I blogged about this over a year ago here so obviously this is something that I just can't let go of!
I'm going to preface this by saying that I wouldn't change one single thing about my childhood. I grew up in a divorced family, mom worked her ass off to provide for us, my brother and I fought and loved and fought, we played sports, ate dinner as a threesome everynight, my brother and I had many of the same friends. Life was great and not stressful and was full of good people. Mom was always at every game, swim meet, and sometimes even sat in on our practices, but when we were just at home, we kept ourselves busy. We didn't expect her to play with us all day. We didn't go to McDonald's on a Tuesday night just 'cause, there was no such thing as a bounce house place, and we didn't have 200 channels from which to choose. Oh, and we ate what we were served, not what we asked for.
I am a stong mother. I refuse to have bratty kids and I do what I can to prevent that. I expect a lot from my kids, even though they are young. I think society SUCKS because it has put upon us, the new young mothers, that we are to indulge our children in what I think is a really unhealthy way. Birthday parties are ridiculously expensive and elaborate AND the guests walk away with presents! What the hell is that about? The advertising on television is intense and has a hold of little 4 year old William by the throat. It's clear what all of this indulgence has done to nearly a whole generation of kids. It's turning (turned?) them into bratty, self-indulgent selfish little people who don't respect the things they own or authority. I have to say that although I am strong and am opposed to many of the things available to kids today, I struggle with a lot of it. Just because I can afford to do things with them doesn't mean we always should. They expect things sometimes and it pisses me off because I know it's my doing. Keeping the balance is, well, a balancing act.
I wish people would just do what's right and not what they think should be done, what society tells us we should be doing. I don't worry about what people will think when they walk away from one of our birthday parties without a goodie bag because even though I love your child, you know what? I just spent $400 on a bounce house, food, and drinks. I also spent hours in the kitchen making kick ass homemade cupcakes and frosting. That was your gift. And when we invited you, we wanted you to come celebrate a special day with us. I don't think a reward needs to be given for that.
I don't know. Some may think it bitchy and my kids may feel like they don't have it as well as others have it but that's alright. I'll keep on keeping the balance. I'll try, at least.
I stood in front of the kids and clapped my hands like an idiot and said, "I have already said twice, GO. GET. YOUR. SNEAKERS." Then my rational self said, "What the HELL are you doing? Look at yourself. YOU are the mother yet you're acting like the 4 year old with the clapping and asking for something to be done multiple times." It was then that I decided I'm not asking for things twice (or three times) anymore. Well, I might, but there will be no sweetness reward if I have to.
It's all about training. Somewhere along the way I've gotten less strict apparently because my words the first time hold absolutely no meaning. I'm not sure how that happened but it did and it needs to change. I'll do that with positive reinforcement for now. Then my hope is that I can slowly wean everyone off the positive reinforcement thing and it'll be second nature. Don't laugh, it's my goal.
So here's my grand plan. It's called the First Time Asked chart. You do it the first time I ask, you get a sticker. TA DAH! You fill up your sticker chart you get a little somin' somin'. TA DAH!
Now in the mornings when I say, "Everyone go get your socks and sneakers, please." I'm going to expect everyone to jump up and do it. Expecting too much, you say? Well, you haven't see the reward at the end of a full sticker chart. Here it is!
This is one of those things they advertise on TV and the kids will say, "Mommy, can we ge?" and I cut them off and say, "No, we're not getting those." This has been something they've wanted for a while and I knew it would be a hit. I think the key to the First Time Asked chart is having somewhat of a buy-in. I bought this reward already and showed it to them. They know it is here and it exists and it's literally within reach. Now, it has nothing to do with me. It's all about them and their choices.
Here they are. So simple, right? William has racecar stickers, Drew has heart stickers. I tried to make it awesome and fun and something different from the other. We also brainstormed together some areas which we have difficulty following directions the first time. Some look rather general and they are - Lauren means anything having to do with Lauren. If you're making her angry and I ask you to stop, I expect you to the first time, etc. If I ask you to get ready for karate I expect you to, etc.
