Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary...

Eleven years ago today, I married my best friend, the one man on the planet that was meant to be my soul mate and father to my children.  God knew exactly what he was doing back in January of 1998 when he guided me to apply at a daycare center in the town where I was going to college.  It was where I met the coach for the very first time. 

He walked in leading a group of school age kids off the bus, he smiled at me and introduced himself.  I had a crush on him from day one and couldn't wait to go to work so I could see him.  A few weeks later I remember him reading a sports article on the Boston Bruins.  Casually I asked him,  "You like hockey?"  He replied that he loved hockey and most sports.  Without thinking things through I blurted out, "You wanna go to a Bruins game in a couple of weeks?"  (People, I didn't even have Bruins tickets, but I knew my dad had recently bought a pair and I was hoping I could get them from him!)

Obviously he said yes and obviously Daddy's little girl was able to weasel the tickets out of her father.

We had one hell of a whirlwind romance.  I finished college and instead of moving home we got our first apartment together,  six months later we found out on Halloween night we were expecting the athlete.  He was born in July of 2000 and three months later on a picture perfect day in September we were married surrounded by 170 family members and close friends.  It was quite a party!  I was 23 years old and the coach was 25. We were young and inexperienced but we had each other and we were a family.

It has been eleven years and boy what a journey we have been on.  We have survived job changes, many relocations, the blessing of a second child, buying our first home.  There have been struggles and challenges along the way, but each time we have come out of them stronger then ever.  Side by side there is nothing we can't get through. 

 I have my best friend and the love of my life with me always.   He loves me unconditionally, faults and all.   He picks me up when my world is spinning out of control.   He does whatever it takes to protect and provide for his family.  He's the kind of father to our children who comes along once in a lifetime,  and his relationship with his children never ceases to amaze me. 

I am so blessed to be living this life with my true love and soul mate.  Day by day, month by month, year by year.  It just keeps on getting better. 

I love you, forever and always.  Happy Anniversary Baby!

T

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

All about me: Autobiography of the princess

This was waiting for us on the princess's desk at school tonight when we arrived for open house:

Bella Letter

In case you can't read it clearly, here it is typed out for your reading pleasure:

All About Me!

I am short and I have long blond hair and I have pretty dark blue eyes.  I like to play vacation with the daycare kids and I like to write at school and play soccer because it's the only sport I like.  I do not like to fight with my brother because it just leads to more trouble like punishes, like losing stuff.  I am kind to others because I help hurt people and I play with people who have hurt feelings and I am a hard worker.  I want to change my name because I do not like it.  I want to change it to Chloe.  I like that name.  And that is All About Me!

And there you have it folks. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fights...

Any parent of multiple children is well aware that 90% of the time siblings don't get along.  They spend more of their time looking for ways to intentionally piss each other off and a fraction of that acting civilly.  It's just the way it goes.

I'm sure that family dynamics such as the number of children, their ages, and genders play a huge role in sibling relationships.  As well as a parent's stance on what is acceptable behavior or not.

Having two children of the opposite sex and the athlete being three years older than his sister means that in this house we do not allow fights and arguments to become physical.  I'll be honest here, just because we don't allow it doesn' t mean they don't happen.  I also think the rule is a little lopsided and greatly benefits the princess.  Nine times out of ten SHE is the one who becomes physical knowing full well that her brother is not allowed to put his hands on a girl.  He ends up getting kicked, slapped, pinched or what have you and when he finally reaches his boiling point and lashes out he gets in trouble for defending himself.

Because of this, the coach and I will usually intervene before things get nasty but lately their bickering has been nonstop.  I am so sick of refereeing fights! 

Yesterday afternoon when the princess decided to stir things up a bit by pretending to throw a pear at her brother I decided right then and there I was gonna sit this one out and quietly observe from the couch.

Holy shit people I was impressed!  The entire episode lasted over twenty minutes, with each taking turns locking the other in the livingroom closet.  They also took it upstairs raiding each other's room and stealing their most prized possessions threatening to destroy them.

Two points were scores by the princess when she pretended to rip down the athlete's favorite poster of the Bruins winning the Stanley cup and making tearing sounds were her mouth, successfully flushing him out of her room.

Two points were awarded to the athlete for making the princess actually think she had won the fight when she got him out of her room.  But oh silly princess, did you actually think he would leave without snatching some collateral to take with him?  Taking her rock collection was a brilliant idea and definitely got the reaction he was looking for.

More racing around.  More yelling and screaming.  More verbal threats and things like "Oh yeah" and "How'd you like that?"  More scuffling and shoving sounds.When they reached the stairs I had to finally step in for fear of one of them falling down them.  

I calmly separated them both, told them it was over and to get in the car.  The princess put on quite show trying to convince me how hurt she had gotten even going as far as telling me she was shaking with fear and couldn't calm down.Her reason and I quote:  "I had no idea he had such a temper".  Are you joking me?  My one and only response to her?  "Well, now you know so don't push his buttons like that again."

