Posted by: Modern Mom | February 11, 2014

Reclaiming Valentine’s Day

lobsterI have young kids, so naturally I always feel the pressure to put all the focus on them. Pinterest and the blogosphere are my worst enemies, not to mention all the other perfect moms who read those things. All these glorified ideas of the brilliant things other adoring moms have cooked up to spoil their children and lavish them with love and affection on Valentine’s Day and make the rest of us normal moms look bad. I admit, occasionally I have a pinterest-worthy moment. Occasionally.

The trend to focus all of our attention on our children on Valentine’s Day as well, has me baffled. I have always seen the holiday as a day reserved for lovers. I try to remind my children every day that I love them. I don’t always say that to my husband, however. And isn’t it vital as a couple that we devote time to each other to show that we love each other? I think so. Marriage saving, in fact. When we start focusing all our time, energy, attention, and love on our children alone, we are missing a major part of the puzzle.

Know what my kids got for Valentine’s Day last year? Nothing. No really, nothing. They got a hug and kiss and an, “I love you.” I may have made them a special request for breakfast. But I didn’t do pink, heart-shaped pancakes with red sprinkles and whip cream hearts or anything like that. Why? Mostly because I forgot. Really. I was so focused on what my hubby and I were doing that I literally forgot to do something equally as special for my kids. I know, bad mommy.

You know what? They lived. And they know they are loved. Every day.

I think we parents should reclaim our Valentine’s Day! It’s simply a reminder of why we made these little people in the first place. Take us back to many moons ago when we first fell in love and were all mushy gushy and gross. It’s important to reconnect on a regular basis. Preferably more than once a year, but I’ll take what I can get.

So, the reason I was so caught up in my own V-day plans last year was because I know exactly what to expect, and I love it. Look forward to it for months, even. It’s nothing astronomical. It’s simply a home cooked meal and some time devoted to each other. It started years ago, before kids.

The first Valentine’s Day my man and I spent together, we tried to do the swanky restaurant in the big city. It was an epic fail. Terrible traffic. Horrendous parking. Crowded, noisy restaurants with bad service because they were completely slammed. We drove home in stunned silence and vowed never to do it again. And we didn’t.

The next year, and every year since, we have spent at home. My man cooks a fantastic steak and lobster dinner, with my favorite veggies as sides. We open a really good bottle of wine, or two. Then, we put on Frank Sinatra and dance. It’s terribly romantic for two people who are generally not romantics. It’s a tradition I have come to cherish and look forward to every year. We even chose a Frank Sinatra song as our wedding song. (all together now…. *awww*)

What will you do this year to reclaim the romance?

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Posted by: Modern Mom | February 5, 2014

Getting Old?

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I just celebrated a birthday, so maybe I’m feeling my age a bit, but this conversation with my three-year-old didn’t help.

I was kneeling on the floor looking at our fish tank, noticing that it’s about time to clean the darn thing, when my three-year-old sweet boy comes up and gives me a very tender hug. “Wow,” I say, “what a nice hug.” He sighs. Then it goes drastically wrong;

Him: Yeah, I’m sad.

Me: You’re sad? Why? (“Oh no,” I think. “My poor boy. What could possibly make him so sad?”)

Him: Because you’re getting so old.

*cough, sputter…. excuse me?!? Old?!? Who are you calling old, you whipper-snapper?*

Me: What?!? I’m not old. (obviously I’m still in denial. I plan to be there for a long long time.)

Him: Yes you are. We’ve had you around for a really long time, and now you’re really old.

I could hardly contain myself. The insult. The hilarity. He actually thinks that my age *ahem* 29 (ish) is old. Remember the days when you thought 30 was old? Ancient, in fact? You couldn’t imagine life beyond your parents’ age? Yeah. I remember. So I’m not that old. Because I can still remember. So there.

What was I saying?

Posted by: Modern Mom | January 9, 2014

The Sloth and the Hummingbird

No, this is not the title of an Aesop’s Fable. It’s the animal personalities I have chosen to represent my children. Now, before you judge and say something like, “OMG she’s comparing her children to animals! What kind of mother does that?” This one. They are animals. Come to my house at dinner time some day. You’ll see. Animals.

My firstborn, bless him, is the hummingbird. He’s like me. Flighty, quick-moving, easily distracted, cant’ sit in one place too long or he’ll die. That happens to hummingbirds, right? He’s all over the place. Anyway… He drives me crazy. Probably because he’s like me. Funny how that works.

