Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hamster Wheel

Is it about time for my annual apology for being distracted post? I think so...

Life has been busy lately. Between family, work, classes, extracurriculars, and home renovations, there hasn't been a whole lot of time left for blogging. So sorry!!

We are all happy, healthy, and learning and growing. Busy...too busy, but that's how we learn limits, I guess. The new year is definitely going to bring some changes for us, and a realignment and reprioritization.

Boy the Elder has been loving Kindergarten, and just got an outstanding report card. He is exceeding expectations across the board, even in the areas that I was concerned about. He's making friends, and really starting to come out of his shy phase too. He's been taking kung fu and I think it's really helping his confidence. It's amazing to watch him grow. Even when he shows me a glimpse of the sullen teenager he'll be in a few more years, like this morning, when it was simply tragic that his skinny jeans weren't skinny enough.

Boy the Younger is a big shot in his preschool room at daycare now. He's up to seven girlfriends (I'm a little hurt that I'm number 7 - shouldn't I be number 1?), well on his way to the goal he's of of 16 girlfriends. He's been taking a hip hop dance class, and he is always practicing. He seems to have perfect pitch too when he sings. Also he is an amazing swimmer - he was almost skipped ahead an entire level because he's such a little fish. Still sweet and loving and sensitive, and I know it won't last much longer now that he's 3 (and 3/4!) but I'll love it as long as it lasts.

Darling Husband and I are busy, and tired, and very much looking forward to going on our next vacation. It is still a while away, but by the time it comes we're going to really deserve it!

I am loving the class I'm taking, even if it's a bigger time committment than I thought it would be.

We're working on getting our house ready to sell. We are planning to downgrade our house a little - since we always have a few projects going anyway, we figured it would be better to have a smaller mortgage. We like updating and upgrading things, so if we buy something a little uglier/older/shabbier and fix it to our specs, we will end up ahead of where we are now. The trick is now figuring out how in the world we'll get everything done and start showing our house to buyers on the timeline we mapped out?? No idea yet how that will work.

Anyway, sorry sorry sorry for neglecting Apparently I'm A Parent. It's still a very important thing for me, it's just that I am a wee bit overprogrammed at the moment.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chronic Whyarrhea

In yet another way, I have discovered that one of my kids is almost an exact replica of me. You know those little kids who ask "why" about everything, constantly, day in and day out? I was one of those kids. So, apparently, is Boy the Younger.

We go to a daycare centre, and there was a little bat that was sleeping above the front door for a while a few weeks ago. Every day this was a huge source of questions.

"Why is Butterscotch (we named her Butterscotch) sitting up on the wall?"
"Why is she sleeping? It's morning time!"
"Why are some animals nocturnal?"
"Why is she upside down?"
"Why does she come to the same place every day?"

And now that she's stopped coming there:

"Why isn't she here anymore?"
"Why didn't she say goodbye?"
"Why can't we go find her batcave?"
"Why. Why. WHY WHY WHY?"

Now due in no small part to my own childhood chronic whyarrhea, I'm a fairly decent repository of useless trivia, so I am able to answer a lot of these questions...but even I'm running dry on some of these. And a half assed answer like "Just because" is absolutely not acceptable. He will tilt his head, raise an eyebrow, and say "That's not a real answer, Mommy." So I need to pull out my secret weapon. Google.

Seriously. I have no idea how my parents survived my own curious childhood without Google. Or duct tape. Best.Parenting.Tool.Ever. Only I am truly afraid of my browser history or what we are singlehandedly doing to search engine statistics. There is some crazy crap that we look up.

We had a chat the other day about why he asks why so much. I told him he has whyarrhea, and I laughed, and then told him that's funny because it rhymes with diarrhea. His response?

"Why do people get diarrhea?"

Sigh. Let's Google that. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sarcasm - My Second Favorite -asm

"Momy, Momy, look, a smart car!!" "Hey, a convertible!!" "I see a little dog!!" "A double dump truck!!"

