Simply put… it’s chaos

I found myself in a conversation with co-workers today (who don’t yet have kids) trying to explain a day in the life of a parent. A parent with two rowdy, active (and sometimes gross) little boys.  It was not too long ago that I sat in their shoes, outside looking in at the mysterious world of parenthood. I thought I knew what I’d be getting into, but I don’t think it is humanly possible to anticipate the way having children will turn your life upside down. It’s in these moments that the contrast between the kid-free lifestyle and mine is stark. Here are people who meet up with friends whenever they’d like, workout after work, and live lives that revolve solely around them. I used to do that too. And then you have parents, who rush home from work to get kids, play with the kids, prepare a meal, discipline the kids, feed the kids, read them books, bathe the kids, brush their teeth, put them to bed and clean up all the toys (and dishes… and laundry). And then, if we’re lucky, there is an hour or so that can revolve around us. Unless of course, the kids won’t go to sleep or stay in bed, or heaven forbid you can’t get Disney Jr. off your TV, in which case, even less of the evening is yours.

Now let me be clear on a couple of things. This is not to imply that people without kids are not busy, do not have responsibility or do not have stress. I know that they do. That’s not my point. And second, don’t mistake my realist account of an evening with children to sound as if it’s the most awful thing in the world to do. Quite the contrary. There is no amount of free time that can compare to the smiling faces waiting to greet you when you arrive home from work, arms open wide, yelling and grinning ear to ear, “Mooooooommy!!!” Five days a week it is one of the best moments of my day.

But the other side of those blissful instants is that kids are a lot of work. Nothing is simple. My earlier laundry list of nightly activities may imply that it’s like a checklist that you move along, neatly marking through each completed task as if it happened on time, as scheduled. But it rarely, rarely does. Because one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about being a mom is that when you have kids, you are no longer in control. And I’m not talking about behavioral issues here where the kids are making the rules and think they are the boss. No. It’s control that you give up yourself. When we sign up to be parents we start living by rules (that while they are not dictated by our kids) are in their best interests – we adhere to a schedule, eat dinner at a reasonable time, make time for naps, clean up our language, baby-proof the home, turn our once nicely decorated houses into a place with juice-stained carpet that looks like a toy store threw up all over it. Like it or not, kids pretty much run your life. (Note – run, not ruin).

So let me explain what the nightly routine yesterday really looked like. Playing with the boys meant pushing them on the swing longer than I planned, but they were having so much fun I didn’t want to stop. It meant starting dinner late and being interrupted a dozen times because the boys were arguing over yard toys. It meant disciplining Brogan after he took two deck chairs to the very back part of the yard (after I told him not to) – and then listening to him say “they’re too heavy” to bring back – oh and him freely peeing in a random hole because duh, mom, your supposed to pee in holes. It meant feeding them dinner on the porch enjoying the beautiful weather, but being interrupted because a neighbor passing by excited the boys out of their chairs to go have a chat. And then a yellow jacket landed in my mashed potatoes. And then flies were swarming the boys plates. And no one finished their meal. And then it was time to take daddy his dinner to the gym. But that meant changing their clothes (that were absolutely filthy), and changing a diaper – of a two-year-old whose favorite game is to turn over… or kick… or run away… or all three when it’s time for a change. And then we finally got in the car – 30 minutes late. We delivered the food to a hungry dad, hung out for 10 minutes and hopped back into the car. We got home, started baths late. And then bath time was interrupted by Brogan figuring out how to use the blinds above the tub… and then noticing that he could see the rocket he lost on the roof from that window. And then Beckett (of course) needed to see it too. And then the blinds when up, and down, and up, and down. And miraculously, they were (sort of) clean and we finished the bath. And then snacks meant cheese sticks and pretzels (that of course got spilled all over the floor) and waters (that of course got spilled all over the floor). No time for books. Skip ahead to bedtime and they go down pretty easy… and I’m only called up twice with “Mommy, Beckett’s out of bed!” So I finally start to relax and realize I can’t find the damn remote and the TV is stuck on Disney Jr. blaring Sherif Callie. I literally thought I might have a nervous breakdown.  But I didn’t. I composed myself. I realized the remote upstairs would work the cable box in the living room too. But wait. If I go upstairs the boys will see me and they’ve actually been quiet for 5 minutes (although I was sure they were not yet asleep). All I wanted to do is watch Modern Family, but that channel, my friends, was 304 channels away and so for fear that my very last nerve may die if I attempted the 300 plus clicks on the cable box, I turned it off. And then I ranted on Facebook about it. And then I sat in silence until I was certain the boys were asleep and tip-toed up the stairs to steal the bedroom remote and watch my shows. And they were funny.

