Calm, Cool and Committed

Three Moms and a Dude

How 13 Feels

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Until this morning, I felt fine. 13 is no big deal (just an entire decade +3…no biggie). Yes, it’s a milestone, but it’s just another birthday, right?

Wrong! 13 is huge. Not only have 13 years come and gone, making me 13 years older (aghhhh!), but my Hail is also 13 now (signal teary eyes and the urge to sob for hours)?! Where did the sweet little nose and feet, constant smiles, hugs, kisses and snuggles go? Will she ever love me the same again? We used to be buddies, exploring the world together, but now…

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Since she turned about 10 years old, our relationship has continued to change. Mostly, I have become her #1 enemy (not by choice). And, as a teacher who works with adolescents every day, I know this is perfectly normal; it’s just part of her becoming her own person and blossoming slowly into an independent woman. She’s just trying to makes sense of all the change she is experiencing too.

But, as a mom, and even as her “step-mom,” it sucks. No, … It’s devastating. It’s the deep kind of hurt that slaps you in the face over and over again, unexpectedly. Every time she speaks to me in a new, grating tone or says something like, “You’re 34, so you don’t know,” I realize that the days where she looked up to me with her sweet, adoring eyes are over.

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I keep telling myself that it’s just karma, and that it’s normal (Let’s not talk about how I treated my mom until about 25…and I love her to death!). “Just take it in stride,” I tell myself. But, the slow transition has been sooooooo hard, for both of us I think. In fact, perhaps it’s been harder on her.

Although I don’t remember the hormonal ups and downs of adolescence (I actually think I may have been more emotionally stable then!), I do remember that everything was a BIG deal. And, every time my parents enforced a rule to protect me, I felt as if their entire goal was to ruin my life. Ashamedly, I often shouted that I hated them…ouch (So, so, so, so sorry mom and dad!!!).

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I don’t want her to feel that way about me or her dad, but it may just be one of those unavoidable things in life. And, since advice is the very last thing she wants from me right now, I will put it safely on this page, so she can see it when she is ready, and hopefully she will revisit it often.

 
For My Hail

~Don’t grow up too fast; time moves quickly enough.

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~You don’t need a boyfriend or a man to make you feel whole. If he doesn’t accept you exactly the way you are…get rid of him IMMEDIATELY!

~When you feel like your entire world is shattered and there is no way it could get any worse, it will get better; I promise.

~Find out what you are great at…what you really have a passion for in life…and do it! Try new things without hesitation. Be adventurous and open-minded to the possibilities life offers! Don’t take the road most traveled and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Find your happy space!

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~Stay balanced: Work hard and play hard. Work out, but challenge your mind too. Keep the people you love close but make time for yourself.

~Don’t settle…ever. Nothing is going to be perfect or exactly how you envisioned it, but that doesn’t mean you should accept anything but the best.

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~Enjoy being young; youth is fleeting!

~Forgive those who hurt you. If you can let go of the pain and move forward, you will be a stronger person for it. Life has a way of using your pain to teach the lessons you need the most. Learn to forgive yourself too!

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~You have an inner voice for a reason. Honor it. Whatever it tells you, listen and act!

~Daddy and I are always here for you! You will inevitably find yourself in a pickle at some point. Call us, talk to us, reach out. We love you and will know what to do to help.

~Having a few, really loyal friends who are there for you no matter what is much better than having a bunch of friends who may or may not be there when you need them.

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~Treat others like you would want to be treated, even when it’s hard. We all have our bad days, pain that we are trying to overcome and issues we struggle with. Remember that we are all human and will inevitably mess up.

~Be grateful…for everything. There’s always going to be people who have more or less than you, but the grass is not greener on the other side…it’s really not.

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~Love your body…I know that sounds weird, but your body will change with every new stage of your life – enjoy and celebrate it! Don’t listen to the music or media that tells you women must have “perfect” bodies. If you are healthy, you are perfectly you!

~Sex does not equal love. Don’t believe any guy who tells you this…ever. If he loves you, he will respect you and wait. Love should be butterflies and excitement when you are young. Sex on the other hand is painful and complicated before you are ready. When you are ready (about 20 years after you think you actually are…), it’s an amazing and beautiful addition to love.

