Monthly Archives: January 2009

Go Vipers

Korey’s hockey team won today, 4 zip. They were so excited and my Mom was in the audience, which made it that much sweeter. The last couple of weeks we’ve seen some big changes in their team. It’s so gratifying as a parent, and payer of the money, to watch them slow down until the puck goes over the blueline and actually shoot the puck against the boards on purpose to clear the zone. Korey played defence today and he made a few key plays, almost got a goal from his end. It was a proud moment.

I feel like we are winning here too. After my first session with “the sanity angel” I was syked to begin taking charge. It didn’t go so well. Korey had a meltdown because I wouldn’t let him eat dinner in the living room, which resulted in his teeth marks on my leg. So out of character for him. I ended up yelling at him and he ate dinner at the table. No one won.

But, I began again. This time with rewards for doing little things, like getting dressed on time in the morning without having to be asked repeatedly. It works! They love the rewards (coupons for small things, like 10 extra minutes on the computer). 

I’m also starting to ignore their bad behaviour and noticing their good behaviour. What a difference. I know, this seems like parenting 101, but so often we get caught up in what they are not doing, we forget to tell them they are awesome when they are. I guess since there are more than a dozen books on the subject, I’m not the only parent who needs to learn. Kind of would put the publisher out of business, you know.

This weekend they accompanied me to my hair appointment. I’m sure my hairdresser cringes when she sees us coming. When I arrive solo, she always seems so happy. But, they didn’t make a sound the whole time I was there. Korey played Nintendo and Justin sat in the chair next to me and silently watched my hair fall to the floor.

After that we went grocery shopping and the rules were:

no further than beyond my reach;
no running around;
no climbing in and out of the cart;
no fighting;
no whining for anything.

Every rule was followed. Rewards included a small, inexpensive toy. They were thrilled.

Now, these rewards are achieved in levels, I’m not stupid. Once they master doing something well, then they move on to another activity, just like a video game. They came upstairs for bed the minute I called them last night and once settled Justin said they should get a reward for coming so quickly. I gave him a big hug and kiss and told him sometimes rewards are hugs and kisses. He beemed and said they were good rewards too.

My reward, a great weekend with the kids and on our way home this morning from hockey practice they said they wanted to come to my house instead of Dad’s. They went to Dad’s any way, but the mere fact that they wanted to come here made me beam.


Bigger isn’t always better

When I was young, I always thought the laundromat would be fun. It was. The first time. Then it became a chore I detested. When I bought my first house there was no dryer, so all the clothes were dried inside in the wintertime and softened with an iron or body heat. I didn’t complain though, it wasn’t my chore any more.

Growing up, my mother always did these tiny little loads of laundry and I couldn’t understand what part of “super duty” she didn’t understand. I mean if the thing was made to be stuffed, then stuff it. So when I finally got my first  complete in-house laundry facility, I did just that. Stuffed the thing full of whatever was in the hamper, dosed it with detergent and then dried, re-dried and re-dried again.

As married couples do, we divided up the chores and the laundry became mine, at which point my ex stated that the laundry pretty much did itself. He quickly learned that steps 4-6 could take up to two weeks to complete given my adversity to folding, sorting and stuffing clothes back into swelling dresser drawers. He conceeded and we began sharing the laundry chore. I still remember the cute little way he would fold my underwear and hook my socks together. Not a reason to stay married, but it had merit.

When the kids came along, things got worse; we were overcome with laundry. Fortunately, we had lots of help from his Mom, who also did tiny little loads of laundry. It was just as annoying as when my mother did it.

Once I was on my own, some good intentioned souls counseled me to do a load of laundry every night to keep on top of it. But then I was just doing laundry every night and throwing it in a hamper to be folded and sorted two weeks later.

I decided the answer was to buy bigger, taller hampers so I didn’t have to do it so often. The problem then became the hallway dressers that held our mash of clothes for weeks (sometimes folded, sometimes not).

Every morning I would mine for the right socks and underwear and gym day or regular day attire. It was a constant curse fest.

