...my child sold your honor student the answers to the test...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Scrapbook 2013

Happy holidays everyone! It is that time of year when I pull out every photo of the boys I have taken over the past year, pick my favorites, and create my virtual scrapbook. It's always one of my favorite projects to work on.

This year was a crazy rollercoaster ride for us at the SRM household. We've had new additions added to our family (which reminds me to post the blog about our newest family member... must get on that soon). We've had family move closer, family friends move from the north east to join us in NC, Xavier started middle school, and so much more.  My apologies for the lack of reading material. I am finding that free time where I am actually awake and coherent is nonexistent lately. Maybe for Christmas this year I will ask Santa for more time in the day. I wonder if I've been good enough?

Anyways I hope that all of you are doing well, enjoying the end of the year, and I raise my glass of spiked eggnog to you in celebration. Enjoy the humorous antics of my boys, my gift to you!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Been Seven Years, Ashe

It's always amazing to me when another year has gone by and I look at my boy standing there, so proud, so excited that he is a new age, and yet, I can remember in vivid detail the day he was born. For each parent and child I am sure that this is common. But Ashe... Ashe is special. He was born on December 12 at 12:11 pm.

12/12 12:11

Do you know how many times, my lovely Ashe, that I have been asked why I didn't hold you in for one more minute so that you were born  12/12 12:12pm? Do you know how many times I have had to hold back from smacking those idiots? Of course, they do not realize that by that time I had been holding you back for ten minutes while the doctor ran as fast as she could to make it from the opposite side of the hospital, after already trying to keep you at bay from being born in the car during a five minute car ride to the hospital. Or that she barely skidded into the room when I yelled "Catch!" and you were born. And of course, they don't realize that, let's be honest here, there really is no such thing as holding you back.

The fact that you were born on 12/12 at 12:11 and not 12:12 is just another reminder that you are the writer, performer, and conductor to your own epic soundtrack of your life. You are the hero of your story, unstoppable, undefeated! No one can take that away from you, nor should anyone try.

Seven years, my love. Seven years you have graced us with your vibrant soul. It seems that not nearly enough time has passed for you to be seven while also trying to remember what life was like before you entered the world like a comet in a blaze of glory, hell bent to make your entrance to this glorious world known far and wide. I can barely remember life without you. I don't want to know life without you.

You make life so much more! More of everything! More fun! More loud! More inspiring! More chaotic! More frustrating! More fulfilling! More worthwhile!!!

You, my child, will go far in life in whatever you do. You own this stage called life, and you know it. And while sometimes this knowledge you keep creates many situations where I want to pull out my hair in frustration as you make some sarcastic comment with that little smirk on your face, totally confident in yourself, that confidence you exude as a child will be a huge strength as you grow and reach maturity. It will lift you up when you stumble and push you to move forward when many people would just stop and stay down after their fall.

My advice to you child, as you grow... don't stay down when you stumble. Don't ever stay down. You were made, not to fall, but to fly. And you will fly high.

I watch you now, at seven years old. So confident. So funny. So amazingly smart. So stubborn. So full of life. Everyone you touch is forever changed for the better. You make everyone laugh. You make them smile. You make them think. You make them wonder in delight. Seven years old and you can do all that and more.

Ashe, you are amazing. Never change your ways for anyone. And please, never forget that you are SO loved, that I can't even begin to describe to you in a blog, or through our chats just how much you are loved and cherished by me, your father, your brothers, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends.....

You are SO loved. And my love, may I wish for you today the most happiest of birthdays, and an awe filled year ahead of you.

Happy birthday Ashe!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Santa Reincarnated


This past summer J and I made an executive decision after a long time discussing all probable outcomes as well as the ethics involved revealing to Xavier a long held secret many parental units hold tightly to until they feel the time is right. Many parents are saved making this delicate decision by their own kids professing beforehand that they already know the secret. Some of you end up like us, having to walk a hairline wire to ensure you don’t forever damage your child.

I’m talking about revealing the truth about Santa.


Every parental unit has their own reasons that fuel this decision if they have to make it. Ours were because Xavier was now eleven, would be close to twelve by the time this Christmas would arrive, and because he had started the dreaded middle school era of his life. Xavier is so exuberant in his convictions of anything, that our greatest fear would be the topic of Santa discussed at the lunch table, and after Xavier professing his unwavering belief that a big guy in a red suit living at the North Pole flew around the world in one night to give presents t good boys and girls would cause his new friends to look at him with less respect and tease him. Or they would be the ones to tell him the truth and he would come home, trust broken in us.

We also wanted to be the ones to explain because while the mythical figure Santa may not exists as a corporal being, he does exist as the spirit of Christmas. We wanted to explain to Xavier that Santa is the symbol of love, family, charity, thoughtfulness, generosity, all wrapped up in a stocking hat and big black boots.

So we approached him cautiously one day as a team. We asked him what his thoughts were about Santa. And we asked him if he knew that there was a super-secret club he could join, that only adults and mature kids could join? And would he like to join it, with the understanding that once he did, he couldn’t undo it?

He was resistant. Defensive. Wary. Were we trying to tell him that Santa wasn’t real??? (No, not really.) Of COURSE Santa was real!!!! How dare we imply otherwise! Have we been lying to him this whole time?

So we left it then with him understanding that that was not what we were doing, and that if he became interested in talking more, to come to us.

Over the past several months, Xavier would approach us and ask us if Santa was real. We’d ask him what he believed. He said Santa was real. Ok then, that’s awesome.

And then came Thanksgiving Day. We were hanging out at my mom’s house when Xavier approached me.

“I think I’m ready to join the super-secret club.”

“Are you sure?”


“Ok then. Sit down and let me tell you some history about Christmas and Santa.”

“You mean mythology of Santa?”

“No, I mean his history.”


