Category Archives: parenting

New title and tagline

WordPress is sending me daily emails. Trying to help me with my blog education. Today I was supposed to update my title and tagline.

When we got our first foster care placement back in September, our number of kids went from 5 to 6. At the time, my Instagram account was titled 5grubbworms. That was driving me crazy because now there weren’t just 5 there were 6. Even if Pipsqueak is only here for a little while, she’s a Grubb while she’s here. So I pondered changing it to 6grubbworms but I have no idea if we will foster more children in the future so why place a limit on the number? So my @5grubbworms became @allthelittlegrubbs on Instagram and I liked it so much I decided to revamp the blog name too.

The tagline is a different story and requires a little more explanation.

I love children. All the children. I really do. I’m the grown-up who will fight for the kids. I want to protect them all, heal them all, love them all. I would gladly give them my all.

Unfortunately, I’m also an introvert. Most small humans under the age of 18 tend to be loud and have endless stores of energy and emotional needs. It’s the way they are wired.

In essence, what I love about children – their innocence, kindness, excitement, energy, creativity, transparency, affectionate natures and potential, is also what is so, so exhausting.

Are they worth it though? Are they worth wanting to crawl into a shell after being with them all day? Are they worth never getting to have a complete adult conversation? Of not having time to read a book, or write a blog post, go on trips, etc.? Of course. No doubt.

My new tagline: Give me all the children. Then get them away from me.

Family Meeting

If I had to name two things that bring me joy they would be organization and change. I happen to think these are good qualities that enable me to be able to thrive in chaotic, stressful environments. My poor husband on the other hand really likes for things to be predictable. I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into when he met me 15  years ago. Even when we were first married and we would be working different shifts or days, he would come home and the furniture would be rearranged and the plates moved to a different cabinet. I would be fired up about a new plan for getting a pet, moving, a new place to buy groceries or new budget spreadsheet. Bless him.

I have tried hard for his sake to limit these changes and he’s done an awesome job at realizing that his wife isn’t trying to make him crazy, she just loves change.

When it comes to having children in your home, whether its one child or eight children, organization and change are imperative. Now, I am not saying that consistency goes out the window. All children flourish with consistency. What I’m talking about is organizing environments and schedules and being willing to change methods and plans.

For example, yesterday morning I called a family meeting with the kids. There were 3 major discussions we needed to have; chores, schoolwork/reading time, “that’s not fair”.

In the area of chores, our kids have a good amount of responsibility. Now that everyone is getting older, I’ve added a few more to their list. We talked about combining a few chores and made assignments for the next week or two. For example, Foster has laundry and bathroom #2. He is responsible for washing, drying, putting away all the laundry. He also wipes down the bathroom sink, mirror, toilet at least once a day. He only has to scrub the tub if it needs it.

The second thing we discussed was the expectation that they need to either work on schoolwork (we never finish Math in a typical school year) or read for one hour before they have any screen time or friend time. With breakfast, chores and reading time they should be done by about 10:30 am and that leaves the next 8 hours for them to be free and have fun.

The third item on the agenda was about attitudes. We discussed how much we have in way of toys, clothes, safety, security and comfort compared to other children. We talked about gratitude and not comparing what someone else gets to what we get. In our home, we have lots of discussion regarding “sometimes its your turn and sometimes its not”. This week Foster was able to spend extra time with visiting family and go to the science museum. Katie got to go with them to the Lost Sea. The younger boys got to go to Chick-fil-a (like go inside and play, which is a rare treat).

This understanding is imperative in our family because not everyone is the same age and maturity level. And the gap will just continue to widen as everyone gets older. When Foster gets a phone or is able to drive the younger boys will still just be 12, 10 and 8 years old. They’re going to have to see him with a lot of privilege and freedom that will be years off for them. In keeping with that, I told them that if I hear “that’s not fair” in any form, like “but he got to, Katie got more than me, I didn’t get a turn,” then they would get a check mark on the white board in the kitchen. Each check mark equals 5 minutes earlier bedtime.

When we have these family meetings, I try to keep the list of items or things we’re changing or working on down to 3 or 4 items so that the kids don’t get overwhelmed and the expectations are clear.

The kids really respond well to these meetings. They will chime in with their own ideas and opinions. They are willing to be flexible and try new routines and rules. Each time I make these changes in the house, I’m showing them that they can learn new things and change their own attitudes. Chris and I are trying to teach them that a family is a team. We work together and not against each other. When we do work together, we feel closer and we can accomplish more.

 

TBT: Ghetto Pool

This throw-back Thursday is dedicated to the ghetto pool and the years where we were basically drowning in littles. Good thing we have some pictures because it’s pretty much a blur.

 

5,759 words and voting

NaNoWriMo is coming right along. I’m at 5,759 words this morning. According to Chris Baty’s book No Plot, No Problem I should be at 8,335 by the end of today so I’m a little behind but I’m not focusing on that.

What I am focusing on is the way getting even a little writing time is making me feel. I can’t even put into words right now how amazing that feeling is.

The thing about adding something big like this to your daily life is that it makes you realize that you weren’t just feeling busy but you actually are busy.

One of the things I took time to do yesterday was go vote.  Even though I wasn’t fired up about going, not like I have been in the past.  I really have no tolerance for politics.  I consider myself to be patriotic, I love our country and support our military, but as I get older I feel less allegiance to any political party.  I feel the government has too much involvement in people’s personal lives but when the tables are turned on  the government leaders they’d rather us (American citizens) not stick our noses where they don’t belong.  Yes, dear Clinton, I do disagree with your infidelity.

