Giving Thanks (inspired by)

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Encouragement for grandma

Dear Grandma in training-

It has come to my attention that your dear husband has purchased a giant TV for your small living room. As I am a compassionate daughter, I have decided to suspend any further “noise tolerance” training... apparently God has provided more than enough in your every day life! If you are worried about getting rusty, turn on Super Nanny or that show about the Douggar family with 17kids for a couple hours a day!

To help you keep going though this week, you will receive several virtual gifts from your grandchildren. These are the things that keep you going... the little tokens of love and laughter and good intentions. Sometimes we just have to be told where to look for them.

Today's encouragement from the kids: Messy kisses

Boot camp stage 3

Week 3 General disorder: patience training
The objective this week is to build your tolerance level to disorder and inefficiency.
Your mission: Stay on your toes!
You will receive an arcade game in the mail: Whack-A- Mole. This is to be kept in your kitchen..

As you prepare meals for your various animals throughout this week (remembering to talk constantly while you do it), play this game at the same time. This will help you get used to the discipline issues that arise with the Cook kids!

Friday, March 27, 2009

stage 2- weekend mission

Days 6 and 7
Special event- a flamingo fiesta!
Host a karaoke party for the extended family. The party must begin at 630am friday morning and last until Sunday evening. Don't forget to bring the parrots and wear the shock collar!

You will receive a special party flamingo in the mail today. This flamingo has a sparkle in his eye because he has several plans for causing embarrassment and awkwardness during the party. He loves to point out people's physical flaws, to burp, to fart, to talk about various body parts. He will help you learn the art of “damage control.” Other strategies you may wish to use with this trouble making parrot: over-talking, turning UP the music, redirection (HEY you want a snack?! LOOK is that an airplane?), and creative rhyming (“SQUUUAWK... look at that scab on her nose!” “No honey she doesn't have a crab on her clothes... that's a snail!”)

Your mission during the party (in addition to playing hostess and serving the food): You must pay all your bills and balance your checkbook. This is to be done from the middle of the dance floor.

Did you make it through the week? Are you ready for more? If you survived this week and followed the training program, you should find you with stronger vocal cords, greater lung capacity, and a high tolerance for noise, chaos, inefficiency, and unpredictable behavior. You are almost ready for your visit!

Still to come... discipline strategies and more patience training.....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stage 2 day 5- a rainy day!

Day 5 A rainy day

Uh oh, it's raining outside today. Take the parrots, the cat, and the Potty Pal doll, and camp out in the living room with the GIANT television on. Your goal is to simply spend time with 'everybody,' and build your tolerance to noise, chaos, and too many bodies in a small space. You are also encouraged to have several political discussions with dad, Bill O'Rielly, and the other people in the Fox News family. Don't forget to wear the shock collar and continue to talk constantly!

As a gift to you, there will be a specific naptime today. Assuming everyone is fed and reasonably clean, you may put all the animals downstairs between the hours of 1 and 4. When the house is quiet, you may remove the shock collar as well. RESIST the urge to do housework and take time for YOURSELF! Remember your self-soothing methods, including secret chocolate eating! Carving out moments of peace and quiet is ESSENTIAL to survival in the Cook house!

(Plus you will need your energy for the excitement this weekend....)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Boot Camp stage 2 day 4

Day 4 Your mission: grocery shopping at Wal-mart. Be sure to bring the parrots, the cat, and the Potty Pal doll. Yes, you may go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds, but you must feed and DRESS all of the animals first! (Do not forget to drink your coffee!)

In your car you will find a special car parrot, trained to say “Are we there yet?” “Where are we going?” “Is this the right way?” “Are we getting closer?” “Can we go over Seth's favorite bridge?” “Why are you driving so slow/fast?” “Can we go to Chuck E Cheeses?” and the like. Respond to this parrot and the others, and continue to break up fights as you drive.

When you get to Wal-mart, go to customer service and request that they page you every 5-7 minutes throughout your trip to the store. Report to the customer service desk each time to wipe noses, give drinks, answer nonsense questions, and change diapers. This mission will help you get used to doing things at “toddler speed,” which tends to be inefficient and take at least 5 times longer than normal speed.

Be sure to keep the other animals in line during your shopping trip. Oh, and when you hear “MY have you got your hands full!” be sure to just smile politely. And if you are asked “Oh how sweet! Are they all YOURS?” please remember your manners! Your grandkids are watching!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Boot Camp Stage 2 day 3

Day 3: You will receive a special shock collar in the mail today. This collar will help you learn to talk, constantly, throughout the day. If you are silent for more than two minutes at any time, you will receive a shock. You may only take this collar off when everyone (including the animals) in the house is sleeping.

You will receive another parrot in the mail today. This parrot tends to be bored, and will bombard you with comments like “What can I do?” “When will we go outside?” “Will you play with me?” “Whatcha doing Nana?” Reply to him and entertain him to the best of your abilities throughout the day.

Today's mission (other than survival!) Clean your fridge, plan a weeks worth of meals for 8 people, and make a grocery list. Remember too cut coupons and check local ads for price-matching opportunities!Don't forget to respond to the Nana parrot too, keep breaking up the fights, and do your exercises too!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Grandma boot camp stage 2 day 2

You will receive a special “Potty Pal” doll in the mail. This one has been programmed to scream “I HAVE TO GO POTTY!!!!!” every 20-60 minutes throughout the day. When you hear this scream, drop what you are doing and rush the doll to the potty. If you do not comply in 60 seconds, you will discover the “power sprayer” feature of the doll.

