Friday, October 29, 2010

Make it or break it

2 a.m. I finally finished making the Halloween costume for my oldest. Note to self: do not wait until the afternoon before the party to buy supplies for the costume. And, especially do not wait until 9 p.m. to make the spider lollipops, origami craft, Halloween cards and costumes. Maybe next year I'll learn. At least my little angel finally agreed to be just a single crayon instead of a box of crayons. Believe me, I had all the stuff ready to make the box of crayons, but when I informed her that if I made it, she would have to wear it, she begged off. Lucky me. I know that girl would have worn that box for all of three minutes and then complained that it was too cumbersome and I would have been left lugging it around. Oh, but she would in no way allow me to throw it away so it would be saved along with the rest of the useless stuff in our house. I'm tired, yes, but it's done. She will be the best little purple crayon this year!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Couch Time

I don't often give advice in this blog - mainly because I'm in no position to tell others how to parent. But, I'm taking a parenting class at church and learned some valuable bits of information that I just have to share. Couch time is a concept I have heard before and, unfortunately, never actually used in my life. That changed yesterday. If you don't know anything about couch time, read on. If you've heard of it and dismissed the idea, read on. The course I'm taking is based on a series called On Becoming Childwise by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. Now, it was originally a Christ-centered course, but has been adapted for use in public schools. I strongly encourage parents to consider it. Anyway, the brief lesson is this - your children will feel more secure if they know that YOU are secure. The couch time idea is for couples, but can be adapted to the single parent. Every day (or when your schedule permits) when you come home from work, say hello to your child, but let them know that it is mommy and daddy time. Then, spend 10-15 minutes (or more) sitting together on the couch and talking. It doesn't matter what you talk about, but if your child comes over and demands your attention, simply tell them that they can go and read or play with toys but that this time is mommy and daddy time. Don't scoff at the idea. It won't kill you to try it! And I promise you, your life will change. It may not happen overnight, but it could. If your child has trouble sleeping - this could work wonders. Kids feel anxious and insecure. Letting them see that their parents are "okay" means the world. If you're a single parent, this could be your own time to pray, read the Bible or reflect. For me, my couch time is with my heavenly Father. When my girls see that I am okay and that I am secure in my relationship with God, they will be more secure in their relationship with Him and with me and with others. Oh, and it doesn't count if your kids aren't there to witness it. You can't do couch time while the kids are at school or down for a nap. You need to carve out that time. I promise, you will see a change. Just try it. If you aren't willing to put aside 10 minutes to see positive influences in your family, you need this more than ever. Good luck and God bless.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maid service

The other day, I was talking to some girls about their chores at home. As we went around the circle, I heard the answers you'd expect to get from 8-year-olds. I clean my room. I make my bed. I walk the dog. I help with the dishes. I set the table. Then, we get to my daughter. Do you feel me cringing? My little angel. My firstborn. The light of my life. I sit on the couch while my mom does all the chores. Yikes. I can't believe my child actually said that. I can't blame her though. She's kind of right. I pretty much spend my life cleaning up after my kids. She learned a bad habit of leaving her dirty laundry on the floor. She'll take out a game or activity and leave it there when she's done with it. She'll forget to take her dish to the sink after a meal. And I've rarely said anything. Sure, I'll complain that her room is a pigsty, but I'll say it while I'm picking the stuff up from the floor. Cleaning up after her has just become such a habit that I do it without thinking and I guess her thought is why should she clean up after herself if she knows I'm going to do it eventually. She knows me. She'll say she's going to do something - later. She knows I can't wait until later, so I'll pick it up. I know where she learned the habit, but I'm not going to say it here because I know her dad reads my blog and might feel offended. ;-) I guess my daughter is one of those people that isn't bothered by mess. Clutter is comforting to her. Now, I'm not saying I'm the queen of clean. I'm far from it. I hate cleaning. I wish I could push a button like Jane Jetson and have it all done for me. I just think if you are finished with your glass of milk, put the glass in the sink. Or if you take off your dirty clothes, throw them in the hamper. Or if you open a package, take the wrapping and plastic and put it in the trash. I'm not asking for miracles here! But, I can't blame my kids. I've got to be more proactive. Instead of just automatically doing a chore, I've got to stop and let them know that it's their job to feed the cat/fish/turtle. It's their job to set the table, put their dishes in the sink, pick up their clothes, wipe the toothpaste off the sink, put their shoes away.....Maybe I'll put a rubber band on my wrist and every time I bend over to pick up a book or a sneaker or a doll, I'll pull the band and snap it and the pain will remind me that this is not my job. No pain, no gain, right?

