Monday, April 20, 2009

Breakfast Chatter

When I came down this morning, there were already four kids at the breakfast table. As I started collecting my breakfast in the kitchen, I heard the chatter that was going on.

“Well I am going to have two kids and adopt two kids . . . from Africa,” F.G. was saying.

“Yeah? Well I am going to have seven kids and adopt fourteen kids,” Buddy said showing both his affinity for prime numbers and their non-prime multiples.

The one-upmanship went on for a few minutes until Buddy was claiming that he was going to have 150 kids. Deciding to be realistic for a moment, Buddy said, “Well, I don’t think that is actually possible.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

EM Bucks

When I was filling Easter baskets on Saturday night, CrazyMom had some “EM Bucks” from Ed and Miss Bookworm to put in each basket. I was aware that these things existed and knew a little bit about the program, but I decided to sit Ed down and interview her about the EM Bucks to find out more. Here is what she said.

What are EM Bucks?

If Miss Bookworm or I see somebody doing something kind, then we write down what they did on an EM Buck and then put it under their pillow. Then they will find it when they go to bed or when they get up. They can use these EM bucks to buy things at our store. Oh yeah, we also give out EM Bucks when someone reaches a goal they have.

What does EM stand for?

E is for Ed, and the M is for Miss Bookworm.

Where did the idea of EM bucks come from?

I had a dream that I had a store that I ran that everybody loved. I decided to include Miss Bookworm to help me with the store since she probably would not be interested in buying any of the stuff anyway.

What types of kind things have you found people doing?

The other day I was joking with F.G. and asked her to move all of the chairs so I could sweep the floor. She actually did it even though it was my chore and so I gave her a buck. When we were dying Easter eggs, LittleFoot dropped and broke his last egg and was sad. F.G. gave him her last egg to make him happy. One time K.D. pulled out a chair for a friend’s mom that was visiting. The other day Anna and LittleFoot had to set the table and Anna said she would do it all so LittleFoot could go and play. Also, at Easter we put a buck in everybody’s basket to help celebrate. One time Buddy saw the milk was empty and so he went down to get more milk from the downstairs fridge without anybody asking him to. Buddy also reached his goal of getting to level 3 in his Mad Minutes at school and he got a buck for that. Then there was the time that Mom had some old leftover Girl Scout cookies and homemade chocolate chip cookies. LittleFoot let someone else have the homemade cookies and he ate the old Girl Scout cookies. Also, Anna would get up in the morning and spend an hour eating breakfast. Mom is always telling her to hurry up and one day she ate in 20 mins and then went and made her bed.

What type of things do you have for sale?

We have a Bop-It for $17 EM Bucks. We also have a whole bucket of 1 EM Buck items with bracelets, McDonald’s toys, or cereal box toys. There is a package of beads that sells for 4 EM Bucks and seven mini smell pens at 1 buck each. There are some other things as well.

How often is the store open?

It is not set. If we know that we have been handing out bucks and people have several bucks, then we will open the store. But we make sure everybody has three or four bucks so nobody is left out. Anna gets to go first since she takes so long.

How have the other kids responded to this program?

When we first told them they were all excited and wanted to know what was in the store, which we did not tell them. Whenever F.G. gets a buck she always says, “Hey Miss Bookworm and Ed, look! I got a buck!” When we had the first store and I was helping Anna spend her 3 or 4 bucks, Miss Bookworm had to hold the other kids back until she was done. Then they spent a half hour looking over everything in the store and trying to decide what to buy. They also like to share with everyone else the bucks they get and what they did to get them.

Do you think this program has had an impact on the behaviors in our home?

Umm, well, I wasn’t really paying attention to what nice things people were doing before, but now I notice it more. I sometimes see people doing nice things when I am around to try to get a buck.

How long do you think you will continue to do hand out bucks?

I have no idea. Probably until either Miss Bookworm and I have to go to school and so we aren’t around to see what is going on as much or if the younger kids get too old and don’t want what is in the store anymore.

Thank you Ed for taking the time to share about the EM Buck program.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs

Here are some shots from this afternoon as we decorated Easter eggs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pioneer Day Failure

It was just after 4am this morning when LittleFoot came into our room.

“Mom. What am I going to wear for Pioneer Day?” he asked trying hard to keep in check his emotions about the situation. His concern was certainly justifiable seeing that neither CrazyMom nor I knew that today was Pioneer Day.

To understand how two Type-A parents with electronically synced calendars could fail the Pioneer Day test, it helps to understand the slightly dysfunctional relationship that CrazyMom and I have.

The first month CrazyMom and I were married we decided that it would be more efficient to have a division of labor in our home. I took taxes and all financial concerns that extend beyond day to day operations and CrazyMom got everything else. It was a sweet deal. Sixteen years and seven kids later, I am still doing taxes and financial stuff and CrazyMom is still doing everything else. Well, that is not totally true . . . I also do the blog. :-)

Anyway, part of “everything else” is managing the kids’ school life – valentine cards, cupcakes for birthdays, and, pertinent to this discussion, Pioneer Day. CrazyMom did a great job with our first three kids who have gone through Pioneer Day at school. She took in food, had their outfits all lined up a week in advance, and other stuff that I am not even aware of, I am sure.

This year, there was a switch in the way communications came home from school. Being environmentally correct, they send emails rather than paper notes in the backpack. CrazyMom is great at keeping up with her email, but, unfortunately, the emails were coming to me. I had in my head that CrazyMom was also on the distribution list, so every time an email showed up about Pioneer Day – what to wear, food to bring, and who knows what else – I was pleased that it was an email that I could delete without reading. I have a very literal understanding about this whole division of labor thing.

Well, fifteen deleted emails later, it is 4am in the morning with a concerned child. CrazyMom was able to soothe LittleFoot enough so that he could go back to sleep and then she was restless the rest of the night wondering how she could have missed that it was Pioneer Day and what she was going to have do quickly in the morning. Meanwhile, I slept soundly.

When morning came, CrazyMom and I figured out what had happened and that all of the emails were gone. CrazyMom then went in to rouse LittleFoot from bed. A few moments later CrazyMom had LittleFoot sitting on the wooden folding chair in our bathroom intently saying, “LittleFoot, I need you to tell me everything that you can remember about Pioneer Day.” I slipped away. It did not seem like a safe environment for me.

CrazyMom pulled together an outfit for LittleFoot and sent off a happy child to school. Of course, we are not sure what other duties we shirked by not reading any of those emails, but it seems that Pioneer Day went off without a hitch. As my favorite pioneer – Pa from the Little House on the Prairie books – always says, “All’s well that ends well.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Precious Photos

A full year after our second trip to Ethiopia, CrazyMom and I finally put together a photo album of the trip. It has been wonderful to live the trip again through the pictures that we were able to capture. All of our kids have been pouring over the albums with so much delight that it is hard not to feel guilty that we did not complete this project earlier. I will refrain from sharing the 600 photos that made the album right now, but I thought that I would occasionally share a few here and there.

While in Ethiopia, we had the opportunity to make a long trek south to the town where our children were from and meet some of the family members. Whenever we were shown photos of our children, I would lay the photos on the ground and take a picture. This photo of a photo shows K.D. sharing his third birthday with his little sister Anna. The three candles, three bottles of Pepsi, a traditional bread/cake, and newspapers on the wall all tell a story of K.D.’s past that we would not have been able to imagine without this precious photo.