Monthly Archives: September 2010

Ring of Fire

brought to you by Sir Reginald, the mouse.

Dear Sir and Madame,
I hearby issue an ultimatum. You are to cease and desist your attempts of dooming me to a death by conflagration immediately. You invade my home, land, and wood, provide me a comfortable dry place to live, and yet set it on fire multiple times. I understand you need to eat, but surely you have places indoors to cook your food and don’t need to use the thing you call a grill. Don’t try blaming me for living in your steel deathtrap either, you have given me little choice.

I hear your mocks of laughter, what can a wee little mouse do to us when we can simply light his furry little hide on fire. Well, I shall tell you, I will not go down without a fight and I shall take everything I can down with me.

Should you attempt to evict me from my home once more one of the following will happen.

1. I, burning tail and all, shall flee under your fancy giant’s home and set it all on fire.
2. Though I may perish by fire I shall linger on your metal wires contaminating your food so that you may all die a slow agonizing death.
3. My ancestors shall haunt your home all the days of your lives, your children’s lives and the you grandchildren’s lives. No matter where you go you cannot hide. There is no place we can’t infiltrate.

I fear not death by fire, for I know I will be avenged.


Sir Reginald, The Mouse

(After finding and reading the above letter ensconced in our grill on our back patio we heard the following faint mocking strains. The words were slightly altered, so I have posted the lyrics we heard. Please press play on the following and then scroll down and sing along.)

In this pit I’m king
And rule this Fiery Ring
It is my Wild Desire
To die by martyr’s Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

The Taste Of revenge Is Sweet
I’ll flavor all your Meat
I’ll scamper to your house
And you will curse this mouse.

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

And It Burns, Burns, Burns

The Ring Of Fire

The Ring Of Fire

*Many thanks to my HHH (Handsome Huggable Hubby) for collaborating with me on the lyrics.

** Dedicated to Lindsay and her inspiring post.



Filed under Humor, Music, Writing

Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

Now – before we begin you have to merrily sing the following chorus from a song in the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time —
To let the punishment fit the crime —
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment!
Of innocent merriment!

(This link will take you to an amazon page where you can here a snippet of just the chorus if you haven’t ever heard it before 😀 Just scroll down and press the little play button.)

This was our main theme when we sat down to Family Home Evening a few weeks ago with the children to sort out the house rules and their consequences. We find this is an ongoing process that is always in need of change and tweaking. Somethings work long term, but more often than not we frequently have to change things up. So, I’ll start with what we are doing now and then mention some things we tried in the past.

We started off by going around the family a few times and having each member state a rule they thought was very important in our family. After we had a list of 15 – 20 rules we stopped the kids and began to work on narrowing the list down to 5 major rules that would help create a better atmosphere in the home. A lot of the smaller rules ended up being encompassed in the larger rules. These were our top five house rules:

1. No Fighting (this ecompassed the pushing, hitting, kicking – you get the idea)

2. Do not throw things (we seem to have this issue with people chucking things when they get mad – drives me NUTS!)

3. Treat house with respect – no running (mainly because we’ve had too many collisions with all sorts of things and the dog gets riled up and starts jumping on people), no graffiti, no slamming doors, pounding on walls, and so on.

4. Listen to your parents – do not argue with them.

5. No yelling/ screaming/ temper tantrums.

Then, we had the kids help us decide what good consequences for those rules would be. We reminded them that ultimately Mom and Dad would decide if the consequence was appropriate and reminded them we wanted “the punishment to fit the crime”. This is what we came up with:

1. Service – since we are trying to encourage love and kindness, if they are mean to someone and hit them, etc. then they get to do some act of service to make up for it. Pick up a few things in their room, make their bed, help with the chores – something to let them know they are sorry and to make up for the meanness. Often (since it usually takes 2 to tango) we will have them work together or stick with each other until they are happily playing and getting along.

2. Extra job – the logic here was that since throwing things makes more of a mess they would not only pick up what they through but have an extra job to do on top of it.

