Sunday, March 19, 2017

So much to say!!!

This subject weighs super heavy on me. It eats away at my soul bit by bit. I'm forced to face it everyday and it continues to get more and more challenging.

Kids and Technology.

I've read the blogs. Followed the guidelines. Seen the news. I know we live in a different world nowadays. But even with all the advice that the internet has offered me, I still just don't know what to do. It all feels hopeless.

When is the appropriate time for a child to get a cell phone? I think, and hope, that need is the primary factor here. Are they away from you for significant periods of time with no other way to contact you? Then maybe it's time.

Why are they away from you for significant periods of time with no way to contact you? Did you send them on a walkabout or is it because our country has abolished pay phones from the face of the earth? If it's because they're 16 or older, you get a pass. Your kids should be away from you for significant periods of time, and it is the government's fault that you don't have payphones available.

Okay, need established. Now what type of phone do you get them? No kid needs a smartphone. Phones are for calling and texting, that is their purpose (she says as she writes a blog on her smartphone hypocritically.) But if you don't get them one, they will not be the cool kid. Scarred for life. Or so society tells us. Somehow we've come to believe that our kids need a $700 piece of technology that has a 75% chance of breaking within the first month (hope you got the insurance) and 100% chance of being outdated within 2 years. Or, maybe you're in this to save money. A flip phone and a tablet seem silly when a smartphone could do it all in one conveniently overpriced device ( thats why I have one:))

A smartphone, tablet, iPod etc... opens your child to the entire world! That's pretty amazing, as well as amazingly terrifying. I think it's wonderful that you have the one kid in existence who doesn't come to crave the instant gratification of receiving a text, or experience the thrill of constantly checking for new notifications. It's even more wonderful that your child respects you enough to always follow the guidelines you gave them for when they can use it, and what's appropriate. Sadly, I think a lot of our kids are not the same way.

I think a lot of our kids get bullied or are bullies. I think a lot are sleep deprived from staring at the glowing screen waiting for the notification that never came. I think many children have found addictive games, pornography and foul things that their precious eyes cannot unsee. I think these things are happening through the lens of their personal electronics. I'm not saying shelter your kids, but I am saying a certain maturity level may be required to handle our technological world. If they really need/want technology, couldn't we share our devices til they've proven themselves worthy of this grandiose prize?

Now, off my scary technology soapbox and on to my social query soapbox. Can your child function without technology? I'm asking because when my child invites them to play, they bring it along. Their personal technology device, meant for one person, is brought along when they hang out with friends. Is it in case my kid isn't fun enough? I'm slightly baffled as to why your child wants to play on his phone while sitting on my couch. Isn't it the same as when he's on his couch? Is it because I have air conditioning? Is your child setup for the lifetime of social interactions that will need to occur without technology in hand? Because they don't even look up from the screen when they're talking to me.

Do I sound pretentious enough yet? Well, here's the laughable part, my kids are crawling with technology. Even my 3 year old has a phone (of sorts). But I'm finding their technology use frightening. My 10 year old asked to play a video game in the car today. We were going to the grocery store 2 minutes down the road. He sounded desperate. The game wouldn't have even loaded in that time (I didn't say they have quality technology). One of my 12 year olds snuck away from his own slumber party to watch YouTubers play video games (his real friends were in his house playing real video games at the time). My 3 boys go to a school with Technology Academy in the name. My husband is a software engineer, creating technology is his job.

I say all this just to get it off my chest. Kids and technology pisses me off. Now let me tell you what I've learned and what I'm doing to regain some sanity.

No personal devices (tablets, ds, iPod etc...) They have computers for school so they have access to things they both need and want online. I've found that they cannot control themselves with personal devices. They're either on it all the time or they haven't even charged it for 2 weeks. Either scenario is a waste. Personal devices are also too easy to hide what they're doing and where they're doing it. If your kid has a personal device, please keep it that way. I don't enjoy it when they share it with my kid.

Phones. My 12 year olds have had them for almost a year. My 10 year old and 3 year old have old phones of ours that don't have service but can make calls via WiFi. They all pretty much exist so that we can play Pokemon GO as a family. I am way overpaying for this service. The phones must sit on a centrally located charger at home and they are not allowed to put any app on the phone without parental permission. They should be for emergencies. They are not. It's sad. Don't buy your kids a phone unless you have to.

