Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A day in my life...

For those of you who don't yet have children, or who have children who are younger, this is what you have to look forward to:

There will come a day when your children are in early elementary school when you figure that they are old enough to be left to their own devices while you take a shower.  You will get them settled at the kitchen table, coloring nicely.  You will set the ground rules: "No answering the door. No answering the phone.  If you need me I will be in the shower."  They will say "ok mom" and into the shower you will hop.

Then it happens.  You will be just about to rinse the shampoo from your hair when you hear the blood-curdling scream of "Moooooooommmmmmyyyyyy!"  The thoughts that go through your mind first are: Where is the hand gun and where is my cell phone?  You will jump out of the shower, stubbing your big toe on the shower door, run out the bathroom door, slipping and sliding all the way.  You arrive in the kitchen with a hand gun in one hand, the emergency response team on your phone in the other, shampoo dripping into your eyes, and nothing on but your birthday suit.  Then your child will look at you and say:

"Never mind, I found the red crayon."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bad Mommy Moments

Do you ever have one of those days when you just really suck at being a parent?  Today is my sucky Mommy day.

Our school makes a big deal out of having good attendance.  One of the ways we show our appreciation to the kids and their families for getting their kids to school on time, every day, is by having monthly perfect attendance breakfasts.  Last month Lauren's dad took her, and this month she asked if I would take her.

Today we were running late because Jason was out of town for work, so it was just me getting the kids around and out the door in the morning.  This never ends well, and usually one of us ends up in tears.  Today I thought I had done a pretty good job, despite the fact that we had no milk in the house for breakfast.  No matter, we were out the door in plenty of time to stop at Casey's for some donuts. (Which totally makes up for not feeding my kids at home right?)  I dropped the kids at the daycare that walks them to school for me, and went on my way and on with my morning routine.  Then I see Lauren at my classroom door.

For those of you who don't know, I teach in Spanish every day, all day long, and when Lauren comes to my room for one thing or another she is expected to speak to me in Spanish.  So today she says: "Mama, hoy es el dia de Perfect Attendance......" and proceeds to break down crying.  Oh pobrecita!  I feel about THIS big (picture me practically squeezing my fingers together to represent how tiny I feel)!

I made all sorts of promises of taking her out for a special breakfast, letting her come to the craft fair with me tomorrow, etc.  Finally, I asked her if she wanted to call her dad to tell him what a horrible mom I am.  So......she did.  Somehow, hearing all those promises from him made her feel better....and me feel worse.  But who can blame her right?  I had let her down.  Lesson learned. :(

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sugar Free Gum

Have you ever had that experience where something you eat, see, hear, or smell brings forth an instant memory?  I had a bizarre one today.

Lauren and I took a quick trip to Wal-Mart (groan) during half time of the Husker game.  She had written us a list so that we wouldn't forget all of the "important" things we were there for.  Well, a half hour later we left after paying way too much money for too few of items.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't ever get out of Wal-Mart (groan) for less than $100. . .regardless of what I'm there for.

So, we got in the van and were headed on our way when Lauren asked for a piece of the gum she had talked me into.  Our rules about gum are pretty simple: it must be sugar-free, and you are allotted one piece of gum per day.  I dug some out for her and asked her to get a piece out for me too.  Enter, THE MOMENT.

I popped that piece of gum in my mouth and was instantly transported to my childhood doctor's office.  Dr. Mortimer always gave us a piece of sugar-free bubble gum at the end of every checkup.  And this gum tasted exactly like the gum he always gave us.  Weird.  I don't actually have a specific memory that comes to mind, just the overall feeling of leaving his office with that gum in my mouth.

I remember Dr. Mortimer as being a very kind doctor, but a little "old school" looking back.  Of course, what we might consider "old school" now, was probably very with-the-times then!  When we would go in for our school/sports physicals he would actually tap our knees with that funny triangle shaped hammer thing that I have NEVER seen our doctor use on my kids.  And he actually used those nasty tasting tongue depressors to check the back of your throat as you stuck out your tongue and said "Ahng."  (No, that's NOT a typo....you try saying "ah" with your tongue out and a wooden tongue depressor pressing down on it!  It comes out "ahng.")Speaking of those tongue depressors; maybe I have Dr. Mortimer to "thank" for my strong gag reflex and my sensitivity to textures in foods.  Hmmmm.

