Archive for the ‘Family & Parenting’ Category

What my husband did last night when he said he was going to go to bed:

  • Went upstairs
  • Brushed his teeth and flossed
  • Plugged in his phones to charge overnight
  • Got in bed
What I did last night when I said I was going to go to bed:
  • loaded the dishwasher
  • put away some laundry
  • cleaned off the kitchen counter-tops
  • set up the coffeepot for the morning
  • made my son’s lunch
  • started a blog post
  • read about potty training (next big thing for BDog)
  • wrote a check for Kindergarten tuition
  • fed the fish
  • put away stray toys
  • went upstairs
  • brushed my teeth and flossed
  • washed and moisturized my face (sucks to get old . . and live in the high desert)
  • checked on sleeping babies and gave them one more kiss
  • got in bed
Sound familiar, moms??  No wonder I never get to bed before 11:30pm.
What do you do when you say you’re off to bed?

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Maybe your child is not as mature as you think she should be.  Maybe you think he’s little for his age, and could use another year of pre-school under his belt before starting in the big leagues.  Maybe you’re a sports-minded family, and you want to give your mini linebacker the best odds at athletic success.

Experts say, however, delaying kindergarten is not the right answer.  In fact, you just might be doing your little pumpkin a disservice.  The New York Times recently published an article highlighting  a study which tells us, in a nutshell, the best academic tool we can give our children is school itself.


According to this article, for students young for their year in kindergarten, greater strides were made during the school year in reading and math than in children who were older.  The article discusses how children grow when they are pushed:

“In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability”.

Just let that sentence sink in for a second.  Give it a second read.  Absorb it.

What this tells us, is that it is good to push our kids, within limits. If a child is faced with a task that is challenging, but not out of reach, it encourages them to try harder. To want to be better.  On either side of this fine line, however, children (and teachers) face the consequences of boredom or frustration.

I’ve learned this first-hand, with my son, who happens to be in kindergarten (not early, not late, right on schedule).  He does not know all of his letters yet, although he’s getting there.  He is far from reading, however.  So, I have started working with him each day.  We don’t do a lot, anywhere from 5-20 minutes when there is some quiet time just for the two of us.  And, based on this new ritual, I have learned three things about him:

  1. When pushed just a little out of his comfort zone, with support, he flourishes. “No, no, Mommy, don’t tell me the answer, let me tell you the letters!”.
  2. When pushed a lot, he shuts down.  No wonder he literally looked the other way when I was trying to teach him sight words when reading a bedtime story!  It was like asking him to do calculus before he could multiply.
  3. When he’s presented with a task that he has complete mastery of, at first it’s a confidence booster, but that quickly wanes.  What is left is boredom (“Ok, ok, Mommy, I know those letters, but what is that one, again?”) and potential disruptive behavior.
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer that fits everyone.  We must make our own decisions, based on what is best for our child.  And, no one knows your child better than you.  This is also about more than just reading, math, and kindergarten.  It is a life lesson, too.  After all, we not only want our kids to learn, we want to teach them to be lifelong learners.  We want them to have a thirst for knowledge.

We, as parents, are helping our children learn how to learn.  What a gift.  I promise, I’ll try not to screw it up.

So, what did you do, or will you do about kindergarten?

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I find myself so tired by the end of the day lately.  Not tired like a pregnant woman who falls asleep on the couch after dinner, and not tired like a new mommy who falls asleep while her newborn nurses sweetly, and rhythmically.  No, this isn’t one of those kinds of tired.  It is different all together.  It’s more like . . . mental and emotional . . . exhaustion.  My boys tag team me during the day, getting on each other’s nerves like only brothers can.  And, then once I’ve wrangled them in and out of the bath, into their jammies, brushed their teeth, and read stories, my littlest boy, B, has decided that getting out of bed at night (over, and over, and over) is much more fun and fulfilling than actually falling asleep.  Truthfully, at this point in the day, I am just done.  Completely drained.

But, I know there will come a day when I will (and I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it) really miss these days.  I know that someday it will once again be about me.  Will it . . . really?

On the days (more lately than usual) when I feel my life is really hard, I need to remember to reflect, and appreciate how lucky I really am.  I have three strong, beautiful, funny, and intelligent children.  I have the loving support of a husband who agrees it is important that I be home for these years.  I have in-laws who are caring, thoughtful, helpful, generous, and who are a big part of my children’s lives.  My parents are equally involved, caring for their grandchildren in ways I can’t.  They love them simply, without the messiness of being their parents.  They cheer them on, hug them tight, and love them unconditionally.  My kids are lucky.  So am I.  

