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Just because it’s been one of those kinds of days.

First let me start with homeschooling.  I have finally gotten back into the whole swing of things…and oh the memories that come rushing in as I start teaching the Carthesian Coordinate system, all four quadrants, how to find the midpoint when you know all factors for x and y.  My 6th grader has handled this all quite well so far.  It will be interesting to see how he handles when we try to find the midpoint with only one full set of points.  I can remember using both equations and hating that my teacher seemed to prefer the more difficult to understand version.  I love that he can choose which of the two versions works for him–which happens to be the same that I find easiest to use.  I have also found another really cool free math worksheet website, but I apparently didn’t bookmark it.  Story of my life lately. =)

I’m going to link a really cool article here on how homeschooled children compare to public schooled children.  It’s quite an interesting read, and good to keep handy if you get a hard time from the public school. It also reinforces why people are making a switch back to the homeschool program: public school is failing our children, overall.  I was thinking the other day: Maybe you’ve seen the newer style of math introduced in grade 5 here?  You have a very straightforward problem, but in order to get the answer you have to solve in a very roundabout fashion.  It is frustrating to try to help your child in math when this is being taught.  My first inclination is why are they confusing the students so much?  Does this not set children up to fail?  Then a former high school math teacher made an interesting comment: what the kids are being taught isn’t really new, but actually old-school.  It may not have been old-school when I grew up, but apparently it is.  What it does is teach children to think outside the box–you won’t always have a direct answer, so you need to find a way to find the answer using other methodologies.  I never really thought about it that way, so it was interesting to hear that type of comment from a math teacher.  Do I like it?  Not really.  Do I agree with how math is being taught? Not really.  Do I understand the point on problem-solving in other manners, indirectly?  Sure, I can appreciate that, but I still don’t like it. =)

Now, my grade six son has been invited to attend public school the the last two months of the year to get him back into the routine of school, and get him back into the groove of having to deal with other kids in the class.  I have tried to talk him into going–but he does not want to.  He does like being homeschooled, but he also has bad memories of that school he attended last year: it was where he had a lot of meltdowns, and they became more severe by the end of the schoolyear.   That is my theory on why he doesn’t want to go back.  Now, I also can see the point of the principal–she wants him to get acquainted with his new middle school principal before school starts in the fall.  I think that is a good idea.  I think that will be beneficial for the two of them to get somewhat acquainted, and for the principal of the new middle school to understand what makes my son tick.  So we shall see how that all goes down.  I do need to speak with the future principal, and I would also need to speak with his future teachers so they can see what he has been working on this schoolyear, and where he’s ahead, where he’s a tad behind (which can be made up during the summer if need be).  I also need to start pushing for him to get that psychoeducational analysis done…by the school district, which will be most beneficial as he goes into an environment where there are 700+ other kids he will have to deal with at one point in time or another.

For the fun stuff: gardening.  I love to garden.  I am already dreaming up plans to expand the garden areas, what I want to plant (picked up 3 packs of heirloom tomato seeds a few weeks ago I am eager to plant), where to plant them.  I am a dreamer, I admit.  I have big plans with great visions of vines hanging over arbours full of blossoms and hopefully fruit, intertwined with vegetables.  I also want to build an outdoor kitchen complete with outdoor fireplace and sink, all beneath a covered patio.  I want to turn our fully covered back deck into a sunroom that has zero access to television–a place to read a good book and enjoy a nice glass of vino (well, a few sips anyways).  I want to add a small back deck space off our 2nd story master suite–much like we used to have when we lived in Ontario.  Man I miss that quiet space overlooking our country gardens (well, the start of them anyways).  I want to do a minor renovation to our master ensuite–get rid of that corner tub and replace it with a nice claw tub stand-alone that I can walk around–making it so much easier to clean.  ((Note to anyone looking at getting a nice big corner soaker tub: DON’T.  It’s SUCH a huge pain in the arse to clean. I’m convinced it was designed by a man.  I mean seriously, how many loving husbands/boyfriends actually clean them babies out?  Not mine–I clean bathrooms in this house.))

Since I have nothing else to do–you know, because volunteering time participating on the local hockey association executive, homeschooling, carting my younger two off to their Montessori preschool and back five mornings a week, taking on my volunteer position within the  hockey association (scheduling referees for 25 teams and their home games–a pt job in and of itself, but I do enjoy it), squeezing in time to do my paid job (writing home design blogs)… I have decided to create an avenue of obsession: interior design.  I admit, not only am I a dreamer, I am a “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of person. LOL   I have an interest in so many different things, it really is hard to choose just one.  Maybe some of you can relate.  So, what I do is take skus from a couple different choice companies, create rooms, and add some color combination ideas to go with it.  We’ll see how it all works out, but it’s just a secondary avenue of creativity for me.   I hope you enjoy that site, as well, and spread the word. =)   I have only just started it, so if you do get a chance to join my next obsession, check back often as I am updating it almost daily as my mind flips into overdrive adding content.

