Sunday, June 19, 2011


So, on this the day where we celebrate Dad, I reflect on the things that my dad taught me.

1) Helping your daughter with Algebra is not an easy thing. Growing up, I did not necessarily think that my dad was super great with helping me with homework. Sometimes things got, well, tense. This year, though, I had the privelage of helping my daughter with her algebra. Within 5 minutes of "helping" her, I realized that my dad was, in fact, a saint. The fact that I made it through the Algebra sessions in tact prove that. I had to turn those duties over to Rob.

2) If you don't ask for what you want you have a 0% chance of getting it. If you ask for what you want, you have at least a 50% chance of getting it. Simply asking improves the odds greatly. I use this all of the time. Great, great advice. I'm sure my dad wouldn't mind if you felt free to borrow it too! :)

3) I have a tendancy to shoot my mouth off. I think I got that from my dad. I remember him telling me a story of when he got pulled over for speeding telling the cop that since he was speeding, he was obviously in a hurry, so could he please get on with it. Is it any wonder then, that I once got several detentions for telling a nun that a striped shirt was really a solid colored shirt. *Points at one stripe* "This is a solid color" *Points at 2nd stripe* "And this is a solid color". The good news is, my dad is getting better at holding his tongue. Like when I told him I was pregnant with Hayleigh...he just walked calmly out to the mailbox. See, there's hope for me yet!

4) Speaking of hope, my dad has taught me that it is never too late to get in shape. He didn't really begin running and being in shape until his 40s. So, when I lug my overweight body to the gym to work out and I say no to the food I really want, I think of my dad. If he can break the cycle in his 40s, so can I.

5) Life is short. Have fun. My dad is the kind of guy who runs a marathon for his 60th birthday, buys a Harley when he's 62 and buys my mom a BMW convertible....just because. He's the kind of guy that has fun dancing to Salsa music in the Dominican Republic or drinking a beer at the Hofbrau. He pretty much is the life of the party. Why would anyone want to spend this short life we have being miserable anyways?

That's just a few. There are many, many more. So, thanks for everything Dad! I lvoe you <3

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Parenting in the Gray Areas

Confession: Most of the time I feel like I am totally winging it.

This week what has me particularly confused is what is acceptable and what is unacceptable when it comes to middle school boys and girls interacting together. It's no surprise, given that I have 3 almost 14-year-olds in the house that this issue would come up. Although it's always come up. I have boys and girl that are the same age. ALL of their parties have had boys and girls. ALL of their outings have had boys and girls. And, mostly, I have to say that I view taking an interest in the opposite sex as a good thing. It is, if you look on developmental charts, an actual developmental milestone. Like walking, or saying two letter sentences, or learning to go potty on the potty (by the way, watch for my next post on potty regression...grrrr!) I wouldn't stop my kids from learning how to read when they were ready, so why on earth would I [try to] stop them from taking an interest in the opposite sex when they were ready. To be sure it is alot like giving a toddler a loaded gun, which is where the gray areas come in. How do I allow my kids the space to grow up but still keep a tight enough rein so they aren't put in situations where they won't be able to make good choices?

Take this weekend as a for instance:

On Friday, Jonathan and Trisha went to the movies with a mixed group of friends. On Sunday, Jonathan and Trisha went bowling with a mixed group that included their "boyfriend" and "girlfriend". To be honest, there was very little difference between the two outings. Both included rowdy boys and rowdy girls. Both included lots of hugging and flirting. Both included me creeping in the background (or the foreground...whatever...) If I put up video of the two nights and asked you to pick which one included the "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", I think you wouldn't be able to. So, how can I say it's OK to go out with friends but not OK to go out with a "boyfriend"? Either way I am creeping in the background (or the foreground...whatver...) And, to be frank, I feel much better about this sort of situation than I will about some loser who can't wait to get his hands on my daughter, picking her up in his car and driving away without me coming along! At least this gives me SOME opportunity to see how they handle themselves and some opportunity to provide feedback.

Here's what I have figured out on the topic:

1) It doesn't matter what my pastor, best friend, or mom does. No one has raised my kids and Rob and I have to make the decisions regarding what works best for them.

2) Acceptable: boys and girls coming over to my house and playing outside with constant adult supervision. Unacceptable: Boys and girls being up in a bedroom together with the door closed.

Pretty much I'm still trying to figure out everything else in between.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hollister ~ A Metaphor for Life

This past weekend I spent some time doing I something I tend to do often-shopping. And, it seems more often than not, whenever I go shopping I end up at Hollister.

