Monday, May 24, 2010

What I know, don't know, and may never know about kids...

Since I got such a positive assessment from part one of my saga, Facts, Falsehoods, and the Undecided, I thought I would report, as promised, on what I have learned about kids and family life. The funny thing is, after I started compiling what I know, I soon realized that there are more things I don’t know, but I'll start with things I do know now.

It’s a given that whenever the whole family goes on a “fun” outing, at least one of the members turns the fun to none, either in the car there, at the event, or in the car ride back

Don’t ever tell your children what the consequence for their bad behavior is while they are in the midst of a tantrum. For some reason I still haven’t learned my lesson on this one, mainly because I have it in my head at the time that if they hear what they are going to lose (I.e. computer time, their action figures, etc.) the tantrum will stop. Silly me...

Emergencies, at least in your child’s eyes, will always occur when you are, A) in the shower, B) on the toilet, or C) naked. Enough said about this one.

A closed door is still an open invitation, so either learn to “lock yourself away” or deal with the many uninvited guests that will appear at the most inopportune moments. And if you leave the door open, expect traffic to flow in and out of the room at a constant pace, even from family members with four legs instead of two. (My dog tends to "trap" me-he won't leave until I've scratched him behind the ears, and only then when he's determined that I have scratched him enough!)

Mom, I’m bleeding,” is generally no cause for alarm- you’ll come flying into the room only to have to poke and prod just to see the tiny scratch. Now when there is no announcement and only blood curdling screams, this is the time to worry.

Expect to be the only one in the household who sees the dirt, water, toys, and etc. on the floor, and expect to have exchanges like the following:
How did all this water get on the floor?”
“What water?”
“In the bathroom.”
“On the floor in the bathroom. Come here… See?”
“Oh yea.”
“Well, how did it get here?”
“I dunno…
” The whole exchange was so exhausting I just wiped it up-you win some, you lose some, and sometimes it just isn’t worth losing your sanity over.

Requests must be specific. For example, if you tell your kids to clean their room, tell them exactly what needs to be picked up, but still expect some miscommunication on occasion-like when I told my son to clean the things out from under his bed and he piled them on his dresser, and when I told him to clean the top of his dresser he piled everything under his bed. My daughter may be older, but she still thinks the same way. I have told her that I don’t want to have to step over anything when I enter her room and that I want to see the floor. So what does she do? She piles everything on her desk, dresser, and bed, but I can see the floor, right?

What I do know is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” consequence when it comes to disciplining children, but what I don’t know is why. I realized this rather quickly with my two, but I sometimes forget and flip-flop in my approach. If I say “Boo” using the look and a stern tone of voice my daughter is crushed, and if she “lost” a toy due to bad behavior, it’s the end of the world-and I’m talking any toy, even if it’s one she hardly plays with anymore. But my son is another story. The look and tone of voice things don’t work on him-he just shrugs it off and goes his merry way. And even though he’s pretty stuff oriented, there is always other stuff he can play with. Once I took his coloring books away for a two-day time out. Later that day he found a couple more and actually brought them to me to put with the others. He may only be seven, but I’m convinced that he is secretly plotting my demise…

There are other things I don’t know, like why I only get grunts and one word answers when I try to talk to my kids when they come home from school, but when I’m in the middle of something like getting dinner ready or when I announce it’s time for bed they want to have in-depth conversations. Here’s a recent conversation with my son as I was trying to type some things up for this post:
“Mom, did you know when you drink water you can here it wobble down there?”

“Yes, I guess so. Are you ready for bed.”

“Yes. Did you know that when you drink too much water and shake back and forth you can hear it splashing?”

“Um, I guess you’re right. Did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes. You know I always wanted to know more about a stomach. I mean how does it fit all the food in there and where does it go? Oh, I know where it goes but I don’t want to say cause it turns into brown mushy stuff that you have to get out, but your drink turns yellow. Do you know your drink turns yellow?

“No I didn’t know that. Is that all you wanted to know? It's time for bed.”

“Well, when you’re at a dog show and they pull out the name of the dog that’s the winner, how do they know it’s the winner?”

I just looked at him. “What?”

“Never mind.”

Now he starts shaking his belly. “Can you hear it Mom?”

“I think so…”

“I wonder what would happen if someone punched you in the belly if it was full of water. Would you throw it up?”

I chose to ignore this one and started moving him towards his bedroom door.

