Swimming, Jr Life Guards, soccer, music, theater, oh my! When extra curricular activities rule (or ruin) your life.

When my daughter was as young as 6 months old, I had her in swim classes and a community play group. When she was 1, she was in a baby sign language play class and swimming. When she was 2, she was in tumbling and swimming. Then all the while during her preschool days, we religiously went to a weekly mommy and me music class. She also did dance class and gymnastics. Phew! Once we hit preschool, we were a part of a co-op where I worked in the class once a week.

We had time back then. I only worked 20 hours a week the first year of her life. And that is with only going into the office for 3 hours a week. I worked fulltime after she was a year old, but only 2-3 days a week in the office. With her being my only child, it was easy to fit in all these extra activities. And frankly I loved it. It was fun and a great way to get both of us out of the house.

But now I have 2 kids. Not only do I have 2 kids, but my daughter is in kindergarten everyday, where I work in the class once every other week. Now you would think I would have more time with her in Kindergarten every day and working less in the class than I did when she was in preschool. But somehow it doesn’t work that way. Kindergarten is only 3.5 hours long. In that time, I grocery shop, clean house, play with the baby, get the baby to bed, and hope for 2 hours of work time before having to pick her up from school.

We have only 1 extra curricular activity at the moment, and that is swim class twice a week. So from 4:00-5:00, we are walking to the pool, she is in swim class while the baby is in the gym childcare, and I am lucky if I can swim laps for 20 min. We have been doing this routine Tues/Thurs for 5 months now. And I am pooped!!!! This week, the swim school is on vacation from the holiday. Tuesday afternoon, we played in the backyard, I cleaned the kitchen, watered the yard, slowly made dinner, watched some TV, played in my daughter’s room with her, and maybe even watched a cloud pass by. My husband came home to a calm and mellow wife. Not some spastic crazy ball of fury, trying to rush to get everything done, the kids in bed, and on the couch with my laptop working by 8:00 pm. It was heaven!!! And it made me realize, that I need a break from having to be somewhere, at the same time, twice a week, every week.

Soccer is next, coming August!

However, our little break will be short lived. School is getting out for summer in a couple of weeks, and the extra curricular activity cycle starts all over again. Jr Life Guards gets started, then soccer in August. Holy Shit!!! At least in July, we should have a little break.

There is a part of me that feels as though our children benefit from having free time. Where they can play, make up games, dig in the dirt, have alone time to explore, etc. I totally agree! I kept my daughter so busy when she was a toddler and preschooler, where she can barely play by herself these days. She has a very short attention span for playing on her own, and I blame being all up in her ass for the first years of her life.

OMG! She needs music classes now, or she will miss her window of opportunity to learn an instrument. (sarcastic tone)

There is another part of me that wants to sign my daughter up for every single extra curricular activity she shows any interest in. This way it gives her exposure to all the killer genres of hobbies available. I already know, she isn’t into gymnastics. And even though she loves to dance, she really isn’t into dance class much. I think she would love theater, and would love to get her into a theater class some day. I also would love for her to learn how to play an instrument and maybe the baseball team. Holy Shit! You would think I wouldn’t be so anal about all this, but I can’t control myself. It is like a sick disease or something. She has so much life ahead of her. Why do I need to push her to try activities that she may not have any interest in. When she hits 4th grade, she can play in the school band if she wants. They also offer a drama group at school. There is no need for me to pay money for a class across town.

Then there is my little sweet baby boy. He is 20 months old and has not taken one class in his cute little life. No swim class, no music or baby babble classes. And you know what? He is the most content little boy ever. He can sit and play on his own for hours. Ok, maybe to say hours is a bit of an overkill. But he can play on his own for at least 30 minutes. In baby time, that is like forever.

I do plan on putting him in swim lessons or maybe a mommy and me music class in the fall. But my daughter will be in 1st grade until 3:15, so it will be so much easier to manage one child’s activities at a time.

I think in the end, I need to stick with my goal of 1 extra curricular activities at a time per kid. And have periods of a break between activities to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, stop and smell the dirty dishes in the sink. We need to find a balance where myself and the kids can be home with free play, as well as hauling their asses around town for games, classes, etc. If someone has the magic cure all solution for this, please share!