And so to my friends without kids who are curious what it’s like to be a parent, simply put – it’s chaos. But while it has its challenging moments, it is the most rewarding, most awesome experience ever. I am blessed to have been given these spirited children who prevent me from even thinking about having a dull moment. The chaos doesn’t compare to the way they love unconditionally, the way that need you or want you. Or how you see them learn and grow every day right before your eyes. It is one of the hardest jobs and greatest honors all rolled up into one.

The journey is a little bumpy… and impossible to fully plan for. It is truly chaos – but I really love every single day of my crazy life.

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The Roles are Reversing

I’m not sure I thought I would (anytime soon) profess that Brogan was my easy child. But over the last couple of weeks, Brogan has begun to show maturity. He is controlling his emotions more and we can actually reason with him. There are less tantrums, there is less stress, less screaming and more enjoyable time together. I’m feeling a tiny sense of relief that the path I thought he was on 6 months ago may not be his destiny.  Now, I’m not professing that he is an angel – not at all. But relative to his 3-year-old self and relative to his 2-year-old brother, he is now much, much more manageable. He is still Brogan, so he’s 90 miles an hour most times or “relentless” as my father-in-law says. But I can deal with high-energy and high-maintenance. A while back, my sister-in-law drew the perfect analogy for him. We were talking about one of the good things about his strong personality is that he’ll definitely be a leader. And then in jest she said, “We’re not sure yet if we’re dealing with a Lincoln or a Hitler, but he’ll be a leader!” Well, thank the Lord, but the Hitler route does not appear to be where we’re heading. Let’s hope this trend continues.

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Now Beckett. The little guy has picked up some of Brogan’s habits and has been flexing his independence lately. He’s been running off, being defiant, and flat out acting like a wild animal. He’s been throwing major temper tantrums… and gave me quite a doozy this weekend with my mother-in-law while we were in Kroger. He didn’t want in the cart; he didn’t want in the little car attached to the cart. He didn’t want to be held, or walk. So he threw himself on the floor and threw an absolute fit. I tried the tactic of walking away and paying him no attention. But he just screamed louder. So I picked him up and carried his kicking and screaming butt outside where he sat in timeout until he calmed down. I was very thankful I was not solo during this outing. And while none of this is abnormal for a 2-year-old, this is my sweet Beckett we’re talking about. That mild-mannered child who took it easy on mom while she did her best to wrangle his older brother. That sweet child, I fear, is moving to the dark side. I’m hoping we learned some lessons with Brogan that have left us better equipped to handle a disobedient toddler, and perhaps this phase gets nipped pretty quickly. We can only hope.

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I’m beginning to realize that age has a lot to do with the behavior issues. I think a child’s personality can either amplify or lessen the standard age-appropriate willfulness/tantrums/talking back/disobedience/etc. But regardless, some of this stuff is inevitable. Let’s just hope Beckett only gets a case of the terrible twos… and not the terrifying threes like ole Bob had. And let’s hope that four is a year of continuing maturity for Brogan and that things can be “easy” for a little while. At least until it gets really crazy come December.

