Thursday, December 2, 2010

Giving Thanks the Kids' Way

Last week Alec brought home a craft that he made in school. It was a Thanksgiving placemat, and on it was the phrase, "I am thankful for..." Each child in the class picked something that they were thankful for to put on their placemat. Most of the kids put something like "Mommy" or "Family." But what did Alec put? Apples. I don't even want to think about what his teachers now think of me. At least he didn't put something like soda, cake, BB guns, or worse! I did see another placemat that said "Popcorn" so at least I know he's not the only child in his class who values snacks more than family.

Sometimes I try to look at things the way a child does so that I can understand where my kids are coming from. Take, for instance, Chase's toys. Today I was sitting on the floor with Chase while he was playing, and instead of playing with his toys, he wanted to play with my shoelaces. But if you look at it like he does, this makes sense. To him, a shoelace is just as new of an idea as a toy that lights up and plays music. At 8 months old, everything around him is something new and exciting, even if to us it's something that we use every day and don't even think think twice about.

So I guess I can understand where Alec was coming from with his thankfulness for apples. As an almost 3-year-old, he is just starting to understand the concept of being thankful. To him, being thankful means something that he is happy to have. And on that particular day he was happy that he had an apple. If he had done the craft on a different day, he could have been happy for Dora the Explorer, or swings, or the moon, or maybe even Mommy or Daddy.

Some days I think that kids have the right way of thinking. They have such open minds. They really see the world a different way than adults, and I don't think that's such a bad thing. They smile openly at people. They see almost everything as a game. While this may not always be the best way to think (and I think we all know adults who act like kids a little more than they should!), I think the world might just be a better place if adults thought like kids every once in a while.

When taking some time during the recent Thanksgiving holiday to think about what I am thankful for, I covered the basics. I am thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for a roof over my head. I am thankful for the means to enjoy a hot meal. But I am also thankful for shoelaces and apples.

My next Mommy's Always Write topic: Liar Liar, Part 2: The Disappearing Biffy

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guess what I did today? (The answer may surprise you!)

Have you guessed yet? I'll give you a hint... By 3pm I was ready for a nap, and by 8pm I was ready to crash!

Ok, time's up. Today I did.... nothing!

Confused? Me too! Let's see... It started at 7am when Chase woke up. Now it's 8:30pm, both kids are asleep, and I'm exhausted! But I'm looking back on the day and finding it pretty hard to come up with something that I actually did today. And I can't for the life of me figure out why I'm so exhausted from doing nothing!

Sometime during the day I managed to get myself and both boys dressed. I prepared some kind of breakfast and lunch for the boys (and since it was a "good" day I even managed to find time for me to eat, even if it was just a few handfuls of food randomly grabbed and thrown in my mouth on the way from getting Alec dressed to picking up the toys that Chase just threw out of his reach). I've lost count of how many diapers I changed. I got Chase down for three 30-minute naps, during which I threw a few dishes into the dishwasher and colored Buzz Lightyear with Alec. And ok, I'll admit that I did check my email and facebook pages a few times to catch any urgent messages, like whose cat just learned how to put down a toilet seat. Chad cooked a yummy dinner, which we chaotically enjoyed as a family. And I wrapped up the day by playing with the boys, tag-teaming their baths with Chad, reading books with them and then finally saying good night and stepping out of Alec's room feeling like I've just run the New York marathon.

So no, I technically didn't do "nothing" today. But really what did I do? The last time I checked, it doesn't take 13 hours to change diapers, cook, eat and read. But somehow I managed to do just that. And today was not an exception to our typical days at home. Most days I find myself exhausted at the end of the day, only to look back and see how unproductive I was.

It also seems like I spend all day with the boys, but at the end of the day I feel like I didn't spend enough time with them. I feel like I neglected them and should have done more with them. I look at other moms who are at home with their kids who manage to maintain an immaculate house, cook three perfectly balanced meals a day (plus a batch of delicious organic carrot-banana muffins for their kids' school), create an Eiffel Tower out of Popsicle sticks, organize the neighborhood clothing drive, head to the local park with the kids for an hour, and make a trip to the gym after the kids are in bed. And that's all in one day! I'm starting to think that I've been having black-outs several times a day, which prevent me from doing anything productive. That must be it.

