Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friends & Kids

I sometimes wonder if life would be easier without friends.

Don't get me wrong, there are TONS of good reasons to have them and I adore mine. But sometimes there's that peer pressure thing that happens. (I can't believe I'm practically 35 and still dealing with peer pressure.) You know, you go to the mall cause they are, you go out to dinner cause they are, you buy clothes cause they are. Fill in the blank....there's a bunch of things we do, sometimes more than others, becuase our friends are doing it.

Today's trip to the mall, completely unnecessary. I didn't NEED anything, I didn't need to go, but why not? What would it hurt?

What would it hurt...Well, let's see.... it interrupted my daughter's nap; it got my children home and in bed and hour late (1.5 hours for the baby); it stopped me from working on the garden which I need/want to get done; it caused me to spend money I didn't need to spend; it let me 'ignore' my children's not-so-stellar behavior as they goofed off; and it stopped them from spending any time with Daddy today since we were gone for the few hours he's home each night.

Don't get me wrong, I'm understand kids are going to "be kids" (loud, rude, crazy, etc), but sometimes we ask a lot of them. We ask them to be quiet in stores, and not to run, and to sit still in the restaurant. And this is after they had to be quiet and not run and sit still in school and during lunch and while doing their homework and in the car. Whew!! That's a lot of not being a kid!

At the same time, kids need to learn to use manners and sit still and to act appropriately in public. But they can only handle so much of this before they need to let off steam and play!! They know this, and I know this. But apparently, sometimes I forget!

At the same time, the entire time I'm at the mall, I'm dealing with "can I buy this Mommy" from one or both of the boys (in time Iz will do it too!). Which is not my favorite, and puts me in a cranky mood! They want so many things. And I'm not one to give in-almost ever. We talk about planning what to buy, and things being on sale, and using our money wisely so we can save for what we really want. But then I go and buy myself a Grande Carmel Frappucino that costs $4.67.....hmmm, what was that about saving again?? We've tried various strategies to help with the gimmies/buying/wanting that all kids go through, and we're still learning how to handle it (me as much as them!).

The problem is, when I DON'T go to the mall with my friends (or coffee shop, or other less-than-child-friendly place) I hear lots of funny stories afterwards, and hear lots of 'inside' jokes. And it makes me sad/jealous that I wasn't there. It probably hits a nerve of being less-than-popular in high school. So I think to myself, "I should go with them next time and have fun".

So I go with them....

And then when I get home I feel bad for denying my children the chance to ride their bikes and play in the sun and have my full attention (would they have gotten it tho?? or would I have been weeding?). I think it's that last one that really bugs me. Why is it impossible to be out with my friends and pay attention to my kids. The biggest reason might be the 'empty threats' of "we're going to go home if you keep acting like that". But then we don't cause I don't want to leave while I'm hanging out with MY friends. And of course, the irony is, when we are together we WANT them to behave so that we can have a good time and so that they can have a good time. But I make it impossible for them to do that becuase I don't pay much attention to them cause I'm too busy having a good time with my friends!!! So they have to act up to get my attention. After all, negative attention is better than no attention at all, right?

What a conundrum!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


There are tons of acronyms out there....do you know what the one above stands for??

Take Your Child To Work Day.

That was the other 'holiday' celebrated today, besides Earth Day.

I don't remember this holiday from my childhood. That's easily explained... it started in 1993 (according to Wikipedia), the year I graduated high school. So, I never got taken to work with either of my parents. At least not on this official date.

I did go to work with my dad quite a bit during the summer or weekends. He was a university professor, and had lots of flexibility with his job I guess. As long as he taught his classes and did his research, I don't think it mattered if I was there. I recall both his office and his lab (where he did the aforementioned research) on campus. I also remember him bringing work home and doing it in the evenings after dinner. I remember walking down to the secretary's office and that they knew my name. I remember having lunch out at the picnic table with him and his fellow professors (I knew them all by last name, and it took me years to understand why they referred to each other that way!). I remember him playing his classical music as he wrote on his yellow lined legal pads and talked to me about lemna and all kinds of other thrilling things!

