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Kristen: January 2010 Archives


Living in the Moment as a Parent

Posted by Kristen on January 25, 2010 at 8:09 AM in Raising Boys
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IMG_5898.JPGThis weekend I was in Boston for work. Since Mason is by far the best date ever, I took him with me. That and I am nursing him still so it's not like I could leave him for four days.
The weekend was nearly all work but there were a few moments away from the hustle and bustle.

Early Sunday morning I met Derek's cousin Peggy, her husband Duane and their brilliant son Will for breakfast. I think I only spoke five words for the first five minutes in the restaurant because I was so incredibly tired. Work was stressful and Mason had gotten up twice during the night. It took two cups of coffee before I was even a semblance of my chatty self.

We had such a delightful time catching up over breakfast. Peggy held Mason across the table from me and as he systematically threw everything onto the floor, I offered to take him back. I looked under the table and the chunks of bread were piling up on the floor. I sighed as I thought about cleaning up under yet another table. She chided me slightly and said she was having a ball. I guess when your youngest is 17, you once again find baby antics at public restaurants to be cute.

We laughed and talked and Peggy told stories about her boys growing up. She told me about trips they took hiking and camping. I told her all my obsessions with safety and danger, which seem to always shock everyone. I asked her if parenting teenagers was really ten times more difficult that parenting preschoolers. Peggy reminded me that every stage of mothering has its unique difficulties and stresses, but she also reminded me that each stage has its unique joys and happy moments.

It made me laugh. It doesn't matter where you are in your parenting, it always seems that people are quick to tell you how easy you have it if they are struggling with children at some other age or stage. It was nice to be reminded that you are where you are and now is the time to enjoy these moments. It was nice to hear stories from someone who had grown up with my husband and who could remind me that the apple does not fall far from the tree when it comes to my children being adventurous.

As I sat across from a very grown up college freshman Will, I saw for the first time in my five years as a mother that it might just be okay. I realized that while every day today seems like a constant balance between taming the wild beasts and keeping them from jumping too high or too far or frankly, too loudly, there are so many firsts that are happening now that bring me such joy and happiness. I realized that no two days are the same. Isn't that what keeps parenting interesting?


How to Talk to Your Kids About the Earthquake in Haiti

Posted by Kristen on January 18, 2010 at 9:58 AM in Kids Around the World
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TRL2009-09-08_559.jpgWe have all been riveted to the television. I'll admit there are moments when I thought I should turn it off but I could not.

How do you talk to your children about Haiti?. You are the parent and you know your children. Most parents have a good idea about how much their children can and should see of the news. PBS Parents has a great post here with more tips.

Be proactive. In our house, we decided to see what we could do to help 900 children in the process of being adopted by U.S. citizens that are now in orphanages in Haiti. This is close to our hearts because we have dear friends living in Haiti and working with Heartline Ministries and World Wide Village who have already adopted two children and are in the process of helping family members adopt two more children.

We contacted all of our elected representatives and then started a Facebook page explaining to others how they can contact their members of Congress about getting humanitarian paroles for these 900 children so they can come to the United States to live with families that already know them and love them. It took only 10 minutes and we believe it will change the lives of 900 children. It won't help everyone in Haiti but it's a start. It is something you could do with your children today that will provide a tangible result. We watched seven Haitian children get off a plane last night in Kansas City. Was it a result of our letters? We will probably never know. My kids think it was because of them and that's all that matters to me.

Find a worthy cause and give. There are the big names for donation such as the Red Cross and the Bush Clinton Haiti Fund, but there are some lesser known charities that are doing great work helping the Haitian people. We like World Vision because you get a chance to have a "say" in where your money goes. You can ask that your money go provide PUR water packets, a family survival pack or even have your money go to shipping the much needed supplies. Your children have an opportunity to visually see how your money is helping.

Find out what you can do in your area to help Haiti. Right now there are lots of areas having relief drives, collecting infant formula, tents, tarps, clothing and lots more. Check out your local news station and newspaper to find them in your area. Having your child pick out the items helps them feel included in serving those who need the most help.

Show your child where Haiti is on a map
. There are great resources for teaching your kids about the country of Haiti, about how earthquakes happen and what you can do to prepare for a natural disaster yourself.

Please let us know how you are helping. We would love to hear.

UPDATED: On January 18, 2010, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano authorized humanitarian paroles for Haitian children being adopted. Unfortunately many of these children are still in orphanages that have received little or no humanitarian help yet. They have no food, water or safe place to wait to be evacuated from Haiti. Our focus has shifted now to contacting our members of Congress to get help to these children, to find a safe place for them to wait and to speed up their document processing.

