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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

In St. Louis, MO there are few things we do well. However, this isn’t a post about my city and the poverty, crime, or education. Nay, this is a post about stuff St. Louis does well. Well, 1 thing in particular. No, I’m not goint to talk about Toasted Ravioli, Washers, or Gooey Butter Cake. I am going to talk about Cardinals baseball.

As a kid growing up in the 80’s & 90’s I can remember as far back as my mind allows being a Cardinal fan. I had all their baseball cards, could mimic their batting stances, and pretty much ate, drank, slept baseball during the summer. After my formative years however, I moved away from the city and lost a bit of touch with the team. I could no longer recite stats of the 2nd string catcher or for that matter go to a game without it being a big ordeal. When I was in college however, I regained that passion for the game, thanks no other to the drug induced slug-fest that was the 1998 season and Mark McGwire ripped off 70 HRs. While he and others were essentially ruining the game, they were saving it at the same time (well at least for me they were saving it). From that season on, I had regained my love for Cardinal baseball and carried it out through my 20’s. As of the last 4 or 5 years however having kids and all that goes along with that has taken precident over Cards baseball. I will gladly give up the TV now so my 3 year old can watch a show for the 30th time as long as it keeps her happy. With this, I am steadily missing more and more games per year. This is also the case with going to games. It was not unusual for me to go to 10 – 15 games a season when I was in my 20s. But as mentioned above my attendence is declining. So much this year that I didn’t think I was going to make a single game. A Cardinal sin? (yes that was terrible)

Well, that all changed Sunday when my daughter got tickets through her school to go to the game. At first, I was a little weary of it since my wife wouldn’t be going and I was dragging along my Sister-in-Law’s boyfriend. He’s a good dude but what 26 year old wants to go to a baseball game with a guy way past his prime and 2 kids that can scream bloody hell at a moment’s notice? But excitement struck me when I loaded up the car with the girls on our way to the game. You see, this wasn’t just an insignificant Sunday game in late August against the Pirates. No this was both of my kid’s first baseball game. Ever. It is a historic day in their lives.

This is excitement

So with this sudden excitement on my part coupled with the fact that my kids think they are going to see actual Pirates, this made to be an amazing day for them (and me). The game was actually pretty sloppy in the first few innings but therere were a ton of runs and the girls were well on their way to a sugar induced coma. To my surprise they made it until the 7th inning stretch. However, the wheels were falling off pretty quickly. So we decicded to get while the gettin was good. A quick side note, the Cards ended up winning 7-4.

 
This is somewhere around mid-sugar high

Today was an awesome day at the ballpark with my kids (and sister-in-laws boyfriend). I remembered why I loved baseball when I was a kid and I can only hope my kids love it growing up and possibly marry a player so I am set for life.

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School is once again in the air, and just like every year I’m completely flummoxed by something my son is learning. This year’s irritation is caused by language.

I should start this off by saying that I love where my kids go to school. It’s private (and expensive) but I like that they get special attention and they go to school with a lot of other good kids whose parents really value education (involved parents — provided they aren’t of the “My baby would never do anything wrong!” variety — are the single greatest indicators of educational success for a school). Most importantly, I feel that they do a good job teaching the kids responsibility and integrity and lots of other things.  And this year, for my fifth-grader, those lots of other things include both Spanish and French.

Let me say that I’ve got no qualms with Spanish. Business is booming in South America and regardless of your feelings on immigration, speaking Spanish isn’t exactly going to be a hindrance around the US anytime soon.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with French (in spite of a couple of Parisian trips that confirmed every single stereotype), but I think it’s a very suboptimal choice to teach American school kids generally and my son specifically. He isn’t going to major, much less work, in French Literature and he doesn’t own a beret. If he ever travels to France, everyone there speaks English, which would only be relevant if people there would talk to him in ANY language. It isn’t (just) that I’ve had (largely) bad experiences with French people (sorry Laure): I just think it’s only about the 10th most valuable language my boy could be learning.

So, what languages would I have my fifth-grader learn? Mandarin and Objective C.

Mandarin is the most spoken language in China and would provide him insight into communicating in a country with far lower rates of English speakers than anywhere in Europe. It would also open him up to other Asian languages, and people often say that learning any language is good because it makes your brain grow and makes you better able to learn other languages (I largely don’t buy that — I don’t want to “practice” learning Language A so I can eventually learn Language B; I’d rather just learn Language B — but if you are going down that route, it makes sense to learn languages in multiple families rather than two in the same family).

