Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Adventures

It is Girl Scout cookie season. That is 3-4 weeks a year when our weekends are planned around cookie sales. With 3 girls that are scouts my responsibility for cookies is times by 3.  Now take the other activities for 6 kids and you have a busy weekend schedule. A great way to start your weekend is for your TV to be broken so you're supposed to go get a new one. This weekend that will never happen.  Another great way to start the weekend is to have your husband meet you an hour late to pick up the kids. Your at Walmart all set up for cookie sales. You call your husband to see if he's left to come get the kids but he doesn't answer. People see your cookies and want to buy them. E14, B11, and S6 are ready to sell. E6 grabs her sign and eagerly starts peddling "Girl Scout cookies". Not to be left out A2 runs over "iiir out ookies" as she throws in her trademark "shake your body". J4 forgets that he said "I'm not selling Girl Scout cookies I'm selling Boy Scout popcorn" and is soon stocking the table. Baby L is happily bouncing on my back. Yeah, this picture perfect postcard last 30 seconds. Now A2 is mad she can't take the cookies or run around a foot from the cars driving by. B11 is mad she can't do the money 100% herself. E14 is already tired of B11. 

Finally  husband texts me, can he call me back in a few minutes, he's on a call. Sure, hopefully your toddler doesn't run into the parking lot before that. Oh right, I'll leave in 5 minutes or less. It's OK, I finally resort to letting the baby play on the sidewalk while I tie the toddler to my back. Luckily I have everything in my van, including a blanket for her to sit on. Showing up doesn't solve the problems. He now gets to watch the kids while I feed the baby, trying to keep the toddler from climbing on top of her, before he leaves. Then he takes the youngest 3 so has to take my van. Not only does his car not have all the stashes of stuff I might need in it but there's no way I'll fit leftover cookies in his 2 door car.

Luckily the people we were with could take them. We do manage to fit the table in the trunk so my mom only has to ride with chairs on her lap.  Home by 9 pm on a Friday night sounds early to the youngsters out there but I'm old. S6 and B11 also get in bed at 8. S6 is exhausted and ready to go straight to bed. Letting an Autistic child stay up an hour past their bedtime is a ticking time bomb though. I can't say I properly defused the time bomb but at least it didn't explode. That day it was just a little fizzle. 

When you let a child like that stay up you get to pay for it for at least a day or 2 though. Sounds fun when the next day we have 1 with soccer practice and 1 with soccer pictures followed by a game. Except for excessant whining we do manage to get through the practice and start of the game before we have to run. OK, technically we walked, and walked, and walked. The soccer fields are huge and the parking lot is as bad as the mall at Christmas. We do get a call as we get all the way to the van that we now have an hour to spare. Shortly thereafter I get the text that my daughter scored a goal and I missed it. She usually plays defense so I can count her goals on one hand.  This weekend just gets better.

We do manage to get A2s first haircut without any incidents. We head to get cookies. Oh how I love going to the mall area mid day Saturday. As usual noone knows how to drive so I spend 10 minutes just waiting to turn left. The baby is just ecstatic to be in the car now. We get home with enough time for hubby to run for diapers before I'm off to sell cookies again. I was even blessed to have B11 have a good cookie selling night. Though we did leave about 15 minutes early so she'd be in bed on time that night. 

Sunday it becomes apparent that we are still paying for Friday night.  At her age she should certainly not have to be taken out of mass. E14 is serving so we only have the youngest 5. First A2 has to leave, then B11 and baby L isn't doing much better. While the woman in front of us is handling 5 kids all by herself. Then onto more soccer and more cookies. I am glad I squeezed in going to J4s game though, otherwise I would have missed the 4 (or more) goals he made.

Explain to a child with Autism that she can't do the money when her sister did it at her age is futile. Letting her do the money is slow.  She definitely gets to work on her math. She also makes sure she has perfectly organized piles of money that noone else can touch because they mess them up. Even when she (slowly) gets change she can't get it if her piles aren't perfect. But we get through that. Tonight she wants to do it all though and her singing is not as cutesy and low as S6. Her's is more yelling, though cute to me, it falls more into the annoying category for E14. That's the start of a lovely evening of sibling fighting. We don't argue or rival, we just plain out fight.  So when we run out of 2 types of cookies and quarters it is time to pack up early.  We are out of breastmilk at home anyway, so I have to be home before the baby gets hungry.  It's amazing what only 1 weekend with hubby will do to your baby's milk stash.

We get home in time to grab a quick dinner, shower, and head to bed.  That means my new TV is still at the store and I have no idea where the weekend went. I hear next weekend's better, only 2 cookies booths plus soccer.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

(Backseat) driving lessons

I often wonder if my commentary while driving is considered driving lessons for the kids. "Do you not know how to merge?" can open up conversations on proper merging, right? "If you come to a complete stop how are you going to get around the corner" is a lesson without the conversation. I gave up yelling at the other cars now. I give venting lessons to the kids instead. "When driving, if you want to move over a lane, the other
car may be more polite if you use your turn signal and don't cut them off" or "tailing a car is when you are too close to their bumper, not only is it rude and dangarous but it is illegal, maybe less cars would do it if the cops actually enforced it".

As long as you aren't cursing or name calling it's OK to have commentary, isn't it? I'm not setting a bad example, right? Though I have to question that when the kids start making their own. As we go up the hill E14 comments "if you think the road ends on the other side I'd stop not slow down". In the rain B11 says "the rain's not going to melt your car but you're certainly melting your brakes". I'm just waiting for the day when one of the others start yelling that it would be faster if we get out and walk.  At least I know they'll pull to the right, out of the way, of an emergency vehicle.  Instead of commentary there, I even having them saying a pray for the recipients of said vehicle.

