Children Are Our Future

I work in childcare and ECE so my opinion is probably obvious, but I’m pretty sure I’d feel this way even if I went to law school or got into construction.

Take care of the people who take care of your children. Treat them well. Pay them well. Make sure they have the resources they need to do a good job.

From your babysitter, to your daycare, to the school where most kids spend most of their day, these people are caring for your children.

If you don’t think they are doing their job well enough to deserve decent pay then stop letting them care for your children and find someone that meets your standards. Stop leaving your children with someone that you don’t think deserves to be paid well and treated with respect.

This should not be controversial.

People who are satisfied with their job do a better job. I want everyone who works with my children to do their best work.

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No one cares what you hate.

No one cares what you hate. Except me. For a little while, I’m here to listen.

Let’s talk about Pokémon Go.
I want to understand why you hate it.
It’s a phone app, very similar to Geocaching, except I’ve never heard anyone complain about Geocaching.
In fact, people are usually very positive about it.
I’ve never seen memes bashing Geocaching.
Then there’s Pokémon Go.
I realize that some players have been disrespectful and some have made stupid mistakes.
When millions of people of all backgrounds enjoy something, some of them will be stupid or disrespectful. Take football for example. Some football fans do stupid and disrespectful things before, after and during games. There have been riots at, or because of, football games. People have been seriously injured or died playing football. Does that mean watching or playing football is a stupid way to spend your time?
*I* don’t like it,  but I’m cool with millions of people enjoying it even though it sometimes interrupts what I’m interested in and causes traffic issues and invades my newsfeed.
Sometimes it’s annoying, but I accept that people enjoy it and I don’t try to put a damper on their good time.

I don’t like Candy Crush,  either. Just throwing that out there since I’ve spent the last week reading how much so many people hate Pokémon Go. I don’t watch The Bachelorette or Big Brother and I’m not a fan of Sriracha.

This is what you sound like, only a lot more hostile. Boring. No one cares what you hate.

I downloaded Pokémon Go because I enjoy geocaching and I read that it was similar, and also because of a second hand Pokémon nostalgia. A lot of the kids in my life loved Pokémon and dreamed of catching them in real life. It was a big part of their childhood, so it was a part of my life, too.
I’ll probably never get into the way they do, but I have enjoyed hunting with my daughters and my friends, and I’ve enjoyed meeting people and making friends at the places that attract a lot of players.
The backlash I’ve seen towards this game is weird, at best.
I get that it’s cool to hate things that are trendy, but it doesn’t make you edgy because everyone else is doing it, too.
So if you are hating this game for its popularity, you’re in on the second most popular trend at the moment.
You’re a nonconformist just like everybody else.
If you hate it because out of the 15 million people downloading it some turned out to be stupid and disrespectful, then you probably hate a lot of things, including me and this blog.
There are a lot of stupid and disrespectful people in the world and if it took this app to make you aware of that you need to get out more.

Or less, because you’re kind of crabby and intolerant.

If you hate it because you don’t understand it or you refuse to find out what it’s about and prefer just to make the assumption that 15 million people are stupid, I probably don’t like you and don’t care what you think anyway.
If you have some other reason to hate it please comment.
I want to understand.

Enjoy Every Moment (In Defense Of Screen Time Part 1)

 

My cell phone is broken. It broke on my birthday over a month ago and at the time it was a tragedy. I’ve healed and mostly moved on since the loss, but sometimes I still miss it. Yes, I’m still talking about my phone. Like a lot of mothers, and people in general, I have become attached to my phone because it gives me access to the things I enjoy, my friends, books, Netflix, Words With friends, and my favorite feature, the camera. My phone had thousands of pictures, and yes, I had them backed up. I love taking pictures of my kids and my world.

 

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Remember that book Penny had on Inspector Gadget? I always wanted one of my own.

Cell phones get a bad rap, especially parents with cell phones, or parents that let their kids have cell phones, or parents that let their kids look at any kind of screen, or parents in general. If you are a parent everything you are doing is probably wrong, especially if what you are doing is reading this blog on your cell phone. Look up, see, that lady is judging you.

