Mad About It Mondays, Rants

Mad About It Monday: How To Ruin A Relationship In One Simple Step

Mad About It Monday- Copyright It's An Ordinary Blog

Mad About It Monday

…because passive aggressive Facebook posts were so yesterday

Happy Monday, Everyone! Lately, I’ve been posting my M.A.M mini-rants on Facebook but something happened to me recently that warrants a blog post. Let’s just say that a simple Facebook post just can’t contain all of the rage. I’d also like to get your thoughts on the situation. After you’re done reading, leave me a comment and answer this: What would you do if you were in my position?!

Neighborhood

When we were building our house five years ago, I was excited about the prospect of having the kind of neighborhood where there’s a real sense of community…you know, the kind of place that you’re excited to raise a family in. I don’t know if times have just changed or if it’s the neighborhood we moved into but we only know a handful of our neighbors and, although we really like them and are on friendly terms, we don’t know them all that well. One of our neighbors has a child that’s a few years older than my three year old daughter. We like this kid and are friendly with his parents and occasionally we’ll invite them over for a get together or spend a few minutes chatting while we’re all outside. Over the course of the last few months, the parents have asked me to babysit their child several times. It’s certainly not a problem at all. We enjoy having him over and are more than happy to help on occasion, when they need a favor and that’s exactly what I thought I was agreeing to when I received a text message last week asking me if I would mind watching the child for a little while on Saturday. Here’s what the message said:

“Hey, would you mind watching Kiddo on Saturday? I have to work in the morning and wanted to take SoAndSo out for his birthday dinner after work if he’s up for it.”

Now I assumed, as any rational human being would, that I would be watching Kiddo on Saturday evening, so his mom and dad could enjoy a night out. Absolutely no big deal. I replied and mentioned that, even though we were planning to go out to dinner, Kiddo was more than welcome to come with us if he wanted to. “It’s up to you guys,” said the mom. “Kiddo is always welcome to tag along,” I replied. “Cool,” I thought,  “It’s settled. We’ll take Kiddo out to dinner and it will be fun.” Apparently, I was wrong. The next morning, I got this text message:

“I have to work at 10:30 so I leave around 10:00…I can bring Kiddo over then and how much would you like for the day? Either his dad or I should pick him up around 7ish”

wait-what

Wait, what?! Now something that was supposed to be an evening favor has turned into an all day ordeal but since I’d already agreed to her vague request for us to watch her child and since this child is old enough to come with us wherever we go, I decided not to worry about the change in our day. I didn’t reply to her comment about payment because, honestly, I’m a really bad negotiator when it comes to people that I know and I thought that she would ask me in person what would be fair. Fast forward to Saturday…

Kiddo came over around 10:00 in the morning. We played a few games and ran some errands before coming home for a pizza party lunch followed by blanket forts, a movie and snacks, hide & go seek, sidewalk chalk, and an assortment of other activities with the kids. Although it was long, it was a pretty good day. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to entertaining a seven year old child but I managed and, by the time 7:00 rolled around, I was a little exhausted and ready to head out to our already delayed dinner plans. Kiddo’s mom picked him up at 7:45, seemed kind of rushed, and made absolutely no mention of paying us for watching her child all day. I was a little floored. I certainly don’t mind doing anyone a favor but ten hours of my time is well beyond a good neighborly favor. So I sent her this text message:

“…I realized I never responded about how much money would be okay for the day. Anywhere between $5 and $10 an hour would be fine. Normally I would say don’t worry about it but since it was all day, I think that’s fair.”

She responded asking for an exact dollar amount, I replied with “$50 would be fine” (which comes out to be about $5 an hour, an amount I think is totally reasonable for all day child care including meals, snacks, and activities) and she said she’d bring it by tomorrow. Well, guess what?! Tomorrow came and went and the next day came and went, too and I still haven’t heard from them and they haven’t come by.

Annoyed

It’s not the money that matters to me, it’s the principle of the matter. When you say that you’re going to do something: DO IT!

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I felt tricked into agreeing to something that ended up being a much larger commitment than I anticipated or the fact that she offered to compensate me for my time but didn’t or some combination of the two but I am outraged slightly appalled. I mean, who does that?! I can’t even imagine taking advantage of someone like that. I just can’t.

