family · life

14 years

Wow two days in a row you get two posts from me!

14 years ago today I was in the Florida Mall. How do I know this? 14 years ago today Richard and I got married in the lobby of the hotel in the Florida Mall. We have been through a LOT in our 14, well actually 15 years together. I can not imagine anyone else by my side during the good and bad, the happy and the sad, the calm and the chaos.

Richard and I are only only husband and wife, we are best friends. I love the fact that we balance each other out. We don’t complete each other since we are both complete people, but instead bring out the best in each other. We recognize each other’s strengths and aren’t looking to change each other.

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family · life · through my camera lens

Sprinkler fun

I feel like I often write about things that my kids are getting to do here that they didn’t do in Orlando. Don’t get me wrong, they had a great childhood there but this is a different childhood. We have created a less structured childhood here. The boys have more freedom and more opportunities to just be outside doing kid things. There are times I think they miss the structure and activities they were engaged in when they were in Orlando, but most of the time they love the quiet, free, open time they have here.

When they were younger they played sports all school year as well as were involved in a variety of other out of school activities. When we moved here we stopped that. The main reason is the fact that they were not passionate about any of the sports they were playing. Neither wanted to do anything to improve beyond the practices and games. I’m not saying they needed to ask for private lessons, but they didn’t want to go kick the soccer ball, toss the football, or shoot baskets when they didn’t have to. So, why pay for something they aren’t passionate about. When you get to their age the teams get more competitive and there is more involved, multiple practices and traveling.

They have both asked to continue acting, and they have another week of theater camp coming up soon. We will see where this goes.

But, this weekend they had another free child first. Playing in the sprinklers. In Orlando we had a sprinkler system installed in our yard. The water that was feed to this was reclaimed water, so the boys were not encourged to play in it. We actually usually ran it at about 5am so they weren’t even awake when it was running.

Here we do not have a sprinkler system, so the sprinklers run on hose water. On Saturday we were watering the front lawn since it had been a while since there was rain. Both the boys just began running in and out of the sprinkler in their clothes. At first they hesitated and were just going up and drinking the water or helping to move the sprinkler. When they realized they were not getting in trouble they went for it.

Sunday and Monday they went out and put the sprinkler in the backyard. These times they actually wore bathing suits. They brought out their water squirters and a bucket. They had a blast playing in the water.

They were just running around and laughing. They had fun… being kids!

food · life · through my camera lens

Happy Birthday Colby!

Today Colby turns 10 years old. He was the person who completed our family. So many people over the years have asked if Blake and Colby are twins or they try to tell us that the boys are alike, this could not be further from the truth. Colby is nothing like Blake. Colby is nothing like anyone else I know.

10 things you may or may not know about Colby!

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1: Colby feels with his whole heart. He loves nature, his friends, his family and so much more. He shows empathy in ways that even some adults wouldn’t understand.

2: Colby works on Colby time. He moves at his own pace in everything he does. While he learned to tell time at a young age this doesn’t matter to him, he will complete things when he wants to finish them.

3: Colby wants to become a scientist when he grows up and has had this goal for years now. For as long as I can remember he has said he is going to find a cure for cancer when he grows up. When Colby sets his mind to doing something he accomplishes it, it maybe on his time table (see #2), but he will do it.

4: Colby loves pasta, peanut butter, bacon, steak and many other things. He enjoys working in the kitchen, as long as he doesn’t have to clean up after himself. He has recently learned to enjoy pizza, french fries and chicken nuggets… it only took him 10 years to like typical kid foods

5: Colby is very creative. He loves to draw, write stories, build with Lego and so much more. He enjoys looking at something that is a known item and making it his own by changing colors, sizes or other variables.

6: Colby loves to do things with his dad. He loves learning to work with tools, help with yard work and just be around Richard.

P10503447: Colby enjoys math. He thinks about math in ways that would seem strange or certainly different to others. He loves to look at the problem and then create a variety of ways to solve it because one way is never enough.

8: Colby loves the ocean. His favorite animal has almost always been a dolphin. When he was younger we traveled to Tampa to see Winter and Hope, there we found a dolphin that they sponsored who’s name is Colby. This dolphin still holds a special place him his heart.

