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Category Archives: Desperate

Tip of the Momma 2 U: Tired of Flash Cards?

I don’t know how some people do it, how they study for a test with flash cards. Kudos to those who can.

I am not one of those people. And I realize that my child is semi-responsive to that method of learning.

In my son’s third grade class they are starting to learn multiplication facts. Starting soon, those who miss two or less on their test each week will receive a pop. A little drink I still like to refer to as Soda.

My son will just DIE if he doesn’t get a Soda each week. At least that’s how he acts about it. But I’m happy to see that he’s motivated. He doesn’t get to drink soda at home and very rarely at restaurants, so I have no gripes about it, as long as he doesn’t have the opportunity to down it just before I pick him up from school.

So, back to the flash cards. Years ago, before my child was even a twinkle in my eye, I knew that a game of Jenga existed in which the blocks were modified with dares and tasks written on each block for a drinking game. Tsk, tsk, and shame on people for taking such an innocent game and turning it into a beverage consumption game. Heh.

Anyhow, taking that concept (which my children will never hear of… from me) I came up with a fun way to go over the multiplication facts and not lose my mind with the redundancy of flipping cards while my kid answers back dryly and then we shuffle and do it for four more minutes. By the way, bless his teacher’s heart for at least providing the flash cards for us. If I had to make them, I might cry.

Alright, enough whining from me. The bottom line is that, there are adults and children who do not learn well from flash cards.

So here’s my Tip of the Momma 2 U: Any brand of this tower game can be purchased and used as a teaching tool. Our particular tower was for Multiplication facts. Here’s how it works:

Take one tower containing 48 blocks. Write a multiplication question on each of the two widest sides of each block with a sharpie pen. I was able to write all facts of 1’s through 9’s multiplying by 1 – 10. With the remaining blank spots I wrote things such as “Count by 3’s to 30” or “0 X any number” (in which the child would reply “equals zero”).

Have a print up of the Multiplication Facts Table nearby in case there’s a discrepancy about the answer and also so your child can easily test him/herself.

You can play this game like a typical game of Jenga where you try not to topple the tower. My son decided to construct another tower with his correctly answered blocks.

Another idea: Place them in a bag or basket and randomly pick them out to answer.

If you have littler ones who are learning to read or spell, try one of these:

Write common sight word on the blocks

Write tasks such as “Say a word that starts with C” and put the whole alphabet in the game

That’s not all, right? Give me some more ideas!

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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Martha Asks Martha: How do I live with a Bunk Bed?

If you’ve read my past blog on bunk beds then you know the daily battles my son and I engaged in with making this bed. Sure, bunk beds are fun for kids, but not fun for the person who has to make them. I told my 8 year old son it was his job to make the bed himself and I actually felt bad for him. He was getting just as hurt and frustrated as I was in this task, and he’s half my size!

Some of my readers (loving family and friends) suggested that I use a sleeping bag instead. This is a great idea! However, we have character comforters out the ying-yang and I’m way to stubborn to let them go. Plus, I dread the sound of zippers clancking around in my dryer. Yes, I’m a stubborn gal!

So if you aren’t as stubborn as I am, start with a sleeping bag. Because I’m so stubborn, I decided to try one more thing before giving in to retiring a brand new Star Wars: The Clone Wars comforter and sheet set.

IMPORTANT! Before reading this and possibly taking my advice, please remember that this solution, similar to a sleeping bag, was tested out on an 8-year-old capable of getting out of a sleeping bag in an emergency. Do not use this solution with a child that would not be able to do so. Thank You.

So, we have tested and approved this method ever since the first blog post of my whining and complaining came out. Since the test, we have kept the method and my son makes his bed every morning without an injury and I am about as happy as a domestic engineer can get each morning (please add coffee).

