Phone Etiquette: An Acronym Kids Should Worry About

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I read a very interesting article posted on cnn.com a few days back and it’s been on my mind. The article was warning parents about some of the new acronyms on the street and how to stay hip. A few that have been forever burned in my mind include;

GYPO-Get Your Pants Off

9-Parent Watching

99-Parent Gone

PIR-Parent in Room

NIFOC-Naked in Front of Computer

CU46-See you for Sex

The rest of them baffled me too, as my first thought was sheer horror kids aren’t even attempting to spell out their thoughts anymore! How can a parent compete with that? How in the world am I supposed to hover over cnn, msn, Oprah and the likes to give me tidbits of information on ways to communicate with the bots that are now our children? My second thought was, of course, a personal one. Are my kids using this language? We have two children with cell phones and I take a cruise around the phone every once in a while but the truth is with Kick, SnapChat, text messaging and email how in the world are we supposed to keep up?

I believe the answer to that question is relative to two very important things in a relationship between parent and child;

(1) Responsibility

(2) Trust

If your child isn’t responsible or trustworthy than they more than likely are not ready for a cell phone. Society is putting on the pressure but don’t cave, it will only cause more problems than it’s worth.

The other strategic move to set in place is the village. By village, I mean other parents. We must have multiple people keeping after our kids and willing to share what they may have seen in their kid’s phone about your kids etc. The village has become more important than ever this day in age, build it up!

I figure if none of this works and I still find myself drowning in the abyss of teen social media, I can remember three things:

(1) Their kids people! My home, my rules, my way.

(2) He/she who pays the bill, controls the phone.

If they really push, kids should become familiar with an acronym they will have no choice but to communicate in person at school.

(3) MCMPO: Mom Cut My Phone Off

Just remember parents, this is a two-way street & we can’t forget that. There was a time we lived without cell phones and our kids can certainly survive it (and we can too parents)! If cell phone etiquette isn’t to your standard than take that phone away and shape that kid up until it is! The real danger in a kid’s phone is the parent who is afraid to poke around, unwilling to take action and feels trapped by the social pressure!

I’m always open to suggestions, cell phones can be tricky business!

Source:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/08/living/internet-acronyms-every-parent-should-know/index.html

Working Mothers: What about Us!?

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For some reason I woke up this morning with the thought what about me? What about me, the working mom? I’ve read many blogs, posts, articles, comments and feelings on the stay at home mom. Their many sacrifices, the difficulties of staying home and the lack of understanding the world and often their husbands have for them. Well, I think the world has a lack of understanding for me too, for all working mothers! The working mother  has also made a host of sacrifices and much like the stay at home mom, it takes a shot at her career.

#1 Sacrifice: I’ve returned to work after each maternity leave and I’ve often wondered where does all the juggling really get you? I’ve had the thought many times that I certainly have potential to be in the top ranks of some business by now if it weren’t for the “mommy track”. What’s the mommy track? I’m glad you asked. The mommy track is that very invisible line corporations draw between you, your actual contributions vs. their perceived contributions. In plain English it means, “I can work late whenever you want, I can be here as early as you need me, I’ll never want to chaperone a field trip, I’ll never have to leave work five minutes after I arrived for a fever at school, and I’ll never-never never ask for a week off at time to be home for (choose one, there’s too damn many) break! Yea, that’s actually what they want to hear. The reality is, that’s actually EVERYTHING the mommy track will ask for plus working from home if you’re really a negotiator! Ha! Unfortunately, the mommy track often leads to your actual contributions being perceived much lower than actual value. Surely a semi chaotic, very spontaneous, semi inflammatory, I mean explosive (not helping) calendar worth the tapered lenses we’re often viewed through? Society says?? (insert your opinion here)

#2 Guilt: In addition to the ticking time bomb calendar there’s also days where I’m quite certain we could equal our body weight in the number of tears we’re fighting back heading to the office having sent a child to school a little unsteady. It can be a lot of guilt! STOP! Before you judge, by unsteady I mean; a splinter in a foot, a cheese sandwich with no cheese (oops), an unsigned permission slip, a hole in the khaki’s, a permission slip marked cannot chaperone etc. Yes, we’re ALL mothers…fevers, green goo, pink eye etc. YES! We stay home too. Clearly, all items are survivable, but none the less the things we beat ourselves up about all day long (while working).

