Six Things I Never Thought I’d Do

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be a mom. My sisters and I (and friends) would play house endlessly and when we were too old, I’d still daydream about getting married and having a family. I picked a career with kids because I loved working with them so much. I just couldn’t wait to have my own kids.

And when I did, I swore I’d do a few things differently. I was going to write about those but then I thought about the things I swore I’d never do and I don’t but wish I did. There are a lot more of those than the other.

1. Make my kids do their homework on Fridays. Oh, how I hated my dad’s rule. I wanted to come home throw my bag in the corner and relax. I wanted to leave school behind and have some fun but noooo. I had to do my homework right then. There were probably more times than not that I said I didn’t have any and then had Gina or one of my little sisters be the lookout while I hid and did it. I absolutely hated that rule and vowed I’d never make my kids do that. OMG, this one has come back to bite me in the ass. My dad was right. It’s so much less stressful when the kids aren’t racing around frantically on a Sunday night trying to get things done. I don’t make my kids do homework on Fridays on principle alone but I wish I did.

Homework

2. Make my kids go to church or some form of religious ed. I swore that I wouldn’t make my kids sit through a boring mass every week. I said it should be something they feel called to do. I wanted them to feel uplifted, not hate their religion. There were times I felt proud to be Catholic and times I really hated it. It wasn’t until I was an adult with three kids that I finally made my own decision and left the church. I regret this one because I found a church I love so I continuously try to rectify it. Our schedules don’t always allow for us to be able to go as a family and I wish early on that I had made it a priority.

church_monochrome[1]

3. Growing up, we always ate as a family. There were times my dad was coaching or I had volleyball or cheerleading so we ate later but for the most part, we all ate dinner together. I hated cleaning up after dinner and I didn’t necessarily swear I’d never make my kids clean up after themselves or help me clean but somehow, it’s worked out that way. For one, we don’t always eat together. It’s more scattered and they might throw their plates away or put them in the sink but they can’t help me clean because not everyone has eaten and by the time everyone has, they are busy doing homework. I wish I had made it a priority to eat as a family more often and to instill the “help” factor.

pot_turkey[1]

4. Make my kids make their beds and keep their rooms clean. I hated this rule. I thought it was pointless to make a bed that you were just going to mess up later and I wanted my room to be my space to keep as I wanted it. That was not the case. My mom made us make our beds (I weaseled my way out of this one by sleeping on top of my comforter with just a small blanket as a cover) and our rooms had to be spotless. She was right. The rooms look better with the beds made and it feels so much better to crawl into a made bed at the end of the day than a messed up one. Again on principle alone,  I let my kids’ rooms be their spaces and as a result, they are disasters. I just close the doors when people come over and I say I don’t care but deep down, I wish they were clean. (They do clean them when I can’t see the floor anymore or I am watching a Hoarders episode and I say, “Wow, that looks like your room.”)

bed_frame[1]

 

5. Wake my kids in an obnoxious way. My dad used to wake us up by pretending to play some sort of annoying horn. We absolutely hated it. I swore I would never, ever be so annoying. Well, my kids are annoying and won’t get up when I try to wake them up and I want so badly to break out my dad’s pretend horn. I don’t because again, I swore I would never do that but I wish I did. :) I have been known to jump on Nico’s bed to wake him up and I am sure he is swearing he’ll never do that to his kids. I pray he has a kid just like him. If there is any justice in this world, he will because I swear my mom prayed that for me and I have Isabella and Nico.

trumpet

6. Make Saturday the “housecleaning day”.  I hated cleaning but cleaning on a day off from school before we could do anything was the worst. Again, this one bites me right on the ass. Looking back, I think I thought it took forever but really, it took about a half hour. There were a lot of us so we split up the jobs. I’m sure my whining about having to do it took up more time than actually doing it. With our schedule the way it is, most Saturdays we are out of the house before 9 or 10 so cleaning falls to the back burner. Before you know it, everyone is out doing what they want and I am home cleaning and doing laundry wondering if I have so many kids, why don’t I have more help.

mop_bucket[1]

 

There are things that my parents did that I do now.

1. Anything lower than a B and you’re grounded unless it’s a class I know you are struggling with. If they were “C” students (as some of them are in math), I’d be happy with C’s but they are capable of A’s and B’s so that’s what I expect from them.

2. I need to meet all friends. If they hang out with someone who won’t come in the house or meet Leo and me, I automatically assume that they have something to hide or aren’t very trustworthy. I don’t expect to be best buds or even have a deep conversation with them but if you are hanging out with my kids, I’d like to know who you are.

3. Sunday is family day. Period.

4. I don’t care how much you fight in this house. The minute you walk out, you remember that you’re family and you stick up for each other and protect each other. And you ALWAYS take your siblings side. I can say whatever I want about Leo but anyone else does and it sets me off. I still avoid two people who have talked smack about Leo as a coach and I only avoid them because I know I’ll say something. We can say Nico is lazy or Belle is dramatic or Tommy is flighty but if anyone else does, watch out.

What about you? What is something you swore you’d never do as a parent but you do? Or what is something you don’t do that your parents did and you wish you did, too?

