Friday Favorites

Here are a few of our Friday Favorites from this week.

Favorite Picture – Mariyah was painting my toenails and insisted that Violet needed to get in on the action. Violet wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t think she would be interested, but she proved me wrong! Afterwards she strutted around the house showing her toes to everyone who would look at them just like Yiyah. How sweet are these sisters?
Sister Manicure

Favorite Post – When you have a blog, it’s really weird to see what posts people love and hate. Sometimes no one reads your very best stuff, and sometimes lots of people share posts that you didn’t think would get much traffic, as was the case with a post I wrote earlier this week on Violet’s chronic illness. Here it is in case you missed it then.

Favorite Story – Okay so this cracked me up a little bit. I was in the kitchen last night cleaning up from dinner and I could hear James and Mariyah talking in the living room. They were whispering (loudly, since neither one is exactly proficient at the whisper).
Mariyah: Do you think there’s going to be ice cream for dessert?
James: No way.
Mariyah: What? Why not?! I saw cookies and cream in the freezer!
James: That was last weekend Mariyah. there’s no way there is any of that left. Mommy has definitely finished it by now.

For the record there WAS ice cream left, although I had made a dent in it I had not actually finished it. But man, my kid knows me too well.

Favorite Book – Violet is just as hooked on The Very Hungry Caterpillar this week as she was last week, Mariyah and James have been rereading The Ramona books. Of all the series we own Ramona has definitely logged the most page turns. I think we’ve read every single book 3 or 4 times. I’ve got to be honest, I prefer the old illustrations, but atleast the story still rocks.
The Ramona Quimby series by Beverly ClearyFavorite Recipe – I’m pretty picky about beverages. Most of the time I would just prefer to drink water. I know, I know, party animal in the house. But these Classic Mint Mojitos from Goodie Godmother look amazing. I love how refreshing a mojito is in the summer.
Classic Mint Mojitos

Foster Care Alphabet (Advice for new foster parents)

From time to time I get asked to give advice for new foster parents. It’s always very touching though feels a little inauthentic as I’m no expert. Here is my advice for new or prospective foster parents in ABC format. Or as a child I used to babysit always said “ABCDees” format. Naturally I did not make all of these up, they have been compiled in my brain courtesy of other foster parents over the years.

The ABCs of Foster Care - A Foster Care Alphabet for prospective and new foster parents

A – Adoption. It doesn’t always happen with foster care. Adoption is the last resort. Prepare your heart and your foster child’s accordingly.

B – Biological. Honor your child’s biological family whenever possible. As tempting as it might be in some of the more horrific cases, do not ever trash talk your child’s family.

C – Caseworker. The caseworker will oversee the case. They will visit to check on the child, and you. They will schedule visits with the biological family. Request services. All that jazz. Caseworkers run the gamut from the most caring, hardworking professionals you’ve ever seen, to the most brainless and seemingly uneducated people on the planet. My fingers are crossed that your foster child’s case gets the former, but experience has shown me that you will likely encounter both along the way.

D – Diversify your toy collection. As a waiting foster parent you likely don’t know what your future foster child is going to be like. Make sure your toy and book collection appeal to both sexes, a variety of ages, and all ethnicities.

E – Eating. Fruits. Vegetables. Some children in foster care don’t have much experience with healthy eating. Be patient during the transition from french fries to broccoli.

F – Family. We are family. Get up everybody and sing. Because being a foster parent will redefine the meaning of family for you.

G – Guardian ad Litem (GAL). GAL usually refers to a volunteer who is appointed to the case. Some areas have a similar thing called a CASA worker (Court Appointed Special Advocate). They might do things like make recommendations to the court or help a child obtain services. The idea is that caseworkers and lawyers have so many cases, which makes them likely to forget facts and details, GALs just take one case so they can really advocate for it.

H – Hugs. There is a saying by Virginia Satir, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” If you’re going to be a foster parent, be ready to give 13.

I – Insecure attachment. Attachment is such a buzz word in the foster care and adoption world. Many children with a traumatic background have insecure attachments. There is nothing wrong with the child, they just need to be parented a little differently. Research attachment and be ready to up your parenting game as insecure attachment is something you will likely experience in some degree at some point as a foster parent.

