Monday, June 4, 2012

The Boob Tube

My kids watch television and movies everyday. There I said it, now let me explain.

They are not staring at the television all day long, but they get an hour or two in each day plus a few movies each week. Studies have shown.... blah, blah, blah. It is hard for me to justify not allowing my kids television or movies when they play such an important part in my life.

 I watch several movies a week. I also have shows that I follow pretty religiously. I enjoy them because I fell they add something positive to my life. Before we had kids, we went and saw nearly every movie that came out in the movie theater. I love to laugh, cry, and gasp at the things I see in films. And my kids get something important out of their television viewing also.

Lukas gets lost in episodes of How Its Made. Logan claps and sings along with the Muppets. We have cheered Harry Potter on together and compared the story book Jumanji to the movie. We clap for our favorite superheros and learn about different kinds of families. Yes, all these things can be found in books, but why not experience it in different ways?

To me, not allowing my kids to watch a show or watch a movie would be like telling them that the art museum is a waste of time or that we shouldn't listen to music. I consider television shows and movies to be an art form. Yes, even Phineas and Ferb. It may not be very highbrow, but the animation is vivid and the writing is witty and fun.

Like most things in life, television watching is fine in moderation. As long as my kids are still getting out and riding their bikes and showing enthusiasm for the books we read or the art that we create, I don't see a problem with allowing more television than the recommended amount.

Besides, how else will I get dinner cooked every night?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just a Logan

*Insert required comment about not blogging in over a month and how crazy busy I have been.*

The boys are at the age where there is quite a bit of discussion about bodies and gender. They are processing the biological differences, but also starting to analyze some of the things they see that aren't biological. They notice their girl friends wearing dresses and having longer hair. When they are playing with their mixed gender play group I overhear them negotiating with each other about what is acceptable for boys and girls.

As the liberal lady that I am, I don't necessarily want my children to paint themselves into little blue and pink corners, but I do accept that this is a part of life and a part of basic human socialization. We humans like to categorize and define things. We put things in their place, including humans. No matter how many times I tell Lukas that boys can wear pink and girls can play with trucks, he is eventually going to have to process through these things himself.

Which brings me to the conversation my boys had in the car today. Their innocent little ramblings illustrate what these tiny people are going through as they try and figure out the world.

Lukas: I have a penis and I am a boy.

Logan: Mommy don't have a penis.

Lukas: Mommy is a a grill. You have a penis Logan.

Logan: (Raises eyebrow quizzically)

Lukas: That means you're a boy.

Logan: No, I not a boy.

Lukas: You're not a grill Logan. You have a penis.

Logan: I just a Logan.

Logan sums it up nicely. As they are working these things out, it is important to remind them that even though there are these differences, some biological and some societal, all that really matters is that you are allowed to be yourself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gotcha Journalism

The other day I was heavily involved in commenting on someones facebook post when Logan came and asked me for something to drink. "Go ahead and get yourself some water." I told him.

I hear him get some water and think nothing of it until about four minutes later when I notice it is unusually quiet for all three of the kids to be awake and standing right around the corner from where I was sitting.

I wander into the kitchen to find the entire floor covered in a puddle of water. Ack! Not on the expensive wood floors!! Logan is jumping happily in the puddles while Lukas is doing something with my IPhone.

"Who is responsible for this mess?" I ask.

"Lukas!" yells Logan giving the predictable answer.

In a completely out of character response, Lukas simply hands me the phone and walks out of the room. I look at the phone and see the following series of photos.

Here we see the glass sitting in the puddle of water.

Here we see Logan dumping out the cup of water onto the floor.

Here we see Logan happily jumping in the mess he created.

Innocent bystander.

Here is Logan refilling his cup to have another go at it.

And finally we see Logan sitting in time-out for dumping water all over the floor.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What. A. Day.

Most days with my kids are pretty simple. They are almost always tedious, but fun. There is the usual day to day things; getting dressed, making meals, reading stories, going to the park. It sounds easy, but the multitasking involved in feeding, dressing, teaching, herding, and entertaining three small children for twelve straight hours without a break every day is astounding.

