Asking for what you want

Last week Kiki attended a make-up class for ballet. Halfway through the class the teacher announced that the students would now take turns doing high kicks across the room. My inspiringly confident 4 year-old daughter raised her hand and said, “can I go first?” To which the teacher replied, “my rule is ‘if you ask to go first, you don’t get to go first.’ Lucas would you like to go first?”

If you ask to go first, you don’t get to go first? What the hell kind of rule is that?!

Sweetheart, always ask for what you want. Ask politely, but always ask. Be reasonable with your requests, but always ask. And even if you are polite and reasonable, be ready to humbly accept that you might not get what you want, but always ask.

Ask me to play with you if that’s what you want. I’ll probably say no a few times because I’m doing the dishes or folding the laundry and I don’t really want to make your princesses talk.  But if you keep asking, I’ll eventually feel bad for putting you off. So I’ll say yes. Persistence pays off.

Ask for that extra cookie. I’m not just going to offer up an extra one on my own. But make me face those beautiful brown eyes of yours and tell you no. Sometimes I just can’t do it. And if you’re asking Grandpa, he’ll always say yes to those eyes.

Ask your teacher for extra credit in school. If you’re just shy of the grade you want, ask your teacher if there’s something you can do to earn a few more points. There often is, if you just ask.

Ask for more money when you are negotiating your salary in a job interview. Just like me with the extra cookie, they’re not just going to offer more money without you asking. So ask for more money and they might reward your initiative.

Ask your friends to help you move when you’re all just out of college. You can usually find at least a few folks that don’t mind trading manual labor for pizza and beer. Just know that the same does not apply once you’re out of your twenties. At that point just go ahead and hire professional movers.

Ask for help when you’re going through a tough time. Whether you’ve just had a baby or you’re recovering from surgery or you’ve lost your job. Your friends and family want to help you. Just tell them how.

Ask your boyfriend/husband to do the dishes, call you sometimes to just to say “hi”, get you flowers for Valentine’s Day, or whatever it is you want. I know, it’s not romantic when you have to ask him. But face it, he can’t read your mind. And I know, you want him to want to do those things. But face it, he doesn’t want to.

These were the thoughts that were running through my head as I was seething at the fact that this teacher’s “rule” was reprimanding 4 year-olds for showing initiative. But before I could worry too much about my daughter’s confidence being squelched, I heard her quiet response to the teacher’s rule.

My inspiringly confident (and hilariously sassy) 4 year-old cocked her head to the side and said, “that’s fine. I didn’t really want to go first anyways.” And when it was finally her turn to go, she kicked the hell out of her high kicks.

That’s my girl.

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Odds and Ends

Want a re-cap of my life as of late?  If so, read on…If not, don’t 🙂

We live in the Pacific Northwest (and have previously lived in Seattle) and the SEAHAWKS are going to the SUPERBOWL!  I’m so thrilled for the team and I really, really want them to win.  I feel like the rest of the country is routing against us because of the comments Sherman made after the game.  I will say two things about that.  One, is that the interview was given two or three minutes (maybe?) after the biggest game/play of his life.  He was just asked to be pumped up for three (plus) hours of football and then was given a few seconds to “compose” himself before giving an interview.  I’m not sure what anyone would have sounded like/said in such an instance.  That is a tough situation to be in.  Secondly, if you haven’t read his explanation of what went on, please do so here:

http://mmqb.si.com/2014/01/20/richard-sherman-interview-michael-crabtree/

I probably won’t change your mind about Sherman or the Seahawks, but just know I’ll be routing for them on Sunday until I have no voice left!

In kid news, my two daughters spent the last week with their grandparents (my in-laws) here.  My oldest saw “Frozen” for the fourth time in a theater and has watched the YouTube clips of “Let it Go,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” and “For the First Time in Forever” approximately 1,000 times.  I’m not even close to kidding.  She is absolutely obsessed with that movie.  Both girls had a fabulous time with Grandma and Grandpa!  It’s very, very hard living 3,000 miles away from our families, but it sure is nice when we get to spend quality time with them.

