Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Enabler

Apparently quitting being an enabler is more of a step by step process. I was ambitious to think I could quit all at once. If I could have quit all at once, no turning back, then I would not have been calling parents this afternoon and insisting that our children get together to finish their project. If I could have quit all at once I would not have been at Ace Hardware purchasing new mouse trap car wheels etc. If I could have quit all at once I would not have been hot-gluing straws to the underside of a tin can this afternoon. If I could have quit all at once, I would not have pinched my finger in a mousetrap as my 12 yr old looked on. Apparently, quitting being an enabler - a mother who wants to help her child not fail, who wants to teach her child how to "make it all work!" and who has a hard time just leaving the room of an ongoing project - is a multi step A-Z process, at which I am only at part A: Stop yelling. The good news is, I got that part down today. I did not yell, and I was calm. However, I also am now very skilled at making a mousetrap car. Hopefully my son is also.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lesson Learned

I did not want to be making a mouse trap car at 6am. I did not want to be yelling at my 12 yr old at 6am. I did not want to miss my morning run with my 12  yr old this morning. I did not want to have to race around trying to make lunches at the last minute for my children this morning. I did not want to start my day out crabby and tired and questioning my parenting abilities. So, why did I start out my day this way, when I sooooo badly did not want to? Because I am an enabler. I.....AM.....AN....ENABLER. Saying it out loud (or writing it in all caps) feels a little like what I would expect it feels like to be in AA or admit to cheating on your husband or something. Shame. Absolute shame. It is quite my fault that my 12 yr old was able to get up this morning at 6am for our run and calmly mention that he still had a bit of homework to do, which turned out to be a huge end of the school year project where he and 2 classmates were to work together to create a mousetrap car that could travel 5 meters. 5 meters! His car, after the hour of racing around at the crack of dawn to try to pull something together, traveled negative one inch. And accompanying this negative one inch race show was a crazy woman of 36  yelling and huffing and puffing and lecturing about time management and doing projects more than "half-ass" and who knows what else.

I have saved my children from failure too many times. I am not sure if my son learned a lesson this morning, but I sure did, and if I can be strong, and let them fail more often, hopefully they will learn a lesson before it is too late. Next time (because there will be a next time) I will calmly say to the child who says - "oh, I forgot to do some homework" - "Oh, that is too bad for you. Bummer." and then I will have my coffee, make lunches, and drive them all to school, and guess what, the mousetrap car can't travel any less than it did this morning even with all my worry, craziness and commotion anyway.

Also I do not want to forget:
-had a little b-day party today with Charlie and 2 of his buddies, and all three of their big brothers. We went to Build a Bear and let the birthday boys build animals. They were so adorable. Then we went to the food court where we all ate chic fillet and had pirate cupcakes and sang to them. Easiest birthday party ever.
At the "party" my Charlie had a couple of 3 yr old moments. At one point he was going sort of bizerk in the stroller. I noticed numerous mall patrons staring and raising their eyebrows - apparently they never had kids or forgot what it is like. I started to feel frustrated with him and be short with him when I looked at my 2 friends with me who have just little ones - and remembered how patient I was when I just had one or 2. I explained everything to my first son - "Scotty, we are going to leave the food court now, because we will be riding in the super fun elevator in just 10 seconds if we hurry!" "Scotty, we have to leave the play area now, but soon we will come back here for another day of fun, and right now I need your help to find a perfect gift for daddy..." Why on my 5th kid have I forgotten how to have patience sometimes? So, I parked Charlie on the side of the mall walk, and I went around to the front of his stroller and explained to him, "Charlie, we have to leave the food court now because all of our friends are up ahead waiting for us, and we are going to ride in the elevator! and then we will take our new Build a Bear home and play with it!" Charlie: "ok." As my friend said to me as we were walking to our cars, man I can't imagine how it must feel to be told what to do constantly, fed the food we want them to eat constantly, and be pushed where we need them to go constantly.  I mean sometimes we just need them to do, and eat and be what we need, but I feel for them not feeling like they have a choice. A little explanation or giving them the feeling that they have a choice goes a long way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Partner to run with

