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Bump, Set, Have Fun

Yes, volleyball season has started again and it has consumed the Williams’ household.  My two oldest kids, Marie & Patrick, are on their school’s volleyball teams.  But that’s not all, I have signed up to coach the 5th grade team.  Which means my two youngest are being drug, sometimes willingly, along for the ride.  Oh, but that’s not all, Dad has gotten into the spirit and has agreed to not only be the assistant coach for my son’s team, he has thrown his hat into the ring to be the assistant coach for the 8th grade team too.  I guess he got tired of standing along the line at the games.  (That’s a little inside joke, because last year he was a line judge at the kid’s games.)

This is not my first year of helping with volleyball, but in the past I was the assistant.  Which was perfect for me, because I really am not a competitive person.  In fact, I have no real sports ability what so ever, which is why I was always the student manager when I was in high school.  However, as my favorite saying goes, “God works in mysterious ways” and I found myself in the position as head coach of the 5th grade volleyball team this year.  Okay, not a problem.  I can do this!  I have many returning players from last year.  I just needed to be the adult that was responsible during the practices.  Or so I thought.

We started out with 7 kids signed up to play and out of that 7, only one was a brand new player.  We did our best to get practices going, but inevitably a couple were always absent from one practice or another.  That’s fine, I worked with the ones that could make it.  Then it happened, three days away from our first official game, I find out that two of my players can’t make it that night.  That’s when I go into the recruiter mode.  I have a team with 5 players and one of them is brand spankin’ new to the game.  Technically, we could play with 5 players, but we would have to give up a point every time the absent player was up to serve.  That’s okay, the kids would still be able to play.  But what if one of my players became sick the night of the game?  We couldn’t play with four players.  We’d have to forfeit.

Instantly, my personal goal was to make sure that this team would be able to play their first game, not as a coach, but as a mother.  My son and his teammates really wanted to play and I wanted to make sure that was going to happen.  So as soon as I heard about my absent players, I started sending text to parents that had qualifying students.  I couldn’t get just anybody to fill in at the game, they had to be in the right age limit and have a physical on file.  Otherwise, I would have been sticking my 8th grade daughter on the team, even if she had to play on her knees to make it fair.  Heck, my two little ones had been at every practice and could bump as well as some of my players, so I would have gladly suited them up and had them play if I could.

However, I had to abide by the rules and make sure my players were legal players.  We are playing in a Catholic league after all.  So like I said, I started texting parents and asking students if they wanted to step in for at least this one game.  Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine what would happen next.

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Angels Among Us?!?!

I wrote this post two years ago and decided to read it again when I noticed one of my followers recently read it. I felt that it might need to be read by some of my new followers, so I am reblogging it tonight. I hope it will touch those that read it.

Tell me again...why did we have four kids???

It’s the Holiday season again and the television stations have decided to run Christmas movies BEFORE Thanksgiving this year.  Now, I am not complaining, in fact, I say KUDOS to them…because I love Christmas movies.  Probably because they are full of hope, faith, triumph and love.  Something you don’t see much of the rest of the year on the bube tube.

My daughter Marie loves Christmas movies too.  She also loves 7th Heaven and Touched by an Angel.  Two TV shows that my husband and I have enjoyed longer than she was alive.  🙂  No matter how troubled my life seemed at the time, when I heard Monica say, “God Loves You” to someone on the show, as a glow rose from behind her, it would melt away all the troubles and bring me to tears.  Which is normally where I needed to be, so that I could remind myself…

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My Kind Deed for the Day

I did something today that could make me the most popular person on my street or the number one most hated neighbor.  My kids told me that some little kids on our street had head lice.  Head lice is no stranger to my house.  We’ve had to battle head lice in our house in the past.  So when I hear the word head lice, I want to chase my kids into the house and dead bolt our front door.

Although I tell my kids not to play with the kids that have head lice, my kids do it anyway.  So I decided to do my part to help conquer the head lice issue on our street.  I wrote the following letter and gave one to each of my neighbors that have small kids.  NOT just the one that was reported to have children with head lice.

The letter read:

To the Parents of small kids,

I heard talk of head lice on our street recently. I have been there before, several times. I thought I’d jot down a few things that I have done that seemed to get rid of it. I’m afraid there is no 1 thing that will make it all go away. Instead, I have found that if you do a number of things the lice will finally go away. I am not giving this letter to you because I think your child(ren) have head lice. Instead, I am giving it to you, just in case your child GETS head lice. I just thought I would share the things that I have used, in hopes to help you out. I know how terrible it is to have head lice in your household. It can make you lose your mind. I hope these suggestions help.

