Tuesday, July 20, 2010

iPhone 4's on the way!

You know what that means????

Our old iPhones will be passed down. Well not so fast.

We actually may just move our oldest to the iPhone and pass her iTouch down to our youngest daughter and purchase a older iSomething for the 3 year old. (sell one iPhone to recoup some $$$)

Since my iPhone: iGift or iCurse post, I have rarely seen my phone. I hear the tri-tone sound meaning a text has come through and watch in dismay as my 3 year old hits the ignore button and continues to play whatever app he's using.

So with the impending arrival of the new iPhones, I thought it fitting to set some new iPhone rules since we will be the iPhone family.

#1: Just because you are using an iPhone/iTouch does not mean said device actually belongs to you. THEY ARE ALL MINE. I PAID FOR THEM. I OWN THEM.

#2: All of the previous iRules apply. Must be used in a seated position. No food or beverages while using the iPhone. If iRules are not followed, I reserve the right to iConfiscate the iPhone.

#3: Now that you have an iPhone/iTouch, don't ask me for anything! Seriously, my job is done. You are NEVER allowed to say you are bored again...EVER! You are on your own. Check for a mom app if you need assistance.

I'm sure I will come up with more, but I think this is a pretty good start.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Okay I'm just going to say it...

This weird space I'm in...

Not so weird. I know exactly what it is.

Just don't know how to say it without sounding like I'm ungrateful, because I am extremely thankful and know I am truly blessed.

That doesn't change the space I'm in.

I'm tired.
I'm frustrated.
I'm disappointed.

Here's the thing. Justlife24seven is just that....24/7. My husband and I do not get a break.

We do not have anyone helping us with the kids.

I tell people all the time, "we do our own stunts."

It's becoming a problem.

I honestly do not think there is a couple who works better as a team than my husband and I do. We were best friends for years. I get him and he gets me-the good, the bad and the ugly.

However, life with it's demands...
it's not even life's demands, it's kids with demands.

We get NO break. There is NO air. There is NO space. The days and nights are blurring together. I feel like we are running on fumes. I don't know how long we can run like this.

Most of my frustration is because we do not get help from our parents. I am old and wise enough to know it is not my parents responsibility to raise my children and believe me, that is the last thing I am trying to insinuate.

What I was hoping is that our parents would take a greater interest in the lives of our children. I honestly thought when we had children the grandparents would want to spend their free time with them and develop a relationship with them.

Not the case.

Currently the grandparents come to visit 3-4 times a year. I live in Delaware, they live in NJ. Not hours on a plane. 2 hours in a car.

I have spent years trying to let that fact go and move forward. I'm not doing well with that right now, but I realize for the health of my marriage, I have to move away from this notion of our families pitching in and helping and seek help elsewhere.

I know my limit and I have reached it.

Where do we put all this stuff?!?

I'm still in a weird space. I will explain more in a later post I am working on. I think the topic will resonate with many. I just have not figured out how to say what I want to say.

So I will take a mental break from that and ponder another question:

where the heck do we put all this stuff? When I say "stuff" I am talking about all of the kid/ adult paraphernalia that comes with life. More specifically, the outdoor "stuff." Since it's summer, it's only fitting we spend a great deal of time outdoors. So here's my garage setup:

Three car garage. Two car side has, you guessed it--two cars plus a host of other "stuff." Mainly car-related "stuff". There is also a party tent, a blow up pool which resides in it's off-duty hours on top of our second car, a couple of paint cans and some other miscellaneous items.

The one car side has all of the lawn car items including; lawn mower, blower, edger, various shovels, gardening tools, fertilizer and sprays.Then there's a power washer, snow blower, wheel barrow, two recycle cans, two garbage cans, a ladder that looks like you could reach the sun, etc...

AND then the "stuff" I'm talking about...

I have four big bikes, two trikes (one my neighbor forced upon us and I could not say no since my son jumped right on it), a Radio Flyer wagon filled with plastic toy "stuff", a sled, about 8 bike helmets (everyone's head keeps growing!), bike pump, child trailer for bike, 7 tennis rackets (the camp gave them ones after I purchased), 5 basketballs, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, beach toys, sidewalk chalk...plus I have three strollers. I do not keep the strollers in the garage currently because some creepy looking bugs were out there and I didn't want them taking up residence in the strollers and making an appearance while the stroller was in the car or worse, while in use.

