The More You [Don't] Know

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Dear 16 Daily Visitors,

Thank you for checking in every day. I’m sorry the time between posts has grown longer and longer in recent weeks. I could say it’s because I’ve been soooo busy, but that would be a gigantic lie. Because trust me, I am finding PLENTY of time for Cadbury Mini Eggs and Facebook.

PSA: CME are now available in Dark Chocolate, which I kind of think is bullshit because it’s like they’re trying to make the candy “healthy” and all that, but those of you that fall for that kind of nonsense may enjoy them. (PS. I know who you are… you’re the same people who bought shelf loads of Snackwell cookies back in the 80s.)

It’s more like I feel uninspired. Or… lazy if you will as it were as it be. I think that part of the reason I’m at a loss is because now that there are infinite bloggers out there all narcissistically writing about themselves and the world and their kids (myself included), there is LITERALLY nothing left to talk about. Unless maybe it’s the widespread, inappropriate usage of LITERALLY. Oh wait, that’s actually already been covered, too. Literally, you can read about that here.

Personally, I blame the deadly combination of Huffington Post and Facebook. Thanks to them, several blog posts and columns go viral everyday. Just in the past few months, I’ve read columns about the following:

The Top Five or Ten or Twenty Things We Want…
… our boys to know about life.
… our girls to know about life.
… to teach our boys about girls.
… to teach our girls about boys.
… our kids to understand about race… religion… beauty.

The definition of beauty and embracing our differences and flaws. (Acne is FINE… who knew?)
Mixed messages in media. (NOBODY on TV has acne!)
Mixed messages from moms who avoid the camera. (Moms, get in the picture!)

Enjoying every moment with our kids, because “time flies!”
The impossibility of enjoying every moment. (Because so many of the moments suck huge!)
Dealing with embarrassing meltdowns in Target.

What we should and shouldn’t eat. (SHOULD: CME DARK Chocolate. SHOULDN’T: CME MILK Chocolate.)
WHY we eat what we shouldn’t eat.
What we should and shouldn’t feed our kids.
Why we shouldn’t overthink what we feed our kids.

Healthy habits.
Body image.
Mommy wars.
Queen bees. (Apparently, it’s not just for middle school anymore!)

Practicing kindness.
Encouraging our kids to not be too nice.
Developing thick skins.

Standing up and making yourself heard.
Knowing when to keep your mouth shut. (Very, very, very difficult if you’re one of my kids.)

Reading this book or that book to learn all about this or that.
Ignoring all the books and trusting your instincts.

Helicopter parents.
Negligent parents.
How neglect can be healthy.
How children are all special.
How not ALL children are special.
How do we define special?
TOO. MANY. TROPHIES.

Too many activities.
Too much homework.
Too much screen time.

Coping strategies.
How to talk to your kids so they’ll really listen.
The importance of respecting privacy.

How much discipline? How little? HOW?

Sleep. Never. Enough. Sleep.

Communication. Talking to our kids about being gay. Talking to our kids about bullying. Talking to our kids about Justin Bieber’s arrest. (I’m sure this was necessary for some parents… I am SO HAPPY I was not one of them.)

What teachers want parents to know.
What parents want teachers to know.
What coaches want parents to know.

The Top Ten Ways to Be the Best Parent for Boys. for Girls. for Pets.

The Top Ten Ways to Win at Sports. at School. at Life.

The Top Ten Ways to Nourish. Communicate. Raise Resilient Children. Avoid Raising Entitled Brats. Teach. LOVE.

COLLAGE

IS ANYONE ELSE EXHAUSTED BY ALL THE LEARNING?  There’s so much to read; so much to remember. Who has the time or the mental capacity? (Well, actually, I do have the time, as previously established, but definitely NOT the mental capacity.) 

AND this is also why I can’t think of anything to write about. It’s LITERALLY all been written already.

So, until I’m struck with an original, interesting idea, I will leave you with this exchange:

Me: Nib, why are hiding behind my chair?
The Nibbit: Shhhh… Happy Dude is looking for me… he wants to CRUSH ME.

Crushing in progress

Crushing in progress

On second thought, I WILL share my Top Three Rules for Life:

  1. Do your best.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Avoid being crushed.

And have a great weekend.

 

Not a Real Post

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I keep meaning to write a new post and then I keep NOT writing a new post because I get too busy doing other things like watching Scandal or re-re-re-re-rinsing the laundry that’s been in the washer for a couple  several  many days or researching “sleep training a three-year-old.”

