Mom's Release

The trials and tribulations of a mom of four great kids!

Brilliant Idea to Limit Chaos at the Dinner Table!

Dinnertime is one of my favourite times of the day.

Or at least it used to be.

We make a great effort to eat all together…an increasingly difficult feat as they get older. It’s our time to all be together and chat about the day. I pride myself in being a good listener, but sitting at the table last night, I (sadly) realized I’m not such a good listener anymore. Six at the table, five trying to talk, all at once… I seemed to be the only one even attempting to listen. My brain was fuddled, the noise level was rising and it was next to impossible to hear anyone, let alone actually listen! The scene: the 15yo talking about his math test, the 13yo talking about her science test, the 10yo (who is so quiet it’s a struggle to hear her when she’s the only one talking) talking about reading, and the 8yo (almost screaming at this point because he’s decided it’s the only way to be heard at our table) about how “hard” his math homework was (not to be outdone by the 15yo)… then the hubby started in with the work chat…and my eyes started to cross!

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Then came my stroke of genius!

I raised my hand to speak (making them laugh and stop long enough to hear me) and said I had a great idea. I told them they each had a day to talk at the table, uninterrupted, about whatever they wanted…thereby making it possible to listen AND keep the noise level at the table to a dull roar. I even gave my hubby a day, so my eyes didn’t cross quite so often!

Oddly enough, they didn’t find it quite as ingenious as I did…but they said we could give it a try and so far, it’s been really funny. When we sit down to eat, they count through each other to see if it’s their turn and are so excited if/when it is! The quiet doesn’t always last long, but at least each gets a chance to get something out on their day.

My fingers are crossed it becomes a process that sticks!

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Looking Up

He’s taller than me.

And she’s almost taller than me.

When did THAT happen?!?

I have to say, one thing that I am having a very difficult time with (there are many, but in this post, I’ll stick to just this one!) is the idea of my children passing me in height…one’s already there and now I have another one hot on my tail!

When I first had our beautiful, little bambinos, they were all so tiny (especially the first one, who was a preemie) and never in a million years did the idea of me looking up at them ever cross my mind. Never. And for years (15, to be exact), I continued to look down…now I’m looking up and I don’t like it.

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I can’t even explain why it bothers me. I’m not short, not tall, quite average, I would say. I’ve been taller than my mother since I was about 12 or 13, but she’s only 5′, so that really wasn’t much of an accomplishment and given that I’ve been the “tall” one in my family, as far as the females go, I guess I just always assumed the kids and I would be the same height. Completely unrealistic, I know…but I think that’s it. The day we measured (back to back, the others all watching with excitement) and determined my 15yo had actually passed me, I was hit with this heavy, sad feeling. I guess it might have made me feel less of the “supermom” I’ve spent many years trying to be…how can I be a “supermom”, saving him from everything, when he’s bigger than me?!? (Maybe, too, it might have a teensy bit to do with the control freak in me…but I’d rather not go there!) I guess perhaps it happens on purpose because the older he gets, the less I’m supposed to  be there to save him and the more he’s supposed to learn to save himself. Interesting.

In any case, I think it’s something I’ll have to get used to…as I said, the 13yo is quickly approaching (her legs almost reach my waist, I swear!) and then there are two more bringing up the rear, who I’m sure will overtake me before I know it!

Anyone else out there feeling anything similar as their kids are rapidly growing up?

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“They bury dead people?!!?”

Here’s a conversation between me and my (then) 4yo on the way to swimming class one day as we passed by a graveyard:

4yo: Mom, what’s that?

Me (answering very matter-of-factly): Oh, that’s a graveyard.

4yo: What’s a graveyard?

Me (again, answering very matter-of-factly):  It’s where the bury dead people.

4yo (incredulously!): THEY BURY DEAD PEOPLE?!?

Me (laughing at the tone of his question): Well, yes, they do.

4yo (Still in total disbelief): WHY do they bury dead people?!?

Me (now laughing harder at how surprised he is): Well, what else would they do with them?

4yo: Ah, just leave them on the ground…?

Me (now I’m in a fit of laughter, picturing all the dead people lying around on the ground in the graveyard and what a horrific sight that would be!):  Ah, they can’t do that…be pretty gross…

4yo: Why would it be gross?

Me (now looking up at the sky, wondering how far this conversation is going to go before he’s satisfied with the answer): Well, it would make quite a mess if they left the dead people lying around, no one would know who was who…the stones tell who the people are that are buried there, so people can visit them later, know when they died, stuff like that.

4yo (again, in total shock): WHY would anyone want to VISIT a DEAD person?!?