Almost every morning for the past week my 12 yr old son and I have headed out for a 3 mi run. This may seem like a little thing to some, but to me, the mom of a kiddo who would much rather sit at his computer and run up scores on Pokemon games than run on the sidewalk, it is a BIG thing. When we began our "training" for a 5k coming up in a couple weeks, a month ago, I was met with much resistance, much laziness, and a big bad attitude. I didn't want to over push him, but I wanted a healthy son and I wanted to do this together. Suddenly about a week ago I changed up our routine a bit. I suggested running around town, rather than the track. I suggested using his ipod for some good running music. I don't know if it was the new plan or his getting tired of listening to my urging, but we are on a roll. And it is  helping me so much. I mean as much as I want my 12  yr old to be healthy, I also really need my own motivation to get out there and exercise. I am 36 and the metabolism is not as friendly as it was at 26. So today, when my alarm went off and I was soooooo tempted to just turn it off and go back to sleep, I thought of my 12 yr old who would be missing out on his workout too, and I was able to pry myself out of bed. And then when I walked into his room expecting to find him snoozing, but instead found him up and raring to go this morning, I was further motivated to get out the door. A partner to run with is essential. Thank you to Scotty for being my motivation and helping me get out the door for some exercise...not to mention some fabulous bonding with my 12 yr old boy, who is...well even for all his maturity and intelligence and kindness...a 12  yr old boy.

Also I really don't want to forget:
-Whenever a new song comes on Scotty's ipod as we are running, he yells out its title. I don't why this tickles me so, but it does.
-Halfway through our run this morning, when I was beginning to talk to Scotty about how far we would run before taking a small walking rest, Scotty surprised me by saying (and further accomplishing) that he wanted to run "to the Y" which was our 2.5 mi marker, and was MUCH farther than I expected him to say he wanted to run before a rest. Love his determination.
-For the last block of our run, Scotty breaks into a full sprint (or as close as he can get to it at the end of a 3mi run) I chase him down. Very fun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011



End of school year picnics

vacation bible school (I threw this one in for a friend. I opt out of this commitment)

baseball practice

lacrosse practice


end of year school projects

school carnival

school 5k


Mother's Day

teacher gifts

last minute spring field trips

class parties

emails to answer

registration for summer camps

registration for summer tutoring

spring cleaning

packing up winter clothes and coats

trying on summer clothes

buying/finding new swim suits, goggles, water wings...

planning vacations

and as I am typing this I get a text from my husband that says, "hey don't forget to call the appraiser guy!" So, there are always those other add-ons that just naturally come up.

Everyone - take a deep breath. realize life will go on weather or not we remember to bring the chips to the kids school picnic or not. realize that very soon - 10 days in fact - no one will be calling you to volunteer, sign up, pick up, or dress up. Because in 10 days....summer : )

Monday, May 16, 2011

Little Escape Artists`

Why are toddlers always trying to get away? After having numerous conversations with friends recently about losing their kids at the fair, or the store or their neighborhood, and after finding Charlie (3yrs old) playing in our driveway, having unlocked the door by himself, we installed chain locks on all of our doors. We installed them at the very top of the door, and I find Charlie dragging chairs over to the doors to try to unlock the chain locks!!!!

Why are they always trying to get away? We provide a lovely home environment, comfortable, fun, siblings to hang with.... But I have decided this: I think that we, as mothers who have temporarily lost our children, have made our children so independent and so self assured that they are perfectly comfortable walking, toddling, running away from us. Along with their comfortable independent feelings of 'I can make it out their on my own' that we have instilled in their little minds by letting them help us cook, teaching them to dress themselves, having them brush their own teeth, and peel their own bananas, (as I type this my 3 yr old is loading cascade into the dishwasher)  in their little minds they are also thinking, "Mom, will come find me. Mom will take care of me. Mom always is there." Which is exactly what we want them to think and feel...just not when they are contemplating tearing through the neighborhood on their own.

I pray that our toddlers learn a healthy fear of the outside world and stay in the damn  house!