And speaking of Bob, this phase has not gone away. He continues to refer to himself by that name… he continues to write his name as that name. We’re not making a big deal about it (for fear that oppressing it will make it worse), but I still call him Brogan (to which he corrects me occasionally). I’m concerned that when he goes into Pre-K in a few weeks, it will be “Bob” that he wants to write on all his papers. Not sure what to do here… except chuckle, I suppose, because this kid sure likes to keep things interesting.

And speaking of keeping it interesting, Brogan has been wooing the ladies again. In particular, a 4-year-old girl this past weekend. The little girl had come over to Blake’s parents’ house with her grandparents and had been swimming and playing with Brogan for a couple hours. When it was time for her to leave, Brogan was a little sad and deflated, because obviously, he wasn’t ready for her to go. So as she begins to walk away, he says confidently, and I quote, “there’s only one thing left to do…” and with that the proceeded to walk over to her, give her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Proud of himself, he walked away with a grin. The little girl said, “Yuk.” Her grandmother said, “That’s my girl.” And they left. I was sitting there with my sister-in-law when the whole thing went down, and we were pretty much dumbfounded by what we heard. Like, seriously?!? Where does he get this from!  It seemed fresh from a soap opera script, but the little guy doesn’t watch soaps. So maybe some kids are just born with all the right things to say and a natural charm. But after every episode like this, I get more and more worried about his teenage years. Oh what am I in store for…

Oh the joys, oh the joys. I say that half sarcastic and half for real. Parenting really is a joy. Especially when you can loosen up and appreciate your kids for who they really are – the good, the bad and the ugly. I think sometimes kids just need to be accepted and loved and somehow all that bad stuff that we’re worried will keep them from being productive members of society one day will just go away.  My kids aren’t perfect and I’m not the perfect parent, but I really am enjoying this ride they’ve got me on. Oh the joys!

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We’re having a girl!

So I’m a couple of days late on the blog update… but it’s official – we’re having a girl! I’m going to steal the words from one of my aunts… I love when God’s plans fit with our desires. Amen! It is such a blessing that we’ll get to experience raising boys and a girl, and I truly feel as though our family will be complete come December. And I am especially excited for my husband because I know how much he wanted a daughter. I can’t wait to see him get to live that dream of having daddy’s little girl – it is going to be awesome!

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The money shot!!

We went into the ultrasound with a girls name picked out… we didn’t have a boys name, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, we really just couldn’t decide. But our girls name was set… we are naming her Berkley Elaine. Berkley was a name that my mother-in-law came across and we felt it fit well with Brogan and Beckett… unique, started with a B, two syllables, different end-sound, English/Irish origin, you know, all the things one thinks about when they are obsessively thinking about baby names on a daily basis. Elaine comes from Blake’s maternal grandmother who passed away.  She was really special to many people, especially Blake, and I am sad that I never got to meet her. Our babysitter who recently passed away was also named Elaine, so for me, it’s an ode to her memory as well. Needless to say, I love her name. Love it. I can’t wait to see it embroidered on everything…. oh wait, it already is…

Monogrammed Dresses

It took my family less than 12 hours to already go shopping and begin the monogramming. Yes, I am that kind of girl and will have (just about) everything embroidered. Berkley will probably rebel and be a total tomboy after all of the dresses and bows, but that’s okay. For the first couple of years she doesn’t get a choice and so I get to play dress-up.

Brogan is very happy that he’s having a sister. He really wouldn’t even acknowledge the fact that this could have been a boy. As he told me, he already has a brother and does not need another one. Well okay. Glad he got what he wanted too. Brogan has decided he’s going to call her Berkley Blue… who cares that it’s not her real name, that’s what he likes. Blake mentioned it when we were throwing around middle names and it stuck for him. And who are we to argue with Bob? It’ll be fine – she can be Brogan’s Berkley Blue. I took Brogan shopping with me at Target and he got to pick out her first dress and a baby doll. He was so proud to be a part of it, and it just warmed this mommy’s heart!

Excited Big Brother

Beckett, bless his heart, doesn’t really get what’s going on. I keep trying to tell him there’s a baby coming, but it doesn’t seem to stick. Perhaps he thinks if ignores it, he will remain the baby forever.

