Road tripping

Back at the beginning of June I took all 4 kids and we went to hang out with some friends in Illinois. And I was going to write about it right after we got back, except within hours of our arrival home we got hit with a stomach bug which felled us one by one over the course of two weeks. (It was a LONG TWO WEEKS.)

Anyway, we started out first thing in the morning, and Kalena and Will were SO EXCITED to leave that they got in the car before we’d even finished loading it. I told them to hop back out so they could go to the bathroom before we left, and as they did I noticed that Will didn’t have any shoes on. I said, “Will! You have to wear shoes! Go get your shoes on and go to the bathroom before you get back in the car.” I thought what a good thing it was that I’d made them get out, because GAH. You have to have shoes! (You see where this is going right?)

About an hour in (to a 6 hour drive) Kalena asked if she could take her shoes off. I said sure, and that I was surprised she hadn’t taken them off already. And then Will said, “I don’t have to take my shoes off, because I already wasn’t wearing any!” I said, “What do you mean you weren’t wearing any??” And he responded that he hadn’t been able to find them when he went back in the house. Y’all. There was a lot of yelling. And much internal swearing. And then there was a 40 min detour to the nearest walmart to buy him some flip flops. I wouldn’t have even bothered (since we were staying at a friend’s house) but I KNEW we were going to have to stop and get out on the way there! 4 hours maybe we could have managed, but 6? Nope. (He literally only wore them for our road trip stops. When we were packing up to leave he couldn’t find his shoes (SURPRISE SURPRISE) and I discovered they were STILL IN THE CAR.)

So. Fun trip, but next time I’ll remember to CHECK WILL’S FEET.


The token system

I decided at the end of the school year that I didn’t want the kids time home this summer to turn into all iPads all the time, but I also didn’t want to give them up altogether, because come on. Sometimes that’s the only time they aren’t talking to me. So I came up with a pretty basic system of earning tokens that can be spent for time on the iPads. Here’s how it works:

I use poker chips for tokens, each token is worth 30 min. I didn’t want to get into variations on how much time they were worth.

They can do any of the following things to earn a token:

Reading for 30 min. For Kalena I stipulated that she needs to read out loud. For Will it’s being read to. (He is learning to read, but listening to him for half an hour might kill me. SORRY WILL.)

Weeding in the garden. 1 grocery bag full of weeds earns a token. This one is actually kind of a gimme, because the weeds are super easy to pull, so 5 min could easily get them a full bag.

Spend 30 min working in a workbook. Kalena and Will each have workbooks for math and reading at their grade level. Pretty self explanatory.

30 min practicing flash cards. For Will this can be sight words or math flash cards, for Kalena just math.

Picking up the basement/playroom. Lydia and Daniel pretty much destroy the playroom every day, so picking it up is kind of a big job. For this one, if they both help they each earn a token, if only one of them cleans that earns 2 tokens. The problem with this one is that it really has to be done after the babies go to bed, and most days we put all the kids to bed at the same time.

Miscellaneous cleaning tasks as assigned by me. Pretty much anything I feel like is worth some iPad time. For instance, Kalena cleaned the banister/railing around the kitchen table. The ones the babies can reach from their high chairs and they grab with their grubby, food covered hands. (She got it SO CLEAN you guys, I don’t even know how. That food basically needs a chisel to get it off. (I gave her 2 tokens for this one.))

The other stipulation I have is that they need to get dressed, make their beds, and pick up their bedrooms before they have any iPad time in the morning. I’m hoping that the pick-up-every-day thing will keep their rooms from getting to be the giant disasters they become otherwise. And the get dressed thing is mostly for Will who, for whatever reason, seems to think changing his clothes is torture. He wants to continue wearing WHATEVER HE IS WEARING for as long as I’ll let him.

I also gave them a couple cheats. The first is that if Daniel and Lydia are watching something, Kalena and Will can watch without spending any tokens. The babies only have a handful of things they like, and none of it is the stuff the big kids are most interested in. I mostly left this because it is HELPFUL FOR ME to have Kalena and Will be with the babies. Didn’t want to shoot myself in the foot there. The other cheat is that they are allowed to watch documentaries without spending a token. I figure they’re educational, so why not. So far neither of them have taken me up on this one.

I didn’t put limits on how many tokens they can earn OR SPEND in any given day. Maybe I’ll need to address that at some point? I don’t know. Anyway, I think that about sums it up! Questions?