 

Thanks, Kat from Mama’s Losin’ It for the writing prompt!

 

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Some Favorite Words

This weekend was insanely busy. If ever there was a weekend that needed a day between Sunday and Monday, it was this weekend. The kids had off of school on Friday. Nico had an away game and Belle had a cheer competition. Saturday, Belle had another cheer event and Tommy had a game. It was our turn to bring snack, which of course meant a trip to Target for this procrastinator  a half hour before the game (went in for Gatorade and $120 later, I was out of there because I just had to get a few bins, some sweats, a few snacks and some things to keep Gia occupied at the game among other things). Saturday night, Leo and I had a surprise party that we thought we had a sitter for but turns out we instead had to pull out all the stops in order to go (so glad we did). Sunday, there was church and my sister’s for dinner. Along the way, there were a few words that were said that stuck in my head and made me smile when I thought about them. I’ve decided to share some with you to start off this week feeling happy:

“Gia is being so good.” (This was said at the cheer competition and again at the restaurant.)

“First place and a bid to state goes to…Wheaton Rams!”

“I think I’d rather be a leader than a follower.”

“She (the girl he asked to Homecoming) really liked the flowers and the way I asked.” (Since he scrapped the first idea and came to me for a different one, I felt especially proud.)

“That’s hilarious!”

“Yes, bring Gia here.” (Thanks, Mom.)

“Thanks, Mom.” (Said by Belle because I really do understand what it feels like to be a middle school girl.)

“I had so much fun hanging out with you. We should get together again.”

“So glad you made it out.”

“I love your blog.”

“I start my work day with your blog.”

“It’s my pleasure.” (This was said after I thanked Tommy for getting up early and going to church with me. It cracked me up.)

“Church makes me feel good.” (Said by Belle.)

“Wow, Mom. You’re really smart.” (Said by Nico while I was helping him with homework.)

“I love you more than Beanie Boos.” (This is the highest compliment from Gia at the moment.)

“You’re the best Mommy.” (Said by Gia after a really, really long weekend right before she fell asleep.)

So when later on in the week I am complaining about all of the mean things spewing out of my children’s mouths, you can remind me of this post.

What about you? Anything said to you this weekend that you’d like to remember because it made you smile?

 

 *Happy Birthday, Leo! I know today is your birthday but your post will be on Weds. Love you!

 

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An Open Letter to Teens and Tweens

Dear Teens and Tweens,

As you go back to school, I would like to send you off with a message. Call it advice. Call it insight. Call it anything you want, just please consider what I am about to say to you.

Please be aware of what you are putting out on social media.

You have the daunting task of growing up in a fish bowl. A very public fishbowl. I don’t envy you. I wouldn’t want every mistake I made to be blasted across the internet. I wouldn’t want extremely private things where all the world could see. I wouldn’t want to be caught unexpectedly in a video Vine (phone app of snippets of video that run over and over again) where friends and friends of friends can watch me make a fool of myself over and over again. Unfortunately, this is a time we live in so here is some advice:

1. Not everyone needs to know what you are doing the very minute you are doing it. You don’t need to tweet every emotion you are having the minute you are having it. Some do this solely for attention or to create drama. If you are into that, then by all means go ahead but remember, whether you like it or not, people will form an opinion of you on what your statuses, tweets, Instagrams (picture version of Twitter) or Vines are. You hate the world and wish everyone you know would eat shit? Now all your followers know, and you look like you have anger issues. If one of your followers “favorites” it or “likes” it, then all of their followers gets to see your anger issues as well. One tweet that I recently saw was, “I’ll never love anyone like I loved you. You broke my heart and I’ll never be the same. Why would you do that to me?” I bet she is going to have guys lined up at the door waiting to date her because she sounds pretty stable, right? You think it’s private or only who you want to see it, sees it but you are wrong.

2. You might think a foul mouth makes you cool. Dropping the f-bomb in every other tweet makes you feel like a grown-up. Whatever. I can curse with the best of them. It’s a terrible habit but something about seeing those words in writing for everyone to read makes me want to say, how about not doing it so often? I might be the minority but it makes you look like a punk when you do that. That goes for offensive things, too. If you think someone is being stupid or dorky or a jerk, say those words.  Don’t call someone something offensive instead of calling him/her a friend just because you think it’s okay. It’s not. I get it. You are just having fun. You like to joke around and you think you are saying something funny like “I’d hit that” or “She’s got a nice ass.” You might even like to give your friends a hard time and tweet, “Todd the Teen likes to have sex with animals. Hide your dogs” or “Tina the Teen just farted and it smells awful.” Guess what? All of your followers just read that and chances are a lot of them are also teens so they thought it was hilarious so they retweeted it or shared it and now all of their followers get to read that. Not private.

