Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chores

I feel like I've spent the last several years trying to come up with the perfect chore chart and/or a scheme to make the household chores more manageable. I have asked veteran parents for their advice. Nothing seemed to work.

But then Suze Orman stepped in. I saw her on Oprah and she has changed my life. She talked about kids and money and how minimum wage is $6/hour, which is about 10 cents per minute. She said kids should NOT get an "allowance", they should earn their money at the rate of 10 cents per minute. So we decided to give it a try.

I made up a chore chart for each kid.
Chore/Date/Minutes/$ per min (.10)/Total

The ones who can write are responsible for recording their chores . . it's like a timecard, you don't record the chore, you don't get paid. I am no longer the one who has to remember what each person did and when. Soooo much easier! After recording their chore, they have to figure out how much they earned for that specific chore which is a great life-application for math skills. (My boys are still too young for this and most of their chores are only 1 minute in length anyway, so I still manage this aspect of the chart for them.)

It works like a charm. I no longer have to rant and rave to get the kids to put away laundry or set the table or clear the table or take out the recycling or put away their laundry. They do it, they record it, they get paid. It is working beautifully. And of course an extra long job means extra money so getting them to pitch-in with big jobs is no problem.

I'll admit, I was skeptical and at first my oldest resisted, complaining that it would taker her forever to earn money. But she is now cleaning bathrooms, washing the wooden stairs, doing laundry, sometimes packing her lunch, etc., etc. She earned $12.60 over the last week! Even my littlest guy earns money, about $2/week, just by helping with the trash and recycling and cleaning the playroom. Another benefit is that they now have their own money to spend when they want to make a purchase, no more bugging mom and dad to buy them things!

Now if only I could earn $6/hour for all the hours of work I put in around here!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Update: The Patient

My 5 year old had his surgery today: ear tubes inserted and adenoids removed. He is doing well. The whole surgical experience took about 3 hours from arrival to discharge. The poor little guy was very groggy afterwards, and still is. He is taking it all in stride though. He was very pleased to be able to have popsicles for breakfast today (no food allowed prior to surgery) and seems pretty happy that he gets to eat unlimited popsicles for the next few days. He is laying on the couch now watching a movie with his siblings (snow day today) and saw them eating popcorn and asked for some! The nurse said that kids are often hungry after adenoid surgery and she said he could eat whatever he wanted . . . so he tried the popcorn (he is still on Rx painkillers) and decided that he would stick with the popsicles for now. He will be homebound until Sunday or Monday, maybe longer, depending on how he heals. I'm going to take this (homebound) opportunity to get some things organized, especially baby clothing and getting the nursery in order.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cheerleading

As promised, a posting about the girls' cheerleading:

My oldest has been asking to "take cheerleading" for quite sometime. I have sort of ignored her request because I didn't know WHERE to have her "take cheerleading" and I wasn't sure that I wanted to encourage the fake smiles and the emphasis on being cute, etc.

But then I stumbled upon a cheerleading program run by a local church. It's called Upward Bound. The great thing about it is that it is run as part of the church's ministry so it focuses on spiritual development, self-esteem and character development.

The girls have practice one night a week; they learn new cheers and also have a small group discussion and learn a bible memory verse. Then each girl cheers at a game on Saturday. So far they LOVE it! They have cute uniforms (they were most excited about the hair-bows) and pom pons so it is the "real deal" as far as cheering goes. Each week after the games, each cheerleader is awarded a "star" to put on her megaphone. The stars represent different characteristics exhibited by the cheerleader. My youngest daughter seems to keep getting stars for the Most Spirited, i.e., LOUDEST cheerleader on her squad. I kid you not, I can hear that kid's voice more than I can hear anything else in the gym! The gym is full of parents, kids, coaches, etc. as there are 2 games being played simultaneously. And my daughter can yell above ALL THAT NOISE. I think she has found her niche. (And boy is she tired-out on game days!)

(Pictures will be coming in another posting.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Dads are More Fun

My husband was cleaning out the basement and brought up a giant cardboard box for the kids to play with. Of course this is the most popular "toy" in the house at the moment.

The kids got together this afternoon and decided to fill it with "stuff" and then send it flying down the stairs. It made a crazy "zipping" noise as it zipped down the wooden stairs, which delighted them. I wasn't sure this was such a good idea so I said something to my husband about them sending it flying down the steps. He asked if there were kids in it or if it was empty. I said, "Well, there is stuff in it, but I don't think there are any kids in it." I thought he was asking me this out of concern for their welfare. WRONG! He replies, "Well this could get interesting if there was someone riding in it!"