• There are three stages of lice. The eggs/nit, the baby lice/bug and the adult lice/bug. If you don’t remove all of them from your house and heads, the lice will keep coming. Last summer I picked 40 some nits and lice out of Marie’s hair in one setting. Ann didn’t have as many, but she had a good amount in her hair. The boys had it too, but I was able to shave their heads and eliminate their problem.
• Lice likes clean hair, because it can cling to the hair easily. So the myth that people with head lice are dirty is wrong. So what I did was make the girl’s hair greasy by putting hair oils on them. I used products from Softee, called Hair Food and Indian Hemp. They are hair & scalp treatments that you can find at Dollar General. They are thick like Vaseline, but more manageable. When you put this oil in the hair, you are smothering the head lice. Hopefully you will kill them, but if not, you will at least make it harder for the lice to move around. So you can find and remove them easier. Plus, it should make any new lice less likely to come on to the head.
• Another thing the school suggested, to help keep any more lice from traveling, was to keep long hair in a ponytail and spray it with hairspray.
• An adult lice can lay 40 or more nits/eggs at a time. It takes around two weeks for the nits/eggs to hatch. A baby lice cannot lay nits/eggs but will cause a lot of itching and irritation. But when the baby lice become adult lice in a few weeks, they start the whole process over and the nightmare continues. Which is why all three stages of head lice need to be removed from the hair.
• You also need to treat your house. Because lice can crawl and if it moves from a head to a piece of clothing, a hat or a pillowcase, it can survive for a few days without a food source (head). So you need to take anything made of cloth and wash it in the washing machine and dry it on high heat in the dryer. I don’t know if the water will drowned them, but the high heat will kill them.
• Anything you can’t wash in the washer needs to be bagged and sealed up for at least 2 weeks. Stuffed animals, big comforters, cloth organizer bins, etc. The hope is that you smother them, plus they die from the lack of food source.
• On top of putting oil in the hair or washing it with lice shampoo, I have also washed their hair with regular shampoo and then rinsed it with Listerine. The alcohol in the Listerine helps kill or repel the lice.
• If you have girls with long hair, especially curly hair, you can use a hair straightener on their hair to burn the nits up. But you need to get it close to the scalp, because the nits live within a half an inch from the scalp on the hair shaft.
• Another thing you need to do is vacuum everything. The carpets, couches, mattresses, etc. need to be vacuumed every other day until the infestation is done.
• Again, check and remove any nit and bug from the hair. Check their hair daily. I didn’t know what I was looking for at first, but Marie’s head gave me a first class training lesson last summer. I would find black specks on the scalp and think I got the lice. That, unfortunately, was the lice’s poop, not the bug.
• What does the egg and bugs look like? They are transparent, but sort of white. Nits are little specks that are attached to a single strand of hair. It will be close to the scalp and the only way to remove it is to pull it straight up from the bottom to the top of the strand. It is not like dandruff. It cannot be flicked off. It is glued onto the hair strand. The only way to get it off is to pull it from the scalp to the end of the hair, sort of like a bead going through a straw.
• I found that the best way to remove the eggs and bugs was to sit in a well lite area. Sunlight is the best lighting to find them. I would get a small bowl of water and add a little bit of Listerine to the water. I also got a wet washcloth to wipe the comb off with. I combed through small sections at a time and when I found an egg or a bug, I would put it in the bowl of water. The eggs won’t move, but a bug will try to run away if you don’t put it in water. The Listerine sort of kills the bugs. It’s a tedious process, but it is the only way to get them out. I would sit on the floor or the couch and have the girls lay beside me, with their head on my lap. That way we were both semi-comfortable. When I went through a section, I would clip it or braid it so I knew it was checked.

I know this seems like a lot, but it seems like it is the only way to get rid of them for good. I hope this helps you in one way or another. Again, I am giving this to you to help, not to upset you. If you think you know how to control head lice, than please disregard this letter. If your household encounters head lice, I wish you luck. I have been there before and know I will be there again someday. It’s pretty inevitable, since I have four little ones. By the way, check everyone’s hair. Someone could have lice and not even know it.