They're also more than happy to play cop.  You'll never have to worry about getting pulled over for speeding if you use a GPS and have kids.  Right there on your GPS is your speed.  Now on my old GPS that was all there was so they at least had to practice watching for the road signs in order to know the speed limit.  My new GPS has the speed limit right on it.  Your driving along, watching the road instead of your speed and the alarm goes off.  Er, what I mean is the kids go off.  Mommy's speeding...huh what...the speed limits 70 and your going 72.  I guess I'll slow down now.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A tale of Two Ergos

It seems to be that the Ergo Baby Carrier has a love/hate relationship with users.  I am not sure how much that is the case though.  So often a person who does not like the Ergo later finds that they actually do, they just were wearing it a tiny bit off.  The Ergo is not a hard carrier at all, it is very simple.  Sometimes people actually try to make it harder than it is, not by under tightening it but by over tightening it.  If you tighten the waist belt too much, before putting baby in, it is sometimes hard to get baby down fully into the seat.  If baby is not fully in the seat, it actually still works and is still comfortable, it just seems that the carrier body is much shorter than it actually is.  That is the biggest complaint, that it has a small body.  Yes, the Ergo's body is short compared to other buckled carriers but with the seat darts added it makes the seat deeper and that compensates some.  If you have a tall toddler that likes to do deep back arches I would worry but otherwise I wouldn't.  I carried my son in it until he was close to 3 and he was a big boy.

The Ergo has changed through the years but basically the materials have stayed very similar.  The fabric is on the heavier side.  This makes it quite supportive and sturdy.  It is a workhorse of carriers that I machine wash.  The passed few years though they had added 2 new versions that aren't just differentiated by regular or organic materials.  The  ERGObaby SPORT Carrier and the Ergo Baby Performance Carrier are supposed to be lighter weight, more suited to hotter temperatures and outside activities.

I have watched the Sport, since it came out, since we live in the South.  The black looked nice but I worried about such a dark color in the sun.  Eventually they came out with the blue but it didn't look that great in pictures.  The Performance has color options I like better but I was not too keen on the "mesh" portions.  When a great deal came up on the blue Sport though, I took it.  Since a lot of people ask for more than just the differences in features I figured I'd compare the Ergo to the Ergo Sport.

Upon arrival I realised that the color is so much better in person.  Then I noticed the difference in the waistbands.  I am not sure I like the small hump in the middle of the sport.  In person it almost makes it look miniature.  Once trying it on I was certain I didn't like it.  I feel like it accentuates any extra fluff you may have around your middle.  Though, truthfully, I haven't met a carrier that didn't.  I just feel this one is a little worse.  In use the waistband is not any less supportive of the baby than the standard.  This waistband does not bend at all in use so it is definitely supportive.  The waistband is actually supposed to be better for larger people.  The structured portion is longer and the extra webbing after that is longer, I have a lot more to work with on the sport.  I just wish they had made it longer while keeping the shape closer to the standard.  Maybe they could have made it lighter by having cutouts or ventilation spaces instead?                                                                                                      

Oh, once you touch it, nice!  It is so soft.  It is soft because it is a different fabric.  It is a seemingly thinner fabric.  Thinner does not mean less sturdy but I do worry about it.  However it has lots of extra stitching (and it looks nice) at all the critical points and then some.  The only thing I will have to worry about is the fabric and, though thinner, it seems to be a nice solid weave.  This may make it less breathable, especially since it is a cotton polyester blend not 100% cotton.  Less breathable may counter some of the advantages of a lighter fabric when it comes to how cool it is.  However it does certainly weigh less.  The lining, and everything that touches baby, is a soft 100% cotton though.

The thinner fabric does effect use.  Mainly the use is effected in the shoulder straps.  Being thinner it holds it shape less which results in the shoulder straps twisting easier at the top.  This is effected more by the fact that there is more space from the top of the carrier to the padding in the shoulder straps.  I mainly notice this when putting it on.  This has not been an issue because I quickly notice that the hood snaps are not there and then just flip the strap over to the correct position.  What I am noticing more is where the chest clip attaches.  The fabric supports the straps less.  This means that the fabric indents more when the chest clip is pulling on the shoulder straps.  This results in the sliding buckle being closer to the edge and therefore possibly being able to feel it.

As you can see, it looks like the shoulder padding is longer.  Actually, when measured, the difference is at most an inch or so.  The padding does not start as high in the shoulder strap so instead of being longer it is really just moved further down to make the padded area of the shoulder strap extend further.  I wish that instead it was longer.  I know that being longer might effect how cool it is but it would definitely help with the straps twisting, even with the thinner fabric.  I do think the cloth portion of the shoulder strap being longer will effect use for a petite person.

The last major difference is the way the shoulder straps attach to the middle of the body.  In the traditional Ergo the webbing attaches to the sides on the body.  In the Sport the webbing actually attaches to the center of the body.  I can guess as to why this is but I really don't have a clue.  Originally I thought it was because of the thinner fabric they had to do it to help keep it from ripping a seam.  Then I thought about the fact that this allows the body to not be held against baby so tight so maybe it helps with airflow.  Whatever the case is I still find it supportive.  The webbing though rides up in my case.  This does not bother baby or myself.  But aesthetically I am not sure it is as flattering to the wearer.

The hood and the body are pretty much the same size and shape.  The Ergo Sport has a ventilation slit right below the pocket which should help with at least the baby's temperature.  The hood attaches to the shoulder straps with the same snap design.  However it attaches to the body using snaps inside the pocket of the Sport.  This makes it removable on the Sport which I really like because my kids don't use it.  I do fear it getting lost though.  I guess Ergo did too since they sell a replacement.  It needs to be taken off and reattached to new snaps to adjust the hood height though.  I never found the adjustment straps on the traditional Ergo to be all that easy either so this is certainly not a deal breaker. 

The biggest difference in weight and bulk is coming from the pocket.  On the traditional Ergo there is a large zippered pocket on the front with a smaller pocket on that to put the hood in.  The zippered pocket is large, I can fit a wristlet wallet, keys, cell phone and diaper in there.  Some of the patterned Ergos like the Heartrose seen in these pictures, as well as the embroidered ones, do not have this pocket.  I think that alone makes the carrier less bulky.  The Sport has only a velcro closure pocket that is just big enough to fit the hood.  If the hood is stored in there you have no pocket.  This pocket is small and might fit some tissues, keys and cell phone.  I actually prefer no zippered pocket.  My children have never complained when I have things in the zippered pocket so it must not be uncomfortable.  It looks uncomfortable though, everything in that pocket is right behind their back.  When I wear the carrier in a back carry I also have to reach around to get my wallet or cell phone out of that pocket.  Instead I prefer to buy the Ergo Front Pouch.  The front pouch is velcro so easily attaches to the webbing for a back carry or to attachment points in the waistband for a front carry.  Plus it can attach to the webbing of many other buckled carriers or the waist of a mei tai.  It isn't as big but still can fit a diaper, a baggy of wipes, cell phone, keys, etc but is so much more easily accessible.  Plus it comes with a detachable strap so you can grab it and use it with your ring sling, wrap or without baby along so you don't have to unpack it.

