Friday, January 23, 2015

I Don't Hate Many Things, but...

I'm sorry, but I have to say this...

I hate homework.  It is my least favorite part of the day.  I have tried everything to get it done, and it just sucks.

I have tried screaming and yelling, I have tried simply not caring, I have tried not doing it at all, I have tried doing it before we pick up other kids, I have tried doing it while I cook dinner, I have tried doing it before bed.  There is no good time.

So now here's where all the teachers hate me, and I have A LOT of teacher friends.  I went to Longwood...hello!

Why the hell does my 2nd grader need to do homework?

She spends 7 hours a day in a classroom.  She spends 3 hours at home every night.  In that 3 hours we must eat dinner.  We also take a bath most nights.  We try to read books.  We like to play.  And these are nights that we have nothing else going errands to run, no practice to go to.

So how in the world am I supposed to also fit in 20 minutes of homework with a child that does not want to do homework because she's been doing work all day in the classroom?  And by the way, it is not 20 minutes.  Last night, it was almost an hour!!!  One third of my night!

I already know what you're going to say.  Teachers don't have time to teach everything that needs to be taught to stick with state standards.  Am I right?  Well, I don't care!!!!  And I'm not screaming at the teachers here.  I love the teachers in my life and I know how hard the work.

So I'm screaming at the system.  It's ridiculous!!!

Last night, we come home and sit down to do homework before we pick up the boys.  She is not focused.  She wants to eat a snack and talk about other things but we don't have time to eat a snack and talk about other things.  Because we have to draw a stupid graph about storms.  And then write all the facts we possibly can about them in the graph.  I read the directions to her 5 times, she read them, she still did it wrong.  Because she's totally not interested.  Her brain has been working all day, she wants a break and I don't blame her.

I don't go home and get on my work email.  Why should she have to come home and do more school work?

And while we were reading the packet about storms, she kept just telling me all these random facts about storms that were correct and not in the mandatory reading book.  So obviously, she has learned something in school about storms, because I assure you, we do not sit around the dinner table discussing Tornado Alley and Hurricanes forming over the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico during warm months.

So after a half an hour of reading this packet, and then 20 minutes of pushing her and begging her to do the graph right...I said screw it, she obviously knows the stuff.

I try to take that attitude with homework, but it's hard.  I don't want her to fall behind, because even though she knows about storms, she doesn't do as well with math.

I really don't know what the answer is.  Any advice?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Faking Confidence

Parenting is the hardest job I've ever had.  I think a lot of people would agree with that statement.  I have a job, sometimes it is hard and busy and sometimes it is not and I can write a blog post :)

But parenting, never leaves my thoughts.  I become consumed with how I'm raising my kids, am I doing it right, will they be screwed up forever, how do I avoid mistakes that will turn them into horrible/sad/asshole/(insert any terrible description here) people?

I know in my head that kids become their parents.  I am so like my mom.  In so many ways.  I don't really look like her and we don't really have the same personality.  I can be very moody (like my dad), I rarely see her in a bad mood.  I can wallow (like my dad), I never see her do that.  Sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me and things are unfair (like my dad), but I rarely hear my mom complain.  But sometimes I'll hear my voice or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or in a picture and it almost takes my breath away at how much I am like her.

So one day, Ainsley will probably think the same thing.  How do I make sure that she ends up with the best parts of me?

I have never had the best self-esteem.  I don't have a lot of confidence in myself.  I'm shy and I often worry about drawing attention to myself.  I make excuses.  I never admit to being good at anything.  I never want someone to think I'm loud or obnoxious, so I stay quiet.  I do not take compliments well.

But I wasn't always that way.

As a kid, I loved to put on shows and act in plays and sing in church.  Anything to get on stage and draw attention.  And better yet, I thought I was amazing at all of it.  At some point that stopped and I just wanted to be invisible.  I wasn't bullied, wasn't picked on more than any other kid, wasn't abused.  No mega trauma happened in my life.  Yet right around middle school, my whole personality changed.  I can remember walking through the halls and just trying to blend into the walls so no one would talk to me or notice me.

