Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's not fair!

I was talking (well, emailing) with a friend recently about parenting and it has sparked some thoughts I thought I'd talk through and share.

It's always been interesting and confusing to me when I see families with multiple children and some of the children thrive in the home and others don't. I can't even count the number of families I've known where there was one child who thrived and respected their parents and another child who seemed depressed and resentful of their parents.

I'm sure there are multiple reasons for situations like this and I don't want to pretend to be an expert (I'm not!) or try and over-simplify the dynamics of family life. But there is something I've observed that I think may be a contributing factor.

As parents, we have values and principles and rules and parenting techniques that are unique to our families... and that makes perfect sense, of course. What works in your home may not work in my home and vice versa. But I think that's too simple... I think sometimes we need to use different techniques with different children within the same home.

It seems simple enough. My children are very different from each other. Discipline that works for one child does not work for another and what motivates one child does not motivate another. What makes them feel loved and special is not the same for all of my children.

So, what's the problem? I think part of the problem is fairness. We, as parents, want to be "fair". If I take one child out for a special ice cream treat, I feel like I need to do that for all my children. If one child gets to have a spend the night friend I feel like I should let the others have a friend too. And on and on it goes... and then we get frustrated when we can't keep up with everything for everybody.

It seems a trap that is easy to get caught up in. I know a lot of homes have ages where children are allowed to do certain things... when you are 8 you can watch this movie... when you are 16 you can drive... when you are 45 you can start dating ;). But one child may be able to handle a movie at 8 years old while the other would have nightmares at that age. One child may be a very responsible driver at 16 and another may not.

So, when my children notice I'm doing things differently for each of them and cry "it's not fair!".. what do I do?

Well, I could give in and treat all of them the same... but I don't think that's the right thing to do. They are different people and don't need the same things. I could say "life's not fair, deal with it." but I don't think that's right either.

I think I should talk through it with each of them. Explain my reasons for what I do.... explain that taking electronics time away from my 9 year old is something that will change his behavior, but means nothing to my 4 year old. Explain that, as their parents, it is our job to learn about and get to know each child individually and not to treat them as one unit. Give each child several choices of fun things to do and discover what each individual child enjoys... not assume that just because my 6 year old LOVES to go shopping at Walmart with me, that my 9 year old wants that too (he hates it!).

So, I'm not going to be "fair" :-) I'm going to do my best to discover what makes each of my children tick... what makes them feel loved and special... what motivates them to love God and other people... what helps them understand the hard things in life... what they can handle at what ages... and even though it may not be "fair", I hope and pray that it will be what's best for them.

I sure do love those little people :-)

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Not so super"-mom

The whole Supermom thing is kind of funny to me. A lot of people (some serious and some joking) call me that and I really do take it as a compliment :-) Most of the time I feel so inadequate, though. I have so many faults and there are so many parts of being a mom that are just not my strengths.

This is on my mind because one of my weaknesses was glaring at me all day yesterday. I am NOT sympathetic toward sick people. At all. That is fine if we are talking about my husband, but not so much when we are talking about my 8 month old. He woke up at 4 something in the morning yesterday with a fever and a croupy cough. I got up with him, gave him medicine, cuddled with him, fed him, and put him back to bed. He slept a while and then woke up... and was fussy... all day.

And then the struggle within myself ensued... I'm a mom... it's my job, my privilege, and my responsibility to snuggle my babies when they don't feel good. And I'm good with that... I really am... when it works. If I can pick up my fussy baby, love on him, snuggle him, and then he becomes a content baby... I'm good with that. It makes me happy :-) It's when I pick them up and do all those things and they are STILL fussy that I struggle. It's when I am rocking and nursing and cuddling a fussy baby who is continually fussy no matter what I do that I get incredibly frustrated. I don't like it, I don't enjoy it... I just want to put them down and walk away. But they are sick... they don't feel good. So I feel guilty :(

I'm a mom who is willing to let my babies cry some. Not for long periods of time, but some... yes, I let them cry for a few minutes at a time. If they are learning to soothe themselves to sleep or as they get older if they are pitching a fit, I will leave them in bed and let them cry a little. I don't have a problem with that. But when they are sick... it's different. I don't want to leave them in their bed to cry when they don't feel good... but I also don't want to rock and walk with a fussy baby for hours on end either. Thus, the struggle.

So, which side wins? Does the guilt win out and I rock and cuddle, or does frustration win out and I put them to bed?

