Category Archives: Parenting

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“Will This Make My Life Easier RIGHT NOW?”

Wes is 6 years old and I often still carry him around. Mostly on my back, because he is 6, but still…I often provide him assistance in transportation and I’m pretty certain the rest of the world stops doing that for their kids around age 3 or 4.

I do this for several reasons.

1) He is whiny
2) He is slow

In my world, any parenting decision that makes the single moment before me easier, is a good decision. I sometimes look at the big picture or the long-term ramifications of my actions. But most of the time – when it comes to parenting – I’m thinking, “Will this make it easier? Then yes. Let’s do it.” So, if I’m in a hurry and he doesn’t want to walk? I carry him. Does this perpetuate his inability to walk on his own for short distances? Yes. But in THAT moment it makes my life easier and for parenting? That’s how I make decisions. Which is why I’m totally going to write a parenting book. Because I’m obviously THE BEST.

But…THIS technique is why my kids don’t really own any of the devices their friends own – like iPads or iPhone Touches.

Well, this reason and the fact that if I had 300-500 dollars to spend on something extra it would not be for THEM, it would be for ME – but still.

We don’t have screens like that in the house for them to play with. Why? Because I would stick it in front of their face ALL OF THE TIME. I don’t have a problem with screens, in moderation, but I would not moderate it. I would be annoyed with them and would basically MAKE them play it all the time. Just to make things easier. And yes, there are “good” games but those don’t usually make things easier. TEMPLE RUN MAKES THINGS EASIER.

photo (2)I remembered that this weekend when the kids were fighting over the Kindle because I put Temple Run on my phone and BAM! SILENCE. They could both play Temple Run on their own devices. And I finally got some peace and quiet.

But because we don’t typically have separate screens for them to play with (THANK GOD) we are “forced” to find “easier” solutions that are a little better for their brains. Lately – that has been card-playing. When we go to dinner the EASY decision would be to let them take devices so we could enjoy a quiet meal with adult conversation. But since they don’t have devices to take, they take cards.

Now..the PROPER parenting technique would probably be to try to teach them how to behave at meals in restaurants with just us. You know, conversations or whatever, but that is DIFFICULT and my parenting style relies on EASY.

So, we will put off that kind of purchase for as long as possible because it is a crutch I know I would use often and poorly. I recognize my own limits as a Mother and my need to constantly make things EASY no matter what long-term lessons it might teach? Means that I’d not be good at managing screen use WHATSOEVER.

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2014-08-10 12.04.52

“You’re Not Helping.”

So. My kids learned how to swim this summer. They both can do freestyle laps with me. Wesley is good for 25-50 yards without stopping, he gets worn out because he hasn’t perfected side breathing yet. Nikki can do more because she can side-breathe pretty easily, and she won’t stop, she’ll just catch her breath on her back. They can both swim on their backs indefinitely if there’s something containing them.

SO! I called our YMCA about something I heard of that was like swim team, in that it was lane work and stroke work, but no races/competitions. It’s basically the next step up from the lessons they’ve taken. The only requirement? They needed to be able to swim the length of the pool on the front, and on their back. EASY! No problem! I got this information on the phone and from reading the paperwork they gave me. There was a new session that started last night.

It should be noted that the lower level swim classes that both kids have done are in 4-week sessions too, the first class of the session welcomes a whole lot of newbies with some veterans that go to several sessions. Therefore, I logically was expecting the same this time around. No one indicated otherwise in my phone calls asking about the class.

Well, things started off bad because there was some confusion and the coach that was supposed to teach the Monday class wasn’t coming so the Friday coach was going to rush over after work but he’d be late so both age groups would have to go at one time. (Wes and Nikki were in separate age groups.)

That created confusion and tension in everyone, especially me.

