Friday, January 29, 2010

Profession to parent to Energizer Mom?

You've known one or possibly been one yourself.

I'm talking about the accountant/administrator/professional woman who feels that children should be seen and not heard. But what happens when a child melts the heart strings and captivates their world? An astounding transformation.

My wife and I have a dear friend who was once an account and has now become what I refer to as the "Energizer Mom". Our friend refers to my wife as a bundle of energy (which  I have to admit she is)...  but I get tired just watching our friend! Our friend has three highly energetic children that in all intents and purposes rival ours. The main difference is that her husband is often away on business or working nights leaving our dear "Energizer Mom" in charge of the household. The one time accountant who had to maintain things with precision now thrives in the world of structured chaos. Like the oft mentioned drum banging Bunnie, our friend will often can be seen going to and fro in a blink of an eye. She will be smiling joyously as the whirlwind of life is happening all about her, chat happily as she is running the never ending errands and relish the joy and passion of seeing her children smiling, giggling and enjoying life... which is all that matters to her.

Yes, we all want that for our children. I know. . . I know... But how often do you have an exhausting day, put two of your children to bed, drive to a grocery store that is 20 minutes from you (while your spouse is home of course), drive to pick up your eldest child from play rehearsal, drive back home, put your eldest to bed, pack up lunches for the next day, pack up all the supplies for your childrens new skiing passion, clean up after the current days adventure before finally getting to bed for a brief nights rest. At the sound of your alarm you then wake up your children, rush to feed them, wrestle them into clothes during their excitement, leave the house by 7:30, drive an hour to a mountain, get them all set on ski's, walk them to the appropriate trail and then proceed to run down the side of a mountain beside your three children while encouraging them, picking them up and calling out tips? Yes. . . you did read running down the mountain. I am exhausted and all I did was type it!

"Energizer Mom's" are amazing. They feed off the happiness of their children and ride the rapids of daily events all while being the best child advocate than can be. Maybe they saved all their energy while they were the accountants/administrators/professionals. Maybe they didn't know they had so much love in their hearts. . . who knows for sure. . .

My wife and I do know they are a joy to be friends with and we are lucky to know her.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When the buttons pushed break your spouses heart

Our eldest daughter has always had the talent of finding and pushing all of the buttons she shouldn’t.

Today she went for the one that affected every fiber of my wife’s being and visibly broke my wife’s heart. Why? Because she wanted to lash out and hurt everyone in her path because she wasn’t happy and didn’t want anyone else to be either. What could break my wife’s heart? Going against deeply embedded  beliefs on parenting.

A little background for you. . . My wife believes that everyone in our house should have an equal say and be allowed to participate in all decisions. She also believes that things should be explained and talked through so that our children can understand what is right and wrong. If an undesirable situation occurred again . . . explain it again. It is a lengthy and drawn out process which takes years to show fruits of its labor.

She and I often debated her desired parenting style. When I went to school to become a music educator, our elementary educations instructors put it in simple terms. Until children are in Middle School, they are like pets and don’t think on their own. Children should simply follow instructions so make everything Black and white, to the point and make quick corrections to poor behavior. So my style was simple. . . My Way or the Highway. If there is undesirable behavior, punish and send them off to their room. What right should children have in how I run the house? They can make their own decisions when they have their own home. In the mean time, I will make the necessary decisions to make the house a harmonious place. The benefit for the children is it is easy. They know what works and what doesn’t and our house can run like a business. Neat, clean and easy.

 Today our daughter in the midst of throwing a 7 year old tantrum pushed my wife to the point where she had had enough.  My wife decided to allow our daughter to decide which parenting style she wanted for the next four days. . . yes. .. she chose mine. Why? Because it wasn’t her mothers.

It is far to soon to tell how things will fair, but in the meantime she broke her mother’s heart and saddened me. Yes she has done math work, worked on her writing, practiced the piano and cleaned her room, but she cried when she couldn’t go to a birthday party with her siblings and is upset she will spend the afternoon in her room until it is cleaned.