3. 15 push-ups (to release all that pent up energy they obviously have, heh) and if there is damage to repair then they have to repair it – such as scrubbing a wall if they wrote on it – mainly in place for the little people who are still learning that you don’t touch mom’s walls with writing utensils – EVER.
* My other standard consequence which is still in place, is that if you beat up on my furniture – kick it, jump on it, etc. you have to give it a hug and a kiss and apologize to it.

4. Time out – the standard age old consequence we figured to be a good one for arguing with mom and dad to allow thinking time. They sit in time out for one minute per age. So James who’s only 2 only has 2 minute time outs, while Liz who is 11 (and would hopefully know better :-D) would have an 11 minute time out.

5. Sock in mouth – no, we’re not socking our kids in the mouth – they have to put a clean sock in their mouth and keep it there 1 minute per age. This accomplishes a few things – first off it is hard to scream and yell and carry on when your mouth is full of sock, 2nd it saves everyone else’s ears and sanity. 😀 We figure it’s longer lasting than washing mouths out with soap – and you don’t have to worry about nasty chemicals and such.
Some other things we have tried in the past – hot sauce – a dab of it on their tongue. This one backfired when our main offender developped a liking for it – she is now our girl who LOVES spicy food. Rather funny, really.
I have to say really quick where I came up with the idea, a few years ago the kids were yelling about something and I, being totally frustrated, muttered none to kindly under my breath, “Ah, put a sock in it.” Then I paused and thought, “Not a bad idea.” After which I promptly fetched some clean socks and silenced the problem. 😀

And there we go, our rules and consequences. I am in the process of making up a chart to – you guessed it! – laminate and put on the fridge. I like doing picture charts for rules and consequences so that the kids who can’t read yet can still understand what is expected of them.

I also have to say that we made sure each kid understood and agreed tot he rules and consequences. Also, we made it clear that consequences could and would be stacked. So if some one started to argue with me they would have a timeout, then if they got angry about it and yelled, they would take the timeout with a sock in their mouth – if they slammed the door as they stormed off to find a sock they would have 15 push-ups to do and so on. We are hoping to help them learn to stop and think before they make the situation worse.

SO, the thing to remember is these rules have pretty much always been there, but it is setting them up again with the kids as a refresher in the hopes there will be a renewed effort to keep them. We still have other rules and consequences in place, so they don’t get away with other things. We’ve tried to be pretty creative with some of our consequences, but we’ve also tried to stick to two general ideas:

1 – Always follow through – so, if we aren’t planning on sticking to it, don’t say it. Where possible and applicable we also try to let the kids set their own punishment – they are usually much harder on themselves than we would ever be.

2 – Try to the best of our ability to make the punishment fit the crime – we’ve found it more effective because it is more logical to the child and helps them think about their actions and the impact it has.

Anyway, discipline is tricky and there are a million ways to go about it and it’s always a work in progress. I also firmly believe there is no right way to go about it (a few wrong ones perhaps – but those are pretty extreme anyway) and it depends heavily upon kids’ personality and family dynamics and so forth.

That being said, I would love to hear what creative things you do/ have done for consequences and discipline. And if I remember more things we’ve tried I’ll post them in the comments section.


Filed under Every Day Life, Parenting

An Organizational Blog Post…

…about being organized. Or the attempt at being organized. Or wishing to be more organized. Or hoping… anyway, you get the idea.

So, the idea for this post came when we had some friends over the other night and we were talking about things that work (as well as anything can with kids, heh) for cleaning and having a semi organized house, and also disciplining. They asked me to send them the ideas and I got to thinking it just might make a fun, or at least informational, blog post. I mean, we can all use more ideas right? So, I will post some of my ideas and if you all would be so kind as to post some of your ideas in the comments section that would be AWESOME.

So, here we go. Upon moving we realized we had a lot more house to clean. So we decided to simplify it as much as possible and focus on keeping up rather than catching up. We have three schedules:

#1 Kitchen schedule.