And so he sat, and my friend G guarded the back door so no other kids could show up unexpectedly, and I told Xavier the history of Santa. About a guy long ago named Nicholas, and how he helped out a poor family with three daughters who had no money for a dowry. How he slipped into their house and left dowry’s for them so they could have a chance at a good life that would have otherwise been impossible. And how that one good deed resonated so far that he was made a saint, St. Nicholas. And how that story spread far and wide across the world, and people latched onto it and started to echo that idea, about charity, love, generosity, etc.

And then I explained that while Santa is not what he always thought he was, he is real in the idea of Christmas. And that we adults continue to echo his deeds, varied over the years, to keep that meaning alive. And when a child becomes old enough, the parents ask them to join in and continue the message for his siblings, and later on, his own children.

Xavier, despite my fears, ate it up. It was like a light went on, and his understanding of Christmas grew larger, deeper, and more meaningful. And after I explained this all to him I asked him if he would like to be Santa with us this year. And he smiled and nodded…..but added a few caveats to it ;)

He didn’t want to help choose the gifts, because he still wanted to be surprised. He didn’t want to help wrap those gifts up, but did want to be the one to put them under the tree. He did want to help stuff his brothers stockings, but not his own. And he didn’t want to be around when J and I placed the rest of the family gifts under the tree. All easily done.

Since then, he has come up to me to ask me for more information. He’s asked about the Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. He wants to know how we can hide eggs so well, and insists that I am part ninja for getting his teeth out from under his pillow while slipping money and a note as a replacement. He wanted to know why the Leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day stopped coming, and was he really scared of the traps set out to capture him by Xavier or was Dad (in charge of leaving chocolate coins out) just forgetful? (Yes)

I’ve watched Xavier over the past week as we set up our tree, do our advent calendars, and listen to holiday music. I’ve watched him cock his head once in a while, lost in thought. And then I’ve watched a little smile creep up on the side of his face as if he knows something others don’t. As he realizes just how important this secret club really is, and he is both in awe of how we parental units do it every year, and how he is now responsible for such a big secret.

And he is so proud to be a part of it.


I am too. I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better. May my two other children find the reincarnation of Santa just as awe inspiring when they too join our club.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let The Games Begin



A long time ago, in a state far, far away, I met a guy. Let’s call him G. We met one summer day in the hallway of the high school we were hoping to attend, after taking a personality test this particular school demanded to ensure that we were right for their establishment.  I believe his first comment to me was a wonderful mimicry of the test we had just finished, laced with sarcasm, my favorite type of humor.

“Do you like working inside or outside? Do you like working with people or by yourself? Do you like light or dim environments? Well, do you?!”



It was friendship at first sarcasm.


A few months later I met a girl. We’ll name her R. We chose the same vocation to learn during high school, and we became fast friends. Over the years, R and I have had many adventures together, and I can honestly say that I am a better person because of her.  And over time, my two friends G and R, met, fell in love, and they tied the knot. All was great! Except for that tiny fact that six years ago J and I moved far away and our families were separated by many miles.  Sure, we tried to visit one another, but traveling with kids half way up the east coast gets expensive and drives you batty when you are forced to listen to 12 hours of “Are we there yet? How about now? Now?” …. And that’s just coming from the adults. Ok ok not all of the adults. Just G.


To help combat the sad fact that it was more difficult to wreak fun havoc together with us being so far away, we would joke that it may be a good thing for the rest of the world to keep a few states separating us. G and I are the male/female versions of one another. As he well put it the other day on my FB page:

Despite what you would hear, the reason for this separation is for the benefit for all of mankind. You see if we get together, sarcasm, at EPIC levels, will occur. The likes of which you have never seen!

I've seen brave men weep at just a few seconds of hearing us together. It's so bad it has been banned by the Geneva Convention…”


And while I wish that I could say that he has a tendency to exaggerate, aside from the Geneva Convention aspect, that’s pretty accurate. I’ve always wondered if he and I were somehow twins secretly separated at birth.  I blame him for my first F ever in school. Technically I can admit that it was the teachers fault. She didn’t know as all the other teachers did, to not seat us next to each other. She learned within one semester after she spent more time every single day, trying to get us to shut up and pay attention to the lesson at hand than she did teaching said lesson.
And don't even get me started on the three of us together in high school drama club. Even I can admit that sometimes there are some stories that should never be told. 


 We’ve all known each other now for over twenty years. You would think that we would have mellowed out with age. You would also be terribly, horribly wrong. What’s even scarier to the unsuspecting public is that we also have children that are only six days apart. Mini us, who will be in the same grade, year after year. It’s almost like history is repeating itself.  


But now the fun begins. Because last week G and R finally followed in my family’s footsteps and they have moved down here. Only ten minutes separate our households. After twenty years, we are now closer to each other than we have ever been, and I am not sure if this town can survive all of us, and our offspring, together.


The master plans have already begun. It’s not even time for kindergarten registration and we are already planning on how to get our kids together in the same school, the same track and sometimes, the same teacher.  And if we were hard to handle many years ago, I can already imagine the phone calls and parent/teacher meetings we parental units will be dragged into via the mischievous actions of our boys combined. I plan on gifting Soren’s future teachers with ample supplies of booze, just to stay on her good side.

Holidays have just become that much more entertaining (and loud). Who am I kidding? EVERY DAY has become more entertaining (and loud).  It’s been a week since they have arrived and every morning we all gather together for coffee and breakfast. I’ll admit that I am surprised that the local police have not yet stopped by to recite the appropriate domestic volume decibel level. Halloween, our favorite holiday of the year, is going to be amazing. For us. For the people who hand put pretzels instead of proper candy?.... Not so much (Yes, I’m looking at *you* mom!)


