Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Listening exercises

January has gone by in a blur!

Connor turned 6 years old on January 7th and on January 9th Chase was admitted to the hospital with RSV (a respiratory virus). Three days later we came home and Chase completed recovery at home. Then I completed my first home school review with the county public school system...this was a success and by far the most worrisome event of home schooling. I now realize I had nothing to worry about. We had a trip to my parents house in NC and upon returning home we have had snow and a visitor from across the country.

As we've tried to recover from a busy month and sickness, I've been working on some lesson planning and addressing areas that we need to focus on as a family. One of the biggest frustrations for Allen and I is that our kids don't listen to us...I know, they're kids and we're parents and they are very young. But I thought we could work on some listening exercises to get the kids thinking about the importance of listening.

Each night for a week we discussed listening. We would have a listening exercise such as playing Simon Says or I would give each child a set of instructions and ask them to complete as many as they could remember. My favorite was listening to nature sounds and asking the kids what they were hearing (we of course had to stress the importance of being quiet to hear such soft noises).

We chose some recorded material found on the internet. The first we listened to you could hear the soft ripple of water from a stream, leaves rustling in the wind, birds softly chirping...typical nature sounds. The next was a bit more interesting.

I asked Connor what he heard and he said, "I hear frogs."

Isabel stated she was hearing birds.

Lillee heard something completely unique...she stated that she heard, "Crickets having a hoedown!"

God love her!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Want to meet my famous sister-in-law?

My sister-in-law, Laura, is the featured Mom of the Month for the February 2009 issue of Family Fun Magazine. If you don't subscribe to Family Fun you can see the article here. Laura is so energetic and full of fun ideas, she's the perfect candidate for mom of the month and even mom of the year! Be sure to follow the link to her website and to the fitness challenge she uses for her family.

Rambling of a crazy mom

As most of you have heard we've been sick...for 2 full weeks, we've been sick. After 5 weeks of bed rest, a new baby and 2 weeks of sickness I was ready for an out-of-the-house adventure. I planned a play date to the US Botanical Gardens with some new friends, Grandma Ros and fortunately Jane decided to join us, as well.

Want a glimpse of how crazy an idea this was and how it turned out to be even more nutty once we were in the midst of it all?

Our new friends are actually not so new, they're more along the lines of neglected friends. We met Maria (the mom), Sophie (daughter, age 3) and Ambrose (son, age 2) in August at a park play date. Actually, Lillee met them and consumed an hour or so of their attention before Al and I ventured over to rescue Maria (we were really enjoying the hour break from Lillee, sorry Maria). We talked for awhile and really liked Maria and kids and decided to swap phone numbers to schedule a play date since we live really close to one another. Maria called me within a day or two to invite us to a play date and I was unable to go...then I never called her back. I'm a terrible friend, I don't maintain relationships very well.

Maria and I did stay in touch via email and by the end of December I was feeling guilty that so much time had passed and we had not gotten together that I scheduled a play date at a local nature center. Then we got sick and I had to cancel...I felt terrible. What must Maria think. So I explained how sick we had been and maybe when we felt better we were planning a trip to the Botanical Gardens and would love for them to join us.

Grandma Ros had mentioned that she would like to join us at the Botanical Gardens so this was shaping up to be a fun day! Then the icing on the cake was that Jane would be in DC with Ros and would like to accompany Ros on the adventure and meet us once we arrived in DC.

So there is the set-up. Here begins the adventure.

The morning of our adventure, I had LOTS to do. Wake, feed, clean and dress 4 kids, get a shower myself, make lunch, instruct my sweet husband on taking out the recycling, switching the car seats, when he would need to come home from work to drop us off at the metro and when to expect to come back to pick us up. A lot to do before 9:00am.

We actually survived getting ready and to the metro and met up with Maria and her kids. Connor was on foot, the girls were in our double stroller and Chase was strapped to my chest in his sling. Maria was impressed that I had even brought the baby. I shrugged it off and acted as if it were no big deal, but we had just started the day so I was feeling confident.

As Maria and I chatted and the kids played on a moving train, one passenger tapped me on the shoulder to tell me Isabel was sprawled on the floor and the floor was really dirty, did I really want her down there. I tried sooo hard to be polite and not laugh in his face and replied with, "I really appreciate your concern, but whether the floor is dirty or not, my 2 year old child would not listen to me even if I screamed til I was blue in the face." I don't think he was impressed LOL

We made a transfer at Metro Center to get on a different train. This went well until some passengers needed to get off the next train and I pushed our bulky double stroller out of the way applying too much pressure when it would not budge and snapped a wheel off. So now I'm on the metro with 4 kids 5 years old and younger, a 3 wheeled stroller and our new friends. God was watching over me and miraculously the stroller still worked, turning was a bit difficult though.

We made it off the metro and on our way to the Botanical Gardens where Ros and Jane met us. In we go, where I'm immediately greeted by a security guard telling me to move along I can't stand in the entryway. Ummm I still have a kid coming through the door and trying to find another one who is already darting off. I politely explained to the gentleman that I needed to wait for all my children to be with me before I proceeded in any further. I'm guessing he does not have 4 kids 5 years old and younger....sheesh.

