Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Child's Psyche

This morning, as I walked my girls down to the bus stop, my Spunky Girl said "I lie to myself".

"What do you mean?" said I
"sometimes I lie to myself so I don't get so hyper" replied she
"hyper about what?" further inquired I
"like going to the cabin" said she
"like what kind of a lie" said I, still a bit confused
"like there will be no snow at the cabin" said she
"Of course there is snow at the cabin" broke in her older sister (who thinks life is a big candy shop)
"Yep, there is snow there honey" said I
"I know" she said "but I tell myself there isn't any snow so I won't get too excited"

The whole conversation made me realize how much nature plays a strong part in who we are and less of that nurture stuff.
Spunky Girl doesn't have life experiences that teach her not to trust that good things are coming, and yet she still keeps herself in check from getting too excited about them.

Sweetness, her older sister who thinks that life is all candy candy candy, can't imagine a world where anything bad happens. "Of course life is going to be awesome" she thinks.

I think perhaps it is too early to tell how the Big Guy, who I think I might start calling Cave-man, will react to life. I think he expects life to lay itself at his feet "right now"! Anything else will just be unacceptable.

Maybe someday, a high priced therapist will conclude that Spunky Girl puts up walls around herself to protect herself because of some trauma she experienced in her young life...but I will know better. And come on, doesn't mom always know better?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The problem with being noise sensitive

I'm noise sensitive. Little noises irritate the heck out of me. I can hear people chewing from rooms away. Gum snapping? You gotta be kidding me. Clipping your nails? Sends me to the moon. Random tapping? Uh...NO.

So, where's the problem, right? I'm the mom. Maybe I've got to put up with some of hubby's noises, but I sure don't have to listen to kid noises. I just ask them to stop whatever noise is irritating me. But the problem is that I model the behavior that my kids adopt. I teach them, by my behavior, that they don't have to accept somebody making noises that irritate them. I teach them to say "Shhh...that's irritating me" everytime I say "Shhh...that's irritating me". And when you've got 4 people saying "Shhh...please stop making that noise", it turns out that EVERY noise is irritating to someone. Do we really have to live in silence? Is it not okay for a person to hum a little ditty if they feel like it? How do I tell the kids that they can't keep asking everyone to be quiet when I get to tell people to be quiet whenever I feel like it?

It's not that I believe that children should have all the rights that parents have, 'cause I don't. There are definitely times when I think a parent gets to tell a child to be quiet because they are being irritating. But I also don't think I want to be the kind of parent that says "do what I say, but don't think it is a nice way to behave to others".

But...I don't my kids going over to someone else's house and making annoying noises either. Somehow I have to find a way to differentiate legitimately annoying noises (that must be stopped at all cost) and normal annoying kids behavior (which I need to learn to live with) so my kids can actually have a life without being told to constantly "be quiet" by their siblings.

I need to say that to myself again. I need to learn to live with annoying kid noises without telling them to be quiet. No more falling to the floor with my hands over my ears because my kids are humming the theme song to iCarly.


This may be a work in progress.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Refusing to get derailed

4 weeks ago I started my 12 week fitness and weight loss plan. Then life happened. Life in the form of wisdom teeth removal (not fun, but not such a big setback), bone graft (super lame...took weeks to recover from), mole removal (scary, but trivial), plantar fasciitis (stupid, stupid, stupid...and just won't go away), and throwing my back out (again). So here we are 4 weeks later and I've neither become an athlete nor lost any weight. Sigh.

But I've got 8 weeks left in my original plan and I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet. I've got too many cute pairs of jeans in one size smaller to get derailed so easily.

I'm waffling on whether I want to run the fun run that I was planning on in October. I really like the idea of being a runner. It fits into my frugalista game plan. Running is a heck-of-a-lot cheaper than working out in a gym. There is also something REALLY appealing about lacing up a pair of running shoes and being unavailable for conversation for about an hour. Imagine...nothing but the birds chirping for an entire 60 minutes. But, that plantar fasciitis thing (which is like a swollen muscle beneath my right foot...I think) gets worse when I jog or walk a long way.

So...if I run I risk making the pain worse, but if I don't run it feels like I'm giving up.

Regardless of whether I can make the running-thing work out, I am definitely restarting my calorie-counting. Tomorrow. I mean it. Tomorrow. Dear friend Donita has a bodybugg to lend me (Yeah!) so I'll go pick up that this week and start tracking on the bodybugg website. Until then, it will be calorie counting on

That's the plan. I hope that 4 weeks from now I'm not listing all the things that derailed me for the last month, but even if that happens...I can always start again. Right? Right!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A letter to my girls

Dear girls --
You've finally pushed me over the edge. You know how your dad has been saying that he is going to confiscate the clothes you leave out? And I haven't really been backing him up, preferring to lecture you a little bit and then help you put your clothes away? Well no more.