Side note: I have come the the realization that my younger two are possessed by outside forces of destruction.  They, on their own, are actually pretty good.  However, when they get together and decide to fill each other’s boredom… well, lets just say they seek and destroy.  And usually, it’s my stuff they seek out to destroy.  I thought boys are supposed to be easy??  Maybe some day they will be, but I have yet to be convinced 1) that they will and 2) that I will actually miss these days.  Maybe I will miss spending three hours cleaning the toy room just so they can absolutely demolish it ten minutes or less.  Maybe I will miss cleaning up puddles of pee because they just don’t feel like peeing in the toilet.  Maybe I will miss the constant yelling and screaming, both in fun and fighting over every little thing every five minutes.  Maybe I will one day…but today is not the day.  I don’t think it will be tomorrow, either…or the next day, but maybe one day I will.  ((I am convinced if I keep telling myself this, it will someday be true.))  Four boys + one house = never a dull moment

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I am one of these people who love to do big projects.  Well, they don’t always start out big, but they always end up big.  My latest project ended up being 3 days’ work.  I turned a messy, boy-clean toy room into a really cool space room…with some help from black paint, white paint, glow-in-the-dark paint, and sticker jewels.  

It all started with a natural science/earth science sort of idea I had: have my 11yr old scale down the solar system and use sidewalk chalk to illustrate on the greenspace path behind our house (cuz really, that’s the type of space you need, and it would be fun for other families to venture through space on their daily walk/run/half-run).  Then the ideas start to swirl: I have a blank canvas in the toy room that was supposed to be a robot factory room….only I never really got to it.  ANNND it was never properly cleaned and re-organized–and by properly I mean my way–by my 9yr old last weekend.   

So there it was… I’m tired of dark brown color blocked wall with pale yellow everywhere in the house.  It’s a great combination, but I need change.  I can’t exactly switch out the furniture to my family room, but that is on my list (as in when my 3yo decides to end his little art escapade on everything he can reach).  I can only do so much rearranging of the furniture before I run out of ideas.  Anyhow, so there I was… thinking about the solar system and having a flash-back to high school physics when my friend Erin and I grouped together and put up a scale model of the solar system in the local elementary hall–where there was less chance of it getting destroyed within five minutes of setting it up.  And then I’m thinking–why not put the solar system (in very rough scale, mind you) in the toy room?  Kids play in there, they can learn about the planets, they can see the stars…. and so the journey began.

Can I just say I LOVE the black wall as a color block wall with the pale yellow?  In fact, I love it so much that I am going to do this to two of the other bedrooms while the hubby is in Vegas…  He should be so happy that I only bought one gallon of paint on the books… the other stuff I needed for this past week’s project??  Oh that money was strictly off the books…. as in, I got a refund from some hockey exec committee expenses I submitted, type off the books. .. but SHHH we won’t tell him that — good thing he never reads my blogs.   

Need I mention some really good summer clearance sales while he is away?  He already got mad that I bought some school supplies (for $1 or less each) to add to my extra supply box… I’m sure that by the time Thursday comes around, he will wish he never left for Vegas. =)  

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Space room that has been mommy-cleaned.

What’s the old saying?  What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas?  Yeah, well around here, its more like “What goes on while you’re in Vegas… can be seen when you get back from Vegas.” (Just don’t hold me accountable for my designer boredom and obsessive need to change things every three months or so.)

YAY.. the day most parents wait for… SCHOOL DAY 1. …  =)   I have to laugh because when we were kids, we never understood why our parents were so happy to have us back in school.   However, now that I have kids, I must say… I GET IT!  

The constant bickering, hitting, picking… it finally ends! .. well, for the most part.  The chaos of school and sports… it now begins.  We have one boy in basketball–Fri nights only; and one boy in hockey–3 days/wk, it looks like so far. …  thank goodness Canada has their $500 max for child sports credits, cuz we’ll need it this  year between lacrosse, basketball, hockey, swimming, skate lessons…  mostly to cover hockey, I must admit.   =)

The first week of school in our district is quite interesting.  Kids get jumbled throughout the day between teachers until the principal has final numbers and approved class sizes to allocate to teachers starting week #2.   The exception, of course, is kindergarten.  They have their teachers set already when school starts, which is a good thing.   However, I’ve already seen one girl get left by her mother, who only told her she’d be back, going into grade 1 (this was day #1 of school)…. today I saw a girl coming out of the washroom a bit weepy because she didn’t know where her class was and where she was supposed to be.. another grade 1 student.   So it’s very chaotic for these younger ones, which the district is doing their best to make it easier on them, but the teachers also need to be more accountable for all of their students, not just 99% of them during the first week.   I felt so bad for both little girls this week.  The teachers are great when they realize where the kids are supposed to be, don’t get me wrong, but a quick student count as they file into the common meeting area during week one needs to be a bit better.

