Category Archives: Parenting

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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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Wrong Foot, Indeed.

I misread the orientation cards for my kids and thought Wesley’s was at 5pm last night and Nikki’s was at 5:30pm. Once I realized what I had done I tried to find help but it was 5pm and that’s a little bit late to get anyone to come save you from that kind of error.

So, I sat down the kids and told them I would spend a little bit of time with Wes’s teacher because I know who she is and Nikki was in First Grade two years ago so there’s probably not too much that has changed. Then, we would go to Third Grade where Nikki had the new teacher and this was a new year.

And of course, Wes started sobbing.

I was pretty close to sobbing too.

TL;DR – Everything worked out fine. No one is permanently scarred.

photo (4)HOWEVER, in years past the orientation has been a little more detailed. Teachers had “formal” type presentations where they discussed everything from schedules to technology to homework. That’s what we were all expecting. So, to have to miss some of that by walking out early stressed out Wes and upset him terribly. Nikki didn’t feel that awesome about me being late to hers either, but she didn’t cry because at least she got the longer portion of the evening.

And I felt FANTASTIC. We all start the school year happy for a fresh start. THIS year will be the BEST, right? We will do things differently! Be organized! Volunteer more! I mean, until I found out how much out of pocket cash you have to spend, I was thinking about maybe even being room Mom this year!

Alas, we started off a bit off track. Which tends to make a person feel pretty crappy about the future.

The good news? We went to Wes’s classroom early and she told us that nothing formal was supposed to be going on. Teachers this year were just introducing and helping put up school supplies. Nothing major. That way no one had to panic about overlapping times or inability to come due to work. So, in reality? We didn’t miss anything from either class.

But MAN. How crappy did I feel? And I can’t even change anything to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I swear I read that card 100 times. But once you read it wrong ONCE, you read it the SAME WAY every time, evidently. I even “double checked” the times several time. The best I can think is that my brain was still looking at the Kindergarten time instead of First Grade even though I know he’s starting First Grade.

SO! Today is our first day of school! I’m hoping my screw-up at last night’s orientation is not indicative of the year to come!

Now – tell me YOUR stories of starting off on the wrong foot, just to make me feel better.

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The Weirdest Hodgepodge Of Content Ever

The weird thing about blogging daily is that there are many days where I have 12 things I really want to talk about, but I can’t figure out how to make them good blog entries (or if I even should) so I just don’t write anything.

That has been my last week.

And it’s funny, it’s not even like I could do a bulleted list because it’s such a wide range. Like, after our local Pride Parade some stuff came up on Facebook where I really wanted to unload and write about why it is so offensive to compare alcoholism to homosexuality in a “hate the sin/love the sinner” or “born with the desire to sin” type of argument. But I still can’t quite it into words more than, “That’s offensive!” And then I often start to cry because – DAMMIT – how awful would it be to come of age in a world surrounded by people who are telling you that to become intimate with a person you find attractive (because loving them is not the sin, you see) is A) equatable to an addiction that ruins lives and families and B) sending them straight to hell. I look at the young gay people in my life and think they are so much stronger than I am.

4802018_origBut on the not-so-serious side of the spectrum I want to write about how my son has gotten me hooked on RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 6) and now I’m actually buying episodes on iTunes that were not free on LOGO. Why would he do that to me days before he moves? I can’t stop watching the show. I want to buy a few more episodes this morning but I’m trying to restrain myself. I’ve followed all of the top queens (that I love) from the show on instagram like I’m some sort of Drag Queen stalker now. Do you all know how much I know about being a glam girl? NOTHING. I don’t wear making, I don’t own high heels, and none of my clothes or jewelry sparkle. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about these contestants. Last night I was sitting in my running clothes and brown fuzzy houseslippers and complaining about how Courtney Act makes a beautiful woman but I think she’s kind of a boring Drag Queen. WHO AM I?

And then there’s the ever present Zoot’s Addiction To Food topic which I’m always ready to write about. This week’s variation is, “How Kim can binge even on plant-based whole foods!” Actually – most of my binging has been in the form of sandwiches so I think I’m going to give up bread for awhile too. A large part of the experiment is to take away a lot of my “comfort” food options to force me to cope with my anxiety/stress in places other than my kitchen. And it has helped to a degree, there is a lot of binge-moves I haven’t made because of this experiment. However, I’m also eating the shit out of cereal with almond milk and also peanut butter sandwiches. Those are my new binge foods. SO! I’m going to give up breads and cereals for a bit too. Let’s see what weird thing I start to binge on now!

And no “What’s on Zoot’s Mind” entry would be complete without the Parenting Fail topic that’s ever present. I really want to tell you all how far I’ve fallen from that first successful week of summer working from home. Two days straight this week and I’ve basically begged my kids to stay in front of the TV all day so I could work. I am not going to win any parenting awards this summer. It started off SO GOOD! But then it went SO BAD! But! It’s not over yet! I’m going to try to do better today. At least make them play outside a little bit. I tried that yesterday and it worked for about 10 minutes. Maybe today we can go for 15 minutes! WOOT WOOT!

