Monday, December 17, 2012

Parenting Dreams

I have been thinking and thinking over the things that happened in Connecticut. No understanding can be found for the murder of these innocent children and their teachers. My brain literally can't wrap around the idea of coldly killing a child. It isn't so much a surprise to me - after all, horrible things happen to children all of the time, but it has me really thinking on what I can do, as a parent, to attempt to make the world better. 

A friend posted something on facebook recently about making the world a less sucky place. I kind of quickly sounded off my thoughts of how to do it, and it was to better the world by sending my kids out into it as good people. I've thought a little more about it, and decided to get the words out of my head and onto 'paper'. 

I've said it before, and likely will again; my kids are my greatest achievement in life. They are vibrant, smart, loving boys that test me every day. I truly feel humbled by them. My heart can't contain, and no words can do justice to the way I feel for them. There are moments when I catch myself needing to remember to breathe, because they fill me up so completely that it seems there isn't enough room inside me for even a lungful of air. I'm terrified of the thought that I can't protect them, so I try my hardest to teach them as much as I can about the world. Right now, when they are still in my home, before I have to hand them off to school, and the world in general, is the moment to do it. I know that soon, no matter how much they love me, I will no longer be as important to them as I am now. 

There are things I want them to know and practice as they start making their path away from me. I want them to love wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, to not be afraid to show and tell the people in their life that they love them. Compassion, sympathy, empathy - these are traits that they need to own, that instead of looking at people with differences with scorn or apathy, they should look at them kindly and with as much respect as the next person is given. People younger, more vulnerable, should be protected and not bullied, whether it be a kid with Down syndrome, someone that is poor, or just a child that is smaller and could use an extra hand. 

I want them to know that it is good to stand your ground when you are right, even if popular opinion doesn't agree. Courage is an overused word, but I want my kids to be courageous in life, throwing themselves into things with passion, and to stand up against cruelty. I'm not such a hippie that I am against physical altercations, but my boys need to learn that it should be the last option, and to stop hitting when someone is down. Falling into the trap that emotion is weakness in boys isn't what I want them to do. Caring about other people isn't weak, and will not make them less 'manly' as they grow older. Emotions are life, and there isn't a limit on them: they don't have to be reserved for special occasions. Feeling the world is as important as seeing it; yes, people who feel the world more are more prone to being hurt, but the payoff comes back tenfold by the boundless joy and beauty that is out there. 

Intelligence is to be cultivated. In curiosity, reading books, trying to find out how and why things work, the edges of the world get pushed even further back. There isn't any shame in being smart, in opening your mind to new ideas and possibilities, in always wanting to look further into something. Being curious is what has lead the greatest thinkers in history to be remembered today. No one thinks of the countless people who just watched an apple fall and never stopped to ask why it fell, how that simple object is interacting with the entire world. 

In short, I just want my kids to fall into this world and take it by storm, without forgetting the basic idea that trampling people underfoot isn't the way to stand on a mountain. Credit should come from accomplishment, from grabbing each handhold yourself and always striving to move forward. Mistakes are to be expected and learned from, not blamed on someone else. 

I think I might be on the right track. At 5 years old, my son is the first person to give a toddler a boost on the playground, and is fast to run to someone if they are hurt or upset to see what is wrong and to help if possible. (This rule doesn't generally apply to his little brothers, but no one is asking for perfection here.) My two year old has recently found the word 'love', and almost daily runs down the list of people in his life that he loves, and just as importantly, fully expects that these people love him back. They don't hesitate to climb into my lap, to kiss and hug, and say 'I love you'. 

I'm not a perfect parent, and I don't always remember these grand ideals when I get caught up in the day-to-day events of life. My patience runs thin, and sometimes the sheer volume of three children makes me want to find a quiet place in order to regain my sanity. I've made many mistakes as a parent, and will make a million more in the coming years. But, the bottom line is that I love them, and right now, I am the center of their world as much as they are mine. If I can get these points across to them now, maybe they stand a good chance of making this world a little bit less sucky. When the time comes for them to influence the world  as much as it influences them, I hope that their influence is good. If I can send these three vital boys into the world as good people, I will have made my difference in a way that is much bigger than myself.

The world lost the opportunity to see how 20 children in Connecticut would grow up, and my heart is heavy with their loss. It has, however, renewed me in my promise to give the world kind, intelligent people in order to better it. If the kindness I hope to teach them sticks, maybe their openness to a loner will be the thing that helps that person find hope instead of distancing themselves to the point that lives become as meaningful as video game characters. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thrift stores make me cry

I've been spending a lot of time in thrift stores lately, thanks to Pinterest. I'm on the lookout for perfect pieces of furniture to refinish, vintage cloth, cheap picture frames, etc. I'm cheap, what can I say? I would rather have a $7 bookshelf that I painted to match a room instead of a brand new one. If a project doesn't turn out right, and I'm sure I have my share of failures ahead of me, I can at least console myself with the fact that I've only wasted less than $20. That is less than a bar tab, even on a light night!

