Done Waiting

It was 2 weeks ago that I posted about how I need to step up my game. In writing and in life.

So, did I do anything? Am I all talk and no walk?

Yes, I did and no, I’m not.

Wait…you get that, right?

I started with a movie. I took myself to the movies. I went to a matinee to see Hangover 2. There were about ten other people in the theater, so I got to stretch out and get comfortable. (I’d like to add that matinee is prime time because if you heard a whole theater laughing, you may have missed half of the jokes as they were layered in one after another.) While I usually bring my own snacks in my oversized purse….ssshhhh!…this time I bought myself a snack and drink there. Hey, if no one else is gonna splurge on me, why don’t I do it? I spent two hours in worry-free bliss, relaxing and laughing.

A few days later, I treated myself to some new summer clothes. Nothing extravagant, but a few bright colored things from Old Navy perked me up a bit.

This week, I took my kids to the local zoo. Not a big city zoo, but a local one where we can still walk around and enjoy the day outside. The kids had a great time and I was at ease allowing them to run around and watching them ooh and aah at every little creature.

Tuesday. Tuesday was a big day. I took my son to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My quest to spend more time in the city has begun. A bit nervous on the drive in, we made it there with no problem. I only freaked out mildly when I found out I couldn’t park in the usual parking lot in front of the building.

WHERE DO I GO?!!

Street parking…ugh. We found a spot, and the bonus? I didn’t have to pay for parking. Score one for me.

And even though the residual effects of the stress tainted my stomach for the next two hours, I managed to suck it up and make the most of the day with my son. We strolled. We admired. We wondered. He received several compliments on his hat; he has a fedora he loves to wear. There’s something elating about seeing your child beam at random compliments. We even marveled at our favorite room…The Armor Room.

All in all, I think I’m on the right track. The past two weeks gave me a boost and I feel like some life has been breathed back into…well…my life. I’m definitely going to take myself to the movies more often. And finding things to do outside with the kids will be a priority, as well. There are a bunch of playgrounds nearby. Maybe that will be next week’s fun.

What are YOU doing to live a little more? Let me know!

The Madness of Mushiness

I’m feeling unnaturally thankful today.  I thought it would be good to put it in print so I can read it on those days when people are driving me nuts and everything feels like it’s going wrong.  If you are reading this, you are human (well, hopefully) and know what those days are like. 

I spent a week spinning with vertigo.  It’s almost gone, except for when I go to bed and turn over, but I am so grateful to not have that feeling walking around.  It forces me to sit still and not do anything…at all.  I was bored and anxious because I couldn’t get anything done.  My kids need me.  My husband needs me.  Being out of commission is not an option.  And frankly, I like being needed.  I feel like my strength has been renewed and life is good again.  I almost enjoyed the household chores…almost….really close to enjoyed.

My son had some issues the past couple weeks with a few kids in the neighborhood.  I was glad to find out they were not singling him out, but disappointed that there are a few bullies in our midst.  What I found out is that my son, at 10 years old and a bit softhearted, is sometimes more mature than I give him credit for.  I am so thankful he can actually listen to our advice and learn how to deal with situations like this.  He is thoughtful, intelligent, creative and I am incredulous at what an amazing person he is becoming.  I can’t imagine what life would be like without him.

As for my 3 year old girl, she is stubborn, mouthy and too smart for her own good.  We have recently been struggling to potty train her.  The problem is, she can go, has gone and knows when she has to go, yet she refuses.  She thinks it’s funny when she’s scolded.  She screams like a howler monkey.  She’s beautiful, intelligent and she challenges me in every way.  I honestly don’t know how I am so lucky to have these two children in my life.  Looking at them makes me want to smile and cry at the same time. 

My husband is ridiculously perfect for me.  He is the exact opposite of me and keeps me balanced.  Our house, that we moved into this year, is more than I could have hoped for our family.  And even though I am still without a steady job, I am truly hopeful that I can find something that will satisfy my thirst for writing.  I have met so many people on Twitter that I can’t even keep up with their greatness.  Let’s not forget the family that has given me, and helped to mold and support, the modest and wonderful life that I have.

I don’t know why I’m getting those extra thankful feelings today, but I’m going to hold on to them tight.  They are filling me up like morning coffee fueling the caffeine rush.  Ok, so this post is mushy, but I wrote it for my own selfish purposes AND for you to read and be able to count your own blessings.  No matter how big or small your reasons for being thankful, take a minute and think about them.  They might even help you put a smile on your face for the day.