We’re going back east at the end of March…just me and the girls.  The thought of flying alone with them (for about the 20th time) is already giving me night sweats.

I’ve been planning my KID FREE 35th birthday weekend in Chicago in April!  It’s going to be so much fun!  I can hardly contain myself!  I’ve never left the girls before and I’m due!

This past Friday night I went out with the ladies to an 80’s dance party at a club.  And I got hammered.  And I really, REALLY, REEEEEEEALLY paid for it on Saturday.  That is not happening again for quite some time.  It was bad.  And good.  Bad on Saturday.  Good on Friday night 🙂

And I still can’t find a job.  I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to find one until both girls are in school.  Which is 3.5 years away.  What I’m looking for (part-time, pays well, doesn’t require prior experience) does not exist.  I either have to go back to teaching (which I really don’t want to do) or wait until they’re in school and I don’t have to worry about covering the cost of childcare.  In the meantime, if any of you want to give me a good paying part-time job,  let me know 🙂

I’ve still been getting up at 5:20am to go to the gym so I’m exhausted and going to bed.  It was good catching up 🙂

Things I no longer enjoy now that I’m a mom…

A snow day – As a kid I LOVED snow days.  I would watch that little ticker at the bottom of the tv screen just waiting for my district to show up.  And when it did, it was better than Christmas.  Then as a teacher I loved snow days even more.  Nothing beats a surprise day off of work.  But now as a parent, I dread my daughter’s school being closed for snow.  When I see her district listed under closings, I seriously feel like I’ve just been robbed.

Crime dramas – I have never been a fan of horror movies.  But I did enjoy a suspenseful crime drama now and then.  But now that I am a mom, I can’t stand them.  All they do is stress me out.  I spend enough time worrying about my daughter getting hurt on the playground that I really  don’t need to watch a show that makes me worry about her getting abducted from our front yard.

Long car trips – Hubby and I used to live in The Midwest and it would take us about 8 hours to drive to The South to see our families.  Although an 8-hour car trip was certainly not my favorite thing in the world, Hubby and I made it kinda fun.  We’d get a book on tape that we both liked, stop at the gas station to stockpile our favorite snacks, and hit the road.  Now that we have Kiki, an 8-hour car trip means loads of kiddie music, bags of goldfish, and praying that we’ve timed our travel right so that she might actually fall asleep for at least part of the trip.

Making fun of my mom for almost peeing her pants – I used to lovingly tease my mom when she had to run to the bathroom if we made her laugh too hard.  Now that I’ve had a baby and I find myself running to the bathroom if I do too many jumping jacks at the gym, I can’t make fun of my mom any more.  I was the fourth baby that she gave birth to.  So now when she tells us to stop making her laugh or she’s gonna pee her pants, I don’t laugh.  I apologize for doing that to her body.

A slight hangover – After partaking in one too many glasses of wine, it used to be kinda fun to have a lazy day the next day to shake it off.  The best cure for a slight hangover was sleeping in, getting greasy food and a coke for lunch, and laying on the couch watching tv all afternoon.  You know what’s not the best cure for a slight hangover?  Being woken up at 6:30 in the morning by your 4 year-old who immediately starts demanding that you play this fun jumping game that she just made up.

Is there anything that you used to like that you no longer enjoy now that you are a parent?

5 Days

As the snow drifts down over northern New Jersey, I’m counting the hours and hoping that this storm is over by mid-evening.  You see, Red and I are slated to board a plane tomorrow morning, and head south to a warm sandy beach for five glorious days of child-free relaxation.

