Bad behavior at the soccer fields

Parenting is hard. Trying to keep up with all that needs to be done, shuffling kids around to activities and being an active parent supporting them along the way, balancing a baby in the middle of it all… I get it. Being a soccer mom brings many challenges, not the least of which is dealing with other kids and parents. I am not one to generally criticize others’ approach to this whole parenting thing, but sometimes? There is such bizarre behavior that I will admit: I can totally be a judge-y pants.

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Soccer parent behavior that baffles me:

Your child eating a hot dog during the game.

Yes seriously. DURING a soccer game that the child was playing in, he was eating a hot dog. This might only be second to the kid downing nachos and soda right before running out onto the field. Shockingly, these kids did not play well. Perhaps even more surprising is the lack of vomit on the field that day.

Screaming at your child that he’s not good enough

This behavior just appalls me. Encouraging your kid to run faster or telling him he needs to pay attention is one thing; yelling at him that he’s terrible is another- especially in front of his teammates and other parents. That poor child. (The coach stepped in at this point).

Never showing up

We all have commitments and work and other children- things come up. But when you forgo watching your kid’s game for reading/sleeping/etc in your car, I just shake my head- especially after seeing that kid beg you to watch. I’m all about downtime and enjoy flipping through a magazine at practice, but your attention means the world to these kids. At least watch some of the time.

Smoking

This one is always astonishing. Really?? I understand that we are outside, but it still hits everyone around you. The electronic ones are little improvement. I don’t care if you’re a regular smoker, have at it- just don’t do it near the fields.

So yes, I confess that I can be judgemental. Do you ever see behavior at your kids’ events that just drives you crazy?

Adjusting to something new

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Most families fall into a general routine that they follow for years and years. Being that we are forever moving, we don’t exactly follow that route. However, since we have moved with my husband for so long and his travel decreased, the kids were used to him being around, even if it was just to say good night in the evenings or for time on the weekends.

Now that we are grounded again, he had to travel once more, this time through the end of the year. While my husband is not necessarily part of the weekday routine, his absence is greatly noticed in the evenings by the kids (and me!), and most especially this past weekend. As life naturally dictated, he had to leave before a four day weekend for the kids. (As an aside, can someone explain WHY schools feel the need to tack an inservice day onto a long weekend already? Brutal.) While I was grateful for the insanity of soccer for once, the rain came soon after and dad’s absence started sinking in for the kids.

So, while we muddle through the next few months of travel, we’re working on strategies to make it better. I give single moms and military moms all the credit in the world- it’s not easy. Having no support system here is tough, as we do not live near family and are just starting to get to know some people. I also haven’t found a sitter yet, which is a bit of a daunting task with three kids- and one being a baby. These are some of the ways we’re approaching this new phase.

Take it outside

My kids have always loved to be outside, but instead of sticking in our yard or driveway, we’ve been exploring. Since we have moved here, we have had a pretty consistent routine for walks and our route to the neighborhood park. To make it more interesting, we’ve been wandering in various directions, with the kids taking turns deciding if we turned left or right (we only went in a circle once so far!). For a 7 and 4 year old, they love being in charge, and it keeps my energetic baby content. No bickering among the older ones, and no mischief for the baby- a surprisingly hard situation to reach.

Getting in the kitchen

While this may not be the best approach for my waistline, we took to the kitchen when the rain started. My kids love to help create food, and the baby bangs away on a bowl with a wooden spoon. From delicious apple crisp to a failed brittle to decadent salted caramel brownies, we whipped up some amazing treats. My oldest even held interest long enough for some of our meals, which is fantastic considering how much he loves food.

Creating a “schedule”

Including downtime. Since Saturday mornings are always hectic with soccer and weekday mornings are filled with the before-school rush, we have declared Sunday mornings our downtime. Everyone grabs a book or magazine or tablet and enjoys just vegging out with The Food Network on in the background. Even the baby seems to flow with the mellow vibe, as this is his most easy-going time of day.