And for the first time ever, we all have a giant village in which to raise our children together. While we may not technically share familial blood, sometimes family is who you choose. And we choose each other. Add my mother into the equation, who lives ten doors down from G and R, and our kids will have more adults raising them than they will know what to do with. And it’s going to be awesome. Our kids will either grow up with the most fantastic rounded personalities, getting the best each of us has to offer, or we’ll be pooling our money into accounts to pay for our children’s therapy. Either way, our kids will have an interesting childhood that they will be able to regale their own children with. Simultaneously, G and R will, for the first time, have friends who also understand what it means to be a Parental Unit. With our new village of family, they will finally be able to go out as a couple, and relax, knowing that their child is being cared for. That is more precious to Parental Units than anything else you could offer them. A chance to recharge and remember why they thought having offspring was a good idea in the first place.


So. Here we are. Fast friends since we were mere kids ourselves, having children of our own, and now living closer together than ever before. All I can say local readers is this:


Brace yourselves. The fun is about to begin. And just in case it’s ever needed for legal matters, I blame G.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Pool Reflections


The boys on their final pool day of the season
This past Thursday most of the fam spent enjoying our last day at the G-Rents pool. It's closing for the season despite the fact that it will stay hot enough for pool dipping for at least anther month. We can't complain though. Most pools around here close on Labor Day weekend while ours stayed open a bit longer.

Since the day it opened for the season, we have spent as much time as possible at the pool. In the past four months, my kids have grown a crazy amount, in many different ways.

For example, Xavier finished elementary school. He started at a middle school in July where he knew no one. At this time, he has just finished his first quarter, made honor roll, and most importantly, has created a lot of new friendships. His phone is off the hook, with friends texting him after school. His social life has grown as has his self confidence.

In the past few months Ashe has finished Kindergarten, started first grade, and finished his quarter with excellent grades. He also gained the confidence in the pool to let those swimming lessons kick in, and now he's swimming like a fish! Ashe has no fear of the deep end, of swimming under water, or even doing somersaults. In the beginning of pool season, he was hesitant to go further than three feet. Now I can't get him out of the water =)

And look at Soren in the photo above. In the beginning of the season where he is standing, he had to stand on his toes in order to keep his head above water. Now he stands shoulders above. Soren learned the most in the water this year. At first he refused to leave the stair area. Over time, we were able to get him to carefully tip toe out to G-pa in the middle of the shallow end. Later, we worked on him feeling confident lying on his back while we held him. And on the last day of the season, he kicked his way out to the deep end on his floating Yoshi (with us adults nearby). But even more impressive was when he decided that he wanted to be like Ashe and put his face all the way under water. And he did, over and over again. He was SO proud of himself, as were we!

I'm loathe to relinquish pool season. The boys and I, along with the G-Rents, really have a fantastic time playing together, learning new things, and celebrating the joys of life in the water. It's a place where fun rules, imaginations run wild, and new tricks are learned and shared. We'll find other ways, but the pool will most certainly be missed.

The boys have accomplished so much in such a short time, and I know that next year, when the pool opens again, they will not be the same boys they are here. They will have grown more, learned more, have had more stories to tell. We'll also have more friends and family to join us, as my close friends and their son are moving down. Next year's pool season will be amazing.

But until then, we'll find other ways to have family fun, to learn and grow, and enjoy life together. And so I say to the pool:
"Thanks for a most memorable summer. I won't say goodbye. Instead, I'll see you soon."

Thursday, September 12, 2013


This last Sunday, J and I celebrated the 14th anniversary of our first wedding. I realize that the previous sentence is a touch confusing. You see, J and I actually had two weddings. The first one was with a JP and our mothers witnessing. We had quick vows, exchanged rings, filled out the paperwork, then headed out for a dinner before driving off to a theme park for our "honeymoon". I was twenty, and couldn't even legally drink the celebratory glass of champagne at my own wedding. I did, but don't tell anyone ;)

The second one was the one we spent over two years saving up. This was the traditional wedding with flower girls, ushers, and a big frou frou wedding dress. It was a year later, and most of our extended family think that this was the real wedding. But it wasn't. To us, it was more like a big party celebrating our love again with everyone.

Why we decided to tie the knot twice doesn't really matter. Suffice to say it was not for any major reason. I wasn't knocked up, and it was purely by choice.

So this weekend marked 14 years of our very first wedding. And of course J was sick, along with Ashe. We stayed home and didn't do much aside from a special dinner the two of us had after the boys went to bed. It was almost a typical day. However, I had a conversation with Ashe that really made me focus on something very special.

While Ashe was feverish, he and I headed upstairs to cuddle while we waited for the medication to kick in. We talked about his favorite  games, and how he wants to build his own games for kids when he grows up. And somehow we got to talking about family. He casually mentioned how Grammy was my mom so that meant Grampa was my dad....only he isn't. So I had to explain the intricacies of remarriage and family bonds can sometimes be tighter with love than blood. And then he asked what happened to my father.

"Well", I paused, not wanting to get into the gritty details, "sometimes husbands and wives decide to divorce."
"What does divorce mean?"
And it's at that point in time when I realize how lucky my kids are, if they don't even know what that word means at almost seven tears of age.

Growing up, divorce was a big part of my life. My parents separated when I was three, and divorced when I was four. It was NOT a good divorce either. It was messy, and scary, and long lasting. As I aged, most of my friends parents had also divorced. It was rare to find a peer whose parents were still together and happy.

So to see my child completely ignorant in the word and meaning.... it really hit home to me.

Some people may say that J and I married too young. And I will acknowledge that many of the marriages of very young adults do tend to end up in divorce. Many people are not mature enough at that age to make such a life changing decision.

And yet I would say that looking back, even at age twenty, I knew exactly what I wanted in my life partner, and J fit the bill and then some. Both of us came from homes that were rough. Both of us felt that FAMILY was of the utmost importance. And both of us desperately wanted to give our future children a home filled with love and laughter, done as a team.

