Category Archives: (im?)Proper Parenting

Spring time in Idaho

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I love the Spring in Idaho.  You never know what you’re going to get!  One morning you wake up and the sun is shining, the birds are singing, it’s warm enough for a short-sleeved tshirt.  Then the wind kicks up, the clouds roll in, the rain starts… sometimes it might even snow.  And that was all just yesterday!  Two days ago it was in the 80’s, and today we’ll be lucky if it hits 60.  But I’m fine with that… summer comes soon enough, and with it the blazing hot days… so I’ll take whatever spring wants to dish out for now.

Springtime also brings new color to our little corner of the world.  Growing up in Southern California, I didn’t appreciate the colors of spring, because we pretty much had it year ’round.  Here though, I notice each and every new shoot and new leaf that pops up – after all, we’ve just been through the long brown and grey of winter, and color is deeply desired!  It’s also time for babies – ducks and geese are all over the open irrigation canals we have here, and since we still have sections of rural living the fields are full of calves and lambs, and even the occasional foal.

 

 

Spring also brings the promise of long, lazy summer days, as well as the promise of the end of homeschooling for another year!  Yay!  No way are we one of these “year-round homeschooling families”… geez, crazy people!  I want a break every bit as much as my child does!

Parenting ~ It only gets harder (You thought the toddler years were hard?!)

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Ah, the good old days.  I remember them well… Kiki had a friend – a Best Friend – and life was good.  They generally looked even happier than these two girls! (maybe these gals don’t like their pic taken?)  If there was a problem in Kiki’s life, I could most likely fix it… with a needle and thread, glue, a band-aid, or a hug.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Shift to current day teenage life.  There are suddenly so many problems I can’t fix – even with SuperGlue.  Problem of the week?  Friendships.  Kiki is a tender-hearted and kind soul who gives her heart easily and fully to a friend.  She prefers one “Bestie” rather than a group of friends.  Not that she doesn’t have a bunch of friends… in fact, my biggest problem this week of Spring Break is trying to co-ordinate all the picking-up and dropping-off of various friends who were clamoring to spend some time with my daughter this week.   So, what’s the big deal? 

Her “best” friend. They’ve been friends for, I don’t remember, about 4 years.  Last year, she was the friend Kiki missed most when we moved to Virginia.  She was the friend Kiki was aching to get back home to.  And the month we came back, her family moved away.  Life sucks sometimes, I know.  I just hate it when it sucks for my kid.  So we are on the 2nd year of them being apart, and being with other kids.  I knew at the outset that they probably wouldn’t remain best friends… long distance relationships just never work that well, do they?  Of course my kiddo didn’t know that… nor would she have believed it if I’d told her. This week the friend is in town visiting for Spring Break.  She has spent more time with her friend she purportedly “doesn’t like” and who her mom said was a “bad influence”; now, that makes no sense to me, but what do I know??

 The worst of it was when the “best” friend, Kiki, and one other girl were talking about a “fun” outing, and what they’d do… then the other two girls did that thing, and left my daughter out of it.  These other two even bought “best friend” necklaces…. wow.  Kinda crappy in my opinion. Now, when Kiki gently confronted her friend about it… well, she lied.  The friend said the other girl suggested  it, and she had no idea that my daughter had talked about this plan. Well.  Really?  Because I happen to remember when the idea first came up, and they were all there!  Ah, well, Kiki chose to believe her; says she doesn’t really remember when the whole idea first came up – and, that’s good.  I’m glad for her “selective” memory.  I am also glad that she is the kind of girl who spends time thinking about – well, things – and she realizes that she will just have to have fun with this friend as it comes, but no longer call her “BFF” and that honestly, it’s fine, because they have changed over the years, and just aren’t as much alike as they once were.  Which is pretty mature thinking on her part, I believe.  But you can’t tell me it doesn’t hurt.  She’s already had her kindergarten best friend move out of state, and her 1st grade best friend move to a different school…. and, therefore, different friends.  That’s life, but it’s not fun.

