Friday, February 27, 2015

The Benefits of Screen Time

Screen time has gotten seriously out of hand in this house. It seem like all the kids ever do. Until three years ago all we had was an original Playstaion, a Nintendo 64 and satellite TV. The kids got bored of those quite quickly and found other things to do with their time.

Christmas 2011 we got a Nintendo Wii. Since it was shared they still did not overdo screen time.

Christmas 2012 we got a computer and internet for the first. Even though it was new and exciting 7 of us were sharing one device so screen time remained manageable.

Christmas 2013 we got a 3DS, a Kindle Fire and a Samsung kids tablet. This is when things started to get out of hand because most of the kids could be on a device at any given time.

In October 2014 my son got an ipod Touch and it is all he does every day since. He recently bought a Kindle Fire of his own and it got even worse even though I didn't see this as even possible. The other kids have followed his lead and spend most of their time on screens. It doesn't help that a few days ago I downloaded the new You Tube Kids app. It is amazing and the little girls think so too.

I am about to do something rash and start implementing a weekly screen time allowance. It is one hour per year of age for the week. Sunday is a screen free day. I even made a handy dandy chart to monitor and record screen time for each child. I am starting this on Monday. They will do the tracking and use their time any way they please, weather that means spreading it out throughout the week, or using it all up in a day o two, that will be their issue to figure out. I figure it will teach them self control and time management.

I know this will be hard, mostly on me, but it is something that needs doing. It is very hard for me to take this step because growing up there were no limits, but I remember choosing other activities most of the time. I never overdid screen time.

This weekend is a screen time indulgence, feast before the famine if you will, so for the time being I am going to enjoy the many benefits of screen time.

-No fighting. Everyone is so immersed in their content, they are oblivious to what is going on around them. They are in their own little world.

-Teamwork. The boys play Minecraft on multiplayer. They get along swimmingly. This is the only thing they do together without fighting.

-No one asks for food. If I didn't call them to eat I don't think they would eat all day.

-No messes. The house is as clean at bedtime as it was when they woke up. No random messes for me to find.

-They stay out of trouble. They don't find naughty things to do when they are occupied by a screen.

-Blissful silence. If they use headphones it is as quiet around here as if no one else was home.

              See! Who says screen time doesn't have benefits? 
                              It does! At least for the parents!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Take Me To Church

On Ash Wednesday I took my three older kids to church alone. I left the twins home with their dad since one of them was sick.

Our family hasn't been to church since Christmas. We used to go every week for ten years. Then little by little for the next two years my husband was going with us less and less until he was going not at all unless it was a holiday. I got very sick of taking them alone so this past summer when school let out I gave up and all of us quit going. It was just too hard for me to deal with all the kids alone in church while my husband spent his Sundays at home sleeping. It was causing me a lot of resentment towards him.

On Ash Wednesday the service was at 730. All the kids were tired and didn't want to go but I made them anyway. When we got there I seated my twelve and ten year olds on one side of me and my eight year old on the other side of me closest to the aisle so he wouldn't be sliding back and forth to the end of the pew and back. Most kids these ages can handle sitting in church, especially if they had been going since birth as my kids had up until recently.

My eight year old was never the best at sitting through church, but when his dad was with me he acted much better, wasn't disruptive and just fidgeted. When it is just me he is absolutely awful!

This particular day he was more horrible than I have ever seen him. He kicked the kneeler. He slammed the kneeler up and down. He stood on his knees in the pew so no one behind us could see. He laid under the pew. He laid across the pew. He sat in the aisle. He stood when we were supposed to kneel and sat when we were supposed to stand. Every time I whispered stop he said "NO hahaha" loudly. When I said shhhhh it was louder than whatever he was doing. I could feel myself getting redder with embarrassment. I covered his mouth and he was obvious about pulling away from me. I tried to pull him up to stand and he went limp. I tried to push on his shoulders to get him to kneel and he locked his knees. I couldn't win. By now I was so hot I thought I would pass out.