I need a swagger wagon, just to haul them around to all these activities.

A 6 year old’s quest for an American Girl Doll, part 1

It all started about a month ago, on a warm sunny Spring day. The mail had arrived. And there it was. 30 pages of glossy full color heaven. The all mighty American Girl Doll catalog. It was like the clouds had parted and the heavens were singing to my daughter as her eye lite up turning each page of girly goodness.

This is the closest you will ever see what my daughter looks like.

This is the closest you will ever see what my daughter looks like.

She immediately decided that the American Girl Doll was the perfect doll for her. And a doll she MUST have in order to complete her existence on this earth. I of course, rolled my eyes and secretly wished that catalog never had arrived. I know my daughter. She plays with almost NEVER. She likes the idea of dolls. She has a collection of them. They pretty much chill in a pile in the closet collecting dust and knots in their hair. Poor dolls…. However according to my daughter, none of those dolls look like she does, hence why they are not played with and why she MUST have the American Girl Doll that looks like her. I looked at the price tag. $110.00!!!!! And you don’t even get a cute outfit or accessories with it. Are you fucking kidding me? Pardon my french, but what bullshit to expect a parent to fork out over a $100 for the doll. Not to mention $30-$50 per outfit. I won’t even spend that much money on an outfit for myself, let alone an outfit for an 18″ piece of plastic.

After she hounded me for a day or so, I decided to make her a deal (insert evil laugh now). She went through the entire and narrowed down everything she wanted, from the doll to 2 outfits to get her wardrobe collection started. We tallied the shipping, tax, and what little money she saved so far. She needed a total of $225.00. I agreed to match her dollar for dollar. Of course in mind my, I never thought in my wildest dreams she would actually follow through. Which in turn, would save me over $100. We are talking about a girl who would pan through the couch for loose change, just so she could use the little bit of saved money on yet another 6 inch stuffed beenie animal she saw at the drug store. But what the hell, right? This would be a good lesson of saving money, doing chores for money, and be patient if it was something she really wanted.

We started off with her making a poster with cut outs from the catalog of all the items she wanted. She then wrote, “Do you have any chores for me? I am saving for an American Girl Doll”. We posted it on Facebook for our friends and family to see. From that alone, she received $20.00 from a distant grandma. She also was able to earn some money from doing odd chores for the grandparents. This includes window washing for grandma, and helping her grandpa wash the boat.

She realized very quickly, that chores were a waste of time. Really? I had to think fast. My plan of teaching her the value of hard work was sinking quickly. She decided she didn’t want to help out around the house for extra money. She already has chores that she has to do as “a part of her contributions to the family”. But then there are things she can do for extra money. Apparently she is too above hard labor or something. I mean shit, all I asked her to do was pull some weeds for money. Weeds that would have taken me 5 min to pull myself. But to her, it was slave labor….

Read Part 2 of how she finally earned her money and made her big purchase. 

Mothers sickness retreat. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Bow down to the Porcelain God.

Bow down to the Porcelain God.

This weekend something horrible happened in our household. It started with a random public barfing session from my 18 month old son, in the middle of a museum hallway. What follows this, may not be for the queasy tummies. You have been warned.

The random barfing, continued during the day. Then started back up Saturday night. He barfed on at least 4 sets of pjs, 4 sets of sheets, and 4 sets of blankets. The next morning, I found barf on the crib, around the crib, and splattered on the wall. Then the diarrhea started…..

Fast forward to Sunday night. The baby had been doing better by now. Low appetite and diarrhea, but the vomiting had stopped. However, within 15 minutes of each other, my 6 year old daughter and I were co-barfing side by side. Thank goodness we have 2 bathrooms. If you had witnessed this, you would think we needed an exorcist. I was running to one bathroom, while she was just going at it all over the floor, hallway, walls, light switches  etc. My husband was freaking out. That evening my daughter and I made camp in our bedroom. A pot by her side, and me running to the bathroom through out the night. It was not a pretty sight to see. I will leave it at that.

The next day, she was pretty much back to normal. However I was a different story. It took all day for me to be able to hold down food and water without wanting to die. My husband luckily stayed home from work to watch the kids, while I tried to lock myself in my bedroom. The moment I would come out of hiding, my husband figured I felt well enough to help with the laundry, participate in the parenting, and be a fully functioning parent. Which of course made no sense to me, and just caused us to argue about what it mean to be a nurturing partner.

