Friday, January 16, 2015

On Letting It Go

I recently read an article on Facebook about parenting three kids versus four kids.  The gist of the article was that parents of three kids are far more stressed than parents of four kids.  The article talked about several things, most of which involved the basic ideal:  Parents of many have to Let It Go.

I can't really speak well to what it is like to be a mom of three kids.  I was only a mom to three for 2 years.  We had our fourth child almost exactly two years after our third, and those two years are a bit of a blur.  In addition, our third child had many, many medical issues that caused us to be in/out of the hospital for the first year of his life.  So, I don't know that my experience as a mom of three is too valid.  Plus I barely remember yesterday, much less ten years ago.

So - I can't really compare three kids to four (or in my case, 5), but I can speak to having four and five.  And I'm telling you, this article was pretty spot on.  Here are some of the basic points it made:

Perfectionism becomes a thing of the past.  Ummm, yeah.  The kitchen floor isn't spotless?  Please.  I am hoping that the children are clean enough to be presentable to the general public.  Knowing all your children's homework dates/projects/assignments?  No way.  I don't micro manage, unless the child is struggling in school.  They learn (sometimes via sink or swim!), how to figure it out on their own. I am here to help, when needed, but it they need to come to me if they are stuck.  And they do.

The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting.  I can't say I'm always confident, but I do feel more comfortable in who I am, and how I parent.  I'm not as concerned about what everyone else thinks now.  I know what works for our family, and I feel more confident with how I discipline and parent my younger children than I did the first two.  The article also says you have to just let things go the more kids you have, and that is truth.  I don't have time to analyze why little Johnny is crying, because look, big sister Sarah just learned how to tie her shoes!  After praising Sarah for a moment, I turn back to Johnny, who has miraculously gotten over his issue and is happily pulling all the tupperware out of the cabinet drawers.

Having more kids teaches you to find ways to unwind by yourself.  I don't know if I have this mastered, but I do know that I understand how necessary it is to step back at times, and realize that if I leave the room for a moment, all will not be lost.  The kids better learn to fend for themselves and figure out how to manage without mamma hovering.  The article referenced letting go of making the perfect lunch for your kids, and going on a walk instead. I don't know how many walks I scoot out the door for, but I do know that I don't make my kids' lunches.  Even my five-year-old makes the bulk of hers.  Before you think I'm up for Loser Mom of the Year, don't fret - I am in the room and guiding their choices as they pack their lunches.  But it's their job, not mine.

Allowing only one extracurricular activity per child.    We are definitely in this camp, and have been for years.  The kids can play a sport or do an activity each season (and play an instrument or take music lessons), but they cannot do more than one at a time.  Travel teams are completely off the table (for many reasons), and the kids know it.  They are welcome to try just about any sport/activity they want, one at a time, in our community.  And I don't feel like they're lacking because of this rule.

The household is always exciting.  Er, that's one way to put it!  It's always loud, busy, in the throes of a project/game/dance party/fight etc.  There is always something going on.  And the kids always have playmates nearby.  And if they get annoyed with one sib? No problem!  There's always another one nearby who is willing to play.

When my first two kids were born, I read book after book about how to parent (full disclosure: I still read parenting books, albeit the nature of these books has changed over the years).  One method I fully subscribed to was nursing on a schedule, which was not the popular practice at the time.  My first two nursed every three hours, pretty much on the nose.  I LOVED the rhythm and schedule (that is my personality, even now), and I fully believed and they would thrive. And they did!  They both did just great on that schedule.  My third child was on a rigid hospital-mandated feeding schedule, so there was no room for my opinion in feeding him.  But by the time my fourth and fifth children were born, the feeding schedule was out the window.  If the baby cried, I didn't have time to try the swing, then the paci, then tummy-time, then the swing again.  If the baby cried, I nursed him.  Period. I remember vividly nursing my fourth while listening to my first grader read aloud her book of the day.  Have you ever listening to a first grader read aloud?  It is laborious.  There was no way I could have pacified the baby and listened at the same time.  So nurse him I did, and everyone was a winner, and there was peace in all of the land.  For about 10 minutes, anyway.