Me (desperately trying to finish the conversation at this point, instead of falling into the huge hole I seemed to be digging): Well, sometimes people like to bring flowers to put on the graves…makes them feel better.

4yo: Oh, ok.

Conversation over…yes!

Fast forward 7 years when my youngest (then around the same age) and I are in the car on our way to hockey practice and we pass by a graveyard:

Other 4yo: Mom, what’s that?

Me (laughing, remembering the conversation I had 7 years ago): That’s a graveyard.

Other 4yo: What’s a graveyard?

Me: It’s where they bury dead people.

Other 4yo: THEY BURY DEAD PEOPLE?!?

And so it went, almost the exact conversation I had with his brother, 7 years before, one I never would have even thought to have. Always so enlightening to see a child’s take on things that we, as adults, never give a second thought.

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Stay in the Photo!

I’ve often joked with my mom friends about how few photos we were in with our kids… our standing joke was that if anything happened to us (the moms), the kids would never remember we even existed! A tad morbid, perhaps (we really were only joking about the “something happening to us” bit), but true nonetheless… I was always the one taking the photos, making sure there were photos to document the events, vacations, and fun times we had together as a family… and there are lots!DSC_0089

Fast forward a few years and articles start popping up about moms being in the photos… or rather, not being in the photos… for a variety of reasons. My husband and I started laughing about how true it is… his grandmother used to actually cut her face out of all photos of her! For me, my lack of appearance in the photos was because I was usually the photographer, but many moms (as the one in this fabulous article by Allison Tate…) avoid the camera because they don’t want proof of how they looked on this or that particular day. Whatever your reason, it’s really important more moms make a point to stay in the photo! Your kids will want to have photo memories of the things you did together, either for their own enjoyment, or to be able to one day show their kids. And what about the memories you made when your kids were too young to remember doing anything… that’s an even better reason to make sure you’re in there! Our kids don’t care how tired we looked, how much over or under weight we are/were at any given time… to them, you’re their wonderful mother and that’s why you should stay in the photo! Let’s face it, moms are very often the reason families do anything fun or memorable – we deserve to be in those memories!

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Our Dragon Adventure

In our house, everyday life of excitement and craziness seems to be constant, but I think last week takes the cake…our 10yo daughter and 8yo son (Langley and Macguire) pitched to the dragons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den!

The show had held open auditions in Halifax, back in February and we encouraged Langley to sign up and pitch a great idea she had come up with just a month before (Sticky).  She agreed, as long as Macguire (her “wing man”) went too.  They did an excellent job with their pitch and were very excited to be able to say they had done it.  After a big treat, many hugs and high-fives, on we went with life in our busy household and out of our minds it went.photo (2)

So…we’re on our way back from a little March break skiing trip and had pulled into a gas station for a bathroom break, having had just crossed the border. We were checking our messages and were at various stages of getting out of the car (picture the clown car at the circus where they just seem to keep on coming and coming…), when Tim (hubby) called me over, holding out his phone.  It was open to an email from a producer of Dragons’ Den, saying he wanted to get in touch with the creator of “Sticky”… I nearly chocked!

When we turned to tell the kids about the email, I thought they might pass out!  They were going to Toronto to pitch to the dragons! We had to pick a pitch date as soon as possible and after many “woots” and hollars from the older two (not to mention a few “are you kidding me?!?” moments), Langley and Macguire decided they wanted to do it (we told them no pressure, the decision was theirs) and picked April 3rd for the BIG day! Given that it was the end of March at this point, we had 2 weeks to get them ready…oh my!

After the initial shock wore off, I wrote their pitch, we were assigned producer and we started practicing.  The first call with our producer, Matt, was a bit “iffy” …the kids hadn’t really given the pitch any thought since the audition and were a bit quiet on the phone, to say the least.  We assured him they’d be more than ready to go for our next call and they didn’t disappoint!  One week later, their pitch was locked down, as were the answers to most of the questions we thought they might be asked in the den.  Matt was super happy with their progress and very excited for them. He gave them some pointers, and told them he’d see them next week and that he hoped the dragons were ready!