Now, I must say, I am already thoroughly enjoying the first few days of full-time older two in school.  Nice, quiet, the monkey and me get to do what we need to do (such as groceries) w/o the constant badgering of each other that brothers like to do…. well, siblings in general, I should say.   However, that will all change when this new one arrives sometime in the next week… then chaos strikes again!  What did I get myself into?  *LOL*   Hockey, basketball, new baby, wild little 18mth old (but cute), and swimming…  most of it I’ll be truckin’ kids to, but some of it daddy gets to do (yay). 

Anyhow, so with the end of a mildly non-dramatic summer.. comes the start of an ever so chaotic, but in a good way, school year!  AND… the challenges of finding snacks that are good for them, and they won’t get bored of after the first week. … 

I am working on getting back into more vegetarian style dishes… which aren’t always so time-conscious, but still delish! …  Last week, I made a really yummy broccoli and mush pizza, and tried this pear & pork stir fry… both were quite tasty… but the stir fry dinner took me an hr to make… when I was tired, I shoulda opted for spaghetti, but I wanted to try something new. … and besides, the leftovers made a great snack for dinner two nights later.  BUT, I still have avocado pasta, fried cheese rolls, and …. i forget the last dish I had on my week’s menu… to try my luck at.   =)  Gotta love magazines like Vegetarian Times for including yummy dishes with even the pickiest veggie eaters in mind.

It’s almost that time of year again — back to school.  With both older boys in school full days this fall, the annual conundrum starts to haunt each parent: what can I keep in the fridge/cupboard for lunches and snacks? 

Most schools now-a-days have peanut butter bans… there are alternatives,a lthough maybe not so kid-friendly, such as tahini (sesame seed butter), pumpkin seed butter (which I am using), and all kinds of other types of butter spreads.  The problem with most of these is that kids like the sweetness of crappy Kraft or Jif or Skippy… so how do you get kids to try something outside the box?  Use honey… or agave nectar.. to sweeten up the spread.    My 2nd boy likes both with his peanut butter.  I like honey with my pumpkin seed butter.   Using alternatives to peanut butter will get around the “peanut-free zone” that most classrooms and schools now have.. and you can still send them to school with an ol’ staple that we grew up on.

What else?  All the conventional cereal bars are junk disguised as “health” foods.  I mean, really, why do you have to add colour to a granola bar?  Why do you need to add fake sweeteners?  You can make your own at home, it’s really simple, cut them up in little granola bar rectangles, and voila-a truly healthy snack.   You control what goes in it ((honey, oats, sugar, a little butter, and whatever other good stuff you want to put in there… just stay away from refined sugars–try coconut sugar… it’s healthier for you)), so you know EXACTLY what is in each bar.  AND, have your kids help you pick out their favorite granola ingredients.

Fruit.  Fruit is always a good thing to put into snack boxes.  The problem is that most fruits go bad when exposed to air (apples, pears, bananas), so keep some lemon or apple juice on hand… throw some sliced fruit in a baggie with a bit of juice…giver ‘er a good shake.. and then pack it in a container for snack.  Kiwi is an excellent sliced fruit as it does not turn brown once exposed to air.  That is why it is great in salads!.. AND it’s a super-powered little fruit.  My personal favorite is the kiwi imported from New Zealand.   It just has a nicer colour and flavor than what is imported from Chile or wherever else it gets imported from. 

Other lunch ideas?  Buy a good small thermos cup and heat up some soup in the morning… or use it for heated leftovers.. or even just a little hot chocolate.  

Things to avoid??  And I know kids will hate me for this: avoid Snackables, lunch meats, those little snack packs with the cheese and cracker stick things….   Why??  Read the ingredients.   Snackables are junk disguised as health food…  those little rounds of lunch meat are packed with sodium nitrates (very bad for you)… fake sugars in teh crackers… artificial flavours and colours in some of the cheeses… and a candy bar?  That’s a healthy snack??  Some include little bottles of water — but don’t tell you that the water used is tap water in a bottle, whose waste water is disguised as “fertilizer” and pawned off to poor people in third world countries to use on their crops which they need for survival.   Some Snackables have juice packs–which are full of artificial flavours, colours, and packed with artificial sweeteners. .. sounds pretty tasty, no?  …  Nevermind the snack packs–which I have the same issue with as I do with snackables. …  And lunch meats?  Like I said a few sentences ago, they are loaded with sodium nitrates, which are extremely bad for you. .. like most foods on the market these days… 

So how to avoid the nastiness that is “health” food — you know, like Quaker oat bars, or Kelloggs Special K bars, or even Nature’s Valley (which I like, until I read the ingredients) and even some Kashi bars.. Now, don’t get me wrong, Kashi is my fave brand of cereal, but their bars are not so healthy for you.  This is why I mentioned earlier–make your own.   If you have an oven that is newer–it likely has a low setting–say 100F – 120F–that you can use to dehydrate your own foods, and pack them in lunches.