J – Jokes. Foster care can be really stressful. It’s not the kids, they are the fun part, it’s the system. Try not to lose your sense of humor.

K – Kinship. Kinship means family. Kinship placements are usually the first priority in foster care. If a kinship placement can’t be found, then the child is placed in a non familial foster home. Some states allow something called “fictive kinship” which is when a person who is close to the family but not related by blood, such as a best friend, is able to take the child.

L – Love. Love is all you need. Actually that’s not true. You need a lot more than love to foster. You also need time, and energy, and patience. But the biggest thing you need is love.

M – Memories. You are the memory keeper for your foster child. Take lots of pictures. Write down funny stories and quotes. Make a life book. Send everything home with the child when they leave, but keep another copy safe with you. It isn’t uncommon for life books to be lost along the way, and some day that child may really appreciate having access to a second copy.

N – Needs. Everyone has them. Advocating for your child’s needs is a huge part of being a foster parent. You’ll spend more time on the phone than you ever thought possible. Don’t forget your own needs too. Sometimes parents need a break. Or a fancy coffee.

O – Openness. Being open in foster care is really hard because there are so many unknowns. Try your best to be open and honest. Don’t lie to a kid. They can sense it.

P – Play. A lot. You may need to help make up for lost time here.

Q – Quiet. Something foster parents know nothing about.

R – Race. There are children of every race in the foster care system. If you are a white foster parent you may be surprised to hear that racism still exists. It really, really does. Prepare yourself on issues of race so that you are prepared to parent a child of another race.

S – Stipend or subsidy. If you are new to foster care or just considering it you are probably curious about the monthly stipend or subsidy check. The amount varies dramatically by state. You could try googling it, but the results are contingent upon so many factors. For a child without medical needs it is usually in the 400-600 a month range. Some states also provide daycare, some don’t. Some reimburse expenses in addition to the stipend, others expect expenses to be covered completely by the stipend. You’ll have more luck asking an agency directly about this then you will googling it.

T – Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). TPR happens for some children in the foster care system when their biological parents are not able to complete their case plan. After an amount of time (usually 1.5-3 years) a court date is set and a trial occurs to terminate the biological parent’s rights. If the trial is successful, and the biological parent’s rights are indeed terminated, the child may become available for adoption.

U – Underwear, socks, and pajamas. You don’t know how old or what size child you will have placed in your house. You don’t want to stock up on clothing too much without that knowledge, but underwear, socks, and pajamas are a smart move. Keep a variety of sizes at the ready. Everything else you can head to the store for when the time comes.

V – Visitation. If your foster child’s birth family is still in the picture they will likely have visitation once or twice a week. Visitation is extremely emotional, but also extremely necessary.

W – Wendy’s. No matter how big of a health nut you are, once you have kids you will likely at some point or another, find yourself at the drive through of a fast food restaurant. Go with Wendy’s. Dave Thomas was an adoptive dad, and Wendy’s is a huge supporter of foster care.

X – Xylophone. Because does anything else start with X? Keep one handy as they offer endless excitement (for the child, for you – ear plugs)

Y – Youth. They need families just as badly as cute little babies do (maybe even more). Each year 20,000 teens age out of the foster care system. Consider becoming a foster parent for youth or teens.

Z – Zat is zee end. And also zoo. Sometimes you might feel like you live in one.

Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!

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Todays topic is Anything Goes. Grab a button for your post and join Jamie, Jenni, Jill, Madeleine, Rachel, and me!

New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.

No Bohns About It


Just an Average Day in Pictures

In an effort not to miss out on the little things in life, once a month I document a day in pictures.

JuneDay1

We started the morning with “cearios” which is the word Violet uses for Cheerios/Cereal.

JuneDay2

James was pretty excited for the first day of summer camp.

JuneDay3

Our neighbor offered to walk James and Mariyah to the bus for camp with her son. I missed the actual departure because….

JuneDay4

Violet started crying at the door that she wanted to go to “tamp” too. Although of course she had no idea what “tamp” was, she was devastated that Bubba and Yiyah were going to go somewhere without her.

