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The Birthday Interview with Stella-Blue

My tiny baby is now nine years old…I’m getting so old!

Kraus House Mom

She and I have always been very close and even though she’s getting older, she still follows me around and knocks on the door when I’m in the bathroom.

We have a whole slew of TV shows we watch together (we ask the other two if they want to watch, but they decline). We call them “Our Stories”

Every year I ask the kids interview questions. They were the same for a while, but this year I changed them up a bit.

  1. What is your favorite color?    Black (yellow, blue and orange as well)
  2. What sport do you like?    Soccer and gymnastics
  3. What song do you love?    Chained to the Rhythm and Shape of You
  4. What is your best memory?    Kindergarten graduation
  5. What would you buy with $1000?    Bruins tickets or a bunch of puppies
  6. What is your favorite book?    Ghosts and Flora and Ulysses
  7. What is your favorite app? and YouTube
  8. What do you hate to do?    Clean my room, empty the dishwasher and set the table
  9. What is your favorite family activity?    Vacations
  10. What do you do in your free time?    Math
  11. What is your favorite TV show?    Stuck in the Middle and Crashletes
  12. What do you want to be better at?    Sports and engineering
  13. What do you want to be when you grow up?    Imagineer  
  14. Where do you want to go on vacation?    Washington DC and Texas
  15. What is your favorite part of the day?    Science and social studies
  16. What do you like best about school?    Science and social studies
  17. What is your favorite food?     Candy
  18. What is your favorite animal?    Unicorns, dragons, elephants and dogs
  19. What would you change your name to, if you could?    Isabella
  20. What do you want to accomplish while you’re nine?    Be better at school

There we have it folks, Stella’s interview.

You can watch it here…

I’m Sorry But I’m Not A Milestone Mom

I am not a “feel all the feels” mom, or what I called a “Milestone Mom”.

I know a lot of people that just like to cry over things, especially when it comes to their kids getting older or reaching milestones.

Some people cry when their kids can hold their own bottle, feed themselves, dress themselves, tie their shoes. They wish they could turn back the clock and go back to when their kids were little.

Me? I’m like Hell yea!! One less thing I have to do.

I couldn’t wait for Stella to be able to sit in the Bumbo seat

Maybe it’s because we had three kids in three years that I was glad when these milestones happened and some time was freed up for us.

Teddy dressed himself for the snow…WooHoo

I must say I was kind of upset when my kids learned to walk. That mean they were going to be getting their hands on EVERYTHING. Let’s face it, unless you have all of your stuff six feet off the floor and have nothing to climb on, your house will never be baby proof.

Free yard work!

My kids getting older means I’m getting older and I am definitely not okay with that. I think that’s what gets me the most.

Stella is going to be nine next month and Maizie will be in middle school next year.

That’s what hurts, me having kids that old means I’m that old.

Before you know it they will be getting ready for college. They have all told me they are NEVER leaving.

I can’t say I’m completely thrilled with that idea.

Will it hit me someday that my tiny babies are getting older? Perhaps, but for now I will see the joy in my tiny freedoms with their independence.


Kraus House Mom is Changing!

Many of the changes are taking place behind the scenes, bit the results will make for a more robust and exciting experience at Kraus House Mom!  There will be plenty of posts about the kids, the 80 pound lap dog and even the Kraus House Dad might show up from time to time, but one of the most important additions will be dedicated to product reviews and companies that our family has come to know and trust.

As always, my site will be as honest as it has always been.  I look forward to relaunching in the coming days and thank you for your patience.

Have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff… (spoiler alert: It’s all small stuff!)

