As my kids get older, they are busier. They have lots of homework and now social lives. Football games and outings to Friendly’s have replaced birthday parties. Soccer games, swim practices, and scouts meetings are filling up the calendar. I feel time slipping by and I’m constantly looking for things for us to do together and keep the lines of communication open. Most of the time, these bonding moments are brief and will likely take place in the car when I’m schlepping them to activities. My favorite part of every day is when we share our “roses” and “thorns” of the day. I even get a turn to share with them what I liked and what didn’t go so well. These brief conversations with the kids tell me so much about their lives that I don’t even care if that moment is spent on the road. Recently, a new opportunity has come up for Jenna and I to spend time together although it is not in one of my favorite places -like a coffee shop or the mall. She has been begging me to take her to the gym where we can work out together. I bought her a membership last year when joined the school track team. She wants to do it again and get herself in tip top shape. And although I welcome another opportunity for us to connect, I have to say our gym habits are not entirely in sync (yet). Hopefully, this is something we are both willing to work on. For instance: She likes to run a mile (or two) on the treadmill, AND THEN select the elliptical or the bicycle before she goes downstairs to lift weights. I am used to doing my 30 minutes of cardio and I’m out the door. I am a morning person and I like to get my workouts over with as early as possible. She is a night person who refuses to get out of bed on weekends until absolutely necessary. She loves to work out. I don’t. She has tons of energy. I don’t (especially at night). She is motivated. I’m semi-motivated. Last night, we talked about her science class and the upcoming homecoming dance. I talked about some things I’ve been doing lately at work. And then, I started getting tired. I sat my butt down on a bench, checked my Facebook page and waited while she worked out on the lat pull down machine. I could not have made it more obvious that I was officially done with the workout portion of the evening. 🙂 It was then that I received the wake-up call I needed as to why going to the gym is important to both of us. For me, it isn’t logging in the hour of physical activity….although I know it is very important to do so. It was when Jenna stood up from her machine, looked at me and said the following: “Mom, I know you are tired, but can you just come over and talk to me for a while until I’m done lifting weights?” Of course, I can do that. I want to do that! It is what I’m here for –to talk to you, to hear your stories, to be a part of your life. So, I’ll work on being a night person and try to enjoy the physical benefits of our workouts. I’ll get motivated. I’ll even learn how to work those crazy machines that intimidate me because I want to connect with my daughter. And that is the biggest benefit of all.
Over the last 2 weeks, a terrible cold has taken residence in my body and refuses to leave. I took a rare day off from work last week to do all the right things in order to evict it from my system. I slept most of the day, took medicine, drank huge amounts of Vitamin C and then slept some more. I’m finally at the tail end of this thing although it continues to linger and annoy me. Not only has my cold taken over my physical being, but it has also gone to work on my emotions. As a Type-A personality with lists for my lists, I’m frustrated at the sheer amount of things I need to do and the lack of energy I have to do them. The fact that I managed to be pretty productive despite my illness doesn’t provide much comfort. Here are some of the things weighing on me: I should probably plan a birthday party for my son who turns 12 next month. Although we abandoned the $500 play place parties a long time ago, I still want to do something for nice for him. Maybe that will happen this week. This past weekend also marks a year until his bar mitzvah. The countdown is officially on and we need to pick his service project. We have narrowed it down to a few charities related to his interest in sports. I have a few phone calls to make and then we need to make a decision. Maybe that will happen this week. My daughter needs a dress for her first homecoming dance which takes place at the end of the month. We made an attempt to find something this weekend at the local mall, but we need to expand our search to other places. She also needs shoes. Maybe that will happen this week. I have to start cooking some real dinners because I’m so tired of serving variations of pasta to my family as the main course every night. Two upcoming trips–one for business and one for pleasure–need my attention. I have rooms to book and tickets to by and reservations to secure.
I remember moving into my freshman dorm at West Chester University. My dad found a great parking spot out front and made all of the other parents jealous because he had a flatbed to haul my stuff into my room.
