My Matthew

I wasn’t ready for you.

Your sister Ryann was a breeze.  Compliant and eager to please.  As a toddler she did whatever we said without question.

Not you.  You have questions.  You want to know “WHY?” about everything.

You also have answers.  Nothing I say is law to you.  You want to say your piece no matter how big of a hole you are digging.  When I try to explain that you shouldn’t talk back, you become confused, because you feel I am violating one of your fundamental rights as a child.  Maybe I am.  Maybe that is why more often than not I have to walk away from you during an argument.  Not because I am mad, but because the things you come up with are so funny that I need to go and regain composure or else I will lose what (little) advantage I have over you.

You are getting a reputation among the kids for being the crazy one, but I know the other you as well.

I know a little boy who likes to surprise me often by having Dad warm the heating pad and bringing it up to me in bed.  And when you stay up with Dad and I am up in bed reading, you’ll come in and say “Mom, if you can think of anything you need, let me know and I will bring it, you know I’m the fastest one.”

I know a kid that can tell me the difference between a cheetah and a jaguar, and 100 other animals.

I’ve seen you tackle Zane for no reason than to mess with him, but I’ve also watched you hold his hand and guide him into the lake when he was too scared to go in.

I have witnessed you destroy Ryann’s toy set-up as she was playing quietly by herself.  But more often than that I’ve watched you become the best husband/dad/dog/knight/princess/waiter you’ve ever seen as she cast you in one of your guys’ many imaginary scenarios.

You have provided me with many days of high blood pressure, but even more days of laughter.  I love your heart Matthew and all the crazy determination that comes with it.  Happy 5!

  

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To my Zane, as you turn 2

To my third on your second birthday-

You have been a cuddler since day one.

You rub my back until you fall asleep, and then again in the middle of the night if you wake up.

You also love playing with our knuckles when you are tired. It’s your “tell.”

You are the light of Ryann and Matthew’s lives, the one thing they regularly agree on. You can effortlessly go from wrestling with Matthew to being Ryann’s baby. You have grown up too quickly for me by watching them. You want and try to do everything they do, often with great success.

You are the stereotypical baby of the family.  You are the center of attention and the manipulator of everyone.  Your personality is a perfect blend of your older siblings, and many of your behaviors are learned by mimicking what they do, both good and bad.

You call granola bars “pa tarts.”

You call crackers and cookies “cacos.”

Your favorite trick of ours right now is “calling your doggy,” where you put your hand up to your mouth as if to whistle and then make a whistling noise.

You’ve grown far too big to carry everywhere, you are becoming more toddler than baby, but you easily fall nestled into my arms and with your head on my shoulder as if you were still a newborn whenever I pick you up.  Two years have flown by like a bad cliche’, but we cherish every moment with you both big and small.

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Love Me, Love My Van

Like many moms, I always thought, “it could never happen to me.”

I am youngish, hip, fun.  Besides, my mom drives a mini van, and I am oodles cooler than her.

Baby one fit just fine in the back of my SUV, and when baby two came along they had plenty of legroom in the back of my truck.  Enter baby three, and that sexy Dodge Ram seemed silly.  What kind of fool would I look like shot-putting the baby car seat into the back and then crawling through the front to strap in the middle little?  It was time to shop for something more (gulp) practical.

I thought (and still think) a full-size SUV would be perfect.  However, with a two- and four-year-old that still needed assistance getting buckled, the thought of having to crawl in and out of a backseat to help them, (coupled with the fact that 99% of the time I am sweaty and stressed before we get in the car) made an SUV less than appealing.

Next, I considered budget.  I am pretty cheap thrifty when it comes to most things, which is why on any given day you see me dressed in head-to-toe Target.  Even a bare-bones SUV was still a couple hundred more a month than a mini-van lease, and min-van manufacturers know how to turn the heads of the most dedicated “cool” moms.  How could you turn down this deal when leather and a DVD player come standard?  What kind of mother would I be if I denied my children their fundamental right to in-car entertainment?  Did I mention that it comes with headphones, so my kids can watch Frozen 1000 times and I can listen to the radio?  And the cupholders.  MY GOD THE CUPHOLDERS.  There has to be space for 12 drinks in that thing.  And a backup camera, which I can’t imagine living without.  And the doors open at the push of a button.

