Where I’ve Been This Week 2012: Week 10

I have been busy writing at a couple of other sites, and I think they are posts you will enjoy!

Everyday Family

everyday_family_author_natalie_hoage

If you are looking for some fun things to do with your family but don’t want to spend a lot of money, I give you 4 fun family date night ideas that were hits at our house.

One of the things I mentioned for family date night is playing board games, so I wrote a follow up post with 5 board games the whole family will enjoy.

Considering a family vacation? An all inclusive resort or cruise may be the perfect plan, especially if you have little ones to keep busy.

Moonfrye

moonfrye_author_natalie_hoage

Over at Moonfrye, I wrote a really fun post about 10 Things I Never Thought I’d Say (Before I Had Kids). It includes some of your quotes! Head over and see if yours was included.

I also shared a snapshot titled Time to Replant a red onion that had sprouted (if you want to know how to replant onions, check out my post on how to regrow red onions and plant onion sets.) Did you know you can share your snapshots as well? Head over to check out how to share your snapshots on Moonfrye.

What have you been up to this week? Feel free to share by leaving a comment.

Mommy Moment – Julie Style

Welcome to another Mommy Moment! If you’re not sure what it is, head over and read all about how Mommy Moments at the Monster came to be. I am excited to have one of my favorite bloggers/writers here today, Julie from byanyothername!

Julie is a mom to a son and daughter, wife, and an AMAZING writer. She is funny, one of my oldest blogging friends, and you will love her.

So go grab a cup of coffee and a donut, ahem, I mean a low-fat muffin, or depending on the time of the day maybe some wine and chocolate, and sit back and enjoy the story!

———

I think it was when my son turned two that I first suspected he was smarter than I was. Sure, I could analyze a Shakespearean sonnet a little more thoroughly.

Maybe.

But Jack definitely had my number when it came to pretty much everything else.

Most especially, he seemed immune to turn-of-the-millennium conventional wisdom for raising a fully-adjusted, well-behaved child. He defied every DO and DON’T for discipline listed in the parenting books and magazines I so desperately devoured.

“Catch him being good,” they advised. “Ignore the negative behavior and extol the positive!”

So I’d see him playing with his sister peacefully (quietly, nicely, thankyouverymuch) and I’d say, “Jack. I like how you’re sharing with Karly!”

He’d turn toward me, furrow his brow and promptly hit her with his Little Tikes hammer.

While making eye contact with me.

Whyohwhy had I bothered to interfere? He knew I was full of crap. It was like poking a sleeping bear.

I felt stupid to say the least and also helpless, frustrated, betrayed by the advice of these well-intentioned experts.

Ever-determined to be mother-of-the-year, I enrolled in a parenting course, the name of which escapes me now. What I do recall, though, was the instructor teaching me that pretty much all my instincts with my children were dead wrong.

Do not praise them, she warned. Instead of gushing, “I’m so proud of you!” when they paint a picture; say,I notice you used the color blue. Do you like the color blue?”

I tried this and Jack’s puzzled face warned me I was an idiot.

When your boy throws a tantrum over putting on his shoes, do not cajole or threaten she insisted. Simply say, “That must be frustrating” or “I see that you are upset” then go about your business. He’ll put on his shoes.

Or —  like my son — he’ll decide this constituted tacit permission to go barefoot.

Forever.

Please let me assure you, my kid isn’t a Bad Seed. (At least I hope not since he’s fifteen and getting taller than I am.) No, he simply saw through my lame attempts to manipulate him early on.

And the truth is, I continue to flounder as a mother more than a decade later.

These days, however, I try to be honest with him. I readily admit to being sorry, confused, hurt or just plain mad when the situation calls for it. I tell him how I feel and hope my “instincts” will render a decent outcome for us both.

We still make mistakes (like daily) but at least I no longer try to trick him.

Much.

And this has got to be better than the advice given to a parent in that same parenting class who asked how to get her daughter to stop marking up their walls with black Sharpie.