Sincerely,
JoAnn Williams

I received a pretty good response from the neighbors when I brought them the letter and explained to them briefly what it was about.  But that doesn’t mean they didn’t call me names after they closed the door.  LOL  Oh well, I did my part.  Whether it will help or not, I did more than just telling my kids to stay away from “THOSE” kids.  Will my kids get head lice this summer?  God I hope not.  But if they do, you’ll hear about it on my blog.  If it does happen again, I might just shave ALL the kid’s heads.  Why not, Brittany Spears did it once and it will grow back.  🙂

Christmas Countdown

{Here is another story that was typed but never posted.  It was originally written on December 26, 2013.  Two years later, I am very thankful I had written these events down.  I remember them all, but forgot they all happened on the same holiday.  Enjoy!}

An old classmate sent me a message the other day and there was a statement that really tickled me.  She has never had kids and she wrote, “I bet Christmas at your house is so much fun.”  I hated to burst her bubble of the wonderful image she had of my life, but if she reads this blog she will discover that my family Christmas’ will never be used to portray a Norman Rockwell Christmas picture.  Maybe the cover of a National Lampoon Christmas Vacation movie, but not a Norman Rockwell picture.  LOL

I’m sure you all understand the term “cause and effect”.  I have decided to use a cause and effect layout to describe my Christmas Holiday.  I hope it comes across the same way I had it in my head.  I was going to write, in detail, what my Christmas Holiday was like, but it was turning into a book.  So hopefully you will get a good understanding of what my Christmas was like from the highlights below.  So please join me on my Christmas Countdown.

4 days before Christmas

Woke up to an ice storm = Me outside beating on the weighed down tree limbs with a stick.  (It was like beating a big pinata and I actually kind of enjoyed it.)
Kids excitement level for Christmas escalating + Boredom of being inside = More sibling fighting than normal.
Ice storm causes a baby-sitting event to be cancelled = No Christmas shopping alone with my hubby.
My youngest throwing a toy car at the ceiling = Broken glass globe on my ceiling fan/chandler.
Ice storm blows a neighborhood transformer = Me leaving a shopping cart full of toys at a store to return home.  (By the way, the glass globe incident happened on Dad’s watch, about 5 minutes before the power went out.  So the big pieces were picked up, but not the little pieces.  And if you were wondering, the kids continued to fight IN THE DARK!)
Estimation of power coming back on at 8:00pm = Taking the family to IHOP for supper.
Discovering power is back on by 8:00pm = Frank telling me to go Christmas shopping, while he watches the kids.
Christmas shopping for about 3 hours at Walmart = Quicker checkout lines and arriving to a house full of sleeping kids at midnight.

3 days before Christmas

Youngest walking around with his sibling’s new flashlight = Black eye for my youngest daughter Ann, after Christopher gets mad and hits her with it.
Bored kids = Even more fighting
Kids getting in trouble = Many threats from parents that their toys were going back.
Telling my 8-year-old son that Santa isn’t going to bring him a present because of his actions = Hearing him state, “Doesn’t matter, cause your Santa anyway.”
Telling my 4-year-old daughter to behave or Santa Clause won’t bring her a present = A little girl crying her eyes out, for real!!!

2 days before Christmas

Dad & Mom having to go to work = Youngest one to day-care and the three older kids to a babysitter for the day.
Kids being at the babysitter’s house all day (on their best behavior) = Three kids letting off steam once they get home. (I’m talking a LOT of steam)
Little brother coming home with a present from a friend at day-care = Three older kids crying “It’s not fair, what about our present?”
Anxious kids asking about presents = More pissed off parents that declare Christmas is going to be cancelled.
Older siblings telling my 4-year-old that tomorrow is Christmas Eve = Four year old stating that tomorrow is Christmas and December 25th was Christmas Eve.

1 day before Christmas

Hubby having to go to work until 3:00pm (Luckily fool) = Mom threatening to kill kids if they don’t stop fighting and start picking up their toys.
Oldest daughter locking baby brother in the bathroom for a joke = A very pissed off Mom and a big brother to the rescue.  (He had to move my night stand, which blocks the other bathroom door, to get in and rescue his 2-year-old brother.)
Youngest son climbing up his dresser to get a pair of socks so he can join his older siblings outside = Chest of drawers falling on top of my little 2-year-old.
Lack of concern from older siblings when they found out about their brother’s accident = Mom on the floor in tears, having a Christmas meltdown.
Mom breaking down and crying = Kids actually cleaning the living room like I had asked them to do all day.
Dad arriving during Mom’s breakdown = Kids standing around saying, “Mom’s in the bathroom crying, but we don’t know why.”
My two oldest kids singing in the children’s Christmas choir = Needing to have them dressed and to the church by 4:20pm.  (Less than an hour after Frank arrived home from work.)
Watching my two oldest singing with the mass choir on Christmas Eve = Pride and thankfulness that our oldest daughter is here to sing at mass.  (Since 6 months ago, she had a brain tumor removed.)
Mom making baked zitti earlier in the day = Having a hot supper waiting for us after mass.
Letting the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve = Hearing excitement and disappointment when my youngest daughter says “I wanted some Stompy Slippers like Patrick.”  (However, they didn’t have any in her size, so I got her some Minnie Mouse slippers that can be used as a hand puppet.  No matter what I do, I can’t win!!)
Mom forgetting to make or buy cookies for Santa = Mom having to sacrifice one of her Reese’s peanut butter cup candy bars to set out with Santa’s milk.  (My oldest daughter asked me, “But what if Santa is allergic to peanut butter?”  My reply, “Then he won’t eat it.”)
Kids going to bed earlier than normal = Mom having the Christmas presents wrapped and gives Santa a chance to drop off his gifts at a decent hour.

