Sunday, October 11, 2009

"I'm working on it."

This is a very normal exchange in my home - multiple times every day:

The Coach: "Do you want me to move this box downstairs?"

Me: "No - I'm going to use that this week."

The Coach: "That's what you said last week."

Me: "I'm working on it."

MANY conversations around here end with me stating "I'm working on it." Which today led me to begin to brainstorm all the things that I am "working on."

1. Clutter - I've been working on clutter for a LONG time. I have signed up for the flylady's emails (and canceled them, and signed up again) so many times! In thoery her program sounds great. Yes, I suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). But, no ....I don't like to wake up, jump out of bed and get dressed all the way to my tennis shoes every day (I rarely even wear shoes....I HATE shoes....). I like to lay in bed until either the children insist I get up or the urge to pee becomes too strong to avoid. Though - I am getting there. Just this week I instituted the "no toys in my living room" policy and can at least now wake and go make a cup of hot tea without having legos imprinted into the bottom of my feet. The great basement clean out continues. I have taken two van fulls to consignment this fall, and have four boxes ready to go out to goodwill this week. I am trying to embrace the "less is more", the "love it or let it go", and the "live in 90% of our home - leave 10% room to grow."

2. Focus - I wake every day with my mind racing of all the things I want/need to do with the day. I end each day the same way - lying in bed, mind racing - did I remember to fill out the lunch form for Xman for school? is this week that the football game got moved from Thursday to Monday? Did I remember to flip my schedule around? ..................and so on. I have tried several things to focus myself. I printed motivated mom's calendars and for almost a full week I managed to stay on task! I put a pad of paper and pencil on my nightstand and I write down all those worries hoping that they leave my brain and go to paper. I got a cool new calendar to try to organize and keep our crazy schedule under control. I'm a work in progress. For now, I try to look into the faces of my sweet children and remember what is important right at that moment. Yes, beauty shop trumps washing dishes. Yes, light saber fighting trumps laundry. and Yes, hugs and kisses and snuggles trumps it all!

3. Faith - I am great at the believing part - definitely working on the area of surrendering all things. For you see, I am a control freak. It might be that oldest child bossy syndrome? I find it ironic that my favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 - 11I will bless you with a future filled with hope--a future of success, not of suffering.
He doesn't promise to reveal that future to you in one fell swoop - doesn't promise to sketch it out on my pretty new calendar. This is the part of faith that I am working on. Waiting. Patience. Watching. Listening.

Since three is a magic number, I'll leave it at that today. Clutter, focus and faith.......definitely plenty to work on this week.......and the next, and probably the next........

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm just his mother.....

I haven't blogged here in a while........mostly because I am unable to narrow my thoughts to one guide the randomness that floats through my head into one post with clarity.

And, I'm tired.

But, I'm home alone on a Friday night, have just tucked in two children and am crossing my fingers that bedtime will stick .......and am thinking that if I type some of all this randomness out onto the screen that my head will be empty to absorb the two hours of taped Gray's Anatomy I have to watch (WANT to watch I should say) we go.

As a quick catch up, we have been taking Bubbe to see a therapist to work on his anxious behaviors.

Bubbe never had any trouble with attachment - he and I were, are, and it's looking like always will be attached. For the last three years, I have wondered about his anxiety. I asked all those significant professionals in our life and got the same answer all the way around - "at his age, these behaviors are still considered within the norm - far to one side, but within the norm." ie....kiddo loves his mommy, and at his okay.

Fast forward to about a month ago, when I determined that "norm" or not - we needed some guidance from someone who had time to do more research than me. Or, a large case of wine. So, off to meet chickie (our therapist) we went.

We have determined that Bubbe is an "anxious" child and exhibits "anxious" behaviors.

Of course, as it reads in the mother hand book - the first thing you do is re-examine every moment of the last five years. Why does my child not feel secure? My child who has never been apart from me longer than 3 hours on any kind of regular basis not feel secure? My child who nursed for two years and who I let self wean not feel secure? My child who gets all the snuggles, attention, book time, special outings, etc. not feel secure?

Even odder - how is it that my child is fearless about all things that should be feared is anxious? Favorite ride at Disney - Tower of Terror. No qualms about standing on two chairs tipped over in order to swing from my dining room chandelier. Laughed at the new Monster Plantation at Six Flags that his own mother kept her eyes closed during. No fears there.

But yet, he is afraid to go to Sunday School. The same church we have been going to for over a year, in the same building where he goes to school. He is afraid to go to kindergarten. The same preschool he has been in for the last three years. He is afraid to go ...........anywhere without me.