Fast forward to pitch day when the morning came very quickly…the alarm went off at 5:30…ugh! We left the hotel at 6:35am to run down the street (had lots of time really, but it was freezing…and I had a dream we were late and were disqualified! L), dragging their pitch stuff and enough food to feed a small city, since they told us to be prepared to wait for us to 10 hours! Good news when we got off the elevator… we were up first (I was relieved, but Langley felt a little faint!)!  The kids helped them set everything up, went through a few practice pitches, had a quick tour of the new set, got “miked-up”, someone breezed by with powder for their little faces, and they were ready.  Then came the anxiety rush…30 seconds before they were to walk on the set, we got “the look” and big, huge crocodile tears fell from Langley’s beautiful eyes!  I think our producer was a little worried, but it’s her way to release everything pent up inside.  She took some deep breaths (as did the woman waiting to lead them up the stairs onto the set) and after a few more tears squeaked out, she was ready to go, as was Macguire, who really couldn’t understand why she was nervous in the first place…J  Matt reminded them to make sure they had fun, they walked up the stairs and away they went!

Of course, I can’t say what happed in the den, but I can say how great they were and oh my goodness, were they great!  I’m always a super proud mom, but I can’t even begin to describe how amazed and proud I was at how composed and mature those two children were (at 10 and 8 years old) during their entire pitch.  The dragons were very sweet to them and the kids sounded like they had known them all for years.  Overall, a very positive experience, one they will be able to tell their children and grandchildren all about!  Now we have to wait patiently until the fall to find out if those producers at CBC are smart enough to pick our kiddos’ pitch to air on the show…we’ll keep you posted! J

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My World (Written by my very talented 13yo daughter!)

My World

In my world there and things that are new.
Fairies and dragons, but normal things too.
Sparkling rivers and sparkling skies,
Soft grass and smooth rocks and annoying flies.

There are singing birds and barking dogs,
Broken branches and fallen logs.

There are also forests, dark and dense,
Full of mystery and suspense.
The trees have lots of leaves and an armour of bark,
Perhaps that’s what makes the forest so dark.

This forest is home to lots of creatures, you see.
All made up by yours truly, me!

Shiny fish, with shining scales,
And yes, there are dragons, but different from tales.
These ones are over twenty feet tall,
And are shining and beautiful, with the scales and all,
But despite the stories, they don’t feel at all.
They can’t feel happiness, anger or pride.
And I’m sure that they’ve tried.
But this is the way I want them to be,
And this is my word, it’s all made by me!

In My World there is lots of fun to be had,
Dragon riding and flying doesn’t sound too bad!

I love my world, and all there is to see,
But the best part of all, is that it belongs to me.

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Coffee with Granny

My grandmother is 84 years old and lives right around the corner.  Several years ago, we decided we’d make a standing coffee date…she was getting older and finding it harder to get out on her own, so by setting a day/time every week, I’d be sure to fit in the time for a visit and she’d get her much-needed time out of the house.  That woman loves to people watch!  When my mom (her daughter) retired last year, she started coming with us and every now and then, one or two of the other sisters (there are 5 in total) will pop in to join us for a cup of java.

Last week, my 15yo had just finished his exams, so I asked him to join us…Granny LOVES men (I wouldn’t quite consider him a man yet, myself, but he’s tall enough and his voice is low enough that she considers him as such, I’m sure!) and I knew she’d be tickled pink to see him.  We walked into Starbucks (our typical gathering spot, since it’s inside a Chapters where there are more people and babies to watch) and Granny’s face lit up when she saw him! After a few minutes of quiet conversation, in walks a man and woman (did I mention she loves men and doesn’t miss checking them out…and yes, she’s almost 85!!) and it wasn’t two seconds before she spied him…”now there’s a handsome piece of meat!” she says to my son and he’s in stitches…I told him he should have been here the day the police officer came in (she loves a “man in a uniform”!)  And so it began…and continued for the next hour, until (as ‘luck’ would have it) a policeman walks in the door.  Granny caught sight of him and leaned in to my 15yo “now, if I was to be arrested, I certainly wouldn’t mind if he was the one doing it!”…again, setting him into a fit of giggles (yes, she had the 15yo BOY giggling like a schoolgirl!).  We had to drag her out of there (almost litertally!), but not before she caught sight of another gentleman, apparently not as gifted in the looks department, since she asked us if we had seen the man with the “face like a foot”!!  I told her if she didn’t quiet down, I was going to toss her over my shoulder and run her to the car!

How lucky am I to have a grandmother with such a young and fun sense of humour?!?  Very blessed, indeed.

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Warning! Overreacting causes brain damage!

So, my husband and I are sitting quietly last night, I’m knitting and he’s reading, when he comes out with this GEM…the number one cause of brain damage…overreacting!  First thing that goes through my head…”Great!  I’m toast!”

As much as I hate to admit it, I am the queen of overreacting.  I don’t mean to be and even really try hard not to be, but it seems I am just destined to overreact…to almost everything.  Kids leave the lights on…I overreact.  Kids leave their clothes all over the bathroom floor…I overreact.  Husband leaves his socks all over the house…I overreact.