I would love to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they forgot or that they were just busy but, the truth is, I know better. Kiddo has come over several times over the last few months and I’ve always declined an offer for payment because it’s only ever been for an hour or two but this time it was my entire day and that’s different. I can’t help but feel the only reason they asked me to watch him in the first place is because they didn’t want to have to pay for a sitter to watch their child. How frustrating.

Fail

Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be doing them any more favors any time soon.

What would you have done in my situation?! Have you ever dealt with something like that? If so, I’d love to know how you handled it.

Daily Life, Parenting, Society

How “Queen Elsa” Broke My Heart

Elsa Frozen

My daughter celebrated her third birthday a couple of weeks ago (more on that in a later post) and, now that she’s getting older, we’ve started allowing her to watch Disney films. It would be an understatement to say that we’re movie fans in this household (duh- I write movie reviews) and that love for film is something my husband and I are passing along to our child. I don’t mind when my daughter pretends as if she’s Queen Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” or Merida from Disney’s “Brave” but she said something the other day that caught me completely off guard.

“I want to be just like Queen Elsa.”

Now I know it’s common for little girls to emulate and want to be like their role models (and Queen Elsa is a great role model to have) but it broke my heart to hear my three year old child say that she wanted to be anyone other than the amazing little lady that she already is.

We live in a World where most of us are constantly trying to be like everyone else, chasing unattainable standards of beauty (you can read more of my thoughts on this from my previous posts on the subject), thinking we’re never good enough, and nothing could have prepared me for the day when my daughter wanted to be different from who she already is. I explained to her that many of the same characteristics we appreciate about Queen Elsa are ones that she already has.

She is strong.

She is smart.

She is wonderful.

I recognize the innocence in my daughter’s words. I understand that she may not already be feeling that sense of inferiority that seems to plague us all with time but the mere fact that she feels the need to be different from the perfect person she is concerns me.

How do we find a balance, especially in our society, of encouraging our daughters as they look up to the heroes around them and teaching them that just being the person that they already are is good enough?

Daily Life, Parenting

Lessons For My Daughter: Part I “It Really Isn’t About You”

What Other People Think About You Is None Of Your Business

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a very personal post on parenting and faith. In that same spirit of sharing about my life (which is not always something that’s easy for me to do), I want to talk about the most important lesson I plan to teach my daughter as she gets older. It’s a lesson that’s taken me years to learn and it’s something that, even as someone who tends to think logically and objectively, I still struggle with from time to time.

The way people treat you has nothing to do with you.

It has everything to do with them.  

I am the adult by product of divorce. My father, who retired after serving twenty years in the United States Air Force, and my mother, who made her career working with new and expecting parents in Labor and Delivery, divorced in the mid-nineties. About a year later, my brother and I, along with our mother, relocated to the East Coast where we lived until I started college. My junior high and high school years were a whirlwind. Full of changes in our family structure, adjustments to a different life, and an assortment of other things that are irrelevant to this post. My relationship with my dad changed very little throughout the years in that it was, at best, distant. With lengthy deployments under his belt from the time he spent serving our country, I didn’t know that our relationship could have been any different and I spent years excusing his absence from my life on physical distance and busy schedules. One thing always remained the same, I love my dad. Always.

The issue is that the way that I express love is so vastly different from the way my own father does and, in the past, it left me feeling inadequate, undervalued, and unloved.

The little time that I did spend with my dad in my own childhood was wonderful. I have fun memories like the time we attended the “Father/Daughter Dance” when I was young or the vacation we took together to Orlando when I was a teenager. It’s easy to let those moments become overshadowed by the lack of communication in our day to day lives. The same can be said for my father’s relationship with my own daughter.

As my daughter grows and begins to understand more about the World, I want to give her the gift of understanding. It’s something that’s taken me years to figure out on my own. I want her to understand that the way that other people interact with and treat you represents who they are, not the other way around.

I want her to know that she’s worthwhile, good, and amazing. 

I want her to know that the only thing that defines who she is as an individual is the way that treats herself, others, and the World around her.

I want her to know the one thing that I’ve spent years figuring out: That we’re all different. The way I express my love for those around me may not be the same as the way my own father does but that has nothing to do with me.

Simply put: Take the good, leave the bad.

