This Page

has been moved to new address

Tidbits from the Queen of Chaos

Sorry for inconvenience...

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
body { background:#aba; margin:0; padding:20px 10px; text-align:center; font:x-small/1.5em "Trebuchet MS",Verdana,Arial,Sans-serif; color:#333; font-size/* */:/**/small; font-size: /**/small; } /* Page Structure ----------------------------------------------- */ /* The images which help create rounded corners depend on the following widths and measurements. If you want to change these measurements, the images will also need to change. */ @media all { #content { width:740px; margin:0 auto; text-align:left; } #main { width:485px; float:left; background:#fff url("") no-repeat left bottom; margin:15px 0 0; padding:0 0 10px; color:#000; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } #main2 { float:left; width:100%; background:url("") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 0 0; } #main3 { background:url("") repeat-y; padding:0; } #sidebar { width:240px; float:right; margin:15px 0 0; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } } @media handheld { #content { width:90%; } #main { width:100%; float:none; background:#fff; } #main2 { float:none; background:none; } #main3 { background:none; padding:0; } #sidebar { width:100%; float:none; } } /* Links ----------------------------------------------- */ a:link { color:#258; } a:visited { color:#666; } a:hover { color:#c63; } a img { border-width:0; } /* Blog Header ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #header { background:#456 url("") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 0; padding:8px 0 0; color:#fff; } #header div { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #header { background:#456; } #header div { background:none; } } #blog-title { margin:0; padding:10px 30px 5px; font-size:200%; line-height:1.2em; } #blog-title a { text-decoration:none; color:#fff; } #description { margin:0; padding:5px 30px 10px; font-size:94%; line-height:1.5em; } /* Posts ----------------------------------------------- */ .date-header { margin:0 28px 0 43px; font-size:85%; line-height:2em; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; color:#357; } .post { margin:.3em 0 25px; padding:0 13px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px 0; } .post-title { margin:0; font-size:135%; line-height:1.5em; background:url("") no-repeat 10px .5em; display:block; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; color:#333; } a.title-link, .post-title strong { text-decoration:none; display:block; } a.title-link:hover { background-color:#ded; color:#000; } .post-body { border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; border-bottom-color:#fff; padding:10px 14px 1px 29px; } html>body .post-body { border-bottom-width:0; } .post p { margin:0 0 .75em; } { background:#ded; margin:0; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px; border-bottom:1px solid #eee; font-size:100%; line-height:1.5em; color:#666; text-align:right; } html>body { border-bottom-color:transparent; } em { display:block; float:left; text-align:left; font-style:normal; } a.comment-link { /* IE5.0/Win doesn't apply padding to inline elements, so we hide these two declarations from it */ background/* */:/**/url("") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } html>body a.comment-link { /* Respecified, for IE5/Mac's benefit */ background:url("") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } .post img { margin:0 0 5px 0; padding:4px; border:1px solid #ccc; } blockquote { margin:.75em 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:1px 0; padding:5px 15px; color:#666; } .post blockquote p { margin:.5em 0; } /* Comments ----------------------------------------------- */ #comments { margin:-25px 13px 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:20px 0 15px 0; } #comments h4 { margin:0 0 10px; padding:0 14px 2px 29px; border-bottom:1px dotted #ccc; font-size:120%; line-height:1.4em; color:#333; } #comments-block { margin:0 15px 0 9px; } .comment-data { background:url("") no-repeat 2px .3em; margin:.5em 0; padding:0 0 0 20px; color:#666; } .comment-poster { font-weight:bold; } .comment-body { margin:0 0 1.25em; padding:0 0 0 20px; } .comment-body p { margin:0 0 .5em; } .comment-timestamp { margin:0 0 .5em; padding:0 0 .75em 20px; color:#666; } .comment-timestamp a:link { color:#666; } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } .paging-control-container { float: right; margin: 0px 6px 0px 0px; font-size: 80%; } .unneeded-paging-control { visibility: hidden; } /* Profile ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #profile-container { background:#cdc url("") no-repeat left bottom; margin:0 0 15px; padding:0 0 10px; color:#345; } #profile-container h2 { background:url("") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 15px .2em; margin:0; border-width:0; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#234; } } @media handheld { #profile-container { background:#cdc; } #profile-container h2 { background:none; } } .profile-datablock { margin:0 15px .5em; border-top:1px dotted #aba; padding-top:8px; } .profile-img {display:inline;} .profile-img img { float:left; margin:0 10px 5px 0; border:4px solid #fff; } .profile-data strong { display:block; } #profile-container p { margin:0 15px .5em; } #profile-container .profile-textblock { clear:left; } #profile-container a { color:#258; } .profile-link a { background:url("") no-repeat 0 .1em; padding-left:15px; font-weight:bold; } ul.profile-datablock { list-style-type:none; } /* Sidebar Boxes ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { .box { background:#fff url("") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 15px; padding:10px 0 0; color:#666; } .box2 { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 13px 8px; } } @media handheld { .box { background:#fff; } .box2 { background:none; } } .sidebar-title { margin:0; padding:0 0 .2em; border-bottom:1px dotted #9b9; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#333; } .box ul { margin:.5em 0 1.25em; padding:0 0px; list-style:none; } .box ul li { background:url("") no-repeat 2px .25em; margin:0; padding:0 0 3px 16px; margin-bottom:3px; border-bottom:1px dotted #eee; line-height:1.4em; } .box p { margin:0 0 .6em; } /* Footer ----------------------------------------------- */ #footer { clear:both; margin:0; padding:15px 0 0; } @media all { #footer div { background:#456 url("") no-repeat left top; padding:8px 0 0; color:#fff; } #footer div div { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #footer div { background:#456; } #footer div div { background:none; } } #footer hr {display:none;} #footer p {margin:0;} #footer a {color:#fff;} /* Feeds ----------------------------------------------- */ #blogfeeds { } #postfeeds { padding:0 15px 0; }

Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Leo!

Today is Leo's birthday. In the spirit of what I have done on previous posts, this post will be dedicated to him. I know it goes without saying but I love him. Plain and simple. Here are some reasons why I do:

1.) I love when we are in the midst of chaos and he looks over to me and winks or smiles. It's like we are in on our own secret.

2.) I love how nonjudgemental he is and how he really does get along with everyone. Whenever dealing with people that are annoying, he'll just say, "That's just how he/she is."

3.) I love that he loves my cooking.

4.) I love that he gives Gia a bath every night without complaining. He was always like that, even when the other three were little. He was in charge of the bath.

5.) I love that he doesn't take himself too seriously and will act goofy with the kids (or really anyone).

6.) I love how much he loves coaching. He's a great coach, one that I would love for my kids to have even if he wasn't their father.

7.) I love that he has no idea how great of a guy he is. He isn't boastful or prideful or even aware of how drawn people are to him.

8.) I love how loyal he is. He is from the frame of mind that if it is broken, you fix it (when he fixes it is another story). You don't just get rid of it and get a new one which bodes well for me in the future. When we are together, he makes me feel like I am the only woman in the room and I love that.

9.) He is the strongest guy I know. We've made it through all that we have relying on his strength. I am lucky to have such big shoulders to lean on.

10.) I love that my heart still skips a beat when he walks in the room.

11.) I love that he plays with my hair every night before we go to sleep.

12.) I love he knows when I need a break or some space and tries very hard to give it to me.

13.) I love that he has supported every one of my dreams from growing our family to opening our house for a weekend tutoring class to writing the blog. He just rolls with it.

14.) I love that he really does not care what people think. In a world where everyone is in everyone's business and one-upping has become a past time, he really does not care what others are doing or what they think of him or his family. It is actually very refreshing.

15.) Very superficial but...he is HOT! He is hotter now than when I fell in love with him. What is hotter is that he was always one of those guys that never knew how good looking he was and he is still like that.

These are just some of the reasons I love him and today I'll be thinking about how lucky I was to walk out of that room at the same time he was walking out of the room next to mine back in 1988. It's been a wild ride so far and I look forward to many more years of chaos with him. Happy Birthday, Leo. Love you.

And if my computer was working, I'd put a picture of him right here but unfortunately no signs of life. I tried putting a link to the post, "The Reason I Can't Stay Mad" but I am on Leo's old computer and it won't let me view pictures or videos so I can't see if I did. There is a chance that a video posted twice. If so, someone let me know and I'll try and remove it.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parenthood Pt. 2

I am freaking out because yesterday Gia was really crabby because she still is under the weather and the only thing that made her happy was watching YouTube videos of animal sounds. I was drinking a cup of tea and she accidentally knocked it out of my hand spilling the tea on half of my computer. I turned it right away, was able to send an email and then it stopped working. It is drying out now but I am freaking out that I won't be able to get all my pictures, videos, iTunes and the books I am writing. I know...I should have backed it all up. I know...

Back to Parenthood. I need to clarify that I'm not sure I'd like the Bob Dylan song that plays in the intro if I just heard it on the radio. I am not a huge Bob Dylan fan but coupled with the montage of pictures, it gets me every week. Tuesday night's episode had a lot of "Yay!" moments. I was practically cheering when Drew asked the girl out. I love Drew and Zeek's relationship. It is sometimes uncomfortable but you can't help but see how much Zeek loves that kid. I loved the advice that Camille gave Sarah. I was relieved when Adam went to bat for Alex. I want to like Haddie...really I do but maybe that is the point...that teenagers are hard to like. I thought Zoe's explanation for why she didn't want Julia to adopt her baby made sense. I think it would be extremely hard to give up your baby and then see the woman you gave your baby to everyday. I thought the look on Adam's face when he said he wanted to go into business with Crosby was pretty funny.