The athlete was only concerned with making sure I was well aware that it was "all her fault".  My reply to him, " You are just as much to blame as your sister.  Next time ignore the pretend pear flying through the air and walk away.  Not only will you not be in trouble but you also won't be late for soccer practice.  Now get in the car."

And that was the end of that.  Thinking about still I'm not sure if it was the most appropriate thing to do.  But , I do know it was a big eye opener for them and for me too.  I didn't know they had that in them! 

What are the family dynamics in your home?  What are your rules for sibling fights?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Give and take...

I have a son.

That son of mine is growing up.

He is not a baby anymore.

I. am.  the.  parent.  of.  a.  tween.

I got through the newborn stage, the toddler/preschool stage.  The school age stage.  With each came new challenges, new obstacles to overcome, new parenting techniques and strategies.  But also great joy and a sense of pride at seeing my child grow, learn, and succeed.

This new stage, the "tween years"?  By far the most difficult yet.  It's a confusing time.  A time hard to define exactly because your child is not a baby anymore but not a full blooded teenager yet either.

You get glimpses into the future and you can see where they're headed and what it's sort of going to be like parenting a teenager, but there a times when it is quite clear that your child is still just a child who needs a parent's guidance and help to navigate through the challenges of adolescence.

Case in point:  The athlete came home from school on Friday begging to go to the varsity football game later that night.  He has never asked to go to a football game before, so me being the intuitive mother that I am knew there was more to it than a new found interest in high school football.

Upon further digging, I discovered that it was going all around the 6th grade that day that "Everyone", was going.

We decided to let him go.  We even let him invite a friend.  We did however tell him we would only be staying till half time.  He was ok with that and just happy to be going.  We got to the game and we gave him a couple of strict rules to follow.
1.  Stay with your friend

2.  Check in with us in one hour.

3.  When it's time to go, it's time to go.  We don't want any arguments.

He nodded in complete agreement.  Or so we thought.

Strike one came after one hour past with no check in from the athlete.  We went in search for him and sure enough we found him with his group of friends, running around and joking with them all.  We had to call him over and give him a warning about not checking in.  His reply, "Sorry, I forgot".

We let it slide and reminded him we were leaving at half time.  We told him to meet us at the bleachers when it was time to leave.

Strike two:  Half time arrived and after 10 minutes, no appearance from the athlete.  Again we went in search for him.  This time not so forgiving.  The princess found him first and ran up to him telling him it was time to go.  He was with a group of girls so he ignored her.  

His friend?  Not with him but with a group of their soccer friends several yards away.
Strike three.  You're out.

The coach walked right into the middle of all those girls, told him to say goodbye NOW took him by the arm and away we went.  Utter embarrassment for the athlete.  He came to the car after retrieving his friend, and was all annoyed and red in the face.  We dropped his friend off and once we were alone in the car we let into him.

No phone, no friends, no next home football game.  We reviewed what the specific instructions for the night had been and how the athlete proceeded to NOT follow each and every one of them.  Followed up by an explanation about how he constantly wants us to allow him more freedom but he makes it very hard for us and himself.  When we give him a little leeway and he doesn't follow the rules it breaks our trust and shows us that he isn't ready yet.

We got no argument after that.  That's one thing I will say about him.  When he knows he's wrong, he shuts up and accepts whatever consequences we dish out.

What was suppose to be a fun night for all of us ended in disappointment for everyone, except the princess, she was happy as a clam!  The athlete went to bed disappointed that he can't go to the next home game. We returned home slightly disappointed and upset that he wouldn't just follow a few simple rules.  Now we have to wait some time before we can allow him to spread his wings, even just a little, and watch with pride as he succeeds at this in between stage they call the tween years.

Do you have a tween?  How do you get through the day to day challenges?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I wanted roller blades, he wanted Heelys...


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When I was growing up the traditional roller skate was replaced by something more fresh and streamlined, the Rollerblade.  Every kid wanted a pair.  You would see kids rollerblading all over town, to school, to the park, at the track.  It was great exercise and a lot of fun.

Today however, kids can't be bothered with lugging their roller blades around, or even taking the time to change out of street shoes and fasten a pair of roller blades to their feet.  In this fast paced world their accustomed to growing up in, anything that takes longer than 3 minutes to get ready, isn't worth their time.

The athlete used to have a pair of roller blades but he stopped using them because he would get so frustrated trying to put them on securely.  He would say to me, "Mom, if I had a pair of Heelys, you wouldn't have to help me and I could skate around whenever I wanted."  If you've been living under a rock the past few years, Heelys are the original shoes with wheels in the heels allowing  the user to "roll along"  rather than walk simply by shifting their weight to the back of their heels and lifting their toes.

