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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

♥ Derrick ♥

 

Just when I had almost forgotten how hard it was to be a kid sometimes, Derrick recently gave Adam and I a snapshot into his mind…and an affirmation of why I feel homeschooling can be so important for those who are able to take advantage of it.

Adam drives Derrick to and from school each day. It’s part of their one-on-one time that we feel is so important for Derrick. So, a few weeks ago, Adam noticed that Derrick’s mood quickly changed when he jumped out of the truck and started walking to his class in a portable near the back of the school. His shoulders drooped, he stared at the ground, and his pace dragged gloomily.

After watching him for a few days to try to figure out what the problem might be, Adam asked Derrick why he was acting so down in the dumps. To which he responded in a truly 8-year-old way, “I dunno. It’s just boring walking by myself I guess.”

Adam suggested that he try smiling at people he passes by or even saying “hi”, to which Derrick responded in an equally 8-year-old way, “Um…what? You’re crazy, Daddy.”

Every day after that, Adam would ask him if he’d smiled or spoken to anyone on the way to class. The answer was no, of course. So we were left puzzled by this bizarre situation. This kid, for his entire educational career, has gotten in trouble almost daily for socializing too much in class. This kid, who can’t keep his mouth shut for more than 30 seconds at a time and never stops moving, smiling, singing, whistling, dancing ever suddenly is stymied by the most basic elements of socialization – the smile?

Seriously? This kid can't smile?

Then, two nights ago after a family meeting, Adam and I both asked him if he’d managed to crack a grin yet during his solitary walk to class, and he melted into a pool of sobbing child before our eyes. His button nose crinkled as he howled miserably. We looked at each other in surprise, realizing we’d need to dig a little deeper to figure out what the real problem was. It went something like this:

“Derrick, what’s really wrong here? I can’t imagine you’d be crying because you think it’s boring to walk to class by yourself. What’s up, kiddo?”

“(bawling) People will think I’m weird because I’m walking by myself. (wailing) And if I smile, then they’ll really think I’m weird. And it’s so lonely.”

I was shocked at first, but then I remembered what the pressure to fit in felt like at that age. I remembered how important it felt that nobody thought I was weird or different. I bristled with the understanding of how tragically damaging this “schoolyard socialization” is to a child’s developing sense of self. I remembered how I felt at his age when my friend and I were picked on mercilessly by the other kids who thought we were weird.

I was downright livid.

How is this “socialization” supposed to help him in the real world? Why should he feel burdened by a need to fit in? That is most decidedly not the value structure we want for our kids. They have the right to be the person their heart tells them to!

“Derrick, first of all, there’s nothing wrong with walking to your class by yourself. It’s just walking to class – trust me, dude, there’s no deep meaning to it all. And it only takes you two minutes to get there. How lonely can one kid possibly get in two minutes?”  He cracked a smile.

“Why do you think anybody would think you’re weird if you smile at someone? Is it weird to be friendly?” Adam added. Derrick shrugged his shoulders and rubbed his fists into his eyes, still in tears. “What if someone smiled at you first? Would you think they were weird?”

“No. I’d think they were nice. (sniffle)”

“So what kind of person would think it was weird to smile at each other?”

“I dunno. (sob) Nobody, I guess.”

“Exactly. You’re a friendly kid. There’s no reason why anybody would think it’s weird for someone to be friendly.”

Our conversation continued, meandering through different pathways of helping him to wrap his brain around the situation (interrupted occasionally by a whiny Caroline, who was easily placated with a juice box). There’s no reason why this awesome kid, so full of sunshine, couldn’t share some of his happy with the people he passed by on his hundred yard walk every morning. He needed to know that. He needed to know that anyone who would think he’s weird for being friendly isn’t a person whose opinion he needed to value in the first place.

Is that person his friend? Nope.

Damn, I forgot how hard that lesson is to learn.

“I just want to be homeschooled,” he wailed. We are planning on having him join his sisters at home for the next school year already, but still, we wanted to know his thoughts.

“Why?”

“Because I just want to be me.”

Amen, little man. Amen.

I love my smiley, happy boy.

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...spank, spank again?

