Posts tagged: family life

The Grass is Always Greener…

By , June 17, 2008 8:59 am

The other day my oldest daughter (age 7) discovered a book that was tucked away in a basket by my toilet. It is The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everydays by Meg Cox. As the title suggests, it is filled with all kinds of really fun, new family traditions for holidays or ordinary days. There are many examples of real families and their unusual and very original traditions.

Although my intentions were good when I bought the book (I wanted to create some new family rituals), and despite having read quite a bit of it, I have not yet incorporated any of the ideas into our lives.

My daughter appeared in the kitchen with the book in her hand. “Mom,” she said, “can we do some of these? Because I think our family is boring.”

After I finished mentally half laughing and half crying, I was able to clear my brain of its spontaneous outburst of uncharitable thoughts and realize where this comment came from.

One of my daughter’s best friends (an only child) had been going on a “knitting date” with her Mom (my friend Wishy) after summer camp that day. A trip to the knitting store, followed by some Mom and daughter time knitting together was so exciting that Wishy’s daughter had even run over to tell me all about it when I arrived to pick up my two children.

I explained to my daughter that although our family might seem “boring” compared to some others, she needed to remember that 1) Unlike some children, she had siblings to play with; 2) Most other families that she knows have two ever-present parents (my husband is only here two or three weekends a month); and 3) Only-children have both their parents’ undivided attention. Compare all this to me who has to care for three children 24/7 almost exclusively by myself, and you certainly have the recipe for a BORING FAMILY in the eyes of a 7 year-old.

My daughter actually seemed satisfied with this explanation and happily skipped off to play with her brother. I, however, began to brood about how nice it would be to have time to go on knitting dates with my daughter, or take the kids to the pool more, or bake cookies with them without being begged for days.

I mentioned this conversation to my friend Wishy, and confessed to being a bit jealous of her ability to take her daughter on “knitting dates.” She just laughed and explained that the only reason that they had done the “knitting date” in the first place, was that she had tired of her daughter’s whining about how boring her family was compared to my daughter’s, where there were always at least three kids running around in chaos. Plus, apparently we do “cool projects” (she was here for our Unplugged Project once – “paint”).

We shared a good chat and laugh over this. I was pleased to think that any family inadequacies perceived by my daughter (or me) were all due to perspective. The grass IS always greener on the other side of the fence.


Photo thanks to photographer Jim Munnelly and


By , February 16, 2008 9:22 am

OK, phew!!! I just spent every free moment yesterday and worked well into the wee hours tagging. No, I wasn’t running around the neighborhood with a can of cheap spray paint, I was placing 943 tags on all 358 of my posts!

I love WordPress. It actually tells you things like how many posts, tags, categories, and comments you have (1,703 comments in case you were wondering).

I hope you all appreciate my new tags. Actually, from what I understand, I guess it is the search engines that appreciate it the most. Big sigh. I am becoming a slave to technology.

I will spend today catching up on laundry (you know how it is, you miss a day and it takes over the whole house), cracking the homework whip, and just hanging out with the children in an effort to make up for yesterday’s neglect. Perhaps I can sneak in a little blog visiting during the baby’s nap.

I had also better come up with an idea for this week’s Unplugged Project. What?? Fabric??? What was I thinking??!!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thanks to photographer n-k-teko and for this photo.

Happy (I Hope) National Eat Dinner Together Week! (September 16-22, 2007)

By , September 18, 2007 10:15 pm

I read on Mama’s Moon (Monday Morning Munchies) that this week is National Eat Dinner Together Week. National Eat Dinner Together Week was inaugurated in 1996 by America’s Pork Producers and the National Pork Board. Despite the meaty sponsor, even vegetarians can participate in this (hopefully) worthy venture.

I started out researching this post thinking I could cite one, or maybe two studies and have the information all there for you. But, apparently there are many studies that each contribute a few small aspects to the big picture.

Being a terminal nerd, I hate it when an article says “studies say…” without giving a citation. What I learned in one hour of research however, is that if I wanted to spend an entire year on this post (which I can assure you, I don’t) I could.

So this time I shall just have to overcome my natural nerdy tendencies and simply say, here are five benefits of kids and parents / parent eating dinner together at least five times per week. It all makes logical sense to me:

1) Better nutrition. In most cases, kids eat better at home (less fast food and junk). Plus they learn better dietary habits.

2) Kids do better in school and are less likely to use drugs and alcohol (for the whole study, click here).

3) Family dinner creates an automatic “check-in” time. Kids must be home and available to talk about their day.

4) Dinnertime conversation helps with language skills (and, on a personal note, I would have to add – table manners, an important, but often overlooked skill these days).