I’ve always got a story about Will

The other day I was sitting with Will at the kitchen table and he says, “Do you know one reason why someone might rob a bakery?” I’m never sure if he’s looking for me to answer or if he wants to tell me something, so I hesitated and said, “Why?” And he proceeded to tell me that people might rob a bakery to get the money, or so they didn’t have to pay for their food, or maybe just to take food from the bakery. (So you know, actual reasons. I thought maybe this was the beginning of a joke. YOU NEVER KNOW.) After he finished, he was quiet for a minute and I figured the conversation was over, and then he pipes up again with, “But the real targets are the banks.”

I burst out laughing because, WHERE DOES HE GET THIS STUFF? That’s pretty much life with Will.


If you know me at all you know I’m not a neat person. (If you know me well you’re probably snort-laughing and thinking, “THAT’S an understatement.”) So keeping our house clean is something that happens…pretty much never. It’s not that I LIKE the mess. Or that I don’t SEE the mess. I just can’t get it together enough to keep things clean. I wish I had my mom’s super-power of not sitting down until everything is done. (So, never.) ALAS, I do not. The couch calls to me. Anyway. I’ve tried various methods to do better with the upkeep, but so far nothing has worked. Or really helped even. But despite my MANY failures, I thought the other day that maybe I should get on pinterest and find a cleaning schedule that I could follow.

Y’all. What I found is INSANE. I’ve come to the conclusion that none of these people have children. Here’s some of the stuff I came across.

Wiping down all your baseboards as a weekly thing. (Do people DO that?!)

A schedule that included only 2 loads of laundry a week. We generate like 2 loads of laundry A DAY.

Basically every schedule suggests starting the dishwasher after dinner and unloading it in the morning. We run the dishwasher twice a day. AT LEAST. And you know what happens if I don’t? We have no clean dishes to eat off of.

Sweeping the kitchen floor as a weekly chore. We have 2 kids in high chairs. Sweeping in the kitchen is, AGAIN, something that gets done multiple times a day. (And okay, that isn’t the WHOLE kitchen, but STILL. If I only swept once a week there would be literal piles of food on the floor.)

One listed vacuum as a daily chore but then followed that with “as needed” in parentheses. Listen schedule writer. If I were on top of doing stuff “as needed” I WOULDN’T NEED A SCHEDULE.

Washing walls as a weekly chore. I…don’t understand. If something gets on a wall I wipe it off. Are other people wiping down entire random walls? Seems like you’d spend a LOT of time doing that.

One schedule included taking out the garbage “if it’s full.” I don’t need to be reminded of that. If it’s full I take it out. You might as well write “change toilet paper if the roll is empty.” I may be the ONLY person in the house who DOES, but I do.

Sometime it’s the amount of time that makes the schedule seem crazy. For instance: a “15-20 minutes of cleaning a day” includes “vacuum house” as an item. I…how big is your house? It takes me 15 minutes to vacuum our basement. Which is one of FOUR levels. (And our house is not huge!) Also, that doesn’t include time to pick up all the crap off the floor so I CAN ACTUALLY VACUUM.

Anyway. All this to say: cleaning schedules are crap and my house is probably always going to be a mess.


Always with the dirt

One of the things we love about this house is the yard. We back up (sort of) to a cul-de-sac, which makes our yard an odd shape, but bigger than other yards in the neighborhood. So we have a nice, fenced, grassy, open backyard for the kids to play in. Except you know where they play? Under our deck, in the dirt. Obviously.


That’s where Daniel gets all his dirt for snacking on.

I’d love to put a swing set out there, but A) dude. Those things cost way more than I expected. and B) Brian worries that the kids would hurt themselves. (Mostly Daniel I think. He’s not so good with the danger-awareness.) It makes me laugh though, because Brian did CRAZY stuff as a kid. For instance: jumped off the roof of his house using a plastic bag as a parachute. His logic was that it worked for those little army-parachute guys. Those crazy choices are also the reason for his worry though. He says he worries because he knows ALL THE BAD IDEAS kids get. I tend not to worry about that stuff, likely because I was a total rule follower and would NEVER have done something like jump off the roof. Anyway. Maybe at some point. For now I’ll just make sure they have some good dirt digging toys.


