A little too much Beverly Goldberg?

I love Beverly Goldberg.  I feel like I am the modern-day Beverly Goldberg wanna-be. I grew up in the 80’s, I love big hair (although, try as I might, my hair is too fine to give me that fantastic big-hair look), I love big hair rock bands, I love colorful sweaters with padded shoulders (I do still own one, that I purchased circa 1989), I love pastel colors, and floofy skirts.

And I love my kids.  Almost as much as Beverly Goldberg loves hers.

And you know what I mean by that.

My problem is getting close to that line….and crossing it…when it comes to Nosy-Mother-Syndrome.

For years I have heard and read articles on “make sure you communicate with your children…..know where they are….who their friends are…..who they are with…..build a relationship with your kids so there will be mutual trust.”   For the most part, hubby and I have succeeded in developing fantastic relationships with our boys.  We have always eaten dinner as a family (unless hubby is traveling or we luck out and go on a date night).  On weekends, I cook up nice “fancy” breakfasts that we all eat together. We’ve gone on vacation trips together and seen things and hung out together….instead of shipping them off to a vacation “kiddie camp”.  We go out to dinner as a family once a week. And for 98% of the time, both parents are at each child’s sporting event.   We ask them about school, we (ok….I) can sense when something isn’t “right.” And they talk to us. It’s great.

But we have now entered the teen-age years with the twins. And they have mobile communication devices. With social media apps.  Parenting has become a whole lot more sophisticated in terms of technology, and keeping up with it.

I remember the teen-age years.  A teen-ager wants (and needs?) to be left alone to sort out feelings and friendships. A teen-ager doesn’t want to have a clingy mom hanging on or spying or questioning every move.  Teen-agers typically push parents away.

Luckily there hasn’t been any pushing or shoving away YET.  There’s been some “MOOOOOOMMMMMMM, leave me alone.” And I can handle that.  But I want to continue to stay involved and have the lines of communication open, but without crossing the boundaries.

For example, T-man has been texting with a girl for several weeks.  I am *dying* to know what they write about (and I know T-man well enough that it is all clean, and platonic, and most likely bordering BORING). But I want to know.  So I have to think back 20+ years and remember that my mom (for the most part….that I know of or can remember) respected my privacy by not listening on the other phone or reading my diary.

As for M-Man, he’s a lot more secretive and sneakier.  He is always on the verge of pushing boundaries or acting slightly suspicious. I feel the need to  Spot-check his device for inappropriate stuff or breaking rules–and I have caught him on 2 occasions with breaking rules.

So for now I have to continue  trusting my kids, keep talking with them, keep trying to be the “cool mom” ……without crossing the Beverly Goldberg line.


Mommy Fail

Everyone knows that being a Mommy is quite possibly one of the hardest jobs.  The rules change, there is no manual, unexpected things happen. We all try our hardest, but sometimes come up short.

One area which I have come up terribly short this year is Little Guy’s Birthday. It’s in the middle of February.  Every year I feel like Little Guy is gipped in some way.  It’s too close after Christmas, I have 3 January Birthdays to deal with first,  the ho-hum cold dreary days of February aren’t very motivating, and then I”m usually focused on planning a short little ski get-away for February break.  Very low on my priority list is Little Guys’ Birthday.  And this year, because of M-Man’s broken arm…..we don’t even have a present for Little Guy!  (but he is SO hard to buy for as he only plays with what his brothers have or sports….and we really don’t need any more balls in this house!)

HOW TERRIBLE OF ME!!!  He is such a ray of sunshine, such a happy guy, and his Bday takes a back seat!!

Luckily for me, he is also very low key. He has *never* asked for a huge party at an (expensive) venue with his whole class.  He’s very content and pleased-as-punch to just invite 3 or 4 of his closest mates for a little get-together.  This year’s fete was a sleep-over, where I invited his friends 2 days before. And can I tell you? They had the BEST time building Lego, playing video games, and playing football in the front yard.

And…..the Birthday cake….I was inspired by fellow blogger who tried to make a LEGO cake for her son’s Birthday.  I’m not a great baker.  (if you have a good memory, you’ll remember I really don’t like to bake.) But because I strive to be a good mommy, and I know good mommy’s make beautiful cakes for their children’s Birthday, I have on occassion tried to create for my own kids.

For T&M’s 7th Birthday, we were living in England, and the boys wanted a Knight-themed party, so I built a castle.

