Monday, April 12, 2010

Yeah I'll Clean it up when I'm Done...

...and other bold faced lies from my 5 year old.  So immediately after I vent yet another of my parental failures-I will be consistent and make my 5 year old clean the bathroom. 

The girls love bath time. Before their food has even digested after dinner, they are rearing to hop in the tub. Both try repeatedly to show proficiency in pouring their own baths. Both fail. Miserably.  In the 4 and 5 year old world- overflow is not a problem- it is fun. Bathtime is no longer a hygienic necessity- but a means of water play. I allow it because it is the only thing that provides me with a few minutes scream free to do the dishes when Phil is not home in time for dinner. I usually finish dishes before they are ready to get out and even sometimes get a little vaccuuming or mopping done after I hear- I'm not ready yet- I want to PLAAAAAAY.

30 minutes ago, Lily ran into the kitchen where I was filling out forms to get a permit to host the Lemonade stand at the park by our house. She tells me "Bella has a full sink(That explains the running water sound for the past few minutes- she has a bit of a toothbrushing/handwashing habit- so it takes a few minutes for it to register. I pick my battles. No need to fight oral hygiene with that one. Not a good precedent- stop brushing your teeth! That just sounds silly.  Phil- who pays the water bill is not nearly as lenient..) Can I give Aladdin and Barbie a bath in the bathroom?  Will you clean it up when you are done?Yeah, just in the sink- she starts backing away- Say it!  "I will clean it up when I am done."  So I go about my business and enjoy the quiet while they(because Bella wouldn't miss out on a little waterplay to save her life) give aforementioned Barbie dolls a little rinse in the bathroom sink. I worry that Jasmine is being replaced by surfer Barbie. A little while later I notice Bella is curled up on the couch, naked. Not surprising- anytime there is water play she automatically begins to strip down. The half gallon of sweet tea I sucked down while fundraiser planning is starting to take effect and I hobble to the bathroom. This is what greets me.......

Apparently "don't make a mess on the floor" Translates to 'line available surfaces with all the clean washcloths".Lilster is not present and I call her in to inquire....she is enjoying a rousing game of wii as evidenced by the controllers in hand.......

I thought you were going to clean it up? " I will- I'm playing wii while they play in the bath."  Apparently they were not ready yet, they wanted to PLAAAAAYYYY.  I don't know if I can be so lenient on this one....and really Jasmine can not be ok with this. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Monkey Stand - Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

Monkey Stand - Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

I am so excited for our new project! We are hosting a Lemonade Stand for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. All the proceeds go to fund research to cure Childhood Cancer! Every day 36 kids are diagnosed with cancer in the US. Every DAY! In October 2008, Lily was one of those diagnoses.

I heard about Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation online last year. A little girl named Alex held stands in her front yard to raise money for her hospital after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2000. It sounded fun- the lemonade stand not the cancer. The cancer thing sucks- it's still really fresh. But I can't remember how many Kool-ade stands we hosted as kids. Crystal Barbie was earned through many cups of the sweet beverage and some generosity from the Chem-lawn guys. I have so many friends discussing their readiness for Garage sale season. I don't like garage sales. I don't like going, I don't like hosting. I generally take our stuff to a charity and call it good. But then a friend posted that she was going to donate all her garage sales proceeds to charity. That made the work sound worth it! Then it clicked- what if I combined the 2? My neighbors have stuff they need to get rid of, it's spring cleaning time- I was ready to get the ball rolling. A few clicks online and a few phone calls and we are on our way. I am thrilled that the kids are involved and excited not only to get rid of their clutter- but to do this for a great cause! On May 8th we are hosting a Yard Sale Lemonade Stand. All proceeds will go to ALSF! I'm even considering experimenting with some Lily-koi lemonade- it could go either way!