My husband and I used to look at people with garages that looked like ours now and just shake our heads thinking, "you can't possibly need all of that stuff." I am here to repent and apologize to those people and say, "YES! You do need all this stuff."

Not only do you need all this stuff, you need a place to keep it all safe and in good repair so you don't have to buy replacement "stuff."

So I am looking for ideas; creative & cleaver ideas for storing the "stuff." I live in a development that does not allow us to have sheds (which is why I said creative & cleaver). I do have a basement (that is home to the indoor "stuff"--we can talk about in another post.) I think I am going to have to spend a little money on some garage storage, but wanted to see what others are doing. I would like to keep the outdoorsy stuff in the garage and the indoorsy stuff indoors, with the exception of maybe the strollers.

So what are you doing with your stuff?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Do Unto Others...Does it apply to you and your kids?

I'm in a weird space. I actually have two different topics on my mind and if time permits, I will post again later with those thoughts. Right now I am pondering this question, the saying do unto others as you would like others to do unto you, does this apply to your relationship with your children? I'll clarify. My oldest girls are getting to the age when in my honest opinion they are feeling themselves a little too much. They live a great life, I can't lie. They don't want for much. My husband and I often joke that in our next life, we are coming back as S & K. Here's the thing, we have a pretty simple philosophy on discipline and behavior..."do the right thing!" It's that simple. We lay out our expectations and then let them go. The girls do marvelously in school. We get glowing reports all the time from their teachers and other school officials. Now at home, well it's a different story. Mainly because my daughters are "frienamies." If you have two children close in age, you already know that this is; your children are friends one minute and fierce enemies the next. At school my daughters are friends. You can hear the tune "Ebony and Ivory" by Wonder and McCarthy playing in the background as they skip through the school hallways. Now the minute they enter the car, all bets are off and they come out swinging.

Now that summer has arrived and the hallways of school are almost forgotten, the gloves have been coming off more and more. My girls fight about everything from what games to play, who get to sit next to the baby, and who is breathing louder. Just craziness. In addition to this, they rarely listen to requests made of them to clean up, pick up, keep it down, stop hitting, and the list goes on. I know that most of this comes with the territory of being siblings.

Here's my question: At what point as a parent, do you continue to just treat these children like they are glowing, model children, ignore their behaviors and give them the desires of their hearts so-to-speak or do you say, "you wanna act like crazed, inappropriate, non-listening people, you will be treated accordingly." I am not trying to corporal punish anyone, but does that mean my children can fight, not listen to me all day long and then turn around and request all sorts of treats, toys, goodies and now that we are entering the DuBose birthday season, which spans from July to September; the all important birthday celebrations and present lists.

I am seriously torn. One minute I tell myself to just ignore much of their behaviors because they are just doing what kids do-get on their parents nerves! Then on the other side, I say, "No, they want to misbehave, then they can make that choice, but I have the choice not to plan elaborate and expensive parties. To me those things are truly gifts and rewards. I have no problems purchasing a few presents and having a family celebration at our house. However when my children ask for parties at play zones and bear workshops; that stuff is not free. Heck, it's not even cheap! I have to think long and hard before I hand over my hard earned money when in my opinion, whether or not my children deserve it, is questionable at best.

So what's the answer? "Do unto my children as I would like them to do unto me?" Or, is it more "life is choices and they choose to misbehave so  I choose to keep my money in my wallet." I don't know. I have a party scheduled for one of my daughters and her behavior challenges me everyday. I am seriously tempted to cancel and call everyone and tell them something came up. Thoughts?

Friday, July 9, 2010

iPhone: iGift or iCurse

This post is a departure from my other two summertime themed discussions...well not really. Here's the thing, it's summer and although my children do spend a good deal of their time outdoors, at camp, or otherwise engaged in some activity; they still spend a good deal of time indoors doing quiet activities. With this summer's heat matching that of the equator and the fact that I have two children who still take midday naps, there are times when the house is quiet and my older girls have to entertain themselves with quiet activities.