High school was the same.  I can barely remember any kids from high school.  There are a few that I was friends with and there are a few others that I am Facebook friends with.  But this year is my 20 year reunion (sidenote: WTF?!?!?  How is that possible?) and I ended up in the Facebook group and I have no recollection of these people.  I've been looking them up in my yearbook to try and remember faces.  And I can, with 100% certainty, tell you that they have no idea who I am either.  Because in high school, I perfected being invisible.  Never too good or too smart or too friendly, but not bad either.  Just right down that average line.

I'm getting off on a tangent here, because this post isn't about me and my issues.  It's about Ainsley.

My girl, who is so full of energy and happiness and sunshine.  So totally over the moon about herself.  She can stare at herself in the mirror for hours if I let her (I did the same).  She loves to sing and dance (so did I).  She'll try anything.  Loves to be the center of attention.  Adores pictures and videos of herself.  She even has started her own "how to" video series.  All her idea.  This girl has so much confidence...


Lately, she's been saying things.  She and Freddie will play a video game and she'll quit, saying "I'm not good at that, Freddie is way better than me."  She and a friend will do cartwheels or rolls and she'll want to stop saying "I can't do those."

And then, at the end of one of her videos...How to make Mint Chocolate Cupcakes...she was icing a cupcake all by herself for the first time ever.  And on video she said "So this one I put green icing looks horrible I know, because I'm terrible at it."

And my heart broke.  Tears stung my eyes.  Because here she was being so brave to do something she had never done, on camera, to post to You Tube, and she was talking about how bad she was at it...

Just. Like. Me.

And in that moment, it finally sank in.  Something I've known since I was pregnant with her.  Something I've tried to instill.  But something I have never practiced in front of  her.  I can not expect to make her a strong, independent, confident woman unless I show it to her.

So really this is a post about my issues, because I can't let them become Ainsley's.  It's not easy to change 30 years of doubting myself, judging myself, criticizing myself for every move.  But I'm trying.  And I'll keep trying until I truly believe it so Ainsley can keep her confidence.

Here's her first video..."How To Brush Your Teeth and Hair"...more to come.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Non New Year's Resolutions

I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  There are 3 reasons.

#1 - All the normal stuff that people resolve to do, I am always doing every day of the year.  Okay, so no, I do not always eat healthy and I barely have time to exercise and sometimes I use a credit card...but for the most part, I am always trying to be healthier, trying to work out, trying to keep our finances in check.

#2 - Setting a New Year's Resolution is just setting yourself up to fail.  All the hype and excitement that comes from the New Year fades and you're left feeling like a failure.  And if you're in to making New Year's resolutions, you have to wait a whole year to start again.

#3 - It's only for a year.  If I change myself, I want to do it for the better and for always.

So I don't make New Year's Resolutions.

I do, however, make non-exciting, non-holiday resolutions all the time.

First up, I'm trying to blog more.  I probably resolve to do this once a month.  But I'm now putting it in my blog, so I'm responsible for it.  I think about blogging all the time.  I mean, like every couple hours of every day I think about writing a blog post.  It's just the actual time it takes to sit down and do it that I have trouble pushing through.  So now, if you don't see a blog post in awhile, nag me.  Do it, I'm giving you permission.

Second, I'm going to get healthy.  You would think that chasing after three kids and never sitting down at home, and being up until 11pm at night would keep me active and healthy.  You'd be wrong.  I am currently at my heaviest (non-pregnant) weight ever.  And weight doesn't matter, I keep telling myself that.  But it does if you feel unhealthy, and I do feel unhealthy.  I sit all day at work.  I sleep less than 6 hours most nights.  We eat "conveniently" more than I'd like.  Clif bought me a Jawbone Up for Christmas.  And it has made me realize how much I don't move.  How bad I eat at times.  How little and lightly I sleep.  I need to make better changes.