I read a post on Facebook the other day about a mother that observed her toddler at play. She made a note of how many times he looked up at her and the tally was 18 in however many minutes and she posed the question, “what if I had been on my cell phone?” She would have missed her toddler looking up! Eighteen precious looks!

I wish I could find the post again because I have so much to ask her. What if her toddler had looked up and witnessed her reading a book? What if her toddler looked up and saw her chatting with a friend? What if her toddler looked up and saw her taking his picture? What if her toddler looked up and saw her helping a friend with a parenting dilemma? What if her toddler looked up and she was *gasp* in the bathroom?

I wouldn’t really ask her any of that because I’m not trying to give anyone a hard time. She was making a valid point. Some parents probably do spend too much time on their phones. I’m not going to give them a hard time either. Parenting is hard enough without me sticking my nose in their business. You can’t tell by looking at a parent on their phone if they are on it too much. Even if you witness them missing a moment they might have enjoyed that does not mean they miss every moment. They might have missed that same moment because they were tying their shoe. We can’t possibly observe every precious moment with our children and trying might be worse for the soul than your cell phone. It’s stressful trying to “enjoy every moment” because we all hear all too often “they grow up fast.”

It does go fast, and you will miss it, I can’t deny that. My daughters are old enough for me to realize that the cliches are true. That does not mean you shouldn’t enjoy a book or a chat with your friend or play Candy Crush Saga. You do not need to witness every time your child looks up at you and your child should sometimes witness you doing more than staring back.  It’s good for your child to see that you have hobbies and interests and friends. It’s okay for your child to wait a moment while you finish what you are doing. If you were speaking on the telephone you would not hesitate to make them wait their turn to speak. If you were reading a paperback you would probably finish the sentence, or even the chapter, before responding, depending on the age and urgency of the child.

This is a new generation of parenting. We are still figuring out how technology fits into every aspect of our lives. We chat with our friends by text and read books on digital devices, and that’s okay. It’s okay to accept the progress and make it work for you. Read, chat, play, live. Enjoy every moment of your life.

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It’s all in how you look at it.

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In loving memory of my phone.

Every Year Is A Revolution

My community lost many good people this year. Some suddenly, without warning, and others slowly, gracefully, giving us time to rally and support them and their families. We also didn’t lose people we thought we might, and that is always a miracle. I wanted to write a blog about that and more to end the year. I wanted to say something profound, something wise. I wanted to end my fortieth year with something more than a messy house, the sounds of two little boys playing with a Star Wars science kit, and Firefly on Netflix.

Really, what more is there?

(Side note: Wow, we are geeks.)

This is everything. It makes me happy to know my friends are getting ready for a night out with music and chaos and the people they love. I’m content hanging with the boys, knowing the girls are at work with my boyfriend, at the business he bought this year, and they will all be home soon, at least for a minute.

Instead of something wise or profound I’ll leave you with my favorite Facebook comment from this year.

So fragile, and yet, they cut my head open, moved a bit of my brain, pulled a tumor off of a very tiny bundle of nerves (only damaging the single nerve that it was attached to!) and stapled me back together, all in the course of one day. Ten days ago. And today I went on a hike. Up a hill. It’s kind of amazing. My recovery has not been exactly typical, I admit. They were able to retain my hearing and leave other important nerves intact, and don’t let the hiking fool anyone, I’m still a hot mess, but… I spent the day with my kids.
Fragile, but amazing. All of us.

See ya in 2016.

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Ten Simple Answers

I’m going to need everyone to calm the fuck down about pretty much everything. Some super conservative dad that apparently just woke up here in 2015, saw a Princess Leia doll in a bikini with a chain around her neck and had no idea how to explain it to his children. (What grown man hasn’t seen this movie?!) This is just the tip of the crazy iceberg. These parents have no problem sitting their kids in front of violent television, but scantily clad heroines are a step too far. One Million Moms, which only has 75k likes on Facebook, by the way, and others like them, are worried about explaining that now any two consenting adults can get married legally. It’s a pretty simple concept and I bet their kids have a better grasp of it than they do. Transgender people not only exist, but now they are getting media attention and parents are freaking out. And of course mothers everywhere are feeling empowered and standing up (or sitting comfortably) for their right to nurse in public. Sit down, mom and dad, I have all the answers.

