U is for…

Undivided. In it’s entirety. Whole. As parents it’s easy to understand why our children may not receive our undivided attention. Laundry. Cooking. Assembling trampolines (that what we did after school today). A phone call. We’re sitting on the toilet. However, when our children finally have our undivided attention, there’s no telling what might happen. Perhaps they’ll want to play a board game. Perhaps they’ll tell us what they did in school. Perhaps they’ll just want to tell us a story. Usually, they’ll have some piece of useless information they found out about whatever video game, or Pokemon they’re obsessing over. We’ll feign interest so they know that what they have to say is important to us no matter how mundane. When a kid hands you a toy phone you answer it. It’s the same with their stories. Sometimes the best thing we can give them is our time. After all, it’s the one thing that once we give we never get back.

Unconditional. Our children’s love comes with no strings attached. Our love for our children is nonnegotiable. From the time we find out we’re expecting to the first moment we hold them in our arms, our love grows exponentially.

Of course we’re going to have tough days, tough weeks. Perhaps some tough years, too. We don’t love them less. They are our children. Learning. Growing. There’s bound to be mistakes by child and parent alike. We pick each other up, dust each other off, apologize and move on. We continue to feed them, shelter them, love them. No matter how much we’d like to hang them from the clothesline for a few hours.

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H is for…

HRaising kids properly. I’ve always said there are three requirements for successfully raising children. If they are happy, healthy, and educated then you’re doing it right. Naturally, it’s nearly impossible to hit on three counts all the time. Kids get cranky. Kids get sick. Sometimes we redefine what educating our children means. We have no curriculum, after all. So we make forward progress, always trying.

Raising happy kids is a tricky business. On one hand you want to spend your day with them, bending to their will. However, we know in the long run that won’t make them truly happy. When it comes time for them to be on their own they will flounder, lost without our help. So we need to balance bending to their will with allowing them to figure it out on their own. Whether it’s entertaining themselves or working independently or problem solving, they need to try it by themselves first. A couple years ago I heard a parent being described as a “snow plow” parent. I’d heard of crunchy parents, helicopter parents, tiger parents. A snow plow parent is one who pushed aside and solves all their children’s problems. Didn’t get the grade? Parents talk to the teachers. Didn’t make the team? Parents talk to the coaches. Didn’t get the job? Parents talk to the boss. It’ll make your kid happy now, but in the long run they won’t know how to handle disappointment and failure. So we walk the tight rope trying to balance what our kids need with what they want.

Another factor in their happiness is attention. There’s much to be said for positive attention. When you praise your kids for doing good, even if it’s something they do all the time, they start looking for more positive ways to be recognized. I know this, yet I still find myself nagging and barking at them for doing wrong. Attention is attention for them, positive or negative. I’m now working on catching them being good and verbally recognizing it. It’s making a difference.

Keeping them healthy is an entirely different issue. They’re going to sick at some point. Once they start trading germs like Pokemon cards it’s inevitable. Good parents nurse them back to health. Crazy parents wish they could take their child’s place in the sickbed and be sick for them. Hell no. Parenting is hard enough. We don’t need to be handicapped in parenting with the flu. Let them be sick and get your extra snuggles. Give them extra screen time and extra juice boxes.

Keeping them healthy also means feeding them properly. Real food. I know not everyone enjoys the kitchen as much as I do, but it doesn’t take much effort to make real food. Of course, there are cheat days when you don’t have the time, the energy, or the desire to make a meal so you throw in a frozen pizza, or nuggets, or whatever is easiest. Real food is a great way to save money, too. It’s cheaper to make a meal for four than it is to buy a meal for four. Plus you get leftovers. Unless it’s fish. We don’t eat leftover fish.

Keep ’em happy. Keep ’em healthy. The rest will fall into place.

You can also find some happiness on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

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G is for…

G
Good.

Good times. Good bye. Good morning. Good night. Good enough.

Good times are like the time we had this evening at a 70th birthday party. You wouldn’t think that someone turning 70 could have a rockin’ party. When the family is musical, though, it’s always rockin’. It doesn’t get much better than sitting around a sing along with a few guitars. Perhaps you define “good times” differently, but for us, this is our definition.

