Saturday, November 10, 2012


This post is in response to two separate situations that have reminded me of a time in my life where my kids (boys particularly) freely bit, kicked and punched each other. Now, don't get me wrong, they still marvel at the occassional 'ball tap' in their words, and I let that slide because i do know 'boys will be boys'. That being said, i feel confident stating that my boys don't hit each other any more. When my boys were 3 and 1.5 I came to realize that physical aggression was a daily occurrance. There were the usual 'he took my toy' fight, the occassional 'you are in my way' brawl, and then the sporadic 'im going to kill you because i am sick of spending every waking hour with you' war. I grew up with an older sister and there was limited exposure to aggressiveness since there were just the two of us with a 4 year age span. I didn't have any friends with siblings who faught and i dont remember seeing this kind of fighting on TV. I began to ask other parents and got the same 'boys will be boys' kind of anecdotes with everyone spewing their own personal horror stories of their sons fighting 'smack-down' style. I decided that not only did I not like this behavior, it was one that was going to get them into trouble as they got older. So after months of ineffective time-outs and lots or raised voices, i realized that I was going about this as an observer who had no control of the situation. It would happen, i would discipline with a time-out or verbal reprimand and the next second, minute, or day, it would happen again.I needed to put my expertise as a behavior analyst into practice and do a full-out behavior plan on their butts. I named the target behavior 'physical aggression' and defined it as "kicking, hitting, and biting" which were their behaviors of choice. I then observed the target behavior and was able to identify that the function was sometimes attention, sometimes access to a preferred item or activity, and sometimes was just the 'go to' behavior because it had become second nature to just get physical when things didn't go their way. I had the both boys aggressing against each other so frequently that I felt like i was watching animal planet. So, once I identified the functions of their behavior, I then had to implement a consequence for each function while making sure the other sibling did not reinforce it. I observed and waited patiently until lo and behold someone got physical. I then stated "no getting physical, no hitting, kicking or biting - time-out". Then I would pick up the perp, plop him in time-out while holding the victim and giving him all of my attention. I didnt speak to or discuss the crime with the perp, though sometimes i had to stand with my back to him and block him from running away from time-out. (time out occurred in a chair placed in the corner of the kitchen away from the tv and other reinforcers) I would set a timer for the age of the perp and then when time-out was over i would hold the two boys next to each other and say "no hitting, kicking, or biting. You can't get physical or you get a consequence". Then we would hug-it-out and be on our way. Now this happened if the aggression came because of attention issues. If aggression happened because the perp wanted access to a toy the victim had, the time-out would still happen and while in time-out the victim would get to keep the toy that was taken from him and after the time-out he would get to keep the toy and I would say the same thing but add a "now you can't have the toy for ______minutes because you got physical." I would then wait the allotted amount of time and when it was his turn I would prompt an appropriate exchange. If the baby took a toy from older brother he would only have to say the name of the toy (ex: car) and then i would have him hold his hand out and older brother had to place it in his hand. He often didn't want to so i would physically prompt older brother to hand it over even if he didnt want to. I would then praise them both. When i realized that the boys became physical because of being sick of each other, I used antecedent manipulations (arranged the environment so that they had time apart doing separate activities at least once per day so that they were less likely to get physical due to being sick of each other). There were days that this wasn't enough and i would see them escalating and i would intercede with some separate activity and reinforce them for the less severe behavior. Ex: set up one with coloring and one with playdoh and say something like "i know you need time alone. Don't get physical just say you need a break" and then we would switch activities after a few minutes. This was a full-time job for what seemed like forever, but really i was able to get control of the situation after a week or so. I'm sure if I was supermom i could have gotten it quicker but i had other stuff going on too. I did devote a good part of each day on discipline during that period of time, but it was worth it because my three older kids dont hit each other anymore. The baby is a different story, she calls herself baby and her pimp hand is strong. She occasionally hit and throw things and thinks everything is hers. Now I'm all old and tired and dont have the energy to run a plan on her, but her days are surely numbered.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


You know, like that song by that chick about losing faith in humanity. That's me, right now. I'm so obsessed with my house and getting everything done so that we can move in, I'm being really bitchy about the overwhelming amount of work I have to do. All day i complain about how overwhelmed i am, and then every night I put my kids to bed and hide in my room and read to avoid life. I have a tremendous amount of stuff to do and I'm reading a really boring book, in the dark, on my kindle app, on my broken phone. I pretty much suck at life these days. I was just stalking my own Facebook home page to avoid going downstairs to grade papers and I came across my old blog, which, by the way, is not properly linked to my fb page. It listed my blog as jjgregory....instead of jjgregory family... Anyway, I tried the fb link and was brought to some Spanish blog and thought, jeez, I suck so much that my blog was evicerated. So, that's what lead me back to good old blogspot, and your computer screen. I guess I will try to blog again for my own sanity, because

