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Showing posts from 2014

Making Time

Today, I'm seeking your help and advice. Yes, I'm coming to the understanding that I don't know everything - despite my children's differing opinion as evident by their continued belief that I can answer the question "Why?" about any and every topic.  So, here's my question:
How do you, as a mother - or any parent - make time for yourself?
I try to wait until nap time or bedtime, but then I find other priorities like cleaning up, preparing dinner, finally checking email, doing work, or the highest priorities of going to the bathroom and taking a shower. I hire babysitters and don't feel too much guilt when my kids are upset I'm leaving without them.  But, the majority of times, I'm leaving to run necessary errands which would triple in length of time to accomplish if I take them with me - or triple in cost due to good behavior bribes  treats. And, we won't even begin to talk about media use because, obviously, it's a requirement to oc…

Control

As a parent, I strive to maintain control of my children, my responses regarding their often unusual and sometimes inappropriate actions, my sanity, and so much more.  I use benefits (a.k.a. bribery) and discipline to seek control.  I beg and plead - both to my children and God - for control.  However, after several years of parenting, I've quickly learned that control is the one thing we either quickly lose or never have.

Evidence:
My daughter was easy to potty train.  On her third birthday, she announced that she was a big girl and she no longer needed to wear diapers or pull ups.  From that point on, she didn't.  Since then, she's only had two accidents when someone else was watching her and forgot to remind her to use the potty before bedtime.

My son is another story.  Yes, he's still young.  No, at 2-1/2, I do not expect him to be potty trained yet. However, that isn't stopping him from trying.  Every chance he gets, he takes off his own pants and diaper and t…

Question of the Day

What labels someone as a stay-at-home mom?
Are you a stay-at-home mom if you are also acting as a teacher while homeschooling your children?  Can you call your self a teacher when you're doing the same job - just unpaid - that someone in a school setting would be doing?
Are you a stay-at-home mom if you spend numerous hours fulfilling volunteer work that helps fulfill an organization's mission?  What if you serve - unpaid - on a board of directors?  What if your ability to volunteer your time uses the education and training you received prior to becoming a mom but is now simply unpaid?  
Are you a stay-at-home mom when you are doing the jobs and functions of an employee - cleaning house, cooking meals, doing laundry, etc.?  Yes, these may be menial tasks, but what if they replace the job that someone else could be getting paid to do?
Are you a stay-at-home mom when you do anything but stay at home during the day in order to get children to school, extracurricular activities, r…

Let's end the debate

Over the past several days, my social media feeds have been filled with remarks either for or against Friday's comments by President Obama regarding stay-at-home moms.  I must admit, the only parenting topic on which I've seen more impassioned arguments is the choice to breastfeed or not.  The problem that I seen with all of these remarks is that they are truly arguments - never discussion on the greater topic.  And, the reason I believe this is true is because the situation (I won't call it a choice because for some parents it is not one) of staying at home is deeply personal and emotional.  So, how do we move beyond these arguments to truly understand the nature of staying home with kids?  Here are my thoughts...

Staying at home to raise kids - whether it be the mother or father - is not a decision based on simply one factor.  If it were simply a factor of economics, then it would be easy:  If you need money, then you continue working.  If you don't need the money, t…

Implications from my child

Today, while driving in the car with my 2-year-old, I chose to listen to the radio instead of allowing him to watch "penguins" on the DVD player (a.k.a "Happy Feet" the only movie we have in our car and I've now heard at least a trillion times).  So, while enjoying the break of lyrics which celebrate the penguin heart song, I began singing along to the radio.  I'm not the greatest singer, but I like to think that I have a bit of rhythm and tone in me.