#3 The Trophy: Ahhh, the sought after “trophy wife”. I’ve read in so many blogs this is the part where stay at home mom’s often say we have the advantage? We get the pleasure of heading to husband’s Holiday Party, cocktail party etc. and having an all too impressive resume to dazzle his coworkers. It’s more than “I’m a mom.” In reality the five-minute elevator speech about our high-powered careers left out the following; before work I wrestled with a blood blister on a ballerina’s foot, frantically ran after boys making sure they remembered deodorant, picked out a tie for the hubby, asked myself 100 times should I iron this shirt or not? (the answer is always not), fussed in the carpool line while listening to my email notification “bing” my ears to death and calculating if I have enough time to grab coffee. Note: Traffic never allows time for coffee.

I also left out while at work; sat on hold to request a fax from the Dr’s office for one child, while taking a business call on my desk line, responded to the teacher’s email, got a phone call from the school about said blister and also managed to accomplish returning an insane amount of emails, attend meetings on time while earning that paycheck baby! You don’t get to say all of this at the Holiday Party but it’s what you’re thinking! Note: Assistant? Something to consider.

#4 Adult Interaction: Let me keep this short and sweet. The adult interaction at the office often leads to emails that raise my blood pressure, conversations that raise my blood pressure, meetings that raise my blood pressure and unhealthy frequent lunches that raise my blood pressure. Do you see the pattern here? An advantage? I suppose it depends on who’s paying for lunch? Okay. I am glad we cleared that up. Moving on…

#5 Lack of Understanding: If I read one more blog that says “my husband doesn’t understand what I do all day.” Ladies, they’re men! Do you think being a working mother somehow mysteriously makes him an all-knowing expert on any one thing I juggled in a day on top of item #1, #2 and #4. Husbands don’t get the working woman either.

So you see ladies, the moral of the story is we have it hard too. Some would say harder but that’s not for me to judge. We all made our choice. I haven’t walked in any other shoes but my own and I make an effort to understand all walks of life and that’s all I’m trying to do here (be understanding and be understood). The common thread between all of us is motherhood! We keep our guilt, our adult interaction, lack of understanding etc. in different places in different ways. There’s no right or wrong choice, and we’re all being challenged to raise our kids the best way we know how.

To all mothers…keep being amazing!

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving…

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And mom busied herself around the house, the aromas were flowing and we knew the Holidays have come to the house…

Well, I get sad about this time every year as the co-parenting thing kicks into full swing during the holidays. I really don’t mind being cooperative with the ex’s but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss my children and have a pity party when they’re gone Thanksgiving Day. For about the last five years, my husband and I have graciously given up Thanksgiving to our ex’s and every year I wake up feeling sad. Admittedly, by the end of the day I’ve tremendously enjoyed the time with my darling husband and do look forward to that.

This year, I decided I would put on the superwoman cape and fly around the first few days of the week to pull of Thanksgiving dinner the last night we’re all together before the holiday! Grocery shopping, done. Cooking bits and pieces here & there, done. Already, my heart is filled with joy as I anticipate an evening of movies and good food with my favorite people! Sure, we get to spend plenty of time together but there’s something about the energy that’s created around the holidays that I’ve desperately missed sharing with them. For years, I was so caught up on THE DAY instead of realizing I can capitalize on the time we have now!

My daughter is patiently awaiting my return home so we can finish cooking the remainder of the meal. She is so excited to be a part of this grand time. It’s THOSE moments that are stolen away but it’s those moments that I am now rebuilding by being a little bit more flexible with our blended family time. I am so thankful for each moment and I KNOW my family appreciates me wearing the cape all week to make this happen!