So, here I am again. Desperately seeking a plan for “Getting Kids to Act Like They Care v9.99 or so”. Honestly, this has got to be the hardest part of parenting. It’s immensely difficult to wrap my (mostly) mature brain around the concept that kids would rather get in trouble by goofing off than by contributing to the household and feeling a sense of importance. Yeah, I’m told that’s too abstract for them (that’s the word of the day, by the way – “abstract”. Most days the situation degrades to the point where the kids actions scream, “Screw you, Mom and Dad. Yeah, I know Dad works all day long to provide us with the things we need. Yeah, we know you spend your days taking care of us all. But, really, you expect me to care? What -EVER! I would rather play than pull my weight around here, thanks. Buh bye.”

 

Really? REALLY???

Recently, a friend posted a plea for help on Facebook about having trouble with getting her child to help out with family responsibilities. I can’t say I was even the least bit surprised when easily a dozen Moms chimed in with their struggles and ideas for solutions. And so I admit to myself and these Mamas that each of my carefully devised plans of attack have failed on my darling little minions of destruction.

In the words of Marvin the Martian, “Well, back to the old drawing board.”

For the past few days, I have been scouring the internet for new ideas and approaches to the situation. Surely, there must be something out there that’s better than tanning their backside or screaming at them until you burst blood vessels in your face! Right?

Fortunately, I seem to have hit on a game plan. Freeprintablebehaviorcharts.com

There is an article on their site entitled “I’ll do It Later or Six Ways to Get Your Kids to Do Chores Now (Without Going Crazy)”. Oh yeah, now we’re talking. Tell me more.

Here are some prized tidbits of info I gleaned from the article:

1. Stop the Show: separate the kids from the thing that is distracting them from the tasks you’ve asked them to do. Find out what they want to do when they’re done with said chores, and let that be their motivation to finish. Yelling at them about responsibility to family and serving others doesn’t work (Yep. I’ve noticed that.).

2. Time the chores: “The dishes have to be done in 20 minutes. If they’re not done, you will be going to sleep 20 minutes early. If you do finish in 20 minutes, you’ve earned an extra 20 minutes of computer time” (I like the way they think!!!)

3. Allowance: Consider giving kids an allowance based on performed chores (This does not work for us. Money is too tight, and the concept of what it is truly worth is too abstract for the kids. There’s no currency in currency here.)

4. Structure: Create a daily chore schedule for kids outlining what task needs to happen when based on the obligations of the day (school, mealtimes, etc.). (I have learned the hard way that kids are clueless when it comes to the abstract concepts of time vs. activities.)

5. Don’t Turn Chores Into Punishment: Only dole out additional chores as a way to make amends for wronging another family member. ie: “I’m sorry I hit you for accidentally kicking me. I will make your bed today to make it up to you.” ( I LOVE this!!!! Another suggestion from the same website is to have kids write apology letters including details of how they will make different choices the next time. Great idea!)

6. Rewards: Offer the kids rewards that will help them stay motivated based on their performance. (I am constantly teetering on the edge of whether this feels right to me or not. On one side, how can they learn the value of work for work’s sake? There won’t always be incentive for everything. But then, they are just kids. Sweetening the chore pot really isn’t so horrible, right?)

So, I have been working out a loosely scheduled chore chart for all the kids. One for Derrick, who is currently in public school: derrick responsibilities, and one for Kaitie, kaitie responsibilities, and Gracie gracie responsibilities, both homeschooled. I have the printed charts taped to the fridge next to itty bitty reward chart stickers that the kids can use to mark off their completed jobs. My kids LOVE stickering things (still trying to get some off the floor from an episode when they were two.) so I think they’ll enjoy that.

I’ve also revamped the rewards list that we used with our last incentive program – the failed Viking Dollars. Most of the rewards on the list are involving spending time with the family, Mom, or Dad. I’m ok with the occasional toy splurge (limited to $10), but I don’t like offering material things as rewards. Their responsibility charts have just over 100 tasks each per week, so that is what I kept in mind for the reward chart.

