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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Finn turns 5 next month.  In our state, that means that they expect him to start Kindergarten in the Fall.  So they send you a letter reminding you of that and giving you your choices.  In the school district we live in, we have these choices:

  • His assigned school, which teaches a “Core” program.  It’s the only elementary school in the district that does this.
  • A Montessori-based Kindergarten, which has a tract that stays Montessori through Grade 8.  This is at 1 elementary school in our district.
  • An International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which is available all the way through high school.  This is at 1 elementary school in our district.
  • A normal/regular/standard school that the rest of the elementary schools use.
  • A private school (religious or otherwise)
  • Opting into another public school district
  • Homeschooling
  • Waiting a year til he’s 6 to decide.

Right now, we’re waiting a year to start Kindergarten.  For a variety of reasons, this is the right choice for him.

But, man, all the choices!  Let’s say I rule out other districts, private school and homeschooling (which we haven’t ruled out, but let’s just say) — that still gives me 4 educational options in 1 school district.  4!?!?  I’m appreciative of having choices, but geesh!

When my mom wanted to enroll me in Kindergarten, it was simple.  What’s your assigned school? That’s where you went – all the schools in that same district had the same curriculum.  Sure, you might prefer a different elementary school because you knew of the principal or the location was better, but there wasn’t a difference in how the material was taught.

Choices are good.  But they also cause analysis paralysis!

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Someday I’m going to forget all kinds of things.  I hope I don’t forget these things.

  • Finn (age 4) sings song so proudly.  At the beginning of this school year, he hated singing time at both church (Awana) and preschool.  The teachers made him stand with the group, but he didn’t have to sing or do the movements.  When asked about it, he said it was “too loud”.  He’s slowly coming out of that, but even in the beginning of the year when he hated singing time, he was learning the songs. And he’d come home and just randomly start singing them.  It’s fun!
  • Finn also tells great stories about how things have come to be.  He’ll tell me all about something he’s built with blocks.  Always an elaborate story.
  • We were going to the movie theater the other day and I asked Finn about the rules.  His answers: “Don’t Hit.”  Okay.  “Stay in your seat.”  Okay.  “And if anyone gets on the roof of the van and they want to ride up there and they beat on the top of the roof like it’s a drum, we should tell them to get off.”  What!?!
  • When Stephen (age 3) falls or something and I ask him “Are you okay?”  He always answer “I’m okay.  I’m fine.”  He always says both phrases and in the cutest voice.  (He voice is still baby-ish.)
  • Sam (almost 2) is so observant.  Call it being Kid #3, but for months now, I only need to mention something and he’s all over it.  I can just casually say “I’m going to go get the mail” and he’ll bring me my shoes.  If the baby spits up and he sees that I don’t have a towel, he’ll go get me one – without me saying a word.
  • He’s also always watching his older brothers and mimicking them.  They start dancing – he will too.  If they sit down for lunch, he will too.  If they start running around all crazy – he will too.

But I do think the thing that I’ll miss the most is right after bathtime – especially when a kid has gained confidence in their new walking skills.  I think I’ll miss seeing little naked baby bottoms running down the hallway to their bedroom.  Is that weird?  It’s weird I know.  But seeing a kid who is just so tiny but fully capable of walking is fun. And seeing them run is even more fun.

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I’m reconfirming my choice to stay at home.  Here’s how it all went down:

Mid-December, I got an email from a company:

“Dear Jayme…in looking at your profile on LinkedIn, you seem really cool with mad skillz that we’d like to have at our company.  Do we have what it takes to make you look at us?”

My reply:

“Dear company…you seem cool.  I’ve heard good things about you.  And you’re right – I am awesomeness.  The total package.  But I love my life and would only want to work part-time.  Thanks for thinking of me.”

Their reply:

“Hey, part-time could work.  We’d do whatever it takes to make you love us.  Come on in.”