Five days with no diapers, no spit-up, no messy faces, and no meltdowns because my paper airplane won’t fly straight.  Five days without having to read I am a Bunny 7 times in a row before the crack of dawn.  Don’t get me wrong, I Am A Bunny is a literary classic with twists and turns, and a whizz bang ending that nobody saw coming, but after the 5th read before the sun comes up, you’re open to other contemporary works like Moo Bah LaLaLa , One Fish Two Fish, or everybody’s favorite, There’s A Cow in the Cabbage Patch.  I hear Oliver Stone is considering a Moo Bah film starring Jude Law as the dancing cow, but I digress…

Assuming our plane gets off the runway tomorrow morning, 5 days with no kids will be the longest stretch alone together for Red and I since Little Miss was born just under 4 years ago.  This should not be surprising to anyone with young children, 5 days is a long time to ask anyone to babysit.  Thank you Mom and Dad.  Thank you.  I’d warn them that they will need a week to recuperate from tending a one year old and a soon to be four year old, but I think they already know.  Red and I are very lucky.

My backpack is packed, my Ipod is charged, and there are movies downloaded to the tablet for evening viewing.  We plan to beach, snorkel, and maybe even, just maybe… sleep in.  Whoah.  That likely means I’ll be wide awake at 8am, but who cares right?  I won’t be forced out of bed to change a diaper and run through the same breakfast cereal options I ran through the day before.  “You need to SEE the boxes to decide?  Really?  Seriously?  Again?  Same boxes as yesterday… ok then, cereal always has been a visual medium…” This may sound like a lot of common parental griping, but it’s not.  I’m just so pumped about the free time right in front of me that it’s hard to contain myself.  I can’t even remember what I did with all my time before children.  I know I filled my days, but it’s hard to remember how.

Nowadays a normal Saturday includes multiple loads of laundry, dishes, diapers, a morning activity, gymnastics class, and several meals (theirs, not yours), before noon.   When I was 23 I’m sure there were Saturdays where I slept in till noon.  I couldn’t sleep till noon now if I tried.  I’d have to stay awake till 5am but I couldn’t stay up to 5am if I really wanted too… and why would anyone stay up till 5am?  Crazy talk.  So as the snow falls I’m counting the hours.  There’s a Cow in the Cabbage Patch you say?  Well there’s a Daddy on a plane to the Caribbean, and he’ll look into that cow situation in approximately 5 days.

The Chore Box

When I was growing up my mom required my siblings and I to pull our weight around the house. We were expected to walk the dog, do the dishes, set the table, sweep the floor, bring in the laundry from the line, clean our rooms, pack our lunches for school, etc. When we got home from school my brother and sister and I would each find a list of chores with our name on it that we were expected to complete by the time my mom got home from work. But then my mom got tired of all of us half-assing our chores so she got rid of the lists and introduced The Chore Box.

My mother created a box stuffed full of index cards that described the step-by-step directions for our household chores. For example:

Do the Dishes

  1.  Unload the dishes if the dishwasher is full.
  2.  Be sure to dry the dishes with a CLEAN hand towel if they are wet before you put them away.
  3.  Scrub any food off the dirty dishes in the sink.
  4. Load the dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
  5. If the dishwasher is full, put in dishwashing detergent (NOT DISH SOAP) and start the dishwasher.

She made a card like this for every chore she could think of. I wonder how long that took her? So now instead of chore lists, she left us with welcome home notes along with stacks of chore cards. My mother loved The Chore Box. We hated The Chore Box.

I’m now convinced that my mother was a genius. I’m so glad that we had chores growing up. It made us independent and responsible people. And for that I am grateful.

I will definitely be following my mother’s example with Kiki. I already expect her to help with certain things around the house. She puts her own waffles in the toaster, clears her place, helps to fold clean towels, puts away her clean socks and underwear in her dresser, and straightens up her playroom before we have guests over. I don’t expect her to do all of these things all the time, but I try as often as possible to give her tasks that she is responsible for.

What kind of chores do expect your kids to do around the house?

I hope that Kiki is prepared for The Chore Box that will inevitably be a part of her future. And when she tells me how much she hates it, I will direct her complaints to her Nana.

