Why Are You Acting Unusual?

The other day, the kids were a little bit out of control.

We were coming off of a three day swim meet, the kids had been dragged back and forth to a pool that was almost an hour away all weekend, I had been gone for basically three days, and everyone was e xhausted.

So I took Monday to regroup. It was a cool, rainy summer day, and it was just what we needed.

Or so I thought.

I figured the kids would enjoy the down time and not being dragged to another pool and another meet and being able to stay home in their pajamas all day.

I was hoping to use it as a day to catch up on all the stuff that had fallen by the wayside while I was gone.

Around 11:30 a.m., the first kid informed me that she was starving, followed by a second kid who was apparently on the verge of dying from hunger a short time later.

I stopped what I was doing, and I went into the kitchen.

I told the kids I’d make them lunch, that I wanted them out of the kitchen, and that I’d tell them when lunch was ready so they could come and eat.

One of my kids’ favorite things to do is sit on a stool in the kitchen and watch me make lunch and complain about how long it’s taking me.  And once one kid is doing that, it’s not long before they are all doing that.

And that shit drives me insane.

So the kids stayed out of the kitchen for approximately 47 seconds.

And then two of them were screaming at each other. I heard them coming from a couple rooms away.

I was already out of patience.

I told them that I was going to leave the kitchen when they were in there, especially when they were yelling at each other, and that if I had to leave the kitchen, it would take me that much longer to make lunch. And seeing as a couple of them were apparently on the verge of death because it had been more than an hour since they had last eaten, they might not want that.

They didn’t care. They kept screaming at each other.

So I left the kitchen.

I went into the bathroom where the washer and dryer are, and I started sorting laundry.

When I didn’t hear any more screaming, I went back into the kitchen. I resumed the lunch making process.

About five minutes later, the kids resumed the screaming process.

So I left the kitchen and I took the recycling out to the recycling bin.

I stayed outside for a few minutes because I was starting to get seriously frustrated.

I went back inside and the screaming had stopped. Again, I resumed the lunch making process.

And again the kids were at each others’ throats in a matter of minutes.

After about a half hour of this back and forth bullshit, I had had enough.I told the kids I was no longer willing to spend any more time making lunches, that I had been trying for a half hour and that was the maximum amount of time I was willing to spend.

I told them I would  make dinner later, but I had other things to do, and spending ninety minutes waiting for them to stop arguing was not one of them. If they wanted lunch, they’d have to do it themselves.

Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but it was three days after I’d been gone all weekend, and we had like three cans of green beans, some tortillas and for some reason, about fifteen bags of marshmallows.

So it was going to take some creativity.

I didn’t really care, though.

I walked out of the kitchen.

The kids looked at each other like, What the hell are we going to eat and What the fuck happened to Mom?

But I was exhausted from the weekend and stressed out and I was just done.

A little while later, Number 5 delivered me a note:


On the left side it said:

This is now, surrounded by a bunch of sad faces.

On the right side it said:

This is how it should be now,  surrounded by a bunch of smiley faces. And then it said:

Look on other side ——>

I turned the note over and read:

Dear Mom,

Why are you acting unusual (AKA mean)

it’s wierd

so please tell me why

Aha. I had struck a nerve.

The fact that she saw this as unusual behavior showed me one thing. I have been letting the kids be disrespectful to me more often than I think.

And she noticed my new response.

Today it’s three days later.

The kids certainly haven’t been angels.

But they’ve been better.

And they definitely haven’t been fucking around when I’m making them something to eat.

If your kids are driving you insane with bickering and fighting, consider trying this.

Don’t yell. Don’t scream. Don’t threaten.

Just quietly define your boundaries.

And then stick to them.

You might be surprised by what happens.


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One Great Catch Can Be A Game Changer

You know how a kid can totally suck at baseball and make like ten errors in one game and start to feel completely hopeless and dejected, but then out of nowhere he can make an amazing catch that no one ever thought was possible? And even with all those errors in one game, that one awesome catch has him riding a high and feeling like there is hope for him as a baseball player after all?

This past Friday I was that sucky baseball player, but in the mom department. I made a thousand errors. I couldn’t do anything right. I was feeling like a complete failure.

And then this afternoon, I finally made a really good play.

And I am still riding that high.

There is something I’ve been trying SO HARD for my kids to “get”.

But they have not been getting it.

I know I’m not the only parent whose kids are constantly bugging the shit out of each other.

It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. The kids just needling each other until someone eventually explodes.

Then they are either screaming at each other or beating the crap out of each other, and it pretty much always ends in tears.

It drives me insane.

And I have been working very, VERY hard to teach the kids how to resolve this issue without my help.

Because when I intervene, they don’t learn how to solve these problems themselves, and I put myself in the position to always be the referee.

It’s infuriating and exhausting. And it’s monotonous and boring.

This happens very often when the kids are in the kitchen.

We have a counter/bar area where the kids eat most of their meals.

And inevitably the kids are looking at each other or touching each other or chewing the wrong way or doing any other number of things that annoy the living crap out of each other. This turns into them yelling at each other and then them  pleading for me to make the other person stop.

So I’ve really been working to teach them that you can’t make anyone else do anything.

You can politely ask them to stop doing whatever it is, but you can’t make anyone other than yourself start or stop doing anything.

The kids very often get so frustrated with each other that after they ask whoever is bugging the crap out of them to stop in as civil a way as possible. When they refuse, the next move is to yell at them, and then when they reach the boiling point, they will progress to a push/shove/smack/whatever.

