Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Playdates Suck

We have a ridiculously great group of friends here. We meet at the park every Tuesday, gab on about who went skiing this weekend, what mountain they hiked or what trail they ran. Who has a race coming up, who is traveling on vacation and which kid is riding a 2-wheeler on their own. We high-five each other, throw out sarcasm like it's confetti and just enjoy being outside and having a breather from the hard parenting stuff.

The people are so similar to me, it's scary. But, we haven't had a playdate. Like, at someone else's house. We've never seen each others' houses, actually. Tuesday, there were 6-8 of us, plus all of our kids. Collectively, we probably had about 20 of us at the park on a gloriously 55-degree, warm and sunny day. It's not that we're against playdates at houses, it's just... they're complicated.

Once you're in ones turf, the precedent changes. There are pretenses that adults have to deal with. Who will be the first to initiate? And should I clean the house? Will they like me once they finally see my mess of a life?

More than all that though (because honestly I don't personally care what they think of my junk and worry more that our small rental is too small for 20), it's about sharing. Not sharing my things or my space, but MY KIDS and their kids amicably cohabiting, sharing and being KIND. Because if it's anything like yesterdays 3.5 hour playdate at the park where almost zero bickering happened, that's not how it's going to go down when we're sharing space and practically living amongst one another for 3+ hours.

It's literally impossible for about a dozen kids (or even two) to share space and belongings without some issue for 3+ hours. Or with that many kids, at least 286 issues.

Benjamin has a sweet friend at school that he's been wanting to have a playdate with. He really wants to go to her house, but I can't exactly invite him over, so I invited her over... with the hope that we could swap playdate time and he could have his wish to visit her house, too.

That's not happening. For the first time in a long time, I had to endure one of those out-of-body tantrums he used to present us with multiple times a day. And it was totally embarrassing. I'm sure she's telling her mom all about his horrible behavior. Ugh. Thankfully those days are mostly gone, but I saw it again today, complete with the removal of clothing, destructive behavior, loud shrieking and need for restraint. Ugh.

He's lost treats, tablet time and sadly, that opportunity to visit the friend's coveted house next week. I just can't risk it. I honestly thought this afternoon would be super fun. School was great, they did their favorite activities and we were having a playdate where my kids would be so occupied sharing their toys with their sweet friend that I would park it on the couch with a book. Did. not. happen.

Sharing is hard. I know. Parenting is hard. I know that, too. And playdates? Well those just suck.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Grateful Weekend

We had one of those weekends that really couldn't have gone better.

Elliot is commuting for work regularly now, so we only see him on the weekends, which honestly isn't much different than with the last job he held, since the kids were almost always in bed before he arrived home for the evening. It's temporary, but different.

I'm not sure if the weekend was that much sweeter because we missed Daddy, but starting it off with both kids climbing into our bed and Claire laying her head on Daddy's chest and showering him with kisses couldn't really have kicked it off any better.

We went to the park to celebrate togetherness and warmer weather, visited the NOMA, enjoyed meals together and spent the warm and sunny Sunday up at our ski co-op where both Benjamin and Claire shined and beamed with pride at their ski accomplishments.

Benjamin is getting easier to understand. For awhile, he was so angry and difficult that we were merely tolerating our parenting with him and not enjoying him for who he was born to be. It's becoming more evident that he's just an introvert who still really strives to please us but often gets anxious and fears failure. At the end of one of his mini ski runs yesterday, he asked Elliot, "Dad, what do you think of my skills?" in a subdued, almost solemn manner. We praise him often, but it's becoming ever more clear as he ages that his frustrating behavior often stems from his fear of disappointment.

He occasionally asks to ski on weekdays and we can't. But come weekend ski days, he clams up and almost builds a wall of defense, stating he will not be partaking. But when he's out there, he truly loves every minute.

I'm dreaming of ski vacations where we're all on skis and gliding down mountains a mile long and then warming up in the lodge with hot cocoa. I think we'll be there before we know it.

Just before bed, we placed those sticky glow-in-the-dark stars all over their rooms that were sent as a gift from their Aunt Mansa. The kids took flashlights and shined them on each star to cause the stars to shine brighter, taught to them by their dad.

Benjamin's birthday is approaching in almost two weeks. Our rainbow baby, the baby who saved us, as we tell Benjamin often, will be turning five. We're grateful beyond measure.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Remember Book-It!?

As a kid in the 80's, I was all about the Book-It! program. It's still in action, people! It's been around since '84, which is right in the zone of my elementary years.

You mean I could read books, get star stickers on my scratchy holographic-looking shirt pin and when I filled the pin up, I could get a free mini pizza from Pizza Hut? The one that had an arcade inside with video games?
I thought it was a total deal. Like really, free food, Mom and Dad! (Except it wasn't free at all. I got a free $3 pizza but then my parents spent an extra $20 for dinner for the rest of the family. Being a parent makes you see things much differently.)

But regardless, it was a program that motivated kids and rewarded them with delicious pizza and made them not only excited, but PROUD to be a reader. I love literacy promotion however you can manage it, even if that means bribing kids with pizza. Bring it.

So it turns out Chipotle has their own program now and if you're a teacher or a librarian or a student or a principal or a parent of a student in K-5, you should totally get behind this. I love books and I love Chipotle and my kids will actually eat there, so obviously I can get behind a program like this!

Maybe this program gave me an excuse to take a trip down memory lane. (I bet I still have that pin if I look hard enough.) And to think I will have a kindergartner that will actually, finally be of age to participate in such programs makes me super stoked.

And Chipotle burritos are totally better than pizza, right?

