Sunday, March 24, 2013
This morning I was laying sleeplessly in bed, unwilling to commit to getting my butt out of bed but also unwilling to admit that I was too uncomfortable to go back to sleep. As my thoughts wandered around in my head I had a thought that seemed to require more in-depth thought. Is raising children like baking cookies?
When you set aside time to back cookies you first decide what type of cookie you would like to end up with as your final product, right? Once you decide you want chocolate chip cookies, do you grab a recipe for peanut butter cookies? Of course not, you choose your go-to, tried and true family recipe for awesome chocolate chip cookies. Once the recipe is chosen you then simply follow the directions. You carefully measure each ingredient and add it at the proper time, taking care not to mix the dough to just the right consistency. You set the temperature of your oven with great care as well, knowing that getting the temperature right will keep you from either undercooking or overcooking an entire cookie sheet of yummy deliciousness. You space your cookies out in the sheet and, when the oven has preheated, you place them in the oven, set the timer for the absolute proper amount of time, and trust the oven to handle the rest. When the timer goes off, you remove the cookies, likely let them cool for a bit, and place them on a sheet to cool. If you are like me, you cannot resist trying one or two while they are still warm and fresh. And they are mostly perfection! A few here or there may be too done or not quite done enough, but they are all very good and you do not throw one own for slight imperfection. Let's face it; some people like cookies that are overdone or burnt. And some people like cookies that maintain a level of gooeyness because they were slightly under baked. My point is, there are varying opinions of what the final product should actually be, though they are all chocolate chip cookies.
When we make the choice to have children we are not able to simply decide what type of children we want to have. Even if science has come to the point that gender selection is technically possible, we do not have the option of deciding our final product. Most of us want to produce respectful, smart, successful, contributing members of society. So...where is our recipe?
Some parents believe whole-heartedly that they possess the recipe required to raise their children into the ideal final product. Actually, some non-parents believe in their recipes even more, which is a whole different blog post! What is your recipe? Is it one based in faith or science? Is it a combination of the two? Do you have a one-size-fits-all recipe for all of your children or do you have hand-tailored recipes for each child? What makes your recipe superior to mine, superior to that of your neighbor? Does my faith in my recipe give me the right to make you feel like your recipe is never going to work? Does your belief in your own recipe give you the ability to feel better than other parents about your own skills? Are you still searching for the recipe, believing it exists? Do you hold no illusions that a recipe exists?
All too often it seems that parents are in the Betty Crocker Cook-off, Parenting Edition. When are we all going to wake up and realize that everyone's ideal final product is different, everyone's recipe for achieving the ideal final product is different, everyone's recipe changes and requires adjustment over the course of hands-on parenting, and everyone is desperately trying to appear as if they know exactly what they are doing when they are simply learning through trial and error.
For me personally, I feel that as soon as I feel like I have a rough recipe figured out life comes along and changes it up for us. The recipe may work for a month, it may work for a week, but at some point it will simply stop working and the recipe will need to be tweaked...or thrown out for an entirely new one. I try really hard not to dole out advice about parenting to others who are in the trenches, though that is difficult because it is human nature to give others advice. When someone comes to me seeking out advice, I try to give it with the disclaimer that these are the things *we* have tried and are what works for us *most of the time*. I try not to give advice so much as I try to help people see another approach to a situation that they may not have tried, something that may or may not work but is worth a shot. I fail at this, I know I do. But please, know that I am working on it. When I ask for advice please do not say "what you should do is....", just let me know what you have tried and what has worked for you.
We are all in this together and it is not a competition. Let's help each other succeed.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
This is what SO.MANY Mom blogs lead us to believe.
Please, someone gag me with a fork.
Let's talk reality.
Our kids faces are a mess, their rooms remind us of a natural disaster zone, our sink is occupied by dirty dishes we have no desire to take care of, we have baskets of both dirty clothes ready to wash and clean clothes already washed sitting on the floor....and we are not sure which is which, and we are always worried about something.
Life can be peaches and cream, but that is not how it is all of the time. Life is hard. Having children is hard. Just. Be. Honest.
It kills me when people blog about how much they love their children and how pseudo-perfect they are at parenting and showing patience....and then they turn around and whine on Facebook about their situations. Kids are work, or did you not get the memo? But you know what? Cherish it! Some days it is damned hard to cherish it, we all know that. Take the time to cherish your life and your children and make the most of it every day. And hold off on the perfect life blog posts please. Being gagged with a fork hurts!
