T.R.A.V.E.L. with Young Kids

Whats the secret to traveling with young kids?

 

Lots of wine, just kidding I actually don’t really drink but it seemed fitting 🙂

For me it all boils down to T.R.A.V.E.L.

Tricks, ask friends, family & the internet for their favorite travel tricks and choose the ones that suite your child & destination. I think my favorite travel trick for almost all age kids is candy! I pack a bag of dumdums and m&ms, and use them as bribes, rewards and to help ears pop on the plane 🙂

Research, not everyone loves research but it really does make for smoother travel. I watched parents turned away from a flight for arriving too late for check in, waiting in line for a ride their child could not ride and begging their children to stop crying when theirs ears began to hurt because she’d forgotten to bring anything to help them (I passed out suckers on this one but not everyone will have a helpful stranger). All of these little joy suckers were preventable by research.

Adaptablity, Be prepared to change plans! I love research, i’m a planner by nature but I am very willing to adapt the plan if it’s not working for us or a better option comes along! We got to do everything we wanted in Epcot by lunch thanks to short lines early so we adapted by heading to Hollywood Studios which I had done some research on as a backup anyway and I whipped out my phone to double check a few things as we rode the bus too. Some really special moments happened there that made the day and were never in the original plan!

Vigor, Ok this isn’t fully in your control if you have health issues but be as physically ready as possible! Keep everyone well rested, well fed and have necessities like water, sunscreen and bandaids readily available. It makes a big difference in your ability to enjoy the goings on of travel!

Expectations, I can’t stress enough how important it is to manage your expectations when you are with small children! If you expect them to keep up with an adult pace, or to have no little meltdowns or issues you are setting everyone up for failure and disappointment! We had at least 1 teary episode per day (usually less than 2 minutes but still tears!) over everything from a scary loud toilet to chicken that tasted wrong. I consider this 100% success. Having less than 30 minutes of tears total per day was my goal for the 1.5 & 4 year olds and we came in well under so I was ecstatic!

Luck, It would be intellectually dishonest to tell myself there isn’t luck involved! Even with the best planning, attitude, kids, etc. there is always an element of luck! We had no flight delays, pleasant weather, no lost luggage…in other words alot went our way! Any of these could have thrown a wrench in a lovely vacation and made it less pleasant but thankfully they didn’t for us… this tim

 

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Seasonal Friends

The title might sound like a negative thing but hear me out, I want to talk about friends who are meant to be there in various seasons of our lives, they may still be there in a less prominent way through some or all of our life but their role changes with the seasons…..and that’s a good thing.

I’ve noticed that women all around me lament not having “friends”, enough of them, close enough ones or the elusive “best” friend. And I’ve prayed, cried, worried and tried for years to find my “Friends” style friends. They would come over to my house every week, we’d go shopping and on vacation together, we’d take a pilates class and catch the latest movies. These women would surely be there with me through graduations...err engagement?…wedding?…newlywed troubles?….birth?… retirement?  maybe but so far i’ve struck out pretty big.

See, we all know that the media portrays a very unrealistic idea of relationships, we realize how silly it is to expect our husbands to act like they are in a romantic comedy and for some of us that’s actually a relief (i’d be exhausted with all those cutesy lil twists and turns!)

But did you ever realize how unrealistic the female relationships tend to be? Pop culture would have you belief that every woman finds 1-3 best friends who will be there with her from adolescence through old age and they will move from Sex & the City right on into Golden Girls handling everything in between like the women from YaYa sisterhood.

I haven’t seen it. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen because I know it does but I believe those to be the exception. The only women I know who have the same support network they’ve had since high school are sisters biologically. It’s not so common out here in the real world!

I think about my day to day existence and at times I get caught in the trap of why don’t I have a best friend? Someone who prefers my company to all others… you know besides my husband. Wait… I have my husband, we tend to forget them but he is truly my best friend in the world and somehow because he’s a male I can’t count him? I do want female friendships but I think it’s asking a little much to want that kind of commitment from anyone but him, even if tv tells me it’s so.

In youth and young adulthood this myth is easy to continue to buy in to because we are in school/college and therefore maintain close proximity to other females that creates a type of intimate familarity. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s unlikely to last. You will probably remain friends but for most of you in five years you won’t be talking daily…or weekly even and if you do monthly then good work!

I’m here to say that this is ok though. This is normal and…dare I say, healthy? I think they only thing unhealthy about growing closer to women in the same stage of life and geographic location as us is our attitude that if we don’t stay that close forever we have somehow failed or were never really friends.