I can’t say I am really upset about the loss of this particular friend.  After all, if she’s the kind of person who will treat a friend that way, who needs her?  Besides, there have been other behaviors that I have found rather questionable, so I will be fine with Kiki moving on.  But.  It made me feel really bad for her.  I’ve had friends “move on” and it never feels very nice. 

I hope she deals with it well.  I hope, unlike me, she keeps on putting herself out there, making new friends, being vulnerable.  Because I sort of gave that up after too many painful “friend break-ups” and the result is that I haven’t really got any close friends.  I hope she will have a lifetime of dear, sweet friends!

I want candy…

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Or maybe cookies.  Yeah.  Cookies Mmmm… chocolate chip. I am so tired of this stupid “healing diet”.  The stuff we eat isn’t so bad – in fact, my husband and my mom have found some pretty inventive ways to prepare meals, and we’ve had some pretty decent dinners.  The problem is what we can’t eat.  Dear Lord, please send me some manna!  I mean, that’s like, sweet crunchy stuff, right?  Okay, so I guess I can understand why the Israelites got so stinkin’ tired of that stuff… just because there wasn’t any variety.  That is the reason I am so dang tired of eggs!  No variety!  I like eggs; really, I do.  But, it’s about the only thing we can have for breakfast.  No toast, no cold cereal, no oatmeal…. urgh.  At this point I wouldn’t care if I never saw another egg for a very long time.  Lunch is generally apples, cheese, and almond butter.  Again, I like this food… but I am getting sick of this food.   But, mostly, to be totally honest, what I hate most about eating like this is the lack of goodies Sugar!!  I want sugar!

Okay… we’ve been cheating.  Yeah, I’ve had some sugar.  More than once.  A mocha and scone here, some frozen yogurt there… I can’t help myself.  I still think we are doing alright.  We are still eating way healthier than we’ve been in the past; we are more aware of what we are eating, all that rot.  But I feel guilty because people think we’re totally doing this thing… people like my family.  Well, extended family.  We little family of three are cheating together, lol.  I was never happy about everyone knowing about our ‘diet plan’ to begin with, because it has always been my experience that to let folks know about your dieting is asking for trouble!  Yeah, you either get people telling you “oh, go ahead, you can eat this!” or people that say “should you be eating that?” or…. the list goes on.   I hate having everyone think that my eating is their business, ya know?!  

Well, don’t tell anyone what I’ve been eating, okay?  My pants are getting loose, so I must not be doing all bad.

Stumbling in the Darkness

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Depression sucks. 

Depression sucks the life out of you.

Then, someone will tell you “just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get on with life….”

Uh, huh.  Have you ever thought about that statement?  Do you even know what boot straps are?  If you do, you can maybe understand why I think this is about the stupidest statement ever made.

Here is a cowboy boot:

A cowboy boot comes up about mid-calf, so for the sake of argument, I will allow you a hunt boot, which comes up to your knee (to give you a little more leverage):

On the english boot, the strap is on the inside, but you can see the stitching where it’s located.

Now, picture this:  Life gives you a good sucker punch to the gut, followed by a whack upside the head.  Or, if you prefer to stay with a horse related theme, let’s say that crazy horse of yours has bucked you off… at any rate, you are laying in the dirt, struggling for breath… not only have you no real idea how you really got here, but you wonder how in the world you are going to get up. 

The best scenario involves a friend who will come and give you a hand. But sometimes it’s someone close to you who’s doled out that sucker punch, so you can’t always depend on that.  No, you may have to get up on your own.  So – pull yourself up by those boot straps!  Picture yourself laying flat on your back.  You’ve got those boots on!  So, reach up, grab those straps, and pull.  Hmmm – not happening?  Not getting up that way?  Okay, here, I’ll even give you a cheat –

Boot hooks.

These are just what they say they are – hooks to help pull your boots on.  Or, in this case, pull yourself up by.  You loop that hook right through that boot strap and haul yourself on up.  Still nothing?  C’mon, try harder!  Harder!!

Geez, loser.  Can’t pull yourself up?  I can guarantee you, no matter how hard you tug on your bootstraps while you are laying on the ground, you will never, never, get up that way.