I have pictures from Easter in 2010 of Kalena dyeing Easter eggs. She would have been almost 2. Why I thought that would be a good idea I DO NOT KNOW. I don’t remember it being terrible, so it can’t have been too bad, but thinking about letting Lydia dye eggs this year makes me laugh. No. Talk to me again when she’s like 5.

It was nice this year, because Kalena and Will are old enough that I just had to set things up, and then they didn’t need help for the actual coloring. (I did have to resist boiling myself a dozen eggs to color because MAN that is fun.) I think I blogged about it, but the kids figured out the Easter bunny like a year and a half ago. That doesn’t dampen their enjoyment though, and they asked us to hide the baskets “extra hard” this year. ALSO, because Kalena is the sweet girl that she is, she made Brian and me each an Easter basket. Anyway. How about some Easter pictures?

Warm enough to dye eggs outside!


Matchy church outfits!


How most pictures of four kids actually turn out.


Talking and other pesky things

I’m just going to complain a little bit today.

Lydia? Still not talking. We started speech therapy weekly, but she still isn’t talking. She plays during therapy and sometimes imitates sounds, but she’s still only saying maybe half a dozen words. And I KNOW it’s not instantaneous. I KNOW therapy takes time and work but UGH. I just want her to start talking already. Also, she has developed a habit of ending therapy sessions with a GIANT tantrum (usually because we won’t let her type on the tablet her therapist uses to write up notes.) She is FAR more tantrum-prone than any of our other kids. The therapist has been reassuring about how I respond. (Ignore. Don’t give in. Remove her from the situation if it gets bad.) Still not fun. She tends to be very quiet during therapy, opting to play by herself rather than engage in whatever we’re trying to get her to engage in. Basically the opposite of her usual MUST BE ATTACHED TO MOM AT ALL TIMES. That’s been frustrating too. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to get her to engage.

And Daniel. Oh, Daniel. He’s started refusing to nap, opting instead to scream from his crib for as long as he’s in there. This leads to cranky overtired Daniel, and by dinner time he’s a mess. I know I can’t MAKE him nap, but good gracious. He still definitely needs the sleep. Also? The eating of non-foods is getting out of hand. Eating crayons at school has been ongoing, and I assume a sensory thing. But the weather has been nice which means playing outside and he has started eating dirt by the handful. Taste is not a deterrent. He literally picks up dirt clumps and EATS THEM. I guess this is a sensory thing too? But GAH. How do I get him to stop?! I discussed with Lydia’s speech therapist today possible substitutes to give the same oral sensory input as crayons or dirt. (DIRT!) If it doesn’t stop I think I’ll have to call the Down syndrome clinic for a consult with the child psychologist. In the meantime it’s super obnoxious. Also messy.

In summary: good thing these kids are cute.


And just like that

Lydia turned 2. In February. (Super on top of things over here. Add to the list: haven’t taken her to get her 2 year pictures yet, or gotten a copy of her BIRTH CERTIFICATE.) Anyway, we didn’t do much. Krispy Kremes for breakfast, a couple gifts, some cake. It feels like a big milestone for ME though, because this is the first time we’ve had a kid turn 2 and not already had another baby, or at least one imminently on the way. At this point we have no plans for any more. It’s a new place.

Lydia is hellbent on making sure she’s the last child anyway. She continues to wake in the night, not every night, but multiple times a week. She screams, A LOT. Mostly at me. She still isn’t talking, although speech therapy is definitely increasing her efforts toward words.

She is also adorable, of course. If I ask her for kisses she’ll present her bear for me to kiss. She is a tiny hoarder; she collects random items any time I go to pick her up. Toys go on her tray at meals, she want everything in her crib at bedtime, and getting her to leave the house without both hands full is an impossibility. She has a knack for knowing what is a lovey. I have no idea how she does this, but in a room full of stuffed animals, she can always manage to pick up whichever one is somebody’s lovey. This can be a problem since she doesn’t want to give them up, EVER. (Will has had to wrestle Buster Bear away from her on more than one occasion.) She decided she needed both her lovey and Will’s for her 2 year well visit this week. And Mardi Gras beads, of course. I’d tell you her measurements but they didn’t give them to me! Apparently her pediatrician’s office is switching to entirely electronic, so no more paper with all the info after the visit. She weighs something like 30 lbs, and her height is around the 60th percentile.

