Archive for April, 2011

April 11, 2011

What Would You Do With Ten Extra Years?

“American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.”
– The Kaiser Family Foundation

We don’t have a TV. The truth is, we haven’t had a television in 2.5 years.  When my oldest boy was one we moved to a new state.  We took that opportunity to sell or donate a lot of our stuff (somehow, we still have way too much stuff, but I’m working on that).  One of the things we donated was our television.  At the time, I guess we were doing better than the average household, because we only had one television, but it was on all day long.  I thought I needed the background noise and that it somehow helped me feel connected to the outside world. 

Now that I’ve told you we don’t have a television, and you think I’m strong and awesome (wink wink), I’m going to admit that we do have laptops and a desktop computer and our kids watch some shows on Netflix. Actually, this winter, our “show watching” hit an all time high. It has been really easy to rationalize it because we didn’t go anywhere all winter…I was petrified Champ would get sick and we would have a long hospital stint to deal with.  I felt guilty that my kids were playing with the same toys and doing the same projects day after day, so I let them feel like picking a new show to watch was their new treat.  If I’m being really authentic, being stuck inside all winter is hard.  Sometimes letting my kids watch a show on Netflix meant I could just lay on the couch feeling sorry for myself, get the dishes done, or (gasp) take a nap!

I’m working on tuning in to how things make my body and mind feel, and I can say that having my kids watch Netflix for more than an hour a day (we all need an hour of Sesame Street, lol), makes me feel awful.  It’s a slippery slope… one extra show often begets another and results in me feeling less connected to my kids.

I need to get back on track.  Winter is over and I really have no excuses.  I can give my kids the benefit of using those ten years of their lives to actually improve their quality of life.

Do you have a television? How much do you let your kids watch? Do you use the TV for “family time?” If so, how?  If not, what do you do instead?

April 6, 2011

WTF Wednesday: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

A few weeks ago, I had the Salvation Army come pick up a bunch of extra furniture. We were donating a fairly new computer armoire, a nice baby changing table, a dining buffet/hutch, and a twin bedroom set. The twin bedroom set was fairly old, but solid wood, and one drawer in the dresser was fairly difficult to pull out. When the guys arrived, they (insultingly) inspected each item. Then they explained they don’t take any baby furniture because of the liability involved (this I understand, I guess), and that they wouldn’t take the twin bedroom set because the dresser (1 of 4 pieces) had a less-than-perfectly functioning drawer. They’re “trying to reduce waste,” the driver explained. So, yeah…for those of you keeping track, all they ended up taking was the computer amoire!

Here’s the thing that really gets me: we used those pieces of furniture for years.  They work well enough to get by.  It is my opinion that someone who just needs a dresser to hold clothes and doesn’t need anything fancy would pay a nominal fee for said dresser, even if it isn’t in perfect condition.  What’s that expression? Beggars can’t be choosers? We were donating furniture.  The Salvation Army was already spending their gas and their laborers time picking up furniture at my house- grabbing those other items and making a few bucks selling them is just gravy at that point. Or, heck, if you have to throw out one or two items in order to keep your donors happy, you should be willing to incur that cost, right?

The experience we had with the Salvation Army really put a bad taste in my mouth.  This doesn’t mean I won’t donate my things anymore, I’ll just stick with better organizations.  So far, Big Brothers Big Sisters Long Island has been awesome.

Have you had negative experiences when trying to donate items? Do you have any advice for charitable organizations so they avoid turning off potential life-long donors?

 

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April 4, 2011

The Nine Month Baby Itch: Some Goals to Get Over Baby Want

My last baby, Champ, is nine months old today.  By the time my second and third children were nine months old, I was pregnant again. Somehow, not being pregnant when my baby is on the verge of being a toddler feels strange to me.  If I’m being honest, strange doesn’t quite cover it- not being pregnant right now has brought my post-tubal-ligation-feelings back to the surface.