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation is based out of Philly and funds many cancer research projects. We have a busy 3 weeks ahead of us- but it's a great kind of busy. We can't do it without your help! Every little bit will make a difference. Donations can be made online or in person until May 8th! Details will follow once we get specifics ironed out. I want to work towards a world where little angels lives are not cut short by this disease. I don't want my children to have to face this disease with their children. Please pass the info along if you are inspired!

Monday, April 5, 2010

We have survived another birthday season. It's much like hurricane season except more condensed and with much greater likelihood for ultimate home destruction.  Kiera had her birthday party at Bellows beach on Saturday and despite a couple of glitches, it was a lot of fun.  All I can say is what could possibly be more fun than a car full of girls belting out Hannah Montana and Selena Gomez tunes?  It totally made me miss my childhood and trips to Cedar point and the lake. Ahhh. 

It was pouring rain as we drove through the tunnel and I was quite worried we were going to have to transform it into a rainy day party- but there was sun on the beach. I'd have to say the Sand Sculpting contest was a ton of fun and I am very sorry that I was so utterly remiss in reapplying sunscreen at that time.  There were a lot of pink cheeks as a result.

Yesterday was Eggstravagant. The Easter Bunny left me a note that it was lots of fun actually hiding eggs this year as opposed to just rolling them out into the yard. He also apologized for losing count as he was hiding. Lily was tickled as she found 2 more eggs just this morning.  We then ventured over to the 4th annual Easter Egg Hunt n potluck at the park around the corner from our house. This was the first year Phil hasn't worked and all the kids were big enough to really enjoy the festivities. Read as: Old enough for mom and dad to enjoy the festivities. Seeing as I had just spearheaded two parties in the past two weeks- I was pretty partied out.  It was alot of fun just to hang out with a couple neighbors and my husband. The sparkling moscato didn't hurt either. Well until this morning anyhow.

So here comes the soap box.....I am not the perfect parent. No such thing exists as you cannot possibly expect perfection from an imperfect species.  Going to big events is stressful for me. Kids are kids. They tend to act DIfferent ages will give you different challenges. You throw all those ages together and if there are 3 or more of them- as my husband puts it- they will be killing pigs.  The girls will kill the darn thing via emotional torture or through bursting it's eardrums with their high pitched squeals. The boys will find weapons and beat the thing to death and perform experiments on it. Then there are parents- many parents of my age group view such gatherings as a hiatus from parenting. The assumption is that either another parent will handle it or the kids are just off playing. Out of sight, out of mind.  I am an observer. You will not find me in the center of the group engaging in conversation over the best place to shop for this or that or the best new restaurant. I will be on the outskirts watching and listening. I am not a great conversationalist when my kids are present as I am constantly distracted.  Plus when you have your backs to the pig killin species- it's tough to see when it is time to intervene. But that is making the assumption that you would intervene. You know what happens when you assume.

This is why these events are stressful. I don't take a hiatus from parenting. I believe to do so while you are in your children's presence is bad form and sets a precedent for inconsistency. I think this is one of the major problems with the parenting of my generation. There is a reason we are called the me generation. Yeah well there is no "me" in parenting. There is a parent and ing. We were the first to be taught that we are "special" and deserve to be treated as such.  We deserve our own time. It's ok to take time for me. All is true. BUT you have to take care of your responsibilities before you take care of those things.  Just because you are not watching, does not mean it's not happening. In my day, (OH God I am really going there already???) if an adult told you to do something- you did it. Lil Phillip was playing at the park that morning and my neighbor told him to do something. He did not.  SHe asked him again. He did not. She made him do it.  By the time word got to me of what he did(or didn't do) he knew he was in trouble.  He didn't return to the park and didn't get to do the egg hunt. Now kids regularly disrespect adults and are defended by their parents.  We had 3 young teens sitting in the middle of the bouncy house and all the little kids were going elsewhere.  I told them if they weren't playing- get out. My neighbor told them- if they weren't jumping- get out. We went back and they were now standing. In the middle.  One teen says "I don't give a shit." My neighbor says "fine- if you don't give a shit- get out".  I say shit or get off the pot. If I had talked to my parents or neighbors that way, my rear would have been black and blue and I would not have seen daylight for weeks. And I was a spoiled child. I remember when I first learned the word ass.  We had neighbors whose last name was Aseltyne. Yeah- I thought I was soooo clever to superimpose my new vocabulary word into their name. My mother was not so amused. She didn't even hear me, but my friend's mom did.  I got my mouth washed out with soap. Literally. Guess what- It worked. I still swore. I was much more cautious about who heard me though. Life lessons. Here's the thing- nowadays- many parents take the stance- if I didn't hear it firsthand- I can't act on it. Generally good practice. If your neighbor tells you your child swore at or near them- that counts as first hand. If you choose not to act on it- your child has learned that they are not accountable for their actions when you are not present. That is a bad precedent. Not all adults are correct. But if you allow your child to disregard adults that you know, how do you think they will behave with other adults that don't know you to report back their behavior. There is no excuse for bad behavior. I don't care how many add/ adhd  or personality disorders you have. If you continue to behave poorly around me- your opportunities with me will be limited. 