In the end I don't feel like The Ergo Sport is anything like the traditional Ergo.  The body size that I like, because my kids ride arms out, is there along with the seat darts.  But the fabric and waistband are different.  I am a bigger fan of the traditional Ergo (and I am a BIG fan of the traditional Ergo, despite the other dozen brands I've tried I come back to the Ergo).  The Sport, in my opinion, is a great carrier for dads.  It will be nice to have something less hot in the SC summers though.  Despite the cons I will be using this one this summer but don't think it will be my daily, year long carrier.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Southern sliding boards

Yes that says "sliding boards", what I mean is a slide. The first time I heard "sliding board" I was more than a little confused, "oh you mean a slide?" More than a few years later I now say "ya'll". I've even given birth to some kids "in the south" who then had speech therapy with native therapists. They very cutely think a museum is a "musAaum".

Having grown up in South Florida there were some incredible playgrounds. Many of those were in some kids backyard. Two small children who are at preschool all day will own a Rainbow brand
swingset that costs more than some people's trailer here in SC. I'm not saying we don't have those here. Nor am I saying they don't have "mobile homes" in South Florida.

I have never seen some of the swingsets I see here in South Florida though, but I also haven't recently been to a rural part of Florida, though I do think they still have some. It started when I first moved here. I saw a playhouse on stilts. Now a treehouse, there was no tree nearby. Not a raised playhouse because there was no cute peaked roof or door. I am talking about four 4x4s holding up 4 plywood walls with holes cut in them and a metal roof. The next interesting thing I saw was a swingset, well more of a swing board. It was a piece of wood nailed between 2 trees and it had swings hanging from it.  You want to talk about slides? How about a porch with a portion of the railing removed and replaced with a slide. Or a slide set down on a hill so you can slide down the hill. A slide set atop a pile of bricks organized to be stairs apparently works too. And today I saw a slide atop a stepladder. I've even seen old enclosed twisty playground slides just free standing with a 2x4 built ladder to get up to it (and that one was in someones front yard).

The thing is (not sure if it's a good or bad thing), most of these sound pretty fun to me. Come to think of it, I've never seen a trampoline with a slide coming off of it. Though I see plenty of plastic slides being used to get up into trampolines. I know that's where our Little Tikes one is now. Hmmm, that's something to look for.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What to do with your gifted child

This is not a life or humour post, this is a question that gets asked a lot.  What do you do with a gifted child and what about grade skipping?  Yes, I opted to not only not skip a grade, I didn't even look into it as an option.  Even early entry to Kindergarten isn't allowed here in our state and skipping Kindergarten is not possible because there is an age cut off for 1st grade too.  So your only real option is to attend Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade at a private school that will allow your child to enter early and then transfer to a public school once you are not near the age cutoff or in a grade that requires it.  Some say that you can test your way out of Kindergarten if, during the school year, you can convince the teacher and school that your child really is not in need of it.  But, since academics are such a very small part of Kindergarten, that is much easier said than done.  Kindergarten is so much about socialization, independence, and transition.  Even if you could, I would not have a desire to yank my child mid year.

So why did I not even look into grade skipping?  For one I thought about the future.  Did I want my daughter among children older than her?  Yes at 4 she was already preferring to play with 6-8 year olds because 4 year olds were nowhere near where she was.  But at 8 did I want that trend to continue and her to play with 10-12 year olds?  OK, truthfully, the only part of her being with older kids that I thought of was, did I want her to be around kids who were driving and boys that were older.  Having a summer birthday she was already going to be entering high school at only just turned 14 and there would be kids who were 18 there.  When she hit middle school though, kids were already discussing and doing things I wasn't ready for, I knew then there was way more than driving and boys that I didn't want her having to deal with too soon.  Go ahead, call me overprotective.

Now, being in high school, the future seems to be right there.  She has taken the PSAT and SAT and by having that extra year she may have had some added advantage.  All too soon she will be going to college.  College are the years when you have to be independent.  There is even a good chance she may go away to college.  Now I am starting to see what all she would get a year or 2 sooner if I had chosen to skip her ahead.  When college ends what do you do?  You get a job and work.  Yep, I am pretty sure an extra year of work sounds just heavenly.

As my highly gifted older child started high school, her mini me started Kindergarten.  So I was faced with deciding if I had made the right decision or if I should have done something differently.  So I got to look back on the years of school my daughter had and how it went.  Kindergarten was a no brainer, Kindergarten was play time.  It was a time for her and I to adjust to her being at school.  Yes, she entered Kindergarten from having never once attended preschool.  She had no issues transitioning to Kindergarten at all.  It was a good chance to learn that she had to move at the same pace as everyone else though.  There was not always time to stop and investigate everything or even to dawdle about tying your shoes.  You have to ask, and sometimes even plan ahead, to use the restroom.  Sometimes patience is not a virtue, if you ever want to get a turn or get what you need you may have to speak up for yourself.  She learned to not only speak up for herself, she learned to speak up for and care about others.  That first year of school she saw a kid who needed a friend, a kid who needed a hand.  Yes, with inclusion students are taught acceptance and bullying is not tolerated.  That isn't the same as having someone to play with on the playground or help you out when you got stuck.  Here, my shy, soft spoken child who wouldn't even speak up for herself learned to protect someone else.  I wouldn't trade the time she spent in Kindergarten and 1st grade for anything.  No one suggested she help these kids, she saw a child in need and she took it upon herself.  I wish I could say that helps her deal with her own sister's special needs though.

Yes, my child was reading when she entered Kindergarten just as her sister is.  Yes, she was even more ahead when she entered first.  Maybe I don't see the big deal in that because she had a wonderful teacher.  Her teacher let her have extra or harder work if she wanted it.  If she finished her work early and was bored her teacher didn't get upset when she was reading or drawing in class.  I do think that there were years in elementary school that she got into the habit of being lazy because she could get by being lazy.  I do think she carried that with her through the years.  The fact that she can go away to a gifted college program in the summer with children older than her and still finish 1st in her class, shows that she can do the work that is needed though.  This shows me I shouldn't worry about this becoming a life habit.