And right now I am going to sit on the floor in the kitchen and put together a HUGE puzzle with the two little Tasmanian devils we call our sons, all the while leaving at least one heaping basket full of clothes to fold and a sink full of dirty dishes to be put into the dishwasher. Because that is how we roll.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
My life is so different today than I would have ever pictured it 5 or 10 years ago. And I am humbly grateful for that.
I would really like to move out of the country, if only for a little while. Australia...maybe South America.
Having our first child scared me to death.
Having our second child scared me to death.
Having our third child is currently scaring me to death.
Being a Mom scares the holy living shit out of me. It is so much responsibility on so many levels.
I prepare an Arby's Roast Beef sandwich the same way I always have. I dissect it, put half the meat back on the sandwich, add ketchup and horsey sauce, put the rest of the meat on it, add more ketchup and horsey sauce, then put the top bun back on. That is the only way I will eat it.
The older I get the less I give a crap about what people think. Or maybe it has more to do with getting busier.
The older I get the more selective I have become in choosing friends. I am blessed with friends that have been by my side for...oh, 20 years. Those friends are simply family. I have friends I have met more recently that I would not know what to do without. If I am friends with someone it is because I genuinely want to spend time with them, not just because they are someone who lives close-by and the friendship is convenient.
If I could go work with the guys from Antique Archaeology every day I would probably be in heaven. That kind of stuff is in my blood and it is genetic for sure. Our boys will sit and watch "the junk show" (their term, not mine) all day long.
Even though it is not fancy and flashy I would not trade my engagement and wedding band for something more extravagant if you paid me.
I would, however, wear something awesome on my right hand!
I have a 'thing' for argyle.
I have a 'thing' for cookie dough.
I have a 'thing' for mushrooms sauteed in butter.
I genuinely love to cook, when I have the time.
I am sure I will think of more, but now it is time for bed!
Monday, February 18, 2013
Kyle is so much like me it is just silly. He has an extreme love for learning, is passionate about the information he is given, and wants to gain knowledge simply for the sake of knowing things. He is so much like me it is scary. There is rarely enough information to satisfy his curiosity and he has a wonderful ability to understand concepts on a very deep level very quickly.
Kaleb has a different way of going about things a lot of the time, but he is just as hungry for knowledge and passionate about learning as his big brother is. He sometimes prefers to learn by watching and processing what he is hearing rather than going the '50 questions in 60 seconds' route, but he retains information like Larabee does. I swear my husband's brain is a safe; he retains knowledge and information much more efficiently than I do.
I am a Mom just like any other Mom; I want my children to have the very best education they can. I want them to be well-rounded and knowledgeable on many subjects. I want them to be able to have intelligent conversation about those topics rather than rattling off a series of memorized facts. I want their education to have meaning above and beyond what the Government of the United States and/or the State Government deem fitting. I want their education to have purpose beyond a simple cookie-cutter education.
Perhaps homeschooling is the solution we are looking for. Perhaps it is not. One this is certain amidst all of the fretting; it will be a scary and exciting ride no matter what we choose!
I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and advice on the matter! Leave a message below if you would like; I generally do not bite!
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
I guess this post will be a simple catch up post. A lot has changed in the past year after all.
Things that have been going on for me in the past year.
- I got a promotion at work.
- I learned how to do a whole new job on top of what I already took care of.
- I was very involved with Head Start program in Stanley.
- I became an active board member for the Stanley Commercial Club. I love it!
- My craft business has been growing and doing really well. I am excited to see how much more I can do with it!
- I have made new friends.
- I have strengthened friendships that I value.
- I got my fish tank back.
- I became known as the Fish Hitler by my husband because of how many fish have died on my watch.
- (We have terrible water for fish-keeping here, so it is a whole new learning process. Give me a break!)
- I got my sewing machine(s) back!
- I became an Auntie again!
- I got news that I am going to be an Auntie again this June!
- I became a homeschooling Mom, though it is not really official just yet.
- I am now a work-from-home, homeschooling, business-owning Mom. It is daunting.
- He has worked a crap ton of hours per week every week that he has not taken vacation. A crap ton. That is a lot, by the way.
- He has been given more responsibilities at work and is now a Foreman.
- He went fishing every chance he could this summer. We ate lots of yummy meals thanks to his love/obsession with fishing.
- He started taking the boys with him when he goes fishing. Both boys. Without my help. He is a superhero in my book!
- I did go one time and it was fun, but I personally think we need a bigger boat!
- He got himself back into the dog business. This time it is a bird dog and not a hound, but he is happy to be involved in a dog sport again. Penny is a Brittany Spaniel and she is just a great dog all around!