Christmas Day

My two oldest kids excited about opening presents = Waking up around 4:00 am to hear them sifting through the presents under the tree.

Discovering my kids are awake WAY TOO EARLY = Telling them through gritted teeth, “If you don’t get back to bed and wait until your younger siblings wake up, all of your gifts will be going back!  And don’t even try waking them up, or you’ll be sorry.”.

Mom’s few minutes of letting her head spin around = Two kids actually staying in their room until a decent hour.

Watching ALL of the kids open presents that morning = Happiness, thankfulness and joy.  Not to mention some disappointment, whining and tears.  (You just can’t please everyone, all the time.)

Knowing all of our kids are healthy = The best Christmas present for Frank and I.

After reading through this story, I see that my friend is right.  Christmas is fun at our house.  It’s also crazy, loud, eventful and lively.  Going through those events at the time didn’t seem like fun.  But reading them now, years later, the bad feelings are forgotten.  They have been softened around the edges by the time.  So when I remember that Christmas in 2013, I have a warm and loving feeling in my heart.  Not the anger and despair I probably felt at the time.  🙂

I guess one of the miracles of Christmas is to create memories that will be cherished and remembered with a smile on your face many years later.

Good News

To all those that have wondered, my Dad is still alive and kicking.  Okay, he’s only kicking his bed sheet off, but that’s a start.  He’s still in the hospital, but no longer in ICU.  He’s still fighting an infection, but he’s talking a bit more.  My oldest brother and sister has made trips to see him and have reported some great things.

We are “cautiously optimistic” as my brother puts it.  We all know that my Dad has a long way to go and the journey will be long, but we all see improvement.  So for now, we will all rejoice in that and leave the rest to the Good Lord.  Because honestly, that is all any of us can do.

Sincerely,

JoAnn Williams

Mother Gravity

I am sure that you have noticed by now, that I am a pretty straight forward kind of woman.  People will hear me say, “I am, who I am” and sometimes the person will reply back, “Are you Popeye the sailor man?”  🙂  No, that I am not, but I don’t get embarrassed easily.  In fact, I’m the first to laugh at something dorky that I have done.  I guess you could say that I am a little twisted, because I will think to myself, “Boy, wait until my friends hear about this one.”

With that said, let me tell you my latest endeavor and the lessons that I have learned.  My husband and I decided to treat our kids to a surprise trip to an indoor trampoline park.  If you have never heard of a place like this, think of it as an upgraded version of a birthday party bouncy house place.  But instead of inflatable slides, you have wall to wall trampolines to jump on.

My children had been invited to a birthday party before, were we had experienced this new bounce craze.  Ever since that party, they have wanted to go back.  In fact, many times during their Christmas Vacation, they asked if they could go.  Well, due to a few reasons, I had not been able to take them yet. Little things like money and car problems would not allow it.  Not to mention the fact that I would be taking them alone, since Frank got to escape to work for 9+ hours each work day.  I am the first to admit that I am amazing, but I know my limitations.  I was not going to go to this big place, alone, with four kids.  I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes on all of them at once and they would not want to stay together.