The part that got to me this time and why I ended up sobbing was the ultrasound. That was Leo and me. When I told Gia's story, I left out some parts that I would rather have forgotten. Watching last night brought those moments back. People would ask me all the time, "What are you hoping for?" I wanted to say a baby that was alive but that would have made the other person uncomfortable and then I'd have to explain everything if it was just a random stranger. Leo and I talked about it and since we lost a boy, a part of us wanted another boy but with both boys having CF, we really felt like the odds were against us for having a boy without CF. On the other hand, since we had lost a boy, a part of me wanted a girl. I didn't want to look at my son that was here and wonder every time, if that was what Rocco would have looked like. I really believed (and there is absolutely no scientific backing to this) that if it was a girl, she wouldn't have CF. So when Kristina and Adam were in that room, that was us. Not knowing if we wanted to know and knowing that even if we did, it didn't guarantee us a healthy baby. When they said it was a girl, and Kristina let out a sigh of relief, the camera turned to Adam and I wondered if I saw something else in his face. Was a part of him wanting a boy that didn't have Asperger's? Does he or will he now grieve the loss of the idea in his head of what a father/son relationship is? Was there a small part of him hoping that they'd beat the odds and have a boy that didn't have it? Not that it takes away from Max. He loves that kid and he accepts him for who he is and celebrates each milestone but I wonder if that is what I saw in his face. When Kristina was looking at the ultrasound picture later and said, and I am paraphrasing, that she'd love that baby no matter what and that she already did, it again brought me back to when I was pregnant. With the CF cloud hanging over us, the worry was sometimes paralyzing but one thought calmed my nerves down. No matter what, I would love that baby. I might get frustrated or overwhelmed with the boys having CF but there is never a lack of love. I watch Adam and Kristina navigate their way through Max's world and it is so different from what I deal with but what remains is the same feeling of this is not what I thought it was going to be like. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I finally caught up with this show. As much as I love this show and look forward to watching it every week, I know it is going to take me on a roller coaster of emotions so I need to set aside time to give it my undivided attention. It just guts me. I find myself cracking up and then crying in a matter of minutes. What is it about the intro song and montage? I mean, I can guess what it is. It's the flashbacks and how it brings me right back to when I was younger before my "parenthood" materialized. I remember wanting to be married and be a mom and all of the dreams that went along with that. All of the ideals. Maybe it is a sadness that those years of dreaming of what it would be like are over. That now, it is what it is. No more guessing. I have two sons and two daughters and a lot of tears shed to get them here with some losses along the way. No more wondering who they'll look like (though I'm still in awe that they look like they do) or what their personalities will be like. They are their own little beings. Does the intro get to everyone watching or am I just over-analyzing?

Watching the first episode of this season, I was mad at Haddie. I know kids drink in high school but I hated what happened to Alex. I'm hating that storyline. My heart goes out to Julia. I've been there and I know the desperation that comes with wanting a baby and not being able to make your body work the way you want. I can relate to Adam and Kristina's storyline because I found out I was pregnant with Gia and two days later, Leo lost his job. He was out of work until Gia was two months old and though I cherished the time that he was home, it was scary. I worried constantly about him finding a job with good insurance. The boys' meds are really expensive but with insurance, manageable. I can relate to Adam's point of view because before I found out I was pregnant, I was trying to go back to work and it was hard and humbling. I had been out of the teaching field for 11 years at that point and the hiring system was a lot different. I toyed with changing careers but that was going to take time and money. I still wonder what I am going to do and even though Gia keeps me busy, I get restless with wanting to do something now. I think Jason Ritter is adorable and am happy to see him back. I love that storyline for Sarah. I just love Zeek. He reminds me of my dad though my dad doesn't interfere as much as Zeek does. My dad has had some good zingers and some great advice and loves in that "I'm going to be strong for both of us until you can be strong on your own" sort of way. I just want Crosby's storyline to work out. I want this to be his success story.

The second episode left me with a heavy heart. Max's storyline breaks my heart and there isn't a person out there that can't relate to it. When Kristina pulled up and saw him alone at lunch/recess, I just lost it. I want to know that my kids are okay when they aren't with me. My kids don't have Asperger's but having CF sometimes causes them embarrassment. Bodily functions are rampant in battling this and luckily they are boys that still think they are funny but I know from the tears shed at home that they are embarrassed and the question comes up once in awhile, "What if kids won't like me because I have CF?" Tommy struggles with this a little more than Nico but every once in awhile, Nico will voice his fears. When Max went up to the boy at lunch and did exactly what his mom said to do and it didn't work, anyone watching was probably thinking the same thing...if only it were that simple. I know it was not what Kristina had in mind but I am so glad that Jabbar and his little friends sat with him and that he had a moment to shine. Isn't that what we all want for our kids or even for ourselves? A moment to shine? When she had that moment of unraveling about the unanswered email, those of you that have been reading can see why I related to that. Then when she went in to talk with that teacher (who I will admit I don't care for as an actress), I thought about when I was teaching. Did I sit on the side of the table across from a nervous parent and did I make them feel better? Did I shrug things off because I had 25 other kids I was responsible for? Did I not take into consideration that the child in question was that person's whole world and though I thought they'd be okay, when the parent showed concern, did I listen and reassure? I hope I did but the truth is that I remember one parent in particular that drove me crazy because he wanted to meet every week to discuss his son's progress. I thought this child needed to be evaluated and if he was, I had no problem meeting however, the parents refused any testing so I refused to meet weekly. It was an uphill battle because everyone involved wanted me to give in and I was probably more stubborn than I had to be but that child needed more help than I could give him and meeting once a week to tell the parents that was going to be like banging my head against a wall. I did crack up about the email because I don't think teachers realize how long it takes us to send the emails in the first place. I know I write it and then rewrite it and then let it sit and then take stuff out or add stuff. All for the sake of not sounding like the crazy parent or the neurotic parent (yes, I know...that ship has sailed). So when the email goes unanswered it sends crazy over the edge. It's hard to give up control if your kids don't have needs outside the norm but when they do, giving up control is even harder. My heart continues to tug for Kristina. Plus, I remember having to deal with one of Nico's teachers when I was pregnant and it was not fun.

I'll save last night's episode for tomorrow in case people haven't watched it yet and what I have to say is long and this is long enough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tommy and a Movie Review

The kids had off of school yesterday and Leo took the day off. He was going to take Nico, Belle and Gia to his mom's but Gia started running a low grade fever. I have no idea why. She has no other symptoms but she did have that "sicky-eye" look. The reason I didn't include Tommy in that is because I promised him when Leo took Belle to the movies (because they missed the Daddy/Daughter dance) that I would take him to the movies. Belle of course thought that I was being completely unfair to her because it took Leo over 6 months to finally take her and it was because they missed the dance so what was the reason for me taking Tommy and that I NEVER do ANYTHING with just her? I resisted the urge to tell her she was full of it and reminded her that she had plans to play with a friend that day. Funny that all drama about not going with me came to a screeching halt.

It made me feel good that Tommy wanted to spend the day together. We went and saw the movie MoneyBall. It's the baseball movie with Brad Pitt. Now, at any other time in my life, Brad Pitt would have been reason enough to see the movie but since the 14 year old girl in me has moved on, he was not the pull to see the movie. Both my boys play baseball and Tommy picked it and I am so happy he did. It was really good. Tommy and I both cried and then laughed when he said, "I can't believe we are crying." The only reason it was PG-13 is because it said f*** twice. I could kid myself and say that I was offended and upset that he heard it but let's face it, he's heard it many times. Even though it was a movie about the business of baseball, it still had the love of the game in there and it made Tommy, who is in the middle of loving football say, "I forgot how much I love baseball."

Tommy went grocery shopping with me which is always a treat. The kids like going with me alone because they get to pick out the snacks that they want. It's funny because Tommy kept putting things in the cart saying, "We should get these. Nico likes these" or "We have to get these. They're Belle's favorite." I had to buy food for the dinners this week. I hit my first, "I don't want to do this anymore" moment. In the past all of my family enjoyed tacos for dinner. Last night, I made them and I was the only one that ate them. Leo had a coaches' meeting so he didn't. Nico and Tommy decided that they didn't want them. Belle had practice and when she came home she wasn't hungry and Gia...well...she is just the strangest eater ever. Pirate Booty and chicken nuggets are about all she'll eat. Because she didn't feel well and I was gone all day, she cried every time I tried to put her down to make dinner. It really was the saddest, most pitiful cry so Leo pitched and helped get it done. I was right, though. The fastest way for that candle to burn out is putting a meal on the table and have no one eat it.

The lesson learned yesterday is that I need to do more things with each kid individually. Alone, they are pretty fun to be around. I wish they wouldn't morph into a bunch of alley cats ready for a fight when they are all together but that is still a work in progress.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tech Frustrations

I've said it before and I'll say it again because it is relevant today but I hate when things don't work the way they are supposed to. My computer is not working like it used to. At first I thought it was the new Facebook (which I know is free but why do they keep fixing it when it wasn't broken?) but now I am thinking it is just my computer since no one else seems to be having any difficulties. I have been enjoying playing several games of Words With Friends but I am about to throw in the towel because lately, I am having trouble getting to the game and then once I do, it is incredibly slow. A few times I think I've played a word and moved to a different game only to go back and see that the word didn't go through. What is supposed to be an enjoyable way to pass the time is turning into a source of stress. I remember the same thing happened to me way back when I used to play Text Twist and I finally gave up. My email hasn't been working either. I have this annoying jumpy screen and a sheer sense of panic that someone is trying to get in touch with me and can't or vice versa. I sat down to blog this morning and couldn't do it with the jumpy screen. It's frustrating to be dependent on something that can't be depended on.

The big screen television that took Leo so long to research and finally buy is making me crazy. Two things are happening that shouldn't happen to normal working television sets. One is that every once in awhile it goes to half a screen. Not the full screen in half the space but the full screen with half black. You have to turn it off and then back on. It's not a huge deal but I find it to be really annoying. The other thing was that the remote stopped working. You could try and press another number after "2" but it wouldn't show up so you'd always end up back at channel 2 and scroll back up. Leo tried to fix it but ended up making it worse. Now we have two remotes that look exactly the same but one turns on the television and works the volume and the other turns on the DirectTV box and changes the channel but the last row of numbers doesn't work. Have you ever heard of something so ridiculous. After navigating through it, I finally give up and shut the TVoff and go to bed to finish watching whatever show I was watching. (As I was writing this, he fixed the remote situation.)