Reward Chart

If you complete up to 60 responsibilities:

Enjoying a special treat (candy, chocolate)

Staying up 30 minutes past bedtime

Earn an extra 30 minutes of electronics time

 

If you complete up to 80 responsibilities:

Taking a trip to the playground

Baking or cooking something in the kitchen with Mom

Riding bikes with Mom or Dad

Going for a picnic with Mom or Dad

Choosing a special family breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert

Playing a board game or doing a puzzle with mom or dad

Choosing one special snack on the next grocery shopping trip

 

If you complete 100 or more responsibilities:

Spending the night with friends or having them spend the night

Going camping in the backyard with Dad

Going for a hike or letterboxing with Mom or Dad

Renting a video game or a movie

Earn an extra 60 minutes of electronics time

Go to the mall with Mom or Dad to bounce on the trampoline

Receiving 5 scratch-off lottery tickets…you keep the winnings

Going to the beach with Mom or Dad

 

If you complete 100 or more responsibilities two weeks in a row:

Spending the weekend with Gramma & Papa or Grandpa

Playing mini golf with Mom or Dad

Eating out with Mom or Dad

Ordering pizza…you choose the restaurant

Going to the zoo, science center, or art museum with Mom or Dad

 

If you complete 100 or more responsibilities three weeks in a row:

Going to the movies with Mom or Dad

Going fishing with Dad

Going out for ice cream with Mom or Dad

Go on a trip to ta store to buy an item worth $10 or less

Staying up past your bedtime to watch the movie of your choice

 

If you complete 100 or more responsibilities for a whole month:

Painting ceramics with Mom or Dad

Going to a ball game, play, or concert

Going skating, swimming, or bowling with Mom or Dad

Going canoeing with Mom or Dad

Go to Monkey Joe’s with Mom or Dad

 

If you complete 100 or more responsibilities for 2 months:

Go to a theme park with Mom or Dad

 

So…here we go! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

 

Another reward possibility, perhaps? "Tickling Daddy"

 

 

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So, about three weeks later, the kids have earned back a few of their toys. I can’t say I’m all that impressed with their behavior since. I can’t say I blame them, though. I’d be all kinds of bent out of shape if that had happened to me. But, they have been making baby steps of improvement every day.

They have all spent the last week away…Derrick with his Mother, and the girls with their Gramma & Papa. I’m hoping that this coming week will be great! It would be wonderful for them to earn back some more toys.

Keep your fingers crossed!

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Today was the day of the camel’s back breaking. They completely missed the point of the experiment. Sigh…

Yet again today we asked them to take care of their responsibilities (put away your clean clothes and clean your room before you go play outside) multiple times. I even stood in their room with them and pointed out each specific thing that they needed to take care of. Nada. We were ignored, as usual. I went into their room five minutes later, and the only thing they’d done right was put their toys away – the garbage still lay on the floor, the laundry basket had been shoved in the closet. And there they were, playing outside like it didn’t matter that they’d been deliberately disrespectful.

*insert long string of very colorful words here ala Yosemite Sam*

For some reason, our kids seem to like getting yelled at. They would rather play than be respectful of us or each other. Nothing we have done has worked. Nothing. Rewards don’t work. Punishment doesn’t work. Giving them responsibilities so that they can feel like important and valued members of the family doesn’t work. It was time for drastic measures…

So Adam and I got together to figure out what we could do to stop the massive disrespect problem. Because I’m very firm on the concept of natural consequences, we had to make sure that the punishment fit the crime. We eventually deduced that what was happening was that when we asked them to do something – regardless of what it was – they would choose not to do it because it was not fun and they would rather play. So, we stripped their room of everything except for their books and one stuffed animal each. We had a long talk with them (which was strikingly similar to at least a few dozen previously held conversations) about why their behavior is unacceptable, why their toys were being taken away, and what they could do to earn them back.

They are now sitting on their beds, contemplating what they can do to change their behavior.

To be continued…

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Due to the unfair and disrespectful treatment of the parents in this house, the Parental Union is going on strike today! Yes, that’s right. ON STRIKE! We figure that if the kids choose to ignore us and be disrespectful to us and each other, it must be fun, right?

