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Archive for August, 2010

WHOSE Back-To-School Night?

August 18, 2010 3 comments

I attended back to school night this evening for my son’s elementary school.  Most people think the name comes from children returning to school and parents spending the evening learning about their new teachers and programs.  Those people are wrong.  I am here to tell you it is called back-to school-night because you personally feel like you are back in school.  Here is my evidence:

  • You try to carpool so you don’t show up to a large group of people by yourself
  • You’re afraid to be late and make a bad first impression with the teacher
  • If someone walks into the classroom late, they look flustered and quickly spout apologies and excuses
  • In between sessions, you quickly try to find your friends so you’re not standing by yourself
  • You spend this time comparing teachers and even sharing a few urban legends/ gossip about the faculty
  • There is a rebel group that skips the general session where attendance is not noted

If you’re still not convinced that some parents digress to college students themselves.  Here are some direct quotes from the evening:

  • “I knew I should have brought margaritas…”
  • “Don’t tell my husband I left back to school night early to go get a drink with the girls.”
  • “So I was picking up a tequila bottle off my bedroom floor this morning…”

Finally, I attended an “after-party” aka drinks with a few girlfriends where the following statements were made:

  • “So you’re basically drinking straight vodka?” “No, they shake it with ice, so little molecules of water get in there too.”
  • “I won’t look so sophisticated drinking this martini when I hit the second one.”
  • “Shoot, get the check, I promised I would be home by 7:30!”

So you tell me, was I at back to school night as a parent or reliving my days of youth?  Either way, I balanced informative with fun!

What kind of apple should I bring the teacher?

I Have Mold In My Shower and Other Confessions

August 17, 2010 19 comments

I like to quote the Wizard in the “The Wizard of Oz” when he says, “Don’t look behind the curtain”.  For me that means I usually appear to have it together, but it’s typically held together with scotch tape and dental floss. 

I was reminded of my wizard mantra yesterday when my friend and I agreed we were ‘going to pull it together’.  You know, the day where you vow to catch up on everything.  Why do we set such lofty goals?!  So I went for it.  I am 90% caught up on work, filled out my daughter’s preschool paperwork (that was due weeks ago), worked on a birthday present for a friend, blah, blah, blah. 

I am really proud of myself.  I started congratulating myself on being amazing until I looked behind my curtain

  • I picked up my house and cleaned my stove, but there is mold in the shower
  • I fed my kids dinner BEFORE soccer practice, but it was a microwave meal
  • I arranged to take a family with a new baby dinner tomorrow, but I went store-bought instead of homemade
  • I did the grocery shopping, by putting a fake meeting on my work calendar
  • I had to put my friend’s son’s first day of school in my calendar so I wouldn’t forget to ask how it went on the correct day
  • I took my FIRST shower for the “day” at 10:00 pm

I also have a few standing tricks I pull to appear more together than I am:

  • I use dry shampoo so I don’t have to wash and style my hair as often
  • I have big drawers behind cabinet doors where I store all the kids toys at night
  • I keep a stash of cards, presents and wrapping paper so I don’t show up without a gift (because I am not organized enough to mail birthday cards)
  • I have dimmer switches on my lights so you can’t see the dust if you come to my house for dinner

Now, I could easily say that I work smarter, not harder (with the exception of the mold in the shower) but the point is, we all do the best we can.  We can usually make things livable, but rarely perfect.  I did not write this list to put myself down, but rather to keep a firm grip on reality.  I can only do what I can do and it is what it is. (Yes, I am going for a cliché record).  If my shower was mold free (it will be Thursday) and the meals were homemade, I would be even more off-balance than I already am.

Therefore, I am celebrating the chaos behind the curtain!  Please join me in this celebration and share your tricks for keeping it together or giving the appearance that you have it together.

Don't Look Behind The Curtain

Sunday Blues

August 16, 2010 5 comments

A fabulous, fun-filled weekend is over and my family and I had to face reality today.  I knew the dreaded Monday was coming.  Mondays smack me in the face before they even start.  I call it the Sunday Blues. 

My Sunday Blues typically kick in about 5:00 pm every Sunday when I start worrying about what I need to do for work Monday morning and how busy the week is going to be.  Yesterday the Sunday Blues kicked in early – at 2:00.  Between my anniversary, my son’s first day of school and other fun stuff, I slacked a bit at work last week – okay, truthfully, I was the Ferris Bueller of the corporate world!  So today I am paying the piper, trying to do dammage control.  What did I blow off last week that I shouldn’t have?  Whose waiting on me for a response?  What important milestone did I not approve?  What executive update did I fail to provide?  I will be spending my morning catching up before it catches up to me. 