When the coach got there, he called everyone over to the big pool and it was obvious IMMEDIATELY that he knew the entire group. He was pinpointing people out of the other pools to pull them over. There was no “introduction” like there is at the other classes. I wasn’t sure if this was because he doesn’t normally coach that class, or if it was because my assumption of this being like the other session was wrong. Basically he gathered both groups by the pool and divided them up by age into 3 lanes. And then he said, “Do the warm up you know! 100 freestyle, 50 kicks, 50 back stroke! Go!”

And I panicked because it was VERY obvious this was NOT going to be like the other swim classes. There was no “teaching” of strokes, because all of these kids knew them. My two kids were the ONLY new kids in the session. Now, did they teach strokes the last four week session? I guess? Maybe? I have no idea. All I know is my kids did not know what that warm up was. He went to talk to the little kids but Nikki was panicking, I told her to do the freestyle first because I knew she knew that. Then the coach had to go to do something else (he wouldn’t normally have both groups at once and he wasn’t supposed to be coaching so he was flustered too) and neither of my kids understood the “50 of kicking” or “50 of backstroke” – luckily another Mom helped me a little when I said, “My kids have no idea what’s going on.”

But it was just chaos. Wes started crying because he had never swam that much without a break and he didn’t know he could take brakes. I was trying to calm him down to tell him he could take brakes. And then Nikki was crying because she had no idea what to do and was just freaking out. The coach was trying to help but there were TWO classes in one and it was just chaos. They kept crying to me and I kept trying to help but I don’t know what I’m doing either. I felt like I might be interfering because sometimes the coach was there but other times he wasn’t and I didn’t want my kids slowing the group down so I thought helping if I could would be good.

Donnie, who had come over after talking to a friend told me, “You’re not helping. They need to listen to the coach and go to him with the questions, not you. They keep coming to you because they see you here.”

In my defense, there were too many kids for the coach to help my new ones every 5 seconds, but really – Donnie was right.

So I left. I went to the side of the pool where they wouldn’t see me in their sightline, but where I could still watch. And I watched them cry the entire time. And I cried. By the side of the pool surrounded by tons of grownups. I cried like an idiot. It was so hard. I don’t know if me being gone helped, but at least they weren’t getting worse and I felt like they were downward spiraling before. Nikki was talking to the coach, maybe too much, for reassurance and guidance. Wesley was just panicking because he was exhausted and tired and trying his best (he was actually doing pretty good) but also felt like he couldn’t breathe because he was tired. He wanted love and I couldn’t give it to him.

Nikki was just in full-blown meltdown mode. She was scared. She was confused. She felt really alone and she finally found me and just kept looking at me and shaking her head like, “Don’t make me do this.” But I knew she COULD do it so I just kept drawing hearts in the air and giving her thumbs up to show her I was watching and I loved her. She didn’t want to jump on the start/diving board thing. I did talk to her there and convinced her to try (the coach told her she could just quit since that was the last thing they were doing) because a) I wanted our money’s worth – I’m nothing if not frugal and b) I didn’t want her to give up. She never jumped off the board but she jumped off the side and did the drill with the girls.

That was the other thing – no one was talking to her because she was the new one. And several were annoyed with her being there. That’s what made me cry the most. Seeing her feel so alone and lost and seeing other MUCH OLDER girls whisper behind her back and exasperatingly roll their eyes or slouch their shoulders like, “Is she EVER going to finish?” And I just sat there crying like a baby, and I’m sure I looked INSANE. None of those parents will probably ever talk to me because I’m the weirdo crying lady.

I did end up knowing one Mom and she was kind and talked to me and re-introduced her daughter to mine (they knew each other back in the day) but that was during the diving/start board thing and my daughter was too far into FULL MELTDOWN mode for it to do any good.

It was awful. Awful.

Donnie was right. I wasn’t helping at all. But – in my defense – my kids needed help. I had NO idea they were going to be so lost. If I had known the sessions built on each other unlike the other classes, I would have tried to sign them up the last session. The only reason why I didn’t was I didn’t want school starting, soccer staring, and swim starting all the same month. I wanted to ease them into school/soccer before swim. Now I just want to kick myself.