My son seemed to think otherwise.  After all, how else do I interpret the fact that - for every song - I was told,

No, Mommy.  Stop it.  This my favorite song.
Perhaps his favorite songs are "Chillin It" by Cole Swindell, "Neon Lights" by Blake Shelton, and "I  Don't Dance" by Lee Brice.  These are great songs.  However, I seriously doubt that his favorite song is "Hey Bartender" by Lady Antebellum.  If this is my 2-year-old's favorite song, then maybe I need to r…

From the mind of a child

I am continually amazed at the thoughts and ideas that come out of my children.  Somewhere, built into their genetic code or flowing through the connectomes of their minds is a level of creativity that astonishes me.  I attempt to keep up with it, but it's impossible and tiring.  I thought I was a creative person, but not compared to my children.

My daughter loves animals, specifically birds.  She knows and has first-hand experience of being on a farm and knowing that animals are raised here.  So, in her mind she wants to be a bird farmer when she grows up.  According to her, her younger brother will be managing the chameleons and lizards at this same farm - I've neglected to tell her that some birds eat lizards..maybe that's a lesson for when she's five.

This same daughter, while extremely cautious in her own nature, is also extremely curious and has chosen to send her brother down the stairs in a laundry basket in order to test if it truly is the fastest way to get …

Why I won't ban bossy

Payback...that's what I'm living with right now.  My parents are laughing aloud at the antics they see my children (both boy and girl) pull off nearly every day.  My 4-year-old daughter wakes up and declares that she is going to be the mother today.  She dictates to me that I'm going the wrong direction when we're driving home for lunch and she wants to go out to eat.  She yells at me that I did not listen and obey her so now I can't eat any chocolate chip cookies.  My 2-year-old boy takes the initiative to scrub the toilets with my bath towels and, upon finding him and telling him to stop, he declares "No, Mommy! I do it myself."  When I ask that he pick up his toys, he says, "No, you do it."   Yes, payback...that's what I'm living with.  At ages 2 and 4, I was this same level of bossy.
This year, the Ban Bossy movement seems to be sweeping the nation as it attempts to ban the word bossy from descriptions targeting girls as they assert …

Mommy Dress Codes Translated

Life used to be simple.  I'd wake up to my FM radio alarm clock, listen to the weather broadcast and choose my clothes for the day.  Depending on my current job and my daily schedule, I either dressed for business professional, business casual, or jeans Friday dress codes.  But, this was pre-kids.

Now, as a primarily stay-at-home mom, my dress code revolves around what's clean or what I can easily get stains out of (it's not a matter of if they will happen but when).  I don't wear white unless I'm in a daring mood, and I don't wear anything that looks really good on me unless I'm planning to be seen in public because the good Lord and Murphy know that my kids will find a way to trash my clothes while trashing their own.

So, what do I do when I get an invitation to an event that has a dress code for which I no longer understand?  Here are my translations to current dress codes:

White Tie:  Wow!  Mama is going out in style!  I definitely need a babysitter - p…

Lil Cups & Grownups

I love playing with my kids, but sometimes I just need a break. I don't mean a break away from my kids, just a break away from bending down, playing pretend, fitting in toys & accessories not made for an adult and, in general, just a break from playing.I could take my kids to a park, but I'm a concerned, worrying mom who looks at everyone walking, running and driving past the park. What are they doing here without children ? Are they looking at my kid? Will I be the next frightened mother on the news asking people if they've seen my stolen child.I also look around the park and ask myself, where will my child get injured? Which apparatus will my child toss himself off? What disgusting thing will my child pick up? To where will my child run off? Will I be the next frightened mother on the news asking if you've seen my lost child?That's why my kids and I love coming to Lil Cups & Grownups in Vancouver, WA. It's indoors, so we can play any time of the year …

Exceptional parenting through school lunches...is it possible?

With the start of a new school year, I've resolved to show my children's teachers that I'm a really good parent.  After all, I've already gotten two warning notes sent home for dressing my daughter in a dress on dance class day and allowing her to bring a toy to school which resulted in a disruption during circle time.  Since I've failed these areas, the only other way to show I'm an exceptional parent is through my children's lunches.  So, I've been making everything from fresh ingredients.  Spaghetti with tomatoes from our garden, sandwiches with freshly chopped vegetables and whole grain breads, fresh fruit, veggie snacks and nothing with extra salt. 

