Thursday, July 21, 2016

anticipation

Ok, so the movie Bad Moms is coming out soon and I really want to see it.  The previews are fantastic (and I'm afraid those might be the funniest parts of the movie) and hit on so many things that I know many of us moms feel.  The PTA meeting scene is so true to my feelings.  As a working mom I don't have time to run around obeying all the new food regulations. Yes, I understand that so many more people have dietary restrictions and/or allergies but OMG!  Luckily, our school, like so many others can only be store bought foods.  However, I am asked to volunteer for a gazillion different things all school year long, 90% of which I turn down.  I just can't do it.  It takes away from what little family time I have and I am way to exhausted at the end of a school day to deal with other people's kids.  Reminder, I am a high school teacher and definitely not elementary.  Love my kids but not always a fan of elementary age kids.  Plus, those teens wear me out.  Don't get me wrong...I love teaching HS and they continually crack me up and amaze me, but it also drains me.  I am ready for a nap by the time I get home which is just in time to get my kids off the bus.

I might turn down 90% of what I am asked to do at my kids' school. But I also turn down many things at work.  Before kids I had no problem staying, volunteering, etc.  But now, yes it might be selfish, I am spending that time with my own kiddos.  They're not young forever and yes the cliche is so true....they do grow up so fast, blink and they're grown.  Soon my eldest will be a pre-teen and for months I've been teasing him that he was just a baby yesterday.

Summer's off isn't always easy either.  We're out of our routine.  We're in each other's hair.  We get cranky from the heat.  I enjoy the time with my boys; however, they are at each other's throats by July.  That's when I have to get creative with our activities because too much down time can get pretty vicious. This summer seems to be the worst.  We didn't get any memberships this year since they or we were gone for most of June.  So now July is here and we're trying to find inexpensive things to do.  It hadn't been bad but now we're in a heat wave of 100+ temps. Yikes!  I don't want to go outside and really neither do they.  Five minutes out there and they're asking to come back inside and I don't blame them.  Not even a walk around the lake to play Pokemon Go can tempt them outdoors.

This week the boys have had VBS in the evenings. That has given them something to do and talk about this week.  The days have been lazy since it gets out at 8:30 and then they're still hungry.  We haven't got to bed until almost 10 each night.  As a result I've let them sleep in.  E will sleep until almost 10 am.  By the time he eats breakfast, gets dressed and does the "screen time" list it's already afternoon and he's earned his " screen time".  A few hours of this and then it's snack time and then time to go to VBS.  Yes, that has been our routine this week. Not super exciting but, hey, it keeps us sane and the boys from arguing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

aaaaah...It's summer!

Summer is in full swing, oh my!  I love summer because I get to spend more time with my boys; however, I don't want the days to be long and boring just sitting around.  I could do summer school and a ton of camps but then I am just sitting around.  Sure I could be doing projects around the house but who really wants to clean and organize the basement?  No thanks!  I also don't want to be a chauffeur yet.  I know soon that  is all I will be driving them to different activities, friends, school events, etc.  That will come soon enough, so why hurry it along.

kayaking on the lake
Yes, we do all sorts of things.  We moved a year ago and now have things in our neighborhood to entertain us like a neighborhood pool, walking trail and a small lake (great for fishing and kayaking). We decided to invest in some kayaks to add to the lake fun, especially since we can't swim in the lake.  The kayaks have been a hit, but not something we enjoy during the hot burning afternoon hours.  It is also a great workout.  Racing the boys across the lake will definitely keep my arms strong.  It won't be long until they are able to beat me across and back.  My eldest is only a kayak length behind me.

We also do the Kids Bowl Free program and frequent trips to our local library.  The boys goal is to make it to the 100 points club in bowling.  They're getting close!  E is determined and analyzes each bowl.  He asks me for feedback on his form.  That boys is always competing, even with himself.  His first strike this summer was an all out celebration including victory dance.  Too bad I didn't have my phone out for a video because it was hilarious.  C tried without the bumpers but is so easily frustrated that I talked him into using them for a little while longer.  That boy has some serious spin on his ball. Most people stop to watch him spin that ball down the lane. If he had better control he'd be throwing great strikes.  Maybe next year we'll go bumper free.