And why am I saddened by this? My style was selected right and she has accomplished a lot!! Well. . . in raising our children under my wife’s style she has taught me all of  the merits. Our daughters and son are flourishing.  Yes, they can be difficult, but aren’t we all? Our children are intelligent, independent, challenging and highly energetic. Under my wife’s style we have not just raised little children. . . yes they may sometimes be dressed as and act like Miller Monsters, but they are little people and not pets.

Who cares if a room is cleaned when there is so many other things to see and experience. Lessons can be learned anywhere. Math can be learned in a thousand ways, as can writing. It didn't have to be at a time of my choosing.

I'll keep you all updated. . . but since I don't believe in the My Way or the Highway Method anymore, it will be an interesting four days.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Have you visited "Neverland" lately?

As a family we tend to listen to a lot of Audio books while driving. I listen to them during my 45 minute commute to and from work in my truck and my wife and children listen to them while driving to all of their many activities in our minivan. The newest story that is playing in the minivan is Peter Pan in Scarlet. All of us are familiar with "Neverland" and the rambunctious Lost Boys led by the one and only Peter Pan. This led me to wonder when the Peter Pan in all of us makes the shift to a Lost Boy that has grown up?

I'd like to think we all visit our "Neverland" to play for a while, but like the Lost Boys and Wendy, we always come back to our grown up selves. Personally speaking, my visits to "Neverland" became less frequent over time and I rarely found any time to make the journey there. Why is that?

Was it Work? The bills? Family Life? Or was it the culmination of the choices I made during my life finally catching up to me. . . ?

Honestly, it was a little of everything for me. When I was a youth I always wanted to be an adult and often found it hard to socialize freely with many of my school friends. I had a group of close friends and many people I would talk with, but I always wanted more and wanted to be doing something else. My first step away from my "Neverland" came when I was 12. I wont go into why it occurred, but I made the mental choice to close the door on my youth and began making plans for my future.

By the time I was 21, I was well on the way to achieving my life plans, but found things weren't as easy as I expected and/or wanted them to be... Where was the fun and excitement? College is work and paying for college is even more work! Relationships are even harder than both of them put together! Professors always push and expect more... even when you think you are giving your all!!! This led to another leap from my "Neverland". But this time, I pushed it far away.

I started a company, and worked it for 10 years. Then saw the company and my life take yet another shift. Running a technology company in 2001 wasn't going to work. The .com bubble burst and with it went many of my customers. Just another casualty, more life lessons and never a thought of "Neverland". I was far to busy drowning myself in my life.

From there my journey had many more poor choices (did I mention MANY?) but in the worst part of losing myself both figuratively and literally, I met my wife. She is my Tinkerbell and Wendy rolled into one and my children are my fellow Lost Boys. My wife and children have shown me my way back to "Neverland". My family is the greatest journey I could have ever taken and has proven to me that Peter Pan still lives in me. Sometimes I am afraid to make the journey, but other times it is a great journey that I look forward to with excitement. It is scary and glory rolled into one. I just need to holler "Cock a Doodle Doo!" think a happy thought and fly!!

Have you made the journey lately? You should. . . Second star to the left, and straight on till morning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If you are what you eat, what are you?

Recently, I was in a discussion with people about our decision to grow our own vegetables, fruit and our chicken coop. I explained that our decision (I should say my wife's push), was centered around knowing where our food came from and knowing that all of our food is organically grown without any chemicals.

One of the people I had the discussion with mentioned a recent study that found corn was the main chemical component found in all fast foods. It took me a while but I finally tracked down the article, it really is quite interesting. The source can be found here:

There is a great movie about corn in all foods, it is called King Corn. You can view it online here:

Corn? If I am going to eat corn, I would rather eat it boiled in water with a slab of buttered melted on it.

My curiosity didn't stop there. In my research I found that the meats that were not raised on corn or soybeans were raised on eating plant combination's (often with corn) or animal byproducts! If you get squeamish, don't read this one:

You can eat the products derived with corn or meat raised on byproducts, I'll stick with our garden or locally grown vegetables.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fair is not Equal, even for adults.