Culture, Daily Life, Parenting

Parenting Without Faith

I want to preface this by mentioning that this is not an easy post for me to write. Although I’ve been documenting my life as a parent online for well over a year now, it isn’t often that I share intimate details of my thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. What I want to discuss tonight is something that’s been weighing heavily on my heart for well over a month and I hope that you’ll allow me the rare opportunity to be vulnerable with you without judgement.

Last month, I had lunch with my incredible friend Bethany. She’s someone I’ve been close with for several years and I was happy for the chance to spend some time with her while she was back in town. As we were eating, we witnessed a father and his young son at a table near us. Before they began eating, they sat together and prayed. It was really moving. But it was also heartbreaking, for me. Heartbreaking because that’s not something that I can share with my own daughter. We’ll never (at least not at this particular moment in our lives) share a moment like that together because I am parenting without faith.

Having grown up in a Christian household, been a leader in my youth group during high school, and active in my religious community during college, I am no stranger to what it means to have faith. While attending undergraduate studies with a major in a religion and culture so vastly different from my own, I began exploring other faith based systems. My journey, thus far, has led me to a place with a lot of unanswered questions. When my husband and I had a child of our own, coming to terms with the fact that we simply don’t know, was even more difficult to accept.

Fast forward to last week when my little family of three was sitting together in the kitchen. My daughter, now almost three, asked my husband (after he let out a loud cough) if he was okay. He replied, without thinking, “I think I’ll live.” Without missing a beat, my daughter said, “I want you to always live. And mommy.” Speechless. As the tears pooled in my eyes, I found myself thinking back to that father and son last month and how I wish, more than anything, that I could provide that same comfort and promise to my own child that this stranger was undoubtedly able to offer his son.

You see, parenting without faith (at least for me and my spouse) is not simply a choice that we’ve made for our family. I want, more than anything, to be able to provide my daughter with answers to life’s biggest questions (Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?) but the truth is, I can’t. We’ve flirted with the idea of attending some sort of religious institution for the sake of giving her a foundation of faith but, for us, that would be disingenuous to where we’re at in our journey and what we believe about life. There is comfort in religion – a comfort my family does not have.

For now, we’re teaching our child that the World is a beautiful place. That life is a precious, precious gift that we should cherish, respect, and enjoy. That we should treat this planet and all of its inhabitants with love and compassion. That people have all sorts of beliefs, ideas, and differing answers on life’s biggest questions and that it’s okay. One day, when she’s old enough, we’ll encourage her to explore and find her own path…wherever that might lead her. While we certainly can’t make any promises about what tomorrow may bring, and as heartbreaking as that may be for us, we’re forced to simply focus on today.

I think it’s important for people to understand that we’re not parenting without faith because we reject God or because we somehow are apathetic or indifferent towards having beliefs. I wish, more than anything, that I could be certain that I had answers. But that’s not my life. We’re not parenting without faith because we don’t care about our child’s future or her (perceived) eternal salvation, we simply don’t have the answers. Parenting without faith doesn’t make us immoral people and it certainly doesn’t mean that our child will grow up to be any less respectful, loving, or compassionate towards herself, others, and the World around her. Our goals, our hopes for our child (and any other subsequent children we may have later on down the road) are the same as yours.

So, please, don’t make assumptions about our lifestyle and don’t assume things about the way we raise our child. I may not be parenting with faith, but I’m still parenting with love.

Daily Life, Parenting

More On Parenting The Strong Willed Child (Plus a Few Tips)

It's An Ordinary Blog

Several months ago, I wrote about electing to view parenting a strong willed child as a gift rather than a challenge.  I would encourage you all to go back and read my post here, if you haven’t already.  While every word that I wrote back then still holds true today, I’m learning (as a parent) how I can help alleviate some of the day to day stresses associated with raising a highly independent individual.

I have the luxury of holding a job that I love and am able to do out of the comfort of my own home and so I spend a couple of days each week and every afternoon at home with C.  It’s a great balance between being a ‘working mom’ and a ‘stay at home parent’ and it works for me.  But it’s not always sunshine and roses.  My daughter, who will be three years old in February, attends a Montessori preschool part time.  If you’re unfamiliar with how the Montessori philosophy works, it’s geared towards allowing children the individual freedom to learn at their own pace in ways that are best suited towards their style.  It’s such a wonderful program and I’m happy that my child has this experience.  The only problem is that we don’t have a Montessori home.

