Nov 23, 2013

When Your Kid Doesn't Punch Somebody, and You're Just SO Glad

Watching your kids play sports is way more fun than watching the professionals, I don't care what anybody says.

Alright, does it get a little bit old in July when it's our 4th baseball game that week and it's 9 o'clock at night and we're still sitting in folding chairs and it's still 95 DEGREES out and the BILLIONTH kid gets ball 4… again?  Yeah, maybe a little.  I still hope they sign up next year, though, because it's worth it.  And this year I am loving watching the girls play on the same basketball team at school.

When they do well it's absolutely exhilarating, and when they make a mistake it's endearing (and usually pretty hilarious).  Dear and Slim are polar opposites on the court.  Dear does things like tap her opponent on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me but you're supposed to stand behind me so my friend can throw me the ball."  Seriously, it was adorable.

Slim is extremely aggressive.  She's athletic, talented, and fearless- her coaches always think she's awesome.  She prides herself on her strength and tenacity.  I love that about her, but we are working on finesse.  She gets hurt so often- almost every day at recess or P.E.  I'm trying to teach her to have some regard for personal safety, even if she's never exactly careful.  

Their game last Thursday was INTENSE.  The two teams were pretty evenly matched, and the score was really close the whole game.  The girls were fouling, a lot.  They're only in the 5th and 6th grade, but Slim's not the only player who is aggressive.  At one point, in the third quarter, they were running down the court at full speed vying for the ball.  Slim and the girl with the ball got tangled up with each other and fell right in the middle of the court.  The ball shot out of bounds and the ref blew the whistle and the girls stood up.  As they were getting up the girl blatantly elbowed Slim in the gut- she was a little too far away and didn't get her very good, but the intent was clear.  

What happened next was amazing.

Slim just walked away.  SHE DIDN'T HIT HER BACK!  She didn't even yell at her!  Or sulk or complain at all!  She just kept playing the game.  I was so proud- so impressed!

In hindsight I've wondered if I should have said something to the coach or the ref, who had obviously missed it.  At the time, all I could think of was how happy I was that Slim had let it roll off her back like that.  There was a time in her life when she never would have done that.  She's worked really hard over the last few years on resisting the urge to lash out physically when she's upset, and finding other ways to resolve difficult situations.

In the last minute and a half of the game the other team made a basket and beat us 9 to 8.  It was pretty disappointing after how hard the girls had tried and how exciting the game had been, but really that's not what's important.  We were just thrilled that Slim didn't turn around and clock that girl in the middle of the court, and we cheered her on for it the whole ride home.  She's come so far!

Of course, the following morning she did smack and allegedly bite her sister before school.  Baby steps, I guess.  Baby steps.

Nov 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Links

I'm a big blog reader- I wasn't always, but I discovered them 2 years ago and since then there's been no going back.  My favorites are the hilarious stories about obnoxious kid antics that make me feel better about my own obnoxious kids, and the ones about food.  I subscribe to them all through feedly and I read them daily.  As a result, I've been drooling over Thanksgiving food for weeks.  We're hosting Thanksgiving this year, and today I wrote up my shopping list.  I thought I'd share the recipes I'll be using, in case you're looking for some inspiration.

Fatty 'Cue Brussels Sprouts- we've made these a few times and they're amazing.

Smitten Kitchen's green bean casserole- I hated green beans my whole life until the day I tried them fresh (it's not even the same vegetable as the stuff you get in a can, I swear).

Alton Brown's mashed potatoes, which we've had hundreds of times and will have a hundred times more.

Homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, and of course the turkey, courtesy of  These will be new recipes for me, and I'm looking forward to trying them.  I've made a few turkeys before, but this will be my first time making one without the stuffing in it.  This will also be my first homemade cranberry sauce, because the stuff in the can just doesn't cut it for me.

As I made my list I noticed that several of these recipes credit Alton Brown, if not for the exact recipe for the basic inspiration.  I think there's a lesson here: Alton Brown is awesome.

My in-laws are bringing the stuffing and the pies, mmmmm.

We'll be rocking store-bought rolls like nobody's business.

I dare you to click any of those links and not drool all over your keyboard.

P.S. There's a Steve in my house.

Nov 18, 2013


He always wants to be first.  He wants to get the most or the biggest or the best.  He wants to do everything 'all by himself', no advice please.  "I CAN DO IT!"  He wants to be in charge.  He's getting to the point now where if the others won't follow his lead, he'd rather play alone.  He is confident and strong.  He is funny, charming, and forgiving.  He's a class clown.  He can be very sweet and loving, if he's in the mood.  He can also shoot death rays from his eyes.

I am consistently impressed by how bright he is and how quickly he seems to excel at the things he is interested in, but I'm concerned.