So, I’m not going to take ALL of the blame. It was a bad situation at the start. The classes were not what I was told or what the paperwork explained. There were too many kids and an emergency coach that wasn’t expecting to have to be there. But then – I did not help. And that was the toughest part because my kids were upset and I WANTED to help SO BAD. But I was making it worse so I had to hide in the corner and sob while they did their thing.

AWFUL.

I’ve sent a message to someone I’ve seen do individual coaching at the Y to see if she has time for a quick session with the kids this week. They need just a base understanding of terminology. The kids in the class weren’t all great swimmers, it’s not like my kids need to be champs on day one. But they don’t know the terminology. They don’t know the lingo. They basically just need to know what they mean when they say, “Do 50 of kicks!” I didn’t even know they needed a kickboard for that part. I just said, “Maybe you just kick across the pool? I don’t know.”

So maybe someone can help this week. I’m crossing my fingers. Here’s to hoping we can all keep our shit together during Friday’s session.

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Guilt Issues.

First: Thank you so much for easing my mind on yesterday’s entry. My follow-up question for some of you (because so many people suggested finding a good realtor) how do you shop around for realtors? Like…do they look at your house, give you an opinion/plan and then you decide? I’m not sure what they do before you sign the contract, so I’m curious how to get the best idea of their process/skill before deciding.

And Now! For Today’s Entry! Where I play the “They Just Don’t Know How Much I Do!” overworked Mom card!

But seriously. They Just Don’t Know How Much I Do.

This entry is basically the periodic entry I have to write telling ALL OF THE SHIT I DO because no one who lives in my house notices and therefore doesn’t give me the praise I (probably shouldn’t) need so I tell YOU guys what I do just to document it somewhere to make me feel better about the few things I don’t do and then, of course, hate myself for.

(It’s a formulaic entry around here. If you’ve been here awhile you’ve seen this entry in other variations.)

You know my husband is training for an Ironman, right? I’ve mentioned that 100 million times? Well, about a month ago as his new job schedule solidified and his training amped up, we shifted to Kim Does All Of The Cooking (he likes to cook, and used to cook 3 times a week) which is FINE. As long as he doesn’t mind what I cook, right? He doesn’t even mind me cooking Vegan meals. I’ve offered to add in a chicken breast for him but he says, “Nope. I get plenty of protein in my shakes and my lunches.” So! For a month now I’m doing all the cooking.

But I’m also doing all of the post-cooking clean-up. We used to balance things by making the Clean Up person be different from the Cooking Person. But, his training is at like the 15 hours a week mark, so his hours are few and his rest is important…SO! I cook AND I clean. And I shop. And I do laundry. And I mow the grass (he hasn’t had to mow the grass all summer). And I weed the flowerbeds (sometimes). And I take the kids to/from school. And to/from doctor’s appointments. And I volunteer at the kid’s school. And I take them to/from all soccer games and practices. And I do homework with them. And I pack their healthy/no waste lunches.

I DO IT ALL.

And I work full-time.

Well, now is the time where his training starts to taper a bit (he has a half-ironman tomorrow, his full ironman is 9/28) and mine picks up. I have a marathon in October and it just keeps going from there. SO! Today I get to run early. Nothing too long, maybe 15 miles, but still, it means I can’t help with the soccer games. Which is how it works during my training. My training overlaps with soccer season so I do all of the weekly games/practices and Donnie takes the Saturday ones. This is the first Saturday game of the year, so I was worried about their routine. He has to drop Nikki off at her coach’s house on the way to take Wes to his game. (Their games are at the same time, two different parks.) SO! I made sure to get the kids to set out their stuff last night to MAKE SURE there would be no last-minute panic attacks when Donnie can’t find something.

But of COURSE, I feel guilty because I’m not going to be at those games. I went to both games this week and I’ve been at every practice. But I feel bad I won’t be at these games.