If you've never been to Hollister, let me tell you about it. It's dark. And, by dark I mean that it is hard for me to read the size labels and the price tags. It smells overwhelmingly like cologne. And, by it smells, I mean I need to dose up on Zyrtec before I go in there. It has really, really loud music. And, by really, really loud music, I mean like what it sounds like in my car when Jessie's Girl comes on the radio. And, it has pictures of scantily clad men and women on the walls. And by pictures of scantily clad people, I mean...well, I bet you know what I mean.

The first time I went to Hollister, I swear I had never felt so old in my life. In fact, I'm pretty sure that those things are probably well researched tactics to get moms to spend money. I don't really care what Trisha picks out. And, If I could see the price tags, I wouldn't really care what things cost, just get me out of this loud, stinky place. I thought no place could be worse than Hollister. Then, I went to The Children's Place.

Suddenly Hollister wasn't so bad.

I mean at Hollister, the loud music drowns out any whiny children that might be there. At Hollister, there are chairs you can sit in while the people you are with shop. At Hollister, no one asks me if I want to give my email for coupons, my phone number for mailings. No one asks me if I want to open a credit card or take a survey. They just ring up my stuff and let me pay and leave.

And, isn't that kinda just like life.

Sometimes it's smelly. Sometimes it's loud. Sometimes it's dark. And if I focus on that, life doesn't seem like a great place. But, if I focus on the good things about life, it makes it seem a whole lot better.

Ah...gee, thanks, Hollister!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Things I learned from Mom

I think there are phases in a mother-daughter relationship. Right? I mean when you're little, your mom is your everything. And, then you get a little older, like maybe 13 or 14, and your mom magically become some sort of idiot with whom you have to endure. Then you become a young adult and you start to sort of pick at everything she did and imagine how you are going to do everything different.

Finally, one day, you become a mom yourself and you realize just what it is exactly that your mom did for you, how much she loves you and you finally understand the sacrifices she made. So, today, I have a list of things I learned from my mom. Of course, this is in no way an exhaustive list...just what I am thinking of today.

1. Linda will cringe, but I learned it's important to be involved in your children's lives. My mom was picture lady, PTA president, girl scout leader, team mom, and party organizer for us.

2. A glass of wine after a long day can really be a lovely way to have a more relaxed evening :)

3. Spend money on things that allow you to have fun with the people you love. Whether it's the extra room in the condo every year in Florida so people can visit, or buying a house with a big enough back yard so that every one in the family can play, she never skimps when it comes to having fun with loved ones.

4. A woman can be a great mom whether she stays home full time or whether she works outside the home. My mom did both throughout the course of my life. It taught me that either choice is good. It also taught me that it's OK to want and need stimulation from a job outside of the home.

5. The value of a person is not in how they look, but in who they are. As a girl who has struggled with her weight, my mom has had to tell me over and over and over again that beauty is not what you look like, it's who you are. I needed that reminder again just a few months ago. I guess I still need my mom :)

6. If someone in your family needs you, then you are there. No questions asked. There has never been a time that I needed my mom and she wasn't there. When I was getting married and was about to walk down the aisle, she was the first who stood up. When the triplets were born, I came out of post-op and she was the first face I saw. When Jaden had multiple, unplanned surgeries, she's been there. I don't think she's missed a single funeral or graduation party or wedding of anyone in our large extended family. Being a part of a family means being there. Period.

There are many, many more of course. This is just a few.

So, mom, I hope Dad and T'Rone spoil you deserve it. Thanks the blood, sweat and tears you've invested into my life. I love you!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Did you just say stupid? Oh no you didn't!

Hayleigh said the word "stupid" yesterday. It's true. She has older siblings. You know those kids with the "older siblings" ~ always way ahead of their time! I have to admit though, I am a little confused on how to react.

With the older kids, there was NO saying stupid. There was no saying shut up. One of the kids dropped an I-bomb (idiot) once and was chewing on a bar of soap faster than you could say, "Holy Overreaction, Batman!" Those, my friends, were very, very bad words.

Then they went to school.

I think we were about oh, 3 days into Kindergarten before someone called Trisha stupid. She was shocked that such foul language was allowed in this institution of learning and she was shocked that someone would direct that sort of foul language at her. And, she was shocked that no one in charge really seemed to care. To this day, Trisha does not like that girl. When I ask her why she doesn't hang out with her, Trisha will say, "remember, she called my stupid in Kindergarten." Never mind she's been called much worse by people she still hangs around. That's HOW shocking it was!

Then there was what we will refer to as "The Middle Finger Incident".