Still other things confuse me, like the fact that I have to repeat, that I have to repeat almost everything at least ten times just to be heard. Are kids ears not fully developed until they’re twenty-five, or do their brains have some sort of shut off switch when it comes to negative requests like put your dishes in the dishwasher or brush your teeth?

Then there is my darling husband-his antics confuse me all the time. For instance, washing his pants is like playing the slots-I retrieve at least a handful of nickels, dimes, and quarters out of every load. My first thoughts were that I was earning a little something “back” for doing a chore he could certainly do himself, but now I can’t help wondering if he leaves this change in his pockets on purpose to “pay me” for doing his laundry, and if he does, am I only worth a handful of change? Another downside is that along with the change there are items like pens, stray screws, dirt, and a tissue or two, so maybe he needs to start leaving some green along with the silver just to make it worth my while…

And while my husband does a fare share of things around here, if the task at hand is one he doesn’t want to do, he doesn’t give it his full attention. Take for instance bath time-I usually take charge of our daughter, running the water in the shower, making sure her hair is rinsed, and my husband is in charge of our son. The other day I was kissing my son goodnight after he supposedly (it is entirely questionable how much cleaning did occur) got a shower.

"Your face smells-didn’t daddy help you get a shower tonight?"
"Your face doesn’t smell clean-did daddy wash you."
"No, I did it myself."
"Did you use soap?"
"Yes, soap."
"Um… Yes."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I rubbed it on my face like this and rinsed it."

I rubbed his hair and it felt a little slimy.
"Who did your hair-did daddy?"
"No I did."
"You did?"
"Daddy put the stuff in my hand and I rubbed it around.
" I need to talk to daddy.

Well, there you have it, my take on what you can control and what I consider out of my control when it comes to family. (I had a few more to add about my husband but he saw his name mentioned and keeps looking over my shoulder, so I'll save those for later...Just kidding honey-stop reading my blog!) Goodnight everybody!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Facts, falsehoods, and the undecided

Over time, mothers seem to be able to create a sort of mental checklist when it comes to products that live up to their claims, tips and tricks about raising children, and other assorted tidbits. (Now I said mothers because I am speaking from experience, so you fathers out there relax-I’m sure that you do the same…) Now back to the point of my post-I thought it might be fun to share some of my newfound “facts”, “falsehoods”, and the “undecided” with the hopes that you either learn something new, or can empathize with me.  I'll start with product knowledge first...

When it comes to purchasing new products, I generally take my time before deciding on a change, and when it’s a big-ticket purchase, like an appliance, I often hop onto the Internet to search for product reviews. And if something looks as if it has more negative responses than positive, I won’t make the purchase. The following is a list of products that have been on my tried-and-true list or are a recent addition, those that just didn’t make the grade, or products I am still unsure about.

Cascade liquid vs. Finish powerball: As long as I can remember I’ve used Cascade for the dishwasher. My mother used it in powder form when I was little, and swore by its effectiveness, so I just continued to use it. But after we moved to our current house with a well and septic system, I noticed that my glasses and dishes weren’t as clear and clean as they once were. First my husband blamed it on the age of the glasses, but after replacing some, I noticed that they too came out of the dishwasher with a cloudy appearance. Then we both decided that it must be the old dishwasher that we inherited with the house, so we purchased a brand new dishwasher, but the results were still the same-I guess Cascade just can’t cut it with well water. I started buying smaller amounts of other brands to test them out, and the clear-cut winner happens to be Finish Powerball-even my older glasses look new again.

Spray ‘N’ Wash vs. Shout: Those of you with infants are all too familiar with the term “stain” since pretty much everything that goes in baby comes right back out (in various forms.) I used Dreft for washing all the baby clothes, but even though I knew it was gentle, it’s stain-fighting ability was nothing to write home about. This time I didn’t have to purchase all the stain fighting formulas out there to pick the best because a co-worker’s daughter compared all the major brands as part of a school project. She slowly narrowed the field down to two major brands, but Shout won out in the end. I have been using Shout ever since, and although some stains (chocolate ice cream on a white t-shirt-ugh!) need both a pre-treat and repeat wash, I am pretty happy with the results.