I must take a break for a second and say that when my husband is home he is amazing and wonderful and helps me so much! He will rock and cuddle a sick baby too :-) Love him! He was gone with the older kids to church a lot yesterday, though, so I was home with the sick baby.

Is the suspense killing you? ;-) What did I do?

I did both. I held and nursed and rocked and cuddled my baby. I talked to him and kissed on him... and some of the time he cried and some of the time he was quiet. But then when I got frustrated... I laid him in bed and took a shower. Not a long shower... but enough of a shower that when I got out I was ready to go get my baby and start all over again. And then I loved on him and rocked him and cuddled him and kissed him some more.

Those few minutes of crying were good for both of us. I was less frustrated and it seemed to help him realize that, yes, it is better in momma's arms. So, he was less fussy as I held him.

Then he went to bed and slept all night... and this morning, he isn't fussy anymore :-) His fever is gone and he talked to me and smiled at me while I fed him his cereal this morning. Oh, my goodness, I love my babies!!!

So... sometimes I'm "not so super"-mom. And that's okay. God's grace is sufficient :-) I've been "not so super" with my other kids and they are happy, well-adjusted, silly kids. Love, love, love my babies! Did I say I love my babies?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lets Go Bowling!

I love going bowling with my family! It's fun and funny all at the same time... it's a great time for people of all ages, and even if you're not any good at it.. it's fun to do something where it's easy to laugh at yourself :-) It really is tons of fun!

My family hasn't gone bowling in Meridian much since we've lived here (about 5 years). Mostly because I'm allergic to cigarette smoke and couldn't handle the smoking in there. It's been frustrating for me in places where smoking was allowed (even in smoking sections) around town. It's just no fun to walk into a place for a meal or to have some fun and not be able to breathe.

But now the no smoking ordinance has been passed and I can breathe deeply! Love it!

The bowling alley is particularly on my mind tonight because my church has had a good relationship with them (we are next door!) for a while now. They are under new management now and the new management is going above and beyond to let us know they plan to maintain our current relationship. That's awesome!!!

So, let's all go have some fun at the bowling alley! It's now called Family Bowl. My family will be going there soon.... hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just ask!

So, if someone wants to know something about you... don't you want them to just ask you? I mean, when someone is curious about something they tend to go everywhere but the source to find out details. Why is that?

Where did "do unto other" go when it comes to finding out info about other people? Do we think we can get better info or more info on someone if we ask their friends or family rather than the person themselves? Are we worried they will somehow be mean or reject us and refuse to tell us? Are we worried about looking bad or gossipy by asking them? What's the deal?

I've been SO guilty of this at times myself. But I have resolved to stop it. Why? Because I don't like it when people do this to me, that's why. If you want to know something about me... ask me! Those who know me well, know I will be honest... sometimes too honest ;)

Sometimes we do this because we are just being gossipy and want to be "in the know". But sometimes I think we do this because we are unsure if the person wants to talk about it and we don't want to upset them. But, from my experience, most people DO want to talk about these issues in their lives and by not going to them directly it makes them think we don't care.

For example, I have a dear friend who has been trying to have a baby for 8 years now. She and her husband have also put in an application for adoption. We are very close and she has shared with me that it bothers her nobody asks her how she is doing with it. In the beginning of trying there were a few people who would ask her when she is going to have another baby (they have a 9 year old) but over time the word spread they were having trouble so people stopped asking her about it. I don't know why we withdraw from people in these situations, but we do. I am close friends with her, so people as me about her trying to have a baby instead of asking her. It's not that people don't care... it's that somehow they are uncomfortable going straight to the person who is struggling with something. And I get that... I do.

But if you were struggling with something, what would you want? I would want people to come to me. I would want to know people are praying for me and care about me. I'd rather them come straight to me than go to my friends.

I realize that some people need more space than I do. And that some people may tell you it's none of your business or be mean if you go straight to them about an issue in their lives. But isn't it worth the risk? Because sometimes... just sometimes... if you go straight to the person, you will be able to brighten their day and touch their lives in a way you may never realize.

So, watch out!!! If I get curious about something in your life... I'm not going to people around you... I'm coming straight to you :-) And if you want to know something about me... just ask! :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

When to shop?

I do my "big shopping trip" once a week... at Wal-mart. It takes at least an hour and a half. But I cannot decide when I like to do it, so I'm going to type it out in an effort to decide. Sorry to subject you to my oddities :-)

The two scenarios:

1. I go shopping on a weekday morning with my 2 year old and 8 month old.

2. I go shopping on a weekday night by myself.

It seems like a no-brainer. I mean, really... who would choose to spend an hour and half shopping for toiletries and groceries with two small children rather than go by herself? So, why is it I think I like scenario 1 better?

