Friday, January 30, 2009

Give and Take

At home we cherish our children. When one of them possesses a talent or accomplishes something well, that child will be given heaps of praise. On the other hand, when one of them is not doing what is expected, the flaw will not go unmentioned. Meeting expectations is just that, and no extreme reaction need occur.

So, maybe it is my fault that my children are so blunt. Here are some compliments I have received...

oldest: "Of course I'm a dork, look at you guys!" In response to a flippant comment from me re. oldest's tendency to play WoW and laugh hysterically at Big Bang Theory. (Aww, she does love us!)

son: "You are beautiful mom...but not too pretty." A random comment from him some years back, trying to keep me from having a swelled head I assume.

youngest: "That is a princess dress! You look like a princess mom! But your tummy looks like a little baby is in there." While trying on dresses for a wedding, that dress was not a final choice! (at least it was a "little baby").

The flow of compliments in our home just keep flowing!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mall Tips..

Do you have a teen that asks you to chauffer herself and a small army of friends to the mall? Only to be asked to stay for an inordinate amount of time, with occasional check-ins? One who pretends to look past you when you pass in the crowded passages? Well, I have some tips that may help.

The following tips are based on actual experience and have proven themselves quite useful.

1) Bring an adorable younger sibling, even if your teen can resist, the others in the group are sure to cave. (it is helpful for the toddler/pre-k to be a huge ham)

2) Take said sibling into all those stores you normally avoid - let's face it, you have no money to shop and you have 3 hours to kill.

3) Cave and buy sibling something cheap, but adorable. I have found that hair items are practical, inexpensive, and bring out sibling's vanity.

4) Suggest to sibling, "Wow! That looks great, you should show (insert teen's name here).

5) Head in the direction of known hot-spots: Spencer's, Starbucks, Hot Topic, etc...

6) When you target your teen group, point them out to sibling, who will joyfully run into the fray and seek all kinds of attention. (at this point the teen will usually speak to you, showing what she bought, telling where she is headed, etc..)

7) You can replay steps 4-6 regularly throughout your killing-time allotment.

I realize it is not necessary, but hey, I'm stuck at the mall and it keeps me entertained!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

They are taking their balls and .....

I must begin by stating clearly and for the record that I have not used this forum to vent, until today. The closest I have come was a post about my daughter's hair, which I honestly find funny rather than upsetting (the hair, not the post). All that said, today I am going to vent - if you want happy feel-good reading, you should probably look elsewhere.

My husband and I attended a conference at my son's school on Monday (yes this has been festering like an oozing sore) I demanded requested this conference for a number of reasons, that discussing would cause my head to explode take too much time to explain. What you the reader need to know is that on the playground the kids have been playing soccer and in the steal/protect mode a child was kicked in the shin. As any parent of a child knows, recess is a fundamental time for social and physical development. It is the most accident ridden time of day, but essential for the children.

So, here we are sitting in this meeting with 5 people from the school while the director tries to cover her butt explain how she is looking out for the best interest of my son. She scorns recess and asks her staff what is being done to end this competition among the boys, blah blah blah. The response is: they are taking the balls away - so the children will not be engaged in competitive situations! huh?

How on earth is this going to keep the students from 1) having accidents 2) being bullied? I am all for playing cooperative sports, if that is your thing, but to take away competition? Good luck! The accidents will still occur regularly and the bullies (2 particular boys) will still find reasons to push and torment. I have a novel idea - how about teaching character development?

When I was a kid, recess was an experience of independence. You chose who to play with and what to do. If you fell in kick ball, you got up and played. If the rules were unfair or changing, you left. Adults were only necessary for those times when someone was bleeding or there was a big fight! Otherwise you dealt with it. What are we turning our kids into that they can not be given enough independence to play? Taking the balls away will only cause kids to have races, see who can throw frisbees the furthest, etc etc. They will compete because it is what they do. The children who do not want to compete will find something else to do. When I hear this type of thing, it strikes me as unreal, but it is real and it is happening. I called my sister to tell her about the meeting, and she said that one of her kids came home and said they were told they can not run on the playground! This is insane, in our quest to create peace, we are turning into crazed zealots!

BTW: Before you form an opinion that I am a crazy competitive soccer mom, I just want to assure you that this is not the case. I don't follow sports and I have not engrained my kids with the need to win. I do believe that learning to live as a social creature is very important - win, lose, or walk away. (& it was my son, among other kids, being bullied, though that is not why the meeting was held)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The blogging world...

Ok, I am not sure how this happened - but I may need help!

I started my blogging adventures by simply reading weaselmomma, she is a dear friend and it seemed an easy way to keep in touch. Then my friend nonna started blogging, ok 2 to read, I can handle that. Soon I had my own account, to simplify comment making.