Who would have thought that a silly little piece of sugar-free bubble gum could bring back such vivid memories.  I wonder if he's on Facebook?  LOL

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Potty Training

For those of you who know me well, you are probably wondering why in the world I am posting about potty training when my children are 4 and 1/2 and almost 7 years old!  The type of potty training I am referring to is not the conventional kind one thinks of when one becomes a parent.

By "conventional" I simply mean "parent training" where your young child trains YOU to take her potty every hour on the hour until she "gets it."  No, the type of potty training I am talking about today is a much more important kind dealing with a parent's sanity.

In my line of work I deal with young children, which means all day long I am burdened with repeating myself 20 times, getting asked questions after every statement I make, dealing with puke, other bodily fluids, and my personal favorite....boogers.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my job as a kindergarten teacher!  My sanity, however, has a very hard time keeping up when, at the end of a long day, I come home to the same behaviors and bodily fluids I have been dealing with all day long at work.

Which brings me to the topic of "potty training."

When my children were infants I was not one of those mothers who was scared to death of germs, or of people holding my babies without washing their hands, or one of those mothers who had to do everything herself.  But there was one thing that I did that I now find to have been very stupid.  Whenever I decided to get cleaned up for the day, I wouldn't ask anyone to watch my infant while I showered even if someone else was in the house with me.  I would simply bring them into the bathroom with me, sitting in their bouncy seat, and enjoy their cooing with I bathed.  As the kids got older, they may not have stayed in the bathroom with me, but we have always had an open, or unlocked, door policy where our bathroom is concerned.  Which brings me to the present day.

I was stupid to have invited my children into the bathroom with me at all.

For those of you who have seen the kids' movie: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, you will know, and can relate to, the scenes which I am about it describe.  In the movie, the boys' parents leave them alone for a weekend in the house with the instructions that no one is allowed over while they are away.  Of course the boys don't listen and they end up having a party.  (A pretty tame one really, which was nice to see in a movie, that consisted of too much pop, food, and loud music.)  The next day their parents let them know that they are coming home early, so the boys scramble to get the house cleaned up.  They are very proud of the job they have done, until they walk by the bathroom door and realize that one of their friends has written Roderick Rules in permanent marker on the outside of the door.  They rush to the basement, where conveniently there is an extra door stored, and change it out.  Then they realize that while the original bathroom door had a lock on it, the new one in fact does not!

Everything is fine until their dad has to use the bathroom.  He can be heard commenting: "Hey, didn't this door have a lock on it?  Huh, I must be losing my mind.  Oh well."  The boys sigh with relief.  Then their mom uses the bathroom.  She, of course, notices that there is no lock.  She confronts the boys, who try to convince her that there never was a lock, to which she responds: "Don't try to tell me that this door never had a lock on it!  I KNOW it had a lock on it!  Sometimes during the day the only solace I get is from going into this room, locking the door, and tuning all of you OUT!"  (Or something to that affect.)

I can TOTALLY relate to that mom's rant.  There are times during my day when I invent reasons to go to my bathroom and lock the door.  But my kids are too smart.  They will stand outside my door and berate me with questions, or knock on the door because they think it's funny to hear their mom scream at them, I guess.  Well, no more.  We are going back to basics.....Potty Training 101.

The children are no longer allowed in our bedroom, which will also help with tripping over their toys in the middle of the night.  And now when I go to use the bathroom (IE, escape from my children) I not only lock the bathroom door, I also close and lock my bedroom door.  Then I close and lock my bathroom door, turn on the fan and sometimes the water, and relish in the quiet oasis that is now my bathroom.

Strange?  Yes.  Necessary for my sanity?  Absolutely!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Modern-Day Lemonade Stand

Every Tuesday and Thursday our local Michaels craft store has a free kids' craft.  We started going a few weeks ago and the kids just love it.  I love it also, because it combines my three favorite things: craft stores, kids, and getting out of the house!

A couple of weeks ago we were walking up and down the aisles just looking at all the crafting possibilities when the kids spotted something that made me physically cringe.  FACE PAINTS!  Oh the horror!  I could just imagine waking up to find that they had painted the dog, or Lauren's dolls, or even MY face without my knowledge.  And since I have a hard time saying no to my children when they're behaving, I figured that we would be going home with these awful face paints that day.  However, much to my delight and the childrens' sadness, the little box of face paints cost $13!!!  Hahaha....no WAY was I spending that kind of money on something I was going to have to wash out of my carpets!  But being the brilliant mom that I am, I didn't say no.  What I actually said was much more insightful.  It went something like this:

"Well guys, that face paint is very expensive.  It costs $13!  <gasp>  That's just too much money for me to spend today.  But I tell you what.  You guys can save your money until you get $13 and then we'll come back and buy it!"

