Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New blog, new focus!

The author and her wonderful husband

Cupcakelady is back! I've been admiring all of my friends who have recently stormed the internet with their beautiful stories and photos of food, friends, travel, etc.. I thought it'd be a good time to try getting back into it and see if I can contribute to the world in some way.

While jogging the other day, I do some of my best thinking then, I had some ideas. Here is what I think my blog's focus will be about LIFE!  with an emphasis on family, fashion, fitness, food, travel, and last, but definitely not least, entertainment.  Six subjects I'm very passionate about.

Today's entry is going to be about my family. I have a beautiful family. My husband of nine years and I have two children, one 8-year old girl and a 5-year old boy. We live in southern California. I'm a stay-at-home mom who is also an aspiring entrepreneur/philanthropist. My husband is a systems engineer for a wireless company.

My daughter, age 8 & my son, age 5

Parenthood for us has been both an extreme pleasure and challenge. I always knew I wanted children. I think my parents told me I used to say I wanted "tons of children". Well, for us, two is the perfect number. Also, having one of each gender, in my opinion, really is a gift. The challenge is how to raise them right? With so many choices/options in the world these days, it's a constant battle, as a parent, to find the right balance. I hope to use this blog as an occasional forum to learn and discuss the everyday challenges of parenting.

How about I start with an introduction? My daughter is beautiful, smart, funny, and fiercely independent. Her unwillingness to ask for help with anything is both maddening and eerily familiar to me. Budding control freak, for sure! My mom constantly reminds me how much my daughter reminds her of me when I was her age. My daughter enjoys creating art, singing, playing with her friends and is in love with outer space. We recently downloaded the Star Walk app on my iPad and she is constantly asking to see what stars are in the sky. I think her obsession with it is a metaphor for her personality. I have a feeling she will be a star someday. Doesn't every parent feel this way, though?

My son is energetic, curious, playful, and extremely observant. He gives a whole new meaning to energy. He never stops moving. We joke about his three states of being - awake, eating, and sleeping. He just recently acquired a new state - video gaming. We finally relented on fulfilling his wish for a Nintendo DSi. I will go to my grave with a large amount of motherly guilt for "giving in". Luckily, we know his compulsive side and have set strict limits for him. He is, for now, willing to follow those guidelines. However, we've started to see some new manipulative behaviors we've never seen before. It's pretty funny, actually. The smiling, tilting of the head, unsolicited hugs and kisses followed by the request to get access to his game. I can only hope this means he's learning some early negotiation skills that will help him in his future.

We all had a tremendous MLK, Jr. weekend together. We had my husband's sister in town from Colorado. We took everyone to Legoland, the beach (it was unseasonably warm this weekend, high 70's), and Sea World. It really couldn't have been a more perfect weekend.

So I ask, what in the world could our family be fighting about all the time? The list is quite mundane. "Stop taking things from your brother." Or, "don't hit your sister." And, "will you please go pick up your room?" Or my favorite, "Mommy, mommy, he/she won't leave me alone." You get the picture. It goes on and on...OFTEN! I realize these are common spats. I guess growing up without a sibling, until I was twenty, has its disadvantages for parenting siblings. I assume these issues are what everyone has to deal with? Or are they?

So, that's my question for the day, what can we do to combat all of the combat going on in our house? I watch other families with compliant, almost docile kids playing together, having fun and generally getting along. I never hear other parents raising their voices at their kids. I, on the other hand, feel as though I'm a ref on one of those crazy kick-boxing/wrestling shows. I'm told my kids' relationship with each other seems relatively normal. What does that mean? What is normal? I don't know, but I can't help but think we're doing something wrong. They're starting to fight...a lot!

I read an article the other day in the Carlsbad Patch about communicating with our children that made me think. It was a summary of a recent presentation by licensed parenting professional, Fred Becker, of the Becker Institute. He said we should be spending an average of 8 hours a month with our children without siblings, friends, and distractions. I feel like we spend at least that much time with our kids.  Maybe part of the issue is our inability to effectively communicate with our children? Maybe we need to take a step back and have them focus on talking instead of fighting?  Maybe school, work, extracurriculars, etc are getting in the way of teaching our children peaceful conflict resolution? It's exhausting, this whole peacekeeping thing!

With that in mind, I think our goal for the remainder of this month will be to try Mr. Becker's idea out. Eight hours, on the books with each child, separately. No distractions. I'm sure it'll be challenging but at this point, what do we have to lose? Something has to change! I'll be sure to post the outcome next month. Wish us luck!

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