In addition,  my husband left for a business trip this morning, which means I will juggle getting the kids to school, working, homework, dinner, soccer practice, baths and back to school night by myself.  Once the week gets going, I do just fine, because I am too busy to worry about it.  But I can’t seem to avoid mourning the loss of our relaxed weekend time and dreading the stress of life as Sunday comes to a close. 

However, in the spirit of trying to stay balanced – I will look for the positives.  I will enjoy the 1:1 time with my kids.  I will run the house by my rules.  I will remind myself how independent and organized I can be.  I will take up the whole king bed when I sleep!  And then I will thank God when my husband comes home and rescues me from the brink of insanity!

I’d ask you to wish me luck, but there are single parents who deserve daily Hallmark cards.  I have friends whose spouses travel every week.  There are military families who juggle so much more.  This is not a pity party, this is recognition of the challenge at hand.  I am ultra competitive and will not let the Sunday Blues predict the outcome of this week! 

As I began writing this post, I was feeling mopey and scattered, now Eye of the Tiger (I am not even a huge Rocky fan) is playing in my head and I am ready to get through it!

If all else fails, Plan B involves a bottle of wine and a babysitter!

Humble, Grateful and Still Off-Balance

August 13, 2010 9 comments

The day after receiving so much traffic from being freshly pressed, thank you Freshly Pressed Gods, I am faced with what to write about.  Do I follow in Lori Dyan’s footsteps and discuss the overwhelming, thrilling experience of having 2,000+ hits in a single day?  I loved her post, and could certainly discuss the excitement of the day, however, I am going to stick to what I always do, write about what is pounding the hardest in my head and/or heart.

I am humble, grateful and…

I am overwhelmed by a day so filled with love and hope.  Yesterday would have been a great day just celebrating 10 years of marriage to my husband.  I realize how lucky I am to have a wonderful partner to share in the joys and struggles of life.  I know that 10 years would not have happened without him being who he is. 

However, in addition, I was given the unique gift of discussing love, marriage and children with so many people yesterday.  I was humbled by the kind words people shared about my perspective.  But I feel the need for full disclosure: I am not positive and grateful every day.  Children and marriage are tough!  Some days, I am the crazy lady who closes the windows so the neighbors don’t hear me screaming at the kids.  I am the irrational wife who takes out a bad day on her husband by being cranky and hard to please.  My blog is called Slightly Off-Balance for a reason – I am on an emotional roller coaster, just like I suspect most people are. 

What made yesterday different is that each comment on how important it is to be positive reinforced my resolve, commitment and appreciation of family.   Readers yesterday took my feelings and gave them more strength than ever.  Even the gentleman who said I might be delusional (I loved his honesty) was a reminder that every day is not Hallmark cards,  flowers* and anniversary dinners.  I read every comment and will finish responding to each one, not only because I appreciate the time people take to read my thoughts but because I will go back to those comments to get me through the hard days.  A hundred plus strangers are now part of my marriage enjoyment/maintenance/survival toolkit – wow, that is a gift.  I told my husband last night at dinner that on bad days I am going to read what I wrote yesterday and the subsequent comments to remind me of my priorities.

Now, it wouldn’t be a post from me if there wasn’t a flip side – Things were going so well yesterday that I felt like anything was possible. In addition to the joys I have shared, we had some good news on a business endeavor yesterday, it felt like I was charmed.  I was ready to take my luck to Vegas!  So as I sat at dinner with my husband last night, drinking too much wine, I started to think that more good things could potentially happen.  I got it in my wine and love filled head that my husband was going to propose to me to renew our vows and that he had an anniversary ring. (I am pausing so you can finish laughing).  Although I am well aware that it is a bad economy and we had agreed no gifts, I decided he had been planning for so long that it was still possible.  I thought the waitress was pushing dessert hard and looking at my husband in a knowing way, I pictured the ring arriving on my dessert plate.  I even went as far as texting one of my friends my ludicrous thoughts while my husband was in the bathroom. 

You know how the story ends, there was no new ring, no “proposal” and I didn’t even get flowers (pausing to remind myself of appreciation and love), but there was a lot of chuckling when I told my husband of my crazy thoughts.  You see, he knows who he is married to, my thoughts did not surprise him or upset him, he looked at me fondly the way we look at our children when they are being insane.  That look of amusement and love was almost as good as a new ring…

Thanks for being part of the ride!