So I suggested to Frank that we should take them there on the last Saturday of the kid’s Christmas Vacation.  I decided that it would be a good end to a long drawn-out two weeks together.  Okay, the truth was that I wanted to get them out of the house to work off some energy.  What better way to do that than to bounce it off.  Besides, I was getting so stir crazy from being with these kids, that I wanted to do some bouncing of my own.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am not the athletic kind of mom.  I am not “in shape” and I definitely could lose more than a few pounds.  But as I said, “I am, who I am”!  I am a duplicate of my mother and proud of it.  You couldn’t hug my mom around the waist and clasp your hands together.  She was the definition of what a friend’s niece called “loveliness” or what some people in the past would call “A woman with a lot of girth”.  That was my mom and I was not ashamed to be like her.  Because it’s not what the person looks like on the outside that matters, it’s their beauty on the inside.  I could go on and on about the weight thing, but that is another story entirely.  However, for this story, I think you can understand that I was about to participate in an activity that would not show my most flattering side.  But sometimes you have to live a little and just throw caution to the wind.  Besides, there wasn’t anyone there that knew me, except my family.

So off to the trampoline place we went and I was ready to jump.  Well, I say I was ready to jump, but I was wrong.  I was not as ready as I thought.  Like I said earlier, I have learned a few lessons that I will not soon forget.  Once we got on our jumping socks, we headed for the trampolines.  Like I said, there is wall to wall trampolines to jump on, with padded barriers covering the trampoline frames.  Plus a trampoline wall, so to speak, so there is no way to fall off of the elevated trampoline.  It’s heard to explain, but I have to say it’s a pretty darn clever idea.

I hadn’t been on a trampoline since I was Marie’s age, so what I experienced might have been typical.  There is probably a scientific term for what I experienced, but I will call it “Mother Gravity”.  I took my first jump on the trampoline and while my body went up, my bladder content went down.  Yep, I had tinkled in my pants.  Just a bit, nothing my pantiliner wouldn’t catch.  So I stopped and suggested the little ones go potty with me, for their purposes.  😉

After our potty break, we went to bounce again.  Same thing, I would jump and Mother Gravity would rear its ugly head.  Did that stop me, nope.  I was having fun with my kids and I didn’t care.  Besides, I had my pantiliner to protect me from embarrassing accidents.  Did I wear the pantiliner purposely for this event, heck no!  I wear a pantiliner on a daily basis to keep me dry during the moments when I yell at my kids so loud that I lose all bladder control.  Or on those occasions when I’m walking along and sneeze or cough too hard and don’t have time to brace myself.  Or when I laugh so hard that I pee my pants.  Yes, my name is JoAnn Williams and I can’t control my bladder! I need to find some sort of bladder control support group or something.

I suppose this fact should embarrass me, but instead, I carry it like a medal.  I am a 44-year-old mother of four and I have every right to have a weak bladder.  I am woman, hear me roar.  (but there will probably be some tinkling during that roaring).  🙂  So as you can imagine, the more fun I had jumping, the wetter my pantiliner got.  But I bounced on, because I didn’t care.

Thankfully, I was wearing heavy blue jeans, so they helped absorb the little accidents that I was having.  Besides, when you are jumping on a trampoline, you sweat big time.  You don’t know your sweating, until you take a break and the breeze isn’t there to dry the sweat.  Then you realize your sweating your butt off.  What a way for a workout, too bad I couldn’t afford to make this a weekly fitness routine.  I was having fun and exercising at the same time.

Thirty minutes into our jumping Mother Gravity kicked in even stronger.  I’m not sure if it was from the fact that I was getting tired and couldn’t hold my stomach muscles as well or if it was from the laughing, but it wasn’t good.  My husband was taking a selfie on solid ground with me jumping in the background.  When I noticed what he was doing, I jumped over to a closer trampoline.  I was laughing so hard at what the pictures probably looked like, that I lost it all.  Yep, I peed my pants.  I didn’t just tinkle, the flood gates opened up.  LOL  I instantly made a dash to the restroom, with my little kids hot on my heals.  Because mom can’t go anywhere without my youngest following me.  I made it to a restroom stall and confirmed what had happened.  I am a grown adult and I peed my pants in public.  Oh well, it happens.

Now, most women would have packed their family up and headed home, but I’m not most women. We paid for a whole hour of jumping and the fact that Mother Gravity caused me to have an accident didn’t mean that I had to ruin my kids fun.  So what do you do when your pantiliner is so saturated that it doesn’t even want to stick anymore?  I don’t know what you would do, but I decided to use the napkins that I had in my pocket to create a make-shift pantiliner.  In fact, this could be how the first pantiliner was invented.  Who knows?!?!?!

Due to the fact that my ‘Loveliness’ causes me to look like an overstuffed teddy bear, I was pleased to discover that the area of my jeans that was wet was not noticeable to the human eye, if I was standing with my feet together.  For once, I was thankful for my extra padding.  🙂  So I decided to go back out and finish our jump time.  I didn’t jump quite as freely, but I did jump.  I had fun with my family and didn’t care how many fluids were coming out of me.  I must note that if the pee had run down my leg, things would have ended differently.