That's exactly what we did. The road hasn't always been easy. It was filled with potholes, detours, and sometimes dead ends where we had to backtrack. But we worked together as a team to build our dreams, and we continue to do so.

When my child asks me what Divorce means on our anniversary, I know that despite our young age when we made our vows, we did know what we were doing that day so long ago. And here in the present, we are still as much in love if not more so, stronger as a partnership, and building a beautiful foundation to our children's lives.

That night, as J and I sat down to a quiet dinner alone, I thanked him for choosing me. And he looked into my eyes and said "no, thank you!" And we smiled and basked in the understanding that we do complete one another, and make the best team.

Happy anniversary Babes. I can't wait to see what the next 14 years bring.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tracking Out

The past two weeks I have watched my newsfeed on FB spammed with photos of kids going back to school. Some parents are very excited, doing the happy dance that the long summer is in it's death throes, and their little children are off to a regularly scheduled calendar. Other parental units are sad, wishing that the time did not go by so quickly, and how they are counting down the days to the first big vacation time, months away.

And here I am, watching these photos scroll by as I contemplate that my kids are about to track out this week, and I have got to get off my ass and figure out how to keep them from killing each other for the next three weeks.

Year round school rocks. I can't advocate it enough. Nine weeks of school, then three weeks off, all year round, non stop. It's perfect. The kids are just about brain fried by the time the ninth week rolls around and everyone is ready for a break of homework. The third week of track out, the kids are itching to get back into a schedule and see their friends on a regular basis again.

It's this third week that makes me seek comfort in mojitos though. By that third week of carefree days, the kids are strangling one another an hour after waking up, deciding Gladiator style who wins the right to whatever electronic they are fighting to the death for.

I try my best to keep them all occupied during vacation. We live in an area that is filled to the brim with family friendly places and activities. The problem lies in the expense. While I have lots of great ideas of trips to the zoo, beach, aquarium, etc, many things can get pricey. And with three kids to haul around, it gets pricey FAST.

So I try to pick one or two costly things per track out that we can do, and the rest of the time I look for free things. We'll hit a lot of parks, do some hiking, lounge in the G-Rents pool. We'll have movie nights at home, head to the library to pick out bedtime books, and wander around a few of the free museums.

And this track out we're hitting the beach (rare treat) for two days and a night, our most expensive outing for five. It's the parental units way of showing pour gratitude for doing a kick ass job in school.

But even with all of these great ideas, there is still plenty of downtime at home. And that's where the fighting comes in. Each child, through genetic coding, is a lover of all things techy. Xavier likes the computer. Ashe loves the WII U. Soren adores the Xbox. Two of these are on one TV and the third is off in a corner, with a chair that has melded it's contours to the shape of my oldest rump.

After watching the kids this weekend and seeing how they glue themselves to an electronic device until we pry their wee hands off controllers (sometimes by force) I am going to reinstitute the track out rule of having a set time per day the kids can play. I am sure I will allow it to lapse on those days when I just need quiet for an hour or two. I'm not perfect, and can admit guilt in sometimes taking the easy way out when it's either that or run out the door screaming like a loony bin, pulling my hair out. But I'll do my best.

And maybe, instead of having them initiate the Gladiator death fights each morning, I can try to make taking turns fun. Maybe I can do some contests. Or see who can help me clean up the most. Or who can whine the least per day. I'll get creative.

Parents who sent their children to school recently, I acknowledge your happiness or sadness as you send your child off to school. I get it. And while I think of you in whatever feeling you are embracing, think of me as well, while I feel both sides simultaneously as MY kids start vacation.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Placing Blame on Female Teens: My Not So Random Opinion



Today I had a moment (gasp) to check my social media without a constant 30 second interruption from the boys, when I came across a blog* that really caught my attention. It did so because on the surface of things, the message the author offers is pretty good: Girls, respect yourself for who you are and don't feel that you have to act sexy to get a boys attention.


Great right? I thought so too, until I read the whole article, and then I felt sad. After sorrow I felt anger, and finally indignation. Why? Because the author states that any female friend of her three boys who poses "sexy" selfies is automatically banned from their FB account, with no second chance. Ironically, her blog consisted of multiple photos of her boys in swimsuits, posing near the water.

(* I will not post the url of said blog on this site. That is unfair to the blogger. We all have our personal opinions and this is my plae to opine. But I don't need to do so by offering her blog url up as a public media sacrifice.)

Umm, what? I mean look, I get that parental units don't want their teens posing in sexy ways, nor for it to get on social media sites where everyone and their dog can see. I wouldn't either. But at the same time, as a parent, I also understand that this time in their lives is a crazy rollercoaster ride where they are trying to learn what being an adult means, and guess what? They make mistakes. Just like a human should. And if it's not safe to learn as a teenager, then when is it?!


Here are a few excerpts from the blog that really bothered me, and my comments:


"And now – big bummer – we have to block your posts. Because, the reason we have these (sometimes awkward) family conversations around the table is that we care about our sons, just as we know your parents care about you."


Here’s the thing. People make mistakes, and kids more so than any other category. Teens? They are a mixed bag of crazy chemical hormones thrust into a world hyped on sexuality from many different angles. Look sexy. Don’t look sexy. A simple smile at the opposite sex can be construed as flirting when in fact, it’s simple a smile!

We adults do our young ones a disservice by creating ultimatums in a time of their life when they are more confused than ever. Instead of saying that you will forever block them from your site, reach out and teach them WHY this type of behavior might not be the best decision.