He talks constantly. I mean, constantly. Nobody else can get a word in. It’s all this energy he has. He just buzzes with it. Sometimes it’s really cute and endearing and other times it’s simply exhausting just keeping up. I suppose my issue with the talking is that I used to do all the talking and now I hardly get to say two words. Hm. I’m guessing that’s why I blog. *wink*

The energy comes out in other ways, too. Sometimes he just can’t contain the crazy anymore and just busts out some crazy, spastic dance moves at random. Often accompanied by bursts of extremely loud noise or singing. That’s hilarious… most of the time. Not like, in the bank line. I’m pretty sure the old lady at the teller’s counter hates us. She doesn’t even give us stickers anymore. She probably sees us coming and thinks, “Oh no, it’s that mom.” Yep.

Not all aspects drive me crazy, though. If I say it’s time to go, he’s busily putting his shoes and coat on and out the door. Atta kid. I love that. And when he decides he’s motivated enough to be helpful, he’s extremely helpful. Sometimes I run out of things for him to help with. Pretty sweet. But once he’s lost interest, he flits off to something else and good luck getting him back. Oh well. I’ll take what I can get.

Then there’s my sloth. Ah, sweet boy. I think he thinks the meaning of “hurry up” is, take your time, get there eventually, smell the roses on the way. He is the reason we are ever late. Me and the hummingbird are always ready on time. This one, he’s more like his daddy. They both drive me nuts.

When I say it’s time to go, my little sloth finds something interesting to do that has nothing to do with getting ready to go. The words trigger something in his brain that slows his movements to the point of appearing to be in a slow motion film. (My other son is time-lapse, in case you were wondering. But now I’m mixing metaphors.) He slips into energy-saving mode and moves like, well, a sloth.

My sloth strolls when we go for walks. Who is this kid? He’s three. He acts like he’s 73 sometimes.  My hummingbird sprints. I, being as old and tired as I am, no longer sprint. I’m somewhere closer to a stroll. Maybe an amble.

He is exceptionally slow at getting ready for bed. I think this may be by design. I can’t prove that, however. He insists that I help him get ready. (Seriously, this has to stop. He’s 3 and a half.) And, even though I’m helping him, it still seems to take an exorbitant amount of time. He finds little distractions. He pushes his arm ever-so-slowly into his sleeve. He’s quite uncooperative, actually. And, not being a slow-paced person myself, it’s frustrating. My husband, also of the sloth variety, handles this much better than I do.

He has taught me how to slow down, though, and that I’m very thankful for. He takes time to stop and smell the roses. He’s my snuggler where my oldest can’t be bothered to take the time. So, between the two of these extremes, I have to find an appropriate balance. I think God did that for a reason. I needed to have both of them to teach me things about myself (hummingbird) and learn how to take it easy and slow down so I don’t just speed by everything in my rush for the finish.

 

Posted by: Modern Mom | September 5, 2013

Epic Tantrum

Before I had kids I did a lot of judging. Especially when I saw moms in the store with screaming children, just ignoring them and going about their business while the rest of us shoppers were subjected to the shrieks of an angry child. Or the mother who was busy negotiating with an irrational toddler over candy. “Get that kid under control,” I used to think. “Bad parenting,” I would guess.

That’s before I had experience with such things. Now I know that the real reason that mom is ignoring her banshee of a child is that, underneath that cool exterior, she is simply trying to maintain some decorum and soldier on with the task at hand.

So, the other day, I had both boys in Target. That was my first mistake. Both boys. What is it about taking multiple children somewhere that just seems to multiply the problems exponentially? Anyway, they were acting like maniacs and I had warped into “that mom”. You know the one. The one you used to judge before you became a card carrying member of the kids club. I had issued my last warning to stop running through the clothing racks (and you know I mean through them, as in underneath, through the middle, around, tearing clothing off, etc). So I scooped up my 3 year old to put him in the cart seat.

Then things escalated. In an instant he went from obnoxious clothing wrecker to screaming-bloody-murder, banshee-of-the-north, red-faced ball of kicking arms and legs. I struggled through gritted teeth to get him into the cart seat. Have you ever tried to force a cat into a box? It was kind of like that. Only harder. It took me probably three minutes of struggle just to get his legs through the holes. And I knew, with the way he was thrashing and kicking that he would have to be buckled in so that he didn’t pitch overboard. That sent him to an even higher level of crazy.

By this time, we are both red-faced, and concerned citizens are starting to slowly push their carts over to investigate and make sure I’m not trying to murder my child. Though I’m not sure if they would have dared interfere if I was. I finally secured his buckle, and with a sigh of relief, continued on my way. I was busy thanking the Lord that I had completed most of my important shopping

ASIDE: “Important shopping” is the list of things you simply must accomplish, regardless of the circumstances, before you can return home. Anything else you can consider gravy when you have kids with you. Gravy is a good day.