Just calmly ask your girl this, the instructor cooed with a smile:

“Do we not have any paper?”

That’s when I decided to become my own parenting expert. And from that day on, I’ve been flying by the seat of my own maternal pants: conventional wisdom be-damned.

Oh and also?

I threw out our all Sharpies that day.

Because I’m really not as dumb as I may look.

-———-

It’s Mia who is my defiant one. The one that drives me crazy because she always seems to do the opposite of what I say. The one that will look directly at me and do what I just told her not to do. It’s frustrating and my only saving grace is that I am hoping that she is going to grow up to be a strong, independent woman!

We all take on so much as moms – it’s a tough gig! There’s no manual out there for what we do, so sharing stories like this helps us all learn from each other.

Now head over to byanyothername and say hello to Julie. If you are a Twitter addict, you can find her there, too! And if you are a new follower, make sure to tell her that I sent you!

Mommy Moment – Galit Style

Welcome to another Mommy Moment! If you’re not sure what it is, head over and read all about how Mommy Moments at the Monster came to be. I am excited to have one of my favorite bloggers/writers here today, Galit from These Little Waves.

Galit is a mom of three, wife, co-founder of a monthly linkup, Memories Captured, and an AMAZING writer. She is involved in all kinds of writing blogs and if you haven’t read her work, you are really missing out!

So go grab a cup of coffee and a donut, ahem, I mean a low-fat muffin, or depending on the time of the day maybe some wine and chocolate, and sit back and enjoy the story!

———

“Here, mama?” He asks, pointing to the burgundy chair. Its wooden arms and legs are sturdy, strong, well worn. Many children have sat here.

“Yes.” I nod, distracted by my own thoughts and worries and mission.

I turn from him with a blind faith that he will, indeed, sit where he should for as long as I need. One slice of a moment is all it will take. Tiny, important.

Walking up to the counter, I press my palms against my jeans. Even as an adult, a school counter seems so very big, and makes me feel so very small.

The receptionist smiles my way and flips her strawberry hair over one shoulder. Her smile is warm, her eyes are searching.

Parents don’t usually come to school in the middle of the day without notice or reason or, at the very least, an appointment.

I know this, and yet I’m here.

“Hi.” I greet her. My smile is wary and my hello is strained, tinny even.

I know this too, and yet I go on.

“Can I see Kayli for just one minute?” I ask, crossing my fingers against my thigh, silently whispering, “Please don’t ask me why.” And to her credit, she doesn’t.

Smoothing a smile onto her lips with the ease and grace of someone who has heard stranger things from behind that big, tall counter, she calls down to my girl’s classroom.

I stand and wait, noting the quiet hum of the office. Another phone call is made, children deliver blue-inked notes,  a harsh fluorescent light washes over us all.

I murmur my thanks, then turn from the smallness of this space, towards the vastness of the hallway.

My flip flops smack against harsh carpet, each step announcing my arrival.

Sunlight beams through paneled doors landing in slants against the wall, revealing oil pastels in the brightest of colors, and against the floor, revealing my waiting stance.

A single heartbeat later, Kayli’s flip flopped stride comes my way. Her steps are ever-sure, her expression matches the school secretary’s.

“Hi mom?” She asks.

I take in my girl. Her spaghetti strap lays loosely against one shoulder, her pink tinted lip gloss was recently applied.

When I dropped her off that morning, we barely said good bye, having just matched wills and stubbornness and harshness.

I wince into that moment. Were we running late? Was her backpack unpacked? Her homework undone? Her voice too edged? I have no idea what happened, but I do know that I handled whatever it was badly, and that I owe her an apology.

I lean down so we’re eye to eye, chocolate brown meeting light hazel, “I’m so sorry about this morning, Kay.” I whisper.

Without pause, she whispers back, “Thanks Mommy, me too.” She melts into me with her arms and her face and even her tippy toes.