- He went to Head Start 4 full days per week until the Minot head office closed down the program in Stanley.
- He went to daycare a bit and while he liked it, I was unimpressed with the things he picked up in that environment. We pretty much decided daycare was not for us.
- He learned how to swim entirely on his own with no floatation devices.
- He got a bigger bike and is a total hot-shot on it.
- He started Wee Care, a local preschool program.
- He made the decision to stop going to Wee Care and to start homeschooling.
- He learned how to read. Or, is in the process at the very least. He is doing really well and is a self-starter who never wants to stop doing schoolwork. I wonder where he gets that?
- He mastered dressing himself, even his socks!
- He became a big boy...aka, became potty trained. That happened December of 2011, but it still counts.
- He got a big-boy bike and learned how to pedal it like a pro.
- He learned his colors, his ABC's, and how to count.
- He learned that he loves to draw and color.
- He went to daycare while Kyle was in Wee Care. He was the victim of a 'biter', and we were not that impressed. Again, daycare is not really for us.
- We made the decision to add another little one to our family. We were originally going to try to conceive baby #3 in January, but we were unsure of what our futures held and decided to wait a bit. We held off until June and conceived in July!
- We made the decision to stay in North Dakota for the semi-long-term.
- We bought a home in North Dakota. Well, we bought it in Minnesota and moved it to North Dakota. It got here in June and we love the extra space!
- We traveled home to button things up and put our home on the market. Going home solidified our decision to stick it out in North Dakota for a while. We spent two great and busy weeks at home and enjoyed ourselves a ton.
- We conceded that 'home' is now more North Dakota than it is Idaho. At least for now.
- We built a shed and a fence and skirted our new home. We worked sun up to sun down for months to get everything done before winter.
- We found out that we are having a baby GIRL!
- We freaked out when we found out we were having a baby girl!
- We are so excited that we are having a baby girl!
- We had a 'gender reveal' at the boys' birthday party. The boys and everyone else were shocked that baby #3 is a girl, though Kyle will tell you he knew all along.
- We got to celebrate Christmas in our new home. Our first 'real' Christmas ever, complete with a tree and an elf that visited the boys for the month of December.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
With Kyle being in Head Start I really thought it would be a great opportunity to make friends with some of the other Moms, that way play dates would be easy to get. When I started working more during the day I became completely disinterested in making friends with my fellow HS parents because I simply had no time to do so. Of course, we exchange pleasantries outside of the room while waiting for the kiddos to get done with their day. We say hi to each other in the store or at the post office. Very superficial, very low maintenance.
In all of the time I have ‘known’ some of the other parents, I will admit that I have formed some pretty solid opinions about what type of people they are. I try really hard not to judge others, especially if I do not know them in any way. I guess it is a bit harder not to judge someone if you feel you know them on some level, no matter how little you really know them. Additionally, I guess I somehow forgot that judging is judging. Voicing your judgmental opinions to others? You are judging people. Thinking judgmental thoughts? Yep….still judging people. Just because you do not say it out loud does not make it any less wrong.
Anyhow, the mother that has been bearing the brunt of my internal judging is the reason I am writing this post. Up until today I knew that she has 5 children; one son and one daughter (I think) older than her son in HS, her son in HS, a daughter who is a bit older than Kaleb, and a baby girl born about 3 weeks ago. The oldest two have the same dad, which I believe was her first husband. The youngest 3 have the same dad, who is still in the picture and who is her boyfriend. She seems to be an….unenthusiastic mother on many levels, and not just because she has so many kids or just because she just had a baby. She just seems sort of ho-hum about the whole parenting thing. See. Judging.
Today, while waiting for the kids to get out of class, we started talking and somehow our conversation led to her years growing up. Recently there was a lice outbreak at the school, of which this mother knew nothing. She said that she had lice a few times growing up and that it was terrible. Then she said that when you are living in a group home nobody can make fun of you for having lice because it is likely all the kids there have lice.
Wait a minute; back the truck up. Group home? I just nodded and let her keep talking, which essentially meant she told me that she grew up in the Denver ghettos and was in and out of group homes and foster care basically her whole childhood.
Ok. So maybe this woman views parenting differently than I do. Does that give me the right to judge her? So she is a little ho-hum….but maybe that is just her personality. Maybe she is WAY more patient than I am and is, ultimately, a better mother than I am for it. Or maybe, just maybe, parenting is not a damn contest that we are all automatically entered into when we bring new life into this world. Maybe we should all just leave each other alone and stop judging every gosh darn little thing the other does or does not do exactly as we think it should be done.
