Friday, June 29, 2012

A Week In Review

Paul is in Asia for work. He stayed in nice hotels, ate in nice restaurants and saw all the sights. This was my week - breaking up fights between kids, feeding kids, cleaning kids, cleaning the house, doing laundry, doing dishes. I took the kids to the park, zoo and pool. With 24 hours until Paul comes home, I hosted a playdate. When will I learn that other small children should never enter our house, much less touch their toys? Sara trusts other children to play with her toys. But heaven help her little brother if he dares glance at her precious loot. Christian played very well with his little buddies because they also like running around the house screaming for no reason. Sara, with all her usual flair for the dramatic, was devastated because her BFF friend was unable to come so she decided the whole day was ruined. Got to admire her coping skills. Then she decided that she needed to pick a fight with her brother and cry. I'm not even sure why she was crying. She was the oldest kid by 4 years and the only one crying. A proud moment for me. With kids on a sugar high from the cupcakes consumed at dinner time, parents fled the scene with impressive speed. I think I saw a parent actually leapfrog over her children to get to her car. Full of remorse and hoping to earn back her lost privileges, Sara was very helpful cleaning up crumbs, napkins and toys. While we were busy, Christian decided to swallow a marble. Guess he really will eat anything. Suddenly overcome with love for her brother, she starts wailing that he is going to die and she needs to call 911. I snatch the phone from her and call the doctor. The remedy? Feed the kid. Seriously, I was told to give him some bread and water to make sure his airways are clear. So, I have one kid told to drink milkshakes to gain weight and another kid told to put more things down his throat after swallowing a toy. I will never understand modern medicine. Or my kids.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Red Robin.....Yikes!!!

Since it has been hotter than the surface of the sun here lately, I decided not to cook dinner tonight. Christian had a swim lesson. Paul needed a haircut. This means......... dinner at Red Robin. My kids love this place. They sing the theme song and know the menu by heart. So, we march in and get seated in a booth. Maybe it was the heat stroke. Maybe it was the dehydration. But, I forgot to request actual chairs. My kids treat booths like playgrounds, climbing gyms, beds, etc. Christian immediately succumbs to fatigue and flops down like Vivien Leigh suffering from vapors. Sara, shivering because she is so cold, orders a milkshake. And fails to see the irony when she ups her complaining. We order the food and I hope Paul arrives in time to eat his meal before the kids devour it for him. The food arrives before Paul. (Not sure why HIS haircuts take so long....) Christian inhales his macaroni and cheese like it was his last meal. Sara is busily twirling her spaghetti noodles and spraying spaghetti sauce like a scene from Scarface. Christian is now demanding that Sara hand over some of her dinner because he is still hungry. Sharing meals with Sara is very much a one-way street. She had already graciously let him have a (very) little bit of her milkshake. She is done sharing for the night. The waitress arrives before Paul. I ask for a to-go box and the check. Paul arrived. He received the bill, a boxed up burger and 2 tired and fighting kids. And the keys to my car. I ran out of the place like someone yelled "fire" in a crowded theater. And didn't look back.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Everyone celebrates Father's Day their own special way. Here is how we celebrated the father in our house. Paul made breakfast for everyone. That's what happens when you are the best cook in the house. Then, Sara and I took off for Target to spend Paul's hard earned money on presents for Christian's upcoming birthday. Deciding Dad deserved a little more spoiling, we brought home Moe's for lunch. Sara compiled 6 different salsas. She kept 4 for herself and gave 2 to Paul. Not wanting to miss out on any potential food or snacks, she helped herself to his 2 salsas as well. Then she got curious about his Moe's concoction. She got herself a fork and helped him eat his Father's Day lunch. His celebratory dinner was a pool party celebrating Sara's baseball team's winning the championship. So, he got to pack a bag full of towels, pool toys, snacks, drinks and sunscreen. If we had been home, he would have cooked his own Father's Day dinner. And it would have been delicious. Last year, in a rare burst of domesticity, I tried to make breakfast and coffee. I burned the bacon, undercooked the eggs and had no clue how to make coffee. I know it involves a machine, water and smelly coffee crumbs. He waited patiently while I set off the smoke alarm. Eventually, deciding that he wanted a decent meal before he starved, he graciously stepped in and removed the spatula from my hand. If I loved him less, I would probably cook for him again. Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Maybe Target has been around for a long time but I didn't discover how vital it is to my daily life until I became a mom 8 years ago. You can buy anything and I do mean anything there. You can furnish and decorate your entire home. You can clothe and feed your entire family. You can medicate, entertain and educate your entire family all at Target. And you can do all this shopping while your kid is strapped into the cart while munching on a free cookie. Yup, they feed your kid while you shop. It's a great place to kill a couple hours on a rainy day. It's an even better escape when you have been cooped up all day with cranky kids. The minute the hubby comes home, grab your keys and head to Target to hide out. There are downsides I have discovered about this all-purpose Mecca. First, you will drop way more money than you planned or budgeted for on things you never know you needed desperately until you saw them. Second, your kids will find items they cannot live without in every aisle. My 8 year old claims she needs a filing cabinet, steering wheel, and lawn furniture, just to name a few items. And, as my kids inform me, "you don't have to pay for it, Mom. Just put it on your credit card". They get their financial and banking skills from me. There is rehab for just about every vice - sex, food, alcohol, gambling, drugs, etc. I see my husband checking me in for a stint of Target-ism rehab. He'll make me cut up my card and do a 12-step program that probably makes me stay out of a Target store for more than 3 days in a row. Then, he'll make me wander the aisles, cartless, without making a single purchase. I'll break down in tears every time I see someone in a red polo shirt. But, until he stages an intervention, I am off to buy some pool toys. No, we do not own a pool. So what?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Golden Rule

