Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Older Siblings Have it Rough…Sometimes

My sister and I in the 80s  All Rights Reserved

See that bratty blond kid in the picture.  Yeah, that’s me.   It was Christmastime circa 1980 something.  My sister and I had both received dolls.  My sister was happy with hers.  I wasn’t...because  I somehow  thought hers was better than mine.   So I scowled my way through the morning and right through the family picture session.  I’m sure I was a pretty big pill that day, especially to my older sister.    

Older siblings have it rough.   As the oldest, they are often expected to be the most responsible.  They have to be mindful of leaving beads, pennies and small toys on the grounds.  These are things that babies and toddlers love to stick in their mouths.   And, unfortunately, older siblings might be subjected to hair pulling, grabbing and the irrational ramblings of a toddler.  

As a younger sibling myself, I remember my sister complaining about me cutting off all of her dolls’ hair.  I also was given certain privileges such as getting my ears pierced and going on sleepovers at a younger age than she did.  

Older siblings are often held to higher standards.  Sometimes, the eldest gets in trouble just because he or she is older. In fact,  I can think of a dozen times when I said something along these lines:  “stop climbing on that….. your brother is going to want to do the same thing (and then he is going to fall, split open his chin and we’re going to spend the night in the ER).  Of course, nine times out of ten, he does follow her, because, she’s his sister. 

Older siblings have been given a great opportunity to be the good example, the Godly leader and the protective guardian.  At the same time, we need to cut them a little slack.  

For instance, even though I tell my daughter to be a good example, I realize she needs her own space.   I realize she’s just a kid too and makes her own mistakes.  She needs times to play with her beads and read her own books without having to worry about a two-year-old invading her space.   She needs to be given the opportunity to go on the big kid rides at the amusement park and see that movie that might be a tad bit too scary for her baby brother.   

Since my daughter is in school and my son isn’t, I get more alone time with him.  However, from time to time.  I’ll take my daughter somewhere by herself.  It may be to the park, to go shopping or even just on a walk.   It’s nice to spend some alone time with each child, to let their personality shine through and do things they want to do.  It’s equally nice to come home and let her play with her younger brother...because we’re a family and, at the end of the day, we are here to learn from and love one another. 

It’s tough being an older sibling, but it’s also pretty cool to have a little person that looks up to you, even if they try to draw on your homework!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Embracing Life to The Fullest

This morning my daughter, who was exploring our backyard, shouted, “Look at this roly poly.  It’s huge!” 

She brought the fat roly poly over for me to see and said “Want to hold it?”  And, I did.  I then wished I was as excited as she was about finding this giant pill bug (Did you know they’re really crustaceans?).

Yet, even though I don’t shout and squeal when I find a roly poly, I am beginning to understand their appeal.  In fact, as a child, I remember feeling the same awe and wonder about roly polies.  And I realized that,  somewhere along the way in my parenting journey, my children’s joy has become my joy; or perhaps I’m just learning to embrace my inner child a little more.  I might not get wide-eyed when I’m given a gooey s’more.  I might not jump up and down when I find out I’m going camping in my backyard.  Still, my children’s zest for the simple things in life has definitely rubbed off on me.   I’m happy to find a roly poly because I know it makes them excited.  I’m happy to make funny face pancakes because it brightens their day.  I’m not living through them but they have taught me to appreciate God’s splendor…. whether it be the intricate nature of a spider web or the perfect symmetry of a butterfly’s wings. 

Adults, and unfortunately many children, are exposed to high levels of cynicism. On a daily basis, we read about murder, corruption and evil in the news. For some, these atrocities are closer to home. And yes, we need teach our children to be wary of strangers and be on their guard in a fallen world. Yet, we also need to support their innate ability to appreciate the simple things in life.  

Whether they are running through sprinklers or chasing after birds, children embrace life to the fullest.   I spend a lot of time trying to teach my kids manners, rules and know-how.  Yet, through their love and wide-eyed wonder, they have taught me some of life’s biggest lessons.   If  I can embrace life like my children do, I’ll probably be a lot happier in the long run.

P.S. Don't worry, we returned all the pill bugs back to where we found them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saying Goodbye to the Baby Years

Last month, silently and reluctantly, I put my son’s remaining baby clothes into a bag to donate.  I kept a few pieces of the preemie clothing to help me remember how tiny he was when he came home from the hospital.  

Even though my youngest hadn’t used it in months, my husband finally broke down the baby crib. We had used the same crib for both my daughter and my son. I was accustomed to seeing its dark mahogany slats and remembered how many times I gently laid my sleeping babes down for a nap.  I also remembered the other times when I heard cries or “momma” coming from that same crib, their little hands reaching up towards me to pick them up.

