Thursday, March 29, 2012

Let the Countdown Begin

Today marks day one of twelve.  It is the twisted marathon that I like to call spring break

We kicked it off in style yesterday with soy ice cream and water color painting after school. 

This morning we cuddled in bed a little longer than usual and then headed out for some sandal and short shopping.

By 12:30 p.m. my children were hysterical and showing off their screaming voices and their ability to physically intimidate one another (my favorite being I'm going to smash you and dash you which comes with a karate kick for extra effect).  I kept my cool until I didn't. The kids threats of physical violence were becoming more than just threats.  That's when I showed off my screaming voice.  And that's when they managed to talk it out over bagels (so mature, my kids).

The little people didn't sleep well last night.  Spring fever or hay fever...not sure which.  After a prolonged lunch (the babe now eats as much as a grown man), I got them upstairs in pajamas.  There was no way I was going to deal with their nuttiness all day without an attempt at napping.  An hour later, after three separate trips up the stairs, I made it downstairs to safety.

And once that kitchen was all cleaned up, I went a bit nutty myself and made a "mocha" with my fancy dancy coffee maker and sat on down at my ancient desk top so I could type out a quick hello.  Now I am ready for a screw driver.

As always, I miss you.  I miss my writing.  But I am, as always, just trying to keep my head above water.  Hope that if you, like me, are not a fan of spring break, that you make it through the next chunk of time in one piece.  Spring break sure ain't what is used to be. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bedtime Songs from the Serengeti

This post is a pretty selfish one.  I want to remember this ridiculous song I recently invented and sing to the kids every night (for some crazy reason, they both love it).  We had been doing Silent Night and Twinkle Twinkle for the past 9 or so months, but we have moved on to these two masterpieces (please contact me if you are interested in purchasing the rights to either version of this soon to be bedtime classic).

The babe's favorite:

The Elephant Song by Christine

"There once was an elephant name Elly, and she was very big.
There once was an elephant named Elly, and she was very big.
Her Mama's name was Fanny, and she loved her very much.

There once was a giraffe name Rafi, and he was very tall.
There once was a giraffe named Rafi, and he was very tall.
His Mama's name was Gerri, and she loved him very much.

And they all lived together, on the Serengeti, in Africa."

The little guy's favorite:

The Giraffe Song by Christine

"There once was a giraffe name Rafi, and he was very tall.
There once was a giraffe named Rafi, and he was very tall.
His Mama's name was Gerri, and she loved him very much.

There once was an elephant name Elly, and she was very big.
There once was an elephant named Elly, and she was very big.
Her Mama's name was Fanny, and she loved her very much.

And they all lived together, on the Serengeti, in Africa."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our Fear of Failure

The babe has recently started Bollywood/Indian folk dance classes.  The first class was a mega hit.  We wrote a check and committed to driving her to class every Sunday morning until the end of May.  Then a funny thing happened.  The babe didn't want to go. 

After much drama and discussion, we got her out the door and into the car.  And you know what the problem was?  She was afraid of not being good at it.  She was so afraid, she only participated in half the class.  You see, the babe is so competitive, she's scared she won't be able to perform the moves and won't be able to keep up with other kids.  It is unfortunate that we signed her up after the session had already started (which put her at a disadvantage), but I really thought she'd jump right into things with gusto.  I forgot how quickly perspective can change in the world of a five-year-old.

The experience serves as a reminder that my husband and I have to help her through her issues with competition, her fear of failure and her apparent desire for perfection.  While there are benefits to being competitive and aiming for perfection, we are concerned that she will stop trying new things if she can't master them immediately.  My husband and I both had childhoods where we were afraid to fail and actually avoided tackling new interests if we thought there was a chance we wouldn't succeed.  That said, I suppose she comes by these issues quite naturally.

I am glad we've identified this streak in the babe but it is hard to see these issues arise at such a tender age.  I want her to believe that she can try anything she puts her mind to and to confront these feelings and not allow them to control her.  We have had numerous discussions over the past few days about the importance of practice and have shared stories of our own struggles.  Hopefully things will go a bit more smoothly next week, but regardless, I am oddly grateful we are being confronted with this before she starts elementary school in the fall.