Parenting five children has taught me much about myself.  What is truly important to me in the way of parenting has risen to the surface.  My 7th grader went to school today with no coat, and one of my younger boys confessed to recently wearing the same socks for three days in a row over the snow days.  I have learned to pick my battles.  I want my children to be loving, caring, honest, compassionate and Christ-like people.  We are a work in progress.  Everything else is cake.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

12 days of Christmas

A few thoughts as Christmas break comes to a close*:

  • At the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, I looked over at an (unnamed) son, to see him holding his candle above his head.  "I'm the Statue of Liberty!", said he.  
  • We roller skated and ice skated to our hearts' content!  It was equal parts exhausting, wet, challenging and hysterical.  My husband and I held hands at the roller rink (and I even skated backward with him leading - impressed?) just like it was 1986.  One of the boys sailed by with his hand up toward us and rolled his eyes.  Score!
  • Waaaaay too much sugar has been consumed.  There is really nothing more to say about that.  It was fabulous, but it's gotta stop.
  • Our last gift to the kids on Christmas morning is that we are going to get a dog.  Tears of joy, faces full of disbelief, and screams of happiness ensued.  We have spent all the days since researching which type we should get.  I think we have settled in on a doodle.  Or a poo.  That's a poodle mix, by the way.  I am slightly obsessed with doodles - I have serious poomania.  And let me just tell you - poodles get around these days!  They have truly mated with just about every breed - and the result are totes adorbs.  Of course, those designer breeds cost mucho moola, and we are not looking to spend mucho.  So we are hoping a doodle or a poo will come available at a rescue and be the perfect 8th member of our family.
  • We have played games out the wazoo and laughed till our tummies hurt with our family.  We have enjoyed lots of great togetherness this break.
  • We bought gas for $1.57!!!  Did you see that?  I was freaking out with excitement!  Unreal!
  • Tomorrow morning, 5:45 is gonna hit us HARD.  I am sorry to see all of our good times come to close.  

*Actually, Christmas break was over on Friday at 3 pm.  Every break of my childhood consisted of my father reminding me of this fact on Friday afternoon.  I have carried on the tradition with my children and deflate them frequently with this news.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Vacation

Today is our first official day of Christmas break.  With me working this year and sickness in our house last week, it's been a lil bit crazy over here.  Here's a snippet of stuff that's going on - hold on to your hats, it's supes exciting (that's teenagese for super exciting in case you're not hip like me):

  • Last night I power-shopped for 6.5 hours.  I am a LOVER OF SHOPPING, but even for me, it was ridiculous!  People everywhere, parking lots full, long lines. . .eeek!  While I was walking to my suburban at Target, two men yelled angrily at me as they sped past.  That was fun!  And then at Walmart I noticed a little girl about 15 months or so, wandering around at the checkout lanes.  I followed her across the entire front end of the store, waiting to see who would be panicking (no one seemed to even notice she was missing).  After several minutes and involvement of the Walmart employees, the girl's older siblings panicked at a register and told mom, who panicked too.  I was glad she was safely returned to her family.
  • All five of my children are (or have been) on Tamiflu.  Three because they've been sick, and two as a preventative measure.  As of yesterday, everyone seems well, which I pray continues.  My 8-year-old took his temperature on Saturday, and came to me wailing, "Does the F on the thermometer mean Fever??!!"
  • I found my 10-year-old son's suit that he wore to his Christmas program all wrinkled at the bottom of the laundry basket.  Sigh.  Dry clean only, of course, and he wore it for about 1.5 hours.
  • My eldest daughter and I had a marathon wrapping session in my room Saturday, with the door firmly locked.  Children were banging on the door the entire time, hoping to gain admittance, which I firmly denied.  We watched "You've Got Mail", one of my all-time-faves.  My husband wandered through at one point and did his usual trash-talking: "Which Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie is this?  They have identical plots!"
  • My youngest two children have been making lots of those little melty-bead crafts. We've seen hedgehogs and hearts - all super cute!  But I have to tell you, friends, when I get out the iron to melt them, it is literally the only time my college-era iron leaves the cabinet.  Don't judge.
  • My eldest son has a book project due when he returns to school.  The public-library book he was using was supes overdue (remember I talk like a teenager), so I returned it.  Then the library was closed all weekend, and he was unable to recheck it out and do the massive reading/project work he has put off most of the quarter.  We will check it out today, but his frustration with the situation caused me to bust out my ever-loved phrase, "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
  • My youngest daughter neighs.  ALL THE TIME.   LOUDLY.  It's equal parts endearing and ear-splitting.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Random Brain Things

Things are running at full tilt over here, and I feel a bit like I'm on The Dragster (my kids tell me this is the fastest coaster in all of the land), waving to please, please let me off!  I don't wear this busyness as a medal of honor, in fact, I realize it means I am not concentrating on what's important!  But busy we are, at least for a time, and I must persevere.  4 of the kids and I are in our community theater's Christmas show, and it's great fun!  Very rewarding!  But also very exhausting.  The shows are this weekend, so life will slow down after that.  Somewhat.  Then I'll have to pick up the slack of all I've been putting off. . .finishing shopping, baking, wrapping. . .