I remember my mother's office well too. In my early elementary years, she worked full-time 20 miles from our house and was gone long hours. I vagely recall visiting that office once or twice. By the time I reached middle school, her office was the downstairs 'bedroom' in our house. She worked from home as an independent contractor long before that was the fashionable thing to do! I do remember going with her to drop off projects that she had completed at home. She worked late into the night, and on weekends, to complete the projects to fit them in around other activities that were going on. I can still picture the wall full of technical dictionaries that help her do her job (mostly because the wall is still there and full of them!). I am still amazed by the mere fact that my mother speaks/reads/understands (at various levels) seven different languages!!

I do recall TYCTWD from about 5-8 years ago, when I was working in Human Resources. Part of my job was to coordinate activities for the children who would be coming to work with their parents. You know, fun activities that would keep children interested and entertained, while their parents worked. So what was the point in bringing your child to work with you?

Why am I reminiscing about this? Since this post brought the subject to my attention.

While there are lots of valid points in both the article and the comments, there are also, of course, a few shallow, poorly communicated comments too. In particular this one,

"Kids don't need to be taught to run a household. I'm sorry, but it's not rocket science. It's something that everyone, unless they can afford multiple maids and a personal assistant, has to learn to do sooner or later. So why do they need to do it at age 8? Let them be kids. My parents let me be a kid and didn't "teach" me how to cook, do laundry, or clean the stove, but I learned by watching them, and I can run a household just fine, working outside the home or not.

In my mind, "difficult" is something that only a few people can do well. LOTS of people are good parents, and lots more run a household well, so how "difficult" can it be? I don't want my daughter growing up to think life is difficult."
WOW! There are so many issues to hit in this one small comment.

Yes, it's something everyone has to learn to do sooner or later. I wasn't instantly good at budgeting (talk about a lot of credit card debt right out of college), but it's an important skill to have running a household. What about finding a decent/reliable/honest/trustworthy contractor if you want to have renovations/remodeling done. Lots of people hire contractors only to get "taken to the cleaners" by them! Don't believe me, trying watching "Holmes on Homes" on HGTV. Maybe it's worth helping your children learn how to find a reputable service provider. Or, helping them learn how to mow the lawn, fix the clogged toilet, or vacuum the carpet so they don't have to hire someone to do it, but can handle (at least the basic) responsibilities of home-ownership themselves.

Maybe it's all about the word "teach". Both my boys are learning to cook and do laundry, and a number of other things! At an age appropriate level. Right now that means helping me measure items for a recipe for dinner, loading the dishwasher, or helping carry down the laundry basket and load the machine. They don't know how to do that without some input, supervision, and direction from me. I would call that "teaching". As part of our family, they have a duty to contribute to our family and to help us have a functional household. Let me tell you, if I'm the only one doing laundry, dishes, and cooking we DO NOT have a functional house.....cause I get CRANKY!!! My kids get plenty of chances to "be kids" to play and have fun and dream and imagine. But they also have a right and a responsibility to be a contributing useful member of our family, so they can grow up to do the same for our society!!

I think the most offensive part of the comment to me is that "LOTS of people are good parents". Really? I guess it's all in how you define good. Maybe it's just how flippant this comment sounds. As if it's SO easy to be a good parent....duh! I'm not trying to insult the MANY good parents that are out there. But at the same time, there are many who could use some amount of help, some more than others. Many parents recognize that and they read parenting books, go to seminars, talk with experts, or just talk to other parents. We seek out information, we seek to be "taught" to be the best we can be. I've done all of the above to help myself be a better parent because my kids are worth it! And is "good" really good enough? No matter how good a parent you are, can't you always strive to do better? I want to be the best parent I can be! I worry that if we assume our kids will be good parents, because it's "easy", that they won't realize what a challenge it is to do well, and that it's okay to ask for help if you don't know how to do it (parenting, or anything else).

As a former teacher it frustrated me to no end that I had 4 years of college education, but got little respect from some of the parents at the school I was at because I wasn't a parent. Pardon me, but the last time I checked I had a 4-year degree, and all it took to be a parent was a little action in the backseat of a Chevy!!

If LOTS of people are good parents, there wouldn't be nearly the number of foster children that there are in the US. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, "On September 30, 2006, there were an estimated 510,000 children in foster care. " According to ChildHelp, "In 2007, approximately 5.8 million children were involved in an estimated 3.2 million child abuse reports and allegations. " That's way too many not good parents for me! And what about all those children that "fall through the cracks".

In my current situation, I take my children to work with me everyday.....they are my work. (Work that is often devalued by people who work outside the home-but that's a topic for another day.) But what the initial article has brought to my attention is that today, and every other day, it is important for our children to be exposed to all the various career choices that are out there....including being a stay-at-home-parent (whether girl or BOY!).