I could actually write about how sleep training our three-year-old is going, but I can’t because we haven’t started yet because I’m too tired. Plus, I’m still researching it. Duh. By the way, all advice welcome.

Our goals are fairly straightforward:

  • Get kid to bed in his own bed.
  • Get kid to stay asleep in his own bed all night…
  • …without peeing in it.

This does not seem that complicated to me. But the fact that there are thousands of books written about it and a BILLION websites dedicated to sleep and kids and how much they suck at it, has taught me that perhaps it is indeed complicated. KJ thinks duct tape should be involved but I’m afraid to do that. What if we use up all of our duct tape and can’t make any more wallets?

I was also thinking about writing about effing summer camp and how figuring out how, where and when my three kids are going to do summer activities has turned into a part-time job for me, where the only benefit is the promise that they’ll all be out of the house for longer than two hours at a time this summer. I swear, quantum physics is not this complicated. (I’m not sure why I would say that. I have zero idea how complicated quantum physics is except that I’m guessing it’s very complicated because people always compare it to things they think are SUPER complicated. LIKE SLEEP TRAINING.)

Side note: Want to know something about me? I never took physics. Or calculus. Stopped at pre-calculus in high school. And I almost flunked pre-calc. My college had NO MATH REQUIREMENT back then. I’ve heard that that’s since changed which just gives me another reason to be grateful I went to college in the early 90s, along with the fact that bulky sweaters were the rage and there were NO CAMERA PHONES. And guess what else? My two lab sciences were Astrology and Psychology. WINNING! (Not so much academically, but whatever.)

Anyway, this summer scheduling is balls out nutso… three kids with three different schedules and those schedules change every week or two. It’s gonna be AWESOME. Right now, for the month of July, all three of my kids have to be at different places at 9:00am. So fingers crossed someone invents that teleporting machine thingy by then because otherwise, someone’s missing a good chunk of their morning at summer camp. Eeeny meeny miney mo.

For the record, the Loud One wants to do nothing all summer. So she claims. She doesn’t like the sound of any of the camps, classes or activities that I I’ve proposed for her including, but not limited to, art camp, sports camp, swim lessons, tennis camp, golf lessons, Girl Scout camp or farm camp. Well, we all know how “I just want to play all summer!” plays out… by 9:42 on that first Monday morning, she’ll be complaining that everyone she knows is at camp and she’s boooooooooooored.

I can just hear all you free-spirited parents yelling right now, “Let her do nothing! Kids are so over-scheduled these days! It’s summer for Pete’s sake! Let her run around outside and be free!” Please. She’s not a chicken. I don’t have the energy for you people. You don’t know my kid… she’s very loud. She needs to be kept busy. So you should DEFINITELY let your kids run free. My kid’s going to damn farm camp. She’s going to grow some arugula and watch some baby chicks hatch and she’s going to love it.

If it makes you feel any better, I have kept a few weeks open for free-range play. I have decided that I’m going to channel my early 80s parent this summer and kick the kids out the door and tell them to be back for lunch. (That is, to make me lunch.) I’m going to give them some basic rules – like don’t get in the car with strangers unless they’re offering you something really good and try to stay away from the main roads… at rush hour – but other than that, I’m going to extend the leash. I’m also going to attach a GoPro to their heads so I can watch the whole adventure unfold later in the day.

Go ahead, climb a tree! It's the 80s, what do I care?!?

Go ahead, climb a tree! It’s the 80s, what do I care?!?

Other things I want to say:

  • I love Frozen but I want to stab all of those songs in the face.

PS. I’ll admit that I did not really get that beautiful underlying message that the only person who can unfreeze my icy heart is MYSELF by performing an act of love until the Internets explained it to me. So a million bucks says my kids didn’t get that either. I’m going to ask them tomorrow who/what Ana needed to unfreeze her heart and I guarantee, one of them will say Sven.