It starts out with a few sniffles. I don’t even think twice about it because I convince myself it is allergies. Out of nowhere, the sniffles turns into full blown congestion, a sore throat and a post-nasal drip right down into the pit of my stomach. All of a sudden, I’m out of tissues and drinking orange juice by the gallon for the Vitamin C. I waited too long to take a zinc tablet and before I know it, I’m face down on the couch barely moving because I feel like I was hit by a Mack truck. As any person under the weather would do, I goggled my symptoms and diagnosed myself accordingly. Seriously, who has the time to go to the doctor this time of year? Here is what I found: September-itis is defined as the annual condition combining cold-like symptoms with complete exhaustion. The cause is typically attributed to an abrupt change in schedules such as relaxing family vacations and unlimited pool time to driving around all night long to find the elusive 3-ring hole punch that fits in your child’s binder. Multiple trips to Target on the same day or trips to multiple Targets over several days will only exacerbate symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. Treatments can vary from cold medicines and ibuprofen to keep symptoms at bay to ingesting massive amounts of coffee in order to keep up with your children’s crazy schedule during daylight hours. Four out of five parents recommend frequent midday naps. WARNING: Don’t forget to set an alarm or 3 hours will fly by before you know it. Side effects include (but are not limited to): Pizza, hoagies, and Chinese food for dinner instead of home-cooked meals; piles of laundry unattended; dishes in the sink; mail still in the mailbox (because I’m just too damn tired to walk that far); brief memory loss noticeable to friends and family, and juggling nearly missed and/or cancelled appointments, practices, and performances. Sudden bursts of energy may occur intermittently, but it is a huge mistake to consider yourself feeling “much better” too soon. September-itis can last up to 30 days. September-itis is not known to be contagious however you may see more than one mom or dad walking around in a similar disoriented fashion. Please take a moment to give them a hug, pass them a cup of coffee, find them a seat and assure them they are going to be okay. October is right around the corner.
If I wasn’t working full-time, I would make a great volunteer at my children’s schools. I could see myself organizing fundraisers, being up to my eyeballs in box tops, and attending and possibly running PTO meetings. I would sell tickets for the play, chaperone field trips, and work in the school store. I try not to feel guilty about it but this time of year brings back those old feelings of not doing enough.
My dearest children, I am responding to your recent request to cease taking photos of you and posting them on my Facebook page. I have reviewed your arguments thoroughly and taken into account your well-documented complaints regarding the protection of your image and concern over potential parental embarrassment. I am ready to give my ruling on this matter. As your parent, who is incredibly proud of your inner beauty, outstanding accomplishments and adorable faces, I often feel a strong and innate desire to share your lives with friends and family. While this urge comes on a daily basis, I will do my best not to take photos that may (or may not) be later posted and captioned as “your daily cuteness.” Let me assure you that I would never intentionally do anything to jeopardize your reputation as the amazing people you are slowly becoming before my very eyes. However, at this time I feel some ground rules should be established when future opportunities of a photographic nature arise. And please do not let the fact that I spent 18 hours of my life in a long and drawn out labor with no epidural with said daughter as well as 6 hours of an incredibly difficult labor (again with no epidural!) with said son…influence you in any way. Please find my terms below:
- Special occasion photos–also known to my generation as “Kodak moments”–will be taken on a regular basis. These include, but are not limited to, the first day of school, the last day of school, all holidays, bar/bat mitzvah, proms, family celebrations and vacations, graduations, etc. You will pose for these photos as directed as long as you live under my roof–and then we can renegotiate.
- Purpose– The purpose of these photos are to document your lives in a way that is enjoyable, respectful and representative of your childhood and teenage years. Some photos may be shown to future spouses and grandchildren. The viewing of bar and bat mitzvah videos will not be shown to potential boyfriends and spouses without your permission…but that is a story for another time.
