Random Blurbs

I have lots of posts in the works, and some that are ready to post next week, including a post on weaning and a first time ever guest post from my Hunnie. I am also hoping to get back to my ongoing Gentle Discipline series. But for now I decided to end a light week with a little post of the odds and ends that don’t quite make up an entire blog post on their own.

Public Transit

We’ve been cutting down on the use of our car to save gas. My Hunnie has been walking to school every day and I tried out the bus for the first time. I almost fell over when the bus driver floored it before I put my money in the box. In fact that whole first ride was confusing, the driver was a woman on a mission and she barreled down the road without announcing any of the stops. And because I didn’t know what transfer cards were, I ended up paying again when I switched buses. The bus I took home was much better, the bus driver announced every intersection shortly before we reached it, so I felt like I could sit back and enjoy the ride instead of wondering where the heck I was and when I was supposed to get off. Plus watching all the different people get on and off the bus is fascinating. I’ve decided I really like the bus.


We have a minor ant problem. I noticed that tiny little ants would magically appear in my kitchen if there were crumbs on the floor, but after I got a little more intentional about sweeping, I thought the problem was solved. Then they started showing up in the bathroom, tiny little ants and big ones with wings. I noticed a few ants on the floor and thought that maybe a kid had left some food in the bathroom, so I cleaned the floor. But like an hour later I came back into the bathroom and it looked something like this.

OK, maybe not that bad. But bad enough to send me running to Wal-mart for ant bait and spray.

Going places with a horde

Sometimes taking lots of small children places is like witnessing an invasion. We ran to the library last night and Ms Action immediately picked out five princess book and Ms Drama picked out several books herself. Ms Pooky’s main interest was grabbing books to place under the self-check out to hear the beep. No matter how many times I let her check a book out, she would run to any shelf to grab another book and try to scan it too. And then she spent several minutes trying to scan her Thomas the train toy that she’d brought along. Meanwhile Baby Boy (whom I still haven’t picked a nick-name for) tried to hide underneath the table behind the recycling bin. Also, Ms Pooky has absolutely zero concept of “inside voice”, everything she says is repeated several times at top volume! So far, I think her cuteness trumps any irritation she may cause, at least no seemed to mind her bellowing the theme from Bob the Builder at the top of her lungs.

What love looks like

Since moving we’ve made contact with a local food distributor run by volunteers. They collect food donations, and then pack monthly boxes to give to people who need them. Our particular box (for young families) usually has cereal, canned goods, and milk and juice. They also have boxes for seniors. And many times they have extras, like perishable goods and donuts or cheese. The kids are always boiling with excitement as we pull up to the building, wondering what kind of treat they might get this time. Both my Hunnie and I have been so moved by the sweet volunteers. There is no stigma or judgment from them, just happiness in being able to bless us. They smile, ask the kids what they would like to try and help us carry the food to the car. The gentle enthusiasm of the volunteers is worth just as much as the food. It just reminds me of what love looks like, and inspires me to show more love to everyone I encounter.

Kids and Chores

I am trying to come up with ways to encourage the kids to help with household chores. I am not too hot on individual responsibilities, except ones that involve taking care of themselves, such as brushing their teeth or putting their own shoes away. But I feel like making a child responsible to keep an entire room clean by themselves only turns into a dreaded chore and a battle of wills. I have no interest in forcing my kids to clean my house. However, I would like to make many of the chores around the house a group effort for several reasons. I want the kids to feel like they contribute, and I want them to eventually know how to take care of each aspect of household chores themselves when they are adults. How do you go about including your kids in regular household maintenance and chores?

  • Anonymous

    Re: ants, I've never used spray (organic crunchy person here) but I have a lot of friends who do and who end up battling them for months at a time. Usually when they show up in my house I tighten up on the cleaning a bit (not as much as I should) and then scatter fresh mint leaves around. They go away in a few days and don't come back, so if you have access to mint leaves that might really help. Or even certain dried herb leaves will work, I can look it up if you want.

    Looking forward to your hunnie's post!

