Archive for November, 2013

November 14, 2013

Sneak Preview

Got our holiday pics back. And then I died of cute.


November 14, 2013

End the Homework Battle – XP


Raise your hand if you dread back-to-school time and the homework it brings more than your kids!

Ugh. Me too, sister, me too.  As if we don’t have enough to pack into our precious after-school hours, worksheets and journalling have to find their way in there too.  And when it takes my kid 50 minutes to complete a task that should have taken 10 (15 water breaks, 3 temper tantrums, and 1 trip to the bathroom later…), I am wishing for an eternal summer for more than just the beautiful weather and umbrella drinks. 

Wait, did someone say drinks?? Yes, that’s it! End homework battles by drinking heavily!

Just kidding.  I save my heavy drinking for after the kids are in bed, tyvm.

Seriously, though, something has got to give on this nightly battle of wills over the homework.  Thankfully we’ve come up with a good system in our house.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a whole lot better, and it just might work in your home too.  The crux of the solution all revolves around 1 key tenet: homework is the child’s responsibility, not yours.

Woah, right? Any day I can take a chore off my never-ending list and place it on the list of its rightful owner is a good one. I’ve still got the task of offering the time, space, and materials needed to complete the homework, but making sure homework gets done? NOT MY JOB. 

Here’s the “Homework Plan” that currently hangs on our fridge:

– R is responsible for his homework.
– R may choose to complete his homework, or write his teacher a note explaining why he did not do it.
– Homework time is over at 5:30pm.  R is free to choose when to do homework until that time.
– We are not willing to fight over homework. 
– We do our best work in our family.
– Mommy and Mama are happy to help with homework, as long as R is working as hard as we are.

Ahhhhh, I love the homework plan – it’s so…peaceful! Granted, it doesn’t mean the whining or attempts at power struggling are over, but it does mean that I don’t have to respond or be drawn into it.  Homework is an agreement between teacher and student and while I’ll do everything in my power to support that relationship, it won’t come at a detriment to my sanity.  What’s more? There hasn’t been a single day in which homework wasn’t completed – and done well, at that! 

So I offer this up to my fellow weary moms of school age children, dreading the battle that is to come this evening.  Perhaps you might consider pouring yourself a drink taking a deep breath, and stepping right on out of the ring.

Any other great homework tips to share? What works in your house? Teachers, what are your thoughts on a parent’s role in homework completion?

November 13, 2013

A Letter to My Son: On Having to Share You

So, a letter I wrote to Sprout recently got published in Huffington Post.


Wanna read it?

November 13, 2013

PDA – Yay or Nay? – XP

Picture courtesy of Sprout!

My wife and I are an affectionate couple.  Don’t worry, we save the icky teenagery stuff for the bedroom, but if you’ve spent any amount of time with us, you’ve probably seen us kiss, hug, hold hands, or shoot each other ‘the eye’ once or twice.  We’ve been together nearly 14 years and it’s pretty much always been this way.  

Come the introduction of children, it never really occurred to us to cut back on the kisses and hugs.  My girls haven’t entered the ‘icky-gross’ stage yet, so when they see us kiss, they run over and squeeze their little bodies between us, demanding, “Tiss me too!”  My son, who is every bit seven years old, likes to scrunch up his nose with an “ewwww, you two are allllways kissing!”.  Don’t let it fool you, though, when we turn from each other to chase him around the house and plant millions of kisses all over him, giggles happily burst from his body.  The other day, I was annoyed with my wife for something or other and my 3 year old offered her some sage advice: “Oh mama, just say sorry and kiss her already!”

Affection is just a way of life for our kids, but I realize that is not the case for all.  In fact, I grew up in a home in which I rarely saw my parents hugging, kissing, or holding hands.  Whether it is comfort level or something more, I understand that households vary on this.  I was recently observing other parents at a playdate and it occurred to me that my wife and I were definitely the touchy-feely-est ones there, even with just a couple pecks and a back rub or two.  It made me wonder – is there some kind of unwritten rule about playground PDA? No sneaking kisses under the slides?  Hand holding banned on the swings?  Or should we be surrounding our children with expressions of love?

What say you wise readers?  Do you kiss in front of your kids? How about in public or in front of other people’s kids?  Parenthood PDA…do you give it a yay or a nay?