Heather – AKA: The Kraus House Mom

Excuse Me While I Air My Grievances

Every once in a while I like to get some things off my chest.  Most of these things I have had a conversation in my head about or just talked outloud to myself. A bunch of them have to do with the grocery store, and of course TV.
I love the Cottonelle commercials when they talk about “your bum”. I think it may be the British accent saying the word bum that gets me. I noticed on the Cotonelle commercial that the lady looked pregnant; if she is and that is her first baby I don’t think she know how much she’s going to need those once she gives birth. It is going to be a shitshow.
Survivor, why can’t you just have an entire cast of new contestants? These people have been on before and have had their chance to win, let others have a chance. Or has the world finally gotten sick of watching?
I swear I don’t think Shaw’s even carries Wunderbar Bologna. It doesn’t matter what day or time I go, they are always “sold out”. One of the many reasons I HATE that store.
Why can’t American Girl have a boy doll that’s not a twin? Babies come in boys too. Stella wants a “brother” for Bitty Baby, but they only come in pairs. Sorry Stella, Lucy will have to use your brother.
Grocery stores, why can’t you restock your shelves? If something is on sale in the flyer why isn’t it on the shelf? One or two things being sold out I can understand, but seven things on my list just gets on my nerves.
Cans are not as strong as they used to be (I sound like my grandfather). Pick one up and chances are you can squeeze it and move it. Therefore, there are lots of dented cans in the grocery store. I don’t like to buy dented cans thanks to the botulism episode of Quincy I saw as a kid.
I don’t know if I’m going to be able to take The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills seriously (because I really did before) now that Joyce will be on the show. I watched Siberia this summer.
I can’t stand those commercials with those big head Rocco and Carla. If one of my “kids” had an attitude like that over what was for dinner, they could kiss my ass. You don’t like, you don’t need to eat it (or anything else until breakfast with that attitude).
My kids (one specifically) really think I’m not going to find out all the things that they do at school. Heads up, if you do something incredibly asinine, your teacher WILL call me and you WILL get into trouble. So when you ask for the 100thtime, “How did you know?” Remember, I KNOW EVERYTHING!!!
Whenever I go to the grocery store looking less than wonderful every fireman in the city is shopping. But I can look like I crawled out of the seventh circle of Hell and the butchers (plural) will come over to me and ask if I need anything; they must think I came from the third circle.

I Apologize for the Homework

It is now the season of homework. I’m not a fan. Unfortunately, I’m guilty of inflicting thousands of nights of pain on other parents and I’d like to apologize because apparently payback is a bitch. It really wasn’t my fault, homework is usually required by school districts and when it comes to reading, as with anything, the more you do the better you get.

Have several reading options available at home.

I’m going to let know about how some teacher’s determine children’s reading level, how some score them and how you can help you child.
Here’s some quick mumbo jumbo…Many use what is called a running record to score reading accuracy. A simple way to explain it is: when a child is reading a book or passage, each word read correctly is a point. The words correct versus incorrect (there are also other factors, but for this purpose they are not relevant) are then calculated an accuracy score is obtained.
For the purpose of this post I am only referring to any little “decodable” books your child may bring home. When it comes to sounding out words and learning new sight words those are complete other lessons. 
My son started bringing home Decodable Readers from Reading Street (our districts reading program). They are short books designed for children to be able to read on their own, focusing on a phonics skill and using known sight words. He sat down to read it to me.

He read it fine, except for a few things that most people would overlook. I’m here to encourage you to NOT overlook them.
On this page my son added the word “the” into each sentence (adding a word that isn’t in the sentence counts against the child’s score). It didn’t change anything in the story, but it could determine whether or not his accuracy score allows him to move up a reading level.
He added “the” after the word can.

If he did the same on this page his score would not have been sufficient to go on to the next level.
When you child is reading to you and they make a mistake, (especially at a beginning reading level) correct him it’s how he will learn to self correct. Have him reread it correctly, even if he starts to hate you for it.
You may need to keep doing it and they may get annoyed (this could be why Maizie doesn’t want to read with me anymore), but in the end you will get better a better reader.
Keep those little books and have them reread them to you. This will help with fluency (the opposite of the dreaded “robot reading”). 
You don’t think twice about baseball, piano, soccer or dance practice; don’t forget reading practice.
Some other quick tips…
Ask your child’s teacher what you can do to help. I don’t know any teacher that doesn’t want to hear from a parent BEFORE there’s a problem. Establish contact as soon as possible.
Talk to your child. Ask what book the teacher read, what they did at recess, how was lunchtime. Ask anything to get them talking about his day.
Check online resources for an area your child is struggling in, there are several. (Many teachers give online suggestions as well.)
Check backpacks after school (not before you go to bed…like I frequently do).
Teachers dread getting certain parents as much as parents dread getting certain teachers (don’t be THAT parent).
Make sure you have things for your child to read. Get a library card, get an e-reader, subscribe to children’s magazines or even read cereal boxes. If your child needs cleats, you get them don’t you?