  • It needs to be summer soon so I can start complaining about how hot it is.
  • The Nibbit went away (without the rest of us) for four days and it REALLY changed the family dynamic in the house. At one point, Happy Dude asked me, “Is the Nibbit going to live with us anymore?” very matter-of-factly. I swear, he didn’t really care what the answer was. It wasn’t any quieter with the Nibbit gone, but it was a lot calmer. Not that I think he’s the craziest one, just that I think they all bring out the super-crazies in each other, so without one, the crazy gets taken down a notch. I was going to try to tell you exactly how much it gets taken down with a fraction, but I’m not sure which fraction to use. Would it be 1/3? The crazy gets taken down by 1/3? Yeah, I think that’s how to phrase it. My brother will tell me if I’m wrong. NO MATH IN COLLEGE.
  • We’re taking a million-hour drive with the kids this summer and I’m already wondering HOW THE HELL WE’LL SURVIVE IT. I’m gonna be honest… I’m not sure we all will. I just can’t decide who will be the weakest link. (PSST… IT WILL BE ME.)
  • Spring soccer starts next week and one, it’s going to cost me a fortune. These freaking kids grow so much between seasons. Two, I expect Happy Dude to spend most of the time studying growth rates of various grass types. He’s not big on “running” per se. Or “kicking.” Or any activity that requires a modicum of coordination. But we’re always hopeful he’ll surprise us. And three, I’m trying to remember all the things I’m supposed to say to the kids (“I love watching you play!” and “You were working so hard out there!”) and all the things I’m not supposed to say (“I know you can run faster than that… I’ve seen you do it when I tell you to come and get your pajamas on!” or “Was that REALLY your best?” and “There’s no dessert for LOSERS!”). Quiet week is very hard for me.
  • We miss Amanda a lot in this house. A LOT. AAAAAA LLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTT.
  • Someday I’ll write a real blog post again. One full of meaning and insight and practical advice (which, as you know, you should NEVER follow because it’s coming from me and I don’t really know anything about anything except how to write a goddamn awesome run-on sentence) but alas, today is not that day.

Have a great weekend!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR IT’S ONLY WEDNESDAY. DAMMIT.

I would actually rather NOT build a stupid snowman.

I would actually rather NOT build a stupid snowman.

 

About last night…

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So last night was a real shit show in our house and I’d like to tell you all about it.

7:00 pm: The kids and I got home from activities and a dinner out consisting of the four food groups: beige protein, beige carb, ketchup and milk. They were all hyped up and acting very silly and from the time of 7:05 to the time of 8:15 pm, I may have said all of the following things:

  • Please take the underwear off of your head.
  • Please stop taking the underwear off of your body.
  • Please brush your teeth.
  • Remember, we don’t eat the toothpaste?
  • You should brush really well, because we’re going to the dentist tomooooorrrow….
  • It’s fine to wear pajamas out of the dirty laundry basket.
  • You’re going to lose our special reading time if you don’t take the underwear off of your head.
  • Did you brush your teeth?
  • There are no sheets on your bed because you peed in your bed last night.
  • There are ALSO no sheets on your bed because you ALSO peed in your bed last night.
  • I know you feel very sorry about that. I feel very sorry, too.
  • Have you watered your hermit crabs at all lately?
  • TAKE. THE. UNDERWEAR. OFF. YOUR. HEAD. AND. BRUSH. YOUR. TEETH.

Scare tactics? CHECK. Passive guilt? CHECK. Inappropriate punishment? CHECK. Raised voice? CHECK.

OK, so finally, by 8:15, they’re all in bed. So I thought. 

8:18 pm: I came downstairs, picked up the 4,731 cars that were lying around my kitchen and family room as some sort of elaborate obstacle course, designed so that I would slip on one and fall flat on my back like a cartoon character and be too injured to take anyone to the dentist today.

8:30 pm: Once the automotive mine field was clear, I cleaned up the rest of the toys.*

*Usually toy clean-up is part of our pre-bed ritual, but sometimes it’s just easier to do it myself than deal with watching their painfully slow process.

8:40 pm: I made myself a cup of hot tea and was all set to watch the latest episode of Scandal. (Don’t judge… at least I don’t watch [what YOU were watching last night.]) As I sat down on the couch, I knocked over the cup of hot tea and it went flying. I managed to hit 18 different surface areas with one goddamn mug of tea and it took me longer to clean that up than it did the 4,731 cars.

8:55 pm: OK, Scandal… here we go… I hit play and…

8:56 pm: Happy Dude’s up. MOMMY? WHERE ARE YOU? I’M IN YOUR ROOM AND YOU’RE NOT HERE IN YOUR ROOM BUT I’M LOOKING FOR YOU BECAUSE I’M VEWY VEWY FIRSTY AND I CAN’T REACH THE DRINKS!!

Well, after the two wet beds the night before you can understand why I felt a tiny bit reluctant to offer up beverages, so I said, “You can have a tiny bit of water but then you have to try to pee.”

HD did NOT love that idea. I WANT TO HAVE ALL OF THE WATER IN A FULL CUP AND I DO NOT HAVE TO PEE.