- Approval process–I will show you all photos before posting them. Retakes may be required in order to arrive at a mutually-agreed upon picture.
- My Promise – I solemnly swear NEVER to take or post a photo or video of you coming out of anesthesia after getting your wisdom teeth pulled. Nor will I take or post photos of you when you are angry or upset in any way, shape or form. You have my word that I will never put you through that kind of torture.
Your compliance of the above guidelines and future cooperation during these photo sessions are greatly appreciated. With much love, Mom
On the first day of school, Jenna came downstairs dressed in an adorable maroon top and jean shorts with her Converse sneakers. It was the perfect outfit for the first day of high school. The next day, she wore another pair of jean shorts and a gray top with a tasteful cut out in the back. I remember thinking about when I was her age and wished I had her great sense of style back then. The third day, she sat at the breakfast table in a 5K t-shirt and gym shorts. I looked at her and playfully asked, “Do I need to do laundry already?” Big mistake. Huge! She rolled her eyes and told me no one else was getting dressed up and she was tired of it already. It was no big deal. This is her new favorite phrase to say when she thinks I’m overreacting to something. No big deal. She feels I make a big deal about everything when many times I’m just asking a question– or in this case–trying to be funny. So, I’ve taken her constructive criticism of my parenting style under advisement and created the Big Deal List. It is a work in progress, but this is what I have so far.
No Big Deal
|Her health, happiness & well being||Cooking her separate vegetarian meals on a regular basis|
|Household chores||Spilling most of the Starbucks latte I went out of my way to buy for her|
|Grades||Her wardrobe (as long as it is appropriate)|
|Family time||Respecting her need for space after too much family time (ie: family vacations)|
|Friends||Constant requests for money and driving her everywhere|
|Boys (not there yet, but I see it coming)||Minor squabbles with her brother (I know she still loves him)|
|Kindness & respect to others||Occasional teenage eye-rolling|
I will try to keep this list in mind and add to it as I pick my battles and navigate our relationship into the next phase. I can’t promise anything, but I will try. So help me out! What am I forgetting? What is on your list?
I was so excited to take my family someplace where an amusement park would not be on the itinerary. I wanted beautiful scenery, a little adventure, good food, and quality time with the ones I love. Many of our friends raved about Sedona and when we made our vacation plans about a year ago we decided to follow suit. When we arrived in Sedona, I couldn’t help but feel like I stepped into the Pixar movie, Cars. Between the winding roads and red rocks in the backdrop, it was a shoo-in for Radiator Springs off of Route 66. I was waiting to find Lightening McQueen fixing the narrow road with Mater alongside him to cheer him on. Anyway, the town was quaint and lovely. We couldn’t get enough of the rock formations that surrounded us and the ever-changing weather (from sunny skies to brief but monsoon-like rain) provided …. Slide Rock
In a recent conversation with my newly minted high school freshman, she informs me that none of her friends’ parents bug them about homework nearly as much as we do. I find that hard to believe, but I could be wrong. When I asked her to elaborate, she proceeded to run down a list of questions we typically pose to her regarding her schoolwork. It was a decent list and she wasn’t wrong. At least I know, she is listening! 🙂 I certainly don’t want to stress her out, but could this really be true? Don’t we all have (to some degree) a vested interest in our children’s schoolwork? In that spirit, I have put together this quick poll for my readers and fellow parents. I would love to know how much is too much. Do you:
- Ask your child (children) how much homework they have that night?
- Ask your child if they have finished their homework?
- Ask your child if they need help with their homework?
- Check their math?
- Read essays to make sure it (a) makes sense and (b) is in complete and grammatically correct sentences?
- Help with school projects beyond driving them to Staples or Michael’s for supplies?
- Visit the teacher wiki-spaces or Google sites on a regular basis?