I know you are thinking that I was too embarrassed to tell my husband and kids.  Heck no, “I am, who I am”!  In fact, those selfie photos that my husband took, with me in the background, will forever be referred to as the pee pee photos.  LOL  Cause that is when mom actually lost it all.  When we recall this event in the future, I will remind them that I was a mother of four and had a valid reason to have such bladder problems.

Does this story mean that I will not be going to an indoor trampoline park again to jump?  Heck no, it means that next time I will come prepared.  I’ll be sure to wear an overnight maxi pad to hold the access fluids.  Heck, I might go and invest in some Depends just for those occasions.  Who knows?  But a little bit of tinkling isn’t going to stop this mom from having fun.

By know, you might be wondering why I shared this embarrassing story with you.  Because I believe I am not the only mother to experience this.  I truly believe that motherhood causes things like this to happen.  Your body cares an unborn baby for 9-weeks and it makes things a little weaker.  Is that a crime, no it’s reality.  Then for the next 5, 6, heck 9 years of that child’s life, the mother is still carrying them at some time or another.  It’s what a mom does, it’s part of the job.  But the weaker bladder doesn’t make the mom weaker, it makes the mother’s bond with the child that much stronger.  It’s a medal to be worn proudly.

It just occurred to me that there could be one more reason that might make my experience a little more different from some other mothers.  All four of my child were delivered as c-sections, not natural childbirth.  So that might play into some of my abdominal weaknesses as well.  So if you are a mother that delivered your child(ren) naturally and you don’t have this issue, it could be because of my c-sections.  But I do believe that all mothers would have some degree of “Mother Gravity” happen if they jumped on a trampoline.  If that is the case, then welcome to the club, the MGC (Mother Gravity Club).  I am willing to be the president of the club, but don’t be surprised if I need to run to the restroom if I start to cough, sneeze or laugh to hard during the meetings.  It’s just who I am!  😉

Christmas Vacation…A Day With No Tablets!!

I conducted a science experiment on the fourteenth day of Christmas Vacation. As I mentioned previously, I had four children that were getting more and more irritated with each other.  The night before, my husband took the tablets away from both of my oldest kids, as a punishment for fighting.  So I decided the next morning to make ALL of the tablets disappear for a day.  How many tablets do we have in this house?  I’m embarrassed to say, but our children should be thrilled with the electronic devices they have at their fingertips.  Yet they never seem happy, because someone always wants to play a game that someone else is currently playing.  So I decided to have a day without electronics.

This was a difficult decision, so I had to think long and hard that morning, before making it. I knew that if the tablets were taken away, I was going to have to provide the kids with entertainment.  I finally decided that it was worth a try.  I had enough energy at that moment that made me believe it would work out.  So the tablets were tucked away in my room and I made a conscious decision to not use my phone during the day either, except for phone calls.  It wouldn’t be right for me to play Cookie Jam or surf my Facebook account all day long, while my kids were not allowed to have their electronic entertainment.  So except for speaking to my husband on the phone, I too was making it a day free of electronic entertain.

My five-year old daughter Ann woke up first, which is typical.  She always wakes me up early, wanting me to get up with her.    She settled into her favorite chair and wanted the tablet.  I told her that the tablets went away for the day.  She started throwing a crying tantrum that was ridiculous.  It was like watching an addict quitting cold turkey.  She was yelling that she needed the tablet to watch “The 7 Ds” cartoon.  I told her she could watch it On-Demand on the cable TV, but she wouldn’t believe me.  Yes, I still allowed them to watch cable TV.  I wasn’t stupid, I wasn’t going to take away the tablets AND the cable TV from these kids.  I could have been murdered that day, if I had done that.

So I pulled up the cartoon on the TV and Ann finally calmed down.  She wasn’t thrilled that they weren’t the same episodes she could watch on the tablet, but she was content enough to watch the new ones.  So my first test subject acted exactly the way I thought she would.  I was pretty pleased with myself, because I didn’t give in and hand over the tablet when the tears and yelling wouldn’t stop.

Next to wake was her little brother, Christopher, and he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of no tablets either.  Ann made sure to announce this tidbit as soon as he woke up.  He cried around for a bit and then was distracted with breakfast.  So my second test subject acted the same I predicted he would.   The third to wake up was my oldest daughter, Marie, who had to put on a show and whine, “Mom, I didn’t get to play on it yesterday.”  However, she was willing to accept the rule with very little argument.  So far, every test subject acted the way I assumed they would.