How do you raise your kid to be the self-confident motivated individual that they are- but not a jerk.  How do you teach your kid humility without crushing them?  How do I teach him to listen to others without teaching him his own opinions don't matter?  That's a tough balance for a 6-almost-7-year-old.  That's a tough balance for an adult.  Which idea takes precedent?

Right now Mister appears to believe that he is the center of the universe.  He knows what he wants and he does whatever it takes to get it.  

When one adult says no, he goes and asks another.  When extended family members are around, that's a lot of adults for him to ask.  If we're not watching him he's constantly doing something he's not supposed to do, (lately that's been a real issue when he's taking a shower or brushing his teeth.)  He's not above sneaking around and lying, (he's even lied to his teacher!)  When we won't buy him something he says, "I'll probably just get it from my grandma next time I see her anyway."  When he doesn't get his way he cries and glares and says things like "You're just being mean to me!"  

He has consequences, natural and otherwise, but I have to admit that sometimes in the moment it is hard for me to discern what is reasonable and what is not.  I'm tired and maybe I don't always make good choices.  Regardless, the consequences don't seem to be making much of a difference in his attitude.  Sometimes when we tell him to do something he says, "What's gonna happen if I don't do it?"

I'm hoping this is just a phase.  I tell myself he'll respond well if we model good behavior.  I tell myself it's not horribly mean to tell him that the world does not, in fact, revolve around HIM.  I tell myself he knows I love him and I'm not going to crush him, and that he's a sweet kid and he's not going to grow up to be a jerk.  But it's tough.  I'm simultaneously frustrated by how much work this is and worried I'm not doing enough, or I'm doing something wrong.

Tonight, after all the kids had gone to bed, I stood by his door and watched him sleep.  Sometimes, when I'm worried about one of the kids and I feel myself spinning out of control, I wait until they're asleep and I tell myself: well, they're ok right now.  It's not much, but it's the best I can do.

Nov 17, 2013

Gee I wonder...

Why does my bed always have animal hair all over it?

Worth it.

I hope everybody had a wonderful weekend.

Nov 15, 2013

Almost Free Room Re-do Part 2

So I explained yesterday how we changed up the furniture in Mister's room over the summer.  This is what his walls looked like at the time (the super classy and professional looking blobs are me covering up his name with my amazing photoshop skills):

His room was really just decorated with an amalgamation of stuff he had accumulated over the past couple of years.  The framed quotes and the canvasses are all homemade gifts.  The curtains I sewed for him when he first moved in.  What you can't see on the walls in these pictures are the pencil marks, the boogers, and the hundreds of tiny holes.

In redoing his room I was hoping for something he would enjoy that I wouldn't mind looking at either.  My budget was aboooouuuut $0- this is what I came up with:

Toby: one cute helper.

Mister is a pretty cute helper, too.
We wanted a way for Mister to have some control over what hung on his walls, but we wanted to steer clear of thumbtacks.  Even though we previously had them up high and told him he needed a grown up to help if he wanted to change something, he always found a way to get up there.  The result was thumbtacks lost in the carpet and walls riddled with holes.  I tried to fill all of the holes when we were changing things up, but while looking through pictures I've seen a bunch I clearly missed.

In lieu of tacks, we strung two separate lengths of wire between screws and gave him adorable miniature clothespins to hang artwork and pictures.

I painted a couple of picture frames white and hung them up a few days later, so I took more pictures.  By then he'd already made sure his room looked "lived in."

I made the bunting out of scrap fabric, twine, and hot glue- not unlike the Fall bunting hanging in the living room.

That ABC toy box was mine when I was a kid, and houses all of our legos (most of them are from when Chris was a kid, and while Mister gets to keep them in his room, he is expected to share.)  I'm thinking of painting it with chalkboard paint.

If you were curious, on the foot of his bed is the rag quilt I made him last year for Christmas.  I used scrap fabric and pieces of his old clothes.  It's pretty sloppy, but special all the same.

The chalkboard is actually a picture I had in the dining room that I never really liked.  I spray painted the frame white and painted the glass with chalkboard paint.  I'm not sure what the dollar signs are about.  He told me when we put it in there that it was going to be his teaching chalkboard.

A hand-painted quote from Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are," one of my all time favorite books.

In his fabulous new workspace he built a "tardis with a house on top."
I pretty much just used stuff I already had around the house.  I had to buy the chalkboard paint, but I barely used any of it and I'm sure I'll find other uses for what's left.  I also spent 84 cents printing 5x7 pictures for the white frames by his bed.  I'm cool with that.  

I really like how it came out, and Mister LOVES it.  Jessica for the win!  

