of (ok, kill...ugh, i hate that word and that its in this game) the zombies. its actually a pretty cute game and i have rationalized that its not that bad, and adam had already been playing it with them watching for some time before i ever checked it out. and he even was letting them play it on his they were hooked. well, this got more and more obsessive and eventually i had to see what all the fuss was about and started playing the online free version (linked above) to the point that *I* was hooked, and had to go buy the full version (found it online for $6.99 here, if anyone's interested.)

and so here we are...i've played it so much that i'm actually getting sick of it, as is adam. but the kids still obsess on it and mainly tyren. he will even pretend to be a zombie and have you pretend to be a plant and he'll pretend to eat you. well its mostly pretty harmless...but there's still parts of it i cringe about and can't believe i somehow made myself believe i was ok how when you kill the zombie (the plants do things like shoot peas at the zombies til they die, or there's a giant zombie eating plant that eats them whole), their arms fall off and then their head...its all done in a comical cartoon way, not gruesome, but i still am uncomfortable with it when i think about it too much. which i try not to do.

anyway, here's where we are...with both kids obsessing over it, tyren especially...and now i am starting to think that i need to make time in the days for him to be away from the computer more and playing outside more. so i'm making a mental note to get working on that. and find some new toys/games/etc for xmas that are NOT computer related. he has proven to have an obsessive personality already and is throwing tantrums at times when one of us stops playing (he enjoys watching others play as much as playing it himself)...really out of control at times. so this has to change.

thank god i already had a timer on my computer to cut it off after an hour. best $30 i ever spent. i can set whatever time i deem appropriate for each sitting, how much time in between times they are logged on, how much total time per day and even block out times that i don't want them playing at all. going to start making more use of these features. currently its set to each of them getting 1 hour of computer time at a sitting, and they have to be logged off for at least 1 hour before they can sit down and play again. and a total of 2 hours a day. it works really well. we used to have major fights over getting them off the computer, now we just don't. its set, its enforced by the computer. i can't say enough about how great this program is.

so i think i'm going to tweak the hours some and have them only get 1 hour per day for free and if they want another hour they have to earn it through chores or whatever i deem they need to do to get it. i'm starting to see how obsessive both my kids are with computer games...very much like their parents...and i need to get a handle on this now before it gets way out of control. at least they're not sitting at the computer literally all day, though. 2hours max. so i don't feel too bad, but i want them to obsess on non-electronic things too. like playing outside and making forts and such.

so i was just talking to adam about spending this weekend cleaning up our yard and making it more fun for the kids. i want to replace our swing that broke, i want to do things like clean out the sandbox and get new containers for the outside toys so they are easier to get to and easier to stay clean if they are out of the elements more. i know i can figure out a way to do this with minimal money. i know i can and i will.

and for xmas...i'm aiming at things to encourage them to play creatively. NOT on the computer.

i have to say one thing that i am pretty proud of right now though. we've nearly completely (and fully unintentionally) weaned ourselves off the tv. this seems to have happened a few times over the course of my time as a mom and i always find it amusing and wonderful.

we used to have the tv on nearly all day. at first it was all tv as well at PBS. i watched dr phil and oprah religiously and when my kids were littler, i even obsessed on some soap operas (horror of horrors). then over time the network tv time shrank til its almost never on. tv just isn't on pretty much at all after 5pm. occasionally we'll turn it on to look for something if i know that nova or nature is going to be on PBS...but network tv is a thing of the past around here. not even all those sitcoms i really enjoyed watching while i got dinner ready! very proud of us for that! the only network tv shows i watch are ghost whisperer and medium and sometimes private practice....and ALL of those i watch on the computer after the kids are asleep now! much less commercials and my kids aren't ever exposed to it.

now pbs was still an issue. i would have it on from the time they got up, sometimes turning it off after a few hours to just turn back on again in the later afternoon when the kids favorite shows are on. some days, sad to say, it did indeed stay on from about 9am-5pm. not proud of that. but i do still pride myself on the fact it was pbs, not network tv. quality shows, at least. and honestly, they didn't watch it all the time. often it was just on in the background.

well somehow that's changed now. its been weeks now of the tv watching dwindling down. mostly initiated by the kids themselves! they would tell me NOT to turn it on in the morning, god bless them! because of it not being on from the moment we get up...i don't mind putting it on from 2:30-4pm to watch their favorite shows. although some days we don't even do that.