You will, eventually, have to try something else. If it was an easy fall, you may be able to just sort of pop up.  A harder fall, you may have to roll over and use your arms and your legs to push yourself up.  A serious, life-changing sort of fall?  You may lay there awhile.  Then, you may have to drag yourself over to the fence and slowly, gingerly pull yourself into a sitting position.  How long it takes you to get all the way up is anyone’s guess.

I have been living under a cloud for… years.  Over a decade and a half.  Oh, I’m waaay better than I was at the beginning – back when life blindsided me, tossed me under the bus, however you want to put it.  A traumatic event happened in my life, and I have yet to get fully “over it”.  I’m no longer standing in front of the medicine cabinet, wondering if I have enough stuff in there to end my life or not… Thank the Lord.  In fact, most people who know me wouldn’t know this about me.  I seem fairly happy on the outside.  I actually feel fairly happy on the outside. I make people laugh – alot.  I just have this… underlying sadness; it is always with me.  And what I’ve realized is that I am not really living life.  I am not fully “here”.  I’ve spent so much time under this fog that the years have gone by in haze – I am missing it.  

My little girl is 13.  Already.  Don’t get me wrong – I have enjoyed being a mom, and loved the moments we’ve spent… but I wonder how much I have not enjoyed.  Not just the mom stuff, but all the life stuff!  I want it to stop.  Not life, like I wanted in the past, but the sorrow.  The missing.  Living in the past so I can’t live in the now. 

It is time to try.  Not to pull myself up by the boot straps, ’cause that’s plain stupid.  And impossible.  But to let the past be the past, to embrace the future, without fear, come what may.  I don’t want to miss today because I am in fear of being knocked down in the future.  I am going to try, God help me.  Because, I know He will.

Monday Munchies ~ What we’re eating

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I’m thinking that I will try to do a “Food Theme” on Mondays… because …. well, just because!  Maybe it will help me feel better about what we’re having to do, if I put it out there. I’ve said we’re doing this “healing diet” and that basically means all sugar – and anything that quickly turns to sugar, like most white things (white flour, white rice, potatoes, etc.) have to be cut out in the beginning.  Eventually I think we can add most things back in, within reason… and believe me, sugar was something I was eating beyond the scope of all reason previously! 

The down side ~ It’s boring.  I like sugar.  A lot.  And I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, so trying to create meals in an entirely new way is not fun for me.  Some might like the challenge.  I might like some ice cream.

The up side ~ In the week since we started this, my husband has lost 7 pounds, our daughter lost 6, and I lost 5.  (Of course, me being the one with the most to lose – by a long shot – lost the least.  But 5 lbs. in a week is nothing to sneeze at!)

I have to admit that the thing that made Kiki and I happiest was the chocolate chips we found!  Yay!!  Chocolate!!  They are sugar-free but with a type of sweetener that is an acceptable natural substitute, not a chemical additive.   So I made chocolate chip brownies.  They aren’t so amazingly delicious that I’d choose them over “real” brownies… but when you don’t really have that choice, they are a reasonable sweet substitute.   (Tonight, tho, I am making whipping cream to go with them.. that will up the yum factor.)

How to make homeschooling even harder

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Homeschooling is tough.  It’s not for wimps, that’s for sure.  You have to be really, really sure it’s what you want to do before you jump into it.  I’ll be honest – there are days that I totally understand how much my mom enjoyed sending us out the door to school each morning!  I can picture her shutting the door behind us, taking a big breath in, big sigh out, and probably doing a little happy dance.  I’m the kind of person who really needs alone time – something you don’t get much of if you homeschool.   One thing that’s helped is that for all but last year we have been under the umbrella of our homeschool co-op, so 2 days a week Kiki is in a classroom with other kids and another teacher, so I’ve had those days to get my head back on straight.

 I’ve homeschooled Kiki since 1st grade, and honestly, I’ve enjoyed it.  Really!  The first two years were awesome… the material was fun and easy, it took us about 2 hours to get thru our work, and then we got to spend the rest of the day playing.  How can you find anything bad about that? 

