Friday, November 30, 2012

10 Things NOT to get your lady for Christmas

In an attempt to save lives, I am posting this for any male readers I might have. I’m pretty sure I have 1 or 2. And one of those two are my boyfriend who I force encourage to read my posts sometimes. So ladies you will need to casually place this entry somewhere they might accidentally read it. Like next to the remote, the Cowboys schedule, or the toilet.

Holidays are a great time to show your spouse that you haven’t been tuning them out all year. And when she makes those not so subtle hints and you grunt and nod in agreement, that you actually heard the words she produced. Chances are you didn’t hear her over the referee throwing flags on the play so that’s where I come in. After some mild field research (Facebook) I have compiled a list of Naughty gifts to steer clear of when shopping for the special lady in your life.

1.       Unless SPECIFICALLY requested under NO circumstances should you buy her any type of cookware. And by specifically I mean you need to know the model#. Maybe even record her requesting this item for future argument reference.
2.       Similar to #1, any type of cleaning gadgets is also viewed and douche-baggy. We’ve conceded to the fact that if we want it cleaned or urine free we have to be the ones to wipe it and wash it. But no amount of fancy gadget will make that fact easier to swallow. If anything, it will just add additional pissy-ness to our chore day.
3.       Tools. Just because we have trouble hanging pictures evenly doesn’t mean we want a laser level. I don’t care how many DIY pins she has on Pinterest she does not want tools! And yes we occasionally need a Phillips screwdriver to change batteries in our kid’s toys. This is not a tip-off that we would like an electric screwdriver or anything else that you can get from Home Depot.
4.       Underwear. There is a time and place for this stuff gentlemen. Christmas morning in front of grandma is not it. Not to mention, men are generally clueless about the style and fit we prefer. Sleeping undies, daily undies,  honeymoon undies…. Plus you don’t wanna be that guy digging thru the bin of underwear at Victoria Secret. P.S. do you really know what size we are? Don’t risk it.
5.       Chocolate or anything else edible or homemade. Women want to have a tangible gift to show off to their friends use or put somewhere and remember that at least once this year you took the time to think about us and this present symbolizes that. If we eat it then there is nothing left to show for it except a few extra inches to our hips and probably new underwear that won’t fit.
6.       Books. This is tricky because it won’t always be the case. Each woman is different but my guess is if your lady is a serious reader then she will already have the books downloaded to her Kindle Fire the second they became available on Itunes or Amazon. If she doesn’t it’s because she isn’t an avid reader and you need to exit Barnes and Nobles and try again.
7.       Jewelry. Whuck?! All women love jerwlery right? WRONG! All women love diamonds. Again, this is tricky because most women would be thrilled that you got her jewelry but a women’s definition of jewelry and a man’s differ slightly. This is also a slippery slope if you aren’t married but seriously dating your significant other. Your lady is wanting more than a charm bracelet. If you’re set on getting her jewelry this year, stay away from the terms, “"plated", "filled" or gold-tone".  And if you look at the price and feel good about it, keep looking. It the price scares you and makes you sweat some, you’re getting closer. Basically, go big or go home… Alone.
8.       Gag gifts. It’s Christmas, not April Fools Day. Don’t try to showcase your marvelous sense of humor right now. It’s not funny, it’s not cute. Trust me.
9.       Anything sensible. Women are generally very dependable, responsible and reasonable 365 days a year. Mix it up with a sky diving lesson, helicopter ride, hot air balloon adventures. Help us to let our freak flag fly!
10.   A Gym Membership. Unless you already have your burial plot picked out do not attempt this. It doesn’t matter how much she has been complaining about getting in shape or fitting into her old jeans. You will be wounded or killed or worse.

This list could vary from chick to chick. Speaking from experience and the polls I took, this is a generic guideline to assist with your holiday shopping. Merry Christmas fellas!

These better not be keys to your heart, dear. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hello Holidays... So we meet again.....

Ahhh hello holiday season. We meet again. Feels like you were just here draining my bank account. I promised myself that the next time you came around I would be more prepared for you.  Mentally and financially. Well it looks like I failed again. Thankfully the birth of Pinterest has helped us all appear to be more crafty and chef like than we probably are. It still doesn’t make the fact that there are only 27 and ½ days left until Christmas morning.

And as if that lingering reality doesn’t freak you out enough, there is also the planning of these holiday functions. I’m not sure how the planning of holiday events work with your family but with mine it’s much like trying to find your way out of a labyrinth blindfolded after a few shots of something dark.