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

    I'm trying to figure out that last one myself. Sally's old enough to start helping out, but I'm afraid that assigning her "chores" will turn into a battle. Even keeping her room clean seems like a big task for such a little girl. So far I just try to get her involved in cleaning up messes she created – like getting down on the floor and helping her pick up the beads she spilled all over, all the while making it a game and talking it up in a voice that says picking up beads is exciting! But I'm sure you already have that kind of thing down pat!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08135229596877003069 Michelle Hughes

    We had an ant problem in our old house. it was horrible, but we got it taken care of with an Orkin-equivalent (but cheaper) person.

    I'm so glad the volunteers for the food donations are so loving. I recently started doing Meals on Wheels in my city where I take meals to shut-ins/disabled/elderly .. I love it, they are so friendly and happy to see me. I think it is almost better for me than for them!

    As for chores…a few months ago, I sat the kids down and told them to come up with a list of 5 things they thought they could do to help me out. Whatever list they came up with…those were their jobs. Then three months later, I asked them to come up with a list again and they were allowed to use the same or choose new ones if they wanted. It's been easier to get them to help because they chose what they were going to do. Not sure it will continue to work long-term, but for now, I'm happy with it. :)

  • Anonymous

    Well, mine are absolutely heaps bigger than yours (12 & 14), and I'm not the primary housekeeper any more… But on the odd days when I am, I set a time for all of us to do housework together, nominate what the tasks are, pick out the least popular for myself (empting the bins, for example) and then let them pick tasks until everything we said we'd do is done.

    And I say things like "Please could you wipe the table while your sister sweeps the floor?" and "Well, you can do this if you'd rather but we agreed I'd do the yucky jobs, so if you don't want to, I need you to pick one of the others please". And generally try to make it all as civil and egalitarian as possible, so it's all one shared mutual situation of need (because we all want the end result of being able to find things and have clean plates and room in the bin).

  • Christalle

    I agree with the first poster ^ lol i'm way too crunchy to ever use ant spray, but we've had INCREDIBLE success with mixing jelly and borax and leaving it somewhere the ants will find it. For the bathroom maybe a little plate behind the toilet? Then if you do get rid of them its helpful to wash the area with vinegar since it erases their ant trails. :)

  • http://www.iammoms.com Indian American Mom

    Black pepper sprinkled on the ground is a nice and humane way to get rid of ants. They don't leave right away but should be gone in a day or so.

  • Sapphire

    Mine are 3, 6, 8, and 9, and they do various chores:

    1. put silverware away in the dishwasher (3 or 6)
    2. put dishes/cups away (8 or 9)
    3. Laundry – 8 or 9 can do a load of towels or pajamas without supervision. Both can flip stuff into the dryer. Both can fold towels and have varying degrees of success with their own clothes. 3 likes to throw stuff down the chute or help me sort whites from darks and towels. 3 also likes to push the start button on the washer. 6 will flip laundry but not start the washer or dryer. 6 will also throw laundry down the chute.
    4. picking up.
    5. running the vacuum.
    6. wipe the table.
    7. sweep under the table.
    8. take out recycling

    I had all 4 of them outside helping me weed and mulch the other day. 3 had a hand trowel and was going to town with loading the wheelbarrow. The older two helped cut weed fabric and laid it out. They all helped shovel mulch. 6 is a perfect size to jump up and down on the weeds in the trash bag to squish them down.

    I don't usually tell them to do specific chores. I just give them the list of what needs done, and if someone doesn't have a job, they are given recycling or something. No one likes to trudge stuff down to the basement, so they usually find laundry or kitchen stuff to do without giving me too much grief.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06410682651072046347 TwisterB

    So, here is an idea for the chores which a friend of mine did. She had chores written on the back of popsicle sticks, and she painted the sticks a different colour for each room and would rotate them throughout the week. Maybe you could have a colour for each kid and a jar of popsicle sticks for each day? The kids don't have to do all of the sticks but they have to do X amount each day and then get bonuses for doing more.

    Just an idea.