While we are on the topic of technology, I will take this time to vent about still not having a working microwave over our stove (for those just now hearing it, our microwave over the stove broke after a big thunderstorm and after four years, Leo finally replaced it only for it to malfunction in extreme heat or when the power goes out). We have a little one we bought from Target when the first microwave over the stove broke but I want it gone. We don't have enough counter space as it is and with the second microwave, we have less. I did all the leg work and all Leo has to do is go to Best Buy, get the microwave and talk to the installation guy. Again this was a microwave it took him a year to research. I don't want to say anything but I had a TV that I bought before college that worked until the day we donated it and the microwave from Target was bought after thinking about it for 10 minutes, and four years later, it still works.

These aren't major issues but I don't think it is a lot to ask for things to work the way they are supposed to, is it?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Leo's Back!!!

I could have cried happy tears of joy when he got home last night at around 7:30. I met him on the porch and hugged and kissed him and felt a huge sense of relief. That was a fleeting moment of calmness. Once he got in the house, it was chaos. Belle met him at the door with, "Dad, can I show you the cheer I made up?" Gia got in on the hugs and the boys continued playing their video game while breaking to wrestle. I told them Leo was home and they came up, hugged him and went back down to continue their fighting. I couldn't get a word in edgewise with Belle talking while Leo ate the Lou Malnati's pizza I knew he'd appreciate after his long trip. He helped me out by giving Gia a bath, listening still to Belle discuss everything that was going on in her life.

After Gia was in bed, Leo wanted to hear what was going on with the boys but they were very busy wrestling. I tried telling him that this was how the whole week was. I finally went and told them that they were hurting Leo's feelings. They came upstairs but could not pull it together to have a normal conversation. Both Leo and I became frustrated when they kept screwing around, fighting and generally being silly (Tommy is everyone's toy and has no problem doing anything to get Nico to laugh at him). You know how they say the sound of children's laughter is like angels singing? Well last night, it was like nails on a chalkboard. The boys couldn't understand why we were aggravated and when Leo said no to Belle's request to watch her video of last year's cheer competition, she stomped off saying, "Dad only cares about football. He never wants to talk about cheerleading. This after he watched her routine, endless back bends and a few cheers she made up. I think, finally, after everyone was in bed, Tommy felt bad and went into our room to tell Leo how his game was.

This morning I needed to go to Target (and really was looking forward to going alone) when Leo informed me that he wanted to go see a football game (where none of our kids were playing...this drives me nuts) and by the way, could I wash his shirts for today's game? Since it is Sunday, I wanted to make French Toast for the kids. After Leo informed me that he was taking the boys for a haircut at 10, I had to race to get breakfast done so that I could run through Target (of course that didn't stop me from spending over $100...though I did forget bread) to be home so he could leave. I have my nephew's birthday party at 2:00 in St. Charles and then Nico's game at 5:30 in Wheaton. I am angry about that because it was supposed to be at 6:30 but they moved it up. I hate when they do that. I have things on the schedule from the beginning and plan around it. When they change things, it is so irritating. We have lights on our field so I don't see why they changed it. Ordinarily, I'd just go late to his game or not go at all but it is Homecoming and when they announce the players, they give their mom's a flower. I don't want Nico to not have anyone to give one to so I have to be there before the game starts.

After thinking of all I have to do today, I have to ask: Why does my life feel like a race I am rarely ever winning?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not Without Drama

Tommy had a great game today scoring three touchdowns and I screwed it up by getting stung by a bee. I swatted a bee that was about to land on Gia and it stung my finger. I am allergic to bees and used to have an epi-pen but it has since expired and just like everything else I let the prescription fall by the wayside thinking I'd never need it. I would just avoid the bees. The last time I got stung, I felt like my throat was closing, took a Benedryl and was fine. I just did the same and it will be fine. I swear, I really want to live a drama-free life and somehow, it keeps finding me.

Update on being held accountable: Mail corner is gone. Tables and counters and mantle are bare. My closet was going to get done this afternoon but now that I just took a lot of Benedryl, it probably won't happen. I didn't do the laundry basket thing but I did catch up on laundry so that counts right? The bag of 18 mo clothes is half way gone through so not too bad, if I must say so myself.

Two close calls with almost having to go to the emergency room, a trip down the stairs, and a bee sting later and I am SO ready for Leo to come home. Counting the hours until 7:00 tonight. He was missed more than he knows.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Falling in Love and Being Someone That Matters

The books that I write are about falling in love. If you are lucky, you have the experience of falling in love at least once. It's like Lord Tennyson said, "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." Falling in you remember when you did? Remember when you saw him/her the first time? Remember when your eyes first met? Did it feel like a bolt of lightning or did you feel an instant click? Did you smile at each other to show that you were interested? Remember when you first spoke to each other? Were you nervous or did it feel like you had known each other forever? Did your heart skip a beat when you heard his/her voice on the other end of the phone? Remember when you couldn't get enough of each other and wanted to spend all of your time together? Do you remember your first kiss? Was it a hurried one because the physical attraction was so strong or was the anticipation of the kiss as good as the actual kiss? Did your friends get mad at how much time you were spending with each other?  Did you know right away that you wanted to be together forever or was it more gradual? Were you friends first when all of a sudden, you saw him/her with someone else and you felt the jolt of jealousy that told you that your feelings had changed somewhere along the line or was it love at first sight when you just knew that he/she was going to be someone important in your life? When I sit down to write, I have to have those feelings come back to me in order to write them so I think about them a lot.

In the two books that I enjoy writing at the moment (one writing, one editing), both stories have the slow simmer and the fast speed train kind of relationships. I don't know if it is because I write these kinds of stories or if it is because I am a hopeless romantic but I absolutely love hearing other people's love stories. I often think about writing a collection of short stories of the love stories of people I interview. I just find the experience of falling in love fascinating. The butterflies, the pull, the connection, the complete acceptance that you feel with another is no wonder there are people out there that love the "idea" of falling in love. I can understand why some people are addicted to that feeling. I can remember vividly when the other person felt like a drug. Waiting by the phone or for the date for the fix of being with them in some way (these days, it's instant messaging, texting and emailing). Leo's been gone for a week and I am right back to feeling that way. I feel like I am going through some sort of withdrawal* (that involves sleepless nights and falling down stairs) waiting to get the text or call. I always wait for that feeling of my heart skipping a beat when I hear his voice on the other end and it never fails to happen. Falling in love is risky, though. It's scary to give your heart to someone else. You trust that they'll take care of it and sometimes they don't (which doesn't feel good in real life but makes for interesting books).

In one of the books that I am writing, the theme of closure is a big one at the moment and it dawned on me: when people say they want closure, they really want to know that they mattered to the other person. They want validation that they were as big a part of the other person's life as that person was in theirs. When we muddle through this life, we have experiences that shape us and to know that we helped shaped the other person as well, gives us closure to move on. Let's face it, we move on regardless but it is nice to not have to wonder, isn't it? It's funny because when we are in midst of those experiences, it's rare to stop and realize that the other person is going to imprint in our memories in some way. If I ever get the chance to tell those in my life, past and present, I will jump on it because it feels good to know we matter...even if it is in a small way.

*I have been spelling this word wrong forever! Did anyone else think it was withdrawl?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quick Update and Another Doesn't it Figure

Nico has swimmer's ear with some damage to his ear drum. It's not permanent which is good and he has drops that have some steroids and some antibiotic in them. I find it funny that some of the kids are giving him a hard time about going to the doctor after what happened.

I'm not sure what happens when Leo goes out of town but last night around 6:00, Gia dumped a bag of chips and when I went to pick them up, she tripped over the rug and hit the corner of her eye on the corner of the coffee table. She was eating and dancing five minutes after it happened and immediately her eye began to bruise but other than the sheer panic I felt, she was fine.

We have been working on Gia walking down the stairs for about a week. She has been doing pretty well. Today, she was walking down the stairs holding my hand but stumbled and when she almost fell, I went to steady her and the good news is that I did and she didn't fall. But I did. Go can laugh. I have that annoying thing that when people fall, I think it is hilarious. Even as I write this, I can remember specific instances when people have fallen and I couldn't help but laugh and am even laughing right now. Gia could have laughed if she didn't look so scared that her mother just flew through the air landing on her behind. The important thing is that Gia didn't fall. I hate when stuff like that happens. I felt weak from being banged up and like an idiot that I can't walk and talk at the same time.

An update on the homemade dinners is that they are still going strong. It is a lot harder with Gia and I have had to start making them while she naps. The kids still ask for "supper" after they get back from practice which drives me crazy but since Leo isn't home, it is cereal. Our schedule doesn't allow for a lot of time at the table but it has been nice knowing they are eating home-cooked meals.

This isn't a whole TV update but I am not ashamed to admit that when Top Chef: Just Desserts had the original cast of Willy Wonka on, I kind of cried. It brought back a flood of memories. Besides how scary the Oompa Loompas were, I loved that movie. Being that candy is my favorite thing ever and the one thing that I have enough willpower to not start eating because I won't stop, visiting a candy factory sounded like a little slice of heaven when I was younger (and even now).

Is it possible that my cleaning lady is taking my cleaning supplies? I can't find a lot of them and now two rolls of paper towels are missing. I can see using one but two?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Doesn't it Figure?

Nico went to school yesterday because he was afraid missing would put him behind. The teachers must put the fear of God in them about missing school because I practically have had to beg Nico to stay home in the past and yesterday was no different. I got a text from him close to the end of school saying his ear "hurt terribly." I called the doctor and tried to get him an appointment before they closed at 6:00. They were booked. I hate when that happens. The nurse got my hopes up when she asked me for a pharmacy number. He was going to get meds and all would be okay soon. Not so much. She called me back with a home remedy of peroxide and water and hot compresses. Those worked for about 10 minutes. Tylenol did nothing. Advil helped but two hours before I could give him more, he was in so much pain, he was crying. I was ready to take him to the ER and had a babysitter on standby. I called the doctor on call which is one I really don't like. She makes you feel like you are meds seeking and always says the same thing, "He/she really needs to be seen. I can't help you without seeing him/her." Well, why are you even on call if you can't help? What is the point of calling? I asked her if a middle ear infection could happen that fast? The water was dumped on him and an hour later, he was in pain. She said, maybe...really, really no help. The Advil kicked in and I really didn't want to have to bother someone to come watch the other three so we didn't go to the ER. He was up again last night and so I am waiting to call and get him into the doctor today. I hope something will work to relieve his pain. Doesn't it figure that my kids ALWAYS get sick when Leo is out of town? Last time, Belle got the stomach flu. The time before that everyone had strep throat.