It’s exciting times for this family! The good thing is that I have cured my curiosity by finding out we’re having a daughter… bad news is waiting until December to get to meet her is going to feel like forever! And at the rate of 16 new outfits within 24 hours – and we’ve got 6 more months of anticipation – means that daddy may be building on to her closet. All good problems to have though… feeling so, so blessed.

 

 

 

 

The Truth about the Gender Question

Boy or Girl

One of the questions most asked of those who are expecting a child is “do you want a boy or a girl?” It’s an interesting question. You get to make a public declaration of your desire and then you get a 50/50 chance of either getting what you want… or not. And then when you already have two boys, the question morphs a little to “you want a girl this time, don’t you?” Now there is the PC answer (happy, healthy, etc.), and then sometimes there’s the real one. And by the way, who doesn’t want a happy and healthy child? As if having a preference on the sex indicates you’ve bypassed the ultimate desire of wellbeing… but I digress. I know no one means harm in the question, and by no means do I find it offensive, but it can be a little awkward. Because the truth is that yes, I want a girl. And I know there is a 50/50 chance I’ll be eating my words. But if I was writing up the “perfect” life for myself, this third child would be a girl. I mean, don’t most people want to get to experience what it’s like to raise both a boy and a girl? But the funny thing about writing out your “perfect” story – sometimes you get it wrong. Two and half years ago when I was pregnant with Beckett (and before I knew he was a he) I would have answered girl too. But if things had gone according to my plan, I wouldn’t have this precious little boy, or perhaps this opportunity to have a third child. So it’s a good thing, that despite all of my “planning”, it’s not my plan guiding my life. So I answer girl this time too, but there is an asterisk. I want a girl, but I know that a girl may not be in God’s plans for me. I may be meant to be the mom of three boys, and I am okay with that. In fact, I’m more than oaky with that – I will embrace that reality and never look back. But who knows, a girl could be in the plan too.

We find out what we’re having next Saturday, by the way.

Blake and I decided we had to know as early as possible with this pregnancy. There are countless opinions about discovering the gender – find out or wait until delivery… how early to find out… how to spread the news, etc. This will be our third time to find out via ultrasound. For me, being able to refer to the baby as a he or she, and with a name, has helped me to bond with the pregnancy (so we won’t be holding out on the name till the end either). This time there is a little more anxiety because we know it is our last time. I am truly just anxious to know what our reality is so that I can focus on being excited about it… versus getting wrapped up in my plan if that’s not what’s meant to be. We’re not planning anything fancy for the reveal – we’ll find out in the ultrasound room (with our boys), and after calling our parents it’ll be Facebook/blog official within an hour I’m sure. We aren’t real good at keeping these things a secret.

6 days to go… but who’s counting.

Hi, My Name is Bob

We’ve been going through a little phase lately… our oldest has renamed himself Bob. You know, as in “the builder”. Upon introducing himself to anyone new, he insists that his name is Bob. Some people believe him. Until we interject – “his name is not Bob, it’s Brogan.” To which he pipes back, “No it’s not! My name is Bob!” Well okay then.

This past weekend we were working a booth for our gym at a benefit festival, and he introduced himself to the MC as Bob as well. Which turned out to be funny when Brogan asked if he could sing a song using his microphone. It’s hard to turn down this sort of request from a charming 4-year-old, so as I sat at our booth I hear the announcer over the loudspeaker say, “We’ve got Bob here, and he’s going to sing a little song for you all today.” I couldn’t help but laugh.

And then this last weekend for Father’s Day, I asked Brogan to sign the card to Blake. I handed him the card and the pen and he started writing… B… “good job buddy!” I said… O… I stopped him, “bud – I think you forgot the R”. “No I didn’t” he replied. And he continued writing…. B. And he looked at me and smiled. I busted out laughing and asked him how he knew how to spell Bob – his response, “I just knew, mom!” Blake got the same kick out of it when he opened his card.