Wait a minute!  I seem to see a pattern here!

I tend to overreact when the folks in my house keep doing the things I ask them nicely (the first 4 or 5 times) not to do, over and over again.  Hmph!  If that’s the case, I don’t have to feel quite so guilty for overreacting and can now place the “blame” for my loss of brain function on their shoulders!  Wow…I feel so much better now…so glad I thought that one through!

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5 Ways to Help Your Anxious Child

Anxiety…unfortunately, our house is filled with it!  Out of four kids, we have two with current anxiety issues, one *recovered* anxiety-ist, and one who has (so far) been spared the anxious gene.  There is one word I can use to describe parenting anxious children – exhausting!

When our oldest was 4 years old (and after four easy-going, simple years), for no apparent reason, he began having trouble doing things that had been easy for him in the past (birthday parties, swimming lessons, going to a friend’s house).   The poor guy struggled for about a year before starting school, until it really came to a peak when he flat out refused to go to school.  He actually went so far as to run out the door and up the street, heading for home.  Absolutely no amount of coaxing (and by that I mean both bribing AND/OR threatening!) worked to change his mind. At this point, we realized we weren’t equipped to deal with this on our own, so we sought help at our local children’s hospital mental health department – amazing folks and after a very short time (3 sessions!), our son was off to school, armed with several strategies he could use to help him deal with his anxiety and worries.  Problem solved.

Fast forward 7 years – our oldest daughter (now 11 years old), who is incredibly social and not afraid to talk to anyone(!),  suddenly started to become super-sensitive to physical sensations (heart racing, sudden increase in body temperature, etc) she’s feeling in certain situations.  This heightened sensitivity started to bring on panic attacks out of the blue and as a result, she started balking on activities and events that had always brought her much enjoyment and happiness.  Because of what we went through with our oldest, we felt we were pretty well-skilled regarding how to deal with an anxious child, but also found that the tools and strategies we used for a 4 year old weren’t necessarily transferable to a  pre-teen…so back we go in search of help from the local children’s hospital mental health department!  We’re now participating in a parent/child group session program aimed at helping anxious pre-teens get through their everyday lives just like everyone else.

In our quest to help our kids get through this, there are several key things we’ve learned – here are five of what we consider to be the most important:

1. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help – and by that, I mean outside of all of the “experts” in your extended family and friends (because there will be no shortage of folks you know who want to pass on their “expert” opinion!).  Anxiety issues that are causing your child to want to avoid (key word) situations and/or are starting to interfere with your child’s everyday life can potentially lead to more serious issues as they get older.  There are so many child psychologists who are real experts in the field – find one!  It works!

2. Read as much as you can on the subject – there are so many great books available and it really does help to see things in writing. Our favorite is Keys to Parenting Your Anxious Child, by M.D., Katharine Manassis

3.  Be supportive – recognize any successes your child achieves (no matter how small they might be), help your child by being consistent with your expectations (don’t tell them they have to go to school one day and then tell them it’s okay to stay home the next), and reinforce the tools and strategies they learn along the way.

4. Try to be patient – this may sound easy, but I can honestly say this can be a very difficult point to remember.  Dealing with an anxious child (or children) is very exhausting and can sometimes seem impossible.  It will try your patience and sometimes feel like the frustrations associated with it will never end, but try to remember how very real the fears/feelings are to your child and how difficult it must be for a young person to try and sort through them.  Try counting to ten when you feel like you can’t take anymore!

5. Hang in there…your kids are so worth it!

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7 Rhetorical Questions I Can’t Stop Asking!

I walked into the living room a few days ago and it looked like something exploded! My head (of course!) started to spin since I had already tidied it (at least) several times that very day. I asked, “Why can’t they put something away before they get something else out?!”…my husband answered with, “Too many rhetorical questions!” I realized he’s right…and out popped an idea for a blog post! I made a list and here are 7 of my most common ones:frazzled-lady1

1. Why do they have to leave every light in the house on…

2. Why can’t they wipe the counter when they’re finished…

3. Why don’t they ever flush the toilet?!?…

4. Why don’t they answer the phone when it rings…

5. Why can’t they answer me after the first time I call them…

6. Why do they go through so much toilet paper….and…

7. Why don’t my questions annoy them enough to stop doing this stuff?!?

Of course, the answer to all of these rhetorical questions is simply because they’re kids! And I love them for it…but putting it to paper helps to ease my stress level a teeny bit!

Any particular rhetorical questions you find yourself asking now and then??

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