Monday, July 21, 2008


My daughter became a young woman tonight.
At the Fiesta Days Rodeo.
In the port-a-potty.
(for some reason, this sounds skeezy...I mean it in the no-she-wasn't-in-there-with-a-boy kind of way!)

She came back into the Grandstand to our spot on the bench with big smile on her face and whispered it to me. I wasn't sure if I believed her nor did I want to have the full on conversation with her 13 year old brother sitting in between us.

I leaned over, placed my hand on Hoss' cheek and pulled his head close to my face and whispered it to him. All the color left his face, his eyes got real big, and he said, "She what?" Oh, you just wait....I don't think daddy's are ever ready to hear that their little girl's not so little any more.

After I got past the initial shock and the giggling to myself over what a fantastic journal entry it would be for her:
Dear Diary, tonight I got my first period in the port-a-potty at the Rodeo...

I started to feel a little panicky!
A few things came to mind:
Her reaction is a million times the opposite of my reaction.
She's all excited!
She couldn't wait to tell me.
I could have died!
I waited as long as I could before mumbling something to my mother.
I guess we'll have to stop at the store on the way home.
What do I get her?
The last time I had a period, there were only a few options: cardboard applicator, no applicator, and something like unto a diaper!
That was before 'wings' and ultra thins.
What works best right at first?
I'm starting to sound like a dad, not a mom......
It's just that I've been without periods now for longer than I had them.
Things aren't ever going to be the same at our house.
Ugh....her brothers......they need to be instructed too.
I guess it doesn't matter if I'm ready or not.....Aunt Flow is here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

command climate (sorry--is it stealing if I credit the source? Thanks W.)

La yen's husband just posted an excellent and thought-provoking post about Army leadership. Why am I bringing it up here? Because the philosophy behind the type of "command climate" he discusses has been the foundation for some of my parenting beliefs and the way I try to parent. I want us to discuss.

These are the questions W. asked (replace "soldiers" with "children"):

"What are you doing to motivate your Soldiers? Do they work for you out of a fear of repercussion or out of respect for you? Do they trust that you are tactically and technically proficient, that you know the mission and your unit's role in it? Do they feel that you are actively protecting their interests and placing their needs above your own? Do you praise in public and punish in private? Do you conduct frequent counselings, either formal or informal, to let those around you know where they stand?

When I was a kid I obeyed mostly out of fear. It was the belt or the boot if I was way out of line (please don't get the wrong idea about my parents--they were and are good people--they were just doing it how it was done back then). But I felt conflicted about it. I remember as a child contemplating how I would want my kids to respect me because I deserved it, not because they were afraid of me; I wanted them to obey out of love, respect and goodness, not out of fear.

As I said I've only been moderately (on some days barely--last night hardly) successful at parenting in this way. There have been shortcomings and failures. But at the same time it feels right to me. And I have witnessed moments of goodness, honesty and genuineness (sometimes even when the rest of the outcome was not exactly what I intended) that pleased me and made me feel good about my beliefs and my efforts.

What do you think about this style of parenting? Are the results desirable? Could side affects or unintended consequences occur? Is it possible and/or practical to achieve with a three-year-old? What about a thirteen-year-old? How does one accomplish this style of parenting? What are the day-to-day applications?

What command climate do you seek as a mother. How do you attain it?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Skilled at Terrorist Negotiations..

My sister started to blog again (hurrah). I have lots of sisters and they all should blog, but only two of them do (FOR NOW...). In my never ending quest to stay connected to my family, as well as to assure myself that I am not the only one in the family that has stories like this, I am posting this link here. Leave a comment for her on her blog. I need her to keep blogging and she has NEVER had anyone besides family comment on her blogs before.... If she gets addicted to them, we will get more Sam/Thomas stories and I will be reminded that my kids are normal. One of our sisters has freakishly well behaved children and it sets a bad standard for the rest of us....

So, this post by my sister Nienie had me snorting. She is describing what it is like to go shopping with her two little boys, ages 4 and 2. It was a very familiar story, but a much funnier way of telling it.

I can't get my hyperlinks to work... so here is the long, very un-tech link...

choosing your battles

I've found another plus side to choosing your battles. You know, besides the fact that I am happier and my kids are happier and who has the energy to fight about everything anyway?!

Sometimes you get to relish tiny victories.

Any of you who read my blog are aware of my frustration over our middle school's new dress code. I think the fact that I went to bat for what I believed was right helped my daughter feel I am on her side. (Which I am, but most especially when she is right.)

