Friday, December 14, 2012

Project 52 {50}

My favorite thing about you:
You need to figure things out for yourself.

f/1.8 1/80 ISO-100

This project was all her.  From what's inside to wrapping it, to writing out the tag, curling the ribbon - Her.  She picked out the gift, the paper, the color of ribbon and the tag.  She was bent on doing it herself.  Was it perfect?  Yes.  Because I didn't have to do it, and because she succeeded in wrapping it.  She asked for help when she needed it (sometimes wrapping presents takes more than two hands, especially almost six year old hands).  

And before I get too into this, it was Christmas hat day at school - she wasn't just wearing that because she was wrapping presents, she seriously hasn't taken it off since she put it on at about 9:00 this morning. 

Both of my kids have an inherent need to do things for themselves.  Gee, I wonder where that comes from.  Yeah, I'm sure lots of kids are like this, it's kind of a kid trait.  It seems like mine have been like this from birth:  happy to figure things out - legos, writing, getting dressed...  Time permitting, I try my best to let them struggle through on their own, but dude, that's tough.  I know they need to do it for themselves, but so help me, sometimes we need to make it out the door in the next four hours.  But those times when I unleash holy patience on them and actually allow them to fight through on their own, the sense of their accomplishment is so rewarding (not just for them). 

Having patience with my kids is something I need to practice.  A lot.  I'm crappy at it.  Yes, I admitted it.  My name is Meghan, and I lack patience with my children (you can go ahead and take away this week's mom of the year prize too).  I wish things would happend when I want.  I wish they would happen how I want.  But you know what my father-in-law says about wishing? 

"You can wish in one hand and {poop} in the other and see which one fills up."  
-Glenn Roberson

And it's true.  I can wish all day long that they would figure it out, but unless I give up my do/go now schedule(every once in a while, at least), grab some patience by the short hairs and hunker down, they'll never learn and I'll be doing it for them till the day they leave for college - and that's just fact.  So a little bit of patience on my end now, truly can go a long way.  And God willing, one day I'll never have to wrap anyone's presents but hers, because she can do it for me!

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Project 52 {49}

My favorite thing about you:
You fight

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Herein lies another of those moments when you fear that I may have finally lost my marbles.  Rest assured, most marbles are in fact present and accounted for.  Today.  Yup, I like it when my kids fight.  You are permitted to ask me "Why you crazy lady, WHY?!".  Well for one, because when they do it with one another, they're not doing it with me.  But also because they take nothing from each other.  Yes, they get physical sometimes (okay, about 50%), and that's (usually) when I step in (hey, I lost Mother of the Year long ago - I might as well shoot for meanest).  Lastly, some of their fights are just down right entertaining to me (until they get whiney).  

This week we have finally begun teaching the boy that it's never, okay to hit a girl.  No, not even your sister.  I know.  She can't hit him either, but it's a total double standard because if he hits first, she can absolutely whale back.  And she does.  But that's the end.  It's never allowed the other way around.  Like I said: Double Standard.  But it's important to drill home respect of the women in your lives and while it starts with modeling behavior at home, and reiterating that montessori phrase:  "USE. YOUR. WORDS." it comes down to the fact that she's a girl and you never, ever lay a hand on one.  Did I say ever?  Ever.  So there.

So, here's what this all boils down to:  Fighting is fine.  You can fight over what color the towels are, the fact that one of you always cleans up more than the other, or even that the other is sitting too close and breathing on you (yes, they've fought about this).  You may not use your hands, feet or other body parts.  Fighting is healthy communication when done the right way.  Though if we continue on this path, I'm investing in a few of those giant sumo suits and a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots set.  We'll start settling stuff my way...

