Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Scream at Ice Cream!!!

So, Will has a little pudge on him. The pediatrician is not concerned at all, and said his excessive height and weight are proportional, and his BMI within the range of normal. So, the pudgy bits that Will has are normal little boy pudgy bits. Good to know. My pudgy bits and Mark's pudgy bits are not normal. So, my goal is to make the kids better than we are. I want them to eat healthier. I want them to stay fit. I am a champion of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. I am making their breakfast and snacks to ensure that they aren't processed, but rather full of protein and fiber. But, despite my best efforts at healthfulness... I learned something yesterday. I learned that Will gets ice cream cones... with his school lunch!!!

Apparently there is an "extras" table filled with everything a growing boy needs (if you mean growing outward instead of up). After inquiring about them, I learned that Will has had chocolate cupcakes, an Oreo drumstick cone, and rainbow popsicles. Also offered are chips and salty goodness. Um.... childhood obesity, what?!?!?!!?

When I was in school, I was not introduced to the world of "extras" until 8th grade. Even then, I can freely admit that my lunches were transformed from healthy to "ice cream chip burgers." And at that age, I should have known better. But, Kindergarten?!?!?!? Elementary school?!?!?!?! These are their formative years here people.... how could you expect him to eat the pile of green beans when he has an Oreo drumstick cone instead? Even he admits that by the time he eats the cone (which has to be eaten first or it will melt, duh...), he barely has time to eat the rest of his lunch. Will is a veggie, fruit, meat eater... and the school is transforming him into an ice cream junkie.

I am calling the cafeteria today, and stopping the extras, except for Fridays. I have decided to let him have a special treat to celebrate the end of the week. (See, I am not a monster). So, the fact that I can get this under control for our family is fine. But, I just question the logic of it and worry for the parents who don't realize that this is the nutritional school lunch we've signed our kids up for. Thank goodness Will wears his lunch on his sleeve, or I wouldn't have had any idea of the junk he is consuming at lunch. So, parents in our district and others.... be concerned about the quality of lunch your kid is getting. It may just make you scream!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pants on the Ground

As if Justin Bieber's music and constant presence weren't enough to make me dislike him... he has finally crossed the line. It has come to my attention that the man (and by man, I mean young boy) is trying to bring back a fashion tragedy from the 90s. Luckily, his power seems to only reach out to the 7 to 12 year old girl set, so I am not sure he can spread this about the male population... But, just in case, we need to be aware that in his desire to be the next Vanilla Ice, Justin Bieber is sagging.
Seriously?!?!?! First of all, that look was never a good one. There may have been some whacked out fashion trends for the ladies, and I may have participated in some of them, but nothing compares to the misguided notion that a butt crack on display and a 3 foot long empty swath of cloth crotch is a good idea. As sexy as it is to have to waddle like a penguin and hitch up your pants every third step, it adds the extra wardrobe coordination of matching your drawers to your clothes. I mean really.... navy undies with a black shirt? Not a good plan.

And let's take Justin just one step further.... a step I call "The Identity Crisis." Sagging skinny jeans? Are you Hip Hop or Hipster, because you can't be both. Otherwise, you'd be Hopster, which just sound like a gangsta Easter Bunny. So, unless rapping mythical creature is the goal here.... I only have one thing to say.... PULL UP YOUR FREAKING PANTS!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

I mentioned in my last post that I was getting up at 6:15am every morning to cook my family breakfast, and I mentioned that mornings happen to suck. But, what I failed to mention (and am marveling at today) is how smoothly our mornings are going thanks to this new routine. Barring day two of last week, even Tabbi is managing to make it downstairs on time. Suddenly what was a nightmare, has become almost effortless. (Pause, while I knock on wood for awhile).

Last year, mornings were a nightmare. Mark was in charge of getting Tabbi up and out the door because I wasn't willing to wake up. (Now that I see it in type, that doesn't make me look like a great mom, does it?) Will's school was only three mornings a week, and not until 9:15, and my reasoning was that Mark was up and moving getting ready for work, so why shouldn't I sleep in til 8:00? But, most days I was awakened by one or both of them screaming at the other for something or another. Tabbi went back to sleep. Mark is being too naggy. Tabbi is late. Mark is loud. Lather, rinse, repeat. Every. Single. Morning.