And for Little Guy’s 3rd Birthday, when he was going NUTS over tractors, I ordered a Tractor cake pan from the US and  spent HOURS decorating the Famous Tractor Cake:

This year’s attempt at the LEGO brick cake…..well…..take a look and feel free to comment (NOT)

But the beauty of it is, the kids don’t care. Little Guy loved it…..and he had a great 7th Birthday!!  His smile takes away this Mommy Fail.

And on a side note, I’ve already got NEXT year’s party all planned….and I will call the Baker!  Cheers, all!

The Scream





Image Detail

Do I feel better? No, not really. Life at Thomas Inc has been……..grossly overwhelming as of late. I have been a ball of tears, screaming at my kids, screaming at my Hubby, waiting for the next shoe to drop. Headaches, stomach aches, grinding teeth, heavy heart.  It’s been mainly caused by having to deal with  one of my son’s “transition” issues on returning back to school. His impulsiveness and lack of organization, as well as his lackadaisical attitude, all compound the issues.  All while dealing with it alone as Hubby is traveling for 2 weeks.

I’m not one who asks for help.  For whatever reason, my inner voice has always believed in “My problem, I solve it/deal with it.” It’s my kid, my issue. Just like when the twins were babies, and I was having trouble dealing with baby times two…it was my primary responsibility to care for them. Who else would understand? As a matter of fact, I am feeling so much like I did back then, that I might just call my doctor to see about getting some more happy pills so that I can somehow cope better.

I have spent the last 11 days analyzing “Where did I go wrong?” “What could I have done differently?” “Would have it mattered?”

The answers I came up with, was that I did everything to the best of my ability. Some things I cannot control or change. Nature probably beat out nurture on this one. I can only continue to love him, support him, and help him in any way that I can.

I have a great amount of new respect for those single parents out there.  Wow—Kudos to you for doing it on your own. This “solo-parenting for a short while” is not new to me. Hubby has traveled once a month for 9 years now. Granted, this is only the 3rd or 4th time he’s done a 2 week trip. But, man, I’ve never had to deal with the multitude of issues/feelings that I am dealing with now. It’s been a very long, depressing 2 weeks.

Happy Campers

It’s that time of year again, folks.  Finding camps and activities for the young ‘uns during the summer months.

It’s CRAZY, man!

I remember when we lived in England, this very well-trained American starting researching summer options in APRIL. I came up with nothing, nada, zilch.  Why? you ask.  School doesn’t get out until mid-July, so the summer camp/activity people in the UK don’t start printing and sending out material until the end of June. That means you only have 4 weeks or less to get a spot for your child in the activity you/he/she wishes to participate in.

BUT NOT HERE!!!  It’s May 9th, and I feel like I’m behind. Do we go with the very low priced Recreation Department programs (the ones that my kids have done year after year…..), the High School sponsored sports camps, or the “semi-professional” sports camps? Should they go all day or half-day? Do any of them conflict with our trips or other summer plans? Am I going to be dropping one kid on this side of town, and the other on the opposite side of town? What will I do with Little Guy while the twins are at Basketball camp? Oh no, I forgot about tennis lessons. T-Man wants to do Football camp, but M-Man doesn’t, and Little Guy is too young.


It’s enough to pull my hair out. I printed out blank calendars for June, July and August. I used colored pencils to come up with different scenarios.   I spent the afternoon filling out registration forms and photocopying immunization and physical records.

I just want everyone to have fun.  I’ll let you know when I get there!

Tough Love vs Hand-Holding

I need a forum to vent because one of my kids is driving me mad….with frustration….and just plain mad.

One of my sons (you can guess which one) has a very large “I DON’T CARE” attitude. He (normally) refuses to put in an ounce of extra effort into anything. The bare minimum. And if that’s not good enough…then….don’t bug him about it because he DOESN’T CARE.

The first 2 weeks of school were going great. He did his homework when asked, looked like he was putting effort–he wasn’t getting up or goofing off too often. He would even let me check his homework.  But the last 2 days, something changed. “No, I don’t want to show you my homework.” “No, I DON’T HAVE to show you my homework.” “I DON’T CARE if I get them wrong, we correct them in class.”   What, son, you weren’t thrilled with the check-plus grades you were getting?? I sure was—because we were working together and getting positive results. And mind you, he was only getting one or two wrong on the homework–quick and easy fixes. (And just so you know, BOTH sons have to show me their homework.)

