Work with me, please.

Posts tagged ‘motherhood’

Ridiculous Things My Kids Said Last Month

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1. “Can I play with Legos for reading time?”  Jay’s voice had hesitancy and hope in it at the same time.  He knew I would say no. Reading time is for reading.  But that wasn’t the kicker.  A few nights before, he’d had a tantrum about not having enough reading time.  Hubby had let him stay downstairs past bedtime to finish watching a movie. In my mind, lights still go out at the usual time. Having the privilege of staying up later to watch TV means you sacrifice the equivalent amount of reading time.  It would have been expecting too much to remind him as a 6.5 year old about that tantrum, and I was too tired to explain the irony of his question. I left it at “no” (with maybe an eye roll.

2.  “I want to be the kind of mom that dad is.”  That gem came from Mae. Whew boy!  That was her way of saying that she wants to be a fun mom, which I am notoriously and unashamedly not. I thought to myself, “Well, you’d better marry a cooking, cleaning, homework-checking, bill-paying, hair-doing, appointment-making woman.”  I’m fully aware that there are some men who take on the same or similar degree of household management for which mothers are known. However, they were not my first thought.  She’s 10. She has lots of time to become enlightened. I wish her the best of luck!

3. “It’s not my fault I wasn’t paying attention.”  Ok then. I’m still processing that one.

4.  “I have a question I want to ask the Internet.”  When I was 10, I was annoyed that I lived in a home that didn’t have a complete encyclopedia set.  We had a partial set of Brittanica knock-offs that my mother started by trading in Greenback stamps at the grocery store. The store discontinued the offer before my mother completed the set. Using a “real” encyclopedia meant a car trip to the library or an aunt’s house.  Mae’s statement was a sharp reminder of how much the world has changed.

One of the wonders of children is their ability to make you see things in a different way. My kids continue to challenge me to think, rethink and unthink.  It’s good for me.

Me vs. Them

On February 21, not even two week ago, our washing machine was repaired.  The technician replaced a broken pump because coins had found their way into the pump and cracked it.  He found $0.83 inside the pump.  How much is $0.83 worth?  Well, $0.83 can get you $295.60 in washing machine repairs.  Not exactly a bargain.  Actually, the cost was $310, and fortunately, I had a coupon for 10% off the cost of labor.

I called a family meeting with Hubby and Dem Kids. I had the $0.83 in one hand and the broken pump in the other.  I showed them how pocket change had cracked the pump and thereby costed us the equivalent of 4 nights at the movies or 16 pizza nights.  Of course, fingers were pointing in every direction to peg the owner of the change. Frankly, I didn’t care to whom the money belonged (for the record, ahem, I use a wristlet and I keep change in one section of it).  I just asked that they check their pockets when they undress at night and check all pockets when doing laundry. That’s reasonable, right? 

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Well, my little show – and – tell was for naught.  Since then, as I’ve move clothes from the washing machine to the dryer or out of the dryer, I’ve found a drum tuning key, money clip, and penny.  Three different occasions where either Hubby or the kids started the wash. 

What the what?  What did I say after finding the tuning key and money clip?  “Remember to check pockets . . . .”

I know they don’t listen to half of what I say and forget the other half.  But, gee whiz, who doesn’t like money and saving money?  As a matter of fact, Jay asked if he could have the $0.83 the day I told them about the repair.  Ok, he’s only six and a half, so maybe he doesn’t get the irony. 

So, I’ve got to think of some clever way to help everyone remember to check pockets.  And, I need to save the next appliance repair coupon I see . . . just in case. 

Let’s See If I Can Remember How This Works

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Roasted veggies pureed into sauce for lasagna with brown rice pasta

I haven’t blogged in so long that I’m struggling to remember what it was about it that I liked so much.

I took a break that I didn’t plan. I just didn’t feel like it. Or rather, I felt like doing other things. Like playing Ruzzle. Work kicks my mental butt most days. By the time I get home and get through dinner and homework and preparing for the next day, my brain is not good for much other than Ruzzle.

I’m expert at giving myself permission to not do things that I genuinely don’t want to do. My elders mistakenly and repeatedly labeled this as “stubborn” throughout my childhood. I didn’t have the correct term for it then either. Today, I’m calling it self-care.

So, this brings me to a recent commitment I made to myself. My attachment to sweets and junk food had gotten out of hand. I eat a lot of healthy stuff and I was probably eating an equal amount or more of unhealthy stuff. For the 28 days of February, I modified my food intake to eliminate white flour, white sugar, and fried foods. In other words, I broke up with cookies and cake and french fries. We’ll get back together at some point, but it’ll be a healthier relationship. No more abusing my waistline.