So, today, I am a Veruca. I made myself cereal, and they had to make their own. I made some yummy blueberry scones and didn’t feel like sharing. Later today, I will play with the Wii and not share because it’s mine and they might break it or something.

Results of the experiment will be shared as they unfold…

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Why am I a Mean Mommy? Well, for a lot of reasons, I guess.  My kids seem to be pretty sure of it. They have a lot of convincing evidence to support that claim. For example:

“Gavin’s Mommy doesn’t make him do chores!”

“Yeah! And Connor gets to play video games whenever he wants.”

“Chores are not fun, Mommy! And they’re hard! I don’t like to work.”

Yep. Mighty convincing. But do I waver in the shadow of the Marshmallow Mommies that are all the rage these days? Dream on, kiddos.

Now, don’t get me wrong..my kids are awesome, but they each doggedly maintain a different level of disobedience that drives me to drink (Red wine for me, please. Thanks.). Derrick is uber-lazy and rebellious. Kaitie has her head in the clouds and “forgets” what she is supposed to do as she dances around the house. Gracie is generally the best behaved of the three big kids, but is sneaky and has a mean streak that rears its head once in a while.

So, what do I (and my brood) think makes me a Mean Mommy? For starters, I expect my children to be kind, respectful, and productive members of society. I know, I’m evil…let the hate mail roll in! But seriously, here’s the basic break down of the situation:

  • My kids do chores to earn their allowance. If they do a half-ass job, I half-ass pay them. If they want something, they have to earn the money to buy it. This includes their clothing, should they choose to destroy it.

I have a white board divided with the chores the kids are responsible for each day. They have two chores each day, and earn $.50 for each one, totaling $5 each week. All of the chores are focused on the areas of the house that they are responsible for. For example, I don’t ask them to clean my bathroom, but you’d better believe they are responsible for theirs. They also have a list of other chores they can do if they want to earn extra money. They are taught how to do each job properly and are expected to try their best to do a good job without whining. Whining would be in blatant violation of our No Whining Policy, anyhow.

If they have their heart set on a new toy or if they destroy something they have, they need to buy it with money they have earned so they understand the value of it. I made a big mistake the first time around and spoiled my twin daughters with way too many toys. As a result, they have little respect for what they have and treat their possessions as if they are disposable. But the proverbial straw broke the camel’s back when one day, they were told to clean up their room (which, incidentally, always looked like a tornado had hit) or their toys would be put in the garbage bag I’d hung on the door. They proceeded to put their toys in the garbage bag, claiming, “It’s ok! Gramma will buy us new toys!”  Yes, really. That was the end of that! Since then, we have put a “less is more” policy in place and their Veruca tendencies have been gradually improving. Although they did suffer a major setback on Easter this year…we keep trying!

Another case in point…my son seems to think clothes grow on trees. He has several pair of size 10 pants that he was meant to be able to wear for a while and grow into. But he likes to walk on the bottoms instead of pulling them up and rolling the cuffs, so now he has no size 10 pants. By the time he grows into them, he’ll have horseshoe shaped holes exposing the backs of his legs. He also decided it would be fun to wear holes in the toes of not one, but TWO pairs of sneakers by dragging them. He recently bought his first pair of shoes with his own money that he earned. It took him more than two months to do so because he does not like to work (even with a goal to motivate him), but he did it. Hopefully, these will remain intact for a more reasonable length of time!

  • They have to behave themselves in order to earn electronics time. Our TV is off for the most part, and their video games must be Mean Mommy approved – no violence or excessive “Chewing Gum Factor”.

This is way up there on the list of why my kids think I’m mean. I mean, really! Why can’t they just sit on the couch and stare at a screen of flashing, colorful images all day? How evil can one Mommy get? Pretty darn evil, I suppose.

But seriously, I don’t think electronic entertainment does kids any favors. Sure, there are educational games that help them learn useful skills, but they learn much more from creative thinking and social interaction with their siblings. Also, I have seen first hand what violent games inspire in their creative play. I’m all for kids working out their feelings about violence through play, but when they are enjoying being the bad guy and routinely being mean to their sibs, it’s SO not ok!