3rd grade was tough.  I don’t know if the material was harder for Kiki or if she was just going through a moment of growth and independence, but we had lots of days of “flying books” as she screamed about not doing school.  This is the year three things happened:  1) We did school in the ‘bonus room’ upstairs, and I seriously considered tossing her out the window 2) I remembered that in her pre-K and Kindergarten classes, her teachers had prize boxes the kids could choose out of when they got certain things done, or behaved certain ways…. and I realized that if ‘real’ school teachers could use bribery, so could I!  3) I found out that Kiki responds way better to rewards than to punishments.  School went better after that…. until this year.

Kiki is in 7th grade this year.  She is really bright, so for the most part the curriculum isn’t a big problem.  She ‘gets’ how to do most of it without a whole lot of help from me.  Except math.  Math sucks.  I couldn’t figure that crap out when I was in school myself, and for the most part it isn’t making a whole lot more sense to me now.  Thanks to the internet I have learned a few mathematical facts that I think I probably should already have known… and finally now I know.  But, still, there is a lot I just don’t get – and don’t care to get.  It makes it hard to explain to Kiki why she has to know it, when I don’t.   Still, it’s not too bad.  We are still doing alright at this homeschooling deal.

Except….. we live with my mom and dad now.  My husband doesn’t have a job.  So we have an audience every day.  This is soooo not working for me!!  Some days things don’t go smoothly.  Some days we yell at one another.  (Kiki and I, that is)  Some days I send her to her room.  Some days I send myself away!  We have always worked things out, eventually, and gotten through the day.  Gotten school done.  Ended up still loving (and liking) one another!  But now, everything is scrutinized.  Critiqued.  I get told what I should do, or what I should have done differently.  I find myself not always acting in the way I should – or would have – if Kiki and I were alone.  I think this is a bad deal.  It’s certainly making me insane, as if I wasn’t nearly there already…

Aaaarrrrgggghhh!!

Tonight, I am taking Kiki to the coffeehouse, just the two of us.  We are going to have a little time to talk, about stuff.   Sure, part of the talk is going to be about …. boys.  Yeah.  She’s 13.  Boy-crazy.  Some info needs to be shared.  Beyond that though, I think we will talk a little about how we are going to navigate the rest of the school year with her behaving well enough that I don’t have to kill anyone.  It could be her… could be my dad… could be my husband…. but, if something doesn’t change, it will definately be somebody!!

Why do 10 year olds have insomnia?

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Here is what I think… it must be normal.  Simply a stage children go through as they develop.  How did I come up with this (completely unscientific and possibly unfounded) theory?  This bit of brilliance in parenting?  Web searches.  Yep, that’s right, web searches.  See, years ago (about 3 to be exact, back when my own daughter was a 10 year old) I blogged about how she was having trouble sleeping, how she seemed to have insomnia. Well, in the three weeks or so since I moved this blog to WordPress, I have noticed something really interesting… on the ‘dashboard’ page there is a spot that tells you the sorts of things people have searched for that got them to click on your blog… and by far, the search that has directed the most traffic to my blog is something along the lines of  “why does my 10 year old have insomnia?”  Okay, so it’s really weird, but I’m thinking that if my daughter had that trouble at that age, and it seems a whole lot of other parents are searching for answers to that question, well, it must be a pretty common occurance.  My own daughter just grew out of it; it lasted a few stressful months and then life moved on. 

  So, on that premise I am going to say to you, parent of a 10 year old insomniac, who got to this blog from a web seach – your kid is okay.  In fact, probably pretty normal.  Try to get some rest for yourself if you can, and I bet in not too long of awhile, you will all be sleeping soundly!

Are people stupid, or just ignorant?