Me: Please stop yelling. Loud One and the Nibbit are sleeping and I really would prefer you didn’t wake them up.
HD: I JUST WANT ALL THE WATER. I’M VEWY VEWY FIRSTY.

So, he drinks the water and I make him try to pee. As the pee is coming out of his body, he is still yelling, I DO NOT HAVE TO GO PEE PEE!

Aaaaand, back to bed.

I’m going to fast forward through the rest of the night because I think a general overview will give you a good sense of how the night played out. Please know that I am NOT exaggerating about what you read next.

9:45 pm: HD is up. He NEEDS ANOTHER DRINK BECAUSE I’M SO FIRSTY. (Made him pee. Again. Call me paranoid, but I was not changing sheets all night again.)

10:20 pm: HD is up. He CAN’T SWEEP IN HIS OWN BED BECAUSE ALL OF MY ANIMALS ARE GONE. (They weren’t.)

11:30 pm: After finally getting through a very unsatisfying Scandal episode, I go to sleep.

11:50 pm: HD is up because he’s NOT SWEEPY.

12:20 am: The Nibbit is up. He had a “bad dream about the bad guys coming and they wanted to get my… but I couldn’t get my… and…and…” I sympathize, give hugs, nightmares are tough, let’s think happy thoughts, blah blah blah.

12:55 am: Happy Dude is up. He NEEDS A TISSUE AND SOME JUICE.  Now I’m really starting to get pissed off. I silently bring him back to his bed as he screams I REALLY NEED A TISSUE AND JUICE! A TISSUE!! I NEEEEED A TISSSSSUUUUE! I hand him a tissue* and I tell him that I will not be tucking him again.

*For those of you thinking, “Well if she keeps giving him what he wants, he’s going to keep waking up,” I have a few things to say. First, suck it. Second, I know this is true, but I also know that, I will always give the tissue to stop the screaming. ALWAYS.  Right or wrong, in the middle of the night, I simply don’t have the patience that the proper parenting techniques require. I may not have that patience during the day either, but that’s a different post entirely.

1:20 am: I hear whimpering and crying coming from the Nibbit. I debate ignoring it but don’t want him to wake up the Loud One (irony), so I walk in there. Another bad dream, more comforting, blah blah blah BUT this time, he’s upset. I CAN’T GO BACK TO SLEEP! I’M TRYING TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH BUT I CAN’T BREATH! It’s OK, Nibbit… calm down, everything’s fine, you’re OK, you really need some sleep and I really need some sleep… and the Loud One chimes in from the top bunk, “and I REALLY need some sleep because I’m going to the dentist tomorrow!”

2:10 am: HD wanders into my room and starts saying something about his stupid needs and… I LOST IT.

Now, please know that I’m not proud of what comes next. But I lay it all out here so that so many of you can feel better about how you DIDN’T scream at your kids at 2:10am last night.

I start YELLING. At 2:30 in the morning, I am screaming, “HD, THIS IS NOT OK! YOU CANNOT KEEP WAKING ME UP! YOU’VE HAVE BEEN OUT OF YOUR BED EVERY HALF HOUR ALL NIGHT LONG AND IT HAS TO STOP! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”

So, of course then, HE loses it…

HD <SOBBING> : “I WANT DADDY!! I WANT DADDY!”*

*Daddy’s on a business trip. Lucky, lucky Daddy is sleeping in a hotel right now.

Me <deep breath> : Daddy’s not here. TRUST ME, I wish Daddy was here, too, but he’s not. I’m sorry I yelled at you, but I’m just so tired. So why don’t we go back to sleep and we’ll call him in the morning, ok?
HD : Okaaaaaay. And maybe I can have a whole drink in the morning?
Me: Yes, that sounds like a very good plan.

4:30 am: The Nibbit: I HAVE TO GO POOP AND I NEED YOUR HELP! Great.

5:15 am: HD: I REALLY HAVE TO GO PEE PEE AND POOPY!! Awesome.

6:00am: HD: I’M DONE SWEEPING! Nooooooo!

How can that even be true? You’ve only been asleep for like 17 total minutes!

7:00am: I drag myself downstairs to find HD drinking a big cup of juice, lovingly poured by his big sister. HI MOMMY! ‘MEMBER WHEN I WAS SO FIRSTY LAST NIGHT?

Um, yeah, I ‘member.

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This is what he looked like all night last night. Which might explain why he was FIRSTY.

