Sunday, March 30, 2008

Odd Spring Break

For me spring means brighter days, warmer weather, and reviving life. Already we've seen crocus blooms and daffodils. The sun play longer. The grass is ready to mow. The trees' leaves are beginning to show.

This past week was the much anticipated Spring Break. However, the Spring part of Spring Break seemed to elude us...


What comes to mind when you think of Spring?

#1 (11): Easter
#2 (10): Flowers
#3 (8): Boiyiong
#4 (6): Spring Suit Mario
#5 (4): Spring Vacation

What did you do to celebrate Spring during Spring Break?

#1: I played in the snow
#2: I played the Wii
#3: Play on the Wii all day
#4: Show people the Wii
#5: I forgot

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wii Unity

I have always been pretty much an anti video game kind of Mom. Nothing against video games, just that I knew that my boys would become obsessive over owning a game system the way they have obsessed about their computer time. The way we have it arranged is that they each have one day a week that they get computer time, and they get two hours. Two hours seems like a lot, but when its only one day a week it really isn't.
Last year we had a chance to play a nintendo wii at Grandpa's house. The boys of course, loved it, and we were surprised that we enjoyed it too. The boys knew better than to ask about getting one though because I had vowed we would not ever get a game system. A lot of time and thought went into the decision to change my mind though. At Christmas the boys received Christmas money, as did D and I. We decided to save our money up to get a Wii. However, we didn't want to just go out and get one and by this time they were pretty much sold out anyhow. So we saved our money and we devised a points system. Each of us in the family needed to earn 1000 points in order to be allowed to play on the wii. We set our money aside and finally bought the wii at the end of February, but left it in its packaging as none of us had reached our 1000 point goal yet. D set up a chart in Excel with a graph that showed how many points we each had and we would update points for that day in the evenings at bed time. The boys earned small amounts of points for getting ready for school on time, laying their clothes out the night before, brushing teeth, taking showers and etc. They earned points for doing their homework and they earned points for doing chores. Eventually they would ask if there was something they could do to earn Wii points. We came up with special projects, extra chores and etc. Only one of five of our boys knew how to tie his shoes. Mostly because I have always gotten them shoes that either velcro or have elastic in them, and partly because of fine motor skill problems. We offered 50 points if they could learn how to tie shoes. Now four out of five know how to do it (we aren't too worried about the four year old yet) and the one that already knew earned points for teaching his brothers how. The four year old earned points for learning to write his own name, and there were many chores and a lot of hard work on everyone's part to earn points. D and I did extra cleaning projects around the house, and were motivated to do things we had been putting off. We were also motivated to earn our points first so that we could get to understand the system before the boys started playing. Now everyone except for one has earned all of their points, and the one left will probably earn the rest of his points by the end of today.
We are resetting our 1000 points and once everyone has earned the 1000 again we will buy a new game for the wii that we decide on together. One of our rules is that it has to be a multiplayer game. Part of what changed our mind about getting a game system was that the wii allows for multiple controllers and we can have a lot of family members play at the same time. There are also a lot of E rated games available. Playing on the wii is not going to be an every day occurrence, and D and I will decide when we will have special family wii days and fun things like wii tournaments that we can all participate in. We are looking at it as a way to bring our family closer together, and to teach all of us about the value of hard work with our points system. So far it is going well.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Clean Air

How often do we joke with our kids that its extra protein when they get grossed out by a bug in the picnic punch, yet we wouldn't dare drink it either? Nor would we eat our macaroni salad with a utensil that fell in a mud puddle.

We are careful about putting contaminated things in our mouths, yet we may not be as careful about what contaminating things come out of our mouths.

At least with contaminated food, we can throw it out so another person is not afflicted; however, once the words escape our mouth, there is no way to retract them and prevent them from contaminating the ears of all who directly or indirectly hear them.

S (second oldest) was complaining the other day about how he said prayers everyday for help to resist the temptation to swear and to get the bad words out of his mind because at school "all the boys", including his church friend, say bad words. I'm proud of him for choosing to not swear.

Then yesterday, I saw a national News clip about a 14-yr-old boy who started the No Cussing Club (NCC) and convinced his Mayor to establish a No Cussing Week.

Anyone can join the NCC by visiting their website: I am pleased to say, I'm following my son's example and the example of this 14 year-old boy and our family joined the No Cussing Club! I printed out our certificate and I will take a copy of the certificate to put up in my office at work.

Imagine how much more intelligent people would sound and how much better attitudes would be if everyone stopped swearing and cussing!

Here's the link to a fun video the 14-year-old founder of the No Cussing Club put together:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Childhood fears...

Puberty seems to be a fairly frequent topic in our family these days. This last week we were visiting family...
#2: When I go through puberty, I won't be myself anymore.
Me: Who will you be then?
#1: He'll still be himself, just an angsty version of himself.

Then last night #4 came downstairs to use the bathroom after bed time. He said he was afraid to go alone and wanted one of us to stand outside the door and wait for him. In the past it has been a fear of werewolves that kept him from going to the bathroom alone after dark. We fixed the problem by putting a new curtain on the window so he couldn't see the dark outside. I asked him what the problem was since the curtain was up and he said in a very sincere and frightened voice, "I'm scared...of PUBERTY."
I couldn't help it, I busted up laughing. He didn't find it amusing and went on to ask his Dad if puberty is real or not. D replied that it was.
We later found out that #2 had told #4 that puberty is a monster under his bed, so we had to explain to him that puberty is something that happens to your body when you get to a certain age.
"What does it do?" He asked us. We gave examples of zits, growing a beard (for boys) and etc. and I mentioned that it would probably make him like girls.
"I don't want to be a girl!" There was true fright in his voice. I told him he wouldn't turn into a girl, but he might want to marry one after puberty. His eyes got huge and he said "Uh oh!"
I am not sure we calmed his fears, we may have made them worse. Maybe the monster under the bed is easier to deal with than growing up to like girls and get married.