Dinner is shaping up to be a splendid blended good time, the night before Thanksgiving…

God is good!

Family “Unplugged”: Debate Night!

Family “Unplugged” is my version of a family time like we use to enjoy in the good ol days before cell phones, television, laptops, iPods, ipads and any other distracting electronic device you can think of came into our lives. It is so wonderfully refreshing to enjoy each other without the plug binding us all to the ever so entertaining game, article, newsfeed etc. that’s currently showing on-screen. With that said, the husband and I love getting creative with ways to spend this time.

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Debate Night “Unplugged”

The Background: We have four children and they love to bicker about any and everything from what color the sun is to how long it took someone to shower etc. They just love to stir up a good argument, and that’s when the light bulb went off!

The Goal: What if, we took all this bickering and turned it into constructive and meaningful banter rather than the kind that makes your ears want to fall off. Thus, debate night was born. The goal is to let them constructively debate one another on topics that affect their lives today! This helps them gain public speaking skills, writing skills, listening skills, the ability to formulate an opinion and use credible material to make their point.

The Topics: A few topics we threw in the hat are; Do uniforms improve education? Is animal testing ethical? Is public humiliation a good form of punishment for kids? Should cell phone use be allowed in class? Is cloning animals ethical? I have to say, out of all the topics they choose from I am hoping they pick public humiliation for punishment as I would love to hear they’re take on some of the videos we’ve seen on YouTube demonstrating examples of that form of discipline.

The Rules: They will each get an opportunity to read the pros and cons of the topic(s) they choose and some time to formulate their argument (no google-good old fashioned brain power). They will have two minutes to present their argument to one another without being disrupted. They will have an opportunity to counter each other’s arguments and then the husband and I will be the judges.

The Fun: Kids LOVE all eyes on them!! We’re expecting a lively household tonight, some good laughs, loud praise and constructive criticism and counter arguments only.

The Take A Way: We all see the world through our own eyes. No two views are the same. It’s important to be open to how others view the world, consider other perspectives but ultimately make the decision for your life that you feel is best.

Raising strong minds! Looking forward to debate night. Go Team!

“Confidence is Scary”

I am pretty sure since the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child 11 years ago I haven’t had a day yet that I haven’t been in complete awe or amazement over something my children do or say. This awe and amazement of course can go both ways because they do have those days where amazement is actually pure disbelief that they did or said that. Nonetheless, it’s amazement and I take it all as a gift. At any rate, it leads me to the more pressing point of how important it is to really TALK to your children. I don’t mean “how was your day?”, “what’s new?”, “how’s your friend?” or any of the other in passing jargon we spew to one another in the midst of homework, practices, and preparing for the following days events. We often assume that we’re getting the job done and somehow with all of the vocabulary they have picked up along the years they’re also fully aware of the meaning for all the words they’ve heard and are using.

This revelation could not have been more clear to me after a very deep and teary eyed conversation I had with my 8 year old daughter. She and I have recently been on a journey to conquer the big math monster, as I mentioned in a recent post Learning Curves: Shaping Mothers Into Experts, and all the technical stuff aside I realized my daughter has become her own bully. I attend her tutoring sessions so we can both learn the concepts and I can better guide her at home and I began counting the number of times she would start to write the correct answer, abruptly erase it and then stare at the paper as if she was paralyzed with fear. I truly believe she is. It was all I could do in our most recent session not to break out in tears as I watched her little mind battle the fear of being disappointed, and incorrect even one more time. Luckily the session was near it’s end but it ended with a silence that blared in my head like a loud speaker the rest of the night.