Inappropriate Crying Disorder

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If you haven’t noticed, I’m still muddley. I’ve just been a little blah about the blog. Hence, the long lapses between posts. As I said in my last post, what happens is, I get an idea for a post; I start writing; and then, about an hour in, I decide it’s boring/stupid/crappy so I save it as “CrapIdeaXYZ” and add it to my “In Progress” folder… where blog ideas go to DIE.

I wouldn’t call it writer’s block per se… more like blogger’s indifference. Maybe we should call it the BLAHG. (I’m so sorry.)

Blame my kids. Because really, I get most of my material from them so obviously, they’ve been boring lately. I mean, I wouldn’t say that to their faces, but it’s kind of true.

The Loud One has been exceptionally enthusiastic (read: loud) since our vacation. The Nibbit is still all about turning passive activities into full-contact sports (read: Nibbity). And the Happy Dude is still happy and keeping us up at night.

Side note: Happy Dude is also really funny right now, so I tried to write about that, but it’s the kind of funny that doesn’t really translate well… you just kind of have to know how funny three-year-olds are when they say things on your birthday like, “I’m making her a card because it’s Mommy’s Christmas.” It’s just never as funny in writing as it is in person. But if you want to come over and hang out with him just let me know. I’ll run out to Starbucks while you’re here.

So, yeah. Life goes on but the writing does not.

BUT. Then I saw this on Facebook.

hony copy

Can you see the quote? The girl is saying, “When I get really angry, I start crying. It sucks. Everyone else gets to yell and be scary. I have to be like: ‘No! I don’t want a tissue! Quit comforting me! I’m angry, I swear!’”

This post about Inappropriate Crying (I.C.) really struck a chord because if you know me, you know I suffer from I.C.D. (I added “Disorder”). And if you don’t know me, just know that I’ll probably cry when we meet.

I can’t really talk about anything of consequence without getting choked up, tearing up or completely losing my shit. And it sucks. Because when you cry inappropriately, people usually mistake your tears for sadness and offer sympathy. And while sometimes I am sad (like if I’m talking about how they canceled Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip way too soon), OTHER times, I’m just frustrated. Or trying to express my opinion about an emotional situation. Or simply pissed off.

So I see this picture and read this quote on Facebook and I’m like ME TOO! And I then I’m reading the comments and I’m all, I’VE FOUND MY PEOPLE!! There are over five thousand comments, many of which say some form of, “I’m suffer from I.A.D. too! And I hate it.”

Why? Because crying is often perceived as weak. Crying during a P&G “Thank You, Mom” Olympics commercial? Totally acceptable. During a contentious meeting at work? Not so much.

So, what’s my point?

Well…. I’ve discovered that it’s possible my kids have inherited my Inappropriate Crying Disorder. And while there are a LOT of things I hope my kids inherit from me (my doodling abilities, rhyming skills, appreciation for a color-coded calendar…), my I.C.D. is not one of them.

I know. They’re only seven, five and three years old BUT the past few months, I’ve noticed myself saying, “WHY are you crying?? This is not something to cry about!” a lot.

What the hell is wrong with me? Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce to you, the World’s Biggest Hypocrite!

If KJ or my sister ever said, “This is not something to cry about!” to me every time I shed inappropriate tears, we’d be divorced or disowned. (And then I would cry more.)

But I got it now. Thanks to HONY, I realize that Inappropriate Crying Disorder is a very real and common thing. But it’s not insurmountable.

Everyone in our house is working on deep breathing techniques and other strategies to keep the tears at bay when they’re not necessary. Like when “Happy Dude’s car bumped into my book!” Or when we’ve been instructed to shower because we haven’t bathed in four days. Or because we’re out of brownie mix (wait, that actually is really, really sad).

Let me be clear. I am OK with crying. Girls, boys… I’m all for tears as an expression of honest emotion in an appropriate setting. In fact, it is important for my kids – especially my boys – to know that it IS Ok to cry because I know if they suppress those emotions, they will work them out in other potentially harmful ways.

I get that.

BUT… there are also times when we have to learn to keep our shit together. (Poetic? No. Succinct? Yes.)

Because I want my kids (and myself) to be able to talk about their opinions in such a way that they’re taken seriously.

Because I want my kids (and myself) to be able to discuss our relationships with people without making those people afraid to be honest with us. (No one wants to make someone cry!)

Because emotions, other than sadness, that manifest themselves in the form of tears often send mixed signals that will almost always muddy the waters of communication. And good communication is the basis for all good relationships – professional and personal. 

(Wow, that last part sounded really profound, didn’t it? Why don’t you read it again and pretend I always sound like that? Go on…)

So, I’ll just add that now that I’ve recognized this, we’ll all be working on our Inappropriate Crying together.