They totally fell for that little genius idea, so home we went.  And I didn't hear another word about face paints all day.

The next morning I was awakened to Lauren asking me if she and Braden could have a lemonade stand to make their $13.  I explained to her that selling lemonade doesn't usually net such a great profit, so not to expect too much, but that we could set it up after lunch.  The kids were overjoyed and I was equally NOT as thrilled.  But, it's not about me (again), so I sucked it up and we had a lemonade stand.

For about the first 30 minutes or so the kids had NO customers.  That's the downside of living on a quiet street.  Then, one by one the favors I called in started to arrive.  I explained to each of our friends who came for lemonade that the kids were saving up to buy some face paints and that by having this lemonade stand they were learning the value of money.  But after the third friend left our house I had to keep my mouth shut.

It's kind of hard to teach kids the value of a dollar whenever you have very generous friends and neighbors who are over paying for tiny glasses of lemonade!  The kids raked in over $7 in the course of an hour.....better than minimum wage right?  Good grief!  So, now that they were half way to their goal, they started to get really motivated.

The kids spent the next week relieving Jason and I of any change we might have on us and putting it with their lemonade money.  They turned into really good scavengers!  Or maybe it would be more accurate to call them pirates, because most of the money they "found" was taken off of dressers where it was technically just resting overnight.

Yesterday we took their jar of change into the bank to turn it into "real money."  They easily turned their $7 into $61.

Suffice it to say, we had fun painting their faces today. :)  And the rest of the money will be split between the two of them and placed in their savings accounts.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Turtle Soup

Once in awhile, Jason and I like to pretend that we're good parents, and we do something fun with the kids.  This particular Saturday afternoon, Jason had the great idea to take the kids to Little Sioux Park in Correctionville, Iowa for some fishing, canoeing, and roasting hot dogs.  (The funny part of all of this was that when Jason mentioned his plan, all he said was fishing, so I was going to try to get out of going so I could finish reading a book I had started.  Then I walked out into the garage, saw the canoe in the back of the pickup, muttered an expletive to myself, and went back inside to change into some grubby clothes.  I'm so totally Mother of the Year huh!)

Now, I don't know how all of your family outings work, but ours usually end up to be a little bit of fun mixed in with a lot of whining and complaining.  Ah, the memories.

It takes a little over a half hour to get to the park and the kids kept asking the ever-popular, "Are we there yet?" and "When are we gonna get there?" types of questions.  I just LOVE those, don't you?  Then we get there, get the canoe unloaded and they decide they want to fish first.  So we fish.  Then they don't want to fish, they want to canoe.  So we get ready to canoe.  But they whine about Jason taking along his fishing pole because they "just wanna canoe!"  Too bad, Jason takes it anyway.  Then Lauren is screaming every time the fishing pole comes close to her.  And I mean screaming!  (I never should have told her the story about the time that my sister Meghan hooked me in the cheek with her fishing pole when we were little.  She was casting and the hook caught my cheek.  The bad part was she kept tugging at it not knowing it was attached to me....or maybe she did know....hmmmm.)  So Lauren is screaming, I'm yelling at her to knock it off, Jason's trying to explain to her that in all his years of fishing he has never hooked anyone, and Braden is trying to look into the lake, thereby rocking the canoe, and making Lauren (and I) scream more.  <sigh>  Finally Jason says he's just going to keep fishing until she gets used to it.  What a great family outing.  So, we fish and canoe, fish and canoe, fish and canoe.  And we finally start to have a little fun even though we have barely even seen a fish, much less caught one.  Then Braden decides he needs to pee.

We tried to get him to just pee off the canoe (yuck, I know, but we were in the middle of the lake!), but he wouldn't because he didn't want anyone to see his "buttocks."  (Now that he knows that word he likes to say it because he thinks he's getting away with saying 'butt' which is a word we don't allow the kids to say.  It's reserved for us when we need to drive home the point that punishment is near if they don't shape up!)  So, we rowed over to the shore and the kids and I jumped out and ran to the "bathroom."  Jason then proceeded to row back out to the other side of the lake to fish while we were using the facilities.  I remember looking back at him and thinking that he looked so peaceful out there by himself.  Meanwhile I'm stuck in a campground "bathroom" with two kids who are more interested in conversing with each other than getting their business done.