I squeeze her tight, breath her in, then let her go, grateful for tiny, important slices.

She smiles between pink tinged lips, then turns on her own heel, her flip flops marking her own path down that big hallway. I watch her go, my heartstring repaired.

My feet still firmly planted, I glance towards Brody, ready to gather him from that burgundy chair and head home.

That’s when I catch a glimpse of that strawberry hair once more, framing warm eyes, and a smile that mirrors the feeling. The secretary nods my way with her chin and her smile and even her eyes, mother to mother.

She’s seen so many stories unfold from behind that desk, and I’m so very grateful to her for letting me rewrite a slice of mine.

-———-

I should have mentioned you would need tissues! See what I mean about Galit’s writing? I felt like a voyeur watching that moment unfold. Learning to say that I am sorry and admit when I’m wrong to my kids has been a challenge…one that I work on everyday. Galit handled this the way I’m striving to.

We all take on so much as moms – it’s a tough gig! There’s no manual out there for what we do, so sharing stories like this helps us all learn from each other.

Now head over to These Little Waves and say hello to Galit. If you are a Twitter addict, you can find her there, and on Facebook and Pinterest too! And if you are a new follower, make sure to tell her that I sent you!

Mommy Moment – Leigh Ann Style – Round 2

Welcome to another Mommy Moment! If you’re not sure what it is, head over and read all about how Mommy Moments at the Monster came to be. A year ago this week, I had Leigh Ann from genie in a blog over to share her first Mommy Moment. I thought I would invite her over to share another moment in honor of her Mommy Moment anniversary!

So go grab a cup of coffee and a donut, ahem, I mean a low-fat muffin, or depending on the time of the day maybe some wine and chocolate, and sit back and enjoy the story!

———

The family and I just returned from a hellish 36 hour road trip to Dallas and back. We try to make it to my niece’s birthday party each year and visit with my family a bit before heading back home to Austin. These trips are usually a quick, whirlwind 24 hours that leave us exhausted and aching for a weekend to recover from our weekend, but alas, there’s no more weekend left and now it’s Monday.

The party was at a splash pad in my parent’s neighborhood. It was hot, we were all tired, and by the end of splashing, cake, and presents, my kids were DONE. We packed up and started out on the short drive to our hotel to figure out dinner plans.

That short drive became a very long drive.

My kids, ages 4, 4, and 2, were dead tired by this point. A long morning in the car, lots of sun, water play, and the excitement of seeing family had completely worn them out. So I was prepared for a good amount of whining.

“Mommmmmyyyyyy, my tummmmmyyyy hurrrrrrtsssss,” started Rachel, one of my four year old twins.

“I’m sorry, honey,” I auto-replied without even turning around, “We’re almost to the hotel. It’s probably because you’re hungry.”

If it sounds like I dismissed her complaint, it’s because I totally did. My twins are notorious for crying wolf of the tummy ache variety, usually because they’re tired and don’t want to eat dinner. Or brush teeth. Or get dressed. Or anything really, because they’re four and so busy.

So yeah. I blew her off.

But she persisted. Her voice was wavering and miserable. Her normally olive skin was a little on the pale side. But it was the coughing that was making me really uncomfortable, grating my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. I knew there was more to that cough.

Now I regularly admit that I was born with little to no motherly instincts, and I stand strong by that self accusation. I don’t say the right thing in the all important teachable moments. I don’t always know how to best handle a disciplinary situation that could possibly make or break my kids’ wills. When my youngest got stung by a bee and her hand swelled up twice its normal size, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, prepared to google the ancient practice of bloodletting, while my husband strolled casually over to the cabinet and got out the Benedryl.

So I’m not the best person to consult in an emergency.

But one area in which I do rock the instincts? I totally know when my kids are going to hurl.

Example 1: Rachel, then 22 months, wakes up early from her nap and is laying miserably on my husband’s shoulder.

“Poor baby,” he says. “I wonder why she woke up so sad.”

