Friday, August 04, 2006

"We are NOT a T.V. Family"

I will scream if I hear another person say, "We are not a T.V. family." I've been staying at home for over a year now, and I can remember the days when I would in a better than you tone of voice say to other parents, "Yeah, I know who Dora is, but we don't watch T.V." Then I would suddenly think to myself, "Yep, I'm such a great parent, aren't I? My kids are going to be creative, happy and a great asset to society because of this lack of T.V." What I would do to be able to take back my words or my attitude. One day I cracked--it wasn't long into my career as a stay at home mom that I found out how wonderful T.V. could be for all of us.

Today was an exceptionally bad day for us here in the 105F midwest heatwave. It really is too hot to play outside. (Our newborn can't quite enjoy a day at the pool when the temperature gets so high.) We started the day by dumping out cereal, washing hands in our milk glasses, spilling dog food onto the floor along with dog water. "Time out, time out, time out," I scream. All while thinking of crying along with the fussy kids.

Nothing was working. No one ate breakfast. The two year old has opted to forget about the newly learned potty training and proceeds to pee on the floor. We are dog sitting two additional dogs on top of our two poorly trained beagles. The house is dirty, dogs are barking non stop at the workers who are putting in the fence in the God-awful heat. Right now I'm thinking we would all be happier if I went back to work.

At ten o'clock, my friend that I trade off watching kids with, came to pick up the girls, only to find PJ's still on my two year old. Is this where I say, ahh, life is better now that they are happily on their way to storytime? No. Instead I continue on my rampage thinking painting the baby's room is how I'm going to spend my time alone. (Oddly enough, I do find painting rewarding and relaxing.) I start putting the supplies together. Simple, right? The paint is by the front door. Rags, stirrers, paint roller, got them. Paint brush....Where is my favorite top of the line paint brush? I proceed to flip out like a crazy woman.

I get my husband on the phone to walk me through where he put it and wouldn't you know, he put it in a box of stuff with the bristles pointing down? If he would had thought about it, he would have hung up at that point since I lost it again and started screaming at him. Really, the only reason he even used my paintbrush in the first place was because he had the kind heart to help a friend of mine paint a room in our new house, before we moved in. (I couldn't help since I had just had a c-section a few days prior.) Hmmm.... Is this a hormone thing?

So, how does all this tie back into our television? Fo a moment I was really thinking I was going crazy. I couldn't help but put on my mother's shoes, and feel sorry for myself when in hind-sight, I am so very lucky.

After nap time, when the two year old still woke up with intentions to destroy, I turned on the T.V., which is commercial free thanks to my hubby making his own TiVo. And then I said, "I'm so proud to be a T.V. family". My kids have been quiet for the last 40 minutes while I write this article, which has helped put it all in perspective. I don't have to go back to work to be a better mom, I just need to remember the power of televsion.

Thanks Dora!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Road Trip Season

Well, nothing like the last minute. StuntMom asked me last week about writing an article on roadtrips, and a week later, under the gun big time (I leave for Boston for my 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk in 3 hours), here it is.

The kids and I go on roadtrips on a regular basis. We drive down to Massachusetts to visit friends and family, to Connecticut, to Michigan, to Ohio. We get around. And the trips are relatively painless. Here are my tips for roadtrip success:

Have a well stocked shoebox sized container of crayons, paper, colored pencils, stickers, scissors, colored index cards, etc. (I love the little $1 Dover Publication booklets - perfect size for the car.) The kids use a cookie sheet (bought esp. for the car, no burned nastiness on these) for a work surface. It works perfectly, as it keeps the stuff from rolling around as the car moves. Crayons are kept in a small one serving yogurt container, which fits into the cup holder of carseats. Again, this minimizes the mess factor. No glue sticks, no markers in the car. And before they move on to another toy/activity, make sure the arts and crafts box is cleaned up.

For my youngest, I have a little backpack filled with some cars and misc. toys he never sees - they are exclusive "road trip" toys. I put the backpack right next to him, and he entertains himself for hours. He is 16 months, and is not yet allowed to use the arts and crafts box. He only gets a magnadoodle (also only a car toy) for expressing his creativity.