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Tell me what you think…

I am sort of a nazi when it comes to car safety.  I think my car should be in good working order.  I don’t have alot of money, but I make sure I have tires that aren’t bald, good brake pads, seat belts…. pretty much the basics.  I believe in seat belts, and in using them correctly.  When my daughter was born, I read the booklets that came with my carseats, and put them in the car properly.  In fact, with all 3 seats from infant to toddler, I went to one of those free safety inspections the police sponsor, and each time was told I was the only person who had come through whose child seat was actually in correctly!  Really?? Sheezz.  I will not start the car when driving my daughter’s class on field trip until everyone is buckled up.  Correctly.  That means you may not have the shoulder strap under your arm! No one seems to comprehend the fact that shoulder belts don’t work that way!!  Morons?

So… here is the dilemma, and the question…..

Just over the last couple weeks,  there have been 3 separate occasions where my daughter has been riding in unsafe conditions (I didn’t know 2 of them until after the fact….)  One:  my sister’s car doesn’t have brakes, (okay, it must have some, but barely… I guess it takes for-ev-er to stop) but her husband seems to think it’s okay to drive it still.  As long as he goes slow, and stays far back.   Cause, hey, it will be expensive to fix!  More costly than the lives you will lose the day you can’t stop in time to avoid an accident??!  So, one day I found out my daughter had been driven in that car…. hey, risk your own necks if you want, but leave my family out of it!  Two:  my sister-in-law picked up my daughter for a sleepover.  Suddenly I am hearing “Oh, you two will have to double-buckle because that middle belt is broken.”  Who thinks this is okay??! Against my better judgement I let her go because – a) I was tired, I’d fought with her all the way over, this particular s-i-l is a total pain and I was not in the mood to hear the crap she’d pile on me if didn’t let my daughter ride with them – b) they only had a few blocks to go.  Total crap excuses, I know, and I prayed the whole way that they’d be safe.  Three:  My daughter went home with a friend after school.  She texts me on the way “mom, you’d be so unhappy if you knew what was happening”.  Great.  What?  Seems the mom has a 7 passenger van, and when she picked up her daughter and mine,  there were already 8 people in the car!   So two kids are double-buckled (again-really?!) one adult is on the seat without a belt, and one girl is sitting on the floor.  Yeah, my daughter was in a belt, but other unbuckled passengers can become missiles in the event of a crash.

Is it really that hard to understand?  Is it really that difficult to leave the excess people at home if you don’t have room in your car?  Is it really okay for you to endanger my child? Are you stupid, or just ignorant??!

Oh, that wasn’t really the question I wanted to ask…. I wonder, what would you do?  Do you let your kids roll around free in a car and hope for the best, or would you decline and always drive your kids yourself?

Santa Claus – Do You Believe?

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Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and all that – it’s amazing the controversy one person can cause!  Then again, look at Jesus…!!  Well, Kiki believes, and it’s not even my doing [fault] …lol.  See, her first Christmas, she was only 4 months old, so obviously it wasn’t an issue.  But, it made me think.  Think that I needed a plan on the whole "Santa" bit.  So I did a little research on all those parenting websites I belonged to then (I’ve given them up – I’ll just mess her up on my own now, thanks; being the perfect mom was too much effort!!)   I was surprised at the heated arguments on both sides of the "do you or don’t you teach ’em about Santa" issue!!  Some will tell you to not jump full-on into the Santa Belief is to deny your child any happiness and joy whatsoever connected to Christmas, because without Santa there is no magic.  Others will say that it’s mean to teach them about Santa because of the shock and grief they themselves felt when some kid at school gave them the "truth", only to go home and have their own parents say, yeah, that kid’s right, we just made it up.  Some people, apparently, have never gotten over that.  And I’m not even going to comment on that.  Then you have the group that says if you "lie" about Santa, then one day your child finds out and suddenly they’ll decide you lied about God as well, so any Good Christian Parent would never do the Santa deal.   Wow.  So that was all helpful info.  As if.  Alan and I decided to err on the side of truth.  I’ve always been completely honest with Kiki, so I figured that was my best route.  When the issue came up, we told her the story of the original Saint Nicholas, and his life, and his legend, and how giving gifts was started on the very first Christmas when the wisemen gave things to Jesus….  And that was all cool with Kiki.  However – you have to understand that my sweet girl is very imaginative, and loves make-believe… so, as soon as she was old enough to ask, she wondered if I would please make some of her gifts "from Santa".  So, sure, why not? 
 
