Thursday, February 26, 2009

Limiting Scream Time

Guess what? Charlie is totally addicted to the computer. Where, I wonder, could he have picked up such a nasty habit?

So, in an effort to wean the boy off of this seemingly innocent piece of machinery, we are limiting screen time. This, has an inverse effect on scream time: the less screen time, the more scream time we experience. This has not been an easy habit for Charlie to kick.

Last week we were all sick and it seemed like Zee and Moose A. Moose (of Noggin fame) had unpacked their little suitcases and moved into our living room permanently. The first few bars of "Everywhere I Go" is enough to send me over the edge at this point. And now we are getting Noggin piped in through the computer as well, thanks to and my addict son.

I told the kids that we needed to limit screen time in an effort to not have our brains turn to mush. We talked about things that have screens...Leapsters have screens, computers, TVs, portable DVD players, Daddy's Blackberry (talk about addiction...) , and Charlie pointed out that windows also have screens. Touche, Charlie, touche. So we're limiting screens that you have to plug in. (She said, while typing on the computer. ahem.)

One thing we've been doing to ease the withdrawal symptoms, is to have family drawing time. I cannot take credit for this idea I got it from this book. So far family drawing time has been a smash hit. It is a great way to kick off the morning and a great way for us to do something quiet together that we all enjoy. When was the last time you drew a picture? It had been a while for me, but it is amazing how therapeutic it can be. I even sharpened a pencil today. I might as well have been churning my own butter, it felt like such a throwback to yesteryear to watch pencil shavings collect in the little pencil shaving collector thingy.

So, family drawing time is very simple. Really it's no different than any other drawing time; it's just marketed better. Giving it a name (Family Drawing Time) makes it seem official, as does having special paper and supplies reserved just for FDT. The other special thing about Family Drawing Time is that you're all doing it together (it's not mommy empties the dishwasher while the kids draw time), and really that is what kids want more than Leapsters or their own iPhones: our undivided attention. I don't mean to sound preachy here; really I'm talking to myself.

Now, I don't want you to think I'm some purist. I did say we're limiting screen time, not cutting it out altogether. I admire the moms who can make it through the day without a little Max and Ruby or Toot and Puddle. However, I have come to terms with the fact that as much as I'd like to be, I'm not one of those moms. I need a break sometimes and so do my kids. And I personally enjoy a little 30 Rock or tivoed Oprah in the evenings, so I'd feel pretty hypocritical denying my kids the same pleasure. And, hello? I'm a major computer junkie and would be on the thing all the time if not for trying to set a good example for Charlie. Checking facebook while Charlie's in the room is kind of like sipping a crisp chardonnay in front of a pregnant woman. I totally get his obsession with the computer, but it's my job as his mommy to not let the obsession get too out of control.

I will say one thing that I keep thinking of when I think of Charlie's computer addiction. You never know where an interest like that can lead. I heard an interview with Malcolm Gladwell recently where he was talking about his latest book Outliers. Maybe you've heard of this book, but the general gist is that he wrote a book about exceptional people and what common traits or backgrounds they all share. Basically, he was trying to get at what made these people so successful. I haven't read the book, but in several reviews and interviews about it, it is mentioned that one of the reasons Bill Gates became such a success is that he had rare access to a computer as a child in prep school. Not that Charlie is the next Bill Gates or anything (he totally is), but it does seem like if a child is naturally interested in something and shows some talent for it, then they should be encouraged in that area. So, basically, what I'm getting at is that computers and TV aren't all bad. They appeal to some of us more than others and they are tools for making our lives easier and more fun and could possibly lead to Charlie becoming a cajillionaire someday (you never know). Everything in moderation, I say.

First though, we need to work on Charlie writing all the letters in his name in the right order.

And now screen time is officially over. Next order of business: laundry time!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm a new woman!

