Family 2015

Family 2015

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ok, it's time.

I'll admit it.  I am now ready for school to start up again.  The first half of summer, school is like a curse word around here, but it is interesting how as we approach the inevitable start-up in September, everyone's attitudes start to change.  (Well, most everyone.  I do have one child who would be happy to have summer perpetually).  We all start to feel the familiar excitement about buying school supplies and clothes, figuring out schedules, meeting new teachers and seeing friends again.

For me, it has a lot to do with "me time", which seems largely non-existent in the summer.  In the summer, we throw bedtime schedules out the window and it is not unusual for everyone to be up until midnight.  Sure, then they sleep in, but it's just not the same as having those quiet moments at night after they are all in bed.  That's the time when I get to wind down from my day and reconnect with my husband.  Think my own thoughts.  Watch an interesting t.v. show.  Read.  No one says "Mommy", which although I love to hear it, can start to wear me down by 8:00 in the evening.

So, although I am not thrilled about setting the alarm clock for 6:00 once again, I am ready for the rest of what the school year means.  To quote my 5 year old, "It's Go Time!!!"

Monday, August 29, 2011

The VMA's and why Moms (and Dads) are so important.

So, me and the kids watched the VMA's last night.  What?  Not great for family consumption in your opinion?  Well, I (sort of) disagree. 

I'm just going to assume for the sake of time that you either watched it or have been apprised of what went down.  I actually thought Lady Gaga was kinda funny - cussing aside - and though she  pushes the envelope (or just rips it up), she is quite a talent.  Justin Bieber was cute.  Brittany got a well-deserved award for her video making prowess, and seems to have found a measure of class along the way.  Katy Perry wore a cheese wedge on her head.  Chris Brown performed and, based on the response of the crowd, proved that amazing talent doesn't overrule the need for common decency.  It was predictably edgy, with each performer trying to earn marks for originality or awesomeness or just trying desperately to stand out in some way.

I think watching stuff like this is a great lesson for my kids, not in pop culture, but in reality.  They knew of Brittany in her younger days, and have seen her ups and downs.  They think Lady Gaga is kinda cool, but one of them wisely remarked that she has to keep coming up with more and more outrageous things to keep the media's attention. My girls are keeping a keen eye on Justin to see if all his Jesus talk is for real or if he's gonna pull a Miley Cyrus on us.  They all sighed disgustedly and Reagan left the room when Chris Brown took the stage. 

I actually said relatively little as we watched it and just listened to them.  I was proud.  Proud that at their young ages they already get that that is a fake world.  Sure, it's entertaining.  But, just because someone is standing on that stage doesn't mean that what they say is right. Just because someone has millions of dollars and a gaggle of fans doesn't mean they're happy.  Even when a girl is famous, we know she's insecure and has no self-respect when she puts her junk on display.  I was proud that they were saying all of those things amongst themselves without me directing the conversation.

In our minds, my husband and I think that while our kids live at home is the perfect time for them to test things out, to be exposed to things, to learn to critically think about the culture they live in, and to decide their stances on issues.  There are MOST DEFINITELY things in our culture that I hope they stay away from, but I want them staying away from them because they have figured out that there are more worthwhile things to do, not because they are so sheltered they don't even know those options exist.

I fully expect my kids to get "scraped knees" while they are navigating these growing up years.  Growing up is tough!  I really want to still be available with my "band aids", and not hundreds of miles away, when they do fall down.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Living Every Day

Ok, so I think I'll just aim for posting every week day - at some point during the day - how's that? ;)

I've been thinking lately about how we spend so much of our lives waiting for things.  Living with 5 kids of varying ages reminds of this all the time because they are all always waiting to reach some milestone or another.  It also strikes me - all the time - how once they reach it, it's never quite what they imagined.  Like Pierce - who turned 5 yesterday and had a great birthday - but even so, he was a bit crestfallen at bedtime.  He first said, "I can't believe I'm 5!!"  Then, it was followed up quickly by, "I still feel like I'm 4..."  Yah, well, get used to that feeling buddy, it happens a lot in life.

I remember waiting to turn 10 (2 digits!), waiting to become a teenager, waiting to turn sweet 16, waiting to graduate, waiting to get married, waiting to have my first child, etc, etc, etc.  Somewhere along the line, I realized that in a way, I was also putting my life on hold while I was waiting to get "there."  Like, in order to be truly happy or fulfilled, I had to have all my ducks in a row.  Wow.  What a lie.  I'm so glad I realized it before I wasted a lot more of my life waiting for all the planets to align before I could be happy.