The following morning I woke up still plagued at what I can do to help her realize how amazing she truly is! As I was brushing her hair I asked her does she know how smart she is? She paused for a moment and replied “yes”. I then asked her if she knows what confidence is and she paused again and said “yes.” I kept brushing her hair, and asked her to tell me what confidence means to her. She paused again and replied “When you go on stage (she’s a dancer) you can’t be scared or mess up because people might laugh at you. Confidence is really scary.” I kept brushing her hair and reminded her of how often she’s been able to conquer some scary moments she’s already had in life and math was the same. I reminded her all of those times had one thing in common, she was confident and she believed she could do it. I outlined what it means to be confident, and admitted to her that confidence is something we have to work on as human beings because people around us are constantly trying to convince us we’re not as special as we think we are. All the while we’re having this conversation, the more I talked about believing in yourself the more the tears welled up in her eyes. I knew I’d found the root problem to the big math monster but the worst part was she knew it too. We both realized we would have to face the worst kind of bully around, yourself.

As I sent her off to school, I couldn’t help but sit in the parking lot for several minutes and ask God what have I done wrong? Why doesn’t my daughter believe in herself after all she has achieved to this point? What haven’t I given her or said to her that makes her beat herself up in the classroom? Or what have I said to her that brought her down? I don’t yet have the answers to these questions but what I realized in having this conversation with her is the notion that we can’t take the self-esteem of our children lightly. They smile, they laugh, and they play because that is what kids do but we have to be able to see past that into their deepest thoughts, steal their private moments and access where all the fears lie. They are much too young to navigate the complicated waters of managing yourself and all the emotions that come with this part of development. As parents we have to be the lifeboat that saves them over and over and over again until they can swim on their own.

Lynette

I Am a Step-Mom: What I Didn’t Know

I am a step-mom. I have two more sons & one daughter in addition to my two children. Simple math tells us three plus two equals five. The math is simple, however the journey to becoming and being a step-mom isn’t always as simple as the math but there are pro’s and con’s. I recall being divorced and trying to identify what type of man I wanted to date and I immediately said I would not date someone with children. Well, that ship sailed after Several years ago when my now husband and I started dating we enjoyed bringing our families together for play-dates. I am somewhat of a fanatic when it comes to the best ways for children to do _________(insert whatever comes to mind) so of course I read several books, and searched google for all the answers on blending families. The main points I took from all of this research was the kids need to drive the car! They need to tell you when they are ready to move to the next step, take the slow boat to China while dating and look for physical signs of affirmation that they are ready to take on this relationship. So, we did it and all be darned if the formula didn’t work itself out! After awhile, the kids were expressing disappointment and sadness when it came time to return to our respective homes. They missed each other, became excited when they knew we would be seeing each other and we knew it was time to take our relationship to the next level. Clearly, we did (married now).

At any rate, the blending was the blissful part as it was the fun of getting to know each other so essentially I have been dating an entire family for a few years (ha!). Now that the dust has settled and we have both earned our respective titles as step-mom and step-dad the real challenges of a blended family have emerged. What I didn’t know about step-parenting and the parts of it that have come to be the harshest realities of blending are all things I cannot control. I cannot control them but I do my best to manage them personally as well as in my marriage.

(1) I am a Step-Mom: Step-Family Doesn’t Always Come with the Territory!

I am thankful to say that my husband’s family (who also grew up as a blended family) has been very open and inclusive of my two children which I am deeply grateful and appreciative for. My children have established a great relationship with new grand-parents they know and love. My family who has no experience with blending is much more standoffish and separate when it comes to this “new arrangement” in my life. They certainly do not mistreat them but there’s definately not that effort to transition from two grand-children to five. I cannot force this, it’s no different from the kids making rooms in their lives for me and my husband. I would be lying however if I didn’t be truthful and say it’s difficult to handle when the resistance comes from your family. I realize and have accepted it has to happen naturally, in its own time and I have also had the thought it may never happen at all. What I didn’t know was the amount of time that would be lost with my family as a result, the amount of shame I carry with me, and the anxiety that stems from the seemingly always awkward conversation of “who’s coming over”.

(2) I am a Step-Mom: I Am Mom until Mom Shows Up! 