I’ll also add that I cried while I wrote this, so there’s still a lot of work to do.

The End.

Sand in the eyes? Appropriate crying.

Sand in the eyes? Appropriate crying. Because we can’t “bring all the sand in the world home?” NOT.

PS. You guys are ALL following Humans of New York, right? I KNOW I’ve asked you that already. YES, I’m nagging. But I just want to be really, really sure you’ve done it because this page is the only real reason to check Facebook everyday. Not including the other real reasons:

  1. I want to know what intellectually stimulating activities parents are doing with their kids so I can feel inferior.
  2. I want to know who went to what concert, sporting event, political rally, restaurant or birthday party in the past few days so I can feel inferior.
  3. I want to see perfect family portraits, so I can feel inferior.
  4. I want to see highlights from last night’s Jimmy Fallon show, because THEY’RE AWESOME.

Feeling… Muddley?

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OK, first of all, let’s talk about this winter. Here’s mine:

Snow. Snow. Someone’s sick. Snow. Someone’s sick. Snow. Travel to more snow. Travel home in snow. Someone’s sick. And in approximately two hours, more snow.

It’s getting old, right? On one hand, I live in the Northeast and it’s February, so yeah, it’s cold and it’s going to snow. I get that. But on the other hand, I think I speak for most of the country when I say, STOP IT.

We’ve had bad colds, stomach bugs, croup and just this past weekend, I visited the Urgent Care clinic complaining about the cinderblock that landed in my chest (aka bronchitis). Got my first ever Z-Pak, which up until Saturday, I had always thought was some type of Magical Vitamin Cocktail involving a myriad of drugs and herbal remedies. I’ve always sort of wanted to say, “Yeah, I gotta Z-Pak” and now that I have, I feel just a little bit cooler than before. And better. I also feel a lot better.

Yet, I haven’t been able to write more than a few sentences at a time. I’m going to blame the jet lag (yes, from ten days ago… shut up) and the bronchitis and the emotions of traveling and just say that I’ve been feeling a little… muddley. Do you know what I mean?

Muddley?

For the past week, I’ve started several posts but quickly realized that I wasn’t saying anything important, informative or even remotely entertaining. So I’d stop. And maybe I’d eat some pita chips. Or chocolate chips. Any chip would do.

But today, I said, ENOUGH. I’m just going to put something out there.

So, let me tell you a little bit about my trip.

I spent a week in California with one of my, as the young kids say, “besties.” (And if you’re saying it and you’re NOT a young kid, well then… stop). It was amazing to spend time with her and also really enlightening to just drop in and live with another family for a full week. Here’s what I learned in the span of seven days:

  • I learned about how different children can be – for instance, her kids are so quiet! And they don’t wrestle! And they eat bruised apples and bananas with spots without a single complaint. (I told my kids this when I got home and they just stared at me with blank emotionless eyes. Does not compute.)
  • I also learned how, in other ways, kids are all exactly the same:
    • “Can I have a screen? Can I have sugar?” Repeat. All day long.
    • No kid likes to go to bed, but they mostly all love to cuddle when reading bedtime books.
    • They are always listening. I repeat, they are ALWAYS. LISTENING.
    • Mom is the Center of their Universe.
  • I learned that the cycle of meal-prep, dish-washing, toy clean-up and laundry is endless no matter where you live, what kind of kids you have or what else you’re dealing with in your life.
  • I learned that environmentally friendly dryer sheets don’t really work so you have to use four of them per load. And since there’s no way that four “good” sheets is really better than one “bad” sheet, I’m sticking with my Bounce Free.
  • I learned that if you’re visiting the mountains, it’s worth the money to upgrade your car rental to a vehicle with all-wheel drive.
  • I learned that if you drop a bunch of Mint Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke, the soda is supposed to explode out of the top. I also learned that sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t.
  • I learned that medical professionals aren’t always that (professional) as I was present for the most infuriating medical encounter of my entire life. My friend was brave and strong and so badass (not a surprise); I was so proud to be her advocate that day.
  • I learned that sometimes when life has dealt you a shitty hand, you just wake up and start each day. You do the first thing you have to do and then you do the next thing you have to do and so on. You take care of your kids and love them and hug them. You see friends. You try to laugh. You cry a little. You drink margaritas. But you stay brave and strong and badass because that’s what gets you through to the next day. And then you start over again the next day. Hopefully, without a hangover.
  • I learned that 42 feels a lot like 22 when your drinking margaritas with your college bestie.
  • I learned that my Village is so goddamn effective, I can leave for a week and my kids will barely notice I was gone.
  • And lastly, I learned that the opposite is also true. I missed my family like crazy. Imagine that.