Yes, I guess 'everyone' can learn to do it, but why not help both our sons and daughters learn to do it well!! Oh, and by the way, life is difficult, but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, so bring on the difficult!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good bye but not good ridance

I am a big fan, and regular watcher of Dancing with the Stars. It's one of the few "reality" shows I will watch and will even set my DVR to catch for me. I CAN'T miss it. I grew up dancing (no, not ballroom) and have always enjoyed dancing (doing it, watching it, teaching it, etc).

When DWTS started I was hooked and have followed it ever since. But I've had my frustrations with the show. As a dancer, I've always wanted the show to be a DANCE competition, not a popularity contest. I'm probably one of the few that watches the show and votes for those who I think danced well and deserve to dance the next week, regardless of WHO they are. Frankly, I don't care who you are, I care if you can dance. I was not a fan of Cloris Leachman nor Buzz Aldrin AS DANCERS (in their professional careers, they were good/great at what they did!). Just because Buzz walked on the moon does not mean, to me, that he should be granted more weeks on DWTS. Yes, he's an American hero, but he still can't dance (or not as well as the rest of the cast this season), and my voting him off (or not voting to keep him) doesn't mean that I don't think of him as an American hero!

Based on this information, can you guess who I've been hoping would get voted off each week this season? Can you guess?

Yes, Kate Gosselin.

Because she couldn't dance.

But that's the ONLY reason.

All the 'drama' around Kate (and Jon and the plus 8) really couldn't matter less to me. I feel bad for her that she's getting divorced, that he cheated on her, and that she's now a single mom. I feel as bad for her as I do for any other person going through those same things. But that doesn't mean that I wanted to keep her on DWTS any longer. Nor does the fact that I wanted her off mean I hate her, or anything else. It means, I thought she was the least talented star on the show this season. Someone, unfortunately, has to be that person every season. Sorry....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Isabelle

She's 1!! [Insert all typical cliches here about how fast time has passed and how much I can't believe it.]

Today she's 1, but Sunday we had her birthday party. Lots of fun!!!

Trev made her a birthday crown. It reads "Izzy is trneng [turning] 1!". How sweet he is!
For party favors, I covered chocolate bars with customized wrappers that I made on the computer!

And the back side was just as cuteHer birthday cake was Baby Blocks, that spelled her name (first on the front, last on the back!).

And Daddy added decorations to the other sides so they would look like the typical alphabet blocks that kids play with. Simple, but perfect, and matched the invitations and the rest of the decorations!
In the traditional way, she got her own piece of cake to 'destroy' and it was the first time she's had cake. At first glance, she seemed happy, maybe even excited.
But that was it for a while. She didn't really want to touch it or eat it or play with it or anything!

Eventually, with a little encouragement, and a plastic fork, she started to play with it....but that was about it!
At least everyone else enjoyed the cake!

Eventually, she got into it, ate some, and decorated herself with the rest!
She opened a few presents.

Including a beautiful quilt from Kate!!!

And her new milestones:
She likes blowing raspberries....
She loves her sippy cup
And she FINALLY has A TOOTH!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Informed Decisions

Here I am again, in the late night hours, when my head should be on the pillow. Tonight the fault is my own, and a new blog I've been reading. Over an hour ago, I started reading this post, and all the comments following it....and here I am, unable to sleep.

[There are so many levels to this conversation and points that have been made that are swirling around in my brain. I will have to come back to this point another night and go down the other paths.]

Car seat safety is important to me. VERY important. Quite often I contemplate saying something to a parent who I see using (what seems to me) an improper car seat, or not using one at all, or using one incorrectly. Just today during swim class, I contemplated (for the 5th week) telling a mom that her son was too tall for his infant seat, and that the belt was no where near tight enough to restrain him in the event of a crash.

But now I've read the previously mentioned post, I wonder if I did the right thing by not saying anything. First of all, I'm not known for my tact (in fact, I might be known for my lack thereof at times). What don't I know about this parent? Maybe they tighten up the buckle when they put the seat in the car. Maybe they use the infant seat because they can't afford the next size seat or they are waiting for one to be donated to them. Maybe she keeps meaning to go buy the next one but it's hard to get out to the store with two young kids. Maybe it's just easier to use the seat to carry him in to swim lessons (and this was the last week) and now that it's over she'll move him up to the next one. Maybe if I say something to her, she'll feel like yet another mother is judging her and she'll react with anger (or worse!). BUT maybe she has no idea that he's not as safe as he could be and would welcome the information.