3. Be mindful of the places you go and the people you choose to hang around with. Maybe you don’t go on Vine or Instagram but if you are at a party with someone obsessed with those, guess what? Chances are, you are going to show up on Instagram or Vine. When I was younger, if I was at a party where there was alcohol, no one was snapping pictures or taking video of the idiots that were drunk. Now, just go on either of these and you’ll see plenty because kids don’t get that it isn’t private. Even if you aren’t doing anything wrong and just hanging with friends at these parties, if someone snaps a picture, they have proof you were there and you might suffer the consequences if the ship is going down. Make sure that the people you are with are ones that have your back and won’t think it is hilarious to make a fool out of you and then post it for the world to see.

4. Remember when you are texting that it is totally not private. The iPhone has a screen shot thing that can take a picture of what is on your screen and then you can share it with anyone you want or the person you are texting can share it with whomever they want. What you thought was a private conversation is now going to ruin your reputation because you trusted the wrong person. I can’t stress this enough. You put it in writing, it is out there forever. You might delete it but the person you sent it too might not or they might but not before they took a picture and saved it.

5. You know what happens to teens (really all people) that get drunk or wasted? They do dumb things like take video of themselves saying, “I am so wasted.” Don’t do that. With a zero tolerance policy, you’re playing with fire and you look like an idiot. By the way, you aren’t fooling anyone with the tweets that say, “I don’t remember anything that happened last night.”

6. There are certain things that you should never ever post or tweet or even text because they are private. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend the whole world doesn’t need to know when you make out or hook up. The interwebs don’t need to know what a great kisser your boyfriend is. The best thing you can do is have a relationship that doesn’t involve social media. If you like a girl, pick up the phone and call her. Go to her house and spend some time with her. If you like a boy, spend time face to face with him. Practice the art of playing hard to get. It might be old-fashioned but throwing yourself at a guy over texting isn’t attractive and coming from the mom of a teen boy, they don’t like it either. Remember that there is courage behind the screen so don’t text something that you wouldn’t say directly to the person (or that you wouldn’t say in front of your parents).

7. When you are in a room full of people, TALK to them. It is still rude to look at your phone while someone is speaking to you and texting someone who is sitting across from you is the equivalent of whispering something to someone in front of someone else. It’s rude.

8. When your parents tell you that colleges and companies look at your social media to see what kind of person you are, they aren’t lying. Click here to see how colleges are using social media for admissions. What you think is cool or funny today, might actually shut a lot of doors for you in the future.

To wrap this up, this isn’t to say that I don’t understand that you are young and want to have fun. I really, really get that. Just don’t put it on social media for the world to see. Making mistakes is inevitable. Making them on a public forum doesn’t have to be.

Please be aware of what you put on social media.

 

Sincerely,

A concerned parent afraid that social media is going to be the downfall of this generation

*Disclaimer: The tweets referenced in this post were from me checking Nico’s. I have no idea who the people are other than they are guys and girls he knows and he either follows them or retweeted or made it a favorite. They were not his but I have been known to text him, “Stop using the f-word on Twitter”.

A Dish of Daily Life

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I’m Tired

This might come as no surprise but I am tired. Not just take a nap or get a good night’s sleep tired but bone, in my soul tired. The things I’m tired of might surprise you (or if you are a mom, they won’t surprise you at all).

1. I am tired of rainy days and so humid you can’t breathe days this summer. It’s making me second guess me being a “summer girl” and thinking if I live here much longer, I am going to become a winter girl. No, never mind…that will never happen but it might make me into a hermit girl.

2. I am tired of summer in general. I am tired of dishing out money and answering, “Can I call someone?” within the first thirty seconds of waking up. I am tired of driving Nico places and then worrying about him coming home in time for him to go to practice. I am tired of his constant need to hang out and be doing something.

3. I am tired of friendships waning because I have stopped making the effort. It has to go both ways. If you want to be important to me, I need to be important to you. And I get that life gets in the way, believe me, I do and I  can be understanding to a point but at some point, I am going to wonder, “Maybe the friendship ran its course and we are no longer priorities for each other.”

4. I am tired of nagging the boys to take their meds and do their treatments. This was supposed to get easier and it is so much worse. It was easier when they were 3 than it is now. Sometimes having good health is a detriment to trying to make them responsible. They see that they are healthy and think they don’t need it. They don’t understand that they need to do these things to keep them healthy.

5. I am sooo tired of waking up kids to go to camps. I’m tired of hearing that they are tired. Especially because they have the luxury of going to bed and getting a good night’s sleep so if they choose not to, I have no sympathy for how tired they are.

6. I am tired of feeling like my best isn’t good enough. I am tired of feeling guilty because I want an identity more than Leo’s wife or my kids’ mom. I love both of those titles but they aren’t all that I am. I’m strict and I’m a bad mom. I love my free time and I am a bad mom. I loosen the reins and I am a bad mom. I don’t give money and I’m a bad mom. I give money and I’m a bad mom. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t make anyone happy or someone is always mad or disappointed in me.

7. I’m tired of sleepless nights worrying about my kids’ futures, their choices, their friends, their self-esteems, their health. I know it comes with being a parent and it’s what I signed up for but it doesn’t make it any less tiring.

8. I am tired of kids that want to grow up faster than they should. Sometimes the answer isn’t no, it’s not right now. You can have a phone, just not right now. You can go to the beach in the city, just not now.