November 12, 2013

The Youngest Child – XP

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My youngest child. My baby. When she came into this world and we received the phone call announcing her surprise birth, I was instantly humbled.  We had been hoping, wishing, and praying for this child for years.  She was born when we were at the lowest of our low and when she was placed in my arms, I fell to my knees.  Faith restored.  Things just got better and better as she grew into a happy and adorable infant.  Every feature was just perfection – I would spend hours gazing at her face, kissing her button nose, and surrounding myself in the awe of getting to be (one of) her mother(s).  Humbled.

She is now 2 1/2 years old.  I’m still down there on my knees, but let me tell you, this is an entirely different flavor of humbling.  I was at a party this weekend, chatting with another mom of 3, and she joked about that old adage, “If first children were anything like the youngest child, there would be a whole lot more singletons in this world.”  SING IT SISTER.

That prayed for, wished for, perfect, beautiful, happy child? She is trying to break me.

With my older daughter, we soared ourselves right on through the terrible twos.  Some sassiness for sure, but we potty trained easily, transitioned to a toddler bed like nothin’, stayed close to adults in public, had a healthy fear for anything labeled ‘dangerous’, and only flirted briefly with hitting and biting – because obviously I’m the toddler whisperer.  I parented like.a.boss.

So when my youngest came of age, I pulled out all my tried and true tricks and OWNED IT.  You know, for that solid 5 minutes before she climbed on top of the dining room table again then cheerily sang songs and giggled through her time in the thinking chair.  Toddler bed transition? Nightmare. Why does my sticker chart have no power over her??  Don’t even get me started on “gentle hands”, pressing every button on the dishwasher, dumping clean laundry on the floor, ripping every book she gets her hands on, and for the love, could you pleeeeaaase just poop on the potty?! Girlfriend is trouble with a capitol T.  In fact, she is so often getting into something, and I’m so often calling her by her first AND middle names, that she now introduces herself that way…as if she were meant to have 2 first names or something.

The good news is, just when I’ve about yanked out every last hair from my head, she offers a glimmer of hope.  Maybe, just maybe, she is listening.  Take this morning for example…

I’ve been working with the older kids quite a bit on moderating their emotional responses to situations.  The whole don’t-cry-over-spilled-milk thing (we’re kind of a dramatic group).  So when I dumped some of the breakfast eggs on the ground, I stifled my cursing and instead offered a “Ooops, spills happen. No problem.”  Scrambled up another egg, set breakfast out for the kids, then ran to take my 3 minute shower.

A few minutes later I hear the bizarre sound of the dogs sneezing uncontrollably.  What in the…? Investigation reveals that the 2 year old has gotten her hands on the pepper and dumped it all over her eggs, the table, and the floor.

I look at my 7 year old, “Did you tell her to stop??”  “No, you said I’m not supposed to be bossy.”


Onto the 3 year old, “Why didn’t you come tell me?”  “That is tattle-tailing.  I’m only supposed to tell if something is broken or someone is hurt.  Are the dogs hurt?”

Another dead end.

So I look at my youngest and ask her (using first and middle names) what happened.  “Oooops. Dat’s ok Mommy. Spills happen.”

What IS it about that youngest child??

November 11, 2013

Cape Cod – XP

[As the weather report rolls in with our first snow of the season, I’m dreaming of warmer days…]

Cape Cod is…

Seashell hunting on long marshy beaches.

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Wave jumping, sunshine, sandcastles and living in your bathing suit.

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Boat rides, whales, sunset cruises, kayaking and miles of ocean to explore.

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Baseball games, trolley rides, mini golf, window shopping, and enough ice cream to spoil your dinners for a week straight.

Hiking, biking, climbing, running, swimming, skipping, and jumping.

cape cod4Lighthouses, hydrangeas, cedar shingled cottages, sand dunes, sunrises on misty mornings, beach campfires, and the most perfect evening light I’ve ever seen.

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Connecting by disconnecting, an escape to a different world just a car ride away, having days of no plans fill themselves with memories that will linger for weeks to come.

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Years of memories layered one on top of the other, and mapping a child’s (painfully!) fast growth against the same familiar backdrop.

For us, Cape Cod is summer.  For us, Cape Cod is coming home.

The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea. – Isak Dinesen


Photo Credit: E. Schreier