It makes no sense! :-)

But, then again, I tend to be an odd duck at times :-)

The huge negatives to scenario 2 (the by myself one) are:

---Some of the shelves are empty of what I need. I guess the people shopping all day have bought it all... but there have been numerous times I've needed something and the shelf was empty when I shopped in the evening.

---There are SO many more people!!! People everywhere! People who don't move out of the way and people who stare at the fact that I go to Wal-mart without makeup and in my sweats (I just know I'm going to end up on the people of Walmart website one day!).

---I spend more money. With the babies with me there is not much room in the buggy, so I cannot buy things that aren't on the list (sometimes I have to get two buggies an push one and pull one just to get the things I need!). But when I am by myself I can fit more things and I can also take more time which almost always ends up with more money spent.

---It takes away from my evenings. Assuming there is a night without any soccer or school functions, it's nice just to be at home with my family. And after the kids are in bed it's nice just to have some down time by myself or with my husband.

So... the no-brainer isn't so simple after all. I guess I'll be the odd duck who is pushing a buggy with two small boys while pulling a buggy that is full of groceries one morning a week. If you see me, feel free to stare :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inquisitive Little People!

My kids are extremely inquisitive! They ask tons of questions about lots of things.

Crazy questions like... "Why do trees come out of the ground instead of out of the sky?"

Profound questions like... "How come when God talks to me I feel it instead of hearing it?"

Difficult questions like... "Why do some people like to hurt other people?"

Embarrassing questions like... "Why is her booty that big???"

Delicate questions like... "How did that baby get in there and how is it going to get out?"

Yes, I have been asked every one of these questions by one or more of my children. When my oldest child first started asking me questions like this I would do one of two things... either I would totally avoid the question or I would give way more information than he could handle at his age.

Then, over time, I managed to find the balance of age appropriate honesty. I would answer him as simply as I could until his curiosity was satisfied. This seems to work well for all of my children... and they are all very different children :-)

I am honest... completely honest. There are no stork stories or skirting of hard or profound questions. Just honesty. And I've found that if I don't give them enough information they'll continue to ask questions until they feel they understand. And as they get older and think of more questions about the same topics, they ask. And I answer.

This is hard for some people, I know. Difficult questions about God or the evil in the world are hard to answer. Questions about where babies come from are uncomfortable to answer. But, because of how I was dealt with as a child on these topics, I know that children will find the answers to their questions somewhere.

I want them to find their answers at home from my husband and me. If I shut them down now and refuse to answer their questions, I will lose them. They won't come to me later when they need to talk through things or ask questions. And if I am not honest... if I make up stories about storks or dodge their questions about God, they won't trust me. One day they will discover the truth and will know I lied to them.

So, I answer them. I answer them if it's hard or uncomfortable. If I don't know the answer we try to find the answer together.

My oldest is only 9, so I know there are probably harder questions coming... but when they come, I will answer. My plan is to keep the lines of communication open... and to pray a lot :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm not ready!!!

....for my oldest child to go to middle school, that is.

Next school year (this August), I will have a child starting Kindergarten... that is absolutely no big deal in comparison to my oldest child going to middle school.

It's craziness!!! For several reasons...

---Middle school is a new phenomenon for me. When I was in school, we had "junior high" which was 6, 7, and 8th grades. This whole leaving elementary school in the 5th grade is new to me. I don't like it!

---Right now, my son's teacher sends home a weekly newsletter to tell me what they are studying and announcements for the week. I've been told that STOPS at the middle school. The students are told things and expected to write it down or remember it to tell their parents. What? I'm not ready for that!

---I know the people at the elementary school. I spent several years as a PTO officer there, two of them as president, and I got to know the teachers and administration and office staff. They are wonderful! And I know them. I do not know these people at the middle school. I know two teachers there and they are not 5th grade teachers. I am not okay with not knowing these people!

---I've just heard way too many nightmare stories about how the students act in middle school. Things my children will be exposed to there... this is the worst one for me. I am definitely not ready for this!

I realize that it is easy and even enjoyable for some parents to send their kids off to school. I can completely relate to needing a break, but there is no part of me that enjoys sending my kids off for eight hours a day. My children have had a WONDERFUL school experience and I am incredibly thankful for that! But I still LOVE having them home with me when I have them and DREAD sending them back when it's time to go back. That's just the way I roll...... :-)

So, come August... if you see a crazy looking woman standing in front of the middle school with tears in her eyes, staring and shaking her head.... don't be alarmed. It's just me ;-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Just DO It!!