Chores

And the award goes to…

It’s Sunday night (even though I post on Mondays) and I’m watching the Golden Globes. It’s amazing to be on the west coast for a lot of reasons, but two of the big ones are sporting events and awards shows. They’re on so eaaaaaaarly! It’s amazing! I can actually watch them and get to bed at my normal time – 9:30pm! Woo! (Hey, cut me some slack. I am getting up at 5:20am to go the gym, remember?)

But I digress. I’m watching the Golden Globes and it’s making me feel like I have no idea what’s going on in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I could care less about who’s dating who, or who wore what, or all that nonsense. I really, really hate show business for that whole “entertainment tonight” side of it. But I do enjoy watching television shows and movies, quite a lot. How is it then that I don’t know what any of these movies are, and the only TV shows I know are clearly not the “hot” ones right now?

I have children! That’s right! I don’t go to the movies, and I get to watch TV between 8 and 9:30pm…but that is only when I don’t have to pay the bills or clean up the kitchen or job search or write an email to a teacher or make a shopping list for the next day or any myriad of other things that I put off until the kids are asleep. So, in the end, I don’t watch that much TV either. I think we can safely say that I’m out of the loop.

Oh well. I guess I’ll have a really long list of movies and television shows to watch once my youngest leaves for college 😉

Pleasant Days

Some days as a parent are just painful.  Your kid wakes up at 6 am and is in a foul mood from the start.  They whine and complain about absolutely everything.  They have a five alarm meltdown because you poured their milk into the Mickey Mouse cup instead of the Rapunzel cup.  You know you’ll need some adult back up today but none of your friends are free for a playdate and your husband has to work late.  So it’s just you and your 4 year-old oppressor ALL DAY LONG.  You try to get some housework done, but your kid is not having any of that.  You suck it up and make some toys talk, but your kid keeps getting irritated because you aren’t making the princess say exactly what they wanted.  So you decide to head to Target in hopes that an outing will eat up some time and maybe get your kid out of their funk.  It doesn’t.  You’ve just brought the grouch out in public so now you have an audience while you deal with their meltdowns.  So you head back home, defeated.  You get home and look over at the clock with hope in your heart only to have those hopes crushed when you realize that it is only 3 o’clock.  HOW IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO MAKE IT UNTIL BEDTIME?!?!

Luckily though, other days as a parent are just pleasant. Your kid sleeps til 8 and wakes up singing.  They’re agreeable and pleasant and downright funny.  You tell them they can have chocolate milk with breakfast only to realize that you’re out.  You brace yourself when you break the news only to have them respond with a, “that’s ok mom.  We can get more at the store next time we go.”  And when you tell them you have to do the dishes before you can play with them, they ask if they can help you so you can be done sooner.  Once the dishes are done you provide some witty repartee for the princesses and your kid thinks you are hilarious – a true comedic genius that incites belly laughs.  Then you have a playdate with a friend and the kids play so well together that you and the other mom can just sit on the couch shooting the breeze for hours.  Then you head home for some quality cuddle time with your little one while you watch one of their favorite movies.  You glance at the clock and can’t believe it’s already time for dinner.

Fortunately I have been having a lot of pleasant days lately.  Kiki’s been in such a good mood.  She’s been the kind of cheerful that is contagious.  She plays nicely with her friends and even handles it well if her friends aren’t playing nicely with her.  We’ve got a nice routine to our week that she and I are both happy with.  We have a few good friends that we have playdates with regularly and we’ve really been enjoying spending that time with our friends (hers and mine).  Hubby has been working from home a lot, so he often gets to have lunch with us which is something that Kiki and I both look forward to.  But even on days that Hubby’s not around, Kiki has been so polite and kind and joyful that it’s truly enjoyable to spend the day with her.

Granted it’s not been all just sunshine and dandelions.  There have been some painful moments too – not listening, being sick, having a case of the grumps, rudeness, and 2 am wakings.  But overall the pleasantness has certainly outweighed the pain.

I’m feeling pretty lucky these days.  I’m loving my family and loving my life.
Here’s wishing that your painful days are few and your pleasant days are countless.  🙂