Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Perils of Public Perception

It may surprise you, that despite the fact that I write a weekly parenting column, I tend to keep my parenting opinions to myself. It's easier to make and keep friends that way as I sometimes get the feeling moms avoid hanging with me fearing I’ll judge their parenting style. I try to stick with critiquing my own children or myself. 

It's safer that way.
In any case, I was recently asked to give my advice on how to make a toddler sit still. Knowing full well that two and three year olds inherently fidget, I asked the mother what her expectations were for her child. Mom reported that her son sits for a couple of books and songs at library story time but wished he would be still for the entire presentation.
Immediately I thought, perhaps the stories are boring, or age inappropriate or maybe he had gas. I mean there are any number of reasons a child gets antsy, none of which are necessarily wrong.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I took this picture a few years back. I asked Aaron to pull over off the two lane so I could get the shot.

An abandoned church?
Run down?
In the middle of no where?

Yeah. I knew all about that.

I believe Elizabeth Gilbert is correct when she writes, "Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation." (Eat, Pray, Love)

I have experienced first hand that until something is ruined - and by ruined I mean irrevocably devestated and lost - we think, "I can still make something from this mess!" or "I can fix this! I'll move this here and rearrange that there and I'll sleep less & get up earlier and organize more and be better or be less and try harder and ... "

But when it is gone, all gone, we collapse and maybe cry and say,
"There is nothing left I can do!"
"I can't."
"What do we do now?"

And only when you are lost, Lost!,  and at the bottom of yourself, your efforts, your hopes & dreams  do you find the space for what you need.

Oh, it's not enjoyable. I realize I risk sounding a bit romantic about ruin but make no mistake I do not, and did not enjoy it. But nonetheless, I've been there.
I've lost friends.
I've grieved broken relationships.
Everything I worked for was gone.
My faith was rocked, wrecked and shifted.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Menu Monday

We had a great week of games & swimming & hanging. We celebrated the first day of summer with s'mores and life is good. It is full on summer-mode here. These kids are hungry, cooking can be time consuming - but we need to eat! This is how I do it:

  1. Keep a calendar - I'm not going to cook if no one will be here to eat it. Before I do anything I keep a calendar on the fridge of games, appointments, etc. I teach my kids how to write their own stuff down.
  2. Make a menu - based on who's home when I will decide what kind of meal to make. Ball game on Monday? Maybe we'll pack sub sandwiches! Be gone most of the day? Get out the crockpot! Busy week? Cook once eat two, or even three times.
  3. Shop - I shop one week at a time, list in hand.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

To Be Liked

(This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media Company)

I want to be liked. We all do really. But I admit I am especially happy when those people to whom I am closest like me best. Especially my kids. I really want to be liked by the fruit of my own womb. Unfortunately, my children often carry an aversion for me, which is one of the infinite tensions of parenthood.
Now, don't get me wrong, my kids like me enough but the truth is they would like me more if I wasn't so strict, authoritative or supervisory. In other words, my kids would enjoy it if I were less of a parent a more of an adult sized friend.

If I let them go where they wanted to go, or let them do what they wanted to do, or allowed them to spend their money in ways, which are completely immature and unpredictable, then I imagine they would nominate me for mother of the year.

However, they and I both know that will never happen.

No, instead I make them go to bed at a decent time, I monitor who they spend time with, I don't allow endless hours in front of a screen, I make them do chores and (gasp!) read a book.

I do those things, and a million more, not because I enjoy being the alpha-chaperone - I don't really want to monitor their bedtimes; I prefer to take care of my own beauty sleep. Keeping track of their schedules, play dates and ballgames makes me feel more like an underpaid administrative assistant. I would rather be doing anything instead of forcing my kids to walk the dog, empty the dishwasher or hang up their wet towels.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Menu Monday

Hi friends & fellow recipe enthusiasts! The Tribe is in full summer mode over here with lazy mornings, afternoons poolside and evenings at the ball park.

We are hungry.We are many.And I have a TIGHT budget.How does a mother of 5 do it?Well, it's not fancy.It's not even impressive but it is REAL food and we REALLY eat together whenever we can.

Why do I post my menu? You can steal my menu if you don't want to make your own. 
You can recommend a recipe that you want me to try (I would love that) or
You can just kill five minutes being nosey!
Either way I don't care! I'm just happy you visited today!

Happy cooking. 
Happy eating. and
Happy BE-ing.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Busting Boredom

3 of 7 Sikorski Tribe members enjoying summer

We are only three weeks into summer vacation and my kids are already bored. This, I cannot understand, as I am anything but. I have a stack of books from the library. I have odd and end jobs that need to be done around the house. I also have coffee dates to schedule, baseball games to attend, laundry to catch up and of course, on the sunniest of afternoons, lounging around the pool. 
My first inclination was to teach my kids that whoever dared to pronounce in my presence that they "We're bored!" would suffer dire consequences.

So for a solid week, each time one of them complained I promptly, and happily, shared a task from my to do list. The thought was that if they couldn't find something to do themselves, I would provide work. For one solid, blissful week my house was neat and tidy. 
However, my kids quickly caught on to my scheme and by the second week of summer they were avoiding me like the plague. Clearly I wasn't as clever as I thought. Now I was stuck doing all the work, my kids were hiding in their rooms and, plus, they were still bored! They were just smart enough to stop announcing it to me. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Needless Nagging

There are a few things about motherhood I just loathe:
    • I hate when snot gets on my shirt.
    • I hate how frequently children need to bathe.
    • I hate when my kids wander around the house saying, "Mom! Mom? Mom! Mom?" but mostly
    • I hate being a nag. 
 I mean really? Some things I've been saying repeatedly for as long as my kids have been alive. I just can’t believe, for example, that I should have to remind them everyday, twice a day, to brush their teeth. Really? They can't remember that?

Sometimes I wonder why I am so invested in their dental care. Those aren't even my teeth. Do I really care if they get a mouthful of cavities? It's not like the dentist will be drilling in my mouth. It won’t hurt me, will it? Well, I guess the bill could be quite painful.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

There's Only 1 Thing on my Summer To-Do list!

image credit here

Memorial Day is behind us which means that as we look ahead we see nothing but the long, lazy days of summer. Henry James, the nineteenth century author captured this idea so well when he wrote, “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

As teachers and education personnel exit their respective buildings for the next three months you can hear the chatter among parents collecting their children as they compare notes asking, "Where will you go this summer?" or "What will the kids do?". 

While the questions are relative, as many families find that they have an extra amount of time on their hands, the implication is that in order to have a successful summer vacation one must plan, schedule, be active and avoid idleness at all costs.

Wait! Doesn’t that go against the very nature of summer? This is the one time of the year where it is actually acceptable to be caught playing more than working. Summer days are long and evenings are cool. It’s the time of year where the sun kisses our noses, our feet get dusty from evenings at the ballpark and our pool towels gently fade as they dry in the breeze. Finally sweet tea is sun brewed and food from the grill is especially delicious as bedtimes are pushed back and porches become gathering places illuminated by lightening bugs in mason jars. What other time of the year can you have these moments of pleasure without guilt or hesitation?

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