for reals...

for reals...

A blog about parenting teens and other things. There are a lot of "mommy blogs" out there. I love many of them. However, they aren't really applicable at this stage in our parenting. A blog about parenting teens? Now that is something I can get behind!

Although, I will say, if you are looking for advice on parenting, I can mostly offer the things I've found that DON'T work. I'm not an expert. AT. ALL . Unless we're talking about eyerolls. And then, I've got that shizzle nailed...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why private school?

We have been asked this question a lot.  Why do we send our kids to private school when Boise has really good public education?  Well, if you must know, we had all this money lying around and couldn't find a use for it.  Oh, wait...  It's certainly not because Mark and I were private school kids.  We both went to public and turned out okay,  Right?  Never mind, don't answer that,

Our girls education has taken a big commitment from us.  It does cost a lot of money.  Well, it's a lot to us, anyway.  (I actually know people that spend more per year on preschool or daycare)  But, part of what we are paying for is the environment.  Our kids are in a place that not only encourages a college education, but expects it.  The teachers and staff are committed to helping the kids learn.  And the kids are committed to learning.  Talk about a driven and successful group of students.

It's no secret that we are Catholic.  I'm cool with it if you're anti-religion, or anti-Catholic.  That's your choice, just as us choosing Catholicism is ours.  But yes, our kids attend Catholic school.  The religion is part of the reason we send them.  However, it is a really small part of it.  Our girls get the majority of their faith education at home.  That's our job.  I will say that I love that the high school has a Comparative Religion class.  If our girls remain Catholic, I want to know it's because they chose it, not that we chose it for them.  They need to see what is out there in order to know for sure what they believe.

When your children attend a smaller school, there is often a great sense of community.  I know Mark experienced this growing up in a small town.  And if we lived somewhere like that, our kids probably would attend public school.  I like that all the teachers and staff know our family.  I don't feel like that is the reality in public school generally.  At least around here.  It's nice to know that they are looking out for our kids when we aren't around.

Community service is expected as young as Kindergarten at our schools.  The parental involvement is staggering.  The staff to student ratio is incredible.  I could go on an on.  But, I won't.  I'll just say that we chose private school because it was the right fit for our family.  Is it perfect?  By no means.  There are issues anywhere.  But, it's been a really positive experience for all of us.  And obviously, we are proof that private school isn't only for rich kids...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Putting your marriage first.

I read an article the other day in which a woman was talking about her husband and her marriage always coming last.  You can read it here .  As I was reading, part of me kept hoping this was a satirical piece, but nope.  This seems to be a trend, and I don't understand it at all.

Your kids will always be your kids, but your spouse won't necessarily always be your spouse.  Especially if you don't make them a priority. Our goal as parents is to raise our children to not need us.  To be self-sufficient, productive members of society, right?  I don't understand the new child-centric trend.  I see more and more parents letting their children run the show.  Many have an attitude of "What can you do"?  You can be the parent!  Besides, it is important for kids to see healthy, happy relationships modeled for them.  And to have boundaries.  And to have sane parents.

I've always been a bit of a crazy when it comes to a fairly early bedtime.  When the girls were really little, I think it was for self-preservation as much as anything.  I was home with them all day, and they were BUSY!  The second reason I was the bedtime nazi is that my kids get up early.  Like ridiculous early.  And even if they went to bed later, they would be up as soon as the sun came out.  Sometimes even earlier.  Awesome.  Thirdly, Mark and I needed time to catch up and be together without the kids.

We had a super complicated bedtime routine.  Here it is:
Step One : Brush teeth
Step Two: Put pajamas on
Step Three:  Get in bed
Step Four: One book
Step Five: Prayers
Step Six: Go to sleep

There was never any negotiation.  There were never any kids in our bed.  These were the expectations, and they met them.  As they got older (maybe Kindergarten age) we would tell them to go get their jammies on, then we would assist in teeth brushing and tuck them in.  If we had company, they were on their own for all of it.  We would still come tuck them in and kiss them goodnight, but it was a 2 minute ordeal.  I remember one time we had friends over and they just looked at us in awe.  Apparently bedtime didn't go quite as smoothly at their house.  In that moment, we were parenting rock stars. 