The next thing I know, he is sending my oldest daughter sliding down the steps in the box! It was going CRAZY FAST, and I mean FAST! The box hit the floor at the bottom of the steps and my daughter catapulted out of the box and flew about 2 feet and landed on our golden retriever (fortunately for both of them, Lady outweighs my daughter by about 50 pounds.) The kids cheered and thought it was the most exciting thing EVER and they were all clamoring to be next. THANKFULLY my husband came to his senses and decided that it wasn't such a safe activity so he banned them from riding in the box. Whew!

I never would have let them try it in the first place, which is why dads are definitely more fun than moms.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Are you kidding me???

Last night I took the girls to cheerleading practice (more on that in a future post). They have a room where parents can wait while the girls practice. So I take a book and use the time to sit and read (which I don't get to do at home very often.) So I'm sitting on a comfy couch, enjoying my quiet time and then I happened to look up from my book for some reason and what do I see????

A big, huge, bat flying towards me! I'm serious! Of course I was the first one to see it, I must have bat radar. People were saying, "Oh, look, there's a bird in here." And I'm like, "NOOOOO, it's a bat!!!"

What the heck??? What is it with me and bats???? Everyone seemed content to watch it fly around. Some people were starting to swat at it and it seemed to be getting agitated so I got myself out of there.

I called my husband to tell him (because I was still in disbelief) and because I was afraid we'd have a sighting at home too; I figured if the bat I saw woke-up out of hibernation (it was a relatively warm day yesterday which sometimes causes them to wake) then maybe our bats would start waking up too. But no bats on the home front, thankfully.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Good News

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger lately. I don't know why, maybe it has something to do with January and winter and darkness and cold? I find it hard to get motivated to do ANYTHING in January. And February. And March for that matter. But anyway, I will try to do a better job at keeping up with the blog.

After a rash of unfortunate events that unfolded at the start of 2009 (which I didn't bother to blog about because I didn't want to be a Debbie Downer and because blogging about them would only cause me to get annoyed all over again . . . Don't worry, it's nothing life changing, just stupid stuff like pink eye, car getting vandalized, getting a court summons for a parking ticket that we paid for and then having to spend hours on the phone getting the Boro to figure out why the money for the ticket was credited to our sewer account instead of to the parking ticket, etc., etc.)

Well after all that negative stuff, I finally have some Good News to report!! I had my Sugar Test yesterday and it came back negative, which means that I do NOT have gestational diabetes!!!! I had GD with my previous pregnancy so I was pretty much betting that I'd have it again. But I am so happy to report that my sugar level (after drinking an absolutely disgusting solution of orange gunk) were GREAT. This is such a relief.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Patient and Patience

Well the patient is doing just fine today. He went back to work and does not appear to have any lingering side effects from the reaction or the medicine.

We are going to have another patient at the end of the month. Our 5 year old son will have surgery on Jan 28 to have tubes put in his ears (for the 4th time) and he will also have his adenoids removed. We've done the tubes MANY times (this will be our 7th tube surgery overall, 2 of my other kids also have tubes) but we've never done the adenoids before. The tube surgery is fairly quick and simple as is the recovery. However, the adenoid recovery seems a bit more involved. The doctor said it will take 7-10 days for a full recovery. Apparently the neck begins to spasm as the tissue heals so we'll have to take it one day at a time. I'll keep you posted.

Now for the patience part. I need to take 2 graduate level classes by June 30, 2010 in order to keep my teaching certification active. No problem, right? I figured I'd wait until the boys were in school and then I'd take the classes so that I could have some quiet time to get the classwork completed. Except that once that happens, I will also have an infant to take care of and then there won't be ANY peace and quiet in the house! I just don't think I would be able to take classes AND take care of 4 children AND take care of an infant. Therefore I will be taking the classes in February and March. That's right. 2 classes in 2 months. This means that I will be in class for 3 our of 4 weekends in February and one weekend in March. When I say weekend I mean I will be in class for 5 hours on Friday night; 9 hours on Saturday; 9 hours on Sunday. I know; it will be torture. I am not used to sitting for so long! Plus, being pregnant I am sure my tailbone will be sore and my feet will swell but what choice do I have? So I will need lots of patience as I endure this mountain of work that is looming on the horizon.