This is our “Method to Making the Lower Bunk of a Bunk Bed” (dun dun dun!):

What you’ll need –

  • The twin comforter of your choice!
  • The twin sheets of your choice!
  • Zip ties (YES! Zip Ties! Sometimes called Cable Ties)
  • Pair of tough scissors

That’s it! The best thing about zip ties is that they are CHEAP. I bought mine at an unnamed superstore for under $2.50 for a pack of 50. A pack of 50 could last you about 4 months if you change the bedding once a week. Imagine how much money you’ll save in bandaids, antiseptics, ice packs and therapy (from all the emotional damage the old fashioned way will cause you). I won’t disclose how often I change out ours. There’s no judging here!

First thing you want to do is lay out your kid’s bedding on the floor UPSIDE DOWN, preferably next to the bed itself. Lay the Comforter down first, then any extra winter blankets, then your flat sheet (remember, ALL upside down).

Now fold the foot of the bedding sandwich over, only to the length of the twin mattress. This helps preserve the character theme of your comforter, the whole reason you spend $29.99+, right?!

We severed Obi Wan and Anakin's head's off when we did it the old way...

Everytime you do this, you will need only 3 zip ties. Yes, just three. This allows for the child to throw off unwanted layers on warmer nights.

Zip tie the two bottom corners nice and tight so that the blankets never pull free. Yes, this will leave a thicker mound at the foot of the bedding, but your elbows will thank you in the end.

Now the last zip tie goes on the top corner that is used the least for entering the bed. Remember that your bedding is upside down right now, so think about which upper corner will end up on the entrance side. My son’s bed is against the wall and he is forced to enter on the left side. Easy-peasy!

Here’s an important thing to note: Once the ties are pulled tight, you’ll may feel the desire to cut off the excess tie. If you do so (which we do) be sure to cut as close as possible to avoid sharp plastic edges that can scratch. So far, my son has not been scratched whatsoever. Also, turn them in toward the bed and not facing out, if you’re extra worried about little scratches. And please make sure your bedding is out of the cutting zone! I say this because I came close to cutting the bedding fabric. Whoa!

Now you have to teach your kid to make the bed, because now it’s so easy, you no longer need to do it for them! Leave enough space between the bed and the wall so your kid can throw the far ends over the bed and tuck them down. My kid sleeps in a tornado fashion. If yours does too, he or she may need to tuck under and smooth out that bumpy foot of the bed sometimes. The rest is just smoothing the top so mommy and daddy can say “oooh” and “ahhh” when they walk in.

Oh hi, Obi Wan and Anakin! There you are!

To clean your blankets, simply cut off and discard the zip ties and repeat the whole method again with new ties. Be sure not to cut your blankets when removing the ties!

I hope this helps! My kid loves it. I love it! My 4 year old has a regular twin bed, but if he follows in his brother’s tornado steps, I’ll use the same method to help him keep the blankets in line.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

All I want for Christmas… Are some cards

The thing I love about the months of November and December, which make up the Holiday Season, is checking the mail.

If you love getting holiday cards, you know what I’m talking about. This is that time of year that I have more than a 50% chance of getting something other than bills, ads, and one of the two magazine subscriptions that I never read. (Yes, I donate or recycle)

So, if I expect to look forward to all of these envelopes of joy at the end of each year, I had better reciprocate.

There are so many cute cards out there! I love them all. The sincere. The giggle. The prayer. Santa with his head stuck in the chimney. The family photo. The photo collage. Once in a while I get The cashola!

But it’s that feeling I get on my way to the mailbox that keeps me sending out our own cards out each year. It took a while, but I finally have a system for sending out cards. I always purchase our photo collage cards from Walgreens when they bust out a great online coupon code. I usually try to include a photo that shows each of my boys in his individuality, whether it be goofy or sweet. Then I find a picture or two that shows my boys not strangling each other. And finally, we include a family portrait that shows the children have not taken over and the grown-ups are still in control. When I bring the cards home, I use my nifty Christmas card address database to fill out all the envelopes. Then I line the envelopes up with my little assembly line of stamps, photo collage cards, and school pictures (for the grandparents, aunts and uncles).

This organized approach makes it easy for me to complete the task of sending out Christmas cards and then I can run to the mailbox each day as the cards to us start pouring in.

Only, there was a problem this year. Although we have tons of photos of all the places we have been this year, we somehow managed to take zero pictures that contain all four of us. And we sure as heck didn’t get a chance to have professional portraits taken. I tell you, it’s been a crazy-busy year.