JuneDay5

She cheered up a little when she got to play with Bubba’s friends sword that was left in the backyard.

JuneDay6

And she cheered up a lot when she got to go to Ikea with me to watch the airplanes (and make a few returns).

JuneDay8

Naturally those returns turned in to new purchases. I’ve been planning to redo James’s room and think these picture frames will fit right in with the music/rock and roll theme we are going for. (That makes it sound way more fancy than it is, mostly I just want to hang his guitars on the wall so the dust stops collecting underneath them). JuneDay9

After our Ikea trip we stopped at camp to pick James and Mariyah up. I knew without even looking where each child would be. Mariyah was at the swimming pool…

JuneDay10

And James was at the soccer field.

JuneDay11

We headed home. Where Violet kindly brought me about 15 feet of “kissyous.”

JuneDay12

Then I headed to the theater for the Voices for the Voiceless #stars4fosterkids show, which was a fundraiser for You Gotta Believe. You Gotta Believe is the only adoption agency in New York City that focuses on kids over 10 years old. The show was phenomenal and featured some really cool non triad performers like Tina Fey and Megan Hilty. And then some really cool performers who were part of the adoption triad like Rachel Crow and Alex Mapa.

Rachel Crow

How awesome is Rachel Crow? Mariyah was totally jealous. I should have brought her with me.

Is My Child Really Chronically Ill?

Is My Child Really Chronically Ill? When your child goes through periods of being healthy it's hard to believe.

My child is chronically ill. At least, that’s the term doctors have been using. I’ve tried saying it out loud a few times. But it often feels like a lie.

When I use the term chronically ill, I feel chronically overdramatic. She’s fine! I tell myself. Just look at her dancing to Taylor Swift in the living room mirror! Look at how she lined up three chairs and scaled the kitchen counter to get a biscuit for the dog while I tried to use the bathroom! She’s fine!

And she is fine. For a week, or two, or maybe even three if we’re really really lucky. And then she’s not.

It starts slow. She has a quiet day. Our ball of energy is missing. She wants to snuggle everyone and give kisses. She doesn’t want dinner unless it’s ice cream. Around the room she goes, hugging brother, and sister, and mommy, and daddy. She looks us in the eye and gives us her biggest smile. Kisses for everyone. Her siblings think it’s so cute. It’s cute, except that it’s actually not because it means things are about to get really bad. The lovey dovey behavior is her hurting body’s last call for attention. It always feels like a bon voyage from the child I know as she checks out of normal toddlerhood and enters into one of her episodes for the next few days.

She’ll start throwing up within 24 hours of all the hugs. Cyclic vomiting syndrome people call it emesis. I guess emesis is the professional term for loosing ones lunch. It’s actually a lot more than loosing one’s lunch, it’s loosing every single ounce of fluid in one’s stomach. Over and over again until all that is left to come up is green bile. And still the bile will come.

We’ll spend the next few days changing her clothes, and our own, and the sheets, and the couch covers over and over again. We’ll clear our schedules for the next few days. We’ll pace the living room with her for hours at a time, as she writhes around in pain, exhausted but unable to sleep. We’ll pray our favorite babysitter can make it, or that grandma can drive up from Virginia, so that we don’t lose our jobs. We’ll try to trick her into drinking gatorade, or pedialyte, or anything at all. We’ll start to go stir crazy. We’ll start to bicker with each other. We’ll worry constantly. Is her diaper wet? Is she making tears? How are we going to afford another hospital bill? Our kids will worry constantly. Is this going to last forever? Is she going to die?
Is My Child Really Chronically Ill? When your child goes through periods of being healthy it's hard to believe.After 3 or 4 days, it stops. She starts drinking and then eating. Her diapers are wet again. She smiles a little. She wants to play with her blocks. After a day of regaining her strength, she climbs into the windowsill and gets scolded. She laughs and darts down the hallway in hot pursuit of a toilet paper roll she can unravel. She’s happy. She’s healthy. She’s back. For the next week or so anyway.

