Thursday, January 29, 2009

Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Parent

Lesson Number 2:

No matter how much you prepare your kids and teach them what is appropriate chit chat in a public bathroom, they will, none the less, embarrass you.

I was in a public bathroom with Sage (4) recently. We took turns as usual. The bathroom was very busy but still quiet. So I of course was a little anxious and she must have known it. She had been pretty quiet herself. I figure she must have been trying to think of what to say to embarrass me. As I am trying to be quick finishing up she looks at me, with a funny look on her face and loudly says, "Mommy, you have hair on your ______." Now, this isn't news to her. While we are not a naked house, she has seen all of me on a fairly regular basis. She is looking at me now expecting a response. I think I hear the woman in the next stall trying to stifle a laugh. What am I supposed to say to that? I know everyone in there is also waiting for my response. I chose to ignore the comment and change the subject. "So what do you want for dinner," I respond in a whisper. Yeesh!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ditching TV Among Other Things

In the last week of December Ron and I made a decision to discontinue our satellite service. This is something that I have been wanting to do for some time and I had suggested it more than once. But like most North Amercians, we are a teeny bit addicted to TV so Ron nixed the idea. I let it go. Then in the beginning of December it became his idea. Then of course it turned into a great idea. I was fully supportive of "his" idea but really didn't think he would do it. First he started with the TVs. We had an embarrassing 6 flat screen TVs. One in nearly every room and even in the kids rooms (which we had always said we wouldn't do). He started selling them off on Craigslist. I love Craigslist. Soon enough we had just one left. The he cancelled the satellite service. I was stunned and more than a little impressed. First he kicks gluten without even a flinch, then dairy, then aspartame, then TV and now he is working on soda in general. Since he has no other "real" vices he is on a fast track to becoming perfect. So you might be asking yourself, why would we do this? No, we're not starving or having trouble paying the bills. This is really all just a part of a bigger picture. There is a lot to gain by ditching TV. First, the most obvious, is the cash you dish out every month for 7000 stations (and none of them are worth your time). Then there are the countless hours you can reclaim that can go to important things, like your family. We find we are spending more time as a family. We are playing games together, reading, making things, building things, going for walks, cooking, hanging out outside etc. Ron and I are talking more. Ron has started reading again. Him and I are both getting more sleep. Both of us had the habit of turning on the TV when we are tired to "just watch a couple of minutes." Hours later we are still staring blankly at the TV. Then we wake up tired the next day and our patience is short with the kids and sometimes with each other. Then we'd miserable and lazy and only want to, guess what's coming... watch TV. The TV was on in the background all the time whether or not anyone was watching. Since it has been off there is a beautiful calm in the house. I am enjoying the lack of the constant din. The girls are more often playing with each other. They are pretending, creating, learning and running. None of those things are done in front of the TV. We are spending more time outside and our attention is more fully on the present moment. How many times have I wished that the kids would just be quiet for a bit so I could hear or see something on the TV... TV is an escape, a drug, a diversion. I don't want to be diverted from my life. I want to live it. At the end of our lives, will we look back and think "wow, I remeber that one TV show...."? We want our kids to have great memories of the time we spent together. Memories aren't made waching TV. Life is so short and I want to be present for all of it. I don't want to waste my precious time being told how I should look or what I should want (also why I don't buy magazines anymore). I really don't care what the Hollywood stars are doing, saying or wearing. I love the fact that my kids have no idea what a BRATZ doll is or who Hannah Montana is or what High School Musical is. I love that they adored the castle that Ron made for them at Christmas and that it wasn't MADE IN CHINA or made from plastic. As I get older I find myself deploring the consumerism that defines American life. Everything is disposable, everything is about appearances and having the right car, handbag, hairstyle, jewelry, cell phone, clothing, body shape and bra size. I think that we have all lost sight of what really matters. Have have have get get get buy buy buy does not make us happier. Maybe it feels good for a minute but why? Because we have one upped the Jones', or because we are one step closer to looking just so? In the last few months we have tried to reverse our years of that mindset of having and getting. We are constantly selling stuff we don't use or need. Our entire focus is probably the exact opposite of most people here in Scottsdale. And you know what? It feels good. Really really good. We aren't just selling stuff but we are giving stuff away too. I have discovered freecycle. This is an online group (probably one near you) that is all about the giving and receiving of free stuff in an effort to keep things out of the landfills a while longer. Right before Christmas we went through the kids toys and gave away everything that they didn't use regularly. The whole lot of it went to a foster mom of 3 girls for their Christmas gifts. Even Sage felt good about that. So, to those of our friends and family who know about us ditching our TVs and selling all of our stuff: No, we are not starving or even having financial difficulties we are just trying to make the most of our lives.

Okay, I will step down from my soap box now.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cute Kid Quotes

We went to San Diego last week for a mini vacation. It was great and we all had a lot of fun. However on our way home the kids were tired, we were tired and we had stopped for one reason or another about a dozen times in the first 100 miles or so. That makes for a very cranky daddy. Actually both Ron and I were pretty miserable and irritable. After one of our many stops Rori started crying in the car for no discernible reason. Sage knew how Ron and I were feeling so she took it upon herself to try to talk Rori down. So she says "Rori, you have to stop crying or Daddy is going to have an aneurysm."