Another student told Trisha and Jonathan that they could not stick up their middle finger. Not knowing there was anything wrong with that and thinking this was purely a challenge of physical aptitude, Trisha and Jonathan gave this student ye ole double bird and said with pride, "See! Yes we can!". Just when they were marvelling at their feat of physical aptitude, just when they were thinking they were magical...maybe even biwinning...the bus driver looked up to see why everyone was gasping. And, well, I am sure you can imagine the rest of the story.

All this to say sometimes I wonder if I adequately prepared my children for the world. I wonder if teaching them not to use foul language, to be kind, to let others be first, to not promote yourself, to not tear others down...I wonder sometimes if that put them at a disadvantage. The world is a cruel game. School is, often times, a cruel game. How do I teach my children to be both a kind, caring, moral person, and still make sure they have enough chutzpah to survive? Maybe saying something is stupid isn't the end of the world.

Of course, maybe it is. What do I know? I am just the I**** mom who is STILL trying to figure it all out!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How on Earth did I, er I mean Jaden get a D?

For those of you who were not aware, this past school year I have been homeschooling Jaden. Really, I have been cyber-schooling him. Either way...not for me. Not at all.

Take Algebra for instance.

In college I majored in journalism. This is not because I enjoyed writing, or really even reading for that matter. I didn't want to work for a paper. It wasn't even because a cute boy was a journalism major. At least THAT would have been understandable. I chose journalism because after scouring the course book, it was the ONLY major at Michigan State that did not have a math requirement. And, that was good, because I had already failed algebra. Twice.

So, when Jaden started having trouble finding the area and volume of three dimensional figures, I was panicked. But, surely, college was like what? 5 years ago. (Okay! Fine, fine almost 20, whatever) I am a mature, capable woman. I can learn about and then teach Jaden how to find the area and volume of three dimensional figures. Right?


Jaden and I worked on a portfolio project. I was sure we were going to ace it. And, then the grade came back: D. I was quite offended. I almost called the teacher to demand an explanation. Apparently, not much has changed since college. Well, I mean except for the extra weight...and the wrinkles...and the gray hairs...and the not being able to go out until 2am and get up at 9:00 for work or classes. I still can't get above a D in algebra. Darn you, algebra!

At any rate, I have now appointed Jonathan as Jaden's learning coach. He can figure out the area and volume of three dimensional figures in like pi*.04=x seconds.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Talk about depressing...

Today I did something that made me very sad. I'll give you three guesses what it was. It wasn't trying to pluck all of the gray hairs out of my head even though I just died it last week.

Nopers. It was not trying on swim suits. Really good guess, though.

No. It defintely was not listening to Dream On. Although, please, I never knew that song was so depressing. 'Everytime when I look in the mirror, all these lines on my face getting clearer'. It's a real pick-me-up.

Ok. I'll tell you.

I took lunch to Jonathan while he was reffing U8 soccer games. {{{SIGH}}}. I can barely speak about it.

Used to be every Saturday, I would pack the ole sports chairs, blankets, water bottles, siblings, orange slices, sports drinks, and snacks for after the games to go catch me some soccer. Used to be every Saturday I would sit in a sports chair, cheer on my soccer player, laugh with other soccer moms and dads and get frustrated with the teenaged ref who looked like he didn't get too much sleep the night before. (Where were his parents, BTW). Used to be I could walk through the soccer complex and know just about everyone there.

Used to be. The past is gone.

It's been 5 years since Jonathan played U8 soccer. Now I am the mom of the teenage ref who didn't get enough sleep the night before. Now I walk through the soccer complex and I don't know anyone. 5 years . Gone in a flash. I know it's a tired cliche. But, time goes by fast. And, today, well, it caught me off guard.

Especially because I got to know what I will be doing 5 years from now? I'll be buying prom attire, and paying registration fees for college, and planning a graduation party for the triplets. 5 years. They'll be gone in a flash.

I want to make sure I have no regrets.

BTW, 5 years gives me some perspective too. So, moms and dads of the U8 soccer players...don't take it so seriously. I know you think you might have the next Mia Hamm or David Beckham. But, I sure wish I had spent less time worrying about Jonathan's playing time, positions, and coaches and more time just plain old cheering him on.

Oh, and one more thing. That tired teenaged ref?? Yeah, the one who had a sleepover last night and was too tired to blow his whistle for the hand ball in the goalie box that should have been a penalty kick? Give him a break too. Because before you can even imagine it could be possible, it'll be your kid. And, you'll be the parent standing awkwardly with the McDonald's bag in your hand.