Worse than those, are that he is anxious in our own home. He has to know where I am at EVERY moment. He follows me around the house - nope, I don't think I've peed alone in 5 years. He has major anxiety attacks if you change floors of the house and don't take him with you. Forget about getting the mail without finding him in the front yard, crying and shaking that he didn't/couldn't see you (even though you said four times "Bubbe - I'm going to mail box - I'll be right back).

I can assure that the sentence I say every day more than any other is "Bubbe....mommy is right here." I say it in the morning, I say it all day, I sat it at night ....through multiple bedtime attempts, and yes.....I say it several times during the night.

He is the child of the million questions. How long will I be at kindergarten? Is that a long time? Will you come back for me? ..........Where are you going to be? Is that far away? How long will you be there? Is that a long time?........Are we staying here a long time? .......What are we going to do tomorrow? Will it be a long time? Will you come back for me?

I could understand if we had experienced a major trauma. Like, if I had been in an accident and wasn't able to pick him up. I have picked him up from everywhere I have ever left him - and been timely. Mostly early. If your not early.......let's just don't go there........

Anyhoo.....this is the kid I live with.

This is the same awesome kid who sings Livin on a Prayer until you wish Bon Jovi had never recorded it........who tells the funniest jokes........who gives the sweetest hugs, snuggles and kisses.....who makes the best cards with his own desk supplies........who you can barely discipline because he really is just that darn cute.......

Then, this week as I am sitting in my weekly therapy appointment.....I am now told that while Bubbe exhibits anxious behaviors, he also exhibits attention seeking behaviors.

What the hell does that mean?

Is there anything about a 5 year old that is NOT attention seeking?

I left there more confused than normal...........and have been invited back next week for a parent session (which at the moment feels like a call to the principal's office to discuss my parenting skills) in addition to his normal session so WOO HOO two trips to Athens next week.

In my calm moments, I'm guessing that chickie is trying to tell me that while she thinks he begins truly anxious, that he continues the behaviors to get attention.

I'm still thinking that the first priority is to get rid of the anxiety - and thus the behavior won't start, and then I won't have to try to figure out where one ends and another begins?

But then again, I'm not the trained professional.

I'm *just* his mother.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things Every Mother Should Know

Recently I was sitting in the waiting room of the kid's dentist - surrounding by more toys than Santa probably brings all the children of a small nation...........and grabbed one of those lovely parenting magazines they had lying around.

I know, I know.....sevenish years into this parenting gig - I should have learned by now that those magazines are either annoying or guilt bearing.

Just put down the magazine and slowly walk away and everything will be okay..........

but, no, I opened it.

The first article I found was titled "Things Every Mother Should Know."

I read on.

I found NOTHING that a mother SHOULD know, needs to know, or would be any help at all.

So, because the kid dentist gig takes some time, I began to wonder.....what do I think every mother should know?

Here it is - my short and sweet Top Five (copied from my grocery list I wrote on while waiting):

1 - Motherhood is the most amazing, time consuming, frustrating, rewarding, overwhelming, demanding, scary, awesome thing ever.

Feel free to pretend every day is fabulous and that you are all happy, yippee skippy all the time - that's all right by me. But I know how it really goes. I've been around A LOT of kids and A LOT of play dates and A LOT of preschools.....and EVERYBODY has those moments when they think they will not make it to the end of the day. EVERYBODY.

It's a not a job that you are meant to be perfect at. Sort of like that whole being human gig.

2- Reading parenting stuff just makes you read more.

I'm an avid reader - I love to read. I was only engaged about a half hour when we drove to the bookstore to get bridal and wedding planning books. Guess who had a copy of What to Expect When You are Expecting? within days of that pretty pink line pregnancy test?

You can find supporting evidence for whatever kind of parenting strategy or style you think you are or want to be. Want to attachment parent (read it)? Want a new kid by Friday (read it)? Want your kid to sleep all night by themselves (I could loan you a copy of practically every book on the market on that topic.....even had the honor of being a contributing mom to one)? Want to laugh at other mothers (got a few girlfriend guides)?

Find validation in knowing your kid - knowing what your kid needs. Then read what you want - you'll know the minute you start reading what will and won't work for you, your kid, and your relationship.

3 - Say you're sorry when you are.

I can't tell you the number of times I go to bed feeling terrible about how something in the day went. Why didn't I just tell pumpkin I was sorry that I snapped at her or why did I let myself loose my cool with Bubbe and the whole anxious mess? I've been known to wake people up to love on them......

