Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Spring Break 2014 (NoVa/Washington DC)

Monday, April 21st, 2014

This was not “Spring Break woo-hoo!” I don’t think I’ve ever been on a woo-hoo kind of Spring Break and I am definitely too old for it now. Plus my pregnant belly would totally get in the way during drunk limbo contests.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t have a wild and crazy trip to visit my parents in Virginia. Going to DC during cherry blossom season? AND while everyone is out of school? AND not bringing a stroller?? I live dangerously.

Before our trip into the city, we tried to make the best of some pretty bad spring weather. Our neighborhood is full of paved paths, playscapes and little creeks, so I had the bright idea to go play outside even though it was raining. I patted myself on the back for packing boots and raincoats, even though patting myself on the back never, ever ends well. After about 5 minutes poking rocks with sticks and looking for frogs it went from sort-of-drizzly to torrential-downpour. It was pretty clear our trickly little creek wasn’t going to stay cute and shallow for long, so we booked it home for some dry clothes and Disney movies.

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The rain cleared out overnight but the sun came with lots of cold wind. I tried to keep the kids entertained inside but they were way too crazy. Bouncing off the furniture crazy. Tantrums over nothing crazy. Make me want to run away and leave them there forever crazy. So we bundled up and walked to the elementary school playground for them to burn off some of the crazy.

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And that brings us to Thursday. THURSDAY. The day I realized just how much my oldest child is like me when it comes to crowds, being hungry, being tired and did I mention crowds? I hate crowds. HATE. And if crowds were bad enough, it was crowds of field trips, big families and strollers. So many strollers.

Personally, I am greatly enjoying having children at an age where we don’t HAVE to have a stroller. No diapers = no diaper bag = purse I can fit enough stuff in but it’s too heavy to carry all day + children who have seemingly endless energy = a math problem that defies all logic but means I didn’t bring a stroller into DC. I’m doomed to rejoin the Stroller Mafia in a few months and I still love/adore/worship/etc my Baby Jogger, but NOT dragging a stroller around makes me want to throw my arms in the air and shout “FREEEEDOOOOOOOOM!” It also makes me instantly intolerant of people with strollers who block aisles and hallways and walking paths and generally get in my damn way. It’s just one of the many ways I am not a very good person.

Luckily we planned our trip pretty well, catching a post-commuter-rush-but-still-early Metro into the city so we got to the Natural History Museum 30 minutes after they opened. All the good exhibits were crowded but not so crowded I couldn’t stand it. The kids got annoyed and hungry pretty fast though, so we went for lunch early. It was an excellent (lucky) choice, since when we LEFT the cafeteria the line to get it went all the way to the back entrance of the museum.

I do owe an apology and possibly an explanation for my child’s behavior during lunch to anyone who happened to be in the Natural History Museum last Thursday. I promise I did not actually beat Evan, spank Evan, hit Evan or torture him in any way. I did not tell him I hated him or he was an accident. I MAY have threatened to leave him with DC police after 20 straight minutes of crying, but at that point it wasn’t so much a threat as something I was actually considering. What caused such a huge disturbance in the force, you may ask? I didn’t let him carry his very own cafeteria tray.

Trust me, that was NOT a hill I was prepared to die on, and if I had known he really wanted a tray he could have had a damn tray. He just didn’t NEED a tray, so when we went through the line I said “No, we can share” and then breezed in to grab our food. By the time I realized he was sobbing silently behind me it was too late to go back for a tray and mine was too full to let him carry it on his own. TRAGEDY.

I made him stand in a corner for a while, but the judgey looks from other people got to me so I planted him in a seat at our table and eventually he calmed down enough that he actually ate most of his food, drank some Cherry Coke (DESPERATE MOTHER IS DESPERATE) and ate a dinosaur cookie. SHOCKINGLY, once he was no long hungry he perked right up and we enjoyed the rest of our visit. The crowds eventually got too bad to fight and the kids kept needing to sit down for breaks, so we left the museum to walk on the mall.

I was too sore already (stupid pregnancy sciatica) to make it to any of the monuments, but as soon as they were out in the fresh air and sunshine the gingers got a second wind and begged to ride the carousel. Their very generous grandmother said yes that I am confident it was the highlight of their day.

Based just on our pictures you can’t tell at all that it wasn’t a super fun trip, which is basically the foundation of blogging, right?

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We only misplaced Creepy Baby ONCE for a few minutes in the rocks & stones hall. Thank God my mom realized it and we found her quickly.