It's that last maybe that tempts me to say something, but the one just before that scares me into silence.

I guess if you are making an INFORMED decision it's different. For example, I didn't realize when I moved Trevor to a forward-facing seat at 15 months (and 20 pounds) that I had any other choice. My pediatrician said I could turn him around. So I did. Now I know that it's safer for Izzy to stay rear-facing until she's at least 2, and 35 pounds (based on my car seat). Likewise, I've learned that T & B are both MUCH safer in a 5-point harness, so that's where they will stay (no matter how UNCOOL Trevor thinks it is compared to some of his school buddies!).

BUT...I had to find this information out on my own. By doing the research and reading and talking to experts (who also happens to be a friend!). It wasn't information that was given to me at the hospital, or the pediatrician's office, or anywhere else. It's very hard information to find if you don't know where to look. And how are you even supposed to know to look??!??! I mean if your pediatrician (a person with a higher education) tells you its safe to turn the car seat around, why wouldn't you believe them?

The lack of information really concerns me in this area.... People are told rear-face your child until they are 1 year old; they see booster seats for children who weigh 30 pounds' so they think those are the best/only choice. But it's not.

I can understand that it's not my right to make the decision for you, or my right to judge you for the decisions you have made (I'll try not to at least, but I'm still working on that one!). But I want to help you make the best decision for your child and make sure you have all the information before you make that decision. Is that wrong of me? Is it wrong that I want to help keep a child safe because they can't make those decisions on their own??

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Break: Day 10: Mall & Park

The last day of spring break!!! Yay!

We started the day at the mall for a quick hair cut for the boys. Blake got his summer crew cut!
And T didn't want anything cut at all, but we agreed on a short trim!

Then we headed to a great park not to far from the mall, for lunch and some playing!

Iz isn't sure what she thinks of wood chips (or faux wood chips in this case-recycled rubber tires). She can't walk well on them and I won't let her eat them, so she's basically not a fan of them at all!!
While I have fully enjoyed the last 10 days, there is a part of me that will truly enjoy the 2 hours tomorrow morning when both boys will be in school. At the same time, I've enjoyed the freedom the last 10 days have given me...no rushing home to meet the bus, or rushing to get out the door to get to school on time. Most of me is greatly looking forward to summer!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Break: Day 8 & 9 Easter

Days 8 & 9 of Spring Break were also Easter weekend. We spent the days dying eggs, hunting for eggs, and hanging out with the family.

Decorating the eggs

T reading his clues to find his eggs and basket

Blake, looking at his clues in his eggs to find his easter basket.

Izzy with her easter egg and basketT & B with their easter lego's

Trevor's eggs, including a purple one for Izzy, a ladybug, and a Star Wars wrap.
Izzy all dressed up watching her brothers play outside

Izzy's new hair bows from Aunt Kate. Nothing says easter like hair bows with skulls!Building with Scary Steve's Lego's

And wrestling with Scary Steve

The one weird part of the weekend... After dying the eggs, Daddy was unsure of what to do with the egg dye. You see in the past 3 years he's always taken the dye outside and decorated the snow with it. But this year, NO SNOW!!!! Yay!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Break: Day 7: Zoo??

Today was predicted to be a BEAUTIFUL day. In fact, the whole week of spring break was beautiful weather-wise. All week we took advantage of that, and it worked great! Because of our schedule, I decided today would be a good day to visit the zoo. However, I didn't take into account that today was the first day of spring break in the state where the zoo is located (not the one I live in) or that today was Good Friday.... bad idea!

We got up and out of the house early, and headed for the zoo. The kids were excited since they love the zoo and friends were going to meet us there. We got almost all the way there with no issues, and had already heard from one friend that they were there already. Suddenly, a mile and a half from the entrance (and one turn) traffic became TERRIBLE and we stopped moving. According to my GPS we went .3 miles in about 20 minutes. At that rate, we would have been sitting in the care for about 2 more hours! No thank you!!

So I bailed on the zoo, and on our friends (SORRY!), and quickly racked my brain for alternate activities. And so we ended up at the Children's Museum in the city, one which we'd never been to before. Great choice, and it was surprisingly empty (maybe because it was inside and people wanted to be outside enjoying the weather?). We did eat our lunch outside, and got some great views of the lake nearby, so I think it was a win-win situation!!