Today, little Miss Sydney, I found the shirt that I told you to change before school in my dirty laundry basket. It was there because you were too lazy to put it away, even after I was nice and went and got you a different shirt to wear to school. You didn't seem to care that I would have to sort it, wash it, dry it, fold it, and hound you to put it away because you put it in there...when you would have only had to put it away. Way more work for me, but essentially the same amount of work for you. Not cool.

So now we have this fun new system! If you leave clothes on the floor and I find them when I come in your room at bedtime, they are confiscated. If you leave clothes on the floor in the bathroom or living room or back deck (whichever weird place you've decided to change), they are confiscated. I keep them for a month, at which point you have to put them away anyway.

And little Miss Cheyenne...I heard you talking about stealing the clothes back out of the box. That would not be smart girl. You do not want to see the amount of chores you will have to do to buy those clothes back that you stole from me. You might as well choose to be a prisoner on the chain gang for Halloween, because that is what it would be like.

I'm glad we had this little talk.
Love, Mom

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


School starts tomorrow, so today I made one last trip down to Grandma's house while I still had time for the 2.5 hour drive. We sat down to watch Dr. Phil together in the afternoon. I choked a little bit when Dr. Phil used the word (?) "consequated". As in "the girl needs to be consequated for her actions."

What bothers me, I think, is not that he's making up words. It is that he is making up words so he won't have to use other, perfectly good words. Words like "punished" or "disciplined". Really, are those such ugly words? Crime and punishment is a fact in adult life. Why are we so scared to use those with regard to children? If we don't teach them crime and punishment as children, they'll have a rude awakening when they become adults. That's my soapbox for today. Thank you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer's over...time to start watching things

Well, summer is over folks. That's it. That's all you get. It has been an AWESOME summer. My friend Estelle says I overuse that word, but I don't care. It was AWESOME. Of course, I'll be paying for the awesomeness for some time to come.

This summer I've been bundling up large amounts of cash, say $200 a week, and lighting it on fire. Yes, folks, I'm talking about my grocery bill. I don't know exactly why I can't seem to get the grocery bill under control this summer, but steak and fresh fruit with Cool-Whip dip apparently adds up.

Another thing that adds up, apparently, is my weight. Don't try to tell me that there is a connection between the grocery bill and the amount of weight I've gained. That's just silly. Those two are entirely unrelated.

Seriously...I've packed it on this summer. It has been 6 months since my last weight managment effort and I've put on 10 lbs since then. That isn't maintenance mode. That is....I don't know...that is just...BAD. Especially when you consider that my last weight managment effort, during January & February of 2010, resulted in about 5 lbs lost.

So now I want to take off 10 lbs in the next three months. September 1st through November 24th...that's 12 weeks...and I get to end my diet the day before Thanksgiving. I usually just do some calorie counting, but this time I gotta step it up a little. I think my exercise effort is going to have to extend beyong my Wii. Running? maybe.

I think the BodyBugg is going to be my new diet "thing". I already calorie count like a champ, so adding the tracking of energy expended seems like a natural extension. Of course, I'm far too cheap to actually buy a new BodyBugg. They are $300, including 6 months of the website subscription. I've seen them on ebay and Craigslist for $75, but that is with no website subscription. I don't need a 6 month subscription though, three months should be plenty.

So, how 'bout you? Anyone else going to join me for some September 1st diet modification?

P.S. My husband is crunching tortilla chips in my ear. Several warning glances have gone unheeded. Someone may want to check to see if he is still living in a few minutes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm just not 100% sure

Tonight I asked Sweetness to help me with putting dinner on the table. I didn't give her an actual task to do, and apparently that gave her the wise idea to disappear before the actual chore-dispensing occurred. This ploy might have actually worked if she reappeared for dinner. But no. I got dinner on the table and started calling in the kids. The Big Guy sat down. Spunky Girl sat down. No Sweetness. I called outside for her. I called downstairs for her. I yelled up the stairs for her. Then I screamed up the stairs for her, using my hands like a megaphone around my mouth (classy, I know). Still no Sweetness.

So I started dinner without her. 5 minutes later, I'm fuming. I'm certain she heard me and is refusing to come to dinner. I start considering what her consequence will be. Should it be a minute of chores for every minute that she was late to dinner? More than that? 3 minutes for each minute she was late to represent the three of us that ate without her? Should she have to eat every bite of dinner (in our household, that makes the kids cry. I don't know why. I swear I'm not that bad of a cook.) Then I start to worry...what if she's not just too busy ignoring me to come to dinner...what if she's hurt somehow? What if she slipped in the bathroom and hit her head? What if she was actually playing in the backyard and was snatched? So I go looking for her again. I check outside and then I heard it...a little sound like someone is upstairs in my bathroom. I head up there and find my daughter listening to my ipod, watching herself dance and sing in the mirror.