Oh, and then there's the time that disappears when we're getting ready to go somewhere. Before having children, I was the kind of person who was early to everything. I mean I'd get to wherever I was going so embarrassingly early that I'd hang out in the car or drive around the block a few times. Now I'm lucky if I can even be fashionably late. But here's the thing... I don't know why I'm late. Soon after Alec was born I realized that I needed to allow myself an extra 15 minutes to get everything together before heading out the door. Now, with two children, I try to allow at least that much extra time. But I must have another one of my black-outs during this time because it never fails that we're still running late. For example, Alec needs to be to school at 9:15 in the morning. With no traffic, we can get to his school in 15 minutes, plus the five minutes it takes to get the kids out of the car and into the school. So I try to be on our way out the door at 8:45 to allow for traffic, spilled sippy cups, diaper explosions, wardrobe malfunctions or meteors. But it never fails that I look at the clock in our van as I'm pulling out the driveway and it always says 8:57. Where did those 12 minutes go? I know it doesn't take 12 minutes to click an infant carrier into its base. Must have been another mom black-out.

I'm not sure how long these mom black-outs will go on, but for now I'm just trying to accept that they are a part of my life. I guess this is why people say that kids grow up so quickly. So in my limited time in between black-outs, I'll just try to spend as much time as I can enjoying Alec and Chase without rushing around. And at the end of the day, as I'm dragging my exhausted self up to bed with the dishes still in the sink, I can only hope that my kids know how much I love them, even if I can't be the mom making Popsicle sculptures with them.

My next Mommy's Always Write topic: Giving thanks the kids way

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Daylight Savings Time Conspiracy

As you hopefully know by now, this past weekend most of us took a few minutes of our time to set our clocks back an hour. We did this because of this event that happens every year called Daylight Savings Time. And anyone who knows me well knows that I can't stand Daylight Savings Time.

After setting our clocks back an hour a few days ago, we will now wait a few months and then do the exact opposite. Seems kind of pointless to me! So basically the whole country - other than Arizona and Hawaii - walks around jet-lagged for a few days in the fall and again in the spring. If I want to be jet-lagged, I'd much rather take a jet somewhere and have a nice vacation! I think Arizona and Hawaii have the right idea about not participating in Daylight Savings Time.

Some people claim that they actually like Daylight Savings Time because they get an extra hour of sleep in the fall. I'm guessing that these people don't have children. See when you have children, the exact opposite happens. Here's what happened in our house over the weekend... Alec and Chase are both, for the most part, really good sleepers at night. Bedtime is around 8pm, and they usually sleep until between 7:30 and 8:00 the next morning. Perfect! But enter Daylight Savings Time. We kept them up until 9pm on Saturday, because really it was like the new 8pm. So they were extra cranky for the last hour of the day but then fell asleep right away. I can deal with that. But they're kids. They don't have a clue what Daylight Savings Time is. So the next morning they thought it was 7:30am and time to get up. But really it was now 6:30am. So I've kept my kids up an hour later, I've stayed up later myself, and now we're all up an hour earlier. I probably don't need to tell you what kind of mood we were all in on Sunday! This routine will continue for a few days until slowly we all start to adapt to the new time.

Children are creatures of habit (at least my children are). And I have to admit that I like to stick to a routine as much as possible too. But Daylight Savings Time just throws routine out the window. And then there are the people who forget to change their clocks and end up being late for something important. Or the college kids who set their clocks in the wrong direction and end up being two hours early to their class (not mentioning any names here Chad...). And don't forget about all the people who now have to drive home from work in the dark. I'm really finding it hard to see why we need to deal with this!

If I could see one reason why Daylight Savings Time is so great, I might not have such a bitter attitude toward it. But right now the only positive thing I see about it is that it gives some people an excuse to check and/or replace the batteries in their smoke detectors (have you checked yours?). But it would be just as easy to use another day to do this bi-annual task, like maybe a birthday or Labor Day, or maybe even a National Check Your Smoke Detector Batteries Day. Maybe we should ask the people in Arizona and Hawaii when they change their smoke detector batteries. Anyway, I digressed...