So, yeah. That’s why I haven’t written. I have a million things I want to expound on, but none of them in any way that would seem to make a good blog entry. So – now you have them mixed together into ONE entry so that you can have a variety of things to comment on today! The most important being: Which season of RuPaul do I watch after I finish season 6?

Thoughts On Dress Codes

Here’s a topic I actually don’t think I have ever discussed here! DRESS CODES!

Dress codes are getting quite a bit of media attention lately as people start to get a little outraged that schools seem to be adopting the stance that, to keep boys from getting distracted, we need to shame girls for what they wear.

(For the sake of this entry, I’m talking about dress code rules that mandate length of shorts/skirts or widths of straps/sleeves. Not dress code rules that say you can’t wear certain logos or words on your outfits. Those are different issues all together that I haven’t really thought much about.)

I understand the foundation for dress codes, because I was a teenager who would have tried to wear as risky of an outfit as possible. But, I have a hard time really seeing what the downside would be if we let kids dress how they dress outside of school. I mean, if it’s not something they could get a citation for wearing to the mall, then what might happen if we allowed them to wear it to school?

Let’s imagine if every girl showed up wearing booty shorts and crop tops for a second. Do you know what I think would happen? Initially there might need to be classroom discussions if the girls get rowdy responses. BUT – ideally the lesson here is, “Grow up. Who cares what people wear. You are responsible for your own attention level and if you find someone’s clothing too distracting to work, then that is on YOU, not her.”

The second we try to police what kids wear, we get into sticky territory.

First of all, how do you make sure no one wears something against the rules EVER? This girl wore a dress 5 times before finally getting sent home for it. Are you going to insist homeroom teachers inspect clothing every day? Because, if you’re trying to be “fair” it seems incredibly unfair that some girls get away with clothes that other girls get noticed in, simply because some girls have more noticeable bodies. I never really had boobs or curves to speak of, so I’m betting I could have work booty shorts and a crop top and not many people noticed. But my friend with the hips and the boobs would have been noticed. So, they might have called her out and measured her outfit to see if it fit standards. At that moment, we have just given that girl a message that “This body you have no control over? That body needs to be covered because the people around you find it distracting.”

That is not the message I want to send my daughter.

And then! Then we decide to “punish” the girls and send them home to change. What then? We have just decided that the students who shouldn’t be “distracted” have more of a right to an education than she does. These kids growing up in these moments and the messages we send them will be foundations for who they become as adults. In these dress code violation situations, we are sending teenagers messages that will perpetuate the problems we’re seeing as adults. This idea that women who are scantily clad and get raped are partially to blame. The idea that men can’t be held completely responsible for their actions if a woman is A) Drunk or B) Wearing revealing clothing. Those messages right there, that make college campuses havens for rape? Are rooted in these attitudes we establish during the teenage years that girls need to think of boys and their weaknesses when they get dressed in the morning.

This is wrong on so many levels.

ALSO – do people not realize how often girls think about boy’s bodies? A lot. Girls see the boys with their shirts off at basketball practice and ogle them. It’s not like girls don’t ever get distracted by boys bodies. THEY DO. They just tend to be more discreet about it. (Sometimes. Not always.) I won’t even discuss the rating system my friends and I had for our classmates in their football uniforms. Also, even if a girl’s body is fully covered, she can still be distracting. You can’t hide curves with skinny jeans and v-neck shirts. What do you do then? I just think it’s impossible to truly regulate how/when kids get distracted by the bodies of their classmates. It’s happening. No matter what you do.

I just think that if you look at the Pros/Cons of allowing girls to wear anything that they would legally be allowed to wear to the store, the cons are very minimal. Yes, some girls would intentionally wear as minimal clothing as possible, but those girls are also wearing those outfits outside of the school walls. And to me, the cons with allowing this type of clothing are much less than the cons with banning it. We allow it and we have to teach our kids that the world will always be giving them distractions, it’s up to them to learn to deal with it. If we ban it we teach our girls that they need to be mindful of what they wear at all times because the people around them can not control their thoughts.

I don’t know. It just irks me. I understand that idea behind these type of dress codes, but I think in the big picture, it’s not doing anything but creating college students who will perpetuate this notion that is so prevalent today – that if a girl gets raped while wearing a minidress or while drunk – then it’s her fault.

But then, I don’t want to make a teacher’s job more difficult than it already is. Do dress codes make their job harder (because they have to worry about if anyone is violating them) or easier (because they honestly keep kids from being distracted). I tend to think kids are going to be distracted anyway, the dress code can’t make too much of a dent in that.

What are your thoughts?