Thursday, June 21, 2012

Embrace the camera

Click here to learn more about Embrace the camera Thursdays.

Early last week, I got the unfortunate news that one of my cousins's sons died.  23 years old.  Too young.  So sad.

I hadn't seen my cousin since our last family reunion in July 2010, and I had seen her son since the 2006 family reunion, but I knew I wanted to go to the funeral, to pay my respects and show my support. So on Thursday morning we packed up the car and trekked over to the Show-Me state for a few days.

We decided that while we were there we should take advantage of the nice weather and the few days off we took our funeral lemons and made some sight-seeing lemonade.

First up: I took my boys to visit my grandma and grandpa's grave. She's been gone 9 years now, and I still cry every time I visit her grave.

Then: We took the boys to the zoo with my Aunt and my cousin's kids.

St. Louis has a fabulous zoo, and y'all should go because it's free admission!  You just have to pay for parking and any extras you want, like the train.  Speaking of the train...  My boys can't see a train and not want to ride it.  

Then we took the boys up in the Arch.  While we were waiting in line, I took a moment to explain to Thing 1 and Thing 2 that their grandpa was one of the electricians that helped build the arch, and that their uncle worked on it's construction too.  They weren't that interested.  But they'll think it's cooler when they are older, I'm sure.

It was all smiles until the tram actually started moving up.  Then there were a lot of seriously concerned faces.  (Oh, and Thing 2 refused to look out of the windows at the top.  Or let anyone pick him up.  Or walk.  That was fun.)  (P.S. As soon as we got back to the bottom, he wanted to go right back up. ?!?!?!)

Then we ventured down to the riverbank and dipped our toes in the mighty Mississippi.  A first for all of us, even me, and I lived in St. Louis for a few years when I was a kid.

Finally, a trip to St. Louis wouldn't be complete without taking in an afternoon Cardinal's game.

Thanks to for the amazing $7 tickets!  I about died when the box office said all they had left were $50 tickets.  Uh, no way!!  Not with two 5 year olds that may or may not sit through a whole game!

On stubhub I was able to buy 4 tickets plus tax and fees for $38!  And they stand by the authenticity of their tickets.   I will be using them again.  (No, stubhub did not pay me to say that.  But they should! ;)

This was the view from our seats!  Gorgeous, right?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spank you very much

A facebook friend recently posted this:

Let me begin by saying: I got my butt smacked and survived.

Heck, I have a very sarcastic mouth, so I got much more than my butt smacked!  And I still survived.  And I still love my parents.

But I choose not to use corporal punishment with my children.  And here is why:

#1 I don't want my children seeing violence as a solution.

When Thing 1 and 2 get upset and hit one another, one of my first responses is "DO NOT HIT YOUR BROTHER!"  And we make the boys come together and talk through their issues.  We discuss that if someone is doing something to bother you, you should 1. ask them to stop,  2. tell them you need some space,  3. walk away from them if they won't walk away from you,  4. get a grown up.  In that order.

Does it work all of the time?  No.  But it does work most of the time.

But what about me?  I (along with Superman) am their #1 role model.  What do they learn if I get ticked at something they do and instead of talking it out with them, I reach over and smack their hand or whack their butt.  What have I taught them?

My lips are saying "do not hit people when they do something you don't like" but my actions are saying "it's okay to hit people when they do something you don't like."

Is it hard not to spank?  YES!!  Good god!  Lord knows I have a temper (thanks dad!) and when I get mad at them for being little butts, you'd better believe I want to haul off and smack those rear ends!  In fact, a time or two, I have been so upset and frustrated and mad that I have.

But I know in my heart that that reaction isn't right for me.  It is allowing my anger to control my actions, rather than controlling my anger and dealing rationally with the situation.

#2 I don't think it works.

My parents were spankers.  Spankers, slappers, whippers...nothing abusive, but lets just say my butt was no stranger to the hand or another available object (yes, there was a wire hanger incident).  And I even got backhanded across the face a few times for sarcastic comments. (P.S. Moms and Dads, if you yourself are sarcastic, there is a more than good chance that your kids will learn to be sarcastic too.  Heads up!)