Even a simple task like folding a basket of laundry becomes a test of your ability to maintain calm and patience. You fold a pair of pants and then you hear some shouting from the next room. You go and investigate. When you return the baby has gotten into the basket and unfolded the pants and is throwing the clothes all over the room. So you stop that little game and gather everything back up. You attempt it once again and this time you get halfway through the basket before you notice that someone needs a fresh diaper. You take this child to get a diaper change and when you come back the basket has been dumped and the older child is sitting in it pretending to be an astronaut. So you give up and leave the laundry on the floor for three weeks. The floor is now your dresser.

And that is how it goes for pretty much every simple task. At least for me. I know some things will get easier as they get older. They will be able to do their own laundry and help out with the simple things. They will have more ownership and responsibility over their own things. I will be able to delegate more to them. But for now it really does seem like I will just never catch up. I know some parents who are able to juggle all these tasks with what seems like ease, but I know that they are like me and are making tough choices everyday about what they can and cannot manage.

Today was a tough day for me for many reasons and I have been doing some thinking about how I want to be interacting with my children so that the important day to day tasks get done, but that my children are still getting the attention they need.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Neverending Toy Story

I have spent countless hours and shopping trips devising various ways to store and sort the toys. I've done the whole put some of them in a closet and switch them out. I've bought bins with lids and bins without lids. I've used fabric drawers and plastic drawers. I am ready to admit defeat, but I am not ready to have the toys rule our house.

I am of the opinion that my kids have a reasonable number of toys. The problem is that this reasonable number of toys have an unreasonable number of parts. Tinker toys, legos, train tracks, blocks, and so on. It has gotten to the point where I feel I am spending more time sorting the toys out than the kids spend playing with them.

So once again I am trying to come up with a solution for the "toy problem." Do I get out a box and have them fill it up with toys they don't want anymore? Do I search for an even more advanced system of organization? Do I just saw to heck with it and let them wallow in their junk? Or is there a better option?

I am toying with the idea of putting each toy with pieces in its own lidded container and putting a clear label and photo on the container so the kids know which toy goes where. But that still doesn't solve the problem of them opening all the boxes and dumping the toys on the floor, mixing them around and leaving them for me to sort.

Another option I am considering is to go in there while they are otherwise occupied and just filling a box myself with toys I know they don't play with at all. If they ask for the toy anytime in the next month, I will get it out and give it to them. Anything left in the box goes bye-bye out of my house.

The other sad thing is that I am putting this much time into contemplating it as though it were some sort of life or death situation. I suppose whatever I decide to do will be fine. I guess it is time to just go get it done already.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Punch Me in the Face

Asking introspective and probing questions simply does not work with Logan. He's one step ahead of me so I am constantly having to dig deep into the parenting reserves to try to figure him out.

This morning I walked in on Lukas hitting Logan. He was put into a time out. I asked him if he thought he would like to be hit. Predictably, he said, "No." He apologized to Logan and they went about their business.

Fast forward about one hour. I walk into a room and see Logan cornering Luella in the corner and bopping her on the head. So I use a similar tactic. Logan gets a "time-in" and I ask him the same question. "How would you like to be hit like that?" Logan says, "I like to be hit Mommy."

"Oh really?"

"Yes. It's funny." He then smacks himself in the face five times to illustrate his point. I sigh.



"Will you punch me in the face please?"

"Um, no. I won't punch you in the face."

Now I have a three-year-old running around the room, slapping himself in the face, and screaming, "Mommy punch me in the face! Mommy punch me in the face!"

Good thing my neighbors are all at work.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Sometimes as parents we all do things we regret and that we know will be ineffective. I seem to do this more often than I care to admit. I know in the long run my kids are going to be fine and to err is human, but there are times when I know I owe one of my kids a sincere apology for a poor parenting decision.

This morning there was much frustration in the getting dressed department. Lukas just flat out refused to put his clothes on. When all of my tactics failed to result in compliance, I finally picked him up despite him being a big four-year-old now, placed him in his bedroom, and said in a louder than necessary voice "don't come out of this room until you have clothes on! Argh!" I guess it worked because he was dressed less than five minutes later, but that doesn't mean it was a great method.