Bribery Is My Best Policy

I can finally have peace, they will bend to my will, if not I will take away their new favorite things. We bought them what they really wanted; now if you don’t do what I want, I will take it away. Is this bribery? Of course it is, but being outnumbered we need every advantage we can get. You better believe I’m going to use their shiny new treasured possessions as pawns in “my mommy better win” game.
Teddy got an Avenger and Harry Potter game for Xbox, Stella got a much desired Leapster (of her very own) and Maizie got a jeweled hairbrush (I know it doesn’t sound like much compared to the other two, but she really, really likes it). Now I can threaten to take away these treasures when I ask over and over again for something to be done. Now what I’m not asking for is not unreasonable for a 4, 5 and 6 year old to do. They are quite capable of putting their clothes in the hamper; I don’t need three pairs of dirty underwear on the living room floor. They can put their dishes in the sink, the dog is fat enough and for the love of all that’s holy STAY IN BED!!!
That’s the big one…STAY IN BED. The thing is they work in pairs. It’s not just one that comes downstairs, it’s two (mostly Teddy and Stella). We put them to bed, Ted reads to them, and within 3 minutes Teddy’s ass in downstairs. He needs a drink, he needs to go to the bathroom or he needs and extra hug. Bullshit, you just want to see how far you can push it before I completely lose it. If it’s not him it’s Stella telling me she “can’t sleep” or she needs a sip of water, and once again Teddy his hot on her heels because he can’t sleep without his little sister. Dude what are you going to do when you all get you own rooms?  They will run upstairs toot sweet if they hear Ted’s office door open, but if I hoot and holler about getting back upstairs…NOTHING! It’s like they’re watching a one woman show.
Last night I told them as I was giving them each a kiss that if I saw them before morning Stella was going to lose her Leapster for the day, Teddy wasn’t going to be able to play Xbox and Maizie would lose her hairbrush. For the first time in a while I was able to watch TV in relative peace (just have to figure out how to get the dog to stop barking at the bushes). Round one goes to Mommy.

Meet the Invisible (Not Imaginary) Friends


My kids have invisible friends, I once made the mistake of saying imaginary and boy was I corrected. Teddy quickly and swiftly informed me that they were not imaginary, just invisible. The friends started with Stella, she would blame her nastiness and bad decisions on Lovey, the original IF (invisible friend). It started when Stella would rip ass, turn her rump toward you and quickly say, “Smell that.” Ted and I had no idea where that came from, so one day after she did it (at the dinner table) I asked her where she learned it. She said “Lovey taught her.” Next logical question, “Who’s Lovey?” She informed us it was her invisible friend, but here’s the kicker, it was also her reflection. Now I’m just waiting for her head to start to spin.
A few weeks later Stella started talking about Merlot. I don’t drink wine, especially red wine so I have no clue where the name came from. I asked, “Who’s Merlot?” Another IF. Great now there are two. Apparently Merlot is the “good one” because she likes to paint rainbows, flowers and butterflies instead of being a nasty girl like that Lovey. Then Lisa showed up, but she disappeared as fast as Richie Cunningham’s older brother, Chuck. We no longer talk about her.
Stella’s friends had been around for a while and I guess Teddy didn’t want to be outdone so his IFs had to rear their rather eclectic heads. His are Evil Man, Dishwashing Man and Funny. Their names pretty much describe them; he’s not the most imaginative in the name department. I have been informed that Evil Man has be kicked out of the group because he’s just too evil and turned into a bad guy the others “just didn’t want to deal with that.” Well with a name like that could you blame him?
Dishwashing Man does just that, he shows up to do my dishes. When he does, he uses almost all of the dish soap and gets water all over the kitchen. Most of the time I end up having to go through the strainer and try to figure out which dishes he did so I can rewash them. It’s usually the ones that still have bubbles on them, but he’s just there to help.
Funny is around the most and he has a real job, in Texas. Somehow he gets back to our house lickety split when his shift is over, I don’t know how he travels, but it’s quick. He goes on double dates with Teddy and he’s always calling him on the phone. He got his name because he tells funny jokes, but they’re not that funny trust me and he’s in a relationship with Merlot. So I am constantly hearing about their dating saga. Really Teddy, you’re five.
So in my house there are three kids, two adults, one dog and six-ish invisible friends.