Why do I do that to myself? Did I not just write that exhausting paragraph earlier outlining all that I do for this family? Why do I feel bad about this ONE THING. I take Saturday mornings (and Sunday mornings as the season progresses) to do MY thing and the rest of the week I work around their schedule and do everything for the family and still…still…I feel bad about it. Donnie comes home from work/working out and plays video games to unwind while I cook/clean/help with homework/hang with the kids etc and he feels NO GUILT WHATSOEVER. I’m loudly getting the kids ready for bed, doing dishes, putting up laundry and he’s just zoned out on the games. He feels NOTHING. And me, one Saturday game missed and I feel like the WORST IN THE WORLD.

BAH. I want to be a little more like Donnie.

(And it wouldn’t hurt things for him to be a little more like me.)

Thanks for letting me vent. I’m going to proceed with my long run/self hate session! Wheee!

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Sibling Bond…When Does It Happen?

My brother and I are as close as adults as two siblings who live on opposite sides of the country can be. We don’t speak often, but when we do it always revives my spirit because A) He’s funny as hell and always makes me laugh and B) He just gets me. I feel like I can just barely explain something that’s bugging me and he’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from. A lot of it relates to use suffering the same great loss and having the same hole in our hearts from that. But a lot of it is just having the same upbringing and baseline experiences to relate to. I don’t know many other people who grew up without central heat or a/c. Therefore, not everyone has the same memories of fighting over who gets the next turn on the coil heater after playing in the snow.

(It didn’t matter who got the next turn because you could only last a few minutes as those things were HOT AS SHIT.)

My two kids are the EXACT age difference/gender as my brother and I. Nikki is older by 2.5 years. Same as us. The only difference is that my brother and I’s birthdays fell so I was a Senior when he was a Freshmen, whereas Nikki and Wes will be a grade closer in school. But still…SAME AGE…OLDER SISTER…YOUNGER BROTHER…I was really banking on an awesome sibling relationship.

And y’all? I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

Granted – I don’t remember a lot of the early years with my brother, but I swear we weren’t as evil to each other as my kids are. I did NOT like seeing my brother getting in trouble but I think my kids THRIVE on it. I helped my brother avoid getting in trouble when I could whereas my kids tattle at the smallest infraction.

I’m hoping this is just them…NOW…and that them…LATER will be much more loving. My brother and I also had some unique situations growing up that made us have to be friends: Like going to daycares after school as the only weirdo kids from the Catholic school. Or going to spend every other weekend at Moms. You just learn to enjoy each other’s company when that’s all you have. My kids often have plenty of choices of kids to play with so they don’t have to like each other if they don’t want. And some days? THE HATE EACH OTHER. I mean…I’ve seen them lose their temper with each other in EPIC ways lately, and I hate that because I want them to be able to lean on each other some day.

So! Reassure me! Tell me you used to beat the shit out of your sibling as a child, but that you’re totally BFFs now! Or tell me how much you hated them when you were younger but love them now! (Do not tell me the other side of the story, that’s the side I’m worried about. Let’s pretend everyone grows up to love their sibling more than they did as a child, okay?)

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I’m Giggling About Farts, People. This is Serious Stuff.

Wes woke up with foot cramps again tonight so I used the excuse to finally get up for the day myself as I’m dealing with some weird nerve/pain issue in my head/neck.

(This is the part where I pretend I’ve been writing consistently for the last two weeks and opt NOT to make excuses as to why I haven’t been.)

Do you get those weird nerve pain things? Where there’s like some sort of weird throbbing surface pain on under the skin of your head? (I’m pointing to the spot right now as I’m proof-reading this. Because you can totally see me. I’ve lost my mind.) It’s not a headache, it’s too close to the surface for that, but it’s as irritating? I tend to associate it with stress. And this settling-back-into-school thing has been stressing me RIGHT THE HELL out. So, long story short? It’s my kid’s fault. As always. Damn kids.

SPEAKING OF KIDS! (I am typing with my head crooked to the side in an awkward angle to try to keep the throbbing to a minimum.)