How did she socialize with children who were not as "smart" as she was?  Well now you are assuming she is the most gifted person in the world and no one is like her.  I know people like to think their child is like that but the truth is they are probably not.  Statistically, if your child's IQ is in the top 1% then yes there may only be 1 other person in the entire grade like them (assuming an average school size of 600).  They might have some trouble socializing with an average child which might be half their class.  There are kids in the top 5% there though too.  There is probably even 1 in their class and a couple in their grade, come recess time.  Gifted programs usually take about the top 10% or more so that is even more in your child's class.  A child that is that smart can also learn to adapt.  They can quickly learn to adjust the way they interact with people.  Even people of average intelligence will treat a 2 year old differently than they treat an adult.  Learning to adapt is a life skill.  In life she is not going to be able to chose who she works with.  At 25, making sure she works with older people is not going to guarantee she works with people as intelligent as she is.  Even if people are intelligent it does not mean they are dedicated or hard working.  She may have been bored in school at times but I do not think she was ever in agony over it.  I don't think this because she also knew how to entertain herself quietly.  She loves drawing and writing.  A love of reading can do wonders for a person.  You are never bored if you can appreciate a good book.  I was pretty sure she would make it through elementary school before she made it through every book in their library.

Do I think skipping ahead would have solved the laziness and boredom?  Absolutely not.  To understand this you have to understand the gifted child.  A gifted person is not a smarter person.  Believe it or not, a failing student could be gifted.  A person whose poor vocabulary and grammar makes them appear less intelligent, could still be gifted.  Most important, just because a person is gifted does NOT mean they have a lot of common sense, street smarts or social skills.  Gifted refers to a person's IQ.  IQ measures how quickly a person picks up something.  In other words how quickly they learn.  A gifted persons critical thinking skills are totally different.  If you want to learn more on this, look up Bloom's Taxonomy.  My point in all this is that an 8 yr old may "know" as much as a gifted 5 year old but when presented with a situation or new information they are going to process that in 2 totally different ways.  Socially they are still different.  Yes their maturity is different too so that will also play a role but you aren't even compensating for that by leveling the academic playing field.  Even a gifted child and non gifted child that are seemingly in the same academic place, given the same question and come up with the same answer, if asked how they came up with the answer you can see how very differently they think.  I will admit that I've had this conversation with her on how she solves a certain problem.  When she explained it to me I still didn't get it and I am of above average intelligence and 20 years older.  If you take a Kindergartner and put them in a 1st grade classroom they are still going to be ahead of their classmates because they are going to learn faster.  They may still end up bored.

She started in a gifted pull out program in 3rd grade.  It wasn't harder work or more work like some punishment for being gifted.  It was enhancing their critical thinking skills.  It was going into more depth on research skills, computer skills, and projects.  It was getting to practice these by doing fun extras like architecture and archeology.  In middle school this changed to optional honors classes.  The advantage to her more than the difference in work was that this was optional.  If people were goof offs they didn't need to take these classes.  So she really enjoyed not having to deal with as many troublemakers in her classes.   I say "as many" because there were still some and she still took regular electives.

Socially she was naturally drawn to other gifted kids and has had mostly gifted friends since 1st grade.  Even her friends who have skipped a grade were drawn to the other gifted kids because they still don't fit in with the "average" for the grade.  She has also had opportunities to do harder work and be herself, interacting with other gifted children when she does special summer programs for gifted children.

So as I do it again, I like the decision I made.  I feel the pros have far outnumbered the cons so I will do the same thing this time.  Now if there were more choices in our area, such as a gifted self contained classroom or a private school that catered more to gifted children I would consider it.  I would look closely into it to see if they actually cater to their different way of thinking or if they just give them harder work.  These are 2 very different things and I've been extremely happy that the gifted program in our area does the first.  I do wish the gifted program started in 2nd grade, not 1st.  2nd grade because I feel Kindergarten is a transition to school year and 1st is a transition to desks, book work, etc.

Do I think this decision works for everyone?  I don't believe in ever using "all" or "never".  The majority of kids that I think would be problematic, because they finish so quickly or are bored, probably are the ones that are more rambunctious.  The kids that can't sit still, sit quietly or entertain themselves when they finish quickly.  These kids need a very personalized education plan to help them cope.  A grade ahead is just going to have more expected of them not make them less talkative or bored.  There are ways to help these kids too.  I am sure there are some kids out there that should be reading Quantum Physics when they finish their work too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A week of shoes (or lack thereof)

We do not own a large house, just over 2000 sq ft. It even has all the makings of being organized. We have a coat closet, we have a shoe tree, we have a shoe basket. In our bedroom we have a walk in closet, each bedroom has an over the door shoe rack. It's really starting to sound like we have hundreds of shoes but really I'd guess there are only about 40 pair in the whole house. In my opinion that is even a lot. But 5 kids are walking. Walking kids have a pair of boots, sneakers, sandals, church shoes, water shoes, and some have cleats or dance shoes. Hubby works in an office and oddly enough he has way more shoes than the woman of the house. I'm not even sure what all he has; brown dress shoes, black dress shoes, even dressier dress shoes, boots, nice sneakers, yard work sneakers, sandals, who knows what else. Yet noone can ever find shoes. I'm not talking about the shoes they are wanting to wear.  I mean they can't find a single full pair of any shoes.  I have already, more times than I care to count, instructed them that they cannot wear 1 sandal and 1 rainboot out in public.  There is some house goblin that steals shoes.

In true mom fashion I am thought of last. I was getting hand me downs from the teen but now her feet are even too big for that. I wore out the "$15 special" clogs I had so she handed down some Sperry which I wore out too. So that left me with her hand me down Nikes, 2 pair of cheap dress shoes (for church), a pair of Keds, and some flip flops (bought late summer to replace the ones I broke). Oh wait, there is that one pair of shoes, a nice pair of slides, well except the couple inches high they are all around (platform? i dont know my shoe terminology).  E14 has a pair and in a moment of "what were you thinking" I bought me a pair too because they looked cute on her (huh?).  But the thought of wearing those while wearing a baby is scary.  Since it got cold I stopped wearing the flip flops. Now I have my hands full walking out the door so I can't be bothered to fiddle with shoes so I wear slip ons. I wear flip flops until my toes are iced, literally. When it snowed I decided it was time to put my flip flops away. My Keds were the easiest to slip on so I moved on to them. But when I wore the tops right off I was out of luck. I looked and looked but could only find 1 of the Nikes, a 1 footed room goblin has the other. So what's left?