For the record, we definitely do not DO homework for our kids, but just as my parents did for us – we are involved and interested. I promised my daughter we will loosen the reins regarding her homework this year. Since our son is starting middle school, we will keep a close eye on him for now as he figures out good study habits and manages six teachers instead of one. So, it is your turn to weigh in. After all, we are in this together! So, how much is too much in the homework checking realm of the parenting world? Inquiring minds want to know. I look forward to your comments.
This week, I crossed something off of my bucket list–visiting the Grand Canyon. This spectacular natural wonder of the world did not disappoint. Even on a cloudy day, it was an amazing sight to see. I never felt so alive and so small at the same time. I was excited to take in this beautiful place and it was fun to find the points where the Colorado River flowed through the rocks. I was the first one in my family to spot the bridge that leads to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. I viewed it all from a safe distance behind railings and rock walls. It was my husband’s idea—God bless him—for all of us to take a mule ride around the rim of the canyon. At the time (in the safety of my home office), I thought it was a wonderful idea. It wouldn’t be my first time. I rode both a mule and a camel in a desert in Israel so I didn’t think twice about doing it again. I was wrong. So wrong! Our journey started out with a kind, but fast talking and heavily accented cowboy who explained how to handle the mule. Hold the reins like an ice cream cone with your less dominant hand at the base of the mule’s neck with one hand and hold the saddle knob thingy with your other hand to maintain your balance. Pull the reins left to go left and pull to the right to go right. Pull back to stop. Use the mule motivator (a whip-like strap) on his behind to make him go a little faster. Easy enough? At least, I think that is what he said. He spoke so quickly and there was no test to take prior to mounting Tin Man–a handsome, milk chocolate colored, 5 foot tall mule. When you add me to the equation, I was over 10 feet off the ground which already made me nervous before we even left the corral. I can’t drive a stick shift, so how am I supposed to handle a mule? Still, I was game. I went over the safety instructions in my head and again with one of the ranch hands before we ventured forth towards the rim of the canyon. It was a foggy day and I basically let Tin Man do all of the driving. After all, the cowboy said mules have a master’s degree-like training when carrying passengers. I took some comfort that one of us knew what they were doing. The Tin Man was a mule of all heart–taking great care not to go too fast while keeping up with the rest of the tour. My son and husband were in front of me while my daughter (riding the diva mule named Cher) was lagging behind. “Are you okay?” my husband yelled out to me. I informed him I wasn’t speaking to him right now as I was concentrating on my balance, my breathing and my fast brewing, impending anxiety attack. And then we arrived at our first stop at the edge of the canyon. I’m not typically afraid of heights, but there I was two feet away from the Grand Canyon with no guardrail or rock wall between us. I didn’t care if my mule had a master’s degree from Harvard! I couldn’t get it out of my head that one false move and we would both be goners. Once this negative feedback loop was in my brain, I could think of nothing else. The guide informed me that all stops would be like this and I asked for the nearest taxi cab back to the corral. Does Uber work out here? I had seen enough. Thank you very much. This tour was over for me only a quarter of a mile after it began. I dismounted the mule and waited for my ride–a Polaris 4×4 to come and pick me up. Before dismounting, I apologized to the guide, my family and fellow tour mates and to Tin Man. I let my mule know it wasn’t him…it was me. I had stepped way too far from my comfort zone and hit my breaking point. The Grand Canyon was on my bucket list. The mule ride–terrifyingly close to the edge of the mile down depth of the canyon–was not. I realized I didn’t need to have this experience to make my life complete. Funny, I remember having the same inner conversation with myself in Israel as many of my friends rappelled down the side of a mountain. No thanks! To my chidren’s credit, they stayed on the tour with my husband and had a great time. I waited patiently back at the ranch for their safe return. They came back exhilarated. Several people on the tour, including my husband told me it was a wise decision to go back. If I was having a panic attack seeing the canyon through the fog, imagine what it would have been like when the skies cleared! I think it is good to know our limits. I would have preferred to know my limits before I got on the mule. But that’s okay, at least I can say I tried.