I know I had a best friend in high school (and because she married my brother she is indeed my sister and friend for life!) but even being related now we’ll never have the SAME kind of relationship we did then when I could tell you everything she was thinking and probably what she ate for her last meal or exactly which shirt was her current favorite. She will always be my friend though because I always know we will have each others backs even if we haven’t talked in forever except on facebook…and that’s ok!

I had close friends in college, different ones in different years, for a while I basically lived in my friend Shannon’s room then my friend Cristie’s and then when I transferred schools I hung out with the same group of education majors almost every class. These ladies are still my friends but we don’t have the kind of relationship we did then…and that’s ok!

I had friends at work too, my fellow teachers were there to support me and pray for me and help me through some tough stuff! Leaving my baby at daycare the first time, pregnancy again, maternity leave, they even let me cry on their shoulders when I had to leave my 2 yr old overnight for the first time ever for a training. (Yes i cried even though he was just home with dad, sue me :)) In the year I have been home I have obviously talked with them alot less but I still count them as friends, our relationship just changed….and that’s ok!

Now I am in the phase of my life where I spend most of my time with fellow stay at home moms or moms from my son’s classes at church. We see each other weekly, talk about the struggles and joys of parenting small people. We are friends and the fact that we haven’t been that way since childhood or that we may not still talk every week five years from now does not diminish our friendship.

I’ve spent to much time worrying about the relationships I don’t have and feeling inadequate because I lacked them. I have lamented to my husband on numerous occasions that maybe I lack some female trait (He is still friends with guys from middle school on up because guys relationships are a totally different creature) . There must be something wrong with me that I can’t cultivate and maintain the mythical best friend relationship. Then I decided to stop. Stop worrying about what category of friend I was and think about what kind of friend I wanted to be.

I started reaching out to women more often, planning social things, joining groups & not taking rejections personally and I realized…I have friends, they are good friends and i’m thankful God has put them in my life, even if it’s only for a season!

 

Fun Fact: my hair is basically the same as it was in high school…and college… and most of my childhood. 😉

 

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Needs vs Wants

We are turning off our cable. It’s just too expensive to justify on one income with a budget to tight for savings so we have made the choice it has to go.

Why? Why not keep it and use credit cards (which we paid off in anticipation of one income) if something unexpected comes up? Or use our emergency savings?

Because it is a want, not a need so it can not stand in the way of needs (like responsibly budgeting and saving).You should never put yourself in precarious financial situations over wants. My generation (i’m 27) seems to believe we are entitled to every comfort. That they are necessary. They aren’t.

You do not need or deserve cable or a smartphone or internet or brand name food or a gym membership. You are not owed anything from anyone.

The sooner you recognize this the sooner you can develop a healthy relationship with money.

I literally cringe when I hear someone complain about being broke while they drink starbucks, smoke a cigarette, eat in a restaurant, go to the gym or watch their cable tv. If you do not have money then you do not need to buy these things. Stop buying the lies.

Stop letting them convince you that it’s ok or normal to have credit card debt. (Or student loan debt which is another story for another post).

I’m canceling the cable and you know what, i’m not that sad. We’ll still watch some stuff online sometimes or check out movies from the library but honestly it was costing me more than money anyway. I will be glad to have the time and the money back and I will feel peace of mind knowing that our budget won’t be as tight each month.

Do you have an area of your life you probably should cut but just can’t quite commit too?
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Where Have All the Good Dads Gone?

Society has a tendency to portray dads as unintelligent, expendable goofballs who make a nice addition to a family but really aren’t necessary. But what does the Bible say and is it attainable?

I am by no means qualified to discern the primary responsibilities of a father from scripture so I am using going to share a list from Pastor Scott Harris of Grace Bible Church in NY, you can read the full context here. For my purposes I am pasting the list, I feel that provides a nice overview of the basics of a biblical father.

Now here is where it gets tricky. Is this attainable? I myself grew up in a home of multiple divorces from each parent so my relationships, not only with my father, but with my stepfathers also, were sporadic at best and they did not fulfill many if any of these items. Luckily I have a another personal guinea pig, my husband. So I am going to analyze his fulfillment of each one.

1. Provide for his family (Mt. 7:9-11 Tim 5:8)

I am now a stay at home mom, nuf said. He is willing and able to work enough that our family can exist with me home caring for our children. Even before this he has always worked and provided, not just our needs but most of our wants as well. When the bottom fell out of our economy and he was laid off for a year (before we had kids) he actively sought new work the entire time.

2. Instruct his children (Prov. 1:8)

My husband teaches our son everyday in direct and indirect ways. Directly, like when my son gets 3 year old frustrated and decides to speak angrily to me I know I will hear my husband step in lovingly  “Joel that’s not how we talk to Mama, you need to….” or indirectly, like showing him how to respond to people in need (running back across the parking lot to open the door for a man with a walker even though we didn’t see him until we were almost at our car because that’s the right thing to do and convenience should not be considered).