I gave her a bit of side eye. She looked a little strange. “She looks like she’s gonna hur– Oh God!” (And poor husband…ew.)

Example 2: Claire, my other 4 year old, had a bug around Christmas time and was laying on the couch with me one night. As I picked her up to take her back to bed, she emitted a faint, strange little burp on my shoulder.

I practically threw her off me with a yelp of “Ugh, she’s gonna throw up!” as I not so gingerly held her over the strategically placed towel on the floor — a must in a house where the stomach bug is making its rounds.

And now the newly evolving example three. All the signs were there: complaining, pallid complexion, strange coughing that was making me squirm just a little.

“Please not in the car, please not in the car…” But I knew it was coming.

This kid was gonna blow.

That’s when one of the coughs resulted in some, how shall we say, spittle?

“Quick!” My husband shouted. “A towel!”

I was one step ahead of him, yanking a damp towel from our beach bag. Already folded into a perfect square, I tossed it back to the third row seat where Rachel sat, its Tinkerbelle graphic practically giving me a sly wink as it sailed across the interior of the car and landed directly on her chest mere seconds before Mount Vesuvius erupted in a mess of partially digested goldfish crackers, grapes, and an ungodly amount of bright pink icing.

Sorry, about that, Tink. But yay me!

Unfortunately I had little time to relish in my towel tossing victory before realized I had better climb back there to check on the state of the upholstery. Oh, and comfort my daughter and stuff. It was like something out of a horror movie — it just kept. on. coming.

And oh my God the smell. I should get Mom of the Year just for sitting in the back seat with her surrounded by that stench and keeping my own lunch down.

By the time we got to the hotel, she was covered, Tinkerbelle towel be damned. And I was back to my instinctless self. How was I going to get her upstairs? Don’t they have a maintenance/vomit-covered kid elevator for situations like these? Does this mean we can order room service?

But for a moment — one moment — I was an instinctive badass with mad vomit ESP and towel tossing skills. May not sound like much, but it’s all I got.

And it did me absolutely no good in the dead of night when she woke up yakking in the bed we were sharing.

-———-

Been there, done that…and it never gets any easier, does it? I can handle just about anything, but the whole throwing up thing sucks and always will.

We all take on so much as moms – it’s a tough gig! There’s no manual out there for what we do, so sharing stories like this helps us all learn from each other.

Now head over to genie in a blog and say hello to Leigh Ann. If you are a Twitter addict, you can find her there, and on Facebook too! And if you are a new follower, make sure to tell her that I sent you!

Mommy Moment – Kelly Style

Welcome to another Mommy Moment! If you’re not sure what it is, head over and read all about how Mommy Moments at the Monster came to be. Today, I am excited to welcome Kelly from Renaissance Mom!

Kelly is a mom of three…including a set of boy/girl twins. So yep, we were fast friends because her twins are much older than mine and she understands what I’m going through. She’s also been a huge supporter of Mommy of a Monster, a sounding board, and she is so thoughtful. I’m glad to have met her!

So go grab a cup of coffee and a donut, ahem, I mean a low-fat muffin, or depending on the time of the day maybe some wine and chocolate, and sit back and enjoy the story!

———-

No one in my family will ever forget the childhood vacation in Maine when my parent lost my two-year-old little sister only moments after arriving. Relieved to finally be at their destination after a three-and-a-half hour car ride with two little kids (fun), my parents released us from our four-wheeled prison, began unloading the car and then lost my little sister. They found her seconds later — TWO BLOCKS AWAY — but she was safe and all was fine.

With this story planted firmly in my memory and written in permanent marker at the top of my list of “I’ll never do that when I’m a parent” anecdotes, you can imagine my surprise the first time I lost one of my children. Yes, I said first time. There have been many cases of “misplaced” children in my thirteen-plus years of parenting, and they don’t seem to be ending anytime soon. I’d blame it on having twins, but I’ve been know to lose their little brother, too, (when it’s only him and me).

