Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Getting the gate fixed because you hit it while your daughter was talking to you while you were trying to back out of the driveway to go swimming:
a week of crankiness from your husband because he fixed it


New swim shoes, swim diapers, and a pool floatie for the baby so you can go swimming:


Having your kid poop in his swim trunks while standing there staring at you while you yell, "Stop!" while trying to get up to take him to the bathroom because you're sitting on the ground with the baby:
30 minutes of you seething while your best friend with five kids of her own graciously?cleans him up


40mg Prozac to deal with today:

priceless (if I didn't have to wait until Friday to get it)

Escape from Nap Mountain

Brandon and I didn't have a very good day today, so when we got home from swimming, I told him to take a nap.? Sarah was on the bottom bunk snoozing away when I heard a noise and an "Ow!"? Next came crying.? Brandon had hurt his back - he's got a pretty nasty looking scratch now, but nothing some antibiotic ointment won't take care of over the next few days.

When I went to investigate, I found his sheet tied around the end of the top bunk - apparently it had turned into a mountain that he could only escape by rappelling....

Never mind the ladder 18 inches away.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Feeding Frenzy

Bethy has begun eating cereal in earnest now.? We're still on rice cereal - next week we'll be graduating to oatmeal.?

Feeding babies is like running the gauntlet:? Dodge the hand grabbing for the spoon - ooh, watch the other hand!? The mouth is in sight....*crash* the head plops forward in an attempted mouth-dive for the spoon and the food lands squarely...between the eyes.

The funniest thing is though, that after each bite - okay, sometimes during the bite - she must suck her thumb.? Does it help her swallow?? Does it add flavor?? Is it some neurosis that she'll go to therapy about someday and discover the root of which is her mother's abnormality?

Who knows, but for now it's really darn cute...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Life's Little Garden

I'm regularly reading a journal on BabyCenter by a first-time mom.? She's witty, funny, and honest about the zaniness and scariness of raising a child.

And she has hot pink hair.

Tending Violet

Friday, May 26, 2006

Why we have naps

Many believe that God gave us naps so that children could get much-needed physical rest.

Actually, it was so Mom could have a much needed rest - physically, mentally, and emotionally.

To be fair, children do indeed reap considerable benefits from a good nap - mainly that they get to live...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Kid Genius

I read this article on MSN Today. Great info, greater writing style.

Two Ways to Make a Kid Smarter by Martha Brockenbrough ?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did something I suspect many rookie parents do: I bought a book that promised I could make my baby smarter. It included all sorts of instructions--everything from reading to the fetus to making black-and-white mobiles, and later freezing cubes of breast milk and letting them slowly thaw in her presence.

Maybe because I've never had much luck with the do-it-yourself popsicles, I gave up on turning my child into a genius. But that didn't stop me from buying way too many toys that beeped and flashed lights because the box said they were "educational."

In retrospect, they were educational. I learned never to buy really annoying toys, except as gifts for other people's children.

Still, the impulse behind the books, breast-sicles and beeping toys remains: to help my kids be as smart as they can be.

The hardest part about it, really, is defining what smart really means. Does it mean high IQ? Or is it something more complicated?

For me, it's something more complicated. After all, a person can be really smart, but can lack the social skills and emotional intelligence our world requires. I've seen many people with killer scores on standardized tests go on to careers that leave them feeling less than satisfied, no matter how much money they earn. The Unabomber went to Harvard and taught math at Berkeley, after all.

Likewise, I've seen people I considered to be average in high school go on to run companies and do dazzling things I never would have anticipated when they were younger.

So I've decided that readiness to learn and creativity in sharing and applying knowledge are more important to me than having kids who rack up killer test scores.

And along the way, I've learned some interesting things. Getting kids ready to learn--and ready to develop their own smarts for all their lives, in deeper ways than can be measured on standardized tests--requires thinking about the body and the mind. And it also requires time well spent.