In the mist of me wanting to give up on anything right and holy in this world. I was crouched over, worshiping the porcelain god, where once my family’s butt was pressed up against. Now it just felt like a wonderful cooling surface for my sweating, sagging face. How do you like that visual? Anyway, I came up with an epiphany… or maybe it was a hallucination.

Someone should create a facility, retreat, service, what-have-you, for moms to go to when they are sick. Picture this if you will…. You get sick, your husband is taking care of the kids, but who is taking care of you? (of course you are thinking: Well shouldn’t your husband be taking care of you? You would think….) Wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere away from the house, where you can be cozy with TV, people bringing you anything you need when you ring a bell, hold your hair when you puke, clean up after you, no noise, no kids, food to drink of your choice, and just be left alone to heal?

Then, at the same time while this is all going down…. The same service would then bring hot meals to your family, sanitize the house from all the germs, do your laundry, and basically play the roll of the mom while you are off healing in paradise. I would pay large sums of money for this service.

But then I realized something…. I do have this service. It is called my mommy and daddy. I needed my own mommy and daddy to take care of me. If I could, I would have camped out at my parents house, let them take care of me, and then in return, they could then go take care of my family. They could take care of everything. Ok, that is a far stretch and way too much to ask for. However, my dad would come over in a heart beat and take care of me, clean my kitchen, fold my laundry, put a cool cloth over my head, and tell me everything would be ok, if I asked him to. But I am too proud, too “strong” (not really), to ask for help. Apparently in my mind, I can take care of everything on my own.

I still think a “mom sick service” would be a wonderful invention. Someday, you’ll see, it will catch on. Million dollar idea.

My daughter is 6 going on 16

teengirl

This is NOT my daughter, although sometimes it feel as though it should be.

This evening I was watching old home movies of my sweet daughter when she was 2 years old. So small and innocent. So carefree and playful. She laughed at anything, danced around the house like a little fairy, and just rocked it all the time.

Now fast forward to age 6. My sweet little “teenager”. Oh man, I remember being a kid and saying, “I can’t wait to grow up”. And my mom telling me how wrong I was. In my mind, it wasn’t any farther from the truth. Being a grown up was way better than being a kid. How wrong I was. Now I watch my daughter as she grows up. She defiantly puts me to work when it comes to teaching her values, morals, right and wrong, and just all around living life to its fullest. It just seems like she is so anxious to grow up. What happened to playing with dolls, playing house, or building a sand castle in the backyard sandbox. Oh yes, she still does that. But now when she plays house, there is usually an imaginary boyfriend who is kissing her, or she is pretending to push out a baby in a vaginal childbirth….Yeah, that one is my fault, as she was by my side when I gave birth to her baby brother 18 months ago. It just seems like her entire attitude is similar to a hormonal, premenstrual, young lady….. eye roll and everything.

She knows the lyrics to some of the major top 40 billboard pop songs. I am constantly being asked, “Mom, put on Carrie Perry: Kiss Me, Kiss Me”. I have only told her about 100 times that it is Katy Perry. Other than that, she knows songs I don’t even listen to when she is in the car, including: Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. Of course when I try and sing with her, I get that almighty, “No, mom, only I get to sing it”. Which of course I then begin to channel my mother and say, “Well it is my car, and when you have your own car, then you can decide the rules. But until then, I get to sing along as well”.

She tries to wear hoochie mama clothes to school. She will be in her room getting ready for school, as I work on getting the baby ready, lunches packed, diapers changed, etc. Then struts out of her room like she is on a red carpet runway. This morning she comes out of her room wearing a leotard, leg warmers (no panties), and a ruffled shirt. “Um…. what are you wearing?”. Which she responds with, “mom, it is a skirt”. I am sorry, but a little chiffon ruffle is not a skirt. Nor is a leotard considered clothing for school in any shape or form. I am constantly saying, “Honey, I see you want to wear a skirt, here are your options of skirts you can wear, including clean underwear and leggings to cover your booty when you are on the playground”.

