Wednesday, May 28, 2014

DIYs with Preschoolers

I have been big on home improvement projects lately.  (Well, let's face it. I kind of have to be with a half finished house.)    So last Wednesday, Carlo and I painted chairs. Yes, I decided to do this instead of my laundry.

 I was a little hesitant about utilizing a four year old's help on my bentwood chair painting project, but I figured that life is all about the journey rather than the destination, and Carlo really wanted to help me paint.

I have never seen a preschooler so excited.  He pulled on his McQueen pull ups (which he uses for bed), found his very own "painting shirt" that he proclaimed he would always paint in, and headed to the garage with a brush in hand.  He dipped the brush into can, made sure his knuckles were covered in mint goo, and eagerly painted away. 

Carlo: Mom, I am an excellent painter. (As his knees were covered in mint and paint dripped off the chair.)
Me: You sure are.

Carlo: What do you think paint tastes like?
Me: Poop. Definitely poop. Don't eat it.

Carlo: I have my special painting shirt all ready to go and now all I need are my painting utensils! (He had already been painting for twenty minutes when this was exclaimed.)

Carlo painted by my side for half of an hour.  I understand that might not sound like much, but in toddler land, that is an eternity.  We finished the second coat on all four chairs.  I know my bentwood chairs will have drip marks and they will not be perfect.  I do have mint paint on the garage floor, and I had to wipe it off of hands, elbows, knees, and fingers.  But now I will always remember the time in the garage when Carlo was in his tennis shoes, McQueen pull ups, and a painting shirt, and he helped me create the kitchen chairs, while contemplating the flavor of a satin finish. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I Don't Want to be the Perfect Mom: One Teacher's Perspective

As a mom and a teacher, I have seen many parenting techniques, and many women striving to be the perfect mom.  I do not want to be the perfect mom.

For some people, the "perfect mommy" protects her children from all harm, entertains her child for hours, and fixes all mistakes for her child.   Apparently, she makes fancy lunches for her kids, complete with the crust removed.  When school is not in session, the perfect mommy has activities planned for her children to work on throughout the morning and onto the afternoon so they are never bored.  Perfect mom rescues her child from the “mean kid” in class by sending in long emails to the teacher.  She enrolls her child in multiple activities and sports at once, and “goes to bat” for her child when he or she makes a mistake at school and has to miss a fun activity due to his/her choice.  Super mom swoops in to save their children from potential mistakes, only wants her child to have fun and lovely experiences every day, and wants to help fix all the problems that her child will face.  She is wonder woman.  Or is she?

I do not want to be the perfect mom.  I want to be a mom who helps her boys become strong, hardworking, compassionate leaders who learn from their mistakes. 
My ideal mom is one who teaches her children how to make their own lunch in the morning, and shows them how to pack it in the backpack before the bus.  She teaches her children how to be responsible, independent, capable, and help out around the house as well.  If her kiddos forgets their lunch, and the ideal mommy receives a phone call about it, she does not bring it to school.  Her child will not die of hunger from missing one meal, and the next day, her child will remember their lunch and learn a little bit about organization.
My ideal mom lets her children explore the house, invent their own games out of cardboard boxes, and build forts in the living room.  She reads stories, plays board games with her children, but she also allows for down time, so the kids can think and create on their own.  They learn to make mistakes, get dirty, explore the world, and make new friends in the neighborhood; maybe they will have dance contests, play rain on the roof, kill the robots, or play poor/rich people if they are like me.

My ideal mom talks to her child about friend problems, and offers suggestions by explaining what others have done in similar situations.  She discusses how to approach the problem, but allows the child to work on solving the friendship issues on his/her own rather than expecting the teacher to solve it or trying to solve it herself.  If the child can learn and grow independently, then he/she will learn to solve friendship problems in the future.  The kiddo will also be able to have the tools to feel confident that they can accomplish things on their own. 

My ideal mom is someone who encourages her child to ride his bike around the neighborhood, play in the woods, and chase after a ball on the playground.  If her kiddo is interested in joining a team, or acting, or piano, then she helps foster the growth but not at the expense of free time or family time.  My ideal mom makes sure free time and play time and family time are balanced with structured activity time, so her kids aren't stressed and have time to imagine. 

My ideal mom knows that all people make mistakes and that is how you learn and grow.  She helps her kids realize that there are both good and bad consequences for behavior.  For example, if ideal mom's kids clean their rooms on their own, they might have extra time to go to frozen yogurt on Saturday rather than doing chores.  Or, in contrast, if ideal mom’s kid writes an inappropriate word on a poster board, then they might not be able to participate in the fun sporting day event that requires a team to carry the board.  My ideal mom is sympathetic to her child but explains that sometimes there are disappointing consequences for actions.  
I am far from being the “perfect or ideal mom” that I want to be.  I am not a very cutesy person, and I am tired at the end of the day.  Sometimes I yell, and sometimes I step in when I should not.  But I know that I am working toward making my kids responsible, kind, respectful people who can feel proud of their accomplishments.   Sometimes that means Carlo gets a timeout when he is sassy and doesn’t get to do the fun lunch date that was planned because mom cannot trust that he say nice things to others.  Other times, that means that Eli doesn’t get a cookie, because he bit Carlo rather than the cookie.  But I know in the end, my kids will be better people because of my compassion, ability to give choices and consequences, and expectations that they need to solve their own problems.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Airing out my dirty laundry....

Let's be honest.  We all have that one chore that we hate more than anything else in the world and we procrastinate and procrastinate; until, one day, it is staring us in the face and we can no longer ignore it.  My chore of death is laundry. 

I don't have mounds of dirty clothes though.  It is really the clean piles that tend to build up and explode like Mt. Saint Helens. (This is much less smelly than dirty socks.)