The body portion: Feed your child's brain

A study of Kenyan schoolchildren conducted in the 1980s and 1990s illustrates the idea that our intellect can be shaped by what we eat and how we use our brains.

UCLA researchers looked at six- to eight-year olds in 1984, then another, larger group of them in 1998, and noted something amazing: In just 14 years, their IQs increased more than any other population ever studied.

What happened?

There were two key factors. The first is that the kids started getting better nutrition--including more protein, which kept them alert, energetic, and less prone to anemia, an iron deficiency that dulls thinking skills.

Even if you don't live in Kenya, there's a good chance your kids aren't eating what they need for optimal brain performance. For example, if they're not eating a lot of fish, or taking fish-oil supplements, then there might be an opportunity for some gains.

Foods rich in omega-3 fats--such as salmon, fresh tuna, herring, and sardine--contain something called eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. EPA does three things: It boosts blood flow to the brain, it helps make hormones that boost brain function, and it helps boost the immune system by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. (A healthy immune system is important for young children, because illness can wear them out and impair learning.)

A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that kids who took fish-oil supplements, which contain omega-3, showed huge improvements in spelling, IQ, and reading. Even their behavior got better.

Typically, kids (and adults) in the United States don't eat a lot of fish--and therefore are missing out on the benefits. Fish oil isn't a magic potion, but experts are increasingly agreeing that we need more in our diets. (A word of caution: Mercury levels are high in some of these same fatty fish. Mercury--a pollutant from coal plants--can cause brain damage and other physical ailments. Many stores now carry warnings on the most susceptible fish products.)

The Kenyan kids didn't improve through diet alone, though.

The second reason their IQs soared was that their parents put more emphasis on schooling and were more literate themselves.

In this way, they were like 20th-century nations going through industrialization. During that time, the average IQ in 20 industrialized countries jumped 18 points per 30-year generation. This IQ boost is called the Flynn effect, after the New Zealand political scientist James R. Flynn, who first observed it.

And it's not just industrialization that has led to higher IQ scores, Flynn says; post-industrial societies with smaller families, more time off, and jobs that demand abstract thinking also have led to higher IQs.

This gets to the time factor. Families with fewer kids theoretically have more time to spend on each, especially when there is leisure time to read or do other brain-boosting activities. Also, people who work jobs that challenge their minds get smarter.

The mind portion

Let's say you have incredible natural talent for the game of football. If you don't know the rules and if you don't have the necessary equipment, you can take all your glorious talent on the field and still get snapped like a carrot stick.

School is the same way. No matter what your kids' gifts, if they aren't ready to benefit from what a classroom has to offer, they will probably experience the educational equivalent of a quarterback sack. They can get up after that happens, but not without having their confidence rattled.

It's the parents' job to suit up their little intellectual quarterbacks. Before they set foot in a kindergarten classroom, even the most gifted of kids need to know how to listen, observe, ask questions, and organize and share information. These are the fundamentals of learning. You need to make sure your little ones are engaging in conversations, practicing making observations, and organizing information in their minds, or they won't be ready to get the most out of school. This is the sort of thing you can do on a walk--counting blue cars, for example, or finding leaves with odd numbers of points on them. By doing this, you're teaching your child how to make observations and make sense of them.

Kids also need to know how to get along with others--everything from sharing toys to taking turns. We live in a crowded world, and emotional intelligence can help lead to success and happiness just as much as intellectual intelligence can.

In both areas, quality preschool education could be a big help to parents and, later, to companies that want well-educated, curious, and competent workers who know how to play well with others.

The United States lags badly behind the rest of the industrialized world in its commitment to its youngest students. USA Today reported that almost every other industrialized country in the world provides high-quality preschool for free. By contrast, only 70 percent of four-year-olds in the United States go to preschool, which can cost as much as $15,000 a year.

All of this, of course, takes a lot more time, thought, and effort than dangling a mobile over a crib, changing the batteries in an "educational" toy, or popping in a classical music CD. But honestly--what's the alternative? Kids who achieve some of their potential?

