The Gingerbread Mom

having fun at home

Come on over August 29, 2010

Filed under: News — thegingerbreadmom @ 7:29 am

Come on over and check out my new site!

It’s not done quite yet, but I’m getting there!


Economics According to Emma August 27, 2010

Filed under: Kids — thegingerbreadmom @ 9:28 pm

Emma tore a perfume sample out of a Younkers ad a few weeks ago, and asked me to smell.  “Do you love it?”  she asked.

“Ummm….That does smell good!” I replied.

“Well,” she continued, “If you love it and I love it, that means buy it!”

A few days later, as I was withdrawing cash from a drive-up ATM, Emma informed me that she couldn’t wait to get a credit card and buy things for all of her friends.  Shoes, toys, pillow pets, you name it – she was going to buy it.

I thought that Emma understood, and that Joel and I had explained fairly well, that our credit card is a way for the computers in the stores to talk to the computers in the bank.  We can only buy things from the store if we have money in our bank account, otherwise our credit card will say, “Sorry.  You can’t buy that.”

I realize that isn’t always how it works in real life.  But, that is how Joel and I shop, and that is something we want our kids to know about credit cards as they mature: you can only use them if you  have the actual money to pay for the purchases.

Around the same time, on a rare night when I was alone in a car, I happened to be listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio.  A parent of a tween called in to say they were following Dave’s envelope program, but the child had suddenly decided they didn’t care about earning money and they weren’t going to do any chores.  The envelope idea intrigued me; essentially children earn money and place it (equally, I think) into three envelopes – spending, saving and giving.  Children earn their money by doing household chores.

Emma (and Aedan) already have household chores, but they aren’t compensated financially.  So I talked to Emma about whether she would like to accept some additional chore responsibility with her Kindergarten status, and have the opportunity to earn money.

Discussing money always brings up a heated discussion with Emma.  Once when she had cash for Christmas or her birthday, I let her keep part of the money for spending and had her deposit the rest in her savings account.  She is still sore about having to deposit her funds, and feels that I duped her into the situation.

Anyhow, she was excited.  She started working right away on decorating the three tags I had made for her money jars.  While she was coloring, we talked about what type of things would qualify for spending, saving or giving.  The giving jar really interested her, as she always gets emotionally entangled in disasters around the world and tries to persuade me to donate my life savings to their plight.

To assist with chores, I made a little note to tape to Emma’s bedroom door.  These are the three bedroom chores she has to do at night, or whenever her room is too messy to stand anymore.

We also talked about her other daily/weekly chores (carrying her dishes to the sink/dishwasher, sorting laundry, delivering toilet paper, doing her dance exercises, etc.)  I also shared with her some of the chores I attempt to complete daily or weekly.

Sometimes we forget, and sometmes Emma doesn’t care to do her chores, but for the most part our system has been working.  I match whatever she wants to take from her giving jar for church on Sundays, and she is looking forward to earning enough money to buy a pillow pet – the unicorn one.  Emma is learning the value and names of coins, and I have an honest and direct answer for whenever she asks, “Can I have a…?”

And Aedan?  He has his own jar – just one though – and his own opportunities to earn money.  When he becomes more aware of the world around him, we will split his funds into saving, spending and giving.

And someday when I grow old my children will remember all the coins I poured into their money jars, and return the favor when choosing my nursing home…


friends, pets and genetics August 25, 2010

Filed under: Kids — thegingerbreadmom @ 9:22 pm

As soon as Emma gets home from school she hangs up her backpack.  From the small, top pocket she withdraws her new friends and pets.

Sometimes they are miniscule bits of pencil lead, other times pieces of foam or fuzz or yarn, twice they were needles from a pine, and once it was three inches from an edge of notebook paper.  Usually these friends and pets go immediately into a sour cream tub or a toothpaste box, both of which have breathing holes poked through the tops.

Emma introduces her friends and pets to me by name as she places them in their receptacles, calling them rhyming names straight from a phonics primer, like Gene and Queen.