So I did.  Did an interview.  They loved me.  A couple of weeks later, they asked for another interview, with the owners of the company (it’s a small company).  So I went. It went down like this:

Them: “Hey Jayme…you ARE awesome.  We could totally make part-time work.  But I don’t think you’d accept the position that we had posted, amiright?”

 Me: “Yeah, you’re right. You’re a great company.  It’s a good position.  It’s just not where I want to go.”

Them: “We have many needs. Would you rather do position A?  Or position B?  Or position C?  How about we set you up with an interview of some others that work here so you can see how cool we really are?”

Me: “Okay, those jobs sound cool.”

Them: “By the way, how much are you looking to make?”

Me: [tells them what I used to make, clarifying that I had been full-time]

Them: “Great.  Well, expect an email from us!”

The next day I thought more about it.  It IS a great company.  The potential positions seemed good.  The timing for my family was just horrible.  I just wasn’t excited. Don’t get me wrong: I was excited about being wanted.  About being told that I got skillz.  That’s really nice.  But, I decided that, if offered, the soonest I’d start would be June.  I wasn’t out looking.  I don’t need to work.  I had been hoping that I wouldn’t really like the position or the pay (so that it’d be an easy decision).  Jeff was supportive of it, but wasn’t excited about it.  The timing was horrible.

But instead of the email for another interview, I got a “Thanks, but no thanks” email.  It flabbergasted me.  I imagine it was about money since things were good until then.  But who knows?  Maybe I’m bad at reading people.

Either way, it was a RELIEF.  I was relieved that I didn’t have to make a Yes/No decision.  I don’t know that I’ll be a Stay At Home Mom forever, but, at least for now, it’s what I want.

Lesson learned.  Decision reconfirmed.

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Teal is the new Orange

In a couple of weeks on October 31st, I’ll be putting a “Super Hero Lion” costume on a 4 1/2 year old little boy and a Thomas the Train costume on a 3 year old.  Their younger brother will be dressed as a puppy or maybe Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.  Our youngest, being only 4 months old, won’t be getting a costume, but will be rocking a fun onesie.

Like a good mom, I’ll dress them up, likely putting warm clothes under their costumes, depending on the weather. I’ll take their picture on the front porch steps.

Like a good dad, Jeff will walk the oldest 3 around the neighborhood, going door-to-door, knocking on houses and saying Trick-or-Treat.  If all goes well, neighbors will drop goodies into their bags and my boys will say “Thank You!” and race onto the next house.  Still being so young, they won’t go for very long – especially if it’s cold.

Like a good mom, I’ll share in their excitement when they get home and how proud they’ll be proud of their stash.  They’re still a little young, so they don’t really know what all the different candies are, but they certainly know their favorites.

Like a good mom, I won’t let them eat hardly any of it.  I’ll put 3 exhausted little boys to bed, hopefully to dream good dreams of the fun that was had.  In the morning, they’ll wake up, remember what happened the night before and ask to see their Halloween buckets.  But they won’t find candy there.

Like a good mom, I’ll have taken away most of their candy, sent it to work with Jeff, and replaced it with money or little toys.  I’ll hope that their disappointment isn’t too great.

This is the first year that I’ll have to do this.  It might be the last.  Or it could be the first of many.  See this year, we’re on a new diet to determine if at least 2 of our boys are sensitive to some food additives or even some foods.

As probably everyone knows, an effort called “The Teal Pumpkin Project” is a campaign for people to give out non-food items on Halloween.  It’s just raising awareness, not trying to force anyone.

pumpkin-project

I read a post about it and some of the comments were really mean like:

  • It isn’t my job to parent your kids!
  • Oh, Boo Hoo, poor little Johnny can’t have sugar.  Shouldn’t be my problem!
  • If it’s really important to you [the parent], then you follow around your kid and prevent them from eating anything.
  • If its that big of a deal, then your kid should just stay home and eat a carrot.