So, do I vote? Of course. I am free to do so and that right didn’t come without many sacrifices of those who came before me.  And I’m a parent, so I have an obligation and responsibility to be a good example and show them the importance of voting.

Did I get to vote yesterday? Nope.  We’ve moved and my voter registration card is lost and my driver’s license has an address from two houses ago so when I showed up at the polls yesterday they weren’t very happy with me.

Oh well. I’m mailing in my new voter registration form and I’m going to get an updated license so maybe next time I can fulfill my civic duty.

one button

I decided yesterday that I’m not going to tell my son about that button again.

The thing is, when he walked in my room yesterday, fully dressed, needing help with his hair, I zeroed in on that stupid button.  I didn’t stop to appreciate that he had fully dressed himself.  Not just because he’s 10 now and I don’t have to help him get dressed, but because he has full function of his body and his mind, to be able to do what so many take for granted.

I might have told him “you look nice.”  In the next moment though, I shattered it.  The building up, the comfort and security of being seen and appreciated by someone who loves you, with my stupid focus on that button.

“You sure you don’t want to unbutton that top button?” I asked.  The room felt heavier immediately with tension and judgment and criticism.  We’d been down this road before, even if I’d tried to keep it light-hearted and tried to explain why people just don’t button that button, it didn’t matter.

“Why should I? Are you saying I look bad?”

“No, it’s just…it just looks…well, a little dorky.”

My son I should be learning from, not teaching, says, “Who cares? I like it this way. It’s useless to unbutton it.”

He is right.  I know he is right.  There are a lot of times when buttoning that top button might be important. A job interview let’s say or his wedding day.  But not right now.  Not when he’s 10 and heading to worship a God who doesn’t care what he’s wearing.

So yesterday was it. If someone does think that he looks like a nerd, or a dork, or whatever the going term is for someone who isn’t dressed just like everyone else and they make that known, I’ll be reminded that having a kid who doesn’t care whatever one else thinks about his fashion choices is really the better thing.

saying yes for 50 bucks or less

I have a really bad habit of saying no to my kids. 

Let me explain.

Yesterday, we went to a fairly large public park in Knoxville. We were meeting a friend and her son and decided we would start at the playground and then move up to a splash pad later.

Foster had been there previously and knew there was a pier on a lake not far away. He had hung out with some other boys a few days before and really wanted to go check out the pier again.

I told him that was fine. I just let him know that if we weren’t at the playground when he got back, we would be at the splash pad up the hill.

He trotted off happily.

I could have handled that differently. I could have demanded that he stay with us, where I could see him, at this playground for small children.

Instead, he came up to the splash pad about 30 minutes later and told me he had helped some guy start his jet ski and watched some other guys fishing but “they didn’t catch anything.”

That yes didn’t cost me a penny. But it meant the world to him. He went, alone, without a cell phone, and made it back alive.

Last night, a neighbor kid was over playing and it started to storm while we were outside burning some tree limbs and playing.

Foster asked to get the umbrellas we have. You know what I said? No.

I bought those at the dollar store for less than 10 bucks and I said NO.

Sometimes I am such an idiot. Imagine if I had said yes? If I had just let them have the umbrellas, there is no telling what they could have experienced or learned, what they could have created or even if they would have broken them and learned from that.

So from now on, I am going to try and say YES.

Well, as long as the thing they want to use or play with is worth less than 50 bucks.

reading out loud

My 5 year old has just finished up Kindergarten.  If he was in public school he would probably be starting to read.

3 years ago I had 6 year old who finished up Kindergarten and couldn’t read. Although I had pushed him more, sitting down with excruciatingly boring phonics curriculum that made me want to jab myself in the eye with a pencil. Foster was (is) such a flexible, kind child that he humored me and was only occasionally driven to tears.

Foster and I soldiered on and finished that whole stinking phonics curriculum by the end of 1st grade.
He was starting to read at 6 but still out loud and slowly. I was really starting to worry. What was wrong with this kid? (Poor first child.)

Then, the spring after Foster turned 7 he took off. He started reading everything that wasn’t nailed down. At 8, I had to order a grade level above for his readers. Now at 9, he’s reading at a 5th grade (or above) level. He reads constantly. As in, I think he just finished almost 150 Hardy Boys books from our local library. He stays up reading until 2 am sometimes.

Katie, my second, had a little less pressure from me, but pressure just the same. Being a much more sensitive child, the amount of tears and wailing caused us to do less in the book and only make it through about half.  Now she is 7 and guess what? She is starting to take-off. She’s reading chapter books in her bed. Staying up with her flashlight to read all about Ramona and Beezus, Judy Moody and other little girl favorites.

So with Theodore the third, I did pick up the book a couple of weeks before Kindergarten was over. I felt like I should. We sat down 2 or 3 times and tried to get through a page. He didn’t cry. He was compliant, he just didn’t get it.

A few days ago, Theodore was on the couch looking at a Star Wars book I had gotten him. He looked over at me and said “Look Mommy, I can read this.”

I was in shock. I couldn’t believe he was about to just read something to me. Then he looked at his book. First the left page, then the right, tracking the words with his eyes and being completely silent. He looked up with the best, big dimpled smile and said “See, that’s how you read Mommy! You look at the book and be real quiet.”

This morning, Theodore told his 3 year old brother Parker, “I can’t read those words out loud. I can only read them quite.”

So if you ask Theodore if he’s reading yet, he’ll be sure to tell you he is.

And one day, he’ll be telling the truth.