yes, miracle of miracles...there have been a handful of days lately where the tv just doesn't go on at all! ALL DAY!! i can't even believe it myself! and we DON'T miss it!

i could care less about those sitcoms or dr phil or oprah and i REALLY could care less about the soap operas! haven't watched those in over a year, i think! i'm really happy not getting the bombardment of really makes a difference. and i'm happy that it all happened pretty much on its own! i never seem to be able to make things happen when i force the issue. they seem to work themselves out on their own for many things. what a relief! there's the computer games issue i just am going to work on the yard and finding appropriate gifts to put on their wish lists for xmas that will encourage creative play. and start to just let the computer start to dwindle down naturally, as they are drawn to other things. we'll see how it goes. i am pretty confident that things will work themselves out again. and we'll all be a lot happier.

oh and adam and i are talking about getting both kids bikes for xmas. tyren doesn't yet have a "2-wheeler" and maeven's far too big for hers. so i figure that could draw them outside and to play at parks a lot. :) good plan, eh?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

so much in my brain

as always, my brain is going a million gazillion miles a minute. i'm actually feeling really happy lately about not being on the go constantly. its a nice change. i really enjoy being able to know that i don't have tons of things to work on. still things to do, but not like crazy planning stuff like the discovery center event and maeven's birthday.

and yet my brain still goes into overdrive on ideas to work on. i do have to kick it up a notch for the learning village. i am going to do a solar system class that i'm really excited about. get to bring in a bunch of the neat activities and such that i used to use at SCICON and at discovery center summer camp all those years ago.

i'm in dire need of something to really get the learning village off the ground. that's my project right now. i need to put my energy into making it something that people will be lining up to join. so many ideas that i just have to put into action.

and also need to work on TDC stuff. we are planning a spring event, with an egg hunt. want to work on it now so that we can really make it awesome.

and tonight i was playing a game on shockwave, which was all about summer me to thinking about how fun camp was when i used to work at them. well not all fun, it was a lot of work and stress too. but i really want my kids to be able to go to camp someday. we just cannot even possibly afford it right now. but maybe if i am able to figure out something to organize, i might be able to make it happen for my kids.

anyway, its just funny how i always have all these things going on in my brain. and still always trying to think of ways to make money. always. someday i'm going to think of something that will more than supplement our income. someday i'll figure out a way to make enough money for us and still help others out by hiring moms to help them stay home with their kids too. someday. i think its just a matter of thinking of the right idea. someday.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

nearly there

in just a few days i'll be done with the madness of the past month. first TDC's event, then halloween, then maeven's birthday then her party...october/november are really crazy around here and i'm feelin it. will be glad to be done with it for another year so i can breathe and start gearing up for xmas. (ack, its not much longer til that crazy season, bleh).

anyhoo. i am determined to get this house shipshape. went to several stores yesterday just to buy the supplies needed. got tons of cleaning supplies (we were out of so many), and am attacking with vigor tomorrow.

still much to do on the party front but i'm trying to narrow it down to the easiest and cheapest ideas. it doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be wow, just fun. i have to keep telling myself that. and i'm getting maeven as involved as i possibly can. she's really a great help these days, and finds party planning almost as fun as i do.

going to have to figure out what to do with our large cardboard boxes we have collected...maeven wants a tea house with a roof, but i suspect that might be too much to do by sunday. well, its not a really difficult thing to make, but my biggest question is what are we going to use to paint it? i need to price paint and if i can find something affordable, we'll see...but we will need pretty much every color of the rainbow and then some. i'd just use tempera if TLV wasn't already so short on it. (and out of many of the colors entirely). i am thinking house paint would work best but i don't know how much it would cost for that many colors, even for the smallest of buckets. there's no way i'm going to be able to spend $50 or more on paint, no way. not feasible. i'll have to see what other sorts of paint might be available...i just doubt that tempera would cover the cardboard never really did before...hmmm...wait! i may have an idea...i think we have white house paint...and my dad might have some too...methinks i could paint it all white with what we already have and then see about getting more tempera to paint over it. it doesn't have to last...its going to be recycled after the party, most likely...but i just want the paint to pop.