Bob's Father's Day Card

I guess this is a way for him to assert his independence – to have some control over some aspect of his life. I suppose it doesn’t do any harm and the more we try to correct him the more he’ll dig his feet in and then who knows how long “Bob” will be around.

But I’ve decided that when Brogan does something awful, I’m just going to blame it on Bob. Because certainly that sweet baby that I gave birth to and named Brogan could not possibly get into half the trouble that my child gets in. No way. So just the other day “Bob” took things to a new level. Where his shenanigans and destruction impacted someone outside of this house and where Blake and I will literally be paying for it.

So we had a guy come to our house to purchase some broken lawn equipment. The guy backed up his truck in our driveway and was loading up the lawn mowers when my hammer wielding “Bob” came out to “do some work”. In the blink of an eye, I hear the hammer hit metal, and look up in horror as I see a gash about 10-inches long on the side of this man’s truck. This man’s nice truck. This truck that he obviously took pride in and took care of. That truck. And about 30 seconds later, this nice man noticed the same scratch and was just sick about it. Even though I knew the answer, I asked Brogan… I mean Bob, “did you do that?” He hung his head down in shame, “Yes.” Let me tell you, if you’ve never been here it’s a pretty awkward place to be. The guy was a nice guy and you could tell that he didn’t know how to handle the situation. But I told him that we’d take care of it, and wrote him a note to that effect. Well the next day I get a call from him and he already had three estimates… and when you factored in the rental car that would be required, it was looking like we would be out $1,000. Luckily I called our insurance company and discovered that incidents like this fall under the liability portion of our policy for which there is not a deductible. However we did lose our 15% discount for no claims, but I figure with 3 kids, some sort of claim is inevitable. Our insurance company even had a specific code for “innocent acts by a minor” (and although it could be argued exactly how innocent this was), apparently this sort of thing happens.

So Bob, thanks for keeping things interesting. We love you in spite of (and also because of) all the excitement you add to our lives.

Hi My Name is Bob

 

The Art of Reverse Psychology

Reverse psychology… one of the many great parenting tools. If you really think about it, the reason reverse psychology works is because the person on the other end of the negotiation wants nothing more than to oppose you. That’s right. The whole thing works because someone would rather do the opposite of what you’ve asked than do the original request (that they didn’t want to do).

And while I’m fully aware of all the reasons that this tactic is not forefront in all of the parenting books, let’s just entertain the notion that perhaps it’s not all that bad. Perhaps it’s the key to getting kids to do what you want them to do… perhaps.

What went down tonight at dinner time is what I like to call a reverse psychology masterpiece. You see, our little guy Beckett hates to sit at the table and eat. It’s not that he’s a picky eater, he is just easily distracted and doesn’t like to be confined to any one place. Therefore just about every night getting him to sit in his seat and finish his plate is a serious challenge. Blake is usually in charge of feeding Beckett, and after having only ate his broccoli, Beckett declared himself done. He plopped off his chair and proceeded to the toys. Some time ago, Blake introduced reverse psychology to our dinner table. It’s how we’ve gotten him to abandon the toys and return to the table. But unfortunately, it has not always resulted in him eating much of his dinner. So tonight, I grabbed his plate and decided to take it to another level. “Beckett, no more corn for you. No corn.” And then Beckett turned around and said, “Yes corn! More corn for me.” (I’m translating here… he speaks, but I’m pretty certain only Blake and I can fully understand him at this point.) And I followed, “Okay, then come here if you want corn.” And the little guy marched over to me, opened his mouth and took a bite. Impressed by the fact that it worked, I proceeded to the next thing on his plate. “Beckett, no more chicken. No more chicken for Beckett.” And Beckett whined, “Yes chicken. More chicken.” And he walked back over and took his bite.  This continued for 4 rounds of corn, chicken and mac and cheese, and the kid who was “done” nearly finished his plate. Blake and I kept chuckling to each other because we couldn’t believe it kept working, but it did. I reverse psychologied this kid into eating his dinner.