This is a regular line I hear in the mornings, “Mom, my ponytail isn’t high enough”. If her ponytail was any higher on her head, it would look a unicorn horn coming out of her forehead. The hairdo is a HUGE deal in the mornings for her. Luckily she only needs me half the time to do her hairdo. Most of the time she comes out of the bathroom with about 5 headbands on, and about 8 clips. But she rocks it.

Lastly (but I know there is more), she acts like she owns the playground. We attend a charter school with grades kinder-8th. When I bring her to school, she works the courtyard. I watch her as she has no fear and approaches the 8th grade girls to say, “Hi Dakoda, how are you?” Then gives the girls hugs and moves onto the next group. It’s nice the older girls just think she is super cute vs an annoyance. Of course she doesn’t give a regular kid hug, oh no…. She gives the “chick hug”. You know the hug us women give each other that includes the one arm, barely making physical contact, at the same time saying. “hi, how are you?” with a slightly higher pitch than normal.

I am constantly telling her, “You may not wear a bra until you actually have boobs to hold them up”. “Sorry honey, kindergartners are not allowed to have boyfriends or kiss boys at your age” and, “Sorry honey, having pink hair is only for Crazy Hair Day, Halloween, or a special occasion.”

I love my daughter with all my heart. And I feel confident that we don’t expose her to inappropriate movies, behavior, or influences that are above her age development. I just have to continue reining her back to 6 year old land. Even if it means bursting her bubble and bringing her back to reality.

When good girls go bad… or scratch stars into the bathroom mirror

This is not my bathroom, but after my daughter vandalized our family bathroom, this bathroom represents my emotional outlook of our bathroom.

This is not our bathroom, but after my daughter vandalized our family bathroom, this bathroom represents my emotional outlook of our bathroom. Sad…

I was just telling my dad how wonderful my 6 year old daughter has been lately. Ever since we reduced her iPad usage and instilled a more structured evening routine, her attitude and over all energy has been calmer and more pleasant. She has been more engaged at school, she has been doing what we ask of her, being more respectful, helping out around the house, and just over all being the fun loving and playful self we know and love.

With that prelude fast forward to Saturday. My girlfriend came over with her 2 year old  son and we all walked down to the beach for some fun in the sun. Yes the benefit of living in a small beach town, is a 10 min walk to the beach, followed by replacing the burnt calories with ice cream on the way back. My daughter was a little attention starved with my girlfriend when she first walked in the door. But overall, it was a great outing  She was well behaved at the beach. She had fun. We built sand castles together. We played in the water together. She was even understanding when I needed to tend to her baby brother while she played on her own for a bit. We even collected really snazzy shells and rocks she could show off at her kinder class “show and tell”.

After ice cream, we headed home and played in the backyard. While my girlfriend packed up her belongings, packed her sandy little boy, and loaded the car, I walked into the bathroom to to clean up, and there it was…. Starring me right smack in my face, as I stared at my greasy, sandy, hair, and sun burnt freckly face. And huge fucking “A” scratched into the mirror. I couldn’t believe it. I stared at it for a while in disbelief. What the fuck was she thinking? What did she use to scratch this? And why would a six year old choose a symbol of the Anti-Christ, or Anarchy? Is she planning mutiny on me? I don’t get it.

I walked into the living room, right in front of my girlfriend, my husband, and the 2 babies. “Get your butt in the bathroom, right now.” She had a blank look on her face and followed me. I had her look in the mirror and I asked her “what do you see?”. Of course the answer was, “I don’t know”. After a couple rounds of that game, she says, “It looks like a star”. A star! Now I see it….. Yes a star. A fat 6 inch star carved right in the mirror. Turning my clean, vintage, pink bathroom, into a vandalized truck stop. It could have said, “For a good time, call 555-5555, carved into the mirror, and I would have been just as pissed as looking at a star”.

So the question is? What do you do? How do you handle this as a parent? She is 6 years old? She knew it was wrong. Why she continued to do it, even with knowing it was wrong, I don’t know. My mom said she remembered doing a similar act when she was a child, out of peer curiosity. Is that why kids end up playing with fire when you aren’t looking and set the cat on fire? Curiosity? Did my child loose all sense of reason and logic when she realized that her new found rock treasure from the beach could make really pretty designs when scratched on the mirror? And didn’t stop to think, “holy shit, mom will freak out of me if I even think about doing this?”