Food is an important part of longer roadtrips. We always pack a special lunch for the first day of our drive. This summer, sushi and spring rolls were the menu of choice. Pick a special food, something the kids don't get every day, something they love, for lunch. It gives them something to look forward to. Snacks are also helpful in keeping the peace. I pack a big bag of popcorn, along with bowls for everyone. Peanut butter crackers are also very popular with the entire family. And I know many of you may not approve, but we stock candy. Smarties take a good amount of time to eat, so are a good choice. Dum Dum lollipops also work well for us. I keep it simple, not too many choices. I would highly recommend making a rule: no wrappers or garbage on the floor.

Which leads me to: Pack some bags for garbage, and teach your family the importance of using them. A clean car makes for a much more civilized roadtrip. Pack a roll of paper towels and cleaning solution, just in case. You never know when car sickness may hit.

When you take pee breaks, make sure everyone gets out and runs around. Let the kids stretch their legs and breathe fresh air. This really helped this time around - my daughter didn't get sick even once. If you have a child that is borderline potty trained, let him/her wear a pull-up.

No books are allowed, as they just make the kids throw up. Each child gets to bring a pillow, to make the ride a bit more comfortable. After every meal or big snack, we have "quiet time," when we just look out the window and quietly chat about what we see. This gives their stomachs time to digest their food, which results in less puking. Spontaneous naps often happen at this time.

Let's see, what else? Toys. I found that the less the kids bring, the better off they are. For our most recent roadtrip to the midwest, I allowed each of the older kids to pick out one toy each to play with, and this worked wonders. Jimmy brought along a few of his take along trains, Bea brought some dolls. With only one toy to play with, they stayed focused on their play for an extended period of time.

Well, this is not my most organized piece of writing, but I hope I inspire you to enjoy your trips, make them fun! Don't dread getting into your car with your family for your summer roadtrip! You can make it a good time!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Let's Iron!

Just call me old fashioned. I iron for my husband. Shocking, isn't it? I remember when I was on maternity leave my old boss called and asked if he was interrupting me. I said no, "I'm feeling rather embarrassed to say, I'm ironing my husband's work shirts" In reality, I ironed all of our clothes, so it was wonderful when I returned to work, I wasn't heating up the iron at 7:00am while trying to feed my little ones before daycare... I felt like a fifties housewife, with a June Cleaver, Martha Stewart type of outlook, cleaning my house, ironing, laundry, cooking. For those of you that know me, you know I don't have a tidy and organized house at all, nor do I try to seem like I do. So anyway, why an article about ironing?

A good friend of mine that has been on leave from her job while they worked to get a life less crazy, has sadly stated that her husband is mentioning her need to return to her career. Of course, selfishly, I can't let this happen since I see her at least once a week. Our kids play together fairly well, and we trade off babysitting often, so we each have some time to ourselves. So I suggested making a life so easy for her husband that he can't live without her around the house.

My first suggestion was to start ironing his shirts. I couldn't help but notice he wore an extremely well ironed shirt to work the other day when I ran into him walking to work. It was so well ironed, that I knew he must have ironed it himself. How did I know my dear friend was not ironing his shirts, when she is the person that so long ago stated that my ironing trouble was all in the fact that I was ironing with a ten dollar iron? I just had a feeling I guess. Anyway, she thought it was a brilliant suggestion, so she is getting the iron hot as I write.

Starch his shirts. Yes, I said "starch". Maybe not a trendy thing to do, but it really helps if you aren't a professional. You will find your ironing looks better than it is if you add a little starch to the shirt. I need to use a lot.

There is a trick to starching. I think it might be on the can of starch, but I never bothered to read it until recently- or maybe I read it online somewhere, I'm not sure. It's called spray and wait. I'm impatient, so it's really hard. But if you wait a few seconds for the starch to soak in, you won't have all of the white flakes on the shirt from the starch.

Try ironing for your man. It may make him think he just can't live without you.