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We drove home Friday to discover E DIDN’T have to work all weekend, the weather in CT was at least as nice as in Virginia and that both children were totally exhausted from our trip. It was a lovely, relaxing Easter weekend with approximately 75% more sleeping and fewer tantrums. Apologies again to everyone in NoVa/DC/especially my parents.

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Ridiculous Problems

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

I don’t actually want to eat any more of this ice cream but I also don’t really want to get up and go put it back in the freezer. This is not the first time I have had this dilemma.

My children like being helpful so much they fight over who gets to bring me things so I always have to think of TWO things I need (a blanket and a drink, my slippers and my phone, etc) to avoid an argument.

Caroline loves school so much she never says goodbye or gives me a hug when I drop her off and it hurts my feelings.

We own way too much stuff. Too many clothes, too many toys, too many THINGS and yet I can’t figure out how to get rid of it all.

I can’t plan things that interfere with bedtime because both children recognize that it’s time for sleeping and beg to be put to bed. Caroline especially loves going to sleep at night.

The list of jobs I love that I also get paid for is getting longer (Did I mention I’m writing for TVFanatic and The Hollywood Gossip? It’s pretty cool – said in the Miley Cyrus voice) and for the first time in a long time I might actually be BUSY. So busy I need an actual day planner…and I don’t HAVE a day planner.

I read something on the internet that made me really mad and I was going to write a post about it but now I can’t remember what it was.

I have too many interesting podcasts to catch up on.

My perfectly healthy, smart, kind, handsome baby is about to turn FIVE and five is too old.

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Never Boring {$100 Giveaway!}

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Before I had kids I was bored a lot. I don’t think I realized I was bored – I probably thought I enjoyed taking long naps and sleeping until noon and spending all my money on shoes. But it turns out I don’t actually enjoy any of those things all that much.

Well, I mean, obviously I still like naps. Everyone likes naps (except the children who actually should be taking them).

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The first year after I got married we lived in Virginia Beach. Despite being young and thin (siiiiiigh) and living directly on the beach, I HATED it. It felt like there was nothing to do. All the guys E worked with either had kids or were trying to have kids (as a 23 year old with no children I was sort of an anomaly in the MilSpouse community). I remember going to a lot of street fairs or walking down to the cheesy beach shops or driving past the aquarium and thinking “If I had kids, this would be way more fun.”

Here in Connecticut I hear a lot of the younger, single guys complain about nothing to do. But since I have kids, I STRONGLY disagree. We have memberships to the aquarium, the seaport, the children’s museum and the science center. We walk to parades, or the library or the cheesy little carnivals downtown. My kids have favorite restaurants and favorite stores and favorite playgrounds. They go to school and take lessons and have a way more active social life than I’ve had since I was in high school.

I LOVE it.

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I’m not someone who is ultra-motivated by nature. If I was still only responsible for myself (and my husband, I guess, although he’s not quite as helpless as children), I would spend a lot more time sleeping and feeling lonely. Kids don’t let you do that. They keep you up, they’re ALWAYS talking, they demand you go outside and see the world. You can’t avoid talking to anyone at the grocery store or wear ear buds all the time or even avoid smiling. I am nicer, friendlier and happier now that I have kids, and it has definitely made me a better person.

Last week after swim class, I took the kids to Panera for an early dinner and “special treat” for both being brave and learning new skills (Caroline can retrieve things from the bottom pool step, Evan learned how to do a sitting dive). I herded them into line where they both placed their orders with no help from me, then stormed the dessert counter to choose their cupcakes. The teenage girl behind the counter said “They’re so cute. I bet having kids is never boring.”

I smiled and said “No, I am never, ever bored.”

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To celebrate the hilarious and heartfelt comedy Delivery Man, starring Vince Vaughn, being released Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD March 25, BlogHer will be awarding to one of my readers a $100 Visa gift card.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me: How have your kids changed you for the better?

You can pre-order your copy of Delivery Man today or check out the Facebook page for more information on the film, which chronicles the story of a man who unexpectedly discovers he has 533 children. (And I thought just having a THIRD baby was a big deal!)

 

Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 3/20/14 – 4/19/14. Be sure to visit the Delivery Man page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

 

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Complaints That Need Diagrams Do Not Make Good Posts

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

But I MADE THE DIAGRAMS ALREADY so now it is too late. SAVE YOURSELF.