I wonder if I am the only parent that sees how screwed up the middle school is. If you have read previous posts, you know that with some incidences at school the lesson has been, if you hang out with troublemakers, you are going to be thought of as a troublemaker. If they are getting into trouble, you are going to get into trouble, whether you do it or not. Guilt by association. We have driven this point home with Nico. I got a generic email from the counselor saying that the lunch table my child has been sitting at is too large and too hard to control so they split it up. Nico is no longer eating with two of his best friends. He is sitting with two boys that he is becoming better friends with which is fine but when I asked Nico about lunch, I was pretty disgusted. The first week of school, the kids sit at a table. That becomes their assigned table and who they have to sit with everyday. Nico said he sat down and about five boys he is friends with sat with him. He didn't mention a few that he hangs out with regularly and when I asked, he said it just happened that way the day they said it was their assigned tables and that other kids got there first. I asked who else sat at his table and doesn't it figure? Some of the same boys that he got in trouble with in gym. I asked him why he doesn't move and he said he can't. He'll get in trouble. He said once you are sitting down, you can't switch tables. He tried and was sent back. Now that the table is split up, he is sitting with two friends and some of the troublemakers. I told him that if they start making trouble, to move to another table but he said he can't. I told him to sit and don't even talk (nice, lunch, huh?) and he said it doesn't matter. The whole table gets in trouble. So apparently the lesson is, if the ship is going down, too bad. You'll get in more trouble if you try and save yourself. I'm teaching my kid to not hang out or be around kids causing trouble and the school is forcing him to stay in those situations. I get that they can't have a whole table of kids causing trouble but there has to be a better way or just let a kid remove himself from the situation. We ended the discussion that I'd rather get a call that he moved away from kids causing trouble than a call that he is causing trouble.

The last "doesn't it figure" is a good one. My ENT doctor that did my surgery called yesterday. They finally got the original slides and had their pathologist look at them. It was NEVER cancer! They feel that it was an inflammatory issue and that it still needed to come out so nothing would have changed except I wouldn't have had the ice cold fear coursing through my veins that I had cancer. It is the equivalent of when you get a mole removed and they say it was benign. I am frustrated that you trust the medical profession (literally with your life) and these mishaps happen. I am still chalking it up to the work of God but am happy that the word cancer is erased from this experience. I have to thank my best friend, Rochelle. It was because of her that I even went to get it checked out. I was not happy with her at first but only because I am a "head in the sand" kind of person. I am thankful that she loves me enough to force me to go so that this whole thing is behind me. Thanks, Roche! Love you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Making Myself Accountable

Leo left Sunday night after our crazy day. I admit...I was a big baby and I cried when he left. I hate when he travels. Before Gia, it bothered me but I got to a point where I didn't mind it as much. I watched TV all night (and even fell asleep to it), made breakfast for dinner and if I didn't feel like straightening up, I didn't. Now, I am torn between wanting to overhaul my house (we do a very stubborn silly thing by being at a stand-off with things around the house...he won't clean the mail corner so I won't clean my side of the closet. It's a very healthy relationship with our house) and wanting to crawl into the fetal position in my bed and not come out until he comes back. Even though Gia is a huge "Mommy's Girl", when Leo would come home from work, it was as if the cavalry arrived. This is like the movie, Groundhog Day or like a bad hamster wheel existence. It's race, race, race, fall into bed, wake up and race, race, race again. Since I cannot crawl into my bed and not come out, I am overhauling the house. I am writing it here so that I can report back that I did it all or feel like a complete failure.

1.) For once and for all, get rid of the mail corner. I have a bin and all of it is going in there and heading for the basement.

2.) Go through my closet and organize it and finally get rid of the clothes I wore when I taught. Now that we have our little miracle surprise, by the time I go back to teaching, those clothes will either be out of style (they already are) or won't fit.

3.) Try and find the 18month clothes bin that my BFF gave me so that I can see what Gia has already.

4.) Take the advice of my friend who says to fill a laundry basket of your kid's clothes and bag the rest. That way there is always room for their clothes to be put away instead of shoved inside.

5.) Strive for bare counters and tabletops. Throw away things that Leo keeps taking out of the garbage when I try and throw them away.

The last one is a stretch. With three kids always putting stuff on the table, it looks like a bomb goes off periodically and with Gia, I am always having to put stuff out of her reach on counters and tabletops but a girl can dream.

On a side note, I think 8th grade boys are just as hard to watch as 19 month olds. I have had a few over at my house lately and Nico tells me stories and I have come to the conclusion that they have odd senses of humor, they are rarely not in motion, they are loud, they don't smell the best, they are constantly walking around without shirts on, they eat more food than I usually have in the house and what they think is funny gets them in trouble in school, practices and home. The sense of humor one is the one that is a thorn in my side at the moment. Gia slept through the night last night. You would think that meant that I did too. I did not, thanks to one of the football players on Nico's team. Nico was lying down icing his knee when this kid went up to him and dumped a water bottle on his head. Nico said he got mad and the kid said, "It's just a joke". Sooo not funny.  Water got in Nico's ear and he was up all night in pain. I know there is nothing like ear pain (much like tooth pain) so I felt bad for him. I gave him Advil and had some earache drops. He reverted back to a two year old and finally cried himself to sleep with his head on my lap at around 1:00am. I, however, did not sleep because he moaned in his sleep all night long. I was going to let him stay home but he got up in a panic and said he had to go to school. I fully expect that I am going to get a phone call today. Hating the 8th grade sense of humor.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Gina!

Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister.  ~Alice Walker

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.  ~Isadora James

Today is my sister, Gina's birthday. She was my first best friend and I love her with all my heart. We are very much alike in our morals and values and how we raise our kids but we have always been like two sides of the same coin. I was really outgoing as a kid and she was really shy. I was boy crazy. She was more reserved and...choosy. She was book smart, I was common sense smart. She held back with her feelings, I told it like it was. She was the "good daughter" always willing to help without asking. I would help but I waited to be asked. She has a long fuse, I have a short one. I like the image of the same coin because quite honestly, I feel so close to her that it feels like a part of me is missing when I go too long without seeing or talking to her.

When we were younger, we were the "big ones" while our three younger sisters were the "little ones". We laugh because when we talk now, we still refer to our three other sisters as the little ones. We shared a room and spent countless nights talking about our hopes and our dreams. We were going to get married (to John Stamos and Scott Baio) and live by each other and go to each other's houses every day. We would call each other "Sis" and Saturdays, we would play Barbie's or House all day long until we had to go to church and then we'd come home and play until we had to go to bed. As we got older, I enjoyed the "setting up" more than the playing and she'd get mad at me for quitting right after we were done setting up.

She was always the better student that I was forever compared to but she worked her butt off to get those grades and I was more interested in going out with my boyfriend. I was the loud hopeless romantic and she was more quiet but the dreams were always the same. She was always beautiful and funny and had a heart of gold that broke whenever she saw someone hurting. If someone ever hurt me, she'd become fiercely protective and usually ice them out. She had a look that could kill and any guy I dated knew they had to win over Gina in order for us to keep dating.

She is my funniest sister (though Nikki is a close second) and one time put me in the hospital from laughing so hard. I was sick to begin with but that put me over the edge. I think when we go days that life is so crazy and we don't get to talk for a long time, it's the laughing I miss the most. She knows me well enough to know that when I call her with a problem, she doesn't play "Devil's Advocate" at first. She sides with me, tells me the other person is wrong and then shows me another point of view. She is the first person I go to when I am sad, mad or happy and she cries, yells or celebrates right along with me.

When we went to college, we roomed together and even joined the same sorority. We were quickly nicknamed "Good twin/Bad twin" (which I still really hate) because I told it like it was and she was more politically correct. When Gina told one of our roommates to bring a fan to add to our townhouse and the girl brought a decorative fan for the wall, Gina just said, "Oh, that's nice" while I couldn't help but say, "Are you for real?" I wanted people to pay their bills while Gina would just politely remind them. She was always better at that stuff than me. She still is. We had a blast in college sharing all the same experiences and even some classes (she got the A's and I got the B's). The best part of that is that Gina is in all of my memories from college.

Getting married was hard. She got married first and I wasn't ready to share her. We were the most important person in each other's lives since I could remember that I wasn't ready to take a step down. I'm pretty sure we thought that no one would ever be good enough for either of us but seeing how happy my brother-in-law made her made it easier. He appreciated how beautiful and funny she was and he and Leo got along so we did a lot with the four of us. I have absolutely no right but it made me so proud to see her as a wife and then a mother. She does exceedingly well at both and makes it look so easy. I am sometimes so jealous of how well she handles the chaos of parenthood. I love the conversations we have unloading on how hard it is and then building each other up and supporting each other until the  next challenge hits.

I have often said she should have been born first. She possesses all of those qualities of a first born including calling me reminding me of things I should be doing or people I should be calling. She has always looked out for me in that way. She doesn't want anyone mad at me or talking about me. She is literally my safety net for when I fall and if you have read the blog up to this point, I'm a little bit of a faller. I'm the older sister and if anyone ever crossed her or hurt her, I'd have a hard time restraining myself but I never get the chance to. She's too busy looking out for me to even notice anyone being mean to her.

To wrap it up, she is one of the best people I know and I am proud to call her my sister and my best friend. She's the the glass half full to my glass half empty. She is the jelly to my peanut butter and she's the eggs to my bacon. She's the Shirley to my Laverne and the Thelma to my Louise (though the Felix to my Oscar is probably more accurate). The thing is that men have come and gone (not too many) and friends have come and gone but the one thing that remains the same is that through thick and thin, Gina has remained by my side. Without her, life isn't much fun.

So on this day, and way too late (it's almost ten and she is sure in bed by now), I wish her a happy, happy birthday. I look forward to another year of lots of laughs and wonderful memories made.