Continue to respond to the Nana parrot, break up fights, and do your exercises throughout the day!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Boot camp stage two day 1

Stage 2 Noise tolerance and focused thinking
Objective: to prepare your brain to process intense stimulations from various directions at once. (Remember to continue the physical conditioning throughout this week as well.)

Day 1: You will receive a trained parrot in the mail. This parrot will be your constant companion for the rest of the training program. Has been trained to say your name in various different ways and will do so throughout the day. “Nana?” Nana!!!” “Nanaaaaa...” “NAANAA!!!” and the like. He will help you get used to hearing your name over and over and over again. Don't forget to reply every time!

Along with the parrot you will receive an irritable cat. He is to stay in the same room with the parrot all day. He has been given large doses of catnip. When you hear screeching and squawking, practice calmly breaking up fights.

Don't forget to do your physical conditioning today too! Let the parrot and the cat join you on the obstacle course!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grandma boot camp stage 1

To my mother, the brave soul who intends to stay with us when the baby comes

To get you ready for your stay at the Cook house, I suggest the following training program. For best results, begin one month before your expected arrival date. WARNING: This training is not for the faint of heart. Do not join this program or plan an extended stay at the Cook house if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, or if you desire to keep your sanity.

Stage 1: Physical conditioning

Objective: to prepare your muscles for unusual movements and physical challenges required to survive your week caring for the Cook children.

Explanation of required exercises- Each exercise is to be performed daily. It is recommended that you begin day one doing the most you can of each exercise, then add 5 reps each day throughout the month.

Curls: biceps and triceps- build arm strength for carrying children, carseats, and laundry baskets, for restraint of wiggly children during movies and mealtimes, and firm goodnight hugs. (Plan to give such hugs approximately 6 times per child per night.)

Eyebrow raises

Proper technique is very important in the discipline of the Cook children. To ensure proper technique, practice first in the mirror until you have achieved a look of threatening disapproval. Lift and hold for 30 seconds. When you are satisfied with your performance, advance to the next level.

Level 2

Practice your eyebrow raises on unsuspecting strangers. If your look of disapproval results in a change of behavior, you have achieved proper technique. When you have significantly altered the behavior of 20 separate individuals, advance to the next level. This may take several days.

Level 3- Extra Credit

Eyebrow raises- this time to be performed on immediate family members. You earn 1000 extra points if your look results in any of the following behavior changes: Dad turning the TV down or off, Amy putting back the pizza rolls, Snickers refraining from barking, or anything else that would be considered highly unusual. You must document time, date, behavior change and surrounding circumstances. You are required to procure the signature of your victim for each incident. (If the victim resists, use another “look” to enforce submission. You should be getting pretty good at this by now!)

Squats- do as many as you can each day. These muscles will be called on frequently for picking up toddlers, picking up after the toddlers, stair climbing, getting up quickly from a sitting position, and other unforeseeable events.

EXTRA CREDIT- to help you learn to LOOK before you sit, every surface, every time. To truly master this skill, I encourage you to enlist a family member or two to plant booby traps on various surfaces- toothpaste on the chair, jelly on the toilet seat, etc. It will be a difficult week of conditioning, but you will thank me later.

Obstacle course training

Enlist a friend to scatter various items throughout your house and yard. Without peeking at the mess first, run through the house and yard, dodging the items on the floor as you go. Allow Snickers to follow you and weave between your ankles as you go. Have your assistant rearrange the course each day to keep things interesting. The goal is to do this without injury to yourself or others (this will probably take several attempts.)

Deep breathing/ self-soothing

Practice deep breathing and other self-soothing methods throughout the day. Also suggested: hot baths, Scripture reading, power naps, spontaneous air boxing, and secret chocolate eating. Mastery of self-soothing techniques are important for maintenance of mental health and avoidance of the excessive us of alcohol.

Repeat each of these exercises every day throughout this month of training.

Next week you will enter conditioning stage 2: noise tolerance and focused thinking

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy Third Birthday Seth!

To Seth, my third baby and my first son,

Seth, you are the child that teaches me to see things from a different perspective. From the very beginning this was true- you were the first baby to teach me the JOY of an epidural! It was so great I considered naming you "epidural," but I realize now you probably wouldn't have liked that. I'm all for unusual names, but it is possible to go too far.

You have always been very different from your sisters. As a baby we called you "meatball" because you were so bulky compared to the girls! (above, Seth at six months)

As all boys do, you love to smash and pound and destroy! I know this is often said about boys, but I am continually amazed at how often I say “WHAT is he doing? That would have NEVER occurred to the girls!”

(above and below, Seth at 1yr old)

Your boyishness has inspired me to learn the difference between a tractor and a back hoe. When I get the details wrong, you are now quick to correct me (Silly mommy!)

You share a special bond with your daddy in your love of things mechanical. You also share some obsessive-compulsive qualities....

For instance, you still refuse to sleep with his pillow upside down. You also do not want mismatched pjs or clothes on backwards. If someone teases you about these things, you laugh and play along “No daddy!” but your laughter is mixed with a sort of panic- even daddy doesn't push you too hard!

On occasion you follow me around when I am working around the house so you can close cupboards and drawers after me. “Are you done with that yet mama? Can I close it?”

You are a great big brother to Marcus and have taught him many wonderful boy things in the past year! You LOVE sharing a room and have started getting in trouble at bedtime on a regular basis!

Here you are at age 2 with that great curly hair we all miss! Your daddy has since taught you how to 'be a man' and have short hair!

Daddy told you that you get bigger muscles as you grow up, especially when you put poop in the potty. So after his potty successes you give '5' as hard as you can, then with a twinkle in your eye you ask “that hurt you mommy?” I say yes and shake off the 'pain' while you grin as big as you can!

Happy third birthday, little man! Mom and dad love you so!