"I'm so sorry" she cries "I didn't hear you call me". Yeah right. You scoot out when you are supposed to be helping put dinner on the table. You ignore my calls to find you. You sneak into my bathroom and turn on my ipod (which you are supposed to ask for first). And I am supposed to believe that it couldn't be your fault because you had a mysterious fit of deafness?

But somehow, I can't seem to punish her. What if she is telling the truth? What if her ear canals suddenly did close up and she didn't hear my screeching for her? I know it wasn't because she had the ipod up too loud because 1) I don't use earbuds, only speakers and 2)she had it quiet enough so I couldn't hear she had it on. So I really know that she could hear me, that she did hear me and just chose to act like she couldn't. And it really isn't the first time that I'm fairly certain that she chose to ignore me and said "but I really couldn't hear you".

And I think her behavior suggests that she heard me. She is acting all upset that I'm mad at her, but she's not acting mad. There is no indignant "you don't believe me" emotion, just a please-i'll-never-do-it-again-please-don't-punish-me kind of guilty response. And yet...I'm not 100% sure.

I'm 90% sure.

maybe 95%.

Shall I do a test? If there was another adult in the house, I'd go upstairs and turn the ipod on and have them yell up the stairs. I'm certain that I'd hear. Of course, sometimes hubby claims that he can't hear me...but I don't believe him either. And so I'm not sure...

but I think it is things like this that make my friends say I'm a parenting weanie.

P.S. I took pictures of all three kids with their fingers in their ears so Sweetness wouldn't figure out that I'm blogging about her. Is it me, or does she look the most like she's enjoying the experience?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Sanfords go Camping

This summer the Sanfords are getting out there. It is time to start tackling all the things we've wanted to do (or used to do) but thought would be too hard with little ones. The Big Guy, our youngest, is 3 now and we thought camping should be next on our list.

So off we ran this weekend to the state campground. Well "ran" doesn't quite describe it. I packed and prepped for two days for our one day adventure. Does this truck look like we're just going for one day?

Scott and I readily accept our limitations as parents. For example, we wilt under the amount of talking that three children do. And when you expose three kids to a totally new experience, you have to be prepared for a zillion questions. Very quickly, the number of questions became oppressive. "Are we there yet" was just the first of them. "Can we go to the river" "When can we have s'mores" "Are we going to cook our dinner on the fire" "Where am I going to sleep" "Why can't we play in the soot in the firepit" and on and on and on. I thought we were going to lose our minds. Our saving grace was that we were camping with friends and our girls were able to ride their bikes back and forth between the campsites while we got our campsite all set up. Once everything was set up, it seemed the question-train slowed and we had more time to answer the questions they did have. Then we tried to cook dinner over the fire.

Who thought it would be a good time to give three children poking instruments, a hot dog, and point them toward a fire? It was stressful. They had to get close enough to the fire to cook their hot dog, but not so close that they were falling into the fire. They have NO patience for actually waiting for the hot dog to cook. But what happens when you take their hot dog and try to cook it for them? Yowsa...lots of tears. Soon dinner was least for them. I don't think Scott and I had even cooked our hotdogs when the girls were wondering what to do next. I think we threatened them with NO SMORES if they asked for some (again) before we finished our dinner.

The evening campfire was fun. We roasted marshmellows and made smores. It seemed like 8 pm turned into 10 pm before we knew it. It was time to break out the flashlights and take the kids down to the pit toilet for a bathroom break before laying down for the night. There is some thing so nostalgic for me about walking to the campground bathroom. It made me laugh; it is so not scary and I remember as a kid being frightened about every sound in the wood. We even had some german shepherds come up behind us on our walk to the bathroom and the kids couldn't see them until they were right behind them. I know that would have freaked me out as a child. It was fun to think of my younger self and what my parents (well, my dad anyway) must have gone through with me.

I really loved sleeping in the tent with my kids. The 5 of us were packed in there like sardines. It was great laying in the dark with them and listening to the raucous sounds of the campground. I loved hearing the kids ask "What was that" everytime an errant flashlight shone onto our tent. I giggled listening to Spunky Girl tell me her greatest fear was the river overflowing its banks and carrying us away. It was so great...and then we realized that our air mattress had a hole in it and our bums were hitting the ground. It wasn't long before both Scott and I were laying on the hard ground. We suffered until 2 am, united in our misery. Even that misery had a level of charm to it. Every contact point in my body hurt as I lay against the ground and yet the overall experience delighted me. It was almost as if it wouldn't have been camping if there wasn't some mishap involved.