Although nothing’s ever for sure, we’re saying goodbye to the baby years.  We have decided that four is a great size for our family.  I would gladly welcome another baby. However, as much as I want to keep all those cozy sleepers and adorable onesies, I know someone else could probably use those items….now. 

It’s hard to give away or sell your children’s clothing and toys.  In fact, every time I pack up some clothing, my mind is flooded with memories. 

I brought you home from the hospital in the footed star sleeper. I carefully took your picture in it, against the backdrop of a matching blue blanket.  I remember those simple white long sleeved shirts with the mittens you wore when you  had to stay in the NICU, and then again in the pediatric unit.  And that pink and lime striped dress was the one my firstborn wore for her first birthday....you didn't like wearing a dress and later changed into shorts.

I have a really difficult time giving up the baby clothing that made my life as a new mom so much easier.  I recall coming home from the hospital with my daughter who was 5 lbs 11 ounces.  I had thought that newborn clothing was so tiny. However, it was swimming on my daughter who was a little over a month premature. I was so ill-prepared for her early arrival. I remember my mother and mother-in-law going to scour the stores for “less than six pound” clothing.  Even after my daughter gained weight, I hung onto my preemie clothing, just in case.  When my son was over a month early too, I was so glad I had those small, faded Winnie the Pooh onesies.  

I knew this day would come. I enjoy watching my kids grow up but I enjoy the memories too. Luckily I have plenty of pictures, videos and keepsakes to keep the baby years alive.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

This week I tried my first Wednesday Hodgepodge over at From This Side of the Pond.  Joyce asked, I answered:

1. The month of July was named for Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.  He's quoted as saying, 'Experience is the teacher of all things.'So, what has experience taught you lately?  
Experiences allow you to learn from both your successes and your mistakes
2. Where did you last 'roam'?
San Diego.  These days that’s about as far as I roam.  However, I have been to Rome, Italy.
3. Speaking of 'Rome'...pizza, pasta, gelato...you can only pick one, which would you choose?
Gelato.  When I was in Italy, I had it everyday.  
Picture of Me in Rome Italy about 10 years ago.  All Rights Reserved
4.  'Rome wasn't built in a day', 'All roads lead to Rome', 'When in Rome...' which 'Roman' idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I believe good things take time.
5.  What's a movie you've seen or book you've read, that makes you want to book a trip to Italy?
Roman Holiday.  So romantic.
6. Walt's original Disneyland opened almost sixty years ago this week, on July 17, 1955.  Have you ever been to the California park? How about any of the other Disney parks around the world? What's your favorite amusement park ride or attraction?
Yes, we have Disneyland passes and go several times a year. I love Splash Mountain.  I love going on It's a Small World as a family.
On the carousel at Disneyland last year!  

7. It's that time of year...when were you last bitten or stung?
I can’t remember but the last time I travelled, I found a spider in my bed.  He or she didn’t bite me.
8.  Random thought:  I think little spiders are cute but big ones scare me!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Back to School…..Already?

I was at the store yesterday when the woman behind me plopped a bunch of school supplies onto the conveyor belt.  School supplies….already?  As a credentialed teacher myself, I’m pro-education.  In fact, I think going to the library is fun.  In my free-time, I scour the internet for teaching ideas for my kiddos. On Friday night, I may even be found reading or writing.  Still, when I saw those wide-ruled packages of paper, fat pink erasers and nondescript glue sticks, I felt a hint of school-anxiety welling up in my throat.  

Luckily, I don’t have cable so I can shield myself from the constant barrage of back to school advertisements.  However, I’m not sure if I can control myself from peeking at the snail mail store circulars.   Having been a teacher, I get excited when I see inexpensive pencil boxes and colorful spiral notebooks.  And, if I see washable markers (especially the “tropical colors” variety) on sale for $1, I may just have to book it to the nearest big box store to snatch some up.  

Last year, before my daughter went to kindergarten, I purchased a bunch of school supplies.  However, her teacher was very organized and pretty much provided the students with all the supplies they needed (minus a lunch box and backpack).  From my teaching reserves, I still have hundreds of pencils, a handful of folders and tons of other leftover school stuff.  Since we do a lot of drawings and crafts, I always have crayons, paper and glue sticks on hand.   So, I suppose I really shouldn’t be concerned about having enough school supplies.  

If it wasn’t the school supplies, then maybe the source of my anxiety was time.  After all, I’m one of those people who creates a summer bucket list.  I have my sights on a daycation (yes, that is a word) to Carpinteria.  Plus, I want to visit some places in Los Angeles that I have never been  before.  