Yes, I think of that commercial that was so popular a while back whenever I hear this phrase, but it seemed the most fitting way to say what I want to say :-)

I have a confession to make... I LOVE food. And I do NOT like exercise. I need to be healthier. Really. Regardless of my weight or what I look like, I have some really bad habits when it comes to these areas of my health.

A little known fact about me... I was in the Marine Corps Reserve for 5 years. Yep. Little ole me :) When I met my husband I was in amazing shape... exercised regularly (umm.... the Marines kind of ensure that) and was a healthy eater. Then when I got out of the military and didn't have that accountability anymore I kind of let things go a little bit at a time. I got out of the Marines right before my first son was born. I knew I wasn't going to want to be going to drill and leaving my baby behind, but I stayed in the whole pregnancy so I stayed pretty healthy.

After my son was born, exercise went out the window. I had enough muscle on me that my metabolism was pretty good, so it didn't start to show for a while. But after he was born I had several miscarriages and did some SERIOUS comfort eating. This is when it all started going downhill.

In between my third and fourth child I took a kickboxing class that was free at my church and really started to get back in shape. But then I let it all go again.

Now, to my point....

Yesterday was an AMAZING day for me. My birthday was last week, so Saturday my wonderful husband gave me a "me" day :-) I'm nursing my baby, so first thing my husband brought him to me, but then I gave the baby back to him and slept till 11:00 :-) I got up then to meet a friend for lunch at Olive Garden (my favorite!). Then I shopped after that and didn't get home till supper time :) I didn't cook and my hubby put the kids to bed. It was WONDERFUL! And it really gave me some time to just think.

I have SO many "reasons" for not being able to exercise and eat better... some of them include...

---I can't join a gym because I can't afford the childcare during the day and I don't have time to go to the gym at night because of the older kids sports

---I am hormonal.

---I already spend a lot of time on food and to eat even healthier it would take even more time.

---Exercising at home is hard because we don't have much space and the kids are all up in my grill.

Okay, so ALL of these statements are true. They are! BUT... they are not reasons... they are excuses. I CAN exercise at home. It may not be convenient or easy, but it is possible. It does take more time to eat healthier (we eat pretty healthy for supper and the kids eat healthy lunch and breakfast... but my lunch and breakfast are very lacking). And it is HARD not to snack on junk when I am hormonal or emotional about something.

Nobody ever said it would be easy.... but I HAVE to stop making excuses and DO SOMETHING!!

I have a tendency to want to do everything all at once.... make drastic changes overnight and then when it doesn't work I get discouraged and quit.

OR I will have every intention of doing something but will be waiting for the perfect time. For example, I have this mental block in my head that it has to be a Monday for me to start a new routine.

But I had an epiphany Saturday... It doesn't HAVE to be a Monday for me to start and I don't have to be perfect at everything right away. But I do have to DO something.

So, when I got home from my AMAZING day I got on my treadmill for 20 minutes while all the kids stood in FRONT (I put up a gate so they can't get near it... dangerous!) of it and jogged along with me... so CUTE! After they went to bed I did some hand weights in my bedroom floor while I watched TV.

So, I started. I did it. And it wasn't perfect or "all out", but it's done. And today I had my last piece of my birthday cake, and that's okay. Because I didn't eat the whole cake ;) Baby steps really are okay.

If you think of me, you are welcome to pray for me in this area :-) I will be putting updates (good or bad) on here occasionally. How's that for accountability? :-)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How do I do it?

One of the questions I am asked a lot is "How do you do it with all those kids?". Most of the time people are really making a statement and not actually asking me a question. The rough translation is "Girl, I think you're crazy. There is no way I could handle all those kids."... or that is what I have found people really mean when they ask me this question :-)

But some people are genuinely asking me for tips or pointers on how to manage a home with a lot of children. First, I must say that I do NOT have this all figured out and that I am continually seeking God and re-evaluating what I can do to improve my home. This is a journey that is ever-changing, for sure!!!

One thing that really helps in our home is chores. Grrr... that's an ugly word, but it really works! I believe chores teach children responsibility, and when they are paid it provides them an opportunity to begin learning how to handle money.

There are countless ways to organize chores for a home and what works for one home may not work for another home. I suggest trying different things until you find what works best for your home.