Not only is this preparation of lunches exhausting and unsustainable for an entire school year, it's flat out illogical to believe that my children will actually eat everything I include in these lunches. 

My children like salt.  They like sweets.  They like fats.  If it's unhealthy, it's th…

A little self perception on beauty

Throughout history, there's been so many changes about what defines beauty.  Throughout my thirty-uhhum years of life, these perceptions of beauty have continually changed - not only with the clothes and hairstyles we wear but the appropriate weight, dimensions, and other personal characteristics that are sometimes difficult to hide and impossible to change.

I was blessed to have been born with a lanky, scrawny body which bore numerous marks of teenage hormones and frizzy hair before the invention of Frizz-Ease and when you straightened your hair via a perm.  I spent years going through different exercise routines, certain that strengthening my pectoral muscles would increase my chest size and, when that didn't work, purchasing the most highly padded bras I could find within my limited budget.  I tested out numerous hairstyles and hair colors determined to emulate the looks of fashion models gracing the covers of magazines and actresses in my favorite TV shows and movies.  I …

15 minutes of fame

This day and age it seems that everyone gets their own 15 minutes of fame. After all, with cameras readily available and nearly everywhere, any of life's moments  - be it crazy, loving, insane or horrendous - can be recorded and sent around the globe in an instant. So, it seems only a matter of time before my children get their own 15 minutes of fame.
Here are some of the headlines you might see: 1. New Guiness Book record set for longest tantrum in a store
2. New store near Portland specializes in bathing bats
3. Toddlers caught breaking & entering for treats-think every day is Halloween
4. Local Toddlers hired as security experts
5. Two-year-old boy becomes youngest to win super ninja competition
6. Toddler girl hired as negotiator; doesn't give competition a chance to say no
7. Family purchases own ER room
8. Girl, 4, proves you can speak only in questions
9. Area bird farm brings together chickens, ducks, flamingos & penguins
10. Portland-area mom lobbies to ha…

The cost of freedom to our military children

At the end of every month when I'm looking over my credit card bills, bank statements, investment accounts and numerous other places my money goes, I realize that life costs money.  Kids cost money.  My husband continues to ask why our grocery bill exponentially increases as our children grow older.  Kids grow out of clothes, shoes, beds, and so much more which cost money to replace.  Toys that were popular last year are discarded and new toys are purchased in an effort to entertain our children for even a small portion of time so that we can take a shower, eat a hot meal, or just sit and play with them.  It all has a cost and, eventually, we must teach our children about these costs so that they can become well-functioning, non-overspending, responsible adults.

But, there's more that has a cost - and it's just as important to include in our children's education.

Every day, every week, month and year, men and women - heroes - are lost fighting for America's freedom…

Camping with Kids

Over the holiday weekend, my husband and I were invited to go camping with a group of about 10 families - all with kids.  We thought, "This will be interesting."  Our kids love the outdoors.  They love building tents.  They love playing with friends, going swimming, hiking and roasting marshmallows...all things that should transfer to great quality time on a camping trip.  And, for the most part it did.


We had a blast camping at Cresap Bay at Lake Merwin near Mt. St. Helens as we hiked through the Mt. St. Helens Ape Cave Lava Tube - a fabulous rainy day activity.  We brought along a couple of rafts and the husband and kids enjoying swimming at the swimming beach in the day-use area of Cresap Bay Park.  We played with the sand toys in both the sand and dirt, hiked the trails around the campsite, and the husband and oldest child even went fishing together for the first time (although, sadly, no fish were caught).  We enjoyed time with our friends and our children's friend…

Through the eyes of a child: Gift Giving

I love to give gifts.  I love the happiness that is put in a person's life when they open a present to find something that they have wanted, needed or asked for.  I love seeing the smiles that come from opening gifts.  It's a joyous occasion to see.