So I pushed my cart full of crazy to the check stand. He still had not stopped screaming. “I WANT OOOOUUT!!!!!” Do you ever talk to your child simply to help explain to onlookers what is going on? I do. So I told him, for the hundredth time, in my calm mom voice, “you cannot get out until you stop throwing a fit.” There. Surely they would understand now. Probably give me a Mom of the Year award for keeping my cool.

Why is it that when you have a screaming child in line, something goes terribly awry with the persons order in front of you? So, there I was, stuck in line, with my cart unloaded, and a screaming child while we waited for manager assistance for the person in front of me. If I had been the person in line in front of me, I would have given up on the 50 cent coupon instead of listening to someone else’s screaming kid while I waited for a manager. Just me?

He screamed all the way to the car. I’m pretty sure he never took a breath. I called it a day after that. Pretty sure I won’t be going back to that Target for a while. At least until the employee turnover has brought in new people who don’t recognize me.

Posted by: Modern Mom | August 6, 2013

Took my family circus to the zoo…

The boys are wild. Animals, in fact. So why not take them to the zoo?

I haven’t been to the zoo in two years. Why? Because the last time I was there, I was by myself with the two of them. Wy was 3, and the baby was 1. I made the mistake of taking a single stroller so I had no containment for the 3 year old. At one point I lost him. It was terrifying. I had taken the toddler out to stretch his legs and turned around and my oldest was gone. Nowhere to be seen. It took me and another helpful mom 5 whole minutes to discover where he’d run off to. Five minutes! (if you don’t have kids, you don’t know how long 5 minutes is) I swore I wouldn’t return until they were about thirty.

They are now 3 and 5, so I’m a long way from thirty, but I had help today. My friend, her husband, and her mother, along with their 2 year old, all headed out early this morning.

We did the zoo on “kid speed”. My oldest has the attention span of a gnat, and acts like he’s on a scavenger hunt simply checking things off his list. Ten seconds at each animal is about all we got. If someone had paid me a nickel for each time I had to yell “Slow Down!”, it would have paid for our admission. That would have been sweet. This is how I saw most of the zoo…

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Of course, all of that running makes them hungry. Good thing I left the house this morning with; two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, two fruit snacks, two fruit leathers, two bags of dried apples, two granola bars and 64 ounces of water. I came home with a much lighter backpack.

Here are a few of the animals I was able to quickly snap before we had to sprint to the next enclosure.

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A good morning. And I’m actually considering getting another family membership. Though, next time, I will have to remember my leash.

Posted by: Modern Mom | May 20, 2013

Camp Elkins

After hosting two back-to-back birthday parties for my boys last year, I decided I’d take it easier on myself this year and do one combination party. They agreed on a camping theme. That sounded like fun to me, so I got started. I designed the invitations myself so that I could use the elements in other party things like the favors. I like continuity, but I don’t do the licensed character parties with printed plates and such.

The weather was not good to us, but hey, who hasn’t camped in the rain? Especially in the Pacific Northwest. So, we soldiered on and the kids had a blast regardless of the weather. They played on the new play structure. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores over the camp fire. That was possibly everyone’s favorite part. We did have to skip the cute little tents in the yard, though. Darn.

Here are some of the details from the party. I didn’t get many actual party pics because it was raining, and I was busy with s’more making.

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These “hobo packs” were the party favors.

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Campfire cupcakes and chocolate kiss “acorns”. Tasty.

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What was inside the hobo packs; gummy bears, s’mores mix, compass, frog, and bandana.

 

Posted by: Modern Mom | May 5, 2013

Our Play Structure Project

This year we decided to get a play structure for the kids. I found a really cool one. The kind of thing I would have traded my Halloween Candy for my entire childhood. So I convinced Modern Man that we needed to buy the kit so he could build it. It took some convincing, but I’m persuasive.

I had no idea how much work would be involved in this thing.  First, Modern Man had to cut down a tree to make space in the area we wanted to put the structure. He didn’t need much convincing to do that. Every guy likes to use power tools. Every guy likes to cut down trees. Am I right?

Then there was a stump to contend with. So, again with the power equipment. He got a stump grinder. He let Modern Boy run it. It was cool.

Then he brought in the heavy artillery. The ground had to be leveled. It required a tractor. (insert manly grunt here.) Dirt was moved and removed. Now we had a big mud pit. The boys were thrilled. We probably could have left it at that, but I might have gotten tired of the constant mud tracked into my house. Might have.

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Then the building began. It took 2-3 men about 2 full days. With supervision from the Junior Foremen, of course. And many choice words from the construction crew. I even helped a little. It has a 2-story play house with balcony, steering wheel, telescope, rock climbing wall, slide, chalkboard, picnic table with tic-tac-toe, hanging rings, and yes… even swings.