Connor grabs Jane's hand and takes off through the displays, I'm trying to take off all the jackets, mittens, hats, etc...why can't I keep everyone together? Oh yeah, kids age 5 and younger LOL We did actually have a lovely time at the Botanical Gardens and enjoyed an amazing train display they had up for Christmas and I only lost Isabel once. But the kids quickly started melting down and it was clearly lunch time. Jane and Ros did not bring lunch with them so we headed to the closest McDonald's with promises of milk shakes to my 3 whining, pouting and moping kids. A few blocks away we arrive at the McDonald's, we don't even bother to wash hands just seat the kids and shove food at them while the Grandmas head off to order milk shakes.

You're not going to believe this....

We found the only McDonald's EVER that does not (yes, I said NOT) serve milk shakes. So I took 4 kids aged 5 years and younger out for an adventure with a 3 wheeled stroller offering milk shakes that I cannot produce while everyone is breaking down and tantrums are being fueled. I think things are coming along nicely, don't you?

Of course, as soon as everyone is seated and eating, including Chase, Connor chimes in, "I need to go potty." Thank God Grandma was with us!!!! I could still feed the baby and Connor could still make it to the restroom. After lunch I took Lillee and Isabel to the bathroom. Lillee had not been listening all day and it did not get better on our bathroom trip. She took off running, right to the men's room. I explained that boys go in there, not girls. I tried to open the women's door but it was not budging so we waited outside for our turn. So we're standing between the men's and women's doors and a guy bolts into the men's room...Lillee sees the door open and decides to follow. I grab as much of her sweater as I can and jerk her back my direction. I squat down to explain to her again the difference in the two restrooms. I then proceed to have a chat with her about her inability to listen today and how no one has fun when she isn't listening. Not listening results in mommy yelling and no one likes it when mommy yells...this was an exercise that doubled to calm mommy down and avoid another yelling episode. It worked for both of us, we had an understanding for the next 45 seconds or so. Feeling I had gained some ground with Lillee, I turned my head to see Isabel sticking her finger into an electrical socket.

We arrive back at our quiet (yeah right) corner in McDonald's to find Connor screaming like a wild Indian and Chase crying. Time to get everyone back into coats, hats, gloves, sling and the three wheeled stroller. Connor quickly throws on his coat and runs around McDonald's screaming uncontrollably...this is his bored and tired response. Perfect timing, buddy! So I'm scolding him rather harshly and insisting he sit down. Then I get Lillee dressed and ask her to sit with Connor...stupid idea, Amanda! Guess who joins Connor's screaming chorus? They're ducking under the table, grabbing each other's feet, laughing obnoxiously and generally making quite the scene. At the same time, Grandma Ros is scanning the patrons in McDonald's praying she doesn't know anyone in the joint and Jane is smiling and shrugging as if to say, "What do you do?"

We made it out the door with Lillee complaining about not being able to walk...if she had been walking she'd be complaining about not being able to ride. We should have named that girl Mary, because she is quite contrary.

We get to the metro and of course nothing is really smooth there. We have to go down two levels but we can't take strollers on the escalator so we have to find the elevator, then once we're down one level we have to find yet another elevator to take us down one more floor to get to the train we need to be on. We are finally on the train!!! Then, Oh joy! another transfer. Off the train, find another elevator get up top....we've taken the wrong elevator. Back down the elevator to track down the other elevator. We made it, finally. All this time, Isabel has fallen asleep in the stroller, her feet are hanging limply while she snoozes preventing me from pushing the stroller. So I have to tip the three wheel stroller onto it's back wheels just to be able to go arms are exhausted! Fighting for every turn, lifting and hoisting for each move, I'm feeling the burn.

We're seated!!! We're on our last train, we all have a seat and no one is crying....yet. Lillee is climbing over the seat trying to sit with Sophie and is so mad that I won't let her so she says the 2nd meanest thing she's ever said to me, "I don't want to sit with you." I know, most moms would be thrilled this was the worst they had heard from their child....but it made me sad and a touch mad. But I got over it when I promptly explained she was to put her bottom on the seat and deal with it.

Well, on our little adventure, we learned Maria is pregnant...first trimester. On the return trip we were sitting in the opposite direction of the trains motion...see where this is going??? Maria began feeling nauseous. I dug out a lunch bag, tied off the area that had a hole in it and provided Maria with a poor excuse for a barf bag. She was happy to have anything, at this point. She held it together until we were arriving at our final stop. I heard the crinkle of the lunch bag and saw her hands moving quickly toward her mouth. Somehow she staved off the vomiting and made it safely to the platform without making a mess!!! Way to go Maria!!!

Fortunately, my husband was waiting to pick us up, we headed home and I plopped down in a chair and didn't move for quite some time. I think I could have been wrong about being ready for an adventure! Sorry I don't have any pictures of our adventure...not enough hands or patience! Although my husband did say before we left, "Don't forget to take the camera." I just laughed.