Now I am reading all kinds of blogs and not using my productive morning time...well, productively. I am reading and making comments and just lounging! I feel compelled to read and leave a comment, as I would like anyone who reads here to do....*hint hint*

I have to admit that I had always considered blogging as something my husband did, to set-up World of Warcraft raids etc. (well that and the "news" people). Now I fear I am becoming hooked!

Oh - shoot! I have to change the laundry and get the morning going! See - late again! Should I be looking into a 12 step program?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Puppies - you have to be kidding!

We live in a typical (very small) Florida style home. I try to consider it a luxury that my children, even the teen, and us parents are more often together in the same areas than not. (at least when I am not: trying to read, talk on the phone, have a convo with hubby, or feeling particularly claustrophobic!)

There are 5 of us and assorted visiting friends crammed together - I mean coexisting peacefully. Add to that 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a rabbit who is lucky enough to have her own space outside, and you get a (sardine can) very full house.

Well, apparently the dogs disagreed! We have a lovely basset girl that we have had for 3 + years. She has not been fixed because my hubby always wanted to breed her once and have basset puppies. Not a problem, as I knew he would not go looking for a stud, it would be luck if it ever happened. Things were just fine until my daughter saved enough money to buy her own puppy. (we had been thinking of getting one, as our lap-sized dog died a year before, after a very full life) After deliberation and searching, we found Springer Spaniel puppies (4 1/2 months old), her dad brought her and her brother and they returned with Oliver, a sweet boy, at the end of October. Being practical, we planned to have him fixed in January.

Well, Daisy did not apparently want to miss her opportunity and went into heat the week of Christmas. We tried to keep them under watch in the house, and separated outside. But they were caught practicing for an episode of National Geographic in the backyard before they could be pried apart. I thought, what the heck, the odds must be slim, we'll watch and see how things go. Well, Daisy is no longer in heat and Oliver has regained much of his self control, but Daisy is miserable. She mopes around, gives us a "poor me" expression and just generally looks like she feels like crap. I recognize the look, so I will be calling the vet today - I guess our little home will grow smaller (at least for 6-8 weeks).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Eating Out (going the way of the dodo bird?)

A few months ago I was sitting at an intersection with my 4yo. While she was looking out the window at a local restaurant/sports bar. She says to me "Mom, do we ever go to that place?" I respond that we have been there, but only a few times.

She gets quiet for a bit, then continues with, "Mom, do you know that kind of place where you sit and people bring a drink to you...then they bring food to you and I like to eat chicken nuggets at those places?"

I answer, "Yeah honey, you mean a restaurant."

She responds, "YEAH! that place. Why don't we ever go to there anymore? We used to eat at that kind of place, but now we only eat at our home."

Inwardly I chuckle as outwardly I tell her that we eat at home, have good food there yadda,yadda.
It is a sure sign of the times when your 4yo notices that you haven't been to a restaurant in months.

Then, this past week (with Christmas expenses behind us), I was prompted by a very long day to announce that we were going out to eat. Everyone was all-in abandoning various activities to prepare for the outing. The 4yo runs to put on her shoes and asks, "To a place where the person will bring me a pop (big treat) and chicken nuggets?"

"Yes, a restaurant. All luxuries are not extinct," I reassure. To which she gives me a puzzled look then nods knowingly and says, "They did not die like the dinosaurs - right mom?"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Up & Down

Holy smokes! The pressure to preform! Weaselmomma challenged me to write about our commune - see her post for more details. There are so many great stories - the dog who thought she lived in the entire building, the kids and their moments, the craxy landlord, etc etc.

OK, let me tell you about the day the thermostat was topping 100 (I have to work up to the landlord thing). As a young family, we had little cash to blow and we made due with window units - on the 3rd floor, & it was only 1 unit. So, we chose a room to cool, depending on the heat and my mood it could be the family room or a bedroom. Throughout the day I was up and down visiting and taking care of home stuff. I stayed down a bit that day, as it was clear that down was much cooler than up, and though I loved my kitchen, a twinge of jealousy passed through my thoughts.

At one point my daughter needed to potty - so up she went, leaving each door along the way open. Upon completion, cries of "come wipe-a my butt!" were heard echoing down the back stairs and up I went (my legs were in great shape). As I was up, I brushed the radiator, and discovered it was warm, well summer - whatever.

As the day turned to evening, the temp was still quite high upstairs - prompting us to look at the thermostat and better gauge our misery. The apartment was over 100! Holy Cow! Now we knew we were miserable! And better yet, we could put a number on our misery. Between whining & complaining, I used the commercial break to potty and while drying my hands, noticed that the towel there was REALLY warm! The radiator wasn't just warm it was on!