SO part of me says relax and part of me says act now. Part of me says it won't matter at all anyhow. But make a difference I will -if just with my four cuz perhaps someday they will change four more. And four more after that and one day you will see- oh how much better things are with a little respect and dignity. SO now down I will step off my soap container, for what I've said could not be plainer. Now I must go wash some wash and shelve some shelves and well those little people I created cannot parent themselves.

Today's thoughts inspired by  quotes from one of my favoritest authors: Dr. Theodor Geisel

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind"

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lost and Found.

There are many rites of passage in our world. Graduating, getting married, having children. Each one inducts you into a not so secret society through the shared common bonds. Women who hardly know each other can sit around the kitchen and go into great detail of birthing experiences while men slink off at the first utterance of the word contractions.  It is impolite to pass gas at such a gathering, yet stories will include details such as effacement, tearing, and pushing. These stories are produced like certificates confirming eligibility into the society of parenthood. Friends who have tirelessly tried to conceive will regale the society with tales of induced hormone rages.  I've had friends who adopt share their stories of traveling around the world, living months in a 3rd world country to bring home a sweet baby. All because so many of us are hardwired to propogate the species and go forth on one of life's greatest and most dangerous journeys-Parenting.

There are rows of books telling you what to expect and how to help yourself through this harrowing time. Because shortly after the little cretins learn to walk, they become this self centered little bundle of personality and one soon forgets all the trouble one went to of producing this little angel. Apparently the little angels aren't hard wired for self preservation despite what many of the anthropologists tell us. They are Evel Knievel meets Beavis and Butthead.  They will scale great heights to jump off. They will touch things that are clearly not meant to be touched- such as fire, or ice, or the brand new flat screen television.  They will eat things never meant for consumption such as soap, garbage and poo. And just for the record, the soap does not counteract the ickiness of poo within the digestive tract, quite the opposite really. You will learn that to these miniature humans, bodily functions are very entertaining, especially in public.  In many ways they are like having pets with the potential for evolution by adulthood. Due to such probability, it is generally frowned upon to leash, cage, or restrain said creatures. There is also a recent movement that protests the leashing, caging or restraint of any living creature. The solution to all above mentioned problems seems to be the stroller. But I digress.

Last week there was a knock at the door right around dawn. In usual fashion, by the time I got downstairs my little cretins had pulled a chair over and unlocked the upper dead bolt. Like I said, evolution. And there at the door, was our neighbor with the most adorable canine specimen I had ever seen. She found her wandering around our alley and she was late for work, could we take in the pup?  Well my pets were jumping up and down chasing their own tails with excitement. Before I had even said goodbye, my eldest female had commandeered the tiny canine and instructed the others to pour a bowl of water and find food for her.  By the time I got to the kitchen, there were no less than 3 bowls filled with the finest filtered and bottled waters available. We like to offer our guests variety. Then the discussion began as to what we should call her.  As I rescued the poor thing from an interesting game of hot potato between my daughters- my middle child was preparing a bed for the animal and trying to get me to bundle her as a baby.  I noticed the puppy was developing a nervous tick and ordered everyone to get dressed so we could get the elder children to school  As soon as they left the room, the puppy stretched out on my lap and I discovered she was not a she after all.   The girls reappeared declaring they were going to name her Hannah. I explained that she was a he and that he had a name we just didn't know it.