I don’t have a child with autism.  I don’t have a special needs child.  I don’t have a child with health problems.  My husband and I are healthy.  We still have both of our parents, who get to spend time with our children on a regular basis.  I am so lucky.

So, why do I complain?  Because it is human nature.  We want more, with a side of more, and extra more.

So, I’m going to try remind myself to be grateful.  Sometimes just remembering not to sweat the small stuff is all it takes to improve perspective.   We just need reminders of what is the small stuff.  Today I’m going to hug my kids, and count to ten, rather than send steam out my ears, wasting precious energy being frustrated and irritated.  Because, I don’t want to be drained tonight.  And, being grumpy takes a lot of energy.

So, how do you improve your perspective, and keep things in check?

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There are lots of ways to stock a lunch box full of stuff that is good for your kids, and that they will actually eat.  My heart always sinks when I find uneaten, warm carrot sticks stuffed back in the lunch box, ignored.  Eeewww. . . and . . . bummer.

1.  Start with a cool lunchbox.  

There are lots of ways to go here, depending on your needs, and your kids (or your own!) preferences.  Here are a few to check out:

Goodbyn Lunch Box

I mean, doesn’t that just look pretty?  All the food stays where you put it.  No mixing, sloshing, or spilling into other compartments.  And, it comes with stickers for your little one to decorate.  As Ina would say, How Easy Is That

Crocodile Creek Lunch Box

Let’s face it, this lunchbox is just adorable.  My son would be thrilled to carry this everyday.  They are insulated and even have a zippered compartment for cute little love notes from you.  Lands End ClassMate SmallHaul Lunch Sack

My son used this lunch box for his two years of preschool.  It worked wonderfully.  It had his name monogrammed on the front, and held (keeping cool) all he needed for his 4 hour day.  Enough said!

2.  Choose healthy options your kids will actually eat.

There is nothing worse than filling your child’s lunch box with all kinds of healthy fare, and hoping for the best.  Just because they’re hungry, doesn’t mean they’ll eat anything.  And, even though they behave better (we hope!) for their teacher than they do for you, she is not a miracle worker.  If your daughter doesn’t like cottage cheese at home, don’t try it at lunch.

Pack in the protein where you can, and keep sugar to a minimum.  Kids need the sustained energy, not just carbs.

I fill a thermos with milk everyday.  I do not use juice boxes.  My son doesn’t expect it, and he doesn’t miss it.  I do not include chips or cookies.  I think of lunches as a sum of three parts:  protein, whole grains, and fruit/veggies.  I make sure I’ve got those areas covered, and get ‘er done!

A few of my favorite lunch/snack ideas are:

graham crackers (or banana bread) with cream cheese

string cheese

hard-boiled eggs

turkey and cream cheese roll ups

fruit or veggies, washed and cut up

yogurt or cottage cheese

Applesauce or Applesauce Crushers from Trader Joe‘s (also come in Apple Carrot and Apple Banana variety)

sandwiches (turkey/cheese, peanut butter and jelly)**

Leftover pasta or homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Homemade “lunchables”

Stretch Island Fruit Leathers

Cheese Quesadillas

**My son’s school is peanut free, so we use Sunflower Seed Butter, found at Trader Joe’s.

3.  Add a little “green” and keep it fun!

I have a few different reusable sandwich bags, but I might just have to get some of these this year:


I mean, seriously?  Who wouldn’t want to rip open one of these to see what’s inside?  They’re totally the new “foil wrapped surprise!”.

I also like to stick a cute note in my son’s lunchbox sometimes.  I know, I know, it’s not like he knows how to read yet.  But a smiley face, heart, and his name totally get the point across.  🙂

Here’s to hoping your school year gets off to a great start.  What do you plan to pack up for your Little Miss or Mr. Man?

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Maybe someday camping won’t be as much work as it is right now.  One can hope.

I cannot wait for the day I can say to my crew, “Pack your bags, we’re going to the Lake!”  Heck, I’d even settle for “grab the bag I packed for you, it’s at the top of the stairs!”.  Those days are quite a ways away for me.  My oldest being 5, and the youngest not even crawling yet, and all.  But, I still do it.  Why?  Because it’s so much darned fun.

Last year, my best friend and I took our collective four boys camping.  We each had nice round 6 month pregnant bellies.  People must have thought we were crazy.  But, you know what?  Once the prep is done, camping is not any harder than staying at home.  In fact, sometimes it’s actually easier.  Entertainment is literally at your doorstep.