Objective C is the computer software language that you can use to develop apps for Apple devices (Macs, iPads, iPhones, etc.). That isn’t me being an Apple fanboy by any means, but I think a computer language would be useful and with this one it would at least be fun. And there is a lot more money in Angry Birds than in farting in your general direction.

Not sure this helps my point, but its cool.

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Last week I wrote about stressing out our kids and one of the issues that was on the stress radar here was my oldest going back to school. First off I know by relative terms I am young, but if you would like to have a kick in the junk and make yourself feel old, send your first kid off to Kindergarten and have someone kick you in the junk.

This summer has flown by this year, of course faster than every other year it seems, but it is bittersweet. The kids get to go back to their respective holding cells and someone else can watch them for a few hours instead of my pregnant wife. However, my pregnant wife also needs to return to her employer now that the summer is over until the baby is born. As we have been leading up to this monumental event for my 5 year old, there have been some of the typical events for the beginning of school. The most fascinating to me was the school supply list. It was weird. When I was in grade school I remember that I brought my own stuff and if I didn’t have something, that was my own problem. So I would come packed up with the new markers, crayons, folders, etc. Not the same with my daughter’s school. It seems to be a community pot luck dinner for all supplies. I guess that’s a good thing, but its strange to me. Maybe its just the newness of it. I don’t know.

Well there was one item on the list that really took me by surprise. Well it was multiples of the same item. They asked that each student bring in 12 glue sticks PER KID. I have never used a glue stick so off the bat this struck me as odd, but the fact that they need a dozen of them seems silly. Twelve glue sticks. Per kid. It was nice that we were able to go in a few days earlier to drop all the stuff off but still. 12. glue sticks.

Ok, so we arrive on the first day of school and I work from home to witness this right of passage for my girl. Hannah (the oldest) had already picked out and practiced wearing her first-day-of-school dress and she is glowing with excitement. The excitement was so much that she decided to get up at 5am and start talking to my wife & I in our bed for 2 hours. We convince her to eat some breakfast and we get ready to hit the bus stop. It was at this time I realized that I was old and that Hannah was getting there too. It was a bit tough to swallow. Not like I was crying or anything, but it makes you think where the last 5 years have gone…

She can fit in her backpack

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I am supposed to be writing a blog entry for the Monday release of the SFA. Its a good one. Its on my picks of the top 5 rappers of all time. However, I can’t write it right now. My creative juices have been stymied by a 3 & 5 year old and their unwillingness to be unconscious. A while ago we reviewed the book “Go the F**k to Sleep.” I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. The first 2 pages or so are pretty funny the first time you read it and then well its a list of words that just rhyme with sleep and some cuss words thrown in between. Tonight, though I can’t get the book’s title out of my head.

We have a cornucopia of messed up stuff going on in our house right now. We have an unfinished kitchen, I sleep with a pregnant gal, my 3 year old has moved out of her own room & crib into a room with the 5 year old and big girl bed, and the 5 year old is started kindergarten on Tuesday. Crap, I guess I know why they can’t sleep… But can kids really get as stressed as adults? Stress is something I am very aware of and feel that it is the cause to a multitude of health issues. Well there’s also doctors and studies that say the same thing but I’d still like some part of that theory. Now taking a step back at our family life and how “unconvential” my kids have been acting as of late, I wonder if stress plays a major role in their life like it does in adults. Typically kids feel no pain. They can run forever and pretty much bounce back from a fall quicker than anyone. You distract them, they go about their merry way as if it never happened. Problem over right? Wrong. At least I think its a bad conclusion. Here’s the funny thing, if you google Stress in Children you get all kinds of articles on the symptoms of stress in kids, but when it comes to treating it, there’s not much out there.

I deal with some social anxiety issues but I am happily medicated and I think I am as under control as the next person, but my kids are too young to be medicated and I don’t want to go down that road if I doon’t have to. So, how does a parent get their kids to calm down without dipping the binky in whiskey? My answer right now, is that I have no idea. This is one of those things that I guess I’ll learn about and take in stride but I feel bad for my kids. Change isn’t always good in their structured lives.

So here’s my plan of attack to help my kids and their stress.

  • Use diversion more frequently and effectively – Like Cypress Hill said “When the $&!* goes down, you better be ready.” Hopefully these diversions can take their minds off what’s bothering them
  • Try to think before I act/speak – No I don’t hit my kids but physical reactions to situation can be as powerful as verbal reactions. so If I get all slouchy and huffy with them, they won’t react well to that.
  • Play with them more – If I can get down on their level and play a bit more I think it will help relax them and hopefully wear them out so they can sleep easier.