Dress shoes, black or white. We live in the south, they still believe you can't wear white shoes after Labor Day until ??? So I went with black. Though I could just buy new shoes. Hmmm, trying on shoes while wearing a baby, while A2 screams because I moved her farther from the shelf so she couldn't rip the shoeboxes down, and keeping J4 from moving A2 close enough to grab the boxes or him trying on 300 pair of shoes he likes (what is it with the men in our house and shoes?). So I mention to hubby I need shoes. "What have you been wearing?"  Dress shoes. "Ok." Ok as in, I don't see anything wrong with that. That's because you don't have to go out with me, you don't even like me to wear sweatpants in public.  No response (and no shoes).

In the meantime soccer season starts. So Joey has to go to soccer practice. I put his cleats on and he's NOT happy. I check and they fit. I "fix" them and he's still not happy. We're late so I load him up anyway. Soon a cleat flies at me (while I am driving). There went another. I think that was a shin guard next. So I threaten him to get his shin guards and socks back on before we get there. We get there and he has them on so I put the cleats back on. Ready to go? Think again. He's standing outside the car stomping and screaming. It has been a long day, we're very late, I am done playing charades. Yes, all those people who swear I never lose my patience, I packed him up and took him back home. And yes I feel bad because it isn't his fault I don't understand what he is telling me the problem is. So daddy takes him to his game instead. This time in shin guards and his Keens.

So to make it up to him we go buy new cleats. Oddly enough the same situation plays out. Size 12 Nikes and he's kicking them off. Size 11 Nikes and he's growling at me. Size 12 Adidas and he's stomping.
Whatever, I'm done, the Adidas seemed to fit the best, I buy them (and new socks, shin guards and a ball). He tells me he is not wearing cleats, he will not only not play soccer, but no football or baseball, only basketball.

Back to my shoe issue. I learned that dress shoes are not meant to go hiking. We received a nice warm front here. So while B11 was at riding I took the kids hiking. I forgot about the lovely shoes I was wearing. Now my church shoes are filthy and my feet are sore. So Saturday comes and I've been wearing my black dress shoes all week. I tell hubby I have to go buy shoes. Ok, he'll watch the kids. So I walk in ready to go. "You don't have any other shoes to wear?". No, that's why I need to buy some. "You can't borrow a pair from E14?". Apparently my shoes look so bad I shouldn't wear them in public. I've been wearing these all week. "Oh". I'm happy to report though that I have 2 new pair of shoes so can now be seen in public.

J6 on the other hand now has too small size 11 cleats, his new size 12s, and his sister's old size 13s. After much trying pairs he wears his new ones, not happily, to his game. Again daddy takes him. Daddy calls to say he solved the problem. He wanted them tied tighter because his heel moves. So if you tie his cleats so tight you cut off his circulation he's perfectly happy.
Now to just find the other dozen pair of missing shoes somewhere in this house.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just my humble opinion

Yes, everyone's reviewing these days.  But since I don't get paid to blog and Amazon, Walmart, etc don't pay me to do reviews I do the pay or incentive for reviews sites.  I am all for being opinionated so I'm going to write reviews anyway.  I figure as long as I am writing reviews anyway I might as well make a little money from it.  And I do mean "little".  If your going to review anyway though, $100 is better than $0, it's a night on the town (or something new that you could review too).  I've been doing Epinions for over 10 years.  I do not write reviews as regularly as I should but I have a collection of over 300 reviews already that continues to earn even if i dont write.  Add in that I write maybe 25 reviews a year and I end up making $60-$100+ a year.  I save it up and either collect it at my husbands birthday to buy him something or when I want us to go out to dinner or something.  If I did even just 1 review a week that would double my reviews to 52 reviews a year and I'd make more money.  You can find my reviews at  I also do Viewpoints when they're offering incentives, my reviews there can be found at  Like currently they are offering a $10 Amazon gift card for 10 qualifying reviews before 2/26/2011 (see site for details) and they run this on a regular basis. 

I will probably do some reviews on the blog when I want to add pictures to a review or do a comparison, things that aren't really available at the review sites.  I am sure my first one will be the Ergo vs the Ergo Sport (with some mention of some others, I am sure, for comparison).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'm knot crazy

Or maybe I'm knot lazy. When it comes to crocheting I am an instant
gratification type of person. I want to start on my project NOW.
It's easy to get a project to start now. With the internet you can
find zillions of free projects to start on, I am not sure if there are better
websites but I usually just check, or
Google for what I am looking for . If you want something specific that
isn't vailable free there are plenty of patterns to buy on or

So with a pattern I now check my stash for the yarn. Maybe that's why
I keep a stash of yarn, so I can start any project instantly. Of
course the project I want to do I never have the yarn for so I am
dragging 3 kids under 5 to the craft store. Taking 3 kids into the
craft store does make you appear crazy to everyone, including
yourself. You end up so crazy that you buy way more yarn than you
need, which really helps keep that stash. You also buy a couple $1
crafts, crayons, toys that were on sale, and I'm not sure what else. 
$100 later I am pretty sure I could have bought a completed project cheaper.

So now I am home with yarn in hand, pattern sent to my phone, so let me
just grab my hook. Of course I have a D, 2 Es, F, 3 Hs, I, J, K, but
not a single G, the one needed for the project. So I have to check
all my other bags, the sofa cushions, the van, my bed, and all A2s
hiding places. If I'm lucky I found a hook. If not I borrow one from
my mom. The last time I borrowed one it was because I lost my H
halfway through a hat. Then, 3/4 through the hat I lose her H. So I
go to the store and buy 2 Hs, 1 for her and 1 for me. I finish the
hat and of course then find the 2 missing Hs so I now have 3 H hooks.

By the time I go through all this I really really am ready to start my
project. So I am in way too much hurry to wind my yarn into a neat
ball. Of course this works fine for the first hat. But halfway
through the 2nd hat the tangles are starting to appear. With each row
the tangles become more and more knots. But no, I still won't
untangle it all. Soon I'm doing 3 stitches per 5 minutes of untangling.
On and on I go, a 2 day hat soon becomes a 2 week hat. Yet 2 days later I
will start a new project in as much of a hurry so you can guarantee
the knot story will replay itself in a week.