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PS. I hope to return to weekly posts, but I’m not swearing that I’ll do it. And I’m trying not to stress about it. When the muddliness (come on, I might as well take it all the way) goes away, I’ll be back. For what it’s worth, I usually touch base every other day or so on Who Needs A Nap?’s Facebook page, so if you’re interested, “LIKE” our page over there.

PPS. Happy Snow Day… AGAIN.

Village Circles

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I’m leaving tonight to spend a few days with one of my closest friends because she’s dealing with some shit. It’s not my place to define “the shit” but trust me when I say, her plate is overloaded with sucky circumstances and crappy conditions. (Is that vague enough for you?)

There is a lot of logistical planning that has to take place when Mom leaves the house for four days. A LOT. Now, KJ is a great Dad who can easily handle the three kids on his own, but I’m leaving for four weekdays and he does have a job. Thank God we also have Amanda (our kids love “Amanda time” so much, they’ll hardly notice I’m gone) but she also has a lot going on.

So our Village has been called to action. 

We talk a lot about our Village in my family – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – all local and all ready to help. Anytime. Anywhere. In ANY WAY. Yes, I KNOW how lucky I am.

But then the Village spreads out in concentric circles (wait, that’s a math term, isn’t it? Did I use it correctly?).

I have this circle of close, local friends who offer up babysitting help – and kidneys, should one of us ever need one – on a regular basis. When the shit hits the fan for anyone of us, they’ve got the carpools, the play dates and the Meal Train set up before you can even think, “I need help.”

My oldest friends in the world – from middle school, elementary school and even preschool – are out there. They’re all over the place, living their lives, succeeding at jobs, raising their kids. We don’t see each other nearly often enough, but I know they are there, should I need them.

I have a huge extended family and I could call any of those aunt or uncles or cousins for help – or for a Margarita – at any time.

The Village circles go on and on.

Last week, I was sick. I spent many, many hours on the floor of my bathroom, fighting the stomach bug that the Nibbit had brought home two days earlier. I could write about it in detail, but I don’t think that’s necessary. You’ve probably had it this past month as well. You know it sucks.  

Yet the whole time I was sick, in addition to nauseous and miserable and achy, I also felt so lucky. Because I never once had to worry about my kids. I made a few logistical calls when I first woke up and knew I was going to be down for the count and my Village pretty much picked it up from there.

Tonight I fly out West and tomorrow, my Village kicks it into high gear. Pick-ups and play dates and car pools and dinners. And for every person helping, I’ve had many others asking, What I can do? Can we have the kids over for pizza? Did you give KJ and Amanda my number? How are you feeling about your trip?

There’s no real point to this post. It’s just that as I’m packing my bag to go see my dear friend, I’m feeling blessed. I know that if I get the flu, or plan a trip, I’m surrounded by this Village to help. I also know that if I ever need more, the circles go on and on, spreading outward. A ripple effect of support.

I’m very thankful today that because my Village is so strong, I can go play Villager for someone else who I love.

 

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State of the Family

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We had a Family State of the Union meeting yesterday morning. I’d been feeling bothered by the amount of nagging occurring in our house and felt that a quick review of some household rules was in order. So, after properly caffeinating, KJ and I called the kids together and informed them that we were holding a family meeting to discuss responsibilities and expectations.

Look, we even gave it a logo.

Look, we even gave it a logo.

As you can imagine, that announcement was met with excitement and glee!

That’s not true.

In reality, we first got some blank stares… then Happy Dude piped in with “I have meetings at school!” Then the Loud One moaned, “Are we in trouble? It sounds like we’re in trouble.”

I explained that they weren’t in trouble exactly but that I noticed that Daddy and I had both been doing a lot of nagging lately and we don’t really want to be naggy, annoying parents, but when nobody really listens to us AT ALL, we don’t have a choice.

Pick up your clothes, please.
T
urn off the lights, please.
I already answered that question.
If someone says hello to, please look him/her in the eye and respond.
Hey, help clear the table, please!
I already answered that question.
Guys, come on, the clothes!
Goddamn it, say “hello”!

I told them that I sound like a broken record and I don’t like it. They, of course, wanted to know what a broken record was and that delayed our meeting for a few minutes.