9. I’m so tired of hearing aches and pains and illnesses ten minutes before bed when all of those aches and pains and illnesses didn’t bother them the entire day that they were out hanging out with friends. It’s as if each of my kids feel they need to run down a checklist of how they are feeling ailment by ailment. “Today, I got hit really hard at camp and my back hurt.” “I was at tumbling and I think something broke in my knee.” “All day long when I tilt my head forward, there is this bump in my throat that hurts.” Funny that while you were swimming at your friends, dancing like a maniac and shooting hoops all day, none of that seemed to bother any of you.”

10. And the number one thing I am most tired of is: SOCIAL MEDIA. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love that I can reach a bigger audience through Facebook and Twitter. I love getting to show my family to friends I don’t get to see very often but the braggers and the politically angry people are just too much. I know they feel good posting those things but what are they hoping to accomplish? Just once and maybe I’ll be the first, I’d love to see someone say, “Stressful day at the ballpark. My kid struck out, grounded out and flew out and then had a huge meltdown.” Do the people spewing the hate for the opposite political party really think they are going to change anyone’s mind?  And I am so tired to kids being idiots about social media. How many times do we have to tell them: IT’S NOT PRIVATE!!! Tweets, sub-tweets and texts…NOT PRIVATE. Whether you want to believe it or not, people are going to form opinions based on the things you put out there. That whole “courage behind the screen”, it will come back to bite you in the ass. I promise you. Girls, how about going old school and playing hard to get? Boys, newsflash, the things you think are funny aren’t and 8 times out of 10, you are being offensive. Seriously, if you still want to be that way, so be it, just don’t blast it on social media.

 

After writing all of that, I think I need a nap or a very large margarita (or two).

What are you tired of?

Pouring my heart out with Shell:

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Just One of Those Weeks

Before I start this post, I’ve been posting a lot these days because I am going to a baseball tournament/family vacation pretty soon and I won’t be able to post at all so you are getting a cluster of posts before you get a whole bunch of nothing.

 

This week has kicked my @ss. It’s one of those that makes you want to crawl in a hole and hide. I was reminded again that this job of parenting is HARD. It is an endless roller coaster and I am drained. I learned a few things:

1. I can scream in my head and my voice has the ability to come out normal-sounding, maybe even sympathetic.

2. Carpools aren’t so bad if you think of it as time alone while you wait.

3. Thank God for drive-thrus.

4. I am able to get dinner made by 3:00 pm. when we have two basketball games and a baseball games.

5. My children either have no idea or completely ignore my mean face which leads into my mean voice.

6. My children think the word “no” means “ask again 100 more times in a few different ways.”

7. I am not my children’s friend. I am their parent.

8. All sense of logic leaves my kids’ brains when it comes to hanging out with friends. For example: My mom is going to be gone all day, so it makes total sense to have friends here (Tommy and Belle), both boys and girls, while she is gone. My friends’ parents don’t mind picking me up or bringing me home. I’ll just ask them if they can (Belle and Tommy). I’m not going to check in with my mom and tell her where I am. I am sure that if she can’t reach me, she’ll assume I am in a pool somewhere (Nico).

9. Living in a hut on a beach in St. Thomas sounds pretty good right about now.

10. I have a breaking point and it’s ugly.

 

Weeks like this, I don’t sleep. I stay up at night wishing the day had gone differently. I pray that the next day will be different. And when it isn’t, I pray that this will be one of the weeks that escape their memories.

A family vacation couldn’t have come at a better time.

How is your week going?

 

Thanks, Shell for letting me Pour My Hear Out.

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Summer Fun Promises

Summer is not what it used to be. It used to be warm weather, time spent in the pool, running through sprinklers, eating popsicles, barbeques, lazy days and bon fires at night. These days summer means rain, cooler weather one day, muggy, can’t breathe in this heat the next day and camps…lots and lots of camps. I never had my kids in summer camps when they were little mostly because I didn’t want to have to stick to any schedule. Then Nico fell in love with all sports and those summer camps began. Then it wasn’t a matter of did he want to go, it was a matter of if he wanted to play on any sort of team, he had to go. Then he entered high school and since he plays more than one sport, he is in camps all day. Summer now means living in my car. It means starting the day with a fight to get kids out of bed, breaking up fights and hormones, my God, the hormones! Seriously, there are days when I want to hide with Gia under the covers away from all the moodiness. Summer means every night is an argument to stay out later and for them, every night is a potential sleepover.

I want my summer back! I want to enjoy my kids instead of just exist with them and talk at them and drive them to all the places they want to go. So, we made a plan and a list of all the things we wanted to do this summer. This summer was going to be one to remember. One where the only memories aren’t that of the inside of my old, old, mini-van.

I promised them that on Friday, we’d go to the DuPage Children’s Museum. It’s really is rare that I use the word “promise” since things come up all the time that don’t allow me to keep them so when I promised them, I knew I was setting it in stone and couldn’t go back on it.