Sometimes she dresses them up a bit with other scraps of who-knows-what she finds around the house.  Here is her scrap of notebook paper wrapped in a skirt of pencil shavings:

Yesterday morning (Tuesday), Emma randomly hopped up from breakfast to show me something.  It was this friend, and I couldn’t decide whether to be livid or proud.

It is a bobby pin, wrapped in fluff from some poor stuffed animal, and further wrapped in colorful yarn.  From my Rainbow Brite Pony.  I looked at her friend, looked across the room at my pony and said, “Emma, did you use yarn from my Rainbow Brite Pony to make your friend’s dress?”


“When did you have time to do this?”

“I did it early this morning, when it was still dark.  I used my desk light.  Do you like her?”

“I like the idea, honey, but I don’t like that you hurt my Rainbow Brite Pony.  You could have all the colors of yarn from my sewing stuff if you would just ask.”

“It’s okay, Mommy.  She didn’t feel anything.  Woody is the only toy that has feelings and walks around and stuff when you aren’t looking.”

Rainbow Brite Pony is now living in the master bedroom, where she is properly fed and exercised without hair pulling.

I’m not sure what to make of these tiny friends and pets, though.  I will readily admit that I used to sharpen colored pencils just to collect the fallen scraps to make dresses for bits of pencil lead or paper.  Mallory and I both used to make little toothpick dolls wrapped in embroidery floss.  Neither one of us pretended that they were really alive and cared for them, though.

Joel boasts his own set of crafty skills, but maintains that he never had imaginary friends or pets either.

The only logical explanation must be that this behavior must be coming from the playground – some sort of 20 week plan that Kindergartners follow to drive their parents crazy and inspire them to buy real pets for Christmas.


Sleeping In

Filed under: Kids — thegingerbreadmom @ 9:14 am

This morning we had our first, of what I’m sure will be many, difficulty getting Emma out of bed. She was snuggled securely in her nest of blankets and puppies, and the cool breeze from her window encouraged her to burrow deeper as I rubbed her back and tried to gently wake her.

This was at 7:20, and school starts at 8:00

During the summer, Emma is barely awake at 8:00, and usually ate her breakfast while Aedan was having his morning snack. I feel like 8:00 is just too early for poor old me Emma to be alert and functioning.  We rebounded quickly this morning, and the kids were fed, watered, clothed, cleaned and pulling up to school at 8:02.  As I was walking her in the door, Emma said, “I’m glad I’m late.  Now I don’t have to do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I can just work.  That praying always ruins my work.”

There is a positive side to beginning school at 8:00; being back home by 3:00.  Yesterday, that afforded us enough daylight and gorgeous weather to play at the park, make hopscotch games in the driveway, take the dog for a walk, and overturn all the stepping stones in the perennial bed in search of pillbugs and ant colonies.  And that was just before supper.

Last week it was still warm enough to come home and play with Aedan’s Buzz Lightyear sprinkler, and in the winter there will still be enough daylight to go sledding and snowshoeing when our girl returns.

I guess I can sacrifice a little morning laziness if it buys me another hour of fun with my favorite girl!


Aedan’s Checkup August 23, 2010

Filed under: Kids — thegingerbreadmom @ 8:44 pm

Aedan had his three-year-old checkup today, and did not want to go. He’s never had an issue with visiting the doctor before, and always pretends to be our pediatrician when he plays doctor at home.

He gave me several of the same reasons for not visiting the doctor that he gave us on Sunday when he didn’t want to go to church. It’s dark inside, and God and Jesus are at the train station. It’s dark inside, and Dr. Mersch went home to his children.

I mostly ignored his random statements of refusal throughout the morning, and all was well. Shortly after lunch, I told Aedan that I was going to run outside and grab some veggies from the garden before we left for the doctor office. I asked him if he wanted to accompany me, and pick some produce for Dr. Mersch. Aedan thought that was a great idea, and picked some jalepeno and serrano peppers for the occasion.

Aedan weighed in at just over 31 pounds, was a bit over 36 inches in height, and “read” the 20/32 line on the eye chart.  When we went into our exam room, he plopped his bag of peppers onto the computer desk and began his normal routine of poking around in cupboards and emptying out the drawer of books.