That’s the thing that pushes me over the edge.

Their response is typically, “BUT HE’S JUST SO ANNOYING!!!”

I assure them I feel the same way very often each day, but if I hit someone every time they annoyed me, I’d be throwing punches all day long. Plus, when you’re a grown up and do that stuff you go to jail.

So we’ve been working on solutions to this problem.

As I explained earlier, the kids usually eat in close proximity to each other at the counter in the kitchen.

The dining room is right around the corner from the kitchen. And there is a nice table in there at which to eat.

We have talked about alternatives to the arguing/bickering/fighting.

We have talked about how even though it’s frustrating and annoying, it’s your job to either accept the situation and ignore the behavior or remove yourself from the situation when you’ve politely said something but the other person refuses to stop and/or change.

This afternoon at lunch, the bickering began.

I felt myself getting extremely agitated.

I took a deep breath, clenched my teeth, and prepared to ask the kids what they thought would be a good solution to the problem, and before I even opened my mouth, Number 6 stood up, pushed in his seat, picked up his plate, silently left the kitchen and sat down at the dining room table.



And I didn’t have to say a word.

I couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t feel like I had just made an amazing catch. I felt like I had won the whole damn World Series!!!

I know this doesn’t mean everything has clicked permanently, but my six-year-old son is learning how to regulate his emotion and how to keep his cool, and I didn’t have to intervene at all.

He did it all by himself. And he didn’t learn it by being punished, by having something held over his head, by having a carrot dangled in front of him, by being threatened, or by being singled out.

He learned it because we’ve been practicing, we’ve been talking, and I’ve been consistent.

That is a major life skill, and he’s getting it at six years old.



I ran into the dining room and high fived him.

I yelled “GOOD JOB NUMBER 6!!!” and gave him a hug.

He squeezed me back, looked straight up at me, and he said,


It wasn’t just a great play today in the parenting department.

To me, it was more like a grand slam.


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What I Learned When I Ditched the Scale

This past summer I made the decision to ditch the scale.

Then the school year started and all the kids went back to school and this was the first year ever that ALL the kids were in school and so instead of getting tons of stuff done in September I kind of went hog wild in the undisciplined department.

It was reminiscent of when Michael Phelps retired from swimming (the first time).

He gained about 40 pounds and was semi-out-of-control because he had a really difficult time adjusting from total structure and a definitive reason to be disciplined to much more freedom.

I had given myself permission to enjoy September and to not put tons of pressure on myself to go from one extreme to another.

I gave myself time to adjust and time to breathe.

I apparently also gave myself time to eat.


And having a little more time at my disposal also affected me in the exercise department.

Forced discipline and self discipline are two totally different things!

So I’m back on track in both the eating and the working out departments.

I’m still not stepping on the scale again.

But here is what I noticed when I stopped weighing myself.

There were other factors involved, but that’s when the discipline totally went out the window.

And what I learned about myself is that although I have established some habits that have stuck just because that’s the kind of lifestyle I want to lead (I haven’t had soda in over three years and I stopped using sugar in my coffee), I still have lifestyle habits I’d really like to make permanent.

Because if they were permanent, if they were actual habits, then all my clothes wouldn’t be too tight right now. I wouldn’t need to be constantly monitoring myself on the scale if I did some things on a regular basis rather than only when I was trying to lose weight or get ready for swimsuit season.

So I have some habits that still need work.

I don’t want to cut out entire food groups.

I definitely still want to enjoy a glass of wine (or three ) on occasion.

But I also want to be able to maintain a weight and waist measurement that is healthy without being a slave to a scale.

Or ever looking at one again.

But I also don’t want to take supplements or use powders or patches or fast or cleanse or do anything else that’s not just eating stuff that’s mostly good for me, moving every day, breaking a sweat every day, maintaining the muscle I have and adding a little bit more, and doing what I need to do to maintain flexibility and balance cause if I’m gonna be a grandma I’m gonna be an old grandma and I wanna be able to keep up with my grandkids (plus set an example for them).

So what do I need to do if I want to do all that?

I need to get more sleep.

I need to plan my meals better. Sometimes I’m really good with that, but sometimes not so much. But if I want to put mostly good stuff in my body then I have to have mostly good stuff available and ready to eat.

And this means I need to leave time to prepare it. That’s something I’ve definitely not been good about. Scheduling in that time!

I don’t want this to be something I do only when I’m trying to squeeze into my jeans.

When I was in high school I went to France on an exchange program for three weeks. I stayed with a host family.

The way French people view food and the way we Americans view food is so different.

It’s an experience over there! Even for kids at school.

And what I realized about myself in September is that I have a long way to go in the healthy eating department and what I need to teach my kids.

And what I mean by healthy eating isn’t necessarily what I eat or what options are available to my kids for their meals. I mean that’s part of it. But it’s also so much more than that.

I want to teach them all to cook. I want to teach them all to be more adventurous eaters and try new things. I want to teach them to plan and prepare. I want to teach them that what and how they eat affects the quality of their life and the amount of energy they have.

And I want to teach them to sit down and enjoy the experience of a meal.

This will be a challenge during the week with the craziness of school and sports, but it’s something I really want to work on for myself and for my kids. And it’s also a challenge when you are on a budget.

And I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it.

But it’s time to make some changes that stick.

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