Monday, January 30, 2012

Parenting Books are.......

Parenting Book sales make up 25% of total book sales in the United States.  There is at least one book on every parenting technique imaginable, for every age, and even for each gender.  Most parents will swear that a certain book was a life saver, and the only thing that worked with their child.  Others will then tell you that the book someone else just recommended didn't work, and that this other book is the only one you need because it was a life saver and worked.

Since finding out I was going to be a Mom in 2002 I have read one parenting book.  The only reason that I have read even one parenting book is because I was given a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting by a family member while pregnant with my first.  I read every page of that book, and asked my doctor a ton of question because I was worried about every little thing.  His answer was always a different variation of you are fine, everyone is different.

After having my first I was told about a multitude of different parenting books that I should read by my friends.  I was even given one by my pediatricians office on common childhood aliments.  While sifting through all of the information I was given by my friends about different books I came to a conclusion.  My baby was fine, and that everyone was different.  Sound familiar?

Amazingly enough humans have been parents since before writing was invented, and some how they managed to somehow raise their children.  I figured if they could do it, so could I.  After all I am not building a pyramid while raising my kids, only the occasional patio.  The only foraging for food that I have to do is going to the grocery store when we run out of something.  Plus I'm pretty sure that I won't have to worry about a rival tribe invading my village while I'm dealing with an issue that has came up.

The authors of most parenting books want you to believe that their advice is the only advice that you will ever need on how to parent your child.  Their way will work for almost all children, given that you follow everything exactly how they say to do it.  After you and your child have mastered their book in 5 to 7 business days you will have no more problems until your child turns 18 and is in college being a model citizen.  There is only one problem with that, everyone is different.

All children react differently to different parenting techniques.  Even my own three have a different way of reacting to mine.  Does everything that I do work, no it doesn't.  But I listen to my Momdar to zero in on what didn't work, and change that for next time.  One thing that works with all kids is listening to them and getting to know them.  Understand what kind of personality they have, and adjust your parenting technique to their unique personalities. 

We need to realize that we don't need books to tell us what to do on something that should come naturally to us. Of course when that fails, there's always Google.

What parenting books have you read?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

School Lunches to get an Overhaul

Finally, the US Public School Lunches are getting their first overhaul in 15 years.  The US Department of Agriculture is starting their 3 year phase in plan, of the new regulations, for school lunches this fall.  Included in this plan is a 6 cent a plate increase in school lunch funding to each public school.

Gone are the tater tots and in are the baked sweet potato fries with the new regulations.   Pizza will now have to have a whole wheat crust.  Milk that is more than 1% fat is out too.  Those cookies that everyone gets excited about will be replaced with a piece of fruit.  Which leaves, well I'm not sure what that leaves in the menu that our kids will eat.

I am all for healthier school lunches.  School lunches haven't changed much since I was a kid in the 80s, I think that the chicken and noodles my kids eat at school now might even be left from that decade.  It is time for them to get a face lift and become part of the healthy eating trend.  The question on my mind is, will kids go for it?

My other concern is how much is this going to cost in reality?  It's all good for the government to chip in that whole 6 cents per lunch to help out with the cost of the new foods, but preparing healthy meals costs more than that.  I'm already paying the school more a week for my kids lunches than I think I should be, and I am not alone in feeling this way.  Food costs are rising all over the country, and in states where fresh produce can't be grown during the majority of the year gas prices are pushing those costs even higher.  The new fresh standards for lunches look great on paper, but the actual cost of them are going to hurt the middle class each week if they go too high.

The government is also asking for parents support while they implement these new regulations.  They know that kids are more likely to eat something that they have seen before, and are asking parents to introduce the new foods at home so kids will eat them at school.  For parents this means watching your kids lunch menu for when something they don't normally eat pops up and then either going and buying that item, or packing your kids lunch on that day.

Children are notorious for being picking eaters.  They will eat what they are use to eating and sometimes even that can be a struggle to get them to eat those things.  There are whole cookbooks dedicated to cooking for kids, how to make healthy foods kids will supposedly love, and how to sneak veggies into the meals that they already love.  If parents are having to resort to buying books on sneaking vegetables into their own kids meals are we actually going to believe that those same kids are going to gobble up sweet potato fries over french fries at school?

You can view the new school lunch guidelines on the USDA's website

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The change from play to learning

I'll be the first to admit that I could be classified as a free range parent. When my kids were toddlers I went with their schedule of what they wanted to do. If they brought me a book, I read it. If they brought me crayons, we colored. If they brought me 3 knives out of the kitchen to juggle, we had a talk about why that was not a good idea. I didn't force them to sit and learn their abc's on flash cards, we just sang them on the way to Grandma's house.