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~Give. Give of your time, give of yourself, give of your resources or your talents. Find a cause, a charity, a club or an organization that you love and give whatever you can. Whether it’s social, environmental, political or religious, helping others will reward you in ways that you never even imagined.

~Don’t repeat past mistakes. We all make mistakes. As long as you learn from them and move on, you will be fine.

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~Be wise with your money, because no one else will. Save, save, save!

~Lastly (even though I have a million other things I want to tell you!), do as I say not as I do. I have not been a perfect parent, and I have made MANY (many, many) mistakes. And, I probably will need to keep working on my own challenges. But, I love you, daddy loves you and we want the best for you. That will never change…ever (Okay, now I’m sobbing!).

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Lies I Like to Tell Myself

A spontaneous post tonight…

After a very appreciated and eventful spring break, it’s time to go back to work tomorrow.

In an effort to relieve the nausea and knots in my stomach, here are the lies I tell myself, to help me better cope with trying to balance working full time and being a mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, etc. I’d imagine, many of you are going through the same thoughts as I write:

1 – I will go to bed early tonight (Wide awake and kicking here! How about you??)!!!

2 – Tomorrow morning, I will resist the urge to hit the snooze button 5 times. Instead, I will get up early, make breakfast, do my hair and leave the house without rushing. Oh, and I will actually look in the mirror before I leave to make sure I at least match (Where’s my personal stylist when I need her?).

3 – No matter how tired I am after school, I will workout. Every. Day. (or at least 3 times a week??)

4 – Dinner will be planned ahead of time, gluten-free, healthy and praised by every member of the family (or else!).

5 – The managers at Giant will stop calling me by name, because I will not go every day to get something I need (Nice to see you again too!! Aghh! How embarrassing!).

6 – Every night, I will do a load of laundry and clean something in the house, so the weekend isn’t so crazy (1 week…this usually lasts 1 week.).

7 – I will not allow myself to get so tired that all I can do after the kids go to bed is stare like a zombie at the tv (Get off your butt and exercise I said!).

8 – 1 of the 5 books I’ve started will be finished soon. And I will get that new book I’ve been wanting!

9 – My husband and my friends will not feel neglected because I have too many other things that need to be done or I just don’t have the energy (Sorry guys…sigh…).

10 – I will have fun with the kids on a regular basis.

And last but not least, I will not cry when I drop lil man off at daycare tomorrow morning, because he’s going to have fun and play with his friends. I will miss him more than he misses me, right?

Is it too early to say that summer is almost here?

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Totally in love!

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One of my favorite pics of my sweeties! xo!

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The Real Reason(s) Why People Stay Married, Molar Mother

 Why don’t people get divorced, Molar Mother? I think the real question is, why do people choose to stay married, even when things get tough?
Dating

Dating

About 11 years ago (right before my hubby and I were about to get married), I remember being bombarded with the grim statistics of divorce. Constantly people and the media were talking about the epidemic of rising divorce rates, so much so that it made it seem like lasting marriages were becoming a thing of the past. I have no idea what the statistics are today, but now I don’t hear about the epidemic of divorce…ever, really. Maybe it’s because it’s less common (but probably not), or maybe because it’s more accepted (more likely the case).

Engaged

Engaged

Whatever the reason, it seems like more people around me are staying married, even when they are unhappy. This, Molar Mother and I agree on. What we don’t agree about it is why people choose to stay married and whether or not they should. Although some stay together because they are afraid to be alone, I do not believe this is the core reason people avoid divorce. And, I resent the notion that because me and most of my friends are in our 30′s(ish) and have children, we would be terrified of never finding anyone else, if divorced.

So, why do I think people stay married? Seriously, the reasons are endless.

-Commitment, people!

When you make a commitment, you should honor it, unless any or all family members are in danger. Unhappiness is not a reason to divorce. Life, marriage, relationships in general…they all ebb and flow. You made a vow to stick by your spouse through the good and bad times, remember???

Married

Married

-Love.