The last child to wake was my 9-year-old son, Patrick, which I figured would throw a complete fit.  You see, he had received a new tablet from Santa for Christmas.  So his actions surprised me when he accepted it without crying or fighting me.  So my hypothesis was wrong, I had guessed that my son Patrick and his little sister Ann (who I like to call, Patrick Jr.) would be my toughest challenges.  Yet Ann was the only one that really threw a tantrum.  Wouldn’t you know it, when I thought I had my kids figured out, they go and change on me.  🙂

So after Cafe Mom was done serving breakfast to the masses, it was time to be creative.  I had worked out a system that allowed each child to be in control of the TV remote for an hour each.  Which meant we watched a variety of Disney and Nick shows during the day.  If the kids were not interested in the show that was on, they would play with a new toy alone or together.  Which worked out good, but I sure got tired of hearing, “Play with me Mom!”, when all I wanted to do was just chill.

Sometime after lunch the kids needed more guidance in keeping entertained.  Okay, let’s be honest, they started to fight with each other over stupid things, like the possession of a chair and such.  That is when I had to pull out my secret weapon…the Disney themed Monopoly board game.

My husband and I had bought it before Marie was ever thought of and I think we played it once.  Frank is not into board games, so it has been tucked away on a top shelf for a good 12 years.  But now that my two oldest were big enough to understand the rules, it was time wipe off the dust and break this box open again.  No, seriously, you would not BELIEVE the amount of dust that thing had on it.  Man, you would think someone would clean around this house.  I might need to fire the maid…oh wait, I am the maid.  Well that explains it all.  😉

Back to my secret weapon, Monopoly, the world’s favorite family board game!  The kids were all excited when they saw the game.  My son Patrick said he had played it at camp last summer, so he was a little familiar with the game.  As I was getting the board set up, the kids were shooting questions at me left and right.  As I think back now, I find it humorous how Marie kept telling them, “Just wait and Mom will explain the rules to us.”  She didn’t know how to play, but she was eager to learn.  I took that as a good sign.

So for the next FOUR hours, I played Monopoly on the floor with the kids.  All the kids except for Christopher.  He will be turning four years old in less than a month, so the only real interest he had in the game was to torpedo the game with various items.  LOL  I had put a movie in for him to watch, but when it didn’t keep his interest he would throw something at us from the recliner.  I guess it was his way of reminding us that he was still here.  Once or twice, when he felt his attempts of being noticed weren’t successful enough, he would play Godzilla and walk over the board game.  Which, of course, caused his siblings to scream at him for messing up their hotels and money.  Christopher may be quiet and laid back, but he knows how to get attention when he wants it.

I learned a lot that afternoon about my kids and the board game Monopoly.  First, this game is a wonderful learning device for all ages.  The kids had to read the cards, add the numbers on the dice, count spaces and money.  I was refreshing my kids on their school lessons, without them knowing it.  Man, I even amaze myself sometimes.  🙂

I learned that my oldest daughter, Marie, should not be trusted with real money any time soon. She has not had enough exposure to money to know all the denominations.  If she had to pay $150 for a property and she didn’t have a hundred-dollar bill and a fifty dollar bill, then she didn’t know how to pay for it.  She struggles with math, but she isn’t flunking out of the class.  She has been taught the standard rules of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  She is even able to calculate fractions better than I can, but understanding the value of and counting money is not her strong skill.  Yet, she wanted to learn, which is good.  She didn’t get frustrated and quit playing, she just asked for more assistance on the money transactions.

I discovered that my oldest son, Patrick, did very well at the money transactions.  Maybe that is because he is our one child most likely to save his birthday money and counts it often.  However, he struggles with reading, so playing Monopoly helped him practice in that area.  I think the fact that he excelled over his big sister in money counting helped boost his confidence in his reading.  So I was happy to see him work hard at playing this board game and not get upset and throw in the towel.

As for Ann, this game helped her too.  Yes, she needed help reading the cards and counting the money, but she was practicing her counting.  Every time she rolled, she would count each dot on the dice to see how many spaces she could move.  The one thing I had to teach her was how to move her token.  She was always trying to cheat and move to a desirable space.  🙂  Or she would use the space she was currently on to count it as the first space to move.  So every time she moved, she would be one space short.  But we worked on it and I think she’s got it now.  Thankfully, she enjoyed it too and did not get bored and walk away.