Saturday, October 16, 2010


At a recent meeting, I had members of my Brownie troop playing charades - acting out various careers and letting us know what they wanted to be when they grow up. As you can guess, there were the standards - teacher, firefighter, singer. I loved some of the other ones they came up with - cowboy, scientist, farmer. I don't remember what I wanted to be when I was a kid. When I was in high school, I always said I wanted to be a lawyer. I don't know why. I didn't know anyone who was a lawyer. Maybe I got the itch after watching LA Law or something (dating myself, sorry!). In college, I was a political science major - not that you would think that now. As I've gotten older, my interest in policy and public administration has waned and the idea of being a lawyer conjures up visions of confusing, mind-numbing laws filled with words that I'm too tired to try and understand. I do remember my dad telling me I wouldn't ever be a lawyer since I had too many earrings and my handwriting was too poofy. I guess he was right. I wonder if I kept the idea of that career in my sights just to prove him wrong. Not that I did. He was right. I wasn't ever going to be a lawyer. It just wasn't in God's plan for me. And I'm glad. I'll leave all that lawyerin' stuff to someone else.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Street lights

Yesterday, I stopped at a playground with the girls. I don't know how they weren't exhausted - all day at school, then a Girl Scouts meeting and they were still able to run and climb and jump for an hour before dinner. Anyway, there was the sweetest little boy there and the girls played with him for a bit. While they were playing, both girls ran over to tell me that the boy was at the park by himself. You had to see the looks on their faces. They were utterly amazed that this kid was allowed to take his bike and ride across a street to the park and play there alone. He comes here all the time! one whispered. Can you believe it? I can't believe that a seven-year-old is allowed to ride his bike in the street! the other one said. I swear, all they wanted to talk about was his independence. Meanwhile, he wanted to play zombies or army or something equally fascinating. Oh, it gets better. He told them he didn't have to go home until the street lights came on. Wh-wha-what??? Their jaws dropped. Okay, I guess it is a big deal for them. We don't have street lights on our road and there is no way my kids are crossing the street alone because people go way too fast and it's a pretty busy road. I'm from a time and place where we did stay out until the street lights came on. Heck, most kids I grew up with left their house after breakfast and didn't go home until they had to eat lunch or dinner or maybe use the toilet if they couldn't find one closer to wherever they were playing. Wouldn't it be nice to live like that again? Wouldn't it be nice to not worry about crazy people and people who drive past stopped school buses because they're texting (yes, happened to me and my little one the other day). Wouldn't it be great if our kids could just go outside and play? When I think of all the things I did and places I went when I was a kid. We hopped the fence and played in the park. We had fun and we were together and we didn't worry about all the horrible things that happen in the world today. And why is it that all those things happen? Why has the world gotten so evil and criminal and perverted and hideous? We all talk and talk about how bad things are getting and how we wish things could be like they were 50 or 40 or even 20 years ago. Yet, we do nothing about it. We do nothing when our government takes God out of school. We do nothing when we are attacked for saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. We buy the slutty clothes that designers make for our little girls. We read the trashy magazines that glorify pornographic stars like Britney Spears. We buy into the culture that lets a teacher or a firefighter make one-tenth of the salary of a rookie ball player. Gotta stop blaming the system, my friends. If we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem. Think about it tonight - maybe while you're outside playing until the street lights come on.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fashion show

What's up with girls and clothes? I'm sure I was like this too, but my kids seem to want the flashiest, most uncomfortable stuff because everyone else has it! Can someone please come up with a trend to get rid of the uggly boots? If I see one more teenage girl wearing these stupid boots with a pair of shorts, I will scream. Why are you wearing shorts and fur-lined boots? Are you filming an adult movie in Aspen? Stupid. My girls today begged me to get them the boots. Um, no way Jose. First off, boots are for work or bad weather. Boots are mean to be worn in the mud or the snow or hiking in the mountains. Why would you wear boots that get ruined the minute water hits them? And they're hot. They're lined for crying out loud. My kids complain about their feet being hot when they wear sneakers! They won't even wear socks in the winter time! Can you imagine them with boots? Those things would last all of five minutes. Listen, I'm sure you can relate - when we were kids we had three types of shoes - school shoes, play shoes or sneakers and party/church shoes. Of course, I was lucky. I didn't have to think about what I would wear every day. We wore uniforms so fashion wasn't much of an issue. But, it really doesn't matter. I could spend a fortune on clothes and my daughter would still wear the same outfit all the time. She has a favorite shirt that she wears at least once a week. Funny thing is, I got it for free!

Monday, October 4, 2010


I need to finally accept the fact that I am NOT a morning person. Never was. Never will be. My oldest daughter doesn't understand that and does everything in her power to change me. It's not that cute little way someone will creep up to you and gently rouse you. It's WAKE UP! and turn on the light and annoying me until I finally roll out of bed and try to greet the day. Then she wakes up the younger one and that is when the place gets crazy. All of a sudden it's TV and talking and toys and where is this and what time is it and can you find my clothes and can you brush my hair and I'm hungry and I'm thirsty and do I have to brush my teeth and, well, you get the picture right? The older one waits until the last minute to do everything and then, when she gets manic about it, the little one starts needing help with something or other. So, then they're fighting and wanting ten different things at once and demanding and, well, just driving me absolutely crazy. It's only 7:30, I protest. Can't you just chill out for a few minutes? If you just relax, everything will get done. Don't worry. But, then they get the wrong idea about chillin'. They chill hard and then don't want to do anything at all. They want to lounge and watch TV and then, two minutes before the bus comes down the street, they're scrambling to get shoes and pants and fresh breath. Meanwhile, I'm wishing it was still dark out and I could climb back under the covers. Remember, the early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