I have explained, and they understand, that not every single action will result in a sticker, it may be somewhat hit-and-miss. You never know when mommy is going to bust out with the stickers! I'm drunk with power just thinking about it! I know that if I had to be responsible for putting stickers on everytime I opened my mouth and they obeyed that I wouldn't be consistant and this wouldn't work. I also made the rule that if you ask for a sticker after you've done something then you absolutely get no sticker.
We'll see how this goes. I'm hopeful at this point because they are so super jazzed about those stupid Mighty Beanz. Whatever it takes to get this off the ground...
Also, while browsing the teacher's store this morning I bought a few extras I thought the kids may enjoy.
I put the alphabet strip up in William's room. He's 4 and obviously knows the alphabet and sounds BUT writing uppercase and lowercase letters is still an art form he is perfecting. I know he'll lay in bed and stare at these and I'm hoping that will help him to visualize the correct way to write both uppercase and lowercase.
And obviously he can count to 100 but he enjoys the relationship between numbers so I know this will be fun for him to look at. "Mommy, all the even ones are in blue!" That is exactly what I'd hoped for. He'll find all kinds of cool things that go on with numbers while laying in bed staring at this.
This is the ceiling above Drew's bed. It's just a chart with some sight words. She can read them all and it makes her feel proud to lay in bed and recite them all.
So, that's my new system. I'll let you know how it's working. Fingers crossed that it's effective. Plan B is much uglier.
I live approximately 140 miles north of where I grew up. My hometown and my current home are both in the Central Valley of California and November - February in the Central Valley means one thing - fog. I grew up with it so I'm used to it but it doesn't mean it's not still scary and sucky.
Growing up we had foggy day schedule a couple times a year. There were two kinds of foggy day schedule; Plan A and Plan B. Plan A foggy day schedule was awesome because what it meant to us was that school was delayed by an hour and a half. The buses didn't run until then because presumably the fog would have burned off some by then. All three schools we attended while growing up (elementary, junior high, high school) were no further than 3/4 of a mile from my house. I never rode a bus to school a day in my life. That didn't matter when it came to foggy day, though! The schedule was for everyone. Plan B foggy day schedule was what we prayed every night for. It meant the buses didn't run at all that day. It was pretty much an excused absence if you didn't show up to school. Nevermind that I grew up literally around the corner from my junior high. We used to actually wait for the bell to ring before we'd leave for school, that's how close we lived. That didn't keep us from staying home one day in 7th grade when Plan B was called. We took advantage big-time.
On January 28, 1986, Plan A foggy day schedule was called and my brother and I were playing wiffle ball in the livingroom. At 8:35am, while killing another full hour until school started, the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. We saw it happen live on television and even though I was only 10 years old, I knew that it was an historical moment and thanks to Plan A we witnessed it happening.
The fog is dangerous and horrible and it shows up every year whether we want it to or not. There is no such thing as, "Oh, I drive in it all the time, I'm used to it." Today was foggy for much of the morning and it came back late this afternoon. I'm thankful that other than having to take the kids to school during the prime-fog time of the early morning that neither Chris nor I have to be driving in it this week but lots of people have to. I just hope they aren't idiots. People are idiots and if for no other reason, the fog terrifies me.
This was the freeway at 11:15am this morning. You can imagine how thick it was earlier in the morning.
This has nothing to do with my clothes, although that's not too far of a stretch these days. I am referring to, instead, my mommy-seams that are held together with the pride of my family. I have experienced a very different sense of pride twice in the last week. My children are accomplishing things - big kid things - and are being complimented and recognized by others and for the first time it's not a direct reflection of me or something I have done. Before when someone would say to one of them, "You have such nice manners" we all would smile and said child would look the person in the eye and say, "Thank you." Although that said child is the one who had the good manners, it's because I taught them, reinforced them, and expected to hear them at appropriate times. The good mannered child is, in the early years, a direct reflection of the parent, correct?