  • Anonymous

    Do you get WIC? If not, sign up! Lots of healthy food–all kids under 5 are eligible, and if you don't use any infant formula, they also provide food for breastfeeding moms until the baby is a year (all postpartum moms can get fod for 6 months, but breastfeeding moms get more).

    For the ants, the only thing I have ever found that works is Terro. With little kids around, get the traps, not the bottle of liquid.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16370077487849008375 Lina

    I'm chiming in as much less crunchy, but Terro traps work SO much better than those little ant motels. They come and swarm it, and then they head back to home base and don't come back. And they're safe for if our kitties happen to get a little on their paws, which is a must in our house.

  • http://www.pslibrary.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    Buses are great! I've never owned a car, and take transit everywhere!

    As for chores, my husband and I realized when we first moved in together that chore division doesn't work for us. It leaves us feeling sad and isolated, and it makes the task unpleasant. So we divide chores by room and do things together – for example, I'll do the dishes while he cooks and our 1-year-old moves a sponge around on the floor. That way, chore time is a fun bonding time!

    You describe going out with your family as a horde – well, a horde can conquer a room full of chores in no time flat!

  • Anonymous

    I`m going to chime in on the ants. My advice is to do some research and check if they might be carpenter ants. `Big ones with wings` sounds like carpenter ants living in your walls – or at least if you lived where I do, then that`s what it would probably be. Maybe where you are the ants are totally different. But it`s worth looking into because you have to treat them differently. The regular bait and traps don`t work on those guys.

  • Rosa

    I swear I'm not stalking you, but I think I know because you said you live near Incongruous Circumspection that you're somewhere near me (I'm in S. Mpls not too far from the light rail). MetroTransit used to have a "bus buddy" program for new riders. I'm not sure they still have it, but if you'd like a bus buddy, let me know! My 6 year old actually really likes riding the bus & train. It can be intimidating – I grew up in a small town with no transit system so I had to learn when I moved here. jennmaureen at hotmail

  • Rosa

    me too on the boric acid. I actually lay some down any time I have a wall open for other repairs, so last time we got ants we only knew because one day there was a mess of dead ants on the floor.

  • lucrezaborgia

    Cinnamon works better and is more kid friendly!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15454965172669677301 Bethany

    Re: chores — My one and only trick is to do the chores all together. If I ask my girls to clean their room, there is sure to be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but if I put on some fun music and join them, we finish in 5 minutes and enjoy the experience. Same with dusting, hanging the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and cleaning the windows. It's not as convenient for me as it would be to just tell them to do the work themselves, but we're all much happier when we work together.

  • Desiree

    My kids are 8 and 3. I have them help me when I clean- we start a timer in a room, and while I'm tidying up I hand them things that don't belong and they run it back to where it belongs- it makes it more of a game since we try to finish the room before the timer runs out. At the end of the day, they tidy their rooms and the living room- which mostly involved dumping toys back into bins. They also help out with laundry and trash/recycling.

    I just try to emphasize working as a family to keep our living space livable, and that everyone has to contribute.

  • Caravelle

    AWWW ! When you said you had tiny little ants invading I thought you might have Argentine ants, then I looked at the photo and they didn't look right, but then I realized that was a stock photo ! Look up "argentine ant" on google images to see if that's those you have. If you're vaguely around the South of the US it might be.

    Argentine ants are AWESOME, in the "they're the humans of the ant world" sense. They've got nothing going for them physically, but a slight change to how they interact socially has made them an unstoppable force that's invading the world (helped of course by humans and their boats and planes 'nstuff), steamrolling any indigenous ant species they find in their path. They have a handful of mega-colonies over the world; two or three of them in the United States are currently engaged in a bitter war with the front lines running across California.

    You know, if I remember "Adventures among ants" by Mark Moffett correctly. All this is to say, read that book ! If you have even a passing interest in ants it's a must-read, and anybody who likes the wonders of the natural world and pretty pictures would probably enjoy it too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10329947206142706470 Peter and Nancy

    We try to have our kids do simple things that are just a regular part of life, and we started at pretty young ages. (Now they are ages 5, 9 & 11.) As young as 1 or 2, we started them out with bringing dirty clothes to the clothes chute or basket/hamper, depending where we lived. We also had them sort the silverware out of the dishwasher by age 3 or so, while older kids or mom/dad dried the wet dishes, etc. That way, there are not lists — just saying, "Oh, looks like it's time to _____."