Fuit snacks?  You know-like Gushers, or Scooby Doo, or whatever other junk is out there.  The only one I actally think is halfways good for you–SunRype.  They use fruit juice concentrate to make their little yummy bites that taste like candy (yes, I like them too).  There are other ones I haven’t tried, but again, look at the ingredients.  You HAVE to be an ingredient-savvy parent to keep your kids eating healthier in school.   If there’s anything other than fruit juice used to sweeten the fruit snacks… leave it on the shelf.  If there’s any artificial colours.. .leave it on the shelf. …  Even better–make your own fruit leathers.  Instead of fruit roll-ups, which are just a load of sugary crap–you can make your own.  Seriously–it’s this easy:  puree  your favorite fruits (or your kids’ favorite fruits), spread it out onto a cookie sheet with edges (you may want to use parch paper to keep it from sticking to the pan), and use the oven’s low heat setting to dehydrate. … Then you cut it up into strips, long or short, roll it up if it makes your kids feel better, and stick it inside their lunch pack. … it’s not only healthy, but super yummy. …  AND your kids will beg for more…  or if you have small cookie cutters, make shapes out of them before you wrap them up for lunch/snack…

Other ideas??  Those are the first ones that come to my head right now. … It’s really a challenge when you want your kids to eat healthy at school, but you don’t really know what to pack them.  You can buy organic apple sauce (not Motts–Eden Organic is a good brand)… in the US, you can buy Vermont apple sauce with raspberry.. or make your own. …  I like the Vermont Organic applesauce, so next time I’m in the US,  I’ll be searching it down high and low… that one is my absolute favorite brand. 

As for drinks??   It’s hard to avoid the juice packs… they are just so darn convenient.  Me? I have a great quality juicer (see my review on juicers) so i’ll be making the boys juice and packing it in a smaller travel cup for them to drink at school.. and be the envy of all their friends. *LOL* … For juice packs, again, READ THE INGREDIENTS.   I can not emphasize enough about being an ingredient-savvy parent when choosing foods for your kids.   

Happy food hunting… and good luck with the snacks!!   I think maybe I’ll add a recipe tab sometime and publish some of my favorite recipes, including where I got them… and how to make them more organic and healthier for your family.

Ok, so here’s the deal.  For 2yrs, we’ve told the kids “no going outside the cul-de-sac”, and stay only on a certain section of the path.  This summer, we have given them more freedom, as long as they stay together. 

Now, I for one would like to have them in my little bubble for the rest of their lives *LOL*, however, I have to reluctantly bend and change rules with the times.  This summer, they are now allowed outside the cul-de-sac… but they must stay within our little block area. I have no problem since this means the other kids down the street will hang out with them more, so they all play in one big group.  I’m OK with that.  BUT…

There’s a new kid in town.  I had no idea he even existed until yesterday…which is my sort of bubble-life showing through since they’ve been here for a little over a month, now. *L*  Anyhow, so yesterday the older boy decides he’s going to make his own rules.  They somehow got the impression that they don’t have to listen when I say “you need to come inside now” because their friends are still out… only their friends don’t have to go to summer session 15-20mins awayby 830am. 

Anyhow, so upon the eldest decision to take matters into his own hands, he decides that since he doesn’t want to come in (I had already fixed his chain twice, he was coming in a 3rd time to get it fixed)  he neglects to mention to little brother that it was time for them to come in from playing outside.   Not only does he do that, but since the lot of them were invading this poor new kids home, they decided it was OK to do so…. complete strangers… and watch a movie. 

SO, not only were they 90mins late, they neglected to tell me where they were going, and I knew who they were with, which was good, but still…  they were inside a stranger’s home.  This is scary.  If all it takes is a nice kid to welcome them into a home, then who’s to say this nice kid doens’t have bad parents??   The things that go through one’s mind when you find out how easy it would be to lose your child.   BUT, this is all part and parcel of the growing up process for them. 