That 5 minute conversation began innocently and then lead to her sharing a bit more about herself, which made me feel like a loser for having preconceived notions about her…oh wait…. I mean JUDGING her when I really had no idea who she was or what she was about. I got a very good reality check today. I need to be a nicer person and think nicer things about people.
In all honesty, she is a great Mom. Her childhood was unstable and very difficult. She might have 5 kids by two fathers, but she takes care of all of her kids. They are home with her every night. They are fed and clothed and clean and healthy. They are well-mannered and kind children. She is doing a good job. She is not following the same path that her own Mom did. Her children are not scattered to the wind.
She is someone I would like to know more about.
She is someone I would be honored to call my friend.
Now I am off to work on becoming nonjudgmental in my own mind.
Pray for me.
**Edited to clarify that I did not mean to imply that having children by different fathers is 'bad' or something that should be judged. I meant to imply that many people would judge others because of something like that. Her Mom had 4 kids by one father, so I guess that was in my mind too; that she was different than her Mom in that way.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Who is a little trooper? Who has been excessively accident prone? Who is always up for a cuddle? Who doles out a multitude of faces, each of which is perfectly timed and suited to his current situation?
After a birthday dinner of….well, I don’t remember what I made in all honesty….Kaleb got to open one present. He only got to open one because his birthday PARTY is actually on the 4th of December rather than on the 21st of November. We decided to combine the boys’ parties again this year so there will be more pictures and fun to document that wondrous occasion.
Anyhow, Kaleb was thrilled to get the movies Bolt and Despicable Me. He did not even want to watch them or de-plastic-ifcate them. He just wanted to look at them and ‘read’ them and hold them. I am so glad that he was so happy!
In the last year of Kaleb’s life we have done so much, all the while seeming as if we have done so little. I think we got so accustomed to the faster paced life of Salt Lake that North Dakota seems incredibly dull. Nonetheless, we have had a great year and this little man has grown and blossomed into such a remarkable boy!
You have been my little snuggle bug from day one. I adore that about you, especially since it makes me feel like you might be willing to stay my baby for just a bit longer. I will take the snuggles for all of eternity. Please do not ever get stingy with them. Even when you are 40, I want hugs from my baby! This year was a big year for you! Being one is full of milestones and hurdles, some that are fun and exciting and some that are harder to manage. One of the biggest milestones you hit this year was giving up breastfeeding. I know when you read this at 14 you will be repulsed and embarrassed, but lets face it: you were a hard-core booby baby! I never thought you would give it up without a fight, but we slowly cut out feedings and by the time you were 15 months old you moved on without much fuss.
I was so proud of you!
And I was also much more emotional than I ever expected! I missed our snuggle time and thought it would go the way of the 8 track player. What? You don’t know what an 8 track is? Well, sweetheart, neither do I. We will google it when you get older. Anyway, my fears were unwarranted and unfounded because the snuggles kept coming, thank GOD! Lord knows there are days that I need a good Kaleb snuggle.
Another milestone you hit this year was learning how to run. You finally decided you just HAD to keep up with the older kids and POOF! Away you went, like a rocket. Every time you ran your entire face would light up, as if you had discovered some fantastic and well-kept secret the rest of us were just dying for you to discover. You were, all of a sudden, completely in on that secret. You were in the club. You were adorable!
As the second child, or perhaps simply as yourself, you were a boy of few words for quite some time. You rarely complained, hardly ever cried, and were just plain content with watching the world unfold before your eyes. Oh buddy, how things have changed! You found your voice, realized you have opinions, and threw caution into the wind and began expressing yourself. This newly discovered and daily improving skill has given me laughter worthy of a world class comedian and the exasperation of a Mama who has an increasingly sassy little boy.
(In case you did not catch it, that sassy little boy is you Kaleb. Come on kid, keep up!)
You are sweet, charming, cuddly, cute, impulsive, careful, observant, action-packed, smart, sassy, silly, precious, brilliant, fabulous, fantastic, and ALL OURS!
Everything you are and everything you do is cherished by a great many. You are very well loved our son, and will always be as loved as you can stand to be. My heart desperately hopes you are as open to all of the love that presently surrounds and engulfs you for your entire life!
My darling son, may being two be twice as nice as being one!
Just do not hurt yourself twice as much now as you did when you were one. My nerves and your little noggin cannot handle it!
We love you darling, from now to eternity!
Love Mama, Daddy, and Kyle