Also I do NOT want to forget:
-At Jack's Treekeeper (a respect for life and the environment program at our gradeschool) graduation, each child was to shake the mayors hand and get their certificate. Each 10 yr old went up to the mayor solemnly and sort of lamely and gave a dead fish handshake and grabbed their certificate...all accept my Jack. He walked up, strongly shook the mayors hand, looked him in the eye and said, "Thank you, It is very nice to meet you sir." So Proud!
-Charlie keeps making up words. I don't make up words for private parts. We just call them what they are. But apparently Charlie is uncomfortable with this, so he has made up his own words. He refers to all private parts as "tudu" or "tudi" - no idea why. He also has become fascinated with MY private parts and and can't get over the "hair on my tudi."
-Recently did story time in Elaina's first grade class. I read Horton Hatches the Egg - one of my favorites. I used fun voices for the characters as I usually do at home. Then I read some Shel Silverstien poems - so funny. There is one in there that is long and tongue twistery. I can read it superfast and absolutely perfectly. The class made me read it 3 times. Then the teacher asked me to read it one more time before I left. lol. The whole time I was reading, whenever Elaina's class was giggling or looking supremely interested - usually during a funny voice moment - Elaina would lean over and kiss my hand affectionately. She is so sweet. She was so proud to have a decent mom-reader.
-Elaina had her first piano recital this weekend. And Scott and Jack had their first recital since I began my Tiger-mom parenting technique that includes them practicing an hour a night. They were fantastic! Nailed their songs and were very proud of themselves : ) Yea!
-Ben is our easy, peacemaker, even tempered child. He makes parenting him easy. I had to fill out an evaluation form for Kindergarten for him the other day. For the question about my child's temperament regarding aggressiveness I quickly answered something like "Not at all. Never." That day, I got a call from the preschool teacher because Ben had kicked a boy in the stomach! I said, "Oh man! I just put on his Kindergarten form that Ben is not aggressive!" His teacher assured me that he was absolutely not aggressive and that he had just reacted from maybe having been pushed a bit overboard that day by his buddy. But just a lesson to me as a parent in "never say never." They all have their moments.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two Home Run Stories

1. Yesterday I get a text from my husband as he is sitting on a plane, I think, on his way out of town. "Julie, promise me you will take Ben (5) outside and pitch  him some balls. He has a game tonight." This is what my husband the wheeler and dealer, the business man of Clayton, is thinking as he is heading out to check on his next deal...Ben's baseball game - and this is why I love this man by the way. In Ben's league the batter gets 5 machine pitched balls, then if they miss those they get to hit it off of the tee. In the last game Ben did one of each. So, I dutifully take Ben outside and pitch him probably 50 or so balls. He does pretty well, not super, but pretty well. I am thinking, it may not have really helped that much. Since my husband is out of town, and since my sitter is sick, I have an evening of running everyone everywhere all at the same time. Tricky. Because of this I am 15 minutes late to Ben's baseball game (he was on time because I found him a ride). "Mom! I hit a homerun!" I am all at once thrilled and crushed. Mostly thrilled, but so sad to have missed it!!!! Coach tells me after the game that he actually hit the outfield wall on the fly. Wow. I text my husband. He is ecstatic and totally bummed to have missed it. Ben however is absolutely fine, happy as a clam and eating his skittles he bought with the dollar he gets from the coach for playing a great game. (everyone gets a dollar...pretty funny)

2.  Tonight I had a softball game and my two big boys got their homework done early so that they could come cheer me on...aka, play with their friends on the playground. First time up to bat, base hit up the middle.  Not bad. Kids are no where to be seen. I am just hoping they are playing safe and staying out of trouble wherever they are. However, second time up to bat, I smacked one to left center and started rounding bases. As I am heading home I hear a lot of cheering. I come into the dugout and my team mates are smiling and cheering and saying, "You should have heard your kids!" My son runs over to high five me about 10 times, tell me how awesome that was and begins to explain how I am faster that he would be on the bases even if he had a motorcycle. My 10 yr old is yelling, "way to go mom!" and giving me thumbs up. So sweet. It is nice to have someone there for you.

We HAVE to find a way for at least one of us to be at the entirety of Ben's games for the rest of the season.