I like to think of myself as a fairly calm, rational and reasonable person. I like to think that I am kind and giving. I like to think of myself as a halfway decent mother and role model. So, why, in the name of all that is good and holy, do my kids do nothing but fight with each other? And, why, does my almost 4 year old turn into Napoleon when other children enter our home? So, this prayer is for them: Dear beloved children, I love you. I adore you. I only want what is best for you in this world. So, why do you doubt me at every turn and try my patience? Trust me when I say that you are not warriors fighting to save your people or land. You are fighting over toys, books, space, food, etc. You are not fighting for the greater good. You are fighting for no apparent reason other than to see what shades of red Mommy's face can turn or how funny she can make her voice. Jesus teaches us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. Christian, my only beloved son, when you scream at every child who dares to cross our threshold and snatch toys from their unsuspecting hands like they hold the last morsel of food, you are not following the Golden Rule. You, in fact, are acting like a little savage who was raised by wolves who don't know any better. I try to live by example. I treat my friends and guests with kindness and courtesy. I offer them food and drink. I chat with them. I graciously loan them anything they might need, want or enjoy. I have even been known to glady give people things that I think might give them pleasure just because I like them. I do not sneak up from behind, pluck things from their hands and run away. Trust me when I promise you that our guests are not closet cat burgers, kleptomaniacs, or wild savages determined to break, steal or destroy any of your possessions. They have no ulterior or nefarious motives for coming over. They just want to play with you and your cool stuff. We will not give them away or let them leave with your precious Legos or Transformers. Sara, my first born, I know your friends and my friends' kids. They are kind, sweet, well-mannered kids. They do not enter your room with the secret malicious intent of destroying everything you hold most dear. I promise, with God as my witness, they will not decapitate your American Girl doll or cut off your American Girl horse's head and put it in your bed as a Sicilian message. When I offer food and drink, you can have faith that there is plenty to go around. I cannot pull a Jesus with the fishes and loaves but I will not run out before you get your share. I pray that the next time we can convince someone to come over to break bread with us that you stop and think about Jesus and the Golden Rule. Because if I do not see an improvement in your behavior towards each other and our small guests, you will need all the help Heaven can provide and pray to God and Jesus because you will be punished until the Second Coming. To my patient and tolerant friends and guests, I beg and pray that you will keep giving my children a chance to redeem themselves. I am trying to raise decent, compassionate human beings. I am not exactly sure why the devil possesses them anytime anyone visits. Know that I am trying to have the patience of Job with them but but it's not easy. And, let's face it, even he would have gotten annoyed at their antics. I can't build an Arc. I can't walk on water or turn it into wine. All I want to do is turn the little devils into little angels. So, keep praying for me and my mission impossible. Moses got across the desert faster than message is getting to my kids. Signed, Your loving and annoyed mother, Your embarrassed and humiliated friend