This year, we have settled into a little routine that seems to be working. Mark gets Tabbi up at 6:00a, when he wakes up. Tabbi knows that she needs to be downstairs at 6:30a. I am not willing to do anything between those two time points. Mark goes about his business to get ready for work, and I climb out of bed perky and upbeat (aka grouchy and moody) and trudge down the stairs to prepare whatever I've scheduled for the day. At 6:30, breakfast is ready and I walk up the stairs and say two words to Tabbi, "get downstairs." And you know what? She does it! She knows that I am making her go downstairs at 6:30 and I don't care what her "get ready" status is. If she ends up at school looking foolish in her pajama shorts and bed head, too bad. That potential embarrassment coupled with her unwavering knowledge that I will do it has become the most powerful motivator of all. That, and the fact that a fruit and yogurt parfait or scrambled egg pita pocket is waiting for her, has made this school year start off right.

Even though it means that I am up at the buttcrack of dawn (actually slightly before), and I don't want to talk to a soul, and I am exhausted by 10p..... I watch Tabbi and Mark sit down to breakfast and see that their days are starting out right. No fighting. No yelling. Just a healthy breakfast, father/daughter bonding time... and out the door to start their day. It may not be Wheaties... but it is the breakfast of champions in my book.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Life at 6:00am

Anyone who has ever met me before, or shared a zip code with me before 8am, knows that I am not a morning person. At my last job, I was late so many times that my boss finally changed my hours from 8a-5p to 9a-6p. I got in around 9:30. Ish. However, I am trying to turn over a new leaf. I have decided to get up before the rooster at my house and be the one getting/keeping Tabbi moving in the morning and making a healthy breakfast for her and Mark. However, my new leaf... sucks.

Thanks to that freaking leaf, my day started today at 6:00am, and I learned a few things that had I slept in til my usual 8am time, I wouldn't have known. I will share them with you.

1. Mark talks in the morning. He wants to actually carry on some sort of a conversation. Even when you tell him to stop talking, he'll still feel the need to tell you "goodbye." Does he not realize that "goodbye" still counts as talking?

2. Recipes that say they bake for 20 minutes just might be lying. And when they are lying and they bake for 35 minutes and it isn't even done in time for Tabbi to eat it, thus making my awakedness at 6am fully pointless......... there is nothing you can do about it. I hate those recipes. I hope those recipes burn in hell... or my oven... which is basically the same thing.

3. Pretty much everything that takes place is my fault. Actually, only the negative things. It is my fault that Tabbi's black bra is showing through her orange shirt and that the bus was coming and there is no time to fix it. I never should have flown to Asia and told the sweatshop children to make the bras that color. Then, I never should have held a gun to the Kohl's buyer's head to make her carry that orange t-shirt in their stock. Then, I should have never threatened to beat Tabbi until she agreed to wear said bra and shirt together, laughing maniacally as I saw that the bra would show through. And finally, I never should have hijacked her school bus and forced it to arrive at the time that I previously forced the school planners to assign. I've been busy, all thanks to my secret plot to ruin Tabbi's wardrobe.

So, in conclusion, I have learned that making Mark deal with Tabbi in the morning, and letting them dine on processed frozen waffles might just be worth the extra sleep that I would get and quite possibly, would keep me from taking over the world with my evil dark bra plans. So, in other words... screw you, leaf.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pour In Equal Parts and Blend

I was sitting in Meet the Teacher Night last night, paying rapt attention to every word Will's new teachers was saying (aka, staring blankly around the room) and I noticed a group of three crowded around one desk. There was clearly an awkwardness to the two women, and the man in the middle seemed to want to be anywhere but there. I thought the dynamic odd until I realized what it was: Mother... Father.... Stepmother. It was a blended family, like my own, and a realization hit me.... no matter how easy it is to throw fruit into the Cuisinart and come out with a smoothie... it is never that easy to throw in kids and come out smoothly.