When he came downstairs and was dressed, I gave him a hug and said, "I'm sorry I yelled. I was very frustrated." Then I added the thought that was in my head, "Sometimes I wish I was a good mommy all the time."

And this sweet boy that I had just yelled at cupped my face in his hands and said, "Well mommy, wishes do come true."

Seriously, how did I get so lucky?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I am one of those people that takes my kids with me to political events. Yeah, I know they should be allowed to make up their own mind and all that, but if I want to participate in certain things, by extension they will also be participating.

I know parents all across the ideological spectrum. I know parents who dress their kids up in shirts with clever political slogans (me) and parents who think that it is critical to explain both sides of an issue to their kids so they can make up their own minds (also me). I know parents who would be sad if their kids decided to go a different route ideologically than them (oh yeah, me too). I don't think there is one right or wrong answer, but I do think that it is important to share the things that you are passionate about with your children. In my case, this means politics and also chocolate. Sometimes at the same time!

And see how much fun they are having at their first campaign event!

I'm so glad they are as psyched up for the election season as I am!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pee Blankie

Did you ever pick up on of your kid's bedding or clothing items and make the mistake of giving it a big sniff? I think that is the mark of true love, the willingness to sniff someone's laundry to find out if it is dirty or not.

Logan has a blankie. He calls if Frog Blankie because it has pictures of frogs on it and it is green. (side note-one of his best friends has a green frog stuffed animal that he carries around too and they are both Ethiopian. The kids, not the lovies!)

This blanket is his version of a pacifier. Just hand it to him and he will immediately lay down on the floor, suck on his fingers, and stop whatever it is he is doing. We could be in the middle of an ice cream sundae party extravaganza and he would obediently lay down on the floor and cuddle with that blanket.

Needless to say, it is hard to sneak that blankie away to get it washed. Today I saw it laying around and decided to  give it a quick sniff to see if it needed to be washed. First mistake there. Wowser. I swear I washed this thing just a few days ago, but apparently not well enough. So I snuck it away while he was playing and threw it in the washing machine without looking at the clock and realizing we were only about a half hour away from naptime. Uh-oh.

I am sure many parents are familiar with the fits that get thrown when the lovie is being washed. Nothing else will do. And these kids are apparently incapable of sleeping or calming down without having their hands on their lovie. Last time this happened I took the lovie out of the wash and just handed it to him soaking wet. He took it and went off to take a nap. Once he was asleep I pried it out of his hands and snuck it back in the wash.

But today I just let him freak out because I wasn't going to let him cuddle with a blanket that reeked of urine and was sopping wet. He's asleep now, but it is painful to listen to a kid mourning their lovie.

And I don't care what you say Blogger, lovie is in fact a word.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


"Time for bed baby."

"Otay. I need my frog blanket. Do you have my frog blanket mommy?  I need it."

Up the stairs . . . .

"Mommy, you read me story?"


"I want two stories mommy. Two stories is funner. Lukas go bed now? Lukas stay up? I bigger dan Lukas. I can reach the counter mommy."

"Here brush your teeth."

"My teeth like crocodile mommy? Crocodiles spooooky mommy? hahahahaha"


"I have to take medicine mommy? I put that on my face mommy. Do Lukas have medicine mommy? Where Lukas mommy? Lukas go bed mommy?"

"Stop talking and breath in please."

Deep breaths.

"Mommy, you read me stories mommy? I pick stories mommy? Do I need diaper mommy? I not pee my underwear mommy."

Two stories read.

"That story funny mommy. I want nother story mommy."

"Nope, bedtime."

"Okay mommy. Lukas go bed too mommy? You going to bed mommy? Logan sleep in your bed mommy? I cold mommy."

Blankets pulled over.

"I love you. Good night."

"I lub you mommy. Good night mommy. Mommy? Leave my door open mommy. And the hall light on mommy. Leave the door open this much mommy. There no monsters mommy."

Door left open. Walking down hall.

"Leave light on mommy! Where Lukas mommy? You go bed mommy?"