I'm sure there will always be something I'm waiting for, but in the meantime, I am very grateful to have what I have, be where I am, have the people in my life that I love, and to be on this amazing journey called life.  I really hope that I am able to pass this contentment onto my kids, I hope they learn it younger than I did.  I hope they don't pin all their hopes for their future on Prince Charming, or a huge bank account, or the perfect body.

I hope that when they leave this house, they take with them contentment, peace and a knowledge that their life will unfold exactly as it is supposed to...and there's no need to be in a hurry. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Worthless Rules

I have mentioned before that my kids watch t.v.  And they play (or do schoolwork) on the computer.  And we have a wii.  My kids also have bikes, a trampoline, great imaginations and love to read.  I don't really have strict rules about their "screen time", although if I think it's been excessive on any particular day, I will tell them to shut off all the screens and go do something else. 

I say all that to say I'm pretty laid back about it.  Actually, I tend to be pretty laid back about most things, which is partly my personality and partly my parenting creed. :)

Let me 'splain.

I have noticed, over the years, whether it's in my own life, my kids or other people; that the moment we make a big deal out of something, it becomes a big deal.  I know, profound.  But rules with no wiggle room, with no context, I think they're not good.  I think they push whoever is governed by them to try to find a way OUT.  It's just human nature.  So, I tend to ask myself when thinking about parenting or really anything in my life - "why is this rule here?"  If there's no good reason, I get rid of it.  Here's a good example.

Carter started going to school in the first grade (he was homeschooled for Kindergarten) and he had fallen into a routine of watching a cartoon in the morning before we homeschooled.  Then, when he started going to school for some reason, I put in place the "no t.v. in the mornings before school" rule.  Why?  Because that was my rule as a kid - probably because my Dad was usually still sleeping in the room right next to the t.v. - no real forethought on my part, just bam, no more t.v. in the mornings for you.  Suddenly, I'm struggling to get him ready for school, he's hard to wake up, and then he sits and stares at the dining room wall while he eats his breakfast and I rush around helping the other kids get ready.  One day it hit me that I was doing it - imposing a rule with no real purpose.  Why should he stare at the wallpaper when he could watch Spongebob while he ate his cereal?  No reason.  At all.  So, I changed the rule and bam - easiest kid in the world to get ready for school.

It all goes back to relationship in my mind.  My goal in this parenting thing is to raise kids who know how to make smart choices, who know how to THINK for themselves.  I don't think I do that effectively when I just say, "Do this because."

I think that more than a "sage on the stage" I should be a "guide by their side."

How about you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Of surgeries and late starts...

My general goal is to try to post a blog each weekday morning.  We will see how often my life allows that, today it didn't.

My oldest daughter, Kennedy, had to have round 2 of some pretty significant oral surgery today.  I just have to brag on her a little because she is a trooper.  Surgery is scary no matter what age you are, but I imagine the age of 14 is just about the worst time you could have to deal with it.  I mean, when one is younger, the parent can alleviate many fears and not reveal the entirety of what is going on until after it's over.  I know that because Carter had to have a minor surgery when he was 3.  Walk in the park, folks.

 By the time one is an adult, they are likely to have some pretty good coping mechanisms in place and if nothing else the fear of being perceived as a wimp will probably help them to hold it together. 

But, shoot coping with it as a teenager leaves you pretty much in the middle of those two.  Your parents are less likely to try to sugar coat what's going down and you're less likely to believe them if they did.  But, you still really are a kid, with all the fears and uncertainties that come along with it.

That being said, I have to say, she did awesome!  Even coming out of the anesthesia was so much better than the first time, and that's the hard part.  I'm proud of her.  She's a great kid. :)  And despite the temporary discomfort and frustration that she is dealing with right now, she's gonna have a great smile to show for it for the rest of her life.  A great lesson in putting up with something tough for the short term to reap something worthwhile for the long term.

Wouldn't it be great if everyone could learn that lesson before they graduated high school?  ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Da House Rules.

*Disclaimer*  If you happen to be reading this and your child spent the night at my house last night, don't worry.  This was not inspired by the events of last night. :)  Actually, they all did quite well.

Sleepovers are such a rite of passage.  I know some parents frown on them and don't allow them, but I think they're great.  In fact, I like them even more as a grown-up than I did as a kid.  It is fun to welcome others into our house and life and to see the kids add another playmate or two or 21 to the mix.  (You think I'm joking.  I'm not.  One year, one of my dear children took it upon herself to make 11 extra birthday invites besides the 10 I had given her for her party.  Everyone invited came.  And it was a sleepover.  In the winter.  That's right - 26 kids slept in my house that night - I say sleep loosely.)

It's fun, that is, as long as everyone can play by the house rules.  It is funny to me how each of my kids at one point or another has assumed that because they have a friend over the rules no longer apply.  Maybe they don't think that exactly, but they think that I wouldn't dare say anything to one of their friends who was crossing a line.  Oh.  They are so wrong.