I felt very self conscious and worried what everyone thought. I just knew people were looking at us wondering what kind of mother I am that I can't control such an old child. He clearly appeared to be a very misbehaved child and I appeared to be a mother who has no idea what I'm doing. I wonder though, did they see how well behaved the other two kids were. I hope so, because they all have the same parenting so it is undeniably just the one child that can not sit through church. I tried to remind myself that they don't know my child, me or our struggles. It really didn't help but I tried to keep my composure.

By the time I left the church I was sweating profusely as if I had run a few miles, I felt as if I would cry, and I remembered just why I do not take these kids to church by myself any longer! I think that hour was just about enough church for us until Good Friday!

                             Do your kids behave in church? 
                       Do you have a bad experience to share?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Barbies, Band-Aids, Chapstick and Cheerios

Did you ever notice how many things are called by their brand name instead of what they really are. There are so many. I was thinking about it, and thought of a whole bunch!

Tissues are Kleenex
Petroleum Jelly is Vaseline
Lip Balm is ChapStick
Disinfectant Spray is Lysol
Cotton Swabs are Q-Tips
Plastic Containers are Tupperware
Storage Bags are Ziplocs
Fashion Dolls are Barbies
Building Blocks that snap together are Legos
Infant bodysuits are Onesies
Invisible Tape is Scotch Tape
Permanent markers are Sharpies
Bandages are Band-Aids
Window Cleaner is Windex

There are quite a few foods that we also call by brand names.

Drink Mix is Kool-Aid
Toaster Pastries are Pop-Tarts
Ice Pops are Popsicles
Sandwich Cookies are Oreos
Whipped Topping is Cool Whip
Carbonated Beverages are Coke (in some states)
Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips are Doritos
Cheese Curls are Cheetos
Crispy Rice is Rice Crispies
Toasted Oat O shaped cereal is Cheerios
Corn Flakes with sugar coating is Frosted Flakes

Cereal seemed to have the most examples I thought of suck as Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, Chex,  Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles. There are a lot more.

Did I miss any that you commonly use?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sister Love

I grew up in a house with five sisters  and no brothers. My poor dad was surrounded by estrogen. My relationship is very different with each of them. When my parents got married they each had children from previous marriages. My dad had a 7 year old and my mom had a 7 year old and an 11 year old. When my mom had my twin sister and I a year later we had three little girls doting on us always. We never lacked attention.

When we my twin and I were 6 my mom had my baby sister and she had four sisters to devote attention to her. My oldest sister had moved away a year previously. Sadly, my little sister never met her as we lost her at age 21.

I don't remember my oldest sister much, but I know she loved us and I like to imagine her watching over us from heaven.

My other older sister that has the same mom as I do was the sister that liked to pick on and tease us little kids incessantly. She also took us on a lot of not so age appropriate adventures with her friends and boyfriends  that I am not too sure my mother would approve of. Today I don't see her much as she lives far away. She does, however, make a point of letting us know when she will be around so the cousins can play. Three of mine and hers are very close in age and are very good friends. She places a lot of importance on cousin relationships because her very best friend growing up was her cousin. At one time she and I were pregnant at the same time which brought us closer. She is the more crazy, spontaneous, fun, laid back, go with the flow sister.

My older sister the has the same dad as me was always the little mommy type. She liked to take care of us, was always very nice to us, and always included us when her friends were around and they all loved us as much as she did. As an adult I lived with her and her family on two separate occasions when she was trying to help me out. Today we don't see each other much, even though she lives 40 minutes away. However, she is always good to my kids and sees us as much as she can. She is the more reserved, peace keeping, caring, sweet, sensitive sister.

My twin sister and I have always had a love/hate type relationship. We either love or hate each other fiercely. We can switch back and forth between the two every five minutes. It makes my husband crazy. As kids we were very close. We were each others best friend and were always looking out for one another. Today she lives fourteen hours away but comes to visit twice a year for two weeks each time to allow our kids to know their cousins. Read more about our relationship here: Tribute to My Twin. She is the more outspoken, persuasive, thoughtful, generous, fashionable sister.