Is my child chronically ill? She fits the description I guess. She does indeed have a medical condition or illness with long duration or frequent reoccurrence. I don’t know, it’s just hard to imagine she’s really chronically ill when you’re in the middle of a game of hide and seek.Is My Child Really Chronically Ill? When your child goes through periods of being healthy it's hard to believe.

Monday Morning Coffee Talk: Worst Job (or First Job)

JamesCoffeeTalk

There is nothing quite like a worst job story. Or even a first job story. They are always so fun. When I was looking for my first real job (aside from babysitting) there was an online teen job listing website that was popular at the time. I can’t remember what it was called. But it was where every 15 year old in America went to find a job in 2001, so maybe someone out there does. When you’re 15 and looking for summer employment the pickings are pretty slim. I decided to go ahead and apply for each and every available job on the website. They were as follows 1) Lifeguard 2) Camp Counselor 3) Adult Diaper Salesperson. Now I know what you’re thinking “adult diaper salesperson, that sounds a little weird.” But honestly there is a market for adult diapers for elderly people and persons with disabilities, and the job was the only one in doors (air conditioning) so it sounded fine to me. Off I sent my resume, which listed a few babysitting gigs, my skills (soccer and swimming of course), and my mediocre high school GPA. I crossed my fingers and waited for my potential employers to reply.

I heard back about the camp counselor position first, they had already hired a full staff. I heard back from the lifeguard position second, they called me in for an interview. And third I got a response from my new friends at the adult diaper store, confirming that I would indeed be willing to wear adult diapers on the job (FYI it didn’t say that in the job’s description on the listing website). Now the thought of wearing adult diapers when you don’t need them is not exactly enticing, but I was pretty desperate for a summer job, so I didn’t cross it off the list yet. I thought for a few minutes if it would be possible to wear the diapers, but not actually USE the diapers on the job. Naturally, I asked my mom. Unlike my apparently naive 15 year old self, my mom instantly smelled a rat. We hopped in the car and drove by the supposed address, which did exist, but did not seem to house an adult diaper store. My mom contacted the website and they instantly agreed to pull the ad.

I learned an important lesson on that first job hunt, and that is the fact that there are creepy people on the internet doing creepy things for no good reason (aside from the fact that they are creepy). A few months later, I started my first job as a lifeguard.

I’d love to talk about jobs. Tell me about your first job. Or your worst job. Or any funny stories while you were on the job hunt. Talk to me about jobs on this Monday morning!

Friday Favorites

James and Mariyah were visiting grandma this week. So it’s pretty much been a Violet week. I’m looking forward to their return this evening. Here are a few Friday favorites.

Favorite Picture: That would be my daughter. “Eating” birthday cake. IE turning it into a facial scrub.
Baby Eating Birthday Cake
Favorite Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar is Violet’s very favorite book right now. She’s been a little sad this week as she usually likes “Bubba and Yiyah” to read it to her before bed every night. With them at grandma’s house, she’s been stuck with boring old mommy who can only play peek a boo with the drawing in the book for so long before she risks losing her mind and is forced to turn the page. After I leave the room Violet has been reaching out of her co-sleeper and bringing the book back into bed with her. Naturally her favorite page is the one with all the cake, pie, and ice cream.
The Very Hungry CaterpillarFavorite Story: So I’m not sure how it goes in your house, but in our house we have a rule you can’t have dessert unless you finish your dinner. I know, I know, that makes vegetables a punishment and kids spend all their free time lusting after sweet treats. But it also works. We haven’t implemented this tactic with Violet yet, mostly because she doesn’t eat anything we want her to eat anyway. Well this week she totally proved me wrong. She finished a dinner of collard greens (which I didn’t anticipate her even touching) and then marched straight to the freezer with a big grin on her face and announced “I cweam!” while pointing at the freezer. She must have heard us tell the older kids at some point that they couldn’t have ice cream unless they finished their dinner, and even though they weren’t home, she knew that was the policy.