Photo by the great Troy Livesay. Godspeed, my friend.


The Lessons Unlearned

Posted by Kristen on January 11, 2010 at 6:37 AM in Raising Boys
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I'll admit I was surprised we made it as long as we did before going to the emergency room with Nate. By one month shy of his third birthday, Ethan had been twice.

As a parent you always fear the accidents you cannot control that are out of your line of vision or happen when you turn your head for just one second. In our family, you would think by now we would have learned that we don't even need to turn our head for disaster to strike.

All three boys were in the bathtub. This gives Derek a nervous breakdown but he continues to do it night after night. He started out just giving the baby his own bath but he couldn't keep the bigger boys from asking exactly one million times "canwegetincanwegetincanwegetin?" Ethan is pretty vigilant about putting a barrier of protection around the baby who acts like he needs no protection. He tips over, gets a stunned look on his face and slowly manages to right himself as fast as a buddha-bellied baby can move, that is.

Nate? He's the one that consistently pretends he has the entire tub to himself. He squirms his way to sit under the warm running water. He shoves past the other two to climb up the side and try to slide down it, regardless of who is sitting below him. He can usually get one good slide in before he gets yelled at for bowling into his brothers. It's an offense that is grounds for instant removal from the tub. It didn't stop him the other night (or any night, really), but this time his chin slammed down hard as he slid.

His father instantly took him from the bathtub for violating the clearly posted "No Sliding" rule and he began to cry. I noticed his hand was bleeding. I rubbed it dry and the blood was gone. Then I saw it was coming from under his chin. He continued to wail pitifully about the injustice of having bath time cut short as we began to do first aid and did not seem to care less about the gaping wound in his chin.

We debated whether or not this required stitches, but once he took off the butterfly bandage 20 seconds after Derek put it on, it started to bleed again. He kept sticking his fingers in it. I normally wouldn't panic but I know where his hands have been. He is not winning any awards for cleanliness. Stitches it is!!

One trip to the emergency room later, Nathan got glued instead of stitched, he spent two hours getting his parent's undivided attention, he got to play with a really cool helicopter while we waited to check out and the nurse gave him Batman stickers.

K: Nathan. Do you understand now why Dad tells you not to slide in the tub?
N: What Mom?
K: Nathan, are you listening?
N: MOM!!! A Rescue Truck!!!! (pointing to the flashing lights)
K: I don't think he got it.
D: No. No, he didn't.
K: Who are we kidding? Ethan got his stomach pumped for eating 40 vitamins in just under four minutes when he was two and he was still calling them candy six months later.
D: He didn't get it.

You don't want your children to ever get hurt or feel pain but there are moments in parenting that you think that just maybe they could get the life lesson if you are going to get the $650 emergency room bill. Wouldn't you agree?


The Right Age to Watch Inappropriate Movies

Posted by Kristen on January 4, 2010 at 6:10 AM in Raising Boys
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It started innocuously enough. Or not so much. The boys began playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii across the street. One thing led to another and they were in possession of two very exciting "life savers" as Christmas presents from the more-evolved neighbors across the street. No manner of "light saber" correcting worked. Harrison called it a "life saver" so it was a life saver. I'm sure on more than one occasion, Luke Skywalker would agree.

Ethan realized just a few days ago that we happened to have all six Star Wars episodes on DVD. The sequels, the prequels, I have no idea. Don't get me wrong. I have seen them all but calling the Empire Strikes Back episode V just seems wrong (Sorry, George Lucas).

I put my foot down (or so I thought). "No Star Wars. I don't think it's appropriate for you boys. You are nearly 3 and 5. And frightened by yelling on Arthur. How can you stand the drama of Star Wars?" This, of course, was only partially true. Nate is fearful of nothing but he is 3. It just isn't right.

Somehow this was not properly communicated because I came in on New Year's Day after making coffee to find my husband and three boys watching Star Wars, A New Hope. The baby? Crawling around on the floor as the sound of Jedi knights fighting someone or something corresponded with my Jedi knights going to town on each other as they jumped from the couch to the ottoman with "life savers" a-blazing.

I looked at my husband as if he had lost his mind. He jumped in with a "I think it's fine." Episodes 5 and 6 later and no one seemed horribly worse for the wear. I did get poked in the face with a light saber gone wrong but no one seemed frighted and that Han Solo is a pip. We agreed that Episode 3 was definitely out (too dark) and episodes 1 and 2 didn't even hold their attention. Old school it was. We were in vacation mode, it was bitterly cold outside and I figured television detox could begin on Monday morning.

Good move or bad move to let the kids watch it? Feel free to let me have it. Or my husband, since it was really his fault.

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

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