Once we were back on track, we distributed the following agenda:

No, not really. I just held the agenda… most of these kids can’t read anyway.

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Family State of the Union: Responsibilities & Expectations
January 19, 2014

1. Manners

  • Always say please and thank you, without being reminded
  • Basic table manners
    • Napkin in lap
    • Don’t talk with food in your mouth
  • Respectful responses when spoken to (by adult or child)
    • Look people in the eye
    • Respond to greeting or answer question

2. Chores

  • STOP leaving your clothes on the floor… everywhere
    • No socks in the  mud room
    • No dirty clothes on the bathroom floor
    • No pajamas on the bedroom floor
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room
  • Clear the table after meals without being reminded

3. General Behavior

  • Ask a question ONCE and listen to the answer. Do not ask that question again.
  • Don’t be assholes.

4. Expectations of Mommy and Daddy… input welcome

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If I had taken minutes of the meeting, they would have looked like:

Family State of the Union meeting called to order at approximately 7:20 am, (so the kids had already had a few hours of screen time).

General introduction: Mom & Dad (M&D) explain that it’s time to review their expectations of the children because they have been nagging too much. Kids look nervous and vaguely guilty.

1. Manners:

  • Mom reviewed parental expectations about the importance of basic manners.
  • Nibbit argued that sometimes his napkin falls OFF of his lap and that is NOT his fault.
  • Happy Dude wants all attendees to know that he has napkins at his new home.***
  • Everyone agrees that looking at chewed-up food is gross.
  • Loud One points out that sometimes making eye contact with grown-ups is hard because she’s so shy. M&D laugh hysterically and accuse her of being a liar.

2. Chores

  • Pick up your clothes! M&D explain that they’re not asking for a lot here – children don’t actually have to DO any laundry, they just can’t leave your underwear wherever they want.
  • Mention of “underwear” sends kids into fits of giggles. Dad joins in.
  • Turn off the lights. Dad tried to explain why this is good for the environment but it sounded really confusing and also kind of like he was making it up, even to Mom. Loud One’s eyeballs rolled. The Nibbit started standing on this head and Happy Dude pointed out that they have light bulbs at his new home. And candy, too.
  • Clear the table. This is pretty straight-forward unless soup was involved. A three-year old should never carry half-full bowls of soup from the dinner table to the sink. Nobody needs that mess.

3. General Behavior

  • Do not repeat the same question over and over again. Mom shared a great article written by a fellow mother who was tired of the “child-nagging and negotiating” happening in her house and decided to put a stop to it with three simple words: ASKED AND ANSWERED. Mom informs attendees that she’ll be implementing the same policy. Attendees don’t really understand what this means, but agree anyway.
  • Don’t be an asshole.** M&D reiterate the importance of being kind, in general and refraining from any douchey behavior as often as possible.

Note: At this point, M&D had to repeatedly ask the Nibbit to stop flipping around on the couch and several times, had to reaffirm that all attendees were indeed paying attention. M&D explained that not paying attention when Mom is talking counts as douchey behavior.

4. Expectations of Mommy & Daddy

  • In an effort to show respect for their offspring, M&D asked the children if they had any expectations of their parental units. Responses included, “Maybe drink less coffee?” and “Take me to the toy store to buy me more toys everyday!”
  • M&D swiftly rejected these requests but promised to address children’s questions immediately and clearly. And to always use kind voices.
  • M&D added, “In other words, we’ll try not to yell so effing much.”

Conclusion: M&D confirm that everyone understands everything we discussed at the meeting and asked if anybody had any questions.

  • The Nibbit DID in fact have a question and it was, “Will you play chess with me now?”

Meeting was adjourned approximately 7:45 am.

All things considered, the meeting went pretty well. Since we adjourned, we’ve only had to ask them to pick up dirty clothes and turn off the lights 16 times instead of 29. And yesterday, when Happy Dude asked the Nibbit if he wanted to do puzzles with him for the fifth time, the Nibbit responded, “ASKED AND ANSWERED.”

I’ve never been so proud.

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*It’s possible that I’m taking my role as Board Secretary at the preschool a little too far.

**Obviously we didn’t really use the word asshole… or douchey… but I did want to make the point that even though there was only one discussion point under “General Behavior,” that doesn’t mean that that’s our ONLY expectation. Ask a question only once AND don’t be assholes. Equally important.

***Some kids have imaginary friends, Happy Dude has an imaginary alter-life. For the past month, he’s been referencing his “new home,” where he apparently lives with several family members and pets. This all began on December 20th, when I posted the following on Facebook:

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