Retreat to individual corners

When the weather dictates that you can’t be outside and you’re all “activitied” out, the bickering comes front and center. After a very stressful Saturday afternoon with everybody angry and frustrated, there was individual downtime on Sunday. While the crankiness from the day before certainly didn’t disappear, it at least helped me to maintain a tiny shred of sanity, if only for a little while. This is an area I’m desperately failing in…

Have you ever had to be or are you a single parent, even if temporarily? How do/did you stay sane? All advice, tips, and bottles of wine welcome…

Growing up on the soccer field

Sometimes my seven year old can seem so much bigger, especially compared to my four and 10 month old kids. Other times, I look at him and think he’s so little, still my sweet baby boy (even if he doesn’t want to be). But, as we have discovered, one thing that makes me realize how much he’s growing is watching him on the soccer field. And this weekend, which was packed with games, I had a startling realization.
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Somewhere in the past few years, light years away from the U4 group of soccer just for “kicks”, the competitive drive has begun to emerge. Instead of clapping along and laughing at the fun picture they present on the field (as we do with my daughter’s U5 time trying to figure out the right direction to go in), these kids know how to play the game. And play the game they do.

The second half got underway, with the collective group of parents amazed at their energy in 100 degree weather as we fanned ourselves and drank water in between cheering them a long. The opposing team, who came out quite a bit more aggressive at the start than we usually see with running into kids, sliding, elbows, etc, came in even harder. A few whistle blows and cringes from the moms on the sidelines, I watched an elbow fly at my kid, followed by a two-handed shove. As these kids have been getting reprimanded regularly from the referee, he was all over the field trying to pay attention.

Dismayed at someone trying to hurt my baby, I started down the field. But just as I was set to storm the field and demand justice from the clearly napping ref, I watched my kid with some moves of his own. Moves that were legal- no elbows thrown as they talk sportsmanlike conduct frequently on their team, which I am even more grateful for after this weekend- but certainly aggressive.

I turned to my husband, stunned. My timid, easygoing little boy who used to back off the ball anytime anyone came near it just a couple years ago, was suddenly in the thick of the game. Granted, we’ve watched him improve the more he’s played, watched him get better and less afraid. But in my mind, I still imagined that if any actual aggression came his way, he’d still shy away. Instead, he refused to give up and maneuvered the ball down the field. Still working on passing skills and, well, aim, there wasn’t a goal- but the pride on his face at playing the game, at having his team cheer him on, at going for it was such a revelation.

In that moment, I realized things were really starting to change. My sweet baby boy is really getting older by the minute, and while I see evidence of that every day as we approach his eight birthday, there’s something about seeing the changes on a game field that highlights it like nothing else. My timid, cautious little child with little regard to win or lose was fast becoming a competitive young boy.

What a change this is.

Have you had any of those “whoa” moments with your kids?

Linked to Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out

How not to do back to school

Normally, when it’s back to school time, I plan ahead. I slowly pick up supplies here and there as the end of summer looms near, with maybe an item or two left the last few weeks. Of course, last year, I was in a nesting frenzy and stocked up a month ahead of time and had things ready to go since I was due to give birth in the fall. Without that pushing my motivation, and a last minute getaway the week before school started, my approach this year was.. well, not good.

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3 Things Not to Do for Back to School

Don’t wait until the day before school starts to stock up on supplies.

I realize that this is a no-brainer, and I swear this wasn’t intentional. For some reason, I was just not willing to accept summer was coming to an end this year and refused to acknowledge the need to start shopping. I would casually mention it here and there over the month of August, commenting that I should start picking up a few things. But then this thing came up, there was swimming to do, and a trip to Galveston to take… who had time to worry about school supplies?

This terribly erroneous way of thinking led to my marathon shopping day on Sunday. In my delusional thinking, I would strap the baby to me in the Ergo and hit a store or two to get all the things we would need. My husband would be able to get some work done at home while the older two played quietly.

Except the baby had been in the car the entire day before driving and no longer wished to be restrained.  In addition, the store was so crowded that I could barely get down the aisle with the baby strapped to me, let alone maneuver a cart filled with the million items required down the tiny space. This combination led to so much frustration and so many tears (mostly his, some of mine), that I finally called my husband. He told me to bring the baby home, to which I laughed and said I would see him in a few minutes when he walked into the store. There was no way I was leaving without the items on the damn list.