Gaming systems. I'm actually a fan of these. It's a way for multiple kids to enjoy technology together. It's in a centrally located area and can easily have set time limits. I still like the trampoline more, but gaming systems are pretty okay. But, I'm not a fan of that being the only thing your kid wants to do when he comes to my house to hang out. We have a lot of cool **it.

After today, here's what I'm  I going to do. I'm​ setting up a technology drop box at my house asap. From now on you'll be asked to leave the ball and chain there (yes this goes for adults too. No I'm not referring to putting your wife in the box.) and forced to enjoy the lovely company of the many people that live in my home when you come visit. If you need that personal screen time, feel free to leave. (Jumped right back on my high horse didn't I?) Okay, okay, I will allow calls and texts, after all that is a phones purpose.

Rant over for now. I like technology, I swear I do. I just don't know how it fits with kids who are exploring boundaries and learning how our society works.

P.S. I didn't even touch on this, but if anyone can explain the zombie like affect that the television causes, I'd love to learn more. I let the 3 year old watch trolls this morning and managed to mesmerize 8 different 10-12 year old boys to the point that they could not move or respond. Infomercials seem to work equally well. What's up with that?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lazy bones

Last week I found myself explaining to my children that when we say we can't do something, it's often that we don't want to do that something. Let's face it, in the Google driven world that we live in, everything is learnable.

I drove the point home with a lovely anecdote about mowing the lawn. For the first 6 or 7 years of my marriage my husband had the chore of mowing the lawn. I told myself, and anyone else who would listen, that I didn't know how to use a lawnmower so he was stuck with the job. I just couldn't do it.

As time went on I noticed that he seemed sick after mowing the lawn. I also noticed that my oldest son seemed sick every time the lawn was mowed (allergies are a formidable foe). More time went on and I realized I was regularly feeling annoyed that the lawn wasn't being mowed often enough. These things finally led me to my Aha! moment where I realized that I didn't want to mow the lawn. After this it took very little time to learn how to mow the lawn (although I've broken like 3 mowers in the time I've been in charge of this chore). I remind myself of this story every time I say (or think, silently and belligerently) I can't.

This week, I found myself having a conversation with my mom about managing her health. We were discussing how important it is to balance exercise and healthy eating as well as pushing ourselves and sticking to a plan even when you're not seeing results. She mentioned that a nutritionist wasn't helpful because she already knows what foods to eat and what amounts are healthy. This conversation went around in loops for a long time and sent my mind churning.

Who am I to talk about healthy eating or living? I'm easily 100 pounds over a "healthy weight" for my height. I was in the same boat, I know the foods to eat and avoid and the exercises to do. Whatever questions I have can be answered by Google. Yet my head is full of "I can't" excuses. Realistically, I like donuts and soda enough to choose them over losing weight.

All this brought me to a place where I got my lazy bones to the gym at 10 o clock at night and this morning found myself on the exercise bike at 7am while I checked my Facebook page. This week I'm turning my "can't find time to exercise" into I will find time to exercise."

How do we manage to let the "I don't want to" attitude rule our lives? How can we overcome this and set a "can do" example for our children? I'm going to start tackling more of my I don't want to moments head on and see where it takes me. I have a bad feeling it might lead me to more chores and trying gross food. But... It could also lead to something amazing, only time will tell.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The questioner

I found this in my blog draft folder and decided to finish it off and send it out to cyber world. My little darling is done with this phase now, but it seems worth noting for posterity.


I'm sitting in my car waiting for another kid to finish another activity.

As I sit and type this I praise the Lord and rejoice that my sweet Larry came along and is talking to our sweet baby girl because she NEVER STOPS TALKING.

I love her and I'm so happy she found her voice, but why does she have to ask WHY?? 1,000 times a day?!