This is the soundtrack to my daily commute. Every day. Doesn't matter if we're already in the middle of another conversation, doesn't matter if I'm belting out a Journey tune, doesn't matter if I have not had a drop of coffee yet and just need a little peace and quiet, thankyouverymuch.

So I have resorted to the lowest form. The Sarcasm. I figure that Boy the Elder and Boy the Younger are going to need to figure out sarcasm sooner or later, with the family they landed in. No Sheldon Coopering allowed here. Might as well be sooner.

So when I'm presented with one of these excited announcements of the perfectly mundane, lately I've been tending to respond with a smartass-ish comment like: "Is it on fire?", "Is it flying?", "Is it doing something different than every other ______ that we've seen every day for the past few years and therefore actually worthy of some sort of mention today?" "No? Ok then. Let me know when it is."

A little jerkface? Maybe. But we are having massive interrupting problems right now, and I feel like I really need to kill this little monster before it becomes a big monster - and I see this as a very big opportunity to work on the interrupting.

As usual, my kids are surprising me with their brains. The first time I made a comment like this, I wasn't sure if they'd get it, wasn't sure if maybe I was pushing it a little, wasn't sure if it really was age-appropriate. No fear. They get it.

Last weekend, I took them to the beach and I saw someone riding a stand up paddleboard (which I'm really interested in trying) and I pointed it out to them. "Look, boys, check out that paddleboard!"

Boy the Elder replied, "Is it on fire?"

Sarcastic little jerkface.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I Don't Speak Whinese

I don't often recommend it, but having two children in 18 months does have certain benefits. One key benefit was spending about a year or two so ridiculously busy and sleep deprived that I was just completely oblivious to a lot of things.

Like Whinese. I do not remember this phenomenon in Boy the Elder. Possibly I was too distracted with the baby, possibly I was too comatose as a general rule to notice, possibly he just never did it as badly as Boy the Younger. That three year old can whine like a vinyard. Even if all he's doing is trying to tell me something,  even if it's something nice, lately he seems to be only able to speak Whinese. In the dialect of Pest Naggian. It is utterly exhausting. And I'm powerless to combat it. I try to ignore it. He gets louder. I tell him I can't speak Whinese and he should try again in his big boy voice. He looks at me like I'm some kind of idiot.

We just got back from a family vacation - a road trip - about 8 hours each way. The boys really surprised us and handled it well, but they were just...highly needy. We were together for five solid days, but somehow they seemed starved for attention. We were smart enough to stock up on movies for the in-vehicle entertainment system, but still, toward the end of it, at times I had to mentally struggle between keeping it rubber side down and between the lines and driving off a cliff.

And then the time zone change. We are all messed up. I couldn't go to bed, and the boys couldn't wake up. Well, except for Boy the Younger's 4 am wakeup, when he cried and whimpered "I just need to tell you something." "Ok, what is it?" "I love you. All."

I guess maybe it wouldn't hurt to pick up a few things in Whinese.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I Suck At Bluffing

I like to think I'm this strategic thinker. I've built a career around being logical, analytic, and measured. But when it comes to my personal life, relating to my family, it's like I'm a total dummy. I have no poker face. I cannot bluff. Any attempts to bluff are royally screwed up and backfire on me.

Here's a little gem that happened to us this week. We're on a bike ride/dog walk and the boys asked if we could take a different route home for a change. So being the flexible, fair, friendly mom that I am, I said "Sure thing, why not...except this is a busier road so I don't want you guys zooming ahead on your bikes like we do on the cul de sac. We have to stay all together, do you still want to go home that way?" They both agreed, "Yes Mom, we can do that."

A whopping two seconds later B1 was zooming off way ahead of us, so I called him back and reminded him of our deal. He lost it. Cried, yelled, said he was going back and going home the other way. I reminded him that there were two other people and two dogs and we had all agreed to go this way today and that we would all stay together. I said that if he couldn't ride nicely with us, then I guessed he couldn't ride his bike and would have to walk home while I carried it (because doesn't THAT sound like fun?). He didn't cooperate, so I picked up the bike and asked him to follow us.