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

smart AND pretty

In the last few months I have started the journey to a more natural way of life. I'm not saying that I'm going all- little house on the prairie, but i am attempting to try a more natural, cleaner way of living. I have been doing alot of research on sites like skin deep cosmetics and all signs points to environmental factors such as pollution and chemicals as the leading causes of cancer, autoimmune disorders and early on-set puberty. Consider the bejeebers scared out of me! Ignorance is bliss, but I have been trying my best to make informed decisions when it comes to some of the products that i choose.

I inadvertently began the switch a few years ago, when my sister (holla!) convinced me to try some natural mineral make-up. SOLD! I am in love with it now and feel that it provides nice coverage and there are plenty of color options. I then replaced my toxic cleaning products with some environmental friendly Shaklee all purpose cleaner. I use it on everything except the bathroom, that still gets straight-up bleach. I can't help it, bathrooms are gross! My next switch was equally easy. I traded in most of our regular meat products for organic meat. I did this due to the hormones and antibiotics that are injected in animals and then fed to our family. Along with meat went milk and eggs, now i only buy these two things organic because they are easy to find in my local grocery store.

Naturally, I began to switch our personal care items to more safe products. We went with all natural deodorant for my boys and i use it often as well, but here lies my dilemma.......i haven't found a brand that works well for me and i don't want to be sweaty and smelly, so i cheat sometimes and use the "strong" stuff. Then I have fear and guilt that I am putting chemicals on my body, but I am compelled to do this because I am vain about personal hygiene. Peanut has eczema and I replaced cortisone cream with an essential oil blend. I researched the baby lotion that i was putting on my kids and decided to make an all-natural body lotion for them instead. Its greasy, but I'm still working on it. I use them on myself too, though i am finishing off my B&BW lotions because i am too cheap to throw them in the garbage...

Anyway, when it comes to my kids it is easy, when it comes to myself, well...i am a product whore. I love my products! Shampoos, conditioner, face soap, lotion, eye cream, lip get the picture...I love it all, but now I'm conflicted because i have started to examine the content of said products and am not a happy girl.

I decided to make the switch item by item so as not to traumatize myself too much. The first item was recommended by my friend Christine (shout out!). She bought me a bar of Black African Soap for my face since I was using a potent acne system and i didn't have acne. I would frequently get one zit, and i would get it in size extra large. This soap smells so pretty and is all natural. It is an oatmeal soap and it has cleared my face nicely. SUCCESSFUL SWITCH! The next item to get tossed out was my under eye cream which was full of chemicals and fragrance. I started to use plain coconut oil and it seems to be working nicely. (so far - SUCCESSFUL SWITCH) I started buying and using all natural 'fragrance'-free soaps. By fragrance-free, i am referring to artificial fragrance which is not the best for your health. We are using the natural soap all over and saving the 'deodorant' soap for the three p's (pits, privates, and piggies) LOL. My next switch was a biggie. I don't know what possessed me, but i was at Wegman's and decided to buy some organic hair conditioner instead of my beloved Pantene. Pantene and I have been together for over a decade and I have yet to abandon the shampoo. Instead i wanted to make a slow break with as little stress as possible. The first few days were great. My hair was slightly dull but otherwise, happy and bouncy as usual. BUT, after a few days, I have started to notice that my hair is completely, utterly FLAT! This is not OK! I am hoping that it is the humidity, but it's not lookin like the new conditioner will be taking up permanent residence in my shower. It's like the Pantene shampoo was pissed and sabotaged it somehow while i was sleeping, just for spite. I will hang in for a bit, but this girl can't be walking around with stringy hair! I may have to try some other brand and i am committed to going natural, but c'mon, this is my hair! I plan on switching to an all natural shampoo when i get the 'do' straightened out which only leaves finding the perfect all-natural deodorant and face lotion.
Does anyone else face this struggle between wanting safe, all-natural products while trying to still look their best? I want the best of both worlds!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