SO, once they got home, and decided to fight over who goes first in the bathroom for the nightly routines…. I grounded them.   The eldest for 2 days, the younger for 1.   And here’s the reason:  1 day for going into a stranger’s home and not telling me where they are at … 1 day for purposely not telling younger brother that it was time to come in AND for leaving him behind at this new friend’s house.. SO, i lectured them this morning about the importance of my needing to know where they are and who they are with, so at 900pm when I am looking to call them in, I know where to find them….

So today, I meet the new kid… AND his parents, who are super friendly and I think we’ll all get along  just fine. =) …   Hopefully they have learned their lesson.  I told them that with this new freedom comes more responsibility.  If they can’t handle the responsibility, they will lose that new freedom until they are more ready… (well, until I am more ready *L*)

I know it’s hard for them to come in while it’s still light… and they are certainly enjoying being able to go outside the cul-de-sac, now, and venture a little further from home… but I’m understanding this phase as a parent–you have to loosen the leash a little bit and let them do their thing.

I think back to when I was a kid… I grew up in a village of 400 where if one person sneezed, the whole village knew by the end of the day.  I can remember being 6,7,8 yrs old and riding bike with my friends all around the village… and when we moved at age 10 to a town of 2000, I still rode bike around town with friends…  Now, granted being in a suburb these days is slightly different, but the concept is the same–you just have to let loose a little as a parent, whether you like it or not.. and i’m still not liking this much, but I am working on it. …  I am terribly protective of my boys, so for me it is a tough adjustment.

I mentioned earlier about parenting styles.  When you have children with friends whose parenting styles are exact 180 from  yours, you have to adjust and learn to cope.  (case in point was the blog regarding the child who is rather disrespectful to parents)  Here is my own personal theory on parenting, and I’ve only been a parent for 8yrs, so it’s not like I’m a pro.  I’m learning with each stage my oldest goes through, and that’s the joy of being a parent.  You realize all the stages that kids go through, only you see them as  your parents saw them.

So here are my versions of the “type of parents” I’ve encountered so far… and this isnt’ to say one or the other is right.  The only parenting style that is right is the style that works for you–as we all know all kids are different and need to be parented a little differently.

1) Routine & Discipline: This is probably  more my style.  I like to think that all children need some sort of routine in their lives, and discipline on varying levels.  Routines such as regular bedtimes, somewhat regular dinnertimes, eating breakfast every morning before school… these are the kinds of routines I’m talking about.  You don’t have to sit and plan your entire day with your child in order to get “routine” into your parenting style.  This is about setting guidelines and time tables that are very reasonable.  For example, the boys know that when they get up, they have an hour to make their breakfast, get dressed, and clean their teeth before going to school.  Sometimes a bit longer if they are up earlier.  Unfortunately, my 2nd one is like me–doesn’t like to get out of bed right away, so he takes a bit longer to do things.  He is on his own time-frame… (which is a whole other blog!)  I used to use an oven timer so they could check how much time they had left.  This worked well in the aspect of getting them to understand how long an hour is, exactly, without me having to harp on them every 15mins to get stuff done.  What doesn’t get done, doesn’t get done.  If they go to school with a pair of dirty jeans because they didnt’ feel like changing–that’s their problem to deal with at school, not mine.  If they want to skip teeth brushing–a proper teeth brushing–then it’s their teeth that will rot, not mine.  They have to learn to be responsible, and for me, this means giving them a sort of routine that they can expect to occur every day.  Whether or not there is school.  Of course, on weekends, and during the summer, the 1-hr rule is slack, but they do need to get these things done before they go outside to play.  

Discipline — this doesn’t mean a belt to the bum, or a wooden spoon to the hand, or anything that we may have grown up on.  This is giving them the idea that there is a consequence for their actions.  Whether it’s a time-out, a seat in the corner, or one very quick swat to the bum.  They have to learn that for being bad, there is going to be some sort of consequence.  This will change over time as they get older, of course, as it will then lead to no-video game days… no TV days… etc etc etc. … I  have to laugh–I read an article recently that is by some quack doctor who says that you should NOT give children a time-out because it makes them feel  unloved.  Really??  So I don’t love my child because I punish him for doing something he knows is wrong?   I don’t love my child because I am trying to teach him the difference between right and wrong?  HM…  Her soluton?? Talk to the child.  Great concept, except that it doesn’t work with all children.  We’ve tried this, and it doesnt’ work.  This was actuallly our first route of discipline, until we realized it wasn’t working.. like at all. …  Maybe it’s just our kids, I don’t know.. Maybe she doesn’t have kids, I don’t know. ..  What I do know is that when you’re in the grocery store and your kid is screaming bloody murder because he’s not getting his way, a little “talk” will NOT do any good.  What did I do? I used to give them a quick swat, after a few warnings, and they quickly learned that when Mommy is out and they are along for the ride, there is no screaming=treat.  I used to say “I don’t care who’s watching, if you don’t stop I’ll swat your bum.”   So, after having to do that a few times with each of the first two, they realized I won’t tolerate it.  Now I know what some of you will say “Just walk out of the store”.  That’s fine, but when you need that can of formula,  you can’t just walk out of the store.. when you need that bag of diapers, you cant’ just walk out of the store.  When your kids are starving, will you just walk out of that door?  All that teaches them, in my personal opinion, is that if they don’t want to be in the store, they just have to throw a huge fit, and mommy will give them what they want–a very short shopping trip.  I’m sorry, but I don’t work that way.. for some parents it works, but not for this one. =)  …  So, like I said, the level of discipline is based upon the child’s age and mental capacity to understand that there is a right and there is a wrong.  There is a gray area that they will not be allowed to pass through with a free ticket.  I don’t advocate beating the crap out of your child.. That is so wrong on so many levels… One quick swat to the bum is all a child needs.  You don’t need to swat them so hard their bum turns blue.. that’s just going way too far.  All they need is the whole idea that if they refuse to listen after all other options have been tried, they will get the last and final option, no questions asked. 

