Dec 192015
 

1450541470242-1576262166My kids are rough on toys. They are getting better, though we still are not the house for “be gentle” things.

George got this suitcase at an auction, paying with his own money. He was so happy. My hope was that these two things would lead to it lasting a long time, you know, like about 6 months.

It has been well played with this past month, and the source of a few arguments. It has held cars, secrets, stuffed animals and the makings of a ‘trip’.

This morning Jack comes into the kitchen while I am cooking breakfast. “Mom, is there such a thing as mirror glue?”

No,” I replied, not really paying attention.

“Does super glue work on mirrors?” His inquisitive mind honestly wanted to know.

Now, my attention has been gotten. “No, but great thinking. Why do you ask?”

“The mirror fell out of the case.”

(Sigh) Crisis averted. “I’ll come look when I finish here.”

“Okay, I’ll tell George.  He wants to drill holes in different pieces for a project.”

I turn off the stove immediately.  Crisis back on. “Let’s go look.”

Once I get to the playroom I find George sitting cross legged in front of the suitcase. Lap full of broken pieces of mirror. Playing with them!  “Sweety, put down the pieces.” Wow, I have a great calm voice.

“Why?” … seriously?! What is up with this response.

“Broken pieces of mirror are sharper than knives.” Thankfully that got his attention and he put them down carefully.

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I noticed the little ‘glitter’ sparkles on the floor. Yippee, more fun! George got brushed off and all kids sent out of room. A wet paper towel later (after breakfast) and all was safe again.

Behind the mirror was an old advertisement with a date of February 1953.  This cute case lasted 62 years in someone else’s house. It took my kids all of 1 month to break it.

That is a great example of why we try not to buy the cheap plastic toys, nor pay full price if avoidable.

One more lesson down, millions more to go.

Oct 232015
 

What a day this has been! More like what a crazy few weeks. With the workers from our house work gone I really thought things would calm down.  I was wrong.

Between field trips, calls to the insurance and doctors’ offices, visits to doctors’ offices, therapy appointments, school work, house work (painting and all related activities), soccer games and school breaks, in addition to all the normal things we have to do in life, there has not been a calm week all month.  A few days here and there, yes, but otherwise we have been out of the house or had someone come by every day.  I treasure the days that we can stay here, minus taking and picking George up from school.

Earlier this week, while preparing (cleaning up a lot of hot spots) for a home visit, I tackled the kitchen.  This was about the day where I encouraged you, on Facebook, to choose one small job around the house and work on it that day.  This bit was on my  mind as I began working.

In order to sweep I had to pick up the floor.  I had two choices – hide everything or actually put it away.  It took about 30 seconds to decide to take the extra few minutes an put things away.

“While I am at it, I may as well hangs this up to.” I told myself.

It did not even take me 10 minutes (once I found the drill and not counting the break in the middle to go pick up George) to put this $1 new still with tags, garage sale find on the backside of the pantry door.  For about $5, screws were needed, I have added a few more shelves to our limited pantry space without taking up any floor space.  Yes, we have a basement that can hold items, but it is nice to have them right there when they are needed.

pantry door shelving diy

Jul 012015
 

radio toy of the day

“Mom, what can I do?”

“That’s mine! … Moooooom, he took my toy.”

“Can we watch t.v.?”

“Give me that back!  I was playing with it first!”

Ah, the sounds of summer.  Whining. Arguing. Discontentment.  Self-centeredness.    Isn’t this what we all dream of when we think of those warm summer days, when the sun is shining and all the cold snow had gone away?  Yeah, I did not think so either.  So why is it that this is what I have been hearing so much lately?

My first thought were: They are adjusting to our summer schedule.  With George out of school he is home all day, something he is not used to.  While we have a loose schedule here, he does a lot better with a more regular, non-changing schedule.  This is not always possible because, well, life happens.  Some days we have OT for Jack, other days we have swim lessons, other days there is nothing out of the home at all.  Then there are the days where we see a friend walking by and we have an impromptu 5 hour play date.  This is very much not how it is at when he is at (public) school.  Jack does well with the looser general schedule that changes; George, not so much.

Jack also has a different relationship with George, his older brother, than he does with Olaf, his younger friend.  It also has taken some time, and more than a cup full of patience, to remind him to be nice.  These two tend more towards wrestling and out doing each other than they do towards hugs and encouraging to obey.  Life has not been dull.

After time passed, though, I started to realize it was more than the change of routine.  “I think they are bored.”