Just because a person is unhappy, doesn’t mean love doesn’t still exist. The root of the unhappiness could be stress, a busy schedule, a personal issue not related to the spouse in the relationship, not enough communication and/or not enough time together or, dare I say, not enough sex (Don’t laugh; this is a serious issue, people!)! Which leads me to the next one…

-SEX (I know; how dare I talk about this! Signal bright, red cheeks!)!

Seriously, sometimes it’s just that good. The bond that it creates cannot be undone. And great sex between a husband and wife can help to heal a relationship (Says Dr. Mea…). The closeness that it creates between two people cannot accurately be put into words. And a little bit of advice from me: men, if she’s not coming back for more, maybe you should reassess your strategy and/or do some research!

-Memories.

Unhappiness doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is over. Deep inside, cherished memories still exist and these memories can be strong enough to hold on to hopes for the future.

Just the 3 of us...

Just the 3 of us…

-Faith.

For some, the idea of divorce simply goes against every fiber of their being. And to break the bond that God created is simply unthinkable.

-Fear of Embarrassment.

There are people who would never divorce, simply because of what their friends and family might think about them…as well as what they would think about themselves. The shame divorce would make them feel about their seeming failure is unthinkable for some.

-Children.

Let’s face it; divorce is painful and costly for all parties involved, but the influence it has on children is profound. In a lot of cases, divorce is not a better option.

-Money.

Lack of money prevents some from divorcing; yet for others, the security of having plenty keeps them with their spouse, even if they are unhappy. Money, especially these days, is a source of security. Right or wrong, it’s true.

Memories

Memories

-The Past and/or Present.

Especially for the younger generation, some never get divorced because they never married in the first place. For whatever reason (finances, unexpected pregnancy, age, fear of commitment, restrictive laws…), they remain with their partner, without a formal or socially accepted showing of commitment. But, for some, living through their parents’ divorce was too scarring and for that reason, the idea of entering into the territory of marriage and possibly divorce is just too daunting.

In addition to these, I think there are plenty of other reasons people stay together. But, I think these are the big ones. To simply say that people should get divorced if they are unhappy is taking the easy way out. Also, saying people won’t divorce because they are too afraid to be alone is archaic and narrow-minded, Molar Mother. Heck, if any of my friends were to divorce, I guarantee someone would snatch them up in an instant. Because being with any of my strong, ladyfriends not only is a privilege, but each and every one (including you, Molar Mother) is a serious catch!

The 4 of us...I wouldn't trade any of our moments...good or bad...for the world!

The 4 of us…I wouldn’t trade any of our moments…good or bad…for the world!

Sent from my iPhone

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Talk to me…

To avoid “killing” each other, my tweener and I have been working on our communication lately. Woohoo!

Hail, eating...her fave!

Hail, eating…her fave!

This is what we’ve learned:

1) Always look each other in the white of the eyes when talking. That means no yelling from floor to floor.

(We live in a tri-level, crap! Oh well, more exercise for both of us, I guess.).

2) Leave the conversation if you become angry, because the frontal lobe of your brain is about to shut down completely.

(So, next time I’m angry, I’m leaving the house! Kids and husband, you’re on your own; mom’s taking a mini vacation! I’ll be back when my brain reboots!).

3) Revisit the conversation later and without emotion or judgment and discuss what each of you could have done better. Then, come to some type of compromise.

(I don’t see how this is possible…ever…my middle name is emotion.).

4) Apologize without explanation or justification of your actions, and ask for forgiveness. Then, walk away. Don’t say anything else unless the other person wants to talk or respond.

(Okay, this one I can do! Well…that is…unless the apology is followed by your tweener saying she has to forgive you, “because who else is going to feed me.” Yep, I’m the meal cart.).

5) Eat a snack, especially after a long day.

(I have noooooo problem with this one! I could eat all day and night…no joke!)!

The first week we put this into action, it turned out great and things have been better overall between us. But, this week, we have both been tired, busy, stressed and emotional, making it difficult to accomplish any type of civil conversation.

Honestly, I think I just need chocolate and a nap…a really, really, long nap.

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New-errr Music (January 2013)

photo1This post is dedicated to Emily (who wrote a post about being a “pop-culture dinosaur“) and Mamma Fratelli, who both recently asked for new music, and to Naomi, who probably is going through new music withdraw without my random mixes!