Scott proved himself a hero when he began re-inflating the air mattress with his lung power at 2 am...with us still on top. I didn't believe he had enough hot air to lift our bodies off the ground, but he did and it was just enough time to get me back to sleep. By morning time I was in laying there in pain again, but I knew at that point I could solve the problem by getting my bum out of the sleep bag and starting breakfast...if I really wanted to.

It turns out that I didn't need to cook breakfast because our friend Lindsey cooked the whole thing. Bacon, eggs, coffee, water for hot was awesome. Apparently all that wasn't enough for the boys, though, 'cause they followed up breakfast with some early morning marshmellows. Lucky for me the kids were out on a bike ride and couldn't beg for some too.

We cut our camping trip a little bit short and left mid-afternoon on the 2nd day, but we had good reason! My sister gave birth to little Colin early Saturday morning and I wanted to go visit them all in the hospital. Of course, the little guy is as cute as a button!

All in all, camping was a success and we are looking forward to going again...but probably not til next summer. Can you believe it is only 28 days till school starts again? August is filling up and I don't think another trip to the woods will fit. I gotta start thinking about school shopping instead!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thanks Mo Williams

Spunky girl had a hard time with reading this year. Her kindergarten class offered her a tutor and we worked hard every day on reading, but it was a challenge. One of the things that makes it the most challening is that children know they can't seem to get something that their classmates are succeeding at. They know they are in the last reading group. They know some of their classmates are reading chapter books. And that knowledge makes them feel bad about it and makes trying harder.

We got through the entire collection of Bob learning-to-read books (which are great) during the school year, but then found the jump into books available at the library a bit of a challenge. There are definitely books there for "beginning readers" but they still seemed a bit above her abilities. Often there was a lot of words on each page. Spunky girl would look at the 20 words on the page and not even want to try, much less read the whole book. Enter Mo Williams.

Mo Williams writes the Elephant and Piggie books and they are AWESOME. They are always about two friends, an elephant and a pig, and a conversation they have. Because the book is just a conversation, there is often only a handful of words on each page. The author tells the story not only with the conversation, but with the expressions on the faces and the different type faces he uses. Spunky girl can tell from the type-face if the character is yelling or giggling or sad. I Love That. She really enjoys being able to express what the character is feeling. And the characters are funny little buggers...just like her.

Spunky Girl has read 3 of the 7 books so far and she gains confidence every time she does. She'll tell people "I read this book and I read two other ones too". She is willing to read the book to other people and enjoys telling them the story. It makes my heart happy to see her delight in reading.

So, thank you Mo Williams, wherever you are. This grateful mom's got a kiss on the cheek waiting for ya...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Its been ages

It has been ages since I last posted. I think blogging feeds upon itself. The more I blog, the more I can think of things I want to write about. But here I find myself...sitting at my computer...with plenty of time to write...and no inspiration. Clearly I've been gone too long.

So, while I wait for inspiration to strike, I'll update you on my kids.

Sweetness turns 8 tomorrow. She is definitely working on a new phase of life. The "tweens" run from 8 - 12 years of age and I feel an eagerness in her to begin the phase. We allowed her to pierce her ears for her birthday. She assured me last year that EVERY OTHER CHILD IN THE UNIVERSE had their ears pierced. I wonder how many children she's met from distant planets. My guess is not many. I'm sure she would have said something about the encounter. She loves to talk and tell me about the things her friends have said. If I dare suggest that perhaps she shouldn't believe everything she hears at school, she is barely able to cover her obvious impression that her mom is so not "in the know". Despite the new glimpes of attitude, she is still a beautiful child in looks and in heart. She's become empathetic to how I can be pulled in a zillion directions at once and wants to help. If only that willingness to help wasn't followed by a "Mom, how do I...?"

Spunky Girl is 6 now. She has the cutest freckles in the whole wide world and they rest below her stunning hazel eyes. Sometimes I just stare at her in wonder, but usually I'm too busy trying to corral her to just stare. =) She is still the snuggliest thing ever. She loves to come into my bed in the morning and sleep together for the last half hour; she isn't content unless both of my arms are wrapped around her (which of course means that one of my arms is likely losing all blood flow). She is always giggling about something, and usually something inappropriate. It is hard not to encourage her, though, when she's so darn impish. Hubby and I just cross our fingers and hope that she doesn't ascribe whatever objectional things she's saying to us. Then we can pass it off with a "where do kids these days hear this stuff?".

The Big Guy is 3. He's my little man, my cry-baby, my sweet son, and my joy. Three goods to one bad...that's not too horrible, right? We're trying to potty train him right now. It is a big ole pain in the butt. He's stubborn like a mule (whoops, 3 goods to 2 bad) and so it is very hard not to turn potty training into a power struggle. It does melt my heart when he says "just like a big boy, right?". Yeah buddy, just like a big boy. He stopped taking naps about 5 months ago, but I really need a few quiet minutes a day so I still put him down for a half hour. He kicks the wall the entire time, just so I'm clear that he's waiting for me to come get him. I suppose that is smart, though, because I suspect if he was quiet I would be tempted to leave him up there a little longer. There's nothing like one of his hugs and his whisper "I really love you mommy". It definitely makes up for him coloring on my sofa with green marker, or hiding the drinking cups in the toilet, or getting into my lipstick.

