Thursday Stuff

Girl Talk Thursday (GTT): Parental Punishment

Parental Punishments (What you Endured, Hated, But Would Use Now!)

This post is in no way meant to spark a debate or incite anger, it’s simply an informative post to let you know what I did, and how I handle, disciplining my children. I’m not suggesting that my way is best for YOUR family – everyone is different. All I’m saying is that it worked for OUR family and considering our boys are pretty decent, respectful human beings and have stayed out of trouble thus far (knock on wood), I’d like to think our discipline methods have been successful.

Either that, or I’m completely delusional and my boys have in fact, completely and totally pulled the wool over my eyes.

I’ll stick to my version – ignorance is bliss, yaddayaddayadda.

I grew up with the “spare the rod, spoil the child” mentality. My mom used a fly swatter on us when we misbehaved. My dad didn’t have to do anything, I was terrified of him. All he had to do was raise his voice and that caught my attention.

Kevin said his mom used a coat hanger on him (ouch! I bet that hurt), and his dad used a belt.

Neither one of us really remember getting spanked very often when we were kids. (Which is really weird for me, considering what a brat I was. Seriously. It’s amazing my folks didn’t ship me off to Antarctica. I would have. They probably WISHED they had).

We used a wooden spoon on our boys. I remember reading, in one of the HUNDREDS of parenting books that I devoured in the boys’ early years, that using an instrument, other than your hand, would help make the discipline a little less … personal? I’m not sure that’s the word I want, but it seems right.

Whenever I had to get the wooden spoon out, I would only give them one or two swats on the leg, not the diaper (it was like swatting a pillow, they didn’t feel it) and that’s all it took to get their attention to show them that I meant business.

I always gave them one warning. And if they continued with the behavior after that warning, I simply got the spoon out and swatted them.

I was consistent. And I think that’s CRUCIAL when you’re disciplining your children. Kids are smart little buggers. And they will push your buttons and see how far they can push you – it’s human nature to stretch boundaries like that.

I honestly don’t remember having to swat them very often. Again, I was consistent with them, so they knew I meant business and I wouldn’t hesitate to take out the wooden spoon. I didn’t put up with nonsense – period. They knew the rules. They knew what was expected of them. Period.

It’s so important to make sure kids KNOW what the rules are to begin with. You would be surprised how many parents I’ve observed that didn’t tell/teach their children what the boundaries were to begin with and just sort of dived into a disciplinary action. (Speaking about my experience with play groups.)

“Tommy. If you leave the yard, you will get into trouble.” And then walk little Tommy around the yard and SHOW him where the boundaries were so he would know what constituted punishment if he didn’t comply.

I also made very sure that my boys understood WHY they got into trouble. After they calmed down (and I calmed down), I sat them down and asked them why they got into trouble. I was shocked that there were times when they didn’t know. We would then talk about why they got into trouble and what they could have done differently to avoid getting into trouble in the future.

I think, all too often, parents (myself included), just assumed the kids knew what they did wrong. That wasn’t always the case.

When the boys started school, and were too old to be swatted (I knew this by the smirk on their faces, which only served to make me even more angry – and they knew that), I started sending them to their rooms. I know experts say you really shouldn’t do that because then they associate their rooms with punishment, but I had to get them out of my sight. I have a pretty hot temper, and I found the best thing for both of us, was separation. Out of sight, out of the crosshairs.

They found something in their rooms to calm them down and I had the silence needed to get myself under control. Again, after we both calmed down, I would talk with them about what made me angry and what they did to get into trouble.

Sometimes (and more often than I would like to admit), it was a misunderstanding on MY part. I jumped to conclusions and jumped down their throats when they didn’t deserve it. When those times happened, I owned up and apologized. I think it was important for them to see that I was human and made mistakes, too. I also learned to cool my jets and not jump to conclusions.

Too often.

When they reached middle school, (and even now), the most effective way to get their attention was to take their computers / video games away from them. They have both put that punishment to the test.

And it wasn’t because they misbehaved, per se, but rather because they started blowing off school.

School, in our household, is number one priority with us. It’s their job. And we fully expect them to give 110% of their attention and efforts into doing the best they can. (Which I’ve learned, the hard way, doesn’t necessarily mean straight A’s. Some subjects … well, we can’t all be experts at everything, right?)

When they started middle school, they blew off assignments. This lowered their grade. And because they blew off their assignments, they didn’t know enough to do well on the tests, so they flunked tests and that made their overall grades go down even further.

They tried to use the whole, “but my teacher stinks at his/her job!” and various other excuses and though that may have been the case (in fact, it was a few times), it was no excuse. There would be times when they would be forced to work with someone who didn’t explain it well enough. Or wasn’t knowledgeable enough or … whatever. They had a brain, they could figure it out on their own. They just had to take the initiative and do it. AND ask for help when needed.