So what was I to do? Just let it go, right? Suck it up and work with what I have right?

Right.

And

that’s

exactly

what

I did.

20111215-064008.jpg

My 9 year old decided he would have been unruly during family photos this year. Nice touch!

Love,
Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Should I show the outtakes from this photo shoot?

 

What I Told Judy Blume

Dancing a *Happy Dance* for @Scholastic wasn’t too terrible. Especially since I only surrendered still photos. But if you’re wondering what my deal was with Judy Blume, I’m about to confess it now. When I was a kid, I read “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing”, “Superfudge”, and “Fudge-a-mania”. These are books that, of course, I can’t get rid of and my 8 year old has already enjoyed them as well. When @rachelvailbooks tweeted that she’d be having a live phone conversation with Judy Blume via Book Talk Nation, I was intrigued. What happened next can only be blamed on my sentimental attachment to literature.

@rachelvailbooks then asked this question on Twitter: “What did you learn from @judyblume’s books?”

And for some insane reason I answered with this: “lol, many things + where to pee when the bathroom was occupied!”

This started a short series of me explaining to Rachel Vail and, for some crazy reason including, @judyblume about how one of her books gave me the idea to pee in my grandma’s kitchen sink.

Yes, it’s true. But this is my blog, so I get to explain myself.

20111211-092215.jpg

First of all, I told Rachel Vail that I thought the book I read it in was “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” but I double checked, and it was actually “Superfudge”.

In the book, protagonist Peter Hatcher comes home from school with the strong need to use the restroom. His little brother, Fudge, is already occupying the toilet in a slow manner, causing Peter to actually consider peeing in a house plant.

The difference between Peter and I? Fudge finishes just in time and Peter doesn’t have to pee in an undesignated receptacle.

So here’s my side of my story. The same one I had to tell my 8 year old when he could not BELIEVE I would ever pee in a kitchen sink.

When I was young, I spent summer days at my grandparents house while my mother was at work. On one particular day, I had been playing at my friend’s house but was sent home when she had to leave with her mother to run errands. I casually walked across the street to my grandparents mobile home with all intentions to use the restroom. As I walked into the house, I could see the bathroom door was closed and I knew that my grandpa was already in there. Here’s the thing, my poor grandpa had suffered from a stroke years before and, since I can remember, he had always had difficulty walking and he moved slowly. If he had to use the restroom, he would usually give you a warning so you could hit the head before he got there, because he knew he’d be a while. Well, I had no idea when he had gone in because I just got there and I had no idea how long he would be in there. I decided not to bother him and simply hold it in till he was done. I never had the heart to knock and rush him. But usually, when you have it in your head that you have to go, it’s impossible to think about anything else. I started pacing the house and crossing my legs as I walked. I began to sweat. And then panic set in. It was then that I thought of, my hero, Peter Hatcher and his brilliant idea. My worry was that the small plants in the house would never contain enough room for how much I had to go. I really just needed somewhere to sit. And then I thought of the sink! I mean, it’s similar to a toilet bowl, it has a drain, it can be “flushed” in a sense, and it goes to the sewer. I was a kid! It was all very clear then.

Here’s what I knew. My grandmother was out at the grocery store and, if my grandpa finished up in the restroom, I would still have plenty of time between the sound of the flush and the time it would take him to wash his hands. So, YES, I did climb up on the sink, use it as a potty, and YES I ran scalding hot water and squirted half the dish soap down with it. I even ran the disposal which, looking back, wasn’t necessary.

It’s not my proudest moment but I knew, from then on out, what my Plan B was for the summer. Luckily for me, I never had to do it again.

Did I ever tell my grandma? NO!

Did I ever tell my mom? NO!

Did I tell Judy Blume and Rachel Vail? YES!

So after spilling the beans to two complete strangers and the world of Twitter, there was only one thing I could do:

I took advantage of an opportunity. I asked Rachel Vail if she could ask Judy Blume if the Peter Hatcher-Plant-Pee incident was based on true events.