But we can't go somewhere everyday.  Even the free programs tend to cost money somehow (gas, snacks that can't be brought into venues, overdue library fines...oops!)  So, what do we do on days that we are chillin' at home?  Well, after scrolling through Pinterest I found an idea.  The boys have to complete a list of activities before they can have any screen time.  Some of the activities are things they should do anyway like get dressed, eat breakfast and brush their teeth.  Other activities make them things like reading and creating and another one is so I can get them to clean or work on something that needs to be done.   Of course, they complain, well, I should say my almost 11 year old complains about the list.  According to him I am ruining his summer.  Yep, the pre-teen attitude is already beginning! But, each of them have been creative with the list and have shown me all kinds of creations from Legos and crafts. They have told all kinds of stories to go with their creations and they are documenting their summer in a journal.  Hopefully they will still have the journal and pics of their creations when they are older to look back to see what they could accomplish, imagine and create.

haha! Hopefully this isn't my yearly check-in into the blog and I can actually find time to continue this.  I keep saying that I am but then find something else to do.  Part of being a working mom is that there is always something to do, but summers are a little more lax so I will try again to get into a blogging routine and incorporate it into the fall routine.  We'll see ;)



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall into a routine

The beginning of the school year has already come and gone.  In fact, it's almost half way through the semester.  But it has taken us this long to get into a routine.  The boys and I spend all summer doing things at our leisure.  Occasionally we have to be somewhere at a specific time for a camp or lunch date, but otherwise we can take our time.  So when school starts the three of us are cranky!  In fact my husband hates August/September.  He says we're all in a bad mood until we can finally settle into a routine.

Granted it doesn't always take us this long to set into a routine but we moved, started a new school, and mommy added a new prep and class to her class load.  We went from living in a neighborhood with little to no kids my boys' ages and now the neighborhood is chalk full of kids of all ages. We love it, but we had to learn some time management of when to play and when to get homework done and when to go to activities.  The boys saw kids outside and clambered to get out the door.  AWESOME! Right?  Yes and No.  Homework time became a fight.  Finally, I put a checklist together to work on their spelling, math and other work.  I also had to put my foot down about playing with friends on soccer practice days.  I had to limit the play time to 30 minutes and only allow them to get bikes out or one toy and they had to stay in our yard.  They aren't happy about being stuck in the yard, but trying to gather them together became a headache on practice days.

Finally after establishing these we have finally gotten into a routine and even have time to eat dinner as a family and, maybe, watch a TV show or play a game together.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I'm back

So I started this blog and then I got super busy. Revelation #643: don't start a blog and then start your master's degree. I have spent the last 18 months working on my master's, supporting my husband also going back to school, teaching and spending every other second with my two energetic boys. It has been a whirlwind with many ups and downs. I finally graduated so now I have a little more time on my hands, but not much. My boys are getting older and now are getting very busy with school, school activities, sports, friends, etc.  I hope to be able to post more often and hopefully share my adventures with my two boys while still working.

 When I started this blog ages ago, I originally did it out of anger. I saw blog after blog of stay-at-home moms posting how they can be and do so much more with their children. I choose to work but those other blogs made me angry and even slightly guilty; however, in retrospect, I was angry that I felt guilty.  Working is my choice.  Yes, 10 months of the year I am stressed, overworked, drained, etc., but I chose the profession and to stay in it while raising children.  Plus, now that the boys are in school I would've gone back to work anyway (if I had quit for 5ish years).

But, now I can use the blog to journal my many adventures with my boys.  Yes, I work but we keep busy and have fun year round.  Because I work I make sure to spend my precious time with them.

We are just completing our Christmas break and it has been a wonderful two weeks.  I love this time with them.  I always make matching Christmas pjs and the weekend before is a lot of measuring to make sure their pjs fit.  It also reminds me how much they have grown since I remember their previous measurements.  Sigh,  they're getting so big, is my first thought.  My second is I didn't buy enough material.  Since I was finishing my master's program I didn't get to the fabric store until later in the season so it was slim pickings.  We finally decided on some fabric and asked for my estimated yardage.  They didn't have enough so I recalculated and thought that we could make it work.  Well, I was a bit short.  I made it work but don't look at my husbands and my pants closely.  I had to improvise.  Anyway, it is always fun to see their faces when we all get them on Christmas Eve and their eagerness to show everyone our outfits.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My picky little eaters