“What Will I tell my children?”

  1. I don’t know, let’s look it up together.
  2. That is none of our business.
  3. Yes, some people believe that, but I don’t. I believe _____________.
  4. It is a natural human function.
  5. I don’t know, we should ask him/her/them.
  6. 42
  7. Every American has the same rights, no matter what.
  8. If you don’t like it you don’t have to look/listen/buy/whatever.
  9. People with different backgrounds or cultures sometimes do things differently.
  10. We should not judge this situation with such limited facts. (See the first two answers if you need to expand.)

Now, print this list, stick it in your pocket, and next time your delicate senses are overwhelmed by all the side boobs and gay innuendo you can whip it out and pick the right answer. When in doubt, choose 1 or 2.

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When The Shit Hits The Fan

Remind me to think of a clever title later.

I had to have an MRI in February and I almost wrote about it then because I have developed some ridiculous anxieties, one of them relating to being pinned down in a magnetic tube for an undetermined amount of time.

Have you ever had an MRI? It’s weird because they give you this list of rules and make everything sound important and serious and then you show up and they’re like, “oh those rules, scratch half of them.” I was completely bare faced, not even moisturizer, because some make ups and toiletries contain metallic fragments. And by “some” I mean “most of mine”. I think I’ve mentioned I like sparkly things. So bare faced but not bare chested because apparently underwire is not the problem the rules lead me to believe it would be. (I know a lot of women would probably revel in the opportunity to go braless but I am not one of them.)

I laid down, fully clothed, and had just reached a state of zen about MRIs when the radiologist put something down over my head that fastened across my chest. She described it as “like a helmet” but it felt more like a cage and she sensed my immediate panic and moved the mats out from under me so my cage wasn’t so tight. Once I was able to take a deep breath without bruising my chest she sent me into the tube of doom. It was surprisingly relaxing and I managed to hold still for at least 30 minutes before my mind started to wander.

Are fillings magnetic?
Should I have told her I have fillings?
I did, it was on the list of questions.
Did they read that list?
Because I answer the same question at every appointment for every doctor and they still ask again.
I hope my bra strap doesn’t mess up the results.
What if I need to do this again because of my stupid bra?
Could my fillings fly out of my teeth if the magnet was strong enough?
I’m 39 years old, I should probably not be afraid of magnets.
Did I use the sparkly body wash this morning?
Why would there be metal in my body wash?
I’m sure it’s something else.
I’m 39 years old and I own sparkly body wash.
I do what I want.
My teeth feel weird.
I’m sure my fillings can’t be pulled out by a magnet.
Right?

So we had to redo that little bit of the MRI because I was moving a lot. I pretended to be asleep and it worked pretty well because she had to shout at me to get my attention. She injected some dye into my body and put me back in the tube of doom for 15 more minutes that felt longer than the first hour.

And then I was done.

All the anxiety leading up to that day seemed silly once the test was over. As I gathered my things the radiologist mentioned that the ENT would be calling me sooner rather than later if there was anything in the MRI results we needed to discuss. The doctor had already told me that if she was not in touch within 7 days I should call her. We chatted about the weather, as people do in February in Iowa. As I walked out she said again, “the doctor will call you if there is anything on the MRI results.”

I briefly considered turning back around because I have a knack for getting people to tell me things they’re not supposed to and I got every indication she had something to say and really wanted to, but looking back I realize I wasn’t quite ready to hear it. That might be why later, at nap time, I ignored two calls from an out of town area code. It wasn’t a number I recognized as any of my doctors so I let it go.

Luckily I also missed a call from Beauty’s school and had to check my messages. Both out of town numbers were my ENT asking me to call her right away. And so I did.

That was about a month ago. It started with new insurance and a routine physical and a new doctor that actually listened when I said I couldn’t hear and I was always dizzy and I wanted to know why. Never let a doctor blow you off. They may be right more often than not but sometimes your gut tells you your symptoms are important and you deserve peace of mind. It may be awhile until I reach “peace of mind” but I’m glad I can at least start working towards that again.