(I'm getting to the iPhone part, stay with me)

Usually the girls will read, or play on the computer or practice math skills, color or watch a movie. However in true, "I'm bored, there's nothing to do in this house" fashion, that stuff only lasts so long.

(Okay here comes the iPhone part)

Enter the iPhone (Insert your own "dun-danah-dah!" music here)

The iPhone. Oh how I love it with it's all-in-one usefulness. I can nurse my baby with one hand, print out my eBay receipts effortlessly with the other. I can check email, text my momma, post something to facebook and even change the channel on my TiVo box all with the swipe of a finger. What's not to love?

(I'm about to tell you)

The thing is this, the iPhone is sooooo easy, so much fun that even a child can use it, that...EVEN A CHILD CAN USE IT! DANG IT! Why did they put all those fun colorful games that remind me so much of my childhood games? Games like doodle dots, Mad Libs, tic-tac-toe, aquaball, and many more! My husband and I love to kill time playing our childhood favorites and many new favorites as well. Unfortunately so do our kids.

What started out as iDiversion at the doctor's office, or iPeacemaker when one child didn't get to do what the other one was doing, or iBribe when we wanted them to do something and they were less than inclined, has now turned into iObsession. The other morning my two year old who calls me daddy, came and disconnected my iPhone from its charger and said "daddy phone!" My two year old swipes the iPhone with the best of them. He actually has somehow created folders on my 3G which organize my apps, which I find very cool, I just wish I could edit them myself somehow. Currently I have a travel folder for apps, but no travel apps. I will have to have him give me a quick lesson.

Okay so here is the dilemma. Our children are so into the iPhones and who can blame them? A friend and neighbor told me two years ago that he was going to get all of his children iPhones and that all would be right with the world. I thought he was crazy. Now I think he's a freakin' genius! My two year old is never as quiet as he is when he sits and plays pop a shot on my iPhone. He will iBowl for hours if I let him. When my oldest is playing on her iTouch (yes, she was old enough to make the executive decision to sell her Nintendo DSi and all it's accouterments for an iTouch) it turned out to be a good move for us. She loves to listen to music on it, she has a photo album of family, she can download books to read on the Kindle app, and she loves the games. Plus the Nintendo DSi games cost $29-$40 while I can download a cool app for .99-$1.99 in most cases. We are an Apple family. Both my husband and I have iPhones, we run all our music through an iTunes library for the house, we have Mac books...get what I am getting at?

(I am about to get you there, if you don't get it)

It seems to make sense to just let our kids play on the iPhones. I did the math and we actually come out cheaper. We have two iPhones. My husband has to upgrade for work in a few months and that usually means we sell our old iPhones. This time around, I suggested keeping them and letting the kids use them in the house minus the phone feature. We can get one game for .99 or $1.99 and it can be used on all iPhones or iTouch. The children all know the iRules when it comes to the iPhones. Everyone must be in a seated upright position to use the iPhones. No erratic behavior. (that one is for the 2 year old) No liquids or foods are to be used while using the iPhones. Get my drift.

See I do realize (boy do I realize!) that the iPhones are an adult toy and have to be treated as such. I also realize the electronics specifically geared towards children are just as fragile if not more so than the iPhone and many do not offer the same selection of games (peace and quiet) and value that the iPhone does. So what do I do? Do I keep getting jacked everyday for my phone? (my son just woke up from his nap and yep, you guessed it, just took my iPhone) Do we go ahead and upgrade and just let the kids use our old iPhones with our supervision? Do we make a hard line and banish the kids from the iPhones all together and force them to play on their Nintendos or Leapsters while we play gleefully on our iPhones?

We created all of this wonderful technology and have given our children access to it in many forms, but where do we draw the line? I would not consider this as an option if we were not a heavily technical family and didn't already own the phones. I don't think I would purchase a new phone for any of my children. I was initially against the iTouch, but my husband convinced me otherwise and it is turning out to be a good life lesson in needs verses wants, saving and responsibility for my soon-to-be 9 year old.