Lydia 2 year

She is still very much a mama’s girl. Brian is all the other kids’ favorite. We joke that the 3 of them take less effort combined than she takes by herself. But she’s my girl.

Food fight

I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before (and if I know you in person, likely complained about it to you extensively) but we’ve had a long-running issue with Daniel throwing food. Not just, dump-his-plate-at-the-end-of-a-meal throwing, but can’t-put-more-than-one-bite-on-his-tray throwing. He would also throw his plate, cup, or silverware, if HEAVEN FORBID you try to set that on his tray. It’s been A THING. I can’t remember if it started when we moved out here, or if it started before that, but it’s been going on for a long time. I talked to his PT and his speech therapist when he was in early intervention. They made some suggestions, but nothing helped. I’ve talked to his speech therapist and his preschool teacher now that he’s in preschool. Again, nothing helped. But then! Last month he had an appointment at the Down syndrome clinic here at Children’s (because they like to see kids once a year to check in) and you know what? They have a behavioral psychologist! Who specializes in kids with Down syndrome!

Y’all. He was so helpful. (I mean, OF COURSE, but I don’t know that it would have occurred to me to seek out a behavioral psychologist on my own.) Anyway, he asked what the problem was and how we respond to it (pretty much just saying “don’t throw stuff”). And when he learned that it had gotten bad enough that we’ve just been straight up feeding him (because he would throw LITERALLY ANYTHING) he said, well, you know he’s got you trained, right? I laughed because OH YES, I’M AWARE. But then he said that he could tell Daniel is very socially motivated. Which, YEP. He loves people, and loves for them to pay attention to him. So what we needed to do was to make it so that the undesired behavior gets no attention. None. Here’s the strategy he gave me. At each meal, sit facing Daniel, focused completely on him. Put food on a spoon/fork and hand it to him. Give him lots of praise for feeding that to himself and giving back the silverware. Lots of interaction. Then any time he throws something, turn away, and don’t interact with him at all for 30 seconds. After the 30 seconds, start again as if nothing happened. He recommended doing this for each of the 3 meals, plus having 3 “practice sessions” per day. (Now, I don’t know if you know this, but we also have 3 other kids and our days are kind of busy sooooooo, I never actually did any practice sessions.)

First of all, do you know how hard it is to not react AT ALL when your kid throws food on the floor? Harder than I thought. Also, 30 seconds is kind of a long time. But, IT WORKED. He’s certainly not perfect but it is SO MUCH BETTER than it used to be! We’ve graduated to being able to set his plate on his tray, at which point he’ll feed himself 2 or 3 bites and then either point at the table or pick up his plate to hand it to you. (I don’t know why he dislikes having it there, but WHATEVER I DON’T EVEN CARE.) He’ll feed himself an entire meal! This is huge for us. So. It’s been awesome.

Not at all suspicious

Some back story: we have a desktop computer that hasn’t been set up since we moved to Kansas. It’s Brian’s and in the past he’s used it for gaming, or in college for programming on, but each of us has a MacBook that we use as our primary computer. However! Recently Kalena has started needing a computer for homework sometimes (plus she likes to play the math & reading games on her school’s website) and Brian thought it’d be good to set up this desktop as a family computer. So yesterday he did (it took some doing- he needed to run some cables and clean it all out with canned air and get Windows put back on it because he’s always just run Linux (and if his current muttering over there is any indication he’s regretting the Windows choice.)) It’s set up in our room, where all the pieces have been sitting for months, but now it works! 

Fast forward to nap time today. Will naps in our room, because he and Daniel won’t go to sleep if they’re in the same room (for some reason this problem is limited to nap time. Bedtime is fine.) A few minutes after I sent Will to nap I had to run in to get something. While I was there we had this conversation: 

Will: Look that way!

Me: *turns expectantly wondering what he wants me to see* …what am I looking at?

Will: Aren’t you going to leave?

Me: *eyes narrow* Why, what are you doing?

Will: I’m just laying here.

Me: Yes, but what do you not want me to see?

Will: *quiet voice* I…accidentally turned on that computer. 

YOU GUYS! He moved the mouse, which he probably does EVERY DAY, but this time it actually DID SOMETHING and he was so worried he was going to get in trouble. 

I laughed because a: that’s funny and b: could he have been ANY more obvious that he’d done something he didn’t want to know?

Better work on the deception skills, William. 😉