I have a rare, benign tumor called a vestibular schwannoma. It’s on a set of nerves related to balance and hearing and explains my single sided hearing loss and  tinnitus as well as many other minor issues. A lot of people call it an acoustic neuroma even though that is not what it is, and for some reason it annoys me. From Wikipedia:

“The tumour is also sometimes called an acoustic neuroma, but the term “acoustic” is a misnomer, as the tumor rarely arises from the acoustic division of the vestibulocochlear nerve. The term “neuroma” is also a misnomer, since it means “nerve tumor” but an acoustic neuroma is a Schwannoma.”

When the ENT first told me about it she said it was a tiny benign growth and made it sound pretty harmless. I imagined a surgery similar to getting tubes put in my ears and shrugged it off. That denial lasted about half a day before reality sunk in. Lump and growth are just pleasant words for tumor. I have a tumor. In my brain.

                  except it is

Now instead of seeing a doctor I see a neuro-otologic surgeon and he was somewhat surprised by my calm demeanor. I already knew what he was going to say. I’m quick on the Googles, ya know. And I was alone. With a doctor neuro-otologic surgeon I had just met. I am a cry baby. I don’t just cry at movies and books, but I cry at songs and commercials and sometimes when the Sharkboy and Little S gang up on me at bedtime. I cry when I have PMS and I cry when I watch viral videos, but I don’t cry in front of strange men telling me things I already know. Instead I get exhausted. I felt too tired to drive home. Hit me up in the comments if you want to discuss how normal that is because I can barely function lately I am so tired. My mind is constantly preoccupied with all the things I want to do before surgery and what I will need to line up to stay sane after surgery. I can’t adult. I can’t even shower without worrying about how I will shower after surgery.

Some people name their tumors. No thanks. I don’t want to personify mine but if I did I’d say I’m having this asshole evicted, I don’t care what his name is.

Yeah, my tumor would definitely be a man.

I want to be the strong person you always hear about dealing with these things, but I also want to go to bed until it is all over. And I mean ALL. I want to sleep through all the test and the surgery and recovery. Especially recovery. I have a list of worries, ranging from sane and normal to silly and unnecessary. I’m worried one of the surgeons will sneeze and I’ll never walk again, or they’ll nick my facial nerve and I’ll be lopsided. I’m worried my kids will not react well to me being unable to parent for at least a month and they’ll become unruly and start swearing at inopportune times. Er, except they already kind of do all that, so mostly I’m just worried it will hurt their little hearts when I can’t pick them up and that instead of crying they’ll lash out in other ways. I’m worried about my house falling apart around me because even though I’ve never been the best house keeper I am the only house keeper. And the idea of one of my wonderful well meaning helpful friends tidying up (as they have already offered to do because they are wonderful) makes my stomach turn. I’m worried about my lack of income and whether or not I can wear makeup in the hospital because I will probably have visitors.

And I’m worried because The Barkeep is no longer just a barkeep. We bought a whole restaurant. It has a bar in it so his name will remain. He leaves around 9, stops home in the afternoon for an hour or two and goes back to work for the night, coming home well after the boys go to bed, which is later than it should be.

I also have an amazing support network, though. Goldy is living with us while she goes to college. Beauty is a fun babysitter. We have two sets of grandparents in the immediate area. And so much more. So many people have already offered help and support. And I need to learn to suck it up and accept it.

Because that is what you do when the shit hits the fan. You count your blessings. You learn to accept help. You make sure your glass is half full because your kids always need a drink.

And if you’re me you also book a trip to Vegas.

I’ll try not to drive you crazy with tumor related blogs, but I’ll keep you updated because if we’re keeping it 100, thst’s what I do when the shit hits the fan, I write about it.

Ten Things *Only Parents of Boys AND Girls Will Understand (*or any other enlightened individual)

I don’t have ten things. I don’t have a list for you. These “only parents of boys understand” blogs just keep getting dumber and dumber so I had to address it. I spend my day with as many as 5 little boys, and as the youngest sibling with 3 brothers, I feel like I always have. There was a time, though, when I spent my days with girls, so often and so many I felt like Carol Burnett in Annie. Let me tell you, most of the points made in these blogs are not gender specific. Not only that, many of them simply don’t pertain to my life at all, with boys or girls.