And, the controls for the heat were in weaslefamily's apartment. A quick call and a talk with oldest weasel confirmed that indeed she did turn on the heat. She wanted the house to cool off, so she turned it "ON". LOL! It was funny then, and we were hot - so you have to see the humor!!

Monday, January 5, 2009


I have come to the conclusion that tenacity and procrastination can occupy the same least inside me. I have been off work for 2 weeks and when the break started I told myself, 'ok - you'll do a bit everyday - meet those goals you have set' (which were very small by the way). Seemed doable - declutter a few things, organize, do some planning, get some paperwork done...Use the quiet in the mornings while the children slept in productive ways.

Paperwork is my least favorite part about my job. Now, I love my job - don't get me wrong - but the amount of paper it produces is often overwhelming. Throughout my break I found other ways to fill my quiet mornings...reading, cuddling with my 4yo, watching cartoons, I started blogging...It is just too easy to find ways to avoid the paper. (The house on the other hand - can never be ignored it screams "Clean Me! Organize Me! etc.")

So, last night what was I doing? Paperwork of course. The last night of my break and I am sitting on the couch with a Hallmark movie playing - surrounded by mounds of paper! Aside from my bottom, the entire couch was filled with paper (& the puppy who plopped down on top of the paper) - in neat and organized stacks of course, but still a disaster....Yes, I am a procrastinator.

I am happy to report that after 2 Hallmark movies, I did get my paperwork under control. Yea for me! I admit, deadlines bring out my tenacious side.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I was thinking...

I guess you could say talkativeness (if it's a word) runs in my family. My children have inherited this trait and my son has a severe case. When he was in pre-k, my hubby & I were working to have him think without the need to share every thought in his head. His stream-of-conscience conversation was a standard after-daycare-drive-home dialouge.

So one day I was listening to his chatty voice talking about one thing or another in his day, but I wanted to hear the I said, "Hey bud, why don't you think some things inside your head for a while?" My accommodating little guy replied, "Ok mom."

A very few minutes - maybe 2 - passed and he says, all innocence and excitement, "MOM, MOM, guess what - I was thinking something inside my head! I was thinking at school......"

And as he chatted along sharing his thoughts again, I thought 'Ok, I surrender, verbal learners must speak'

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hair Rebellion

Rather early in my life it was apparent to me that hair can cause grief and controversy. It was a subject of much consternation to my mother, as I sported a partially shaved head (half-life) and attended a Catholic High School. The sisters at the school were non-pulsed by this and it never caused a disturbance in classes. (Though my mother gnashed her teeth over my hair choices for quite a few years.)

As a result, I have tried to be open minded in my daughter's hair rebellion. I remind myself that it is just hair and move-on. This was extremely tough last spring....

Over the break, my daughter and some friends did a sleep-over hair party. They returned home with bleached and colorful hair - hers was blond/pink/blue. I was fine with this - reminding myself that there is much worse trouble for 6 teens to get into. After they spent a week in salt water and pools, as well as very strong sunlight - the color was largely gone and the the bleached out hair remained. School began - and so did my rebellious streak.

I asked my daughter how school was and she reported it was fine - the principal made a comment about her hair, but that was it. "OK, fine" See, I know the rule is "no unnatural hair colors." Actually written in all district middle school rules - though not enforced at all. On Weds. I received an email from her team's leader requesting that I change my daughter's hair. I complied, telling her to pick a more natural color. She chose auburn, and we dyed just her bangs, as they were light blue. Problem ended - right?

NOPE! Then I received an email from the AP at her school - who I really do like. He relayed to me that her hair needed to be all one color - " WHAT?" I have been to events and functions, there is no "one color" rule - His message goes on to say that if she can not change it 'til the weekend, he will keep her in "quiet study" (feel good speak for ISS) on Friday, but it won't go in her record. That was it, the rebel was unleashed...

I spoke to my daughter about it, who had now poured over the rules and was ranting when I got home. I listened and agreed, I thought of all the highlights and bleached white/black hair styles sporting the campus and...Oh, how I wanted to tell her to fight it, to take it to the board if need be - I think I actually left the room once or twice to push the rebel teen down. (But the "No hair styles that cause a disturbance" is just too broad so I tried to remain a grown-up) To make a long story short, I told her to pick the fights that matter - soon she would be in high school without hair rules. I kept her home Friday & out of ISS, she chose bright red dye and sported her 3rd hair color on Monday - I don't know about you - but I think 3 colors in 6 days was probably far more distracting then simply allowing the original blue to fade...but then again I am a hair rebel..