Friday, June 15, 2012

What About Me?!

Sara has a flair for the dramatic. To say the least. It comes out at the most inopportune times. Her life can go from wonderful and fabulous to terrible and tragic in the blink of an eye. Anyone or anything can cause these mercurial mood swings, usually a brother or a parent is the direct or indirect cause. It is all or nothing with that child. Since summer vacation started, the kids have been fighting over anything, everything and nothing. My solution is simple. When they fight, they get separated and the fought-over issue/item is removed. She is free to play in her room. The other day, Sara was outlining in graphic detail the many tragedies she suffers on a daily basis. We never let her do anything fun. We never take her anywhere. And so on and so on. Then she went in for the kill. "Christian gets all the attention. He gets everything he wants because he whines." I remained calm but wanted to say "Are you bloody kidding me? Have you ever kept track of all your insane and ridiculous requests, demands and wacky ideas? I have, kid. You ask for approximately 9.4 thousand things a day, including but not limited to, eating marshmallows all day, watching endless TV, Wii or computer time that would make you blind if indulged. Let's not forget requests to go to the zoo, Health Works Museum daily (usually during nap)." But, I kept my mouth shut while I came up with a calm reasoned response. I asked her to think about what really happens when her brother whines. Does he REALLY get what he wants? Well, nooooo but.... What happens when he whines? Well, he is told no and if he keeps whining, he gets put in a time out. Ok, complaint number one is resolved for the time being. About your claim of unequal attention given to your almost 4 year old brother who is part-monkey and thinks he lives in the jungle? Well, Sara, actually, your brother gets more SUPERVISION because of his age and penchant for climbing on everything and anything. Attention and supervision are two different things. You got the same supervision at that age, kiddo. It is common sense to keep a close eye on small, active children, especially those who think they are part-superhero with the ability to fly. He gets more supervision but you get more independence and freedom. Fair is not everyone getting the same thing. It isn't even everyone getting what they want. Fair is everyone getting what they need. And, in this house, we NEED to keep an eye on your brother to keep him alive with his limbs still attached. Fair would be giving me a break from the fighting from time to time. Because I NEED a break from it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sticks and Stones

For some people, summer means swimming, bike rides, playing with friends. For the resident mean girl down the street, it means trash talking and attempted destruction of private property. Oscar the Grouch and Nellie Olson have nothing on this kid when it comes to her blind hatred of my child. My 8 year old has been called evil, terrible, awful and archenemy. I guess I am living in Metropolis with superheroes and villains. Can 8 and 9 year olds really have archenemies?? I guess so. As seems the way with my life, the sage goes on. The other day I was chatting on the phone and I glanced out my front window. The girl was riding by with a friend. She stopped in front of my house, got off her bike and bent down. Now, I am openly spying. Curious about what was going to happen next, I continued my spying. The girl picked up a rock and threw it at my house. Luckily, she throws like an arthritic grandma with bursitis. But, still, really? Does she have absolutely no moral compass? No conscience? I was so surprised that I did nothing. With my brilliant hindsight, I realize I should have tossed down the phone and charged out there. I should have confronted her once and for all. I should have called her parents and asked if their brilliant parenting allows for this behavior. Typically, they flat out deny any possible wrong doing by their angel. I can assume that they would have excused this behavior as well. I can guarantee 2 things. One, my 8 year old does not roam the streets unsupervised. What can I say? I am not confident my 8 year old has the navigational skills to return home and the minute someone offered her a free meal, she would be at their table, no questions asked. Jesus would have run out of fish AND loaves had my kid been in attendance that day. Second, IF my kid had thrown a rock at anyone or their home, she would be punished until she had kids of her own. In a sad and pathetic way, I am almost hoping the kid does it again so I can catch her in the act. Someone needs to have a chat with that kid. And if she wants to trespass onto my property, that give me the right to do it. And I fully intend to exercise my rights all over that kid.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Don't Know How She Did It