However, as much as I believe in standing up for what's right, I also believe in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law. So I've been wondering how to handle my conflictedness about this issue come the first day of school.

I chose to ease into the subject, mentioning that collared (yeah, I keep wanting to type: collard)shirts were on sale and that we ought to prepare now for the first week of school. I wanted to make sure she was clear that I assumed she would (eventually) comply (because I am most definitely not going to commute to another school).

I was surprised to learn she has already come up with a brilliant plan:

Based on past experience, she doesn't expect they'll enforce the new dress code any better than they enforced the prior one; she doesn't want me to spend too much money; and she still wants to make her point. So she asked me to buy only a couple of collared shirts for now. She plans to wear her favorite tie-dyed T-shirt to school on the first day in protest and in order to test the system. (Call me a rebel, but I'm fine with that.) I explained to her what the administration has posted by way of action for non-compliance: They will call home and then give the student something to wear. (I am working on my protest speech for the non-compliance call even now.) L~ intends to take a wait and see approach. If they call her out she will accept the shirt they give her but instead of wearing it she will wear the one I have purchased for her, which she will have hidden in her backpack.

Fair enough.

But the sweetest victory came last night when we were out shopping. While she did complain a bit about how blah! the collared shirts were, she has already found a way to comply while still fulfilling her need to express herself. The first thing she said as we started sifting through the sale rack was, "OK mom, but the first thing we have to do is take off all the buttons and find some cool ones to replace them with."

I bought a packaged of bold and bright-colored buttons first thing this morning.

Take that Dixon! I love this kid!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Too Happy to be comfortable

I have Stegner's books on my book shelf... I guess it's time to dust 'em off and read them.

I saw this post and think it follows the same vein of discussion.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Married Pretty Well.

This is an email I got from my husband this morning, and I thought it was pretty appropriate for this site. So, props to the absentee father, W.

I am here at work this Saturday morning, and am consciously taking it easy by looking around the net for things that make me think of you. And as I was reading a couple of blogs, I linked to, a pretty interesting blog about random things. I saw this blog about kids and parenting and how it's not all it's cracked up to be. And it made me think about you, and how we were talking last night, and how you are feeling bad because you can't do all the things you used to be able to do. Here's an excerpt:
"The cliché refers to newborn children as "bundles of joy," but recent research indicates that bundles of anxiety, or even bundles of depression, might be more accurate

"Parents "definitely experienced more depression," says Robin Simon, a sociologist at Florida State University who has studied data on parenting.

"Part of our cultural beliefs is that we derive all this joy from kids," says Simon. "It's really hard for people who don't feel this to admit it." Social pressures to view only the positive aspects of child rearing only make the problem worse, she says. "They're afraid to admit it because it runs so counter to our cultural beliefs that children make you happy."

Simon points out what any parent knows very well: Children, especially young children, can create lots of work and stress. "There are very many positive things that come out of having kids, but it's a mixed bag," she says. "They are demanding. They are a responsibility, and it's a responsibility that doesn't end."

And I thought about you and us and how you keep saying that Jooj is so good and you shouldn't be mad/sad/upset/frustrated. And I think that you're selling yourself a bill of goods. Kids are hard. They are depressing, and are TONS of work. I know this just from the (sadly) limited interaction I get with her, and have been feeling pretty bad about wanting to curse at her in the two hours a day I spent with her by myself when I was home.

Don't get me wrong- I want kids. I love Jooj and I know that we're unbelievably blessed to have her in our family, and she is rewarding and awesome. Here's another excerpt:

Changing a diaper isn't enjoyable, and teenagers can be such a pain in the ass, but having kids can also be a profound source of meaning for people. (I like the amateur marathoner metaphor: survey a marathoner in the midst of the race and they'll complain about their legs and that rash and how the race seems like it's taking forever. But when the running is over they are always incredibly proud of their accomplishment. Having kids, then, is like a marathon that lasts 18 years.)

Bottom line is, I am proud of you. I don't begrudge you feeling bad, and modern science doesn't either. Parents, and especially Mormon mothers, get a lot of pressure from a lot of angles to treat kids as shiny delicate glass balls full of pixie dust and platinum that should be set on a shrine in the living room like some sort of Asian family altar, and I completely disagree. For my money, it's ok to think of them as poopy, whiny, snotty, loud little blessings. It's ok to be frustrated and mad, and it's ok to secretly wish that your life is the way it used to be. Because at the end of the day, you're a great mom and you're doing a great job with Jooj.

That's all. I love you.