We continued to canoe some more, and even rowed over to the little swimming beach and walked around for awhile.  The kids had fun wading into the lake with Jason while I watched and took pictures from the shore.  Lauren waded right in, but Braden was not a fan of the "goo" that he had to wade through to get to the clear water.  (The "goo" being mostly mossy stuff, but I couldn't blame him considering I was staying ashore too.)  The highlight of the beach area was the little frog we found and played with. . .until it went belly up.  Literally, belly up.  I thought the kids had killed it for sure, so we told Lauren to just put it on the beach and for them to leave it alone.  The stupid little thing should have just continued to play dead, but it started hopping away with my kids hot on its heels.  We finally convinced them to leave the poor thing alone so we could canoe back to our pickup and roast some hot dogs.

While we were waiting for the coals to warm up we fished some more.  Poor Jason, every time we go fishing he feels so bad for the kids because we very rarely catch anything.  Such was the case on this day as well.  So it was a good thing we brought hot dogs along, as we would have definitely starved if we had intended to eat the fish we'd caught.

Our friends Danny and Linn stopped by to chat while we ate our hot dogs, and then we fished some more.  Or rather, we put bait on the fishing poles, cast them out, and let them sit there while we munched and watched the kids chuck rocks into the lake.  Braden is a very impatient fisherman, and always reels in his line only minutes after it's been cast out.  He did a great job of catching plants though!

We finally decided to pack it in, and asked Braden to reel in the fishing lines.  He reeled his in first and got so excited because the line felt heavy, but he'd just caught another plant.  Then he reeled in his sister's and got excited again because the line felt heavy.  We knew that it was just another plant, but why ruin his fun right?  Then we saw the end of his line.  What the heck is that thing??!!  It looked like a bloated fish, or a rock, or something.  Then Jason yells out: "Holy cow Braden!  You caught a TURTLE!"  Sure enough, attached at the end of his line was a good sized painted turtle.  Poor little thing had swallowed the hook, so Jason cut the line, and after admiring him for a bit we let him go.  The kids really enjoyed watching him swim away from us as fast as his little legs could carry him.

That turtle was lucky we'd already eaten. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do Over

I pride myself on being a good listener, and paying close attention to subtle hints about gifts people might want.  But I have decided that I might just be the world's worst gift GIVER.  My intentions are always great, and I know that it's the thought that counts, but for the last couple of years I just can't catch a break on Father's Day.

When we were finishing our basement, Jason kept talking about how it would be nice to have a nail gun.  So, Father's Day rolls around, and even though we had finished the basement I thought I would get him one because he loves to build things and would use it eventually.  So I truck my little female self to Sears and am quite proud of myself for picking out a really nice nail gun that wasn't cheap, but didn't break the bank either.  I was so excited to give it to him.  He opened it and said, "Wow, this would have been nice to have when we were putting up the baseboards in the basement."  I'm just grinning like a Cheshire cat by this time because I think I've done good, right?  And then the other shoe drops, "But, honey, I can't really use this for much now."  So, I go into my little speech about how I know he just loves building things and now he has a nail gun to do it.  Uh, wrong.  The nail gun I bought him was for finishing nails, not for actually building things.  AND it had to run off of an air compressor...something we didn't even own.  Strike #1.

Last year I got it into my head that I was going to buy Jason a canoe for Father's Day.  He always talked about what fun he had canoeing as a small boy, and we enjoyed it together as a young married couple.  So, I went canoe shopping.  I found one I liked that was a lot more money than I had anticipated spending, but hey, he's worth it right?  I had the men at the sporting goods place load it into the pickup for me, drove ever so carefully across town with it, pulled into my driveway and thought, crap, how am I going to unload this thing?  And where do you hide a 10 foot canoe??  So, a neighbor girl helped me unload it and we slid it underneath the deck at the back of our house.  But the stupid thing stuck out a little bit and I just prayed that Jason wouldn't see it before that Sunday.  Of course he did, but he's such a good sport that he didn't say anything.  So now it's Father's Day and the kids and I are so excited to give him his present and spend the day canoeing with him.  We lead him out the back and yell "Surprise!" and he acted like he was surprised.  And then he WAS surprised because the stupid canoe was only rated to seat 3 people....and there are 4 of us.  Strike #2.