Here's how we do it:

Each of my older three children (the 2 year old and 7mo old aren't included yet!) have a folder (just a regular folder with pockets and brads). Inside this folder are multiple pages with each child's list of chores for each day of the week that are three hole punched. After the child completes a chore, they highlight it. If you want more details on this, all you have to do is ask :-)

Now, what chores do I have my children do, you ask?

First, each child is expected to pick up after themselves and keep their rooms picked up. They are not paid for these things... that's just part of being a member of our family. The deal here... if they don't do these things, they will NOT get paid for their paid chores even if they do them.

Our current list of paid chores for each child....

9 year old boy:

Daily - scoop cat litter box, feed all pets except the rabbit, fix school lunches, gather all the trash from smaller trash cans and take it out to carport trash can.
Weekly - completely empty and hose out litter box and add new litter (this is really done as needed... it's not always every week)

6 year old girl:

Daily - feed rabbit, clean bathroom counters, mirrors, sinks, and inside toilets (the 9 year old boy will be called in if we feel it necessary for him to clean the outside of the toilets.... that's part of cleaning up after yourself ;)
Weekly - completely clean out rabbit cage

4 year old girl:

Daily - clear table after breakfast and supper, wipe down table and counters after supper
Weekly - clean out the van (not vacuming, just gathering the "stuff" that accumulates, bringing it in the house and putting it away)

The weekly chores are done on Wednesday because our kids get out of school early that day. On Sundays they just do the bare minimum (feeding the animals).

How much do I pay? I'm not as organized on this as I could be, but what we are doing now is what works for us. The school is always sending home notes that there is a concession stand day or to bring a dollar for this or that. So, when I get one of those notes, I pull out that child's folder and decide whether they can have money for it or not. This is a huge motivator for them. Each child usually tests me once per school year and when they have to miss out, they stick to the chore list from then on out. In addition to that I give them each a dollar a week. This is the money they give and save from. I should also say that if they choose not to spend the money for the school things and keep it for something else, they are free to do that.

I can hear you thinking... how do you know they are actually DOING the chores and not just highlighting them? During "chore time" I am around, usually working on supper in the kitchen which is where we keep the folders. I know about how long it takes to accomplish chores, so if I get suspicious I check behind them. They will occasionally get lazy and not do their chore well enough.... when that happens I have them re-do it.

This is HUGE in keeping the house decent (I say decent because I'm not a great housekeeper... my home is rarely immaculate... that's just not how I am.) One thing that is KEY... when I introduce a new chore to a child, I do it alongside them for a long while so they learn it well. Then I will have them do it while I am there talking them through it for a short while. I can't expect my children to be able to do something if I haven't taught them well.

One other HUGE thing in accomplishing this... my children are not allowed electronics time (TV, video games, computer games) at all on Mon-Thurs. It interferes with homework time and family time. Very occasionally we will sit down and watch Wheel of Fortune as a family, but that is rare. This policy just really helps our home.

And for those of you who may think I ask too much of my children..... Well, I was told this not long ago by a family member. That I give them too many chores and am expecting too much. When I get criticism like that I try my best not to get defensive and really evaluate if they are right or not. (Even though I'm thinking... "you are SO wrong!"...just being honest!) So, I decided to time them.... see exactly how much I was expecting. My 9 year old took the longest.... a whopping 20 minutes!!! Whoah! Okay, so I'm not asking too much. I feel better :-)

Okay, that's it :-) Hope it helps somebody!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Hi! My name is Juliet. I've been married for 12 wonderful years (really wonderful... I realize some people just say that, but I mean it). I have 5 kids (3 boys and 2 girls). My oldest child is 9 years old and my youngest is 7 months. I'm a stay at home mom living in a "too small" house for my family size in an effort to get out of debt (grrrr.... debt). My kids go to a wonderful local public school. I just cannot say enough good things about their school. LOVE it! My husband is a great provider for our family and is my best friend. He is a great dad and he even cleans the kitchen!

I am a Christian and believe the Bible is Truth. I'm active in a wonderful local church and the people there are truly family to me. My extended family do not live here, so I need all the support I can get!

I tend to say things I "shouldn't" and have an extremely loud laugh (that may not be very applicable to a blog, though... ha!). When I write I tend to use "..." and smiley's a lot, but realize that can get annoying so I will do my best to limit them.

I do some "Supermom" type things like make my own baby food and meal planning. At least people call me Supermom when I talk about these things. But a lot of days I don't feel like Supermom and am just doing my best to take care of the people around me. That is why I named this blog the way I did. Maybe one day I can be the "real" Supermom! :-)

If there is anything you would like to know, just ask!