In the end, we had a long talk about how I work really hard taking care of the house to make things nice for us. And how I was disappointed that she would destroy our family belongings like that. I also said that I was going look into out how much it would cost to fix the mirror and she would not receive any allowance money nor would I buy her anything over the next month, so she could help pay for the damages. But these are the times where I question what is the “right” thing to do? How do I effectively parent her where it is ingrained in her head that she should never do anything like this again…. without causing physical harm?

Sometimes I wonder if in 15 years from now, when the kids are out of the house, and I have “empty nest syndrome”, will I look at that star scratched in the mirror, or the drawings she scratched into my bed head board (oh yeah, this isn’t the first time this has happened), will it bring me memories of how my kids used to be young and free?….Nah, I’ll still be pissed off.

Please help me feel like my child is somewhat normal. Tell me about your what your fully functioning children have done in the past that is similar to my little outlaw? What is your story? Please share, please do.

Trying to be a Positive Discipline parent… but it is so hard.

I think I need to get my Positive Discipline book out again for a refresher.

When I gave birth to my daughter, I never gave any thought as too what kind of parent I would become. Taking care of a baby is easy when you look at the grand scale of raising your kids. But when my daughter turned 18 months old, the game changed. She started having tantrums, became stubborn, and strong willed. No longer was my only worry was if she were to sleep through the night or not. Now I had think about what I would do if she was kicking and screaming on the floor because she was too engaged in her play when it was time to go to the store. Or she just bit me for forcing her to brush her teeth. Now it became evident that I needed to figure out what kind of parent I wanted to be. It was either that, or start saving for her therapy sessions when she became an adult.

I knew that spanking or hitting wasn’t my cup of tea. I knew that yelling at my child or telling her she needed to “do as I say” without reason, wasn’t my style as well. I knew I didn’t want to parent her as my mother parented me. She was a fine parent, however I never felt truly connected with her. I lived more in fear of punishment if I were to fuck up vs a feeling of full acceptance no matter what. I wanted to raise my daughter in a way that developed trust, connection, respect, and understanding. I wanted to learn how to understand her behavior and why she was acting out, so I could get to the root of the problem, vs reacting to her behavior. And god willing, I would love to have a relationship as an adult with her, where she would call me when some douche bag broke her heart, or she wanted advice as to what job offer to take.

In my research of different parenting philosophies, I discovered Positive Discipline. So the “Type A” mom I am, I started reading books, taking classes, and joined parenting support groups to figure out what this whole parenting method was all about. And I loved what I discovered.

Positive Discipline is about understanding my child through her eyes. It is about mutual respect by modeling firmness with kindness. It is about communication by listening to my child, understanding, and then teaching her valuable life skills. It is about focusing on solutions vs punishment. Basically it is the idea that kids do better when they feel better by giving encouragement and natural consequences when she stumbles.

Positive Discipline is not about passive parenting. It is not about allowing your children to walk all over you without any consequences to their actions. And it is not about being your child’s “friend”. It is about understanding why your child is acting the way they are, addressing the root of the issue with natural consequences, and creating a level of respect and connection to establish your relationship that will form over the years.

I don’t believe in spanking. I don’t believe in telling your child “no hitting” and then hit them back. It sends mixed messages and forces your child to fear you. I personally don’t want to be forcing her to respect me fear. I want earn her respect, as she earns my respect. I don’t believe in “because I said so”. And I don’t believe in timeouts without talking about the situation afterwards.

Positive Discipline is fucking hard work. There are many times where after a total breakdown (and I mean me breakdown), where I realize how I had reacted to the situation was totally not cool. Do I break down and lose my cool sometimes? Yes! I have been known to have my own tantrums right in front of her. She pushes my buttons as all kids do. But in the end, I really enjoy the idea of Positive Discipline and feel it has created a close connection between my daughter and I, that will take us way beyond her teen and adult years.

10 important lessons I will teach my son.

lessonsforson

Top 10 lessons to teach my son.