Why not?
I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Love,
Marthaaaaaaa

 

Buzz Buzz

My kids have long hair in training. My 8 year old has had long hair for so many years that I’m sure if you pulled clippers to it he might scream in terror. We have worked long and hard to get his bangs just right and have finally got him used to swooping it in the right direction (away from his cowlick/swirly). Now we are working on the 4 year old. To make it more fun, his swirly is on the opposite side of his head from his brother’s. I can never get it right looking at him in the mirror. I have to look at the back of his head, locate the swirly, and then look at his face and swoop it for him. He’s used to it.

Everyone knows, when you transition from short to long hair, there is an awkward stage that makes you want to cut it back. This stage drives my husband crazy. He’s a haircut regular. I’m trying to get the 4 year old past the awkward stage to avoid the need to chop it all back and start over again. I have had to start over many, many times. I do not want to wait till he’s 8!

Anyhow, I tried changing the lighting in the house. I took advantage of the cold weather and put hats on him as much as possible. I even tried to send my husband on a man trip for two weeks. Anything I could do to keep the awkward hair stage and my husband from coming face to face. Again I have failed… So came yet another haircut…

In the past we have made it a point to bring visuals in to the hair stylist. For the 8 year old, it’s usually a picture of one of the Jonas Brothers. *shrug* It looks good on him! If we forget to bring a picture in, we usually just say, “We’re growing it long. Please just clean it up and don’t take off any unnecessary length.”

Unfortunately we recently encountered a green stylist. Now, I promise never to name names because of bad service or products unless I think the service or product in question has caused or potentially could cause harm. Well, permanent harm. So don’t ask me to tattle.

Needless to say, the nice stylist butchered my son’s hair. I smiled and tipped her well. But I was the one who was near tears. I mean, it’s bad enough he looked like Lloyd Christmas and/or Spock in the front for the first four days, but he also has clippered zig zags over each of his ears.

I could easily go back to the same unnamed haircut shop and request a different stylist next time. I could also demand a free recut by a different stylist. Right? No way. I’m not in the business of insulting or embarrassing people who make an effort.

So, once we get past the bad haircut recovery phase and head back into the awkward stage, which I’m sure will end in the urge to chop it down again, I will then be on the search again for a regular stylist. Wish me luck because if this happens again I will be bringing three photos along with me and I’ll be begging the stylist to please not do this

to my son.

 

I’m going to need a holster for this… 2/22/08

I made pancakes this morning and it reminded me of an old post:

Almost

Not until I became a mom and a home daycare provider did I start to envision ordinary objects becoming new and improved tools. I did learn from my step dad, at a young age, that a skateboard could take out the trash. But since becoming a mother, I have also given birth to a second brain. What I like to call the shortcut sector. The inventor I never knew.

I paid attention to my child and the other children I take care of and I can walk through a super store and tell you exactly which items will become unknown teething tools, which will eventually be imagined as weapons and which will be in the next yard sale. If I don’t already know, I will find out soon enough. A lot of my discoveries come from repeating the phrase “There’s gotta be another way!” and then just trying things that don’t make sense at first…

When my son began eating solid foods I always worried about him choking on pieces that were too big for his little mouth. Oh, the times I missed a hot dinner because I was finger picking pieces for him just as fast as he could eat them. I picked at the sandwiches, the bananas, the slices of pizza. And that’s how it happened. I sliced a thin piece of pizza so I could make it small enough to continue finger picking the small bite size pieces for him to gnaw on. If my fingers weren’t covered with pizza sauce, I could have slapped my own forehead. Why not just continue to cut the pizza horizontally with the pizza cutter and make them even smaller? Slice, slice, slice. Cube, cube, cube.

ready!

These days, I don’t use knives to cut anything but steak anymore. Want your bread cut in half? Let me get the pizza cutter. Bite size chicken for the toddler? Where’s the pizza cutter? Cut the crust off? NO PROBLEM! I have a pizza cutter! I’m am the food slicing cowgirl. I’m gonna need a holster…

My pizza cutter is sharp and it’s big enough to slice a stacked sandwich or a chicken breast. It comes with a blade cover and is the best tool I have in the kitchen. I especially recommend it for those poor parents who are biting off chunks of meat regurgitating pieces for their little birds, and those who are over growing their nails as tools to feed the little two – toothed mouths of children.