This seems obvious, right? Wrong. Sure, you can prepare yourself for how you think it will go in your mind but when there are those few and far between occasions when it happens the actual moment is far different from anything you could have pictured in your mind. I recall a recent event of my oldest step-son having an emergency surgery. It was unplanned, and he basically went from the pediatrician to the hospital and I rushed there to meet my husband and support them. Mom was unable to make it that night so we stayed in the hospital and we discussed his fears, helped him get mentally prepared and then came the big day (mom is still not there). After his surgery, we waited and waited and finally we got the news it was successful and we could see him in recovery. I’m not sure we were in the recovery room for two minutes when the nurse came in and said, “Ummm, there is a woman outside who says she’s his mother. I’m sorry but we can only have two people in the recovery room at a time.” Well, I am a respectful as well as logical person so there was no doubt in my mind about who was leaving. As I passed her in the hallway for a split second my feelings were hurt and the immediate reaction was, “How dare you! You couldn’t wait?” I think I mentioned I am logical & respectful so I immediately got a grip on myself and realized I would hope if my children come to have a step-mom she would do the same for me. I waited for my husband in the lobby and he came out shortly after I left. He thanked me. He realized that was hard having been there all night and just as anxious as everyone else to make sure he is okay. What I didn’t know is how loved I would feel by him in that moment, that simple recognition that it wasn’t an easy position to be in and more importantly that I too care deeply for all of our children and had to walk away when I wanted to be there.

(3) I am a Step-Mom: A Love Like This

I remember having my first child and finding out I was pregnant with a second and the fear rushing into my body that I would never be able to love anyone the way I loved him. I could not have been more wrong. Each love is unique, new, exciting, fresh and customized just for the two of us. I love them both, and I love them differently because that is what is required of me because my children are not the same. I have found being a step-mom is the exact same way! My most triumphant moment to date is the first time my youngest step-son asked me to go on his field trip with him. It truly brought me to tears. I was so honored and amazed that he would want me there, to show me off to his friends, introduce me and spend time with him just the two of us. What I didn’t know was how incredibly capable of love the human spirit can truly be if you let love be your guide.

(4) I am a Step-Mom: Sacrifice For All is the Only Way

Let’s face it, kids want it all these days. Cell phones, tablets, the latest kicks, the freshest cuts, allowance and more! When I expanded my family from three to seven I anticipated that there would be sacrifice involved and there certainly was but perhaps not in the way I imagined initially. The greatest sacrifice came in what I could do for my children and to some degree a “loss of power” I was feeling. The reality is when you’re a team of three and you’re a single parent you have no else to think about or consult, you just do. I now have to consider the effects of my choices on a deeper level meaning if I want to buy the hottest kicks for one than I must do for all. Oh wow, we’re back to our simple math problem. Ha! The truth of the matter is maybe I haven’t been able to buy my son or daughter the same pair of shoes I use to buy him but I have found solace in the fact that he has shoes, he has a pair of shoes he likes and meanwhile I am exercising a much more practical and responsible level of parenting. Our finances have improved tremendously since we’ve become conscious of our spending. The struggle in accepting this was hard, and hard only because we as people can be so selfish. The kids realize the time we spend together came with a cost and we hear very little complaining about the price tag! What I didn’t know was expanding my family made both my husband and I much more responsible and practical parents which has made for much more humble, grateful and thankful children.

(5) I am a Step-Mom: Wow, My Husband is Amazing! 

There is something to be said about having children together. It establishes a bond that will forever be in place as you parent and raise your children together. Then there are the unicorns of the world and these are the people who had children with someone, it didn’t work out, they found new love and are raising children from a past relationship together but do not have any biological children of their own. We are unicorns and I say that with pride! What I didn’t know was how much watching my husband care for my children as if they were his own would inspire me, secure me, amaze me and turn me on! p.s. I know he feels the same way!

All in all what I didn’t know comes with the good and the bad like everything else but I found step-parenting to be an adventure that has challenged me, rewarded me, encouraged me, tired me and redefined a piece of me as a woman. It sounds a lot like your everyday motherhood, right? There’s not much to be scared of unless you yourself are unwilling to open your heart and explore what your capable of. I am thankful for everything my step-children have taught me and I am honored to be a part of what they are learning as they watch me. God is good friends, that’s all I can say!