And I am soooo glad I made good on it. I was reminded of the fun part of having kids. The smiles and the giggles and the excitement in their eyes as they discovered and played. Tommy and Belle will say that they went for Gia but they had just as much fun playing with the bubbles and building things as Gia did. See for yourself:

Playing with shadows.

She was beside herself that there was a whole room of bubbles and water.

So much fun with mirrors and tunnels.

He spent 20 minutes trying to make this contraption that made the ball shoot through and around. I have to hand it to him--he did it!

He spent 20 minutes trying to make this contraption that made the ball shoot through and around. I have to hand it to him–he did it!

By far, my favorite picture because it encapulates the whole day.

By far, my favorite picture because it encapsulates the whole day.

 

I highly recommend visiting The DuPage Children’s Museum if you are looking for something to do. We even had lunch in the café. (I received no compensation for discussing The DuPage Museum. I just think it is a cool place to go.)

Some of these things don’t cost any money at all (unless you count the overdue fines that we are sure to have because my house is like a black hole where library books come to die) and some are expensive. That makes promising some of them hard but I am going to do my best.

On our list of fun things to do this summer:

Visits to the library

Carol Stream Pool

West Chicago Pool

Centennial Beach

Bartlett Pool

Movies

Brookfield Zoo (if we don’t get to this one, I won’t feel bad since we’ve already been there once this year)

Grahams Chocolate in Geneva (This one is a must with my sister Gina and her kids. It’s a tradition we started and wouldn’t be the same without them.)

Mini Golf

Enchanted Castle

Funway in Batavia

Some bigger things:

Santa’s Village

Great America

**A really big one that I’m not promising:

Raging Waves

It’s wrong that when Nico looked at the list and said, “I’m not doing that stuff on my one day off” I was a little more than happy to answer with, “Who says you are even invited? You and your moody self are not going to ruin this whole summer by spreading your negativity about how dumb these things are so don’t worry, I’m not making you come.” I wish he’d want to come but it is what it is and forcing him to do it will guarantee a lousy time and that is not fair for the kids that want to be there.

I realized something when I was at the museum with the three younger kids. I miss being that kind of mom. The one that isn’t worrying the whole time about safety, driving, good choices, rides, money…The one that enjoys being a mom. Enjoys children. Maybe that’s why I miss teaching so much. I miss the wonder in a child’s eye over learning something new.

Every once in a while, I need a change of scenery. I need to pick up and leave all the stuff that is slowly driving me insane and take the kids somewhere that I can enjoy them. That is what this summer is going back to…enjoying them. We are off to a good start (it feels good to say we are going to do something and then do it).

This is the summer that holds the promise of memories made and fun to be had.

What about you? What are your plans? I’m open to other ideas of fun if you’d like to share.

Linking up with Ladies Only Blog Share and sharing with these ladies (be sure and check them out): Mommifried, A Dish of Daily Life, WriterMom’s Blog, Tamera Camera and Four Hens and a Rooster.

 

 

 

 

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Follow-Up Survey: My Soapbox

With 4 kids, three of which some of these issues pertain to, I posted a survey on various parenting situations. If you missed it, you can read it here: A Survey: Overprotective, Laid Back or Just Right? There was enough interest in what my answers are that I decided to share them.

First of all, I won’t ever say “I’ll never” because that always comes back to bite me in the butt. There are some things, however that at this point, I feel like I mean, “I’ll never.”

I want to say again and I mean this wholeheartedly: Everyone does what they think is right for their family. What is right for one might not be right for another and vice versa.

Does this mean that I never judge? If I am being honest, there are situations where I have been confused by another parents’ decisions but then remind myself, that is what works for them. To each his own.

That being said and hoping not to be judged too harshly, here is how I feel.

1. This used to be a big deal with Nico. I was a big stickler about the ratings and then after many discussions, both with Leo and with Nico, I saw that he was smart enough to know the difference between what is real and what isn’t. It wasn’t his favorite thing to do anyway. He wasn’t a kid that I had to pull away from the Xbox and I didn’t see a change in his behavior at all so it was an area that I was able to be a little more laid back. I am TOTALLY guilty of the second child getting away with more because I am pretty sure Tommy played rated T games way before Nico did.

2. Since the kids and I have a pretty open relationship, this is another area that I can be laid back. They come to me with questions and have known at an early age that what is on TV isn’t real. The news itself is pretty scary so there is not a lot of shielding going on and more talking about what they are seeing. The one thing I did/do have a hard time with is that there are certain images I don’t want them to have in their heads. Gore and sex are two of them. Anything having to do with the occult or Satan is a no-no here mostly because it scares the hell out of me and stays with me for days and I don’t want it to have the same effect on them. I think as long as we have open communication, this is a battle I don’t have to fight so hard. My kids do watch a lot of TV (at night after they have been out all day) and it is mildly concerning that I think Nico aspires to be Joey from Friends and Tommy wants to be Doug from King of Queens but Belle wants to be a baker, artist, dancer, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and scientist and Gia wants to be Doc McStuffins so I think we’re okay.