Teenagers are in the process of trying to figure out who THEY are, and this becomes a process of “trying on” different “costumes” of life, so to speak. It’s the only time in life we have the ability to try something new, sometimes stupid, without massive life consequences. This comes at the price of doing stupid things sometimes, like posing sexy selfies in our PJs. But really, if that’s the worst a kid is going to do, that’s awesome! Better a stupid photo to look at and cringe years later, than to OD on drugs, or raise a baby at 14.


 "You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?

Neither do we….

Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy."



My thought on this is then to stop blaming the girls for a boys behavior. I have three boys. Yes, two of them are young and not ready to understand the implications of sexuality. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t raise them NOW to understand respect. Respect yourself. Respect your body. Respect others. Girls are NOT just a play toy to drool over. Behind every stupid PJ selfie on FB is a thoughtful, kind person who is looking for who she is as much as you are. How hard is that?

Responsibility starts with yourself. No one else is to blame for your thoughts and actions but you. To imply that it is a girls fault for boys thinking of them in a sexual manner is not only doing your boys a disservice, but it’s entirely WRONG! It sets up the never ending cycle that blame is laid upon the female for being sexual, when the reality is, that everyone should be responsible for their own actions.

Aside from that, there is nothing wrong with sexuality! Nothing!!!! To feel sensual is a wonderful thing. Yes, there is a time and place for that, and being a kid is not one of them. But it has only been in the last century or two where we were not marrying and having children at the ripe old age of 14. Biologically speaking, we evolved to embrace sexuality at the age teens do. Socially speaking we have advanced enough to allow our offspring to stay young longer. That's a great thing!!!!! But is it really fair to punish our children for something that is really, socially new? Do we punish our kids for something that biologically comes natural? Or maybe here's a thought: instead of alienating them, to sit down and talk with them. Explain how at this point in our culture, it is not appropriate to test out these emotions in a public setting? What about talking to them instead of handing out ultimatums?


"And so, in our house, there are no second chances, ladies. If you want to stay friendly with the Hall men, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent.  If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island."


This for me, is the saddest part. It shows a judgmental mind process that offers no abilities for the girls to learn. If they “mess up” they are cut off with no chances of explaining their perspective, or for learning about forgiveness. What does this teach? It teaches that mistakes can not be forgiven. It teaches that some adults cannot be approached for help. It teaches that kids must sink or swim without the helping hand of a wiser adult.


That’s horrible.


Do I want my kids posting sexy photos on social media websites? Hell no! Do I want to see my kids friends posing that way? Of course not! But will I turn my back to them and refuse to open up a dialogue about why that is not the best course of action? No. I hope that I can remember when I was their age, and how I too made stupid mistakes, and how I learned from them. And I hope to be able to pass that wisdom on, along with a hug and the understanding that I am always available to listen.

I'm not judging the author for what she is trying to do. In her own way her heart is in the right place. I understand her concerns, as all of us parental units are concerned about the trials our children face as they begin to explore their sexuality. But I don't think that this approach was the best way. Instead of reaching out and trying to instill knowledge to those girls, she is pointing a finger at them and cutting them off. Simultaneously, she is unconsciously teaching her boys that they are not responsible for how they feel and react to women.... that in fact it is the females fault for their possible lustful thoughts or actions.



 So here is my own message to all of the kids, teens, and young adults out there that will be a part of my sons lives:

You're human. You're going to mess up. We adults did it, our parents did it, and all the way back as far as you can imagine. Your generation is unique, because you are the first to have the ability to post everything and anything up for the entire world to see. This is an amazing process, but it also comes with responsibility. Don't post stuff just because you can. Keep some things private, including that lil sexay pose you're practicing in the mirror. Wait until you are an adult to take that pose out of the dark, and strut your stuff when you have more knowledge about yourself and others and have the confidence to pull it off successfully in the appropriate place ;)

And if you make a mistake, that's ok. I won't ban you from my sons site. I may call your mom and give her a heads up, because I would want a mom to let me know if my kids were being idiots online. But it's not because I want you in trouble. I want the opposite. I want for you to learn, and this is the BEST TIME to learn! And if you ever want to ask questions and you don't have another grown up you feel comfortable with, I'm here. I'll listen. And I will do the best I can for you, as I do my own children.






Thursday, August 15, 2013

Learning to Love Math

Add caption
Middle school is a whole new experience when it comes to homework. It takes a lot of organization and concentration to get through the piles of work after school. And homework counts for a lot of the total grade. Now add on top of that an ADHD kid with an ADHD mom, and it’s crazy town from 2:30 on, Monday through Friday.


In order to make sure that the lesson of organization is pounded into Xavier’s skull on a daily basis, each day when he gets home, we go through his binder, folders, and backpack, cleaning, sorting, and prepping. I also use the nifty school website each afternoon to list out the homework he has, in case he forgot to write it down. It’s only happened once or twice, but it’s a great way to double check. It also helps me because I can’t read Xavier’s scribbles even if my life depended on it.


Every weekday, Xavier will decide which lessons to tackle first, and we discuss them as he works on them. I’m finding myself fascinated with the lesson plans he comes home with, and while I don’t help him by giving him answers, I do enjoy learning as he looks stuff up. For example, the other day his social studies homework was to write his name in ancient Sumerian. While he did his own name, I sat down and wrote out the names of the rest of our family.  In Language Arts he had to write a sci-fi Cinderella story. I loved showing him how to make a note timeline for his book, and the next thing I know he has four pages fully written, and so proud of himself.


There is one lesson though, that I sit down and do with him every day, and this is math. Now let me clarify: I don’t “do” the math for him. But we’ve established a routine where we each grab a notebook, do the same problem separately, and then check against each other (and the calculator) to see who got it right. And you know what? It’s fun!!!!


This is coming from someone who loathes math with the utmost passion! I hated math, still do, and yet… I am actually enjoying (re)learning the mathematical concepts of pre-algebra. A big part of it is because I love watching Xavier grasp the concept we are working on at the time, or figuring it out myself and having the ability to teach it in a way that he understands. That “AHA!” moment he gets is priceless.