I try to be somewhat organized in my parenting style…making sure to pick out clothes for the next day before bed each night, ensuring that toys are put up before new ones are taken out, and other things of that nature (read: mommy might be slightly OCD).  My parenting style doesn’t always jive with my child’s personality.  She wants to be independent, to pick out her own clothes, to have the freedom to do the things she wants to do when she wants to do them and it’s hard finding the right way to make both of us happy.  I want her to learn boundaries but I also want her to feel free to be the person that she is.  Most days, I fluctuate from feeling like I might be a contender for the “Mother Of The Year” awards in my household to feeling like a complete menace when things aren’t as perfect as I’d hoped they might be.  But I’m learning.  I’m learning to let go of the things that don’t matter and to focus on the things that do…like teaching my child responsibility,  compassion,  respect and love for others and the world around her, and how to try new things and explore all while allowing her, in the best way that I can, to be herself (a sweet, energy filled, independent toddler) in her most natural state.

I wanted to share some of the things that we’re doing in our home to encourage our child’s independence.  I’m finding that, more often than not, when I’m more organized (for her) many of the stresses we were experiencing before are no longer issues.  I’ll keep you updated, as I try new things with my toddler, as to what works for us and what doesn’t.  In the meantime, I hope that you find these ideas useful in your own life.  Enjoy.

1. Give Her Options

One of the biggest struggles I face in parenting an independent child is balancing her strong desire to decide for herself with my own will for her. I’ve discovered that if I pick a few options that I would be okay with before presenting something to her (like clothing options, food at a restaurant, etc), it makes situations that might otherwise be stressful feel like a breeze. It’s a win-win. She has the freedom to pick something for herself and I’m happy with any of the choices she has to make.

2. Stay Organized 

You might think that being organized for your own sanity is a no brainer but it took me a long time to figure this out on my own. Living with a child that is picky, changes her mind about things, and won’t let it go when she decides she needs something can be a struggle. Having a space for everything (extra blankets, stuffed animals, certain towels that she loves, etc.) has been a tremendous help in avoiding some of the issues we used to face.

3. Remain Calm

Even when I give my child options and I stay organized, we still have frustrating moments with our daughter (who doesn’t, am I right?!). The best advice I can give when your strong willed child throws a fit is to stay calm. Stay calm. Stay.Calm. Take a deep breath, count to three, do whatever you need to do to prevent yourself from getting worked up because, believe me, it does absolutely nothing to help the situation. When C is being a monster having a moment, I have to take a step back and realize that the best thing I can do for both of us is to help calm her down. How? Breathe, stay focused, give her a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay…in a moment or two, she’ll start to calm down, too and all will be right with the World.

4. Drink Wine

Okay, maybe this last part is sort of a joke (but not really). After a long day or a hard, stressful battle with your child, take some time out for you to relax. Spend an extra few minutes in the shower before bed, drink a glass of wine, read a book, do whatever it is that you do to rejuvenate yourself. Above all, let it go. Let all the stresses from the day go. What’s the point in carrying them with you anyway, right?! 

Always remember that you’re raising a child. You’re raising an independent person who will one day grow to be an adult. You’re helping to shape the future of this planet. I’m pretty sure that makes you a superhero. 

 

Reviews

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Introducing Discovery Toys

“Baby, it’s cold outside…”

2013 Holiday Gift Guide

Brrr! We’ve gotten our first taste of cold here in Kansas City. Let’s heat things up with our next idea in the 2013 Holiday Gift Guide.

logo

My good friend Dawn (Hi!) recently introduced me to a great company that offers fun and educational products for young children. Discovery toys has an extensive selection of age appropriate goodies that are not only enjoyable but also budget friendly. The best part about them is that each toy is guaranteed for life so if there’s ever an issue with your toys, you’ll be taken care of.