So that’s it.  For now, and the immediate future, I’m a mini-van mama.  Go ahead and judge, I have enough friends; six of whom I can seat comfortably with luggage and up to two drinks per person.

Do you love your van?

Mom party.
Mom party.

Halfway Parenting

I am tired of halfway parenting.

I don’t mean parents who are not involved at all, or “un-parents” (see also “couch mama“). Those people are on a whole different level.

I mean parents who take their kids places or sign them up for things and then stop parenting as soon as they walk in the door.

For example, Matthew had floor hockey Saturday morning, a wonderful and inexpensive program put on by Goal Sports. It is a nice excuse to get out of the house and give the kids exposure to different sports, the idea of teamwork, commitment, etc. the games take place at a roller rink, which is divided into 3 floor hockey rinks.

We got there about 15 minutes before it started so we could grab a booth to sit in and watch, mostly so I could pin Zane the wanderer (see Brilliant or Lazy?) up against the wall and actually watch the game. This, of course, backfired because he was antsy by the time the kids finished practicing (they practice 1/2 hour and then play a game for 1/2 hour) and so Matt and I took turns holding him while Matthew was playing, and then letting him run around with his sister and I when Matthew was not.

There is an abundance of people there and most were very attentive to their offspring, but here are a couple of things I noticed as I walked Zane.

1. One of the kids from the 3 and 4 year old team running around and playing across every “rink” while his coach had the rest of the team huddled up for instruction. Look, if you are in the program to help your kid get some structure and you are letting him run around like an animal instead of encouraging him to join his team, you are a halfway parent.

2. One kid climbing all over the walls next to the “please don’t climb” sign. If your kid can’t read, the sign is for you to translate for them, halfway parent.

3. Three kids sitting on top of the Skee-ball machines, which is obviously not what they are there for. If your kid does not know about respecting property and the intended use of things, maybe you shouldn’t let them out of your sight, halfway parent.

4. A baby that was barely crawling continuously licking the disgusting carpet while being babysat by her (maybe) three year old brother, no adult in sight. Hope you enjoy explaining to your doctor how your baby was infected with Dysentary, halfway parent.

Almost everywhere I go I continuously bite my tongue. A problem that comes with being a teacher is that I correct behavior all day every day without a second thought, but when I am out in public I feel like I shouldn’t do it because I have no relationship with these kids (and they might have crazy parents nearby). I am beginning think that’s wrong.

In the parents’ defense, perhaps I just happened upon a moment of weakness and the parent was in the bathroom or taking an emergency phone call or just having a quick ciggy in the parking lot (kidding).

We need to stop worrying about the repercussions of correcting the behavior of children that aren’t ours, because sometimes parents might not drop the ball on purpose. Kids need to learn right from wrong, no matter WHAT adult is helping them. We should worry more about kids that are never getting corrected, because if they mess up, it isn’t their problem, it’s all of ours.

If you see one of my kids messing up and I’m not around, help me out. I promise to do the same. In the mean time, do you have an “unparent” story?

Why I Don’t Watch Television

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When someone talks about current television shows, I imagine they probably think I’m some kind of freak when I let them know that I don’t watch television. The truth is, I CAN’T watch television.

Tonight, for example, Ryann and Matt went to the Daddy Daughter Date Night, leaving me alone with the boys. I have been pecking away at watching the first season of Parenthood on Netflix (5 years after it started) so I figured I could knock an episode out before bath time. Here is a clean version of how the first 10 minutes went for me.

1:12 Tell Matthew to move out of the way of the television.

1:30 Matthew asks if he can drink the rest of my water bottle. I agree. He proceeds to start shaking it up and down right next to my ear. I ignore him and turn up the volume.

1:59 Zane, now aware that there is a water bottle making fun noises and said water bottle is not in his possession, begins to chase Matthew and scream.

2:15 I ask them again to quiet down and turn the volume up again.

2:40 Matthew continues to taunt Zane and Zane chases him around the couch. I tell Matthew to give Zane the water. He complies, Zane climbs up on the couch and begins shaking the bottle and crackling it near my ear. I grab the water bottle and throw it away.

3:10 Zane is mad because Matthew is sitting closer to me. Matthew teases him by laying across me. I move to the other side of the couch.