Good bye. Rarely are byes good. Really the only time a good bye is truly good is when it’s someone or something you are relieved at being gone. Good bye cancer. Good bye flu. Good bye freeloader. I read somewhere that’s textspeak from the 1600’s for God Be With Ye. That makes it just good enough.

Good morning. Are mornings good? I used to be a morning person. I used to have no trouble getting up at 6am for work. Now when I get up at 6 am for work I need a nap by 10:15. My internal clock, however, is set for 6. Fortunately, I also have an internal snooze button. Yes, they’re good mornings regardless, because I’m happy to see you again. Good nights are sweet. ‘Round here it’s followed by “Love you. Ugga mugga see ya in the morning. Like your face. Your the best person.” and a kiss. If it’s the kids, peace and quiet reigns. If it’s us, amen. How do you know you’re a grown up? You enjoy bedtime.

Good enough is the feeling we parents get sometimes when we feel we’re just scraping by with our kids. They’re fed (so what if it was chicken nuggets with mac and cheese). So what if they got 3 hours of screen time today. It’s when we’re doing what we need to do get by. We’re surviving. For the most part, parenting is lots of fun. We have plenty of laughs. But sometimes we hear “watch me” a few hundred too many times. Sometimes we’ve played make believe, or that one game, or listened to our kids once again recite more facts about pokemon characters. We need adult interaction. Real conversation. Yet, here we are in munchkinland doing “good enough”.

Good night. I’ll be gooder tomorrow.

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E is for…

E

Everything.

Everything from A to Z. Everything I’ve written about so far and everything I will write about over the next 25 days. It’s about everything I’ve done today and yesterday and the 15,215 days since I was born. It’s about everything I’ll do with the unknown number days I’ll be here, of this Earth.

Right now, though, life is about everything we’ll do for our kids. We house them. We feed them. We educate them. We play with them. We put them to bed. That’s just the routine stuff. It’s the stuff we have to do. It’s in the contract.

It’s about everything we do for our kids that we don’t have to do. We sign them up for sports and music and dance and clubs and lessons and everything. We end up driving all over tarnation to get them where they need to go. It’s daughters doing dad’s nails and makeup. It’s about moms playing dump trucks in the dirt with their sons. It’s about dance parties in the kitchen. It’s about splash parties in the bathtub. It’s about doing what we need to do help our children be happy.

When your six year old son and the neighbor’s nine year old daughter decide they want to get married, you entertain the thought. You giggle when they start planning in November and set a date for April 5th. You roar with laughter when you hear they’re going to get divorced so they can get married again. Then they start assigning roles; a priest, a chef, a flower girl, a waiter. They create a menu of the grooms favorite meal; fish, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and corn. They ask for a wedding cake and cards. In November, it’s all good. It’s all fun and games and you allow them their creativity. Then comes April 5th. They didn’t forget. In fact, they spent the better part of those sixth month preparing. Invites. Place setting. Seating arrangement. Outfits. Decorations. The meal. Dessert. The first dance song.

So you make it happen. Coincidentally, there happens to be no school on their random date choosing six months ago. You take them to find a few things and return with fish, broccoli, pink salmon and green table cloths, a fake flower bouquet for the bride to carry, balloons, makeshift rings, and a cake that says Happy Wedding Day April 5, 2018. You gather the few who were invited and you act out the wedding. Then you cook the fish and mashed potatoes and broccoli and have it served by the gracious big brother. You allow them first dance waltz to Ed Sheeran’s Perfect then cut the cake.

Then you have to burst a bubble when you have to explain to your son that no, his “wife” can’t come live with us. Still… they do look like a very happy couple. It makes everything we do for kids worth everything we can do for them.

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C is for… #atozchallenge

CEmbracing the chaos (or as our niece used to call it, chowce).

It comes in many forms and it comes during varying times of the day and night. We always have two options. Option A is stress about it and try to find a way to calm the chaos. Option B is embrace the chaos and roll with it.

There are parents who can handle the chaos. These are the parents who have their shit together and all the ducks in a row. They give us the impression that parenting is as easy as watching our kids sleep. Here they are showered, dressed in real clothes, and so are their kids. Even their car is clean…

For the rest of us, parenting is more like getting our kids to sleep after they’ve eaten an entire chocolate cake and it’s 2:30 in the afternoon. Our car is muddy. And so are the kids. My chaos is different from your chaos as no two chaoses are the same.