My motto is "I'm doing the best I can" - that's all I can do. I love my kids - and I know how to say I am sorry (most of the time I do...) when I screw up. Teach forgiveness by modeling and asking for forgiveness for that screaming in aisle 4 of Walmart (was that really me?) or that moment where I should have stopped folding laundry and built the Lego guy because it was important to you........

4 - Be flexible on the molehills, but stand firm on the mountains.

I wish I practiced this one as well as I can preach about it.

I'm working on differentiating between the small stuff and the big character issues with the kids.

Does it matter that Pumpkin attended preschool in mix matched clothes, complete with tiara for three months? Since that was so 4 years ago, no didn't then, and it still doesn't now.

Will it matter in 4 years if I allow Bubbe to yell at me and be disrespectful? I'm thinking yeah - that probably isn't going to fade away on its own.

Molehills and mountains.

5 - Embrace the chaos for it really is only a short season.

If you know us, you know my kids live in their own fantasy world. One where you wake up everyday as Luke Skywalker fighting off the evil with a light saber (or two or ten), or you wake as a doctor who must bandage all the wounded before we move camps (if only you knew how many band aids we go through), or you wake as super heroes who must build a large fortress out of EVERY pillow and blanket we own, or you wake as a famous rock star to whom all must wave their "rock on" sign in the air and sing .......and the list goes on.

As a result, right this moment, as I type, I can see......2ish feet of my living room floor. My living room is HUGE as far as living rooms go. There are two very large blankets laid out - where the bat cave is. The fire house now serves as a jail for all the evil villains. I see a pocket book - every good female super hero needs her make up? I see a race track for the get away cars. I see a TON of Lego's and will no doubt go to bed with small circles indented into my feet as I try to pass through never land.

In 8ish hours....if I'm lucky - the chaos will begin again. And, I'm hoping instead of wondering why my children don't sleep late on Saturday mornings like certain other children who will remain nameless and belong to such lucky parents.......that I will find my bat cape and jump into the chaos too for I can see this season is passing.......too quickly for me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Erve, we were never ON aisle 5

Every day I seem to be getting older.

While this is probably no big surprise to you, I'm totally shocked.

While checking out at Kroger recently (without the children), I happily asked the cashier "How are you today?"

Polite teenager (who I'm sure has a fabulous mother) replied "Normally I ask that question, but I'm happy to be the one to respond. I'm good - how about you?"

I shared that I was great as I was shopping with no children - that normally when I shop, I feel like a bad clip from the movie "Mr. Mom" - "Erve, we were never ON aisle 5."

To which said teenager looked at me like I was from another planet.

Apparently he has not only never SEEN Mr. Mom - but doesn't even know it is a movie.


I am that old - old enough that people that drive to work no longer know about life when I learned to drive.

That got me thinking - of ten more reasons that prove that I am old.

10 - I not only care what my kids wear - but I care what other people's kids wear. Who lets their pre teen hang out at the mall unattended for countless hours wearing victoria's secrets as outer wear? Not only do I notice....but occasionally I even comment.

9 - I base ALL shopping decisions on comfort. Elastic waist pants....flip flops in multiple colors......jeans from the goodwill that someone else has already broken in for me. Gone are the days of fashion concerns (i'll admit it was a reach for me anyway)

8 - The last time I was in a bar all I could think about was the laundry I was going to have to do the next day. The smoke smell infiltrated my shoes, my purse, my clothes.....and everything in my suitcase that my shoes, my purse, my clothes had touched. I remember a time when I went to a bar to not have to think about anything - and when I am sure that laundry NEVER crossed my mind.

7 - I have children old enough to think I am old. When the kids were little, no one commented on my age. Just last week, Pumpkin told Bubbe "Bubbe - that book is old, REALLY old like when mom and dad were little. They didn't have color pictures or fancy pages back then."

6- I get excited when new furniture and appliances come into our home. A few weeks ago we got a "new to us" couch - I'm still ecstatic. I couldn't wait for the Sears appliance delivery man to show up with our new dishwasher a few years back. Like, paced around the house peeking out the windows. For a dishwasher. If your house had four kids under the age of 4 at the time drinking out of sippy cups and eating on curious george plates every half hour all day - you would miss the dishwasher too. However, grandpa from Sears - not the kind of guy I used to get excited about catching a glimpse of. Before I got old.