After the elder children were off to school, the girls and I wandered from house to house trying to find the puppy's human. No one had seen him before but just about everyone was ready to keep him.  As we returned home, another neighbor was walking by and we stopped to show her our latest find. As we stood chatting- two ladies, 4 houses down come running out and the puppy immediately hurtles to them. They had run an errand first thing this morning and he snuck out. I giggled when the lady told me his name was Susie.  I learned that he was adorable, but the effort to keep him safe from smothering by 3 little girls was exhausting. I have a hard enough time keeping them from smothering each other- I'm not ready to throw another animal in the mix.

Fast forward a week.  The little girls and I were walking to the park that is 2 blocks away. Lily finds it amusing to make me run. Now that she can ride a 2 wheeler- it happens more than I would like. The rules for my running are immediate death or dismemberment and fire. Although certain death or dismemberment could technically occur whilst Lily is riding her 2 wheeler- it is not immediate. Usually.

 We often joke that Bella is our puppy. She eats off the floor, is somewhat house trained, and has tendencies to roll around on the ground. She also likes to chase birds. But most kids do, so by itself that criteria doesn't always stand.  We finished playing at the park and were perched on the street corner in our usual debate- which way should we go home. Lily wants to go left. Bella right.  Lily takes off and Bella takes the cue to sprint in the opposite direction. I am calling to both and run after Lily because Bella usually will cave and follow after us. Bella yells she knows how to go home this way. I catch Lily and we return to the street corner. Mind you, I would be faster if not hindered by the stroller that the puppy insisted on bringing.  I can't see Bella. We jog back down to the alley and I am hoping to cut her off before she crosses the street. We get to the sidewalk- no Bella. We run to the left crossing another alley until I can see our house- the whole time we are calling her name. No Bella. Maybe she was actually obeying the rule of not crossing the street without an adult and went back to the park. Back we go.  No Bella.  I spot a Geek Squad Puch Buggy driving by. I wave him down. I ask him if on his way down the street he sees a little girl with a green polka dot shirt could he please honk? He offers to drive around the block. I call my neighbor as we walk down the block. The punch buggy zooms back, he asks me if we live on Kaiee street? The anxious nausea is starting to ebb. She is sitting on our porch. He says he will go wait with her until we get there. Lily and I run(and bike) back to the house. As I get to our street, 2 neighbors are on hand and the punch buggy is parked in front of the house.  As soon as Bella sees me, she runs over and I see something I've only seen once or twice in her eyes- fear.  Are you supposed to run away from me?  No, she buries her head in my shoulder. If she had a tail, it would be between her legs. Are you supposed to cross the street without an adult?  I looked both ways.  Ugh.  Despite the fact that I know she learned her lesson, I know this will not be the last time something like this happens. I feel compelled to remind her of it periodically throughout the day. My mom friends all commisserate and recount the times they lost a child.  It is another one of those parenthood milestones.   

I learned a couple of things. Bella does know her way home from the park. Pretty impressive considering in this cookie cutter neighborhood there are no less than 3 houses on any block that look the exact same as ours. Secondly when push comes to shove-Despite my daily declaration otherwise, I do not want Bella to get lost. I have added lost children to acceptable reasons for running. And finally, I still don't believe in leashing children- but am considering buying a tranquilizer dart gun.
I asked Phillip to do a cartoon rendering for me of a dog in a stroller and a baby on a leash. A bit heavy on the black, but as Phillip put it- it's a streeeeet. Yeesh. Another one of those fun parental things- molding little minds in your favor.