What I am Thankful For?

In response to the question what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving, many of us respond – family, friends, health, jobs, a roof over my head.  I too am thankful for all of those things.  That being said, I thought it would be interesting to acknowledge the little things I am thankful for…the things that are often ignored around Thanksgiving tables.

…so here is my list of things I am thankful for…

  1. the training collars my big dogs wear that makes them actually listen (wondering if would work on my kids as well).
  2. Stacy’s pita chips although I do have a minor addiction to them which I am not thankful for as they are not helping my W8Lo challenge.
  3. the DVD player in the car which allows us to take cross country road trips with the kids without the use of duct tape.
  4. Delta Community Credit Union because if I bounce a check they don’t charge me.
  5. My giant washing machine because I can do three loads at once.
  6. My double oven because I am getting a little closer to having everything hot at the same time when I serve a meal.
  7. My GPS which has saved me on more then one occasion from turning on the wrong Peachtree street.
  8. Susan Chambers Dance Company which has provided an amazing outlet for CJ as he has discovered his love of dance all for free since boys are on a scholarship their first year.
  9. My kick ass long black boots (which I will be wearing tonight at Thanksgiving dinner, thank you very much).
  10. My little lap dog who is 9lbs of fierce.
  11. Subway because it is reasonably healthy, all the kids like it and it is easy to take to softball games.
  12. Softball because without it I have no social life.
  13.  My Kroger card because I have managed to get gas for under $3/gallon on more than one occasion.
  14. The internet because I would be so bored without it.
  15. The NaBloPoMo Challenge that reminded me how much I love to blog.

What are the little things that you’re thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a good night.

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Do I Have To Be Thankful For Every Mommy Moment?

When Jack first came home I swore I was going to love every second of being a mother.  After losing a baby and then going through the arduous process of adopting, I had worked hard to be a mom.  I saw people yelling at their kids in the grocery store or ignoring them in a restaurant and I promised myself that would never be me.  I was going to cherish every blessed moment of parenting.

Fast forward almost 16 years and you know what? I don’t cherish every moment.  I yell at my kids in the grocery store and I have attempted (usually unsuccessfully) to ignore my children at a restaurant so that my husband and I could try to have an adult conversation. There are even moments when I wonder if it’s all worth it;  If maybe I would have been better off living the yuppie life.

I love my kids, I really do.  Always.  The thing is there are times I could most definitely do without.  I don’t need to be awoken at 2 am by a child covered from head to toe in an itchy rash.  I could use a few minutes of silence both before and after dinner.  I would love a teenager who gladly handed me his phone so I could check his text messages.  And there are days I could do without the hormonal 13 year old crying over being looked at sideways.

As Thanksgiving approaches and everyone is talking about what they are thankful for I am wondering if it’s okay that I feel this way.  Can I still be thankful for my children even if I don’t like being a mom every blessed moment?

I gave this question a lot of thought and I have decided that the answer is yes.  I don’t think you have to love every moment.  Sheesh, parenting is not always fun and there are lots of really hard parts.  I think that there is something warped about anyone that says they love every second of parenting.  It’s just not humanly possible.  The important thing is not to love every second but to acknowledge the seconds that you do love:

When my 7 year old looks up at me and says, “I love you so much, there is no more room in my heart,”  my heart melts and I am so thankful for being a mom.

When my 10 year old does his elf face and makes an entire room of people laugh, I beam with pride at his sense of humor and I am so thankful for being a mom.

When my 13 year old offers to make many loaves of banana bread for a friends fundraiser, I am pleased by her generosity and I am so thankful for being a mom.

When my 15 year old teaches his younger brother how to play basketball for hours with the patience of a saint, I am amazed by his kindness and I am so thankful for being a mom.

When my kids all come together and rally around the one who is being mistreated by another kid, I am heartened at their strength and loyalty and I am so thankful for being a mom.

The moments that I am thankful for being a mom most definitely outweigh the ones when I am ready to hop in my car, with my little 9lb dog in tow, and just flee the jurisdiction.  Some days it is very hard to appreciate my kids with all the snarky comments, battle cries and whining, but when I stop and reflect, I realize that I am very thankful for my family.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

 

 

Do You Ever Lie To Your Kids?

Do you ever lie to your kids?  I do all the time and apparently this freaks quite a few of my friends out.  I may be alone in my belief that as far as parenting goes honesty is not always the best policy but I stand by my position.