I get it.  There is a cause for EVERYTHING these days.  But the Teal Pumpkin project isn’t about forcing people to give out bouncy balls instead of Reeses.  And no one is requiring you to hand out stickers instead of Snickers.  And believe me, parents are trying to parent and be on top of what their children eat.  No one is asking people to parent someone else’s kids.  And this isn’t an “Every kid deserves a trophy” cause.  (Or at least it shouldn’t be.)

And yes, my kids could just stay home and eat a carrot.  Ultimately, that’s the decision a parent faces:

  • Choice #1: Should I let my kids have the experience of Trick-or-Treating, knowing that I’ll have to switch out the candy?
  • Choice #2: Should I just prevent the disappointment and skip Trick-or-Treating?

For my family, I’ve opted for Choice #1.  At least with the age that they are now.  If we discover food allergies that make Trick-or-Treating problematic even they are teens, it might be a different decision.

The fact is: this isn’t a big deal.  For you or for me.  

For you, this is either something you learn about and get excited about or you don’t.  Just like fireworks for veterans with PTSD, organ donation, feeding hungry school children, or breast cancer awareness.  There are just some things that we get passionate about more than other things. It’s for people who say “Oh, I never thought of that!  What a good idea!” If this cause resonates with you, Yay!  If this doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay too.  Just don’t be a jerk about it.

For me, the bigger deal is figuring out their diet.  It’s being their mom during meal times and snacks.  It’s figuring out the best education options.  The best potty training methods.  The best discipline practices.  Just about everything else I do in life is bigger than a once a year trick-or-treating event.  It’s just nice when people put themselves in your shoes.

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To the mom of *THAT* child

Note: I write this not as a ‘poor me’ article.  But as a reminder to Future Jayme of the battles she’ll have waged.  And as encouragement when Today Jayme doesn’t want to wage the battle.

Dear Mom of *THAT* child,

I see you.  I see your struggles.  Well, some of them anyway.  No one can possibly see them all.  Including yourself.

I see how you’ve read all kinds of parenting books and applied the stuff that resonates with you.  And yet, you still feel ignorant beyond belief.  You wonder why parenting was so much simpler just a couple of generations ago.

I see how you’re hesitant to take your children out in public, in fear of what people will think.  How they’ll look at you.  What they’ll say to you.  What your kid will say to you.  It’s an act of courage to go to Story Time at the library, the Shopping mall or the park.  The zoo is almost worthy of a Peace Prize and hasn’t ever been attempted with all your children.  You shudder at the thought.

I see how you stopped going to church for the last year as it became just one more place to do battle.  One more place where your child doesn’t want to go into the classroom.  One more place to hear how your child needed more instruction than others.  One more place to hear that he “needs another change of clothes”.  You don’t want ‘one more place’.  You need fewer places.

I see how you are sad that birthday parties, sports teams and play dates aren’t a part of your world.  I see how you’re also glad about that. It’s just more ‘fewer places’.

I see how you’re excited to enroll your child in pre-school in excitement for the structure and opportunities it provides.  I see how you’re nervous to enroll your child in pre-school for fear of what the teacher may notice that you don’t.

I see how you’re worried about how your child will do in elementary school.  Will he have friends?  What will other kids say about him to their parents at their family dinner table?  Will he be invited to birthday parties?

You’re starting to suspect homeschooling might be best for him, but that makes you nervous too.  What would that mean for him?  For you?  For the others in your family?  You’d always been intrigued by homeschooling, but under different circumstances.

You remind yourself that everyone is on their own journey and face all kinds of hurtles that you don’t see, but it’s also easy to fall into a pity party when things seem to come so easily to so many others.  “What do they know that you don’t?”, you wonder.

You’re worried that the diet changes will help turn the tide in the struggles you have. You’re also worried that the diet changes won’t help.  The implications either way keep you up at night.