Love you, Gina.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Most Chaotic Weekend

This weekend is the epitome of my life. Crazy. Last night I celebrated my grandpa's birthday by going to a restaurant that was not very kid friendly but has been our family's staple since I can remember: Amalfi's in Bloomingdale. I treated myself to a sitter for Gia and actually sat down the whole time. It's always disappointing when you look forward to a meal and then it isn't very good. Being with my family was wonderful and my sister had a good meal and split it with me but mine wasn't very good which is unusual since every other time I've had it, it was delicious. Leo went to the dinner but had poker and went straight from the restaurant. I had to race back here to relieve the sitter and I was nervous about how it went. I didn't need to be. The babysitter was wonderful and Gia loved her. She's babysat again today because I had Isabella's cheer exhibition. I had to have her there by 7:45. Nico had practice at 8:00. Tommy had practice at 9:00. Leo took Nico and left early to come watch Belle cheer. Tommy got picked up for practice and then Leo picked him up after the exhibition. We have a 40th birthday party that I want very much to go to but Leo has to get ready for his trip that he leaves for tomorrow and he isn't feeling well. Nico came home from practice not feeling well. He is so run down. I thought about leaving Nico with the kids and running over to say happy birthday but with him not feeling well and Gia not having slept longer than a three hour stretch last night, it is not a good mix. Tommy has two friends over and Belle went with a friend to a football game. I have to go to Carters and exchange a bunch of clothes with tags on them to get store credit to get Gia warmer pajamas. I also have to go to Target to get stuff for today and for tomorrow's homecoming party. My mom said she'd watch Gia for me tomorrow so at 10:00, I have to bring her to my mom's, bring Belle and Tommy to decorate cars and then to their football game at 1:00. I am staying for the first half of their game and am leaving at half-time to go to Bartlett to see Nico's second half of his game. Then I am going to swing by my mom's to get Gia and bring her to the homecoming party back at a Wheaton park. Leo is leaving for the week right after the party. I would just like to know when I get to take a breath? I am exhausted just typing all of that. At this point, I am just going to look forward to tomorrow night at about 10:00 when everyone is in bed and I can finally relax. Wanna bet that I won't be able to fall asleep because Leo isn't home and then when I finally do, Gia will wake up for her nightly, "I want to make my mommy crazy" moment?

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Tribute to My Gramps: Happy Birthday!

Today is my grandpa's birthday. I hope he doesn't care that this whole post is about him. Some people hate getting mentioned in the blog and some love it and some don't care. I hope he is in the latter two. My grandpa is a quiet man. He doesn't say much but when he does, it is either a joke or a word of encouragement. He is always ready with a kiss or a hug and often he could be found at family gatherings marveling at someone saying, "Look what you started!" Here are some things that stand out in my memory of life with my gramps.

When I was little, it was a favorite activity to go sleep at my grandparents. I usually went with Gina and she and my grandma were really close so Gramps and I became close. I loved jumping in the bed in the morning to wake him up and then have breakfast. My grams would tell me that I should be more like Gina who did everything she was told without arguing and my gramps would say, "Leave her alone. She's fine." I love my grams and miss her everyday and I know she loved me. Having my grandpa stick up for me even in small situations like that made me feel good and I never forgot it.

Christmas Eve and Easter were always at my grandma and grandpa's house. I remember my grandpa on both of those holidays either gathering everyone up to take pictures or bustling around making sure everyone was happy. He was quite the bartender and could make a mean kiddie cocktail. I still cherish those memories of the holidays with them.

Every time we'd see my grandparents which was usually once a week, my grandpa would slip me ten dollars and say, "Here. It's for cab money."

When I went to college, I was so homesick. My grandma and her sister, my Auntie Jean, would write me letters once a week. I looked forward to those letters and still have some of them. What warms my heart though, is a letter I got from my gramps. It was just from him. Not signed  by my grams. In fact, I had already gotten hers so I was surprised when I got his. In the letter he was encouraging me to stay strong. He wrote that he was proud of me. That I was setting a good example for my sisters to follow. That he knew I'd do great things. He told me how much he loved me and said that he knew I had great parents that would help me if I ever needed it but not to forget that I had him as well and that if I ever needed anything, to call  him. No questions asked. He put $20 in the envelope and said it could be our secret. I will never forget how much that helped me feel less homesick and so much love for him.

My gramps always called me Annie Banannie growing up and then my #1 granddaughter. I know it is just because I am the first but secretly, I tell myself it is because I am #1 in his eyes. :)

My gramps' love for my grams was a testament to true love. He loved her fiercely (still does and I know he misses her so much). He did all he could to take care of her even though it was too big of an undertaking. After he couldn't do it anymore, he went to see her all the time, making sure she was okay and well taken care of. It was a heavy load to have on his shoulders and he did it with the grace of a man who loves with all his heart.

Watching my gramps with my kids warms my heart. He went to one of Nico's games that was near his house and told everyone that would listen. That's my great grandson out there. He's really good. Several years later, Nico had his first game with a team that he previously didn't make. He was nervous and I was nervous. He wanted to prove that he was good enough to be there. It fell on a Sunday so all of my family went to the game (talk about making a kid feel nervous). Again, my grandpa kept telling everyone, "See #2? That's my grandson." My dad finally piped in that #2 was HIS grandson and my gramps' GREAT grandson. Nico played a great game and my grandpa said proudly and loudly, "I don't know why he didn't make this team before! He's the best one out there!" Whether it was true or not, you gotta love his loyalty and him not being afraid to voice how he felt.

These days, my gramps and I are Facebook friends chatting whenever we can and he is my biggest blog fan, still shooting me messages of support. When I think about it, he and I have a lot in common. He loves to paint (and is a talented artist) and I love to paint (wall murals...starting another one). I love to write and when my grams got sick, he wrote every single day telling what had happened that day. In a sense, it was an old-fashioned type of blog and only made available for us to read after my grams passed away.

I'm still amazed by my grandpa. He golfs 18 holes at least once a week, never misses a Sunday dinner, is the first to arrive at family occasions and still tries to make it to church every Saturday nights. So, on this day, I will say, Happy Birthday, Gramps! I love you with all my heart! I can't wait to see you and give you a big hug!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Few Thoughts

You know it is going to be a bad day when you pull a muscle hitting your snooze button.
Every year I have a moment between summer and fall when I realize I am not prepared for colder weather.
Now that colder weather is on the way, I am crossing my fingers for big sweaters, leggings and knee high boots to come back in style.
I really dislike the way the heat smells after not being on for several months.
Wednesdays are quickly becoming my night to myself and I cherish every minute. I wish I heard more moms say that they need a break or like having time to themselves.
On those nights I'd like to think that the house and kids can function without me and that kids will be in their pajamas and in bed so you can imagine my surprise this morning when I got Gia out of her crib and she was already dressed for the day.
Having a homemade meal every night makes me feel like a good mom. I love the looks on my kids' faces when they come home from school and smell dinner cooking. I also love how excited they are when they ask, "What's for dinner?" To think before kids, I used to get aggravated when Leo asked me that.
Isabella wants to be an artist/baker/songwriter and makes dessert for us every night to go with our homemade meal. I am going to be 300lbs before this challenge is over.
Why can’t I only eat a handful of Pirate Booty and when did they start making the bags so big and why are the small individual bags so expensive? Remember when we thought Pirate Booty was low fat and the perfect snack? I want to go back to that day.
Nico’s gym teacher is a complete….hmmm…my grandpa reads this so I can’t say what he is but think of a word that rhymes with black glass. There is nothing worse than a teacher that becomes defensive when confronted. I hope beyond hope that I never did that when I was teaching and that I was big enough to admit when I was wrong (I don't like confrontation so I am thinking I was more of a smooth over than a battle it out kind of teacher). I am guessing this teacher really doesn't know Nico and didn't think we'd discuss all the things he accused him of doing but not only did I talk to Nico but his best friend was here and he chimed in as well that a lot of it was not true. The bottom line is that I can't change his teacher or his perception (his perception is his reality). I can only change Nico and he got the message loud and clear: stay away from kids that are making trouble and if I get a call from school again, you are grounded. And if I am lucky, dealing with the "black glass" will be kept to a minimum.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Am That Parent only took 3 weeks to dislike Nico's school. I love the principal, who at this point probably thinks I am a pain in the butt but I want to know what I am supposed to do. Nico got in trouble on Friday in gym class. They had to run two laps around the school in two minutes. If they didn't make it, they had to spend the rest of class walking. He and about 20 other kids didn't make it. While they were walking, the group he was walking with was messing around. Nico swears that he wasn't and two of the other kids (one of which would have said if he was) said he wasn't but...if you are on the ship and it's going down, you are going with it. I'm not disputing whether he was goofing around or not. They didn't make the time, they had to walk. They goofed around, they had to call their parents. All of that makes sense to me. In the three years that he has gone to this school, I have never gotten a call about Nico's behavior or Nico being a "troublemaker" or ever, ever being disrespectful so when Leo got a call from the teacher saying there was an incident, I wasn't happy but didn't think it was anything horrible.  Leo hadn't talked to the teacher yet, just got a message to call. Nico told us what happened. We weren't happy about it but since he's never been a problem at school, Leo was going to tell the teacher that we talked to Nico and it won't happen again. Then, if it happened again, there would be consequences (grounded from social activity). Not a big deal.

Before I go on, I want to say that every Friday the kids have to run and try and get as many flags in the small amount of time they give them. The one Friday that some schools were closed because of the heat, our gym teachers made them run. The kids all walked. On curriculum night, I went to the gym part and heard one of the gym teachers talk about the Friday runs and the flags and he said "This many is an A, this many a B and so on." Then he followed it up with, "And if your kid is an athlete, we expect more from him." Nico is an athlete but he hates running and right now, he is pretty banged up from playing football (with practices every night and games on Sunday) so if he doesn't catch 26 flags, I am okay with it. Personally (and Nico doesn't know I feel this way), I think after doing this exercise every Friday for the last two years, I'd be tired of doing it, too. How about doing it once a month if it is filling some standard they have to fill? After the discussion, I wanted to talk to his teacher because we pulled the 504 plan and gym is one that he might have trouble with if ever he isn't feeling well. We talked a little bit about the hot day and him walking and she said and this is an exact quote, "Oh, don't worry. Nico is not a troublemaker or slacker at all. He is no problem. He never uses CF as an excuse. He's a good kid." I thanked her and then she added, "Oh, but I am not his teacher right now. The kids picked their activities and he's doing volleyball with______."