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My tweener and I have very little in common right now, however, we both L.O.V.E. music. And, she definitely keeps this mom up to date on the latest tunes! My taste is a little more “diverse” than hers, but for the most part, we listen to new, catchy songs. Sometimes this is a great thing (when we are in the car and agree on a station or song), and sometimes this is a bad thing (when I realize that the message of a popular song isn’t quite appropriate for her impressionable ears). Having said that, I’m sure some of my peers would not agree politically, socially and/or personally with some of my taste in music. The good news is – I really don’t care! Anything that moves my emotions, thoughts or body (I’m talking about dancing, here, people!) catches my interest.

So, for my music-loving readers (and the moms who feel a little behind), here are my most recent i-Tunes purchases (new-errr…I hope!):

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My Current (anything goes) Playlist

Please ignore the commercials, skip any advertisements, overlook potential lyric misspellings and close your eyes if any inappropriate images appear in the music videos! I had nothing to do with them!

Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You – Walk off the Earth (feat. Selah Sue)

My Life – 50 Cent, Eminem and Adam Levine (cannot get enough of Eminem…more please!)

Back to Love – DJ Pauly D (feat. Jay Sean)

Words – Hawk Nelson

Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding

Don’t You Worry Child – Swedish House Mafia

Neva End (remix) – Kelly Rowland and Future

Merry Go ‘Round – Kacey Musgraves  – (creative use of language!)photo2

I Cry – Flo Rida

Any More of This – Mindy Smith and Matthew Perryman Jones

It’s Time – Imagine Dragons

Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men

Daylight – Maroon 5

Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain) – Gary Allen

Beauty and the Beat – Justin Bieber (feat. Nicki Minaj)

What About Us – The Saturdays

Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever) – The Ready Set

Little Things – One Direction

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Gluten, free me!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor! The information in this post is based solely on my personal experiences and recommendations.

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I love food…ALL food! So, when my neurologist told me I was allergic to gluten, I reacted dramatically. I’m pretty sure I leaned forward, put my head in my hands and yelled, “Nooooooooooo!” Then, the beloved carbs I could no longer eat flashed through my mind. After that, I sulked and told my doctor that my husband was going to kill me. Gluten free? My hubby? No way…not happening…ever. Dinner was going to be even more of a royal pain…sigh.That was 6 months ago, and I can honestly say that I’ve been doing my best (which is pretty darn good, if I don’t say so myself). Along the way, my rocky journey went something like this:

Month 1 – I’m not allergic to gluten, and I’m sure not going to waste all the food we just bought (kicking, stomping, holding my breath)!

Month 2 – Checkin’ out the gluten-free isle…I’m doomed!

Month 3 – Google search: gluten-free food, gluten-free recipes, symptoms of gluten intolerance

Month 4 – Food experiments, less gluten, this sucks, I want my mac-n-cheese.

Month 5 – Feeling better…feeling much better! Vacation – crash, recover…

Month 6 – Getting the hang of it, gluten-free can be yummy. Holidays – resist, resist, RESIST…crash, recover…

Eliminating gluten from my diet has been quite the process. Gluten is everywhere and avoiding it requires constant searching, label reading and question asking, not to mention a  heroic dose of willpower. It almost feels like I am learning how to eat, shop and cook all over again, and my family has been less than thrilled about some of my “experiments” (That’s what my husband calls any new recipe I attempt).  Having said that, it’s not nearly as terrible as I thought it would be, once I got the hang of it. And, I have to say that I feel MUCH better without gluten. The most difficult part, however, was finding a place to start. Even when searching the internet, I didn’t find anything that told me which gluten-free products were gritty or mushy and which ones were yummy substitutes for the comfort food I craved. I needed recipes, alternatives, brand names and pictures. So, here are my favorites so far (in addition to lots of greens and veggies, fresh fruit, pure meats and cheeses, rice, potatoes and beans!):

Favorite Links:

Betty Crocker Recipes

Yummy Gluten-Free Pie Crust

The Gluten-Free Lady

 Made with Love, Not Gluten (bakery)

Favorite Foods:

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So far, I’ve tried the brownie mix. My fam didn’t even know the difference!