100 percent

Yesterday was Caty's first test. It was on the continents and oceans. The day before, they had a pre-test. Now, if you get 100 on the pre-test, you don't have to take the actual test the next day. The teacher warns you - everything has to be right on the pre-test. If you get a 99, you still have to take the test the next day. You have to capitalize properly. You have to make sure your name is on the top of the paper. You have to spell Arctic Ocean properly - Artic will not suffice. Caty found out the hard way. Artic. She left out the "c" and got a 99 percent. I can't even begin to tell you the amount of disappointment this little girl endured. She came home with friends from her Brownie troop and delivered the sad news. One of the other girls in the troop got 100. Another one spelled a few wrong and really didn't seem to be bothered by it. But, Caty? Yeah, she was bothered. She was mad. Of course, she thinks the teacher is no good and totally unfair for being so picky. Me? Sure, I would be happy to see my daughter happy. and yeah, it sucks to miss it by one measly point. But a 99? If I got a 99, my mom would think I was Einstein! What's wrong with a 99? Okay, admittedly, I am an under-achiever. I got the name around the junior high period of my life and it kind of stuck. That was when I realized that I hated getting out of bed in the morning, hated thinking about math and thought history and social studies were just different words for "naptime". I'm sure I could have done better if, like they all said, I had applied myself. But, really, my sister was the smart one - I don't think my family could have handled two geniuses in the family. Granted, I suffered in college because of my lazy work ethic. I spent more time doing extra-curricular stuff (not just drinking) like student government, sorority, newspaper. I was actually philanthropic! But, my report cards showed it for sure. It's not that I want to pass that down to my kids, but I also don't want them to stress out and get stomach cramps because they're worried about failing! Especially when they're nowhere near failing! Am I doing my child wrong by not forcing her to read and giving her extra educational activities when she's done with her homework? Am I setting her up for a lifetime of mediocrity? What to do, what to do? She studied for the last test, I swear. Ask my parents! Ask my sister - they even quizzed her and she did great. She's got her next test on Friday. It's on the Scientific Method. Maybe I should hire a tutor!

Friday, October 1, 2010


I'm a pretty decent seamstress, I guess. I usually leave the hard stuff up to my mom and there's nothing I hate more than re-threading a sewing machine, but I can hold my own. But, for some reason, my children think this means I have the ability to create the most realistic and elaborate Halloween costumes in the history of the world. I'm going to let them share the blame with my sister. I've told you about my sister before. She's 10 months older than me, but maturity-wise, it's more like 10 years! She is very smart, very thorough, dedicated, driven, yada yada. She's the person that laughs at me because I use frozen pancakes or bisquick instead of making them from scratch (which she does with my kids on the weekends). She doesn't buy boxes of brownie or cake mix or tubs of frosting or rolls of cookie dough. To her, you use flour and all that other stuff to make cookies. There's a lot more about her, but you get my gist. She told my oldest yesterday that in her entire life, she has never once purchased a Halloween costume. She said that's the fun of the costume - finding the stuff and making it. Who hasn't gone out dressed as a hobo or an old lady or a hippie? It's just all the stuff you find in your parents' closet and scrounge up to make. Like when I was an old bingo lady and I used my mom's curlers and fuzzy slippers and housecoat - you know what I'm talking about. So, Caty and her creative aunt get to planning. Caty wants to be a crayon. Perfect, I say. My freshman year of college, a bunch of us got poster board, make it look like a crayola wrapper, folded it around our bodies and made a paper hat and voila we were crayons. Oh, no, poo poo cries my critical child and non-supportive sibling. One crayon is not good enough. She must be a crayon in an entire box of crayons. They are formulating plans and drawing designs and discussing materials. I am pretending to pick at something really interesting on the carpet so I don't have to listen to the plan. As I type, the blueprint is hanging on my desk mocking me. I don't want to build a crayon box. And I will tell you why. I know my children. A crayon box? That will last maybe 20 minutes. Maximum. My daughter won't even wear a hat when it's snowing - you think she's going to wear an uncomfortable paper triangle all night? Every year, I end up carrying around every prop, accessory and non-essential piece of clothing these girls have on while they run from door to door and hog all the candy to themselves. No dear, if you're going to be Batgirl or Supergirl, you should wear your cape. You should wear the mask and the gloves too. No mom, it's itchy/hot/poking me. So, I've got to put a nix on the crayon idea. I guess I brought it on myself. She wanted to be a witch and I said no. Serves me right! I will come up with a good idea between now and October 31. I will not tell my daughter the idea because she will refuse it on principal. I will find someone cool to tell her and then she might go for it. And if you see me out trick or treating later this month, could you please stop and give me a hand? I will be carrying a huge crayon box for pete's sake!