So last night, we had a big blow-out screaming match at one another. I basically told him if he didn’t care, then neither would I. He could stay home from school today, and the next day, and become my yard guy, because then he wouldn’t need an education. Yes, I know that was cruel.  And I hated saying it. But at some point, the words were going to come out.  I’m going to spare you the details on how the arguement started, but my Hubby suggested that I should have just “given him the answer” (aka “spoon feed” the answer) and avoided the entire conflict. That’s NOT THE POINT.  I would gladly help him on something that is OVER HIS HEAD…..BUT HE DOESN’T KNOW THE BASICS….and it was something that he could/should have figured out on his own…if he would have tried. (I even told him “how” to figure it out). But he didn’t want to spare the 3 mintues it would have taken, becuase in his words, “HE DOESN’T CARE.” At some point, the child needs to solve problems on his own and take ownership and responsibility.

And I can just hear some people saying “HE’S A KID, HE’S NINE.” Yes, that is true. But what about the other 9 year old kids? I really, really don’t want to have a slacker in the house.  I want him to put effort because I KNOW HE IS SMART.

And if it’s a twin issue (because his brother does put effort and gets good grades) I have REPEATEDLY and REPEATEDLY told him I don’t expect or want him to get the same grades as his bro. If he does, then great.  But I just want EFFORT, CARE put into his work/studies.

When I was a child and it came to school, I was made to be pretty independent in my studies. I was expected to get A’s, and do it on my own. My parents’ excuse for not helping me was “I don’t understand the language or I can’t remember it was so long ago.” Whereas Hubby came from a family of educators, so they probably had several ways of teaching/helping their kids if they ran into a problem. I am not an educator/teacher–I never claimed to be. But I consider myself a mother who loves her kids, who stays home to help her kids and be there for them. I’m trying to take the middle road–help them, but they also have to be willing to help themselves. And unfortunately, I’m not seeing that. And it frustrates me. And he ends up hating me. And it sucks.

lost control……

losing control?….never had control?….control-freak?  Mom vs. Kids…..losing battle? Not sure what to call today’s blog.

The last few days have been a bit challenging for the VP when wearing the Mom Hat.  The kids have effectively tuned out my voice. Stopped listening. Stopped caring. Maybe I should too.

I hate yelling. I hate getting mad. I **WANT** to be one of those cool, patient moms. Do they exist in real life? Or is it just a figment of my imagination? But I am getting so TIRED of asking the boys to do something. Asking a 2nd time. Telling them…..and then having to YELL to get them to respond.  And that’s my M.O.—ask twice, tell once (stern mommy-voice), then YELL. 

I’ll give you some recent examples, and maybe you can tell me if I’m the one who needs to chill out, or maybe offer some advice on what to do….or maybe just send the kiddos off to military school for some discipline.

Little Guy has pretty much STOPPED listening to mommy.  This afternoon, I saw him playing with our neighbor’s toy.  He didn’t ask, and granted the neighbor wasn’t home….but I know that neighbor’s mommy doesn’t like my kids playing with their stuff (then it should be put away, right?).  I asked Little Guy to stop. I asked him to stop, and please come inside (so I could talk to him about it). Then I said “STOP that now. Come In Now.”  Nope….kept on playing. So, I went outside, and pretty much pushed him in the house and then yelled at him inside.

Every night when I tell the kids it’s time for “Shower and Bed”, we pre-determine the order of showers and let the kids know (once, sometimes twice so they KNOW).  Tonight was Little Guy’s turn to go first. I told him twice before we went up stairs he would be first. I followed him up the stairs, told him to get undressed, and I proceeded to the bathroom to turn the water on and let it warm up. I go out to get him—–where is he??? In his brothers’ room…..fully dressed…..goofing off (his M.O.).  I was so pissed!!! The water had been running for a good 5 minutes and he just stood there with a smirk on his face “hee hee Mommy…..I’m doing what I want.” 


Yesterday I asked M-Man to pick up the doggy poop, since he hadn’t done so in a long time (and I knew he was having a friend over today). Asked him twice.  Nothing. I wasn’t in the mood to argue on this one, so I let it drop, figuring I would “get him” with something later.  That came today. I hadn’t played with Miss Lily today, because I was feeling slightly under the weather. I asked him to go in the yard and play with her (since I picked up the poop today).  “yup mom.” No movement.  “M–can you PLEASE go out with Lily and play with her.” And he just sits there staring at me as if I’m speaking Chinese.  “M–NOW”…..nothing……So I start with the “You know, I’m a pretty nice mom…..I invite your friends over, bake cupcakes, take you guys places, etc….the least you could do is listen to me.”