Most of my lies are simply ways to make the outside world responsible so that I am not.  For example, if you are like me, the stench of the elephant house at the zoo is enough to make you vomit right there on the spot.  When Jack was young, he loved elephants.  It was so much easier just to tell a 3 year old Jack that the elephant house was closed on Tuesdays, than to fight with him about walking through.  Sure, I could have told him it made Mommy sick to go inside.  I may have tried that once or twice and what I learned was …he really didn’t care.  He was 3, he wanted to go in the elephant house, enough to pitch a fit if I said No.  He didn’t give a pile of elephant poop if I tossed my cookies.  However, if it was closed by the Zoo, I was not to blame and there was nothing anyone could do.  We were free to go to the less offensive smelling reptile house;  Jack happily in his stroller pointing to the Elmer’s that were outside as we passed by.  A win, win if you ask me.

I potty trained Quinn through a series of lies.  She was a few months past 2 when we went away for Thanksgiving.  The entire time we were away she used the big girl potty of her own volition.   She would take her diaper off, use the potty and then ask for help putting the diaper back on.  I mistakenly assumed this meant she was potty trained and excitedly purchased countless packages of Princess and Dora underwear.  Upon our return home, she refused to use the potty and all my purchased were for naught.  By March, I had had enough. I knew girlfriend was more than physically capable of using the potty, she was choosing not to.  So I had to make using the potty her idea…this is where my affinity for lying came in handy.

At the time, we lived near a small amusement park called KiddieLand.  I had never taken my children there even though we passed it on our frequent trips to Target.   So one day on our way to Target, I pulled into the KiddieLand parking lot and said, “Quinn, do you want to go to KiddleLand?  It looks like so much fun.”  Then I pointed to the flashing sign that stood tall in the middle of the parking lot, “Oh  no, look what the sign says…oh sweetie, I’m sorry, it says we can’t go…Big girls only, must be potty trained…oh well, maybe when you’re bigger.” And I pulled out of the parking lot secretly enjoying the disappointed look on Quinn’s face.

We then went to Target where I let her go down the Barbie aisle.  At this point in my parenting career I was staunchly anti-Barbie and had prevented any of the buxom blondes from entering my house.  Quinn, however, was not immune to the Barbie propaganda and had been making pleas for the addition of a Barbie to her toy collection.  We went slowly down the Barbie aisle and I let her pick one up. While she was holding it, I pointed to some lettering on the box.  “Oh no, look what it says, For Big Girls ONLY.  Must be potty trained.”  And I told her to put the box back on the shelf.

It took less than 3 days for Quinn to step back into her Princess and Dora underwear and then we went to KiddieLand and bought her a Barbie to celebrate.  I never would have used such high pressure tactics had she not proven months before that she was physically capable of using the toilet.  Once she had external motivation to use the potty, it happened almost overnight.  My nagging did not do the trick but toss in that blonde bombshell and BAM! Huggies were a thing of the past.

I never lie about the important stuff.  If we are going to the Dr’s office I have never promised there would not be a shot.  My answer was always “I don’t know.”  Although technically this could be considered a lie because many times I did know there would be a shot but said I don’t know anyway.  I don’t see how increasing my child’s anxiety prior to a check-up does anyone any good.

I have been known to tell a child that they no longer make Pull-Ups in their size, the dog is allergic to people food and drinking soda will stunt their growth.  Are my lies detrimental to my children?  I don’t think so.  We all get a good laugh out of the potty training story, even 13 year old Quinn, so I don’t think she was irreparably scarred.

These days though, my lying has lessened considerably because all but one of my kids can read.  I have been forced into honesty simply because my children are receiving a fairly decent education.  All is not lost however.  Now, I avoid the stinky elephant house by making my big kids walk through with the shorties and meeting them on the other side.  Some lies have just become unnecessary.

And before you judge me for lying, ask yourself if the big fat man in red comes to your house in December or the tooth fairy flutters in to exchange some cash for a lost tooth.  If so, you, my friend, are right there with me, whether you lie about it or not.

To the Unsolicited Parenting Advice Giver

Someone with only one child who is under 10 and who has no special needs, recently suggested that I alter my parenting approach.  Apparently, this unsolicited advice giver felt that if I just took a moment to understand where my child was coming from and didn’t judge his behavior so negatively, things would be much more copacetic in my world.  I managed to stifle my laughter long enough to say something like “I’ll give that some thought.”  Later I called one of my good friends who like me, has 4 kids some with special needs, and the two of us laughed so hard that I almost peed on myself.