Having Champ was a life changer.  Before our youngest was born, we thought we would probably have one more baby. We hadn’t decided yet.  I experienced preterm labor in each of my pregnancies, but never actually gave birth to a preemie. This time, my pregnancy took me away from my young children when I was on modified bed rest. The birth of our youngest meant 5+ weeks of my time in the NICU, which also took me away from my other kids. Of course, if we chose to have another baby, there was the other obvious concern- having another (even younger) preemie.

The decision to have a tubal ligation after my fourth baby was necessary for the health of my existing children.  It wasn’t because I decided four was enough.  I guess maybe that’s the thing that is so difficult… I didn’t feel like I made the decision for myself, more like my uterus decided for me.

The littlest guy was born eight weeks premature. Having never given birth to a preemie, I guess I feel like there were extenuating circumstances that probably made him feel like he was trapped inside the body of a  crazy person.

  • My husband was unemployed when we conceived and  for the beginning of my pregnancy.
  • We moved from one state to another.
  • We sold our house in the midst of a horrible recession after owning it for only 14 months.
  • Our new (rented) house is significantly smaller than our last, and instead of having a lovely attached garage, the parking is in front of our house down two flights of stairs.
  • We made the decision to let my daughter move out of our home and live with her father full-time.
  • I had a six year-old, just turned two year-old, and a nine month-old.

I think that about sums it up. . .So yeah, my uterus wasn’t exactly a chill resting place for Champ the fetus.  In fact, my uterus was so uncooperative, that I ended up going to my in-laws (in yet another state) with my kids so that they could help me with the older three. The wonderful people that are my in-laws helped me to keep Champ in-utero three more precious weeks, until he decided enough was enough, and came out eight weeks early to the sound of fireworks on Independence Day. Giving birth to a premature baby in a state you don’t live in presents a whole host of problems, but let’s just say I ended up spending way too much time away from my three older children.

Essentially, what I’ve admitted here is that I feel like having my tubes tied was smart- but that doesn’t mean it was a happy occasion… or that I feel the same “tubal ligation relief” so many others feel. You know, a thrill that they are finally “done” and no longer have to worry about surprises. The joy that comes with getting rid of four gigantic bins of maternity clothes was dampened by the realization that I will never need maternity clothes again.

I really just need to find a way to turn this into a good thing. This is the beginning of the rest of my life. I’m officially out of the child-bearing stage. Now I can actually focus on child-rearing. My youngest three were born within 32 months. During my semi-complicated pregnancies, I was just trying to get by (of course, we also moved 4 times). It was tough to focus on enriching the lives of my existing children while I was trying desperately to stay pregnant. Now I can focus on my kids, my home, and myself. It’s like Christmas & my Birthday all rolled into one! Right? Well, that’s how I’m going to start thinking about it anyway.

In honor of this occasion, I’ve decided I need to set some goals for myself.  You see, I’m working really hard on being authentic. Its much more than that though. I’m working on being authentic and unapologetic. It’s hard. I shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for who I am, what I think, or the food I eat (or really, the food I don’t eat). I shouldn’t apologize while explaining things like:

  • why we downplay occasions like Christmas & Birthdays
  • why we don’t have cable, or even a television
  • why we talk to our kids like adults, even when they are “too young” to fully understand
  • why we wake up when it’s still dark and go to bed when the sun is out (even when company is visiting).

I’m sure I could go on and on here.  I plan to write posts on the topics above, and as I do I will be sure to link them appropriately for all of those who are curious about why I’m so weird, I do the things I do. I’ve got to stop apologizing for being different.  Be more proud and forthright about my decisions and why I make them.

So, here I am, publicly announcing my goal to be more authentic and unapologetic.  I guess I’ve started with sharing my true feelings about having a tubal ligation at the ripe old age of twenty-nine.

Does anyone have any pointers? Tips for being yourself (especially if you tend to be a little less mainstream) without apologizing or offending? Please share!