Oh Pizza Cutter... How I Love Thee

 

 

 

Love,
Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

UPDATE: My oldest is 8 now and I STILL use the pizza cutter for his food. I’ve had hot meals for over 5 years now! I no longer refer to myself as “Ralphie’s Mom” from A Christmas Story.

 

Ask Martha: Potty-Time Predicament

Dear Martha,
I just met you at the grocery store the other day and you handed me your card. I’m writing for two reasons: 1. Technically, I was closer to the checkout lane and you had more groceries so you should have let me through still. 2. Your card says you give advice so I have a question. Which public restroom stall is, statistically, the cleanest to use?

Sincerely,
Still Waiting in the Checkout Line

Dear Still Waiting,

I’m glad you wrote me. You’re taking the first step toward anger and curiosity management. I’ll address all of your concerns but start by saying:
Numbering your concerns is such a considerate technique of writing.

True, I had more items in my basket than you, meaning I probably had been at the grocery store much longer than you therefore, with my last ounce of energy, I had to maneuver my overloaded cart into the small space you left me while trying to decide which lane was the least busy. If it makes you feel better, they screwed up and charged me twice for bananas and I spent another half hour at customer service.

I can sympathize with your concern about the public toilets. I remember the day when the statisticians or psychologists or whoever decides to study this kind of business… I remember when they announced that, indeed, the first stall of public restrooms was the cleanest. This of course, as you probably realize, caused mass hysteria and long lines for the first stall, even when the other stalls were vacant. Some people even misunderstood the information and began sitting directly on the toilet seat thinking the “cleanest” meant “in the whole world”. Shortly after, we began to realize that the first stall, after being used so much, was no longer the cleanest stall. In fact, it was becoming the stinkiest of the stalls.

So, you ask, which is the cleanest stall now? Good luck, until the experts come out with the new results. Here’s how I reason which stall to go into: DO NOT use the first stall UNLESS you have been on the road for 6 hours straight and have had one bottled water for every hour and the first stall happens to be the only stall.

Using the Wheelchair Accessible stall is against the rules unless, of course, you have three or more children all under age 6. Let’s say there are three more stalls to choose from. Don’t use the one closest to the first stall because chances are those who avoid the first stall go for the most convenient next choice. I wouldn’t use the stall closest to the Wheelchair Accessible stall either. That one is used often because there are so many people out there that try to get away with using the spacious Wheelchair Accessible stall and right before they go in, someone else walks into the restroom. The rule breaker says aloud, “I almost used the wrong stall, that wouldn’t be right!” and they escape into the nearest stall right next to it. The middle one is not the safest answer either; it’s the happy-medium toilet. When those in despair about which of the five to use finally decide, they either flip a mental coin or just pick somewhere in the middle. Now I’m no statistician, but I would say wait till you get home if you can without damaging your bladder.

But you’re in the restroom asking yourself this question for a reason, right? YOU HAVE TO GO NOW! Here’s my simple advice. Do The Hover. Use all the strength in your legs to keep your bottom from touching that toilet seat no matter which stall you go in. Do not touch anything! Especially not the toilet paper roll, it might fall out and you’ll be forced to sit on the seat to keep from falling over.

“I’m too short,” you might say, or “My legs are too weak.” Well then you need to build a barrier of toilet paper around every centimeter of that toilet seat. If you have to become a barrier builder make sure you go to the restroom earlier and without urgency, you don’t want to pee your pants standing right next to the toilet with paper in your hands.

Again, I sympathize with your dilemma. I’ve been there. I’ve done the leg lifts and lunges for strength and wore platforms for height and to this day I do The Hover, whatever it takes to avoid the contact with whatever is living on that toilet seat. It’s all I can do to see another day. I hope this helps.

Sincerely,
Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

P.S. If it’s your kid that has to use the potty, work those arms. It’s time for hover-assistance!