Okay, back to why I am mad. When Leo called the teacher, the teacher said that no, he didn't actually see what happened but Nico's name was on the list of kids goofing around and that this has been a pattern with him misbehaving and being disrespectful for the last few weeks. WHAT?! I just talked to his teacher who said the opposite! Even if she wasn't with him while he was playing volleyball, if he has been misbehaving for weeks, why weren't we called so we could address it at home? Is 8th grade the cutoff for letting parents know when their kid is being a weenie at school? The school just deals with it and then when they can't anymore, we get a call? That doesn't make sense. So, Nico came home yesterday and said he has to do three days of "training" for "bad behavior" instead of gym. He has that Osgood-Schlatter knee thing going on and usually wears a brace thing under his knee. He still plays football with it, still plays basketball with it and still plays baseball with it. Does it bother him? Yes. Does he fight through the pain? Yes. He told this teacher about it and he said, "Either suck it up or go to the nurse." Leo told him about it and he said he knew and that Nico could go lighter. Nico said he never said that. Whatever. I am not going to get into a "he said/she said".  He lumped Nico in with other kids that are troublemakers and I'm mad about that. A kid that screws up once or twice is not a troublemaker. If he's screwing up more than that, we should have known about it.

We talked to Nico about reputation and how he wants to play sports and these teachers are coaches and even if they don't coach the sports he wants to play, the coaches talk to each other. He doesn't want to get the reputation for having a bad attitude or being disrespectful. One of the other parents said the teacher told her that because this 8th grade class is last period, they are having trouble controlling it so they wanted to set an example. I have so many issues with that statement. How about waiting until you are actually there to see who is messing around before setting the example. Since he wasn't there, why didn't the other teacher who wrote the kids names up punish the kids? If that is the case, since she just told me Nico is not a troublemaker, did she think it was fair that he be lumped in with the troublemakers for the 3 day training for bad behavior? How about a call saying, "This is what he did and if it happens again, he's going to have to do 3 days of training."

I know what you are thinking, "This is gym. Who cares?" (I know some of my friends that are gym teachers would disagree.) I wasn't that bothered by the incident until the label "troublemaker" came into the discussion and the punishment of training for bad behavior. The only thing this gym teacher is going to accomplish with this and the running for flags is that the kids are going to hate gym.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Am the Birthday Grinch

I don't know if I did a post on this or not. I could go back and look but am too lazy right now (that is for another post...looonnngg night and not because of Gia). Tommy and Isabella's birthday is next month. When Nico was their age, he didn't have a party. He chose two friends to go to Dave and Busters and then had a sleepover (this won't work with the twins). I cannot stand birthday parties. I feel bad for the twins because I didn't always feel this way. I used to be excited about Nico's parties. I used to be excited until I realized I couldn't keep up with the demands of what my kids wanted to do for their parties (Nico had parties at Jeepers, the park district and a scientist came to our house). We always did the park district parties because again, I am lazy and didn't want to come up with ways to keep the children occupied. It was always complicated with the twins. Do you do two separate parties and then do you do them the same day? Once we did Isabella's from 1-3 and then Tommy's from 4-6. Longest day of my life. I didn't want to do that again so the next year we did them at the same time on the same Sunny Acres. I still break out in a cold sweat when I think about that day. Complete and utter chaos! You can't leave anyone out so we had 30 kids (15 boys and 15 girls) Sunny Acres. Leo took the boys with Nico and my sister, Nikki and my mom, a friend of mine and I took the girls. Several bee stings later, I was ready to never do another kid party again. The next year I did them on different days. One at the mall with glow in the dark mini-golf (20 boys) and one a gymnastics party (20 girls). I hated that after Tommy's, there wasn't the, "I'm glad it is done" feeling. Instead there was a "Crap. I have to do this all over again next weekend" feeling.

 I feel blessed that my kids have a lot of friends but it gets really expensive and even then, I know we hurt someone's feelings by not inviting them. That's the other reason I don't like birthday parties. My kids have not gotten invited to parties where their feelings have gotten hurt and I hate to think of  a child's feelings being hurt because of my child. Last year I got by without doing a party for them because we went to Disney. I was really hoping that would happen again but no such luck (talk about an expensive birthday alternative). This year, I haven't said anything and the twins are assuming that they are going to have a party. Tommy keeps talking about Leo taking him and a few friends to Great America and I have to laugh because that was never really an option. Belle just keeps asking me what kind of party she should have and I keep saying, "The kind where you don't have to worry about who to invite." She asked what kind that was and I answered, "The kind where there isn't one." She stomps off not happy and I have to admit, I sometimes get why the boys aggravate her.

It would be great if I could tell them that they could have three friends come over for the well sought after sleepover but that could never happen because they could never just invite 3 friends and is it wrong that I don't want two individual nights with 15 boys or girls here? We always have a family party which is small. Just my family and Leo's mom and Arnie and I thought about combining the family and friend parties but it never works when you have cousins and friends together. This year, our weekends are so booked up that the day we were supposed to do their party, I had to cancel because Belle has a cheerleading competition so time is another issue. It's around their birthday that I realize just how busy we are and how crazy our schedule is. So if you are reading this and your kid is friends with either Belle or Tommy and they didn't get an invite to a party, it's because there wasn't one.

I don't want to be the Birthday Grinch. I would love to celebrate the kids' birthdays with their friends but I feel like it is just another way for kids to be left out and parents to feel bad. Plus, kids really have no clue how to handle the situation. It's not their fault. They are young and if they had fun somewhere, they want to talk about it and they don't pay attention to who they are talking to (from birthday parties, to sleepovers to playdates to getting feathers in their hair). All of my kids have told me that after their parties, someone asked them, "Why wasn't I invited?" That's a loaded question for kid to answer.

I don't know what I am going to do. Bribery still works. Maybe I'll offer to get Tommy the drums he's begging for (hmmm...even as I wrote that, I'm thinking no).  I wonder if I think about it too much. Does this subject stress anyone else out?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001: A Look Back

Nothing I could write about would compare to the horror that unfolded that day so this will just be a reflection of ten years ago on this day. Where was I heard? I was in bed cuddling with Nico. My sister, LeeAnna called me and asked if I knew what was going on and did I see the news? I said no. I was watching Disney Channel at the time. I set Nico up with the movie Tarzan downstairs and went back upstairs and turned on the news. She said a plane flew into one of the twin towers. At the time we were thinking what a terrible accident that was. We were on the phone as the second plane crashed into the second tower and suddenly it dawned on us that it wasn't an accident. I was pregnant with the twins and we found out Nico had CF two months before and I was battling a depression so bad that my world already felt like it ended. It felt like the rest of the world as I and everyone else in America knew it had ended at that moment. Disbelief is the only word that comes to mine. I wasn't much of a follower of politics and our own news depressed me so I was not a big follower of the rest of the world's news either. I was a busy wife and mom of a three year old and was pretty self-centered in those two roles. I kept thinking how worried I was for the health of the twins and then I worried about what kind of a world was I bringing them into. Living in fear became the norm for awhile. I was afraid to let Nico out of my sight. I hated when Leo left the house. My family would call each other several times a day and it seemed that everyone knew everyone else's whereabouts for a long time after that. The fear of where the next attack would strike was the biggest fear. I still can't believe that three of my friends got on a plane the weekend after the attacks to come to my baby shower. I'll never forget that. I hope they know how much it meant to me. I would have completely understood if they decided not to come but the fact that they did will forever endear them to me. The stories that got me and still get me were the ones from the people trapped in the buildings or on the plane that called their loved ones to say goodbye. Can you even imagine being the caller or the one receiving the calls? Heartbreaking. I'm going to share a song and a video by Alan Jackson that he wrote in honor of September 11th. He says it a lot better than I could (there were a bunch that were moving that I could have put directly on here but watching those images again made me feel sick again so I decided to just link this one that has the words to the song that are powerful enough and if you feel like hearing it, you can click on it.):

Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning

Can't get through this day without thanking all of the men and women that have fought and continue to fight for our safety. God bless.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TV Update

I think I am way behind in some of the shows I watch. Just my opinions. Would love to hear yours.

Top Chef Desserts: This show makes me hungry. It's early but I am a fan of Amanda and Megan and Matthew and Chris. I think Craig is in way over his head and Melissa keeps getting picked last, not because of her talent but because she threw her teammate under the bus so who would want to work with her after that? I think Katzie has a little mean girl in her and Orlando is trying too hard to be the mean one. He talks a big game but hasn't really stepped up. I hate that Nelson went home. I liked him. I'm getting tired of the group challenges. I want to see what these people can do on their own. Again, this show makes me hungry.

Project Runway: I think I might be rooting for Anya, Kimberly or Laura. Bert doesn't bother me but Josh does. I think Bert doesn't because I swear when I am frustrated and if I was him, I'd be frustrated with all the group challenges. Enough already.

Dance Moms: OMG, I can't stop watching this show in horror. I don't know who I feel bad for anymore. I think the way Abby talks to those young girls is appalling but if the moms don't like it, they can take their daughters somewhere else. They bring them there for a reason and then are constantly complaining. I don't get it. I think Christi is going to watch these episodes and see how jealous she IS of an eight year old and should be embarrassed by how many times she blames Maddie for Chloe not winning and then when Chloe is finally at the top of the pyramid, she still says Abby is setting Chloe up to fail. Maddie is clearly the best dancer and it looks like she works really hard at it. She might be a little dramatic but it's working for her. Funny that Holly read Abby the riot act and was so upset and then as soon as her daughter won first place, she was all good. Cathy, Cathy, Cathy...what a complete wacko! I feel so bad for her daughter. She is exactly the kind of mom I can't stand. Why in the world did she bring her daughter from Ohio to Pittsburgh to Abby's studio if she was going to fight her on every single thing she does? Her reasoning for things was so messed up, I would watch with my mouth dropped open. Guess what? Just because you were a dancer it's not a guarantee that your daughter is going to be one. The whole thing with the head shots...she blamed the photographer for Vivi not getting picked. Moms like that are always going to find someone to blame when their kids don't come out on top.

