Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is That A Light I See At The End of The Tunnel—Ouch! Who Hit Me With A LEGO?!!!

This winter, in one word, sucks. It was cold and then it got colder. There was a lot of snow and then it snowed some more. And then it got colder. Like I said, it S-U-C-K-S, sucks.
And as the temperature plummet, so has the behavior of my children. Picture this, a grumpy grizzly bear, a cranky crocodile, and a rabid squirrel confined within your average living space. This situation might be fun to watch for a little while, but eventually you need to get some crap done. It is nearly impossible to fold laundry with all the growling, wrestling, and flying-leaps from the furniture.

Just when I was ready to lock them all in the bathroom and drive far, far away (Don’t judge me! I would have left snacks AND they had access to the toilet.) a miracle happened. The weather warmed…to the 40s! Yippee!
It was pure bliss. We took walks. Puddles were stomped in. All of the pent-up energy swirling inside their little bodies was finally released in positive ways. The children began to act…human. I could picture the end of winter. Spring felt so close I could almost pet it. There was a light at the end of the long, horrid tunnel that has been this painful winter.

Then another polar vortex swooped in like a LEGO to the eye of my dream and we are right back to where we were a week ago. Only this time, it feels so much worse for knowing how good we had it last week.
I was so patient with the whining. “Yes, my sweet, Mommy knows how much work it is to clean up the refrigerator-size box of LEGOs that you dumped all over the living room. But we have to clean them up or else we will end up in the ER getting a brick extracted from my foot. Let’s do it together!” Big smile!

I saw the fighting as an opportunity to teach. “Whoa, I see two very angry boys here. I know that you two can use your words to come up with a solution. Tell each other how you feel about which head should go on Han Solo’s body.”
I reminded them to be grateful when they forgot to thank me. “It is a better idea to thank mommy for buying you a LEGO set. It makes Mommy feel bad when you open your new toy and immediately ask for the $130 Millennium Falcon that we would have to buy two of since your brother wants it too.”

I am so done with all that mamby-pamby, weeny-sounding, bull-puckey. Dunjins. Done-doodle-dandy-with-a-side-of-fries. No more!
I am supremely confident that they “know” how to behave and that they are just choosing not to. No more! From now on there will be consequences that fit the behavior.

Dump the LEGOs and refuse to clean them up? Great. They are mine, ALL MINE! I will sit in my room and build the most awesomest vehicles, the way I want to build them, and you will have none. NONE, I say!
You want to fight? Go ahead. Knock each other silly. I am going into my room and locking the door. With my ear buds in, I won’t be able to hear your screams. Lord of the Flies it out, little dudes. It will make you stronger.

And I am not buying you jack squat. With all the money I’ll save by NOT buying McDonald’s Happy Meals that you don’t eat because you just want the crappy toy, Mommy and Daddy can go out alone. And we will eat real food that does not have “Mc” before it. (Although I am embarrassed to admit the McRib is disgustingly delicious.)
And if that dog waits until I finally get a chance to sit down at the end of the day and drops a toy in my lap I will chuck that Kong ball into traffic.

Do you have any other creative consequences for me? Leave me a comment! I clearly need all the help I can get.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Don't Let Someone You Love Fall Through The Cracks (Of The Couch): A Guide To Getting Your Reader To Exercise

Eldest's reading list for the day...just one day

As I am writing this, Eldest is beginning his 327th snow day of the year. Or maybe it just feels like that. Here in the Midwest we have had nothing but snow and cold weather for the past 14 months. Or maybe it just feels like that. I miss fresh air that does not freeze my nose boogies. I miss sunshine that warms my skin instead of blinding me with its reflection off the snow-that-never-ends. I want spring to come more than I want cake. Mmmmm…cake. What was I talking about?
As the winter drags on Eldest sinks a little lower into the depression his little body is forming in the couch. He becomes a little more reluctant to set aside his book for any activity with each frigid day that passes. 
May I draw your attention to the sitzmark (aka butt-print) that no longer disappears when he gets up?
You see, Eldest is a Reader. Maybe you or someone you love is a Reader as well. (Not sure? Stay tuned for my blog post next week that will help you decide.) He turns to books in times of stress like others turn to wine or Pinterest. As a coping mechanism it isn’t too bad. That is, until we are chest-deep in a winter freeze that even Santa admitted is “pretty chilly” and getting him off the couch for some exercise has become tougher than saying no to that second piece of birthday cake. Mmmmm…birthday cake. What was I talking about?
Notice the perma-creasing on the couch cushions behind him

To solve the problem of getting Eldest some much needed vitamin D production, I have created some games that are sure to get my Reader outside.

Keep Away  I suggest slowly introducing your Reader to exercise with an indoor activity. You don’t want them to pull a hammie. First step, sneak up on your Reader and grab his/her book away quickly. When he/she demands that you return it, hold it high above your head and tell him/her to, “Come and get it.” Continue holding the book out of your Reader’s reach, possibly adding some encouraging words such as, “Is that as high as you can jump?” or “Nah nahna boo boo.” Continue playing until your Reader is able to land a punch or begins to look for something to throw at you.