I have a new car! It is a "pimped out" (Brandon's phrase) minivan!! I haven't even driven it yet, but I'm looking forward to taking it for a spin when Teddy wakes up and it's time to take Emma to school. Watch out preschool car line, here I come! I'm a little nervous about driving such a big car, so let's hope I don't hit anything. If you live in Reston, VA, be warned: I'm on the loose! I'll try to post a picture of my new wheels soon.

We're all feeling much better over here. What a relief! I'm trying to get semi-organized in my own way. It doesn't look very organized, but my mind does feel a little clearer as a result. I'm headed out to do grocery shopping for the week after I drop Emma off at school. I did a little menu planning this morning and that makes me feel super prepared and even a little excited to cook dinner. I have to plan things out in advance or we end up eating scrambled eggs and mini quiches for dinner all week. Here's my plan:

Easy Lobster Paella (minus the lobster--I'm not that pimpin'. We'll probably do shrimp & sausage or something instead of the lobster)

Shepherd's Pie (thank you, Gwen, for the suggestion!)

Shrimp w/white beans over couscous
(so easy and so yummy)

Corned Beef with carrots & potatoes

Reuben Sandwiches (way to use up leftover corned beef)

Here's a new projeck the kids and I are working on:

In an effort to move February along a little bit, and look forward to spring, we're planting seeds and watching them grow. Emma is taking notes and drawing pictures of how the seeds grow. It's only been a few days, but we already have some cute little sprouts! Spring is right around the corner...

That's it for now.... time to go cruising in the new "mommy car" as Charlie calls it. Happy Monday to all!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Calling all type A mommies!

Help! I am in need of some mommy back-up here. I feel like I'm not nearly as productive as I'd like to be. Not that I expect to be accomplishing that much with 3 kids 5 and under, but I feel like my lack of organization is sort of ruining our lives lately. I'm not good at planning in advance. I'm sort of a fly by the seat of my pajamas kind of girl; Instead of running our lives on a schedule, I wait until I'm in the mood to do things like cleaning, paying bills, setting up play dates for the kids, etc. I feel like that has worked okay so far, but now that Emma's getting older and we're on the brink of signing up for more extracurricular activities and starting kindergarten, etc., I feel like I need to have more of a plan for how our lives go.

Do I need a momgenda? That word "momgenda" sort of freaks me out. I already wear sweatpants all the time and I'm about to start driving a minivan. If I'm consulting a momgenda too, then I might just not recognize myself anymore.

What's the answer to my momlemma?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sick and tired

The past week has not been my week. I have cleaned up puke (not my own), ruined Valentine's Day, spent a restless night almost puking, thinking for sure I was going to, but not (is there anything worse? Besides actually puking?), dealt with a sick baby, a sick Charlie and a sick Emma, soothed a separation-anxiety-laden Charlie, the list goes on and on. And now I think I have a cold. Remember before you had kids, how when you were sick, you got to stay home and be sick all day? That was awesome.

Going to bed now...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Notes from the kitchen table

I have been carrying a spiral notebook around with me in my diaper bag just in case some little wrinkle in time allows me the free time and brain cells to write for a little while. So far, it is filled with Emma's drawings of rainbows and princesses and maybe a few grocery lists. I'm just itching to write, but it is truly difficult to find the time to do so these days. Right now I'm writing this on my Dana, basically a palm pilot with a keyboard. You could in theory write a whole novel on a Dana and then plug it into your computer, download it and email it off to publishers. I bought it thinking I would do this, but it hasn't worked out that way.

Emma just walked up to me and said, "Mommy, are you writing stories about mommies?" Charlie is on the real computer listening to songs from Lazy Town on the Noggin website. Writing while Lazy Town songs play in the background is not for amateurs.

Well, now I have to get ready for a playdate. I'd really rather stay in my jammies and keep writing at the kitchen table, but life in Mommy Town does not stop because I'm feeling writerly. It's actually pretty nice out today and we're meeting friends at a park, so it will be worth getting out of jammies for I have no doubt.