While Jack had started to learn how to entertain himself during unstructured down times in our day, George was not used to the free time he now had.  For a variety of reasons, I could not send them outside to play on their own, and often it has been raining.  That meant they were playing with their toys more often.  While we rotate toys, the kids had been ‘helping’ put them away.  Between that and having to store more things in the basement, it was just slightly chaotic down there.  It has been hard for them to find toys they were really interested in switching.

This morning, a day after a lot of whining, I decided it was time that they got new toys and more time outside.  This time, though it was to be ME who did the switching.  After taking all their toys out of the play room, putting them in their proper-ish places, I went on a search for things they had not played with in a while.  My goal was novelty, not quantity.

What I came up with were:

  1. A large coloring pad and colored pencils.  The boys are not ones to color, so I gave an incentive – if you finish coloring the picture, I will sit down and type up a story, that you make up, to go along with it.
  2. Several Play-doh containers, a toy rolling pin and several cookie cutters all placed into a plastic bag.
  3. A game they could play individually or together, or we could play as a family.
  4. A drawing toy.
  5. And as a surprise – a radio.

The radio was something they had never seen, something I picked up at a yard sale with the thought of Jack taking it apart to learn how it was put together.  However, when I saw it this morning, I figured they would like playing with it, figuring out how it works.  What I did not anticipate was the excitement and attraction it would hold for them.

I gave them no instruction on how to use it, what the knobs did, nor what the antenna did.  Actually, I did not even tell them I brought it up.  I put it in the play room and walked away.

After some time at the park this morning, we came back home for an hour till it was time for swim practice.  George was the first one to see it and the look on his face was pure joy when he brought it to me and found out that it was their’s to play with.

They spend almost an hour playing with the radio while I cleaned up the kitchen.  They fiddled with knobs, exclaimed at finding music AND people talking, danced, were disappointed to find there were also commercials on the radio (with Netflix and non-traditional television, they are not used to commercials), turned the volume way up, wondered at what static was, and then realized that the other buttons gave them even more channels.

At lunch, they begged to use the radio to give us lunch time music.  I agreed and hoped my husband would come home after the bluegrass music subsided from that particular station.  (I love bluegrass and old time country music, my husband very much does not.)

I realized they had no idea how the radio worked and this would be a great jumping off point for them to learn.  That time was not the time to stop and learn more, it was the time to let them figure things out and play around.  Forming conclusions on their own will stay with them longer than any knowledge I can impart.

So, the next time you are looking to give your kids a toy, remember, it does not have to be from the ‘toy’ aisle.  It does not need to rotate, vibrate and flash. It need not cost $20+.  The toy is made to entertain, and educated if I may dare say, taking the kid to wherever their minds go, making connections and learning relationships with the world around them. You do not need specifically deigned toys for this.  Stones and rocks do the same thing. Apparently a $1 radio from a garage sale works just as well, too.

**Update: Jack learned the hard way that the antenna does not rotate in a circle and that you can only pull so hard on it to get it to move.  I was not mad, as that is why I gave them this particular radio, to learn.  We made a trip to the store for super glue.  Oh, well.  There are a few more toys that need to be fixed as well.

 

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May 062012
 

Previous Goals:

1. Remove volunteer seedlings from other two beds

2. Start rest of cucumber seeds

3. Pull more weeds from main front flower bed

I think I formed a plan to deal with my front flower bed.  This meant that there was no reason to do #3 as it would be like washing your old clothes before throwing them away.  We’ll see if the new plan is approved by the “Home Improvement Committee”.  So far half the Committee likes the idea.

 

New Goals:

1. Transplant lettuce plants (a neighbor started more than she needed and wanted to think these out)

2. Start digging up plants from the main flower bed, which I want to keep.  (I know it is the wrong time of year to do this for most of them.  However, now is when I feel motivated and am okay with a season of poor blooms.)

3. Clear off a section in my basement’s “crawl space” for garage sale items.

4. Declutter 7 things each day.  Put either in the trash, on a “free” table in front of my house, or in the garage sale section.

5. Hang my bicycle storage system.  Inflate my bike tires, then hang it up.  (Yes, I will be using it, but the goal right now is to just get it off the garage floor.)

 

Last week went well  and I think this week will go okay too, so I’m giving myself a few more official (i.e. public) goals.  Last week I really did try to get rid of hot spots around the house, which led me to realize I had no place for items that I want to sell in a garage sale.  I’m hoping having a designated place will allow me to declutter more areas of the house.  Now, I know FLY Lady says to just get rid of it.  That is usually what I do.  This time however, I felt like there is enough items to justify having a sale.  We’ll see if it all adds up to that or if I’ll just offer it to a local group doing a garage sale to make money.