10 Reasons My Kids Help My Marriage

August 12, 2010 187 comments

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary.  Please send sympathy cards to my husband. 😉  I have discussed how I miss my husband even though we live in the same house as a result of having the chaos of kids.  But today I am reflecting, and appreciating, all of the gifts my children bring to my marriage.  Many of you know I love lists, so here we go:

  1. The kids unite us in a common cause of being great parents.  We both try hard and work at it together.
  2. They keep us young (out of self-preservation) with sports, bike rides and play time.
  3. Our kids provide us endless goals to satisfy our achievement oriented personalities.  Celebrating those milestones as a family brings my husband and I closer together.
  4. They can make our sex life risky and exciting.  In other words the threat of them walking in at any minute.
  5. They keep us from taking life too seriously.  Who can be stoic when your kids are showing you their latest dance moves?!
  6. They provide another reason not to walk out when the going gets tough.
  7. They are constant reminders of unconditional love – both giving and receiving.
  8. When we’re engaged in a battle of wills with our kids and my husband is my only ally, it makes our bond stronger.
  9. I see the best parts of him in them and it reminds me of why I fell in love.
  10. I can fall in love all over again watching my husband be a tender, nurturing father.

My husband and I don’t always agree about the kids.  AKA he is Disney Dad and I am the enforcer, we balance each other out and keep each other sane.  Our kids will always test our patience, conviction and physical endurance.  The rewards of passing those tests are endless love, laughter and joy.

Sorry Work, It’s The First Day of School

August 11, 2010 2 comments

My son started first grade today.  My husband and I got early to prepare.  He made my son breakfast, packed his lunch and got him dressed.  I primped.  The first day of school is the one day a year I don’t roll up in my pajamas, work-out clothes or a combination thereof looking like a hot mess.  Why?  First day of school pictures silly!  Then years from now we can look back at the pictures and tell the tale that I was June Cleaver and Donna Reed all wrapped up in one.  The only difference, I also work full-time.

Speaking of work – fat chance of getting ANY productivity out of me today!  Yes, school started at 8:00, but I have a whole first day routine:  After we walked him in, found his seat, took more pictures and kissed up to the teacher, we then we did mommy (and daddy) mingling.  Then we came home and I pretended to be a stay at home mom for a few minutes – I emptied the dishwasher, picked up the house and started breakfast. (Not my normal morning routine.)  Then I checked the dismissal schedule – it’s different in first grade than it was in kindergarten.  Uh-oh – I have a meeting during pick-up time.  Well that meeting is CANCELLED. 

You might be asking yourself, seriously, why can’t you work until pick-up and then once you bring him home?  Hello… when I pick him up, I MUST take him out for frozen yogurt and hear about his day.  As to why I can’t work until then, I will be too busy thinking about how fast he’s growing up and wondering if he’s having a good day.  I will call my girlfriends and see how their mornings went and how they are feeling about another milestone.  Yes, I really can waste a whole day doing this!

So if anyone at work is looking for me – good luck!  My baby started 1st grade today and I am playing the role of June Cleaver!

Raising Risk-Takers

August 10, 2010 8 comments

As I shared, my kids learn to water ski this weekend.  It seems normal for my 6-year old son, but a little insane for my 3-year old daughter.  As we were getting my little girl all geared up, my friend said, ‘Are you sure about this?  Is this safe?’.  I love that my friend raised the question.  I was anxious and apprehensive, but I also am trying to balance raising my kids safely with raising them to be overly fearful.  

I am not a risk-taker.   I have grown up afraid of heights, spiders, sharks, snakes, pain and cheap hotels. 😉  I was a picky eater and missed out on some great food until I was older. I have never broken a bone because I didn’t do things that are dangerous enough to cause broken bones (knock on wood).  My friends tease me because I was the only one who wore a life jacket through our whole drunken rafting trip (another story). Interestingly, I have gotten braver as I have gotten older, but now I feel a sense of responsibility to be alive and in one piece for the sake of my children.  So as twisted as this may sound, I would rather have my kids take risks when they’re younger (not 3 of course) and enjoy life to the fullest before they have families of their own.   

So everyday I force myself outside my comfort zone to raise my kids to try new activities, foods and experiences.  I want them to live their lives as they choose, as oppose to the way that will keep my heart beating normal.  Does this mean I am signing the little darlings up for bungee-jumping? Not yet.  But if they ask to take part in an activity that other kids do, I will take all reasonable precautions and tell them to go big.  My son started snow-skiing at 3, with a helmet.  He rides a dirt bike with full pads, helmet and a governor switch for the speed.  He waterskiis, with a life jacket.  And if my daughter wants to do all those things too (she absolutely does!) she can when I can provide a reasonable amount of precautions (aka she can reach the brakes!).   