Saturday night we took the kids to the Electric Safari, we came around the corner and saw the fighting kangaroos.  Jeff says "Look!  It's Haley & Kale!" So they stood over it and played around with each other.  I stood there and took the picture.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Project 52 {48}

My favorite thing about you:
You're game.

f/3.5 1/80 ISO100 (Flash - Obviously)

Got some hair-brained awesome idea?  Talk to my kids.  They're up for it.  Can you sell it as "Quite possibly the greatest thing they'll ever do.  In their entire lives!"?  Totally game.  My kids are most definitely "yes" people.  At almost 6 and 4.5 years old, my kids think little about their decisions.  And that's great.  They don't consider their limitations, because at that age, lets be honest:  The only thing that could possibly hold them back is their size.  We have little concept of the "Risk of life or limb" idea.  And while I'm sure that running with the bulls, or skydiving would be really great, I am not one of those people.  I strive to be, but sometimes I just want to sit in the house with my covers pulled up to my chin and watch a little television.  

We talked a bit this week about the idea of courage, and that's something my kids have in spades. We're not a family who believes in a lot of fear (though, as a mother, I have enough for all four of us.  Times infinity.  But never let them see you scared).  We dismiss the idea of being afraid of the dark.  Rather, if it's something that makes you uncomfortable; fix it.  Turn the bathroom light on yourself.  Don't like the thunder?  Lets find a way to make it less scary - discuss how it occurs, a way to think or rationalize around it.  Things you understand are far less threatening.  Afraid that you physically can't do something?  Most of the time the worst thing that can happen is that you can't and with a little practice, that can change.  Being afraid of failure is absolutely unacceptable for these two.  It's my job to make sure that they know with preparation and support anything is possible.  That's not to say that failure is unacceptable.  It absolutely is.  But to use fear as a means to keep you from even trying... nuh-uh.  

All of this to tell you that this week we went to the city's Parade of Lights with our good friends.  We all packed into my car and headed down to the madness.  It was a great time, with hot chocolate, and pretty amazing peanut butter (and jelly in a container, not on your PBJ) sandwiches.  Side note:  if you have a PB & Jellies near you:  GO!!  The kids saw a pretty well make-upped Jacob Marley, rattling his chains right at them.  Scared the crap out of them.  But with a little discussion (and distraction) before bed, we were able to talk through the fear of him.  We moved on and one fewer thing in this world for them to be afraid of.  Because, being honest again:  As they grow there will be plenty of time and things for them to be afraid of.  But if you let fear keep you from doing things, you'll never accomplish anything of greatness.  Be game for whatever life has headed your way.  

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Project 52 {47}

My favorite thing about you is:
You're gullible.  

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Here again is where I win the "Mother of the Year" prize.  Your trust in your father and I is infallible.  I guess, as it should be.  I mean, why would a parent intentionally mislead, or (gasp) lie to their child?  Oh... Christmas time.  And a few other times (because it's just not appropriate to explain to an almost 6 year old what blood alcohol levels are, because *technically* babies really are put there by God, and because sometimes you just don't need to know the truth... yet).

So, it's Christmas time again.  And like I mentioned last week, our Elf on the Shelf: Mortimer came back.  I also explained his greatness last week as well.  But just like last year, the poor guy has barely been around a week and already he's sidelined at the North Pole.  Remember when I said I wanted to be the mom who invented him?  If I had been said mom, I would have included the clause that if you touched him he unleashed some kind of pent up vitriolic elf rage.  There would be no going back to the North Pole - I deal with these kids single handedly 365 days a year, save for when he swoops in for a month and takes on the tattling.  Is it too much to ask that he stick around for the promised month-ish?!  No slacking my little friend.  It's common knowledge that the first rule of fight club is do not talk about fight club.  And if you're on a playground anywhere in the United States, I'm pretty sure the the kids will tell you that the first rule of Elf on the Shelf is no touching the Elf on the Shelf.    

Well, the other night he brought all of our Christmas books.  He was minding his business checking out his Elf: The Movie book, when Haley was looking for one to read.  She touched the basket holding the books and accidentally knocked Mortimer over.  I imagine (because I wasn't actually there) that she reached to set him back up again, forgetting the rules, but thus touching him none the less.  To preserve the magic, the rules must be followed.  And even though I can't tell you with certainty that that's how the situation went down, I'm not dumb - and I know how this almost 6 year old operates.  