3. Exhort, encourage and implore children (1 Thess 2:11)

My son’s biggest fan may be Mommy but his biggest cheerleader is Dad. My husband is always there to encourage Jidge whether things get hard or he’s already excelling.

4. Punish unruly children (Dt. 21:18-21) & 6. Discipline his children (Heb 12:7)   *I am combining his two because they seem pretty similar to me. *

I am with our children more so I handle the day to day punishment (and honestly at this point in their lives our little ones still don’t need alot since the oldest has a usually teachable spirit and the youngest is an infant). But when the situation warrants or when I am not being given proper respect by a boundary testing preschooler I can count 100% on my husband backing me up, stepping in, whatever is needed.

5. Raise the children in the discipline and nurture of the Lord without provoking them or exasperating them causing them to lose heart (Eph. 6:4;Col. 3:21)

Without ever raising his voice or losing his cool he encourages and nurtures a curious, strong willed preschooler, enduring the neverending questions about God and life, laughing at the jokes that don’t yet make sense and gently guiding him away from paths and choices that would bring harm.

7. Love his wife (Eph 5:25,28,33)

I admittedly make this difficult at times I am certain and yet he unfailingly loves and me and reminds me with his actions of my worth as a redeemed member of the body of Christ. (Plus he makes me feel pretty 🙂 )

 

So I declare that despite the weighty list of responsibilities placed on a father I am seeing it lived out daily and biblical fatherhood is attainable and realistic. I am so thankful to have a husband who relies on the power of our heavenly Father to be a husband father.

 

Comment with why your husband or father  is one of the “good ones”.

 

Happy Father’s Day my dear 🙂

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Dis”organized” Youth Sports Or How to Kill Money Quickly

As I watched the batter hit the ball them dive into the dogpile to retrieve it himself before running to second base (not first) I became fully aware of the absurdity of my decision.

What decision you ask? To sign my 3 year old up for tball.

All the cool moms were doing it, his friends at preschool were starting to join teams, and I was feeling guilty over his shrinking social calendar thanks to me staying home so riding on a wave of fear, adrenaline and a pinterest high that convinced me I could be that mom I clicked register.

With that money I could have bought the tball junk and a shirt & hat at walmart then set it up in the middle of Times Square while giving him a lecture on the Alamo, he would most certainly have learned as much about baseball as he did tonight, plus i’d have $30 left over.

Let me set the scene for you:

You know those community baseball complexes where all the fields have baselines, dugouts, benches, and such…we were at one of those except we were in the little grassy area between two fields because of a booking error. So the bases were impossible for an adult to spot let alone preschoolers, there was a wall of parents assigned to intercept potential foul balls from a high school game going on next to us and 2 “coaches” for 24 three and four year olds who spent most of the time trying to figure out how to keep the kids in a line.

Speaking of which, 80% of the practice & game combo consisted of standing in line waiting for your turn to do something.

10% was trying to figure out where you were supposed to be since kids got lost or confused every 3 minutes.

5% was listening to the coaches talk.

5% was actually doing stuff.

After the game was over my son got to do what he wanted so much to do, run the bases, he channeled Pigpen and ran the now empty field next to us a dozen times, a little cloud of dust smiling ear to ear.

Will we give it one more try? Sure. Is next week possibly our last? My sources say yes. I don’t believe in letting kids quit once they are old enough to decide to start something but I think I as the parent jumped the gun here and i’m not afraid to admit it.

 

So if I try to click that youth sports registration button again before Kindergarten will someone stage an intervention!? Thank You.

 

 

P.S. I cried when I accidentally deleted the pictures from his game tonight while trying to move them to our external hard drive. I’m telling you this sports stuff is as much for parents as anyone.

 

 

 

 

Stop Lying to Your Kids

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This is Jidge’s latest masterpiece.  For a 3 year old he does a good job since he successfully covers most of the item in paint before he gets bored. That’s a win. Thankfully glitter and shiny spray cover a multitude of sins and his art usually looks adorable to him and Mom when he is done. But i’m not going to be telling him he could grow up to be an artist anytime soon. Why? Because as of now (and he’s young so this could change), but for now he shows little aptitude for art. He has an appreciation of art, he likes making art, but so far there is no special interest in or aptitude for art.

Why does aptitude or interest matter?

Because you can’t be anything you want.

You can’t. We lie to children when we tell them this. We set them up to have their hopes dashed.

If you suck at Math then accountant is pretty much out. Not many asthmatic 5’6 NBA players or dancers with no rhythm.