Baby: Where are we going?
Me: To Costco.
Baby: Why?
Me: To buy food.
Baby: Why we need food?
Me: So we don't starve.
Baby: Why we don't want to starve?
Me: Because we would die.
Baby: Like the cat? She was a girl cat and she died and now we have a boy cat. You call him Oh Maui and I call him BB-8.
Me: The cat didn't die from starving.
Baby: What the cat died from?
Me: I don't know.
Baby: Why you don't know?
Me: Because I'm not God.
Baby: Why you not God?
Me: Because I'm you're mom.
Baby: Why?
Me: Why not?

This goes on for hours every day. 

If it's not why, her other 2 favorite talking points are what we eat for meals and grocery lists.

She likes to pretend call our family to ask them what they're eating and to make up things that she's eating that I would never let her have.

**Sample Conversation**
HI daddy, what you doin?
What you eat for breakfast?
Eggs or apples daddy, which one?
Which one?!
Why you not answer me?!?!
Well, I had donuts and coffee and sprinkles.
Bye daddy, call me after lunch.

Please keep in mind that these are pretend conversations with herself. She is getting mad at herself for not answering.

Finally, her lists. She grabs something to write with and proceeds to make lists and read them to you.

Baby: You want to go to Target? I going to Target. I'll bring the money. We'll get bananas, bandaids, dresses, stickers, red cheese, pancakes, milk, baby milk and beer. What you need mommy?
Me: I think we need bread, you could put that on the list.
Baby: No one eats bread. Need anything else?
Me: No.
Baby: K, bye!

She then attempts to leave our house on our own and kicks and screams when I point out that her shopping needs to be pretend. She also brings her scribbled drawing lists to the store when we go and gets frustrated when I can't immediately read the list of made up items written in scribbles and loops of nothing.

I don't think you can win with toddlers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

This me has been 35 years in the making.

In honor of my upcoming day where I become a year older, I am going to list for you the things that make me a grown up. It's taken a lot to get me where I am today (cliche much?)

1. I get excited about going to the home improvement store

2. I've kept the same favorite color for more than a year

3. Developed a "look", but don't ask me to define it

4. Organized my home, and reorganized, and reorganized

5. Have kids old enough to talk back

6. Need to wear sunscreen daily

7. Own control top everything

8. Think elastic waistband is a phrase sent from heaven

9. Developed new tastes, I eat things like spaghetti sauce and tacos now

10.Get back aches

11. Say things my parents used to say

12. Have a mortgage

13. Google things like meal planners and angry 7 yr olds

14. Like to be in bed by 10pm. Who am I kidding? Make that 8pm.

15. Can no longer pull off quirky or cute when wearing a superhero bandaid

16. Purchased my own furniture

17. Make my own doctor appointments, but really wish someone else would do it for me

18. Plan vacations, meticulously, with coupons

19. Rock out to folk music

20. Get called ma'am or auntie

21. Have to google words like Bae to see what they mean

22. Know Bae is an outdated "what kids are saying" reference but not cool enough to know anything newer

23. Read parent reviews before going to the movies

24. Get excited about using coupons

25. Feel a need to do chores before fun stuff, get frustrated with the inner battle, and take a nap instead

26. Tell my kids stories of "when I was younger..."

27. Where sunglasses because I need to and not because they look cool (but I still look cool)

28. Know when trash pickup days are

29. Have serious misgivings about jumping on a trampoline

30. Know where everything is located at the drugstore without needing to look at the signs

31. Get excited when it's quiet in my house

32. Own "practical shoes"

33. Use phrases like "me time"

34. Going to jail instead of time out if I break the rules (but I don't break rules)

35. Think about other people before myself, at least the majority of the time


Lists are fun :)  I think next years will be on all the reasons I'm still young!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tis the Season!

It's happened.

The holiday season is upon us.

I've done a lot of thinking about what this holiday season will be like for my family, here's what I have so far:

Step 1: Intense slave driving, with prolonged periods of yelling and punishments, to ensure that my children finish their schoolwork in a peremptory manner so as not to put a damper on the actual holiday days. This course of action will put a damper on every other day, but I'm out of better ideas. I've found that my children don't respond to candy bribes as well as they used to, I blame Halloween. If you can't use candy to get your kids to behave, yelling is all that's left.