There is the chaos that happens in your house. The kids are shack wacky, climbing the walls with too much energy and not enough room to unload it. There may be arguing. There will definitely be a mess. It will be loud, someone will end up with a time out. If we’re lucky, it’ll be us. It may be your own kids. It could be your kids and their friends. Whoever it is, you won’t be able to hear yourself think, which is all part of their plan. Our only hope is channel their energy into chores, board games, coloring, or something quieter. The only other way to beat them is to join them and their chaos.

There is chaos that is trying to get two kids to three different places. Dance. Band. Sport. Lessons. Chess club. I have heard of parents who drop one kid off one place, run their second kid to another place and by the time they get number two dropped off they have to go pick up number one. Somewhere in there they need to eat, do their homework, and at some point, go to bed. Only to have to do all again the next day. The chaos of having more to do that can be done in one day can be overw
helming. Or you can embrace what your life has become and know that it’s better to have your kid involved instead of in trouble.

Whatever your chaos, remember to breathe  and embrace the chaos. One day there will be no chaos and I dare say we’ll miss it.

You follow my chaos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Questions I Asked My Kids: Ep64

US Gun debates are running wild around the world. Education reform is stirring up some strong emotions here in Nova Scotia. Change is needed in both places and I feel like those with the most power to make those changes happen aren’t listening to the ones who know what changes need to be made.

But that stuff is too heavy for a Jeudi. That’s French for Thursday. I substituted in a French Immersion class yesterday and today and the little ones had a blast trying to teach me some pronunciations. Guess it’s time I start taking some French courses!

Pouvez-vous parler français?

1. What do you like daydreaming about?

Crash: Minecraft and Pokemon Battles with real Pokemon
Bang: I feel like I’m still sleeping… even when I’m in school.

2. If you could do anything right now, what would you do?

Crash: Stay up late and play video games… Geometry Dash!
Bang: Play electronics all night… Geometry Dash!

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3. If you opened a store, what would you sell?

Crash: Candy, Pokemon, Minecraft Figures, Books about Pokemon and Minecraft, and super snuggly, ultracomfy stuffies
Bang: Things from Sobey’s (grocery store) like bread, cookies, and milk

4. If you could grow anything in the yard, what would it be?

Crash: A big orange or apple tree
Bang: I would grow more electronics!

5. What sounds do you like?

Crash: Farting, my favorite songs
Bang: Wawa (imagine Charlie Brown’s teacher) and creepy noises

6. What sounds do you not like?

Crash: When I’m laying in bed at night and I hear thump thump thump
Bang: I hate the word “this”

7. If you could ask a wild animal any question, what would you ask?

Crash: I would ask an eagle if I could be best friends with him
Bang: I would ask a wolf, “Can I ride you?”

8. What animal would make a great racecar driver?

Crash: Cheetah because they’re fast and used to the speed
Bang: A giraffe because he would stick through the roof and be able to see all the cars

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9. What makes our family so awesome?

Crash: That I’m in it and that we have an amazingly cute Quaker Parrot
Bang: Nothing, our family isn’t awesome because you yell at us

10. If you could make up a new holiday, what would it be?

Crash: There’s already a Minecraft Day so I’ll make a Pokemon Day
Bang: Booty Time and on June 10th you go outside and take all your clothes off

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Go Ask Your Father: Mirrors, Teddy Bears, Brain Messages, and House Water

Sweet Baby Jesus… Thank God it’s Friday! Did anyone else feel like this week was longer the 2016 presidential election? I swear the Universe had some kind of  time malfunction. Her clock was running a bit behind. Time does move slower the faster you go so maybe we went farther. Anyway, here in Canadaland this is a long weekend. Monday is Family Day. What do you think would be a good family day family activity to do with the family? (Did I say family, enough times?)