But let me tell you this.  Spanking hurts...for a few minutes.  (My parents never really hit me hard enough to cause major bruising or long lasting pain.)  Then it's over.  You go in your room, cry for a few minutes, then pick up a book.  You give your parents the silent treatment for a few hours, but big deal.  Back to life as normal.

But you know what was torture?  Being grounded.  Or being grounded from the tv.  Or the worst of the worst: Having my phone privileges taken away.  Ah man!  I can remember it now, getting a phone call from one of my best friends and hearing my dad say "No, Amber can't come to the phone right now. She is grounded from the phone." Torture!

So when Thing 1 purposefully hit Thing 2 the other day with his new tee-ball bat because "he wasn't moving out of my way and I didn't like that", we didn't spank him.  We took away his bat, put him in time out for 5 minutes while we tended to Thing 2.  Then we told Thing 2 to tell Thing 1 how being hit with the bat made him feel.  And then we told Thing 1 "no baseball for 3 days."  Good grief, the crying that ensued.  You'd have thought I beat the kid with the baseball bat myself.  And over the next 3 days, almost every time he asked to go play ball or went to pick up a bat, ball, or glove, it was evident that this long term punishment effected him much greater than had I done what I really wanted to do (which was spank his little butt!!).


Look, I'm not saying my way is right and the other way is wrong.  Two of my closest friends are some of the best moms I know, and they both spank their kids with no regrets. I would never say about them "oh, they just don't know how to control their anger" or "they just take the easy way out and spank their kid" or "they are teaching their kids to be violent."  We have had discussions about spanking and they have their justifications for doing it, and I have voiced my justifications for why we don't (or try not to ;).  But in the end, we all have to make the decisions that feel right for us and our families.

I would just encourage parents to think thoughtfully about why you choose the discipline measures you choose.  Because if you thoughtfully consider which method you most believe in and feel works best for your family, then that is the right decision!

Oh, and P.S. to go back to the original comment...Superman was never spanked a day in his life.  He was a model kid (a parent's dream!) and has turned out to be an ace teacher, a fantastic father, and committed husband.  So, I refute the insinuation that kids who aren't spanked are undisciplined and not respectful. Superman is proof that you can discipline without corporal punishment and still raise a lovely, law-abiding, rule following, respectful, contributing member of society. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I apologize in advance

For nearly five years, whenever anyone has asked how to tell my boys apart, I have given them this cheat:

We typically dress Thing 1 in blue, because his name has 4 letters and blue has 4 letters.
We typically dress Thing 2 in red, because his name has 3 letters and red has 3 letters.

Sometimes we slightly deviated from this (not all boys' clothes come in a choice or red or blue), like Thing 1 would wear green.  Thing 2 would wear orange...  But for the most part, we tried to stick to this color coding when we knew we were going to be around people who couldn't tell them apart (my parents, my friends, etc).

But as of May 29th (Superman's first day of summer break), the days of Thing 1 and Thing 2 dressing in coordinating outfits is over.

He is the one who "dresses" them in the morning, and he has begun letting them pick out their own clothes.  Which means Thing 1 typically comes out in a pair of athletic shorts and some kind of sports tee or jersey, a ball cap, and tennis shoes with no socks.  And Thing 2 usually comes out in some really bright shorts with some kind of train, animal, or music shirt, and his crocs.

But WARNING: Don't try to memorize that!  Because that is not a consistent as my red and blue.

Yep, it's just time for all y'all to finally learn how to tell them apart on your own.  They have different personalities, different interests, they talk differently...just put in a little effort when you are around them, and I'm sure you'll be able to tell them apart in no time, and wonder why you ever depended on the color coded clothing crutch.
P.S. They actually dressed themselves in this pic...sometimes it just works out that way. :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

I should clarify

Regarding my last blog:  Do Unto Others

I should clarify, because I don't think this was made clear the way I wrote it (based on some feedback)...

I was not upset DURING my pregnancy/post-pregnancy.  Honestly, I'm very independent, so I really just assumed we'd be doing everything ourselves without help.  It was only after my pregnancy/had the boys and that I noticed all of these request for other people that I started to think Why do I need to make a casserole for someone just because they had a one made casseroles for us, and we still managed to eat.  And then before I knew it, it seemed like everyone I knew was getting meal trains for everything.  THAT is when I started feeling jealous and wondering why it seemed like everyone in the world got them but me.