My baby sister and I have an indescribably different relationship than I have with the others. Growing up I always felt responsible for her care and was very protective of her. I felt I had to rescue her and many times took on the mother role. After I was married I often took her to my house to stay with me and tried to be a trusted friend to her. No matter what she was going through I was there for her. When I moved away, she even came to live with us for a while. Today we don't see each other much, but we support each other in every aspect of life. We are kindred spirits. She is the more creative, talented, ambitious, playful and silly sister.

All of us are seldom together, unless it is for holidays, and then there are thirty other people around so we really don't get any time with just all of the sisters.

In 2004, we planned a sister weekend. I had one child and my older sisters each had two. It was pretty easy to arrange for the dads to have the kids for the weekend. I was gigantically huge with my second child and due any day so we decided to have it at my house.

Find the huge lady and you know which one is me!

 We had a great time. We ate, drank (mine was NA), talked, laughed and made sister scrapbooks. There was a pretty intense fight, after alcohol had loosened some lips which ended with one sister attempting to storm off after she inserted her foot in her mouth. She was trying to escape to the basement, but instead of opening the basement door, she opened the closet door. In order to follow through with her escape, she closed herself in there for who knows how long, too embarrassed to come out. That weekend was quite the experience! 

Fast forward ten years and we finally has another sister weekend in July 2014!

posing in front of the restaurant
Since the last one, my sisters and I collectively had 11 more children! No wonder we couldn't plan another sister weekend for so long!

The weekend started with us dropping 12 littles, ranging in age from 18 months to 12 years, off at my moms to stay overnight. We then went to the hotel. Freedom was ours. We swam, snacked, drank, and did makeovers then we headed out to dinner.

In the shuttle on the way to dinner

At dinner we had a lot of fun sharing wine, appetizers and entrees. After dinner, we decided to stay for drinks on the patio where we got a little silly with more laughing, talking, and drinking.

Posing for pics on the patio!
When we got back to the hotel, we had a bonfire. We drank, laughed and talked some more. When it started to rain we decided to swim.  As my twin and I were walking through the lobby we got in trouble for being to loud! OOPS! After we swam I realized I forgot my shoes at the pool. I went to get them and they were missing. I started panicking and looked in the room. They were nowhere! I went outside to find my sisters and one of them had them on! Nice. I went around looking and got all panicky for nothing. But once they were found, it was funny. We went back to the room and played a lame cheesy made up  Q & A game then all fell asleep. Only one of my sisters got sick from too much alcohol in the night.

The next morning I got sick when I gagged myself brushing my tongue! WARNING: DO NOT brush your tongue the night after drinking! Skip it that day.

After checkout we all went to collect our kids. Everyone was safe and sound. We all said our goodbyes and headed to our respective homes.

 It was a great weekend, and the best part, NO FIGHTING!! YIPPEE!!

Let's hope another ten years doesn't pass before we do another sister weekend! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

OH NO!!! I'm a Hoarder!!

About a month ago I read two blogs about saving bags including I Am a Bag Lady, Are You? by The Shitastrophy. I then realized I also save bags and a lot of other things, making me a hoarder! Yikes. I try to convince myself I'm not, but I think I am. The list of things I save is ridiculously long.

Bags gift bags, plastic shopping bags, brown paper bags, handbags, and overnight bags. I have too many of all of these to even count. Half the space under the sink is taken up by plastic bags.

Paper I save every scrap of paper that has a backside unused. The half sheets I fold in half to use for lists and all the school papers the kids use to draw. I save half used notebooks and take free paper pads every time I see them. I'm sure I have over a thousand sheets and no plans to stop saving it. It will last until my death.

Boxes I save shipping boxes to use for recycling and food when traveling. I also save the boxes clothes come in at Christmas. I have hundreds!

Crayons, markers, and pens I take free pens anytime I see them at businesses and save the crayons from restaurants. I also save all the old markers and crayons the kids bring home at the end of the
school year. I have gallon Ziploc bags full of each.

Restaurant things I keep crackers, napkins, chopsticks, straws, condiments, and take-out containers. The glove box is so full of napkins it is hard to open and our silverware drawer is half chopsticks and that is not an exaggeration.