Ya, she's 4...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cute Kid Quotes

Sage was tucking Ron and I into bed.

"Night night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Stomp them or kick them."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Parent

Does the learning curve in parenting ever flatten out? Even a little? I think I am going to make this a frequent type of post.

Number one most important rule in parenting: Never, ever, under any circumstances take your eyes off a 2 year old. I repeat, NEVER. It only takes them about 2 seconds to get into something they shouldn't. And if for what ever reason you have not followed rule number one in parenting AND said 2 year old is quiet... Well, you are in deep trouble.

This is the result of me loosing track of Rori for a few seconds. Lipstick. And by the way lipstick doesn't come off walls very well. This is something else I have learned as a parent. While I was guilty of not keeping a close eye on her for a few seconds, Ron made the worse mistake of not watching her for a few minutes. I was out of the house with Justus and Ron had the girls at home. They were all outside in the garage on a colder day while Ron was working on something. Rori got cold so she went inside the house - alone. After about 5 min (or so he says) he asks Sage to go see what Rori is doing inside. Sage goes inside and comes out and says "Dad, you have to come inside. This is serious." It was. She was up on the bathroom counter, sink plugged, water running on full. I am told there was a 1/2 an inch of water on the floor and it was running out into the hallway. The drop down drawer was full of water as was the cupboard under the sink. When we built this house and chose the sinks we didn't have nor want kids so we chose the more aesthetically pleasing sink that did not have an overflow hole. Turns out that was another bad decision on our part. When I got home and heard the story I of course asked if he thought to take a picture first before cleaning it up. Apparently though he didn't think it was as amusing as I did.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

For My Mom

Sometimes I am amazed at just how busy I am. My mom left more than a week ago and this is the first time that I have had to sit down and write. She arrived here on the 23rd for Christmas and left a week later. This was an unusually short stay for her. Unfortunately for all of us she has a life back in Alberta and she can't just come and stay for as long as we would like her to.
We had a great Christmas this year. It is so fun to have kids this age. They get so excited about Santa. And for me it was extra special because my mom was here. My mom is the queen of Christmas. She loves it and everything that goes with it. She always has an amazing tree which she puts up in November and doesn't take down until mid January. She wraps her gifts with perfection and a bow. All the gifts that she gives are chosen with such unbelievable thoughtfulness. I'm sure she must think about the perfect gift for each loved one all year long to ensure she nails it. Every year she used to do a ton of baking. Her shortbread cookies can not be compared with any other. And there were the millionaire squares, haystacks, uncooked cookies, naniamo bars to name a few. She was always so sure to make the number of gifts given to my sister and I were the same and the amount of money spent was the same. She always wrapped every gift in our stockings and made sure that it was unique Santa wrapping paper we had never seen before. The stockings were always our favorite and she (I mean Santa) packed them tightly and they often overflowed onto the floor. Just the act of setting up the Christmas tree was a special night. We would have a fire in the fireplace, eggnog and a big array of her baking. We would get to stay up late to set up the tree. My mom single handedly made Christmas the best day of the year. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to do such an amazing job. Once again my mom made my Christmas for me. I can not even put into words how much her being here made this the best Christmas I have had in a long time. She has always been an amazing mom and now she is an amazing grandmother too. She has the patience to play with the girls for hours which is something I have trouble doing. One of my favorite pictures of her is of her sitting in our laundry basket playing with the kids. Always the mother, she is forever trying to take care of me by watching the kids or taking them out for a walk so I can nap in a quiet house or cleaning my house while she is supposed to be here visiting and relaxing. For all of my mom's life she has focused on taking care of everyone around her and often at the expense of her own happiness. I know of no one else who is so completely unselfish and giving. She has a heart bigger than she is. Things between her and I have not always been so rosy. But I grew up and finally was able to see things as they are. She is my best friend. When something great happens I want to call her first. When something funny or horrible happens it is my mom I call. I can always count on her to lend an ear or a shoulder when I need it. If there were only one thing I could give my mom, it would be to give her the happiness that she has given to everyone around her for so many years.

Thank you mom for being you and helping to give us all a wonderful Christmas. Can we book your flight for next year??
I love you mom!
Here are some pics taken over the holidays.

Here she is, my beautiful mom.
Justus' first Christmas.

Here is Rori in front of the gift her daddy made her. Ron made the girls a castle. The girls asked for knights, horses and other creatures that I can't remember the names of right now. We are so happy about the girls asking for this kind of stuff rather than Dora stuff or Hannah Montanna stuff or princess stuff. I won't get started on that right now... This view of the castle doesn't show how amazing this thing is. Oh and Ron really was there for Christmas. That's him in the background with no head. Other than that he seems to have escaped the camera, again.
Grandma and the girls.

Me and the girls. Sage had clearly had enough of the picture taking and Rori was only laughing because I was squeezing her knee.

Grandma feeding her only grandson.