I don't know how my mother did it. She raised 6 kids- 5 boys and 1 girl. I am the youngest and my arrival was the most dramatic. After a trip to the hospital, I was born on the bathroom floor. While she was giving birth without the benefit of drugs of any kind, my older brother was banging on the door, asking to be let in to go potty. Today, I experienced a minor version of these events. Christian was throwing up on the driveway, scared and crying. While inside the house, his very unsympathetic older sister was hollering at me, demanding her allowance and declaring a 10 feet perimeter so she doesnt catch his plague. I'm trying to comfort a puking and scared 3 year old while protecting my own clothes and shoes and she is pestering me about .50?! Yes, I know we are cheap but, really, she lives here rent free, eats our food, etc. I think .50 a week for the few chores she does grudgingly is a good deal. (The Tooth Fairy is also very stingy at our house). So, Sir Pukes A Lot is bathed and put to bed and I head out to hose off the driveway. I ask Sara if she wants to earn an extra .50 by hosing off the driveway. I haven't seen or heard from her since.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Small Beggars

All day long, small needy people are begging at me - for food, money, toys, stories, attention, etc. They live in my house, eat my food, and spend my money. They do not contribute to the household except to deplete supplies and destroy property. They are demanding, needy and high maintenance. We provide them with food, shelter, clothing. We meet their basic needs and then some. In return, we get to referee arguments and battles, enforce bathing and sleep. They do not listen to reason or logic. They are slowly taking over the house and wearing down my patience. We do not charge for rent, utilities or food. We are being held prisoner in our own home. I'm thinking of parking them on my driveway with a tin cup and woeful expression.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Plausible Deniabilty

Ever received a phone call about your child and uttered the phrase "not my child!"? Well, I haven't. I keep an open mind. I assume the parent dreads making the call as much as I dread receiving it. So, when a friend emailed me to inform me that Sara had cursed at recess, I believed her and had a long talk about language. I have had to make 2 such phone calls in my life. One was when a younger girl was bad mouthing Sara on the bus. I checked around, verified the story with a couple other parents and called the mother. She immediately explained that her daughter does not have a mean bone in her body and would never say anything negative about anyone ever. Move over, Jesus. There is a new saint in town. Ironically, the teasing stopped after the phone call. The other call was made tonight. A former classmate of Sara has taken her bullying show on the road. Not satisfied with attempting to ostracize Sara at school, she is attempting to alienate neighbor kids as well. We politely asked that their child keep out of Sara's friendships and maybe not badmouth her to others. Silly us. We forgot how perfect and flawless their child is. Wouldn't you know, without even checking into the story, the mom flat out denied it. I have news for you, lady. We dreaded making the phone call. We should have made the phone call months ago the first time we heard this was going on. We foolishly thought grownups would be reasonable. No such luck. Luckily, the girls seem to be able to rise above this nonsense and choose their own friends. I don't want to turn our suburban neighborhood into the Sharks and Jets but I'm not going to let my kid be bullied anymore.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mean Girl