There is a movement in America today that isn't allowing kids to be kids. Some how our society has gotten it engraved into our brains that kids need to be learning something every second of every day from the minute that they are born. We have taken their care free days of childhood and replaced them with structure, activities, and a small amount of "free play" that parents schedule in between swim class and piano lessons. Parents have started telling their children when it's okay to be a kid.

In most communities, gone are the days that kids could play outside from sunup to sundown. With main stream media on our televisions 24 hours a day we see the horrors of the world more often. Whole hours are dedicated to the kidnapping of children, we sit captivated by our screens as parents are tried for murder, and get enraged when a jury of our peers doesn't convict them of the charges. We have started keeping our children in a protective bubble not allowing them the freedom that we had as children.

When we as parents are looking for a preschool for our children we aren't looking to see how much free time they get, what their play ground looks like, or what art projects our kids will be doing. We are more concerned with the core curriculum, that in some preschools rivals ivy league colleges. Some parents have even gone as far as to request that their children not be allowed to go outside with the other children during free time, that their children be kept inside doing quiet learning activities.

We have wondered why America has a 17% obesity rate. Why our arts are struggling. Why our children would rather sit in front of a computer screen, tv, or video game as they grow older. Why kids won't just play any more. Our move from letting kids be kids where they grow and learn as they explore and play to structured days of in seat learning has finally started showing poor consequences.

As a society we need to get back to letting our youngest members not be so structured. Without the skills of playing learned at a young age, they grow up unable to use them. While these children do need to learn, we also need to remember that they need to be doing things their way more than they are. Some of us have our children's lives so structured that they feel that we need to entertain them from the time that they wake up to the time that they fall asleep to their noise machines. Maybe if we get back to letting them discover things at a young age, and be more independent without us telling them when, where, and what time to be independent we won't have to entertain them constantly.

Do you think that if we start letting kids be kids again we will solve some of the problems facing parents today?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A 4 Year Old, Markers, and a Sleeping Dad

Yesterday afternoon I woke up, stumbled to my coffee pot to turn it on, and then sat down in my recliner to wait on my coffee.  The Big Guy was trying to talk to me, but of course without my caffeine, he really wasn't making that much sense.  Once my pot of instant Mom was done, and I had a cup down, I could actually focus on him telling me about how his arm was shaking. I noticed that there was a HUGE purple bruise on that arm.  With his Multiple Sclerosis we tend to check out anything that could be an issue.

Me "Um, there's a huge bruise on your arm, maybe that's the cause of it."
Big Guy "Where?"
Me "Right there, just go in the bathroom and look at it."

After closer inspection of the bruise, I realized that it was a purplish marker on his arm and not a bruise.  Since both Bug and Doodle were at school, there was only one little person left that could have drawn on him while he slept.  It's important to point out here that since I work midnights, I go to bed as soon as the girls are on the bus and Little Guy knows that if Mom is already asleep when he gets up that he is to wake the Big Guy up.  So I called the Little Guy into the living room so I could interrogate him.  Since he smiled and giggled the whole time, I was pretty sure that it was him.  I reminded him that he is to wake up Dad as soon as he gets up, and that it's not nice to draw on people while they are asleep.  He said "Ok Mom" and ran off to do what ever it is that 4 year old boys do.

I didn't give any more thought to the marker incident for about another 5 hours.  As The Big Guy stood up, his shorts slipped down, and for that split second before he pulled them up, I could see part of his butt.  Evidently his arm wasn't the only thing that the Little Guy decided to use as a canvas for his purplish marker.  I am guessing that while The Big Guy was asleep, his shorts must have slipped down, causing part of his butt to be exposed.  Being the loving, supportive wife that I am, I started laughing hysterically to the point where I couldn't even tell him why I was laughing so hard.  I finally managed to get out "Check out your butt in the mirror" before dissolving into another bout of laughter.  2.3 seconds after he walked into the bathroom I heard the Little Guys name being yelled across the house, and then giggling coming from the toy room.

The Little Guy had turned half of his butt into a purple masterpiece.  I'm not sure how he managed to sleep while this was being done to him, because I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have been able too.  The Big Guy confiscated all of the markers in the house, and attempted to discipline the Little Guy about it.  Unfortunately it was a good 30 minutes before I could stop laughing about it, so he had to give up on the discipline routine.  I'm not sure if he was more mad about his butt or me finding it so hilarious, but either way he is still pouting about it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My love/hate relationship with the flu

It is once again flu season.  The season that every mother looks forward to every year, yes sarcasm intended.  With 3 kids, when the flu hits the house it's here for at least a week.