If I could give two pieces of advice to new parents it would be to 1. focus on your marriage and 2. create a simple bedtime routine for your kids.  Your babysitters will thank you!   And hopefully, someday, your kids will thank you.

I think it's tough as parents to see our kids unhappy.  But, we can't always make them happy.  Nor should we try.  Life is full of disappointments.  They need to experience this fully to be able to know how to handle it when it inevitably happens.  It's okay for our kids to be excluded from adult conversation.  To be expected not to interrupt.  (We still work on this one!)  It's definitely okay to do things without your kids.  And if you expect to always be able to make your kids happy, the teen years are going to be AWESOME for you.

When we were brand new parents, we worked out a deal with Mark's college student cousin.  She would come watch Peyton for us and got to do her laundry for free.  Plus we would buy her a pizza or feed her dinner of some sort.  It seemed like a mutually beneficial arrangement...hopefully Erin would agree.  ;-)  My point is, there are options for child care if you don't have a lot of money for a sitter.  Co-op with friends. Or if you can't find a starving, poor college student to exploit, have a date night after the kids are in bed.  Rent a movie, make popcorn, enjoy being together without the kids. 

Do not neglect your marriage.  If you aren't married, do not neglect yourself.  And don't neglect your kids.  But, doing things without them is not neglect.  Spending time away from them is not neglect.  ( I mean, as long as someone is there to take care of them.  ha ha)  Maybe you think I'm full of it, or that I'm a terrible mother.  That's cool.  I think that myself sometimes.  But I also think keeping your marriage as strong as you can is important.  To you, your spouse, and your kids.

Me and my favorite person!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


That's a nice little thing to obsess about at 4 AM on your day off.  Am I right?  Also, the subtitle for this post is "Insomnia is dumb".

We all know perfection is unobtainable.  Unless you're a baseball pitcher or a bowler, I guess.  Or a few other things that I can't think of right now.  You know, 4AM and all.

Syd is getting her braces much later this morning.  Looking at her, you would think her teeth were just fine.  And they are fine.

Here is a before:

And here is my cute girl with her braces:

It seems strange to put braces on teeth that seem nearly perfect, only to try and make them closer to perfect.  But, her jaw is also misaligned.  So, while her teeth appear straight, they line up directly on top of one another, which apparently can cause a whole host of issues.  At least according to her orthodontist.  Waaaait a minute.  Just kidding, he is totally trustworthy.  But it makes me think about how I do try to obtain perfection probably way too often.  It's also a good reminder that even though something seems perfect, it really isn't.

There are so many times when I expect perfection from my girls.  Like I said before, I know no one is perfect.  But, I still expect it from them.  So unfair.  I know they are capable of getting straight A's.  They have no shortage of smarts.  In fact, I'm probably the dumbest person in my house at this point.  :-)  But, I also need to remember that I was perfectly able to get all A's and never did.  Why?  Because I'm lazy. And mostly, they do get A's.  But not always, and that's actually okay.  I hope that part of the reason I expect more from them is altruistic and that I want them to learn from my mistakes.  And, I'm sure that IS part of it.

I am an odd sort of perfectionist.  I like things to be "perfect", but if I don't know how to make that happen, I freeze up.  It took us waaaaaaaay too long to tile our kitchen.  I was afraid it wouldn't turn out since we'd never done it before.  I couldn't get myself to actually start the project.  Thankfully, Mark stepped in and got us started.  Oh, and of course the tile turned out just fine.