But I am also enjoying it for myself. I am finding that all of a sudden, the concepts are so much clearer to grasp than they were when I was in middle school myself. Maybe it’s because it is taught differently than when I learned. Whereas when I was in school the formulas were taught by rote, now they are taught with theory. Instead of “this is how you do problem x” it’s “Here is how to figure out problem x and why!”

Xavier can briefly describe the theory to me and it makes complete sense! And when the numbers all add up correctly, I feel so excited. Math has eluded me my entire life, and there has always been that teeny tiny voice in the back of my head that whispers “you’re not intelligent enough to grasp math. It’s too far above you.” But it’s not, so nyah!


So this becomes a win/win situation. Xavier explains the theory even if it hasn’t clicked. I’ll try a problem and it clicks. Then I can go to him and explain it in different ways, or show him tricks until it clicks for him. And then we sit together with our notebooks, and try to see who can get the correct answer first. We compare our answers, double check with the calculator, and if one of us is wrong, we try to see where we went wrong. It’s become a fascinating way to instill the current concept we're working on and double checking to Xavier, while also making it more enjoyable for him. At the same time, I am also learning, and appreciating the lesson.


While I don’t, for any reason, wish to be back in middle school, I am having more fun than I could have thought in helping Xavier stay focused and soak up as much information as he can. It makes me really appreciate how teaching has evolved over the years, and I am very pleased with the school he goes to.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bonding Over SoundBytes

The other day I was searching the web for information on an upcoming game that I am beyond stoked for, when I came across a gem of a sound wave from the first MMOPG I ever played, Ever Quest. If you have played this game before in your life, you recognize how this particular game was the platform upon which all other MMORPGs created themselves around. And if you have played this game before, you can also conjure up in your mind how much this game affected you in a thousand different ways.


If you don’t play games or have no clue what I am talking about, this may sound strange, and that we gamers overhype how much this particular game has changed our lives. And that’s ok. Only those who have played Ever Quest can really understand the importance of its existence.


Ok so back to the sound byte. I was perusing a forum about this new game, when I stumbled upon a post where the writer said this sound *HAS* to be in the new game. Curious, I opened the link provided, and nearly jumped out of my seat in surprise, a visceral reaction long ingrained into my brain from years spent playing Ever Quest and Ever quest 2 (you have to copy/paste the link, it won't open up automatically):


If you played EQ or EQ2 and don’t know what that sound is from you can now hand in your gamer card. You don’t deserve it. Hand it over. If you want to earn it back, go play on the FTP progression server for a few days and then come talk to me.


For the rest of you non gamers out there in bloggy land, let me take a moment to explain. My friend S, who hates when I geek up and talk games, you can go ahead now, throw your head back and start snoring.


That sound is from a skeleton, which would rise up out of the ground at any time and try to kill you to become its corpse bride. It would laugh the entire time it tried to decapitate you, which gave the fight a very sick feel, each and every time.


So of course I had to find a way to use it in my daily life! After fiddling around, I was able to make it into my text alert. Now, whenever my friends or family text me, I instinctively jump and glance behind me. No really, I do.

Xavier came home to find me fiddling with the sound, and he asked what the heck was it? So I sat down and gave him a history lesson in games. Being a gamer himself he was fascinated. And despite the fact that he never played EQ (unless you count him hanging out in our arms as a newborn babe while J and I played) he thought that the sound and the idea behind it was awesome. So he wanted it too.


After dinner, the two of us sat down and worked on our phones to have the skeleton laugh as our text alerts. Of course, we had to test it out. A lot. Just to make sure it was working. On both phones. Late at night. For at least an hour.

Thank goodness we have unlimited texting!

Point of this story is, our gamer family bonds over the weirdest shit. I can’t wait until Xavier gets out of school and starts texting me that he’s on his way home =)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weight & Workouts

Struggling with my weight over the past few years, I have been trying a lot of different types of workouts that may help both tone me up and slim me down. While I am not one of those moms who heads to the gym on a daily basis, looking sexy in that cute tank top and slim fitting yoga pants, I do try to incorporate a work out routine in the comfort of my own home.

Over the past year, I have been working with an endocrinologist to figure out why it is that I simply can not lose weight. The current theory is that I am glucose intolerant. In laymen's terms, this means that, while normal peoples bodies break down carbs and use it for energy, my body does not recognize the glucose (broken down carbs) and it stays in the body, creating fat. I'm now on a special diet that vastly reduces carb intake. While I miss eating bread whenever, or cookies, or cake, I've grown used to it. I also got myself back on ADHD medication for myself, which helps reduce hunger.

With that on the table, even with my meds, a special diet, and working out, I am still not losing weight. But I am also not GAINING, which is an improvement. Still, it royally sucks to know that with everything combined, if I were a normal person, I'd have that hot little ass, tight abs, and thighs that could crunch a soda can with ease.

So J and I decided to switch things up a bit in the workout routine. He found a set that interested him called the Spartacus workout. Supposedly this is what actors use for six weeks before they appear on screen buff. It is a crazy little weight lifting routine that anyone can do in their home with ease. When I say with ease, I mean that it's easy to get what you need to do it. Ease in actually doing it is another story. I'm pretty tough and active, and this kicked my ass!

However, I will say that after three weeks of crying through it, both of us have noticed drastic changes in our bodies. I still have not lost weight, but I'm firming up. I even have indents where my calf muscles are!!!! If you want to check it out you can find the work out here. We do this work out three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The other work out we started up was Yoga. When we first moved here, I tried out a Yoga class and loved it. However, it was a pain in the ass to get to a class when you had kids in tow. So I stopped. I've always thought about asking J to try it with me but with his lack of balance I always assumed it would be the one type of workout that he would not take to. However, since I joined him in Spartacus, he was kind enough to try out Yoga with me.