That's why when I was asked to review a pair of Heelys, through Business2Blogger, I jumped at the chance.  The athlete picked out what he deemed, a "super cool" pair and within a week they were at my door.

The set up was so quick and easy he did it himself.  (For those of you who don't know him IRL, he is incredibly book smart, but common sense wise?  Severely lacking.) 

Within 5 minutes he had them laced up and on his feet and was gingerly scooting across the kitchen floor.
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15 minutes later he was zooming back and forth down the hallway.
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Later that night he felt so confident in them, he wore them to the store and when he thought no one was looking he would take a few running steps and proceed to "Heely"  his was down the aisle.

For those of you who aren't as athletically gifted as he is, have no fear.  You can check out Heely's  How To page.  There they offer tips, tricks, and even instructional videos to help you learn.

The best part for me:  Dual uses.  He can Heely around outside of school and burn off some steam, and he can take the wheels out in a matter of seconds and wear them to school.   If your a frugal mom it's easier to justify the expense because it's like buying a pair of sneakers for your child, but with an added benefit!  To check out all Heelys has to offer including special promotions check them out on their Facebook page, Twitter, and UTube.

He got the approval from all his 6th grade friends who agreed that the black and neon green colors were "wicked cool".  Bostonian stamp of approval right there, my friends!
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Disclosure: I was given a pair of Heelys to review through Business2Blogger, but no other monetary compensation was received.   All thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely my own.


Friday, September 2, 2011

It was time for a cellphone...

A friend of mine IRL wrote a blog post a while back about getting her tween a cellphone.  You can read her thoughts here:   Why texting is not a bad thing for my tween 

I could really relate to what she had written and it played a part in the reasons why we decided to get our tween son a cell phone for his 11th birthday this past summer.

Now for those of you who know me IRL, I have always been adamant that my children would never have a cell phone until they were much older, until it was a necessity.  I am one of those moms that says to my children constantly, "just because someone else has it doesn't mean you will".

But somewhere down the road my attitude changed and I agreed to give it a try.  Worst case scenario, we take it away and try again in a year or two.

It has been 3 months since we gave him his phone and to be honest, I love the fact that he has it.  It allows him to have a little bit more freedom, but added security for mom and dad.

I love that I can let him go to a friend's house and know that I can text him or he can text me anytime either of us feels like it.  I can check in on him and he doesn't have to be embarrassed that his mother is calling his friend's house to make sure he's doing ok.

Even more importantly, he knows that if he is ever somewhere and doesn't feel safe for any reason, he can call or text me privately and tell me to come get him.  He never has to be in an awkward situation or feel uncomfortable or even afraid to call me immediately, if he needs outta there.

Some of you may say that you know your child, and you have brought them up in a way that assures you that in a given situation your child would call you right away if they were not comfortable or unsafe.

I was one of those moms.

Until the day my son came home from a friend's house and said he never wanted to go back.  I was surprised  because I had met the mom several times and was very confident that it would be a safe environment for my child.

What I didn't know was that  the parents were both heavy smokers and smoked in their home.  (They never actually lit up with him in the house), but they had ashtrays filled with crumpled butts in every room of their home and the smell was over powering.

The athlete came home reeking of cigarettes, had a headache and felt like he was going to throw up.  I asked him why he didn't call me and ask to come home.  Do you know what his reply was?  "I didn't want to hurt their feelings, mom."

He was more afraid of upsetting them than he was of getting out of a house that was making him physically ill. It was right then and there I told him, "If for any reason you need to leave a home, whether it be unsafe, or something happens that scares you, or you just don't feel comfortable being there, than you tell the parents that you don't feel well and you need to call your mother to come get you and bring you home."

I felt so bad that he endured that for 4 hours!

Never again.

With his cell phone and through our talks,  I am even more confident that he will reach out to me if he needs me any place or time.  The pressure is off of him and the odds of him calling are more in my favor.  That right there makes it all worth it.

Another plus, he knows it can be taken away at any time for any one of these reasons:

First,  he doesn't answer or get back to us within minutes of us calling or texting him.

Second,  he uses it inappropriately while texting.  (We monitor his texts, and no I'm not stupid or naive.  I know he can and will erase anything he says that qualifies and inappropriate.  But he also knows that at anytime his father or I can pick up his phone whether it's in his hands or lying around somewhere and read through his messages.)

Third,  it will, and has, been taken away as a consequence when he does something really wrong, or decides to get wise during an argument.  On the flip side, it also has stopped or prevented many a melt down from him when you simply threaten to take his phone away.  (That's just an added bonus in my book!)

Now this part is really important:   I'm not saying that a cell phone can take the place of smart parenting,  in some instances they may give parents a false sense of security.  As with anything that pertains to your child and his or her safety be smart.  Make wise choices based on your individual child.  What might be right for one child may not be for another.  But in our case, it does help us as parents to be able to let go "a little" and give our tween the opportunity for a bit more freedom and navigate his way through this scary world of growing up.