We were into our second book when Dr. Mersch came in, and after exchanging pleasantries with Aedan asked what the bag of peppers were for.  Aedan said, “I got some spicy ones for you!  For your birthday!”  I explained that the peppers were the carrot I dangled to get Aedan to feel good about his appointment today.  He enjoyed the story, and the peppers.

Aedan checked out beautifully, and Joel and I have some tips to try for Aedan’s recent streak of independence and his chronically stuffy nose.

It’s becoming more evident that Aedan will have the Marshall height instead of the Althoff, as he ranks in the 12th percentile.  I guess we can give up working on stride length, and start focusing on turnover rate.


lunchbox fun

Filed under: Food — thegingerbreadmom @ 8:42 pm

On the eve of Emma’s first day of Kindergarten last week, I made two week’s worth of lunchbox notes for her.  One was a hand-drawn picture of Mommy and Emma, cut into a 6 piece puzzle.  Another was her favorite knock-knock joke, drawn out pictorially.  There was an I love you! note, a “movie ticket” to remind her about Friday night-movie night, an ice cream cone ticket and a library book – both to invite her to stop at those places after school.  I also stockpiled stickers to place in her lunchbox for her to just keep or place on her clothes, and designed some sketches with Sharpies on napkins.  We used one lunchbox note last week out of our four days of school.  School lunch is WAY more fun…

After a long, hard look at the menu, I decided to try home lunches again with Emma this week.  We looked at the menu.  We talked about which things were fruits and veggies and whole grains and proteins, and we talked about which things were sugary and which things lacked nutrients.  This week, three out of five lunches are varied and healthy and fun, and Emma will eat school lunch.  On the other two days, I will bribe Emma with her choice of dessert and a fun lunchbox note.

My goal isn’t for Emma and Aedan to mature into ridiculously healthy eaters and deny them the joys that sugar and chocolate and sour cream and cheddar potato chips can create, but I want them to understand choices related to food.  I also want them to understand the science of food and their bodies, and I want to give them the healthiest options that I can while they are still easily influenced.

I’m sure I wouldn’t be having any of those discussions with you if two things wouldn’t have happened.  1.  My last year of teaching, one of my third graders brought her lunch every day, and every day had an amazing note, joke, riddle, picture, etc., sketched on her napkin.  I’m not sure if her mom made them up or had a resource book, but the first thing all of the kids and staff did when we entered the lunchroom was check D’s lunchbox for today’s message.  Her mom rocked.  And, 2.  Emma covets my My Little Pony lunchbox from my childhood.  The only factors persuading her to go to Kindergarten were her hopes of dissecting insects in science class, and toting some culinary treat in my MLP lunchbox.  I told her that it was probably made in China with some tainted plastic, and that she should pick out a new one at the store.  Well, there were no MLP lunchboxes, and none of the other ones were boxy and cool like mine.  (Wouldn’t you know…safely insulated lunchboxes are just not cool)

I should have just let her use the dilapidated lunchbox.


The Interurban August 18, 2010

Filed under: Kids — thegingerbreadmom @ 12:56 pm

Last summer, Joel, Amy and I logged more miles than I care to remember on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.  It was conveniently close to the Marshall grandparents for babysitting, beverages and ice packs, and offered a protected running path for miles and miles.

I’m kind of a sappy girl, which made the first few double-digit mile runs tolerable as I considered that Grandma Stone used to ride up and down the same path in the Interurban railway.  The refurbished depot still stands, serving as a historical museum for the curious and a rest stop for the weary athletes.

Last week when we were at my parent’s, Michael’s daily workout involved a 40-minute bike ride on the trail.  Monkey 2 and Monkey 3 had to tag along and do exactly what Uncle Michael was doing, so we loaded up Grandma and Grandpa’s little kid bikes and followed, along with cousins Lesli and Maggi.

I told my cousins about the railroad that once spanned the same bed of earth, which made Aedan dive to the side of the trail every few minutes yelling, “Did you hear that?  There’s a train coming!”

A group photo commemorated our trek down the same path Grandma once took, and I’m hoping that a picture of her standing near the depot exists somewhere.  Yep.  I am that sappy.