I think my plan for this post will be to write little bits here and there when I can...sort of a stream of consciousness thing. (Consciousness is a really tricky word to spell). So I'm headed to a playdate now...I'll see you later.

Okay, I'm back now. The last six hours were really fun, definitely better than sitting around typing in my pjs. It is very un-February-like outside and we were able to play at the park for hours without coats on. I forget how wonderful it is to feel the sun after so many months spent indoors. I felt so invigorated by our time outside that I came home and cleaned out the car and the garage. Well, neither is really clean clean. I sort of rearranged the garage and put a bunch of stuff in the trunk to give to Goodwill. And then I swept out all the leaves and gross stuff. The car is still not really clean by normal people standards, but considering I have been driving three little kids around in a VW Passat for the last three months, it's looking pretty decent. We're planning on getting a Routan (check out that link to "make a baby without making a baby") soon. It seems like the minivan that will give us the most bang for our buck. I have to say, I'm pretty excited about the prospect of driving a minivan. I am ready to embrace my status as a suburban mom of three. I am also looking into signing the kids up for soccer soon. And I'm totally pumped about going to upcoming birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese, Gymini, and two different Pump It Ups. I am fully aware that I am turning into a bit of a stereotype. I am not such a stereotype when you look up close though. I am still the same me that I was when I was 18 in many ways. I remember my mom saying once that no matter how old you get you're still looking out of the same eyes. I definitely feel like I'm looking out of the same eyes; it's just that soon my eyes will be looking out of the windshield of a minivan.

So anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, cleaning out the garage and the car. Teddy was asleep upstairs and the kids were having a blast riding their bikes in the driveway. I kept striking up conversations with neighbors I have only waved to with a gloved hand from inside the car. It has been too cold for chit chatting with neighbors until today. My neighbors and I live on top of each other and our townhouses all face each other, so it's like we're staring at each other constantly, but there's not a lot of chit chatting usually. Today, people I've never really spoken to asked me about the baby. They've probably been watching me from their kitchen....they probably saw me waddling around my own kitchen for nine months and then watched as we brought Teddy home from the hospital. Every night they probably see Teddy swinging back and forth in his cradle swing while I’m cooking or losing my patience with the kids. We've watched the neighbors do stuff too, so it's pretty even. It's interesting that we all know so much about each other, but we don't really know each other. I guess the closer in proximity that you live to other people, the more likely you are to have your guard up, to define your space a little more. Or maybe it's just the cold weather that does it because people were very friendly today.

I'm supposed to be folding laundry while the kids watch Yo Gabba Gabba and Teddy finishes his marathon nap. I'm so over folding laundry. It always makes me feel like Sisyphus. Even if I actually get to the bottom of the laundry hamper today, it will be filled up again by tomorrow. Argh. For some reason though I don't resent the cloth diapers and the laundry they produce. I think it's because they're really easy to put away and they are sort of laundry with a higher calling. Everything else is just our same dumb old clothes, but washing the diapers makes me feel proud, like Al Gore would give me an A+.

I think I'm actually going to go wake Teddy up. It's been 3.5 hours that he's been sleeping. Maybe I'll get in some more writing later...we'll see.

I'm back...We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner (again). We eat that once a week these days. The kids always go on and on about what a good cook I am when I make spaghetti and meatballs. The sad part is that it's one of the only meals I don't make from scratch. I use jarred sauce and pre-made turkey meatballs from the store. The kids ate tons of spaghetti and meatballs tonight because of all the playing and bike riding they did earlier. I love when I feel like they've had a full day of hanging out with friends and fresh air and exercise. I wish I could make life like that for them everyday.

Teddy worked hard too. He is really trying to roll over. He's almost there. He gets over to his side and just likes to hang out there for a while. It's like he could roll over, but he's just not feeling it, so he doesn't. He's still the cutest baby in the whole world. And the sweetest. I think he should get some sort of award. Well...I think I'm going to call it a day and see what my friend Tivo has waiting for me. Hope you enjoyed a day in the life of Mommy town!