I see how you wonder which battles are worth fighting and which are not.  Which situations are best left alone and which are worth seeking out.  I see how you pull back at times in order to rest and regroup.  I also see how you dig in and continue to fight the good fight.

You cling to Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

You believe in your kid.  You believe in your family.  You know you might not be the best mom.  You know that you might not even be the best mom for your kid.  But you know that he’s yours and worth fighting for.  Even if it means battling him at times.  You don’t always know that you’ll succeed, but if you’re gonna go down, you’ll go fighting.

Sincerely,

*THAT* kid’s mom too

 

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I love my children and so far, I’m loving the pace of life that comes with staying at home.  One of my major goals for starting to stay at home was getting the time to train my children.  Here’s an update on how that’s going.

It’s going…okay.  Not spectacular as in “Mom’s presence magically made everything better” kind of way.  But also not in “Things are as chaotic as before” kind of way either.  We’ve seen some definite improvements, but we’re not there yet.  Not very close to there.  My 2-year-old (almost 3 in a couple of weeks) is doing very well…the ‘Terrible Twos’ are passing away nicely (except for maybe Potty Training).

It’s my 4 1/2 year old that needs more instruction and that I was hoping for more progress with.  I’m starting to suspect that his diet is not helping the situation.  Not causing it completely, of course.  But not helping him.

There are many positive things in our diet.  We eat lots of fresh veggies and fruit.  Mostly chicken.  Not a whole lot of eating out these days.  The boys never have liquids other than milk (almond milk these days) or water.  No juice.  No soda.  We don’t require them to clean their plate, but we do ask them to try a bite of everything (you never know if you’ll like it til you try it).

There are negative things in our diet though too.  Too many crackers and pretzels, I suspect.  Fake maple syrup instead of real maple syrup.  Cookies a couple times a week.  A popsicle here and there.  Lots of M&Ms –  especially during potty training.  Probably the worst though, is the sugary cereals that we have most mornings.  It’s not that I can’t make good breakfasts; it’s that I often don’t.

Well, times – they are a changin’.  Time to start being intentional about what my boys eat.  Specifically, we’re going to start on the Feingold Diet to see if that helps things.  It’s supposed to help children with ADHD, which is not our case here.  But there are some similar symptoms, so hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to a new diet we go!  It’s going to be hard, but I hope worth it!

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SAHM: Oh the pace of life!

So now that I’m about 3.5 months into this new phase of life as a stay-at-home mom, I have some random thoughts.  What I don’t have, however, is the mental energy to document them all in lovely paragraphs with pretty words and cute pinterest-friendly graphics.

But I still want to share my thoughts. Mostly for myself.  Because it’s good to reflect on life and ask yourself how it’s going.

The thing that I’m loving about life right now is the pace.  It is WAYYYY less stressful being a stay-at-home mom. (For me.  Right now.  You might be a different story, but this is my story at this time).

Our daily schedule is pretty uncommitted.  3 afternoons a week, one of the boys has pre-school. Once a week, I have a morning Bible Study, but that’s optional.  Two other times a month, I attend (or will attend) MOPS.  That’s also optional.  It’s heavenly.

There’s no rush to get the boys up and ready in the morning.

There’s no rush to fit in 40 hours of work during the typical 9-to-5 workweek.

There’s no rush to get to the daycare to pick up the 3 boys.

There’s no rush to get the needed information from their daycare teachers on how their days went.

There’s no rush to get home and get dinner on the table before HANGRY hits the family.

There’s no rush to get them into bed ASAP because 6:00 a.m. comes early.

The boys still go to bed by 7:00 p.m. (except the baby – he’s a little more loose with his bedtime).  But they wake up when they want to.  They get dressed as our schedule dictates.  If someone needs extra time to sleep, they can have it.  If someone needs an extra or an early nap, they can have it.  If someone needs some dedicated potty training time, they can have it.  If I want to cook a meal that takes just 4 hours in the crockpot, no problem.

The pace of life is just so nice.

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