That sounds worse to me than melting popsicles made from my own milk. And that's saying something.


Learn More!

How does nutrition affect your body?

Make Your Kids Smarter: Top Teacher Tips for Grades K to 8 by Erika V. Shearin Karres


Learn More!

Also from Martha:

Does classical music make kids smarter?

Five fun facts about IQ

Smart toys for kids


Martha Brockenbrough lives, writes, and plays in Seattle. She is the author of It Could Happen to You: Diary of a Pregnancy and Beyond and she produces the Web site for the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lackidaisical Leftovers

I'm on a?Christian Frugality?Yahoo group.? This was one of the posts about leftovers.? It was too good not to preserve for prosperity...and too close to home to not be included!? Thanks, Debbie!
Here's my system for leftovers...very reliable.?

1)? Put two pieces of broccoli in small container, thinking "I hate to waste this. The baby will eat it tomorrow."

2)? Each day, push the container a little farther back into the fridge.? This really takes no effort at all.

3)? A week or two later, when there is a terrible smell coming from the fridge, go through all the contents to find the little container of broccoli.? It won't look a bit different, but the odor is horrid.?

4)? Realizing that this same thing happens every time, vow never to save the two little bites of broccoli.

5)? Break the vow the next time there are two little bites left.? After all, this shouldn't go to waste, and the baby would love to eat it.? ;-)

Blessings, Debbie (who probably should stay quiet when she's up too late ;-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stark Raving Mad

I think I'm on the edge of Looney Town.? The kids are driving me crazy with their bickering and whining.? And why is it that all school year and in?inclement weather the only thing in the world they want to do is go outside, but when you want them to go outside they can't bear the thought?

Maybe a little vacation with a straight jacket and a padded cell might be nice for a day or two...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Summer Splendor

I'm so looking forward to summer!? Okay, so that's sarcastic (it's a gift), but the beginning of summer is disgustingly unfun.? We have not one, not even two, but four doctor's appointments in the first two weeks of summer.? How fun is that?

Answer:? NOT


Halfway through June we finally get to have fun with Vacation Bible Schools and swim classes for the rest of the month.? July?? Nothing's scheduled yet.? I'm looking forward to days of sending the kids out to play on the swingset in the yard, hosing them down (literally, hehe!), and afternoon naps sprawled out on the king size bed.? I hope to get some dresses made for the girls and maybe even an outfit or two for Brandon.

Of course, I'm living in Parentopia right now.


but let's not spoil it just yet...

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I have been singing since high school.? It started in church, then expanded to Theater Arts in high school.? I did well singing in church from the beginning and usually sang acapella (still do) - school musicals was another story.? I finally got the hang of it around my junior year, but never sang a solo.? Meanwhile, I was leading the SS song service every week and singing special music on average of once every month or so at church.

Hmm...think Somebody was trying to tell me something?

Assistant Mom

Sarah is the real mom, apparently. The drone of, "You're not the Mommy, I'm the Mommy" is getting a little old. I wouldn't mind if it was to her baby dolls - go for it, girl. It's her older brother that gets me.

And man, this girl's on top of it. The backpack and shoes after school, the dirty laundry, keep the door open (when it's convenient for her), you name it, this girl's on her brother about it. Of course, he obeys her about like he does me, but with indignation. "You're not my Mom!" Her response? "Mom, he's not obeying!" I'm apparently just back-up.

Tonight she came and wanted us to tie her blanket around her neck like a superhero, so Daddy did. A minute later we hear quiet muttering from her room - she's not happy. The problem? She wanted it in the front. What? She was making supper for her baby and needed it in front. Oh! - an apron! She wants to be like me! She wants to wear an apron and cook and wash dishes. She has the desire to do housework!

Hope it's still there when she's old enough to actually do it.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

How to Fly

So Sarah says to me today, "You know, if you eat enough candy, you can fly."

Really?? I had no idea.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What do you do?