3. This is an issue that hits close to home since Nico has begun driving and I have to say, I’d be mad, mad, mad because I am terrified of him driving. He’s a good driver but a car is like a loaded gun. So much can happen in a car that has life-changing consequences. He could get hurt. He could hurt someone else. He could get killed. He could kill someone else. If he is speeding, he isn’t taking measures to be as careful as he can. Plus, I heard that the insurance goes up and it is expensive enough as it is.

4. I am very much, “It depends on the situation” kind of person. Every kid is different and what might come easy to one, doesn’t for another so it isn’t fair to put the same expectations on them. My general rule is “No C’s” (because they have proven they can get A’s and B’s) but if I see my kid busting his butt, working hard and he/she gets a C, I am okay with it. I don’t think being average is a bad thing. I was lucky to get a C in math my whole life and am thrilled to be  average in it.  If my child blows off finals and all of his grades go down and he ends up with a C, he ends up grounded until the next grading period. I always stress to them, you don’t want to close any doors that you’ll want open later on and it’s a lot easier to walk through a door that has been opened for you than having to shed blood, sweat and tears trying to pry it open.

5.  I could go on and on about this one but I will just say, I am not at all comfortable with it and my answer would be no. Some kids are more worldly and can handle it. They can handle taking the train and getting transportation to the beach and then are responsible enough at the beach to not get in trouble. I don’t know that mine is. Considering some of the tweets that I’ve seen go back and forth (dares to flash gang signs once in the city) between kids that talk about going and the desire to never go back on a dare or think it’s hilarious to dare your friend to do something stupid, the idea of them in an unfamiliar place and where water is involved, makes saying no a no-brainer. That doesn’t even include the fears I have about the psychos out there.

6. For all the same reasons as above, my answer would be no.

7. This would be a resounding no.

8. Sibling fights, puberty causing crabbiness, kids shifting friendships faster than we can keep track of, pushing the envelope or back-talking…all things I can see as “kids will be kids” but all things that need reprimanding and guidance to get through or stop. I HATE when parents use this as an excuse for bad behavior and do nothing about it. Kids are still developing and need to be told when something is not acceptable. It’s called parenting and it might be exhausting but in order to raise productive, civilized members of society, we have to continue to do it.

9. I was a goody-goody growing up. I was afraid of my own shadow. I didn’t drink until college. I never did drugs. None of it appealed to me and truthfully the thought of feeling out of control scared me. There was a part of me that wanted to raise my kids to want to experience all that life has to offer and not be so scared of everything but now that I am here, I’m not so sure. The world is a scary place and I hate to sound ancient but when I was growing up, I was allowed the freedom to make mistakes without the whole world knowing. Our kids don’t have that luxury. Everything is posted on social media these days and our kids still don’t get that it is not private. With zero tolerance in place, if our kids mess up once, they could suffer life-changing consequences. It’s scary to let them “have at it” because of that.

10. I am pretty honest with my kids because I don’t have much to hide. Some things, I don’t think they need to know. I use other people who I grew up with as examples of what not to do. Some of the TV and movies that some might frown upon make for great discussions.

 

A good question that came up is “when are we done raising our kids”? In my opinion, it isn’t at age 15. I want to give my kids the tools they need to go off to college and experience life without an adult monitoring everything they are doing. I was held to high standards growing up and came from really overprotective parents and when I went to college, the worst thing I did freshman year without my parents telling me what to do was stay up all night. I didn’t run out and get wasted. I didn’t run out and look for someone to help me score some pot (is that even how you say it). I didn’t go out and sleep with every boy who smiled at me. I didn’t morph into a person with no morals, integrity or standards. My hope is that we’ve raised our kids to continue to have these things as they go into the world. Maybe that is naive.

Is my way the right way? Nope. Is it the right way for me? So far, yes. This parenting gig is HARD. We do what we have to for our families. Sometimes it means being the unpopular parent, the hated parent or the “I can’t believe she let them do that” parent. Sometimes it means your kids will be disappointed or left out. Sometimes it means they will have to hear the word, “no”. Why are so many parents afraid to say no or afraid of their kid being left out? What is that?

I don’t know about you but I think this world would be a much different place if more kids heard the word, “No”.

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A Survey: Overprotective, Laid Back or Just Right?

I know there is no way to answer that but I couldn’t think of a title for this post. As parents, we do what we feel is right for our families and really it is no one’s business what we do. In a perfect world, that is. In this world there is judgement and there are opinions. I’m not going to tell you (though you can probably guess for some of these) where I fall but I am really interested in seeing other people’s views. I am not looking to start a fight or a debate. I am just interested in what people think. Bloggers love comments, this is no secret. This is not some ploy to get comments, it is strictly because these are issues that as parents come up A LOT. Some I have encountered and some I have yet to or hope never to. I am looking to expand this discussion beyond the scope of my ”real life” world. I am asking that if you read this, please consider sharing your opinion on some or all. You don’t even have to comment here. You can shoot me a message or an email. I just want to know.

1. How comfortable are you with your elementary school-aged child playing “M” or “T” video games? Your middle schooler? Your high schooler?