Did I wake up one day, make this choice and stick to it? No way!  In fact, I  still have room to further push out the old fearful Paige.  My oldest never ate off the floor or had any bruises because I was so careful.  But as he got older, I saw him becoming needlessly fearful of certain things and decided to try to turn it around.  My youngest dare-devil diva is a good test of my boundaries and pushes her brother too.  She proudly displays new bumps and bruises every week.  So I often have to bite my tongue when my son and his friends are wrestling and close my eyes when they jump off the fourth stair.  It’s not easy, but I think I am giving  them the gift of a living a life full of experiences.  I am teaching them how to look at a situation and see if they can make it safe enough.  They may learn some lessons and get some bumps along the way, but then they can choose what to do from there.  

Despite the fact that my friends will tell you I am a safety nut and do not take risks with my children, my views on parenting may not be widely agreed upon.  If you’re one of those people who would rather keep their children away from dirt bikes, boats and rope swings and send them to school in bubble wrap, your opinions are truly welcome here.  Each of us, as parents, has to go on their gut and live within their comfort zone.  

For me, I am not going to keep my children in a bubble, I am going pay my health insurance premium just in case we need stitches or a cast and I am going to tell my kids to try new things (as long as they are not things sold on a street corner).  As they get older I might even tell them it’s okay to jump off the bridge into the lake when no one is looking as long as they wear a life jacket…  

Dressed and ready for school!

Categories: Parenting Tags: , , , ,

Always Bet on the Crazy Mama Bear

August 9, 2010 8 comments

Wow, I had an amazing weekend house boating with my kids!  I did as I said I would in my last post and ENJOYED them.  There were moments when it was tough and my friend Stacey would remind me that I used to want 4 kids… (yes, I was crazy).  But overall it was a great weekend and both of my kids got up on skis!  There are lots of silly stories I could share, but instead I am going to warn you of the dangers of a mama bear…

No, I don’t mean something as harmless as a female grizzly bear, I am referring to ME, I am much scarier if your actions threaten the safety of my children.  I also have a small tendency to over-react (my husband would argue it’s a major tendency) when it comes to the safety of my kids.  So what would you do in this situation?:

We are sitting on the houseboat Saturday morning, parked in a cove.  We look up and see a man of about 60 with a dirty t-shirt, board shorts and one-flip flop (we nicknamed him the uni-flopper) carrying a leather laptop bag, come out of the forest and start scaling down the hillside towards the water.  As we sip our morning coffee, we watch him leave his bag on the shore and swim towards our boat WHERE OUR KIDS OUR SWIMMING.  The “fur” on the back of my neck stands up and I tell the kids to swim over to the other side of the houseboat and swim next to my ski boat.  The husbands come out.  Papa Bears are deadly, but not as crazy as Mama Bears.  (My friend Marilyn says you should always bet on crazy in a fight.)  I check to make sure the keys to my ski boat are in the ignition and I decide, if need be, I can have the kids out of there in under 10 seconds, 15 if I reverse over the uni-flopper with my spinning prop.  Yes, I would.

Uni-flopper swims up and asks to use a cell phone.  He explained that he had too much tequila the night before, got in a fight with his wife and wandered off.  He’s now somewhat lost and trying to get back to his houseboat.  Let’s pause to give uni-flopper credit for being so drunk he wanders into a forest filled with bears, BUT remembers his laptop bag (We all wonder what was really in that bag…)!  We called the sheriff who came out and picked up uni-flopper, and his laptop bag, to take him off to find his wife.  Imagine that conversation…

The point is the uni-flopper is lucky to be alive.  Getting through a night in the forest is cool, but surviving swimming up to my kids and my friends’ kids is a feat.  I would also like to say congratulations to the jet skiers who had the good sense to give my waterskiing 3-year old a wide berth.  Had you gotten closer, I would have chased you down and sunk your jet ski. 

Other mama bear recognition goes to my three friends who I forced to wear life jackets with me in case we ALL had to dive in if my daughter fell and looked scared.  Finally, thank you to my husband who had the extreme responsibility of towing my three-year old and ‘allegedly’ got yelled out to get there faster when she fell and momentarily got her foot stuck in the ski.  She was calm and fine, I was perched on the side of the boat to dive in while simultaneously calling the national guard!

My theory is that one of the motherly hormones also allows women to change from average female to deadly predator.  I know I have the potential to go from law-abiding citizen to vigilante killer in under a moment.  At 5’5” and a small frame, I may not look menacing, but remember, you should always bet on crazy…

ENJOYING My Kids

August 7, 2010 1 comment

In a previous post, I talked about my de-bitchery trip.  It is our annual, kid-free weekend to unwind and decompress on our friend’s houseboat.  Well, we decided to do another trip.  Thanks to the miracles of modern technology (aka scheduling blog posts), as you read this I am sitting on this wonderful houseboat WITH MY KIDS.  Yes, we got the bright idea to bring our kids to our adult sanctuary, our personal Calgon commercial for a weekend of ‘family fun’.  This is of course means that I am not sitting, but rather running around, applying sunscreening, making snacks and … what was I thinking?!