I'm definitely not a fan of trial and error. UGH!   I don't like making mistakes or failing.  Which is silly, because those are just a part of life.  I know this logically of course.  Unfortunately, Syd takes after me.  Poor kid.  We are the worrying sort.  We obsess.  We lose sleep.  It's definitely a battle fought every day.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.  Sometimes, you write an imperfect blog post when you should be sleeping.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Growing up, I always wanted a sister.  I have a brother, and he is awesome.  I love him a lot.  But, he's not a sister.  Duh.  I did get a sister later in life, when my mom got remarried.  It's been great, but it's still not the same as what my girls share.  The getting to grow up together, the shared history, the inside jokes about what idiots your parents are.  I'm also lucky enough to have three great sisters-in-law.  They are all really cool.  But they all already have at least one sister.  I've truthfully never been much of a girlfriend girl.  But, growing up, I usually had one really close friend.  Not always the same one, but I did most often have one.  What I think is interesting about these friendships is that I can only think of one, maybe two that had a sister.  I wonder if I somehow was drawn to that?  Trying to find a surrogate sister??

 The following picture is somewhat of a joke at our house.
I can't remember if I'm the Good Sister or the Evil One...
When Sydney was born, Peyton was such a good big sister.  She wanted to hold, feed, carry and love the baby.  All. The. Time.  As Syd grew, she became a bit of a stinker.  She wasn't always very nice to her big sister.  They still spent a lot of time together, and got along really well, most of the time.  However, when they weren't getting along, it was usually because of Syd.

Sisters are the perfect best friend. (They come by the eye roll naturally.)

These days, if the girls aren't getting along (I will admit this happens rarely) it is almost always because Peyton is annoyed about something.  She is not subtle in showing her irritation.  She will let you know...loud and proud. (Pot, meet Kettle.) We joke about who has to "wake the bear" in the morning.  And who has to tell her to do her chores.  And all of the other stuff that makes her cranky.  Often, she is nicer to her sister on these occasions and usually directs her wrath to us idiots who are trying to raise her.  However, there have been a few times that she's been upset with Syd.

I can only think of a handful of times that they have actually been really mad at each other.  They've never been the type to fight physically with each other.  I've heard stories of other sisters who couldn't be in the same room without coming to blows.  There may have been times that I don't know about them fighting, but I doubt there are many.  I generally hear the dirty details in these cases.

I've always told the girls that they need to be nice to each other because they will be best friends some day.  Which usually is answered with a groan and an eye roll or head shake.  But, truthfully, they already are best friends.  I hope they will always be the type of sisters that want to call each other with news, good or bad, before they tell anyone else. That they will be proud of each others success.  That they will be honest with each other, even when it hurts.  That they will protect and stick up for their sister, even if she was wrong.  And then, tell her flat out that she was, in fact, wrong. 

They have already decided each will be the maid/matron of honor at each others weddings, and they talk about who's going to be the coolest aunt to the others kids.  I have a feeling it will be the two of them that it hits the hardest when Peyton leaves for college.  But for now, I hope they can enjoy having each other when mom or dad just won't do.  I imagine there are probably things you can only tell your sister.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fitbit, no shame in my tardy-to-the-party game.

Recently, I joined the Fitbit bandwagon.  As always, I'm a bit late to the party.  I can see how someone with an addictive personality such as mine could get a little crazy with one of these bad boys.  After being sick for the majority of the fall and winter, plus sinus surgery, my work-outs have been non-existent.  I needed a boost of motivation.

So far, I'm about 50/50 on hitting my step goal.  I'm doing okay on logging food, and pretty much rock at getting enough water.  It's also cool to see how I'm (not) sleeping, as I tend to be a bit of an insomniac.  I'm great at falling asleep, but not staying asleep.  I imagine if I looked into my food log on the days I'm not sleeping well, I could see a pattern.  But as always, denial and I are besties.