Then I realized my daughter still has over a month left of her summer.    That should give us plenty of time to go to x, y and z.   We can still fit in a couple of lazy days at the beach, backyard campouts and evening ice pop runs.  Plus, that’s an entire month of, if my toddler cooperates, “sleeping in” past 8:00 or, at least 7:30.   And, let’s be honest, the only thing I don’t like about school is the waking up part; I didn’t like it as a kid and I still don’t like it.  

So where was this back-to-school anxiety coming from?  Then, I figured out the source.  My daughter is moving up to first grade.  She won’t be in the small, confined kindergarten playground any longer.   She won’t have a bathroom inside her class.  She will be on the big playground and there will be older kids with her at recess and lunch.  My daughter is growing up.  I know she may be bullied or faced with peer pressure.   She’s my oldest child so this is all new to me.  And, part of me wishes every day was summer.  The other part of me knows that I can’t have her by my side at all times.  Going back to school reminds me of this.   At this point, I have to have faith that I have taught her to make good decisions and give it to God. 

So I’ve made a pact with myself.  As of now, I’m not going to worry about going back-to-school.  I’m going to enjoy having both of my kids at home.  We’re going to soak up the sun (with an SPF of at least 30, hats and UPF rash guards). We’re going to read books in the backyard and hang out at grandma and grandpa’s pool.  Sometime before the back-to-school madness, I’ll make sure to buy new school clothes and check out the first grader’s school supply list.  After all, I might not be able to prepare myself emotionally but I can make sure I have enough school supplies!

Have you done any back-to-school shopping yet?

Photo Credit: morguefile.com/creative/dhester

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An Open Letter To my Toddler Who Clogged Up my Toilet

Dear sweetheart,

When I told you to go to the potty, I meant to go to the potty.  I didn’t mean you should throw a block and then a bath toy into the toilet bowl.  I know you saw the look of horror on my face as you nonchalantly pressed the flush lever.  But you did it anyways.  

Yes, I know. It’s my fault for thinking you could be left alone for three seconds without getting into trouble. It’s also my fault for allowing a block to be near the toilet. This may come across as harsh but I won’t be purchasing any more small bath toys that can get stuck in a drain. You’re stuck with your giant plastic boat. I’m positive that can’t fit down any drain.  

As of now, the toilet in your bathroom is out of service.  Daddy tried to fix it with some gadget that is supposed to remove things from the toilet drain.  But it didn’t really work.  I really don’t like flushing the toilet, seeing the water come swirling to the surface and then frantically grabbing a plunger while praying the water doesn’t overflow.   I’m wondering how much it’s going to cost to fix.  I’ll make sure to put it on your child rearing tab….not that I’m keeping track or anything.

So what does this mean for you? This means no more peeing in the toilet, and don’t evening think about pooping.  I suppose this is why people have locks on their toilets.  I’m thinking about getting one but I hope it works better than the refrigerator “lock” I purchased.  You ripped that off, in hulk-like fashion, in about five seconds.

Don’t worry, I’m not mad!  Despite the fact that they are home to a bunch of nasty bodily fluids, I understand that toilets are fun. They have water, swirling and a lever, just like your water table. This is why I clean the toilet, a lot.

On that fateful day, I’m also pretty sure you didn’t even use the potty.  Are you holding out for one of those training potties that sings? I used one with your sister so I suppose that’s fair. Perhaps we can buy one that doesn’t work when you pee but randomly goes off in the middle of the night. Oh, the joys of potty training.   

I hope you enjoy sharing one toilet with four other people.  This should be fun.  


Your mom

What interesting items have your children thrown down the toilet?

Attribution: morguefile.com/creative/xandert

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reach for the Stars….. Even if You Fall (Flat on your Face)

On the 4th of July, my husband took a picture of my daughter against a backdrop of  fireworks exploding in the sky.   Due to the perspective of the photo, it almost looks as though she is in the sky, with all of the fireworks and the stars within her grasp. And, I thought….. this picture would be a great for an inspirational poster.  Then, I started thinking about how children are taught to reach for the stars.  In other words, they should have lofty goals.  

But, the problem with aiming high is sometimes we fail.  I can think of times when I was determined to make the varsity soccer team as a sophomore and then I didn’t.  Or I had my heart set on a job but didn’t get it.  It was disappointing but I’m still glad I tried out for the team and applied for the job.  As parents, we can teach our kids to reach for the stars...but also let them know, they might fall flat….. on their face.