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless and blameless, has been married much longer than me, however her family just hit the blender last year. Kids' ages and numbers are different than my situation, but what was a happy and functioning family is currently a work in progress.... even though the adults and kids have been a semi-blended family for 14 years. It becomes a whole different thing when the blending takes place all in one home. The love is there, like it always was, but parenting styles and behaviors come to light and sometimes are not what was expected. It's a process... and like processed foods, sometimes it just isn't good for you! Other times, like a Costco hot dog, it tastes delicious. (I must be hungry today, since apparently all I can use are food metaphors.)

Another friend (who would have thought I had so many friends???) is dating a man with children and asked me how our blended family works so well. After I was done laughing hysterically at the thought of ours working well, I finally had the answer.... and that is (as cheesy as this sounds), equality. Our house functions (if you consider 50/50 functioning) because each part is equal in my eyes. Tabbi may think I am hard on her, but the reality is that I am because I treat her like my own kid. And, as the boys get older, I think she is seeing that more and more. I have high(ish) demands for my children, and to lower them for her because I am not her mother is not going to happen. She's in the mix, whether she likes it or not.

Likewise, I demand the equality from others. I have said to people all along that when it comes to my friends and family (even my extended family far away), I would never tolerate anyone treating her as if she is not my own. There would be a serious problem if anyone ever treated the boys better than her, and the lucky part is that I am blessed to have such an awesome family that is has never ever been an issue. My family embraced her as one of us from day one, and so our family is always much more a smoothie than a parfait. We are one, even if it came from different parts.

But, the reality (aside from Food Network) is that blending was never easy, and I can't state here that it ever was. It wasn't seamless bringing Tabbi into our home full time, and no one should expect it to be. The only advice I can give (not that I am qualified to give any) is that all children deserve to be loved equally.... and if you can't do that... best to stay out of the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Kindergartener

Once upon a time there was a boy named Will. He was born many years ago, right after Taylor Hicks won American Idol. (Doesn't everyone know where they were at that fateful moment?) He started out a disgruntled child, crying a colicky wail from 5p to 11p every night for 5 months. Then, the day before his parents decided to leave him in the woods to be raised by wolves, he became a joy. And a joy he's been ever since. And one day... (today, in fact) this joyful boy started a new adventure. One we call Kindergarten.

The last time an adventure like this started, I wrote a letter to his preschool teacher (via this blog, of course), asking that she protect my precious boy in that scary but exciting time. And then, a letter to Will about how his life was about to change. Today, we start again.... and in typical me fashion... I have more to say.

Dear Ms. A,

There's something that you ought to know about Will..... and that is that he is big. And, I don't just mean in size. Yes, he is the largest kid in your class, has the loudest voice, and will trample those four blue bean bag chairs a million times with those ginormous feet.... but when I say he is big, I mean everything he does is big. He loves big, and in 15 seconds or so, you will be welcomed into that big heart of his just like his two beloved teachers from preschool and you will stay there forever. He plays big, his excitement is big (as you undoubtedly have already witnessed this morning) and his enthusiasm is big. The downside though, is that he feels big, too. Things are going to hurt Will's feelings in a big way, and when he can't do something perfectly, he is going to feel like a failure big, too. So you have a sensitive giant on your hands, Ms. A. Handle with care. But, I am pretty sure Big Willy C is worth it.

To My Will,

You are the bravest boy I have ever known. There is no hesitation to go to a new school, board a giant new school bus for the first time, and meet new people. You have a zest for life that most people could only dream of. You are so unafraid and ready to go, and I pray that never changes. You have so much to do in your life, and today is just step one. I could write more, but I think someone else already said it best. In that book we love at bedtime, Dr. Seuss says everything I want to say. "Congratulations! Today is your day! You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!" Stay great! Move mountains! And remember not to leave me too far behind!