Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Parents Deserve Awards, Don't We?

Who's with me?  Shouldn't we get awards for our hard work?  I just found an old pin that I received from my previous place of employment, as recognition for five years of work.  And it made me think.  In the business world, employees are presented with certain perks that represent encouragement.  It's not the same when you work at home.  I know that parents do get lots of perks.  For example, the artwork.  Also when your children kiss you and hug you and tell you they love you.  And when they say you are the 'bestest' mom in the world.  That is great!

But there are days that seem pretty thankless, aren't there?  Like the day I was dealing with an irrational three year old and a cranky, teething eight month old.  That day I came downstairs, fully dressed (which deserves an award in itself) and my three year old son saw me and instantly threw himself on the floor, wailing. I looked around.  What happened?  Had Thomas the Tank Engine retired?  Had Bob the Builder stopped building?  No, my son wanted to get dressed before I did.  You can't possibly anticipate these things.  And of course when I refused to go put my pyjamas back on so he could get dressed first, he had an even bigger tantrum.  I was struggling to put him on the time-out chair while holding my eight-month old daughter who was biting me really hard on my shoulder (teething).  It was at THIS exact moment when I thought, 'Where are the perks?  Where are the thanks?'

Several ideas for awards come to mind:

The 'I Took Two Children to the Doctor to Get Immunized and I Did It Alone' Award
The 'I Cleaned Poop Off the Wall, Vomit Out of My Hair and Pee Out of My Carpet and I Remained Unfazed'
The 'I Had a Home Birthday Party for Too Many Overactive Children and My Sanity, Although Damaged, was Not Completely Shot'
The 'I Have Been Vomited On Too Many Times to Count and I Have Done Far Too Much Laundry But I Have Done it Without Complaining Much' Award
The 'I Drove Several Hours in a Car While Keeping Three Active and Intensely Bored Children Occupied and I'm Totally Exhausted and In Need of a Relaxing Glass of Wine But I Didn't Cry' Award

I don't know if we should get money or what, but I'd settle for thirty minutes alone.

Maybe we could present our children with certificates stating how many hours we spent rocking them to sleep, feeding them, spending time in the ER, and so on.  Maybe when they're teenagers they would respect and appreciate us more.  Okay, maybe not.  But it would sure be a great guilt trip, I mean great leverage, for the next time they need a drive to the movies...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Crying...and crying...

I remember when I was just getting used to having three children.  This was when I had three children under the age of five.  It's called 'extreme parenting'.  At least it seemed like it at the time; now having three children seems great and perfectly manageable.  In fact, I'd recommend it highly.  But when a newborn is involved plus two other small ones, it's definitely a challenge.  I had come to accept that, at any given time, one of us would be crying.  As long as it wasn't me, I figured we were doing okay. 

One moment stands out above the others, though.  I had just pulled the van into the driveway, and Ryan started crying because he didn't want to get out of his car seat.  (Although earlier he had started crying because he didn't want to get IN the car seat.  When he was smaller we called him 'Cryin' Ryan' but that's another post.)  Anyway, so Ryan was crying very loudly.  Then Ella started crying, out of solidarity with her brother I suppose because I couldn't see any other reason.  I was taking a deep breath while putting Ella into the front baby carrier, and thinking, 'Okay, well, two out of three children are crying but look at me, I am handling it very well.'  Then Colin shut his hand in the door of the van.  And he began shrieking, and I mean shrieking.  And instead of shocking his siblings into silence it just made them cry louder, so now I had all three children screaming and I didn't know what to do!  I considered crying myself but quickly rejected that idea, although it was tempting.  Ella still wasn't buckled into her carrier and of course the van doors had locked automatically and I had already zipped the keys in my backpack.  I finally got the keys out and unlocked the door, and luckily Colin's hand was completely fine.  However, the whole episode took years off my life, I tell you.  I still haven't fully relaxed!

Keeping the Kids Occupied: Is It Possible?

I took the kids apple-picking at Frootogo Orchards in Waterdown Ontario.  It's a great place to take the kids. It's very child-friendly.  Admittance is free.  There is a huge (and I mean huge) play area, with slides, swings, ride-on toys, hay bales, sandbox and other toys.  There is a corn maze, orchards, animal pens and a pumpkin patch.  Children love apple-picking.  You can also buy fruit and vegetables and pies.  I took my children there many times when they were younger.  I have a nice memory of breastfeeding my son there.  I went to one end of the apple orchard and sat on a rock in the sunshine and fed him; it was great.  I just made apple muffins and the kids helped.  They love to participate in cooking and baking.

Other good places to take children that you might not generally think of and that are free include garden centres.  I loved going to these because it was such a nice place to go for all of us.  Even the air is different there; full of moisture and the scents of flowers.  There are often waterfalls or ponds with fish.  Some places even have sandboxes.  The kids love to run up and down between the trees and smell the flowers and look at the different kinds of plants.

Forest trails were also good, because the children could run (and if you have boys you know they need to run) and it was fun for all of us.

Three great things that keep children occupied include scavenger hunts (inside or out); treat hunts (inside or out); and 'painting' things with water.  Give them buckets of water and clean paintbrushes and they can paint the deck or the house or the trees.  They love it and it's not messy.  You can't ask for much more than that.

Good luck!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feel the Burn!