Bachelor Pad: I don't know why I am watching this show. Mindless entertainment. I cannot stand Kasey and Vienna. In what world does mealy mouth Kasey hold all the power? I think I might be watching just so I can see them booted off. I am rooting for Ella (please, please stop talking about doing this for your son) and Kirk or Michelle (NEVER thought I'd say that) and Graham. Michael needs to move on. Watching Erika come on so strongly to Blake was uncomfortable.

MTV's Challenge Rivals: I didn't watch this whole thing. I started watching towards the end and I admit, it was my crush on CT that pulled me back in. He's hot-headed and not always very nice but for some reason, I think he's cute. I think it doesn't take a professional to see that I might have a thing for bad boys. I liked Kenny too but I can't stand Wes and he was his partner and it was pretty funny when they came in 2nd.

I confess...another show that I can't seem to stop watching is Degrassi: The New Generation and Now or Never. I watched this, when it was the first generation, in college with people on my floor and I'm not sure what the appeal is other than I want to write young adult novels and after watching the show, it gives me a frame of reference. I'll watch some of it with my kids but a lot of it is inappropriate for the twins. It's a great conversation starter with Nico.

Russian Dolls:  I do not enjoy this show and yet, I can't stop watching it. I equate this show to Mob Wives. I watched that show embarrassed to be an Italian woman. I thought that watching Russian Dolls would make me embarrassed for my daughters and my husband. Daughters, it doesn't because we aren't raising them the way these girls were raised. Leo, a little bit but only because he is nothing like the men portrayed. I know a few Russian women and they are nothing like these women. I know a few others that are a lot like them so I am split with my opinion. They are making Russian men out to be these chauvinistic, controlling, hot-tempered men and if you know Leo, he isn't any of those things. Far from them. In fact, all of the Russian men I know are none of those traits. A part of me started watching this show to see what I was missing. Leo's family is small and they might have done a lot of Russian traditions when we dated but I was only invited to one family party in all the 7 years we dated so I never saw any. Leo was at every one of mine so we gravitated toward my family traditions. I asked him if it bothered him that we don't celebrate his Russian heritage and he said no. I think it bothered his mom after we had kids but she had gone on and on about loving America and I had been excluded for so long that by the time we had kids, it was too late. Yes, I know it would be great if my kids had learned Russian but I spent 7 years feeling isolated in Leo's house, I wasn't going to feel that way in my own house. I tried to learn it when we were dating. Have you ever tried to learn Russian? It was a lot like Calculus for me. I couldn't do either. Besides, his family spoke English. Wouldn't it make more sense just to speak English? I could see if we were in Russia but we weren't. Really when you think about it, it doesn't matter because we are both so Americanized that we don't feel like we are missing out. Anyway back to the show, I nearly dropped off my chair when Renata said she was 47. She reminds me so much of Leo's mom, I thought for sure she was 60. They both talk in that voice that is low so everything sounds dramatic and Renata uses the word "sophisticated" a lot and if I had a dime for every time...well, I'd be rich. I think Anastasia is a spoiled brat and I like Diana. I thought she looked beautiful in the pictures she took. I can't help it, I like Anna. I think what she has accomplished so far is pretty impressive. I had Leo watch the show and he only watched five minutes, declared he didn't like it and went to sleep.

I am waaay behind on The Real Housewives shows both New Jersey and Beverly Hills (can't believe that about Russell). New Jersey became really hard to watch. Teresa continually got meaner as the season went on and I wanted to root for her but she made it too hard. Melissa continued to be a fame whore and I couldn't stand one more minute of Ashley.

If you are wondering when I have time to catch up on these shows, it's usually in the middle of the night, after Gia wakes up and I put her back down and can't fall back to sleep. Friday nights after everyone ditches Gia and me for the football game, I watch the rest of what I have on the DVR after Gia goes to bed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bringing Back the Homemade Meals

I had my last meal made by my neighbors (Thanks N.P. It was so, so good) and came to the realization that family dinners is what is missing in this house. Granted it is a lot easier to do when someone shows up with it already done but on the nights that we sat down as a family to eat, the atmosphere here was, to use a highly overused word, awesome. The kids were happier and actually talked to each other instead of screaming at each other and it did warm my heart to see them eating so well. I've decided that I am going to challenge myself and go back to cooking every night. A real meal with a main course, a side dish, some bread and a dessert. Not the 4 minute microwave Hormel Roast (that is, by the way, some of my kids favorite meal) which is a real meal but feels like cheating and I think the only vegetable my kids have eaten in a long time is corn. Our lives do not lend themselves to sitting down all together to eat. On any given night, someone needs to be somewhere. To give you an idea of what I am up against with this challenge this is a typical week during football season:

Mondays: Belle has cheer from 6:30-8:30, Nico and Tommy both have football from 5:45-8:00. After practice Leo has a coaches' meeting to watch game tape.
Tuesdays: Belle will have a drawing class (her other passion) after school (which I will have to get her from at 4:30), Nico and Tommy have football at 5:45-8:00.
Wednesdays: Belle has cheer from 5:30-7:30 and if I am lucky, the boys won't have practice and I'll get a night to myself.
Thursdays: Belle is supposed to have tumbling from 4-5:30 but we aren't sure if her wrist can handle it or that I can get her back in the class. The boys have football.
Fridays are usually pizza nights.
Saturday night we usually have something going on.
Sundays are at my mom's.

That means I have to have dinner on the table either at 4:45 (which won't even work on Thursdays if Belle does tumbling) or 8:00. Either way, they'll either have to eat pb&j before their practices or after because they are starving after practice. The earlier time works better because I don't want to eat a big meal at 8:00 but then Leo will never eat with us because he races in the house at 5:30 to change and go to practice. There's no way he can be home at 4:45. So dinner together means dinner with me at 4:45 and then dinner with Leo at 8:00. A funny story about our two dinner nights. The kids once asked Leo why we have two dinners and Leo told them that dinner is what we have first and then supper is what we have later. So the kids took to asking me, "What's for dinner?" and then later, "What's for supper?" You can imagine how much I disliked having to make two things everyday. Sometimes I wanted to just yell, "Kitchen's closed!" If you've read the rest of my blog, you know that with the boys, I can't. Anyway, once at a baseball game, Tommy asked me, "Mom, what's for supper today?" I was irritated with the twins and their constant asking me for money for concessions and I said, probably harsher than I should have, "Nothing. You're getting nothing for supper." Every single head in the stands turned and looked at me with open mouths. I realized it looked like I just told my child he wasn't getting anything to eat for dinner and had to explain Leo's messed up explanation of why we have two meals for dinner.

There are many things that will come up to ruin this. Time is a big one. Gia is another one. I'll have to push through the night that comes when I work hard on a meal and my kids look at it and say, "Ick! I'm not eating that." That's usually when I throw in the towel. I am excited for this challenge and to see how long I can pull it off. Knowing my history, I give it a week but maybe I'll surprise myself.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some Random Thoughts

Gia hasn't slept through the night since before my surgery. I am a walking zombie and she has been pretty crabby. I see her swollen gums but at this point I think she is waking up out of habit. I want her to be done with the bottle. She's not. I want her to be done with the binky and she's not. She is living up to the whole "baby" of the family status because with the others I was pretty adamant about when they were going to be done (and Nico is in braces and Tommy was just referred by our dentist to an orthodontist so really, did it matter?) and with her, I'm having a hard time.

I went to bed last night with a slight headache and woke up today with a rip roaring one. I know there is only one place to go but up when your day starts out that way but as far as I am concerned, the only place I want to go is back to bed. The reality is that the cleaning lady is coming so we have to be out of the house this afternoon. If Gia doesn't nap this morning, she isn't going to have a nap. I am meeting some friends for lunch so that means I have to deal with restaurant Gia and she is not fun. I am determined to make her a restaurant person because I am a restaurant person. For those that are shaking their heads thinking I am ruining meals for others with a screaming kid, I only go to kid-friendly restaurants. I'd never take her to a fancy schmancy one where there aren't a lot of kids. I did that in the Dells and there wasn't enough alcohol to get me through that meal.

There are a few things that strike fear in my heart and set my panic button off. Sleep away sports camps and 8th grade field trips to Washington D.C. are two of them. Nico wants to do both this summer. I will lose sleep over this one. I constantly live by and say all the time that I don't want CF to be the reason he doesn't do the things other kids his age are doing and that is one of the reasons (Will he drink enough so he won't dehydrate? Will he remember to take his meds? Will he remember to take his enzymes?) but the discussion to explain that it will be largely due to finances that he won't get to do both will not be a fun one since he is under the impression that Leo said he could. When I asked Leo, he shook his head as if to say, "No way." It's times like this that I really wish I lived on an island in a little hut where the desire to sleep somewhere else wouldn't be there because where you are already sleeping is pretty damn good.

Tommy is my best student. Nico gets straight A's and Belle gets all the checks for behavior in the right spots but Tommy is a self-starter, self-motivating, rarely needs help, thinks outside the box kind of student. He might get a check mark for needs to listen more attentively but I really don't care since he understands everything he is doing and gets things done without help. He is proof that you can't judge a book by its cover because he might be making the class laugh or looking like he is daydreaming but he hears every word the teacher says. I'm okay with him marching to the beat of his own drum. Leo is the "math" parent and Belle has a test today. Guess who was up early making a test for Belle to study from because Leo teaches in a way that Belle doesn't get? Although, I'm thinking that no matter what, she wasn't going to get it. Another child that has my math genes. God, help us all now.