Which leads me to the next lesson…

Don’t try to complete the back to school list at a superstore

Forget Target (ONLY for this purpose. Target is my joy in life), Walmart, etc. when you have an impossible to complete scavenger list in hand. There are approximately 500 other last-minute parents scrambling to do the same thing you are, and the random items on the supply list that you have never heard of? Chances are, neither has Target. Save yourself the hassle and head to Staples or another office supply store. After three stops before this with no luck, I finally found manilla paper (NOT manilla folders- manilla paper. I didn’t even know that was a thing) and the other random items at Staples. This was not including the two stops afterwards to find the correct size paper plates and the right colored lunch bags. Sigh.

Don’t wait until driving home from vacation to stop at the outlets for back to school clothes

Okay, to be honest, this one was kind of fun- at least for ma. And, thanks to my stepmother’s love of shopping and employment as a visual director for JC Penney, the kids weren’t even in dire need of clothes. But, I always like to pick out a nice back to school outfit for the first day of school. So when the sign for the outlets appeared as we started our journey back home, how could I resist?

Since these were genuine outlet stores, (not regular stores located at the outlets- don’t you hate that?) even my husband didn’t mind too much. Three kids later, he understands the value of clearance time at a Carter’s outlet (we filled a bag for my younger two for $24). However, we did not take into consideration that it was not only a Saturday, but the Saturday before schools were back in session state-wide. Oops.

All in all, I got my kids off to school this week. All it cost me was a tank of gas, an entire day, and six stores- and perhaps a bit of my sanity.

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How did you do back to school this year? I’m assuming it was better than me…

Back to school video traditions

Traditions. They’re something I always try to achieve, but I never quite get to as many as I want to. However, when it comes to back to school, I focus on keeping up as  many traditions as I can. For example, every year, we go out to dinner for both the first and last day of school. I also snap that requisite posed picture:

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But, I want to be able to capture a little bit more of my kids each year. To remedy this, Shell over at Things I Can’t Say and I are taking interview videos of our kids each year. And, since we’re blogging about it, it will make me actually do it- not just pin it :)

Join us and have some fun with your kids- share a video with us! You can use some of the questions suggested below or show off your own video tradition. My first round of video has some background noise (ie unnecessary commentary) so I’m giving it a second shot today.

Here are the basic questions:

  • How old are you?
  • What grade are you going into?
  • What are you looking forward to about this school year?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

Other ideas for questions to include:

  • What school are you going to this year?
  • Who is(are) your teacher(s)?
  • Who is your best friend?
  • What is your favorite subject?
  • What do you want to learn this year?
  • What do you hope is different from last year?
  • What was your favorite memory from this past summer?

How much do you think your kids’ answers will change over the years? Grab  your camera and join in!



The Final Bump

Today, my baby- my littlest baby of the three- is 8 months old. Sitting in our family room, I was looking at this beautiful smile today:

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It’s so hard to believe that this is another milestone gone by. He’s sitting, he’s crawling, he’s trying to figure out how to stand. Each skill he develops is a bit more bittersweet. Even with a lack of sleep and a baby who never wants to be put down, I try to cherish and embrace each moment as much as I can. Because I know how fast it goes, and it’s so hard knowing this is the *last*.

A year ago today, I was in a similar position. I was taking more pictures of myself than at any other point in my life, again knowing that this would be the last time. Holding my precious 8 month old baby today, it’s hard to believe that this was me, just a year ago:

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It seems so long ago and like yesterday all at the same time. It’s hard to believe that my little ball of energy was just this bump a year ago!

And, on that note, that this would be my final “bump” picture:

 

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This was my last time rockin’ the bump, so I figured I needed to include this picture too!

Three kids, three very different bumps. One of these days I need to line up comparison pictures- I’m thinking when they go to college.

Or the baby sleeps through the night.

Whichever comes first.

Check out Shell‘s blog for more Rockin’ the bump, and link up your pictures too! 

Valentines for the Uncrafty

Are you one of those people who sees something on pinterest and then totally wants to go create it too? So you do?

Yeah. Me neither.