9: Colby doesn’t know there ever was a box. Colby sees the world through his own set of eyes and doesn’t like it when people expect him to see it any other way. He loves to see the world as fluid and ever changing and knows that he will change it as he goes forward in life.

10: Colby is Colby. From his crazy hair to his quirky personality he is his own person. It doesn’t matter if he riding his bike, drawing a picture, working on a science project, or hanging out with his friends he does it in his own way. When you get to know Colby you know he will make you smile just by being near him.

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Happy birthday dude! (I’ve been calling Colby “dude” since he was in first grade. It fits his personality and he will continue to be dude for as long as he tolerates this nickname) I’m proud to be your mom. Your dad and I are proud of everything you have accomplished in life, the person you’ve become and are excited to see the man you will be as you grow up. We love you!

family · life

The child not the path

I find it interesting when I read about parenting and changes in parenting. I’ve always thought of myself as an old school parent. I try very hard not to shelter my boys. We have conversations about topics the bring up. We have talked about everything from sports, politics, education, conservation and so much more. Richard and I believe that we need to provide them the tools for adulthood.

As the boys get older, we are trusting them more and more to do things on their own. We are allowing them to make their own mistakes and not fixing them for them. We guide, we may even direct, but we can’t do for them. Our job as parents is to help them become adults.

No automatic alt text available.I recently read an article talking about the difference between parenting when I was a child, and before that compared to parenting these days. (Sorry I can’t provide a link because I’m not sure where I read the article, it has just been bouncing around in my brain) It asked the question of why did those parents feel comfortable providing the freedom that many parents today do not. The freedom to go as well as the freedom to fail. The articles answer struck me… it is not the faith or trust in the children that has changed as much as the parents feelings about parenting. Too often today parents blame themselves for the shortcoming and failures of the child. This probably contributes to the fact that many parents do not want to see fault in their child, because then they are in essence admitting failure in themselves.

In many ways this hit me and hit me hard. I often blame myself for the shortcoming of my sons. Just the other day we were yet again supervising cleaning of the basement. Richard was getting frustrated because he felt the boys needed to show more respect for the items they have, which I totally understand. But, my gut reaction was that I didn’t doImage may contain: text my job as a stay-at-home mom when they were younger. I didn’t instill this respect for property, I didn’t foster the desire for a clean living space, I wasn’t able to provide them with the routine of cleaning up that stuck through this phase of life. It is easy to slip into this I failed mode. I was the one who was home with them. If I only did x, y, z better then, my kids would do what they were supposed to do. But, wait they are. Kids are perfect. They will makes mistakes. Tweens and teens are notorious for being messy and not taking care of their space. Is it that I didn’t do my job as a parent, or it is that my kids are… kids?

My sons are good kids, far from perfect, but good kids. Do I think Richard and I are bad parents… HELL NO! Do I think we are/were perfect parents… NOPE! But, do the shortcoming of our sons need to reflect on us as humans, never mind as parents? No. One can not raise perfect beings… it isn’t possible. We model the behaviors expected. We helped them see the errors of their ways and fix their mistakes. We foster an understanding of differences and an acceptance of others choices and opinions. We can guild our children, we can foster their interests and gently guide. We can show them the safe way to proceed with caution when needed, as well as allowing them to throw caution the wind when life allows. We will be there when they fall, but we can not fix the path for them. I do not know what lies ahead in the road for my sons, I can only hope that we have given them the tools to deal with each choice they make. When they succeed and excel we will be there cheering them on. Just as when the stumble and fall we will be there to help them dust themselves off and try again.

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family · life · through my camera lens

Snow brings out smiles

So as I mentioned on Wednesday, we got a snow storm to start off the season of spring. Yesterday, Richard decided to work from home. After the boys finished their homework, and Richard finished up his last work meeting they all decided to go outside while I was making dinner.

 

It was in the high 30s, but there was little to no wind. This means that the snow is starting to melt. This didn’t stop the boys from going out on their sleds and snow scooters. Richard went out with Dixie and was tossing snowballs with her. It is too funny to watch this as she doesn’t understand why the ball disappears when she catches it.

 

Richard and Colby decided to make a snowman, but it turned into more of a snow mound. I said it looked like a stalagmite instead of a snowman. They got the shovels out and where shoveling all the snow around the back door and using it to make it huge. This mound was almost as tall as Richard.

