Saturday, October 9, 2010


Though summer is clearly long over, we loved our family's summer list so much that we decided to do the same thing at the start of every season.  So there's a fall list on the chalkboard by the back door, and we're chipping away at it.  Also:

  • Thanks to a resurgence of interest in cooking by yours truly, we're cooking and baking with pumpkin (pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin seed brittle, so far); on Wednesday night, we drank pumpkin beer after the kiddos were in bed.  

  • This morning we got pumpkins for the girls, brought them home and immediately glittered them a la Martha Stewart.

  • Jason took Annie to the bank to open her very own savings account with some birthday/chore money.  She came home with a green leather booklet.  When I asked if she had to sign her name, she signed meaningfully and said, "Four times."

  • The end-of-the-day, beginning-of-first-grade, I-have-lost-all-coping-skills meltdowns have really tapered off, just like every parent of an older child said they would after a month or so.  Which is good, because for a couple weeks there, it felt like we had a three-year-old and a two-year-old.  (There was an incident that involved glow-in-the-dark pajamas at the Old Navy at the Rivertown Crossings mall after I had taken the girls to see Toy Story 3 on a chilly Friday afternoon that ended with me carrying Annie out of the mall and down the escalator while she straight-arm whacked me on the back the entire time, Jemma following along behind.)  Parents of younger children, flip your calendars ahead to the September of your child's first-grade year and block it off.  You're going to need a lot of babysitters, alcohol, and parenting books to get through that.

  • Perhaps related to the progress above, we've instituted a behavior modification reward system here, too.  After a (different) epic meltdown two weeks ago, my teacher brain finally kicked in while I was listening to her scream and yell in her time-out.  What we need to do is eliminate the behaviors we don't want, and reward the ones we do, just like I used to do in my classroom . . . and, cha-ching!  I remembered The Marble Jar.  The Marble Jar was the way my classes could earn special days.  Every time the class cleaned up an activity before time ran out, or all remembered their homework, or walked quietly in the halls, or did well for a substitute, they earned marbles in a jar.  When the jar was filled, they got to choose a reward - pajama day, board game day, outdoor day, etc.  So Annie and I sat down and listed the Never OK behaviors (hitting or hurting, mean words or names, rudeness, and not listening) and the Good Choices (kind words, being helpful, listening, doing your best, and good manners), then wrote them on a piece of orange construction paper that now hangs on our fridge.  Each behavior can earn or lose a marble in the jar, which sits on the side of the fireplace mantel.  When they fill the jar (it's about 2/3 full), they'll get to choose a reward.  Watching Annie explain it all to Jemma the next morning was the best part.  They love to do something helpful, often even working together, and many meltdowns-in-the-making have been nipped in the bud by the reminder that they could lose a marble from the jar.  I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

  • I have become moderately obsessed with creating a viable mudroom/back entry to the house in my basement, the stairs to which are a part of our back door entry area.  I would very much like winter 2010/2011 to not feature snowpants and boots lying to dry all across our kitchen floor.  Road blocks to progress in this area include the bins and piles of random shit scattered around down there (partly by me, but primarily by someone else in this house who is much more of a pack-rat and who believes in saving things like Raiders Starter jackets and empty Wheaties boxes with Michael Jordan on the cover from 1988, ahem); the complete and total unfinished-ness of the basement itself, with its cement walls and floors, plywood "walls" in random places, and drains in the floor; the creepy coal room; the very small amount of water that occasionally seeps down one wall and across the floor (luckily, to the drain!); the lack of desire to have a bunch of construction nonsense going on at our house for weeks; approximately $20,000.  But.  But!  I do have a guy coming to give me an estimate on waterproofing it on Monday.  We'll see what he says, and go from there.

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