From the sounds of the way I crochet so far you'd never imagine this
is how I relax. Yes, after the kids are in bed I grab my crochet bag
and pull out my bundle of knots. Of course its dark in my room
because L is sleeping in the cosleeper beside my bed so I need a
light. A reading light clipped to my shirt works well. So I reach
into my bag for that but alas a toddler found it fascinating. Maybe I
can still get a little done. But it's hard getting it done by the
hallway light, maybe I can crochet by the backlight of my phone. That
really does actually work OK until you have to untangle the knots,
that requires more light. Oh wait, there's the video camera light on
my phone. Man that thing is bright, I need to prop it up so it isn't
shining in my eyes. After much contorting I've resorted to trying to
hold it up by the silicone case in my teeth. Then I realize how
ridiculous I am being and resort to blogging instead.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The long way

I am not sure if it is the fact that my kids have kept my best brain
cells for themselves, they made me so crazy I can no longer think
straight or if it is just my "get it done" duking it out against my "save
a buck", yet I always take the long way. I start off (I think) looking
for the short cut but there end up with so many curves that it is
mostly certainly the long way.

For instance, when I need to mail a package. Sure, it seems easy at
first thought, let me just sell a couple slings before hubby finds out
how many I have. It won't be too hard, stick them in a big envelope,
print postage from paypal and stick it in the mailbox. So 1 sells and
you get it out, ok, who touched this with their dirty paws, into the
washer. Oh heck, I might as well wash all the sale ones just in case.
But once dry they're so wrinkly I can't fold them so off to iron. By
then a whole day has passed and another sold. Of course the post
office is out of the priority mail bag mailers. So where's my scale?
Once the scale is located the cheapskate in me has to calculate if its
cheaper as regular or flat rate priority. Of course none fit in the
small flat rate box. And now a 3rd sold. Ok, 1 fits in a large
envelope but the other 2 don't. This one should go parcal post so I
need a box. Luckily I find one in the garage, all I have to do is
peal off the 1000 bar codes. Hmmm, is it worth taking 3 kids back to
the post office to get a priority box for the 3rd? Nah, I found a
shoe box. Now where's the tape? Didn't I buy 2 rolls last time for
this exact reason? Another day passes and we've resorted to going to
walmart to get more tape. Ok, weighed, packaged, taped but alas this
one won't fit in the mailbox. I could schedule pickup but I'm already
2 days late mailing it so off we go to the post office again anyway.

I am pretty sure, after all is said and done, we spent $5 in gas and
tape to save $3 by not using the priority mail flat rate box. And we
most certainly did not save time by printing the postage at home. Oh, and
another just sold

Friday, February 18, 2011

Looking Up

Some days you know right off the bat can only get better.  When you've been up all night with sick kids but have to get up early to take kids to school because your husband is out of town, it's one of those days.  When you don't quite make it so they're late, the thought starts to cross your mind.  It leaves for a moment when you think the baby might nap.  But when the toddler runs in, naked, to wake her up, seconds before peeing on your bed, your positive it's one of those days.

Yes, frequently I am one of those annoying people with a rosy outlook on life.  Though we just prefer to call ourselves optimists.  How your day goes frequently has a lot more to do with how you look at it than with what actually happens. 

Did that day get better?  Well lets see what happened.  First the TV broke and we only own 2 TVs, the 32" set in the family room that broke and the 20" TV in my bedroom.  Sounds bad right?  Actually it is just acting haunted, it turns on and off when it feels like.  So if you don't mind unscheduled breaks in your show it's fine to watch it.  My take?  The dang thing is 10 years old and the old style TV, thankfully we now have to replace it.  You see, I'm also one of those cheapskates that won't replace an appliance that works fine.  So now we get to join this century and upgrade to a flat screen.  Not to even mention that the weather was gorgeous yesterday.  Since the weather was gorgeous and the TV was broken the kids got lots of fresh air.

Yes, I did also have 3 sick kids that day.  But since I had sick kids I didn't go to speech, the chiropractor, a playdate, or soccer.  Not leaving the house for all that meant I got to catch up on housework.  All 3 sick kids cooperatively napped the day away.  The baby even took a several hour nap while I caught some stuff up.  Plus, without soccer, I got to have a peaceful dinner at home.  Though, having also not gone to the post office I do have to do that today.

With sick kids though it wasn't all staying home.  I did run to the grocery store, not once, but twice.  I headed their first thing in the morning to get them popsicles.  A second trip was made, while B11 had her riding lesson, to get soup for dinner.  Yes, all we had for that peaceful dinner was soup and sandwiches.  But I didn't get home from the riding lesson, I still had to take B11 to and from, until after 6 pm.  With this gorgeous weather though, after we hit the store, we (not the sick ones, they stayed home) went on a hike while we waited.

What do I remember most from such a normal day?  First that the baby took a loooong nap so I got to be productive.  Second that my husband came home from his trip.  Oh wait, that sounds like I have my priorities wrong.  Um, I really wanted to be productive so, uh, the house didn't look trashed when he pulled in.  Yeah.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Packing lite

I'm pretty sure that coordinating extracurricular activities and
calendars with young children in tow is similar to running a small
business. 1st you have to do an analysis of cost. Will the cost of
the gas and screaming baby to come back home justify the sanity saving
it will provide.  Depending on the mood of the children you will still have
with you, fighting (and I'm not the type that uses fighting to generically mean
arguing or fighting, they are 2 very different things) along your route may
also have to be accounted for since that lowers the volume of sanity you
get to keep. Sometimes this cost analysis is not needed because the time
it would take you to go home would require you to just turn around and
go back.

So in the event that you have to sit at the soccer field for an hour,
you do have some options. At least a soccer field is big, outside and
open. If your lucky you'll even land at one with a playground. So
the packing list for that isn't too bad. Coats, shoes, extra balls
(or they'll be running onto any field to help themselves) is minimum
enough for you to survive. Of course a chair or blanket, sling and water
bottles will buy you even less whining.  It's kind of like a secret mission
though, to load the van without anyone seeing. If you give a kid a ball
another will want one too. If you give three a ball a fourth will certainly
want a scooter. If you give a fourth a ball you'll have to start over. A ball
for this one, a push toy for that one, a scooter for this one, a bike for
that one (and they'll still change their mind once your actually there). If you
plan accordingly and cut them off at just the right time (when the trunk
will barely close is a good time) to minimize arguing but still leave
at a decent time, you may only be 5 minutes late.