This year I had it all figured out.  This year was going to be the year that I get him an awesome gift that he loves and uses all the time.

Our kids started playing Tball this year.  What a hilarious sport that is!  But, they are learning and getting better all the time.  Jason mentioned one day that he would like to have a new baseball mitt, as his is old and not real leather and falling apart.  AHA!  The perfect Father's Day gift.  And one that I actually know something about, being a former All Star fast pitch softball player myself.  So, while I was shopping in Omaha with a good friend, we went into a sporting goods store and with the help of the baseball "guru" there, I picked out a beauty of a glove.  And once again, the kids and I were so excited for him to open it.  He opened it today, and actually LOVED it!  Yes!  I'd finally done it!  I had finally gotten him a gift that he loved and could actually use ON Father's Day!  <sigh>  Not quite.

It has about a 1 and 1/2 inch CUT on the outside of the mitt where the thumb goes.  I bought it right off the rack, and neither the salesman nor I saw it.  And once I got home I stashed it away in the top of our closet.  Crap.  Not to mention it's TOO SMALL!  So frustrating.  So now we have to go back to Omaha to return it, as we don't have that kind of store here.  So much for him using it ON Father's Day to play baseball with his kids.

Next year I'm going to give him a card that reads: Happy Father's Day!  Go buy your own darn gift.  Much love....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reality TV

There are days when I think that my life could be summed up by a 1/2 hour television sitcom (think more like Everybody Loves Raymond than the Brady Bunch).  But then there are other days when I think that my life could make a pretty interesting drama series; although I'm not sure I have the on-the-spot quirkiness to make it work like the mother-daughter relationships present in the Gilmore Girls, and my show would be lacking too much serious medical knowledge to make a show like ER work ("Pass me that Hello Kitty band-aide STAT!").  So, I have decided that what the world needs is a reality show based on my life.  I mean, c'mon, we have a reality show that follows the lives of Mob Wives, one that follows around spoiled rich women, and ones that document the lives and trials of teenagers who get pregnant.  My life is seriously funnier, more dramatic, and more REAL than any of the shows out there right now!  (I'd like to see the percentage of marriages that have lasted at least 10 years since the Bachelor/Bachelorette has been finding "love" for people!)

Here's what I envision my show would look like if cameras had been following me around during a typical summer week, and looped it all together into a one hour show:

  • The show opens with one or the other of my children coming into my room at O-dark-thirty, standing by my bed until either a)I gasp in fright upon realizing that someone is breathing mere inches from my face, or 2) said child smacks me in the face and says, "Mom, are you awake."  At which point I look at the clock, groan, lay back down and say, "No....go watch tv."
  • The camera would then follow my children around as they watch tv,get themselves breakfast, make their mom coffee, and do an art project that involves lots of glue and many different bottles of glitter that they found on the top of the fridge, hidden clear in the back, behind the Easter candy.
  • I finally emerge from my room looking like something out of a horror movie, and finding the mess the children have left for me in the kitchen, I groan, poor myself a cup of coffee (thanking God that my 6 year old knows how to make it), grab the newspaper off the porch, and sit down to fully wake up.
  • By now it is about 7:30.
The rest of the hour would be spent following me and the kids around as we clean, play,clean, play, clean, have lunch, clean some more, run errands, play and clean.  My show would offer practical parenting tips for dealing with breakdowns in the grocery store  (using effective time-outs in the frozen foods section - effective meaning that the child was only asked once if he was lost because his mother was hiding in the next aisle pretending not to know him), siblings smacking each other in the car (I have perfected the Doug Vallis Reach Around Smack that still makes my knee caps hurt to this day!), as well as what to do when your child makes embarrassing exclamations in church ("Mom, did you know that you have BOOBS!?).

My show would also deal with the drama that happens in the lives of "real" people.  Like explaining to your young child what happens when you die, or what heaven is like, or why a 1st grader in their school died even though he's not old like her great grandpa was when he died.  Or that their 30 year old uncle has cancer and what that means for him and for the rest of our family.