Along with noticing my kid’s weaknesses, I also thought of more ways to help them down the road.  Once I can get Marie to understand the different currency values, I can teach her how to break a big bill into smaller denominations.  Then my next goal is to teach her how to count back the change properly when she is the banker.  That was always a pet peeve of my mom’s, she would be so upset when she would have a young cashier hand back her change without counting it back to her.  I plan to get Marie to a level that her Grandmother would be proud of.  🙂

I also thought of a way to make a game continue for days on end, so the kids could get to the level of buying hotels instead of only houses.  Plus, venture into the mortgage value of the properties and using the properties for collateral on a loan from the bank.  These are life lessons that my kids need to learn.  Maybe they will be more knowledgeable than their parents are on that topic.  I can see great things that can be accomplished from playing Monopoly.  Who knew that back in the old days, when I was playing this board game with my siblings, that I was learning these valuable skills.  I just thought I was having fun and bonding with my siblings.  (Well, more like being the typical little sister and tagging along with my big brothers and sister, so I could be cool and be part of their grown up world.)

Believe it or not, the time just flew by and before I knew it, I realized my husband would be getting off work soon.  When I announced this fact to the kids, they all wanted to know if we could continue to play even after Dad got home.  In fact, they thought Dad should play with us too.  LOL  I told them that I doubted Dad would play, but that we could play after supper.  I even gave them an option to continue the game or start over.  Around that time was when Christopher decided to be Godzilla again and walked all over the game board, creating chaos and destruction in his path.  So, needless to say, we opted to start the game over after supper.

After Dad arrived home and supper was consumed, the game was on again.  It lasted for another good hour or two before kids started to get tired and cranky, so we had to call it a day and pack up the board game.  Yet, the strangest thing happened, no one asked to play on the tablets.  In fact, I had told Frank that this was a ‘No Tablet Day’ and advised (from the corner of my mouth) that he too should put his tablet away…but he didn’t go for it.  Oh well, I tried!  🙂

So my experiment was successful, we survived a day without electronic games.  Was there bickering?  Some.  Was there screaming?  Only when little brother attempted to wreck the game to get attention.  Did my kids have fun together?  Yes.  Did I feel like an amazing mom?  Of course.  So what do you suppose happened the next morning?

My five-year old woke up the next morning and the first thing out of her mouth is, “Can I have the tablet?”  At which time I said yes.  The other kids soon woke and all the tablets were available and were used.  So was the old Monopoly game put back on the top shelf to never be touched again?  Nope.  More than one child requested to play Monopoly that day and every day since.  I see now that I just created a whole new situation that will suck away my time, because they don’t seem to want to play Monopoly without mom.  What was I thinking?  Never the less, at least they are practicing their skills when they are playing it.  But mom doesn’t always WANT to play Monopoly.  Mom just wants to chill.  So yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, there is a new phrase in our household now.  “Stop fighting, or the board game is going away!”  Kids…Gotta love ’em!

Christmas Vacation…Someone Help Me!!!!

I have four children that range from the age of 3 to 12 and I love them all.  However, after spending the last 14 days with my children during their school Christmas Vacation, I would love them a whole lot more if they were back in school.  As each new day dawns, my children find new ways to bicker and fight.  This is due to boredom, not hatred for each other.  (At least, that is what I keep telling myself.)  🙂  The problem is, they need to be away from each other, to appreciate each other’s company.  Sounds weird, huh?  Well, they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and in my kid’s situation,  it’s true.

The first week consisted of four children anxious for Christmas to arrive.  School was out, Santa was coming and that meant presents would be showing up.  They had just celebrated a mini Christmas celebration at school the prior week.  In one week’s time, they had participated in Christmas caroling field trips, volunteered at Catholic Charities, rode on the school’s float in the annual Christmas parade.  Plus rehearsed and performed in the school Christmas program and had class Christmas parties.  With all of this activity, all at once, I guess they had a legitimate reason to be bouncing off the wall during the days that led up to Christmas Day.

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Batting A Thousand

Well, I’m not really batting, but I did just hit 1,000 hits on my blog.  Thank you all that have found my posts interesting enough to come back for more.  I know that my recent posts have not been as carefree and comical as some of my first posts.  But I can guarantee that if you can hold on  just a little bit longer, my story of Marie’s summer will be so comical you will be peeing your pants from laughing so hard. 8^)    Again, thank you for coming back for more.  It means a lot to me!

{HUGS}

JoAnn Williams