The only bad thing about thrift stores is that I often get the urge to roll up in a little ball underneath the vintage polyester nightgowns and cry. There is a smell in thrift stores that I can't describe, but they make me think of my Nanny. She ran a white elephant sale at the senior citizen community center, and I always got to help her sort through the giant bags of items donated by the resale shop in town. As a little girl, this was magical. Sometimes dozens of huge black Hefty bags would be piled up, full of dolls, toys, costume jewelry, clothes, and books.

I loved it, sitting and playing and sorting and feeling like I was in the middle of a pile of pirate's booty.

But now the smell of clothes that have sat too long in plastic bags, the strange combo of perfumes and lotions that get thrown in, old cardboard, and dust make me miss her even more than I usually do.

I won't be stopping my Goodwill trips any time soon, though. I still need to find a coffee table!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I conquered yeast rolls!

I can bake like no ones business. My specialty is really in the banana nut bread/pumpkin bread/cake department, but today I pulled on my Betty Crocker panties and made some pretty delicious yeast rolls!
They weren't as light as I was craving, in fact I think I could have made a loaf of real bread with it, but it was tasty nonetheless. Baking bread is very satisfying, in an almost primitive way. Staff of life and all that jazz...
On another note, I completed my "Ransom" jar today. I have a bar in my house, (sadly, just a shelf, not one with a young and decidedly less insane Tom Cruise mixing cocktails behind it) and this bar becomes a catchall, until I'm peering over piles of mail, sunglasses, power ranger parts, and the general deritus if daily life. I've started an organizing kick in the house, and vowed to hold hostage anything left on the bar. If mom gets it, you have to pick a task from the ransom jar to get it back.
My bar has stayed clean for a week. Probably a record. However, today I noticed a bag from Hobby Lobby loaded with homecoming mum supplies perched on the counter right under the bar. It's presence was actually taunting me a little, so close to the bar, but not quite on it. Like the teenager who put it there originally placed it on the bar, remembered the rule, and moved it to the counter below rather than put it up somewhere else.
So I took it. I mean, really. The counter 6 inches below the bar? Please. Mine now. Just waiting for the "Have you seen my bag?" conversation to start so I can pull out my jar. Written on little pieces of paper are items like 'wash my car', 'vacuum the living room', and ' do the hokey pokey with Virgil'.
I can't wait to see which one gets picked! /cue evil laughter

Monday, September 24, 2012

A little bit of an intro

So, I've gotten into the whole "Pinterest" craze, and have decided to craft this blog to share some of my successes - and many of my epic failures in Pinning, Parenting, and LIFE in general. I'm a stay at home mom, with 4 boys, so it goes without saying that most of my blogging will revolve around your typical housewife/mom schtick.

Well, all of that aside, let's start with today's failure. Prevention has a handy little workout on their site that I (surprise) found on Pinterest. LOVE YOUR LOWER BODY screamed out at me, so I pinned it and decided to get around to giving it a go today. It promises: "Flatten your belly, slim your thighs, and firm your butt in 2 weeks—without a single sit-up or squat!" 

Flatten, slim and firm, no sit-ups or squats? Hell yeah! After carrying three baby boys in my abdomen in the span of 5 years, there isn't much south of my eyebrows that couldn't use a bit of all three. I've managed to shed about 15 pounds with just some calorie watching, but the last 10 is really kicking my (decidedly unfirm) butt.

 So, I prep my workout area, do a little stretching, and get on the floor, ready to start firming up the jiggly goodness below my waistline.

                                     According to Prevention, this is what I should look like.

Prevention doesn't account for a houseful of evil babies who want mommy to stay fat and ashamed - because it means I will spend hours in the kitchen baking delicious things to stuff my anguish down with, while they also enjoy my chocolately inner demon food. I had no more pressed a foot against the wall when my two year old came flying out of nowhere, landing WWF style on my face. The leg of my glasses spun off, my eyes filled up with tears, and I just lay there for a moment, dazed. I may or may not have a black eye come tomorrow.

After sending him off with a swatted bottom and a healthy dose of guilt, I threw my glasses across the room, laid back down, and slowly raised one foot the wall, then the other, gave a peek to ensure no one was going to come flying at my head, and began to raise my lower body.

I don't know what I looked like, and I'm pretty thankful for that, but I am completely certain that my body wasn't forming a "nearly straight line from chest to knees". Unless a straight line consists of my feet sliding slowly up while my body spaghetti noodled around and I breathed all stalker-calling style into my own chest.

At this point, I was interrupted by my 5 year old yelling about using too much toilet paper, and I had to bolt in the bathroom pretty quickly to ensure I wouldn't have to have RotoRooter out to my house, so the rest of the workout is on pause until I can find some alone time to do it without one of my kids snapping into my face like a Slim Jim...

On another note, I am trying 2 new Pinterest recipes tonight, so I'll have a new post up with what I hope are success stories regarding them.