    For other jobs, we try to make it fun. For picking up an entire room: toys, books, socks, etc. we do an "extreme home makeover" and set the timer for 10 minutes. Each kid grabs either their own stuff, or a category of stuff (i.e. books) to put away. One thing we did early on is make sure they put things away where they actually belonged — otherwise they have to go back later and re-do it. We also have them fold towels and match socks — doesn't matter if it's wrinkly! — and put away their own laundry that I fold.

    Other 'jobs' are actually fun for them — helping water the garden, helping cook on the grill, trying a new recipe with me, learning to use the lawn mower — so they don't think they're working. Each child seems to enjoy different kinds of work, so we try not to frame them as "chores." My 5-year-old loves starting the washer and using the toilet brush. Go figure. :o)

    Their rooms do stay messier on a daily basis, especially now that they're older and I am actually in the boy room less often because they're beginning to want privacy and a place to get away and read in quiet. But I'm okay with a little mess. We do have to do more teaching in actual *cleaning* . . . they don't do a lot of scrubbing-type jobs yet, but I want to make sure they're well-equipped to live on their own.

    I'm interested to read other people's ideas!

  • Anonymous

    WD40, spray it's non toxic so people and pet safe. Spray it where they come in or if you can't find it spray as close as you can figure and the exterior edges of windows & doors. I've used this for ants, spiders, wasps, stink bugs, even roaches, bugs hate the stuff and will steer clear of it. And it lasts, depending on how much rain you get one application can last weeks.

  • Jaci

    We started our kids on chores when they were young – while they still thought sweeping or using a duster was fun, like around 4 or 5. We eventually moved into four assignments that rotated each week: a host child – responsible for kitchen, floor child (vacuuming), bathroom child, and laundry child – helped us fold and put away. The chores became more complex as they aged. My four were also close in age.

    I know it's a pain to get kids to do chores, but what I have found now that my kids are older (youngest is almost 21)is that while they are not always the neatest and the cleanest, it irritates them when roommates are not or don't know how to clean. I used to run a camp and would have college kids come to work for me who had no idea how to follow through independently on a cleaning chore.

    Chores are boring, but they teach kids how to complete a job they don't like. My kids still had messy rooms – those were "let's do it together" chores, as was cleaning up after meals. And yes, it was a battle at times, but I just learned what motivated them. With a couple of the kids, I marked squiggles with a dry erase marker on the all the surfaces in the bathroom. Then they knew exactly what to do and there was no argument. We usually did chores all at the same time – we're talking 15 minutes in the morning. Nothing big but it helped us as parents. Then an hour or so doing deep cleaning each week. We were never big on chemicals because I always seemed to run out, but you can do a lot with baking soda and vinegar water. And it does get easier to get them to do their chores. Bedrooms I just started avoiding when they got to their teenage years except to make them clear the floor sometimes and vacuum.

  • http://rant5k.blogspot.co.uk/ Rob

    I second the cinnamon, we've just put some of that down and they've mostly retreated. Had a brief incursion the other day after the cinnamon down by the door got swept away, but for the most part they're gone, and there's a pleasant aroma in the lounge :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Wow, I have never heard of any of these options, but I am loving the ideas!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Yes, we signed up for WIC as soon as we moved. Trying to make use of every thing that can help as we start over. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I hear you! We are the same way, we end up chatting instead of working in our seperate areas, so we try to work together in one room instead.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Emailing you. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I agree! I remember being so happy when my mom stuck around to help with a chore. I should get back to playing music, it makes a huge difference in our mood. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    LOVE the timer idea! My kids are always up for a race.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    That sounds fascinating. I don't live in the south, but the books sounds cool.