Complaint #1: Caroline’s ballet class meets in what used to be an elementary school but is now a sort of run-down building they use for a zillion different things. Two classrooms down from ballet is a perpetual tag sale and on Saturdays they fill the hall with furniture and bikes and other junk. It’s not a very big hallway, so during class it’s pretty crowded with parents waiting for their tiny ballerinas. This weekend one of the classrooms farther down was being used for baseball sign-ups so there was a constant stream of traffic and people almost tripping over my feet.

HERE IS A DIAGRAM TO SHOW YOU THE SITUATION.

HALLWAY 1 The X’s are people sitting in chairs, Dance Mom is someone whose daughter is in Caroline’s class, and Friend is not MY friend, but the friend of someone joining our story in a minute. I had to bring Evan with me since E was working, but he had the iPad so 45 minutes in a hallway meant nothing to him.

Near the end of class time, the parents for the NEXT class start to show up. That class is full of tiny, adorable children in tap shoes. Most kids change shoes when they get there so everyone is sort of stumbling around trying to juggle shoes and coats and multiple children in a small hallway. On a normal day it’s kind of a mess, on a day when there’s extra traffic for Little League sign ups it’s a cluster.

5 minutes before the end of ballet, a woman with a giant sit-n-stand stroller makes her way down the hallway. There are two small children in the stroller and the tap class participant child following behind. The whole parade stops DIRECTLY in front of me and just…stays there. In the middle of the hallway.

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The red is the family blocking the hallway and the blue X’s are ALL the people trying to get past. The poor blue X’s kept saying “Excuse me, excuse me” and trying to squeeze around the stroller, which the clueless woman didn’t even TRY to move to one side or the other (not that there was enough room to unblock the hallways by doing that, but she could have tried). She just STOOD THERE saying “Where do they want me to go? There’s no room?” and her friend (“Friend” on the diagram) encouraged her by saying “I don’t know, this hallway is so crowded” and “As if saying ‘excuse me’ is going to make it wider??”

Just beyond the chairs in my diagram, I have added a red arrow. That arrow is pointing at the GIANT EMPTY SPACE where there is plenty of room for a stroller. Literally less than 10 feet down the hallway.

Let me make it more clear:

HALLWAY 3 After the longest 5 minutes ever of just staring in awe at this whole disaster, I decided it wasn’t going to resolve itself so I very, very politely said “Perhaps you could try moving the stroller over there along the wall? Our kids *gestures to chairs full of parents* are about to come out of class and it’s only going to get more crowded.” She and her friend looked at me like I had two heads, but she FINALLY moved down the hallway just in time for the door to open and everyone’s preschoolers to come streaming out in a giant mass.

I made eye-rolly eye contact with a few of the other parents who seemed as totally puzzled as I was with the whole thing. I mean, I sort of get it. There have been plenty of times when I was facing a problem with 2 small children in tow and I’ve been TOTALLY OVERWHELMED by things like “walking” and “polite behavior” and “awareness” all colliding at once. Maybe her awkwardness meter runs on coffee and she hadn’t had any yet that morning. But I can safely say that after the second “excuse me” I would have walked to the opposite side of the building if it meant not being in the way.

I realize writing a complaint about someone in my real life is risky, but I feel SO JUSTIFIED in my UNDENIABLE RIGHTNESS that I don’t even care. It is not often I am SO RIGHT, which brings me to complain #2

Complaint #2: Caroline’s school sent home a little note that said there had been some “close calls” in the parking lot and we (the school parents) needed to be more careful because other people (church attendees) use the building during the day.

I KNOW the note was about me. Me personally. ME AND MY MINIVAN AND A SPECIFIC INSTANCE. Which is embarrassing, you know? Everyone who got that note is now thinking “Ugh, what kind of jerk parent doesn’t obey the stop sign in the parking lot?” I have gotten ragey plenty of times about the stupid parental behavior in the pick-up/drop-off line but in this case, since it was about me, I would like to CLEAR THINGS UP.

Here is the driveway situation:

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Both preschool drives are one way, so ALL the parents coming to pick up their kids turn before they get to the exit driveway and during the 30 minute pick-up/drop-off window 99.999% of cars will turn there.

Last week after I picked up Caroline I was STOPPED at the stop sign – completely stopped – when a car turned into the church drive. It had JUST turned and so I pulled out, assuming it would pull into the pick-up line. Unfortunately, they were headed up to the church so technically I had turned “in front of them”. That was literally the first time I have ever seen anyone go straight there, so it was an honest mistake.

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(You didn’t really need a diagram for that, but I MADE ONE, so look at it. LOOK.)

