Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let Me Inspire You With My Failures and Idiocy

After reviewing some of my blog posts, I realize that some of them sound pretty sanctimonious.  It can seem like I have everything under control.  Oh dear readers, you should know the truth. 

Sometimes I forget that most of you don't know me in real life.  You aren't privy to all my screw ups.  I think I try to erase most of them from my mind, unless they make for a particularly good story on my monthly Mom's Night Out. 

The problem with sharing only the things I am confident about or I do well is that this little blog baby of mine could turn into so many other Mommy Blogs - filled with an unrealistic view of how everyone else's life is running smoothly.  It involves a fake world where kitchen floors always sparkle, kids never talk back, and mothers are supermodels who never lose their temper.  Sharing only the Hallmark moments and parental triumphs is not helpful.

One of the main reasons I started this blog is to encourage other families out there.  Presenting a Martha Stewart/Supernanny lovechild facade is not going to make people feel better about their lives - it will just leave people feeling either insecure or annoyed.  Neither is the response I ever intended.

Every parent has what I call "Barely Adequate Parenting" days.  I've had a gazillion.

So, for your reading pleasure, I am sharing a list (in no particular order of mortification) of many of my bloopers, bad habits and inadequacies.  Welcome to my real life:

Sometimes you've just got to wear a mullet.  Yes.  Unfortunately that is me.

 *  My oldest child has very few good baby pictures because we didn't have a digital camera then and I am apparently a horrible photographer.

*  I finally got around to ironing last week.  The overflowing ironing basket was like an archeological dig with long sleeved shirts on top and a mound of Hawaiian shirts in a crumpled heap at the bottom.  How long has it been since Hawaiian shirt weather?  The sheer number of tropical print shirts that we have per capita in our family is reason enough for embarrassment.

*  I have passed gas and blamed it on one of my children. 
*  I have called Santa to tattle on my kids' bad behavior.  I relayed Santa's disappointment to a crying child.

*  One of my children used to say he felt like throwing up whenever I had a chore for him.  Once when I told him he needed to put his school things away he used this excuse.  I told him, "Go ahead and put your stuff away and then throw up."  Poor kid actually put his stuff away and then threw up.  How was I to know that he really meant it that time?

*  You know those bars that hang down in parking ramps showing how tall your vehicle can be to drive in?  Yeah.  Forgot about the cargo topper on the truck and totally ripped the thing to pieces.  Then got stuck in the parking ramp.
*  I have forgotten about picture day at school.  More than one year.

*  I have closed the windows in my house before yelling at my kids.  No, I don't advocate yelling.  No, it is not the most effective parenting method.  Yes, I have lost it with the kids, requiring the closing of windows.

*  Of course I dig into their Halloween candy.  I don't know if they have ever eaten their own hard-earned Milk Duds.

*  That garage door that I thought was all the way up?  Well I guess it wasn't.  Fortunately the garage door only scraped the truck high enough to take out or windshield washer fluid dispenser thing for the back window.

*  When I am sick, I have let my children watch PBS Kids and eat snacks all day.

*  I only dust when company is coming over.  Even then its iffy.

*  In a moment of before-bedtime desperation, I took away my child's "Tooth brushing privileges" that night.  It was late and I couldn't think of anything else I had the energy to enforce.  I was then lectured by a young child about the importance of good oral hygiene.  I stood my ground.

*  I have accidentally given my children some really horrific haircuts, but not told them how bad it looks so they are blissfully unaware of how Mommy messed up their heads. 

*  "I'm not exactly sure where that large, messy art project is."  But I am guessing it is somewhere in the garbage.

*  I don't teach my children to tell time.  I wait (and dread) the time they learn it in school.  Before they can tell time, bedtime and wake-up time is whenever I tell them it is.  If it happens to be 30 minutes earlier on a bad day they don't argue.  If I get them up an hour later on the weekends, they don't know.

*  I never share good chocolate with my kids.

*  When doctors have discussed discharging me from the hospital after my babies are born, I always beg for that one extra optional day that insurance covers because facing a houseful of kids after a C-section seems more daunting than having my vital signs checked every 10 minutes at night.