There were snowballs, laughter and smiles for everyone. It may have been cold and snowy the last few days. Too many of us may have head colds and be blowing our nose more than we’d want. But, the moments when we can do things together. To have fun and smile… that is what makes family moments worth it all.

 

family · life

Blog post based on a blog post

I was just reading the blog post To Pick Me Up, Or Put Me Down on Dolly Mamma. This blog is written by Ester, she has recently become a grandmother and is the mom to 4 grown children. I enjoy reading Ester’s blog knowing that she has traveled the path so many of us are on now, but also reading the adventures she has that I will never have. That’s life

Her post today, discussed how no matter what stage of parenting you are in you are always going back to the same dilemma you had when your child was an infant… do I pick him up and soothe him or put him down (not pick him up) and let him self soothe/ fix it on his own.  She asked what our thoughts are on this subject. I started writing this as a reply and it got long and wordy… so instead my reply is a post.

Please go to Dolly Mamma’s site and read her post. It really is written well and will help you see where my thoughts and reflections are bouncing off from…

There are so many situations in parenting that need to be dealt with as a situation and not necessarily as a pattern. Just because I pick up the baby and soothe him once doesn’t mean I need to do it every time and vice versa. I think you need to assess both the needs of the child at that moment with your own emotional needs and then figure it out. Ok… you have 0.002 seconds to make that determination of what is right and what is wrong… go! That’s what it feels like, but often times that isn’t really what it is. I learned early on that I needed to that whole 2-5 seconds or even minutes to really assess the situation. Am I doing this because I feel it is right for my child or because I feel it is right for me. It’s hard to see your child scream, fall, fail, or figuratively crash and burn, but are we helping them if they NEVER do any of these things?

I also think a lot depends on the child. I have parented my two sons totally differently since they were born. We have the same rules and expectations, but how we deal with them is different…. because they are different. their needs are different. I think this in itself has helped me see so clearly that we can’t judge other parents.We can’t judge others choices. Just looking at them as tiny babies. Blake needed more of the cry it out time. If you coddled him he was calm, but that didn’t help him settle for sleep. Unless you let him fall asleep in your arms he would just cry again. When I started letting him “cry it out” it took almost no time for this process to work. He learned to settle himself and within a few days the time it took decreased quickly. I learned that with him I could go in and just rub his back or talk calmly to him and it was enough, he quieted down. I provided him a sleeping routine early on and he still uses it to this day. Then Colby came along and we tried what worked for Blake and this crashed and burned. It took Colby longer to settle. He needed to physical contact to calm himself. You could hold him and then put him down and he would settle, but you couldn’t just put him down. It took longer for this process to work for him. I can remember many nights laying on the floor next to his crib with just my hand inside trying to ween him off my presence in his room. It worked. To this day Colby struggles to settle down to sleep and needs a bit of extra one-on-one time before bed.

Was I better parent for Blake because he can now just lay down and go to sleep? Or was I a mean parent because I made him cry at night? Was I a better parent for Colby because I didn’t let him cry as much? Or was I a worse parent because he still struggles to fall asleep now? Or were my parenting choices both correct because my sons aren’t the same? Who has the right to judge??

I tell my sons I won’t rescue you… if they forget their lunch, their homework, don’t get onto the team, fail a test…. I won’t rescue you, but I will support you. I will guide you. I will help you. But I won’t make life easy for you… life isn’t easy. it just isn’t. my job isn’t to make sure you are happy. My job is to help you become the best adult version of yourself you can be. My job is to guide you in learning to make choices that are best for not just you, but also those around you, in your life and the world we live in. If children do not learn to deal with failure (of any kind), diversity, conflict, animosity, and so many other factions of life as children when are they going to learn? No one is going to be there for you in a boardroom when someone says they don’t like your presentation. When they question the decisions you made for the product you are working on. No one is going to rescue you when you get pulled over by the police. You won’t get a participation trophy for showing up to work and doing what you are expected to do. You won’t keep your job if you do the bare minimum or if you do you won’t advance.

What are we teaching our children when we blame the school for grades? When we blame other children when I own child is the one who did something stupid? What are we teaching our children when we cover up their choices? When we do their homework? When we hand pick their classes and friends? When we complain because they didn’t make the team or get enough playing time?