a lesson from my daughter

This Saturday was like any other. Pip and I got up at 9:00 (early for us), went to theatre for a 4 hour rehearsal for peter pan, and then came home to the rest of the crew. My stepson and his bff were here for the weekend and hubz got an emergency call for a furnace repair, so all the boys went with him and were going to ride their bikes in the cul de sac where the house is located. As last minute plans were being arranged, and re-arranged, kids were scurrying around, dishes were being done and bikes were being loaded onto the truck. Also, shoes and gloves were being looked for, the remote was no where to be found and the girls were mad that they were being left behind.
For those of you who don't live in a 3 ring circus, this is quite typical. As we make spur-of-the-moment plans, try to transition from one activity to another, my stress level steadily rises. By the time we find 6 pair of shoes, 4 pair of gloves and make it out the door, it takes approximately 15 minutes. These are not 15 regular minutes either. They are stressful, tortuous, self hating minutes that make me feel inadequate and ill equipped to handle the job that I have been blessed with.
Once the boys were gone, I still had to get the girls outside because, during the tirade of transition, I somehow conveyed that I would be taKing Pip for a bike ride. Let me state a few facts.1. I don't like being cold. 2. In order for Pip to ride her new bike, we need to walk it two blocks into the ally behind our house because that is the only non hilly area for her to ride. 3 . I am not a fan of the ally.
As I begrudgingly left the house, I began to finally relax. It was cold, but not too cold. It was difficult to push Peanut's stroller while helping Pip push her bike, but not too difficult. Once we reached the ally, I was pleasantly surprised at pip's bike riding skills. It was only her second time on her new bike and she was unsure of herself at first. She made a lot of negative, fearful statements at first but with a little coaxing and cheering, she began some positive self-talk. I heard a steady chant of 'i can do it, I can do it', with different tones and inflections. I heard some 'don't stop now'-s and even a bunch of 'go, go, go'-s. It took me back 11 years to when my step-son was 5. We used to take him to my in law's to ride his little motorcycle in a big circle around their house. As he would whiz by, we would hear him talking and laughing to himself, and when we would catch a word or phrase, it was always encouraging, like 'yeah baby' and 'you'll never catch me'! Hearing Pip made me laugh and smile and as I jogged beside her, I wondered what my difficult days would be like if I cheered myself on instead of making negative statements. Would I be able to cheer myself througthe finding of the always lost shoe? Would I be able to 'go, go, go' my way through editing the preschool yearbook? How about some 'you can do it'-s while emptying the dishwasher? I'm not really sure, but I think I should give it a try....
Do any of you ever hear your little ones engaging in encouraging self-talk while working on a new or difficult task?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

i'm so excited!

I am so excited! The hubz bought me the domain name for my new home business. Here it is : and it is almost complete. I'm putting this in writing right now so that it feels more real to me. I was trying not to publish it because there is a terrible picture of me on it and my head is deformed because of the editing on the actual site, but my vain self does not even care, that's how excited I am!!!

The best part, besides the adventure of starting a new business has been the fact that my kids are so excited for me. My boys especially are overjoyed, and they are telling everyone about mama knows best! It is really cute to hear them make plans for the business. Heartbreaker told me that "we are going to be richer than OPRAH"! Haha! I explained that the 'true' best part is the fact that we have figured out a way to earn money while HELPING others and the environment! It is amazing that I have been able to research essential oils and natural butters and have been making products that really, truely work. There are no harmful chemicals and most of the products are organic. There have been some mishaps, (sorry jules for the slippery fall down the stairs and the putrid smelling test vial that you tried for me)but for the most part, we are having SUCCESS.
So here's to Mama Knows Best! Let us have success, happiness, and hope for the well-being of those we love!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

life is what you make it

I was taking a shower this afternoon when I was hit by the realization that my life doesn't suck. I know sometimes i state otherwise, but in fact, my life does not suck. The fact alone that i was able to take a mid-afternoon shower, without anyone banging on the door, is my first piece of evidence. Once I got out of the shower, i really started contemplating all of the things that I regularly bitch about. Here is my average, everyday, bitch-fest............

1. My house. I hate it. It's too small, we pay rent to live in this crapper, when we own a perfectly designed-by-me-and-hubz-to-fit-all-our-kids-and-stuff-house. the problem is that said house had a fire and we have not had the time or money to complete the renovation. that being said, I complain about it alot. I fantisize that if we lived there, the kids wouldn't fight as much, we wouldn't have such a cluttered mess on our hands, we would have more room to have friends over..............the list is neverending about how glorious our life would be if we could just get into that house! The thing is, I guess I could go to work full-time to make more money, and I guess hubz could close his business and get a mon-fri job. Then, I wouldn't be there for all of those milestones, the sweet morning snuggles or the family days that we share so often. If hubz was a 9-5er,I would have to do everything myself. He wouldn't be there to help get the kids off to school, be home in time to help me make dinner, or help on days when one of me is just not enough.