We’re attacking lunches quite differently this year and I’m certain it will make you hate me because – until this year – I hated any parent who indicated they did something with lunch other than throw a bunch of highly-processed pre-packaged shit in a bag. Because that’s what I did for, well, the last 14 years? I waited to see what lunch box items were on BOGO at Publix each week and stocked up and spent 3 minutes packing lunches every morning by throwing several individually wrapped packages of carbs and preservatives into the lunch box. It worked for me. And if it works for you? PLEASE KEEP DOING IT! I am not judging you! I am, however, going to use the rest of this blog entry to brag about my own lunches because, if I’m putting 15 minutes into them instead of 3? I GET TO BRAG ABOUT THEM. THAT’S IN THE BRAGGING HANDBOOK.

(Just like if I run more than 1 mile I get to brag about it on Facebook. BRAGGING HANDBOOK. Get it, people. You may be missing your chance to toot your own horn!)

(I can’t say “toot” without thinking of farting. So, now I’m sitting at my desk with my neck crooked giggling about farting at 2:15am. I am the picture of sanity, people.)

OUR LUNCHES!

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I mentioned before that one of the positive side effects of my Great Vegan Experiment is that I’m feel much less guilt about the food I eat. I didn’t realize I carried a lot of that guilt around before, but I guess I did! And just thinking about packing the kids lunches had me feeling the same guilt rushing back. I decided to experiment a bit with healthier options and while I was doing that, I started looking into storage containers since healthy options aren’t usually pre-packaged. As I was doing this the first week or so of school, and talking to another Mom about it, I realized I was also eliminating a whole CRAP LOAD of trash that we used to create from our lunch boxes. So, that became my main mission. MINIMAL WASTE. Because, it turns out? If you force yourself to make a lunch with minimal waste? They just end up being a bit less processed.

This entire week – the only piece of trash that has come from the kid’s lunch boxes has been from the applesauce pouches. And I’m on the fence about even getting rid of those. I’m going to try to recreate the stuff with regular applesauce, but he loves the mixed flavors and while I’m okay putting stuff in reusable containers, I’m not okay with making applesauce from scratch. I DO HAVE STANDARDS, PEOPLE.

(But if I did make applesauce from scratch, I could brag about it. AMIRITE?)

Wesley does get “homemade” fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt because I put frozen blueberries under the vanilla yogurt I buy in the big containers. Nikki likes the vanilla yogurt by itself. We do Veggie Straws for the chips/cracker item as they’re better than chips or crackers. (They’re not “health food” but they’re also not “junk food” either – so we call it a win!) Nikki has decided she loves pistachios and they both have been getting fresh fruit of some sort. Some days Wes gets olives, most days he gets cottage cheese. They’re not vegan lunches, but they’re minimally process compared to the bags of crap they got last year. And Nikki considers it quite a spectacle that when the teacher says, “Throw your trash away!” she gets to stay put and gloats about how green she is.

(BRAGGING HANDBOOK, people. GET IT.)

Like I always say, I do a lot of shit as a Mother I’m not proud of. I’ve been yelling more these last three weeks since school started than I did all summer. I’m not handling the transition well in many ways but DAMMIT IF MY LUNCHES AREN’T AWESOME. So, I’m going to hold on to that strand of success and keep from falling into the downward spiral of, “OH MY GOD I AM THE TOTAL WORST IN THE WORLD” that I seem to trip onto some most days.

P.S. I’m starting a 27 1/2 day challenge (30 day challenges are so boring!) – I have to write a blog entry every day for the next 27 1/2 days. I’m doing this as an apology to my friend of 19 years (WTF? WE ARE SO OLD!) Betsy who very subtly guilted me yesterday about not blogging regularly. Sorry for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been hanging on by that one thread and it’s hard to type with one hand. To apologize, here’s a picture of E and I from this week. He popped into town for 45 minutes before heading off to see One Direction with his friends and this is the selfie we took. He applied the B&W filter before putting it on instagram and I like it way better than the original because it hides the halo of frizz I was wearing that day.

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See you tomorrow! Blogging on a Saturday! It’s the new black!

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