I am in training for a 25K race.  I love just saying that...25K.  I started running a little over a year ago.  The first race I did was a 5K and I hadn't even trained for it, but running it inspired me to train to do better the next year.  I remember my friend saying that I would soon be wanting to do a 7K, and at the time I thought he was crazy!  I just wanted to be able to run an entire 5K without feeling desperate to stop and walk.  But I've become completely hooked.  I've seen such progress, which is very motivating.  Now I really want to run whenever I can, and I feel upset if I'm not able to run.  I love trail running.  I've always loved hiking on trails, but trail running is even better because you can go farther and see more trees and creeks.  I've seen so much wildlife since I started trail running.  After I felt good at the 5K (I took 12 minutes off my original time) my friend and I signed up for the 10K.  And that went so well that we felt we needed a real challenge, and signed up for the 25K.  The race is coming up and I've ran 25K twice, and 20K twice, plus lots of 10K and under runs.  I think we're ready!  It feels great to do something that I never would have believed I could have done only a year ago.  Can't wait to feel the burn!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where Has My Mind Gone?

The other day I tried to return items to a different store than where I bought them.  That's right.  It wasn't on purpose.  I've just been sleep-deprived for seven years.  I was heading to do some grocery shopping, and I needed to return two things.  I even had the receipt.  Midway through driving to the store in question, I decided to go to a closer grocery store, since I had two of my three children with me.  Anyone who has small children will not need any further explanation.  Anyway, although the car took a detour, apparently my mind was unable to grasp the implications of it.  I went to the different grocery store, waited in line, and even helpfully circled the items on the receipt (with the chain name in big block letters at the top).  The cashier tried to ring the items through before saying, "Um...actually, we don't even carry this item."  Of course they didn't.  Because it was the wrong store!  I felt like a complete idiot.  Of course, there is a lot of that going around for me lately.

Twice I have driven off in my van with my coffee travel mug on top, causing the mug to hurtle by my window and crash onto the road, spilling coffee (that's the worst part).  The second time, I even said to my oldest son as I put the mug on top of the van, "I can't forget to put my mug in the van this time!"  And yet, just a few minutes later, that's exactly what I did.  Of course, that was after I had put my youngest child in the car seat, buckled in two out of three, and put in hats and sunscreen and water bottles and see where I'm going with this.

The third time I remembered to put my coffee mug in the van.  As I was backing out of the driveway, I gave the thumbs up to my son saying, "Finally I remembered to put my mug in!"  CRASH.  I had backed into the green bin.  Oh, well.  Coffee over the green bin any day.

Feeling the Pain

Isn't it fun to go to the doctor's office with small children?  I mean, what parent doesn't want to experience that particular form of fun that is the waiting room?  That term should tip off most parents immediately.  Waiting + small children = torture.  Yes, the office has toys.  But if your children play with them, they will instantly contract a cold worse than the one they came in with.  And usually we are called in immediately, only to wait in the doctor's room - with no toys - for even longer than we were in the waiting room.  We are now in the 'I am desperate to keep my kids happily occupied' room and we haven't even seen the doctor yet.  I am usually well-prepared.  I have snacks, water, toys, and colouring books.  But the kids don't want to use them.  They want to jump off the exam table and figure out how to take the stirrups off.  They want to root through the garbage can and tip over the jar of Popsicle sticks (perhaps they're called something else but I'm a parent - to me they are popsicle sticks).  My kids can't wait for their toast to pop up - how can they wait for an hour and a half?  I don't know where they get their impatience from, either.  Are we still talking about this?  Let's move on already!

The other day I was trying to arrange a doctor's appointment for a time when I would only have two children with me as opposed to three children.  The receptionist was giving me a hard time about my negotiations, stating I should just be happy to get any time the doctor has available.  I wanted to say, "Listen to me very closely.  This is not only for my benefit.  If I have to bring three children to this appointment, trust me: you, me, the other people waiting, the doctor and the nurse - we will ALL be feeling the pain!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Growing Up!

My seven year old son informed me that he is now too old for me to kiss him good-bye in the school line.  I took it really well.  I was devastated!  He is only in grade three.  I expected this when he was a pre-teen, but not yet.  Had I known this earlier, I would have made the most of kissing him all through grade two in the school line.  I mean, I know it's not that big a deal.  I can still kiss him at home.  But suddenly, in public has become out-of-bounds.  He said that some kids might laugh at him.  Can you believe it?  Thankfully I have two younger children.  My son in SK was there throughout this conversation.  After I had watched his brother walk away to his school line (alone!) I asked him (only slightly tearfully) if I could still kiss him at school.  He said, "Yes, Mom!"  The poor kid could probably tell that I would have started sobbing if he had said no.  I should have taken my chance then...I should have made him commit to letting me kiss him in his school line until he was in grade six!


My seven year old son brought home a big book from the library.  He and his five year old brother were poring over it.  They were completely entranced by it.  I walked by his room, and saw both boys staring at the book, and thought happily, "It's so great that they are getting into reading so much!  They are both into it.  It's nice when they find a book that they both really like."  I was walking away when I heard one of my sons say, "Those are the biggest things I have EVER seen."  I paused.  Hmmmm.  I walked back into the room to check exactly what book my grade three son had brought home from the elementary school library.  It was a Guinness Book of World Records book.  In 3D.  The boys kept trading the 3D glasses and giggling.  And yes, what they were entranced by wasn't the words on the page.  It was the woman with the biggest breasts in the world!  So much for literacy!