That's the thing about your kids.  You hang around them long enough and you know the words that are going to come out of their mouth, before they can even think them.  And you know how they'll react to certain things.  Except when they tell you that the lyrics to "Feliz Navidad" are absolutely not "Feliz Navidad", but are in fact "Denise Nobby Lob" or "Elise La De Da" depending on which kid you ask (but you're an idiot to think it'd be "Feliz Navidad").  Nobody can see that coming.  But I know how Haley would be in this particular situation.  Did she have good intentions?  Absolutely.  Did she honestly forget?  Yup.  But did she lie her little face off about it?  You bet.  So we had to follow through on the consequences, because the last thing you want is an almost 6 year old who starts to critically think about Christmas magic.  Yes, a few weeks ago I did say that I wanted my kids to be critical thinkers, but not this time of year.  I still need to be able to lie to them.  They need to know that Santa is real.  That Mortimer really is working for the big guy.  That I really do have the big guy on speed dial just incase.  And that God really does put babies in mommies tummies.  

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Project 52 {46}

My favorite thing about you:
You're festive.

f/2.8 ISO-200 1/10 (why it's blurry, don't look too close...)

This week we learned that one of the local radio stations is playing all day Christmas music (yes, I know, already).  And yes, we listen to it.  Save me the lectures on how it's not even Thanksgiving, I realize this.  But here's the thing.  Thanksgiving?  Not all it's cracked up to be (if you're a mom who has to manage the kids and also a turkey).  It's an excuse to eat a big honkin' meal.  Great idea America, but if it's all the same to you, I'll cook my turkey, but I'm moving straight from Halloween into Christmas.

So yes, we listen to Christmas music everywhere we go.  We talk about which ones are my favorite (Carol of the bells by anyone who does it normal, and Christmas Canon by Trans Siberian Orchestra) and which are my mom's favorite (Ann Murry's Holly and the Ivy), and which are Grandma's favorite (Celine Dion anything) and their favorites (Little Drummer Boy and anything found in a movie: Frosty, Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to town - a fantastic reminder this time of year but I digress).  Our Elf on the Shelf: Mortimer also showed up early (he we needed for our Christmas pictures).  And can I just tell you that I wish I was the mom who came up with that idea?!  She's an effing genius.  Yeah, that's right, I said effing on my blog.  In a Christmas post.  That's how genius she is.  I love Mortimer; coming up with ideas for him (thank you Pinterest), and just the fact that at any point in the day I can say "Mortimer, totally saw that"!  Plus, they cut back on their tattle-tailing to me by about 50% and just send it to Mortimer.  He and I are partners in crime.  I never want him to go back to the North Pole, just actually hang out here on a shelf the other 11 months of the year.

They love this time of year, and while I can say that Christmas is exclusively great, and kids are pretty awesome too, having kids at Christmas makes life worth living.  And that, my friends, is something to be thankful for.  And Mortimer.  I'm thankful for him too.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Project 52 {45}

My favorite thing about you:
Your persistence  

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We have high expectations for our kids.  Really high.  I've (kind of) joked that in having Jeff and I for parents, did anyone really expect our kids to be dumb?  I mean, I first met him in our series of honors courses in 8th grade.  We took many honors and AP classes together throughout our educational career.  I can't imagine my kids not being honor students as well.  In fact, if given the choice between best kid on the (insert sport here) team, or in honors/AP courses, I'd pick the academics every time.  Life is just easier if you're not dumb.  So I work with the kids.  A lot.  My goal was to have Haley reading before she started kindergarten, and she was.  We'll do this with Kale as well.  I try my best to have intelligent conversations with them, even if we're just driving around in the car.  When they were babies we'd talk about what color something was on a walk.  I strive to use adult words with them.  They're not afraid to ask if they don't know what a word means.  I've never had to tell them what a word means more than once.  Sometimes I have to explain things a bit more simply, but they'll grasp it and down the road we can get more complex.  We don't avoid topics, and if I don't know, we ask Siri, or look it up on the computer.  I want them to understand that curiosity makes you smarter, and it's okay not to know something as long as you seek the answer to it.  

