Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yours, Mine and Ours

We've got quite a fun adventure going on at our house. A couple of weeks ago our good friends moved in with us while their house is finishing being built sometime early September. As you can imagine we have non-stop activity going on with nine kids under the age nine and four adults. Two weeks ago we all went to the Yakima Bears Baseball game. We had a ball!
Each day we are trying to do at least one creative activity that the kids look forward to all day long. This picture is of the kids painting canvas bags to take the library and on car trips. We just started a unit on butterflies. Our caterpillars arrived this past week and will be chrysalis by next week. Tyler is teaching us all about the life cycle of butterflies since he previously studied this subject in kindergarten last year.
We have given up having a clean basement (not that we were too successful before joining households). At least once a day we clean everything up so we can see the floor again. We eat on paper plates, serve snacks twice- a-day, take turns going on errands, buy toilet paper for a mob, and enjoy the peace each night the kids go to bed. Overall the kids love having constant playmates. They have certainly had several "sibling" moments (you know what I mean) but each night they can't wait for the next day when they will get to play together again. Cooper even loves having another little girl to play peek-a-boo and chase with him.

With both of our families having several trips throughout the summer it is working great to have a house sitter when we are gone and as a bonus each family gets the house to themselves. I am enjoying having a friend around during the day too. I imagined more time sitting on the couch drinking lemonade and chatting but somehow between chasing after kids, serving and cleaning up meals the size for an army--that hasn't happened yet. Good friends are worth a million!

Fun with the Fam

This past weekend we had a wonderful and fast trip to Spokane to celebrate Andrew (Birch's youngest brother) getting his Eagle Scout Award and Blayre (Birch's youngest sister) preparing to go on her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. Even though our time was short together we packed it full of fun, yummy food, games, lots of celebrating, and playing with some of our cousins. The family at the Spokane Temple - Grandma and Grandpa Ditto were able to come for the weekend along with all but one of Birch's siblings and two wives.
Birch's sisters and mom
Some of the cousins--we are missing six cousins in this picture. Isn't that crazy! Alex and Tyler are actually the oldest of the cousins. You can't imagine the fun they all have with each other!!!

The beautiful Spokane Temple
All Eagle Scouts--Birch was given the honor of presenting Andrew with his Eagle
Alex was asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance

Andrew is the fifth of five boys to receive his Eagle.

In keeping with Ditto tradition and the love of sharing talents, the brothers all sang "God Bless the USA" during the Court of Honor. They were missing Brent's harmony.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Not only do I have the best dad but my kids have the best dad too! How did we both get so lucky?

I have always admired my dad. He is a spiritual giant, excellent writer, gifted public speaker, loving dad, a talented craftsman, and a fun caring grandpa. You wouldn't know if the following picture has been taken twenty years ago or yesterday. I hope I have inherited the good genes of age-lessness. Although I no longer carry the last name "Sherry" I am proud that I am a "Sherry" -- I have never been ashamed of claiming my parents as mine. I am a lucky daughter!
As a result of having a wonderful father I knew what kind of man that I wanted my kids to have as a dad. Not only do I have a wonderful loving spouse but my kids have a superb dad! Birch is an anchor to our family!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Max's Support Group

I just had to give a warm fuzzy to each person that commented on my last post about Max (A.K.A. Alysee). Each person's words were exactly what I needed to hear. Birch and I have realized especially in the past couple of days that we are not alone in this adventure of parenting. So thank you for your advice but even more thank you for letting us know that there are many Max's out there.

Over the past couple of weeks Birch and I have realized that we are doing something wrong. Alysee's behavior isn't really the only problem we are having. I'm not saying that we are all falling apart but we are dealing with a bit of back talking, whining about doing chores, an occasional sibling whacking fest, irreverence at church, complaining... yes, the list goes on. I think we are kind of in a rut with our discipling and following through with chores. Honestly I am tired of always being the hound. Birch is great with the kids but let's face it...I am on the one home most of the time.

So...several years ago I bought the following two books.

Now I am not selling them or anything (although on Amazon you can by used copies of both books) but I do think that they are both excellent books. Birch and I have both read the "Christlike Parenting-Taking the Pain Out of Parenting" book but the other one called "The Power of Positive Parenting" has just been sitting in the bookshelf for a couple of years. I decided the other night that maybe their might be some wisdom tucked away in the pages of the book. Well, it wasn't tucked away at all. I have only read the first couple of chapters and I am already feeling revived. One thing that Dr. Glenn L. Latham says is that most of the junk we deal with every day from our children is just "age-typical junk behavior." Stuff that we should just turn and walk away and ignore it. He says, "Unless what you are about to say or do has a high probability for making things better, don't say it and don't do it." Instead we should look for opportunities to have happy, positive interactions with our kids. I still have a long ways to go but I think that by putting some of Dr. Latham's positive behavioral suggestions into play that we will see a difference in our children's actions/behaviors and in my joy in motherhood.

