Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Here's to a happy and safe Halloween! Let me know what you and/or your kids are wearing! (You can read about what my kids dressed as here.)

You can send pictures, too! We want to see the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mommy Quote of the Week

"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?"
-- Milton Berle

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mommy Quote of the Week

"Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare."
-- Ed Asner

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dinner Table Topics

Set the table for another set of Dinner Table Topics! Put your forks down for a second and chew on these:

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced that they are ready to have even more children. That would make them the parents of 5, count 'em, five children. Sure, I would have 5 children too... if I already had two nannies, a personal trainer, a housekeeper, an agent, and a publicist. Piece o' cake.

Flu season is coming! And it looks like it's recommended that basically everyone should get a flu shot. Personally, the kids and I all got the flu shot last year. Everyone in Volcano's class last year (including the teacher) got sick... except for him. Monkey and Volcano were both a little cranky for about 2 or 3 days after, but I think it was worth it for them not to get sick. And who knows? That could've just been because kids get cranky.

And lastly, Halloween is upon us. The kids already know what they're going to be. Monkey, who is always simple, wants to be Cinderella. Volcano, on the other hand, likes to challenge me. This year he wants to be Larry from Night at the Museum. Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and his costume is already done. (Yay, me!)

Of course, I would love to hear what your kids are going to be. But I also want to know: do you still dress up? I personally haven't dressed up for Halloween since I quit my career to become a full-time mom. And I miss it!

Let me know!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mommy Quote of the Week

"Being a dad is the greatest, except for assembling things."
-- Conan O'Brien

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What Do I Do Now?

I have a parenting dilemma.

I am starting to plan Volcano and Monkey's joint birthday party. They share a birthday party because their birthdays are a week apart from each other. Plus, Volcano and Monkey like each other's friends, it cuts the costs down, and it's usually a lot more fun and less stressful than trying to do them separately.

One evening, Volcano asked me, "So, at our birthday party, are you going to have your friends there, too?"

I shrugged. "Well, my friends are mostly the mommies of your friends, so... yeah -- I'll have my friends there."

"So you're going to invite Jenna, then, right?" Volcano asked.

I almost automatically said yes, when I began to think carefully about his question. Jenna is one of my closest friends, and we often get the kids together to play. She only has one daughter, Sarah, who is Volcano's age, but I always bring Monkey along to play too. Sarah usually avoids playing with Monkey, who is almost 3 years younger, and she delibrately leaves her out of their play activities. Admittedly, Sarah almost always ends up picking on Monkey, and has hit her, pushed her, and kicked her every time we've gotten them together. Because of this, I have eliminated the play dates, and it has recently just been Jenna and I getting together for dinner and drinks in the evenings without the kids.

But the birthday party is at a public place, not our home. I reserved a party room at an indoor playplace in our neighborhood, so the kids can play freely and then join us for cake towards the end. I was actually planning on inviting Sarah because I figured the kids could play wherever they liked, and I could watch Monkey and make sure she stayed away from her.

But now that Volcano is asking me this, I reconsider. "Why do you ask?"

"It's just that..." he shuffles his feet. "I know that Jenna is your friend. And Sarah is my friend..." He looks up at me and whispers. "But she can be really mean. Especially to the Monkey. I don't think Sarah should come to my party."

I swallow, hard. He's right. What am I doing? Putting my comfort before the safety and well-being of Monkey? Here is my son, not yet 5 years old, and he's thinking of sacrificing one of his friends in order to keep Monkey safe. I had to learn about family unity from my own son.

So here's my dilemma: what do I do? How do I tell Jenna that Sarah isn't invited to the kids' birthday party, when she surely assumes she will be? I want to keep Jenna as a friend, but I don't want Sarah there. Volcano specifically said he doesn't want her there in order to keep Monkey safe. How do I tell Jenna without losing her friendship? Or do I, too, have to sacrifice her as a friend?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mommy Quote of the Week

"Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying."
-- Fran Lebowitz

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Struggle of the Soccer Mom

Hubby asked me the other day as we are driving the kids home from Volcano's soccer practice, "Why do you even come?"

Good question.

I have single-handedly turned the whole soccer deal into a drama-filled night of emotional ups and downs. And those are my emotions I am talking about -- everyone else is fine. Volcano is having a blast running after the ball, palling around with his friends, and working up a sweat. Hubby loves watching the drills, and he often assists the coach with a game or two. Monkey loves sitting with me on the sidelines, eating the numerous apple slices and cheese sticks I have packed to keep her entertained.

Me, on the other hand... I am on an emotional roller coaster. Often times, I am proud to watch Volcano improve his skills, giving his best effort and having a great time. I laugh when he and all the other 4-year-olds run out of bounds like a bunch of grapes stuck on the vine, chasing the ball without knowing what to do once they get it. And I even cheer when a child -- any child -- makes a goal (which is rare). But there are those times where I am sitting in my fold-up chair, with Monkey squished beside me, that I sit there seething, silently annoyed at a certain other parent.

Jeannie is the typical Hypercompetitive Mom, with a dash of the Self-Proclaimed Expert mixed in for good measure. Her husband coaches soccer for the 9 and 10 year-olds, so obviously her 4-year-old son Braden has played before. He knows how to steal the ball, stop it, dribble it, and kick it into the goal. However, what Braden still hasn't mastered is passing the ball -- sharing it with a fellow teammate. And what is annoying, maddening really, is that Jeannie doesn't tell her son to share, but cheers loudly each and every time he makes a fricken' goal. Every. Single. Time. Which, you have to realize, is a lot of times. He has become a Ball Hog, and his mother is overjoyed. I, on the other hand, am pissed.