The other patience part is that I am losing my patience with the bat situation. We had ANOTHER bat between Christmas and New Year's! It was a relatively warm day, which I guess can cause them to wake from their hibernation once it gets dark. It came swooping down the back steps and into the kitchen which caused my mother and younger daughter to run through the house screaming. It then settled on the dining room and decided to fly around in there for a while. We usually keep an old badminton racket hanging in the hall for just such an occasion. (The racket was actually hanging there when we moved in, left behind by the previous owner for the same reason.) However, I had put the racket away and hung Christmas decorations in its place. So it took some time to locate the racket (who would have thought we'd have a bat in December???) We all cowered under blankets on the couch until my husband took care of the situation. Our bat exclusion should be complete in March or April (meaning the bat guy will come back and seal up any remaining holes and leave a check valve where the bats can crawl out but not get back in again) and then HOPEFULLY we will not have any more bats.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Visit to the ER

My husband called me on his way home from work this evening. He said he didn't feel well. Said his face felt like it was on fire and said his ears were itchy. I asked him if he had eaten anything and he replied that he had eaten a macadamia nut. "One nut?" I asked. Then he said no, it was 3 nuts. I asked, "Where are you?" and he said, "Driving." At this point I was starting to get worried. We had already established this (driving) early in the conversation. My husband would normally tell me that he was at such and such intersection or that he was passing xyz. I was starting to think that is brain was being adversely affected for him ton give me a generic answer like "driving".

Then he told me that he had already pulled over twice to puke and that he felt even worse and wasn't sure what he should do. I was getting even more worried. My husband is usually someone who is cool, calm and collected. He is someone who thinks and acts quickly. Afterall, this man single-handedly delivered our 3rd child at home when my labor progressed at warp-speed. He is not someone to say things like, "I don't know what to do." He always knows what to do. I told him that I thought he should go to the ER on his way home and asked why he didn't stop at the hospital that is close to work. He said he didn't think to go to that hospital. By this time I was worried that he would pass out before he even got to the ER. We hung up and I said a quick prayer for his safety. Apparently he made it there in tact because he called about 20 minutes later to say they were getting a room ready for him and said he would be getting meds ASAP. He was talking really slowly and sounded out of it. So we hung up and I got dinner for the kids (who thought it was really cool that Daddy was in the hospital). I kept waiting to hear from him and didn't so called him back about an hour later. I didn't even know it was him when he answered his cell phone. His speech was slurred and he sounded distant. He said they gave him an IV (of 3 different drugs) but couldn't discharge him because his blood pressure was too high (as a result of the drugs). He said he is definitely allergic to macadamia nuts because he had a bright red rash over his whole body.

Shortly thereafter, my next door neighbors came over to watch the kids so I could go to the ER to check on him and to try and figure out whether he was going to be coming home at all. When I arrived he was sitting on a gurney in a hallway and he looked really pale and had a stunned look to him. We waited around for about 30 minutes and then they finally discharged him. They gave him an Rx for an epi pen and told him to stay away from ALL nuts, but especially macadamia nuts. Then they told him to visit an allergist ASAP.

My husband had it in his head that he was going to drive home but once he started walking (feeling even more light-headed) he decided against it and let me drive (leaving his car at the hospital.) When we arrived home, my 3 year old said, "Dad. What is wrong with you? You look like you are green."

It is so strange that he had this reaction to macadamia nuts! We were in Hawaii a few years ago and he ate macadamia nuts, macadamia cake, macadamia ice cream, everything macadamia and was fine! We had friends who visited Hawaii last January and they brought us back some macadamia nuts and he ate those too! He has never had a reaction to massive doses of macadamia nuts but apparently 3 nuts put him over the edge? The ER nurse told us that you can develop an allergy to anything at anytime. Great. One more thing to worry about!

My husband is now asleep and all is well. He is planning on going into work tomorrow but I will try to convince him to take it easy and go in late. He's had a tough week: stomach virus on Saturday & Sunday; a chipped tooth/filling that needed fixed Monday. And now a visit to the ER on Tuesday. Let's hope Wednesday is a better day!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Update

I forgot to tell you about my favorite Christmas gift!

My husband got me a gift certificate for a photographer, Jen Baltgalvis, so that we can have photos taken of the baby when he or she arrives. I have had my eye on her for a while and am thrilled that I'll be able to get fantastic family photos taken when the baby arrives! The best part is, she will come to the house, so I won't even have to worry about getting 5 kids to a photoshoot because the photoshoot will be at our house!

To check out her work with newborns, click here.

Good-bye 2008 and Hello 2009!



We had a very nice Christmas. My oldest daughter has been asking me to post pictures of Christmas (even though I posted Christmas Eve). She had me take pictures of her gift pile and of her Uggs, her favorite gift, which came from her Auntie Angela in Ireland.

My daughter's pile of opened Christmas gifts:


Her Uggs:


We hosted the neighborhood New Year's Eve party last night. It was lots of fun and there was lots of food! Almost all the neighbors have small children so the party started at 6:30pm and was over by 11pm. We had time to clean-up and were sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, watching the ball drop at midnight.

This is the first year that all the kids have been able/willing to stay up until midnight. They had a good time ringing in the New Year with a family dance. Even Emma is in on the action:



And now that 2009 is here, Emma has already pooped in the house 1x today. So much for resolutions!