I am trying to teach my children the joy of giving gifts.  They don't get it.

My children help me purchase the gifts for our family and friends.  They throw temper tantrums of the nuclear proportion when they don't also get to purchase a "gift" for themselves - just ask my pastor's daughter who was witness to one (joy for me! ...sarcasm).

My children help wrap the gifts.  They then help open them whether asked for assistance or not.

My children get excited about picking out their own gifts to give to someone else, then ask to "protect" that gift for the gift receiver...as if I don't really get that they just want to have the gift back for themselves.  This is evidenced by Baby Owl and Pete the Pe…

What in the world is Fun-Tak?

It's that time of year...back to school!  I'm not sure who is more excited about this: the kids or me.  But, the reality of it is, the preparation for back to school isn't always easy or fun - and my kids aren't even in elementary school yet!

Both my kids will be in preschool this coming school year, and we're trying out a different school with the Pre-K child, so I'm learning about the nature of two different types of preschools.  One is a nationwide chain and the other a smaller, faith-based school.  Both have very high reputations within our community, but there's a big difference...cost and preparation.

The nationwide chain school - while locally owned - has a much higher tuition rate and doesn't require any parental volunteer work, fundraising or purchase of communal/student supplies.  The other local school has much what appears to be an average tuition rate (amongst other local preschools) but requires 10 hours of parental volunteer work througho…

Central Oregon Coast with Kids

My family recently returned from a short stay on the Central Oregon coast.  This was our first "true" vacation with kids - meaning, we didn't stay with family and the entire trip was geared around spending time as a family doing meaningful activities.

We began our stay by stopping at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Lincoln City.  Yes, I realize this isn't really a kid-friendly activity - and especially not a toddler-friendly activity - but the deals at the Columbia Outlet here cannot be passed up.  We left with new lightweight jackets which were perfect for the chilly coastal weather, athletic shoes and sandals, lightweight fleeces, and more.  We also stopped at the Gymboree Outlet, but I don't see much difference between this and their regular stores.

We chose to stay in a cottage at the Overleaf Lodge in Yachats.  Reservations for the cottages have to be made over the phone and there was a bit of a miscommunication when this was done.  I thought I had reserved a 3-be…

Aliens abducted my children and gave them advanced intelligence

One of the most common mistakes I have made as a mother is to assume I am smarter than my children.  Yes, I know that intellectually I am much smarter.  However, my creative intelligence and my persistence are often lagging behind when compared with that of the minds of my toddlers.  Perhaps it's the fact that I'm worn out.  Maybe it's my children joining forces against me.  It might be that my theories on child rearing are just that: theories yet to be proven.  Or, it could be that my children have been abducted by alien life forms and given brains which are developing at such an advanced level that there's no possible way my simple human mind can keep up.

I'm going with the latter.  That concept would make the most sense.

How else am I to explain the fact that every single childproofing item that I was told I needed and installed in my home has been bypassed by my oldest child not yet of the whole hand age range and then taught to bypass to my youngest child stil…

A letter to my mom

Dear Mom,

You've always told me that I wouldn't truly appreciate your role as my mom until I was in your shoes.  Well, here I am, but there's no way that these are the same shoes. 

Yes, I do thank you for raising me into a strong-willed, independent, courageous woman.  So, why are my children often stubborn, determined, mischievous dare devils?

I also thank you for nurturing my curiosity and intelligence.  But, I don't understand why my children mop chocolate pudding and cherry Jello mix into my hardwood floors or bring dead birds into the house. 

You taught me to be a polite and empathetic human being and to love others.  My children laugh when they fart and tell me they want a new mom when they don't get to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.  Not to mention, they hit each other, pull hair, scream, and throw tantrums.