These articles are are all about their specific type of parenting, not gender. You do not have to pick between Marvel and DC unless you choose to pick one. (Marvel, obviously, but we’re raising the kids with both.) Goldy loved Star Wars and boys’ sandals because they were more functional for climbing and even their jeans had better pockets and those legs that zipped off. Beauty loved getting dirty and covered in slime. Both girls knew how to bite a sandwich into the shape of a gun by the time they were five. My sons like wearing pretty wings and having “tea” parties with water, but, because of their dad’s influence, they are more into superheroes than my daughters were. Not because of their penises, I promise. Do you know how I know? Goldy and I both love watching superhero movies with them. (I grew up with them, she did not.) ALL of my kids, even the ones I watch, are or were, “noise with dirt” as one blog admits “might be true of some girls.” (Emphasis my own, because eyeroll.) I have no idea where anyone got the notion only boys should or want to get dirty. (See photos below.) Some kids love it and some do not, but most get dirty whether they intended to or not.

Maybe there are some universal truths, all boys might be one way and all girls another, but I haven’t found that truth in any blog post yet. What I have found, is that parents who think boys want trucks will buy them trucks, even though there is an age when all children want toys that roll. Hot Wheels, Barbie’s convertible, they don’t care, they just want to roll them. It’s part of their development. Parents who think boys will be boys will allow some wrestling and dirt play while they park their jealous little girls in front of Sophia The First because she is a good role model for little girls. I have encountered, and often, men that won’t let their sons roll the pink Barbie car or paint their nails. That is why these blogs annoy me. They perpetuate that idea that kids should be one thing or another, and they shouldn’t. They should be kids. They should do what is developmentally appropriate. All kids need big body play, not just boys. (Mothers of daughters, click that link!) All kids need art and the resources and opportunities to express themselves. All kids need to snuggle.

I don’t know where these women are getting the idea that little boys don’t want to cuddle and why they are so shocked when they do. I know, some kids aren’t as physical, but it does not seem divided by gender lines. As a young child Beauty reserved hugs for close family only. (She’s over that now, judging by her Instagram photos.) I’ve watched many children that only like to snuggle when they are hurt or feeling needy, boys and girls, but eventually, they all cuddle.

I’m cutting the authors some slack, assuming they only have boys and don’t realize their experience is limited. Also, I get it, it’s a blog. They’re trying to be whimsical and attract more clicks.

But this offends me, “Boys love unconditionally. The anal rententive in me screamed to stop this list at nice, round, even #10, but this is by far the most important thing I have learned about raising boys. Boys love unconditionally. They love unabashedly. They love with their entire little bodies. When your little girl stomps her foot and tells you to leave her alone, your son simply loves you. When your tween daughter is sullen and sulky and hates you, your son simply loves you. When you teenage daughter gives you the silent treatment, your son simply loves you. Their love is solid. Their love is strong and consistent from the start. And it sticks around for the long haul.
From: 11 Things Only Parents Of Boys Understand By Shannon Ralph/The Next Family

I don’t know anything about her family, though I could probably check her blog. I prefer to imagine she doesn’t have girls so this is an idea the media (social or mass) has put in her head. I wish I had video of my sweet, loving son, the one that says I love you a hundred times a day, stomping his tiny foot at me and yelling, “Bad Mommy!” He gets just as pissed as my girls ever did. In fact, at 15 and 19, I’m pretty sure I’ve only had a handful of, “I don’t like yous” from each girl, but I get that many a week from Sharkboy. Not that my daughters and I haven’t argued. Wall shaking, cat scaring arguments. But never, for even a sulky, sullen minute, did I think that my daughters didn’t love me unconditionally. I get mad at them. I’ve stomped my foot. We’re fierce. In this family, we all love unconditionally and unabashedly, even the females. I’m a girl. My love is solid. It’s strong and consistent from the start and it will damn well stick around for the long haul. Don’t sell my daughters short and don’t sell me short.

My baby BOY

Beauty, breaking gender stereotypes since 1998

ninjas

Goldy and Beauty

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my unicorn boys, Little S, Sharkboy and a playschool friend

real men wear pink

On Wednesdays we wear pink.

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