Fear Is Most Definitely A Factor

Wheee!

I really REALLY wish someone could do this to me. And while I’m sure roller coasters pass along that same thrill? They scare the shit out of me. I guess the truth is that I want to be a little girl again, being spun around by someone I trust. Because no roller coaster mimics THAT thrill.

When I was little, every year we went to Opryland with our extended family for a reunion. When I was finally tall enough to ride the Cannonball, the coaster that spun you UPSIDE-DOWN (we were easy to impress back then), I could not get enough of it. I would do it with my hands in the air and would do it proudly.

The daycare I went to ever summer took us to Dollywood once a week. I rode the – not quite as scary – roller coasters there as often as possible.

When I was old enough to end up at Six Flags for various youth functions? SCARY. CRAZY. COASTERS. All I wanted. Water parks? Water slides? YAWN.

Then…fast-forward several years. I ended up staying with E and Donnie at the Circus Circus in Vegas. We were going to ride the coasters there and I found out the hard way: I was suddenly too scared. I mean, I rode the small ones they had, but I did NOT enjoy them. It wasn’t like the thrill of yesteryear – it was pure panic. And it was not fun. We went to a water park a few days later and I couldn’t even make it up the stairs to the slides before I backed down. When we went to Disneyworld last year I rode the Rocking Roller Coaster, just because I promised Donnie I would since I had done it before. And then he convinced me to ride Space Mountain. That was all I would do and I hated both of them. Do you know who rode Tower of Terror? NIKKI. And she was FOUR. Did I? HELL TO THE BIG FAT NO.

What about you? Are you scared of roller coasters? Have you always been? Would you like to go hang out with me and eat pretzels if our family ever goes back to Disney World? It gets a little lonely being the only wuss in the family.

Cutting It Close, As Usual.

Eggs!

Donnie and I are leaving tomorrow for a weekend getaway to our old college town about an hour and a half away. Not an exciting trip, but a small getaway alone. Which we’ve never done except to visit family. We’ve never EVER gone anywhere alone for more than one night. And this weekend? WE GET TWO NIGHTS! This was something we had planned awhile back as a post-Beauty and the Beast treat. Unfortunately, schedules as they are, this was the only weekend we could go. Easter weekend.

So…I found myself with basically two nights available and we still hadn’t dyed eggs. EEK. I usually put it off until the Saturday before Easter anyway, since it’s not my favorite activity in the world. But it hit me yesterday, that I didn’t have that Saturday this year. I had also forgotten to do Easter Basket stuff until yesterday…and I go through the same process every year: WHAT DO I PUT IN THE BASKETS?

I’m not a big fan of giving loads of candy to the kids. Partly because it’s not good for them, partly because I know in the end I’ll eat it. However, I’m also not a big fan of depriving a child of treats entirely on special occasions. I opted for a few candy options, including a chocolate bunny since Wes has been oddly excited about the prospect of getting a chocolate bunny in his basket. Then a few other things that can hopefully be spread out enough that no one person carries all of the weight of the sugar high or calories. And then I went for the basic spring necessities: sidewalk chalk, bubbles, sunglasses AND I used the excuse to buy the movie Rapunzel since I love it so much.

(Do you do that? Use your kids’ birthdays or holidays as an excuse to buy things YOU want? Just me then? Okay.)

What do you put in your kid’s baskets?

Eggs!

Daily Dose Of The Giggles.

Lovin' the See-Saw

I’ve been trying to force silly time on myself and my kids lately. Tossing balloons around the kitchen. Pretending to shoot aliens with goo-guns at the playground. Making goofy faces in the mirror. I have been trying to consciously add moments here and there that make us all smile and laugh.

I’ve been doing this because I find myself lately just getting by. I give the kids crayons while I fold clothes. I put on an episode of Dora while I vacuum. They have to stay next to me at the grocery story while I shop. Even at the park they’re playing, I’m watching. I’m simply finding ways to keep them behaved while I complete my list of tasks for the day. Me doing a chore. Them distracted. That’s my default formula for every day.

This is really lame. It hit me a bit last week – which is when I just spontaneously threw in some interactive silly. We did pedicures. I found myself looking back on the several days prior and didn’t really see any moments where we had done anything fun and interactive. We hadn’t even watched TV together. It was all about them being occupied while I accomplished some mundane task. This recipe will keep us going and keep us sane but you know what it’s severely lacking? JOY.

So we filled up the tub, soaked our feet (There may have been an injury at that moment when someone slipped in the tub, but let’s not focus on the negative.), towel tried, clipped nails, rubbed (Tickled!) lotion on our feet, and then we all got a fresh coat of nail polish. Nikki, Wes and I just doing a silly salon on my bathroom floor.

And it was great.

I have since tried to at least find five minutes here and there in the day to do something interactive and joyful with the kids. We stop what we’re doing for a crazy dance break. We do a few rounds of airplane. (Kids on the feet, feet in the air.) We wear t-shirts on our heads and try to act normal and not laugh. Which is completely impossible, if you’re wondering. We do something that makes us laugh…together. Not just things that keep us all sane, behaved, and alive. Because while those are the basic goals of any parent, I truly feel that when I let days pass in those gears only? I start to feel worn out. Defeated. Lost.

But if I find time in the evening to get my giggle on with my kids? (Teenagers included, E was a very enthusiastic participant in the balloon tossing events last evening.) Then I go to bed feeling much better about myself as a parent. And as a person. Because every needs a daily dose of laughter, even if you don’t have kids. But if you have kids? Their laughter is infectious and you find that 5 minutes of silly time can cure hours of anxiety that the typical day can bring a family. Seriously. Jump up on the kitchen counter and do a silly dance when your kids are least expecting it. The hysterics that ensue will destroy any dark clouds that have formed during your day.