Last random thought for today: I hate getting calls from the school nurse. I know, who out there likes them? I just feel like I get them more often than others. With Tommy, I think they are so afraid it is CF related and they won't know how to handle it, they call me. I know they think I am a b****. I know I sound aggravated because I am aggravated. Tuesday, while in the middle of a ton of errands I was trying to get done, I got a call from the nurse about Tommy. He had a pain in his stomach that he has never had and could I come talk to him? I was in St. Charles hoping to hit the trifecta of Walmart, Target and Toys R Us. When I got to his school, Tommy started crying. The kind of crying that you know he's not faking being upset. He's really upset. It's the cry that breaks my heart. I took him home and he confided that his stomach hurt so he went to the nurse. He went to the bathroom there and then everyone that came into the office commented on how bad the office smelled. They were loud about it. They didn't know it was because of Tommy but they were rude about it. He cried while he was telling me and said he was so embarrassed that he just wanted to get out of there. He was also afraid he'd have to go again. It's a part of CF that I hate. Bathroom issues. It makes us late, it embarrasses the boys and is another reason the little hut (and a separate hut with indoor plumbing) sounds pretty good right about now.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Raising Kids in the Age of Technology

I think everyone that is my age (anyone older than 30) can agree that life is not like it used to be. I made reference in the previous post about kids not being able to not be found and that cell phones have made it everything a mess. It is a topic that can be elaborated on. When talking to a friend about this issue, he gave me the "Toaster" reasoning and it made so much sense, I am going to use it here. Just because I have a toaster doesn't mean that I have to toast every piece of bread I have. Just because kids have cell phones doesn't mean they have to take every call or answer every text. In fact, I like this reasoning for myself. I have a very hard time not answering a text or a call but to be honest, there are times when I don't want to and it isn't because I don't like the person. It is usually because I am out with a friend or I'm in the middle of something that needs my attention (read: my kids). What is the worst thing that would happen if I didn't answer my phone? The other person would have to wait? Certain calls should always be answered, of course: kids and spouse. Nico has said a few times that he sometimes doesn't like having a phone because it is stressful and I know this is not a popular view, but I am about ready to give him permission not to answer texts. I think it would be the equivalent of when we were younger and we called someone and they weren't home. We recently had a situation where he tried to nicely tell someone that he couldn't hang out and the kid kept texting him and ended up getting dropped off where Nico was without Nico saying he wanted to hang out. It would be with the rule that he has to answer at all times when I call or text but otherwise, I am about to give him his privacy and freedom of choice back.

Facebook is another mess-maker. As an adult, I don't care who is doing what and with who they are doing it with. It take a nanosecond to scroll over it. I'll admit that I have some sadness or regret when I see friends from high school getting together because they stayed in touch but I have no one to blame but myself for that. It is a lesson learned that friendships take work and need to be nurtured and if they aren't, they die only to be resurrected on Facebook. Kids, however not only can be found all the time, but they also post what they are doing and who they are doing it with as their statuses on Facebook. They get to sign on to play a game or chat with a friend and they get to see that all of their friends or who they think are their friends went somewhere and didn't call them. Or they get to see that there was a party and they weren't invited. Raising kids in a world where everyone knows your business voluntarily is tough. There were a gazillion parties when I was growing up and if I wasn't at one, I didn't have to read about it and feel like crap because I wasn't there. I didn't have to see pictures of everyone having fun while I was home doing nothing. Again, I was more interested in hanging out with my boyfriend anyway but get my point. It is my stance that kids today don't know how to make good friends and I've asked Nico and his friends, "Do you guys feel like you really know each other? Do you guys talk about stuff that matters or is it just Madden football or complaining about homework and practice?" I wonder if they genuinely like each other or are they together out of convenience because they are on the same team or have the same interests (which I am told that with boys that could be enough). They have assured me that they really like each other and that it is easy to hang out because they like the same things or can complain about the same things but they are selfish little beings that are happy in the moment (which isn't necessarily bad) and if they are all good, they don't think past it to say, "Wait, where is so and so? Maybe we should call so and so." Some of my happiest days this summer were when my kids would decide to just stay home and do nothing. That meant that I had a drama free day.

Instant messaging and texting have lent themselves to a bunch of discussions about putting something in writing that could possible get in the hands of someone you don't want to know what you said. Even when we were younger and wrote notes, we could at least try and get the note back and throw it away. In this day and age, one text or email can be forwarded to everyone you know before it is deleted.  I always tell Nico not to put anything in writing that he doesn't want me or his dad to see. There have been a few times that he has gotten burned because he texted something to one girl about another girl and she showed that girl. He was embarrassed and got another lecture that once you type it and hit send, it's too late. You can't take it back. Why do our kids not get that? Why do they still think that when they instant message someone or text someone, it is just between themselves and the person. It never is for whoever texts or instant messages him. I check his texts and he leaves his FB page up all the time. I am floored by what some of the messages say. Absolutely floored. I try and explain to Nico that I am not the only parent that does that and that if he texts something even joking around, a parent might see it and form an opinion about him and it won't be a favorable one.

Raising kids without all of the technology was hard enough. I think it was created to make our lives easier and yet, it has made raising our kids a whole lot harder.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Too Much Parenting

A couple of weeks ago there was a topic on the Wheaton Patch called Too Much Parenting. The gist of the question that was asked by the editor:
"But for the most part, my parents avoided getting in the middle of learning lessons; particularly if they involved troubles with a teacher, coach or friends. 
But how does a parent draw the line between parenting too much versus too little? Is there such a thing as parenting too much? And, does parenting too much hinder a child from making mistakes that might also be valuable learning lessons?"

Since I am a contributing writer for that column, this is what I answered:

Great topic! As parents I think it makes US very uncomfortable to see our children make mistakes or hurt in any way. I think as the "mother bears", we want to step in and protect them but now that I am raising a teenager, I relish the moments that I can step aside and let him make his own mistakes or learn his own lessons. For example, if he is goofing off or slacking at practice and at game time, he doesn't play a lot in the game, then that is a lesson learned. Goof around at practice, lose playtime. I wish, wish, wish parents would stay out of "friend arguments" or "who is hanging with who" issues. The kids will find their own way. If my child calls someone and he doesn't answer, the solution is not to keep calling or for me to call the parent, it is for my child to call someone else and for me not to over analyze it. If they are good enough friends, they will find their way back to each other. If not, there are plenty of other kids with similar interests that he can find to hang out with. When kids argue or fight and parents get involved, it ends up that the kids make up and are fine and then the parents are strained. We can't control or deal with other kids and their issues (can we even control our own kids?), we can only deal with our own kid's issues. As far as teachers, I think once they are in high school, they can handle things. Before that, I don't think they have the maturity to deal with issues on their own and most times need us to intervene. Just my opinion.

Click on the link if you are interested in what others had to say. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. It's a very hard topic for me to write about because I have a lot of friends that read this and I don't want them to think this is about them. It's a topic that comes up often in various circles of people and I am curious to know how others handle it. Is it just where I live? Is it everywhere and no one is discussing it? Is it the elephant in the room for everyone? There is a growing trend, at least where I live, that parents become good friends with the parents of who their kids are friends with. I have to say that when it is good, it is so unbelievably good with late nights of eating, drinking and laughing, vacationing together and spending free time shopping or having lunch or dinner together but when it is bad, it is unbelievably bad with hurt feelings, upset stomachs and strained friendships where you wonder if you are really friends or are you just friends because your kids are. What I should have said about the phone thing is that I don't think all parents check their kids' phones to see how often they are texting or calling so that isn't really a parent issue. It's a kid issue.  Tommy and Isabella are 9. They obviously need a much bigger discussion or teaching platform than Nico. The ship has pretty much sailed and the days are over with me giving him suggestions of who to call but the discussion of what makes a good friend continues (someone you get in trouble with does not make a good friend). The issue of friends is a touchy one. Kids get left out. I know mine do and I am sure (if you have them) yours do, too. Even if you don't, I am sure you remember being left out. It doesn't feel good to be left out or to see our kids be left out but it is near impossible for everyone to be invited to everything and it is unfair to ask any parent to house 30 kids for fear that someone will be left out. I know...I tried. For Nico's golden birthday, I had a party here for 24 fifth graders and even though I tried very hard and he tried very hard, people that should have been invited, weren't. It is a part of life and we are doing a real disservice to our kids if we don't teach them that lesson early on. Not everyone is going to be friends. It is unrealistic for our kids to believe that everyone is going to like them all the time. It is my stance that parents get involved in way too many things that they should stay out of. The kids will work it out themselves. They need to learn to do that so that they have the tools to do it later in life. With kids having phones these days, it is a mess. They have no idea how to handle it when they are with one friend and another friend calls them or texts them. Kids no longer have the luxury of not being found. They also no longer have the luxury of building one on one friendships. As a wise friend once said, "they move in packs."  My kids have hung out with certain kids and then all of a sudden they start hanging out with other kids. I'll ask them if anything happened and they look at me like I am crazy. It is not for me to figure out why my kids have stopped or started hanging around someone. That's what kids do. They are trying to find their way and it doesn't mean they don't like the people they hung out with last weekend if they aren't hanging out with them this weekend. As adults, we want to put it in neat little boxes of expecting that our kids will always hang out with the same people and I know with my kids, it is isn't like that. It is always changing. They might have a few kids that are their core group of friends but kids are fickle and even that can't be expected.  Kids are always changing friends and sometimes I might raise an eyebrow at some choices but it is their choice. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole doesn't make anyone happy. Just because I adore Little Johnny doesn't mean that he and Tommy get along and forcing the issue doesn't make anyone happy. Little Susie might drive me up a wall but for some reason Belle has a blast with her so I deal with the crazies because it makes my daughter happy. It is not for me to control. I can only talk to my kids about what makes a good friend and how to be a good friend. I can only teach them and I try to teach this early, you don't want to be with someone that doesn't want to be with you (this is a good lesson in love as well). Everyone deserves to have a friend or friends in their life that looks out for them and has their back. Even at 41, I still look for that in my friends. My child might be it for some but not for others. The other thing that is important to remember is a kid is not jerk because they don't want to hang out with your kid. We really have no idea what goes on behind closed doors and something might have happened that guess what, the parents no matter how hard they try or want to try, can't fix. Another wise friend once said, "It's okay. I'm not for everyone." This is a great lesson to instill in our kids. They are no more or no less because of who they hang out with. People are all different and I believe it is more important to teach kids to be okay with themselves because then it doesn't matter who they hang out with.

And for the record, if I am friends with you, it is because I like you. If our kids are friends or hang out, great but I really don't care if they do.