High Expectations

Wow.  Where did that month go?

Well people, it's good to see you.  I think of you often and can't wait for life to calm down so I can sit at my computer and type out my joys and sorrows.

I've recently realized that when you volunteer time, you have less of it.  You may recall I have been serving as the editor of the little guy's preschool's newsletter and that I am also writing for our local community newsletter.  These things take time, and when I agreed to take them on, I didn't really think about how it would effect my blogging.  Apparently it has effected my blogging quite seriously.

So here I am.  I have so many subjects I want to write about, I don't really know where to start. Instead of backtracking, I will start with today.

My dear Mother left for the airport this morning at 7am.  She had come for a short visit and it went by so very her visits always do.  While shuttling my kids to and fro this morning, I was struck by how badly I felt.  You see, my kids were not well behaved during her visit and I was constantly feeling upset, stressed, embarrassed and frustrated.  I felt like I had no control of my offspring and that I looked like a frantic, crazy Mama who was hanging on by a thread.  And while some of that is certainly true, I know in my heart that the past few days were extreme because the kids had an audience (other than their parents).  There were times when I was at a loss and just wanted to yell and scream, give up, turn on some "educational" TV and go hide in a hole.  My Mom reassures me they were very well behaved whenever my husband and I were out of the house (like on our date night or our furniture shopping escapade).  And while that makes me feel a bit better, why couldn't they have been like that when I was around?

During her visit, I asked my Mom a lot of questions about how she juggled all the craziness of having three small kids back in the day.  She admits she doesn't remember all that much, but she did point out that she always worked part-time and that gave her a chance to get away from the house, socialize and work with adults (not spouses or relatives), and gain perspective on her family life.  She encouraged me to get out of the house more and do things for myself.  She also told me (in a nice way) that my life revolves around my kids. 

When I sit down and look at my family's life, I will be the first to acknowledge that I am the one who is home and running the show the majority of the time.  And without family back-up, there isn't much relief.  Frankly, my life does revolve around my kids and I am not sure how I would be able to change that right now.

The two mornings I get alone when both of the little monsters are at school (3.5 hours a week (after drive time)!), I am pretty overrun with a hefty to do list.  Frankly, there are just too many errands I am not willing to do with the little guy anymore because he has become such a fan of public meltdowns.  And that means there are a lot of things to accomplish when he is not around! 

But I am trying.  I have actually been to a gym six times since late January (thanks to a Groupon deal).  I get out to dinner or brunch with friends every few weeks.  I took an anger management class for parents (which made a ton of sense in theory but is proving rather difficult to implement in reality).  And I just started a leadership training course at PEP (the Parent Encouragement Program) which offers the parenting classes I've been taking over the past year.  Now seriously, what else can a girl fit in??

Anyway, I'm babbling a bit here but I just had to share my frustration over the constant stress of being a stay-at-home parent of a challenging five year old and a defiant, moody and physically abusive three old.  I used to complain that babies were tough (which of course they are--especially the grueling sleep deprivation and loss of self), but man oh man, it's nothing compared to the physical, emotional and mental demands I now face daily.  And when everything gets even more ramped up during a five day visit from Nana, it certainly forces me to ask: "why is this (parenthood) so freakin hard and how do I make this (parenthood) better?"

My solution for today was to rush to the gym, run on a treadmill for 25 minutes, sit in a hot sauna for 10 minutes, and buy an overpriced fancy latte before grabbing a few groceries and rushing to pick up the little guy at preschool.  Endorphins combined with caffeine can be a pretty awesome thing.  It certainly help put things in perspective this morning.

My Mom mentioned that perhaps Mothers today are too hard on themselves.  Our expectations and standards are too high and we set ourselves up for failure because there is no way we can achieve our lofty goals.  There could be some truth to this.  But is it too much to ask to just have kids who listen and don't give you attitude or physically attack you when they don't get their way?  Is that really asking too much?  And if I am embarassed by my kids crazy behavior because I take it as a reflection on my parenting abilities, does that mean I am being too hard on myself?  The truth is, I just don't know.