Archive for June, 2011

Experiment: Day 2

One half of a star was earned.  There was a fight.  Not a violent fight, but a fight none the less, over nothing, meaning nothing, accomplishing nothing.

Now our white board has one red star and one half of a red star.

Here’s hoping for a total of two and a half soon.



Experiment: Day 1

My kids are probably like your kids.  Or maybe your kids get along all the time and the only thing they drop on each others’ heads are kisses and sunshine.

The past few weeks around here have reminded me more and more of the epic battles of my childhood, the one that involved who would win at selecting the Saturday morning cartoon. We didn’t own a remote control and, in fact, our screen often flickered down to one small line of indistinguishable nothingness without any warning.  We would pound the back of the television with our tiny fists until the image popped back out.  It was amazing the kind of force we could muster when tv was involved. Whoever was currently winning Battle TV would position themself directly in front of the screen while essentially hugging it so that the other person both could not see the screen and could not change the channel buttons. Of course, the other person could never do those things AND beat the person who was almost watching television at the same time.  We were ruthless.  There was sometimes bleeding.  It was always really violent, but carefully never loud enough for the parents to intervene.

That last part there is where the four-year old and two-year old who currently reside in our home are different.  They haven’t learned how to be quiet about it. Instead they scream. They holler. They hit and kick and punch and moan and sometimes, she bites. It is never over the television.  It is usually about Piper wanting to play with Gideon but him not having the time to spare making his Lego creations. And it always makes me feel crazy. I ask myself the same question mothers everywhere and Rodney King have asked themselves.  Why can’t they just get along?

Initially they can’t get along because they are self-centered little sinners who have no power to overcome their flesh on their own.  But things have changed there for him, I think. Not for her, yet, although we are praying.

In an attempt to regain my sanity, I decided to see if a reward could change the game.  All the discipline after the fact and all the discussions on the topic have, to date, net me zero. The Sunday sale papers proved just the right impetus for the experiment. Slip and Slide meet the coveted status of four and two-year old desire.

It works like this: If the children can go an entire day without fighting with one another, they will get a star for the day.  Once they have accumulated seven stars, we will buy the slip and slide.

They agreed to the terms yesterday and I figured this was going to be an exercise in futility.

Until today happened.

And they did not actually fight with each other, save one tiny mishap with a reminder about the prize about 8:30 in the morning.  They are both in bed right now and there is nothing but stars in their eyes.

I’ll let you know when they earn another one.


– Watching the kids get into the College World Series makes me feel like they are much older than they are. If only I could convince them to cheer for the teams I think should win (NC over Vandy? C’mon Gid! At least he was doing it for honorable reasons. His very good friend just moved to NC and once he heard where they were from, he was all in. Too bad Mama’s team won).

– I am sure that I’m not the only one who appreciates English subtitles for people who are already speaking English.

– Gideon has helped Piper go down for her nap twice this week. He sings songs. He prays for her. Then he tells her to sleep well and shuts her door. It’s one of the sweetest things I have ever listened to.

– Do you follow the Gaffigans on Twitter?  You should. It will bring so much joy to your corner of the world.

– Piper has an intense love for stocking hats. She will wear this particular pink one every time she sees it.  When she pushes her shopping cart around at the same time, she looks like the most adorable homeless two year old ever.

– I am really loving Pinterest these days.

– Summer took a vacation this week and while we love that our air conditioner could be turned off, we have greatly missed the sprinkler. Come back to us soon,  friend!

– The show “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” always reminds me that I shouldn’t judge these women, but you know I can’t stop myself.

– Naming kids is one thing, naming a business is so much harder.

– The firework stands are back. Must be time for people to blow off their own appendages for no good reason at all.

– Have you been to Cilantro’s?  I’ll write up a review for you soon.

– I am fighting with my hair right now. Frizz. Flat. Dull. Probably directly correlates to all of these self inflicted hair cuts I’ve been enduring.

– We didn’t have any tornados the other night, in spite of the sirens that sounded.  They set them off because of wind. I get it, but still. This is tornado land and we ought to keep those real warnings for the real things. I am a purist.

– If you’ve never, you should read this book.

Glowing Green Thumb

Everyone keeps saying that the nuclear plant up in Fort Calhoun is fine. The core is GREAT! The reactor is AWESOME!  But, I have reason to doubt.

My horrible reputation at growing things was happily passed down from my mother. She is a minimalist when it comes to her plants.  She does minimal things to keep them alive.  I like to think that she only has their best interests at heart and that she is putting them through the school of hard knocks.  Need more sunlight? Tough. Oh, did you want WATER? Pansy! A new pot? Give me a break!

I have followed in the tough love for plants and as a result, I have none that live permanently in our house, which is especially great because I never have to worry if someone is eating one of them.

My mother’s inside plants are still kind of sad.  They lean. They have dead patches.  Jud swears they are begging to be put out of their misery.

But outside?  Something has happened.

Usually for Mother’s Day each year we plant flowers in her garden.  She picks them out. We pay. She points to where she wants them.  We plant.  It’s a fabulous deal and everybody is happy.  The plants get the sun they need because they are outside.  My father’s love of his lawn requires his sprinkler system to water every fifteen minutes (yes, that is hyperbole, but yes, he has giant water bills.  GIANT). They grow fine.  Everything is normal.  It’s lovely.

This year, we didn’t buy her anything new, primarily because the stuff that comes back every year (annuals, right? or are those perennials? hmm. yeah, I still don’t care) looked like it was going to come back in nicely. We bought a combined Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gift of lawn furniture. Everything seemed normal.