I guess he had been saving some reserves because now he REALLY lost it. Screaming, crying, acting like I was skinning him alive (I may have wanted to a little, but gosh I'd never do it on a public street). And planting himself firmly in one spot and refusing to walk home.

Now...I have problems with conflict. I have problems when people don't take my advice. I know lots of ways to influence people and to manipulate behaviour, but it's so different when you're dealing with people acting rationally. When my adversary just goes bat crap crazy like that, and I'm in the heat of the moment, looking like a fool in public, and there's a clear standoff, I just have no idea what to do and typically end up saying something really stupid.

I told him that if he didn't come home with us now that he would be losing his Lego privileges for a week. Huh??? Ok, how does Lego even relate to the battle at hand? Who was talking about Lego? And, a whole WEEK? Um, isn't that a little much? Not to mention - Lego is a most excellent Shut Up Toy. Taking it away for a week really only punishes me.

See what I mean? Dummy. Obviously I was hoping he would agree that was a stupid consequence and way too extreme and not worth it, and he'd decide to go along with me. Clearly my not-yet-five-year-old will outperform me in Vegas, because he decided to call my bluff. He's still not coming home with us.

Shit. What do I do now? Ok, a week of losing his prized possession wasn't motivating enough, how about we double that - TWO weeks of no Lego! WHAT? What am I saying? This is taking stupid to a whole new level! It doesn't make sense! It's way too harsh! But - I'm committed now. I can't take it back. I have to follow through on this stupid, unrelated, excessive consequence. Lego gone for two stinking weeks. And he's STILL not coming.

I must have been more convincing after that - only had to ask if he wanted to make it three weeks while starting to walk away (let's not consider that it was actually the walking away that did the trick, I'm already feeling foolish enough, but suffice it to say I'll probably be trying that first next time).

So we made it home. And I dutifully put away the Lego per the terms of his sentence. I'm not really sure how I'm going to survive two weeks of not having Lego available to bring down the volume level around here. I'm going to need to devise some sort of parole plan to knock down the sentence for good behaviour or something.

Obviously I need a trip to Vegas. A lesson in poker strategy, focusing heavily on bluffing, is clearly in order for me.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chilling The Cookie Dough

When I was younger, I knew everything about everything.

I could tell when people were lying to me, trying to take advantage of me, really caring for me. I knew how everything worked. I could read between all the lines, any lines, and perfectly understand, judge, and solve everyone's problems about everything. I knew what was right, what was wrong, and what was stupid.

Only...I didn't.

Rushing and overconfidence is the folly of youth - at least, it was for me. Jumping to conclusions, making assumptions, looking at every situation through my own personal lens (which may or may not have been cracked or cloudy). 

The gift of time and age is mine now and with it has come the ability to see beyond the end of my own nose. I've learned that people have a lot of reasons for doing things. That we all come from a different place and have a different life experience path than each other. That a quick scan is not the same as a deep and careful analysis. That many things make a different kind of sense, if you listen. If you pay attention. If you pause before forming your opinion. If you look at things and can see shades of grey instead of just black and white.

It's like chilling the cookie dough before you bake it. Same ingredients. Same process to make the dough. Only the application of a little bit of time and temperature that doesn't visibly change anything. Not to mention makes me wait longer to start eating cookies. BUT that little bit of time has a profound effect on my favorite cookie recipe! They are thicker, chewier, and even more awesome.

I think I've become that kind of cookie.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Just For Today

Just for today, I'm going to be a better person.

Just for today, I'm going to forgive the people that couldn't be patient for me. Clearly they had a reason.

Just for today, I'm going to remember that there's always a reason for why people do what they do.

Just for today, I'm going to smile when I want to frown.

Just for today, I'm going to let people go before me. I need to work on my patience.

Just for today, I'm going to look for the joy in things people do that might annoy me.

Just for today, I'm going to enjoy taking some time for me instead of feeling guilty about it.

Just for today, I'm going to avoid saying anything mean or negative.

Just for today, I'm going to try a new way of getting the outcome that I want.

Just for today, I'm going to demonstrate what I think is the right choice and hope to be observed.