Like I said, Braden is admittedly a good soccer player. It is obvious. All the other kids run after the ball like a pack of wolves after a steak dinner -- no plan, no direction, just hunger... hunger to let their foot make some kind of contact with the ball. But Braden has a plan. He steals the ball, dribbles it down the field, and scores. Consistently. I actually prefer my son is on the opposite team than on the same team as Braden: Volcano's score may be lower, but at least he has a chance of touching the ball.

Now, this doesn't mean Jeannie lets Braden's actions speak for themselves. Oh no! She has to make sure we all know that "Braden has been playing soccer since he was a baby," and that "He came out of the womb kicking" (hahaha) and that "He knows what he's doing -- his dad coaches soccer."


Instead I just sit there, feeding Monkey grapes and cheering Volcano on. And I try desperately to ignore Jeannie. Inside I am fuming, and I can't wait to let it all out on the ride home. Every time practice ends, I slam the car door shut, and I start to rant, "Jeannie was at it again! Why can't she just keep her mouth shut?! I seriously am going to lose it if I have to hear one more time about what a brilliant soccer star her son is! Like there's not enough hype with the Beckhams in L.A., we have to hear about her son and what a wonderful soccer player he is!"

So Hubby, after listening patiently, finally asked me, "Why do you even come? It seems to upset you every time."

I thought silently for a bit. Why do I go? Hubby could take care of Volcano without me, and Monkey and I could just hang out at home.

But, I realized, I like going. Monkey and I have fun watching, munching on snacks, and I like talking with (most of) the other parents. Plus, Volcano waves to me from the field, and shouts, "Hey, Mommy!" And when he finally does kick the ball, he runs over to us and gives us a big hug. "I did it!" he shouts. Also, it's become a tradition that we all go out for ice cream afterwards -- win or lose. Now... why would I want to miss all of that?

So, it looks like I have to tolerate Jeannie for a couple hours a week, all in the name of supporting my son. But that means that Hubby has to allow me to rant once a week as well. Or I might have to tear Jeannie's head off with my bare hands so she would just SHUT UP!

Monday, October 1, 2007

How To Deal With Rude Parents

In an article titled Totally Rude Parents by Reshma Memon Yaqub, a list of common mommy annoyances are categorized into different types of moms. Do any of these sound familiar?

The Perp: The Hypercompetitive Mom
Warning Signs: constant bragging, loves to hear herself talk, more concerned about telling everyone about child's latest accomplishment than whether or not anyone cares.
How to Deal: Give her a quick compliment, than excuse yourself to talk to someone else. Don't get yourself involved in the conversation, or it will just turn into a contest of one-upmanship. Save your own bragging for the grandparents.

The Perp: The Self-Proclaimed Expert
Warning Signs: Endless opinions about what you should be doing with your child and how you should be doing it. "Someday this woman is going to drive her daughter-in-law into therapy," Yaqub muses.
How to Deal: Don't explain yourself. Just smile politely and thank her for her concern. In the case of a long-term friendship, "you'll have to politely explain that your family has its own way of doing things and that her repeated intrusions are unwelcome."

The Perp: The Selfish Mom
Warning Signs: No child exists but her own, and her child is always in the right. Pushing her own child up front so she can see better (even if it means stepping in front of everyone else) is something the Selfish Mom would do.
How to Deal: Avoid the temptation to be nasty, and ask politely to insure your child gets what she deserves as well. Or just move to another area so you're not disturbed.

The Perp: The Bad Influence
Warning Signs: Your child loves going over to Bad Influence Mom's house because she lets the kids eat candy by the pound and watch PG-13 movies -- even though you've asked her not to.
How to Deal: "Without judging, make one last attempt to explain to this mom why you set your rules and how important they are to you," says Adam Wasson, author of Eats, Poops, and Leaves. If nothing changes after your chat, you have two choices: Make your house the "fun" house (best snacks, coolest G-rated activities) where the kids want to hang out, or relegate this friendship to in-school hours only.

The Perp: The Wimp
Warning Signs: Lets her child get away with everything because she can't or won't stand up to him, ignores rules, pretends not to notice her child's misbehavior to avoid conflict, enjoys being the laid-back mom who is her child's best friend instead of a disciplinarian.
How to Deal: Enlist her child's cooperation, which may mean stepping in and giving your own polite reminders. Ultimately, limit playdates with this mom: it may only frustrate your own child to watch someone else break rules he is required to follow.

The Perp: The Thoughtless Mom
Warning Signs: A lot like Selfish Mom, shows up late for playgroups, changes her daughter on your dining room table, then throws the diaper in your kitchen trash can. "This mom is more oblivious than rude -- she's too overwhelmed or self-involved to realize how her behavior affects others," Yaqub explains.
How to Deal: Coping with this mom requires a combination of backbone and funny bone. You need to set boundaries and protect your turf -- be it your time or furniture. "During a playdate, a parent started changing a dirty diaper on my coffee table next to the food!" recalls Wasson. "I swooped in with a big smile and said, 'Oh, look, we have a changing table right over here!' I almost grabbed the half-naked baby." Keep your tone apologetic and hospitable, like you know she would have done the right thing if she only knew where the changing table was. And you can cure recurring lateness by still ending playdates on time. This will remind Thoughtless Mom that she cuts her own child's play time by showing up late.