I too was a parenting expert when I only had one child.  I read the books and bought into all the parenting advice in People Magazine.  But now, three children later, I am much less of an expert and more of a survivor.  Some days, the house looks like a war zone and it is all I can do to make sure the kids are fed something edible and get to school.  Don’t ask me to try to provide psychoanalysis as well.

To be quite frank, many times I don’t give a rat’s ass where my children are coming from.  I used to, but now who has the time? When I ask you to empty the dishwasher, empty the damn dishwasher.  It’s not rocket science.   If you had a bad day or are not feeling heard, I’m sorry.  That sucks for you.  But the dishwasher still has to be emptied and I’m not doing it.  I already do enough around the house.

I am happy to sit down with my children and have a loving exchange about feelings but not until the frickin’ dishwasher is empty.  I am really tired of the idea that our children always have to be happy.  Life is hard.  We all have to do things we don’t want to or don’t like. Sometimes your team loses…even if they lose by 100 points, the other team doesn’t owe you a pass.  Put on your big girl/boy pants and suck it up.

Let me add that not all children are the same and do not respond the same way to the same approach.   Some children are more difficult than others.  It is what it is. Please don’t assume because I don’t do the feelings nonsense now, it is not something I didn’t try in the past with no success.  It didn’t work with any of my children.

But I know my children and I know what does work.  I can just look funny at one child, and tears will follow.  Another one of my kids not only won’t respond to a look, he won’t respond to screaming, crying or the taking away of his electronics.  You know what makes the biggest impact on him when he’s in trouble?  Being sent to his room.  He hates being alone.  One of my kids loves being sent to her room.  “I’ll gladly go to my room, I can read for hours there uninterrupted.”  She however, can’t stand to lose her laptop because not being able to play Minecraft while Skyping with her bestie would cause her to have multiple seizures.

I have tried all kinds of parenting tactics.  I have seen what does and what doesn’t work.  I know my children well.  I assure you I know them better than the unsolicited advice giver does.  And to the unsolicited advice giver I say, if you want to have a debate about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher every time you ask, be my guest.  I won’t judge you.  My dishwasher is empty.

P.S. NaBloPoMoW8Lo Stalled at the scale this morning but I did lose a pound yesterday so I will not be negative.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and my weight loss won’t be either.

“Let Them Wear Shorts!” says Kate Antoinette

When Jack was 3, he and I had a battle of wills. I insisted he stay at the table until he finished one baby carrot. He did not want to eat his baby carrot. He sat at that damn table for over 45 minutes taking miniscule “bites” of that pathetic baby carrot. I left the table and put baby Quinn to bed. Jeff left the table and did the dinner dishes (not really but that’s how I’d like to remember it). Jack sat. He did not cry. He did not fuss. Nor did he chew. He sat. Eventually, he ate ½ of the baby carrot (or fed it to the dog, I can’t be sure) and I let him off the hook because honestly I was sick of both Jack and the baby carrot.

At a later pediatrician appointment, I mentioned this event to the doctor. She looked at me condescendingly and asked, “Do you think the nutrition he got from that one half of baby carrot was worth that fight? With children, you really need to pick your battles wisely.”

That may be the best piece of parenting advice I have ever received. It is easy to get hung up on stupid battles with our stupid children. And boy, my children can be soooooooooooooo stupid.

Imagine if you will an 11 year old boy choosing to wear shorts to school when it is 40 degrees out even though he has drawers full of pants that would keep him warm. I don’t know why any child would do that. But Jack does. He did it from 6th through 8th grade. I thought about fighting that battle. But I didn’t. If he wanted to freeze, let him freeze. Heck, as long as I was warm why should I care. Let him wear shorts! Just call me Kate Antoinette.

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When Quinn sported an ensemble that made Salvador Dali roll over in his grave, did I freak out and think OMG everyone is going to think that I don’t buy my daughter clothes that match? No I did not. I took a deep breath and wished we didn’t look so much alike so I could deny any relation. If she wanted to look like a box of crayolas threw up, let her look like Crayola vomit. Just call me Kate Antoinette.