It usually goes something like this:

Me:  What are you guys doing?
My child:  Oh, my friend just wants to *fill in the blank*
Me:  And you told them that wasn't Ok, right?
My child: *look of horror* No!  Mom, it really isn't a big deal just this once, right?
Me: Um, yes, it is.  You tell them or I will.
My child: *elevated look of horror* You wouldn't!!
Me:  Try me.

They rarely try me because I have no problem saying to unnamed child, "Excuse me, that is not ok in this house."  I've even had, on occassion, a child who isn't mine try to take me on.  "But, Mrs. Mihailoff, my Mom lets me!!!  Can't we just this once???"  I even once heard, "If you don't let us, I won't like you."

Funny how much power words like that used to hold over me when I was a kid.  I used to wonder how my Mom could so boldly stand up to whichever "cool kid" happened to be spending the night.  Now, I get it.  It's because they aren't that cool.  And also because I'm 38 and I make the mortgage payment. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Speech Therapy and the Heart of God.

So, tomorrow is the start of something big for my littlest one.  He will be attending young 5's starting in the fall and so we decided that we have finally hit the point that his "lisp" may require some more attention than him simply "growing out of it."  I am loathe to admit this, however.  Why would I want to change the sound of his little impish voice calling out through the house, "Mama, where are you?  Are you in the chicken??"  "Mommy, come and help me, I'm in the bafwoom."  "I yub you, Mama!"  I don't want to, I don't.  But, him.  I need to do this for him.  Because he will soon be entering the "hallowed halls of academia" and it simply won't do to have him being teased because his favorite shoes are his "cwocks" or because he's trying to show off his cool "yunchbox."  And so, off we will go tomorrow morning to his first appointment with the speech therapist...

I have truly loved all the stages and changes each of my kids have gone through thus far.  I mean, there have been trying times, but generally speaking; I SO enjoy each of them.  Watching them grow and discover and become - well, it's simply amazing.

Things are a little different with this one though, and I know it's because he is my last.  My baby.  I haven't been as quick to want him to spread his wings, haven't minded the fact that he's a bit of a late bloomer.  No, in truth, I have relished it.  Have thanked God many a time that this little one, my last one, needs me perhaps a bit more than the others did.

Aside from the fact that tomorrow is Pierce's first speech therapy appointment, we also just found out he will need glasses, AND Thursday is his 5th birthday.  Quite a week for my little man.  So, we were talking about all of these changes tonight at dinner and Carter (my 7 year old) asked Nic (my husband) if he was proud of Pierce because he was turning 5.  Nic replied, "Well, I am proud of him, honey, but he will turn 5 without trying."

The conversation continued around me, but I was struck with that thought.  He will turn 5 without trying.  And in truth, many of his "accomplishments" up to this point have simply been the result of his normal growth.  And yet, I am so proud of him.  So proud, it makes my chest tighten up and my throat swell and tears spring to my eyes when I think about it.  I am proud of him and I love him - so much - not because of what he does, but because of who he is. 

And then another thought came to me, this my friends, is exactly how God feels about us.  He doesn't love us because of what we DO, He loves us because of who we ARE.  We are His.  We are precious.  He doesn't rush our growth to get us to the end product, or tap his foot impatiently as he waits for us to mature.  He relishes the journey with us just as we do with our own children.  He may even want to slow it down sometimes, enjoy the moment, listen to us call out to him imperfectly one more time...and I believe His heart swells with pride as we make each baby step towards Him.

This thought will make my trek to the speech therapist tomorrow a little easier...but, just a little.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Majoring on the Majors...

My house is not spotless.  Our diet is not perfect.  My kids watch t.v. - some days a lot of it.  My kids learn to read when they do - no Baby Einstein around here.  When they don't feel good, I give them synthetic medicine.  They have all been vaccinated.  I didn't breastfeed.  My boys are circumcised.  There have been spankings in this house.

This is a short list of things I have at one point or another felt guilty about admitting.  But, no more.  Here's why:

We don't tell each other to shut-up.  Ever.  Teasing does not happen in this house. (I'm serious).  My three girls (14,12 and 9)  love to have "sleep-overs" in each others rooms.  My two boys (7 and almost 5) get in trouble almost every night because they stay awake after bedtime playing and laughing together.  My 14 year old will still hold my hand in public.  All 5 of my children have told me within the last week that they love me. My teenager refers to me as her "comfort person."  My girls talk to me about things before seeking the advice of their friends.  My youngest boy still wants to marry me when he grows up. We stand up for each other.  We believe in each other.  We cheer one another on.  Our home is a place where we all belong and feel safe.