There's not really anything I can do to change Daylight Savings Time, so for now I just like to complain about it. In a few days I'll get used to it and forget about it until spring. You can be sure to hear more about it then!

My next Mommy's Always Write topic: Guess what I did today? (The answer may shock you!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I've become THAT mom

We've all been there. You're standing in the grocery store debating between the brand name of crackers and the store brand. Go with the brand, or save the money. Decisions, decisions. Just when you think you've made your choice, enter THAT mom. The mom with two kids in the cart and one kid walking, where one of the cart kids is screaming his head off, the other is hanging over the side of the cart dragging her arms on the floor, and the kid walking is pulling everything off the shelves. And THAT mom doesn't even seem to notice that any of this is going on. So while you're busy trying to make one of life's really important decisions, THAT mom is smiling, going about her own business while her kids are driving you mad. You think to yourself, how can she not do something about her kids? My kids will never be like that. Even if you don't have kids, I'm guessing you've experienced THAT mom.

Fortunately for me, Alec loves to go to the grocery store and practically throws a fit if I don't take him, and for now Chase just comes along for the ride or stays home with Chad. So I have been lucky enough to avoid the grocery store meltdown. However, I wish I could say the same for the shoe store. I have definitely been THAT mom in the shoe store. Yes, I was the mother with the baby screaming in the stroller while the toddler throws a world-is-ending fit about trying on shoes. I stood there and tuned out Chase's wailing while forcing shoes onto Alec, who was rolling around on the store floor, face red, legs and arms flailing, breaking the sound barrier with his yelling. I was the mother that I'd witnessed numerous times before and since having children. I was THAT mom - the mom who I swore I would never be.

I have also been THAT mom in other situations:

THAT mom lets her kids watch TV while she takes a shower. I'll never do that!
THAT mom gave her kid a hot dog for lunch AND dinner. I'll never do that!
THAT mom lets her kids watch a movie in the car. I'll never do that!

I've already learned a valuable lesson in my few years of parenting: never say never. Yep, that's right. I've tackled all three of these situations, all which I said I would never do. And the more my boys grow up, the more I'm finding that I become THAT mom.

While becoming THAT mom, I'm also learning not to judge other parents when I see them doing something that I may think I would never do. I'm learning that there actually is some kind of logic to letting your kids melt down in the store, whether it's the grocery store or shoe store. There is logic to doing what you have to in order to get a shower in. There is logic to giving your kids a hot dog for lunch and dinner. And believe it or not there is even logic to giving in and letting your kids watch a 90 minute movie on an eight hour car trip. Do my kids throw fits every time we're in a store? No. Do they watch TV every day while I shower? No. Do they eat hot dogs every day for every meal? No. Do they watch movies in the car on the 5-minute drive to the bank? No. But every once in a while I cave and become THAT mom in order to save my sanity. It's just a part of being a parent.

Right now there are only two things I can think of that I claim I will never do to become THAT mom. One is using those "car" grocery carts at the grocery store, and the other is giving my children medicine that will supposedly "help" them sleep for a long trip. Nothing personal against moms who do use those car carts at the store; I just can't stand them! And as for the sleepy medicine, I've just seen it backfire one too many times. So next year when you see me at the store pushing Alec & Chase in a car cart and buying Benadryl, you'll know I've once again become THAT mom!

My next Mommy's Always Write topic: The Daylight Savings Time Conspiracy

Monday, October 25, 2010

Liar Liar

Chad & I are currently debating how and when to handle the pacifier (or "biffy" as we have come to call it) addiction that Alec has. He only uses it at night and for nap/quiet time, but we're questioning whether he really "needs" it anymore. He'll be three at the end of January, and it seems to us that by then he should be biffy-free. On the other hand, I don't think it's hurting anything for him to use it, and I don't think he'll be 21 and still sleeping with his biffy (and if he is then it's his problem to deal with at that point!).

So hypothetically let's say that we want to take his biffy away for good. How should we go about doing this? I've heard several suggestions, from using the pacifier to "pay" for a new toy, to quitting cold turkey, or as my mom did with me, telling him that a mommy squirrel needs it for her baby. These are all good suggestions; however, I don't think any of them are right for Alec. Knowing the kind of kid he is, my mommy voice is telling me to just tell Alec one day that we can't find his biffy. But this leads me to my real inner dilemma... How much is it ok to lie to your children?