It still would NOT HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM if they had been driving at an appropriate preschool-driveway speed. I had PLENTY of time to be out of their way before they got anywhere near me, except they were going at least 40 mph. I STILL made it out of the way before they were in any danger of hitting me  so all that happened was the guy gave me an angry look and a rude gesture (NICE JOB, CHURCH GOER. Just what Jesus would have done). Until I got the note in Caroline’s backpack.

This is one of those cases where I WASN’T entirely right. If we had been in a crash it would have been my fault, unless someone wanted to cite him for speeding on a road that is private property so it doesn’t actually have a speed limit. I learned my lesson and will be sure to wait until there are no cars on the driveway at all before turning, just in case one other person in the next two years decides to go straight. (Honestly, as much as I love the actual school, I will NOT be sad to be done with the pick-up/drop-off line forever when Caroline goes to real school next year.) This is a case where I can’t flaunt my RIGHTNESS at all, but I can flaunt my indignation that not only did that guy have the nerve to flip me off in a church parking lot, he was SO OFFENDED he had to slow down a little bit that he reported my terrible driving to the headmistress.

I think the fact that I took the time to document both incidents with diagrams instead of just letting it go like a normal, functional human being has something to do with my heightening pregnancy rage, in which case I apologize in advance to everyone I have to interact with for the next 21 weeks.

 

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Doing My Best (Question Mark) (Exclamation Point)

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Once a week or so my Facebook, which skews heavily towards moms, blows up with a post or article from the interwebs about being a better parent. Posts about putting down your phone and paying more attention to the present, posts about why you should never yell at your kids, posts about how teaching your children patience means letting them take 45 minutes to put on their coat, posts about all the ways you are probably scarring your children and ruining their lives because you aren’t perfect.

Basically, posts about how someone else lives their life better than me. I suck.

I made the mistake of reading one of the posts about yelling on a particularly bad day. I had just been hit with pregnancy symptoms, I had been solo parenting for weeks, the holiday planning was making me feel overwhelmed and stressed and instead of providing me with a hilarious list of animals that look like characters from Downton Abbey the internet punched me in the face with guilt.

Of course, any day is probably a bad day to read parenting advice. I cannot remember a single day since having kids where I was perfect. Pre-kids no one was really expecting me to be, you know?? As long as I didn’t commit any major crimes no one cared and the majority of the advice aimed at me was how to build a work wardrobe for under $200 or how to plan a dinner party for 12. But once you biologically become a parent people suddenly expect you to be a great parent all the time, although no one can even tell you what that means. There isn’t a handbook. There isn’t even a PAMPHLET. And even if there was, I’d still be doing stuff wrong.

Even on days where the kids are angels and I’m a saint, we probably didn’t eat all-organic, locally-sourced, home-cooked meals. We probably ate McDonalds. On the days when we eat a real, fully-balanced meal made with ingredients from the farmer’s market the kids probably watched 4 hours of iPad so I could make the damn thing.

Some days, I toss something in the trash, miss, and then just stand there staring at it on the floor, hoping it might pick itself up. I make sure my children are not physically suffering and then lie down on the couch. The kids eat Pop Tarts for dinner with a side of Pop Tarts for dessert. I yell. I am unfair. I cannot wait for them to go to bed.

As far as I am concerned, both of those days are my best effort. I am giving 100% of myself. All the parts that aren’t being used to keep me alive are going to my children. But I’m a person too, and some days I need all of my own energy to function. I need an extra hour to sleep instead of doing a craft or to watch House Hunters instead of PBS. I need 10 minutes of silence instead of breaking up another argument so I just let them argue. I need to lock the bathroom door so I can pee my pants while I throw up privately instead of with an audience. Again. I NEED those things, the same way I need air and food.

I assume if my life circumstances changed, I would find more to give. Working moms do way more than I do and survive. Single moms do way WAY more an survive. Literally a billion other mothers do more than I do and survive. But right now, at this moment, in my own life, I am giving 100%. You are probably also giving 100%, whether that means making those all-organic meals every night or taking even more naps than I do.

It’s not as hopeless as it sounds. Most nights I go to bed feeling like I had a successful day and not beating myself up over my mistakes (I figure in another four and a half years I might stop doing it all together). Even when I am totally drained I am lucky to have this life – and I really do feel lucky instead of just saying I’m lucky. My kids are great kids, despite my mistakes, and so far show no signs of permanent damage from either cheeseburgers or Disney Jr binges. Since I realized I cannot do everything – and don’t even WANT to do everything – I have gotten much, much happier. Just don’t show up unannounced or I won’t let you in to see my messy house, screaming children, and wet pants.

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