Step 2: Let my mother in law handle all things Thanksgiving related. This is key to my serenity and thankfully she seems to embrace this role. I will bring a turkey for my husband to help cook and probably some carrots. I will be deeply and eternally thankful that that is all that I will do. My son seems interested in learning the magic that makes the Thanksgiving meal happen. I will encourage Curly in his endeavors and give my full support. Some day he can be in charge of Thanksgiving dinner, for this I am also thankful. Mother-in-laws and kitchen loving sons are a true blessing from heaven.

Step 3: Avoid Black Friday and go to a hotel. That's right, you heard the big news here first, I'm skipping the biggest shopping day of the year. I blame my sister and the internet. My sister is my partner in all Black Friday crimes and she's going on vacation like the highfalutin girl about town that she is. Then there's the internet. Do you know what you can buy on there? Literally, anything. I have completed most of my shopping plus a great deal of unnecessary shopping (thanks Facebook targeted ads, you know me too well!) online this year. It's probably best if the spending stops now.

Oh what, you thought I was going to just skip over the hotel part? Unlikely. My husbands company had the good sense to book the annual Christmas Party at a wonderful resort with a killer employee deal encouraging us all to make a weekend of it. Consider me encouraged. 3 days and 2 nights of staycation bliss are headed my way next weekend. Bonus: It will probably cost the same as Black Friday usually does Double Bonus: We're counting it as part of the kids Christmas present. They seem fine with it. Can I get away with this every year?

Step 4: Decoration. It's hard to feel festive without the right amount of tinsel. What is the right amount? Zero. I hate tinsel. But I do love Christmas decorations. The inside and outside of my humble abode will be festooned and lit up enough for even astronauts to benefit from their glow. It's always wonderful once it's up but terrible trying to get it all there. Day drinking may become the norm around here. Oaths may be uttered. It's all a part of the process.

Step 5: Crafting. This is an essential part of any successful holiday season. At least it is in my manor. Curly is still saving for his school sponsored world travels so we've signed up for a craft fair in the hopes of accomplishing his fundraising goals and ridding my house of an overabundance of crafty goodness.  In the course of the first week of December I will probably craft myself into oblivion while watching every Christmas movie ever made. This O.D. of holiday cheer will temporarily grinchify me, but it's nothing that eggnog or apple cider can't cure.

Step 6: Parties. We don't get invited to many, but this is probably a good thing. We're hosting one early which will mean frantic scrubbing, organizing, baking and hiding clutter in places we won't find until next Christmas. It's strategic to host, it means my family has to help me clean the house. A clean house means I have the possibility of not going completely bat crazy this holiday season.

Step 7: The bliss. School will be out for several weeks. The house will be clean. Most regularly scheduled activities will be on break. My family and I will sit back and enjoy the fruits of all of our harried labors. There will be games. There will be food. There will be relaxation. This will become my mantra.

God seems to have made the modern holiday season exactly to match my manic ways. I thrive on the scrambling exhaustion that leads to the unscheduled bliss. It gives me plenty of time to reflect on the wonder of his gift to our world and plenty of things to ask him for forgiveness about. Scramble times always have me saying or doing something that I'm not proud of. Thankfully he's a forgiving God. I like to think my misadventures give him a good laugh. We're friends like that.

How's your holiday season looking?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fuming!

Well, they did it again. My charmingly adorable munchikins made mommy go ballistic.

Now I have to apologize. (Insert full on pouty face)

It's not really fair that I have to apologize, because it's ALL THEIR FAULT (insert foot stomp)

Tonight, out of the kindness of my heart, and the cheapness of my wallet, I offered to cut my boys hair. They deal was that they had to sweep up the hair into the dust pan when I was done. Easy peasy right?

Wrong.

First up was Larry.

His directions were, "Just cut it."

My questions were, "Do you want a style? Do you want it buzzed? Just one hair cut? What are you going for?"

He remained steadfast with, "just cut it, but not like, all the way."

I buzzed his head and told him to sweep up.

After convincing Moe to get a trim (but only if you use scissors mom!) I returned to the kitchen to find the hair in the trash and the first kid could be heard taking a shower. All seemed well.

Little did I know...

Moe wanted to keep his current hairstyle so it was to be "just a little off the edges." I did okay til I got to his cowlick. The back of his head now looks a like a miniature goat has been grazing in select patches. I figure it gives him character.