So, persistence.  Yes, I have high expectations, Haley's teacher's are higher (LOVE).  Especially when it comes to handwriting.  I'd sent Haley off knowing that she knew how to write upper and lowercase everything.  Her teacher expects perfection.  Not kindergarten perfection, real life perfection (on one of my room mom days she needed to see my handwriting before she would let me write out sentences).  Part of her phonograms is knowing all of the sounds that correspond with the letter, the other part is being able to write the letter.  She can tell you rote what each letter sound is, in the order of common use for the first 26 letters of the alphabet.  She can write each letter such that you know what letter she's shooting for.  Perfection?  We're not quite there yet.  She had a test this week on her most recent phonograms and needed to write the letters, so we drilled.  And drilled.  AND DRILLED.  She knew the sounds so I didn't focus so much on that, but we printed out many a writing sheet, and I wrote out the letters, made her copy them, gave her the dots then she had to do it all by herself.  You could see the improvement right there on the page.  She's getting there.  And she wants to do it.  She knows what's expected of her and really tries her hardest to meet those expectations.  

How will you know what you kids are able to accomplish if you don't place those high expectations on them?  And not just academically, but physically, and behaviorally.  In our house we expect academic success (even in preschool and kindergarten).  We expect them to treat their body in a healthy way, eating the right kinds of foods to help them grow, and to exercise to be strong and capable.  We expect good manners at all times.  My job (like I've said a million times on here) is to equip them to go into the world and be successful adults.  With the persistence to meet the expectations we put on them now, they'll be ready to meet them in the future as well.  

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Project 52 {44}

My favorite thing about you:
Your stick-to-it-ivness.

Both f/2.8 ISO-100 

Kids in general are a fickle creature.  Not my kids.  When they make up their minds thats it.  Done.  It took a long long time to train them into this, but we're finally confident in our choices. It used to be, with Kale especially, they would get a choice between A and B, they'd choose A and immediately regret that decision and go with B.  Drove us nuts.  Make a decision and stick with it.  Deal with the consequences (however they may fall), and live with your choices.  Yeah, sometimes that meant drinking milk, when you meant to pick juice, but someday it could mean something a lot bigger.  I want them to be critical thinkers, really weigh the outcome of the options they've been given and when they finally make a decision move forward with confidence. Many times in life there are no do-overs.  

What in the world does this have to do with their Halloween costumes?  I'll tell you.  Haley picked this out two years ago.  She wanted to be a devil last year for Halloween, but we sat down and talked about the fact that it might be the only year she could go as Emily Elizabeth (with Atlas as Clifford the Big Red Dog), and she decided to concede, on the condition that this year she could be a Devil.  This year rolled around and months before she knew what she wanted to be (and thankfully left the details up to me).  She got some mixed reactions (here in the land of Focus on the Family) about being a devil from some pretty important people in her life, but she confidently held strong to her convictions and never once wavered in her choice.  

Kale also knew months ago that he wanted to be a ninja.  Easy choice since he is a ninja.  He'll tell you:  "It's okay, I'll protect you, I'm a ninja" comes out of his mouth nearly everyday.  So in the middle of September we were wandering through Target with Grandma and he saw this costume.  I was wary of him picking one so early, and I didn't want him to see something down the road and regret his decision.  He didn't.  Not for one second.  

Someday they'll have to pick a college to go to (God willing), and a major, a spouse.  Serious life decisions.  I want them to weigh their options, make informed choices and never for one second regret the direction they pick.  Pick what's right for them, not the pressured choice or the easy choice.  They're the ones who have to live the outcome.  

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