And five minutes later he is out cold. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Can't get no satisfaction

This isn't a post about how you should live your life everyday like it's the last. I think that may be one of the most stressful ways to live. What is life really except seemingly mundane events day after day interspersed with moments of joy and tragedy? You go to work, you wash the dishes, you read a book, and then one day out of nowhere your brother dies or your kid gets cancer. (yes my brother died, no none of my kids have cancer.)

I don't even think we should worry about finding joy in everyday things. I mean, if you are scrubbing a pot and smiling gleefully, I am going to think you are a crazy person. Joy comes from the unique. I don't feel joy every time my kid talks, but I feel intense joy when they blurt out something profound. I think if I felt that kind of joy all day I would burst.

I think about what it means to me to have a happy life and the word that comes to me is satisfied. I am satisfied with my day to day life. I suppose that makes me sound like a downer, but I mean it in the best way possible. Let me give some examples.

Having a wedding is exciting. There's a party and a big cake. Your spouse looks gorgeous and you slow dance and gaze in each other's eyes. It's awesome. I am all for romance and carrying on, but what happens when you are both tired at the end of the long working day and the last thing you want to do is carry on like newlyweds. I think it is important to be able to sit down on the couch next to your spouse, turn on the TV, and think, "I am satisfied."

I have a beautiful house. I really do. It is glorious. I didn't always though. We have lived in a number of apartments that were simple and small. And that was good enough. If everything fell apart and we lost our house and had to find a new place to live, I would be okay with it. I would be able to look around and think, "I am satisfied."

There's a joke in my family about a time long ago when I bought a bikini for a beach trip. I told everyone I was buying the bikini because I wanted to inspire myself to lose some of that college weight. I put the suit on when I got home and looked in the mirror and thought, "bah! I look great! To heck with that exercise plan!" True story. I am still the same way except now I have a bit extra baby weight. Sometimes I think I should feel worse about my body (thanks media!), but when I look in the mirror I think, "I am satisfied."

For me it is not about settling or putting up with good enough. It is about realizing that what surrounds you is already pretty good. It is about understanding that often the thing that needs to change is not your spouse or your waistline, but your attitude. I have goals and plans for the future that I am very excited about and I am sure there will come a time when I will not be satisfied with something, but I am glad that I am at the point in my life where I can look at what surrounds me and think, "I am satisfied."

Being satisfied makes me happy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teach on

Today I shoved myself into my teaching pants and went on a job interview. Granted it was an interview for a job that would be very part time and not pay that well, but I definitely still fit in the pants. Barely.

When I decided I wanted to teach, I was making a conscious decision that I would never make much money. I wanted to choose a career that I could be proud of, but that wouldn't force me to make some of those hard decisions about family and career that many women have to make. Well, I guess I was making some decisions. I just made them in college. I wanted a career that I could theoretically leave for a number of years and then glide back into when I was ready. It was a very practical decision for someone who wanted to have a larger than average family and stay home when the kids were small.

Then a funny thing happened. I loved teaching and I was pretty good at it.There is nothing like the sound of a classroom going at full speed. There's an excited buzz in the air as students work on several different things. There is a magical moment when you take a breath and look at a classroom where every student is engaged in learning about something. The first time I had that moment I knew I had made a good choice, not just in practical terms, but in terms of fulfillment and joy. It was hard to leave.

I miss being in the classroom everyday and I miss that buzz. I still get some of the good parts that came with teaching. The way a kid's eyes light up when they finally understand something or the satisfaction you feel when you are reading a story to a kid and they ask questions and keep engaged are things that both parents and teachers get to experience. But teachers get paid.

I hope to have a few job interviews for some very part-time jobs, but I worry it's like a cocaine addict hoping that one small sniff of the rubber cement will suffice. It will have to do for now though. I think I am doing a good job with these little ones, but I do look forward to the day when I have a reason to buy some better fitting teaching pants.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Scaredy Boy

Are all four-year-olds terrified of the dark? Lukas has been acting like he can't go anywhere in the house by himself because there are apparently dangers lurking behind every door and around every corner in our well-lit home. He asks for me to come with him to  go upstairs and get socks or to go pick out a book to read or brush his teeth.