Favorite Recipe: With all the ice cream, cake, and goodies talk, this recipe from Cook. Craft. Love. for Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream fits right in! And honestly doesn’t look too tough to make. I think I might try it when the kids get home. (Lest Violet and I eat the whole thing ourselves).
Old Fashion Vanilla Ice Cream (No Ice Cream Maker Required)

Favorite Songs: Whenever my older kids are at grandma’s I have just a little bit more time to get ready for work in the morning, mostly on account of the fact that I only have to make sure one persons shoes are tied (mine). Naturally all those spare minutes mean that I turn on the show tunes and go to town. I’ve been on a Kinky Boots kick this week. So take what you got and get that YouTube playlist rolling.

Adoption Records Binder and Organization

This post is sponsored by UniKeep

Organization is not exactly what one might call my strong point. I always have a lot of grand plans, but my file cabinets unfortunately look a lot like my closets. Our adoption paperwork is crammed and stuffed every which way in two single files, one labeled “foster care” and one labeled “adoption”. It’s all in there, but it’s not exactly tidy. There’s everything from handouts, to our home study, to our kid’s adoption decrees just jammed in there. I really wish I had come up with a better system from the start.

Enter in, The Adoption Guide from UniKeep, which is a new adoption records binder intended to help potential adoptive parents make informed choices about adoption, as well as keep the mountains of adoption paperwork organized. I really wish I had something like this to keep me organized during the process.The Adoption Guide - Adoption Records binder for information and organization

There are two different styles available, Fox which is cute and fun, and Yellow Stripes which has a more classic feel. They both contain the same information to help guide potential adoptive parents.

The Adoption Guide - Adoption Records binder for information and organization

A few of the things inside the binder are:

  • 10 step overview of the adoption process
  • Information on starting the adoption process (such as questions to ask yourself and tasks that lay ahead)
  • A questionnaire to help determine if your family is best fitted for an international adoption, a domestic infant adoption, or a foster care adoption
  • Estimated timeline
  • Questions to ask a potential adoption agency
  • Questions to ask a potential adoption attorney
  • Protective folders to keep paperwork safe
  • Labels to keep paperwork organized

The Adoption Guide - Adoption Records binder for information and organization

Just for fun I decided to take the questionnaire to help determine the best type of adoption for our family. The Adoption Guide - Adoption Records binder for information and organizationThe good news is that we got foster care adoption again. Hear that honey? We’re ready for another foster care adoption.

Although our kid’s adoption is completed I am looking forward to pulling out our old paperwork and organizing it in this binder. I plan to make a section for handouts, court paperwork, birth family information, home study and foster care license, original documents, and adoption documents. Since every adoption is different, I love that I can create my own sections, and organize them in a way that works best for our family’s adoption.

The Adoption Records binder would make a great gift for anyone who is considering adoption. The adoption process can be really overwhelming, and although every single adoption is different, it is nice to be able to read information like that contained in the binder, and get a rough idea of the timeline and process for adoption. Plus, best of all, the adoption records binder will save potential adoptive parents from having drawers that look like mine by keeping all that adoption paperwork organized as it comes in. Pretty awesome stuff.

3 Sources of Healing Conversations in Your Home

The following guest post was written by Margie Fink, a foster/adoptive mom to 4 kiddos. If you are interested in submitting a guest post, here is how.

3 Sources of Healing Conversations in Your Home for parenting kids from hard places

In our almost seven years on the foster and adoptive parenting journey, I have connected with so many other parents who are willing to do whatever it takes to help their children from hard places heal. Our job entails a great deal of detective work in an effort to determine what will reach and teach our kids’ hearts. In our home, we tried everything we could. Some things worked, like anything we consistently did to use Trust-Based Relational Intervention techniques taught by Dr. Karyn Purvis. Other things, like counseling outside the home, did not work.

One principle taught by Dr. Purvis is that as our children were harmed in a relationship, and damage was done in a relational context, healing can only come in relationship. Our family has experienced the greatest gains and healing in our own home without therapists or fancy treatments. Often it is in the daily conversations of life that come up naturally where we see our children move forward, and media—such as books, film, and music—often bring about powerful, healing conversations in a non-threatening manner.  How have these resources helped in our home?