On the other end, is it even realistic to think that this generation of children is going to stay outside all day and play with a ball and a stick like we did? I can remember going South to visit relatives who seemed to live in a different time, with no cable, no electronics; just a yard with endless grass, trees and the good ole' imagination. Fast-forward 30+ years and my mother is texting me and asking for recommendations for wireless routers. So really, if my children did go visit relatives, they would be smacked in the face with technology, not Pecan trees.

So that is the iDilemma. The iPhones have come as a gift and a curse. We will have to wait and see how this iDrama plays out. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Like Nike~Just Do It!

I am feeling better about the summer and how our time is being spent. I say this knowing that this is still a great work in progress. It seems that the theme of our summer has been "creating a system" or maybe "managing time." We love to do things together as a family and with the girl's team/boy's team challenge we have (our girls are 8 and 6 and the boys are only 2 and 9 months), picking activities where everyone is engaged is challenging.

This week we hit the tennis courts! Our development has a tennis court and earlier this year I had visions of us using the court since I knew the girls would be in tennis camp and as a whole, we like to be athletic and active. So I set out to find rackets for me and my husband (one on eBay and one from a family friend). The girls had rackets from camp and I even managed to find a small racket for my 2 year old and boy does he know how to swing it!

Day one: Tennis was not so fun. We hit the courts too late and it was unbearably hot. We did our best to ignore the heat, but it was not to be ignored. The other problem was our girls were used to the tennis camp conditions~smaller courts, shade (that's a big one!), kid friendly balls...We spent most of the time hopping the fence to retrieve stray balls. I don't think we managed one volly rally on day one. The kids were complaining about the heat and they forgot their water bottles at the house so we decided to call it quits.

Day two: Started out MUCH earlier to beat the heat of the day. It was still hot, but not nearly as hot as day one. The girls remembered their water bottles, but forgot their sun visors this time. Good grief! We pressed on and got a rally going...well sort of. Today was much better though. The girls were getting better at judging the ball coming to them and their hand eye coordination was improving. My rust was starting to fall off as well. I have not played tennis in over 20 years. I do not think my husband has ever played, but his athleticism always carries him far. :-)

I am actually looking forward to day three now. As we exited the tennis court it hit me that this was what I had envisioned back when we were 20+ feet under the snow a few months back; playing tennis as a family (I will admit our form was better in my daydream). I was reminded today this is what life is about. Just getting out there and doing something with your family. "Just Do It!" like Nike says. It really doesn't matter what it is, as long as you are having fun and enjoying one another's company.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer ba-humbug!

Summer is here and everyone is abuzz with excitement and happiness...except me.


Because summer throws care out the window, routines become obsolete. Schedules disappear...and so does my sanity!

My husband and I have spent the better part of the past 8 and 1/2 years creating schedules for our now four children, mainly because we find that to let things just happen, spells disaster. We learned from our first child, who was and still is for that matter a creature of habit...has to know exactly what will happen, when or you just can't tell her anything at all. We pride ourselves on setting a routine that allows our children to have the best of us all day long with the understanding that at 8pm, mom and dad get their time and "you must go to bed or (for the older ones) go do something quiet that does not require mom and dad."

Well summer has been testing those rules and this being the first summer with four, has been especially challenging. We can't get into a rhythm. We can't find a clear routine. Every time we want to put our foot down and say, "no more exceptions, bedtime is 8pm!" here comes interruptions like impromptu ice cream runs and that little known holiday, called the 4th of July! Can't send the kids to bed at 8pm and expect them to see any fireworks. Dang it!

Maybe I need to embrace the laid back nature of summer? Maybe I should throw caution to the wind and let my soon-to-be three year old wander aimlessly until he drops of exhaustion at night? Maybe setting a bedtime routine for a 9 month old is overrated? I just don't know.

I do know September can't get here fast enough. However, then I will be in the throws of everything back to school and overwhelmed with schedules, routines and rules. Maybe the saying the grass isn't always greener, was created just for me. I am going to try to embrace this summer energy because no matter how frenzied, summer will be gone before I know it.