This week it started with my youngest.  The Little Guy came into my bedroom less than 10 minutes after I had fallen asleep, woke me up, said "Mommy, my tummy......" and if you are a parent you can figure out what happened after he said tummy.  After cleaning up him, me, the floor, changing the sheets and comforter on the bed, getting him some Sprite, bringing his blanket and pillow into my bedroom, finding all 3 toys that he wanted to sleep with, and grabbing the mop bucket just in case this was to happen again, I could finally lay back down.

Over the years it has gotten easier on me when they do become sick.  I no longer worry about if a fever is too high.  I know what to keep on hand for when one of them falls sick.  The fact that they can now talk to tell me what is wrong is a huge plus.  I think that my mother also likes the fact that I don't call her for advice at 2am when one of them is sick.

Yesterday the Little Guy laid on the couch for most of the day, wanting me to lay there with him.  He didn't get up and play at all.  Today on the other hand, he is feeling much better.  He has been playing Power Rangers with Cedric, running around like a crazed 4 year old, and eating everything in sight.  All of this energy and noise made me realize that the flu might not be that bad.  No, I don't like it when my kids are sick, but the quiet that it brings isn't so bad.   I have time to read my Kindle without being interrupted, I have an excuse to not do anything all day, and I can cook a simple supper without anyone complaining. 

An easy day in the Momiverous is defined by different things.  Giving my noise blocking skills a break for the day wasn't such a bad thing, but now I'm paying for it because the cleaning fairy didn't show up at all yesterday.  I guess she must have been out with the flu too.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Remembering Joe PA

Joe Paterno will go down as one of the best college football coaches ever.  His record of games coached at a single college will never be close to being touched.  He was well loved throughout the football community and Penn State.

In November when the Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal broke all of us thought "Say it ain't so, Joe".  Unfortunately it was so, and we all watched as the case against Jerry Sandusky grew and grew and grew some more.  Horrible details were leaked about sexual abuse against young boys that spread the course of decades.  As a mother my heart reached out not only to the boys, but their mothers as well.  No child should ever have to deal with what these children dealt with.

As all of these details were being exposed, a huge blow to the college football community came in with the firing of Joe Paterno over the investigation.  Many of us were asking why was Joe PA fired, but not Mike McQueary who is the one that actually witnessed the abuse?  McQueary is the one that saw first hand what happened, the one that didn't go to the police with what he saw, the one that waited to tell anyone what he saw.  Yet Joe was at home watching that weeks game and McQueary was standing on the sidelines coaching.

Not seeing what had happened first hand, only hearing a sugar coated story of what happened, Joe told his boss.  For doing this action, he was fired.  He was never charged with any crime.  He never saw any crime or abuse take place.  Yet the Mom Community is letting this tarnish this mans reputation not only in life, but in death also.

Yes, what Jerry Sandusky did is a horrible thing, but we should not let what that man did tarnish another's reputation.  I am going to choose to remember Coach Joe PA just as that, a great coach.  A man that donated millions to his University.  A man that was a living legacy in college football.  A man that fought hard.  A man that thought he was blessed in life.  A man that was respected as not only a football coach, but as a person.  I hope that more than just me can remember this great man as such.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My battle Part 1

We've all heard the stories of people being under insured, un-insured, or not being able to afford to be insured.  Until the Big Guy had a major MS flair up, and was permanently disabled from it, I never had this problem.  In the mad scramble to find a job to support my family until his long term disability benefits kicked in, the job that I accepted only offered supplemental insurance.  I had to accept it so his neurologist would continue to see him since they would not accept self pay patients.  We knew that December 1st, 2011 was the magic day that his medicare would finally kick in, and had a count down going till it.  April 1st, 2012 we were going to be able to drop the supplemental insurance plan my work offered and pay for private insurance for the kids and I.

In August of 2011 I started having some female health issues.  I went to my wonderful doctor on September 12th for a full workup.  Two weeks later I had an ultrasound done, and was too find out the results of my blood work and pap.  During the ultrasound a large polyp was found in my uterus, and I was thinking no big deal it's just one polyp.  After my ultrasound I talked to my doctor and found out that in addition to the polyp I also had an abnormal pap.  He told me not to worry, that it was probably not cancer, but he still wanted to do a hysterectomy to be on the safe side and that he would do the biopsy at that time.  My heart sank to my knees, I know that we were done having kids and that I already had a tubal so we wouldn't have any more.  A hysterectomy is major surgery and with one parent already disabled, my kids can't have another one with health issues.  He told me to go home and talk to the Big Guy to figure out when would be a good time to schedule it, and he'd see me back in a week.