“Life is hard. Get used to it, kid. No one is going to hold your hand through this stuff.”

Harsh? Perhaps. But it’s reality. And we’re nothing if not realistic.

Dude’s grades got so bad, that simply banning him from playing wasn’t enough. I suspected he was sneaking onto his computer at night, so Kevin and I removed his computer from his room. We took the whole thing out.

He was without a computer and wasn’t allowed to play video games, (he wasn’t even allowed to watch TV, our rationale being, now he had plenty of time to study and bring his grades up) for eight weeks. That’s the amount of time it took him to get his grades back to an acceptable level.

And that was the ONLY time we’ve had to physically take his stuff away from him. He’s been grounded from the computer and video games a few times since then, but not very often. That eight weeks were HELL for him – he’s been an excellent student ever since.

We’ve had to ground Jazz from the computer and video games a few times, but he saw what Dude went through and didn’t want the same thing to happen to him, so he never allowed himself to reach that level.

But again. We were consistent. The computer and video games were meant to be entertainment – NOT their life. They were more than welcome to use them when their real life work was done.

And we still hold true to that mantra now.

One last bit of advice – watch the yelling. When you yell all the time, the kids simply ignore you. Try and keep your voice at an easy, normal level (I know, easier said than done) so that when you do yell at them, it really gets their attention. It also shows that you mean business.

Again. All of this is meant to inform you. I’m not suggesting you do what I did, I’m simply saying these methods have worked for us. Children are different; kids respond to different tactics. The challenge, of course, as a parent, is to find the method that works for you, and your child.

Good luck.

At the Moment

At the Moment …

And the ceiling fan is finally in.

It took a while. Not because Kevin had trouble putting the fan up, but because when he took our old light out, some of the ceiling crumbled with it. And then he discovered that the ceiling fan was too heavy for the area, so he had to crawl into the attic and reinforce it with a piece of 2×4.

He had to nail in some mesh to reinforce the section that had crumbled away, and then using some sheet rock putty (mud?), he filled it in. After that dried, he then sprayed some of the popcorn ceiling paint on (hush, we like our popcorn ceiling) and when that dried, he painted it to blend in with the rest of the ceiling.

(Tip: paint your ceiling with a semi-gloss finish. It really makes it shine and look nice!)

That took three days. After all of that was done, he was finally able to put in the ceiling fan – which he finished last night.

It looks a bit space-agey. We opted for the black fan blades and the base is a brushed nickel, which will tie nicely in with our faucet (which we don’t have installed … yet).

It’s also a remote controlled fan. Which is really cool and the boys had fun playing with that last night. (And when I say “boys”, I’m lumping Kevin in, too. *grin*)

We thought it might hang too low at first. But it’s not hanging any lower than the rest of the ceiling fans in the house so as long as our visitors aren’t taller than we are, we’ll be good. Otherwise, it might be like walking across a helicopter pad, with the blades going – they’ll have to duck or get their heads knocked off.

Nothing spoils a party more than getting part of your skull chopped off.

Anyway, we like it. And I’m looking forward to using the fan whenever I slave over the hot stove.

(*pause* ….. bwhahahaha … like that’s going to happen any time soon).


It’s been over one week since the counter top guy came out and made a template. Kevin called Lowe’s yesterday to find out what the dealio was.

They’re scheduled to come out next Wednesday at 10:00.

Do you realize what this means??

I will finally have counter tops in one week!!

I have been without a sink for one month now and OH MY GOSH, I’m so ready to have our counter tops AND our sink back. This whole kitchen remodel novelty thing has worn off and now I’m just sick to death of the whole thing. I want my kitchen back! (Which is something I never thought I’d say in my lifetime).

After the counter tops have been installed, Kevin and I will begin thinking about the back splash. We might have the tile guy come back out and do it for us, but we haven’t decided yet. That’s something Kevin and I can easily do so we might just save the money and do it.

Especially now since …………


Kevin is home, full time.

He had moved some stuff around at the office and accidentally severed his Internet connection. No matter what he tried, or how many hoops he jumped through, he couldn’t get the stupid thing back up.

He called his IT guy, he came out, scratched his head and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Kevin called his Internet service provider, they scratched their heads and couldn’t figure it out.

Short of buying all new equipment, which would have been costly and a waste of time, given they were scheduled to move out of the office, permanently, next week, Kevin and his boss decided to just close up shop one week early and start working from home.

So Kevin moved his file cabinets and his computer to his home office last night and now he’s helping his boss get his home office set up.

I have mixed feelings about Kevin working from home.

On one hand … he’s working from home!

On the other hand … he’s working from home!

I have a feeling this arrangement will be cool for exactly two weeks before he starts getting on my nerves (or I start getting on HIS nerves).