Now if you're going somewhere with a lobby instead of outside you have
another executive decision to make. If you take the children into the
lobby to wait you have to provide just the right toys. You see if you
don't provide toys with plenty of imaginative potential they're done
in under 5 minutes. Of course the items in questions must not make
loud imaginative noises. Vehicles rev, honk, and chug way too loudly,
any animal is sure to be loud, this of course eliminates half my
children's toys. 95% of the toys that are left too closely resemble a
ball or make noises on their own. That leaves you with a couple magna
doodles and some dollhouse dolls (with no pets or anything to drive as
stated above) but just to be sure I'd leave the baby of the doll family at
home too. Or you could pack lite by giving up all your principals and just buy them
a gameboy.

Oh, but wait, there's an alternative to the lobby. You could just
wait in the car. This does keep them contained and keeps them from
torturing the people trying to work at said place. But preparing for
an hour in the car is much like preparing for an 8 hour road trip.
Though they don't need to stay buckled and it won't be 8 hours, just
knowing they can unbuckle creates a whole new world of challenges.
Children who will beg unrelentingly for television at home will have
no desire to watch television in the car. This phenomenon is caused
by choices. When faced with the choice of watching television or
wearing out the motor for your car window it's a no brainer. You can
always banish them to the rear. Back there they are faced with the
choice of watching television or doing flips off the seat into your
cargo space (which will certainly end in fights or injury). In the end,
just like any road trip, your best defense is a large arsenal of digestible
bribery. That is, if you don't mind food fights and irretrievable crumbs
in every crevice. Not to mention the baby who isn't old enough to eat the
snacks. The baby that will nurse hourly at home, if given the chance, won't
nurse at all in a car full of kids. You say she's too young for snacks, she
on the other hand thinks she's plenty old enough to ingest the turn signal. I
wonder if the person on the other side of the window the baby keeps
flashing the lights through, has kids.  This is the route we opted for last night
since 2 kids forgot shoes and 1 a coat.  I am pretty sure at some point we
scared away the man in the SUV next to us.  The team on the field in front of
us may have thought we were using Morris Code to call for help.  And one
of my van doors was barricaded this morning.

You could just banish extracurricular activities. If you don't tell
them they exist I won't. This approach works well until they start meeting
other kids old enough to hold a conversation. You play baseball? On
a team with kids that aren't your siblings? You even play games
against other teams? MOOoooOOoOM! If you somehow get past the lower
years activities free your kids will eventually enter the pre college
years. Then they start reading up on getting into colleges. And
there it is in black and white, the need for extracurricular
activities if you want to get into that college 9 hrs away that will
cost your parents $20k a year (oh sorry, that is all probably another
post in itself). By then your kid is probably even smart enough to
argue that babysitting siblings is not an extracurricular activity.
Though you may have made it to the age that you could just hand them
your keys. But that too is a topic for a whole other post that I'm
not quite ready for.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I don't care

Again I just read a bunch of parents jumping on another's case over
something meaningless. This time it was a 3.5 year old riding in a
carrier instead of walking. Apparently that encourages laziness. I
am all for babywearing and have worn a 3.5 year old. But I am pretty
sure that unless it's a petite 3.5 year old or one with a physical
disability this parent is probably not wearing her 24/7. Or at least
he isn't without a good chiropractor. Oh wait, can I say that or will
the babywearers be up in arms about me implying babywearing might give
you a backache? Despite the risk of being kicked out of the Ergo
(what this particular parent was wearing) Club I'll leave the comment.
I'll leave it because its true. I admit carrying a 35 lber can be
done without any ache for even a couple hours in an Ergo but, though
I've never tried it, I'm pretty sure all day every day would be
pushing it.

Heck, while I am confessing, my kids had Sonic for dinner. I am sure
there are some naturalists that have quite a bit to say about how
obese that's going to make my kids.

I can upset the bottle feeders too by saying I have breastfed my last
3 children for over a year each. Though maybe that upsets
breastfeeders too because I didn't breastfeed them over 2 years.
I can open more cans of worms too, spanking, circumcision, marraige,
or a personal household favorite politics.

I just wonder why so many people care so much about what choices other
people make. Especially when those choices effect them in no way whatsoever. 
Not only do they care but they voice their concerns. A
picture can't just be a picture anymore, a joke just a joke. It's
prevalant everywhere in the US culture but I think parenting is a
bigger target than most.

People not only care about what they see but they are curious about
what they don't see, they want to know more. Got 6 kids and you hear
"are they all yours?". Nope I just collect the neighborhood before I
head to Walmart because its that much fun to shop with animals. Oh
but you only have 1, then you get "so when are you going to have
another?". Uh, I'm pretty sure that the library isn't an appropriate
place to talk about my sex life, or at least it wasn't 25 years ago.
3 girls results in "gonna try for a boy?" I am pretty sure a boy is
not a necessity of 2011 american suburbia. Homeschool and your kids
must be unsocialized hermits but if they go to public school they're

Not only do people care so much that they ask and comment but the
recipients of the questions and comments care that they care. So
since they care so much that people are talking to and about them they
spend time thinking about comebacks.

I have no clue why people obsess so much about others. But I am here
to say I, personally, don't care. I don't care if you homeschool or
public school or private school or even unschool. I don't care if you
dress your son in pink tutus. I'll listen to you tell me and won't
assume you need advice on how to get him to stop. I don't care if
your daughter's a piano prodigy. If you tell me she is I'll
congratulate you without thinking that a mom bragging is a bad thing.
If you share a picture of your kid I don't care if yesterday's dishes
are on the counter behind him, he's wearing clothes from walmart, he
uses a disposable diaper, or if he's watching tv in it. If your 4
month old eats solid food and sleeps in a crib, that doesn't mean mine
has to. And if mine doesn't I'm not implying I'm a better mom. If
you ask if all 6 are mine I'll answer yes. Not only will yes be all I
mean when I say yes but I won't even analyze why you asked.