At home we decided that during Christmas break, the week after Christmas would be the best time for me to have it done.  I wouldn't have to worry about him not getting homework done, forgetting to sign something, or sleeping through an alarm clock resulting in the kids missing school.  I called my insurance company to get approved for my surgery, only to find out that they don't pay for any kind of surgery.  I already knew that they wouldn't cover out patient surgery, but I didn't realize that they wouldn't cover inpatient surgery.  I knew that they considered IVs and casts to be "out patient surgeries", but never figured that they wouldn't cover at least a small portion of an actual surgery.

At this point I was already having head aches and back aches that my doctor was assuming was coming from this large polyp.  I went back a week later to tell him that my insurance wouldn't cover the surgery and he suggested I try our state pay insurance (HIPP).  He told me to take Tylenol for the pains, and if they got to be to much then to call him back and he would see if he could get something stronger for me.  He wanted to see me back in January at the latest to make sure that I wasn't developing any more polyps, and to do another pap to see if it was still abnormal.

to be continued.......

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kids cuss, get over it already

The recent uproar of an upcoming episode of 'Modern Family' has me rolling my eyes.  Evidently in this episode a cute little two year old is going to drop the f-bomb.  Oh the horrors that are associated with this since no other toddler in the history of the world has done this!

Lets get real for a minute, toddlers pick up on our speech.  They repeat things that we say, this is how they learn to speak.  Their little brains don't shut off just because Mom dropped something on her toe and said s--- or because Dad's favorite football team just gave up a huge lead and his language just got more colorful.  They hear everything we say and pick up on everything we think that they don't hear.

Maybe it's because I'm a "veteran mom" that I find this topic funny.  All 3 of my kids picked up on a cuss word as a toddler.  All 3 of them now know that they should not say that word because it's an adult word.  It didn't scar them for life from saying this word.  It didn't turn them into out of control children because they said something they shouldn't have. It was just something that they picked up on that we had to teach them not to do, or the most effective way ignoring it.

Parents need to stop worrying about the possibility of their child hear a beep on tv over a controversial word.  If your toddler knows what word should go into that beep, then you might need to look at yourself rather than the tv.  Maybe even look at this as a learning opportunity on why we shouldn't use that kind of language, or just watch a show meant for adults when your kids aren't around.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The ever so perfect mother

Starting in preschool you notice which Moms are the over achievers, the perfect ones, the ones that are always volunteering at the school.  They make the perfect all natural cupcakes from scratch, their hair and makeup are always perfect, and there is never a McDonald's cup falling onto the ground from the backseat of their minivan when their kids get out.  Actually their kids have never had McDonald's because the perfect mom always has supper cooked from scratch and on the table at 5:30pm sharp.

Most of the time you get lucky, the Preschool perfect mom is not in your elementary school too.  When you get to elementary school you have a different perfect mom to deal with, one that hopefully doesn't have a child in the same grade as your kid.  If they are in the same grade, hopefully not in the same class.

The perfect mom in our elementary school has a daughter the same age as Bug, luckily different grades, and the same grade as Doodle.  She shows up to everything, volunteers daily almost, sends in the perfect cookies, makes all of the baskets for the PTO raffle, and happens to be my neighbor.

She doesn't really "get" me at all.  She doesn't understand how I can just let my kids run around outside, well we live with a cornfield in the backyard and a field full of cows on the left other so it's not like we are in a high traffic area.  Doesn't understand how I let my girls play so many sports, ummmmm because they want too.  Couldn't believe that I don't walk them to the bus every morning, since we're rural it stops at the end of our drive I can stay inside where it's warm and see them.  Cringes at the site of my kids leaving something in our yard or drive, again we're rural not a huge crime rate around here.  Suggests that Doodle play over there instead of her perfect child playing over here.  And I can tell that she looooooves our huge 12mo rescue dog that thinks everyone should play with her and if you don't can be very vocal about her feelings.

I'm the Mom that my kids friends will yell Hi too across the ball field, we're the house that everyone wants to come spend the night at because we make pizzas for supper and waffles for breakfast, if clothes get dirty I don't really care because they wash and the same goes for kids.  I'm the fun mom of the school, the one that's a tad out there, that knows all of the other parents by site and will stop and have more than a cordial conversation with them.  I don't look down on any of the other parents because of them living in a trailer or being divorced or not having the time to make 12 dozen individually wrapped cookies for the school carnival.

Back when my kids were in preschool I was scared that I wouldn't be the perfect mom, that the other parents would look down on me if I wasn't.  Now I know that I don't want to be the stuck up, do everything by the book, unapproachable mom.  I like being the artistic, tad nuts, sarcastic, fun mom.  I've found that even though I'm not that perfect mom, the PTO and school still call me as much as they do her to fill time slots for activities.  I always help out if I can, and I get the bonus of making her cringe when I suggest the next time we car pool as I get out of my SUV and a McDonald's cup falls out.