We’ve worked together before. In fact, that’s how we met. And though we had a good time working together and we got along just fine, we sort of drove each other crazy.

We’re both very … pig-headed when it comes to work. Kevin likes things to be done HIS way, I like things done MY way.

You can see the problem.

And I’ve always said (half jokingly, half serious) that I would never work with him again.

And here we are. Both at home. And though we both have things to do, I have a feeling …. it’s going to get old fast.

As far as job prospects …

I really hope Kevin takes a few months off. He deserves it. He needs it, quite frankly. We’re okay bills and money wise, but I know Kevin. He isn’t the sort of person who can just sit around and take it easy. He always has to have an agenda. He always has to have something to do. If he doesn’t, then he finds something to do and that almost always means trouble – and money.

Which we really can’t afford to throw away at this point. I mean, we budgeted for this kitchen, we budgeted for our family vacation, and we budgeted to replace the carpets in the living/dining room with hardwood, but that’s it. We can’t afford to take on any new projects until he/we get a job.

So, the prospect of Kevin having time on his hands makes me nervous.

In fact, we were at Panera Bread yesterday, and I saw this cute older couple at the table next to us talking to some friends they ran into. They were all RVers and they were catching up on their travel adventures.

I loved listening to them talk (yes, I’m a blatant eavesdropper – people interest me). And after they left l told Kevin that I would love to be like that couple some day. Just sort of traveling across the country at our leisure, taking every day in stride – you know, relaxed and carefree.

He laughed.

“I don’t think I could ever do that,” he said. “There’s too much to do.”

I sadly shook my head. “That’s too bad,” I said. “Life is meant to be enjoyed at some point.”

I think it gave him food for thought. I hope it did, at any rate.

Anyway, he’s home now. We’re both keeping our options open, but neither one of us plans on actively looking for jobs until we get back from our vacation in July. But of course, now that I’ve said that, something will come along.

And that’s okay. We’ll just ride the tide, wherever that happens to take us.


Isn’t it funny how something you haven’t actively been thinking about, something you put on the back burner of your mind, just sort of pops up out of nowhere and when you least expect it?

I’ve been thinking about Dude’s graduation trip on and off now for several months. He’ll graduate next May. And I wanted to do a last family hurrah before he got too busy with his new life, new schedule – whatever that happens to be.

We’ve had some pretty awesome family vacations. We went to Florida several years, camped in the Rockies, flew to Washington D.C. and have taken a cruise to the Western Caribbean. And though we’ve had had a blast and have taken some pretty fun memories from those trips, Dude has hated the flying parts.

H.A.T.E.D them. He does not like to fly.

So, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of something fun we could do that wouldn’t require flying.

And suddenly, I thought of something yesterday. I don’t even know what sparked it, I was doing something else and without warning a huge word flashed across my mind.


Of course! The train! Dude would love that. One, he wouldn’t have to fly. And two, he was OBSESSED with trains when he was little though has never ridden one (well, except for theme park trains).

I was pretty much on the Amtrak website all day yesterday. I checked out the routes and the prices and though it’s a bit more than I expected, I don’t think it would end up being more than the whole flying/cruise thing.

I still have a lot of research to do and granted, this wouldn’t happen until next year (though judging by how many “sold outs” I saw on the website, I’m going to have to book this trip early), but I ran a tentative schedule by Kevin.

We would drive up to St. Louis and take the train up to Chicago. From Chicago, we would hop another train to our destination. And there are plenty of destinations to choose from.

  • Washington D.C. (we would all love to go back and I know Dude really likes it there).
  • Denver (though this route goes all the way to California, we could just get off in Denver and stay in a cabin for a few days – do some hiking. We LOVED the Rocky Mountains).
  • New York (We plan on going there this summer, but I have a feeling, we wouldn’t have a problem with going back).
  • New Orleans
  • Seattle
  • Boston
  • Texas

When I ran these destinations by Kevin, he mentioned he would like to go to Seattle (we’ll let Dude pick the final destination of course, this trip will be his part of his graduation gift from us, after all).

So, I ran the route. We’d be on the train two days TO Seattle and then on the train two MORE days BACK to Chicago. That’s a lot of days on the train. And I have no idea what there is to do on the train. I mean, I don’t have a problem sitting around, taking pictures of the passing scenery, reading, playing games, eating and napping for two days. But Kevin?

I don’t see it happening for him.

But it sure would be fun to travel through the Montana mountains and sticking around Seattle for a few days? How fun would that be??

Anyway, it’s an idea. I ran it by Dude and he really perked up at the idea. I knew he’d love it. I just hope I can make it happen for him.

I’m going to work really hard at making Dude’s senior year something special.

He’s such an awesome young man. He totally deserves it.