Who are we trying to soothe… our child or ourselves? Who are we trying to “make look good”?

We need to look and see is this choice of my child’s worth me stepping in or not? And remember that just because I do this time doesn’t mean I have to every time. Am I setting my child up for success or failure as an adult? Lets look at the big picture. Stop judging each other as parents. Stop making life so competitive that we feel that if we don’t fix these things then our child is behind or not as good as the others. Stop making competition where there doesn’t need to be one.

 

— side note, Richard and I made/make/will continue to make all of our parenting decisions together. I wrote this post from my point of view, but one thing you need to know is he is right there in all the decisions. Richard is now and always will be my sounding board. We work together to help our sons grow into men. I often feel like the parenting choices seem to be one sided, but in this family they are not. Together we made the decisions on how to deal with the boys sleeping habits when they were young. Together we decided when to stop stepping in as much with friendships and school problems. Together we talk to the boys about behavioral issues and overall life changes. While I wrote this post in my voice looking at these choices as how people will judge me, I know that the decisions made were best for our family as a whole at the time because of the conversations had with Richard.

family · life

Some days you just have to slow down

Colby woke up and wasn’t feeling 100%. In getting ready for school he ended up getting sick, this is an automatic ticket to stay home for the day. I sent him back to bed. Colby then slept until about 10:45am. I guess he was tired. He woke up and was hungry. I told him to have something light and he started with dry oat squares. We almost always have dried cereal when we are over coming an upset stomach. He then went on and had a larabar and then a bowl of oatmeal. I think he was tired! He also has been slacking on taking his allergy medicine, this resulted in a stomach full of snot!

I was originally going to a meeting for the boys’ school district dealing with math and computer science curriculum. I wanted to attend this because I feel strongly that math should get just the same attention as reading when thinking about district curriculum. I know for certain that neither of my sons’ teachers use the text book to teach their math curriculum. If they are going to revamp the curriculum and/or consider new text books, they need to take into consideration the needs of the teachers and students. The books need to match the standards set by the state and be worth the money.

Oh well, so instead of going to this meeting I spent the morning cleaning. I swept and steam cleaned the floors, vacuumed the rugs and cleaned the bathrooms. I turned Food Network on and worked around the house. I took this time to get the jobs done that need to get done. I slowed down and am enjoying the day. Colby seems to be feeling well enough to go to Blake’s open house tonight and back to school tomorrow.  He will camp out of the couch for a while and slow down too.

Speaking of Colby, when we were at his open house last night there was a wall with writing from the students. The topic was the person I admire most. I asked Colby who he picked. I was curious. He has a few scientist that he admires such as Einstein and Edison. He has many adults in his life that he looks up to as roll models. But, he did not pick any of these people. Colby chose Blake. I can only hope that Blake appreciates this for what it is, an honor. Colby and Blake love each other. Colby and Blake annoy each other to no end. But in the end, they know they are there for each other. They know that when push comes to shove… they are brothers.

 

Education · family

Trips to school and car ride conversations

Today found me at the boys’ school twice. I headed in this morning to help out at the book fair. They are collecting coins for “All for books”. The school is using this money to donate books Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. I spent a good chunk of time today rolling dimes (each day they are collecting a different type of coin).

My own sons have brought in their own money each day. I asked them Sunday night  if they were going to donate quarters. I expected them to bring in $1 or $2… nope both brought in over $5 in quarters and then more money today. They said it was a good cause and that all kids deserve books. This makes my heart sing. I love that they are willing to donate their own money to children who have less. Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh is the hospital that we had to bring Colby to when he crashed his bike.

Then tonight we headed back to the school for Colby’s open house. This open house different from what we called open house in Florida. When we had open house it was the time for the teacher to talk about how we teach and what the children will learn. This was an opportunity for the children to come show off their classrooms and learning spaces. There was an art show where they displayed a piece of art from each child in the school. The hallways were covered in work from the different classes. In Colby’s math/science room they had all kinds of experiments set up. In his reading/social studies room they had their reading journals and samples of their writing on display. He was so proud to show off his work. We visited his art room, world language room and the media center as well. Tomorrow we head back to the school to go to Blake’s open house.