The hour-long episode would always end on a happy note with my husband, their father, walking in the door after his long day at work and our kids running to be the first one to hug him.  Then the camera would catch a glimpse of our children's disgusted faces as their mom and dad kiss and hold onto each other.  But deep down in our kids' hearts we know that they are happy knowing that despite all the daily pressures and family heartaches, that we are a family who loves each other and who will stick by each other day in, and day out.  Despite the fact that just minutes earlier one of them was mad at me for not letting them have a snack before supper and told me that they were going to trade me in for a new mom. :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Picture in Time

The afternoon sun was filtering in through the living room window.  I was gazing through it at a lovely scene: my adorable husband mowing the lawn while my darling daughter played on the swingset, and my rough and tumble son played frizbee with Sadie, our golden retriever.  <Insert contented sigh>  "I love my life." I thought.  And then, in a split second, it was gone.

Lauren yelled at Braden for getting in her way, Braden got hurt trying to hurt his sister, and Jason had to stop mowing to stomp over and yell at the kids to play nicely.

And still I sat...gazing out at the scene, this time thinking: "Well....it was nice while it lasted!" <Insert not-so-contented sigh>

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Does This Make Me a Bad Mom?

Have you ever had someone, anyone, give your child something for his/her birthday/Christmas that you just despised?  We're talking, a drum set to the child of a migraine-sufferer.  An easy-bake oven to the child whose mom has a kitchen because it came with the house.  Or an arts and crafts set to the child who lives in a house that doesn't look lived in.

This year in November, my oldest child turned 6.  This was the first year that we invited any friends from school to her birthday party.  I hesitated to invite her school friends.  Not because I don't like them, they are wonderful, but because Lauren goes to the school in which I teach...which is a school that is considered to be in a rough part of town and houses a lot of children whose families can barely afford to put food on the table.  I felt very uncomfortable with the fact that her school friends were going to feel obligated to buy her a gift for her birthday, because, well, that's what you do!  You go to someone's birthday party, you buy them a gift! 

I was very relieved when she started opening her presents to find that the gifts they had gotten her were small, but very thoughtful.  And Lauren was very gracious, remembering to thank everyone and oohing and ahhing over each present.  Then she opened her last gift, which looked harmless enough in a small, brown, gift bag from the sweetest girl in Lauren's class.  As I handed Lauren the gift, I could already smell it: perfume.  Oh the horror!  And worse yet...Lauren LOVED IT!  She immediately wanted to try it out, but I convinced her to wait until we got home, which I thought she'd forget about.  Nope.

The minute we got home, she sprayed some on and I immediately ran for cover.  I couldn't get away from it!  It was in my eyes, in my hair, on my clothes!  And she had only sprayed a tiny, tiny bit on herself because I had cautioned her that it would be strong.  To her dismay I made her go shower to get it off, and to my dismay the shower barely helped.

Which brings me to today.  Since the very first time Lauren tried out her perfume, the bottle has been hidden up high in our bathroom cupboard.  I didn't feel right throwing it away, but my health just couldn't take her actually using it!  Well, today she found it.  I swear to you that I could smell it the minute she sprayed it on...and I was clear out in the kitchen!  Once she and her brother went downstairs to play, I raced to my bathroom, grabbed the bottle of perfume and proceeded to try to pry it open.  My plan was to dump the perfume down the drain and fill the bottle back up with water.  Low, I know, but hey at least she'd still have the bottle!  Well, unfortunately for me, the "lid" thingy is crimped onto the neck of the bottle.  I tried everything to get it off, even using a can opener!  My next thought was to go outside and just keep spraying it until it was all gone. . .but after realizing just how long that would take me, I gave up and stuck the bottle on top of the refrigerator.

Now what?  My sinuses just can't take having this stuff in the house, but my conscience won't let me throw it away.  One thing's for sure. . .Lauren is not going to be allowed to eat supper in the same room as me until she showers with lye soap and a scrub brush!

Does that make me a bad mom? ;)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

I have been told by several people that I should write a book about parenting.  Although some parents may find my insights amusing, I doubt very much that I could give practical advice. After all,  I'm just making this stuff up as I go!  Take what happened today for instance:

We had just gotten home from work/school/babysitter and the kids were at it again...fighting.  Ugh, the fighting!  I've tried reasoning with them: "You guys haven't seen each other all day!  Play nicely!"  I've tried guilting them: "Lauren, he is the ONLY brother you have...be nice to him."  I've tried threats: "If I hear you guys fighting one more time...!"  I've even tried making them "hug it out."  Nothing seems to really work.  So, I've invented a method for dealing with sibling rivalry that I'm sure most psychologists would have a hayday with.