2. How comfortable are you with your elementary school-aged child seeing a PG-13 movie? Your 13-16 year old seeing an R rated movie? I say “seeing” because they might not be allowed in the theaters to see them but we are kidding ourselves if we think they haven’t seen them on cable when we are trying really hard to get stuff done and are happy that they are occupied or at a friend’s house where we realize we can’t be with them every second of every day.

3. How mad would you be if your teenage driver got pulled over for speeding?

4. How important is it that your kids get good grades? Does the importance vary on the grade they are in? I know we all would like our kids to be academically solid but I’m looking for the reality here. Are you okay with just passing or do you require straight A’s? Are there consequences for them not achieving what you think is acceptable?

5. How comfortable are you with your 14 or 15-year-old taking the train into the city (think big like Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Boston, Seattle) to go to a beach? Keep in mind that the kids have grown up in the land of getting rides from parents and not having to find their way out of a paper box.

6. How comfortable are you with your 14 or 15-year-old going taking the train into the city to see a concert? Would it depend on the concert? Rock and Roll? Country? Rap?

7. Where do you stand on having underage drinking going on in your house? Do you have a “at least they are home” attitude or an “absolutely not” attitude?

8. How do you feel about the saying, “kids will be kids”?

9. How do you feel about your kids engaging in behaviors that you as a teen did? Are you okay with it figuring you did it and turned out okay or do you hold them to different standards?

10. How honest are you when your kids ask you what you were like when you were younger?

If people are interested where I stand on these, I would be happy to get up on my soapbox in another post and tell you. :) For now, though…I am interested in how the rest of the world feels.

If you don’t feel like commenting on these specifically, just tell me, are you overprotective, laid back or just right?

Thanks for any input and feel free to share. It will be interesting to see where I fall. :)

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A Word About Sleepovers

This has been the topic of many posts. You can read about the double standard here. You can read about what happens when I say yes here. You can read about my in-depth explanation about why I hate them here.

So it is no surprise that I have more to say. I still hate them but I can feel myself wanting to say yes to Belle more than I say yes to the boys. When Nico was Belle’s age, he had sleepovers all the time. I hated them but he still had them. They were usually at trusted friends’ houses. And those kids stayed here, probably more than he stayed there because my dislike for them made it so that if we were doing them, they had to be at my house. I feel like I was close to Nico’s friends. Even now, I love those boys like they were my own sons. I know them. I know they are good kids. There have been many times they were sitting around my table eating snacks or breakfast talking about school, sports or girls. I don’t think sleepovers are a good idea at Nico’s age (I’ll tell you why in a second), but I sure do miss having those boys around my table.

Nico ruined sleepovers for Tommy. I’m not sure how to explain it other than boys come up with some crazy ways to occupy themselves once the parents go to sleep. Nico’s friends liked to cook at around 2am. Nothing strikes fear in you like smelling something burning at 2am. Tommy, at one of his rare sleepovers, decided to collect all the socks and make a “sock football”. Hearing your son dig around in everyone’s drawers at midnight tries even the most patient of mothers. Tommy thinks that sleepovers are a license to drink as much Coke as he possibly can so that they can stay up all night. Not cool.

This is why I feel bad for Belle. The worst part about Belle’s sleepovers are that she and her friends laugh…a lot and loudly. And that makes me remember all the sleepovers with Debbie, Annie, Jenny, Tina, Cindy, Gina, Nikki and Natalie and Noel. It makes me remember how being with your girlfriends is the best feeling because you think the same things are funny. You talk about your dreams and boys and your fears and somehow, you feel okay knowing you aren’t alone. You fall asleep talking and you feel like you are a part of something…that someone accepts you for who you are. Belle and her friends are really no problem and they like to hang out in the kitchen talking to me and that makes me feel good. I love that I know these girls. That they are good girls because girls are harder than boys. Girls are super sensitive and just someone not noticing that she has a new shirt on is enough to make her mad. Girls can be somewhat exhausting in a different way than boys. Boys make me physically exhausted. Girls make me mentally exhausted.

I’m not sure how I am going to deal with this but with twins, it seems rather daunting. See, if Belle has a sleepover on Friday, then Tommy is sure to ask for one on Saturday. That means a whole weekend of sleepovers. Or the alternative is Belle does it one weekend, Tommy does it another but then that is two weekend that I am doing something I really don’t like.  I can’t do them both on the same night because then it becomes a boy/girl sleepover in 5th grade. The other weird part is that because they are twins, it is really strange for girls to be sleeping here and have Tommy here or boys here and have Belle here. I’m probably making more out of it but I think back to when I was younger and if I woke up at a friend’s house and Rob or John or James were there, it would be totally weird. I mean, they would have seen me in my pajamas with bed head. That’s what the twins deal with and Tommy handles it fine because he really is that laid back but Belle…oh Belle, you can’t just wear a t-shirt and underwear when Tommy has a friend over since they might drift upstairs while you are sleeping. Luckily, that hasn’t happened but it is a fight on the rare occasion that Tommy’s had a friend over (she doesn’t like to sleep with the door closed otherwise that would be the obvious solution). And you can’t be downstairs until midnight with them because I’m going to fall asleep and if you fall asleep it is a boy/girl sleepover in 5th grade again and I can’t have that.