I tell Moe to sweep up.

He says he can't find the dust pan. I say Larry just used it so ask him. Moe finds Larry and comes back with the report that Larry cleaned up the hair on the floor with his hands. I yell at Moe to find a flippin dustpan now!

All still seemed moderately well...

I go find Curly and return to find the hair in the trash. Curly doesn't know how he wants his hair cut so I just go at it with the buzzer. It comes out lopsided so I comb it in that direction and pretend it was on purpose.

I then ask what he's been using to wash his hair because it does not feel very nice.

This is where things really begin to go downhill. He mumbles under his breath something about not being able to find soap.

Now I go ballistic as I begin to interrogate him on how long he's been going soap free and loudly exclaiming over the many places soap can be found in our house. I finalize my terrorist ways by going right in his face to explain that life as he knows it will end if he does not learn immediately that bathing requires soap and not just water.

I don't think this is what experts mean when they tell you to get down on their level.

I tell Curly to sweep up the hair and he says he can't find a dustpan. I explain that Moe just used it. Curly goes and finds Moe and then reports that Moe cleaned up the hair with his hands. I now go straight into Moes face and loudly explain that he will find a dustpan RIGHT NOW!

Did he learn nothing from Larry's mistake? Oh yeah, he learned that he could pick up hair with his hands :/

At this point I've completely lost it. A bizarre round robin style interrogation is set into motion that uncovers the fact that none of my 3 boys have been using soap for quite awhile and all of them think that water gets the job done just fine. We also uncover the ugly truth that when I say "sweep it into the dustpan" they hear "be as lazy as possible and try to avoid getting yelled at".

As I fume and spew my angry thoughts my 2 yr old flounces into the middle of the room and announces "Mommy, I love you the most." I quickly acknowledge her comment and return to my tirade. She quickly interrupts again, "and I love all my brothers because they're so special."

We should make her superhero name "The Diffuser."

It's hard to stay angry with this level of cuteness happening within inches of my anger cloud so I turn my focus to her. I kindly interrogate the 2 year old and have her briefly explain to her brothers

1. Where we keep the elusive soap

2. Where the soap goes on your body to make you clean

3. If you are allowed to bathe with water only.

Turns out she knows all of these answers and quickly schools my shamefaced sons. As the tirade nears an end, the floor gets swept (with the broom and dustpan which were put away where they belonged) and Curly yells from the bathroom, "I used shampoo and conditioner, are you proud of me?"

No Curly, no I'm not, because this is a basic expectation for your general hygiene that even the 2 year old can follow.

So yeah, I need to apologize, I really lost my cool there. But it wasn't all my fault.

Monday, May 30, 2016

My relationship with my bed

It's an intense relationship. There are not many objects, or people, that fill me with the longing, desire and need that hits me when I see or even think about my bed. This relatioshup is part of what makes bedtime at my house both magical and maniacal.

You see, I'm not one of those magical mom's. Heck, when it comes to bedtime, I'm not even a nice mom. I have no bedtime routine that I lovingly concocted. It basically comes down to this, when I say it's time for bed, I am saying exactly what I mean, for my children and myself, that it is time for bed.

With the 3 older boys time for bed means tell me 6 more times and might listen. Brush your teeth is a funny suggestion that will only be taken under advisement if we bought new toothpaste. If there's new toothpaste, it may get eaten. Pajamas are an antiquated notion beneath the likes of my boys. They're real men who sleep in the clothes they were wearing or strip down to their underwear (if they were wearing any, or if it's hot, or if they got cool new underwear). As they hang their heads and march down the stairs to their presumable doom, the dog and cat will run crazy circles around the upstairs as they realize they've been forgotten and must revel in their moment of stolen freedom in the oddest ways possible. I will yell from the top of the stairs that somebody better get the animals, because walking down the stairs or doing it myself is just too hard. The youngest will now reappear to see if he can finnagle his way into sleeping anywhere but his bed.

Let the begging, pleading, and whining begin in 5...4...3..2...1. He will suggest his sisters room "to help her sleep", the couch and even the bathtub. Some nights I will give in, most I will remain stalwart. Inevitably, he will be somewhere odd in the morning regardless of what I said last night.