5 - TV shows that I like are on Nick at Night. And no one watches them. I think there is no better reference about parenting than Cosby. Just saying.

4 - People tell me I sound like their mother. I need a contract for tutoring for my teens to sign. Something to the effect of "I, _____, do promise to not get any zeros, show up to sessions with some facsimile of supplies, and never comment that my tutor sounds like my mother." I realize it doesn't help things when I begin a conversation with "you know, I understand where your mother is coming from." Then again, I'm old.

3 - It's 8:32 as I type and I am yawning. It is approaching my bedtime.

2 - Children I taught as sweet 6th graders are now grown up, college graduates who are married with classrooms of their own. (some are probably in prison - but one is definitely a grown up with her own classroom - so amazing!)

1 - I am always thinking. I am trying not to worry (will the children ever leave home? will we ever pay off the home that we want them to leave? will they love us enough to come visit some? and so on and so on), but my brain is always moving. I don't remember having a hard time sleeping as a college kid - in fact, quite the opposite....I slept whenever I could get away with it. But now, as a real grown up - I awake in the night, my brain switches on and I begin the discussion with myself about needing to go to sleep. Or in the midst of a movie, my mind wanders to the "to do" list of the day - did I actually do anything on it? Do we have milk for breakfast? did we show up everywhere we were supposed to today? Perhaps this is what they mean when they say "older and wiser" .......all this thinking might make me smarter???

And so, for those 10 reasons and many more - I am embracing old.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Too Big?

As I put Bubbe to bed tonight....for the third time, but we won't go there........he inquired,

"Mommy, do you weigh too many pounds to get in the top bunk?"

Sweet dreams to you too kiddo!

I spent the majority of my life (quick math check there) wearing skinny jeans because I was skinny. My first driver's license showed me at 5' 9.5" and 98 pounds. Yes, at today's standards I *think* I should have been in a booster seat when I drove to college.

Then, there was the college 10, and the married 10, and oh yeah - those two amazing pregnancies with peanut butter twix candy bars and mexican cheese dip. Good times.

While I think the top bunk will be fine if I climb in for a while, skinny jeans are definitely a thing of the past.

Yes, I am wearing the same black capri yoga pants as I had on Wednesday for church. I wash them - every day (and never dry them). I love them. Not only do they have an elastic waist and are the most comfortable garment on the planet, they are black - my favorite color. They say black is flattering - or is it forgiving?

I watch on facebook daily as many of my fb friends go about their day filled with walking, water drinking, P90X work outing, gym visits, new diets, weight watcher meetings, races to would think I would be inspired.

One would be wrong.

I wish I was inspired. I wish I wanted to drink only water and eat only colorful things from the exterior of the Kroger aisles.

But, alas. I am mostly happy in black yoga pants, with my coke in hand (I've had many vices over the years and let's just say that coke in the red can is a good evil) enjoying my day without the limitations of diets.

I wish I enjoyed exercise. I love to play with the kids - sparkpeople gives me exercise points for that one, but come on people - I'm not really burning a whole lot of calories playing the wii, building the lego towers, or participating in the new make over of the day. Nor am I loosing pounds with all the dishes, laundry, and vacuuming that I do either (they give me points for that too!).

Coach LOVES to exercise. It's crazy really. He would rather be down in the dungeon torturing himself than just about anywhere else.

Not me. Nope. No desire to push myself to my limit.

Oddly enough, I am fairly picky about what my kids eat. No caffeine EVER for either. I actually keep track of their daily intakes of fruit/veggies/calcium (and my never ending dairy war with Pumpkin). I monitor sugar intake (if you have ever given Bubbe a candy bar - you know why!). I've always said if I ate the way I fed the kids - I'd be super healthy!

Every fall I typically begin some sort of "hey - I'm going to be a smaller, healthier me" campaign. Week one always goes really well - healthy food, lots of water drinking, and a good dose of that exercise stuff.

Week 2 - 4 go okay - mostly healthy food ( a few splurges here and there), some water drinking (now I am up to limiting myself to one coke a day - forbiddens and I never get along), and exercise trickles to walking.

By week 5- 6, the campaign has died out - and I am back to my normal life.

Typically, a few pounds heavier by week 8, but usually nicer to be around than weeks 1 - 6.

So, this fall I have made an executive decision that there will be no fall campaign. I will save us all from the facebook posts of my demise in week 5. Some would say that I am just being negative, or not giving myself enough credit.

Me, myself and I have been hanging out 34 years now - we are real tight. We are giving ourselves just the right amount of credit!