When at age 6, CJ had a thing for tutus, did I put my foot down and refuse to let him leave the house looking like a prima ballerina? No, I did not. Instead, I proudly held my head high and thought, I am a mom who knows what battles to pick, as we wandered through Target to the chorus of snickers and giggles. Let him look silly. Just call me Kate Antoinette. Jeff however would never go anywhere with CJ in a tutu so he has not earned the name Jeff Antoinette.

Homework is another battle I refuse to have. Do it, don’t do it, I don’t care. That fight is between you and your teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I nag, I remind, I pester but I won’t fight about it. I will always provide help if I am asked and I will reach out to the teacher on my child’s behalf if something goes terribly wrong or if they need more time, but I do not fight with my kids about it. After all, I have graduated elementary/middle/high school. I did my homework and almost always turned it in on time….almost. Let them fail school. Just call me Kate Antoinette.

I also refuse to fight about food. If you don’t like what we’re having for dinner, I honestly don’t care. Don’t eat it. You won’t starve if you miss one stinking meal. My kitchen is not a restaurant and I am not making 6 different entrees. Bon fuckin’ appetit. Just call me Kate Antoinette.

Refusing to engage in some of these battles used to require remarkable restraint on my part. Honestly, I did find myself upset about the fact that my kids walked out of the house looking like idiots, weren’t eating their vegetables and went to school without completed homework. Then, I sat down and thought long and hard about why. I realized that I was worried what other people would think. After all what kind of mom lets her child out in 40 degree weather in shorts?? Years ago, I would have judged that mom. I would have said bad things about her to other moms. I would have thought about calling DCFS. Now I realize that mom is the smart mom; the mom that chooses her battles wisely. Once, I realized that and let it go, parenting became much, much easier.

That’s not to say that I don’t fight any battles. Clearly, I refuse to fight about clothing…unless it is something I have seen you wear for the past few days and it stinks or we are going to a dressy function. In that case you can call me Mean Mom.

If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s a rude child. The manner battle is a battle I will fight to the death…and I will not be the one dying I assure you. If you want something from me, I expect a please and thank you. I hold visiting children to that standard as well, no matter how badly this embarrases my own. Any kid that walks into my kitchen and tells me they “want milk,” hears, “Really, I want polite visitors, guess neither of us is getting what we want.” Just call me Mean Mom

I also expect to be spoken to respectfully. I will not be yelled at or spoken to rudely by anyone other than my own mother. If you can’t treat me with respect, I can’t feed, cloth or take you anywhere you want to go….and if you really piss me off, I may just keep your allowance. Mean Mom has spoken.

P.S. NabloPoMoW8Lo Challenge – I woke up this morning to the dogs barking up a storm. A friend was dropping off her 2 young daughters for the day as her husband is out of town and she is way behind on her work. I overslept and welcomed them into my home while clad in pjs and hair sticking straight up…I got the girls settled, made myself some coffee and tried to get my day going. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized I DIDN’T WEIGH MYSELF. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get right on the scale in the morning. So today I have nothing to report. HUMPH.

Write I Shall….

Day One of the Challenge is here at last

NaBloPoMo is gonna be a blast!

I am so excited to be blogging again.  There was a time when I blogged fairly regularly but it’s been years.  Life got in the way; work, kids, dogs, my futile attempts to get in shape. It all conspired to keep me from writing.  Some would say that I could have made time by giving up my Ancient Alien addiction, but when the Greys return to Earth, I will be ready, will you?

As a fabulous (read adequate) mom of four, a wonderful (read bitchy) wife, a stellar (read perfunctory) employee and a perfect (read horrible) housekeeper, there is just not much time left in my day to express myself creatively. My children would say I express myself at the top of my lungs regularly but that’s not creative…that’s parenting.  I had given up writing entirely and was feeling badly about it.

As if reading my mind, this past Monday, my friend, Paulette Beete of The Home Beete mentioned the NaBloPoMo challenge. (Try saying that ten times fast!) Not only do I have difficulty resisting a challenge but it felt kharmic.  It is time to make some time for myself, be creative, write regularly, jump back into the blogoshere.  Plus, I can’t let Paulette think that I am a lame, loser, wannabe blogger who can’t post for 30 days in a row.  I’d rather get a pap smear.

…so write I shall…

I have no plan, I have no niche, I have nothing… Just a desire to write, a crazy family to write about, and my Ancient Alien hour to write during…not to mention a super cute blog name – thanks to my old boss and good friend, Diana Whitney!

How hard can this challenge possibly be?