5) Spending time together as a family creates happy memories (hopefully!) and family bonding.

On the flip side: If your family is really dysfunctional, studies show that perhaps family mealtimes might not be so beneficial.

Some good advice for everyone, whether dysfunctional or not, is to focus on open-ended questions and not discuss super sensitive topics at the table. If you ask an open-ended question it is always very telling to see where kids will take it, and can lead to some valuable exchanges of information.

Of course it easy for me, mother of three children age 7 and under to pontificate on the virtues of family meals. Those of you with active teenagers may be wondering how to fit family meals in along with sports, cheerleading, play practice, dance, music and whatever else kids do these days.

I have my own views on the drawbacks of overscheduling children’s lives, but since my children are so young, it is hard for me to provide much practical advice on how to avoid this all-to-common phenomenon. If anyone has successfully managed to escape the vicious cycle of teen activities, please feel free to speak up in the comments or an email. I am eager to take notes for the future!

Some links for further information:

The 5 Benefits-and a Few Risks-of Eating Together at the Dinner Table

Family Mealtimes: More Than Just Eating Together

Eat Better, Eat Together: Background Research on Family Meals

And, on a lighter note, don’t miss this quick post on the perils of dining with three children age 4 and under: The Benefits of Eating Together from the blog Jumping Monkeys.

Thanks to and photographer cohdra for this photo.

And the Winner of "The First One to Pee on the Freshly Cleaned Carpet Award" is…

By , August 23, 2007 6:45 pm

A cat? No. A dog? No. The baby? No. The winner is…my darling son!!!! (And his older sister, my secret informant, says he did it on purpose.)

Does anybody know if The Citadel accepts 5 year-olds?

(If you dare: For more real-life boys’ toileting facts, visit Jen’s hilarious post: Thirteen Things I’ve Learned From Potty Training Two Boys at Never A Dull Moment .)

The Unplugged Hamster

By , August 21, 2007 8:03 pm

This is how I feel today. In fact this is how I have felt ever since I returned from vacation two weeks ago.

My space and my mind are cluttered. The more I try to declutter, the more rapidly “stuff” accumulates there.

Today was my oldest daughter’s first day back at school. Unfortunately my son still has two more weeks at home. Without his sister, he is wandering the house like a lost soul.

I was going to send him outside on his bike and use this day to actually accomplish something. To finally sort my desk, my house, and my brain.

I tidied up a bit this morning during baby nap time. I figured that this afternoon I would tackle The-Dirty-Laundry-That-Ate-Arizona (read about it at

After running to the bank to deposit the one check (of three) that I was able to dig out of the clutter, I returned home to find the carpet cleaners standing in my driveway with their hands on their hips, tapping their feet, looking at their watches. I thought they were coming on Friday. Ooops!

I wildly chased my seven cats all over the house, attempting to corral them in the laundry room as the carpet cleaners watched with amusement.

Since we have about 15 square feet of non-carpeted floor in my giant carpeted house, we ended up hanging out in the driveway all afternoon because the baby would not stay put in the kitchen and wanted to “help.” I tried to make some phone calls out there, but the static from being outside on a cordless phone combined with the background noise of the carpet cleaning truck made this difficult. I even tried to call my friend Wishy for some sympathy, but she was out. We were truly unplugged.

By the time they left, it was time for a nice dinner of leftovers and then bed for the kids. First we had to FIND the beds, which had been piled with all the bits and pieces usually located on their floors.

I then tried to put some of the The-Dirty-Laundry-That-Ate-Arizona in the drier and noticed that crazy White Kitty was still hiding behind the drier, and had somehow managed to detach the drier vent pipe from the wall. I am too tired to begin moving driers and fiddling with vent pipe now.

So, here I am amidst the mental and physical rubble of my life. I type on the computer as a kitten sits next to my chair, attempting to devour a cupcake paper that she found who knows where.

My big furniture is back in place, but all the little “stuff” is pushed over onto the wood floor of my kitchen while the carpet dries. Baskets of kids’ books, baby gates, baby toys, odd chairs, a laundry basket full of dirty clothes, and several assorted pairs of shoes surround me as I lament the waste of my morning. Why bother tidying up when all that soul-satisfying order can so quickly return to chaos?

How much is in my bank account right now? Where is my agenda book that would have told me the correct day for the big carpet cleaning? Why do I have 97 already-read email messages in my Inbox? See! Clutter on the computer too!

The phone rings. Can I find it? Yes, this time, but thankfully I have four rings to try. Can I find a scrap of paper to write down a phone message? No. A pen that works? Forget it.


Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for this photo. Click here for license information.

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