Within my immediate family I have a divorced sister who has a unique custody schedule with her ex. I also have an Ex that I share custody and holidays with. Of course my ex has his immediate family with married spouses and children and extended in-law agendas. All of my step brothers and sisters are married with children and in-laws and other timetables to adhere to. Then add the Boy to the batter of blended schedules and confusion. He has a son and an Ex that he shares custody and holidays with as well. I’m assuming she has immediate family dynamics too.  So planning a function, a party, or even Christmas day without T-boning into someone else’s plans are unlikely. The chances that everyone will be willing to bend, break or compromise their traditions and arrangements are about as likely as catching Lindsey Lohan on a good day. And even if they are, coordinating one single event requires a minimum of 4-8 phone calls or 37 text messages. By the end of the holiday season the only ones who actually had an enjoyable, stress free time are the pets we leave at home.

Men and women see this tedious task of planning holiday functions so differently. Men see it as just another place they have to tuck their shirts in at and awkwardly chit chat with distant relatives and semi-complete strangers. They also view our temporary lapse of sanity to coordinate these events to be silly and insignificant. But women know that if we don’t do it…. No one will. The entire holiday season would pass without seeing or mingling with anyone outside of the one sided conversations they have with ESPN.
It’s draining just thinking about it.

At some point during my transition from a child to adult the holidays became less about the excitement of what presents were mine and more like a gauntlet of time management.

There’s no beating this carousel of madness. Just get on, get flexible, bring a side dish and hope for the best.

Happy Holiday planning everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Then there was one...

Since daycares require a donation of your right kidney to keep your kids during the holidays, Kylee has spent the week with her dad and I have had Logan at home with me. The dynamics when you downsize from two kids to one kid is remarkable. It makes me wonder why I ever considered having 1 kid to be difficult. I’m sure mothers of 3 or 4 are thinking the same thing about me with my 2. All of this math is confusing me.  

With Kylee out of the house, Logan has received my undivided attention and I have discovered a few things about my son that I either didn’t know or didn’t realize until now.

1.       He is gross – He is a total boy and talks like one. He says things like, “I’m gonna put poop on your eye ball” and “I ate my fart!”  ” Whaaa? Where did that come from?  Is that even possible?

2.       He is extremely silly – I already knew this about him but when Kylee isn’t around his guard comes down and he unleashes the silly monster to run rapid (and naked) around the house. He crawls around on all fours and says he’s a naked puppy, he dances and explicitly shakes his booty to the point where I am uncomfortable and quite certain breaking a few laws.

3.       He likes to snuggle – Again, something I already knew, but when it’s the 3 of us, Kylee and Logan have to compromise and split me. She gets one side, he gets the other and I get squished and my limbs go numb. When he doesn’t have to share, he is all over me. His sweet little blonde head never left my shoulder. Last night I was doing the dishes and he said, “mommy why you doing that, sit with me.” So I put the Dawn down, dried my hands and accepted his invitation.

4.       He’s tough – Now this one surprised me.  Typically when the 3 of us are playing or wrestling, he will be the first one to cry because he was accidentally pushed down, or hit too hard. Actually, Kylee is the first one. Actually I have no idea who is the first to cry because they are both pretty wimpy and love the sympathy attention. However the last couple of days he seems tougher. He fell off of his bike yesterday and got up and said “I strong mommy, I not crying.” He bumped his head on the faucet in the tub and didn’t flinch. Not sure if this is because of Kylee’s absence but either way I like that he is outgrowing his feeble exterior.

5.       He loves his sister – Of course, duh! But on a daily basis it might be hard to recognize the love over all the bickering and arguing. I swear sometimes they taunt one another as if it were their calling in life! But the first night away from Kylee he was concerned about where she was, when she was coming home and why she wasn’t with us. And in his sweet little voice, “I miss my Kylee” I could hear the pure love he has for his big sister.

The quiet in the house has been a relaxing change of pace. But I am looking forward to getting Kylee back today and snuggling her until my limbs go numb. I miss the feeling of her hands playing with my hair as we watch TV. I miss answering questions like, “What color is the wind?” I miss the smell if chicken nuggets and the sight of her socks laying by the front door. OK maybe I don’t miss the sock part, but I can’t wait to tell her how much we missed HER!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The New Parenting Plan

I’ve hit my limit.  There were days and previous blogs where I only thought I reached the pinnacle of my tolerance but I was not even close. This is a pivotal moment in my career as a mom. It’s the make or break, do or die, go big or go home time.  It’s the moment where Jerry McGuire realizes he loves the Rene Zellweger. It’s when Patrick Swayze gets Baby out of the corner. It’s when Ally picks Noah. It’s when Rose let’s go of Jack. (Even after she promised to never let go. But whatev – I need to move on) both of my kids have an abundance of passion and spirit that they seemingly have no filter for or a clue how to function around other humans.  Here’s where my role comes into play.