Dove, Ivory, Oil of Olay: As my kids get older, I get older, and as I mentioned before, things “ain’t what they used to be” when it comes to my skin, but I have to be careful when it comes to my soap choice. My skin has always been sensitive, in fact I can’t tolerate any perfumed soaps-I break out in hives, and for at least 15 minutes I look like I suffer from leprosy. I started using Ivory mainly because of their cool adds boasting about their purity, but the soap left my skin tight and dry, and women my age need to keep moisture in their skin. Oil of Olay as a beauty bar seemed to work fairly well since I didn’t develop hives after using it, but I did itch. My doctor told me to switch to Dove, and I use the bar made for sensitive skin-the result was no blotches, no itch, and my skin isn't as tight.

The shampoo wars: I basically bought the shampoo that was on sale, never really forming a relationship with one brand over another, until I decided to save money and buy one shampoo that everyone could use-baby shampoo. The thing is, baby shampoo is formulated for baby hair, and not adult hair-our well water and the chemicals in the baby shampoo began to wage a silent war against my hair follicles. I started noticing small changes like how both my daughter and my hair seemed to tangle more easily, but then bigger changes like the fact that I seemed to be “shedding” more of my hair than I used to, especially after I washed it. My hairdresser finally shed a light on our problem when she asked if my daughter and I had been swimming lately-it was winter! She pointed out how both of us had and extreme amount of build up caused both by the shampoo and the well water, and this was causing the tangles and hair loss. So, I switched to Infusium 23 (my sister told me about this shampoo), maximum body shampoo, and we all (even my husband) noticed the change in how our hair felt almost immediately.

Now there are still a few products I purchased that I am still unsure of-Olay age defying anti-wrinkle night cream vs. Olay ProX wrinkle smoothing cream, ProX age repair lotion with SPF 30 vs. Eucerin Everyday Protection SPF 30, ProX eye restoration, and my new EasyTone training shoes from Reebok-so I will just give you some of my impressions. I have been admiring some of the new training tennis shoes that promise not only to give you a better workout, but also to help tone you while you go about your everyday activities. I hesitated due to the mixed reviews online, the cost, and due to the fact that I am a natural klutz, and I as worried that any shoe that puts me “off balance” would literally send me to the ground. But my husband must have been sick over my indecision and for Mother’s day he and the kids presented me with a pair of Easytones. Now I haven’t worn them to work out in yet, but I have tried wearing them after work and out-and-about. They are very comfortable and not hard to walk in, but I don’t feel as if I am walking in sand or off balance. And while I did notice a little tightening in my upper thighs when going cross-country across several soccer fields this past weekend, I didn’t notice anything unusual during regular wear. I hope to update you more on these in future posts.

And I am undecided about the Olay ProX products-I have only been using them for a couple weeks now, and I am trying to compare them to the products I already use by applying them only to one half of my face. So far, my face feels much smoother, (I notice this in the morning and throughout the day), brighter, and I have to admit that the dark circles that seem to haunt me these days aren’t that apparent anymore, but I need to use these a little longer to see if they are worth the price.

I'm starting to sound like an infomercial so I better end things now. Besides, my husband keeps stopping to read over my shoulder (he thinks I’m going to write about our disagreement concerning a newfangled grill he wants to buy-but I fooled him!) and he mutters, “Boring” every time he leaves… Stay tuned for my takes on family “facts”, “falsehoods”, and the “undecided”-you won’t be sorry! Goodnight everybody.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, meet my son...

I had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday, but it's the night that was a real killer. Is there something about a seven-year-old boy that I don’t know about but that I should know about, at least for my sanity's sake? I think I read somewhere that little boys are harder to raise than little girls, and that mothers of sons age faster than mothers of daughters, but I didn't believe this-but after the week I’ve had, I’m a believer now!

First some background knowledge and the “good” about my son.
  • He is certainly a unique soul, unlike no other little boy that I have ever known, and I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom. 
  • He’s quick, taking in all the facts about every situation-it’s hard to pull a fast one on him.
  • He is very ritualistic-he still tells me goodnight the same way he did when he was two, and gives me a hug when I leave for work in the morning.
  • And he is creative-he can spend hours writing and illustrating stories that actually involve a plot, although his latest depicts me as the bad guy and this has got me thinking…
But like everything in this world, there is also another side of my son.
  • If I want him to explode, all I have to do is tell him to stop what he is doing right away. I have tried to counteract this by setting the kitchen timer and saying that when it goes off he needs to stop, and this has helped a lot.
  • Sometimes his conversations about various topics seem never ending, especially when he hits me with a barrage of questions concerning said topic, and then follows me around the house until I can answer him-sometimes I can’t!
  • He doesn’t respect boundaries, especially when it comes to his sister’s chapter books. What’s hers is his and he barges in her room without asking so that he can rummage through her bookshelves, and he then leaves her books all over the house. And speaking of books, he is never reading just one book, but a minimum of three, and he reads each at different times during the day.
  • His creative mind causes him to come up with all sorts of night (and day) terrors, so getting him to sleep and keeping him asleep is next to impossible.
His latest fear is of spiders, and we’re talking a full-blown screaming/crying sort of fear, and unfortunately his room has been the place for several spider sightings this week. Here's how the latest went down when I was cooking dinner the other night:

“M O M! There’s a spider on my ceiling! Come and get him because I can’t read when it’s here!”