Also, this week I have been introduced to a new system for helping your kids be more accountable in their behavior and in doing their jobs. A couple of friends were telling me that they just started doing the Accountable Kids system. I looked it up online and I am quite interested in giving it a try. We have had lot of different ways of doing jobs at our house but it always comes down to me not following through with them not doing it and then we start the same cycle over again. I think that next week I am going to try a modified homemade version of this system. I really like that the reward is alone time with mom or dad, something that our kids truly treasure. Our past method of earning "Ditto Dollars" ended up being a candy store.

If anyone has tried "Accountable Kids" let me know what you think.

I'll close with a quote by Dr. S.W. Bijou, "Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce problem behavior in children is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement rather than trying to weaken undesirable behavior using aversive or negative processes."

"The first half of our lives is controlled by our parents. The second half is controlled by our children." Author Unknown.

Ya just gotta love 'em!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Let the wild rumpus begin...

This is our sweet princess, Alysee, whom we dethroned several years ago. I'm not saying that we do not love her any less but I am implying that we are struggling a bit with her behavior. Tonight when I put her to bed she picked the following story for me to read--

my immediate thought was..."she couldn't have picked a better story that currently describes her behaviors." Just like Max in the story, she has been sent to her room or sent outside to "cool off" quite a bit recently. Birch and I are struggling with the best way to "tame" her and keep our patience. We are trying to teach her our family motto "An Attitude of Gratitude," saying "please," "thank you," "hi,"talking kindly to her parents and siblings, etc... Could this be a phase? How have we erred as parents to have created a 'wild thing?' I love her more than anything and I want her to be a sweet girl. Whoever said parenting would be so hard?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Gap2Gap 2007

This past Saturday Birch participated for his second time in the annual Gap2Gap relay race that is held in Yakima each year. He put together a team with work colleges and competed in the corporate division. There are five different sections of the relay: 2 mile field run, 12 mile mountain bike, 6 mile kayak, 20 mile road bike, and 10K run. Birch daily practices for the 20 mile road race (we are a one car family so he bikes 3 miles each way to work) so it made sense for him to take that leg of the race. Birch finished his 20 miles in 61 minutes. It was 101 degrees, so as you might guess he finished up mighty parched and sweaty!

We were all very proud cheerleaders!!!

Birch and the kids after the race
Coop and Birch

Birch and I designed the team's t-shirts again this year. We had fun doing it but we sure wished that we were a bit better at photoshop. We are learning, though. This year we decided to order each of the kids t-shirts. They LOVED them!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Coop Turns One!

Okay, so Cooper has been one year old for about two weeks now but I just now made this little video. Coop is such a cute boy and we are so happy that he is part of our family. He weighs 17 lb. 11 oz. which puts him is the 1% curve--not bad for a Yakima Ditto. He loves to get into stuff and play with his brothers and sister.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I've Succumbed

Four jobs that I have had in my life:

1) Grinding up grass seed with my brother at OSU
2) Serving Pineapple Delights at the night show at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, HI
3) Legal Secretary in Corvallis, OR
4) Circus ticket delivery girl (mom) with Alex in Missoula, MT

Four movies I could watch over and over:

1) Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
2) Somewhere in Time
3) Hum, I think I prefer watching new movies not old ones

Four places that I have lived:

1) State College, PA
2) Corvallis, OR
3) Missoula, MT
4) Laie, Hawaii

Four television shows that I watch or wish I got to watch:

1) ER (we tape it and then watch it on the weekends)
2) American Idol
3) So You Think You Can Dance!
4) Oprah

Four places I have gone or will go on vacation:

1) I would love to go to Dollyland!!!
2) Ukraine (Sister City exchange with my sister Emily)
3) I have lived in Hawaii and would LOVE to go there again with Birch
4) Anywhere, most Wednesdays I receive an email with killer travel deals. I plan trips every Wednesday that I wish I could go on.

Four websites I visit almost daily:

1) Blogs

Four favorite foods:
1) French fries
2) Teriyaki Chicken
3) Mangos
4) Pizza

Four things I would like to learn or be better at:

1) Photoshop - I really love computers and would love to be able to do the things that are swimming in my head but I just don't know how to preform them on a computer. One of these days I am going to take a photoshop class.
2) Photography- I think what we need is a new camera with fancy lens
3) I'd love to learn to play the violin, though I don't think that I am smart enough to tackle it--music and foreign languages have never come easily to me
4) Scripture study

Four places I would rather be right now:

1) On a WARM beach
2) Watching a movie in bed
3) Day spa- I am a sucker for massages and wouldn't mind a whole body day- manicure, pedicure, facial... heaven!
4) Actually, I am quite content with where I am right now!! Sitting at the computer in my own home, with my children and husband sleeping.

I Am a Mother

Copyright © 2007 Deseret Book

Former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize nominee Ann Crittenden writes: "Any woman who has devoted herself to raising children has experienced the hollow praise that only thinly conceals smug dismissal. In a culture that measures worth and achievement almost solely in terms of money, the intensive work of rearing responsible adults counts for little. One of the most intriguing questions in economic history is how this came to be; How did the demanding job of rearing a modern child come to be trivialized as baby-sitting? When did caring for children become a ‘labor of love,’ smothered under a blanket of sentimentality that hides its economic importance?"