1. What color are mirrors?

Mirror, mirror on the way, who is the fairest of them all? Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris, the Canadian gold medal winners for mixed couples curling, are pretty cute. I don’t have a talking mirror, though. So the only way I know who the “fairest of them all is” is when DW is standing in front of it. What color is a mirror, anyway? Any color that is put in front of it. I had to look up how mirrors are made to find this one. Turns out they’re silver. Technically, they start as a window, a clear piece of glass. Then they spray it with demineralized water to clean it. It’s sprayed with liquefied tin. Silver is spray atop the tin because silver won’t stick to glass. As the liquid silver sets it hardens and takes on the reflective properties needed for a perfect selfie. A layer of copper is sprayed on to protect the silver and it’s all baked at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The backside of it is painted and it’s all set for the fairest of them all.

2. Why are they called Teddy Bears?

The story I told Crash at bedtime when he asked went something like this. An American president a long time ago, named Theodore Roosevelt went by the nickname of Teddy. For a reason unbeknownst to me, created a stuffed animal that was a bear. People called it a Teddy bear. I was close. Right church, wrong pew. Theo did not create the stuffed animal. Instead its origins are from a bear hunt he attended. After 3 days he had not spotted a bear. So the hunt guides tracked down a bear, tied it to a tree and showed it to the President. Theo, seeing that it was wounded and tied to a tree couldn’t shoot it, deemed it inhumane. However, he did have killed to end its suffering. Political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman, drew a cartoon illustrating the President’s refusal to shoot the bear. That bear appeared in later cartoons by the cartoonist. Then Morris Michtom, a candy shop owner in Brooklyn, NY saw the cartoon and, with permission to call them Teddy’s Bears, put two stuffed bears his wife had made, in the front window of his shop. They became so popular he started mass producing them.

3. How does our brain send messages to the rest of our body?

Email? Text? Binary code? Shouting “HEY!” Really, I have no idea. Other than the brain using synapses and neurons and sending signals through our nervous system to the body part that needs to move (like my fingers across the keyboard). Your brain, spinal chord, and a tremendous length of nerves throughout your body all work together to give you that “human experience”. There are 2 kinds of nerves, sensory and motor. The sensory nerves send messages to the brain in regards to our senses, touch, temperature, pain, etc… Motor nerves send signals from the brain to our muscles either voluntarily or reflexively. If you’re wondering how it works on the molecular level, you’ll have to ask your friendly, neighborhood neurologist because I don’t understand neurons and synapses and stuff.

4. How does water get from the water tower into our house?

Magic. Just open the tap and out comes fresh, clean water we can drink (though we filter it anyway). We have several water towers around town.  Water is collected from the lake, cleaned, filtered and pumped though the water pipes that are networked through town by pumping stations. The pumping stations provide the pressure required to push the water through the pipes so that it comes out of the sink, the tub, the toilet, or the hose when want it to. There’s something for you to think about when you’re standing in front of your silver mirror, telling your brain to move your arm while holding your toothbrush while water flows from the faucet.

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all mirrors start as a window anyway…

 

Questions I Asked My Kids: Ep63

Have you ever longed for bedtime? Not for yourself, but for your kids. PLEASE! Can it be bedtime now? I know they have only been home from school for 17 seconds, but can I send them to bed anyway? Getting in the truck to come home from school Crash hit Bang on the head with the truck door (accidentally) when he was trying to get in his brother’s side of the truck instead of his own. At home, I send them outside to play since it was sunny and warm. Crash took my GoPro with him to video himself skateboarding. Bang runs into him with his bike and breaks the frame that holds the camera. They come inside because apparently it’s no fun outside without a camera. So they try to play inside but all we hear is “Watch me.” “Watch this.” “Watch watch watch.” We watch some, but they certainly don’t need an audience for everything they do.

It’s 9:34pm. Guess where they finally are? You can probably tell from all the silence around here…

As always, feel free to ask your heathens these questions. Just be sure to tag me so I can read their answers.