Trust me. I’m a Silly Dancing Professional.

Keeping Family Dinner A Part Of Game Nights

Siblings

You know what is one consistent way to describe any night involving a child’s sporting event? SCHEDULING NIGHTMARE. Evening activities associated with extra-curriculars for kids are scheduling nightmares…FOR EVERYONE. I’ve had no job keeping me during the day, I’ve had a job keeping me for longer hours during the day, and no situation makes these afternoon/evening scheduling challenges any easier. I’m sorry if you were hoping otherwise.

Because here’s how it works…practice, rehearsals, meetings…they are all scheduled after 5pm to accommodate most business schedules. You know what else most families schedule at that time most days? DINNER. So…every family faces the same struggles…how do you manage to feed your family and get them to every activity they are supposed to be attending? The easy answer? Everyone eats out after the event. But if you want to cook for your family and if you can’t afford to eat out that often? Then you are like us…trying to feed your family in the available window of time that is small and late. Here are some of the tips that help me:

  • Try For Maximum Attendance – If you have more than one kid doing more than one activity, you can’t feed everyone at the same time. Don’t give up if this is the case! Try to find the point of time when you can feed the MOST people and aim for that.
  • Remember That Reheated Meals Still Count – I had dinner ready by 5pm yesterday, but only E ate it. I made plates for the rest of us and foiled them for after the game.
  • Crockpot Recipes Are Good Staples – If you know exactly when you’ll be home to eat and you know a recipe that cooks the right amount of time, take advantage of it. Sometimes it’s hard if you work all day too, because most recipes don’t need to cook from 7am to 7pm, but if you can come home at lunch to put something on, you’re golden.
  • Crockpot Recipes Are Not Your Only Option – For awhile, I thought I could only handle crockpot recipes on game nights. But you know? The roasted vegetables and pan-fried steaks last night only took 30 minutes to cook, which I scheduled just fine. And it gave us something different as we sometimes get bored with the crockpot menu.
  • It’s Okay To Skip Baths, Or Go To Bed Later – These things were very hard for me to handle with sporting seasons. We get home late, we go to bed late, sometimes we skip baths: THIS IS OKAY. If you are trying to handle extra-curriculars and feed your family without relying on a drive-thru? You Are Awesome. It’s okay if you trade-off baths or an accurate bedtime for a home-cooked meal and your family eating at the table. You can’t do it all…it’s mathematically impossible without some sort of ability to manipulate time. THIS IS OKAY. Your family ate a good meal cooked by someone they love, you get MAJOR parenting points for that and it completely makes up for stinky feet or sluggish mornings.
  • Cooking Can Be Family Time – I used to think “cooking” meant that I had to sacrifice time with my kids which is rare on weeknight as it is. But it turns out? My kids like to help me cook. And there is tons of stuff they can help with, they put veggies in pans, shake seasonings on dishes and stir pots. And they LIKE to help, which means cooking becomes something you are doing for your family that night…and for their future families as they will become comfortable in the kitchen at an early age.

To Nag, Or Not To Nag

Swing

How many times a day do you gripe at your kids? Because there are some days that I feel like that if you divide the words that come out of my mouth into two categories (1) Gripe/Nap/Punish (2) Everything Else – then there will be a heavier balance on the unpleasant side. It’s a constant stream of Don’t climb on the furniture! Don’t lick your sister! When do you obey? Do you want to go to timeout? Put on your shoes! Where are your shoes? Why is there green marker on your forehead?

This weekend I got to thinking, am I in a rut? Have I been parenting so long that I’ve forgotten how to do anything other than Nag/Gripe/Threaten/Punish? Sometimes I think that’s my default setting. And that maybe, at least half of those words could be delivered in a less nagging way. Maybe even not at all. That I fall to that mode because it’s easy, but maybe it’s not the best for my kids. For my family.

What about you? Do you feel like you fall into that nagging/griping mode too easily? Is it your comfort zone? Have you ever thought about consciously trying not to fall into that mode? Because I would like to. I would like to analyze my words for a bit before they leave my mouth. Is that nagging tone (because, as much as I hate to admit I have one: I HAVE ONE) entirely necessary? When I’m nagging, “WHY ARE YOU STILL ONLY WEARING ONE SHOE?” (Please tell me my kids aren’t the only ones with shoe issues.) I could just politely, and kindly say, “Wes, my dear son, do you mind please finding your other shoe so we can go get groceries? Mommy is going to lose her mind if she turns around and sees you still without both your shoes on! Thanks, sweetie-pie!”

I mean…that just seems so much more pleasant, don’t you think? And maybe just save the nagging tone for when I really need to use it. Like the 21st time I ask my children to clean up their crayons. You know, when there are NO OTHER OPTIONS. Because, let’s face it, sweet and pleasant is often about as effective as SILENCE with children.

Have you ever thought about trying a Day Without Nagging? Or is it not even worth trying? Are your children as resistant as mine to a normal tone of voice. I often think that even if I was saying, “Please put your shoes on because there are aliens downstairs waiting to eat any child without two shoes on,” they would still be wandering around shoeless until the aliens chomped them down to the ankles. Whereas if I switch to Mom/Nag/Gripe tone there MIGHT be a chance they actually avoid alien digestion. MIGHT.

Of course, that would mean I would have to re-set my default. I’m not entirely sure I could even catch myself before I started nagging. I do it so often that I am not sure my brain knows how to process language without running it through the NAG FILTER. I guess we’ll see, won’t we? 1) Can I even function without my setting on Perpetual Nag and if I can 2) Will my kids even hear it?