Over the holidays I had an enlightened moment where I discovered the solution to my seemingly insurmountable battle with the three extra large clothes hampers used to contain the majority (and often times all) of our clothes.

I bought three of the smallest, shallowest rectangle hampers I could find and labelled them, Korey, Justin and Mom. Now, we each put our clothes into separate hampers and on wash day (or night) I do three tiny little loads of laundry, with minimum water, less detergent (as I learned), on a shorter “light soil” cycle and dry them separately with one push of the dryer button. Then, I take each tiny little, pre-sorted load, quickly fold it, put it back in the hamper and put it away.  Laundry now takes less time, uses less detergent, water and electricity and there are always underwear, socks and pants available on our rushed mornings.

I guess our mothers were right. But, who knew I had so many bras.


2008~2009

At the time of my last post I hadn’t yet started my Christmas shopping. I was successful and the holidays were wonderful. The kids enjoyed themselves and all was great until Monday morning when I was trying to get them dressed for school. I lost it. Good news though. I found some help and next week I should have some new tips under my belt. The trick is to apply them consistently. I’m a good student and more than ready to learn.

The most popular question I was asked this year was whispered up close and under breath. “How do you two, you know, deal with Christmas and share the kids?” I always wonder if I’m being asked out of concern or sheer curiosity, like a side show. I wonder too if they then imagine themselves doing it too.

Co-parenting your children has it’s advantages from a distance. There’s the time to yourself that parents so dearly crave and not having to answer to anyone but yourself, which married couples sometimes envy.

A friend once told me that children will make you or break you. I think that’s true. I’ve seen it countless times. Seemingly great couples coming apart at the seams due to lack of rest, differing parenting styles and boredom with each others company after the children have shut their eyes.

What I would say to anyone contemplating a walk over here on the greener grass is that it is artificial turf. If you love your spouse and can find that spot that makes you want to be in their arms, then tough it out. Yes, children adapt and more than 50% of their classmates have a single or co-parent relationship, but it’s easier with two parents together, assuming you are not fighting endlessly and are able to be a good role model as a spouse.

This year, the kids’ dad officially became a live-in couple with his significant other. I’m still on my own. The conversation went something like: 

“Well, I’m scheduled to have them Christmas Eve.”

“Ah, no,” was my curt reply.

“Actually, I haven’t asked them what they want to do,” he said.

“Ask them? It’s not up to them. I want them here with me Christmas Eve. You can come and stay the night like last year. Your girlfriend is welcome too. But, they are not waking up with someone else Christmas morning.” I was friendly, but determined.

To my delight, when I did mention it, they said they wanted Dad to come over and stay the night and then go to Dad’s later. Korey pondered, “I don’t know what Dad will do with Kristen.”

Later, face to face, I told their Dad that if I wasn’t on my own, things might be different, but I am not ready to spend Christmas Eve alone. He said I could go to his place. “Maybe next year,” I conceded.

So, Christmas Eve I took the kids to my work party and then dropped them off with Dad around 2:30. I then went home to prepare the house and start the turkey for the next day’s feast.

The kids and their Dad came over around 8:00 and their Dad went to bed with them. I stayed up to wait for Santa, but fell asleep and dammit, missed him again.

The boys woke me up around 7 and we headed down to check the spoils.

The only weird thing that happened was that our Christmas tree, which had been up for 3 weeks, standing proudly in the corner, hit the floor unexpectedly just as their Dad’s girlfriend walked through the door.  When she left, she joked that she was going to see what trouble she could cause at her parent’s house. I graciously told her I didn’t think it was related, but have to admit, it was a pretty funny coincidence.

After dinner, Brian picked up his girlfriend and the 5 of us went to visit Brian’s parents who are both sadly struggling with illness. Brian was grateful that I went along as it makes his Mom happy to see the kids seemingly unaffected by our separation and that we can all get along so well.

I then had Christmas night to myself and most of Boxing Day, but I was on vacation until January 5 so had them everyday and boy did we have fun. Until, of course, Monday morning. I’m too hard on myself, I know.