Today was, thankfully, the last day of school. Sara will start 4th grade at a new school. We are all very excited about this for a number of reasons. Not least of all is that we will finally be done with the resident "mean girl". Hard to imagine but even on the last day of school, she had to be mean, petty and go out of her way to hurt Sara's feelings. Today the kids received their yearbooks. Everyone was required to sign all the yearbooks to avoid hurt feelings. Big fail. Immediately after Sara signed mean girl's yearbook, she erased it, crossed out EVERY photo of Sara in her yearbook and told her she has done this to every yearbook she has received since Sara arrived in first grade. Hard to imagine how you raise a child to believe that is acceptable behavior. We will not be crossing out anyone's photo in our house. We are taking the high road. I wish no ill on this child but I cannot be nicer than that. I think her parents are raising a mean, selfish, spoiled, rude child. I just pray for the next girl on her "mean girl" list. I speak from experience, it was a long, terrible school year, in part because of this child. But, no longer will my child come home in tears because a classmate has yelled at, belittled, gossiped about, excluded, mocked and picked on her. Maybe the next girl's parents will be more effective at stopping the behavior. I wish them luck because they and their daughter will need it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Very Own Circus

Lately, I've been seeing many similarities between my life and circus life. My life is loud, messy and colorful. Small, entertaining people wearing colorful costumes are the stars the show. They are always putting on an act - with or without animals. They sing, dance, juggle, swing and jump from things. I like to think I am the ring leader but we all know their training is seriously lacking. My car is like a clown car - lots of people and their junk crammed into it and driving around in circles. And, until my almost 4 year old decided to be potty-trained, I spent a lot of my time cleaning up poop. Way too much junk food is consumed. And it is always feeding time. I am the ring leader, juggler and tightrope walker. I am always balancing my parenting. I need to be firm but fair, opened-minded but authoritative, strict but fun, encouraging but not indulgent. I need to be mom, nurse, taxi driver, teacher, guide, cruise director, disciplinarian, referee, cook, and maid. Welcome to my circus. It's the greatest show on Earth. Take a ringside seat, enjoy the show and watch out for poop.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Bedtime Story

Here is my ideal bedtime story: "One evening, after dinner, a mother called out to her 2 well-behaved, obedient children that is was bedtime. Quietly and quickly, the children put away their toys, went upstairs, brushed their teeth and put on their pajamas. They waited eagerly in their beds for a bedtime story. Snuggling together under a soft blanket with a child on each side, the mother read a bedtime story. When the story was over, she kissed the kids, turned out their lights, closed their doors and they quickly fell asleep." What can I say? I like fiction. Here is bedtime at my house - give several warnings that bedtime is approaching and toys must be cleaned up. All reminders and warnings are ignored. Toys are scattered across every square inch of floor, counter and furniture. The last warning is given. The kids have the nerve to look at me in astonishment that I expect them to clean up their toys and get ready for bed. Now comes the stalling and delaying portion of the bedtime ritual. Suddenly (miraculously) they are consumed by an overwhelming and irresistible urge to clean up toys, clear and wash dishes, mop the floor, take the trash out, rotate my tires and replace any burned out light bulbs. Then they suddenly realize they are famished and dehydrated. They will, they assure me, die overnight if they are not fed and watered one more time. No reasonable parent could expect them to survive an entire 10 hours without more food. Next on their hidden agenda is an attention to oral hygiene rarely seen outside a dentist office. Brushing, flossing, rinsing consume more time than taking the bar exam or giving birth. Sleepwear selection is another study in attention-to-detail. Goldilocks was more decisive. 2 piece or 1 piece? Long or short? Too warm to not warm enough? Too snug, too loose or just right? Story selection takes longer than reading Shakespeare's Tempest. Blanket and stuffed animal arrangement is an elaborate chess game that would put Bobby Fisher to shame. Bedtime comes every night without fail. The expectations placed on my children involve peeing, brushing, putting on pajamas and reading a book. Sara has been doing this for 8 years. Christian has been experiencing this sacred ritual for almost 4 years. I don;t throw them any curve balls. The expectations do not change. So why does this come as a rude awakening to them every night? I cannot wait until they have children of their own. I am going to feed those children cappuccino, Twinkies and read them a Stephen King novel.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tempest In A Teapot