If you’re feeling thankful, feel free to comment and let me know what is making you smile today. 😉

Discipline, Talking and an Afterschool Special

In the spirit of school starting, I think this post’s lesson should be about parenting.  I’ve seen some discussion lately about parents and the different ways that they discipline, or don’t discipline their children.   My favorite being the following:

http://rockonmommies.com/paris-hilton-was-an-undisciplined-child/

As our kids grow up, we really hope that we’ve done right by them and they won’t end up some sad story on the nightly news.  It is hard to decide if the actions we take when they misbehave are going to be beneficial in the long run.  It’s essential to be able to say no to your kids.  So I would like to follow up on the above video with the next step after discipline.  Sometimes,  it is the actions we take after the scoldings or punishments that are what create the foundation for a solid future.

Part of being a parent is talking to your kids.  They aren’t just a small person that wanders around the house attempting to break one of your rules.  You brought that child into this world to love, support and one day send off to live his own life.  Unless your intention was to provide a nanny with a job, I think maybe some interaction is required on your part. 

I am under the impression that many of the problems kids face could be solved with some genuine conversation with family.  Let’s be real here.  I’m not talking “afterschool special” conversation.  You don’t have to get out the milk and cookies and a reference book.  All I am saying is show your kids that you do care about what is on their minds and talking about it shouldn’t be an uncomfortable situation. 

I have always been very open with my son, who is now 10, about many topics.  Example 1, two girls in the neighborhood keep pushing him off his scooter and then when they get it, they don’t give it back.  He’s afraid to do anything because he doesn’t want to push a girl.  Ok, so I don’t have the perfect answer for this.  But, we talked it out.  We tried to figure out some options.  Point being, he felt a little better afterwards.  Example 2, for years there has be a certain nearby store that we pass that is for, ahem, adults only.  For ten years my son has never noticed this store…until there were protesters outside with signs that say “Pornography Hurts Our Children”.  How ironic.  So, as I am driving by praying he didn’t see them, he asks “Mom, what is pornogra..what does that say?”

*facepalm*

Ok, sometimes we are gonna have conversations we don’t want to have.  If you can put on a brave face and an even tone, you can show your kids that they can come to mom or dad with anything without feeling embarrassed.  That’s the real lesson here.  Just asking how they feel once in a while can be beneficial.  School is approaching.  Ask if they are nervous, excited or scared.  Let them tell you what they think and give them advice if they are unsure about starting school.  Get them to look at the big picture to show that even though things may be tough one day, other days will be better. 

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid?  Were you afraid to raise your hand to ask a question in class?  Did you feel confused in health class?  Did you loathe having to change in front of classmates in the locker room?  There are LOADS of embarrassing moments for us to choose from.  If we can remember those times, we can surely help our kids get through them knowing what we know now. 

Maybe we don’t have all the answers, but just being there to say “I understand” can mean more than you realize. 

Another Year Older?

It was 33 years ago today that I was born.  And 32 birthdays have come and gone and I’ve realized that while maybe I didn’t appreciate them all, I certainly do now.  Maybe I was a skeptic from the very beginning…

Is it really necessary to celebrate every birthday with cake and presents and lots of people?  Or is it better just to enjoy the day like it is any other and not think about being a year older?  If you have kids of your own, it might be easier to see why celebrating a birthday is special.  If you don’t, I think I can give you a few reasons.  I look at my kids and think how grateful I am to have them.  Their birthdays mean the world to me because it’s another year gone by that I have gotten to spend watching them learn more, do more, live more.

For me, it’s also a reason for our family to get together and see each other.  Our large family means we see each other at least once a month to celebrate a birthday.  If it wasn’t for birthdays, I don’t know that we would get together more often than just holidays.  I credit a large part of my happiness to the fact that I have a close family and I try to keep it that way.

Most importantly, it’s another year gone by that you’ve gained a little wisdom (hopefully), a little experience, and maybe something great has happened.  Maybe looking back on the past times in your life will inspire you to do something new in the next year.  Your birthday doesn’t have to be just another number.  It should be about you, your life from birth…

through childhood…

through adulthood.  We all experience good and bad things, but if we can take the lessons we learn and move on, we can consider ourselves successful in life.  You shouldn’t try to measure your happiness on a number or what job you hold.  We can’t turn back the clock to relive the ease of being ten years old, or the fun of being 21 again.  Finding the joy in your birthday is looking back fondly on what you did, but being able to look forward to what is to come. 