So until and unless my son begins to develop an interest  or a natural talent (either of which we could help cultivate) in some area then I am not going to tell him he can become whatever he wants. I’m not telling him he isn’t good at art because he is in his own way but if he continues on this path and his parents abilities are any indicator he will probably stink at art. (Because this is totally me, see below.)

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Regardless, even if  he began to show promise as an artist there would be some other job choices that would be ruled out. As he grows he will show strength in some areas…and weakness in others. I am not going to tell him he can be “Anything”. Someday when he wants to be a superhero at 5 I will chuckle to myself, not ready to dash his dreams but I will not indulge an “I can be anything” attitude. I see those kids, I know them. All that positive reinforcement through “little white lies” creates children who cry when they get beat in a race at school (my mom says i’m super fast, he must have cheated!), who thrust themselves into the limelight when someone praises a peer’s art (yeah but look at MINE, my mom says i’m an artist, you must not have seen mine) and worse it eventually breeds adults who truly believe they are gifted in all things.

I enjoy knowing the areas I struggle with, being aware of them and learning to cope and work around those weaknesses helps me to be a more useful person and keeps me humble. As a Christian it also offers me an promise because the Bible says that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, if I can’t admit I HAVE weaknesses it’s pretty hard for me to recognize Christ working in it.

So next time your child asks you if they can be “X” when they grow up, pause before you throw out an insincere, “Sure, you can be anything!”, and consider honesty instead.  As a teacher the response I give is two part, “Maybe, if you have a talent in that area when you get older” and “Maybe if that’s what God calls you to do”. I have yet to see a kid bothered by this, but I have seen kids upset when they realize they NEVER had a shot at becoming something their parent promised them they could.

I’m a Better Mother Than You.

Booyah.

I’m better than you, let me tell you all the reasons my parenting choices are better than yours.

If you know me you knew I wasn’t actually making that statement seriously and yet all over the land of internetdom that exact sentence is being screamed, shouted, cried and begged in so many more words.

Yep. The Mommy Wars. They don’t exist…or do they.

They have left a deep scar on the collective psyche of women in their parenting years so there must be some truth to the term. If you look to Merriam Webster and find the definition of war as ” a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism” then you can safely bet your paycheck the mommy wars are real, happening and destructive.

The topics are endless…. I mean seriously endless. EVERY issue a parent has ever faced can become a skirmish. Even issues almost no parent has ever faced but still theoretically could pertain to parenting cause the tongue lashings to begin.

Breast, bottle, organic, processed, cosleeping, cry it out, potty training methods 1 through 793, gender neutrality, gender roles, baby education, benefits of child classes in various art forms, child led weaning, daycare, stay at home, working, father roles, technology, seriously no joke this list could just keep growing for eternity and NO ONE WOULD EVER BE RIGHT.

But what about the benefits of…Nope.

But science says that…Nope.

But my friend does …Nope.

[Disclaimer, I am OBVIOUSLY not referring to matters of safety, I am talking about issues where it is all subjective and the child is not endangered. That’s a crime not a parenting choice so please don’t pull out the lunatics who refuse all health care, people who give their children dangerous substances, etc.]

I’m talking about good old fashioned preference. Whether you have science, your doctor, six generations of your family or anyone else backing you up on these choices they are still just that: choices.

Every kid is different. Really. I can’t say it enough because our society seems to hear it as every child is special (and beautiful and unique and blah blah blah) but that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that every child is a tiny human being with emotions, personalities and preferences. What works for one kid will not work for all kids. Period.

For every method there are success stories. AND a bunch of failures too.

If we could stop telling ourselves that who our children become is entirely on our shoulders and recognize that within the confines of any healthy loving home most kids are going to turn out just fine we might could stop the wars.

If you didn’t think you were solely responsible for whether your child becomes obese some day you might not go postal over the thought of them tasting a non-organic snack once in a while.

If you didn’t convince yourself that the deciding factor between your child becoming a CEO or an exotic dancer is her exposure to the arts you might stop putting her in a dozen dance, art and music lessons and judging everyone who isn’t.

So maybe these wars exist, although I contend it is largely within the confines of the great anonymous portal we call the internet and that out here in the real world women aren’t judging each other this harshly. (Because it’s harder to pretend your kids are perfect when people can actually see them (you know awake and stuff).

So next time you see an opposing view (that’s wouldn’t cause child protective services to raise an eyebrow) think about what your saying before you say it and if the other person is going to read it and hear you saying “I’m a better mother than you” just don’t say it.

Even better, next time someone is sharing just listen. If they want advice they will ask. I promise. Until then it’s ok just to listen even if they are making choices you wouldn’t make. By listening you may gain their respect enough that they will actually WANT your advice sometime. 🙂

 

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