I love when I get to drive in the car with the boys. It gives us a chance to have some unique conversations. Tonight we started talking about small pox and other diseases that are eradicated or at least slowed down due to vaccines. We talked about the fact that many parents have been choosing to opt out of vaccines and even that there was concern that they vaccines caused autism. We talked about what autism is and the varying levels of autism. Sometimes I never know where a conversation will go and in what direction things will travel. Richard and I believe that honesty is best, within the reason of developmental understanding. We talk to our sons the same way you would talk to an adult, and have since they were young. I truly believe this has helped then in school. They have highly developed vocabularies and can hold a conversation with adults with little issue. I believe that these car ride conversations are part of this development.

I hope you had a great Tuesday and the weather in your area is cooperating. We are watching the weather as rain and possible snow is coming again. Where is the warm weather we had in February??

 

life · through my camera lens

Daily Prompt: Present– Take time to live in the Present

So much of life is spent looking forward or backwards. We look at where we have come and where we are going. We like to remember our kids when they were little and wonder about what the future holds for them.

But, life isn’t lived in the past or the future… it is lived in the present. We need to look at each moment as if it is a gift… a present.

Yesterday we spent the day running errands. We needed to go to Costco while we were there we ordered Colby a new pair of glasses. The pair he had we hard already replaced and it broke again in the same place. We decided that this was an issue of the glasses being too small for his head. My 9 year old needs adult sized glasses (he already has been wearing an adult bike helmet and baseball hats for the last few years). We also went to Famous Footwear to get the boys new sneakers.

When we got home from our chores it has started to snow. Last week we had a few days in the 60s and yesterday it snowed! They had predicted 1-3″ of snow. We decided after dinner since it had already snowed 1.5″ to go out and shovel the driveway. At least the driveway didn’t have as much snow since it wasn’t accumulating there as long.

While we were out shoveling the boys were riding their snow scooters, making snowmen and having fun. I decided to throw a snowball at both the boys and that was how it all started. The four of us had a snowball fight. We all made snowmen. Richard was making them on the tonneau cover of his truck. We tossed snowballs to Dixie. We didn’t think… we just lived.

We all laughed. We had a few tears. We lived. We were present in the present. There was no planning. There was no thinking about what was or what could be, there was just who am I going to throw this snowball at? Who can make a snowman that looks like a snowman? Who can make the most? Who can make the tallest?

We ended up having to run the shovels over the driveway one more time more to get rid of all the snow we threw at each other, but we didn’t care.

We had fun as a family. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t expected. It just happened. And that is living in the present.

via Daily Prompt: Present

family · life

Who I am as a mom

There have been so many things going through my mind the last few days. Mostly mom things. I try to post about the positive things with my sons since this is such a public viewing of our lives. I know that this blog only gives people a quick snap shot of our lives. I realize that that it may seem like I try to sugar coat how things are going in our lives, but that is not my intention.

My sons are 9 and 11 years old. They are far from perfect. They are tweens and being tweens means there is a lot of drama in their lives. I don’t post about the drama because I don’t think it is my drama to share. I love to share quirky stories and funny moments in our lives.

As a mom, you want the best for your kids, but I also know it is not my job to make their lives perfect. When things go wrong we talk. We want the boys to feel comfortable to come to us with the good, the bad and the ugly. We want them to talk to us about what they are thinking.

Over the years we have dealt with many different issues with the boys dealing with everything from grades, to peer issues, to stress and anxiety. I don’t share these here. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect the way I blog. It just means I won’t blog about it for the protection of my boys.

But, what I will tell you is that having an open and honest relationship with your family is so important. My sons see that Richard and I talk through our problems. We don’t always agree, but we discuss instead of argue. We listen instead of yell. We stop and remember that we aren’t perfect and that we can’t expect the others in our house to be perfect either.

We choose to parent our sons in a way that allows each of them to have a voice. They know that they can voice their opinions, but we do not have a democratic house. We are the parents and have the final say, but they have a voice. We will not rescue the boys, but will help when they need it. We will guide them, we will listen to their concerns, we will give suggestions, but they need to make the final decision on how they choose to deal with the situations at hand. They deal with the choices and consequences of these choices.

I love my family. I love the relationships I have with each of the guys in my life. I interact with each one different. They know that I love them each for who they are and only wish for them to become the best version of himself. I can’t wait to continue on this journey and hope that the direction we are traveling is the best path for our whole family.