B & T checking out a motorcycle and all making all it's parts 'work'
T building some train tracks, with Iz helping (i.e. destroying)Iz LOVED this! It is a life-size (almost) train that the kids could get inside and push buttons and levers to hear all the typical train sounds (whistle, horn, steam, etc.). On the side, was a crank that turned to simluate pistons moving. Izzy loved watching them turn and the various toys pop up and down. She eventually figured out how to turn the crank herself. Anytime someone turned it, she would run over to the window and SCREAM at the toys!!

T & B playing the the 'ball area'. It was an area where there were tons of golf balls and lots of different things to do with them, like build tracks for them to go on, or use various built tracks to see what effect it had on the ball(ski jump, rocking horse, etc). They spent tons of time here and all 3 kids loved it!
Iz liked pushing the 'golf cart' that was there so you could walk around and pick up the balls from all over.
In the music area, you could actually conduct this orchestra (the baton had an IR connection I think) and they would play slower or faster depending on how you conducted. Very cool...especially when the song they were playing was the Star Wars Theme!!
Trev shopping at the grocery store, with Izzy's help

Blake working the Deli counter at the grocery store. Man can that kid make some great sandwiches!Iz rocking out and playing the drums and cymbals!
B working at the post office. He spent tons of time here working the loading crane, and cranking the packages down the line
T being a mechanic. He had to change out the leaky muffler, take off old tires and put new ones on (the screw gun made pneumatic noises), put in a new air filter, add coolant and oil, and put on a new license plate. He spent forever here and loved it! He says he was practicing for when he grows up to be a mechanic!!!

It may not have been what we planned, but we had a great time there!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Break: Day 6: Dentist, Park & Swimming

The morning of Day 6 started with a brief interruption of our fun festivities with a trip to the dentist.

When I scheduled this visit I was less than thrilled that it was during Spring Break, but it seems our dentist, and kids only dentist, has certain scheduling requirements. Children 5 and under can only come before Noon. Since T gets home at 11:45 am from kindergarten, that's not going to happen on a school day. When I pointed this out to the receptionist, she said "then have him skip a day of school". Oh yes, education isn't important. Dental hygiene is much more important!! I declined the miss school option, and scheduled for Spring Break. Ugh! But at least the appointment was early in the morning and wouldn't impact much of our day!

The visit when great, both boys got x-rays and have NO cavities! They were well behaved, and got clean bills of (dental) health! I really like how this practice caters just to children, has child size exam chairs, and lots of other kid friendly features. The kids are their usual bit skeptical to go at first (who wouldn't be-it is the dentist) but once we are there, they love it, go back for the cleaning on their own, and do a great job!

Ah, but when the visit was done, the fun had only just begun. I went to schedule their next visits, for this fall, when Trevor will be in full day school! Ahhh... Trevor can't go in the morning, Blake can't go in the afternoon, and NO exceptions will be made. And they take a one-hour lunch break, so no scheduling the last morning appointment and the first afternoon one!!! (But that was a good thought, thanks E!). So I'm destined to take two drives there, 30 minutes each way, with Izzy in tow both times (and this will be the case for the next 3 appointments-year and a half until B is 6). Or of course, I could take them to a practice close to home without being kid friendly. Ugh...the choices!!

Anyway....complaining over, back to Spring Break!!!

We joined friends at their house, and walked with them to a nearby park. It was hot out and the boys were wearing jeans. So they complained most of the time about being hot and no shade! Who knew that would be such a problem here on the first of April!!! After a long time at the park, and lunch with friends (thanks L!), we headed home.

We ended the day with more swimming lessons. T has become very comfortable in the water and really enjoys swimming lessons. I've been told that he can move up to the next level finally!!! Blake, well he has fun...but he's not super comfortable putting his head/face in the water yet, so back to the same level next time around! Still 1 out of 2 ain't bad!
Practicing kicking....which means we get to splash the teacher!!

B jumping in...

And swimming for a toy (with the teacher holding him of course)
T jumping in! (he tries to go as high and far as possible!)And swimming for a toy, without being held (but with a floaty on!)


Spring Break has been so fun and exciting....I got our days mixed up!!! Half of what I posted for Day 5, Wednesday actually happened Thursday! Gotta fix that!