And with the baby showers, again, I just assumed we'd be getting the things our kids needed, so I didn't care at the time that I wasn't thrown a shower.  (And for the record, I did have a registry online and I had lots of friends and family send us gifts either from the registry or hand me downs of things they had on the registry, I just didn't get the joyous party with cake part).  It wasn't until long after, seeing most everyone else not only getting one shower, but showers with every baby.  When I would go to showers, I just get jealous that I never had that special experience.

(Oh, and I maintain not liking showers for subsequent babies, except of course in cases like a big gap between children, or oops pregnancies after you thought you were done and had gotten rid of your baby stuff.  But just because I don't like them doesn't mean I judge you if you've had one.  And, p.s. I always give my friends presents for the subsequent babies too...I just don't like the idea of showering them with all new expensive equipment and stuff just because they want a different color, etc. It just seems like wasteful and unnecessary to me.  But that is obviously just my opinion.  And opinions are like assholes. )

The only thing I wished differently DURING the actual process was that more people would come visit...but that was just because I was crazy lonely.  Like almost literally going crazy from laying in the bed all day.  Superman even wrote a blog post (that he wisely did not show me until much later) that he was becoming concerned for my mental health.  The RATIONAL part of me understood why my friends and family who lived hundreds miles away didn't come visit but instead supported me through countless phone calls, emails, cards, care packages, sending flowers, etc...  But it was that other side.  The poor-me, selfish, ungrateful side that wanted them there in the flesh, regardless of the cost or inconvenience.  I can sit here and rationally understand why they didn't...but that doesn't mean I wanted it any less.  Or that I love them any less because they didn't.

I guess the point of my blog is that we all have demons.  Just a few of mine are these terrible thoughts I have (I have used this blog to openly discuss others in the past also)...but it's what we DO with them.  Instead of letting those evil thoughts take hold and not doing anything for others because I'm jealous those things weren't done for me...I still GLADLY make the casseroles or attend the baby showers, etc.  I don't do it out of obligation or because I feel like I owe it to anyone for any reason, I do it because I genuinely want to help and support them, and I know that anyone in their same situation would appreciate it.

So, in closing:  I love my friends.  They are wonderful and were wonderfully supportive of me the best way they could be at the time (especially the ones who were themselves pregnant at the time).  But it doesn't mean I don't have the occasional pity party that I had had all of the things that I now see other women having.  I'm only human.

But the main take away I was trying to leave was this: Don't be a jerk.  Just because something wasn't done for you, don't begrudge other people for it.  Don't NOT do something for someone just because no one did it for you.  Make sure to do it because you know its the right thing to do, and you know it would make them happy, as you know it would have made you.

Don't get mad at people for having what you didn't have.  Especially if you call them a friend.  You should just be happy for them that they have (at least one thing) easier than you did!! :)

Do unto others

Sometimes I astound myself with my selfish and ungrateful thoughts.

Whenever I get an email asking for volunteers to help someone in a time of need, my first thought is “I should help.”  Then my second thought is usually: “Actually why should I?  No one helped me when I was in the similar situation.”  Then my next thought is “You are a terrible person! You should do onto others as you would have liked others to do onto you.

It like when I was on bedrest… I was on bedrest for 4 months.  That is 16 weeks.  115 days to be precise.  I couldn’t get up to make myself a sandwich.  Heck I was barely allowed to use the bathroom.  Yet do you know how many visitors I got?  8.  (Well, 14 if you count spouses and children.)

  1. Superman of course was there for the 4 weeks I was at home, and came to the hospital every day.  (Although he never once stayed the night with me…not even on the weekends) 
  2. My aunt and uncle came to stay with me for a weekend when I was still at home while Superman had to go out of town. 
  3. My friend from college came to visit me at home when she was in town for business. 
  4. My MIL and FIL visited once at home and three times when I was in the hospital.
  5.  A friend from grad school/colleague came to the hospital twice, each time she brought one of the following women with her: 
  6. A friend/colleague 
  7. A friend/colleague
  8.  My cousin and his wife and their three kids (including their set of twin boys) showed up as a surprise on Easter day, because they were in town visiting her family.