I was always scouring the Internet for healthy kid friendly dinner ideas just to end up begging my children to eat. Then I realized I'm just like many other parents out there with picky eaters. It is a learning process but you can turn those picky eaters into successful "I'll try it" eaters. Just as a forewarning it does take some patience, some trial and error and lots of l♥ve. It also turns into a great family time. It's been some of our funnest times.
I allow the kiddos to help choose the meal. It is easiest to prepare a menu (and sometimes more cost effective) a week in advance. Write it out. Even if they aren't at a reading age they see the permanence of writing the menu. Sometimes I have them draw a picture of dinner next to the words so they know in advance. Knowing ahead of time helps A LOT...they always want to know what will come. By allowing my children to assist in the meal planning process then they are more willing to eat. I guide them to healthy eating by giving them choices like peas or green beans for the vegetable. This has taken some patience but they have started to suggest vegetables, yes, even broccoli. My boys now beg for broccoli for dinner. By taking ownership into the meal planning they are more likely to eat. It might take some kind reminders that they chose this meal. My youngest even has a kid's cookbook. Yes, he is three and he is contributing to the meal planning. As he told me awhile back after I asked if he was my sous chef, "No, Mom, I am the eating chef." I love that he enjoys cooking time.
I have the children help in the kitchen. I have them stir the ingredients or pour the ingredients for me. My kids love to help so I let them. It makes cooking enjoyable for everyone, the kids learn how to cook, and they see how their work evolves into a meal. The kids are curious so I feed this curiosity by allowing them to experiment with cooking. Ask them if they should add more or less of an ingredient. I let them make a portion for them with their chosen ingredient. For example, let them put their own topping on their pizza, put their own ingredients in an omelet or add their favorite ingredients to an individual meatloaf. Our kitchen has become one big science lab but everyone has fun and we enjoy a great meal. Be creative! Give the meals fun names like Volcano Meatballs for a Meatball Sub. Add a little flair to it. Sometimes a little food coloring of their favorite color on noodles can make a meal appetizing. We also like to have "restaurant" night when it is time for leftovers. I draw a few quick pics and write the items of the leftovers on a "menu" and play the waitress. Sometimes I have a funny accent or act a little silly. After serving their food I sit down with them to eat. They giggle through most of the meal and ask where the waitress went. It makes leftovers fun and they even ask when we are doing restaurant again. It's also nice on the budget. We don't have to go out to eat to have that experience. We have to remind ourselves that there will be trial and error just like everything does with children.;) It is a learning process for everyone. I also suggest new ideas multiple times. They might not like the asparagus one day but in two weeks they might change their mind. Mine seem to do this often. Sometimes it is good to give them an alternate choice. For example, I plan on carrots for snack but they want cake. So I offer them an apple if they are wanting sweets. I have to remind myself just like adults they also have cravings for sweet or salty foods. Flexibility within structure is important. It's about their best interest so teach them what is in their best interest. I learned a long time ago that forcing and fighting with them will end negatively and be an exhausting endeavor...mainly for us parents.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Family Dinners

A busy weekend can be exhausting but the boys love spending so much time with family. Once a month my family gets together for dinner. We take turns hosting and choose a different theme each time. Everyone brings a dish, potluck style, that corresponds with the theme. We take turns to share the stress of hosting. It can be a bit of an undertaking as I do have a large family and we all have busy lives. However, we take this time to enjoy one another's company and some good food. We have had fun trying dishes from different parts of the USA....Cajun, Southwest, New England...as well as most of the world....Irish, German, Italian, Chinese, etc.

Sometimes it is an adventure trying new dishes. There have been some interesting dishes and picky eaters and children have thankfully been brave enough to try SOME of these dishes. Our latest one was this weekend and we did tacos. We've been doing this for a few years and have never had tacos. There were fish and chicken tacos, corn and flour tortillas, multiple types of salsa, taco soup and chorizo queso dip, and even dessert nachos. We were stuffed by the end!

While trying new foods is fun, we really get together to catch up on our busy lives and, sometimes, celebrate a birthday. With so many of us there is a birthday or two every month. Of course, the young kids still get a separate birthday party. At these dinners we learn about each others successes and struggles. We are there to listen and ,sometimes, give advice. Stories, ideas and laughter are all shared. The men usually end up around some piece of technology to discuss it. Yesterday, it was the video games. Male bonding!

As I talk to people I find that our family gatherings seem to be a rarity. Many of my friends and acquaintances only see their family every few months or strictly on holidays. Many of my students don't even have dinner with their immediate family on a regular basis. The first time I asked this of my students I was shocked at the very few that has dinner with their parents on a regular basis. I then asked them how and when they communicated with them. Many of them answered with.."we just don't". Yikes! I have challenged my students to try have dinner with their family even it it's just once a week. Some have taken me up on this but most don't. Once a student told me that they tried but their parents thought it was too difficult to try and schedule that time. WHAT?!

Dinner is the seat of conversation, but is seems to be a lost art these days. Growing up we were required to be at dinner. Friends were welcome to join us but we had to be there. With a family of 5 kids my parents made it happen. Even when we were all busy involved teenagers. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, but get together with your family and talk. Our dinners aren't always serious heartfelt conversations but we are getting to know about each other and what is going on in our lives. Sometimes it's just nice to share what we know or have been going through.

Everyone tells me that they like the idea of our family dinners and/or are jealous. Well, it takes initiative. Call your family up and ask them over. Each of us has to take that initiative and volunteer each month, but it is something we feel is important and we enjoy doing....even with our insane schedules.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The UNO Monster

I have been back to work for one week now.  It's been a difficult week.  I enjoyed spending so much time with them and miss all of that.  It's also been difficult trying to get off that break schedule of staying up and sleeping late.  Each time I have a break I say "Next time we are going to stick to our schedule", but then it doesn't happen.  Why?  Well, life happens and we spend those few extra minutes with friends and family that keep us up late.  We enjoy not waking up to an alarm...this family is not a morning friendly family.