Lucy’s cookies were great, especially the chocolate mint! Also, when using the gluten-free flour, add xantham gum. Note – Some gluten-free people cannot eat oats.

I cannot live without tortillas and pizza. While neither compare to the “real stuff,” I’ve found these to be great substitutes.

Some Prego flavors are gluten-free, while others are not. Remember to always read the label! This lasagna is awesome and the pasta pictured is almost exactly like regular pasta, while others I’ve tried are gummy and fall apart. And, if you stick to products made with brown rice, there’s more fiber (a serious, gluten-free challenge).

Most Coffee-Mate creamers are gluten-free, but their Natural Bliss cuts the chemicals out too. They just need chocolate flavors now! The cookbook pictured is from my hubby and has easy recipes for gluten-free comfort food.

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It Takes A Village…Or Does It???

Should non-parents “butt out,” or should parents take any advice they can get? Mamma Fratelli and Mea are on one side, and thedude and Molar Mother are on the other. What do you think?

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Mamma Fratelli (infant and toddler mamma):

It takes a village to raise a child. We’ve heard the saying before and we probably agree on some level, but what do we really think about non-parents giving us parenting advice?

If a non-parent offers parenting advice, take it. By some strange twist of irony, people know everything there is to know about raising children – until they have one of their own. At the very moment the 7 lb cherub takes its first breath, all of our logic, reason, and wisdom dematerializes, leaving us in a perpetual state of HolycrapwhatdoIdonow?! I know that before I had children of my own, when I heard a toddler having a tantrum, it was blatantly obvious that all the parents had to do was tell him to stop. It is rude to scream in public and toddlers should never be allowed to do so. Telling them what you want them to do works every time. They will immediately stop and calm down when told. In restaurants, infants should not be permitted to grab silverware and bang it on the table or plate. Parents somehow forget what we all knew before we had children: just take the silverware away from the child! Forks are not for banging. Hand him a toy. He will be happy to play with the toy because it is a toy and babies like toys. If he expresses interest in the fork, simply tell him that only Mommies and Daddies get to use forks and he is just a child so he needs to be content with his plastic puppy. When school-aged children come home sad because they don’t fit in, just tell them that they are pretty, intelligent, and funny and the other kids in class are just jealous. They will quickly understand that it is not their fault that they are always picked last in gym class and tell their peers, “you’re just jealous” which will solve the situation immediately. In high school, when your child comes home past curfew, just tell her that she can no longer date because, clearly, she is not mature enough to do so. When your teen tries smoking, simply take the cigarettes away and tell him that they will kill him. That will stop the fascination with the forbidden before it becomes an addiction. All in all, I do not know what it is that happens in our brains when we look at our own misbehaving child and realize that we have exactly .67 seconds to come up with a response that will mould him or her as a person, set precedent for all future consequences, influence the family dynamic and resolve the situation at hand before it gets worse. This really is not difficult to do. If you ever find yourself lost, confused, frustrated or overwhelmed, simply ask a non-parent for advice. They always know exactly what to do.

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Mea (toddler and tweener mamma):

hail

Stealing my make-up and up to no good!

If you are not a family member, a VERY CLOSE friend, have no children and/or cannot relate to my situation, DO NOT offer me unsolicited parenting advice…ever. There’s nothing more annoying than a non-parent, non-family member spewing unwelcomed parental advice. Seriously, “Butt out!!!” You may have insight, you may see things that I don’t see, and you may think you know what you are talking about, but you don’t…period. Yes, technically none of us can relate to the other, because our experiences in life all vary, but you cannot understand parenting, unless you’ve been there.

I wanted a picture of them hugging, but he decided to head-butt her instead!

I wanted a picture of them hugging, but he decided to head-butt her instead!