I hate doing the same thing every time, so we went through youtube to find some beginners videos. I also purchased an app that had whole sessions on it. After one practice, I was hooked! Two days after we started, I found myself popping on a twenty minute video here and there, not realizing that at the end of the day I had done over two hours of Yoga. The after effects hit me the following morning where it took me a long time to get the hell out of bed, moving stiffly as though I were made of wood. Of course, a little bit of Yoga helped stretch me out!

So now we have something to do every day, and we're really enjoying working out together instead of finding ourselves doing our own thing. In three weeks I have lost a couple pounds, but more importantly, a few inches here and there throughout my body, and my muscles are really beginning to define. I was so excited I even went out and bought myself a yoga mat and gloves. With a phone app I can toss on the morning for a five minute sun salutation, and either the Spartacus work out or Yoga in the evening, I'm feeling better about myself despite the frustration of my obstinate physical body.

Maybe one of these years I can actually try a bikini for the first time...

Friday, July 26, 2013

The No Good, Very Bad Day

Each of us has had those days where, no matter how you try to change it, it still ends up awful. Kids are no different. Sometimes even they can have really bad days. Soren had one of those this week.

Ever since Soren hit his fourth birthday, we seem to be dealing with a regression on behavior and tantrums. Why? No fucking clue. Nothing has changed except how many fingers he holds up when someone asks how old he is. But something clicked in his miniature human brain that tells him to throw out of control screaming and crying fits over the smallest thing.

It's driving me batty.

We parental units have been consistent in calming him down and reminding him to use his words, not his volume. Once calmed down he nods his little head in understanding and says that he will. And he does....for ten minutes.... on a good day.

But today the shit just hit the fan, and while it is only 12pm as I write this, I am seriously debating on whether or not to just put him to bed until tomorrow. It may save both of our sanity.

This morning I had a play date set up with two of my mom friends and their kids. Soren has grown up with these kids since he was born, and they are all great friends. We see each other usually once a week if not more. All the kids get along fantastically, and there are rarely any issues. Oh sure, there will be a scuffle here and there over the ownership of some random toy, or tattles if someone isn't taking turns. But usually they work it out with a little bit of help from one of us moms.

I don't know what was any different today, if anything really was. We had a decent morning with no issues. There was no foreshadowing of the epic disaster that followed. Soren was excited that his friends were coming over. And when his friends arrived and trooped up the stairs, Soren was there with a big smile on his face to greet them. All of the kids headed to the toys while we moms hung around the kitchen table in full view, drinking coffee and catching up.

Five minutes later there was this ear piercing scream and wailing coming form Soren. I ran over to him, thinking that he was dying. I grabbed him, held him close and asked what was wrong. He hit his ear on the "Stupid recliner". I checked his ear (it was fine), gave him hugs, kisses, and cuddles, and let him know that there were no cuts, bruises, or blood, and that he would survive.

Well he was having NONE of that!!! Oh no! He was DYING! And he needed his BLANKET! And I had to go get it. And I said, no hon, you can get it. And he flipped out.

Stood there in the middle of the room and screamed bloody murder. I just looked at him until he ran out of breath, and before he could ramp up again I nudged him to the stairs. He went, begrudgingly.

Once all was calm and the kids were happy again, the moms turned back to their coffee. We had about two minutes before the screaming began again...from Soren, of course.

This time it was because he decided that today was "Soren's Day", and that meant that he had first choice of all toys, including the ones his friends brought over. Naturally, his friends took issue with this. I would have too. So I told him that he could share and take turns, but that his friends brought those toys. He also had to share his toys. Soren declared "NO! IT IS SOREN'S DAY!!!! I GET TO CHOOSE!"

And screaming commenced when I pulled the mom is boss card.

Next he started a full out fit because his friends were playing with his toys. The ones he was not playing with.

Then,  while all of the kids were playing nerf swords, he threw his sword ( he says accidentally) it smacked one of his friends in the face, causing his friend to cry. Which caused Soren to start screaming and crying. And wouldn't stop screaming and crying even after apologizing and his friend forgave him. And so, after roughly 90 minutes of non stop meltdowns, I just sent him to his room for a break to calm down. He stomped up the stairs screeching and gnashing his teeth, and continued this tirade long after his banishment.

I joke often about drinking during the day, but today was one of those days that I was seriously eyeing the vodka bottle on my kitchen counter and wondering how good it would go with my coffee.

My friends kids wanted to know what was wrong with Soren. So I sat down and asked them if they ever had one of those days, where nothing seems to go right, and it feels like a very bad day. They nodded their little heads sagely, and told me of some of their bad days. I nodded and said that like them, Soren was just having one of those no good, very bad days. And that everyone has them, even people in Australia. They understood, and as they left, they hoped that Sorens day would get better.

Me too, kids. Me too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Battle of the Bedtime

It is after nine at night as I begin to write this. I am sitting here on my recliner with ears intently tuned to the upper floor, where my boys are *supposed* to be sleeping. But they seem to have other plans.

The townhouse we have lived in for the past three years has four bedrooms. One is on the bottom floor and is used as J's office since he works from home. The other three are on the third floor. Ashe and Soren share a room together. Most nights getting them to bed is simple. Soren goes up an hour earlier, and by the time Ashe heads to bed, his little brother is passed out to the world. But on nights where the bed time gets wonky, we sometimes deal with repercussions of two boys sharing a room.

Tonight is one of those nights.

This evening we had a meet the teacher event at Xavier's school. The whole family went, thinking it would be one of those events where you wait to say hello to the teachers then take off. We got there early with the mindset of getting home in time for bedtimes. Oops. Instead, it was a walk through of my oldest sons class schedule, and we sat down for presentations of each class. Half way through, the younger boys were bored out of their minds, so J took them out for ice cream while he waited for Xavier and I to finish.