Apparently the perfect child DOES exist. She doesn't live in my house, rest assured. She is a classmate of Sara's and never does anything wrong. Never says the wrong thing. Never makes a mistake. She is always right and perfect. And she feels the need and right to lecture Sara at every turn. When they were fighting over playing with a mutual friend, Sara suggested they both walk away and play with other people because they were making their friend uncomfortable, she grabbed Sara's wrist and screamed in her face. Sara got frightened and ran away. Smart kid. When she decided that Sara was annoying her on the bus by humming she announced to all around Sara was "annoying and she will punish her". Sara quietly informed her that fellow classmates are not in charge and cannot punish one another. She has mocked Sara all year long for everything and anything. Nothing Sara does is right or acceptable in her eyes. The kids are mounting Shakespeare's "Tempest"
at school. Costumes are the student's choice and interpretation. The teacher wisely informed all that we do not need to run out and rent a Broadway gown (Sorry, dad). Sara picked out her favorite dress and borrowed a pair of fairy wings. She was yelled at by her classmate/ruler and told her costume was all wrong. Upset and confused, she came to me asking for a new costume. I showed her the teacher's email about costumes and reminded her again that the teacher is the one and only boss in the classroom. Reassured that she is not letting the class or teacher down, she strapped on her wings and pranced off to school. Today she came home with another story of her gross incompetence in the eyes of her classmate. They were told to share a cloak. Sara was excited because she got to try on a new costume. Not living in Shakespearean times, she has never worn a "cloak" before. She made the fatal mistake of putting in on wrong - backwards, inside out, upside down, I don't know. This girl jumped on this error like I would on a piece of chocolate cake. She screeched like a howler monkey repeatedly about Sara's fashion error. Sara apologized and remedied the situation. But, this girl followed Sara around "lecturing" her. I again reminded Sara that the teacher is in charge and no one else can lecture her. Then Sara asked me the question she has asked all year long. "Why doesn't she like me, no matter what I do or say? Why does she hate me so much?" There is no answer. I explained (again) that some people simply do not get along. That is the way of the world. Sara is not perfect. She has her fair share of problems relating to and getting along with the kids in her class. But she cannot do anything right in this kid's eyes. For months Sara tried to be friends with her. She tried changing to suit this girl. No success. Finally with only 2 days left in 3rd grade, Sara has recognized that there is no solution. This girl simply does not like Sara. That is her choice. But, I would love to know how this kid got it in her head that she is perfect, better than everyone else and has the right to behave this way to her classmates? Thankfully we have made the decision to switch schools next year. After 3 years of trying to get our child to fit in and watching her be bullied, excluded and picked on, we have come to the realization that she simply does not fit in at that school. She has had 3 fabulous and amazing teachers who have gone out of their way over and over to help Sara overcome her social challenges. Being the youngest child in the class is just too hard on her. We are hoping that a new environment with a mixed age class will be a better fit. I know that she won't like everyone and not everyone will like her but I just hope and pray that she is treated with respect at her new school. I also hope that she learns from this experience and treats others with respect as well. We have worked very hard with Sara to get her to understand her role in her relationships with classmates. She has gotten better about being stubborn and wanting only her way. She has matured this year. We have never pretended that she is perfect or blameless. As people who have lived with her for 8.3 years, we know her faults, strengths and weaknesses. We know we are not raising a perfect child. She will make mistakes. She will learn from them. We believe in natural consequences. She needs to be aware of and accept accountability for her misdeeds. We assume that she is at least 50% to blame when there is a conflict with a friend or classmate. She has learned to accept responsibility for her words and actions. She has been punished when she was unkind to someone. She has written apology letters for negative words and actions. Maybe she will learn from these experiences. Maybe some good will come from it. Maybe she will remember how she felt and never treat others that way. Maybe she will learn compassion, respect, patience and tolerance. I know she is not (gasp) perfect. But she is perfectly Sara.