I guess at this point, I should tell you my own "Santa History".  I don’t remember my parents making a big deal about it, but "Santa" always filled our stockings, and we left milk and cookies for him, and there was always one special gift that was wrapped in special Santa paper that no other gifts were wrapped in, and the tag read "from Santa".  I guess, for me, the realization came gradually, that most of those special gifts were made by my dad out in his own workshop, and strangely enough, Santa had the exact same handwriting as mom….  and my sisters and I  just kept going along with it because it was fun.  And guess what – even when I knew for a hard fact that Santa was my parents, it never took any of the magic or fun away from Christmas.  I still feel that "Holiday Magic"!!
 
So – Kiki starts to get gifts from Santa – I am very careful to buy special paper to just wrap those things in, and I type up the tag on the computer so she can’t recognize my handwriting, and it’s all good.  She makes Wish Lists for me, and one for Santa – with different stuff on them.  And it’s like, she knows, but she also believes…. and it’s very sweet.  I think she really,  really wants to Believe, and so she does.  She wants very much to believe in fairies as well, and was thrilled when she found another little girl at school who ‘believes’, so they made fairy houses at school one day!  Then, I think it was two years ago, the most magical thing of all happened!  She received, in the mail, a letter from Santa.  It was very official looking, and very personal, and at the time – thank goodness – I had no idea who had sent it!  So I could, in complete honesty, tell her "No, sweetie, I had nothing to do with that.  I have no idea – maybe it’s really from Santa."  She still talks about that letter.  She still wanted to go see Santa at the mall this year, although she knows it’s not the "Real" Santa ("After all, mom, he’d be way too busy this time of year to hang out at the mall… these guys are all his helpers and pass the info along to Santa.")   She is starting to feel a little funny about the fact that she is by far the biggest kid in line to visit Santa; the oldest kid to attend the Santa Breakfast.  Not funny enough to not do it, though – that’s one thing I find particularly great about Kiki – if she wants to do something, she will – even if it might be a little uncomfortable.  She is secure in her own skin.  I think, maybe, the belief is wavering a little – or, maybe, fading is a better word.  She is, after all, 11 years old.  It’s bound to happen – in fact, I’d be worried if it didn’t!  I would bet, though, that we will always have our Santa tradition, because we are all about the joy and the magic in this time of gifts and love as we celebrate the day that our precious Lord and Savior gave up His throne to join us here on Earth.

Has Anyone Seen My Patience??

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It’s gone, I tell ya….gone.  I have absolutely Zero patience with anything these days, but least of all with Kiki.  I feel like I’m at my wit’s end with that girl!  She is surly, grumpy, and worst of all, argumentative!!  Geez, no matter what I say, she’s going to come back with a "but…" or an "nuh-uh…" or a plain old "no, actually…."  Now, to outsiders, she is about the politest little child you’d want to meet.  People tell me that all the time.  Which is nice, I suppose, but do ya think  I could get a little of that at home??  Her messes are getting to me as well… it’s like, the more I pick up, the more she messes up I am so not exaggerating!!  I just feel like I want to up and smack her in the head.  Of course I don’t…. but sometimes I have to leave the room….
 
I feel like I really dropped the parenting ball somewhere along the line, that she somehow thinks she can get away with doing absolutely nothing around here, not even clean up after herself.  Or being respectful.  I thought I’d at least worked on that one!  It’s so hard, because I struggle with that "messiness" myself, so she sees that, but there is no way on earth I can keep my stuff picked up and her stuff as well!  Not gonna happen!   I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of clutter… an ocean of clothing and papers….
 
I guess I need to be thankful that we just have one week of school left (YeeHaw!!) …. maybe I can shift gears and get this place under some semblance of control.  Doubtful…. I’ve tried before…sigh…. but, since I really can’t afford the gas this summer even to drive across town, I will probably be staying home most of the summer, so maybe I’ll get some stuff done.  Where there’s breath there’s hope, right?