2. Money. This ties into the above point. I guess I am sacrificing money to be a mother. I can live with that, considering peanut will be in kindergarden in 4 years and I can work every day then. Plus, I do have alot of expenses that could be avoided if I choose to avoid them. For example, we have a birthday every other month. No joke. That means a cake with the family and a party with friends, not to mention treats sent into school. Then holidays X 5 kids + soccer, basketball, preschool, theatre, baseball, hockey..............well you get the point. I could skip any one of these things if i needed to, but I choose not to.

3. My kids fight. ALOT. I blame the lack of space and being outnumbered for my kids fightning. Considering that both of these items are true, I guess it could be much worse. They don't get physical very often and usually, the fighting is limited to teasing and annoying each other. Again, I can live with that, considering my kids do love and play with each oter more often than not.

As I type, I'm running out of things to complain about. Im realizing that I am not really in a bad position at all. I am actually in complete control of my life and I am in the position that I am in because I choose to be in it. I actually enjoy sitting at the computer in the afternoon while the hubz takes peanut to the bank and post office. I love that we will pick up the kids from school and have a relaxing afternoon together. The kids WILL fight and come in the house like a bunch of wild animals, but at least i will be here to witness it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

code name mama's: march of kindness

I have been reading alot about Dionna @codename mama and her March of kindness on facebook. It hit me that this was an excellent idea and I really wanted to participate, but then "the word" appeared. "The word" being COMMIT! Time and time again, I would see that word. Commit to participate in Code Name Mama's March of kindness. Commit to show a random act of kindness every day in March. Will you join us in our commitment to............well, you get the idea. Let's just say, that if we were all in a room, chairs in semi-circular formation, I would stand-up and say "my name is Jodi, and I'm a commitment-phobe".
The funny thing is, I'm not a commitment-phobe when it comes to the really big things. Marriage, check! Buy a house, check! Help raise step-son, check! Have kids, check, check, checkity, check! I'm a commitment-phobe in relation to the proverbial "small stuff". I don't "sweat" it, I just avoid committing to it. While berating myself for the past few days, and wishing that I could just commit to this quest, I had a thought. By committing to this endevear, I would be doing myself a random act of kindness. By pushing through the uncomfortable, I would be making myself a better person. There is no better act of kindness.
As I type, I am thinking of the sample acts of kindness that Dionna has listed on her website . there were so many simple ideas that can be done. Acts of kindness that should be done everyday, even if there was no 'challenge' to do so. You can spend 5 extra minutes with your child, minutes that would normally be spent on the phone or doing some other task that takes up most of our adult life. You can do something nice for a friend our your partner. Write a quick note of appreciation to someone who has been kind to you. Write a note of encouragement to someone who needs it. There are hundreds of things that could be done to make the world a kinder place.
There are a few things that I have done today that were purposeful acts of kindness, even though i was, at the time, NOT going to commit to anything!! For example, Today, when my BFF asked me to *gulp* commit to watching her daughter, my beautiful neice, I said "yes". I have no issue watching her, I just have a hard time saying "yes" without resistance. I defended a mom at work today even though I have never met her, even though she was not even present, when her son's therapist was talking about her parenting. I stopped myself from yelling at Pip when she continuously interrupted my conversation with hubz. And my greatest act of kindness occurred at a sesame street live performance. During intermission, hubz, pip, peanut and myself were taking a stroll. I was wearing peanut in my moby and we passed a similar aged toddler on a leash. I ignored this, although I had much to say. THEN, as I was recovering from the sight of it, two men of a less than clean, less than smart nature, were heard by hubz saying 'you thought the leash was bad, check that thing out' to each other. Once we were past them and hubz relayed what he had overheard, I decided to do another act of kindness. I decided to NOT punch them in the face. I decided to turn around and give them some information. I asked the men if they thought my baby wrap was as bad as a leash, to which they replied, um oh um. I didn't let them lie, I just gave them some information. One of the men was holding his toddler who was thrashing around in his arms. I pointed out that he would benefit from a carrier. And then I told him what I thought. Leashes promote wild, non-hand-holding behavior. It tells your child that you want them far away from you. A carrier tells my child 'i want you close because I love you'. Wearing my baby is also an act of kindness.
So, Dionna, I will try. I will try to commit to the March of kindness. I will try to do a random act of kindness, every day even though i am still more worried about the 'committment' than i am worried about the 'kindness'!