I have seen a lot of wonderful posts regarding lessons parents will teach their sons and daughters. One which was especially touching regarding a father’s message to his daughter. So I felt inspired, I thought I would write my own.

10 important lessons I will teach my son.

  1. Once you are of age where you can fold a dish towel, you will begin to fold your own laundry. Men should always know how to properly wash, fold, and most importantly put away their own laundry. Depending on a woman to do this for you, is never a smart idea. First, because you may be single for quite some time, and no woman likes a man to be wearing stinky clothes. And second, if you can wash, fold, and put away your own laundry, while in a relationship, it will defiantly contribute to a lasting marriage or partnership.
  2. You will keep your room clean, regardless of if you decide to let me enter your room as a teenager or not. (My mother-in-law felt her kids could keep their rooms as messy or clean as they liked, since it was their own personal space. This is why my husband could give a shit if he lives in a dump or not… which then leads to all the cleaning on me. Totally backfired, MIL! You raised a man who is comfortable living in filth.)Keeping a clean bedroom provides many life lessons. How to become a clean and tidy person, have respect for your belongings, and most importantly, how to keep a house clean when you become an adult. If there is a foul smell coming from your room, you need to rethink your approach.
  3. Speaking of cleaning your room…. Once you hit puberty, you will be required to change your own sheets once a week. I will not change your sheets for you. However I will teach you how to wash your sheets in hot water, to remove any “bodily fluids” and properly remake your bed. And you feel the need to “explore”, I would appreciate you locking the bathroom door, and just taking a long shower. Let’s leave it at that.
  4. On the subject of personal hygiene. It is always important to wash your balls. It is as important as a child, as it is as an adult. Believe me, no woman enjoys sweaty stinky balls. Taking a shower before you head to bed is a great way to keeping a clean bed throughout the week.
  5. Don’t be surprised if you find a box of condoms in your stocking from Santa. There is no excuse for you to bring home a pregnant girlfriend as a teenager. I don’t care how many forms of chemical birth control she claims to be on. You wrap and double wrap, and then wrap it again. Plus herpes is for life, and a total turn off for all future partners.
  6. Someday you will grow into a man, with a household of your own. It would be nice if you knew simple home repairs, but isn’t necessary. What is important is that you give a shit enough to at least know how to pick up a phone and call someone who does know how to fix things. Don’t freeze to death because you are too lazy to get the heater fixed. Or resort to putting a bucket under a leaky roof. Get that shit fixed!
  7. Be nice to your sister. I know there will be times where you want to rip each other apart. You will want to slam doors in each others faces, or tease each other to no end. But learning to respect and care for each other is a lesson your will take with you forever. She is your sister and your partner in life when it comes to taking care of your dad and I when we are old and crippled. Or support each other as kids, when your dad and I are arguing about what punishment you kids will get for misbehaving. She can also help teach you about girls and how to treat women. She can be your coach on dating and love… since I am sure you will think I am way lame in that department and have forgotten everything there is to know about being a teenager at one point in my life.
  8. I will teach you how to cook a meal that is not just Kraft Mac and Cheese. Knowing your way around a grill is fabulous. But what is really a turn on for your girlfriend or wife, is if you can cook her a three course meal every so often. And that includes shopping for ingredients, and cleaning up afterwards. Very sexy!
  9. I would love for you to go to college, but will not force you. If you for some reason you decide you don’t want to attend, please develop a skill set where you can make enough money to live comfortably. And if you do go to college, please choose a major where you can get a job afterwards in your line of study. Majoring in underwater basket weaving is a fabulous hobby, but can you contribute enough money to at minimum pay for half your family’s bills? We live in a modern age now. No one expects you to be responsible for supporting your entire family while your wife stays at home with the kids. If you and your wife choose that path, that is fabulous, but it isn’t for everyone. You should at least be able to pay for half.
  10. And lastly…. If you decide at any point in your life, childhood, teen years, or as an adult, that you are gay or bisexual, I will love and support your decision till my dying day. I will stand up for you and stand by you in every way I possibly can. I will walk in parades with my rainbow flag flying and I will treat any partner you bring home with respect and love. You are my son and I love you no matter what. As long as you are not hurting yourself or anyone else, I want you to follow your life’s path to what makes you happy, healthy, and proud to walk down this path called life.