1. What are you good at now?

Crash: Playing Beyblade, snuggling stuffies, and being annoying
Bang: Running

2. What will you be good at when you grow up?

Crash: Taking pictures like a photographer
Bang: Serving pizza, which means I’m being a chef

 

3. How old do you wish you could be?

Crash: 25
Bang: Nobody can live this long but I want to be a million

4. What 3 things would you take to a deserted island?

Crash: Video games, infinite food, and everything required to survive in the wild
Bang: Some food to eat, a ginormous jug of water, and some dessert – ice cream

5. The world just turned into Legos. What do you build first?

Crash: I don’t know, but I would build lots!
Bang: I would build a giant Lego person

6. Did you have a dream last night?

Crash: I had this one crazy dream that me, my friends had Pokemon and they weren’t just cards, they were real Pokemon. We battled for a long time and it boys vs. girls and one of the girl’s Pokemon scratched me and I used Sing and her Pokemon fell asleep. And this is craziest part… My teacher and brother show up to make another team! My team won, though.
Bang: Nope, I stayed awake all night. I just laid there with my eyes open like I do every single night.

7. What 2 animals would be funny to combine?

Crash: Dinosaur and a pig
Bang: A moose and an elephant and it’s called a mooselephant

8. What is your favorite word?

Crash: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Bang: I like to say dab

 

9. What is love?

Crash: It’s family and stuff, like girlfriends and boyfriends and husbands and wives
Bang: I love mom because I fell in love with her but I don’t know what it means to fall in love

10. What’s your favorite game to play in gym class?

Crash: Soccerbaseball
Bang: Hockey and soccer baseball (aka kickball)

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Becoming Dad

I always knew I was going to be a dad some day. I don’t know when exactly I determined that, though. It probably wasn’t until my university days that I entertained that thought. Before that I was just a free spirit. A happy wanderer. A lone wolf looking for a pack.

Because of the parents I had, I thought I knew what kind of dad I would be. I would be the dad who played, the dad who disciplined, the dad who got shit done. It probably wouldn’t get done in a timely manner, mind you, but it would get done.

I was going to parent like my parents did. I would allow my kids to think they were acting on their own when in reality I would be watching from a distance. I wasn’t going to be a helicopter or snow plow, or tiger mom dad. I wasn’t going to be free-range, mind you, but somewhere in the middle. I was going to be involved, too. I wanted to be there to watch them succeed, fail, or just plain try.

I was glad I was a teacher before I became a dad. I learned to discipline other people’s kids before I had to discipline my own. Not that it mattered because discipline comes in as many flavors as there are kids. There is much debate between which consequences work best. Seriously, there is no one size fits all. But that’s for another post, entirely.

Of all the things I was going to be as a dad, the one I nailed is being involved. Not in a helicopter way. I’m just there. When they’re getting ready for school in the morning or ready for bed in the evening I’m there prodding them along. When they’re playing a sport, I’m there to watch. When they have a school performance, I’m there to see them. When there are parent/teacher nights, I go. DW is with me all the way. Or I’m with her all way.

We’re in this gig called parenting together.

However, when I imagined myself being a dad before I was dad, back when I was a clueless twenty something, I didn’t imagine myself being quite as involved as I actually am today. My kids would love school because their parents are teachers. My kids would love helping out around the house because we would include them in such chores from an early age. My kids would be polite, respectful, hard working, smart, and a plethora of spectacular superlatives. Whenever I imagined what my kids would be like, I think God giggled a little bit.

I didn’t imagine I’d have a kid having ADD and needing constant supervision because he’d be a task avoider. He knows what he needs to do, he just doesn’t do it. I didn’t imagine my kid throwing a temper tantrum the size of a Philadelphia Superbowl riot. How dare I make a pancake without chocolate chips? We never imagine that stuff before we become parents. They don’t teach you that stuff in school. They don’t write about that stuff in books, or at least not in the books I read.

What To Expect When You Don’t Expect Your Kid To Be Different From What You Expect.

I learned to be a dad from my Dad. I learned to be a parent from my parents. They set a pretty good example, too. They had awesome kids though, so they had it “easy”. I wish I had it as easy as my parents did. Perhaps I do because I really don’t know their struggles as parents back then because I was just a kid. You can’t imagine #ParentingStruggles when you are a Terrible Two or a Threenager or even a Teenager, for that matter.

The Fresh Prince knew what he was saying when he said “Parents just don’t understand”. Well, neither do kids.

So, to my parents, I want to say thank you for teaching me to parent by example. To my kids, thank you for testing my parenting ability. One day, you two will understand why your mother and I do what we do.

Kids

Lucy At Home