I made a nifty little wheel with names on the back and jobs on the turning front part. Laminated it, magnetized it, and stuck it on the fridge. I put only the names of those old enough to really do all the jobs (with a little help) on the wheel. So, James was left off (and of course Robert)- consequently so was setting the table which is mainly James’ job. I thought of six possible kitchen jobs that I wanted done everyday. For us they are:

Load dishwasher
Unload dishwasher
Clear and wash table and counters
Hand wash (the dishes that don’t fit in the washer)
Hand dry

Often they have to do the job more than once in a day. Every morning I turn the wheel one notch and they get a new job – Mom and Dad are included on the wheel.

#2 Daily Chore Chart

We decided that rather than having a day where we do a weekly clean of the house we’d break the weekly clean up during the week. So, our schedule goes as follows:

*Every day from 5-6 (dad gets off work at 6, so dinner is around 6:30 at our house) is family clean-up hour. Everyone pitches in and cleans up toys and stuff that have been played with during the day.

Monday Family Home Evening

Tuesday – Yard Pick UP – a weekly clean of toys, branches and other things that are bad for a lawn mower’s health.

– Floors (vacuuming, mopping, etc.) – Everyone gets a room or a floor of the house to mop or vacuum.

Thursday – Bathrooms – we have three, but instead of assigning kids to clean a bathroom we assign them a certain part of the bathroom – one will do just toilets, another just counters, another showers/tubs, etc.

Friday – Date night or Family fun night

Saturday – floors again – with most of the day being for big projects like leaf raking, in depth cleaning or family outings.

#3 Laundry Schedule

I found that the laundry just kept piling up indefinitely and now matter how many loads I seemed to do, so I created a schedule to try to keep things better under control. I even gave myself the weekend off and it hasn’t backed up much over the weekend. The kids are responsible for bringing me their clothes, sheets, and towels. If they don’t bring them they don’t get washed, and if they end up with dirty clothes to wear to school, so be it. They learn quickly when they go a few days with “nothing to wear” that it pays to get mom the clothes when she asks for them.

Monday – Colors
Tuesday – Whites
Wednesday – Sheets
Thursday – Colors
Friday – Towels

Folding is my huge issue now – I don’t have a good folding plan – I try to do it every day because I wash everyday, but I haven’t been to good at making that work. Any suggestions? What works for you?

So, those are our main organizational schedules. We still have hiccups in the schedules – especially with a new baby – but it does help things move more smoothely most of the time. We try to be flexible too and not panic if something doesn’t get done – and homework comes first – right after school. Our general rule is hurry and get your homework and chores done so you can play and have fun, but kids are kids and sometimes spend an hour complaining rather than working so they work long into playtime – but eventually (hopefully anyway) they learn that it pays to work quickly and happily.

So, what do you do in your families to keep things running semi-smoothely?

*Next post – rules and consequences – what we’ve tried that’s failed and what we’ve tried that works – kinda – some of the time anyway 😀

*Also – I’ve come to love the wheel idea – I was having a hard time finding an FHE (Family Home Evening) board or whatever that would fit our size of family so I created a wheel with all of us on it and FHE things for them to do. We move it one notch each week after FHE so they can see what their upcoming assignment is. I laminated it, magnetized it and stuck it on the fridge with everything else. Our fridge is a very happening place to be! 😀


Filed under Every Day Life, Parenting

The One-legged Warbler

Since moving to Ohio we have spotted all sorts of amazing wild life in our yard. We’ve found snakes, turtles, deer (the kids even saw a buck and a fawn in our backyard the day after Robert was born), bunnies, and an assortment of birds. Perhaps the most wild and amazing of all these is our discovery of the One-legged Warbler.

We had our first sighting of this elusive bird on Saturday afternoon perched in the tree at the front of the house. I was lucky enough to catch the rare snap shot of how it got it’s namesake.



While typically found dangling it’s leg out of the tree, it can sometimes be found esconced within the foliage while scavenging bugs, leaves and twigs.


There are even occasions when you’ll find two Warblers together that they will look like one –


but don’t be fooled. They are laying in wait to pounce –


swinging down from the tree out of nowhere!


How I love our One-legged Warblers!