I cut out meats too with the exception of a roasted chicken drummette one day because I’d tried a different seasoning mix for the kids, and I wanted to see how it turned out. Watching Hubby and Dem Kids enjoy pizza, burgers, etc and especially preparing such foods for them was less difficult than I expected. I survived lunch with coworkers who were enjoying all kinds of deliciousness. I made it through birthday and going-away celebrations with more strength than I thought I had.

There were many, many times when I felt I was eating food accessories (grains, vegetables, nuts, beans) instead of food. I allowed myself a small amount of cheese and eggs to have some sense of indulgence. On several days, I made simple, meatless dishes that I enjoyed and would be willing to have again.

My mantras for this year have been “find a way” (thanks, Diana Nyad) and take care of yourself. This experiment gave me the opportunity to practice and internalize both. I’m confident that I’ll have more self-control when it comes to food. As a reminder and to refresh the commitment, I plan to make this a tradition and try some version of a modified diet every February.

Now, if I could apply this to Ruzzle, I’d really be doing something.

How’s That for You?

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Here’s to another satisfied birthday kid. Jay’s party went well yesterday. He and his friends had fun, and the staff were so helpful. I actually spent a lot of time talking to other parents and relaxing, so much so that I missed a lot of good pictures.

Jay had asked for a Ninjago cake. I stressed for a few weeks about how to pull that off. I looked at lovely Ninjago cakes online that were in the shape of the Ninja Lego men, brightly colored fondant draped elegantly to depict the characters’ costumes. I envied those bakers. Fondant scares me. I’m not ready for it. I thought about star-tipping one of the Ninja, but I visualized myself cramped over a cake for a few hours, ending up with a severe case of carpel tunnel syndrome. Then, someone suggested an edible print-out. Bingo! It was so easy and fast, and he was pleased with it — always the ultimate test.

Before the party, he had his first drum lesson.  He had fun and he wants to continue with the lessons, which I think is great.   What I like too is that the lessons are at the instructor’s house.  Yay!  I’m excited that Jay chose something that is unrelated to Mae’s interests.  Sometimes, it seems that he likes what she likes because she likes it and he’ll stop liking something if she doesn’t like it or shows no interest.  I have a feeling the drum lessons will be different.  I’ll ask her to encourage him to practice because she’s great at motivating others, and I think that will help him stay focused.

I’ve been making it a point lately to preach to them that they have to help and support each other.   This is the first weekend that they are responsible for their own laundry.  So far, they have moved their clothes downstairs, into the washer, and then into the dryer, using teamwork.  I just listen carefully and intervene if necessary.  I have to particularly listen out for the bossy one, Mae.

Love her like I do, I know Mae can be slippery, which came out most recently this weekend. She’d been suspicious of the Tooth Fairy since Jay lost a tooth several weeks ago. She lost a tooth at camp on Friday and didn’t tell me about it. She placed it under her pillow Friday night to test if the “Tooth Fairy” would bring her a gift. I walked into her bedroom Saturday morning and she pulled the tooth from under her pillow with a flourish. “Aha! I told you.” Yep, she proved herself right. No question, the Tooth Fairy does not exist outside of this house. I am she. Then, she proceeded to think out loud about what I should give her for her tooth. “Should I get candy or money or . . . .”

Erck! (FYI, that’s the sound of a car hitting brakes hard.) I explained that now that she knows there is no Tooth Fairy, she can’t expect to collect on a lost tooth. I thought that would be a short conversation. Not with this child. No, not this one. So, then I explained it this way: The Tooth Fairy leaves gifts. A giver decides whether and what to give; there is no entitlement. I added that she’s a nine-year old allowance-earner and she can buy herself whatever gift she thinks the “Tooth Fairy” would have or should have given her. She’s grown out of the make-believe, so she can grow into more independence. Since we were having a frank conversation, I told her that Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are fake too. Done.

Picking and Choosing

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It’s a good thing I’m not the type of person who panics easily. I should be freaking out about being told today at 6:45 pm or thereabouts that Jay’s martial arts-themed birthday party on Saturday (less than 48 hours from now) may be without a martial arts instructor. The party scheduler didn’t know that the usual party instructors will be participating in a tournament this weekend.

She said she’s trying desperately to book one of two possible substitutes. Hey, a lot can happen in two days, right? I do wonder about the capabilities of the leftover instructors who aren’t participating in the tournament. Does that mean they suck? Would six-year olds notice? If I can fit into Mae’s uniform, maybe . . . .  Well, the scheduler is going to call me at noon tomorrow and give me an update.

This is our first week back from vacation and then I was home sick on Monday and Tuesday, so I’m still getting my energy back and adjusting to our summer routine. Jay and I both picked up some crud. The pediatrician asked me if Jay had had any recent “exposures.” I said, “Between the zoo, pool, water park, beach, and hotel, I’m sure he was exposed to something, but I don’t know what.”