I sent my girls off to overnight Girl Scout camp at the end of June. I can get stressed by all the people needing my attention at once, so I was excited for them to have an adventure and for me to have some quiet(er) time with the Big Guy. It turns out I missed them like crazy. It was so quiet in the house that even the Big Guy whispered when he talked to me...and I could hear him just fine. I complain about not having a nanosecond to myself but then it was a huge culture shock to be down to one child. I had to keep myself busy to not think about how uneasy I felt about them being gone. There is an irony there...that I crave alone time and then have to keep busy during my (sorta) alone time till my girls came back. I guess the lesson is just to find the treasured moments in every day.

I'll leave you with one last picture of my kiddos, taken after picking strawberries. Note that, as always, Spunky Girl just has to be a little different and holds her bag of strawberrries on her head.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Finding yourself in the strangest of places

Ahh...the popular romance novel. I must admit that while I love reading romance novels, I don't really "get" the people in romance novels. I'm as likely to be involved in a "I hate you, no wait, I think I love you" scenario as I am to fly to the moon. The casual arrogance of most the male characters (at least in the books I pick up) is nothing like my own husband and I bear little resemblence to the intriguing spitfire female character who has no awareness of her own attractiveness. I don't think either hubby or myself would ever run through an airport and onto a departing plane and declare "I just had to tell you I loved you before it was too late".

But, I have begun to find characters in books and movies that I relate only issue is that they are either the parents or the grandparents of the main characters. I think that is a sure sign that I'm getting old. Hubby and I watched the movie Whip It last night. It was a Drew Barrymore production about a young girl (17) whose mom wanted her to compete in beauty pagents and she wanted to compete in the roller derby. She, of course, falls in love with some dude at the roller skate rink. My heart didn't identify with the love she felt for skate-park-dude. My heart identified with the love her parents had for each other. Two people who didn't appear to have much in common (he, a beer drinking sports enthusiast. She, an elegant, uptight, beauty pagent mom), yet were devoted to each other and defended each other when the child raged about the unfairness of her parents.

I saw a future version of myself in the novel I read this weekend too. The novel was called Love Mercy and it was about a teenage girl who ran away from a crazy love affair to the home of her estranged grandma. The girl was just looking for a place to go where her boyfriend couldn't find her, but the story centered on the love that developed between her and her grandma. I, of course, didn't related to the grandma in that story. Nope, I related to the great-grandparents. The great grandparents had lived together for 60 years and had been through endless tragedies, but weren't consumed with bitterness. Instead they provided a happy positive place for their families to come, to celebrate life's joys and to find comfort from life's sorrows. I would love to be that person in 40 more years.

I've been working my way through a bible study on Esther (using the workbook and DVD series by Beth Moore). She made a point in that study on that people can be grouped into 2 categories: those who believe they have a destiny in life and search for it, and those who don't. I think those who search for destiny are the ones that people write novels about. People like me, people that don't look for any greatness or defining moments in their lives, don't make very exciting main characters. But maybe we make good supporting characters...and that's all right with me.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Memorial Day spent at home

Before I regale you with tidbits and snippits of my exhilarating Memorial Day, I want to take a moment to thank my readers who have served our country in the armed forces. I know the freedoms we enjoy came at a price and I'm grateful to you who were willing to put your lives on the line to defend the country I love.

Now on to another scintillating post...

We spent Memorial Day at home this year. Our construction company, Pine Lake Construction, has had a busy spring. With the combination of construction work and finishing our own basement, we needed some downtime. (And, of course, there was endless rain...)

But I didn't want my girls to go back to school and have a writing project about "what I did on Memorial Day" and have nothing to say. So I decided we should rearrange the furniture in their room. They have 2 twin beds that have been located together in the center of the room to form a large king sized bed. It was functional (and allowed the girls to whisper and play at nighttime) but it took up all the space in their room. Today we put their twin beds together into a bunkbed and pushed it up against the side of the wall.

We also brought in their homework desk, which used to be located out in the hallway. The homework desk fit just perfectly between their two existing bookshelves and makes a nice wall of furniture.

I like looking at their room and remembering the origins of their furnishings and decorations. We got the amazing bedroom set because Scott's mom worked in interior design (interior merchandising?) for a local home builder and helped us buy a set they were no longer using. The beautiful quilts my mom made, although I made the coordinating pillow shams with their names appliqued. The pink and blue memory boards, hanging on the wall above the desk, were my gift to the girls for a Valentine's Day surprise. I remember making them late at night when Scott was at the firehouse while I watched home renovation shows on TLC. You didn't need to know all that, of course, but that is the memory it brings to mind.