The first time my two-year-old daughter, Thing 1, went missing I had sent her to her room for misbehaving during lunchtime — “Please stop throwing your PB&J at your brother.” I couldn’t find her anywhere, which conjured up visions of kidnappers at the door, a child suffocating in some hidden wardrobe, or my little barefoot baby wandering around in the snow. Add that panicky feeling to those garnered by the other two-year-old getting cranky, whiney, and begging for a nap, and well, I became a little manic. I called my mom, my husband, and eventually the police, only to find Thing 1 moments later hiding under my bed with her cuddly stuffed pig. Strike One for me. Thanks for visiting Mr. and Mrs. Police Officer.

A couple years ago, after years of store mishaps (children left behind in the toy aisle or found under clothing racks) and walking out of friend’s houses only to realize I had forgotten one or more of my children, I left my youngest at a basketball game. In my defense I realized he was missing before I started up my car, but I didn’t react quick enough because the next thing I knew, this very upset eight-year-old comes storming out of the middle school front doors yelling for all to hear, “That wasn’t very good parenting!” Thank you very much. Strike 532!

So, like all mom’s, I’ve had more than my fair-share of Monster Mommy Moments. But I am pleased to announce that now with two thirteen-year-olds and a ten-year-old those losing misplacing-my-children days are over … or so I thought.

This past Easter Sunday my family and I decided to bypass church and chill out at home collecting Easter eggs and eating chocolate. After our rare morning of tranquility, we decided to extend our calm and ventured into the woods for a fun family hike. We followed our usual trails, reveled in the beauty of the brook that flowed under the rickety bridge, took some photos of the old crumbling foundations filled with memories of the past, and then began to head home.

My husband, a virtual compass in the woods (and ONLY the woods), had the bright idea to veer off the beaten path, leading us deeper and deeper into the mysterious forest. We crawled over fallen tree limbs, and through fields of pricker bushes in search of my children’s’ favorite Big Rock. Gratefully, we all made it there intact (well almost, Thing 2 did have a few prickers in some unmentionable areas), mugged for some photos, and then, exhausted, followed the human compass home. It was the perfect family afternoon, except for one small detail —somewhere along the trek home we had lost Thing 2.

When I inquired of his whereabouts my husband informed me that Thing 2 had wanted to try another route home through the woods, and being the typical “Alpha Male” who believes any of his “alpha” traits have been passed onto his sons, he assured me that his eldest son had inherited his compass gene so he was OK. He seemed to have forgotten that his son’s compass gene relies heavily on a healthy dose of ADHD medication, and at the moment his pill was sitting in its case on the kitchen counter.

Yes, there you have it, I had once again managed to lose one of my kids (at thirteen-years-old no less), and this time I would have to call in the Wilderness Police to track him down, that is if he hadn’t been eaten by a bear, sucked up by the swamp muck or endured some other awful fate, already. Just keep the Mother of the Year Awards coming people.

Thankfully, upon realizing he was lost, Thing 2 had the wherewithal to backtrack to the path where he had last seen us and returned home fifteen minutes later, just in time to save his father from the wrath of this Monster Mommy!

So after thirteen long years and several hundred cases of misplaced children I have finally decided to take drastic measures … my children were all implanted with tracking devices last week. Now this mommy can rest soundly knowing that her three babies are all safe and sound and … what? Why is Thing 1’s device saying she is on a plane on the way to the One Direction concert in Detroit, Michigan?

———-

Wait…I still have to worry about losing the kids when they are 13?! I am in some MAJOR trouble! This was a fun read, and I’m sure one a lot of moms will relate to!

We all take on so much as moms – it’s a tough gig! There’s no manual out there for what we do, so sharing stories like this helps us all learn from each other.

Now head over to Renaissance Mom and say hello to Kelly. If you are a Twitter addict, you can find her there, and on Facebook and Pinterest, too! And if you are a new follower, make sure to tell her that I sent you!