During vacation, my work piled up and I worked last night and I’ll work tonight to get caught up. I had three great colleagues on standby to babysit help my clients. However, the Lovelies left “urgent” voicemail messages despite my out-of-office greeting and disregarded my email auto-reply asking them to contact my co-workers. Ah, to be valued so much that they would have no one else but me!

I don’t feel like being panicky right now. I chose calm for today. I think better in this state. I have too much to do for home, self, and work and not a lot of time to get it done. Like, I have a hair appointment tomorrow after work and I need to shop for and bake a cake for which I still need to decide upon a recipe.

Woosaaaah . . . .

She’s 9. This Changes Everything.

20130325-213045.jpgIt’s not often that I feel my age. Having “young children” has helped tremendously. But, as Mae and Jay become older and more independent, especially Mae, I feel my “young parent” vibe slipping away.

Mae turned 9 today.  I gave her a bathrobe and a book about girls’ bodies for her birthday.  She requested a robe because she’s now self-conscious about leaving the bathroom undressed after a shower or bath.  I told her that the book will serve as a reference as she notices changes in her body.  We talked about menses and what she should expect when her cycle begins.  It wasn’t my intention, but I freaked her out a little.  She imagined walking through the school hallway leaving a trail of blood behind her and kids slipping in the blood.  She said, “Mom, you’re scaring me!”  Heck, it’s scary for me, too!  In a different way.  I assured her that all of this stuff is normal and there are lots of women at her school who can help her.

Last week, my mom sent Mae two birthday outfits that I thought were a little mature, including a pair of jeans with studs down the side of the legs and another with bold, glittery swirls down the side. Mae loved the outfits. She told me that she would wear one to skate night because she most definitely could not wear her school uniform. She used to care so little about clothes (other than refusing adamantly to wear dresses and skirts).

I’ve avoided certain styles (curse skinny jeans!) because I think children should dress and look like children, not mini adults. But, I said nothing about the new clothes, just looked and listened helplessly.  Hubby takes her side on this issue, putting me in the minority. He’s the one who took her and Jay skating and she told him she wants to begin buying her own clothes. He told me that she’s not a little girl anymore and her clothing and hair should reflect as much. Today, he gave her a Target gift card for her birthday and told her she could go clothes shopping.  I guess she can’t wear jeans with embroidered butterflies and flowers forever.

I knew this phase was coming and something about this number 9 makes it more real for me.  There are nothing but double digits after this and more stuff to get scared about.  Waaaa!

Let Them Eat Nuggets

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From time to time, I let myself out of food jail and cook something that I will likely be the only person in my home to eat. I love okra and I’ve been thinking for a while about an okra soup dish that I used to have at a West African restaurant in D.C. umpteen years ago. It was an ooey, gooey mess of okra over a whole deep-fried croaker. I think there was white rice too, and if not, there should have been. So, last night, I decided to try to recreate it, using as a starting point an okra soup recipe in a White House garden cookbook that my Ma-in-law gave me. To make the dish a little healthier, I opted for pan-fried trout and wild rice (well, to be honest, I would have cooked white rice, but I didn’t have any).

Normally, I would have cooked something else for the rest of the family. But, I was too tried, having left the house shortly after 9:00 am for an extended birthday party that involved building a bear, then food and play, then swimming; grocery shopping; and a trip to the dry cleaners.

I left it to Hubby to figure out what he and Dem Kids would eat. Wonderful man that he is, he pulled together some fries and nuggets, while I sat guilt-free on the couch with my little feast.

Sometimes, it’s ok to ignore people, the ones we love as well as others. I had practice last weekend too.

The longtime Dharma for Kids teacher at our Buddhist center left because her husband’s job relocated them to another country. Good for them, not so good for us. Now, parents are taking turns teaching each Sunday. My first turn was last Sunday. My luck, there was an 11-year old smart alec visiting for the first time. He was unhappy with his mom for leaving him with “the babies.” And, he didn’t try to hide it at all. I actually felt a little bad for him, until he started interrupting my story-reading every 90 seconds with questions that he thought were so clever but not. One of his questions was “If Buddha could see into the future, why didn’t he create a cure for cancer and HIV?” A better question would be “Why didn’t Buddha prevent cancer and HIV?” The other kids asked questions out of genuine curiosity or shared thoughts related to the story. That’s wonderful and welcome. I admit that I pretended not to see Smart Alec’s hand once, maybe twice. Let him drill his mom at home; it wasn’t my fault she made him come. By the way, this is further evidence that I could never be a teacher. But, otherwise it was a lovely class.

You can’t make everyone happy all the time. So, why not make yourself happy at least some of the time?

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