*I was not paid to advertise this. I just got an email about it and will totally be bringing this program up to Benjamin's future elementary school and wanted to share. Jury is still out if I'm planning to take part in the PTA. Any PTA parents out there? As a teacher... it's usually a no-go...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Musings of a Winter Wednesday

Claire woke me up at 4:30.

And 5:15.

And 5:45.

And 6:00.

And 6:20.

Then Benjamin came in at 6:45.

I grumbled my way through preparing their super fancy and not at all GMO cinnamon Eggo Waffles, grabbed their lunches, stuck them into their already picked out clothes (and yes, I dress them on school mornings because HEAVENS. We would never be at school on time!) I also realize this goes against everything I believe in and still, I do it. Because paying for preschool for two kids is legit and I want them there on time. Because that time is also my time and after a morning like this one, I needed every last minute.

We've been driving the Accord because the husband is working out of town and both cars are in the garage. And the weather is finally chilling out and the temps are climbing, resulting in little need for the AWD of the Subie. Sister got a new carseat in the Accord, so we have a total of 4 now, which we've never had. Until now, we have been schlepping the extra carseat between cars, so I finally bit the bullet and bought a spare. Man, it's glorious.

And while I sure love our Subie, that synthetic oil change isn't as fun because the price tag is triple. These are the things I think about as we're buckling down with some changes coming up soon and a tighter budget for the next 4-5 months. But really, the kids choose which car we drive when both are available because I'm a cool mom like that. But fewer expensive oil changes? Total perk.

Dropped the chickens off at preschool and headed out for a 5-mile run that left me 1/2 mile from home with strange pain in my left hip. I bought some new running shoes. I hate them. So I bought more. I'm hoping these are the shoes dreams are made of, as I've jumped onto the Hoka One One train. But this time, I bought them from REI so I can return them if they totally suck.

I've been thinking a lot about getting old lately. That hip pain quickly turns into panic over the possibility of that being an arthritis zone eventually. I mean, I'm in my mid-30s already and most definitely not getting any younger, judging by the ridiculous soreness I felt after Monday's 11-miler. I'm questioning whether signing up for a half marathon in April was a good idea, but my new motto is just to finish and be kind to my body. I definitely can get under my 2:00 goal and run that distance, but at the expense of hurting myself, I'm not up for that.

I ran and indulged in some reality television, a long hot shower and lunch all by myself. Two pieces of crappy white enriched bread with a slather of guac, hummus, mustard and a couple slices of cheddar stuffed with some salt and vinegar kettle chips followed by too many mint Oreo cookies. Oreo cookies and crappy white bread sandwiches taste 10x better when eaten in silence and while watching junky television. It's a fact.

I rectified the crappy bread situation this afternoon by baking up a loaf of crunchy wheat-rye bread after picking the kids up and scheduling a playdate for the bigger one next week. I'm also scheduling a trail walk with friends next week as the weather appears to be warming up in our neck of the woods. Of course we hope the snow sticks around at 7,000 feet, as ski lessons are going well-- as well as they can be for a kid who always fights us, but then ends up rocking his lesson and killed it on the tow rope for the first time ever this past weekend.

My brain has been looming about getting back into the classroom this fall. I'm doing it. In some regard, I'm back in action come August. I'm making steps, but also putting some of the latest education books on hold at the library to binge read. My head needs some re-training. The teaching part, that's my jam.

The kids are watching a movie, it's raining outside and the house smells of freshly baked bread. I need a nap, but the kids' bedtime is just 3 hours away. Caffeine.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gender Coloring Sheets

So I didn't march. For a few reasons, but mostly because I wanted to enjoy the day with family, the leader has already been elected (who obviously doesn't care about gender equality) and there is a free conceal and carry law here in Nevada. You never know.

But what I do know is that gender should not dictate what toys children are allowed to play with or what pieces of paper they are allowed to color.

I've been spending a lot of time at the doctor's office with my darling daughter, so when we saw a file holder on the wall with two specific files labeled "FOR GIRLS" and "FOR BOYS" and coloring sheets inside, I wanted to drop those file folders in the garbage as a protest for gender equality.

In every sense of the word, equal means EQUAL. As in, men and women, boys and girls are entitled to play and learn together. With the same toys and especially the same coloring sheets. Like really. It's paper.

Inside these gender specified files were coloring sheets of Santa Claus, elves, Pooh Bear, etc. I imagine that during the normal months of the year, they have My Little Pony, Barbie, Ninja Turtles and Superheroes. And I'm just going to go ahead and assume that girls get pink, purple and submissive roles and boys get to save the world and be domineering.

Benjamin walked over and went to grab a Pooh Bear Merry Christmas sheet but realized it was in the FOR GIRLS file. He announced to Claire that he can't have that because he's a boy. I grabbed those files and immediately distributed the sheets inside (Pooh + elf) that they each requested, correcting him that there is no such thing as a gender specific coloring sheet and the files are inaccurate and unnecessary. And that having those divided was ridiculous. Apparently I was loud enough because both the secretary and another patient turned around, laughed and spoke words of agreement.

For goodness sakes, friends.

I'm finishing up The Good Girl's Revolt on Amazon Prime and I highly recommend it. It's empowering and maybe even had me more up in arms about the divided gender coloring pages than usual. It's based on the true story written in the book with the same namesake by Lynn Povich, who was one of the researchers at Newsweek Magazine that filed a lawsuit citing gender discrimination in the workplace in 1970. Women at Newsweek were not allowed to be writers; only men. It's shocking to me that these lawsuits weren't that long ago, and even more striking is to see that in everyday places, this sort of separation still exists.

A woman's place is in the revolution, indeed.