So what does this mean? Aside from the fact that I’m obviously a genius parent, it means that kids must practically come out of the womb not wanting to do what you ask. Or in this case, do the exact opposite of what you propose. It means that kids, even those who are not yet 2, want to be independent and be in charge (of some part) of their lives. Tell them to eat their chicken – “No!” Tell then not to eat their chicken – “Yes, chicken!” I’d like to say that as we mature that this silly logic becomes a thing of the past. But no. Adults still don’t like to do what someone demands of them. Tell them they shouldn’t do something, and they are compelled to try. Driven by stubbornness and the opinion that they know it all, I hate to say it, but reverse psychology would probably work on many adults I know.

But for now, I’ll just worry about my perfecting my reverse psychology skills on my little boys (and never on my husband [wink, wink]). With the success of the trial this evening, I’m looking forward to what other necessary daily routines I can manipulate them into cooperation – getting ready in the morning, breakfast, lunch, nap time, bath time, bed time. Oh my gosh, the possibilities are endless. And I suppose when they catch on to the shenanigans we’re pulling on them, I can try my hand in double reverse psychology. Oh boy, then things will get interesting around here.


DSC_0207Mom, I can’t believe you’ve been playing me with reverse psychology!!

Are my kids your birth control?

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I’ve had several friends tell me that reading my blog and all of the “fun” I’m having with my boys has given them second thoughts about parenthood (just a delay, I hope – I don’t think I’m sending anyone to get fixed just yet). First of all, this does not offend me. Not in the least. I get it. Kids are a handful. Especially mine. If I had read this stuff years ago, it may have given me a little pause too. From an outsider looking in, sometimes it may seem that I live in a hell made by the little demons I created. And sometimes, that’s not far off. But most the time, being a parent (even of sometimes challenging children), is just awesome. It really is. Especially when they’re sleeping, or at school, or with their grandparents (I kid, I kid).

When I started blogging, I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d write about. I knew some of it would be food, and some of it would be kids, but I’ve learned along the way what inspires me to write. When I cook something that makes me think oh my gosh this is the best thing ever, I get excited to share it and it’s easy to post. And likewise, when my kids make me want to pull my hair out, or when I find myself in some sort of comical situation (and usually the laugh or else you’d cry kind of comedy), I feel compelled write as well. I thought my stories would resonate with my friends who are in a similar phase of life, but I didn’t realize I’d be helping the others save on contraceptives. You’re welcome. But to be frank, the really good days are just not that interesting… unless of course I’ve set us up for a certain meltdown and my kids shock the hell out of me and act like angels. And yeah, that hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, I’m sure I’ll want to write about that too.

And I’ve also got a real pet peeve about people who act like it’s super easy all the time. They are liars. I appreciate honesty and authenticity, and so if I sat here and didn’t write about my real experience as a parent, the hypocrisy would eat me alive! (I’ve got no issue with dramatization, however). And so I give you all the truth as I live it. But since some of that truth – when they are good listeners and have a good day at school, or when they are obedient and easy going – isn’t all that sexy, I don’t feel compelled to write about it.  So my friends, it’s really not all gasoline spills and markers on the walls, nor is it licking used gum off the sidewalk or pushing each other down the stairs. No, no, sometimes it’s just sweet and simple and pure joy. I promise, the good outweighs the bad. You will be happy to get them to bed every night, but even happier to see their smiling faces in the morning… unless of course it’s before 6am… details, details.

 

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Our first family vacation

And let’s be honest, I’m using the term vacation loosely here.

As I write this this we’re driving back from Hilton Head. Not quite a real vacation, because I firmly believe you cannot have a real vacation with two toddlers. But it was a trip, with the four of us – and it was great family time. Overall, it went pretty well and I’d rate it a success. There were parts that were wonderful and fun and memorable… and then there were parts that were not. Like every time we had to eat outside of the hotel room. That sucked. Or when the kids had to sit still for any amount of time. That sucked too. But when they could run and play – pure joy.