  • Anonymous

    When you go to work or school, many state WIC programs will also give you a breast pump if you need one.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06993967190131485391 Blotz

    My Hellions are 7, 5, and 3 and their primary chore at the moment is STAYING OUT OF MY WAY! The oldest really wants to help, so I am looking for a way to get her more involved. The Peanut is actually fascinated with cleaning and is constantly asking if she can use the wetjet to mop the floors or use windex to wash the windows. She's 5…she doesn't do a very good job.

  • Rosa

    great! Can you delete my email from the post or delete the post then? I wasn't too sure if you wanted people knowing where you live.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    I would frame it as "learning to do things like grown-ups do". My parents had very little success in getting me to do chores, and I think it was at least partly because they insisted on framing it as "you're part of the family, so you should contribute", which didn't make sense to me because I thought the parents were supposed to take care of the kids. But I always wanted to be like a bigger kid or grown-up, so if they'd framed chores that way I suspect I would have been a lot more enthusiastic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    Do you need information on non-Christian music you could play? If you ask, people will probably give you lots of ideas :).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    Also, kids–especially kids with any issues that affect executive function (the brain's ability to plan and organize) like ADHD or Asperger's–may need tasks like 'clean your room' broken down into component parts to be able to figure out what to do. My mom would tell me to clean my room, I (severely ADD) would get distracted when trying to clean up books, and my mom would interpret this as willful defiance when it really wasn't. When she said "clean your room", I had no idea where to start or what to do, and I would start by alphabetizing my books because I thought I needed to get things perfect, but that level of perfectionism meant that I didn't get anything done. It would have worked a lot better if my mom had realistically assessed and worked with my issues.

  • http://bronwenreads.wordpress.com/ bronwenreads

    My sister (who has three kids, 9, 6 and 3, has found that the chores are working MUCH better now that she assigns all three of them to do one or two things together. They all enjoy cleaning the kitchen together, by themselves, and the oldest helps the littlest with things that are too hard for her. My sis gets out of the way and lets them be as silly as they like (within reason – the knives are on top of the fridge out of reach!) and just waits for them to be done. Same with tidying their rooms or the living room. She says this is MUCH less stressful and more pleasant than her previous approach of giving separate kids a task. Her kids like to hang out together, and she likes doing chores with her husband to talk to, so why wouldn't her kids like to talk to each other while doing chores? FWIW My husband and I don't particularly like doing chores together:-B I like some alone time :-B

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03079852628674185384 Karen

    My parents ran their own (accounting) business, and both worked their rear ends off during the week. To keep from going crazy, they acquired a modest rural cottage with a big garden and a fishing hole not far away. Dad loved to garden and Mom loved to fish. I was an only child, and my interests didn't count much.

    From the time I was about 11 or 12, Mom decided I needed to do my share of chores. This was mostly laundry and dishwashing at our weekday house, because Mom had a housekeeper come in every other week. But at the weekend cottage, house chores were my job. Dishwashing, some cooking, weekly toilet and bathroom cleaning, weekly dusting, and weekly mopping of kitchen, dining room, and hallways were my tasks. In addition, in the summer, I was expected to be a full partner in the dawn-till-dusk canning operation that my mother ran. She loved canning. She just wasn't keen on prepping the fruit, mixing the syrup, or doing the dishes. And when we weren't canning, I was expected to come fishing and mind an extra rod.

    Don't do this to your kid! It's too much, especially when you're not doing much of anything! To be fair, my mother suffered a lot of leg and back pain; but still, to be working your ass off and somebody sitting on their butt smoking a cigarette tells you that you missed a spot… I bottled up a lot of anger and resentment for a long time.

    As a result, I'm an abysmal housekeeper. Every time I clean something, I still hear my mother's voice, "You missed a spot over there…" It makes it very hard to do housekeeping. I won't can, and I won't sit on the bank of a lake being bored and waiting for a fish to bite a hook.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    You've hit on the exact reason I refuse to assign chores and feel hesitant sometimes to even request their help. I was overburdened with chores as a child and I have no desire to repeat that with my children.

  • Anonymous

    Equal parts Borax & sugar with just enough water to make it into a paste works too, but that's not kid/pet friendly.

    We sprinkled cayenne pepper in doorways too and that helped (ours were coming in from outside). Good luck!