However, I always want to be a little more creative, so a few times a year- usually coinciding with a major holiday- I give it a try. So, when we realized the kids had to bring in boxes for Valentine’s Day, I hit up Pinterest for some inspiration. Lily wanted princess/castles, Tyler wanted a robot.

A robot people. I am the un-craftiest person ever, and the kid wanted a robot. Sigh.

But, never fear, Pinterest to the rescue. Of course they had a robot box. Or twenty. So, supplies in hand we set out to make what they wanted. And you know what? The results weren’t half bad:

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What did you get wrangled into making this Valentine’s Day?

 

Lily turns 4

My baby girl..

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It seems like yesterday that you were just born. How quickly that first year went…

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Time flew by and another year came and went…

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Before we knew it you turned three…

 

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And while each year, you grow and grow some more, somehow this one seemed so much more.

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My beautiful baby girl.. of four.

If only time would slow down…

How fast it goes

There is something so unique about having a third child. Even having two already, with one of each gender, doesn’t quite prepare you. You have all the worries that come with any child. But once that baby is here, you have such a unique perspective that is different from times before.

When I’m hit with these feelings, I’m taken back to when I was headed in for my first ultrasound. I was so nervous, so concerned, even without having a reason. I expressed this to the ultrasound tech, who had been doing this for more than 20 years. She said by the third one, you’re so much more aware of how precious it is, and how many things COULD go wrong.

How right she was. I felt that way throughout my pregnancy, thinking once he was here it would lessen in intensity. However, I find myself desperate not to miss things this time. With a 7 year old and almost 4 year old running around, I know how fast it will all go.

How soon he won’t want to be held all the time.

How soon he won’t need only mommy for comfort.

How soon he will be moving on his own.

How soon he’ll be eating food.

How soon he’ll be running around.

How soon he’ll learn to roll his eyes.

How soon he just won’t be a baby anymore.

So I try to savor the moments, even at 3 am. I try not to get too stressed on the days I can’t put him down and ignore the discomfort of typing over him asleep in my lap. I try to fully appreciate each milestone, each memory- the good, the bad, the crazy moments. Because these moments? Are so fleeting.

And the realization of just how fleeting might just be the hardest part.

What do you say

For the past five weeks or so, my oldest son has wanted to get a cheesesteak (and, as a result, so has my  daughter). Between having a new baby, relatives visiting, birthday parties and school events, there has always been something going on. Since it is not as convenient as about 20 other places we can grab something to eat, it kept being put off. And put off. And put off. “Next time, honey. We’ll go soon.”

The excuses were made, reassurances given, and the matter was promptly forgotten– until two days later when he would ask again. The cycle continued, none of us thinking it was of much importance.

As I watched the news unfold on Friday, my heart broke along with the rest of the nation. Shock, horror and dismay filled me as I resisted the urge to grab my children from school just to make sure they were safe. I didn’t hear about this until a little later in the day, and I simply couldn’t believe what had happened.

After much debate, we decided we needed to talk to our 7 year old about it. He is exposed to enough kids that we were concerned he’d hear about it in another way, and we wanted it to come from us. We wanted to explain what had happened, reassure him that he was safe, and that sometimes bad people do really bad things.

My husband and I tossed back and forth what to say, how to say it. I struggled to keep the tears at bay, because there’s just no way for a mother to think about this without them. We waited until the end of the weekend, sat him down, and tried to explain the unexplainable the best way we could. My son reaction calmly, bewildered as to why someone would do something so horrible. He called it dumb, and mean, and repeatedly asked why. Oh, my child. If only any of us knew why…

We reassured him that he was safe and that everything would be okay, even though for so many families, it won’t be. We told him to ask us any questions and not to worry if we kept giving him extra hugs. We told him to be grateful for each day because it was always a gift- something we too easily forget.

On Friday, I felt that fear that we all felt. Our worst fears as mothers, as parents, were realized in a horrific scene before us, slamming the most terrifying of realities into our faces. I held my breath a little while I waited for my son to bound off of his school bus, breathing a sigh of relief only when I could hold him in my arms. I hugged all three of my babies close, saying prayer upon prayer of thanks that I was able to hold them all.

And then we went for cheesesteaks.

My heart, thoughts, and prayers are so deeply with all of the victims and families in Newtown, Connecticut.