I could also tell you about the stain in the carpet from the time one of the girls threw up fruit punch, or the dent in the wall from someone's head...but I think there has been enough sharing, don't you?

In a few minutes I'm going to fire up the grill and barby up some flank steak. The sun has finally poked out and it will be a perfect end to a good day. I hope your Memorial Day was just what the doctor ordered!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Like an arrow through my heart

Every week my Sweetness brings home her "traveling journal". It is a second grade class assignment. Every Friday during the school day she will write to me in the journal and then she brings it home. Over the weekend, I write back to her and she can read it during journaling time the next week.

This was her entry from Friday:

For those of you who might not be able to see the picture, it says:
"Dear Mom and Dad, yesterday was (career) project presentations. Alot of parents (were) there but you mommy, you forgot. I got mad but its okay."

I think the grammar is heartbreakingly sad and funny at the same time. "but you mommy, you forgot". Can't you just feel the dramatic pause? The accusatory tone? The finger wagging? Also note how the journal starting out being to "mom and dad", but it is clear that it becomes all about the bad mommy.

I did forget to attend her career presentation. I had it on my calendar and just forgot. I felt horrible. I figured it out by myself later in the day and ran upstairs to Sweetness' room to tell her I was sorry. I said "I'm so sorry I forgot to go to your classroom today" and she said "I know you forgot; that's why I was mad when I got home.". Hmmm....didn't really notice she was mad when she got home. I guess that is strike two on the "in touch with your daughter's world" scoreboard.

She decided that I needed to do a chore, just like I make her do when she forgets something she is supposed to do. I'm not entirely sure that is a precedent I want to start, but I felt pretty guilty so I agreed to it. She wrote "book me a playdate" on our chore whiteboard. I think I got off easy...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lisa Spaces

No, not like "Lisa spaces out" but like "these places belong to Lisa". Hubby continues to work on the basement and has our home office finished. It is so exciting. He and I had a few conversations about whose office it really was...his or mine. I think he has allowed me to call it "mine" even though he fully intends to command use of the computer chair whenever he wants. I picked up a file cabinet (off Craigslist, of course) that fits into a little alcove.

We moved the computer desk out of our bedroom and down into the office.
Note the second chair in the room? That's where we both expect the other person to sit while we're working together. The office is for our construction business, Pine Lake Construction. He needs a place to work when he writes up the invoices and researches the cost of building materials, and I need a quiet place to handle the rest of the bookeeping (taxes, accounts, filing, etc.)

As if the new office isn't exciting enough, moving the computer desk out of my bedroom also freed up valuable space and let me try some new layouts. Hubby helped me move the furniture around and I love the new room.

I have a coffee table that I think should go in front of the sofa, but hubby is concerned that I'll whack my shins during a midnight bathroom run and wake him up (he said he was worried about me hurting myself, but I knew what he really meant).

So, those are my new Lisa Spaces. What do you think? Also, tell me what I should put on my office walls. They are frighteningly bare.

Hey, I'm back to blogging

Wow...time to blog. Could it be? Or perhaps I am dreaming. Lately I've been bemoaning my inability to get anything done, blaming that on the zero seconds of time that I spend alone, uninterrupted, able to concentrate. However, there have been spurts of activity followed by task completions. check out my new white board:

I meant to install it myself, but hubby stood back watching me read the installation instructions to myself (aloud, of course) and decided it would be better for everyone (including the wall) if he helped out a little. I love my white board. It is part of my Self Sufficiency Initiative, Part II, which is set to unleash when school gets out. Part I has already commenced. I've been working with (on) the girls and "helping" them see all the things that they are capable of doing...instead of asking me for help. There have been quite a few tantrums when they realized that mom didn't intend to find their socks, or help them get their swimsuits on, or even make their breakfast. The white board is already coming in handy as a place for me to record all the chores they owe me when they fail to handle something on their own and insist on my help. Self Sufficiency Initiative Part II will involve things like morning chores and other things that must be completed before they have the freedom to go play. I remember HATING listening to my mom rattle off my daily chores, so I'm sure looking up their chore list on a white board will be much better. =)

Self Sufficiency Initiative Part II also includes potty training for the Big Guy. As soon as school gets out, that is my major focus. Some wise person suggested to me yesterday that I wouldn't dread the kids getting out of school so much if I hadn't planned so many "initiatives" to start the next day. LOL There may be something to that.

