Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Columbus Zoo

With rain in the forecast, umbrellas in the trunk and enough food to get us through a long day, the girls and I, along with another family of three, piled into our minivan for the two hour drive to Columbus.

"Is our Cincinnati Zoo not good enough for you?", I was asked by a friend. Of course it is, but having gone there every week for the last two years, I needed a change. I needed to see something new more than my kids did. I needed to leave behind the messy house and typical places we have been going all summer.

I have to report back, it was worth the drive. The girls walked for eight hour straight looking at all of the new sights. We did sit down to eat for about 10 minutes, and took a boat ride that was maybe another ten minutes of relaxation. The new playgrounds were as exciting as one can imagine in a young child's mind. Not to mention the excitement of just taking a road trip. I'm certain they enjoyed the new variety of animals too, or at least I think they did.

The best part- I'm certain you are thinking it would be the two hour drive home in peace and quiet, but it wasn't. The kids talked to their friend in the back, and looked out the window while listening to music (no fighting). They stayed awake for the whole ride home -including the baby. We got home well past bedtime, took a quick bath, then their heads hit the pillows hard. So now you are thinking that they slept until 10:00am. But this is not the case either. They still woke up at the usual 7:00 am, but the long nap the next day from all three was what made it worth while. They slept for 4 hours in the afternoon which was what I found to be the greatest reward.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chart of Praise

This is my second serious attempt at getting our kids to remember the simple things they need to do everyday. Our first attempt ended with a complete lack of wanting a reward such as a sticker, to misplacing the chart and never mentioning it again, until the recreation about two months ago.

We drew the charts together with paper color choices selected by the girls. Our charts are nothing fancy or special, they are just charts that we have hanging in the kitchen next to a pile of tiny stickers. The jobs are pictures that I drew, so they know what the tasks are. Once they learn to read, if we are still doing the charts, then I imagine I will write the words.

Moments after breakfast the older girls, age three and five race to the charts to see what jobs they have yet to do for the morning:

  • Dressed themselves?
  • Fork and spoon for their meals?
  • Brush their teeth? This usually ends the chart review with a rush to the bathroom to check off another box.
  • Pick up their toys? This line remains almost empty. Don't ask why, but they would rather do anything than pick up toys.
  • Go a day without hitting anyone? (Found only on the three year old chart and the line is almost empty with the hitting phase stopped shortly after the chart into so there is a lack of interest)
  • Potty by themselves? (Again found only on the three year olds' chart since the five year old has been using the potty unassisted for a few years)
  • Bed's made?
  • Dog's fed?

Amazing how just a simple piece of paper and a little time has changed our lives for the better. The girls love being responsible and nothing can beat stickers! Friends have asked if they get anything when the chart is done and originally it was never mentioned, but with the suggestion from others, they now get their own sticker book when it's too full. We'll see if they remember that since it is not the motivating factor at all. They just love to see the lines fill up.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sicko -in Theaters Today!

Michael Moore's new movie is at theaters now! Playing at the Esquire theater Support your local independent theater, and see something that will make you think.

check out the Michael Moore website for all of your political news

And of course, Michael Moore for President!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Post Vacation Blues

This is our first week back from a relaxing sunny week at the beach with all of my sisters, our husbands, kids and my parents. Sound like a nightmare? Well oddly enough it was great. It goes back to the good old Hillary Clinton phrase of "It takes a village". It was wonderful having all of these adults and kids around to play endlessly day and night. It made me think back to a time when life was probably much more like a week at the beach at any given street in any town.

It seemed as though I did little childcare for the week since our main goal was to make it to the beach everyday, which usually happened before 9:00am. Once at the beach the kids played endlessly in the sand with the cousins. Gone are the days of reading on the beach, but I found life relaxing enough just sitting on the beach talking to the other adults around, which was usually at least one or two sisters that I needed to catch up with the latest in their lives.

Today is the first day I was able to snap out the of the post vacation blues since I sat around chatting with a few friends as our kids played in the backyard together for 4 hours. No fighting, wining or constant interruptions, just playing and playing. I feel as though it was a day at the beach since I wasn't the sole person in charge of entertaining my kids. For some reason returning from the beach with so many people around constantly for a week left me feeling isolated for the first time since I've been staying home with my girls. I need to remember the importance of getting together with the other mom's that stay home in effort to make this a good experience for us all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Follow Through With Your Plans!

Guest Editorial from Karen

If 99% of life is just showing up, then why do so many people cancel? I think that contagious illness or severe physical/mental discomfort are good reasons to cancel plans. (Mental discomfort is a tricky one because sometimes going through with plans can actually make you feel better, but I also want to recognize that a really bad mental state can be as bad as a really bad physical state). Beyond those, are there good reasons to cancel? Plans that have been made are an open door to the world beyond yourself and your own household. If you made the plans in the first place, why don't you trust the self that made them that the plans are worth your time? And let's not forget the other person/people involved in the plans. Now that I am living a divorced lifestyle, I am much more appreciative of plans. I make more plans than I used to and as such, I have more people cancel out of plans than I used to. Now, some readers might suggest that I should take this personally. If so, I disagree. I think that in this modern day culture that is increasing more supportive of our daily whims and "needs," we often put the plans we make on a second tier and what will make our lives easiest on a first tier. Why not just accept whatever is laid out before you (including plans you have made) as just as easy in the current moment?

My bookclub just finished a book called the "Book Thief." In it, there was a wonderful character named Hans Huberman. He was a solid individual who was always there for the people who needed him. That might mean staying up into the wee hours reading to a little girl and being bone tired the next day. Or painting someone's house for a glass of champagne. I was inspired by this character because he wasn't consciously selfless, but it was just a way of life for him. If someone had invited him to dinner, I just know he would be there.

Yes, I have canceled plans before. My intention is not to do so in the future. I think I do believe that 99% of life is just showing up.