Another problem is the Chewing Gum game. These are the mindless, pointless games that the kids get no value from other than wasting time. Sure, they’re fun once in a while, but keeping them to a minimum allows for more time engaging in learning activities. Sorry, kiddos! Electronics are a privilege, not a given.

  • All homework must be completed before 4:oo (an hour-and-a-half after they get home from school). Any homework not completed goes back to school and is graded accordingly. Sloppy homework that is not done to the best of their ability must be re-done. Lazy, sucky homework attitude is rewarded with grounding for the rest of the day.

Yes, that’s right. I’m a Homework Nazi, too. The girls aren’t a problem. They finish their assignments quickly. They are in Kindergarten, but they are way above grade level academically, so it’s too easy for them. My son, on the other hand, HATES anything that looks, tastes like, smells like, or even remotely resembles dreaded work. Some nights, homework time is like pulling crocodile teeth. Sadly, he is the reason for the homework laws.  We have spent too much time fighting his laziness and bad choices, so he wasn’t experiencing any natural consequences for his behavior. I’m a big believer in natural consequences. There really is no better way to learn, IMHO. I also expect them to do a neat job that displays their best work. Sloppy messes show that they don’t care about what they are doing and are not learning from the assignment.

  • All TV and movie content is carefully selected. I do not approve of many of the children’s shows and movies made lately. The kids in them are rude, obnoxious, whiny and mean. Why in the world would I want my kids watching and imitating that garbage?

When the girls were little, I was quite a bit more lenient about TV shows. But…Swiper struck. You know the fox I’m talking about, right? When my girls started watching Dora, I figured they’d incorporate the show into their creative play by pretending to be her or Boots. Nope. Not my girls. They started acting like Swiper…complete with the evil laughter when they took something from each other. Needless to say, Dora was verboten after that, and I started screening their TV time much more carefully. Any show that includes characters that are mean to each other or display traits that I wouldn’t want my kids to have are off limits. And, no, I don’t care how many lunchboxes or backpacks that character is featured on.

  • We do not eat chemical-laden processed garbage food. They are provided with healthy, tasty, appropriately-sized meals which they are expected to eat. If they waste their food because they don’t feel like eating it, $1 comes out of their earned allowance money.

Two of the three big kids are picky eaters. Derrick thinks vegetables are evil, and he’s slowly recovering from a long stint as a food neophobe. Gracie doesn’t like the texture of meat, and would be happy to eat pb&j or mac & cheese at every meal. Kaitie eats like she has a hollow leg that needs filling – I rarely have to worry whether she will eat her meals. So, while I respect the fact that not everyone likes every food, it’s not like I’m trying to feed them tripe and brussels sprouts! I’m an excellent home cook, and the meals I provide them are always tasty and do not contain exotic ingredients. They are given healthy amounts of food, and they are expected to eat it. Period. Yes, food does grow on trees (and such), but money does not. We’re feeding a family of six, and can’t afford to waste food just because someone doesn’t feel like eating it.

Recently, Derrick, who Hates soup, decided he would go through the lunch line at school (which is something he has never been given money for) when he was given soup in his thermos. He charged the meals of chemical-and-additive-laden pizza and pb&j to his account. We only found out about this more than a month later when we kept getting calls from the school that one of our children’s school accounts was overdrawn. He finally ‘fessed up, and it was explained to him that what he did was stealing because he couldn’t pay for the food. We went into the school and froze his account to ensure it would not happen again, and he worked in the cafeteria after lunch to pay them back for what he took. We were very grateful to the staff for allowing these natural consequences to work their behavioral magic.

Gracie’s thing is hiding food. It really is quite disgusting. We have found tupperware full of chicken salad in her backpack a week after it had been sent for lunch, an empty bottle of chocolate syrup in the back corner of their bedroom closet, and recently her lunch bag erupted with maggots who were devouring some rotting ham that had been packed for lunch as a homemade, natural “lunchable”. My stomach turns just remembering it. She’s also been known to drop chunks of meat on the floor under the dinner table. Because she does not care for meat, I always give her a smaller portion than the rest of the kids. But I firmly believe that kids need animal protein for healthy growth, so it will stay on her plate for now.