This game is good if you are significantly taller than your Reader. If you find that your Reader towers above you, I suggest finding a partner and starting a game of Monkey In The Middle. The same rules apply.
Hide and Seek  Now that your Reader is warmed up, it is time to get them outside. Begin by secretly swiping the book your Reader is currently into. This may be tricky. If you have a very persistent Reader he/she may keep the book in sight at all times. You may have to wait until your Reader falls asleep. When your Reader notices the book is gone (this may take anywhere between 2 and 7 seconds) tell him/her that you have buried it under the snow in the backyard.* When your Reader has had sufficient exercise digging up the yard, or begins to hyperventilate with fear he/she has lost the book forever, whichever comes first, pull the book out from under your coat and say, “Oops! It was here the whole time.” Then run and hope your Reader is too tired to chase you down.

*Note: Be sure to make footprints around your yard. Your Reader is most likely smart (due to all that reading) and is looking for any excuse to avoid the out of doors. A pristine snow cover is likely to arouse suspicion.
Another Note: At this point in the process of exercising your Reader, you may notice some nervousness when you enter the room. It is normal for your Reader’s radar to be on high alert. You may also find that he/she leaves the room when you enter. This can be hurtful, but is normal. Do not give up! This is the time to enlist the help of friends who are dealing with their own Readers. This activity will allow you, the Reader-lover, to get support from people who understand while also exercising your Reader.

100ish Yard Book Dash Choose a group of Readers with similar favorite authors. Line the book lovers up at one end of a large area. The bigger the better. (You’ll see why in a minute.) Tell the Readers that you have gotten your hands on an advance copy of the favorite author’s next book (a Pilkey, an Angleberger, a Gabaldon…whatever gets them going) and that you will give it to the first person to cross the finish line. Yell, “GO!” When they all reach the other side yell, “Just kidding!” Now you and the other Reader loved ones should run. In the opposite direction. The mob mentality of multiple Readers is going to give them an extra adrenaline rush. Hence the suggestion that you choose a large field.
These suggestions should get your Reader started on a lifetime of health. Surely they will thank you for your love and caring…or at least feel too tired and thrilled to return to their books to plan revenge.

Give these suggestions a try, then let me know how they worked in the comments below. Ideas of your own? Leave a comment and let me know! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How To Wow Her This Valentine's Day

Wow her? With flowers? Hahahahaha! <snort> If The Husband brought another thing into this house that needed to be watered daily I would feel annoyed...irritated...flabbergasted.... I would feel a lot of emotions and not one of them would be "wow."
I looked up the definition of wow (because that is just the kind of dorky thing I like to do in my spare 3 seconds) in an actual paper dictionary (cuz I'm old school like that) and according to my Webster’s “wow” means "to arouse enthusiastic approval."
And isn't that EXACTLY what we are all looking for from our valentines?!!! Arousal? Yes, please. Enthusiasm? I would love to have the kind of energy it takes to muster up some enthusiasm! And approval? I approve of approval!
The bad news is that something as simple as flowers is not going to do it. Sorry.

I would be wowed if...
Our entire family ate a meal together. At the same time. At the same table and everything.
I suppose if I just skootched those random LEGO pieces over I could fit my plate in between the empty boxes and the instruction manuals.

Red would eat something other than chicken nuggets and refined white flour.
Chicken nuggets and Super Pretzels...the food of champions!
I ate a meal without Baby Girl demanding all the good parts.
Want that! Want that! Want that!
I stuck my hand between the couch cushions and found NOTHING. Even finding money, actual paper money, would not wow me as much as finding the cracks clean.
I said, “Let’s go,” and everyone put on their shoes and coats, and got into the car. No whining. No asking where anything is. Just simple action.
I had a phone conversation without someone breaking something. Literally, every blasted time I touch a phone one of the short people immediately destroys an object.

I sat down without someone (human or canine) climbing onto my lap. I am NOT a chair people (or dog)! 
I found a band-aid without a cartoon character on it. They have to have Sponge Bob when we are at the store, but when they actually maim themselves they want my band-aids.  
Baby Girl realized that I do not disappear once she is strapped into her car seat. "Mommy?” "Hi Baby Girl." "Mommy?" "Still here." "Mommy?" "I am still here! Right where you left me. For the love of juice and nuggets s-t-o-p saying my name!"
I turned on the laptop and no one said, “Hey! Can I use that?!” "Of course you can. That is why I booted it up. I just knew you wanted to use it."
Someone else closed a cupboard door. Is this really so hard? Is it? Really? Don't even get me started on lights.

I reread my list and I realize that if any of these things actually happened either; 1) some sort of black hole vortex would open up and swallow us all or B) the Congregation for the Causes of Saints would knock on our door responding to reports of a heavenly miracle.
With that in mind I think I have come up with a real, honest-to-goodness, doable task that  The Husband could perform for me that would arouse enthusiastic approval.
I want my minivan cleaned. 
The dirtier it gets, the more embarrassed I am to take it to the car wash. So I wait longer. And it gets dirtier. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. When the health inspector starts sniffing around I suck it up and take it to the carwash. And I wait. Every time someone comes in to announce a car is finished I look up hopefully, but they are never looking for me. And I wait some more. Once I waited for TWO HOURS. Have you ever tried to entertain three children in a carwash for hours? There are only so many times you can play Eye Spy before you want to poke out your own little eye.
I would be beyond wowed if a clean minivan just showed up in my driveway without me waiting around or entertaining the kids at a carwash. Hint-hint. I am just going to publish this, share it to The Husband's Facebook page. Then I will sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

"Look at me! I am waiting for Baby Girl to eat me." "She already bit half of  my face off!"
What would WOW you this Valentine's Day? Leave a comment and let me know. Then maybe discreetly share this post with your sweetie and watch your own magic happen.