I like to sew.? I began when Brandon was a baby and made him a blanket and a floor quilt.? I've made dresses for both girls, blankets for numerous babies, pillows, curtains, totes, purses, cell phone cases, and skirts for myself over the years.

I'm about to embark on a new quest - quilt blocks.? I'm making three quilt blocks using an easy applique method for a Children's Miracle Network quilt that a local Wal-Mart store is auctioning off to raise money.? The theme is "Sunbonnet Sue" and the matching boy, so I'm making two girl blocks and one boy block (hmm, I wonder why? ;D).? I'll post scans of them when I'm done.

And yes, I have a fabric stash.

And no, it's not near big enough in my opinion!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I take my children to the chiropractor on a regular basis.? They love it.? I love it.? It's a win-win-win all around.? Everybody's happy.

Almost.? There's one problem I can't get fixed.? And it's not just the chiropractor, either.? I can't find anyone that can fix this problem.

My children think that from the time their eyes open, they must be exuding sound.? For Sarah, it's talking (usually, "Mommy, I'm hungry!"); for Brandon, legitimate words aren't important as long as sound is coming from the upper portion of his body.

Can someone please tell me where to find?the off switch??!!

Sippy Cup

Throughout our lives we're seen in many different ways. At various times we are seen as child, woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, etc.

At present, I am Sippy Cup.

Bethany has added a dimension to my title of Mistress of Lactation. When she's not tired enough to use me as a pillow, she actually nurses...for approximately 2.3 minutes. Then she goes happily about her business (flirting, mostly) until such time as she is thirsty again.

I'm not sure how I feel about being identified with brightly colored, character-festooned plastic receptacles for fermenting juice (albeit 100% juice, but it's usually fermented, let's face it). Granted, some would argue that there are fermented things in my mind, but being denigrated to "Holder of My Favorite Liquid" is a little unsettling. I sometimes wonder why we subject ourselves to this servitude. It offers no monetary reward, we can't get college credit for it, and we frequently get rude looks when we do it in public. So why do we do it?

Have you at any other time in your life ever felt so loved, needed, and enjoyed?

Me, neither.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My Blue Heaven

Do you like the color blue?? I used to.? Now I loathe it.

You see, blue is bad at Brandon's school.??You start the day with a green dot.? The first infraction is a yellow, second is red, and third is blue.? Get 4 blue dots in a six weeks and you miss Super Effort.? Super Effort is the good citizenship program.? This six weeks they're having a big water day.? The fire truck is coming.? He's known this all along.? Apparently he doesn't care.

We've tried everything.? Every privilege we can think of has been taken away in an effort to motivate this kid to behave at school.? Every prize we can think of has been offered.? What do we get in return?

Ninja in the bathroom and talking in the classroom.

Maybe if I tie him to the ceiling by his toes...oh, no, can't do that...

then I'd miss Super Effort.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fool's Invention

What fool decided to have Mother's Day on a Sunday?? In my family, yeah, the whole family's home.?

It's the makings for hell on Earth.

Sunday is the day the kids are at their worst, the husband is tired and cranky, and I want to get the household to-do list done.? Nothing gets done because the parents are too tired and unmotivated to do anything or go anywhere.

Let me clarify here:? we keep Saturday Sabbath, so Saturday is church day.? Our Sunday is kind of like most Protestants' Saturday.? It's catch-up/work day.

Every Saturday night, grand plans are made for the following day, full of hope and determination.? Then something happens (usually involving one or more of the kids at 2 in the morning) and we're exhausted and cranky come daylight on Sunday.


Now, combine all this with a day supposedly meant to celebrate mothers.? Don't get me wrong; I love the concept.? I'd love a day just for me.


I'd just like it to be just me.

Prozac Moment

Ever think to yourself, "This is a Prozac moment?"

I have.? Several times....today.? Brandon got his hair cut for summer...and so I wouldn't have the temptation to grab him by the hair of the head and toss him to Kingdom Come.

Yep, it's been one of those days.