We just returned from our (most likely) last camping trip of the season.  My boys had a blast.  First off, we went camping.  Simply doing that is a thrill (hey, they’re little, and they’re boys).  Second, we went with my best friend and her boys (double the fun).  The four of them are really like cousins.  Which is a good thing since my kids will most likely never have cousins (and that is also a good thing).  Thirdly, we rented a boat.  Like a whole, real, boat.  With a motor and everything.  My oldest son had 77 questions to ask me about said boat before we even arrived.  Would his name be on the boat?  Could he put his name on the boat?  (WTF?!?!)  Where do we jump off?  Does it drive with a pedal like a car or a lever?  How fast does it go?  Can we sit on the front?  You get the picture.

Surprise!  It was fun for the grown-ups, too!  I hadn’t been on a ski (ok, any kind) of boat in approximately 18 years (I wish I was joking).  And, I did something I’ve never done before:  I wakeboarded.  It was serious fun.  And I was seriously sore the next morning.  Thanks for the reminder, neck, shoulders, arms, and back, I know I’m not 17 anymore.

So, we did big fun stuff, and we did small fun stuff.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip.  My middle son adores the swing.  He could swing all day long.  And, with this view, I could push him all day long.  Well, until I was ready for a sandwich.  Or some Merlot.

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Where did the summer go?  I have definitely not soaked up enough of it for it to be slipping away.  This summer my oldest boy is 5, my youngest boy is 2, and my sweet baby girl is 9 months old.  There will never be another summer like this one.  It is the first summer my youngest is talking.  It is the last summer my baby will not be walking.  It will be the last summer I will have two kids in diapers (one can hope!).  It is the last summer before real school starts for this family of five.

Everyone tells you that time flies when your kids are young.  It is so true.  I realize, fortunately, that this is the time to remember.  Thanks, Billy Joel.  Even though the days fly by with snacks, diapers, sippy cups, sticky fingers, hugs, kisses, and time-outs, it’s important to take the time to reflect and enjoy.  I will never get this time back.  That’s the biggest reason I’m staying home.

My best friend, Joanne, and I had a conversation a couple of years ago about whether either of us would have a third child (spoiler alert, we each now have two boys and a baby girl).  Ahem, back to the story.

We were a bit wistful thinking that our littlest boys would be our last babies.  In the midst of our conversation, she said something that I will always remember:  It’s natural to feel sadness when you know you won’t have any more children.  It’s a shift in your life.  You are no longer having babies, you’re raising a family.  Truer words couldn’t be said.  My days of up all night are over.  Hopefully.  My days of burp cloths and bouncy chairs are over.  This is really okay with me.  But just because it is true, and I am not looking back, doesn’t mean I want it to go so darn fast!!!  So, in honor of that, I am making a (short, I mean, we’re talking a mere number of days left!) list of what I want to accomplish before the summer officially ends.

In these last few weeks of summer, I will:

1.  spend more time in the back yard, watching my kids playing in the pool and sandbox

2.  dole out more otter pops!

3.  make homemade popsicles

4.  go to the local water park at least three more times

5.  go on more late evening and early morning walks

6.  take more pictures with my all-grown-up SLR camera

I guess I’d better get busy!

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I hear this all the time.  From the lady shopping in the same aisle at the grocery store, from the guy behind the counter at Starbucks.  It’s like the mommy-equivalent of “oh, you got your hair cut!”.  Or, “you look tired”.

Seriously?  Of course I’ve got my hands full.  Thanks for noticing.  I’ve got three kids.  Only one of them can adequately speak for himself, and doesn’t need his bottom wiped every two hours.

Once, after dropping my oldest son off at preschool, my two-year old, the baby and I hit Target.  We weren’t 10 steps in the door when I got hit with this:

“Oh, you only have two today?”

Seriously?  Do I know you?  The comment came from a twenty-something wearing a name tag and a red shirt.  I didn’t know her.  Didn’t even recognize her.  My first thought was UH-OH.  Her comment meant one of two things:

1) I shop at Target WAY too much . . . OR

2) We are WAY too memorable when we do go

I think I have a pretty good handle on my kids (most of the time).  Especially the little ones.  My 5-year-old can be a little much, but that’s for another post (can you say high-maintenance?).  So, I don’t think it’s that people remember us because we’re throwing tantrums over Lego’s (although there was that one December trip where we broke a snow-globe, but that was a total accident and it was over 2 years ago . . .).

So, this makes me wonder. . . Do you ever get the “busy lady” or “hands full” comments?  Can’t people come up with something more interesting or helpful to say?  How about, “your children are beautiful”, or “here, let me get that for you”.  THAT would be a welcome change.  Or, maybe I should just be happy they aren’t shooting us dirty looks . . .

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