If you’ve never been sleep-deprived, longing for a shower after 3 days or puked-pooped-peed-spit on inadvertently, you can’t relate. If you’ve never experienced one of those really bad parenting days where you literally could just walk away…forever (But you don’t!), don’t talk to me about what I should/could be doing better – unless I ask. If you’ve never been forced to push back nap-time while in public, and your child is screaming and ripping your shirt from your shoulders – smile, help or ignore me (And then click here to see why you should use condoms! )! Your judgment and dirty/shocked glances are not appreciated; in fact, they’re downright rude and presumptuous. If you think you can do a better job with my hard-headed, nap-deprived child, go ahead and try…I dare you. Keep your judgmental, self-righteous thoughts to yourself, thank you!

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Molar Mother (infant mamma):

Buddy

Buddy

When I was a non-mother, there was one thing that really bothered me. Parents who dismissed me (and my kind) with the simple phrase “You can’t understand, you don’t have kids.” WTF?

We’ve all been guilty of expressing similar sentiments at one time or another. “You wouldn’t understand, you never had your wisdom teeth removed.” “You don’t get it, you’ve never had your arm bitten off by a rhinoceros with mad cow disease.”

Those examples might sound ridiculous, but guess what, the original statement is ridiculous, too. When parents say this, they’re effectively saying, “Don’t even talk to me because whatever you say is invalid since you haven’t passed on any chromosomes to the next generation.”

From how much this statement angers me, you’d think I’d have gone out of my way to give parents advice on raising children. But, no, it’s not like that. This statement doesn’t come about after telling a dad to “Make sure you wipe your daughter from front to back instead of back to front.” No, it usually comes after you say something like, “There’s a sale on toilet paper at Giant in Hershey.” You think I’m kidding? Nope. The parental response resembles something like this: “You don’t understand how hard it is to get to that Giant. You don’t have kids. You don’t have to bribe your kids, including the one who doesn’t wear shoes without monkeys on, in order to even get in the car. Shop at Giant? SHOP AT GIANT??? YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT’S LIKE TO NOT HAVE MONEY FOR TOILET PAPER!!!”

Once I was part of a discussion about parents who have unchecked little hellions. A group of us wished we could intervene and tell the hellion-raisers to maybe, oh, not let their 10 year old run around the restaurant screaming obscenities and body checking wait staff. It came up that our opinions on child behavior are often dismissed because we didn’t have kids. One of my friends said, “You know, just because I don’t have kids doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”

And that’s really the point. When parents say, “You don’t understand,” they’re really saying, “Shut the heck up because you’re too dumb to figure anything out about children.” And this statement really comes from their insecurities about how they’re raising their kids.

I’d like all you parents to think about it, though. Sometimes the best advice comes from those outside a situation. Remember when you dated that jerk in high school? All your friends knew you should dump the nitwit, but you were so embroiled you couldn’t tell that it wasn’t a good idea to date someone who had “I’m Awsome” tattooed on his back.

As a parent, you’re bound to get unwarranted advice. I’ve discovered that experienced parents are the worst offenders. “My Johnny crawled when he was two months old because we fed him bean sprouts in his bottle.” Uh, yeah.

When it comes down to it, none of us like getting advice. So why do we hate on non-parents so much? As parents we’ve got to be really careful that we don’t end up hurting people. If your cousin says she read an article on baby wearing, let her tell you what she read. Because you never know why someone doesn’t have a kid. Nature keeping someone from being a parent doesn’t mean they’re not intelligent enough to understand how parenting works. Experience is not always the best teacher. And just because someone isn’t a parent doesn’t mean they don’t know good parents, haven’t had good parents or haven’t seen good parenting in action. Don’t belittle or begrudge them.

And let’s not forget that sometimes the people who see things most clearly are the people outside the situation. Have you ever watched Supernanny? Jo doesn’t have kids of her own, but that lady sure can see into a situation and shape it up. Wouldn’t you take her advice (This episode made me cry. )?

Now that you know what really bothered me as a non parent, watch out. And don’t get me started on people who say to childless couples, “Must be nice to go to a movie and sleep in. I haven’t slept past 4 am since I had kids.” @#$%ers

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thedude (puppy papa):

thedude's babies

thedude’s babies

I’m not a dad, but I have a dad. I’m not a mom, but I have a mom too. Does not being a parent mean that I’m automatically disqualified from ever giving parental advice? I don’t think so. After all, I’m at least a son. First, let me establish that the whole idea of giving advice can be a dangerous one. We live in an individualistic culture: people aren’t really interested in what you think…even if you are “right,” a term I put in quotes because of its subjectivity. People want to hear encouragement, not advice. But if you think about it, isn’t encouragement just as subjective as advice? Because of this discrepancy, I try to seldom give unsolicited advice. But for the sake of argument, let’s say I were to offer advice to a parent.