How do we get through those days?? Pull out our hair? Scream?? Cuss?? Beat the children?? All of the above?? I have a vision of Bill Crosby.? "Let the beatings begin!"


In Parentopia, these days don't happen.? In the really bad moments, Mommy says very calmly, "Children, Mommy needs a few minutes of quiet time, please.? I love you!" then goes to her room for some deep, calming breaths and returns happy and serene.? Then we wake up and realize that Parentopia is a far away dreamscape way beyond the second star to the right and on to morning.

It's more like second galaxy to the left and on till next millenium....


Then you're halfway there.

Friday, May 12, 2006


It's amazing to see yourself as you really are...

Ok, ok - excruciatingly scary.

As I watch Sarah play "Mommy" I see how twisted I must be....

I take that back. She's a twisted little girl. I turned around to see her hitting herself in the forehead with a plastic baby block and laughing. And she's in full ballerina regalia. And there are 7 baby dolls spread around a quilt on the floor in pairs. "They're just laying down 'cuz they're tired," she says. And she's giving her baby sister her block back and making goofy faces and noises at her.

Ok, maybe I am twisted and I am training her.? Now she's sweeping the floor....

wait a minute...that's not me!? Who's doing the training here?

That trite cliche' about learning things from your kids is springing to mind. How do kids seem to know automatically what we're supposed to do? And how do we sometimes lose that knowledge as we age (it seems to start with puberty)?

My theory is that God put it there, but as children get older and the propensity for sin gets stronger, we pull away from the good.

It's the same as other childish desires. "Who wants to read anymore now that I've discovered television?" or "Why would I want to watch TV anymore now that I've discovered video games?"

Just as we get bored with parenting on occasion, our children get bored with the hum-drum of play parenting so they move on to something else.

And as for starting at puberty? Well, have you ever known a teenager that knew how to use a broom, swipe a dish, or pick up his dirty clothes?

Me, either.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Brainless Wonder

Yesterday afternoon I sat with two other mothers and discussed the health principle of rest. It was pointed out that essentially, the less rest you get the worse your brain functions. It impairs learning and memory.

So what do I do? I decide I need to figure out cascading style sheets - it's like learning a new language.

There's a good idea!

What makes us make bad decisions? Well, not really bad decisions - just silly. Nonsense. The kind of decisions that make you say, "Turn your brain back on, please." Apparently it's lack of sleep. Or lack of quality sleep. For me, it's both.

But I went to bed at 4 am, so I don't really know what I'm talking about.

Here's an interesting dilema, though. My kids get approximately 12 hours of sleep each night. So why aren't their brains on?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Sky is Falling!

How dark is dark? Is it not as bright as the sun shining? or "you can't see your hand in front of your face" or something in between? My definition starts at somewhere in between. Brandon's is "not as bright as the sun shining." This child refuses to go into his room alone unless the light is already on. Not even with the nightlight.

Isn't that why the nightlight is there?

Don't get me wrong - I love my kid, but something's wrong with this person. He's a walking paranoia freak show. Not that I'm not my own kind of freak show (who isn't?), but some days it borders on "Call Ripley's - we got a live one!"

I can see it now:

A comics-style drawing depicting the typical hands-over-the-ears, screaming-in-terror - but instead of a wasp-waisted 50's beauty it's a 5 1/2 year old boy. Floating around his head are depictions of a door entering into a dark room, blowing curtains (with the lights on), toys that move when you press the button on them, public toilets (they're too loud when they flush), and a host of other things that no one of sound mind would be frightened of in a million years.

The story below reads:

Brandon Arcand, The boy of fright

Brandon Arcand of Texas was terribly frightened of most things. The most mundane things sent him screaming and running in the opposite direction. His parents tried everything they could think of, to no avail. Nightlights, flashlights, books, prayers, and "magic" potions and sprays were all tried repeatedly, but nothing worked. Eventually, he died at the tender age of 6. He died of fright when he saw a lump in his bed at bedtime. His parents discovered that the lump that killed him was his foot.