I get that people are busy and that travel is expensive and time consuming, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was really disappointed that over a course of 16 weeks laid up in bed, not being able to go anywhere or do anything, that I only had 8 visitors.

So now whenever I hear of someone going on bedrest for a pregnancy, even if I don’t know them.  I try to help some way.  If they live far away, I send them a message of support (with ideas of things I did to help pass the time and keep from going crazy).  But if they live nearby, I offer to come visit them.  In fact, last year someone I knew on facebook set up a meal delivery calendar for her friend, and I signed up to bring them a meal.  I signed up to bring a perfect stranger a meal, and I ended up sitting and talking with her for about an hour.  Because rather than give into my selfish feelings of “no one made any meals for us when I was on bedrest” I decided to do unto others as I would have liked them to do unto me.

Once I had my babies, it didn’t get any better.  I had even less visitors!  Visitors I had when/after the baby was born:
  1.  My parents and brother came for the birth
  2.  MIL and FIL came for the birth and about came about once a month for the next 6 months or so
  3. My aunt came for the birth
  4.  My sister came for a week when they were 6 weeks old

That’s it.  Forget people dropping by with casseroles or presents.  That was it.
So again, when I hear of someone organizing a meal train for a friend or acquaintance that just had a baby, I think: “Are you kidding me?!?! I had TWINS and no one ever brought us dinner over.” But then I have to silence that little selfish voice and remember that I have to do onto others as I would have liked others to do unto me.

And I have to remind myself to quit being ungrateful, and instead of focusing on who didn’t come…focus instead on who did!  Really appreciate them and let them know I appreciated them.

Oh, and don’t get me started on baby showers.  Never had one.  No one even offered.  Now, most of the time, this doesn't bother me, because honestly I was extremely blessed with hand-me downs (special thanks to my cousin and his wife who had twins two years before us) and have a shop-aholic and yard sale crazy MIL who was more than happy to buy every matching outfits she came across. And really, I preferred receiving hand me downs on baby items that you only use for a few weeks/months over anyone (even if it isn’t me) spending $100s of dollars on them new.  But it’s not the thought of the actual presents so much as the fact that NO ONE OFFERED.

A friend of mine from college had a baby a few years after Thing 1 and Thing 2 were born.  Like me, she lived in an area far away from friends and family…so her friends threw her a virtual baby shower online.  It was very unique and definitely incredibly thoughtful.  I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been jealous no one had offered to do something similar for me.

So when I see women being super picky on their baby shower registries.  Must be this brand.  Must be this color. Must be this theme.  Blah blah blah. I’m like “Bitch, just be happy I’m buying you ANYTHING because lord knows you didn’t buy me jack-shit when I had my TWO babies.”  (Sorry, cursing is necessary, because this is what goes through my head.)

And don’t get me started on second baby showers.  The whole point of showers is to shower new parents with things to get them ready for a baby…you’ve never had a baby before so you don’t have a crib, or a high chair, or diapers, etc.  But once you’ve had one baby…you don’t need another shower.  You got your shower.  You had people buy you hundreds of dollars’ worth of new (because you are too good for used) baby shit.  USE THAT!  Yes, you can use that same crib.  Yes, you can put your baby girl into a blue car seat/highchair/stroller…if you are worried about people “not being able to tell it’s a girl” how about #1 covering her head to toe with pink or #2 not giving a fuck (do you think little Susie will be scarred for life if people mistakenly say “he is such a pretty baby” when she is less than 1 years old and can’t even talk yet?  Hint: she won’t be, because she #1 Doesn't understand English and #2 WON’T REMEMBER IT!

So obviously I still have these feelings of selfishness, ungratefulness, and being judgmental.  I’m dealing with them.  And I’m also dealing with the question of “Am I just a sucky friend/person that my friends and family don’t care enough to offer to do things for me the way that other people do for their friends and family?”  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe the problem is me...

Meanwhile, I keep trying to suppress these unhealthy feelings and focus on not doing to others as was done to me, but instead doing unto others as I would have liked have been done for me.  Maybe in the end it will make me a better person and friend.  Maybe it will encourage others to pass on kindness shown to them.  Or maybe it won’t do anything, except make me feel better helping someone else out during their time of need.  I'd be okay with that.