Then at bed time there is a list of corrections that must be made. The closet door has to be closed. The hall light, not just the bathroom light, must be illuminated. The bedroom door must be open a certain amount and one of us must reassure him that monsters and ghosts do not exist. He hasn't made up his mind yet about this claim yet.

When I head in to check on them before turning in, I find the boys curled up in the same bunk with the light on. I don't like the idea of him feeling scared, but at the same time I simply can't take it too seriously. I don't think he is scared at all. I think it is just a nice way for him to get some one on one time with me.

The final proof that convinces me he is not actually scared of these things were his requests for Friday night movie night. He picked Monsters Inc. or Ghostbusters. He did this about thirty seconds after telling me he was too scared to go downstairs by himself to pick out a movie. I suppose I can humor it for awhile.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sneaky Altruism

My kids have been watching quite a bit of TV this week. (see last post) With TV, has come commercials. I gave up total control of the remote yesterday while I laid moaning on the couch, so naturally the boys watched the channels and shows that I tend to avoid because of the constant commercials.

A commercial for Fruit RollUps/Gushers advertises their campaign to help provide laptops to children in Africa. I could go on a rant here about children in Africa and how they could be a bit more specific. There are many countries there. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Anyways, when Logan hears Africa he immediately thinks Ethiopia for obvious reasons. He didn't say anything about the commercial during the day while we were watching TV. At least I don't think so. I was basically comatose. But it apparently struck a chord with him.

Fast forward to this afternoon's grocery shop. There was a big display on the end of the aisle for a sale on Fruit RollUps/Gushers. Normally this gets walked right past and the boys don't even say anything, but today Logan yells out, "Mommy! Fruit snacks! Buy them!"

"Nope, I'm not buying that junk Logan. Sorry."

"But Mommy kids in Ethiopia need them computers."

Game. Set. Match. And the happy little boy was able to get two boxes of Fruit RollUps with the knowledge that it would help kids in Ethiopia get a computer. I like to think that it was all out of the kindness of his heart, but I think his stomach may have also been involved.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Day of Toons

I am the mom that lets my kids watch cartoons, but even I make an effort to turn them off and get outside and do other things. Some days we don't watch any at all! Those are the days I consider myself a fantastic mom.

Today I am sick, sick, sick. For twelve hours yesterday afternoon to the early morning today, I was vomiting every hour on the hour. I hope it was food poisoning so my kids don't get it. Today I am worthless. I feel like I was beat up yesterday. That is great news for the kids because it means they have been watching cartoons all day. They even took their nap on the couch in front of the TV. Because I am basically incapable of movement, I have had the opportunity to analyze a variety of children's programming and have a few observations.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is annoying. I have nothing against Disney and I used to watch Mickey Mouse cartoons, but this latest incarnation of Mickey Mouse and his pals is lame. It feels like they are trying incredibly hard to not offend anybody at all, but it offends me with its utter lack of imagination.

Phineas and Ferb gets one enthusiastic thumbs up from me. It is just funny enough that I can stand watching it and the kids stay engaged with the story lines. The older sister kind of annoys me, but isn't that what older sisters do?

Cartoons were better when I was a kid. Maybe it bothers some to see a cartoon cat build a giant cannon to kill a mouse, but it is funny. My kids don't laugh at all when watching Micky Mouse Clubhouse. They just sit there and stare at the TV, but Tom and Jerry makes them laugh and laugh. I like that noise.

Power Rangers, while not a cartoon, does cause children to punch each other in the face. If you want to avoid this, you should probably avoid Power Rangers.

Super Why is actually helping my kids learn the alphabet. Its great when a show is able to teach the kids something and do so in an entertaining way, but it is a fine balance that many educational shows just don't accomplish.

Now we are on to some Backyardigans episodes. This show is also quite tolerable. It's not funny really, but I like the stories and the kids like to dance with them.

Hopefully we will be off the couch and back up to our regular schedule tomorrow. I especially hope that none of the kids get this sickness.