Also don't want to forget:
-Pulled out the plastic pool and the sprinkler today. Are there people too snooty for plastic pools and sprinkler play? If so, they are missing out. Really so fun to watch them play this way.
-I got to go to Little Sprouts at the Botanical Gardens today with Charlie. Man he is funny. He gets very excited about everything and takes things quite literally. During the storytime, the teacher kept showing pictures from the book and saying, "Do you see the robin? Do you see the acorns? Do you see the trunk?" Each time, Charlie had to get up out of his spot and run up and point to them on the page and say, "Right there!"
-Charlie made  up a word - Cuggle. A  mix between a hug and a cuddle. He says he is cuggling me when he takes his cheek, and rubs it up against my cheek and closes his eyes. Seriously adorable.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers day

To create a day truly for the mother means the mother has to be willing to let go of her usual duties. Otherwise, it is just another work day for the mother. Fortunately, it is not like pulling teeth to get me to take a day off once in a while so I gladly let go a bit today. I gladly accepted breakfast in bed of french toast, fruit and juice. I not-so-gladly followed the usher to the front pew in church this morning (really? Has he ever seen us sit there?) So, halfway through mass I gladly slipped out with Charlie to the cry room. I gladly sat still at scottys lacrosse game and watched as my 4 other children, dressed in their matching mothers day outfits, dug in the dirt, picked up frogs, slopped chocolate ice-cream all over their shirts and played with strangers' dogs. I gladly watched my kids drench themselves to the bone in the fountains at the botanical gardens, as I strolled, took pictures and generally relaxed. I gladly crashed on the sofa with a book and soon fell asleep while my husband set the kids up in the sprinkler to play. I gladly had my big kids bathe my little ones so I wouldn't have to tonight. Thanks to my family and my own desire to let them be, I had a great mothers day. Here's hoping all you other mothers out there were able to do the same. Sometimes to love your job, you need a day off once in a while. Thank you to God for my wonderful family!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What really happened

So, here is what I wanted to blog:

Wonderful night had by all! Just a beautiful night eating dinner outside with the kids, and roasting marshmallows with the kids over the open fire, and making s'mores. Loved watching the kids play sweetly together and enjoy each other. Really relaxing to just kick back and eat and drink while the beautiful fire blazed in the moonlight.

What really happened:

We finally got rid of our Christmas tree. Yes, we still had our Christmas tree. Not up in our house, but we did still possess it. It was sitting next to our fence on its side, turned brown of course. So my husband had the ingenious idea of using it for firewood. So to the lovely background noise of chainsaw, we began a little fire pit masterpiece. Did you know that when pine needles are burnt in a fire pit that they crackle loudly and sort of seem to jump out of the fire a little? Sort of scary for a mother of five rambunctious children gathered around a fire ready to roast marshmallows. Also, did you realize that in order to roast marshmallows with your children, that you have to  be willing to let them each hold a long stick with a very pointy end (in our case, huge metal skewers) and stick them into a fire. "If your marshmallow catches on fire, do NOT begin waving your fiery skewered marshmallow around to put out the flames. Instead, calmly say, 'mom my marshmallow is on fire' and I will blow it out for you." I was blowing out fiery marshmallows every 10 seconds. "Mom, I found a banana, chocolate chips and heath bar candy pieces. I am wrapping it all in foil and putting it in the fire. Here, eat the rest of my marshmallow." Christmas trees also yield a ton of smoke.  We were all rubbing our eyes and drying our tears continually. However, marshmallows got roasted, chocolate and Graham crackers were handed out, and s'mores were created and devoured. Not the picture perfect scenario in my mind, but still pretty fun : ) And no one caught on fire.

Also I don't want to forget:
-Charlie just walked into the room gnawing on an enormous clump of uncooked broccoli, straight from the fridge, like the entire head of broccoli!
-I think the whole family ate my dinner tonight! No complaining, and it was not pizza or any other "kid food!" Pork loin sandwiches with delicious homemade rub, cinnamon apples, curry beef soup, and guacamole and chips.
-Scotty took it upon himself to pop by Einsteins on his way to school on his bike and get himself a healthy power bagel for breakfast. Then on his way home from school he went by Fantastic Sam's and got himself a haircut before heading to the library. When did he turn 35?