Okay, I'm off to start my next blog post. I've had 3 or 4 rolling around my head lately and I don't want my posting tally to be "1" for May.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Monkey on my Back

I haven't got enough time. I know it is an excuse, but it feels real. It feels like life moves at the speed of light and the only chance I have of keeping up is by operating on a dead-run, doing everything myself. Asking someone else to help out or do something themselves, regardless of whether that is the kids or hubby, slows down my progress.

This is a problem, though, because I can see that it is unsustainable. Not only is my burnout entirely predictable, but it isn't in anyone's best interest. My kids will not learn to be self-suficient, capeable people by me doing everything for them. They will not learn to use their brains to solve their own issues, they will not learn time management, they will not learn how the world really works. My hubby will not feel like a respected co-parent if I display to him through my actions that I can do everything better and faster than him.

For example, I help Sweetness (my 7 year old) pick out her clothes every morning, monitor her progress as she gets ready for school, and get her lunch and her backpack packed and ready for school. If I try to have her get dressed entirely on her own, without my assistance, she'll come down in something entirely inappropriate for the day (like a dress on gym day) or she'll be up in her room for 20 minutes trying to figure out what to wear and will eventually come down to me saying "I can't find my...". At that point, we're running late and I have to rush through whatever task I'm working on and go up and pick out an outfit anyway (or continue to let her do it herself, but resign myself to driving her to school because she missed the bus). I usually decide that it is just easier to pick out the outfit and have it lying on her bed when she goes up to get dressed. But the result is that I have a 2nd grader who doesn't really know how to quickly get dressed. I'm serious. It took her several MINUTES to inside out a pair of jeans. It was pure torture watching her. And that was just one step of the getting ready process...she still had to find a shirt, socks, etc.

Example #2: Spunky Girl (age 5) wanted breakfast when I was trying to get Sweetness to dress independently, so I asked her to get her own cereal. She was able to get the box down from the pantry, but managed to spill it all over the floor trying to pour the cereal into the bowl. It cost me more time to help her get that fixed than it would have to just pour her cereal myself. But I still have to let her do things herself because otherwise she'll never get any better at it.

Example #3: It is time to potty train the Big Guy...but the thought of adding potty training accidents and battle-of-wills contests into my already stressful days makes me want to crawl into a corner and cry. The thought of no more diaper changes should make that worth it, but to me the thought of adding more work into my exhausting days is worse than the thought of continuing diaper changes. But it is in his best interest to start potty training so I gotta find the personal strength to get started.

So I'm starting to work on this a little bit now with the thought of really ramping it up during the summer. Right now we are starting the conversation about personal responsibilities and I'm mentally preparing myself for things taking longer and requiring more work from me...for a bit. This summer the girls are going to get a crash course in self-sufficiency. They'll be figuring out what responsibilities they need to complete (like getting dressed, personal hygeine, chores) before they can enjoy fun summer time activities. And the Big Guy? Well... one thing at a time.

***I borrowed the non-Lisa photos from fotosearch...all royalty free of course!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Are moms a safe choice?

Yesterday we held our usual Daisy Girl Scout troop meeting. The topic was "courageous and strong" and we used the time to talk about a variety of scary situations the girls could find themselves in and what is the right thing to do. We talked about getting lost in the woods. We talked about stranger danger. We talked about fire safety. My co-leader led the meeting, so she was the one deciding what advice to give the girls about all these situations.

Her advice about what to do if you get lost in a mall/grocery store is stuck in my head. She advised the girls to go to 1) a cashier or someone who works at the store or 2) a mom with kids and tell them you are lost. It was the "find a mom with kids" part that is keeping my brain cells occupied. Are we suggesting that moms with kids are less likely to be child abductors or pedophiles? I don't know...maybe that's true. There has to be stats on that somewhere. She didn't say "a dad with kids" so maybe we think that women are safer than men. But then I started to think about "finding a person that works there" and I guess they could be a child abductor/pedophile too. But we have to pick someone for the kids to go to. Isn't a mom with kids a good choice? Maybe we assume that a mom with kids has enough trouble...uh...children...of her own that she doesn't need to take anyone elses. No, I know what she means. She means that we all know how moms feel about their kids and any of us would be glad to help another mother/child out. We choose to trust each other.

But it still feels a little biased.

It was essentially the same topic that Dear Prudence dealt with in her post this morning. Should a Dad take a Daughter into the womens or mens restroom? Prudence felt like the dad shouldn't go into the women's restroom to help his daughter and that the daughter probably didn't need to see men standing at the the best option is to find a family restroom or to have another mom watch his daughter in the restroom. Again, are mom's really more trustworthy than other women?

I don't know if it is biased...and when I really thought about it...I'm not sure that I care. I certainly didn't change the advice for my kids. I do want them to find a mom (or dad) with kids if they get lost and ask for help. Whaddya think?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

testing -- ignore this

My blog posts aren't getting posted to Facebook in a timely manner. The blog-before-last didn't get posted on facebook until my last post seemed to push it through, and then the two blogs came through together. So I'm sending this test message through to see if this message will push through the blog that hasn't posted to facebook in the last three days.