I’ve harped on here more times that once about Nico constantly asking me if he can sleep somewhere or if his friends could sleep here. I swear I am going to change his name on my phone to “Buzz Kill” or “Night Ruiner” because if those are skills, he’s found his calling. There are several reasons why I don’t think teenage sleepovers are a good idea.

1. Sneaking out

2. Alcohol

3. Sneaking people in

4. The later the night, the more stupid the tweets, FB statuses, Instagrams and Vines.

5. All logic escapes teen boys when they are hungry.

6. It’s too easy to make bad choices knowing you aren’t going home to your parents.

I was a teenager and I slept at my share of girlfriends’ houses. One time in particular stands out in my mind. I was sleeping over at my friend, Annie’s. I can’t remember if we had permission or if her parents weren’t home. Annie had her license but we were sophomores so she couldn’t have had it for very long. I only had my permit and I never drove other than in Driver’s Ed. I was not that experienced and was afraid of my own shadow. We decided to head over to the neighboring town to hang out with some friends. She drove us there and I remember feeling like it was so cool that we didn’t have to get a ride from our parents and that our parents didn’t know what we were doing. It was a great feeling of freedom. We stayed there for a while and then Annie lost her contact and couldn’t drive. So in all of our infinite teenage wisdom, we decided that I would drive home. It doesn’t matter that I had little to no experience or that it was illegal. I got in the driver’s seat and drove us home. I remember being scared. I remember us screaming that we were going to die. I remember us erupting in fits of laughter at how funny it was that we were doing it. I have to think that her parents weren’t home because how would we have explained that I was driving? And I want to say that I remember us having to leave where we were to get home before they got home but I could be wrong. Annie, if you are reading this, chime in or message me if that’s right. :)

See, now this is a funny memory for me but when I think about Nico doing this, my blood runs cold. In a car driving???? With one of his friends and without a license? Anything could happen. I don’t want my kid to be doing that. And teens today? A lot more is going on these days with teens. They have access to way more than we did and with all the social media, they are still pretty dumb. They still think that posting something hilariously illegal isn’t going to be found by anyone and that just the other teens will think it is just as hilarious. It’s scary as a parent of a teen to have so much that can go wrong while your teen is just trying to be a teen.

I know that all of this stuff could happen whether they are sleeping over or not but parents asleep + the need for freedom + teen boy logic = Nothing good.

I’m sorry. I think they are a bad idea which is why I will only say yes if it is an emergency situation or I need someone to keep him for the night and only with parents that I trust.

What about you? Share with me a funny sleepover antic you had as a teen. Help me in my cause that sleepovers as teens might be fun for them but not a good idea.

 

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Happy Mother’s Day! A Word From the Gubenko Kids

As I shuffle my kids and Leo out of the house to go visit Leo’s mom who is now home from Florida for the summer, the irony hits me. I love being a mom. Today is Mother’s Day and I am looking forward to a few hours to myself. Irony at its finest. I wrote a post for my dear friend Meredith over at The Mom of the Year about when I feel like Mom of the Year. To see that post click here. Chris from The Mom Cafe also did a post for Meredith and I loved how she did it. She let her kids decide why she should be.

I thought this sounded like a great idea so I asked my kids and they didn’t even fight me on writing their lists.

Nico’s: Nico letter

My mom would win the award because she is loving and cares about us. As much as I wish she would care less just so I can do more, I wouldn’t change her one bit. She is always there when I need her through tough times and good times. I love her so much and hope the blog can be the start to her writing career. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

(I punctuated and fixed the spelling so it would read easier. :) )

Belle’s letter:

Belle letter

Dear Mom, you should be mom of the year because you are always there for me. I tell you Everything! We have a special bond that I think is awesome. I don’t know what I would without you. I couldn’t ask for a better mom. you’re the best mom in the whole world. You’re my best friend. I love you so so so much. You definitely deserve mom of the year. I love you and everything I wrote is true.  You’re the best and I love you soooo much!

(Obviously we need to work on your and you’re.)

Tommy’s letter:

Tommy letter

My mom is the Best! I think my mom should win the mom  of the year by far! My mom has the love, the brain, the cooking, the cuddles, the help, the muscles, the beauty and of course more love. I love my mom with all my heart and soul and I hope she does, too. My mom is the Best mom I could ever have and that is why my mom should win the mom of the year!

(I feel lucky that he included the “brain” but not sure where the “help” is coming from.)

Gia’s letter:

Gia letter

Mommy is the best mommy ever because I love her. She is the best. She is beautiful. She is nice. I like cuddling with her. I like to eat candy with her. I like to play with her to do stuff: church, Barbies, towers and walks. I love Mommy so much.

(Gia dictated to Belle who wrote it down in case you were wondering whether Gia is a 3-year-old genius.)

I, of course, cried when I read them. It feels good to feel loved and to feel like through all the chaos and battles, they know that I love them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there, to all the Godmothers, aunts, grandmas, moms with angels in Heaven and women who are mom’s in their heart but life hasn’t caught up yet.

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