Nov 14, 2013

Almost Free Room Re-do Part 1

Over the summer I noticed Mister's room was in need of some attention.  I typically keep an eye on how messy his room gets and how long it takes him to clean it up.  If it seems out of control, that means it's time to donate some stuff.  We don't usually buy the kids many toys outside of their birthdays and Christmas, but their visits with biological family tend to involve a lot of gifts, (especially for Mister.)  This time, though, I realized the problem wasn't really his stuff- the problem was his furniture.  He'd outgrown it.  We updated the girls' storage last year, but Mister had all the same stuff my in-laws bought him when he moved in 2 years ago.  His needs had changed a lot since he was 4.

 We wanted to get him some more appropriate furniture, but we didn't want to spend a lot of cash.  We sold the toddler Lightning McQueen desk and bookshelf set that he had outgrown at a yard sale for $20.  We shopped around thrift stores and yard sales and found an old school desk, a bookshelf, a red basket, and a cool old metal tool box.  We bought a new piece of plywood for the desktop and some gray spray paint at the hardware store- and all together we only spent $32.

We took the desk apart and cleaned the metal frame.  I've discovered through trial and error that you can take most things apart if you want to, and if you pay attention then you'll know how to put them back together!  I just spray painted the seat and it looked brand new, but we completely replaced the desktop because the old one was falling apart and gross.  In case you were wondering the answer is yes, there was old dried gum stuck to the bottom.

We picked up this piece of plywood for about $5.  I used a jig saw to round out the corners, but that's not really necessary- I just like the aesthetic better.  Since Mister's bed is all natural wood grain we decided to stick with that here, too.  I sanded it down and painted on 4 coats of polyurethane to protect it.

I don't know why this photo isn't rotated correctly, but my brain is tired and I'm almost done with this post, so I'm leaving it that way.  I have faith in your abilities to turn your head sideways if you'd like to see it right side up. :)
We screwed the whole thing back together, and we painted the bookshelf gray to match.  It had been a weird fake wood grain that reminded me of a late 80's TV stand, and it didn't look great with his other stuff.  It also had wheels on the bottom, which we removed, because Mister doesn't need to be wheeling that thing around his room.  We went ahead and spray painted his existing trash can, too, because spray paint is just that easy.

Sorry for the wonky lighting.  Somehow in all the pictures I took- both 2 months ago and over the last few days-  I didn't take any decent ones of the bookshelf.

So for a net cost of $12, Mister got a desk he can fit into and a place for his big cars, his boom box, and his books.  He keeps his matchbox cars in the metal toolbox, and his pencils and paper in the red basket.  

When we updated his furniture I very much wanted to change his decor, but I didn't actually get around to it until this last week.  I'll share a little bit about that, and the finished photos of his room, tomorrow.  I just felt like if I was going to get into that, I ought to share the beginning of the process, too.

Nov 10, 2013

My Faults are a Favor to my Kids

We're coming out of the 3rd day of a 4 day weekend and I have to admit, I'm kinda over it.  I could hear my inner monologue developing a bad attitude, so I put myself on time out in my room before it could turn into an unfortunate outer monologue.  I highly recommend grown up time outs.

A little piece of me is saying that I should feel guilty about this- why can't I get it together to be patient and kind all weekend long, even if it is 4 days?  I have great intentions of spending lovely quality time with my kids this holiday season- shouldn't this be the beginning of that?  What has been so terrible about this weekend, really?  Nothing at all- minor aggravations, typical kid stuff, and we've been a little busy.  So what's my problem?!  GEEZ.

I'm telling that piece of me to shut up.  I DO want to spend time with my kids and I DO want to model good behavior for my kids and I HAVE done those things this very day.  However, I am NOT perfect, and I believe that's good for my kids, too.  I want them to see that I get grumpy and unreasonable sometimes, too- and I want them to see that I still respect myself anyway.  For the sake of their self-esteem I want them to have realistic expectations for themselves and I don't want them to feel inferior to anybody else just because they're not perfect.  The sooner my kids realize that everybody messes up sometimes, the faster they'll recover every time they do.  I want them to feel like it's ok to take time to themselves when they need it, so I need to feel like it's ok for me to take time to myself when I need it.

Right now the kids are happily watching something on TV, and Chris is cleaning up after dinner.  I've put myself on timeout when things were a little less under control, too though.  I think as long as nobody is going to get hurt, it's acceptable to step away for a few minutes.  For tonight, I'm pretty sure I'm stepping away until bedtime.  I'm lucky my kids are old enough that I can do that.  They don't get a lot of TV time, so they won't bother doing anything else until one of us tells them to turn it off.

Charlie has decided to cuddle for the first time in months.  They say cats are supposed to be good for stress, don't they?  Maybe animals really can sense how we feel.  It's pretty adorable, even if it does interfere with my use of the trackpad.