So, routine and some discipline.  A child really does need some sort of routine and they need to be taught right and wrong.  If all they’ll do is get a speech, they won’t listen anyhow. Especially boys–they seem to have mastered the art of selective hearing at a very early age.  *LOL* They may nod yes, and say “uh-huh”, but if you sit and quiz them, they likely won’t remember more than a few choice words that seemed to have stuck into their memory for some odd reason.. you know what I mean.   When you say to them “Stop hitting your little sister” all they hear is  “hit little sister” .. *LOL* …  and when you quiz them on what you just lectured them about for the past 10minutes, all they’ll remember is “hit.. .little.. sister” ….   so, hey, lectures don’t work on all kids. …  I have lectured mine countless times with the same results.. they don’t remember squat.  *L* I just tell them they are just like their dad… he only half-hears me half the time too.  *LOL*

2) Best Friend — This is the parent, and i know some of you will be reading this, who would rather be the child’s best friend than have to discipline them for wrong-doing.  So this parent is the buddy all the time.  The child does something foolish?  “Oh I did that when I was young…” and the band marches on.   All parents want to be their child’s best friend, however, there is a time when the parent must step out of that role and be the parent.  Will the child get mad?  Probably.  Will the child get over it?  Yep, and it may take some children longer than others.  The  only problem I have with this “style” is that it doesn’t really teach the child that there are consequences to their actions.  They do something foolish, they don’t get punished.  They do something right, they get extra praise.  They do something someone should put them in jail for, it’s just a kid being a kid.  You can still be your child’s best friend.  My husband’s mom was his best friend growing up, and until the day she passed away.  She was a bit more lenient with him, I gather from the stories I’ve heard, but she was a single mom making a place for herself in this world.  Did she let him get away with lots of crazy stuff? Sure she did.  Is he a bad, messed up person?  No.  So this style worked for her with him.  It’s like I mentioned earlier, everyone has their own style, and whatever works for them is the right style for them. …  I don’t have to agree with it, it’s just the way some people choose to raise their children.  And when you encounter another parent who is like this, you just have to learn to adjust.  They are probably great people, and really do care about the child, but just their style is more lenient than most.

3) Part-Time Parent — this is the type of parent who only wants to be there when the time suits their need to have children present.  This doesn’t mean that if you’re a working mom, you are in this category.. What I mean is that when you are a parent who doesn’t really want to be a parent, you will tend to pawn the kid off on everyone who will take him so you can go out and party, have your fun.  Well, maybe this works if it means the child spends a lot of time with the grandparents, or an auntie or uncle.. but a child needs to bond with their parent.  If the parent is out all the time doing grown-up things instead of tending to the needs of the child, then that bond is very frail.  That leaves the child to wonder if he is worthy enough and may start acting out to get your attention.  This type of parenting, although it may be good in some instances, isn’t going to work in most other instances.  I think of single parents.  They definitely do NOT belong in this category.  They are a class of their own.  I find that most parents who would somewhat fit into the “part-time” parent category are teenage mom’s who don’t quite understand the real responsibility behind having children.  They are still in that teenage, lets go party every other night, mode, and you just can’t do that and raise a child at the same time.  There always has to be a give and take.  You gave your child life, they take away part of your sense of freedom as a teen.  I see a lot of teenage moms ((as our high school is full of them back home)) who don’t want to spend the time with their child. It’s not so much that they don’t love the child, but it’s more that they don’t want to give up their teenage lifestyle.  Now if you’re a teenage mom who has the blessing of great parents, and whose parents have no problem taking care of little one while you be a responsible adult, and the occassional irresponsible bout of foolishness… and the child is happy and feels loved… then kudos for making it work.   I’m just saying that in the long run, there will come a time when being a part-time parent just isn’t going to be good enough for your child.