Turn up the music and dance.

And that's what I do.  I walk straight to my kitchen where the radio is, crank that sucker up, and bust a move.  No kidding.  It works wonders!  I'm sure you're thinking, "I'd have to see it to believe it."  Right?  Well, forget it.  I only dance in three instances: 1)with my Kindergarten class, 2)with my own children in the privacy of my own home, 3)in public after a really good night with really good friends.

So what is the reaction that I get when I do this?  Well, usually Braden wanders in and starts jammin' with me.  Lauren is usually mad at me that I have stolen her sparring partner and pouts until the end of the song.  Then, she and Braden go off and play together.  NO LIE.  This just happened in our house, and right now both kids are in my basement playing house, walking around in my shoes. :)  Oh the irony.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Let All the Little Children Come to Me

Okay, first of all, I am NOT comparing myself to Jesus Christ.  He is without sin, and I have done plenty of it!  He also performed a bunch of miracles, and most days it's a miracle if I'm on time to work!  But, this phrase has become a metaphor for every family outing that we take.  Here's just a taste of the magnetism that I have that seems to attract other people's kids.

I took my two kids to Play All Day on Sunday.  (If you've never been there, it is a must!  They have three big bounce houses and a ton of other imaginative play options for the kids to make a mess of.  They play, mess up the place, and you take them home exhausted and happy.  Check it out! http://www.playsiouxland.com )

Play All Day has a bunch of comfy couches and chairs for the adults to sit on and even has free Internet access.  So, I brought my computer and messed around on the Internet for a bit while the kids had fun going from bounce house to bounce house.  When they tired of that, they came to find me and wanted to play some other things.  Lauren went off to play with some girls she'd found, but Braden wanted help setting up and playing the bean bag toss game.  So, I put away my computer and sat on the floor with Braden to play the game.  No sooner did we have it set up, when another child wanted to join us.  Sure!  The more the merrier right?  Then another one, and another one, and still another one came over to join us.  So they were all playing with me being the bean bag retriever and re-setter-upper of the little animals they were tossing at.  I should mention, I was the only parent in this area and no, I do not work there part time.

Braden got tired of that, so we left the other kids to continue playing.  Then we set up the little bowling pins and started bowling.  Same kids came over to play, plus a couple more.  Same scenario, no other parents offering to help re-setup the pins, or to supervise the arguments that always take place when more than one child is playing a game.  By this time Braden was tired of being followed around, and so was I, so he set off to go play in the bounce houses some more and I went to find Lauren.

She was making a get well card for her great grandpa Livgren and was wanting help with it.  Soon, the other little girl at the art center was ALSO asking me for help with HER project!  By this time I'm wondering if I'm giving off some sort of pheromone that only kids are attracted to.  (Well, kids and stray dogs...I'm a sucker for both!)  So, I helped both girls with their work and then finally went to sit down again in my comfy chair.  But alas, Lauren and Braden both found me and wanted me to play house with them.  So off we go.  Along with about 10 followers.  So, we all played house with everyone else's children who were there serving me plate after plate of pretend food, etc.

I have no problem including other people's children in my play time with my own children.  The problem I have is when it is obvious that none of these other parents have any interest whatsoever of engaging their own children in play, or at least checking with me that it's ok for them to play with us!  If you don't enjoy spending time with your children, then why the heck did you have them anyway!?  Do I just LOVE playing pretend?  Nope...I actually despise it....like tremendously.  Do I LOVE being the gopher and running after bean bags and stray bowling balls?  No...but I do it because it brings a smile to my child's face.

My challenge to all of you parents out there is this:  The next time you take your kids to a place where they have the freedom to fun free and play, and you have the opportunity to just sit back and watch, (or text, or chat on the phone, or check your email) DON'T!  Get up off your butt, turn off your phone, and PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS!  And give the moms like me a stinkin' break!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


As parents we try to raise our children to make good choices in their lives.  When they are young we let them choose between silly things to give them a sense of having some control over their lives.  For example, "Do you want to wear the red shirt, or the blue shirt?"  "Would you like to brush your teeth first or read stories first?"  As they get a bit older, we let them make a few more choices, such as what clothes they want to wear to school.  Their choices sometimes embarrass us, like when Lauren decides to wear a red and white striped shirt that's too small for her, purple sweatpants, green socks, and her pink and white shoes. . .but we smile, tell her she looks awesome, and away to school we go.  Hey, she's dressed and I'm on time for work...it doesn't get much better than that!