First off, I have tried every other method from Dr. Phil and Super Nanny to the Duggar lady. Kudos to those who can make the peaceful and kind approach work for them. Nothing would be more amazeballs than being able to talk things out peacefully and distribute punishments and learn lessons from our mistakes. That’s just not how it goes down in my house. I have a 6 year old who could hold her own in a debate with Nancy Grace and a 3 year old whose screech can crack glass. Without the diagnosis that my kids have some rare form of ADHD that makes them lie, talk back, disobey and go deaf when I speak, than medicating their symptoms is not an option for me.  (But medicating me is still on the back burner and has not been ruled out yet)

The Game Plan. I’m writing this blog to hold myself accountable as well for anyone who might possibly see my kid’s butt cheeks in the next two months. I anticipate it will take approximately 2-3 months for the new plan to be the new normal.  I’m prepared to go longer if needed.

Introducing – The Bad Decision Paddle. One side has an L and the other has a K. Each time I am forced to use this they will make a notch on it with a sharpie before the punishment is distributed so they will have a visual reminder of how many times they made bad choices.

Step 1: Warnings are over-rated and will no longer be distributed. When I ask them to do something, stop something or to continue something, that will be their “warning.” If they don’t comply with my instructions then the BDP (Bad Decision Paddle) will be utilized.
Step 2: Sibling rivalry and arguing will be disciplined equally. Both children will be sent to separate time out locations. I no longer (nor did I ever) care who started it or whose fault it is. Assigning blame is not the objective. If they decide they are incapable of getting along in the same room, they will be secluded until they decide being nice is more important that being right.  

Step 3: NO is now considered a cuss word and will be removed from their vocabulary. At some point in their short existence on earth they were given the misconception that they have earned the right to use the word NO. This is a privilege they will receive when they turn 18 and get out of my house. Until then, they don’t have an option to tell me NO unless it is the correct answer to a question. It is not to be used in response to an order I or any other adult has given them.

Step 4: TV is a privilege not a rite of passage. Kids these days (yes I just used that term. I’m officially old) have such a bogus sense of entitlement to stuff. Whatever happened to earning things? They will now earn the benefits of watching TV when they submit to steps listed above. Rumor has it children can survive without the television being on so we are going to test that premise. It will become rare luxury they aim to obtain.  
Step 5: Kindness > hatefulness. It is no surprise that much of what leaves Kylee’s mouth has a bit of a sassy twist to it. Most of the time it isn’t what she is saying, it is how she is saying it. Kindness will be displayed. Period. End of discussion.  

Step 6: Lies = BDP, early bedtime. This isn’t an issue with Logan yet. However I find myself catching Kylee in little white lies daily. Therefore, if TV privileges have been earned at the time of the lie, they will be revoked.  

These steps are in no particular order. The gist of my new parenting method is, obey or be punished. So simple. My kids are extremely smart. They know exactly what I expect from them and they have a choice to comply and be happy or disobey and be unhappy (and maybe a little bit bruised) But I’ve decided that I am going to live a happy, stress free (or as close to stress free as possible) life. Kids can be a joyous addition to that type of life if they choose to be. But I refuse to spend their entire childhood frazzled with high blood pressure.

My kids are with me the majority of the time so I assume the responsibility of implementing this new militant approach. I’m hoping when I share my new game plan with the Ex-Man he will be more than in agreement with it, but will take an active role in helping me execute it. Because the kids are with me most, the role of jury and executioner falls on my shoulders more often than it will on him. Being their friend is just not an option for me right now. This will be uncomfortable adjustment for all of us. We will each have to change our mindset, our actions and our hearts to see positive results.

I believe what the scripture says. Proverbs 13:24 says whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

As a single mom, we are required to be stronger than we feel and tougher than we look. Prayers are needed. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Proverbs 31:26

I read an article the other day about how moms react to their children. It focused on the scripture from proverbs 31:26. It says, She opens her mouth with wisdom. The teaching of kindness is on her tongue. It can be ultra difficult to conduct myself with wisdom and kindness when my 6 year old is sassing me about what I need to do for her or how forgetting her folder was my fault. But there aren’t loop holes or stipulations for God’s word. It doesn’t say She opens her mouth with wisdom. The teaching of kindness is on her tongue unless your child has disobeyed you again and refuses to pack her lunch because you bought the wrong flavor yogurt.