Wait! 

I usually take a humorous perspective in my blog, which often means laughing at the harder parts of parenting.  But, today, I am going to be thankful!  I talk incessantly about balance and wanting more time with my family – here’s my chance!  I have no cell service, no laptop and am with my kids and great friends on a beautiful houseboat – I am a very lucky girl!

As parents, we often take bonding opportunities with our kids and turn them into a stressful, checklist-filled, three-ring-circus.  Birthday parties are a great example.  The kids have fun, but how many of us truly enjoy it with them?  Aren’t most of us exhausted afterwards?  (For those of you who are smarter than me, tell me your secret).

So as you read this, I will be sitting on a houseboat playing with my kids, without a schedule or agenda.  We will be swimming, frolicking (why the hell not) and spending some quality time together.  My three-year old daredevil-diva is going to learn to water ski.  She has wanted to try on previous trips but her feet are too small for the skiis, so we bought her some water shoes, to make the skiis fit.  My six-year old son is going to waterski and wakeboard, each for the second time (the first time on both scared him so we have had to wait until he was ready).  I am going to sit and cheer them on and marvel at how big they are getting!  I am not focused on putting them to bed so I can have a cocktail with the adults – although I am abiding by ‘houseboating state law’ that requires all children to be in bed by 9:00 ;), but rather focused on spending time with them and building memories for when they’d rather be with their friends.

This weekend I am enjoying quality time with my kids and appreciating how fortunate I am to be a mother (and be friends with someone who owns a houseboat!)

Categories: Parenting, Travel

My Underwear Isn’t Always Sexy…

August 6, 2010 7 comments

and 9 other things that have changed since becoming a mom.

Kids change your life – that will not surprise anyone.  They unequivocably impact it for the better.  Their unconditional love, wonderment and laughter are gifts to any parent.  However, there are few changes in my life that are less desirable. After being a mother for six years, I do not notice the changes very often, but when you notice one, the others become apparent as well.

For me it started with getting dressed this morning.  Since I am not still not feeling well, I was looking for something comfy to put on.  I reached in the underwear drawer and pulled out a pair that screamed comfort – blue cotton ‘full-butt’.  Without thinking I started to cut the fraying elastic band pieces before putting them on.  I laughed and thought, ‘oh yeah, my husband bought me new underwear for Christmas and told me to THROW THESE OUT’!  So of course, I put them on.  The thing is, I don’t wear sexy underwear everyday anymore because comfort and function are more important and, newsflash, I don’t have sex everyday anymore.  Hmm, not every week either…  This got me to thinking about a few more changes:

  • I don’t buy nice furniture.  The day I had kids was the day I stopped spending money on furniture they would destroy.  When they are older, I will replace the battle weary stuff, but for now, I don’t want to stress over them using the dining room table as a percussion section.
  • I think twice about hangovers.  Going out on a Saturday night is all fun and games until you have a 3-year-old and 6-year-old that want to have a 7:00 am dance party!
  • I shop at Marshalls, Ross and the like.  I was a Nordstrom girl before kids and now I just want what’s cheap, especially for my stain attracting kids.  My son is the oldest and he had a bunch of Ralph Lauren baby clothes, now he gets Costco and sometimes Wal-Mart.
  • I shower at odd hours.  I always sleep until at least my kids wake me up (sometime longer thanks to my sweet husband) so I usually have to jump and go into mom or work mode.  I try to be showered by 2:00 pm everyday…
  • I look for the “clean version” on i-tunes.  Once you have been asked, “Mommy, what’s a hoe?”, you realize it’s time to edit the playlists!
  • Date nights come dangerously close to urban myth.  Not only do you have to get a sitter, etc, you have to not be exhausted from working and parenting to enjoy said date night.  The showering and underwear issues have to be taken into account…
  • You start to belive in conspiracy theories.  For example, I am positive that my kids strategize at night to determine who will wake me and my husband up at what time during the night.  They have a beautifully orchestrated plan that gets us up every two hours, yet they pull 10 hours of sleep per night.
  • You feel like you’re having sex in your parents house. You never know when a little one is going to come in your room, even if you think they’re sound asleep.  Everyone gets signed up for therapy when you hear “Daddy, are you hurting mommy?”

How has your life changed?