I willfully ignore the older two that I can clearly hear doing battle downstairs in a feeble attempt to let them handle it amongst themselves. Or because Im lazy. They know not to come upstairs unless blood has been drawn. Things will work themselves out.

As the battle with the boys nears it's end I focus my intense need for sleep onto the littlest darling in our home. Thanks to some particularly clever bribing (tutu pajamas from Costco if she could go a whole week sleeping on her own) she now puts herself to bed. An almost 3 year old putting themselves to bed looks a little something like this:

(Each announcement is made while holding 1 finger in the air in an authoritative manner, picture that so you can really be in the moment with me)

"Okay mommy, I put on my jamas now!"

(Pitter patter run down the hall)
(Emerge with dress up princess dress)

I silently shake my head

(Throw princess dress on floor, Pitter patter back to room and reemerge with snowsuit)

I silently shake my head

(Throw snowsuit on the floor and pitter patter back to room)

"I did it!"

(She reemerges in backwards, inside out pajamas, and it won't be obvious at first, but she is inevitably commando)

"Goodnite mommy!"

(She climbs into bed. 2 seconds later she reemerges.)

"I forgot to say goodnight to daddy!" Hmmm, maybe I forgot brothers too? Where's the dog? I need say nite to Leia! Where's the titty ( that's how she says kitty)?"

She now just stands in the middle of the hallway and yells, "goodnight everyone!"

(Scamper back to bed. Moments later we hear sobbing.)

"I forgot to brush my teef! Somebody help me!"

(Teeth get brushed. Which means lotion gets put on. Which means hair gets brushed. Which means everything from the bathroom counter can now be found on the bathroom floor. Back to bed.)

Now I can hear her reading to herself quietly, so I go to check on the rest of the house. Every light has been left on so that we can stand out as a beacon of hope if a midnight apocalypse occurs. I shut it down, along with any hopes of directing an alien landing party to my house. Somehow at least half these lights will turn on again throughout the night. Some night elf in my house appears to take the beacon thing very seriously.

My bed is calling to me with the sounds of a beautiful siren and I am lured into its trap. As soon as I lay down the pitter patter can be heard and a cherubim face framed by golden curls will appear in my doorway.

"I just need to tell you one more thing mommy. I love you the most!

Do you love me the most?

Mommy, why aren't you talking to me?

Mommy?

What we doing tomorrow. We go skating maybe?  I invite Grandma? Can I call Grandma? I love Grandma."

No honey, we're not going skating tomorrow. Goodnight.

"But is it dark out or light out? Let's check. It is dark out!!!! We should go to bed.

Goodnight mommy.

One more thing.

My favorite movies are Mickey Mouse, Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, Avatar and Backyardigans.

Maybe I should watch one tonite?"

No.

"Otay, I'll watch it with daddy tomorrow. Is that a good idea? Yeah, thats a good idea. Goodnite mommy. I'm a big girl and I sleep aaaalllll by myself. Yep. That's why I have a tutu. And I'm 2 but I'll be 3 on my birthday. Is tomorrow my birthday mommy?"

No.

"Otay. First it's brothers birthday, then it's mine and next is Sophias! Alright! Goodnight mommy."

The silence will now end in 5...4...3...2...1.

"I'm firtsty!! Where's my cup? I'll get it. Don't help me mommy, I can do it. I found it! Can I have juice?"

No.

"Otay. Aaaaaahhhhh! I have to go potty RIGHT NOW! I need help. I spilleed my water. I can wipe. Did I brush my teef? Oh yeah, I did. Goodnite mommy."

She'll go back to her room and I'll lay in my room, tense, waiting for the next child to emerge with the next problem or conversation that has to happen immediately.

The barrage will eventually end and I'll make one last round to see where they all ended up, turn off the lights to extinguish the household beacon and finally, as I close my daughters door, I'll outwardly smile and inwardly cringe as I gaze at her, nightgown up in her armpits, full moon exposed, and vow that we'll start a bedtime routine tomorrow.

But for tonite, my bed is calling. It needs me and I need it. My pillows are fluffed and my blanket is waiting to comfort me with its softness. It's dark and it's quiet and I'm in one of my happiest places.

Goodnight.