Discovery Toys has items for every stage of a young child’s development. My little one has been very much into puzzles recently (and I’ve been very much into owls) , so we were able to placate both of our recent obsessions with this adorable Night Owl puzzle.  I like that this puzzle is reversible and is a fun way to teach your child the difference between day and night. I’m sure it’ll be a great addition to our growing puzzle family and I can’t wait to see the look on her face as she unwraps it this Christmas. Who knows, I might even sneak in some puzzle time after she goes to bed. Don’t judge me.

1087_Night-Owl-Puzzle-2

Here’s what Discovery Toys has to say about their product:

“Is the Owl asleep or awake? This unique wooden puzzle with 8 two-sided symmetrical pieces offers numerous color combinations. Complete with or without the base. The different possibilities spark the imagination.’

‘from 2y – kindergarten”

Benefits:

  • Develop early critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Visualize the possible solutions.
  • Improve memory.
  • Strengthen fine motor skills.
  • Develop hand-eye coordination.
  • Learn how parts fit together to form a whole.
  • Explore different ways to solve.
  • Rationalize different combinations.
  • Fosters story-telling.

I am excited to announce that Dawn has graciously offered to give one of these adorable Night Owl puzzles to anyone who hosts a Discovery Toys party this December or January. The party can be hosted in your home (assuming you’re in the Kansas City metro area) or online (for my distant readers). Contact Dawn anytime through her Discovery Toys page and be sure to let her know that It’s An Ordinary Blog sent you!

Tell me…what’s your favorite product from Discovery Toys?!

Daily Life, Parenting

Potty Training: We Did It! (Plus Some Helpful Tips)

It's An Ordinary Blog

As you might remember, we’ve been working on potty training our two year old daughter. Several months ago, I had it in my mind that we were supposed to be aggressive when it came to potty training. Now that I look back, I’m glad that my (somewhat) relaxed parenting style overshadowed my internal desire to push my child into potty success. A few weeks ago, something just clicked and she got it. It was one of those incredible, amazing moments where you’re immensely proud and completely blown away by the small child that lives with you. She’s so smart and allowing her to lead the way (with our help and encouragement) was one of the best parenting decisions I’ve made to date.

You might remember my post about utilizing a potty chart as incentive to get your child to use the restroom. While I still advocate the use of sticker charts to help motivate young children (we use a sticker chart for ‘daily activities’ that C is expected to complete and she loves it), I’ve also learned that sometimes children will figure things out on their own in time. Some children might prosper having that ‘push’ for potty training but, in observing my child’s behaviors, I learned that she is more motivated by independence than she is by my encouragement. I found myself asking her, time and time again, until I was almost blue in the face, if she needed to try and use the potty and she never seemed to want to…on my time. So I stopped. I wasn’t going to make her feel guilty for eliminating in her disposable pull up and I wasn’t going to punish her for not sitting on the potty. Eventually, I knew if she wanted to try to go…she would. And she did.

About a week into it, we abandoned the potty chart (but we still used a chart for daily activities) and decided that we would take a break and re-visit potty training when C seemed to be more ready. Fast forward a few weeks when we toured a preschool that we were interested in part time. One of the stipulations for enrollment is that the child must be in underwear. So I sat down and explained to her that if she was big enough to attend preschool then she must also be big enough to use the potty and not wear pull ups anymore. Not wanting to push her too hard, we tried again.

We took the leap of faith and simply stopped putting her in pull ups. Much to my surprise, the transition into underwear was really easy. We didn’t try giving her an absurd amount of juice. She didn’t run around naked. We didn’t make her sit on the potty all day. She just got it. We had a few accidents the first day, a couple the second day, and one or two occasionally ever since. My husband and I are always encouraging of her, almost to the point where we embarrass ourselves when we’re in public with the “Wow! You did it! Good Job!”  and the “You went POTTY?! AWESOME!” but I am so proud to announce that my child, at two years and seven months old, is fully potty trained and it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done with her. Hooray!

horray

I wanted to share a few things that I learned in our potty training experience with you…

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff 
  2. Give it time
  3. Children should never be made to feel guilty for accidents
  4. S#it happens
  5. Celebrate each accomplishment

More than anything, I want you to know that potty training doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be enjoyable and it can be simple. Knowing your child, stopping when something’s not right, and letting your child lead the way are the best things I’ve learned in this process and they’re things that I will take with me in other parenting adventures down the road. If you’re preparing for potty training, I wish you the very best with your little one!