I’m aware of my kids' strengths and weaknesses.  Yet, as of now, they have their entire life in front of them.  My two-year-old has a pretty mean baseball pitch and my daughter can ride a skateboard well.  Are they going to be professional athletes?  I have no idea. Statistics  tell me it’s unlikely.   However, at this point in their lives, I’m letting them reach for the stars.  And, if they fall down, I’ll be there to brush the dirt off their hands, wipe the tears from their cheeks and tell them to get back out there!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Messy Kids: How to Stop Your Children from Destroying your Home

It’s summertime.  Around here that means trips to the beach, dips in the pool and journeys to the park.  At night, my kids like to get on their helmets and bike ride or skate.  We dig in the dirt, make crafts and whip up tasty treats.   Like most little ones, my kids can make a mess quickly.   With two kids home for the majority of the summer, I’m committed to preventing my kids from destroying our home.   Here’s my plan.

Eat Outside:  The other night I had spent an hour vacumming and cleaning the floors.  Then, for dessert my kids were begging for  angel food cake with berries and whipped cream. In my head, I imagined cake falling onto the floor, in slow motion, and covering it in sugary crumbs.  So, I grabbed a waterproof blanket and hauled it out to the porch.  We ate our dessert and watched the sun go down.  When it’s not too hot (or cold) out, we will have picnics or eat at our little table in the backyard.  

Take off Those Shoes: I don't mind if my kids get dirty. However, I do mind if they track mud through the house. I realized that taking our shoes off near the door made my floors so much cleaner.   We have mostly laminate flooring so I can easily see the amount of dirt on our floors when I clean them.  Since we have been taking off our shoes more, my floors are much cleaner.  I figure this also keeps germs out of the house too.  We my kids have been playing in sand, I make sure to empty their shoes outside.  Pesky sand can be very hard to clean up.  

Everything has a Place: My husband, bless his soul, recently went through my craft closet.  Yes, I actually have a few shelves devoted specially to crafts.  There is a drawer for paper, one for markers and crayons and another for notebooks.  We have a box dedicated to paint and brushes and pencil boxes for odds and ends.  In our “playroom,” we have drawers for legos, another for cars and a big bin for outdoor toys.  Our house is definitely not immaculate but we have an organizational system that helps the toys and art from getting out of control.

Chore Chart:  If you allow it, kids can leave a trail of mess behind them.  Chore charts help remind children to clean up after themselves. Simple tasks like making your bed, putting your clothes in the hamper, hanging up clothing and cleaning up after dinner is a big help for me.  I just found a "Frozen" themed one for my daughter.  I’m hoping Anna and Elsa might motivate her to do some chores.

My house can get messy pretty quickly.  How do you keep your kids from destroying your house?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

5 Reasons Parents Stay Up Too Late

So, here I am again.  It’s past midnight and I’m up because it’s so nice and quiet. Everyone else is sleeping. I’m a big believer in the positive effects of a good night’s sleep and I shoot for at least seven hours a night. However, there are a variety of reasons I stay up too late….I bet you can relate.

#1 Savor that (insert favorite guilty food indulgence here): There’s something about ice cream that tastes so much better when it can be savored one bite at a time….without one child trying to stick their spoon into my bowl and another asking for seconds before I even get a chance to sit down and have one bite.  

#2 Watching Television:
What….what’s that?  There’s a new season of “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix.  I don’t even have cable and yet I somehow manage to stumble upon some show like “Dexter” that has eight seasons available for streaming. Then, suddenly, I’m hooked and need to know what’s going to happen next. Obviously, these are shows my kids shouldn’t watch so...as they say….there’s no time like the present.  

#3 Enjoying the Quiet:
I love the stillness of a house at night. My kids are blissfully sleeping….like little cherub angles that aren’t capable of doing anything wrong.  And, minus a few late night cat shenanigans, I am alone with my thoughts, just me and an empty document begging to be filled with words.  For others it might be an empty Pinterest board longing for pins or a brand new novel waiting to be opened...or downloaded.  

#4 Productivity:
At night, I can accomplishment more in 10 minutes than I do in an hour while watching my kids. I’m a night cleaner and, even though I know it’s going to get messed up in the morning, I relish waking up to clean countertops, a crumb-free table and tidy couch cushions. I might be alone on this one, but maybe not.  

#5 Me Time:
When you have been scrambling around all day, working, making food, giving baths, wiping noses….it’s nice to have a little me time, to be able to do whatever you want!  It could be painting your nails, watching a movie with your spouse, working out, you name it.

I should go to bed now….I really should….but my treadmill is calling my name!

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