I think my efforts over the past 14 years have yielded some pretty incredible fruit - I am determined to keep focusing on the majors....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gettin Down to Business...

Ok, so yesterday's post was kind of a cautious tiptoe into the water's of being a Mom.  No real chance for opinions to clash or really even to have an opinion.  But today, I'm just throwing caution to the wind because I have somethin' I wanna talk about.

It's food.  "This lady has lost it."  I can hear you saying out into cyberspace.  "What has food got to do with parenting??"  Hold your horses, I'm getting there. 

It seems like, in the past, food really didn't have anything to do with parenting.  Your parents probably put food on the table and you either ate it or went hungry.  The thought of Mom as a short order cook was in between laughable and downright disrespectful.

It's kind of a big deal to me, though, for one very big reason.  I'm a picky eater.  If there is something on my plate that I don't like, I cannot force it down my throat no matter how hard I try.  I was assured that I would outgrow this, but let's just say, I was done growing a fair piece back and it is still a problem for me.  Imagine then my dilemma when one of my own kids says, "Mom, I don't like this."  Do I force them to eat it, knowing how that would affect me?  Do I allow them not to eat it?  Do I jump up and fix them something else?  These may be easy answers for you, but often they become somewhat of a Waterloo to me.

Now add into the equation how health conscious some Moms are becoming.  You almost never hear a Mom say, "Well, he ate his ketchup, that's a vegetable, right?"  It's more like, "I can't get Susie to eat her kale.  Whatever shall I do??"  I just smile and nod and try to act like I struggle with that one too when the truth is I think kale is disgusting and would never even offer it as a choice.

So, we've gone through all these cycles at our house of me trying to clamp down on the eating and then abandoning ship on the idea later - see, I told you my propensity to forget about and change rules would come out all on it's own.  At the moment, I just am making sure my kids eat.  And I mean every day.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rules of Engagement..and What This Isn't.

I had a hard time sleeping last night.  For those of you who know me well, you can lift your chins off the ground, it was relatively short-lived.  ;-)  I couldn't fall asleep right away because I was excited thinking about all of you.  Thinking about what a grand online community we are about to create.  Then, I thought, I guess there should be rules.  Also for those of you who know me well, don't laugh!!  We don't have to let the newcomers know just yet that I am notorious for making rules only to forget them and then later decide they were unecessary anyway - OK??  They will figure it out on their own soon enough. 

Seriously though, I could only think of one and it's this:  play nice.  I am certain we will all run across ideas and suggestions on here that we don't agree with, but perhaps, if we hold in our knee jerk reaction and wait until we're civil to respond, we might learn something from the person.  At the very least we will let them keep their dignity while maintaining our own. 

Ok, now What This Isn't. 

This isn't a parenting advice column where you, dear reader, ask questions and I (alone) answer them.  I kind of loathe things like that and here is why:  the 5 kids that I have the honor of parenting, they are real people that live in real time.  They have hearts that beat, feelings that hurt, issues that truly concern them, and amazing, individual personalities.  It's kind of insulting to pick up a book or read a column that gives me canned parenting advice as though all children are basically the same.  See what I mean?  All of us will have something to add and all responses will be valued.  You may have some words of wisdom or encouragement to offer another reader that I wouldn't have because I haven't yet been in a similar situation.

Now to the business of what we'll talk about.  Seriously, anything and everything pertaining to parenting.  I suppose I will get to pick the daily topic by default, but I'm ok with rabbit trails.  Let's just see where all of this takes us.

So, to get things rolling, here's the first question:  What has been the most surprising thing to you about being a Mom?

On your mark, get set, go!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I recently lost (to a hard drive crash) almost an entire book that I have been writing.  Yes, I am clear that I should have had it backed up, but I didn't and there is no more to be said about that.  I am determined that I will re-write said book, but it is just too discouraging to think about right at the moment.

I also have contemplated a blog from time to time and it seems as good a time as any to start.  So, that's the beginning of my story.

Parenting is a passion of mine.  I have 5 children and they are the joy of my days.  Also, they sometimes drive me crazy.  I have learned MANY things over the last 14 years of parenting - like, no, you can't toast marshmallows in the toaster and no, you can't force potty training on someone who is afraid of the toilet - but mostly I've learned that I don't know it all.  I don't even know one quarter of it all.  No Mom does no matter what they tell you.  All of us Moms have our own way of doing things and the most awful thing we do to each other is compare and try to create a pecking order of who is better at "momming."  The truth is, we all love our children and try to do what is best for them.  It is damaging and hurtful when another Mom tells you your best isn't right or isn't good enough.

So, I ask you, can't we all just get along?

I'd be thrilled if you'd join me in this discovery of ourselves.  I promise it will be mostly funny and we all might learn a thing or three.  ;-)