*  I pay my children prison wages to do things like rake the yard, shovel the steps and weed the garden.

*  I have asked my young children to perform the "sniff test" to see if their baby brother or sister needs a clean diaper.  Sometimes I have asked them to double check.  When they are young enough they are very enthusiastic sniffers.  This makes me giggle.  Shame on me.

*  We haven't had a professional family portrait taken since Riley was a baby.

*  When picking out a family picture for the Christmas letter, it is impossible for everyone in the family to be looking good.  So I always choose the one where nobody has their finger up their nose or down their pants, and I look the good.

*  When cleaning before guests come, inevitably I run out of time and shove a bag or two of miscellaneous stuff in my bedroom. 

*  I don't usually take off my makeup at night.

 *  My kids think the Neil Diamond song "Sweet Caroline" is actually "Sweet Pal O' Mine".  They sound so cute I haven't corrected them. Some day they are going to figure it out and be really upset with me for not correcting them after all these years.

*  I don't actually listen to my kids when they go into great detail about some stupid cartoon or video game that I don't give two hoots about.

*  I have justified skipping bath night for the kids by saying "Pioneers like Laura Ingalls Wilder only had baths once a week and they lived on a farm."  Like the fact that they didn't have running water and bathed accordingly somehow translates to my life now.

*  I have forgotten a child in time out.

*  I actually discouraged a child who wanted to sit on the potty from potty training because I was big pregnant and assumed they would regress when the baby came out anyway.  But, when a kid is ready, they are ready and he basically potty trained himself with (I'm embarrassed to admit) minimal encouragement. 

*  Skip pages in the bedtime story?  Guilty.

*  I don't actually mind that my kids have trampled to death most of the grass in our yard because that means I rarely have to mow.

*  I anticipate and countdown to my half birthday.  I celebrate my half birthday with lots of singing from the kids.  I often forget their half-birthdays.  I have told them it is their responsibility to remember their own half birthdays.

*   Since about our fifth kid, we seem to be at least five minutes late for everything.

*  When my child informed me that the Tooth Fairy forgot to visit, I sneaked downstairs and was quickly able to procure a note from the Tooth Fairy explaining that all the screaming from the tooth pulling the previous night hurt her tiny ears so she had to leave the money on the kitchen table.

*  I kill every plant within five feet of me.

*  I have boycotted Candyland since my second child was young.

*  I am too irresponsible to be part of this no land line revolution.  My not-smart flip phone is usually lost, turned off, stuck in a random purse somewhere or has a dead battery.  I am surprised all of my friends haven't abandoned me with how many phone calls I have left un-returned.   I miss rotary phones.

*  With the amount of library fines I have paid over the years, I think they should name a wing after me.

*  When the toothbrushes were replaced, I clearly should have confirmed whose was whose.  I brushed Child A's teeth with Child B's toothbrush for a week.

Now don't you feel better about yourself?

Rememeber, nobody's life is as perfect as they portray on Facebook and their blogs.  Cut yourself some slack.  You are doing the best you can.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


 27 Times.

That is how many times I put Levi back in his bed.

It has been a while since I have had such a persistent two year old.  I will not call him stubborn.  Or obstinate.  Or defiant.  Or headstrong.  Persistent has a much nicer ring to it.

Our family has a rule that young children must stay in their beds until parents come to get them in the morning.  I cannot sleep well imagining my children wandering the house foraging for who-knows-what.  Getting into all kinds of mischief while I am unaware of the impending doom about to take place from unsupervised toddlers.

For example, one of my children, who was about four years old at the time, decided to sneak out of his room.  He grabbed a full container of baby powder from the bathroom and proceeded to squeeze that baby powder container, sending plumes of powder all over his room.  And all over the hallway.  And the living room.  And the kitchen.  And the cat.  Oh, that poor, poor cat.  By the time I woke up, the entire container of powder was empty.

It took hours to vacuum that white snowstorm of baby powder.

So, staying in bed till a parent gets you up is a pretty firm rule in our house.