I would never walk up to a mother with a crying baby and say, “You should really try (fill in the blank) to get that baby to stop crying.” But would it be the rudest thing in the world if I said, “Hi, I don’t mean to be nosy, but you know my mom used to (fill in the blank) to get me to stop crying when I was a baby, and it worked every time”? I’m not so sure. I’d like to think that my intentions would be positive and without criticism. So what’s the problem? Let’s flip the coin for a second and ask a (somewhat) opposite question. Is it appropriate for a non-parent to encourage a parent? The mother with the crying baby somehow gets her baby to stop crying on the first try, and I walk over and say, “Wow, that was amazing; you clearly have a great connection with your baby!” Aren’t I merely giving my opinion as a non-parent? Is it really all that different because I’m saying something that the parent wants to hear?

Perhaps the bigger question here isn’t whether or not it’s appropriate for a non-parent to give parental advice. Perhaps the bigger question is how should the parent who gets the advice from the non-parent respond? I hope this analogy makes sense, and I in no way mean to turn this into a parochial conversation. It’s just how my mind works. I love Jesus – I love reading about Him and talking about Him – I especially love talking about Him with atheists because I know that atheists and I disagree. An atheist and I have little in common in terms of faith: I believe in Jesus, and they don’t. But were I to dismiss an atheist, and assume that because they don’t believe in Jesus that that means they have nothing to offer to me in the way of wisdom or advice surrounding my faith, wouldn’t that be a little closed-minded of me?

I’m not saying that all parents should immediately and graciously accept the advice of non-parents; however, I don’t particularly care for the response, “You’re not a parent, so unless you have something to say that I want to hear, just butt out.”

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One Mom’s Christmas List

My tweener!

Our tweener!

Am I too old to have a Christmas list? Never! But, the items on my list grow less and less sparkly each year. Here are the things I really want this year (in no particular order, after the first one):

~Happiness, good health and safety for our children, today and always

~A fail-proof guide for raising my tweener

~Brighter winter evenings (I need my Vitamin D!)

~The energy of a 2-year old boy (and a daily nap to go with!)

~Uninterrupted sleep, PLEASE!!!

~Immortal parents

~More quality time with both of our families and a hard-drive big enough to store the memories forever

My lil man

Our lil man!

~Fun and relaxation with my friends on a regular basis

~Daily work-outs

~Balance, I need balance!

~Understanding and kindness…even when it’s difficult

~Present and future success for my students, beyond their wildest dreams…and the work-ethic to match

~Less time at work

~A good cry, on occasion

~The ability to stress less about anything that will not matter a day, week, month or year from now

Another one of my favorite Christmas ornaments

~Time to read for fun by the fire

~Patience…lots and lots of patience!

~An ever-shrinking grocery bill

~TV what????

~The artsy, crafty gene that God forgot to give me

~Time to get to know my husband all over again

“Our First Christmas”

~Gluten-free recipes that my family will like

~Pants that I don’t have to hem

~Our house…finished inside and out (just a small request…)

~Sleep (Wait, did I say that already?)

~Of course…a maid, chef and personal shopper!!! =)

~And for Pete’s sake, someone keep my Cheerio-mobile clean! 😉

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Santa Makes Us Liars

Yes, Cranky Dad, someday your son will find out that you deceived him about Santa and call you a liar (Click here to see a really cranky dad’s post about this dilemma.). At least, that’s what happened to us.

Pop and Nano's Train!

Pop and Nano’s Train!

Our not-so-little guy is 2 and finally old enough to be excited about Christmas! Every Christmas cartoon, sparkly decoration and catchy song enthralls him.  I absolutely love it! At Christmas Candylane this year, his preference was to watch the toy train display, giggling in amazement at every detail. Even though he is old enough to understand that Santa, his elves and the Elf on the Shelf are watching his every move, I haven’t used any of these to control his horrible, no good, very bad, terrible-2 outbursts. Every time I think about using it as leverage, the experience we had with our daughter holds me back.