Watching the kids climbing and playing in our tree Saturday reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. There was something magic about that book, and about all trees in general. I think I spent more time sitting in trees then I did on the ground and my heart thrilled to see little feet swinging down from the tree on Saturday. Our tree isn’t an apple tree, but it will be loved just as much, and while they won’t pluck apples from its branches, they will definitely be eating apples in them.

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Filed under Children, Dot, Em, Humor, Lizy, Photography

A Couple Jacobisms

So, the other day I was heading to the music store to get Elizabeth and Dorothy’s music books for band. There had been a lot of talk of instruments lately as we had managed to track down the flute for Liz and the trumpet for Dot, and Emily had asked once or twice about a violin – though we explained she wouldn’t be starting for a little while yet. So it was only mildly surprising when Jacob, hearing that I was heading to the music store, came tearing into my room. “Mom, are you getting my drum?”

I think there is a budding percussionist in the family. After all, he was the one that before he could even walk would arrange all our rhythm instruments and toy drums in a semi circle around him and play away.


We let our cat, Spitfire, roam around outside frequently, though we always bring her in at night. Because of Murdoch and her not getting along too well yet – she’s a conniving little thing and constantly baits him – she spends the night in the basement. Well, the other day she had gotten in a cat fight and had a bloody lip when we brought her in from outside. The next morning Jacob, after seeing the cat for the first time, came running to our room.

“Mom, Dad, there’s a monster in our basement, cause it tried to eat spitfire, and Spitfire still has blood on her lip, and the monster is in the basement, and you need to come and get the monster.”

After trying not to guffaw with laughter we explained that she was not attacked by a monster in the basement and the basement is perfectly safe. I love imagination!


Filed under Children, Humor, Jacob, Things Kids Say

Little Pigs say…

“James, what does a cow say?”

“Mooo,” says James.

“What does a sheep say?”

“Baaaa.” Of course his baa is accompanied with a head shake.

“And, what do pigs say?”

“La,la la!”

At which Paul and I dissolve into laughter. We’ve read him Sandra Boynton’s book, “Moo, Baa, La La La“, one two many times (we have two copies – one older from when Liz was born and one newer from James – since they look different, James insists we read both) and no matter how we try to convince him that pigs really do say oink, and we even accompany the oinking with exuberant snorting, he is certain that pigs say “la la la!” in a cute head bobbing sing-song. Oh, Sandra, what have you done to my child? 😀

Not to worry, I am sure that Robert will follow in his big brother’s footsteps, since that is a family favorite book and we’re okay with singing pigs.


Filed under Children, Humor, James, Things Kids Say

Raking Up Leaves is Fun to Do…

For now anyway, I am sure the excitement will wear off soon, cause they’ve just barely begun to fall. Luckily Paul has a leaf blower which helps out – A LOT. Murdoch seems quite intrigued by the leaf blow too – he tries to fight the air to “bite” the nozzel – pretty hilarious to see his gums flapping in the breeze.

So, today, while I took a nice little walk with Robert and James, everyone else got started on the leaves. My walk was wonderful, by the way, I was even joined by a neighbor and it was awesome to get to know her better. I am loving out neighborhood and the people in it! Anyway, back to the leaves… When we got back the leaf raking party was in full swing and James was all to excited to help out.


Raking Leaves 2010 1

Oh, and I think James had just as much fun with the leaf blower as Murdoch did…

Raking Leaves 2010 2

And of course in the midst of all that hard work there was plenty of play!

Leaf Jumping 2010 1

Oh, and each kid as they flew through the air to jump in the leaf pile was shouting “WAHOO!” So, you have shout it in your mind – or even better out loud – as you look at each picture in the collage – it will complete the visual experience. Seriously. Do it. NOW. 😀

Leaf Jumping 2010 2


I love Autumn! I love the trees and the leaf piles. I love the giggly kids as they fly through the air to jump in the leaf piles. I love pumpkins and apples and cider. I love the crispness to the air and crunch of leaves underfoot. And to think, we’re just getting started – there’s lots more Autumn to come. Yay!!


Filed under Children, Dot, Em, Every Day Life, Jacob, James, Lizy