Many of us have experienced the sentiment of  another 40 hour plus week at the weekly grind, with nothing but the desire of a nice dinner, drink and relaxation in with the tv/movie/computer/book (pick your poison). But wait.... you remember your wife is headed out again for yet another night out with the ladies!!!

How can that be? She went out the week before with them while you were home with the children!! You wonder how she can think of doing such a thing when she gets to play all day with the kiddos, doesn't clean up half the time and often forgets to keep up with her end of the chores. Let's not even mention dinner not being ready half the time when you arrive home!

What is going on folks!!!???!!! All I can say is. . . Fair is not equal. It is easy to say that to our children isn't it? Well, it applies to us too. It is hard for those of us in the workforce who march off diligently every weekday and labor for our paychecks. It is even hard to not be able to spend our hard earned money. In this economy we are lucky to even get a paycheck! But I have to tell all of you. We have it easy.

Being a stay at home parent is rough. I have seen both my wife and others undergo transformations while being home. Many for the good. Some for the worse. The energy, enthusiasm, love and care that is demanded on a daily basis is exhausting. At one point in time, I was the 1950 stereotypical male. You could almost hear me saying, "Honey, I'm Home! What's for dinner?"

Wondering what changed? Spending time with my children while my wife went out. My amazing. . . the homeschool educator, wife, home chef, house cleaner, child bearer, child carer and my best friend. . . also is a reporter for a local paper and tutors. On a few nights a week she has to head out and I get to spend time with our children. Gotta tell you. . . it's exhilarating and EXHAUSTING!!

If you haven't had the opportunity to spend chunks of time with your children in the middle of prime hours. . . do it. You will gain a new perspective on things. Children demand constant attention, entertainment, communication, activities and love. Try doing anything during their time with you and you will likely fail. I used to have them do chores. It was highly effective and time consuming, but was not enjoyable for the children or myself. This led me to a new understanding and appreciation for anyone that stays home for a living.

My sentiment is going to work is a breeze and often like a vacation. Fair is definitely not equal and it often leads in my direction. My wife does not get out enough. She doesn't get time for herself. Nor does she get uninterrupted adult conversation on a regular basis. The least I can do is give her a hug, my thanks and tell her to enjoy herself on the couple nights a month she heads out for a sanity check.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Give me the slow lane

Like many, when I was in my 20's I had to have the newest technology. I built my own systems and upgraded them every six months as newer items became available. New cellphone, check. New gaming system, check. New method to connect home computers, check. Bleeding edge all the way.

A wife, three children and 10+ years in the IT field and my mentality has finally changed. At work, I want the latest and greatest. Give me the solid state hard drives, newest windows operating system and every gadget I can have! But once I leave the office. . .  I want to unplug. I am done with the 24x7x365 technology barrage.

I dont need the blackberry and all day barrage. I dont want the microwave dinners, fast food packages, genetically altered foods and instant teas. I want food only with ingredients I can pronounce, fresh vegetables and eggs fresh out of a coop. Technology for entertainment is fine, but I'm quite happy leaving it there. I find myself longing for less technology and a simpler lifestyle. The technology superhighway has me yearning to pull over and see the world around me.

Personally, I miss going to the mailbox and finding a personal letter addressed to me. The only time of year I can expect anything but bills is during holiday seasons! Just because there are newer things available in life, it doesn't  mean they are always better.

I will leave the tea for two in two minutes to the young, while I boil a pot of water and steep my tea. Some things just taste better with a bit of time and enjoying the slow paced moments off of the highway.

So to all of you in the fast lane. . . I'll let you pass me by and wish you luck on your journey. Just remember to pull over once in a while and enjoy the simple things in life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

To drill or not to drill

My wife and I are the parents of three highly independent/energetic children. They are 7, 3 and 2 years old and all three have distinct personalities. As every parental figure knows it can be difficult to guide and steer the children in the right direction and help them make the right decisions for themselves and everyone around them. Meaning, they can be cherubs at times. . . or tornadoes.