  • Poor behavior at school earns consequences at home. Changing your color card earns grounding for the day and $1 fine comes out of their allowance. I take their behavior at school very seriously, and disrespect towards the teacher and classroom rules is not tolerated.

Kaitie & Gracie don’t have behavior issues at school, really. They had a smiley face in their behavior chart every day this past year. The trouble is, they have picked up all kinds of nasty behaviors from the ones who don’t get smiley faces every day. Lovely. I can wait another 10 years for sassy girls, thank you very much!

Derrick, however, seems to think it’s fun to get in trouble at school. Some days, he forgets to raise his hand to speak. Some days, he tries to act like the bad kid because he thinks it’s funny. Other times, he runs his mouth or decides to walk circles around poles when he’s supposed to be standing in line. Stupid stuff, thankfully, but it has a cumulative effect and is detrimental to his education, the other children’s education, and his relationship with his teacher. I’m please to report, however, that his behavior has gradually been improving each school year. In kindergarten, he kicked people, talked incessantly, and rarely sat still for circle time. In first grade, he managed a few weeks of the school year with all green cards, but he talked and played at inappropriate times and broke the classroom rules almost daily. This year, he got in trouble once a week (on average) for not raising his hand and blurting out answers before anyone else had a chance to try. His worst offenses, playfighting with rulers in the classroom, getting up and dancing in front of the class when the teacher asked them to sit quietly while she had a quick bathroom break, and shaking a girl by the shoulders. But he did get mostly greens and yellows, though. I can remember maybe 6 blue cards (the next step, red being the worst) all year. Definite progress! I’m hoping that next year will be better!

So, that’s about the size of it. Please note that I welcome constructive comments, but not marshmallow mommy hate mail. I like to discuss different ideas for raising men and women of strong character, and would love to hear from you!

:o) Kim

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Chances are, the majority of the first readers to stop by here will be friends and family. But, since the random passer-by (Hi, Random Passer-By!) is possible, I’ll tell you all about our family and what you should expect to see here.

Let’s start with li’l ole me… Kimi's Wedding PhotoYes, it’s my wedding picture. Yes, I’m totally made up and looking unusually spiffy. Don’t worry, the real me will turn up soon enough. But I digress…

I was born in Florida and have lived here my whole life. I love it! Well, with the exception of a few unreasonably hot days in the summer and some equally unreasonably cold days in the winter – it’s fantastic. No matter where you go, there are all kinds of adventures accessible within a tankful’s range.

I feel like I’ve lived a pretty interesting life. My lifelong interests include horseback riding, martial arts, swimming, reading, writing, music, and theater. I’ve held a good variety jobs, including bakery employee, veterinary clinic receptionist, horseback riding instructor, swimming pool leak locator, scuba instructor, nanny, and Mom. I like that last one best.

Most of what you’ll read on this blog have to do with that last (and best) job. It has quite a job description! Childcare professional, educator, housekeeper, personal assistant, chef, baker, baby milk maker (moo), bedtime tucker-inner, lullaby singer, referee, defender of the peace, and all-around good snuggler (just to name a few key resume points).

I love my job, and it definitely keeps me busy. Like right now, for example, I have a peaceful, cuddly, warm baby fast asleep in my lap…but if I move her…well, not so peaceful anymore. Moments like this give me plenty of time online, but not so much time for the rest of my job. But seriously now, who could pass up that much sweetness and sugar all in one tiny little package? Which brings me to my wonderful husband…

DSC_0008 This is Adam with our sweet little bundle of honeysuckle goodness (you’ll meet her later). Did I completely cheat by jumping right past his fancy wedding picture into the deep end of randomness? Yep. But the blog is called that for a reason, after all. Anyway, Adam is completely, totally, and in all ways amazing. Not only is he one of the funniest people I’ve ever known (closely rivalled by my daughter Gracie, another one you’ll meet later), but he is the kind of husband and father every family needs. He’s smart, hard-working, motivated, multi-talented, loving, and would do absolutely anything for us. Does it get any better than that? I think not. He is a printed circuit board designer by day and an aspiring movie maker with an affection for horror movie makeup by night. He also once had a gig as a drummer in a punk band. It doesn’t get much more random than that…starting to understand the theme? Let’s move on…

