Tuesday, February 26, 2008

If I Were A Rich Man

Carden turns six this week, and in honor of the occasion (and the fact that he's studying money in school this month), we decided to start paying him an allowance. Because he is our first child, I approached this in my typical first-time-parent manner: I read numerous articles about how to teach money management to kids, we devoted this week's FHE lesson to saving money for missions, I made a chart that breaks down the weekly amounts he has to save, donate, and spend. You get the idea. The interesting part of the process has been the discussions Tyler and I have had as we made each decision. One of our big marital adjustments has been in our attitudes about money, since we each had different ideas on what to do with it and needed to compromise. We want our kids to have the "right" attitude toward money, even though we're not totally sure what that is yet. Neither of us remember our parents teaching many concrete lessons about money, yet somehow we each absorbed different philosophies and habits.

All our financial angst is lost on Carden at this point. To house his newfound wealth, we bought him a piggy bank. He thinks his bank is cool. It's a Moonjar (http://www.moonjar.com/) with separate sections for Spend, Save, and Share. He likes to drop the coins in the slots and shake the box to hear them rattle around. He also got a bank "vault" from Grandma Vicki for his birthday, and he thinks that one is even cooler (Grandma presents are always cooler than parent presents). It sorts all the coins as you drop them in and then you have to use the real combination lock to open it, thus protecting it from the robbers he is sure are waiting for his back to be turned so they can pounce on his $6.57.

Since he's rolling in Valentine's and birthday money, I asked him what he wanted to spend it on. "I haven't decided yet," he told me. "I'm still thinking. Probably a game. Parcheesi."

Anybody know how to play Parcheesi?

Planetarium trip

Saturday we took our first trip to the local planetarium. We've been a little spaced out this week (not due to the flu--just my attempt at a Bad Dad Joke. Such awful humor has always been a point of pride for Tyler--and most dads I know).

Anyway, this week we watched the space episodes of The Magic School Bus DVDs and read the space book Carden bought at the school book fair. Since Carden was home from school all week, I made him present an oral report on the solar system, based on the Magic School Bus DVD. So once we were feeling better we decided to cap off our week of all things planetary with the kids' first IMAX-style movie in the planetarium dome theater, where the picture is over your head, behind you, as well as in front and on the sides. Charlotte was plenty interested, let me tell you. So much for my delusions of her napping in a dark room. The boys also were quite taken with the show, especially with the "5-4-3-2-1-Blast Off!" sequence they got to shout nine times.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sick, sick, sick

As in us. As in four days of misery requiring two bottles of Tylenol Children's Cold Formula, two boxes of Kleenex in every room, nine bottles of Gatorade (Riptide Rush favored over Lemon-Lime 2 to 1), and 16 DVDs. Thankfully it's about over now. It's a singular experience to wake up at 3 pm and not know where your children are or what they've been doing for the last five hours. (All were eventually located--out cold and scattered over various couches, beds, and floors.)
I ended up with the mildest case and after one day was able to get up and keep everyone else stocked with the essentials. I have new sympathy for nurses who face an overload of patients due to nursing staff shortages. Carden needs more cough syrup. Charlotte wants another bottle of juice. Seth's nose is running. Tyler's wondering where all the clean towels went. Where's my "Now serving number __" machine?
Take my advice. You can never have too many towels.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Not having any romantic couple plans for Valentine's Day, we celebrated with the kids, who were already hyped up from school parties full of Red Dye #5. After our dinner of homemade pizza, we broke out the chocolate fountain and dipped away. You can see that they're wearing as much as they ate. Carden sporting his chocolate goatee. A future Willy Wonka.
For the real highlight of the holiday, the credit goes to Tyler. For 10 days he played "Cupid," leaving a daily note to me, Carden, and Seth accompanied by a piece of See's candy. No cheapo Hershey's kisses for him! The good stuff parceled out on a daily basis. As usual, he created an elaborate story for Cupid, who swoops in to deliver his valentines, narrowly avoiding capture by Dad and his sidekick Lion Puppet, who have sworn to apprehend the chocolate-bearing cherub and lock him up. Every day as the boys would come home, Tyler would shout that he could hear noises upstairs. He'd grab Lion Puppet, thunder up the stairs shouting "I've got you now, Cupid" while Carden and Seth tore after him shrieking for Cupid to fly away.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The third child is still alive

Poor Charlotte. Everyone warns you that once you hit the third child, you don't take as many pictures of them, you don't sit on the floor and count to 10 (in three languages) with them; the only counting you do is at the end of the day--and you only count to 3 to make sure you didn't leave anybody behind on the last errand.

It is cliche.
It is true.

So. Here are a few pictures of Charlotte. We do love her devotedly. Tyler has almost taught her to say Dada. Carden and Seth have taught her to fake laugh. I have taught her to scream really loudly when she hears, "just a minute, Charlotte. I'm coming. Hold on. Oops. One more second. Almost ready for you. Really, I'm coming right this second."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I love this thing!

OK, this is going to be a shameless product plug, so be warned. I love our portable carpet cleaner, the Little Green from Bissell. You spray the cleaning solution on the stain then slurp it all up. Then dump the dirty water into the toilet. Voila! Clean carpet. I have used this to clean throw-up, poop, pee, spit-up, and even blood off the carpet and furniture. A pitiful confession of many of my daily activities, but there you have it. It was a bit of a splurge, but when it's 2 am and the sick child didn't quite make it to the bathroom, how do you say it? "Priceless."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mommy Milestone

We had a first at our house this week: Carden wanted to run away from home. First let me explain that Tyler was in Japan all week, which means the kids were stuck with Mommy Jekyll and Hyde. I find that when I'm solo parenting, I tend to be super fun (pizza for dinner, steady stream of rented movies) or super disciplinarian (short fuse, no patience, extra-long resting time, no bedtime stories). I had to take everyone to run off some copies at Kinkos and Carden kept causing problems, despite there being a toy area for kids.

Once we got back in the car I let him have it. "I was going to let you play Nintendo (his favorite thing in the world) tonight," I snapped, "but now you've lost that chance." He didn't say anything until we got home, then sat down with a paper and pen and wrote his letter of resignation. "Mom I am going to run away" with sad picture of himself on the right and the Nintendo DS on the left.

I'm not sure what you're supposed to do in situations like this, but I figured hysterical laughter was probably not the right response. I think I said something like, "I'll go get the mail and then we'll talk about it." When I got to the mailbox, I saw he'd put his coat on and was heading for the sidewalk. "I'm going to Jordan's house."

"Do you know where Jordan lives?" I asked.

"Then I'm going to Alex's house," he announced.

"Do you know where Alex lives?"

"I'm going to Jacob's house."

Oops. He knew where Jacob lived, so I needed a new response, again, probably not the laughter I was fighting back. I convinced him to come back inside; I really was tempted to see how far he'd go, but it was 20 degrees outside and we live on a busy street that he's not allowed to walk on by himself.

We went back in and he wrote this letter:

"Mom I will go to Jacob's house with [Nintendo] DS" (drawing of DS on the left, scary monster--probably me--on the right.

I finally convinced him that he would be much happier at home and that if he were willing to clean the entire playroom without my help he could regain his Nintendo priviledges. Gotta give him credit--it took 45 minutes, but he did it.

Good thing Dad comes back soon. Maybe I'll take the DS and go to Jacob's house.