Well, maybe it'd be a wax depiction of him in the bed instead of the drawing...

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

What happened here?

Ever sit and look back on your life and wonder what happened?? Welcome to my life!

I've always been described in words synonymous with "odd."? My nickname in college was "Spaz" (The editor in my brain is suggesting I might not want to admit to that.? She's probably right, but the funniness in life if the reality of life, so it stays.).? That being said, one would think that my life had reached it peak of weirdness.

Enter kids.? Enough said.

Sit down with something (the baby on your leg, if you're like me), browse around, and laugh at someone whose life is probably more like yours than anyone would like to admit.

But that's why it's so funny.

Monday, May 8, 2006

The Ubiquitous Bio

They're everywhere.? Here's mine.

I am a Stay-at-Home mom to three stair-stepped children (yikes!). Brandon is 5 1/2, Sarah is 3 1/2, and Bethany is 5 months. I volunteer at my son's primary school in the workroom and parent organization and am active in my church.

I've been a professional web and graphics designer as God brings me clients for the last three years. I've been doing it for 6+ years and I thoroughly enjoy it.

I'm a "lactivist" and have enjoyed nursing each of my children. I think I've dealt with almost everything you can think of concerning breastfeeding except mastitis, thanks be to God!

I had always planned to homeschool my kids, but as this schoolyear approached and Brandon's excitement about school heightened, I decided I just couldn't handle it with Bethany too. It is a constant discussion in our home - whether to let it go; how long to allow them to go to public school; how to homeschool, etc. etc. etc. I'm still very interested in homeschool discussions to continue learning more about it.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

And you are...?

I like to think I'm funny.? Occasionally, I'm right.? I've often had those moments where some part of your brain steps outside of the situation for a minute and watches what's going on, and found that I was surrounded by a group of laughing women.?

The amazing thing is that they were laughing about what I was saying.? It's at those times that little part of my brain says, "You could be a stand-up comic.? Look, you're already doing it."? Those are some of my most free moments.? When I'm just talking about the craziness of life and telling the stories we all share but don't think are funny as they're happening.? I like the thought of being intelligent and funny.

Hmmm, I think that's what witty means.? So, okay - I wanna be witty.? And sometimes I appear to be.

Saturday, May 6, 2006


I've breastfed now for about 28 months. I've seen a lot. This I haven't seen.

Breasts usually mean food to my children under the age of 12 months. Bethany thinks mine are pillows.

First off, she sucks her thumb. I don't know what to do about that. The other two never did it. I can lose a paci. How do I lose a thumb? "I'm sorry, honey. You threw it out the window of the car." (This happened to my uncle.) "Well, you shouldn't have tried to wash it in the toilet."

You get the idea.

This is a typical tete-a-sein with Bethy:

    She cries as though she will literally evaporate like some human black hole if she doesn't eat NOW.
  1. She nurses for approximately 30 seconds.

  2. She turns her head, puts her thumb in her mouth and sighs contentedly as she nestles her head on my breast.

Wait a minute!? You mean to tell me you did all that screaming in order to nurse long enough to cause letdown and then use me as a pillow?!

Think again, missy.

I take the thumb out of her mouth and "refocus" her. This time, 10 seconds. I repeat.

Smack. That long. Really. Long enough for her to put her lips around the nipple then plop off to break suction.

Talk about things that suck.

Friday, May 5, 2006

3 Stairs - Have a nice trip!

Parenthood trips me up.? You too, huh?? I'm not surprised.?

Shhh - I won't tell if you won't.? What aren't we telling?

That being a mom is scary.? Funny.? Downright weird.? Who else nods in relation as you tell the story about how you invented a secret, super-powered monster repellant spray (water) in your secret lab (the bathroom sink) and skillfully exterminated every boogey man, monster, and bad guy that could ever materialize in your house?

And we did it without falling in the floor laughing at the ridiculousness of it.
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