Gracie This is Peyton Grace. AKA “Gracie”. Doesn’t she look sweet and pretty, playing in the pool dappled with sunlight? Yep, she’ll cute the “awww!”s right out of anyone, but don’t be fooled! Note the impish grin? Yes, this darling beauty is the quiet stinker of the house and hands-down the funniest kid I’ve ever met. Invariably, Gracie will come up with some perfect little gem of 5-year-old silliness that puts me in stitches. Yes, they will all end up posted here (check out the Twitter feed up there on the right). Her favorite things include horses, swimming, princesses, and any cute animal.

Here’s an interesting fact about my wonderful Princess Grace: she was born with a thumb and two fused fingers on her right hand (complete simple syndactyly). When she was six months old, she had surgery to separate them at Arnold Palmer Hospital, performed by Dr. Birnbaum of Nemours. The results were fantastic, and Gracie has never let it slow her down. She is truly amazing and thinks it’s really cool that she can reach in places the rest of us can’t! If you ask her, she’ll tell you all about how the doctor gave her a heart-shaped scar on her fingers so she’ll always remember Mommy loves her.

Next is my Kaitlynn Beth. AKA “Kaitie”. Gracie’s twin and our tomboy in a tiara. DSC_0170Always laughing, always playful, she can really put a smile on our faces. She’s smart as a whip, but often has her head in the clouds, which can make her challenging sometimes. A natural athlete ( the kid has one hell of a six pack for a five-year-old), she has had her share of bumps and bruises while giving me mommy-heart-attacks. She loves to swim, and is learning how to snorkel. She’s an avid reader and can do so at about second grade level. Some of her favorite things are animals, books, art, and princesses.

DSC_0104My stepson Derrick Orion rounds out the list of bigs (that’s short for “big kids” around here). Cute as a button, our seven-year-old bean pole is as tall as most nine-year-olds. He’s one of those kids that makes you wish the energy he has came in a bottle. Consequently, one of his favorite things to do is run. Fast. His non-stop “play mode” does get him into trouble sometimes, doing homework with him is often like pulling teeth, but this sweet little blue-green-eyed boy doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Some of his favorite interests include dinosaurs, sharks, reading, TV, and video games (which, to his dismay, are not free-flowing around here).

Last, but certainly not least, our “little”. Sweet baby Caroline Olivia. Born July 30th, she is the newest addition to our random clan. We have no fear that she will grow into her destiny of randomness. She is a mellow, happy baby and is just starting to show us her big smile! She looks so much like her Daddy that we call her his little clone, but when we look at pictures of me at her age , we look very much alike, too! We are all looking forward to watching her grow. Some of her interests include staring at the toys in her bed, Mama’s milk, Daddy’s lovin’, filling her diapers, spitting up, and generally being ridiculously cute.Sweet Caroline

We are really enjoying life as a blended family. It definitely has its challenges, but it’s all so rewarding! The bigs have such a great relationship, and I sincerely hope it carries on into their adulthood.

And finally, I think I should mention the whole purpose of me writing in the first place. I want to record our activities and experiences to share with other parents. I have found that some of the greatest resources are online articles posted by parents who are experiencing similar joys and issues as we are. So, without further ado, the topics that will make it to the blog are including but not limited to…

  • blended families and step-parenting
  • family trips and activities, including reviews
  • natural living choices, including: chemical-free food and home environment, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, delayed/selective/non-vaccination, organics, etc.
  • adventures in public education and supplementing at home
  • our Family Friday tradition, including: themed crafts, meals, and other fun
  • parenting and family related book and magazine reviews
  • movie, TV show, video game, and other entertainment reviews in relation to family
  • recipes and food successes (or failures) with our picky eaters
  • baby and big kid milestones and cuteness (obligatory mom stuff)
  • weekly meal planning
  • and, of course, the gems of randomness that spout forth from the mouths of our babes (and my husband)!

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