Testing Testing

Friday, April 23, 2010

Boy meets World

I usually let Sweetness zone to 15 minutes of TV in the mornings while I grab a cup of coffee and try to turn into a useful human being. Today I noticed that old episodes of Boy Meets World was on one of the cable channels.

I remember loving Boy Meets World. I think about the current kid shows...iCarly, Big Time Rush, Zach and Cody...and the difference is stunning. I think the biggest difference that stands out to me is that the main character in Boy Meets World had loving, stable parents. iCarly has a dad out there somewhere, but she lives with her older brother (a bit of a dorky rebel who quit law school to be a sculpter, but hasn't managed to fess up to his father about that yet). Big Time Rush is about 4 teenage boys who move to Hollywood to become music stars. Only one of the 4 boys has a mother around. The rest of the boys apparently left their mothers behind in the midwest somewhere. Zach and Cody live in a hotel (or a cruise ship). Enough said, right?

See any parents or adults? Nope.

And the adults are hiding...

What's the deal with that? One of the main themes of Boy Meets World was the independence struggle that teens have with their parents. The sneaking out. The dealing with hard situations with their friends and needing adult guidance. The crushes. In the current kid television shows, there is no STRUGGLE for independence...the kids ARE independent. There are no "lets keep the door to the bedroom open while you study" scenes, because it is totally okay for the kids to date whomever they like...however they any age. There is no parent around to say anything about it. It goes without saying that the kids are thrown into situations in those shows that no loving parent would stand back and observe from the sidelines. And really, that seems to be the point of all the shows: that the characters peer groups are their advisors and their families. That is who they are shown to interact with and that is who is important to them.

Am I making a big deal about nothing? Maybe. Perhaps Boy Meets World had its own 80's version of counterinfluence that I'm missing because I am a product of that generation. But I think that is exactly why this concerns me. Because I don't want my kids to grow up thinking it is normal for their friends to be their advisor and their parents to sit back and let them be independent when they are teenagers. I want to be there to provide see dangers before they see them and be willing to make unpopular choices to keep them safe. I get that the teen years is a time of separation from one's parents as they prepare to be on their own as adults...but that is supposed to be a process that runs throughout their teen years, right? Not as soon as they hit 14. It is supposed to be a little bit of a push/pull situation as both the parents and the teens learn what they can handle and what they can't.

Sigh. Okay, that's my rant for today. Stay tuned till next week when I blog about the dangers lurking in breakfast cereal commercials... (just kidding)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This one's for the Girl Scouts...

Today was my first Daisy Girl Scout troop field trip. We had so much fun! We went to the Camp River Ranch, which is in Carnation by the Tolt River. It is a 425 acre property owned by the Girl Scouts. They host activities there (like the "help it grow" activity we joined today), as well as day camps, over-night camps, troop and family camping, hiking, and more. Today the weather was sunny and beautiful...just perfect.

Here we are, just after we arrived at the camp.

The camp staff started out the festivities with some story time. Our girls were great! They all sat quietly and listened. I must figure out the trick the staff used to capture their attention and hold it through 2 stories.

After story time, it was time for our troop to have "tea". Lemonade, cookies, carrots and cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches was hosted by a troop of Junior Girl Scouts. Most of our girls skipped the cucumber sandwiches, but at least they did it politely!

The Junior Girl Scouts then taught our girls a bunch of songs and played games with them.
The girls loved it and joined right in.

Next it was time for our girls to make their concrete stepping stones.
They collected pieces of nature and also used some colored glass to create a design in their pans.

After that, they were allowed to help mix the concrete and spread it into their pans.

It was a little messy, so some handwashing was next on the agenda.

Funny how even handwashing can be fun when you are allowed to do it outside and splash a little...

We had a few moments before our next activity started, so the camp director took the girls on a little hike. The girls loved the freedom to run around a bit and the Tolt River was beautiful!

The girls were given some time to explore the cabins used for overnight camping. A raccoon visited a nearby tree during their exploration, so the girls experienced some animal sightings too (they also saw dear in the meadow).

Now it was time for our gardening adventures. The girls planted cucumbers and beans.
They watered their seeds and also did some weeding in other areas. If the girls go back for any activities in the summer, they will get opportunities to see their stepping stones and eat some of their produce.

The last activity was playing games. The game leader found us a nice spot in the shade and led the girls in a bunch of running-around games. We chaperones were already getting tired, so it was time to tire the girls out!

One final Girl Scout circle with all the girls and it was time to go home!

If anyone has interest in seeing all the pictures, let me know and I'll post them on a share site for all to view.