4) Single Parent — I call this a “parenting style” because these single parents deserve a title of their own.  How difficult it must be to not have the help in the evenings from a boyfriend or husband to give you some sense of relief from parental duties.  They adore their children, but the only way they can raise them is to go into the work force and hope that teaching them right and wrong will get them far.   They work all day, come home exhausted, and still make time to read their child a book, fix their favorite dinner, help them with their homework.   These single parents deserve a lot more respect than they are given.   Society as a whole seems to blame the whole single parent thing for the reason children go into gangs, start stealing, start robbing stores…  If that parent isn’t able to be home with their child 24/7, it’s not their fault.   The single parent needs to earn money to buy their child the clothes for school, the shoes for soccer, the gear for hockey.  These things aren’t free.  It’s a give and take society.  Are all single-parent children bad kids?  No, not at all.  A lot of a child’s influence as they get older comes from their choice of friends.  Peer pressure is definitely hidden away when you hear stories of this gang member and that one at home with a single parent.  You can’t sit there and say “Oh, I see.  Poor child doesn’t have 2 parents.”  Instead of saying “Uh-huh. Bad choice of friends, no?”  Not even 2-parent households can’t be with their children all the time.  As much as we want to be, and worry about them, we can’t.   Children need to be allowed to make foolish mistakes, and learn the consequences of these more adult choices.  You just have to hope that the choices they make are good ones, and if they are foolish, they aren’t so foolish that someone else gets hurt in the process.   So to the single parent–kudos for making the best of the situation you are in!  My nephew is raised by his mom, and she has done a wonderful job.  He’s a great kid–well, ok so he’s in high school, but he’s stil a kid to me *LOL*  

And so ends my soap box for the day. …  Like I said, not everyone fits into any one “style”, as with fashion, we all  have a style of our own.  It’s what makes us unique, it what makes us individuals.  Parenting is the same thing.  You have to run with it and hope that whatever style is  yours will work for your child/children.   My sister asked me for a little bit of parenting advice, so I told her she will get advice from all sorts of people, but to remember that what works with one set of parents won’t necessarily work for them.  Parenting is such a steep learning curve.  Most of us parent our children like we were parented as children, and when you have two people who grew up with different parenting styles, then sometimes that will cause a fight….but you have to learn to compromise.  Sometimes one way works better than another.  Sometimes being tough isn’t as good an idea as you thought.  Sometimes being lenient isn’t as good an idea as you thought either.  So it’s just one of those things.  Life is like a deck of cards–you have to play the hand you’re given and make the most of it.  There are no do-overs.  There is no  “Can I get a re-deal?”.  Life is what life is.  Parenting is what a parent makes of it.

So summer school… when we grew up, summer school was for those who fell behind during the regular school year and needed to make up that extra time lost due to skipping out for this or that reason. .. or who just weren’t doing well enough to pass without it.  So, when the neighbor kid tells my boys that “only babies go to summer school”, and they both come back mad and unwilling to play with him, I think–good.   Because summer class for them is FUN!! 

They go to a Montessori school from age 3-6.  The most amazing Montessori class ever! … Anyhow, so they have a July session that runs 830-1230 M-F during July. … What do they do?  Science experiments, nature walks, sports, some days they go to the nearby waterpark…and they do in-class learning about the world and the environment.  A really great class to keep their minds working and to keep them interested in learning. 

Let’s face it, i’m not a home-school teacher, and major kudos to those parents who are.  So for me to sit with them and have them do “schoolwork” while on summer vacation just isn’t my thing. … I do find them a workbook that is skill-appropriate (because they are ahead of their grade level in most aspects–this is hugely thanks to the Montessori).  They can work through it at their own pace.  Although, I am now thinking of making it a weekly assignment thing to keep their minds fresh, especially once they are done with the July session. 

They both have things to work on with their report cards — my older needs to stop mumbling like mommy when he speaks… and my 2nd needs to work on his printing.  So, these are easy things to work on. .. And we are lucky enough to have a large city lot so they have a good backyard to play sports in… and the cul-de-sac to play with the neighborhood kids… and a playground nearby they can walk with me/bike to on the cooler summer days.  Honestly, me being this pregnant through the summer… heat, which I normally can’t get enough of, is too much.  Little bun in the oven produces enough heat for the two of us *LOL*.