Music
One way we have communicated to our kids is by singing songs with them. Early in our journey, we realized it was often difficult to reach our children. They had learned not to trust adults, and they knew little about unconditional love. Parenting would take all the tools we could get.

A breakthrough came one day listening to the lyrics of the song “Sticking With You” by Addison Road and realizing how much it applied to our situation and seeing those lyrics reach the heart of one of our children. I started singing it to the child over and over. We’d get in the car, and I’d play it again and again, and we would sing along. The others were oblivious, but this child knew I was speaking those words through that song. I sang of unconditional love, of sticking by them, of doing what had to be done, or seeing past the fight being put up, and I reached a little, broken heart.

Movies/TV
As foster/adoptive parents, we often feel the pressure to stay away from screen time as much as possible, especially for kiddos with sensory issues or other special needs. We know it provides too much opportunity for them to dissociate, and we do not allow electronics during the school week in our home. At the same time, our family often finds ourselves completely drained physically, mentally, and emotionally by the end of the week. Family movie/TV night allows us all time to decompress, cuddle, and be together without further draining our reserves.

There are so many entertaining, fun movies that include foster care and adoption themes, and they have brought about family discussions. But a movie or show can sometimes surprise us in its abilities. Hoarders was one such show. We were watching an episode once where children had to be removed from a home. This episode opened up opportunities for us to talk as a family over the following week as the kids asked questions about their circumstances, and we filled in the gaps wherever we could. They gained further understanding of their own histories as they’re now old enough to process and understand more than when they first entered foster care.

3 Sources of Healing Conversations in Your Home for parenting kids from hard places

Books
One of the first times I saw the power of books was in a summer camp we ran with a group of foster and adopted kiddos during the summer of 2010. During that time, I learned of a group of children’s books about Robbie the Rabbit, a little rabbit in foster care who moves homes and eventually ends up getting adopted. These books, written by Adam Robe, a former foster child, were targeted to foster and adopted kids, and even the middle schoolers in camp loved seeing these books they could relate to and often chose reading the books as a group over going outside for free time. We saw many healing conversations sparked in a group setting, but what about books that aren’t targeted towards these children? At home, we saw our children impacted by many children’s books that dealt primarily with family relationships: The Runaway Bunny, I Love You, Stinky Face, The Kissing Hand, and I Love You Through And Through.


Then our children started getting older, and we weren’t reading children’s books as often. We underestimated the power of older children’s books which aren’t trying to teach the kids something about family life. We saw something powerful happen when we began reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone before traveling to Universal Studios and Disney World to celebrate adoptions. Near the beginning of the book, one of our children, who never really talked about his experiences or feelings or even seemed to understand how he felt, started tearing up and talking about the past. Identification with parts of the characters’ lives sparked needed, therapeutic conversations in our home, and even inspired us to start a website with discussion starters and blogs about books, movies and music that have impacted us.

3 Sources of Healing Conversations in Your Home for parenting kids from hard places_________________________________________________________________________________________________

3 Sources of Healing Conversations in Your Home for parenting kids from hard placesMargie is a foster/adoptive mom of four amazing kiddos. She blogs about her attempts to give kids from hard places loving structure while providing unbelievable homemade cooking. Margie has always been very passionate about helping orphans, children, and kids from hard places. She received her degree in psychology and has worked in various social work and educational capacities before turning to a digital marketing position. She co-founded Community Kids, a non-profit resource and support network created to assist foster, adoptive, and relative caregiver families, and Transfiguring Adoption, which develops media resources that nurture growth in foster and adoptive families.

Summer Bucket Lists: Yet Another Way I Can Disappoint My Children

Summer Bucket Lists - Yet Another Way I Can Disappoint My Children

Summer is here! I am a complete and total summer lover. There is less laundry on account of the t-shirts instead of sweaters. The weather is warm, which gives me an excuse to sit in the park 5 minutes longer on my lunch break everyday. Plus, best of all, there are no worksheets or projects for my kids that I need to oversee the completion of. Of course there is the flip side of that, which is that summer usually starts with them talking about presidents and ends with them talking about Pokemon. I’m not trying to say they are getting dumber over the summer necessarily, except that they really are getting dumber over the summer. That’s okay though. Summer is about having fun, right? And fun is what we’re going to have.