A dark cloud of guilt and regrets began to overcome me as I remembered that morning (and a few other mornings and nights) I had with kids. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be receiving any medals for my performance that day. Every morning has a lot of potential to suck. The kids are tired and don’t want to do anything that involves moving. Regardless of how pleasantly I ask them to do something, I’m always responded to with grunts, moans, complaints and hesitation. I’m a very scheduled person. Every minute is spoken for and if the children are off task my anxiety and fear of being late begin to build up. As my apprehension grows it attaches to the kids like static and then they begin to feel rushed, uneasy, nervous and ultimately a frustrated tantrum ball with limps. And the learn it from me. sigh.

That morning I was putting Kylee’s hair up for school and as I was wrapping the hair tie around to secure her ponytail it snapped and broke. Kylee looked at my reflection in the mirror and said, “You shouldn’t pull on those so hard, mom.” I fetched a new hair tie and finished grooming her. But I started thinking about what she said and applied it to our relationships in life. If we tug and pull on them too hard and often it’s only a matter of time before they snap and are no longer useful. (dang that’s such a good metaphor right?!)
I began to examine all of my relationships and the ones that have really been tugged at too hard and could be on the verge of snapping if I don’t apply more kindness, grace and forgiveness to them.
My relationship to Kylee is a struggle and I wish it wasn’t. I battle it every day. I see a lot of (possibly phony) Facebook updates about other people’s kids and how perfect they are; How they chased butterflies together and ate gluten free sandwiches with a side of broccoli and the kid calls their mom “best friend”. While across town I’m sneaking carrots into their easy mac hoping they won’t notice and offering $1 per green bean that is consumed and my nickname isn’t “best friend” rather something along the sound of UGHRAHUH, MOM! Some days are easy and more days are hard. My exhaustion sometimes overrides my ability to repeat speak in kindness to the kids.

I fall short daily at being the perfect mom. At church last week the pastor said we can’t be the perfect parent, but we can be a praying parent.

I Lord I pray that you renew my patience daily. Fill me with the same grace that you freely show me. Help me to demonstrate Your love and kindness to my children regardless of my daily circumstances. Break the spirit of stubbornness in both myself and Kylee and replace it with your peaceful presence. Give me the confidence, wisdom and boldness to teach my kids Your way, not my way. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Trick or treat, peeing in a bowl and falling in love. Its a 3 for 1

I’m so glad Halloween is over. This holiday is so annoying for me. We always have fun but it takes a lot of effort on my part. The kids have their own costume ideas and it usually doesn’t consist of anything creative (or free) around the house and typically has accessories sold separately thus pushing my costume budget way off of the Dave Ramsey approval list.  Ever since the sex offender map became available to the public, trick or treating just doesn’t have the same vibe it did when I was a child. We always attend our church’s fall festival and the outcome is always the same. Kids have fun, get candy and play games. Mom gets stuck holding buckets all night and screaming for kids not to run off (they do anyway). I got the buckets kids home safe and sound. Only 11 more months before I have to do it again. YAY!

This weekend I squeezed every ounce of patience my body could physically produce into the attempt to potty train Logan. This also resembled what they teach at A Man’s Best Friend. I treated Logan like a dog. I took him to the potty, begged him to go, waited, waited some more, nothing, went back to the living room, accident. Alerted with much enthusiasm (frustration) that pee pee goes in the potty not on my carpet or couch. Clean up the mess, repeat. Reward any bowel movement with a treat and praise. So many parents told me not to force it, not to push it on him or he will resent it. That was my game plan until he turned 3 and now I am resenting him. I would much rather be the resented than the resentor. So I’m pushing him. Go ahead, judge me. Not using the potty is no longer an option and I’m finally seeing some results. It’s not even actual potty training. He refuses to use the actual toilet that flushes. No, that would be entirely too convenient for me. He insists on using those little mini-me potties. The kind you have to physically dump the crap into the toilet then clean the bowl. It should be called bowl training, or bucket training. I guess it’s my destiny to be hands on with fecal matter. But I am hopeful I just bought my last box of diapers. Take your victories where ya can right?

The boy and I are still actively falling in love with each other. We try to get our kids together as often as our schedules allow. With rotating weekends, Kylee’s cheer games, Isaac’s baseball, birthday parties, and everything else in between it isn’t always feasible for us. But this weekend we were able to work it out and hang out with our kids together. Kurt helped Logan learn to ride his bike, Isaac tried to wrestle me, Kylee engaged Kurt. It was a beautifully chaotic day. We put a movie on and all the kids lay on the floor together eating popcorn while Kurt and I had the VIP seats on the couch. One by one a kid would join us until it was all of us on the couch together. I could tell Kurt and I were both looking at the same thing. Our future. It was perfect.

Until Logan peed on the couch. JUST KIDDING. I think.