This fall I am going to be grateful for the body that God gave me and be happy in it.

And should I wake up one day with a craving for exercise or dislike for cokes in the red can, well, then ..........let the campaign begin.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Is Bubbe really going to Kindergarten?

Bubbe in 3's
Bubbe at 2

I remember the day that I found out we were pregnant with Bubbe.

To back up, I remember the day he was conceived - don't worry, I'm not about to give you too much information.......but let's just say that I KNOW I uttered the phrase "you know you'll be sorry in 9 months" more than once.

He didn't believe me.

I wish I had some cutsie story to share ......but really, there was just a pee stick and Coach brushing his teeth....and a quick reality check as our 15 month old was waking for the day.

And from the get go, life with Bubbe has always been not what you were expecting.

As a baby, he refused bottles.

Then, he refused baby foods.

He HATED the swing, the ultra saucer, the bouncey seat....don't even get me started on the crib drama.

I described him last week as our walking oxymoron.

He is loud, the life of the party, always the musician, funny, impulsive, and a bit of a danger junkie (with a high pain tolerance - thanks to Coach's genes).

But he is also anxious, nervous, timid about new people/situations/places.......has the soul of an old man, and can worry with the best of them.

Doesn't seem possible to have it all in one kiddo - but then, life with Bubbe has always been that way - making the old "expect the unexpected" a way of life with him.

Today we met his kindergarten teachers.

It's really happening.

Bubbe is going to kindergarten.

Why is it kindergarten is on the big list of milestones?

Why do all us mommy people freak out like they were going off to UCLA without us? Why is it we feel like they are grown when they go off to kindergarten?

When I put down my emotional panic attack hat for a minute (life with Bubbe has always been about reality checks), I realize that...........kindergarten is really no biggie.

Bubbe isn't leaving me behind as he goes off on some big kindergarten adventure.

Bubbe still needs me to read him a story, sing his special bedtime song, and create a plan for our dreams in order to go to sleep.

Bubbe still needs me to kiss booboos and make them better - complete with Star Wars bandaids.

Bubbe still needs me to set the boundaries, keep things safe, and read the directions in board games.

So, for now (theres still two weeks left - stay tuned), I'm not going to go into full mommy panic mode about the kindergarten thing.

If Bubbe starts playing Don't Wake the Hulk with out me............I might need some support!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What a Ride!

Yesterday was a LONG day.

If you are a mother - you know exactly what I mean by LONG day. I don't have to define it, or share with you how nothing went as I thought it would, and what was supposed to be simple wasn't, or that children and husbands often complicate life.

Life with children is complicated.

Now, don't start bashing me. I know some of you mommy people are all alpha moms lovin the mom thing all day every day. We've met.

I, however, am a realistic.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Parenthood.

In BK (before kids) life, it was funny.

Now, the movie is part gospel, part "oh my goodness its happening to me" for me.

The wisest character (to no surprise) for me is Grandma. I have a feeling that me and grandma are going to be peas in a pod someday. Chick is SMART. But people think she is crazy.

Perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part.

Wander back to 1989, with me - you don't have to find your parachute pants or jelly shoes (though I see that at least one of the two fashion trends is on its way back in):

I've got to confess.

Some days - I wake up and beg with God - "God today I need to ride the merry go round."

I don't wake up every day ready for the roller coaster that is life with kids (at least not the two that live in my house....).

Yet, I know that life with my two kids is always a roller coaster.

Case in point. Today we are busy at the dining room table cutting out pictures and creating a family tree. We are laughing. We are having a good time. We might be learning something. We are coloring - we are creative.

And then, as it always does the stuff hits the fan - there is green marker all over my table (I'm still calm - the table is old), the yelling begins "he colored on me" "nuh uh - she was like ramming her marker onto my side"......then the craziness is so loud no one can hear me - that is until my heads starts spinning around, and my inside voice is .....let's just say missing at the moment.

So - here's the question:

Is the good stuff the ride up? When you know you are about to fall? When your stomach is excited and nervous?

Or, is the good stuff the ride down? Let the fun begin as you rush around - waiting for the next climb?

I guess it probably doesn't matter - the good and the crazy with kids seems to be intertwined - like one is a necessary part for the other.

I am also guessing that because moments like the marker all over the table and massive sibling fighting happen, that I then appreciate and recognize the happy coloring and creativity as a good time.

Perhaps its too much to ask for a merry go round, but maybe some days we could hang on the kiddo coasters instead of riding The Scream Machine?