Just for today, I'm going to remember that everyone has a story, and some are much sadder than mine.

Just for today, I'm going to trust that everything will be ok.

Just for today, I'm going to be a better person.

And then maybe for tomorrow, too.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Open Letter To Daycare Parents At Dropoff and Pickup

I know. Daycare dropoffs and pickups kind of suck. They're noisy, crowded, rushed, and always seem to take eleventy times as long as they ought to.

But pulease...they would go so much more smoothly if we could all just agree to the following rules:

  1. Park your vehicle somewhat better than if it was being parked by a drunken, blind monkey. Only one spot, and actually in it.
  2. While close parking is in short supply, try not to double park, box others in, or simply create a spot in some random place in the lot. Just circle the lot or park further away that day. It's not really the end of the world.
  3. Don't toss your sloppy shoes or boots on top of someone else's. Or inside them.
  4. While we're on that topic, how's about you actually read the signs posted everywhere about removing dirty shoes and remove yours?
  5. If another parent is talking to the teacher, or an admin, model good, patient behaviour for your child and please wait your turn.
  6. Do your best to herd your turtles, or cheetahs, or drunken, blind monkeys carefully. Especially around the poor parents struggling with bucket car seats, 400 backpacks, blankets, and puffy snowsuited short people. They can't always see your kids from under the mountain they are carrying.
  7. In the parking lot, hold their hands. Do not assume we can all see your kids. We're all a little self absorbed, late, and probably trying to tune out crying or tantruming for a granola bar.
  8. If you have only one child, or older children, consider that perhaps someone else might appreciate rock star parking a little bit more. Let the parents of infants, multiples, etc. take the closer spots since it likely will be way easier for you to walk for two extra minutes.
  9. Holding doors for the other moms and dads is a very nice thing to do in general. But please don't hold open the doors for kids unless you can see their family is all coming. Some of us are unable to grasp the concept of staying with a group and insist on forging ahead.
  10. If someone chooses to use the elevator instead of the stairs, please spare them your judgement. Possibly they have an invisible injury, they have already been up and down several times, or they promised an elevator ride as a bribe to someone. Whatever their reason, it isn't your business. There is an elevator, it's there to be used.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Mommy Halo

I recently read this article and it caused me to do some thinking.

I adore my kids. I'm in awe of them most days - their intellectual and emotional intelligence, their humour, even their rebellion (sometimes). But I am under no delusion that they are angels. Sometimes, sure, but always? Definitely not.

So to consider storming into schools and teams and employers, ready to throw down and defend them at all costs, negotiate better grades, force teachers into allowing abysmal behaviour from them is just not a possibility for me. I just could not do that. I would not.

Here's an example. B1 is 4 and a half years old. He goes full time to a large daycare centre. Sometimes he comes home and tells me that some kid or another hit him, or pushed him, or kicked him, or whatever. I was hearing this a lot for a few weeks, and I finally asked him what he was doing right before this happened. Turns out my little angel had more than a little demon in him. "Well, I was bugging him about his pink snow pants, then he pushed me," or "I was just practicing my kung fu moves, and then he hit me," or "Me and S told her she couldn't play with us, and she came and bit us." Uhhhh huh. Well, that is a very different story, my friend. And it's a story for which I have exactly ZERO sympathy. If you want to act like a jerk, don't come to me looking for an attorney.

If my kids are ever legitimately being bullied by someone, damn straight I will come and work to fix that. But in those kids-will-be-kids situations where they are dishing it out as much as they're taking it, I will only coach them that they need to look at their own behaviour before they can complain about someone else's.

And that's why I rarely take what my kids report at face value. I have asked before about certain conflicts, but I trust that the teachers/ECEs/caregivers know way more about it than I do, since they're, you know, THERE.

To the parents out there who defend first and ask questions later, or never, shame on you! You are not helping your children grow into well adjusted humans who make smart choices at all. You're just making things easy for them and teaching them they don't have to try.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Naughty Mama Blogger

I realize it's been a while. Not because I didn't want to - in fact I've started at least three posts in the past few weeks and have ultimately given up on working them into something anyone would want to read.