hmmm...this could possibly work. it will be a lot cheaper to run and buy the tempera we are out of than to have to buy house paint in bright colors, methinks. i know i do have some colors, so i wouldn't need a ton. and i have plenty of brushes in all sizes. this could actually be quite fun! :)

and maeven's the resident artist so of course i'd put her to work on the main painting anyway. :) i'll just get the house assembled and we can all have fun putting the white base coat on and then see how it goes from there. tada! solution found. now i just have to go print up those house making directions again (i made one for maeve before, using our cardboard rivets.) and hunt down some white other neutral color'd house paint. voila!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Today is my dh (darling husband's) 39th birthday

So here's some pics in his honor. The many faces of Adam. :)

From recent goofy pics:

Tyren took these pics. I love how you can really see Adam's blue eyes in them:

One of my favorite pics ever of him:
(taken last year in front of our house)

To very old pics, of our wedding day in 1999 (were we really that much younger?)

Crazy to say, but he still makes my heart go pitter-pat when I look at these pics of him.

Yes, even after 12 years together, 10 years married and 3 children & much stress, heartache and joys later...

Lately we've had a LOT of stress, what with all the financial woes. But we are hangin in there and despite it all, Adam still cracks jokes and manages to get us all to laugh. Cuz that's just the kind of guy he is.


RANT: Parents who dress children in scream masks

I posted all our Halloween pics on our shutterfly site. Kids had fun, but far too many instances of them getting scared. Maeven wanted to go home early because of it. :(

Just wanted to fume here for a sec about parents that allow their children to dress in those horrid scream masks...especially the ones that bleed! Good god, what in the world are people thinking? We saw at least 3 of them on Van Ness, maybe 4, where we were trick or treating...not to mention all the other really creepy masks and bloody costumes. But those scream masks freak my kids out the most. I don't blame them. Even if I hadn't gotten tricked into seeing the first Scream movie years ago (I HATE HATE HATE slasher films...had no idea that's what I was agreeing to), that mask is creepy with a capital C! And then they make them to bleed? I mean seriously, WHAT are parents thinking???? I saw kids that weren't even that big wearing them!

I seriously question the rationale of a parent that would allow their children to dress in something that is so creepy and scary that you KNOW that it will scare other children who are trying to also enjoy the holiday. There were a lot of little kids out and about, and I'm sure that mine weren't the only ones being scared by these things.

I don't think we'll be taking our kids to Van Ness anymore. There are HORDS of kids that go there...I'm guessing lots of parents drive their kids over there, as we did. It was so crowded that getting up to the houses and back again was a pandemonium. Popular neighborhood. I can't imagine how much those people have to spend on candy to keep the kids happy. Probably why most houses only gave one piece of candy out per child. I don't blame them. (Nor do I care, my kids don't need that much candy.)

There seemed to be a large amount of creepy and gross costumes there. Not sure why that is, except perhaps the families that seem to not care about their kids scaring other kids might have been from some of the poorer neighborhoods, and came to Van Ness because its a wealthier neighborhood. I don't blame them for coming there, that's why we came there too. But I don't know why it is that it seems like the poorer families tend to have more instances of kids in those creepy masks. Do they really just not care as much about how it affects others? Do they really not care about the message they send their kids, that its ok to do what they like and not to care about the little kids? Do they really not care that their kids even LIKE these sorts of scary/creepy/violent things? Are they already exposed to such violence that they don't care if they wear a representation of it for fun? Is there more here than I'm getting? Is it not so much as I'm reading into it? I really don't know, but I find it disturbing and I know we didn't see hardly any of this sort of thing in my parents' neighborhood in Clovis, which is a pretty well-to-do neighborhood and didn't seem to have so many children brought in from other neighborhoods (other than us, LOL!) Not so many scads of children either, and just overall not so scary for my kiddos. We will be going there again next year, whether my parents are home or not, because I'm tired of the creepiness and traffic at Van Ness.

Anyway, am I the only one that cares that people are allowing their kids to make MY kids Halloween scary? My nearly 9yr old is more freaked by it than my 4yr old, because that's her personality. She's much more sensitive. But even Tyr was getting scared at times. There were even what looked like college students dressed as the members of Kiss towering over him that scared him. It was just overwhelming overall, I think. I need to remember all this next year and go to a different neighborhood.

But seriously...WHY do parents allow their kids to dress in those hideous masks, knowing that they will scare the little ones? Good god! THINK, PEOPLE! SHEESH!!

Glad Halloween is over now. I like Halloween but it is too much sometimes with all the negative stuff and creepy and scary stuff. Even I had a bit much of it this year. Now on to Maeven's birthday.