Now I’m not sure if you’ve seen the growing trend of making a summer bucket list. If you have Pinterest or Facebook you probably have. Basically, it is a list of ways for you to maximize your child’s summer fun. And naturally, it’s one of those things I have tended to avoid doing with my own children. We’ll have fun of course, but making a summer bucket list just seems like making a list of more ways I can disappoint my children. As usual, one of my children came home from school with some grander ideas. While cleaning out her backpack yesterday (yes I know she’s been out of school for awhile) I found her (dun dun dun) Summer Bucket List.

My daughter’s list in bold, my thoughts on the item listed below.

1) Build a sandcastle.
I’m not sure if we’ll make it to the beach or not this year. The weekends are filling up quickly. But there’s some sand in the sandbox for you kids to work with in case this one doesn’t pan out.

2) Run through the sprinklers.
Preferably the neighbors. Our water bill was a little high last summer.

3) Have a lemonade stand
Actually please don’t. I’m sure I’ll spend far more on that lemonade then you guys will make off our generous neighbors, mostly on account of the fact that in order to sell any you need to sit outside in the heat for more than 7 seconds.

4) Get ice cream
Sure. I’ll get one too. We can do this every single week if you want.

5) Find shells at the beach
I’ll hide them in the sandbox for you.

6) Make a fort
Are we talking blankets in the living room? Or small hut in the woods? Let’s go with the former since woods in our neighborhood are in short supply.

7) Make Tie-Dye Shirts
And then donate them to needy children please. We have far too many tie-dye clothes that you don’t wear already.

8) Catch Fireflies
Sure. But don’t bring them into the house claiming they are your pets again. We have enough ants living here as it is.

9) Ride my bike to The Statue of Liberty
Good luck my sweet girl. Perhaps we should add “study the meaning of island” to this list.

10) Ride horses everyday
Let’s stick with once a week. When we’re in town. And don’t have other plans.

11) Have a treasure hunt with real money at the end
How much money is at the end and can I join?

12) Play a game with mommy and daddy
Excellent choice.

13) Have so much fun
That one we can handle for sure. My sincere apologies about some of the others.

Monday Morning Coffee Talk: Cleaning

MariyahCoffeeTalk

It is Monday morning, and the first real day of summer vacation for my older two children. Their last day of school was Friday, which they were surprisingly bummed out about. Of course they didn’t admit they were bummed out about it…. but they moped around all day Friday, so I came to that conclusion myself. As usual, my mother has kindly taken James and Mariyah for the week since Rob and I work (Violet has daycare so she stays with us). The big kids will be back Friday, and summer camp will start next week.

Last time they were at my mom’s for spring break, I made one single solemn cleaning vow. And that was to get the closets done. Here is the before and after shot:

Before and After Closets

If you are having trouble discerning the difference that is because there is none. I vowed to try a little harder this time. Which is ironic because a year ago I made the same vow. I generally work 4 days a week and today is my day off. I decided just this once, to take Violet to daycare even though I was home (disclosure: I shouldn’t say “just this once” because this is the second time I’ve done it. Shhh!). With no one but me home I am getting some SERIOUS cleaning done. And when I say serious I mean I found a size 3t-4t sock in the bottom of the closet.

Unfortunately our home has become so overridden with toy/clothes/sports paraphernalia that even things that seem small (like the closets) are taking me hours. But they are getting done. I’m trying not to lose my steam, but I just found myself debating donating vs saving Mariyah’s old soccer cleats and dance wear for Violet for over 10 minutes. Naturally, this helped me realize it was time for a break so I ate a bite of cake or 5, After a little sugar I was back on track and found myself able to part with them on account of the fact that Violet likely won’t fit them for another 8 years and we just don’t have that kind of closet space.

I know it’s not exactly the most exhilarating topic out there, but I would love to chat about cleaning. What needs it the most in your house? How do you stay on top of it? If you had an entire day to clean your house with no interruptions, would you be able to get it done (because I certainly can’t)? Talk to me about cleaning on this Monday morning!