What used to be normal sized plants are now gigantic towering beasts of the garden.  I only see one explanation.  Fort Calhoun.


[disclaimer: I don’t actually think there’s been a breach. I realize that crazy people who somehow have access to the world wide web do believe that.  I just haven’t joined them. Yet.]

Happy Father’s Day

You might have done all the work today, guys, but these kids wouldn’t celebrate with you any other way.

Hope you enjoyed the fried chicken and steaks as much as I did!

You are loved!

Thank You Thursday: The Fathers

There are two fathers in my life right now and both of them are pretty incredible men.

My dad has taught me a whole host of things over these past thirty some years. He taught me that being sleepy is a feeling you should give into.  He taught me that everything is a dip.  He taught me how to drive a stick shift. He taught me that anything can be suffered through for three months. He taught me to save my dollars.  He taught me to how to make my check book balance and to write out a check to give away before you write out any of the others.  He taught me that I could recover from anything but to always wear my seatbelt. He taught me to be cautious but brave, how to play sharks and minnows and how to work an 8 track player.

My husband is teaching our kids all sorts of things too.  He’s teaching them to obey their father and their mother and that obedience is immediate.  He’s teaching them that condiments make the meal.  He’s taught them how to drink water right out of the tap by tilting their heads to the side.  He’s teaching them how to garden and how to feed the squirrels. He’s teaching them the noises that bears make and how to win at Duck, Duck, Python. He’s teaching them the value of hard work by modeling it every single day.  He’s teaching them that men protect their families and stand up for them whenever there is a threat.  He’s teaching them how to respect their mother and how to love her well.

Thank you, Dad and Jud for these years of being examples of the highest caliber of man – the kind who demonstrates sacrificial love for others, no matter the cost.  Your love for and devotion to your family have forever changed our lives. I am so grateful.

Product Review: 30 Day Shred

I work at home and from home with my children in constant tow, which is exactly how we planned this whole thing to work.  I love it that I don’t get up and go somewhere to work. I love it that my kids expect me to stay with them and the thought of going somewhere during the day includes all of us.  It’s not necessarily the most financially advantageous decision, but nothing of value comes without a price.  Unfortunately, after I had Piper, that price was showing up in bat wings, love handles and tummy flab.

After Gideon was born, nursing was a magic diet pill of which I sang great praise.  For whatever reason (I was older. Piper doesn’t eat like Gideon. I loved brownies even more in 2009) I had to work to get back into my pre-pregnancy pants.  And it took me a year to figure that out.  When I finally committed myself to working out four days per week, I knew I needed something that would keep my interest and keep me at home.  I already had a gym membership, which I would use when Jud was home and bedtime wasn’t imminent.  The sleep deprivation of motherhood had completely removed my will to get out of bed to the sound of anything but a child needing me.

We weren’t interested in purchasing gym equipment for the house, primarily because we are safety nuts.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that each year about 8,700 children under 5 years of age are injured with exercise equipment.There are an additional 16,500 injuries per year to children ages 5 to 14. We just weren’t interested in opening our home up to that kind of risk.

So I turned to videos.

I already had The Biggest Loser Volume 2.

It was good, but it wasn’t great.   I don’t really care for Kim Lyons.  She’s a little whiny and too much cheerleader for me.

So I bought Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred.

It has three levels with self-contained 25 minute work outs.  She leads you with two other women demonstrating the exercises (one modified for injury or laziness).   Each workout begins with a warm up that changes slightly for each level and a cool down that is exactly the same each time.  Each workout is 3 sets of 3 minutes of strength training with 2 minutes of cardio and then 1 minute of abdominal work. You should have some light weights (2-8 lbs).

Level One – It is pretty easy, really. If I do level one now, I do all of the cardio moves with weights, but I didn’t start there.

Level Two – The second set of cardio makes me feel like I could puke. For real. Power through it and you’ll be okay. Probably.

Level Three – It seems like it’s not as hard as Level Two until the next day when you realize that all of those odd movements you copied were moving muscles you haven’t used since they were given to you. I once threw up while doing the jumping lunges on this level.  I didn’t feel ill or anything.  I am pretty sure that squeezing my core to stabilize myself and jumping at the same time with a little kick of lactic acid made the vomit cocktail a reality.  I would give yourself plenty of time to digest before you workout.


It does.  You’ll get results.  BUT, and this is a very big but, you’ll still need to modify your diet if you want to see real results. I worked out with this, added running (between 3 and 7 miles up to 4 times a week) and Bob Harper’s Bootcamp dvd (which has a great arm section – level 3) for about a year. I kind of have muscle definition.  I kind of still eat too many carbohydrates.  I kind of love cheese.

I can guarantee that you will feel it.  You’ll have pain.  You’ll want it to end.  You’ll want those Aleve you took to kick in.  IF you apply yourself and don’t cheat the movements, which you, of course, would then your body will change.

Verdict: If you will actually do the dvd, you will both love and hate it. You will get a real work out.  It will only eat 25 minutes of your day (you can even grab a shower and write a blog post while your child[ren] take their naps!). It will change your body if you keep at it, but you’ll probably need more than 30 days to see it. If you are already running or cycling or something and want some added boost to your workout, this would be a great one.


Anybody else want to weigh in?  Do you own it?  Do you love it?  Do you hate it?  Am I right? Am I wrong?  Did I forget something important?  Tell me!  And tell us all!