As a homeschooling family, I have to give my wife credit for her efforts. I would like to think I could have the patience and fortitude to home school our children, but like many others. . . understand why parents outsource the teaching/child caring to the public school systems. It is easier.

It is easier on the parents for many reasons and also allows for both parents to bring in additional income.

One of the most difficult changes for me to accept on this journey our family has embarked on has been to let go of beliefs that were instilled in me throughout most of my youth. Drills and tests.

Some of you may be asking, "What's wrong with drills and tests?"

The short answer is nothing is wrong with the question, but you shouldn't expect a quantifiable answer to it. A three year old may not be able to explain the math and science behind cooking or the motor skills being learned by balancing on a skate board. A seven year old cant explain the language skills being learned by reading a book a day or the math/fine arts involved in music and drawing.

Why do things have to be drilled and tested to ad nauseum? Our human race for thousands of years learned because we were curious and/or mentored in given subjects. Skills were demonstrated by doing. So how did it get to the point where it is multiple guess and short answers?

The first public school was founded in 1635 and children were forced to attend. . . often by force. Has the education of our children benefited from this? Well, that's a debate for another time, but in Massachusetts, the literacy rate for the general populace has decreased. (you can certainly research that on your own if you would like hard figures).

The general point is, after years of being taught to a test I often find myself doing the same to my children. I will ask for proof of their knowledge and want demonstrated results. I often find myself asking the following: "What did you work on today?" or "What have you been studying?"

I still fight myself from asking for tangible results that I can look at on a piece of paper. A, B, C, D and F are easy. But nothing about raising children is easy. It took my wife to demonstrate that taking the time to listen and interacting with my children demonstrates the results better than any grade ever could.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Is fish considered Meat?

Easy question, right?
My guess is about half of you responded by saying "Of course not!" while the rest responded with a resounding, "Absolutely!".

A little history to the question...

My wife and I decided to adopt a vegetarian diet in September. I have to admit it was a very difficult task considering I thrived on the Atkins diet for years and LOVE meat. Beef, pork, chicken. .. . name it and I loved to eat it.

After many years of poor eating, in September we decided to adopt a healthier eating style and embarked on a new lifestyle. My wife is currently pursuing a raw vegan diet, while I am happy eating eggs, some cheese and 70% - 80% raw foods. Why? Because we feel better.

Our eating lifestyles have led us to many interesting discussions and family dinner interactions. (For those that are curious... we will always prepare cooked meats for our guests and children, my wife and I will abstain from consuming them.)

With the holidays approaching my wife and I had many parties and events to attend and were intrigued by the discussions. The most lengthy debate surrounded fish and whether or not it was meat. My belief is that is that it is meat while my christian family believes it is not meat.

You would think the dictionary would make it a simple answer (which I have listed below) but it is amazing how many people disagree. The church had a great PR campaign for Good Friday which is hard to change!

My perspective. . . it is what it is and I will continue not eating animal flesh because it turns my stomach.


/mit/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [meet] Show IPA
the flesh of animals as used for food.
the edible part of anything, as a fruit or nut: Crack the walnuts and remove the meats.
the essential point or part of an argument, literary work, etc.; gist; crux: The meat of the play is the jealousy between the two brothers.
solid food: meat and drink.
solid or substantial content; pith: The article was full of meat, with few wasted words.
a favorite occupation, activity, etc.: Chess is his meat.
Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. pork, esp. bacon.
Slang: Vulgar. .
Archaic. the principal meal: to say grace before meat.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Unbiased News??

Is there such thing as unbiased news? Or has the term become an oxymoron?

My wife and I tend to follow several news streams and are finding that many of the news sites we used to follow no longer report headlines that even make reference to the article. The worst offender these days seems to be the I used to refer to the site daily, but since a democrat took office it seems more like the onion's headlines than a news outlet. At this point I will have to start referencing politico on a daily basis.