Third, I don't want to be so self-involved.  I think I am a compassionate person.  But I don't really show that to people.  Honestly, I am busy.  I am going from 5 am until 9 pm Monday through Friday.  Then the weekends are left to catch up on housework and errands and any kind of fun family time.  I don't volunteer, I don't donate, I don't even send freaking birthday cards.  My focus is always on me and my family.  It's happened because I run out of time, but I need to fix it.  I need to pay more attention to the life around me.  I try to be a good friend, I try to pay it forward.  But damn, it is hard to find the focus and the energy and the time to be all of that.  So I am going to try and send birthday cards and I am going to try and do one random kind thing a month.  It's the only way I'm going to raise my kids to be good people.  I can be a good person in my head all I want, but until I actually do something...I'm just a jackass.

Finally, and this is big and this is one reason my resolutions are not of the New Year's contingent.  I want to write a book.  I know it won't be this year.  It probably won't be next year.  It may not be until Cohen is married.  But I want to start laying the foundation.  I want to actually put it my head that I'm going to write a book and take steps to make it happen.  I've wanted to be a writer for a gazillion years.  Writing does not pay my bills.  So I work in jobs that I never love.  I want to make sure that I'm doing something I love, even if I'm not getting paid and even if I have to do something else to survive.

So those are my resolutions.  Ones I've been thinking about or acting on for months now.  Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  Or do you make any-time-I-want resolutions?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Remember when you first brought your first baby home?  And remember how scared you were?  How you were afraid of every little thing?  I can remember lying awake with teeny tiny Ainsley in a cradle next to my bed, just listening to her breath.  Every catch in her breath would draw me from bed to check on her.  I can remember literally thinking...Do I really need sleep?  It's not that important, right?

Then time moves on, the baby becomes a toddler, then another baby comes along...and there's still always this underlying worry about "things" but you move about your days and that worry just becomes something normal and it's not a constant, daily, minute-by-minute fear.

Then something happens, anything...big or small...and it all comes rushing back and suddenly you're treating your 18 month old like a glass doll.

The other night, Cohen fell in our kitchen and hit his head on the corner of the wall.  I wasn't looking at him when it happened.  We had just gotten home and it was our normal "walk in the door, walk the dogs, get dinner ready, do homework - all before bedtime" chaos.

I was going through Ainsley's homework book when I heard the thud.  I turned around and Cohen looked up at me with an eye full of blood.  In that moment, I just reacted (freaked out) thinking his eye was gone.

At an octave I don't normally reach, I squealed "What happened?!?!  Oh my gosh, what happened?!?!"

I scooped him up and grabbed paper towels to wipe the blood.  I was relieved, but still shaking when I realized it was his forehead and not his eye.

I took him to the hospital as soon as Clif got home.  I didn't remember toys or snacks or diapers...just drove off feeling very helpless and scared.

He got 5 stitches in the nothing terrible.  He was never in any danger of losing too much blood or going blind or dying.  But I was just so freaked out.  And I've found myself hovering over him more the last couple of days.  Less okay with his fearlessness to climb anything, jump from anywhere, run always.  He wasn't doing any of those things when the fall happened.  I'm not exactly sure what he was doing, but I know he was standing in the kitchen one second and looking up at me covered with blood the next.

So one little accident and I'm suddenly that terrified new mom I was 7 years ago, afraid every move I make with be the wrong one.  Sure that one decision will upend my perfect life.  Thinking that one mistake will break my baby and I won't be able to stitch him back together.

He's fine, by the way.  Barely cried when it happened.  Cried during the stitches, but was ecstatic when they brought him a red Popsicle.  He's resilient and awesome and other than the line of stitches down his forehead, you'd never know anything had happened.  But I think I'll always wear the scar.

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