But here’s the one that absolutely bothered me the most today…….and please, please tell me if your kids do this…..cuz it’s a pet-peeve of mine.

Over the last 2 weeks, there have been 2 occassions where I’ve had to drop someone off. And I happen to have all 3 of my kids with me.  The first time, I was dropping off Little Guy’s playmate.  I got out of the car to help her, perhaps make sure she made it inside, or to talk to her dad (can’t remember which).  All 3 of my kids decide to get out of the car and start running to their back-yard and playing with their stuff.  HELLO……THIS ISN”T A PLAYDATE FOR YOU. YOU WEREN”T INVITED.  DONT BE RUDE AND DISRESPECTFUL.

Same exact thing happened today when dropping off M’s friend….except today, they all went through the house as well. 

OMG—I can’t tell you how much this embarrasses me and pisses me off.  It makes it look like I have a herd of unmannered, undisciplined children that I can’t control.  And you think telling them afterwards how WRONG this is prevents it from happening again? No.

So over the last 4 days, all 3 kids have upset me.  I don’t want to be a mean-mom. I hate that. I hate the feeling the comes with it.  But why won’t they listen? Why don’t they use common sense? Why do I feel like I’m failing?

The Dreaded DS

Santa joyfully delivered 2 DS systems this Christmas–one each for T&M. This was a huge step for Santa….having the twins enter the digital gaming age. At age 9, and the prevalence amongst their peers, clearly Santa thought the timing was OK.

At first, with any new cool toy, there was a fairly high interest in it. But we were also vacationing in California, so the level of play didn’t bother any of us (plus, there was lots of cousin/family time).

Upon the return home, the kids had Basketball, skiing, snowman/snow fort making, so like anything else with my boys, the interest in the DS came and went. The year before, Santa brought a Wii to our home for Christmas. The boys never became “addicted” to it. One week they would play it non-stop, and then for the next 3 weeks their interest would be somewhere else. That’s just how my kids are.

BUT THEN…..sometime this spring, a Mario Bros. DS game entered our home. (I think M bought it with saved up allowance money—honestly, I don’t know where it came from). This Mario game has changed everything.

The moment the boys wake up and come downstairs, they grab the DS. And when I say “boys” I have to clarify that it’s either M or Little Guy. Although T plays his DS (and/or Mario), it’s definitely not as much as the other two. 

I decided to limit the play to 1 hour a day–total amongst the 3 boys. They could divvey out the 60 minutes any way they saw fit. They could play it all in the morning before school, or each boy can play 15 minutes in the morning, and then 15 min after school. They could choose. The issue of letting Little Guy play came up, since technically it’s not his DS/game, but he really enjoys playing. But he watches T&M play very intently. Totally absorbed in what’s going on the tiny screen.

Well, the hour limit doesn’t work very well. Sometimes I’m not keeping track (and God knows they don’t). I take it away, and they find it, and start playing. They even tried to out-smart me by muting the volume so I wouldn’t hear the bleeps. But after calling them 3…4…times and being ignored, I know something is up. So, I started taking it away, putting it in better hiding places and declaring “DS-Free days”, sometimes 2 days in a row.

Little Guy is desperately wanting one of his own. Even to the point he begged my mom to buy him one for his next Bday or Christmas.  When T&M are in school, he will find their DS and sneak it into his room and play it under the covers. I know something is up, cuz he NEVER goes to his room unless his bros are home. And on a recent playdate at a friend’s house, he was disappointed because his Little Buddy wanted to play outside, and not play DS inside.  I have asked and explained to my mom that he is just TOO YOUNG for his own DS. Santa waited ’til age 9 for a reason. Age 5 or 6 (IMHO) is too young for a DS. He still has his Leapster, with it’s educational games, that he can play (and still does when I hand it to him on long car rides/appts/etc).  If he plays 10-15 minutes with his brother’s DS every now and then, I will allow that. But he is not ready for his own.

The other night, while I was out having dinner with a friend, Hubby got to experience the Dastardly DS and it’s evil powers. M-Man was playing it after Hubby strictly said “NO.” And then M-man ignored and back-talked to hubby.  Awww….the Power of Mario. Hubby took the DS away and told M that he would not get it back until he turns 10 (next May).

But after talking about it, we realized it is not necessarily the DS causing the angst in our household, but the Mario Bros game. The DS was returned, but WITHOUT the game cartridge. And I have no idea when it will be returned. And for the last 2 days, no one has asked for the cartridge or played their DS. They have actually been spending tons of time OUTSIDE—riding bikes, scooters, skateboards, shooting hoops, playing tennis. Summer as a little kid. It’s a beautiful thing.