Hotel toiletries I have two gallon Ziploc bags full!

Magazines I get subscriptions I never read, they just stack up, I also accept every free trial I am offered. I have 3 full shelves of a bookshelf full of unread magazines. Some of them I moved here 13 yrs ago. I did finally throw away all the Babytalk and American Baby magazines when my youngest two kids turned five!

Receipts/Coupons At our grocery store the receipts have coupons on the back that expire every three months so I save them, long after they expire!

Credit Card Statements I have not thrown one away in 13 years, even the ones we no longer have!

Ticket Stubs, Maps etc. I save all ticket stubs and every piece of paper you get such as maps and daily schedules from any tourist location we visit, even local one we attend frequently, like the zoo or science museum! I have issues!

Water Bottles My kids win them at school, we get them free at expos etc. I could throw out the old ones when we get new ones but I keep them all. Why do we need 50 water bottles? Why???

Books I don't know why but I keep buying books I never read. I have hundreds. Again, I have a problem.

Lip Balm I order Melaleuca products every month and every time there is a new flavor or limited edition lip balm I buy it, no matter how many I already have. I currently have 17! How in hell is any one person going to use all that lip balm? It is not as if I will run out one day and all the lip balm on earth will have vanished and be unavailable! It's an addiction I think!

There you have it, 13 things that prove I am a hoarder!

                                 What do you hoard?

Monday, February 9, 2015

I'm Sorry for My Blessings

Last week I was filling out a medical history form to take to an appointment with a doctor I had never seen before. I was quickly filling it out and when I got to this part, I paused for a moment.
                                                          Number of pregnancies__
                                                          Number of live births__
                                                          Number of surgical births__
 I wasn't sure why but it gave me an uneasy feeling. I continued to fill out the form including filling in 4, 5 and 0 in the above spaces. When I was done I went back at stared at this.
                                                          Number of pregnancies 4
                                                          Number of live births 5
                                                          Number of surgical births 0

I suddenly felt very blessed, but instead of feeling happy, I felt guilty and sad. I knew most mothers aren't blessed with these kinds of numbers. I knew most people don't have kids outnumber pregnancies or even an equal number of pregnancies and children. I knew that many mothers have unwanted surgical births. I tried to be happy and feel blessed, but i could not stop obsessing over it. Sadness washed over me, and no matter how hard I tried to put it out of my mind, for days I felt very sad. I decided to look up the statistics.

Many pregnancies end before they even start without the mother ever knowing she is pregnant. The percentage of babies lost to miscarriage or stillborn between 4-40 weeks combined equals 19%. That is nearly 1 in 5. I felt like I was going to be sick with the knowledge that statistically  one of my babies should not have lived. Knowing this made me even more sad, guilty and now more than anything SORRY.

sorry for being able to conceive so easily, when some women can't,
sorry for having easy pregnancies, when some women suffer,
sorry for having zero miscarriages, when some women have many,
sorry for never needing a cesarean section, when some women do,
sorry for having five kids, when some women have none or less than desired,
sorry for having almost ideal birth experiences, when some women don't,
sorry for complaining about my kids,
sorry for taking my kids for granted,

To the mamas who struggle to conceive again, I am sorry.
To those women who want to conceive and remain childless, I am sorry.
To the mams who endure much suffering during pregnancy, I am sorry.
To the mamas who have lost babies, I am sorry.
To the mamas who have had unwanted surgical births, I am sorry.
To the mamas who have scary and complicated births, I am sorry.
To the mamas who long for more children, I am sorry.

I have so many blessing. I know I should be grateful and happy, yet, I am not. I am very sad, sad for those who don't. I don't understand why I was chosen to be so blessed when so many women suffer. I feel very guilty and undeserving that I cry over it. I cry for all the suffering mamas.

                               I am sorry for my blessings.


Friday, February 6, 2015

15 Things I Love

There are a lot of little things in life that I used to take for granted that make my life easier and more enjoyable. I recently started to appreciate them a lot more. It really is the little things that make a big difference. There are way too many to name but here are my top 15:

Lip Balm: I have been carrying around lip balm since I was about 12. It is a habit I picked up from my mom. I have never been without it.