My big kids are beginning to do great things that have nothing to do with me. How can this be?! I suppose it was bound to happen and honestly, I have just about bust at the seams while witnessing it. The first time was while they were skiing. I was 500 yards away while they were with their instructor and I saw them break down, regroup, try again, and succeed. I saw lots of high fives with each other and with their instructor and big grins after accomplishing something they initially thought was impossible or scary. That had nothing to do with me, it all came from them and the encouragement of another adult who believed in them. I was beyond moved. I didn't tell Chris that I sat on the ski lodge balcony and cried but I did. It was moving to me. Those grown up kids were mine.
Tonight was the second time I felt the same kind of pride. During their karate class, the kids are focused and listen and they learn what is taught to them. Drew was told tonight that she was one of the most focused white belts. William was told it is obvious he is trying his best. Again, these actions come from them and I just can't stand it I'm so proud.
I've always been proud of my kids, obviously. But this is different. I'm not sure how else to describe it but if you remember feeling this kind of pride for the first time you know what I'm talking about.
Do you remember this post here about Lauren's speech delay? I'm happy to say that at age 22 1/2 months we have a few more words! I think we're up to 10 or 11 now. After months and months of grunts this is very exciting. My previous post about it all explains the situation so you know I'm not worried at all but I have to say, it is nice to hear words finally. Mama and dada have been forever but now she calls William "Wo Wo", says ice, more, hot, nice, milk, and the most important word of all, mine. This is the word that is used the most these days. Like when Drew has a book she's reading, Lauren will bust into the room screeching, "Mine? Mine? Mine?" until someone says, "No, that's not your book. That's Drew's." Then she says, "Oh!" and forgets about it. This happens ALL DAY LONG now. "Mine? Mine? Mine?!" "No, Lauren, that is daddy's wallet." "Oh!" I am not yet to the point where I regret praying for her to have words already but... I think that day is coming soon.
The headache and terrible sore throat I'd been carrying around for 48 hours turned into the full blown flu within about 15 minutes last night. It's now 8:49pm and I've officially been in bed for 24 hours. I have never done that while having three kids. Thankfully it's been that long since I've been this sick and thankfully Chris had no classes to teach and wasn't at the firehouse today. I woke up for the first time at 2:30 this afternoon to discover my family had gone to Sunday morning breakfast, grocery shopping, Lauren had already taken her nap, and they were all outside riding bikes in the cul-de-sac. I have to say it's a little startling to wake up and find that your house has been a flurry of activity and you had no idea at all. The kids would come in every now and then and kiss me and leave and that was all I needed. Tomorrow will be, has to be, a different day. I can't imagine that sleeping it off for nearly 36 hours won't have done the trick. Here's hoping.
Technology has a hold on my kids. Well, not Lauren. Yet. But Drew and William have access (always monitored and controlled but access nonetheless) to Leapsters, an iPod, an iPhone, a computer, and television. They know how to use all of these things without any assistance or explanation. This is just the way it is and because of the monitoring and controlling of it, I don't see it as a detriment at all. There are so many useful products/games/activities that are enriching and support what they are learning otherwise. Obviously without monitoring all of these things could cause harm to their naive little minds but that's not the case. Yet it still amazes me that at their young age, they understand and own (well, kinda) these devices. I wish my Nana were alive, I wonder what she'd think of it all? I wonder what she'd think of Skyping with my kids? Or having Drew send her a text? Or watching William kick ass at Angry Birds? It must be baffling to the much older generation to see how kids are growing up today. I had Atari and thought I was rockin' it out. I remember getting a CD player when I was a freshman in high school and that was huge. I got my first computer when I was a freshman in college and got an email address the year after. I'm dating myself in a huge way here but gosh, look at how things have changed in just one generation. I'm not worried about how technology has a hold on them because of the way they are used in our house is under my control.
I do, however, wish that I didn't need Spongebob to be my babysitter every once in a while.
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When mom and I went to Seattle a few weeks ago we had the pleasure of eating lunch here one afternoon after our visit to the wolf sanctuary in Olympia. We had free entertainment right outside our window during our meal. Our waitress said that this gentleman is there 5 days a week standing on that corner. I think he was doing push-ups (and cruches and squats, I just didn't get pics of that) to stay warm but it may be part of his act, I don't know. At one point, an older man walked up to him, handed him a ten dollar bill, patted him on the shoulder and said something to him, and then walked away. My first thought was, gosh - what a kind thing to do and a generous amount at that. My second thought was, shit - that guy just made $10 more than I've made in the last 6 years.