I tip toe around my own erupting mountain chain that develops in my family room, shove it in a bin and put it in the corner.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  It sits there mocking me when I have much more important things to worry about like who Andy, the bachelorette, is going to kick off in the brand new episode.  I could not focus on her life if I was simultaneously folding towels, right?  (This is what I tell myself to feel better.) 

In addition to my Bachelorette obsession/procrastination techniques, there are a few other odd things that I have mastered while avoiding the laundry:

1.) Watching the show True Tori.  Yes, it is about Tori Spelling's life after an affair.  Riveting. 

2.) Researching how much it would cost to go to Kennebunkport, Maine, Costa Rica, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, and Michigan. Note: I have no money to take such a trip.

3.) Creating and playing word work games with Carlo. 

4.) Cleaning the tile grout in the bathroom with a tooth brush.

5.) Grading the math tests that I have been putting off for the last week.  Enter every grade into my grade book, and then write fun comments on all the tests.  (If you are a teacher, you know this is the worst, but yet, it is better than laundry.)

6.) Painting the chairs that I bought at an estate sale last year.  They have been in the garage for about six months, and painting them a cheery shade of mint green is way better than laundry.

7.) Counting all of the cans of food in the cupboard for no reason.  Turn them around so the label is facing outward.

I could go on and on, but I fear that the piles of clothes that need folding are taking on a life of their own.  If I do not do something about them, they might slowly take over my house and my hallway, and my bathroom...  I might not be able to find my children any more. 

What is your chore of death?  What do you do instead? Anyone want to come over and have a laundry party?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Crazy Quotes for a Crazy Lady

Well, since my world has turned upside-down,  I have decided to see a counselor for the first time in my life. Thus, I found a lady with red hair, a frumpled blouse, and an empathetic ear. When I walked into the cramped little office in Issaquah, I was not sure what to expect.  I looked around and noticed random pieces of furniture, paintings on the floor, and sayings plastered on the walls to inspire mental health.   The inspirational quotes were as follows:

 "When all is not right, go left." (Complete with an arrow.)
"Children's laughter is the best medicine."
"Tomorrow is a new day."

After assessing the quotes, I began thinking about the job of a counselor and how I would decorate my office if I were one.  I think I would put up different quotes on my wall; quotes that would mess with my patients' minds and make them crazier than they already were.   I googled theraputic quotes and came up with this winning quote website:

If I were a psychologist, I would paint my office rainbow colors and decorate it with polka dots.  It is a well known fact that polka dots make everything alright.  And if  the room that my patients were sitting in was crazy looking, then my patients' mindset would fit right in. Additionally, in bold lettering-Comic Sans font, I would write these quotes from my new favorite website:

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of chips and a chocolate cake. I feel better already."

"I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet."  Rodney Dangerfield -
 "Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined."
Samuel Goldwyn.

 "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but it takes nine visits."

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.” ― William Gibson
  "I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity."
Edgar Allen Poe

Come to think of it, some of these would look nice around my house.  Maybe Sarah will use her vinyl lettering machine and create a nice phrase for my kitchen.  Then I could read it while I applied my placenta cream.  Which one should I pick?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

placenta cream. does it make me look younger?

When you are a teacher, you get wonderful presents every Christmas.  These include candles, mugs, gift cards, candies, and many homemade goodies.  This year, I was also given a particularly unique and special gift: placenta face cream.

When I first opened this gift, I was a little bit surprised.  I wondered if it was a hint, saying that I was looking old.  Maybe my pores were stressed out due to all of the new standards I had to teach, the observations, and the Christmas shopping yet to be done, or maybe I just needed a facial.  Who knows? However, the thought of rubbing placenta all over my face frightened me a bit.

Now my life has taken a turn and everything is new and different.  I am living life as a single mom with one ovary (due to the ectopic pregnancy a month back), finding myself again, and trying to focus on health.  When I come to think of it, placenta cream does not seem as terrifying as it did back in December compared to all of my new adversities.  So, in hopes that the magic placenta makes my skin turn back time ten years, I will wipe it all over my face and neck. 

You be the judge.  Do I look younger?

Yes, I did have to take "selfies" for this blog post.

Well, I must say that the placenta cream leaves a cold and tingly feeling on your face.  If you are in the mood to find your womanly side or have extra placenta-y vibes, then I recommend this cream.  It receives four stars out of five on the face.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

the new life. how I rock the single-mom thing.

1.) Wine. Drink wine once the children are in bed.

2.) Have a date night with the two most handsome men on the planet, Carlo and Eli.  Go to the mall to play on the climbing things and then go to Menchies because Fro-Yo rocks my toddler dance party.

3.) Stock up on creamer.  Drink it with lots and lots of coffee. Starbucks is too much of a money-suck now.

4.) More wine. 

5.) Attempt to go out on the town with your friends, eat lots of Puerto Rican food, get tired and go into a food coma by 11:00, and head into a cozy bed.

6.) Make a dating profile on, with Monika who is my best friend since I was five. This is an Indian dating website.  No, I am not from India.

7.) Never check your Shaati profile because most of the men responding are trying to get their green cards from India and I am not ready to date anyway.

8.) Wine again.

9.)  Straighten hair.  Apply the best mascara ever called Younique. (Thanks Kim!)  It is time for a new look now.

10.) Rock out to every country music song ever invented and dream of being like Carrie Underwood.

11.) More wine?

12.) Snuggles and stories at bedtime with the boys. On a sidenote, Carlo keeps asking me to make green eggs and ham again like Dr. Seuss.

* Okay, I am not an alcoholic and am exaggerating the whole wine thing. But a jello shot sounds fun, right Sandy?