“I can’t do anything about it right now, so just come into the kitchen.”

He rushes in to describe the intruder. “He’s this big,” he makes a circle about the size of a quarter with his thumb and pointer finger, “and I could see his fangs.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t this big,” and I made my fingers look as if they were holding a speck. Sure enough, my son’s sizing estimate may have been a bit off, and I tried to focus on how little the spider is and how big my son is-it didn’t work.

“Look, if it’s up on your ceiling it’s not going anywhere soon, so go back to your reading and I will get it when I can.” Famous last words...

He seemed satisfied for a time, maybe for five minutes or so, and then I heard another blood curdling scream.

“MOM! He’s coming down from the ceiling!”

Now why couldn’t this thing stay up there until my husband got home? I headed into my son’s bedroom and he was crying uncontrollably-it seems that that Mr. Spider could shimmy down his web pretty fast because he was nowhere to be found! I had to strip my son’s bed to make sure the spider wasn’t hiding in there, and I offered to move his bed to search even further, but my Mother’s Day present was underneath, so I said daddy would move it when he came home.

My poor husband wasn’t even in the door before he got hit with the spider story, and he promised to move the bed and deliver a final blow to the fanged little fellow before dinner, but the bed is heavy… At dinner, my son started the inquiry.

“Daddy, did you find the spider?”

“Yep, yep I did.”

My daughter and I looked at each other and then at my husband speculatively (I didn't hear him moving any furniture), but it was my daughter who yelled foul. “No you didn’t dad.”

“Yes, I did. Why doesn’t anyone believe me?”

My son, quiet for a few minutes, asked, “What color was the spider daddy?”

My husband didn’t lose a beat, “It was brown. Yep, I killed it with one of your old comics lying under there.”

Um, yea, they’re like almost always brown but that appeased my son, at least for the time being. He kept asking me all evening if I was sure daddy got the spider, and although I tried to reassure him, in the end he didn’t believe either of us and we were up with him a few times that night. Heck, I can’t believe I am still up now because my son was up at 11:40, 12:15, 12:30, 1:00, and 1:30 this morning.   First we consoled him, and then we got angry and  threatened him-he would lose all that was good, action figures included. In the end, you could still hear him, letting out a sob every five minutes or so until just a little after 2-my husband was snoring beside me, but I just lay there, waiting, hoping… And since my alarm goes off at 5:30 weekday mornings, I could barely function today, but my son? He actually seems chipper, while I on the other hand feel as if I have aged another two years in the past 24 hours.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Take it one day at a time

With the weather being so nice and all the wonderful giveaways going on (I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s my new hobby), I haven’t felt like wringing out my soul in my blog lately. And with the school year slowly drawing to a close, I feel like I am paddling upstream most days to try to get everything ready (final projects, grades, composing final tests, etc.) and don’t feel like imposing yet another deadline on myself. So, what am I going to post about tonight? Actually, I hadn’t a clue until I started to type, but I decided to share some positive quotes to keep me (and I hope all of you) in a sunnier mindset to get through the week.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
Hellen Keller

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there”
- Will Rogers

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened up for us”
- Helen Keller

“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.”
- Norman Vincent Peale

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
- Thomas A Edison

“When you get to the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
- Franklin D Roosevelt

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
- Winston Churchill

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
- Muhammad Ali

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
- Dale Carnegie

“So many of our dreams at first seems impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
- Christopher Reeve

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
- Confucious

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
- Stephen Covey

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus when the limo breaks down.”
- Oprah Winfrey

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
- Waldo Emerson

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
-Mark Twain

Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
-Oprah Winfrey

I couldn’t resist adding the last two… If you want some more awe inspiring quotes and images to make you think, check out Septembermom’s site, My Voice My View on Sundays-you won’t regret it. Stay tough everybody!