Sound like a good plan? Have any other suggestions? We’d like to hear them.

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I don’t want to share with you the day-to-day, minute-by-minute, picture-by-picture account of our family vacation this year. That would be pretty boring for you the viewer/reader except for the part where we all agree that my kids are the coolest. No I won’t do that to you. However being that this was my family’s first real family vacation in 3 years, its worthy of writing a summary of the learning experience I’ve had over the past weekend. So here’s my list of crap to think about next time you are planning a family vacation. I am going to base this assessment with the disclaimer that my kids are younger and have the attention span of most 3 & 5 year olds. In other words they get bored with stuff fast. Also I am assuming you don’t have money you can burn on purpose.

  1. Go somewhere you can drive – Flying is expensive and while it can open endless possibilities to where you can go, I really don’t find the reward of any destination worth the cost and the stress of packing all the stuff in your house for a short period of time. Also in a car, its only you that have to deal with your kids. Its probably not worth angering strangers because your kid all of a sudden doesn’t like her headband.
  2. Go somewhere with water – A body of water to a kid is like a babysitter you don’t have to pay (assuming your kids can swim or have a flotation device – Safety First). This vacation we went down to Southern Missouri around a national hub of washed up Country & Western stars, Branson, MO. Around Branson however, there are several large lakes perfect for all ages. We opted for what is arguably the nicest of them all, Table Rock Lake. By nice I mean a couple things: Clear Water & not a lot of boaters. Is perfect for families who don’t want to be around a bunch hoosiers. We also visited White Water in Branson. This was probably the worst body(s) of water we visited. It was expensive and there were way to many people in bikini’s that should have been wearing camping tarps instead. The rides were fun but my kids just weren’t into them that much so we didn’t go on too many of them. Finally, the hidden gem of the water this weekend was the community pool we had access to in our rental house. If we got bored we just packed up the kids and went swimming.

    This is as good as it gets.

  3. Go with some other families in the same situation – Kids like to play with other kids and adults like to booze with other adults. As long as you can remotely stand the family and their kids, you are golden. The water will fill in the gaps. Luckily we went with 2 other families both with 2 children a piece. It worked out great. The adults we went with are normal people who don’t let their kids go bat crap everywhere and the kids are kids that are as socially normal as our kids. It was great. (if you are one of said families reading this, this is how I compliment people. Not the most flattering way I know, but hey be happy you were even mentioned).
  4. Stay in one house/condo/structure – This is mostly for the adults. With everyone under one roof, sure you have to live in everyone life, but the boozing when all the kids are asleep is worth it.

    Adult beverages rule!

That’s the down and dirty of how to have a fun family vacation. Now go get one in before Summer if over!!!! So like this weekend…

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So my wife has been out of town with work for a few days. My older sons have been staying with their Grammy and going to Vacation Bible School. That leaves me with a 3-year-old boy and a 22-month-old girl. At the same time, I’m on some steroids to treat a bad patch of poison ivy which also makes me pretty crabby and given to mood swings and insomnia. This week could’ve gone south in a hurry.

The first morning the kids woke up sans mommy, I knew I’d have to find something to amuse myself just to make it through the week. I settled quickly on dressing them up like fools while their mom was out of town. Mismatched shoes, strips and polka dots, colors that don’t go together. Anyway, it was better than being miserable.

No Mommy Day 1

Cooper couldn't even look at himself.

No Mommy Day 2

Just keep smiling until Friday.

No Mommy Day 3

You better hope Michael and Lucas get to pick out your retirement home.

I know this isn’t healthy, but it’s pretty harmless. And its a lot cheaper than good Scotch.

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This is going to be a short catch-up post.

Did you know that birds are the rabbits of the skies (and the lions of the skies, and the foxy ladies of the skies – truth be told, not much else owning the skies, so the birds have to shoulder a lot of responsibilities)? And by this I mean they produce multiple sets offspring every year?

A while ago I documented how some had taken control of my old grill, which led to my new grill (which brings me a tremendous amount of happiness), but left me with an oversized bird’s nest on my patio? It had been a while, so I assumed those young ones were no longer so young and had moved on. I was wrong. Last night while firing up my new grill, I opened the old one to see if the Birdie McFlyer family had moved on, but there was a new set of gaping maws looking at me. Apparently my sister will have to wait a little longer for her hand-me-down, and I’ll have to wait a little longer to have my patio back.

Vermin from above.

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