But sweet Levi decided that the time has come for him to take charge of his own destiny and get out of bed whenever the fancy strikes.

27 times in a row.

Each time he came out, I would put him back in his bed.  Then I would leave and close the door.  I'd wait a good minute before I heard him shout "No!  No!  No!" and get out of bed again.  Then I'd put him back in.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

I tell you this story not because I have incredible counting skills to share.  Nor because I want all of you to insist on the same bedtime behavior that our family has.

But instead, I want to show you all that persistence is a good thing.  I mean my persistence, not the imp getting out of bed when he isn't suppose to.  Because what happened after the 27th time?  He stayed in bed.

And he stayed in bed the next night.  And the night after that.

When I hear parents say that they would like their children to do something, but they "just won't" I get a little frustrated.    If a rule is important enough to make (and not all are), it is important enough to enforce every time.  Do you insist that they buckle up in their car seat, or booster, or regular seat belt? (And I sure hope you do)  Why should your other rules be optional?

I also don't buy the argument that one child is exceptionally strong willed, so it won't work.   It might take more time and effort on the part of the parent, but it will work.  My children have a wide range of temperaments.  A couple have been accurately defined as "spirited".  But they can learn live life within a set of boundaries.  (This is assuming that the child has the cognitive abilities to understand what is asked of him or her and does not have a diagnosis that would prevent them from being able to follow rules.)

And this can be done without belittling children or hitting them.  What it takes is a willingness on the part of the parent to follow through every. single. time.  

I am not insinuating that children will never break rules or test boundaries.  I sure am one of these nights Levi will try coming out of his bed again.  But I'm also guessing that it won't take him 27 times to test that rule.  He knows I won't budge.

There is another good thing about persistence - your child's this time.  When it is channeled appropriately, it is a awesome gift.  Persistent people are the ones who can persevere through difficult situations and setbacks.   It is our job to teach our children how to apply this amazing characteristic.  And getting out of bed and powdering the kitty is not the way to do it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Here Kitty Kitty

Unfortunately, our 15 year old cat Floyd Bigglesworth is now buried in our backyard, right next to our other cats Xena the Warrior Cat and Yoda Bob.  (Shhh. I think there might be an ordinance against this in my city).

Much crying and sadness ensued.   And life progressed with just one cat.

But the kids and I felt like we really are a two cat kind of family.  Ben did not agree.  After much begging, whining, and pleading, enlightened discussions, we decided to get another cat.   We found the perfect kitty for us - a nearly 5 month old cat from the local Humane Society.

Meet the newest member of the family.  Isn't he adorable?

Hello sweet kitty

Whenever a person or pet joins a family, a name must be selected.  While we give the children absolutely no control over naming a sibling (for reasons that will become very apparent soon), we do let them provide suggestions for pets.

Here is a list of names suggested for our darling new kitty:

Coochie Woochie Bear
Mr. Noodle
Kitty Num Nums
Secret Agent Stinky Pants
Hello Kitty
Mr. Popaulie
Mr. Paulie
Chipmunk Cheeks
Josephine Jellybean (remember, its a boy cat)
Mr. Panda
Justin Beiber
Justin Flea-fur
Kai, Zane, Jay, Cole, Sensei Wu (going for a Ninjago theme)
Santa Claws
Kristin (Shockingly not suggested by me)
Mr. Mama (also not suggested by me)
Mr. Peabody
Cow Pie
Be Dude
Milky Way
Yellow Puppy (again, reminder that this is a cat.  A black and white cat)
Mr. Meowgi
Mr. Meowser
Mr. Magoo
Chuck Norris
Chuck Tucker
Chuck Finley (my personal favorite)
Darth Maul
Darth Vader
Fuzzy Wuzzy
Adrian Peterson (this Packer fan nixes this idea)
Brett Favre (this Packer fan again nixes it.  Why couldn't they have suggested Rogers instead?)
Hello Kitty
Mr. Alligator
Senor el Tigre

After much deliberation, we decided to compromise on the name (like we did with our other cat, Miss Ninja Snugglebug).  The final decision was:

Mr. Batman Popaulie

Welcome to the craziness, little kitty.