Everyone tells their kids lies at some point, and if you say that you don't, I'm pretty sure that you're lying. Take Santa Claus for example. That's not even a little white lie. That's a whopper of a lie. But for most families who celebrate Christmas, Santa is a big part of their lives for at least a few years. Why do we tell our kids about Santa? Maybe it's because we want to create a little bit of magic for them. Maybe it's because we need another incentive to encourage them to be on their best behavior. Maybe it was a part of our past and we want to continue the tradition. Whatever the reason, Santa is a complete lie. Yet most of us don't think twice about mentioning the jolly old man in a red suit and his reindeer to our kids every year.

Then there are all the other little white lies that we tell our kids... "Mommy's eating a carrot honey" (yeah, a carrot named Twix); "if you keep making that face it will get stuck that way;" "the pool water turns green if you pee in it;" and the list goes on. In fact, just yesterday I told Alec that I had to go upstairs to take a nap too, in hopes of convincing him to take a nap of his own (ok, so this really wouldn't be a lie if I had the time to take a nap!).

Again, I question why we feel the need to tell these lies. My assumption is that we lie to our kids because we think it is in their best interest. And most of the time it probably is. It's not hurting anything, and they'll never know the difference anyway.

So that brings me back to my original question... How should Chad and I remove the biffy from Alec's life? I have no guilt about telling our kids about Santa Claus, but for some reason my conscience is kicking in about telling Alec that we can't find his biffy. Why should I tell him we can't find it when the truth is that we just don't want him to have it anymore? Why can't I just tell him that if he wants a new stuffed animal that he needs to give up his biffy? Probably because that would be doing it the hard way. It comes down to a few nights of crying and whining versus possibly weeks of screaming tantrums. I know which situation I'd rather be in!

I think in this case I'm going to need to listen to the little mommy voice and just tell him that we can't find it. Yes, it's a lie. Yes, it's the easy way out. And yes, I will have a guilty conscience for a split second. But in this case I think that yes, it is in his best interest. And someday I'll tell him the truth, so that makes this one little lie ok. Right?

My next Mommy's Always Write topic: I've become THAT mom!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Absence Makes the Kids Grow Cuter

A friend recently gave me a good piece of advice. She said that everything your kids do to annoy you today will, at some point, be amusing. I couldn't agree with her more.

A few weeks ago, Alec was in a phase where he would randomly say "Mommy" and then not have anything to tell or ask me. It would go something like this:

Alec: Mommy?
Me: Yes Alec?
Alec: Mommy?
Me: Yes Alec?
Alec: Mommy?
Me: Yes Alec? 

I think you get the point... And to answer your next question, when I didn't answer him, he would just repeat "Mommy" over and over. I'm sure you can imagine how annoying this routine became. But now I find myself looking back and laughing at it.

Little innocent Chase isn't excluded from these annoying phases either. Right now he is in a "squealing" phase. And by squealing, I don't mean happy squeals. I mean warning squeals, as in "somebody better pick me up before I have a serious meltdown" squeals. And the longer I let him go, the louder and more high-pitched the squeals become. As annoying as these squeals are, I know that in a few weeks, or maybe months, I'll look back and say to Chad, "remember those cute squeals that Chase used to do when he was getting tired of something?"

I find that this same advice applies to times when I'm not around my kids. I can have the most frustrating day with them, only to be out to dinner with a friend that night laughing about it. Heck, I don't even need to be out of the house. It could be when I'm getting ready for bed. I don't know what it is, but the second I'm not around my kids they don't annoy me at all. In fact right now they're upstairs playing with Chad, and I'm finding it hard to remember why I was annoyed earlier today when for the 5,000th time, Alec went over and grabbed the toy that Chase was playing with and said "I want this." Isn't that just adorable? And isn't it great that I now have my "sharing" speech memorized since I've had to repeat it for all 5,000 times that this happened?

So what am I learning through all this? I guess you could say I'm learning some form of patience (I'm not a very patient person, as I'm sure Chad will verify). But I'm learning that every annoying phase is only as annoying as I make it, and it doesn't last forever. So whenever one (or both) of my kids is adding to my collection of gray hairs, I just take a step back and remember that some day I'll be able to laugh at their behavior. And sometimes I even turn my head to the side and let a small giggle escape right then.