Sweet and innocent still!

Sweet and innocent still!

When our daughter was little, she was also excited about Christmas! Although presents didn’t really impress her at first, and the Hershey characters, along with any person in a costume…especially Santa, terrified her (She would immediately take off running in the opposite direction when she saw them!), she too was amazed by the magic of Christmas. And, we used the “Santa is watching” strategy every chance we got. Any time she would refuse to brush her teeth or get a bath, we’d pretend that we just saw an Elf pass by the window. Immediately, she would cooperate. It was great!

Unfortunately, this didn’t last very long. When she was a little older, someone I would like to refer to as “The Grinch” told her that Santa wasn’t real. She was devastated and came to us for solace…begging for the truth and hoping that we would reassure her. We tried, but nothing we said convinced her. As a result, she was extremely angry and resentful, and to this day she brings up the fact that we lied to her about Santa. Any time she doubts our honesty, she references Santa to prove that we are liars…and she’s 12 now. Seriously, how long is she going to hold this against us??

She loved this guy!

She loved this guy!

Because of this experience, I guess I am hesitant about how much emphasis to put onto Santa this time around. Is it okay to teach our children about these myths? Can we use the Elf on the Shelf to spy on our kids and convince them that their every move is being watched? Do Santa, his elves, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy make us all liars? What about baby Jesus and his Christmas story? Is he just a myth that we use to force our kids into being good people?

I know what I believe, but these are questions that several of my very close friends seriously ponder as the holidays approach. It’s interesting that these issues may not have even entered our parents’ minds. So, why are we worried about it? What will our children choose to tell their children about the holidays?

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ALERT: Get your kids away from Elmo, NOW!

**********UPDATE**********

The Elmo pupeteer’s accuser recanted his allegations of sexual abuse (click here to read more.). So, if the accuser was 18, instead of 16, when he and Clash started their sexual relationship, does that make everything okay? It still means an almost 30 year difference exists between the two men. If the accuser was a young female, would that make a difference? Or, what if the accuser was a young male having a sexual relationship with a “cougar” who is 30 years older? If 2 teens are having a sexual relationship, and one is 18, should the “adult” (male or female) go to jail? I don’t know…something about this still doesn’t sit right with me… I’m curious if you feel the same way. Either way, let me know in the comments below.

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Parents beware: Elmo is not the lovable, furry, red friend you thought he was. Instead, he is now merely the puppet behind an alleged pedophile.

Yep, you heard me correctly. Does this make you want to cry? Does it give you that nauseous, almost-puking feeling in the pit of your stomach? Are you now dreading the fits that will ensue when you attempt to remove Elmo from your toddler’s existence? Me too…ughh.

Reading this article actually made me quite sad (Click here to view the article.), because I love Elmo too! I’ve loved him ever since I was a kid. He’s bright red (my favorite color), his shrill is too cute, and he’s the most irresistible teacher that I’ve ever met. Wait, this startles me even further. Isn’t that what pedophiles do…lure their victims in with something too cute to resist? Again, I want to vomit. Just last night, my husband and I were woken up by talking Elmo, who our son was squeezing a little too tightly. Our son loves Elmo so much that he takes him to bed with him! And, right now, it’s the only thing that calms him down when I am trying to make dinner. He even requested an Elmo cake for his birthday…sigh. Why, Elmo, why???? Why are you doing this to me and every other child and parent out there???? Time to slowly transition him to Little Einsteins or something, I guess…grrrrr!

Despite the fact that the alleged charges haven’t been proven, I don’t think I will ever be able to look at Elmo the same way again. And, the thought of my son idolizing and playing with him now makes my skin crawl!

Is this Elmo’s demise? Will he ever recover? Will we ever be able to feel the same about him again? Or, (reaching here) is this some political conspiracy to get rid of Sesame Street funding? Seriously Mitt, you lost the election already; time to get over it!

At least the kids thought it was funny (the joke about Mitt…)!

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