Our trip seemed to amplify their behavior. It was like the fun times were much better than normal – like when they got to play at this awesome park, or when we were at the beach. They had a blast, and Blake and I just loved knowing how much fun they were having. But then the rough times were also exaggerated, partly due to them being out of their sleep routine and the number of times that they were required to “behave.” Having to eat out for 5 meals (in 3 days) meant a lot of behavior enforcement. Something that I realize I’m not very good at. The theoretical me is stern and means business and demands the kids behave. The real me just doesn’t quite measure up. Blake, on the other hand, is AWESOME at this. I almost don’t ever want to leave the house without him again. Seriously.

This morning Brogan proudly said to me, after he had successfully inserted a straw into a pouch drink, “I’m really good at getting drinks. But I’m not really good at listening.” So astute – a pretty good summation of our oldest – very independent and talented (in things other than fixing his own drinks), but just not able to listen to what we say. But I don’t feel like this defined our trip. When I look back on it, I will think about the boys having to share a pullout couch bed and sleep together – and them kicking and aggravating each other like brothers. Or bothering each other on a tire swing like brothers.

Boys on tire swing

I’ll think about us being able to give them undivided attention for 3 days – to be void of our normal responsibilities like work and cooking and dishes. I’ll think about my newfound appreciation for all that my husband does with and for the kids. How he saves us in the way he demands that they behave, and all the kid-duty he picks up when he bathes them and was able to get them to bed each night.

Blake enforcing

I’ll think about how the boys just love their daddy and how much fun they had spending time with him now that he’s around more.

Daddy and Beckett Daddy and Brogan

I’ll think about how the boys danced and danced to live music at Harbour Town.

Dancing boys

I’ll think about how Brogan talked his way onto another musician’s stage so that he could sing his favorite song.

I’ll think of this time as the first of many family trips – and hopefully real vacations one day. Someone with older kids, please tell me that this does eventually happen…

Family trip

Advice for my kids – Because I want you to be happy, successful and decent adults

I’ve recently been thinking about the really important things I should teach my children – the values that will help them to (hopefully) grow into happy, successful and decent adults. It’s the things that aren’t always taught in a classroom – the things that I realize may be lost on some of the present generation. Through my various interactions with adults, it has become apparent that not everyone is taking snaps from the same playbook – some folks just don’t get it.  They don’t get how to be responsible and accountable and cordial. They don’t get the common sense component of how human beings should interact with each other. It’s unfortunate. But that’s one of the cool things about being a parent – getting the opportunity to help mold the little people you created into (hopefully) productive members of society. Now as with everything, part of this is a crapshoot… 1 plus 1 does not always equal 2 – just because you preach certain values doesn’t mean they’ll listen. But I have to believe that providing a foundation rooted in humility and goodness has to play some kind of role. So this is my list. These are the things that count in my book. It’s what I hope I am able to effectively teach my kids, and what I hope they apply when it matters.