Blessings

Learning Curves: Shaping Mothers into Experts

It is no secret that motherhood may be a bit less challenging if these kids came with a manual, preferably during the labor process. You’ve managed to push 5-10 pounds of life out of your body so what’s a few more ounces to produce a manual? This can’t just be any manual, but a manual that explains and outlines exactly what you need to do for that particular child. In a perfect world a few things this manual may include are; the best way to love and discipline them based on their personality, list out every single allergy they may have and avoid the element of surprise (or danger-don’t get me started), what their fears are, what their challenges are and above all the best way to reach them emotionally and academically. Is this too much to ask? Apparently so, as mothers today and tons of generations before us have mapped out this thing called “raising a child” without any step-by-step guide to the many aspects of motherhood.

My daughter, currently 8 years old, has always enjoyed learning and although she has enjoyed it learning has not necessarily been natural for her. What I mean by that is the general notion that some children transition from one feat to the next without any noticeable effort, or discomfort. It’s just done. They rarely ask for help on homework, they’re not soaring above grade level but coasting smoothly at the average pace for a child of their age. This type of child is what I like to refer to as “textbook”. You have them, they grow on schedule, develop on schedule and the train keeps moving as long as you give it the proper fuel. That’s not to say this child won’t have their challenges in life, because we know that we all do, but developmentally it’s a pretty smooth sailing ride.

When you have children this is the path that you wish for all of your children, what mother wouldn’t? However, the path that I have walked and am walking with my daughter has been far from textbook. Each change in her life required “out of the box” thinking to help her move to the next transition. She doesn’t enjoy change so naturally school has been challenging at times because education is constantly graduating to the next level. While we’ve faced these challenges, there has been an equally rewarding amount of pleasure on the journey for both of us. Most of her struggles are conceptual/cognitive and the way she visualizes information does not seem to be common with the way most children process and view the same information. She remains on that constant balance of on grade level & below grade level but as she gets older we now have the social component to deal with. Kids are mean and if you stand out for any reason they are quick to point it out and not usually in a nice way. The social piece has now left her feeling embarrassed to take the extra time, use the tools she needs and speak up in class in fear of what may come her way. Despite the ugly social ways of some children, she has chosen to rise above and I am helping her realize her uniqueness does not require approval or explanation to anyone. She is her only priority and to take care of herself before paying two minutes attention to those who are not supporting her. This pep talk comes and goes, as does her ability to not allow those things to bother her, completely understandable. Did I mention she’s 8 years old? Ugh! Just breaks my heart the ways children have to learn lessons sometimes.

At home, homework can present its challenges. I have always admired elementary teachers for the enormous amount of patience they present on a daily basis. I often found myself asking, “Where do they get that? How do they do it?” Well, I have only a few students in my classroom but I understand now that the gift in teaching is that moment the breakthrough happens. The patience comes in knowing you are reaching a place they have yet to discover but you know it’s there and helping them find it requires great focus. The passion, joy and inspiration that follows the hard work is most certainly something to be patient for! My daughter gets all the credit for doing the work, and facing her challenges head on and what she does not know is how much she has inspired me to face my challenges in the same direct manner.

This year has been especially tough and I find myself reaching out to peers for resources, doing research online to educate myself on more ways to help, spending time in the classroom so I can better understand how information is presented to her and navigating my way through the tools of the educational system. I know I am not the only mother to face similar or even more challenging situations but being the advocate for your child is a battle worth losing over and over and over again if it means you are that much closer to finding solutions that work! I may lose ten times before I win once, but that win will be bigger than any one loss suffered on the way. My daughter is just now reaching the age where she can see her differences but it hasn’t stopped her from reaching her goals. One thing she has no choice to be is herself and part of raising brilliant young women is teaching them to love every single inch of who you are!

A child’s spirit is their strongest asset, don’t let the world break them! Build up who they are, exactly the way they are and watch them conquer the impossible!

Stay blessed friends