I appreciate the love you gave to me so that I could return it to you and show you the respect that you deserve.  My children give me headaches, so…

Pardon me, I'm just having a moment

Let's get real.  There are some days - a lot of days - I just want to scream.  Most of the time this happens in public settings (i.e, grocery stores, restaurants, walking down the street, or in the parking lots).  But, then I remember my manners and that people will hear me if I actually perform this act.  Therefore, I just scream internally.  You'll know when I'm doing this when you see me clench my eyes shut, tense every single one of my muscles, my face will turn a deep shade of red (you might even think it's purple), I'll take a deep breath in, and then you'll be able to see my entire body shiver as I slowly - oh, so slowly - exhale.  Internally, it's a very loud scream. Very loud. Very.

My husband has been known to make me internally scream, as have traffic and inanimate objects (mainly of the technological type).  However, nothing causes me to internally scream more than my kids.

I love my kids.  I really do love them.  I'm not just saying it.  Bu…

Living with Style

CoCo Chanel once said, "fashion changes--style remains."  As a woman, I have sought to live my life with style.  I have not sought to do this just through my clothing because, as will always be the case, clothing fashions will change.  I have sought to do this with my mind and my beliefs - by becoming a force to be reckoned with both as a wife, a mother, a friend, and every other role that I play.  The style that I have built into my life should be evident to those around me of being a style of a dependable, hard working, passionate, and dedicated woman.  And, I endeavor to teach my kids how to develop their own style beyond the fashions of the world.

The problem with teaching children about style is that their first exposure to it is often through fashion.  This; however, isn't always congruent to the trends of the world nor the fashion rules you, as a parent, have for yourself and your children.  No, children develop their style through the showcasing of their personal…

Being a Milspouse, Raising a Milfam

I am a wife and a mother.  More specifically, I am a military spouse (a.k.a. milspouse), and  I am raising a military family (a.k.a. milfam).

As a wife, I want the best for my husband.  As a mother, I want what's best for my children.  I want to be recognized by my husband as being his partner and his friend, as well as a confidante.  I want to be supportive of his goals while he is supportive of mine.  And, I want him to succeed and grow in his potential as a husband, father, and within his career, but also succeed and grow together.  I want my children to understand how to treat others with respect and dignity.  I want them to achieve their goals and grow into the amazing adults I know they will be.

As a milspouse and head of a milfam, I also want the best for my husband and children, but also recognize that we're a part of serving something greater than ourselves.  What's best for us may not be what's best for the good of the military and this great country.  I have…

My children really are normal, aren't yours?

After this weekend's situation of taking away all of my kids' toys, I continually thought, "Why can't my kids be normal?"  I was frustrated with their behavior.  Then, I thought, "Perhaps, I'm not a normal parent."  There must be something obviously wrong with me that my children and I always seem to be at odds.

If you've known me for any length of time, you'll know my thoughts about normal are extensive and diverse.  My studies in cultural and gender communications have solidified my thoughts and opinions that normal is a socially-defined word.  It's fluid, ever-changing and, quite frankly, ambiguous.  So, why on earth am I trying to use this term to describe my children and my parenting?  Why am I striving for normal?

Then, I realized something BIG...often times, I look at - and describe - normal as being perfect when used in reference to my own children or my parenting.  I try to force the concept that my children shouldn't make m…

Why my kids lost their toys

Today, my children lost their toys.  I'd had enough...the screaming, fighting, throwing, hitting, talking back, and more.  I've threatened to take toys away before, but never quite done it.  Now, I have.  I have to say, I don't know why I didn't do it sooner.  My kids finally realized, I wasn't bluffing.

Yes, there were a few tears when the favorite animal went bye-bye.  There was grabbing onto my legs as I carried the laundry baskets (there were six of them) away.  But, eventually, my kids gave in and we had a talk about why the toys were taken away.  The outcome: my kids realized that they hadn't been listening and obeying.

As I filled the first few basket full of toys, I was so frustrated that my kids cannot seem to focus on a simple task of picking up their toys before meal times or bedtime.  This has been a consistent battle in our house.  I ask them to pick up their toys, they start to do it, but in the end, they end up making an even larger mess by takin…