American Parenting & Decorating

All over the news there are stories about the inferior quality and nature of American parenting. We are lazy and too indulgent, etc. The French are better at it. The Chinese are better at it. Basically, any animal in the animal kingdom is better at parenting than us silly Americans. Phew! I am relieved that I can finally blame my sub-standard parenting on my nationality instead of myself. I surfer from a perpetual infe
riority complex. Everyone I meet is smarter, funnier, prettier, thinner, a better wife, mother, daughter, etc. So, imagine my relief when I discover that my parenting is no worse than any other ugly American perents'. Of course, I learned of my tragic parenting flaws while surfing the web (and neglecting my children, of course). Maybe if I slap a beret on my kids, sit in a cafe and let them smoke cigarettes, drink cafe and vino all day, they will be better children. Or maybe I should make them spend all day mastering their Chinese characters while sipping ancient herbal teas. I already doubt myself as a parent every waking (and most sleeping) moments of every day. Now I have to worry about other countries thinking I am a bad parent? Maybe it's a lack of proper Feng Shui in my home. But, let's face it. I have 2 children running around my Feng-less Shui-less abode. Any rearranging of the elements of my home is done by small children or for their safety. Or my sanity. My house is still baby proofed even though my youngest is almost 4. I still have a bumper guards around my coffee table but more for my sake than his. I got tired of banging my shins on it's razor sharp edges. He learned to skirt around it before he was 18 months old. I have owned the table for 12 years and still bang my knees and shin on it most nights. My Feng Shui is battered and bruised. My couch is misaligned and lets the energy flow out of the room but offers a great view of the TV. And the couch still has pee pads on it on the off chance that my son forgets that he is potty trained. I am OK with the flow of energy. There is more than enough energy flowing through my house while my kids are awake. The ancient Eastern decorating technique/philosophy isn't exactly convenient or practical in my Midwestern home. My philosophy is simple. Can the kids destroy it? Will it hold up to whatever crazy game they invent? Can they injure themselves on it or with it? Is it easy to clean or fix? The energy may flow right out the front door but at least my kids can't run out the front door unsupervised. As for wind chimes to enhance the creativity in my home, do I really need more of my kids' wacky ideas? One kid wants his best friend to live in our bathtub. The other kid thinks mommy should get an apartment nearby so she can finally have a pet. See what I am up against here? Besides, how on earth can anyone find something whose sole purpose in life is to make noise enjoyable? How is that supposed to bring me serenity, harmony and peace? A quiet house is my dream. Listening to some pipes bang together in a rhythmic metallic clanking sounds like torture to me. My kids and their toys make enough noise. Thank you. There is also a belief about the placement of a mirror in the bedroom and it letting your soul float out of your body and scare itself. Ok, of the things that scare me at night in my bedroom, some invisible version of me haunting myself doesn't even rank in the top ten. My kids bursting in at 2a.m. in a quest for a lost beloved stuffed animal or vomit covered, my husband setting off the burglar alarm accidentally, a random bug or insect - these things scare me. My kids have their own version of Feng Shui going in our house. Sara's philosophy is to keep everything she has ever owned or been given. She is a hoarder. And she prefers to keep everything out in plain sight rather than waste valuable time searching for things. She leans more towards the "more is better" style. Christian likes to organize and group things according to some system only he understands. Again, all toys, games and books must be visible at all times. He prefers the obstacle-course style of decorating. Maybe I can convince my husband to rearrange large and heavy pieces of furniture randomly around the house to enhance my chakras, channel my inner-energy and creativity and get my chi flowing the in the right direction. Who am I kidding? Until I can convince my kids to clean up after themselves, nothing is getting rearranged in my house. My husband already believes that rearranging his junk in the garage qualifies as "cleaning out" the garage. I have pretended to fall for this for 12 years. Maybe the French and Chinese are better parents. Maybe I should slap a beret on my kid and feed him Brie. Maybe I should start feeding my kids sushi and using chopsticks. But, America is the land of the free and I get to raise my kids the way I want.