It took 5 weeks in total to complete the whole project. A timeline I hadn’t really anticipated. But I also didn’t anticipate the enormity of the scope of work. It is now complete and being enjoyed. Modern Man rocks. And so do Grandpa and Scott. That’s all I have to say.

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Posted by: Modern Mom | April 30, 2013

The Park Predicament

I’m the horrible mom who doesn’t like to take her kids to the park. That’s right. I said it.

Here’s my problem. Municipalities spend many thousands of dollars on these amazing play structures with cool slides and climbing things that I would have given a childhood worth of Halloween candy for as a kid. So I bring my kids to visit these magnificent structures so that they can play and expand their minds and expend some energy. This is my goal in everything I do with my kids; expend their energy.

What really happens is that these municipalities, in their poor judgement, have installed swings. I hate swings. I used to love them. Now, when we come to these beautiful parks with these huge play structures there are always swings. My boys might go down a slide or two but then all they want to do is sit on a swing a be pushed. Thus, they sit and I expend my energy. This is not the plan.

“Push me higher!” they say. “Run under me!” they say. All I want to do is sit in the sunshine and watch my kids run like idiots until they practically pass out. That is my sole goal and intention, and my ultimate fantasy when it comes to park-going.

Yesterday my 4-year-old literally begged me to take them to the park. It was a glorious day. I was in a good mood. I took them to a park. What did they do? Nothing. My oldest sat on the grass under a tree. We have grass and trees at home, I said. Go play, I said. Nothing. My youngest wanted to be pushed in the swing. I’d want to be pushed in a swing, too, if all I had to do was sit there and enjoy the ride. This was not the plan.

Soon there will be a play structure in our yard. I’m thinking about leaving the swings off entirely. “Oops. I guess the swings weren’t in the box. Darn.”

Someday I’ll put the swings on. When they can learn to pump on their own.

Am I the only one in this camp? Tell me there are other moms who choose the parks without the swings. Are there such magical places? Do tell.

Posted by: Modern Mom | April 23, 2013

Life is Tough. And then You Die.

We pass a small cemetery on the way to and from my son’s preschool. Yesterday, when we went home there was a funeral service. The boys asked me what was going on. Probably thinking it was a party or something a lot more fun. I explained that it was a funeral, that someone had died, and that people were remembering them and paying their respects before they were buried.

I thought I’d be hit with tough questions like, “what happens when someone dies?” and “will you die someday?” But what I got hit with was “How do people die?” This lead into a big discussion which I turned in my favor, using it to outline some of the things they shouldn’t do. Like play in the street. Or climb high things. Or ride motorcycles. Or leave the house.

Anyway… I was proud of my ability to think on my feet and turn it into a reinforcement discussion.

Fast forward 4 hours. My 4-year-old is complaining about some horrible injustice placed upon him by his mother – the oppressor. To which my reply was, “Life is tough.”

Without missing a beat, in walks my 2-year-old with the follow up, “And then you might die. And someone would put you in a box in the ground. Dead.”

Consequently, one of the older fish in the tank died last night. Crap. I hate foreshadowing. At least we had tackled the subject somewhat. And he didn’t get to go in the ground. He went where all the other fish in this house before him have gone. In the toilet. Amen.

Posted by: Modern Mom | March 12, 2013

How to get a Job

My oldest son and I have been talking about jobs lately. Mostly because of my mother getting a new job. She moved out to Oregon to be with us all about a year ago.  Last week she got a job at a great company and I was telling the kids about it. This is how the conversation went;

Me: I have great news. Nana got a new job!

Wy (4.5 years): Wow! That is so exciting. I’m so buh-pressed (translation: IMpressed) that an old lady like her could get a job!

Insert fits of laughter here. I had a hard time continuing the conversation.

There have been a lot of follow up conversations about jobs since. They weren’t as funny. Well, today as we rode in the car he asked me how to get a job. I explained that’s it’s a long and arduous process sometimes. It’s based on qualifications and schooling.

Daddy, I explained, had gone to several years of college after regular school to get what’s called a degree as an engineer. Then he had to get a job working as an engineer to gain experience. Then he got another job and another. (You get the drift) When he had acquired enough skills he was able to get the job he has now.

Wy: What kind of skills?

Me: Well, like designing machines, building machines, fixing machines….

Wy: And making paper airplanes! Daddy has skills making paper airplanes. I bet that’s how he got his job.

Me: Yep. I’m sure that’s what did it.

He has decided he’s going to make pizza to gain some skills. I told him that might be a good place to start. I also told him not to rush it. He’ll have plenty of time to work when he’s older. All in good time.

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