I've been going through a bit of a sad space lately. I'm having a difficult time adjusting to my new job and workplace (which aren't so new anymore, but still) and feeling ineffective in many parts of my life. I was feeling like I was too angry, too negative, not good enough, but dissatisfied and not doing enough to change that. I was feeling like a victim and not in control of my life.

Not much has materially changed, but I'm delighted to say I feel better lately. Particularly this week.

I've said for ages that I wanted to go back to school. And that I want to be a healer. But there have been barriers - mortgage, kids, bills, time, not being sure what I wanted to do. I took my first steps on this path last weekend and became a First Degree Reiki healer. And I love it! I've given Reiki treatments to my husband and both boys, and myself, and I'm planning to offer it to my dogs next. Am I quitting my job - no - not yet - but I am looking forward to earning my Second Degree, and I believe I've found another program that I want to take. This has filled me with hope that I will achieve my dream of helping people to feel better and find wellness, and leave the world a better place than I found it.

I've felt guided to this path but was very unsure. I feel more sure than I ever have and I think that means the time is right. The program I want to take is going to take me about two years to complete, but on a part time and self study basis, and I will be able to begin working in the field halfway through.

I can't describe how excited I am about this. I just got off the phone with the school and I could start this program as early as three weeks from now (although I'm not sure I can make that happen from a financial perspective). But certainly in September otherwise. Which would mean September is going to be HUGE for our family! Large Man Cub will start Kindergarten, Small Man Cub will start Preschool, and I will go back to school after a dozen years!

I have felt really good about where I am in my personal and family life, but my professional life has been incomplete for a while. I feel so hopeful about the future!

Now I just need to find thousands of dollars. Eep.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012 In Review

These are 5 things I discovered this year:

  1. B1 has my heart. He is sentimental and loving. When we redecorated his room, he was honestly sad because he would miss his old room. He looks at our old dog and says "I'm going to miss him so much when dies." This is most certainly, without question, my heart in this child.

  2. B2 is also a mini me in many ways. We both take off our socks as soon as possible upon getting home. We could both gladly eat chicken strips, cheese, and chocolate shortbread every day. He makes the same funny facial expressions when he talks that I do (which is why I hate FaceTime).

  3. B2 is smarter than I ever imagined. We always knew B1 was pretty darn clever. But B2 has managed several skills earlier and easier than his brother did. I worked hard to teach B1 his ABCs and how to count, I barely spent any time with B2, and he is amazing at it. He can remember words to songs on the radio after hearing it just a few times. He potty trained himself six months younger than his brother was when he nailed it. He can already dress and undress himself and B1 couldn't at this age. B2 constantly impresses and amazes me.

  4. My husband does notice my efforts. On very busy weeks, it's easy to slip into a "poor me" mentality, and feel like I do everything, plan everything, decide everything for our family and get very little for myself in return. He is sending me away on a little Mommy break so I can relax and just press pause for a few days. He reminds me very often that I made the right choice in partners for this life.

  5. It's ok if I don't manage to do everything I see on Pinterest. I don't have to be a star at my job, expert chef, baker, cake decorator, seamstress, cleaner, crafter, student, entrepreneur, interior designer, fashionista, makeup artist, hairstylist, entertainer, time manager, creative surprise imagineer, writer, artist, or anything else. There isn't enough bandwidth in anyone's life to excel at all those things, all at once. There just isn't. And it's unfair and unrealistic to expect someone to.

  6. Getting older isn't so bad. I had a minor freakout when I realized I'm now closer to 40 than 30. And when we went to see This Is 40 and I so completely, utterly related to it. And as my youngest child weaned himself off breastfeeding, we sold or donated all our baby things, we started to plan a kid-free vacation, and I got ready to register my oldest child for kindergarten and my youngest for preschool, there were a lot of "OMG my family is really growing up." moments and it was scary and depressing sometimes. It took a pregnancy scare to make me realize that I'm ok with where our life is taking us and I don't need to go back to the baby days. This is a really fun and very awesome time for us. And it's going to get only more fun and interesting as we all grow up more.