Thursday, January 28, 2010

Operation Reformation update

So far so good.

Things are pretty smooth in our household.

My kids have realized that working quickly = efficiency = more fun time = happy mom.

Seriously, the house is cleaner in less time and my kids have played more together in the last three days than in the last three months.  There is still a bit of fighting in the evenings but I am tickled pink at the progress.  I am really loving this mom thing at the moment!

P.S. My baby is one year old today!  I am amazed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I trained them to be this way

*( Edited: early this morning only part of this post was showing up.  I hope you got to see the whole version)

It all came to a head.

I may or may not have screamed at my children today.  (I may or may not be pms-ing right now.  Beside the point, kinda).

It's the second day of their off-track break and I am losing my mind.  Maybe it's a good thing.  I have realized a lot of things today.  I needed to lose the old parenting mind and get my head on straight.

Don't get me wrong.  I have great kids, who nearly always choose the right when it really matters, and who respect us as parents.  They don't have tantrums (only me) and they don't ever slam their door screaming that they hate me.  The dynamics of our home need a lot of revision though.  We need to get our groove on.

I have been training my children to be lazy and contentious. It's true.

I keep waiting for my children to be good (kind, obedient, considerate, non-murderous) just because I keep gently asking.  Just because I try to keep my voice down and ask repeatedly.  It's NOT working.

Maybe you are a sweeter, more benevolent person than I, and as such your offspring are inherently gentle and productive.  It may work for you to just try to be a peacemaker but it isn't working for us.

When they are fighting ( I mean these boys can really fight) I have tried to stay soft spoken and repeat myself a million times so as not to escalate things.  Well all I was telling my kids was that my limits were jello.  My boundaries were rubber.  I have stubborn children who need things loud and clear. 

Things like "This is not acceptable in our family.  You will stop NOW."

Things like "When I say your name it is for a reason.  You will stop what you are doing and listen."

Things like "You made a great start but that job is not finished.  I will check again in xxx minutes".

Not yelling, but direct and bold.  In fact, I have been talking too much.  That's another problem altogether.    Less is more.  They don't know which are the really important words from my mouth and which are just blather.

When they are slacking on their chores or assignments I think "Hmm, maybe I am expecting too much of them".  And I usually back off and require LESS.  Really.  Can you believe I reason that way?!  I can't either.  I have trained them that consistenly doing a half-baked job when you sweep the kitchen is fine because they aren't me and can't be expected to do it good enough.  Don't worry about being accountable yet.  Who am I kidding?  I am training someone's future husband and he better be able to sweep a kitchen and actually leave no pretzels behind for the baby to choke on.

It all kind of blew up today.  Not kind of, totally.  One son was being mean to his sister and enjoying it, another son was acting put-out because I requested he do something, still another was ignoring my pleas to help get ready for a trip to the library today. 

I thought, What am I doing here?  Whose operation is this?  They don't treat me any different than a peer or sibling.  They don't respond till the 71st time they are called, yadda yadda yadda.  This can't go on.  There is no order.

So, meet me.  The Mean Mom. 

Leaving the library today was a really fun experience.  I lectured for the whole drive home and my kids sat silently and believe it or not they were really listening. They knew I meant business. 

I said I had tried to be Nice Mom.  But Nice Mom has mean kids.  Nice Mom has a messy house and pee on the toilet seat.  Nice Mom feels frustrated at the end of each day instead of fulfilled.  Nice Mom doesn't train her kids the way she is expected.  This is the beginning of a change in our family.

I told them what we would be doing back at the house, starting with a family work project.  I put the baby down for a nap and then gave everyone a rag.  We pulled out every kitchen chair and the bench at the kitchen table and we scrubbed.  We scrubbed and scrubbed (yeah, it was gross).  We made those chairs shine and I praised them for the great work they were doing.  I asked them how it felt to see something get really clean due to their efforts.  They were seeing results.  Princess even dared say "This is FUN!"

Ya know what?  It was fun.  We cleaned for quite a while.  Then we had popsicles and they all ran outside to play street hockey.  They got along beautifully for hours.  Really.

Of course I have tons to figure out.  But I think I unlocked a mystery today.  Parenting with purpose carries  a whole lot more weight than parenting by default.  And we are all in this together.  As I raise the bar around here every one of us is going to benefit.  And I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

On a roll

Somebody stop me. I can't help it.

Hubby left me with a stack of this:

So I made my sister steal borrow my mom's Cricut and I did these:

And the boys are going off track today whch means they will be out of school for Valentine's Day. Sad, huh?

I at least wanted them to remember their teachers, so I took some really ugly matchbook style notepads (.25 for 2) and covered them to make Valentines.

Did I mention they were ugly?

I really like the result.

Phew. It's like scratching an itch, people.

The train of thought has been derailed

I start water so I can throw in a load of laundry.