My next Mommy's Always Write Topic: Liar Liar

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just a Minute

I realized the other day that I tell Alec and Chase "just a minute" a lot. If I got paid a nickle every time I said "just a minute" to one of them, I think I could retire now. In fact, there's a good chance I even say it to them in my sleep.

I'm not sure why I use this phrase so often. It just seems to roll off my tongue the second they ask me for something. When Alec asks for a snack... "Ok, just a minute." When he needs help with something... "I'll be there in just a minute." When Chase thinks his stomach is going to eat itself since he hasn't eaten in (gasp) three whole hours... "Relax Chase, the bottle will be ready in just a minute."

Sometimes there is a legitimate reason for using this phrase, like when Chase is on the changing pad on his dresser and Alec thinks the world is ending because he can't reach a toy that rolled under the couch... "I can't leave Chase unattended Alec. I'll help you in just a minute." But other times I think I'm just so used to saying "just a minute" that my mind goes on autopilot and says it before I even process what they need. And other times it's just a selfish way for me to buy a few more seconds to check my email or updated my facebook status (or occasionally finish something productive like loading the dishwasher or folding a load of laundry).

Regardless of the reason, my kids probably think that "just a minute" is what you say to someone when they ask you something. And with Alec being the copycat that he is these days, I'm surprised he hasn't started using the phrase when I ask him to do something like wash his hands. And speaking of washing hands, it sounds like Chad is just about finished with his nightly routine of bathing the kids since Alec is on the way down the stairs asking for his bedtime snack and milk. And do you know what I told him? "Hold on Alec, I'll get it in just a minute as soon as I'm done blogging..."

My Next Mommy's Always Write Topic: Why are my kids so darn cute when I'm not around them?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My First Post

For five days now I've sat down at the computer to write about life as a mommy.

Day 1 I was going to write about the cute thing that Chase does with his legs when I walk up the stairs with him...but that didn't seem like the right topic for my first post. Afterall, you don't know anything about Chase.

Day 2 I was going to have an online dialog with myself on whether or not to start potty training Alec this week...but that didn't seem like the first thing I should write about either since you don't know anything about Alec.

Day 3 I was going to share my opinions about those voice-prompted, automated phone answering services where the machine on the other end of the phone attempts to understand what you're saying to it (ok, not really related to being a mommy, but that's what was on my mind that day)...but that seemed like a topic for a rainy day.

And Day 4  I was going to share my successes and failures with nursing and how I feel about both...but I thought that was too controversial and personal for my first post.

So here I am four days later with all these things I want to write about but no posts. Day 5 is the day I am officially writing my first post...a post about my first post (kind of sounds like a Seinfeld episode). I'm also going to use this as a chance to introduce you to my family and provide a glimpse of what I plan to share through this blog.

You'll get to know me and my family much more through my blog, but here are some cliff notes. If you don't already know, my name is Kim. In my previous life (before being a mommy), I worked in public relations and graphic design. I am married to my wonderful husband, Chad, of over eight years. We have the "typical" American family of husband, wife, and 2.5 kids (the .5 being our dachshund-rat terrier dog, Smidgen). Our oldest son is Alec, who is two and a half and just started preschool last week (which, by the way, is going better than I could have asked for!). Our youngest son is Chase, who is coming up on six months, and the really cute thing that he does with his legs when I'm carrying him up stairs is pump them up and down like he's walking up the stairs too.

I love my family dearly, but sometimes they just drive me up the wall! Through this blog I hope to share my frustrations of being a parent, my funny stories of how my kids embarrass me (just wait for the "tickle tickle" one that Alec got me with...), and my opinions on everything from sharing household responsibilities to Valentine's Day cards to Daylight Savings Time.

My hope is that for each post that I share, there is someone reading who can relate to it in one way or another, someone who can say "been there done that" or "I'm glad I'm not the only one going through that." And I also hope if that person happens to be you, that you take a few seconds to say so!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! Until next time...


The Next Mommy's Always Write Topic: "Just a Minute"