Every Day is Laundry Day

There are 5 people (3 kids and 2 adults) in my family and I do the laundry for all of them. Well maybe 4 and a half since my husband doesn’t always put his clothes in the hamper and gives me all his dirty laundry in one giant pile all at once. On top of people laundry, I find doll clothes, once in a while that’s okay, but the other day I was taking the clothes out of the dryer and I found all these tiny “things” and I’m thinking something got shredded in the washer or one of the kids took scissors to something in a fit of revenge; it was Barbie clothes, that is where I draw the line. 
I don’t mind the actual act of washing the clothes, it’s folding and putting away I just straight up LOATHE and rarely do. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of clean clothes, they’re just in laundry baskets. I have gone so far as to go out and buy more baskets for laundry. As of right now I think I have 14 laundry baskets and I think they all have various amounts of clean folded and unfolded laundry. Putting laundry away is a never ending cycle that makes me dizzy, I get rid of one and then there are 2 more in its place! 
Having small kids means having small clothes and that means more fits into the washing machine, which leads to WAY more clothes to fold and put away. Up until recently my kids were of NO help at all. Now the Tiniest Kraus looks forward to folding laundry (don’t know where that gene came from) so she’s in charge of panties, which there is always plenty of. She is the one that should help since she’s the one with a three outfit a day habit, hence contributing to my laundry woes.
 That leads us to actually getting the laundry put away. I assemble the trio and when Stella (the Tiniest Kraus, fashionista) realizes her pile of clothes is quadruple the size of the others she starts to whine, “I can’t put that all away by myself” to which I reply, “You put them on by yourself. You can put them away or wear tattered rags.” (the ultimate threat in her tiny fashionista world). They are all sent off with their clothes; do they get put away neatly? Do they get put in the correct drawers? Do I care? NO, NO, NO!!! The clothes are folded, out of the basket and put away, mission complete.

A Conversation from the Back Seat

Let me just begin by giving some background information on Maizie. She in no way, shape or form likes to discuss, think about or see vomit. She does not like to see or hear it on TV and if someone is coughing while eating she will jet from the room in Road Runner fashion. If she has a stomach ache and you ask her if she’s going to throw up, she will get extremely offended and upset, and don’t even think about offering her the “puke bowl”, they are fighting words. Teddy and Stella both know how to use this “weakness” against her.
Maizie has just finished Kindergarten and has mastered letter sounds. She can now sound out and spell a great number of words; so many that when her brother, Teddy who is entering Kindergarten in the fall, asks her a question she will spell the answer. This has been going on for about a week and each day Teddy has become increasingly frustrated (let’s face it, she’s really pissing him off). His frustration leads to the conversation in the back of the minivan (they didn’t know I was listening).
The girls and I had gone to Chipotle for lunch the day before and Maizie insisted on keeping her chip bag. This was the conversation…
Teddy:  What was in this bag?
Maizie:  C-H-I-P-S
Teddy:  (Talking through his teeth) Will you stop spelling every time I ask you a question? What was in the bag?
Maizie:  C-H-I-P-S
Teddy: (Talking through his teeth and leaning really close to her) If you keep spelling words when I ask you a question I am going to throw up on you BY PURPOSE!
Maizie:  Chips