In the laundry cupboard I notice the magnetic pencil holder bought from IKEA a couple years ago that I never hung up.

I go upstairs to put it on the fridge.

I grab the pens/pencils in the current holder on the pantry door to transfer them and realize half don't work and half don't belong there.

Decide to weed out and keep only the great ones.  Never mind the breakfast still all over the kitchen table.  This is urgent.

Wonder why there is not one sharpened pencil in the whole mess.

Go upstairs to the pencil sharpener and begin sharpening.  It's not working.

Is something jammed in there?  There are screws on the motor housing; should I take it apart and check?

Decide not to.

While sitting there at my craft desk I figure I might as well work on a quick valentine.

Wait, what's that noise?

The washer is running - with water and soap - but no clothes.  I never threw the load in.

Toss the kids' hamper contents down the stairs toward the laundry room.

On the way past the living room I see my scriptures sitting on the table. 

See, we have a storage ottoman that everyone keeps their scriptures in, and after morning study at 7, the family members put theirs away. 

Except for me; I leave mine out till I do my personal reading.  You know, to remind me.  Sometimes they stay out most of the day.  Most of the time I get it done by lunch, though.

So I tell myself I will get the laundry going and then read.  I promise I will.  Unless I decide to unload the dishwasher.

It's like a twisted version of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie", only for distracted homemakers.

So how do I change this?  Those of you who do your primary "work" at home, do you face a similar dilemma?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Use what you have decorating

I asked Strider last night if we had any scrap wood. You know, like he has some kind of workshop or something. Yeah right hee hee. Well he did find a couple pieces for me.

One was a type of fence post 4x4 thing, used as a stain sample at the architect's (hubby was a drafter before teaching). I was intrigued and knew I could do something valentine-y with it.

I gathered supplies like a random wooden heart from the craft drawer and ribbon scraps. I wanted to use some lettering, so I checked the chipboard I had. Most of my letters we black and white so I decided on red for my base color.

I found some really OLD acrylic paint from my tole painting days and covered it with two coats of red. Sanded the edges.

Since one of my puffy hearts says "be mine" I went with "true love" on this one. I covered the heart with pink scrapbook paper and sanded the edges down flush with the shape.

Then I grabbed some ribbon to decide how to embellish it. I first tied a bow but the ribbon was too stiff and it looked bulky. Ended up using a glue dot to secure a small band of this great "love-cherish-adore" ribbon from a CK kit.  Then I tied another ribbon piece and a fiber with some texture onto the black ribbon.

I printed a photo of me and Strider from our anniversary (13 years,baby!) in black and white. Literally just printed on cardstock and threw it in a frame.

Cute, eh? And $0 spent.

If you had a Cricut or Silhouette you could do endless things with any scrap material for nearly any holiday. This was grand fun. Think outside the box and see what you can create!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hanging Hearts

I am definitely in my happy place.

A month till Valentines - time to decorate!

I loved the hang your heart garland on Little Birdie Secrets and decided to copy her. Well, except for the fact that she had a real pattern and real sewing skills. But pretty much copy.

I decided on a shabbier look by using various scrap fabrics instead of being all matchy-matchy and I totally love it!  I found all the pinks and browns I could.  Some are felt and some are cotton.  All have ribbon for hanging and are stuffed with batting and no two are alike.

My only real issue was hand-finishing that little part of the seam that
you leave open to turn right side out and stuff it.  How in the world
do you make that part look good?

After I strung them on a ribbon we used a thumb tack to attach
it to the top of the shelf on each side.  It worked perfectly.

I think I forgot to mention my intent to bore you with too many pics.  I couldn't help myself.

And here is the loveliness at night.

Go Jazz!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crafting again

Oh boy. I have been itching to get this project done for a week and finally got around to it last night. Took 5 mintues, what was my problem?


I saw this post about framing a star on Creations by Kara.  I love stars and have several on display. 

I have two of these green ones, so I took one and spray painted it cream.

And I had more of the scrapbook paper I used to dress up these candles:

I thought it would be an easy project and I was right.  I love the look of it, and it's never an idea I would have come up with on my own.  I'm crafty, but no so much creative.

What do you think?

Friday, January 8, 2010


1. I forgot to show you our new family member. Nibbles is Potter's first pet. So far so good. Easy to care for, likes being handled, no escapes yet.

2. Guess who can climb up on the couch alone?

3. The girls got a couple nice dresses for Christmas. Here is Rosebud in one of hers.

4. And one of Princess' has a matching doll dress which she loves.

5. Clearance Christmas ribbon, need I say more?

6. And lastly, just because the holidays are over it doesn't mean winter is gone, right? So I hung some snowflake ornaments the length of our vaulted ceiling (lousy pic) and made a winter scene in the huge apothecary jar my b-i-l got me for Christmas. Clearance tree ($1.19) and berries ($.39) and coarse salt. Perfect for my January table.