Coffee: Nectar of the gods! I seldom used to drink coffee. A few years back my sister, a coffee drinker, came to visit for an extended period of time. I have drank it ever since!

Microwave: To reheat coffee, my cold plate and of course kids plates! Also leftovers!

Nail File/Clipper: I despise snags so these also go with me everywhere!

Something to Read: Magazines, books and blogs! I need at least one always at the ready.

Extra Pillow: I spent so many years pregnant that I got used to sleeping with a pillow between my knees and I never gave it up.

Comfortable Pants: I used to wear real pants, then yoga pants became acceptable everyday attire. That day my life changed! I currently only wear them or fleece pajama pants!

Melaleuca Tooth Polish: I discovered this little wonder over a decade ago. It literally polishes your teeth. Nothing else comes close. Never again will I use toothpaste!

Frizz Control Hair Serum/Spray/Cream: I'm really not picky which, but I cannot leave the house without it. My hair is thick with a lot of texture so it is very very frizzy especially on hair washing days. I look scary without it.

Chocolate: I prefer dark, but any will do really!

DVR: Oh, my good friend DVR. Without it I wouldn't watch a thing because, you know, kids! Now I don't have to miss the good shows and be stuck with late night TV. I have a date with Days of Our Lives every weeknight because of DVR!

Google: There is a plethora of information just waiting to be found. I do searches sometimes, but usually I am telling my kids to "Ask Google".

E-mail: The easiest way to keep contact with school staff.

Text: I hate the phone so text is a life saver. Just say or ask a quick thing, no talking needed.

Facebook: My one stop shop for all the blogs I read. Oh, and maybe checking on family and friends once in a while. LOL

I could go on forever but these are the ones that are permanent fixtures in my life and make daily life so much more pleasurable and bearable. It really is the simple things that make life grand, right?
What is one of your things?

Monday, February 2, 2015

You Are The Other Mom

I am so forgetful, yesterday I completely spaced on an appointment I had and missed it! I didn't even call to say I wouldn't be there. WOW! What a scatterbrain I am!

I nag my kids and husband so much, they probably think I'm nuts! I sound like a real bitch!

I never follow through with punishments. I'm such a pushover!

I'm so lazy I procrastinate doing chores, then when I do decide to do them, I turn into a total headcase about it because I need everything immaculate!

When I ask for help, I feel like such a nuisance, no matter who I'm asking.

I am such a total mess!

I can't even help my kids with homework, I'm just a dumbass.

I am so pathetic!

I don't work, I'm just home all day. What a worthless slacker I am!

I am just stupid I guess!

I don't have any friends to spend time with. I am such a loser.

Whenever I speak in public I worry I'm just gonna sound like an idiot.

Sometimes I don't answer the phone when my loved ones call, because I'm just too tired. Then it takes me forever to get back to them. I suck.

When I do get back to people I feel like a total dufus because so much time has passed.

Some days my body won't cooperate so I get nothing accomplished. I'm useless.

I go to bed by 10 pm, that's how lame I am!

I am a piece of garbage, trash.

Other moms are attentive.

Other moms are smart.

Other moms are fun.

Other moms are clever.

Other moms are creative.

Other moms are strong.

Other moms are perseverant.

Other moms are awesome.

Other moms are patient.

Other moms are organized.

Other moms are generous.

Other moms are put together.

Other moms are kind.

Other moms are loving.

All the other moms have really got it together, They are so amazing! Why can't I be like them?

As moms we tell ourselves and others how awful we are and how wonderful other moms are. The truth is, You  ARE the other mom someone is saying positive things about. Is it possible for us as mothers to stop thinking and saying all the self-deprecating things and start to see ourselves the way others do? We are far too hard on ourselves. May we start to focus on our strengths as mothers and not our weaknesses? We all have strengths! Every single one of us! Let us let them shine and forget the negative we see in ourselves. We are all AMAZING MOMS in our own way! We are all in this together, doing the best we can.

Source: All of  the descriptive words in this publication are words I heard from real moms to describe themselves and others.