3:43 Zane begins to wrestle with Matthew on the couch. Since they are actually quieter now that they are wrestling, I let it slide.

4:55 Since their behavior has not needed correcting in a full minute, they decide to step it up a notch. Matthew starts by sitting on the arm of the couch and then falling backwards onto a pillow he has set up. I ignore him.

5:41 Matthew is apparently sick of being the only one risking his life so he somehow convinces Zane to lay down with his feet by the arm of the couch so that as Matthew flips off backwards he can pull Zane down with him by his ankles.

6:15 I recognize that I am the only one that can stop this from happening so I yell at them to stop.

6:30 They start to wrestle on the floor by my feet. I tell them again to stop, and emphasize my point by throwing every pillow within arms reach at them.

6:42 I tell Matthew if he can’t stop messing with Zane, then maybe he should go upstairs. He goes upstairs. (This is suspicious, but whatevs-Zane will sit quietly with me).

7:33 Matthew begins to make a whistling noise at the top of the stairs like some mini Pied Piper and Zane starts to head towards the stairs. I ignore him.

8:03 I can hear the boys wrestling upstairs so I run up and grab Zane to avoid having him thrown down the stairs.

8:40 Zane heads back for the stairs. I grab him and put him back next to me on the couch.

8:50 Zane heads back for the stairs. I grab him and put him back next to me on the couch.

9:00 Zane heads back for the stairs. I grab him and put him back next to me on the couch.

Since I have missed about seven out of nine minutes of the program, I turn it off and put on Disney Junior. Like magic, Zane settles in next to me and Matthew comes down, apologizes, and snuggles in on the other side.

All television watching did for me was give me a sore throat and a headache and a messier living room, which is why my main source of relaxation is reading or sleeping, which is what I should be doing now…

How do you get your T.V. fix?

Brilliant or Lazy?

I am an anti-crowd mom. I rarely take my kids anywhere if we can’t get there right when the place opens. I can’t decide if this is because I’m too impatient to wait in lines or because I like to know where my kids are in strange places and the more people there are, the harder that becomes.

While I need to be aware of my kids’ whereabouts, I hate hovering over them. For example, when Ryann was almost 2, I tied a balloon to the back of her jeans so that I could eyeball her location at a big hall party without actually following her around like a horse poop shoveler at a parade.

There is an age, for my littles anyway, that kids want to wander and don’t want to listen. Zane will be 2 in March and has hit that age. You would think that I would keep that in mind and would never leave home without a stroller to strap him in. You would be wrong.

The Rotary Club sponsored a “Turn Off The Violence” fun fair that was free for kids this past weekend. Matt and Ryann had plans so I thought it would be fun to take the boys for a bit so they could get tired out their faces painted and balloons twisted.

It was an excellent event and they really enjoyed it. I, of course, spent the majority of the time trying to talk Zane into staying with us by chasing him down and yelling his name (my voice was drowned out by the clown’s microphone) while carrying their ninja turtle balloon animals, a huge beach ball, and their swag bag.

When I finally caved in and grabbed the little jerk guy a hot dog, we sat peacefully for almost 7 minutes watching the magic show. Then he was off again. Luckily, Matthew can recognize my letsgetthehellouttahere face so we grabbed our things and left. Zane was asleep before we pulled out of the parking lot, and I decided that for the immediate future, when going anywhere with a crowd, we should always stop and grab a balloon on the way.

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Here I Go Again…

So I’ve taken a few years hiatus from writing anything but notes to my nana and grocery lists.

After baby #3 I went from being a part-of-the-time writer to a full-time wiper.

I’ve come to realize that it is very ironic to be a writing teacher that doesn’t write.

I am starting to blog again as a way to take some time for myself and to have my stories preserved through something other than my Timehop app.

I am a loving, sarcastic, laid-back, middle-of-the-road mama and would describe myself as the same kind of wife.

I love to read.  I want to become a better writer.  I also like the idea of having something the kids can look at when I’m deep in the throes of dementia.

A friend suggested wordpress as my new blog platform, so here I am!  My old blogs can be found at http://www.downrivermom1.blogspot.com along with some writing on the Trenton/Grosse Ile Patch website.