  1. Admit mistakes – Period. No one expects perfection, but what they do expect is when you fall short, you fess up, take responsibility. Especially in the workplace. How you act when you royally screw up is one of the quickest way earn or lose respect. Just own it.
  2. You are in charge of your attitude – To pull from the famous Charles Swindoll quote, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Sometimes you can’t control the people and circumstance around you, but you can control how it impacts you. Your attitude is always within your control.
  3. Be genuine – Be you. Whether people like it or not. Don’t let your crowd dictate who you are. It’s okay to go against the grain. People will appreciate your honesty and respect you for it. True authenticity is rare.
  4. Don’t feel entitled – The world doesn’t owe you anything. You’re not entitled fairness or to live the life you think you should. Life isn’t fair. Hard work gets rewarded. Handouts are the easy way out.
  5. Think about other people’s feelings – Taking the extra time to consider the feelings of others will pay off in the long run. Empathy and compassion will build relationships and trust. In a world of people screaming “me, me, me,” showing consideration will set you apart.
  6. Be humble – Don’t ever get too big for your britches. Accept compliments graciously. Don’t boast – let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
  7. Show appreciation – When others make your life easier, be grateful – they didn’t have to. Showing gratitude builds others up. People who feel appreciated give back. Say thank you often and mean it.
  8. Don’t be petty – Don’t make a big deal over small stuff. Forgive quickly. Don’t make the insignificant things significant by giving it your energy.
  9. Be generous – With your time, with your stuff. Give favors easily because you never know when you’ll need one in return.
  10. Don’t expect anything in return – When you are generous, don’t do it with the intent of repayment – you will be disappointed frequently.  If you put enough good out there, it will come back to you, but maybe not in the way you expect.
  11. Don’t take things personally –Don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that people have ill intentions toward you. Although it’s easy to take other people’s words or actions to heart, often it’s not even about you. Being overly sensitive and insecure is unattractive. Your friends/family/colleagues don’t want to walk on eggshells, so don’t break at every criticism.
  12. Don’t feel sorry for yourself – Instead, focus on improving your situation. Self-pity is not productive. There is always a bright side. It might not be immediately apparent, but I promise you it’s there.
  13. Respect authority – Teachers, police officers, bosses, the President. Especially the President. It doesn’t matter if your political beliefs align with the person in office; it is patriotic to respect the President.
  14. Be accepting of others – We’re all different. Black or white, gay or straight, Christian or not, liberal or conservative, rich or poor, toilet paper over or under – we’re all human, all worthy of love. Spend more time looking for each other’s similarities. Don’t disparage those less fortunate than you.
  15. Don’t compare yourself to others – Life is not a competition. What others have is irrelevant to you. You don’t know their whole story. Measure your success against your own scale. You will never be truly happy if jealousy is your motivator. Make your own goals and go after them.

So that’s it – my two cents. Knowing it is the easy part. Living it and being an example for my kids is the hard part. Game on.

Advice to my kids

What it’s like with just one… when you’ve got two

Brogan is spending the first part of his spring break with his grandparents at the beach… which means Blake and I are parenting for one for five days. Experiences like this are a testament to perspective and relativity. When I just had Brogan, just about every day with him felt like a full-time job – there was no rest for the weary.  And now that I have two – I still can’t catch a break. But, when you’ve gotten used to two, and then go back to one, oh my goodness it’s like a vacation!  It just proves that everyone measures their current situations against their own past experiences. I would have never thought on my wits-end days with Brogan that one day, when compared to the madness of two, parenting one would just be easy.

Brogan beach

Beckett is a little perplexed about where “Bubba” is… he walks around, says his name with an inflection in his voice that says where’s bubba and I tell him that he’s with Nonna and Bop Bop. He’ll then say, “Ohhhh, Bubba, No No, Bop Bop, m’kay”. And then I suppose he either forgets – or likes our dialogue – because we’re right back to the Bubba question before you know it.  But don’t go feeling bad for Beckett – oh no, he’s loving life as the only one.  He’s had two parents one-on-one and you can tell that it has filled his little sail! This evening he was running around the background like he owned the place.  He’s also not competing for toys. You know how that goes, as soon as he goes to play with something, Brogan finds an interest and then the fighting ensues. But this week, Beckett has free reign to everything and he’s loved it. It’s been his place around here.

Beckett swing photo-8

Since Brogan has been gone, the house has been cleaner and quieter. There’s been less arguing and it’s just been easier.  But I don’t think easy ever lead to anything great. And so while a break every once in a while is healthy, I love my crazy life. I love being on my toes, being challenged, being stretched too thin. I love seeing the boys interact with each other; I love the teamwork that takes place when Blake and I have to divide and conquer. I love hearing my little charmer tell me, “this is the best dinner EVER!” I miss my little guy terribly. I miss hearing his crazy stories and his thoughts on life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been loving my special time with Beckett, but I’m the mommy of two boys and my life’s not quite complete without them both.

And I fully recognize that I’ll be eating my words by later this week.