We didn't get home until eight, way past Soren's regular bedtime, and close to Ashe's. I gave them a few minutes to unwind, then we did our bedtime routine. As I kissed them goodnight I admonished them to behave and go to sleep...no playing!

"Yes, Mommy", they replied.

I headed downstairs, grabbed my laptop and started catching up on email.

(giggle giggle *thump thump* giggle)
I roll my eyes and raise my voice to be heard on the third floor. "BOYS! GET TO BED!"


(*thump thump* giggle giggle)


(*thump thump CRASH* little whispers of "SHHHHHH Mommy will hear us!!")

Sadly, I eye my laptop with longing, put it down, and quietly, so as not to give them any warning, I tiptoe up the stairs and into their room. Soren is in Ashe's bed, and the moment he catches sight of my shadow he leaps up and sails across the room into his own. I swear that boy's feet never touched the ground he was moving so fast.

I glared at both kids, Ashe with his eyes shut so tight I thought he would burst a blood vessel, trying to make me believe that he is already asleep, and Soren, wide eyed, watching me warily the way a cat watches a strange dog.

"Boys, it is late. You have got to get to sleep. I'm serious. Stay in bed and no more playing. Am I clear?!"
"Yes Mommy" they say.
I look back and forth between the two of them for a moment, making sure that they understand that I am serious, and then I head back downstairs. I pick up my laptop and wait for the inevitable.
(giggle giggle *thump thump* giggle shhhh)

Rolling my eyes and sending silent scathing curses to the ceiling, I tiptoe up the stairs, this time with my laptop in hand, and enter the room. The moment I round the corner both boys fly out of the closet (which is their play fort), leap into the air, and land on their respective beds faster than an Olympic sprinter could even dream of achieving. Despite my annoyance, I was impressed, and began to wonder if I should begin training them for 2020.

We look at one another, boys wide eyed, waiting to see what I will do. I, trying to stare both of them down at the same time, which is only a feat a parental unit can accomplish. I win as the boys lower their heads in shame, either from the fact that they disobeyed, or from the fact that I caught them red handed. Most likely the latter.

"I am not kidding around tonight" I say in a low voice that makes them both lean forward to hear me and lean back into their pillows, knowing that the low voice is a voice to fear. "You two will lie down, and stay in your beds. I do not want to hear another word from you. Now get to sleep!" I glare as the boys scurry under their covers, and close their eyes tight. Sighing, I sit down on the floor by their door, open up my lap top, and prepare to play warden for awhile.

All was quiet as I surfed the web. Over time, the squeaks and shuffles of the twin beds settled, and I thought after a good twenty minutes, that they had finally fallen into a peaceful slumber. Being tired of a long day myself, I heaved a sigh of thanks to the ceiling again, and slowly, silently, made my way downstairs. I sat back into my recliner, closed my eyes, and reflected on the day.

(*thump thump thump* giggle giggle SHHHHHH *thump*)

You have GOT to be fucking kidding me!!!

Racing up the stairs I find Ashe and Soren jumping from one bed to the other, whispering and laughing as quietly as they possibly can. They didn't even hear my footsteps, this time I was not even bothering to be quiet, they were too intent on their fun.

As soon as they spot me I swear I heard a muttered "oh shit". Oh shit is right you little heathens. You want to play bed time battle? It is on!

"SOREN INTO BED NOW! ASHE, INTO MY BED NOW! If you can not get to sleep in the same room then I will separate you!"
"No Mommy, no! We'll behave, we promise!"
"You had your chance! Ashe, into my bed right this instant!"

Soren begins to sob as he realizes his partner in crime is now off to do time in another cell and he will be all alone. Ashe, taking on his role as martyr, stoically picks up his blankie, and slowly walks into my bedroom, head held high. It is the ultimate punishment for bedtime battles and he has realized that General Mom has won this particular round.

And yet.....

At this point in time I am exhausted, both physically and mentally. All I want to do is to have my kids in bed and asleep so that I can enjoy just a little bit of free time before I have to start it all over again. I make my way down the stairs, look around the living room, and glance lovingly at the recliner I have been rudely interrupted from for the past hour. I sink into its delicious comfort, snuggle into my spot, kick up the ottoman, and sigh.

And then I shit you not, the next thing I hear is (thump thump thump thump thump). Back and forth, back and forth, across the upstairs hall.

Despite my aggravation I am beyond curious as to who is idiotic enough to still try to escape my hearing, and risk the wrath of mom. And for what?! What could possibly be so damn important to risk it all?

Slowly, I creep up the stairs, keeping low to the ground. I take no chances of having my shadow show before I do. I tread lightly on the stairs, knowing the squeaky spots of each board, and gliding silently passed. The thumping continues, pitter pattering of little feet, racing to accomplish some goal before the end of the world as they know it. But what?

I turn the corner, slouched down like the Grinch on Christmas Eve and peer before me. The hallway is clear, and I am about to rise up when Soren dashes out of his room, racing pell mell for my darkened bedroom, arms filled to capacity with stuffed animals galore. He is bringing his banned brother contraband goods to keep him company at night.

I pop up just as he races by, to where he leaps three feet straight up into the air with a squeak! If his eyes could have gotten any bigger, I swear they would have fallen right out of his head. The moment his feet land back onto the ground he begins to wail, great heaving sobs of despair. Because he knows that he has lost.

Without breaking his song of sorrow, Soren slowly trudges back to bed on his own, gets under the covers, and turns his face to the wall.

It's now ten and I have not heard from them since. I think I won the war, but I doff my hat to Ashe and Soren. It was a hard won battle and they were very worthy opponents. And it took almost all of my parental will power to not laugh out loud at some of their outrageous antics this evening.