So when your kid comes home because the neighbor kid feels like picking on him… roll with it. Our boys usually last 15mins before they are home complaining about this particular child.  And it’s not so much that this child is a bad kid, he is a good kid when he wants to be, but he just enjoys being mean, so in our house the rule is: if one comes home, they both come home, and they don’t play with this child for 3 days.   It’s not meant to punish our kids, but rather to make the other understand that if he wants to play with our boys, he needs to be nice to them.  How many kids borderline-bully their friends?  Maybe it’s a boy thing?  I don’t know, but I was never friends with girls who were like that.  Then again, maybe being more tomboy than girlie girl, I didn’t see that part of chic behaviour much. 

Now, I do feel for those parents.  They are super nice people, but their kids could use a swat to the bum now and then for lack of respect.  It really irks me when kids have such little respect for parents.  Partly, that is the parents for not instilling that into their child from a young age.  So now, even though this child is 6, he and his sister consistently disrespect their mom in front of others.  And it’s actually uncomfortable to witness, and I’m sure even more so for the parents to be spoken to like that.  They do it more to the mom than the dad, and I get that too.  Our boys have learned selective hearing from a very young age–I see it in our 16mth old *L* … BUT, we also taught them to be respectful and polite… These are things they learn inside the home.  You can’t learn that from TV, you can’t learn that at the movie theatre, it has to come from inside the home.

This leads me to another topic I’ll cover later when I have more time: parenting styles.  =)

First, let me say that being an at-home mom isn’t for everyone.  If you are the type who relies heavily upon your social circle outside the home, it may not be a good fit for you.  If, on the otherhand, you are an introvert and have no problem doing your own thing 24/7, then you’ll have no problem being the at-home parent.  I have a lot of friends who fit into the “not for them” category as they are very social people.  I also have friends who are like me – have no problem being at home.   Neither is too terribly bad.  On one hand, the social mom loves to do her own thing outside the family regulary and it feeds the human need to be a social person.  On the other hand, a more social mom will also miss out on a lot of the little milestones that the at-home mom sees–the first few steps, the first time dancing, the first words, the first sentences, the first of a lot of different things.

So, which is better?  Whichever suits your personality is better.  What’s better for your child?  That also depends upon what kind of parent you want to be.  Do you enjoy being the “soccer mom” type who spends her day in “mom’s taxi” truckin’ kids to sports, birthday parties, school events, etc, all while fitting in grocery shopping and running errands between runs?  These are the moms that are very involved in their children’s lives from day one.  Personally, I think this is great for the child and builds a great relationship between child and parent.  However, unfortunately, not a lot of families can afford to have one parent stay at home.  This is society’s fault for making adults choose between money and their children’s well-being.   We all want what is best for our children, but not all of us can afford to what is best for our children. 

If you’re the mom who’d rather be out working and enjoying the adult interactions day-to-day, don’t feel guilty about it.  Yes, you’ll miss out on a lot of “little” things, but as long as you are spending QUALITY time with your children, then that is nourishing as well.  By QUALITY time, I mean this:  Don’t hold a conversation with your 8yr old while doing a load of dishes, throwing a load of laundry in the wash, or sweeping the floors.  Sit down, make time to converse about the child’s day at school, talk about things going on in their life.  You have to learn to just sit back, let the housework wait until the child (children) are in bed, and then work your magic.  That child needs your attention and if you don’t give quality attention, you’ll have a child who feels like they aren’t as important as your favorite TV show, or that playoff game, or that load of dishes.   You can’t let yourself continually say “Give me 5 minutes,” because 5 minutes turns into a load of dishes, turns into a load of laundry that needs to be folded, turns into that favorite TV show you’ve been dying to see all week.   The social mom/dad needs to make QUALITY time with that child. 

We are all tired by the end of the day, just different kinds of tired.  We still need to make sure we spend quality time with our children, regardless of parenting styles (which, btw, is a whole other blog *L*).  It’s not necessarily the amount of time you spend, but the amount of QUALITY time you spend with that child/children.  The housework can wait.  I once read somewhere that a messy house is a house that children live in.   Kids will make a mess, they will not want to clean it up, we will get very frustrated with this, BUT… try to let it go.  Sometimes you just have to sit down and let the mess happen, and let it stay that way.  You have guests coming in an hour?  Well, they know you have kids… and if they expect your house to be spotless, then maybe they should hire you a maid.

OK so now that I’m a semi-official blogger, let me begin with the Tales of the At-Home Mom.  These will be my thoughts on various topics from being a mom-to-be (again), to ins and outs of working on the organic side of life, to pretty much anything and everything.  I know that’s a given–thoughts about anything and everything–but this will be a tad different.  My ultimate goal is to bring informative opinions on all things newsworthy and in daily life matters.  So, hopefully after a few posts, you will find it an interesting enough blog to share with others =)

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