Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brownie Points

Most of the time, Lisa is a pretty sweet kid. She’s nice to her siblings, helpful around the house, polite and appreciative. Except when she’s not. And when she’s not delightful, she is most definitely frightful.

The worst is when she hasn’t had enough sleep. When she is overtired, she’s whiny and shouty and stubborn and just generally difficult. As it happens, she’s overtired when she goes to Brownies*. Her meeting only goes until 8:00 PM, but she is usually in bed by 8:00, so Brownie nights are tough. Last week I told her that if she couldn’t control herself after one late(ish) night in the week, there would be no more Brownies. Well, she didn’t control herself and I told her that her Brownie days were over. Around Saturday, she started talking about the play she would be doing this week at Brownies and the sleepover in December. I reminded her that she wouldn’t be participating in those events. Do you know what she said? “Oh, I just figured you would forget about that.” Burn. Also? Brat.

I don’t know why, but I started to feel guilty about the punishment. When she, completely unprovoked, helped Bart sweetly and patiently with a computer game he was having trouble with, I told her, “You just earned a Brownie point!” And so began her four days of butt-kissing, dripping with sweetness, random acts of kindness and helpfulness. This morning, she earned her last of 10 Brownie points by setting out all the coats, snow pants, boots, hats, mittens and backpacks for herself and her siblings. These Brownie points have been a wonderful thing!

So tonight, after the meeting, she’ll start with 10 Brownie Points (meaning she can go to next week’s meeting), but she’ll lose points (at my discretion) for bad behaviour and have to earn them back with good behaviour. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m hoping she needs to do a little grovelling this week. Hee.

*I just had to Google “Brownies” to see if it’s a Canadian thing. It’s not, except in the US they’re called Brownie Girl Scouts and here they’re just Brownies, then they become Girl Guides at the appropriate age. Huh.

Friday, November 14, 2008


A long time ago, I read about the Penicillin method of decluttering your house. I’m almost certain it was from this site, but now I can’t find it when I go searching. Anyway, the Penicillin Method is this:

Look at your cluttered home in small areas: the kitchen table, the front entrance, the computer desk. These are the areas that collect and attract all that stuff that eventually drives you nuts. Thoroughly clean one area at a time. Don’t just push the clutter aside, but really look at what you’re clearing and figure out a way for it to never be a problem again. Once the area is clean, treat it as though it has been cured (with penicillin) and never let it get that way again.

I have three penicillin areas so far:

The kitchen table/island:
This is the most multi-purpose piece of furniture we have. It’s where we eat, where the kids to homework and crafts, where I bake, where Homer and I have our computer. It was always covered with papers, mail, school forms, and every other bit of random crap in the house. We made this our first penicillin area last spring.

We got those hanging basket/cup things on the wall for mail, coupons, school work, small tools, batteries, pens etc. Just having a place to put those things has made a huge difference. Also, the baskets aren’t huge, so we go through them frequently to purge what we don’t need and find a more permanent home for those things we want to keep. The rule is that the only things that can be left on the island are the fruit bowl, the computer and the turntable thingy. Everything else gets filed or moved to another area. By the way, we’re planning on painting the kitchen over the holidays, so ignore the hideous wall colour and spackled bits.

The front closet:
Five people, one small front closet. This closet was always jammed with stuff, which most often spilled out to the front entrance. It's embarrassing to admit that I would hear a knock on the door, panic, and shove a pile of coats, shoes and backpacks behind the door to hide the mess. We tried baskets and shoe shelves, but nothing really worked. The kids couldn’t reach the baskets or the hanging bar, so they never put away their own stuff.

Just after school started, I reorganized this closet by raising the original hanging bar and shelf by about 6 inches and buying a new hanging bar and sectioned hanger (both of which actually just hang from the top bar – no installation tools required). I took a couple of the plastic cubes I already had and screwed them into the wall. One holds backpacks, the other holds kid shoes. The kids can reach the lower bar and hang up their own coats and they each have a section of the shelf thing at the side where they deposit their hats, mitts, sunglasses, etc. The very top shelf is for the grown-ups.

I know you’re looking at this thinking “this is the AFTER shot?” But really, it’s a vast improvement. It’s still jammed, but now everything has a place and the kids can do their part to keep the place tidy.

Old dining room/new den:
This room has gone from dining room to playroom, back to dining room, back to playroom and now den. The kids were putting more and more demands on the TV and computer, so when we upgraded the kitchen computer, the old computer went to the kids. This room is used for TV/movie watching, video games, computer, crafts, fort building and playing. And it was always a mess.

The first step to cleaning it up was getting proper shelving and a desk. We bought those cube shelves from Ikea with a desk to match. We bought a few of these storage boxes and used them for things like paper, arts & crafts supplies, etc.

We learned that the things that were kept in the boxes were always neat and tidy and the things that were just open on the shelves were a hideous mess. So, we went back to Ikea and bought enough of the boxes to fill the shelves. Each box has a specific purpose, labelled with words and pictures, so even the non-readers can tell where things go.

The final thing we did for this room was to make a no eating rule. We used to allow them to take drinks and snacks in there, but it just left too much mess in there with crumbs, wrappers, empty cups, etc.

The transformation in this room is fairly recent, so we’ll see if it becomes our newest penicillin area.

Do you have any areas that could use some penicillin?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall Colours

Loving the Fall

Going to her first "friends" birthday party.
Homer said that if she was a doll in a box, he would buy her.

My Super Guys

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Strange days indeed

Barack Obama is going to be President of the United States! Of course, I didn’t get a vote in the matter, but I’m still thrilled that my guy won. That hardly ever happens in the elections I do get to participate in.

Last Thursday, a guy wearing full combat gear and carrying a gun was spotted walking briskly through the community toward campus. The moment he stepped foot on campus he was taken down by 4 police officers and 4 campus police officers, guns drawn. It turns out that he was hurrying to catch a bus to a Halloween party.

Here's how my guys looked on Halloween. No chance of them being taken down:

Another student was arrested this week for setting a fire in the elevator of one of the campus residence buildings at 4:00 AM on the Saturday of Homecoming Weekend. The fire resulted in four non-life-threatening injuries and the displacement of more than 550 students from their home. The accused lived in the building.

My sister lived my worst nightmare and did not make it to the hospital to have her baby. Mom and baby are doing fine. Dad? Suffering a little post-traumatic stress. She’s a doll though. Look:

Homer has been miserably sick for more than two weeks, unable to sleep because of an unrelenting cough. He hasn’t missed a day of work. When he finally went to the doctor yesterday, he was given an inhaler for bronchitis, and a nasal spray and antibiotics for a sinus infection. I really need to take better care of him, since he’s clearly not very good at taking care of himself.

I let Lisa do her own hair before school yesterday. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. She told me after school that they had their class picture taken that day. Lovely. The school calendar said “Picture Retake Day”.

Speaking of pictures, my mom said that all she and my dad want for Christmas is a framed professional picture of the three kids together. In the course of the two minute conversation, she said the word "professional" at least 10 times. What qualifies as professional? Because, there seems to be two price points for portraits: $20 for the Sears/Walmart/Supercentre deals (much less than I'm willing to spend) and $250+ for the rest (much more than I'm willing to spend). Is there a $100-ish option I'm missing?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

These girls are made for birthin'

I'm an aunt... again.

My sister gave birth to a little girl this morning, her first child.

She was delivered by my BIL on their bathroom floor - no time to make it to the hospital they had so thoroughly researched and meticulously selected.

Gotta love my gene pool!