I do have ONE positive thing to say about the dreaded DS.  It allows us to go to a restaurant with 3 kids.  People think we have the most well-behaved kids on the planet. Yes, mealtimes out have become “peaceful” (eerily so), but on the flip-side, since we’ve been going out to restaurants with the kids since they were babies, for the most part, they have always behaved well.

Does anyone out there experience the same thing with the DS? Mario Bros? Any suggestions?

“I’m Outnumbered, and Life at Home is Chaos”

Snappy title for a new club? Hmmm, maybe it needs a bit of work.

Another 3rd grade Mom that I’ve become chummy with, L., has 4 boys. (FOUR!!!)  The other day, she and I were exchanging battle stories. Actually, I approached her about a certain incident and our house to see if certain behavior was “normal” with boys and weather I (a) over-reacted, or (b) reacted appropriately.  Apparantly, the same/similar behavior was exhibited at her house last year, and she reacted to it in a similar fashion.

Ahhhhh, sigh of relief. It’s all “normal.”  Isn’t parenting fun?

Then she suggested I dump my twin club and she and I start a NEW club…..”I’m Outnumbered, and Life at Home is Chaos”.  I really, really like the idea.   We’ve decided that boys are just digusting creatures with too much energy and imagination (or maybe lack of?).  For example, we both agree that the arm-pit farting has just got to stop. In what chapter of the “children’s many stages” does this fall under????? And it will only get worse…as they get older…and as the younger ones copy the older ones, and then go through these stages with their own peers.

It’s going to be a long road……………

At least I have 2 girl dogs.  Poor L….she has a boy dog.

Active Parenting Now


The other day, I finished a 6-week parenting course, Active Parenting Now, which was offered through my church. WOW! I can’t say enough about how great this course was.

I know what you’re thinking—Why does the VP need a parenting course? An “active” one, at that!  Yes, yes, yes….I have done (more than) my share of ACTIVE parenting as a mom of 3 boys. However, as the kids get older, there is always a new bunch of challenges parents must face. And since I wasn’t given a “How To” manual when they were born, I like to get tips along the way from various sources—other parents, my pedi, books, the web, whatever (I really wish my SIL would write a manual–she’s done such a great job!). Not to say I *use* all the information I obtain. I “noodle” on it–see if it is applicable to my style of parenting, my kids’ personalities, etc., or just determine if  it’s absolutely hokey and I would never try it.

Anyway….this course was great.  It was 6 weeks and 6 chapters—one chapter per week (duh).  There were definitely suggestions that I had learned of before (and used), such as giving children choices. Our wonderful pedi told us about that one when the twins were entering the terrible two’s.

But I learned some stuff—or mabye a better way of saying it—stuff that is “obvious” was put in a different perspective and seemed “new” to me.  Such as “Who owns the problem?” Me or my child? If a child owns a problem, then they should find a solution (and a parent can help the child find a solution).  For example, if a child doesn’t do his homework, who will get in trouble? me or him? Obviously him. And he will suffer by (1) getting a bad grade, (2) missing recess, (3) being made to do it a second night, including that night’s homework (eww..double homework…blech!).  Yes, I would be upset as a mother, but the child has to learn about responsibility, choices, and consequences.

Which brings me to something else I learned—natural consequences and logical consequences. I was brought up in a “punishment” household. However, what lessons are learned when you are punished? Yes, a punishment can “hurt” temporarily, but no lesson is really taught.  So for the last 3 weeks, I have been trying very hard to find a “logical consequence” when one (or two or three) of my sons has broken a rule or misbehaved.

The book also talks about various personality types and how to effectively deal with them.  I, for one, have a son that I constantly butt heads with. I believe that he acts out because he is very social and needs attention–even if it’s negative attention. The book provided me with some great ideas on how to work/deal with this behavior.

But best of all, there is something about this book/course where I truly feel like I’m doing a better job parenting. When one  (or two or three) of my kids piss me off….instead of blowing my top, I have been able to calmly articulate (1) what they did wrong, (2) why it’s wrong, (3) and if an argument ensues as a result from their end, I continue to calmly explain my position. It’s been great.

I truly believe that to be a good parent, you must be a good listener, pay attention to your kids, praise them often and show them love always. Communication is key too. And fostering responsibility and respect. And having fun too.

It’s definitely not an easy job. But it’s one of the most rewarding.