Thursday, August 19, 2010


Writing this during summer vacation is easy.  School starting in 6 days is not.  It makes me anxious.  On vacation we have no obligations, no schedule.  Well, except for construction happening in the house and having to have the whole house use the facilities by 7:30 AM.  Actually, being away from home is the best because there really isn't a schedule.  Summer is definitely a reduced amount of stuff, but still some stuff.

During the school year, I get overwhelmed during two times.  In the fall when we go from zero to 60 in 2 seconds and in the spring when everything is due and happening at the same time.  Unfortunately for #4 she gets jilted.  I do nothing at her preschool and she is limited to 1 activity.  At this age, the other kids were doing 2-3 things.  Seeing the big kids now, they don't even remember those times and the things they did.  I can definitely use my wisdom and be more selective with "her" choices.

That brings me to my mental problem....and financial....  I know my kids are over-scheduled.  I know this before it even begins.  At the start of summer, I had the kids' soccer schedules.  That was nice of them, because I could map out the rest of their obligations.  #1 has therapy every other week and hebrew school on the same day every week.  Then there's the tutoring once a week.  #2 has piano (which reminded me to make sure just now that it didn't conflict with anyone's soccer) once a week.  They all are doing some form of soccer and the big 3 do Sunday school.  This is my first year with 3 doing the city soccer.  This means games and practices, not just one class during the week.  #4 is also doing her soccer class at the same time.

These things cost money and time.  Oh yes, and theres the taekwondo.  We have one year of really good work until 2 are ready for their black belts.  At any level if you don't practice, you don't progress.  Boy this costs a lot of money.  $200 per kid per activity.  I spend more at taekwondo than I do my temple, but I spend more time there too.

I also saw A race to nowhere, a great documentary about over-pressured and over-scheduled kids.  It overwhelmed me.  How do I cut out things?  Everyone says "good for you" for starting therapy and tutoring before the issues become mountainous problems.  How do I cut out the religious stuff when we really believe in the path, maybe not the steps, but the path?  How will my kids be Bar and Bat Mitzvahs without religious schooling?  How do I cut the fun stuff when it's the only things scheduled the kids choose to do?

Now, my intent was to just start this post with one sentence that came to me and come back to it later.  I haven't stopped typing since.  It's also making me anxious, so I think I should get it all done so I can put it behind me.  I know that won't work since the chaos starts officially in 6 days.  Maybe it's the fact that other people's kids have started school already and I'm not home that is making me anxious.

I actually do turn activities down.  I also try things and when I (or rather my kids) can't participate at the level I am comfortable with, I don't resign up.  I see other kids with even more on their plate.  No, they don't have 4 kids in their families.  Some do have 2 working parents and some just have a lot to do.  Others let their kids do only one sport a year.  Yikes, we have soccer and baseball and taekwondo.  We did say only 2 besides taekwondo, so basketball was nixed.  Yes, it is about what works for your family,  I'm just not sure if it means that it's what doesn't make the mother crazy.

I also see a lot of options available that my kids would love!  I feel bad that they can't go to the former PE teacher's after school camp (a money issue), or summer camps in the summer (time and money issue), or do certain classes that they would really enjoy.  Not bad enough that I let them do it, but bad none the less.  And what about learning a language?  I also want them to learn spanish while it's easy and while we travel to Mexico where it would be useful and amazing to practice.  I guess this will have to wait and it might be harder, but at least their mother won't be in the crazy house.  Speaking spanish is not as important as having their mother home....I think.

Lastly, thanks to my parents for giving me a college education.  I could not manage 6 peoples' schedules without it.  So, "Thanks mom and dad,"  and "you're welcome," for the amazing 4 grandchildren I've given you.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I should have known I was in trouble when #1, in preschool, stated on his "person of the week" full body drawing stated that SUGAR was his favorite food.  How did my then four year old pick something that was barely available to him?  My family elders thought I was such a stingy mom because my kids didn't have even ice cream until they were at least 1.  Their 1st birthday cake was often the first sugar they tasted (at least for the 1st and probably the second).

It's all my fault.  When pregnant, I craved sugar.  Yes, it is horrible for you in general, but when pregnant, it is worse.  It was nothing but trouble for me and my loosening joints and back.  That did not stop me from eating it.  Home-baked cookies were my favorite.  Oh and movie candy, even if I wasn't going to the movies.

I don't even let my kids drink juice.  Juice is sugar.  We had friends over.  One of the moms asked for juice for their kid.  I said that my kids don't get juice without cod-liver oil in it.  You couldn't pay me to drink that, but it worked.  They used to think lemonade was water with 1/2 of lemon squeezed into it.

This year we went to a couple of functions where soda was free flowing for the kids.  I let them have it, but not caffeinated ones.  I had friends who did not restrict their kids intake.  Their rationale was why stress out when it isn't every day.  Enjoy the party and let them enjoy themselves too.  If it means soda and even caffeinated soda, and cupcakes and so on, then go with it.

I also have a hard time not using sugar as a motivator.  #1 was very overwhelmed with obligations of tutoring and such.  Stopping for frozen yogurt or ice cream made life easier for all of us.  His tutor even said it did not impact his work or attention.  But, food and especially sugar, should not be a motivator.  I am a bad mom.  I have said that we can only go once a week for the yogurt/ice cream.  Now we go to the drug or convenience store for a non-caffenated soda or candy.