One of my kids has the flu, and another was sent home this afternoon too.  I'm fervently praying we don't all succumb to it.  I didn't have anyone get the flu shot this year (mostly because this is how it went down the last time I did it), and also because we hardly ever get the flu.  But this one has certainly contracted it now.  The other seems totally fine, and I'm not sure he's really sick.  I'm hoping the kids who are in the show will still be able to perform.  

In other random news, lit up Christmas trees make me happy.  Really and truly.  I smile each and every time I see one.  On the flip side, nothing is sadder than a dark, unlit Christmas tree!  And many people in my house seem to be oblivious to our trees and carry on with life amidst a dark, horrible tree!  It's very disappointing.  

Amidst all this busyness, I struggle as I always do with finding time to contemplate the mysteries and beauty of this season.  But this year I have had some wonderful moments to come to the manger and reflect.  The first is, ironically, during this Christmas show I'm in that is taking up all my time.  I sing in a small group behind the manger scene, and we are to look adoringly at Mary and Joseph and the manger.  And I get chills every time!  I think of the true scene so many years ago and I am simply moved as I worship that child in the manger.

I am also finding it so rewarding to teach my little students about Jesus' birth.  As they help me tell and retell the story, I soak it all in.  They are so young and like little sponges - absorbing all of the good news of Christ's birth.  It is such a joy, and so, so glorious to have this privilege.  

May your Advent be filled with less busyness and more Hope, Peace, Joy and Love!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Overheard, over here:

Me, to my 8 year old:  "I love you, baby!"
8 year old, seriously:  "I think we've established that."

On Thanksgiving morning:  I suggested to the children that they all wear jeans and a decent shirt.  You'd think I had asked some of them to systematically rip out all of their eyelashes.  I basically did not want them to look like bums at our family's Thanksgiving get together, but it was not received as such.  Instead, I was thought to be issuing a cruel and unusual punishment.  Their commentary:

"Why are you being so mean to me?  And on a HOLIDAY!"  moan, groan, flop on the floor in horror.

To my husband, while he and the child were sitting on the couch doing devotions before we departed:
"This is the worst Thanksgiving ever", said the child morosely.
"Why?", said my husband, having no idea the horrific sentence I'd placed upon the poor children.
"Mom's never made me wear jeans before!"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bad iphone

The scene:  My kitchen island, 9:30 p.m.  I was sitting at the computer in my jammies, hair in a haphazard ponytail, working on lesson plans and texting back and forth with my colleague.

The sitch:  Whilst texting my friend, I noticed that there is a little camera icon next to the texting bar.  Realizing it must be new since I had done the most recent upgrade, I decided to check it out.

Bad idea.

For you see, my friends, that innocent-looking little camera icon, is actually Up To No Good.  Not knowing this, of course, I touched the icon and within in seconds, a picture was snapped of me and was being texted to my friend.


I squealed in horror as I saw the hideous picture of me being sent into cyberspace.  "No!" I said, scanning the screen in a desperate and futile effort to stop the text.  I soon realized it had already been received on her end, so I switched to damage control.

I sent off several texts in rapid-fire succession, to the effect of:  "Delete that picture immediately! Don't ever touch the camera icon - it takes a picture WITHOUT YOUR APPROVAL!!  Look at my weird face and double chin!"

After many agonizing minutes, I received a text that said she trashed the picture and was cracking up.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and decided then and there to pass this information on to you, dear reader, as a Public Service Announcement, for your safety and well-being:

Do not ever, ever, hold down the camera icon whilst texting on your iPhone.  Unless you are a movie star and all pictures taken of you look like Audrey Hepburn, you will live to regret it.  Now that I have suggested you not touch the icon, many of you have an overwhelming urge to in fact touch that icon and touch it right now.  If you fall into that category, I suggest you try touching it only in a text thread with your mother.  She will love you no matter what your picture looks like.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

For freeeeee!

How to score a $59 purse from Kohl's for nada:

The short answer is:  be a loyal Kohl's customer.

The slightly longer answer is:

Go to Kohl's with a cheerful heart, embracing your love of shopping (this is optional, but it is oh-so-much more fun to shop happily, don't you agree?)

Peruse the purse section and decide on the perfect one to hold all your daily needs.

Look at the price tag.  Read $59 and think "That is way too much for a purse.  That does not fit in our budget."

Remember you are at Kohl's, where of course the price tag is never, I repeat never, what you end up paying.

Smile to yourself and and walk with a spring in your step up to the checkout.

Present the purse to the cashier, along with two paper coupons and two email rewards on your phone.

Hear the cashier exclaim what a deal you just scored, and inform you that you still have $5 left on your phone reward.

Exit the store on a money-saving high.