It's a good thing I can't do more than 2 push-ups otherwise I'd totally be parking myself outside a swanky restaurant window to try and make some cash.
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I marvel at people whose husbands are home everyday. Well, maybe not during the day, but you see him everyday, either in the morning or the evening or both. On one hand it's great because you see him, the kids see him, he's able to help with breakfast or baths in the evening or dinner or bedtime, or whatever. On the other, he's there. If you know me, you know I LOVE my husband. I love him more than anything else on the planet and would scream it from the rooftop if I could. But honestly, I think I feel that way about him because... wait for it... I don't see him everday. I know some people won't understand that and that's alright but I just can't imagine feeling the same way I do now if I didn't get a chance to miss him as often as I do. I also think that because he is gone for longer periods of time than most dads, he gets a chance to miss us too so he's SUPERDAD when he is home and that just fuels my fire for him. The kids don't know any differently, this is how our life has always been and will always be. I also think that's why I really value our time together because between the firehouse and LifeSaverCPR Chris is so stinkin' busy that time with all 5 of us with no distractions doing something fun is pretty rare. So, if you see your husband everyday and you have mad love for him, good for you! I'm not sure I could be so gracious. Love you when you're here, miss you when you're gone, LOVE you when you're here again!
This will probably be one of the most obnoxious posts yet because I just can't narrow down the pictures I'd like to include and since this is not just a blog, it's also my family diary that I have printed every 6 months, I don't want to leave some of these out. As usual, I'll just do a pictoral summary, it's better (I think!) than reading paragraphs and paragraphs of stuff. Since Chris has crowned me the Queen of Going On and On, I'll spare you. Or I'll try anyway!
We pulled the kids out of school (something we don't take lightly) for one day and went up to a cabin for the night. We left after school on Tuesday, spent the night, spent the day in the snow on Wednesday, and made it home in time for dinner, bath, and bed on time. Oh, and American Idol - woot, woot! We had such a fun trip. It was just the Peters Party of 5 and that was awesome. No computers, no distractions, just an awesome cabin, a beautiful location, the snow, and new adventures.
Our cabin - it was fabulous!
The view from our backyard deck
We were there not even 15 minutes when William had already contributed to his chick magnets (aka facial wounds). He slipped on some ice.
We went to get some pizza (and soda!) before hitting the snow the first afternoon. This lodge was within walking distance from our cabin. William loved the pool table and Chris attempted to teach Drew how to play.
We only had about an hour of daylight to play the first day and there was a sledding hill 200 yards from our front door. Lauren just wasn't feeling it. I swear there are 1,000 benefits to maintaining a strict schedule and only a few drawbacks - one of which is not being able to cope when the schedule changes. No afternoon nap means we've got a grumpy girl.
Chris, trying to convince the kids that the hill isn't very fast.
Lauren and I found a cozy spot to watch the others and this made her happy. FINALLY.
In front of the fire after an hour of sledding outside the cabin.
Sharing a snack with daddy
Before bedtime snack! We put our boots on with our pajamas and went to find a nice big ol' piece of snow to eat.
Courtesty of Drew, the photographer
Drew woke up earlier than anyone else and she went around taking pictures. She took a picture of us sleeping but I thought I'd spare you the lovely hair and the mascara under the eyes. I cropped out my absolute favorite part of the whole trip.
A gorgeous drive to the ski resort
The kids and their ski instructor
Learning the basics of their equipment
About 30 minutes in to their lesson, William had the obligatory and predictable breakdown. Chris went down to give the pep talk to break him through the other side of the frustration.
Lauren and I had a BALL watching the kids from the lodge balcony - she was such a trooper all day!
Drew and Instructor Rod on the bunny hill lift giving a thumbs up!
Lauren and I joined the kids at the end of their lesson - what a fun time.
We stopped on the way home to sled and play. A terrific end to a terrific mini vacation.
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