I am pretty sure that there is a very grey area. I'm not sure where
in it caring, obsessing, and judging lie though.  Maybe if I promise not to
judge you you can promise to at least keep your judgements to yourself.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I've lost track of which nap this is for the day, enough that they're
starting to blend together. I feel like nothing got done today and
when the kids get off the bus in an hour that's the end of
productivity for the day. Yet, luckily I start every day with the
dishes and laundry so I know I got at least 1 load of each done. I
even started crocheting a hat during 1 of the naptimes. Then I
decided to check that "task list" so got some phone calls made before
I got to the blog task. I LOVE writing out what I'm doing or did
because it makes me sound productive even if I wasn't.

Ok, as usual I'm babbling so back to the topic at hand.
Introductions. My name is Brandi, and yes I am "that" mom. You can
take that so many ways and most of them are probably true. I really
am non confrontational to a fault, at least in real life, so as much
as I may sometimes sound like a meany I don't think I am. Heck, I
don't even like to make telephone calls inquiring about things.
But yes, I am "that" mom who dares to have 6 children. I am "that"
mom who has a 6 year old dressed with a tutu over her clothes, her 4
year old in flip flops in winter, and yes I really did brush my 2 year
olds hair today (she even had a bow when we walked out the door, my
van may house $100 in hair bows somewhere). I am "that" mom who they
are pointing at because they can't figure out how the baby is tied to
my back. I am "that" mom who actually takes that American Academy of
Pediatrics recommendations on breastfeeding and carseats literally. I
am "that" mom who actually thinks it is ok to take 4 kids under 6 to

Yes, that is my toddler climbing the big kid play structure. Yes, I
am perfectly aware she is doing it and I am fully aware of her
abilities. Since you only just saw her 10 seconds ago you probably
don't know that one of her big sisters or I have spotted her on it
3000 times already and she's been doing it on her own for months. And
yes, I would be right under her if I thought she needed me to be.
Yes, that is my 6 year old across the garden center on the swing
waiting for me to check out. Yes I know she's there. Yes I can
actually see her and am aware of every blink she makes. Yes I can
actually be aware of 6 kids movements at once. Yes, I am aware that
my 11 year old has a coat on even though its 80 degrees out. Yes, I
think at 11 she can make that call herself.

I am married, though it may not seem so at times since my husband will
go nameless. He is anti Facebook, anti blog, anti sharing anything on
the internet. You probably won't hear much about him and won't see
his picture. To top that he does travel occasionally. But for the
nosy dental hygienist or cashier, yes we are married, yes they are all
his children, yes we know how it happens, yes we are Catholic what's
your point? And yes he does help out.

As you've seen we have 6 kids. E14 is a highly gifted teenager who
loves to read and play the cello. She also plays soccer but is still
a Girl Scout. Yet in true teenage fashion is attached to a computer
screen most of any day. Her only sarcasm is reciprocal to her father
who loves it. She even helps out, sorry you can't have her.

B11 is gifted as well and is a horseback rider. She LOVES to be
helpful. I might as well tell you now as I'm sure you'll figure it
out, she has Autism. Does a label really make her any less her? She
loves to cook and she thinks girls' obsession with Justin Bieber is
silly. She can sew and make awesome origami cranes.

S6 isn't "labeled" but you might as well know is gifted too. We are
pretty sure she at least rivals E14's "scary smart". Though bossy, at
least to little brothers, she loves everything. Currently she is a
dancer but she's done soccer, tball, and swimming. She's proud to be
a Daisy Girl Scout and doesn't mind at all that we plan to exploit her
cuteness to sell cookies.

J4 is the only boy. He gets bossed around by S6 as well as
embarrassingly dressed up. He gets spoiled by everyone else. He
doesn't "like" everything like S6 but sure wants to do it all. At 4
he has already done a season of tball, flag football and just started
soccer. He wants to do basketball, karate and hockey but there are
not enough months in the year. After years of speech therapy and ear
issues he is finally making some steady progress on intelligibility of
his speech.

A2 is happy. That is the best way to describe her, happy. She just
wants to be a big girl too. She has the cutest little voice and is
the one who actually is blonde. Very independant and curious she has
a horrible popsicle addiction. Oh and not only is her speech more
intelligible than J4 but she speaks 3 languages. Ok, not really but
she does love Dora and Kai Lan and has picked up a few of those words.
Since she picked them up when she first learned to talk the kids
thought it was cute to say she knew 3 languages. They're even trying
to teach her a couple words in japanese, german, french, and asl so
they can say she knows more. Most of the girls are daddy's girls, she
however is E14s girl.

Baby L is the baby so what more can be said, she acts like a baby.
She is usually being ogled over or tied onto someone. That's probably
why she HATES the car. Since she's still nursing she is still a
mama's girl too.

My (belated) New Year's resolution

When it comes to going places I am chronically early. It's a lucky
thing since my husband is chronically late. If you add that B11 won't
leave the house until every single person is out and then she collects
her bag lady worth of stuff and gets in the car, the chronically
early usually counteracts them and at least results in being on time.

However, when it comes to my to do list, I am chronically late.
Sometimes I'm so late it's amazing it even gets done. I live and
breath according to my blackberry. There are only 2 ways things get
done, 1) if I do it right away, as soon as it's thought of or 2) if I
put it on my calendar. I've tried putting it on a to do list (one day
I'll find it), I've tried using the task list on my blackberry (and I
think I have things with a due date of 2009 on there still), I don't
even know what else I've tried, they just never work. I don't
actually procrastinate, I just am easily distracted and forgetful.
Ok, I have ADHD, does it really matter? Not really, I still feed and
bath the kids and have never forgotten one anywhere.

So, keeping in the spirit of being late, I am finally starting that
blog from my New Year's resolution. I get asked the same questions a
lot, comment on the same subject a lot, give my opinion on the same
topic, review of the same product or even an introduction can get
lengthy so I thought a blog would help organize it all. Plus there
are lots of people who just want to know how things even run in my
house so here's your chance to get a glimpse inside. I can't say all
my posts will be grammatically correct or even make sense. Half of
them will be posted 1 handed from my phone, or 2 handed but from the
carpool line but my phone does have spell check.

We'll start with the introduction the next time baby L takes a nap
since this one just ended abruptly with A2 using my bed as a
trampoline. This resulted in L wanting to eat my phone out of my hand
since the sick baby was sleeping on my chest so the phones fun backlit
screen was one of the first things she saw when she awoke.