Then baseball season came upon us.  #1 was in the minors.  Gatorade was free flowing.  Yuck.  I get how hard the kids are working and don't want them to get dehydrated on the rare hot day.  The problem compounded with the snack shack at the games and 3 little sisters wanting what their brother had.  All sugar intake must be fair, regardless of the size of the sibling.  I finally had to buy the powder and make it at home for fear of going broke.

We try to have club soda or diet tonic water be substitutes, but it only gets us so far.  We started making popped corn at home.  Now I eat buckets of it.  We've instituted a rule where #1, who HATES fruits and vegetables, had to eat a form of fruit or vegetable for breakfast and dinner or else he would not be able to partake in any potential sweets.  I'm still a bad mom.  Don't punish your kids with sugar.

We just went to a wedding where sugar was readily available for the kids.  I decided to relax and have fun and not worry about it.  #1 drank 5 Izzys!  Each kid had left with a full tummy of nothing but sugar and maybe a couple of bites of fries and mac-n-cheese.  They all proclaimed that the wedding was the best event they had ever been to.  We had fun too.  They left with buckets full of candy and bags full of jellybeans.  Our next day was 7 hours of driving.  I decided to let them gorge themselves with hopes that they'd run out or make themselves sick and not want to eat anymore.  It didn't work.  They still have some left and didn't get sick.  They were a bit wired after no exercise and all sugar, but it enabled us to only stop once for gas and twice for potty breaks.  They were content.  I'm going to regret this for sure.

Halloween is coming up again.  I do not like this holiday.  It ranks up there with Valentines day for me.  Too much centered around sugar.  I still have bags of the kids' trick-or-treating candy in the freezer.  They get to freeze a large zip-lock bag of their bounty each year.  It is doled out as treats at various times of the year.  Surprisingly, I haven't raided the bags.  Out of sight out of mind really works for me.  The freezer in the garage is just far enough from my brain and food that I don't even think about it.  I wish I could say the same about my kids.  Oh well, at least I'll have something to pass out to trick-or-treaters this year without shopping for it.

What is the answer?  Will they learn to self regulate?  Will I stop feeling guilty?  Who knows?

P.S. I predominantly shop at the farmers' market.  I didn't want you to think I only feed my kids sugar.  I'll post another time about our house food choices.  This post was really about my kids' food choices.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


We're visiting my folks.  Their place makes it so easy for us to move in.  That's what happens when a family of 6 comes to town.  The kids have their own room with 2 sets of bunk beds.  This houses all the kids for sleeping, but creates choices every time we visit.  Who sleeps in what bunk?  Who gets the top?

At our house #1 has his own room.  In the past he chose the bottom bunk.  Most recently he switched to the top.  Now, during renovations, all of our beds are in the family room.  He's got the top and is "letting" #4 sleep in the bottom.  The girls have a triple bunk.  #2 has the top, #3 was in the middle and switched to the bottom after her appendectomy.  #4 always gets what is left.

Every trip to my folks has produced #1 sleeping in the top bunk.  #4 starts asking in advance, knowing this is her only chance to move up.  This makes it not fair for #2 and #3.  I left the room while they were negotiating.  #2 and #4 were on top.  #1 was in tears.  Part of me wants to say "suck it up, you've been on top your whole life."  The other side of me knows how he feels.

When I was little, we camped in a motor home.  The 2 bunk choices were above the driving seats or the bankette.  I hated the small space over the seats.  It was too claustrophobic.  I would throw a tantrum until my brother gave in and gave me the lower bunk.  Mind you, I was in middle school at this point.  A bit older than #1 is.

Oh yeah, I'm on this trip without hubby.  This means sleep time is all on me.  I'm usually done with my day at 7, with no more patience.  Its the part of my day that always gives me regret.

I felt proud to let the kids work out the solution on their own.  Or so I thought.  #1 was not happy and when he's not happy, he's a nudge.  He is stubborn and won't back down.  I've been where he is, but with 4, I can't back down.  Oops, I took this moment to tell him that he won't be having his bed when we move back into the back of the house.  Now he starts negotiating...."I want a t.v. in my room, a sofa,..." and so on.  The floor or the bottom were his only choices and I left the room.

He slept fine and late and said he bumped his head when he woke up in the morning.  How he managed this, I'll never know.  Good thing we're raising the ceiling in his bedroom at home.
6 peas in a pod.  Our sleeping arrangements while we update the bedrooms.

first post

I've wanted to start this blog for a while.  There are so many small issues that are big issues in my head.  My goal is to not screw up my kids by the choices and decisions I make.  I've had tons of people tell me that they perceive me as calm and patient.  That is not what's happening in my head.  "You're the best mom I ever had" is where I will try to sort out some of these decisions.  Speak up and join me in my journey in dealing with kids and the conundrums that come with raising them; times 4.

Where my 4th came up with the phrase "you're the best mom I ever had," I will never know.  As soon as she said it, I knew I had the title of my next blog.  As I said, I had wanted to blog about topics that came up in my life.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to vent, ask for help, or what.  I guess we'll see what comes of this.  Thanks for following along.