But there are just some choices that we can't afford to let them make....that's why we are the parents and they are the children.  We know what's best for them, and until they are old enough to make good choices on their own, it's up to us to do it for them.  If I allowed my children to decide what they ate for every meal, they would weigh 100 pounds and their teeth would be falling out of their heads....hmm...well, at a faster rate than is normal for 6 year olds anyway.  They would sit in front of the TV when it is beautiful out and their bikes would look like they've never been ridden.  They would never bathe and would be known as the stinky kids on our block.  Braden would never enroll in school and would reek havoc on this world moreso than he is going to just because he is Braden.

I am a teacher in a very successful Dual Language Program.  Our students are learning to read, write, and speak in English and in Spanish starting at the very early age of 5.  I am very proud to be a part of this program, and prouder still to be a parent of a student in this program.  I did not give Lauren a choice of which preschools to attend, which elementary school she would attend, or whether or not to take part in the Dual Language Program.  As her mother, and now her teacher, I know that the choices I have made for her will give her a better chance to make something great of her life. Which is why my jaw dropped yesterday when speaking with another parent about my program during our kindergarten registration.

I had explained to her what the program's goals are, how her daughter's day would be spent, and how much success we have had.  She then turns to her 5 year old and says, "What do you think honey, do you want to learn Spanish?"  To which the little "angel" replies, no, with a shake of her head.  So her mom says, "Well, she's very opinionated, so if she doesn't want to, I think we'll pass."  Uhhhh....seriously?  Like....really?  I mean...you're kidding right?  You are going to let a FIVE YEAR OLD make THAT kind of a decision?  Wow.  I must be behind the times.  I guess I should give in to my 4 year old, withdraw him from preschool for next year, and let Lauren chew gum every minute of every day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes...or 3 Year Olds

One thing that I can say with 100% certainty, is that I am NOT a good housekeeper.  I am an excellent teacher, a great wife, a good mom, and a great friend to have.  I will come to your house and clean it so well that it shines. . .but please do not come to my house unannounced!  You will walk into a mess 9 times out of 10.

And it's not always my kids' things that are all over the place either.  Jason and I are just as guilty of leaving our things around.  At any given time you could walk into a living room with a pile of unfolded laundry...including our unmentionables....just hanging out on my chair.  Like now, for instance.  You would also find dirty dishes in the sink, most likely because the dishes in the dishwasher are clean and neither Jason nor I have won the battle over who is going to unload them yet.  And I can guarantee you that my bed will not be made...that is what they make bedroom doors for!

However, there are times when I get a wild hair, you know where, and I decide to clean.  And I mean clean.  Not just your weekly disinfecting of the bathrooms, oh no, I mean the kind where you drag everything out into the middle of the room, throw stuff away, and only put back what you really, really, really need.  This is a rarity at our house, but it does happen.  Usually when I'm in one of my cleaning moods, the kids will ask: "Who's coming to visit?"  You might think that's funny, but there is a lot of truth to that statement.  Usually my house only looks really nice when someone is coming to stay with us for a few days.

Well, with yesterday being a snow day, I had it in my head that I was going to get some long-needed cleaning done.  I took down all of the Christmas decorations and got them put away.  I did all of the "weekly" stuff that hadn't been done in, well, awhile.  And then I took after the kitchen.  I organized my pantry, and as I was passing by the fridge I decided to clean it as well.

I am a lot like my mom when it comes to my refrigerator.  You can figure out my whole life just by perusing the photos on the front and sides of my fridge.  I don't ever take anything down, I just add new stuff.  So, you really can't even tell what color the fridge is!  Well, yesterday I removed all of the photos and other memorabilia and scrubbed the fridge until it shone.  I thought it looked quite nice, and had decided not to put everything back on it.  When I called the kids up for supper, Braden took one look at the fridge and said, "Wow Mom!  I LOVE your new fridge!" LOL!  He didn't believe me that it was the same one until he opened it up and realized that the inside was still as frightful as it always is. :)

Remember...call before you come. :)