If Only He Knew

As school approaches and I ready my son for fifth grade, I think back to what life was like when I was in fifth grade.  The social realm really started to open up that year.  Liking boys and walking to the local Burger King with friends were top priority.  Cliques started to develop.  What you wore and how you looked started to be much more important than it ever had before.

I look my son and think, if only I could tell him.  His sweet, kind demeanor may be in for a shock this year.  I have already noticed the difference in the friends he hangs out with in the neighborhood.  We recently moved to a new home in January and he still feels a bit conflicted about which kids he wants to call friends.  It seems to me that he expects his “friends” to never say a bad word and be constantly knocking on the door for him to come out and play.  But, it doesn’t work that way, I tell him.

Sometimes they will say things to be hurtful.  Other days, you’ll be picked first to be on their football team.  I try to explain that so many friends will come and go over the years.  The best you can do is enjoy the fun and try not to take too much to heart.  Having a conversation with a 10 year old requires a short delivery if you want their full attention.  If only I could tell him all the great things I look back on now, and that I’ve forgotten the bad things. 

If only he knew all the things that I know now.  But then how would he ever learn it for himself?

Boys vs. Girls

When I had my son ten years ago, I was young and optimistic about knowing exactly how I wanted to raise him.  Ten years have gone by like a cool breeze on a hot day and I can honestly say that he has been a fairly easy kid.  As a baby he ate well, slept through the night and barely made one sound of discontent.  I probably could have left him alone for half the day and he would have cheerily played with his toys without bothering one precious item in any room.  Now, he’s well mannered, kind, intelligent, funny and very easygoing.  Pride is bursting out of me for the boy he has turned out to be.  I can only hope that his teenage years will be tolerable as I always expect the worst since kids pull so far away from their parents during that time. 

However, three years ago, I had a beautiful baby girl.  Little did I know that my first hint at her indignance was a hospital photo holding up her hand and distinctly giving the camera the finger.  Yes, the middle one…for all the world to see.  To this day, I regret not getting that one printed for proof that she began her life as a rebel.  While she was also a fairly easy baby, it was clear to see she was going to be a handful very quickly.  She more often squeaked than cried, earning herself the name “Baby Bird”.  Also proven by the way she opened her mouth and waited for someone to put food in it when hungry.  Once mobile, she was ready to cause maximum damage.  If I would leave the room for mere seconds, I could hear giggles and the pitter patter of her running feet, as I dashed back in to find that she had turned off my laptop.  The laptop that I used for my job which I then learned to save everything after any update. 

As she learned to speak, it was evident that her nickname was once again proven when she parroted everything said within a four room radius.  And now at three, I’ve dubbed her the “swearing police”, scolding us when someone says anything she finds offensive, such as “stupid”.  Let’s just say my choice of words of frustration has been cut off at the knees.  With a full vocabulary and excellent speech, she suddenly sounds like a teenager with the comebacks that come out of her mouth.  I’m amazed at her ability to neck roll an insult back at a parent with breakneck speed. 

I’m not saying all girls and boys are the same.  I’m not even going to say any girls are the same as mine.  What I will say is that my guess is, there are quite a few girls out there giving their parents a run for their money.  And as teenagers, we may want to consider locking them in a tower until the age of thirty.  All I know is my parents must have been out of their minds…they had four girls.

Paying Attention is Affordable

In today’s economic state, a lot of us are trying to find ways to cut back on spending.  We are eating out less and taking “stay-cations” to save money wherever we can.  While parents are more accepting of making these sacrifices, sometimes our children are not so enthusiastic.  So, how do we get them to jump on our bandwagon willingly?

The most affordable answer is to pay attention to them.  One of my son’s favorite rainy day activities is to make our living room a movie theater.  We close all the curtains and make it as dark as possible.  We pick out a movie and turn up the volume on the TV, and if you have surround sound it makes it that much better.  Grab some pillows and blankets for maximum comfort.  And don’t forget popcorn, gummi bears and whatever snacks remind you of the movie theater. 

Ask your children to think of an at home activity that they love.  You might be surprised to find that they don’t often care what the activity is, but that you are the one participating with them.  Sending them off to play video games might keep them quiet, but picking up some crayons and drawing on paper with them will always be much more rewarding for both of you.