To be honest, I can super easily talk myself OUT of exercising. So, for me, this is a good way to motivate myself.  Make it a challenge.  I still will find myself an out on occasion, but for the most part, I am making it happen.  When once I would have decided to hang out on the couch in the evening, if I don't have my 10,000 steps for the day, it's out the door I go!  Most of the time, at least.   I also like that I can add additional exercise in a different area.  It's also nice to know that even if I'm not getting in an "actual" workout, I've taken 10,000 or more steps for the day. 

We've actually considered getting an activity tracker for each of  the girls.  They are like me and tend to over-estimate how much exercise they are truly getting.  And I've never seen two kids more affected by not getting enough exercise.  Their brains just function so much better when they've been active that day.  They are also very influenced by not enough sleep.  Oh, and another trait they inherited from me is getting "hangry".  So, I doubt it would change their attitude, but at least I could know if they were being mean due to hunger, or just because they are teens.  Ha!

It seems that this would be treading some very dangerous waters though.  We have always stressed being healthy and strong as important.  Not weight.  I think we've done a pretty good job. (Or maybe, denial again...)  I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't worry about the message a tracker would send though. Growing up, they were always excited to see they had grown at their check-ups.  Peyton even went as far as to correct her weight (to higher) when she got her drivers license.  The clerk looked at her like she had two heads and told her "most women would never admit that"!  (Definitely another post, grrr...)

I have to think about the trackers for the girls some more.  But as for me, so far, so good.  Now I just need to find myself a motivator for house work and all of the other things I'm really good at excusing myself from. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gabbies, and G'pa's, and Boppy's....oh my.

One of the biggest blessings in the lives of my kids are their amazing grandparents.  And, they are very, very blessed since they have more than the usual number!

When they were born, they actually were in the unusual position of having 4 great-grandparents still living.  That's kind of a big deal.

Now, they have the following: (Names were chosen by Peyton when she was little)

Gabbie (my mom) and Devin - My mom and the girls have a pretty special relationship.  When Syd was 6 months old, my mom moved to Boise.  And in with us!  She lived with us for 2 1/2 years.  The girls loved having Gabbie with us.  Probably partially because she completely spoiled them.  Ha!  They would get up on her day off and go snuggle in bed with her.  She played with them in a way that I didn't always have patience for.  She cooked and baked with them...another thing I didn't, and still don't, have patience for.  When Syd was about 5 and Peyton 7-ish, Gabbie and Devin got married.  Now, they had another grandparent to spoil them.  Devin is a bit of a softie when it comes to the girls.  When Mark and I are gone over-night, the girls stay with Gabbie and Devin.  They have special "traditions" that must be observed.  They stay up late watching movies, wake up late to special breakfast.  Gabbie and Devin are the closest in proximity so generally try to make it to most school activities.  Something my Grandma (aka "Bubba"...thank you Peyton) was also super good about.

Nanna and Boppy (Mark's parents) - Mark's parents live a couple hours from us.  Boppy was an integral in Peyton learning to drive.  He has so much patience with the girls!  He didn't even mind when Peyton bumped him with the pick-up and nearly sent him in the ditch.  Even when we went and had an April baby, and then later an August baby, smack dab in the middle of farming season, they have made it a point to come to every one of the girls' birthday parties.  Nanna is so proud of the girls.  She never misses a chance to brag to people about her red-headed granddaughters!  One of the biggest blessings she has given ME, is reminding me that we are raising amazing girls.  She makes a point to tell me how proud of us as parents she is.  (Does that sentence sound like Yoda spoke it, or is that just me?)

G'pa B (my dad - apparently the girls decided that is his rapper name) and Gramma Jeanne -  G'pa B might be the spoiliest of the spoilers.  The girls spend a couple weeks in the Summer with these two.  They have things like "breakfast dessert", which is basically just ice cream after your breakfast donuts.  They go on cool adventures.  However, the girls have been instructed to NEVER go on a nature hike with G'pa B.  He is notorious for getting "lost-ish".  You know how they went for a "three-hour tour" on Gilligan's Island?  That's basically how nature hikes go.  I remember at least twice being returned to our home base on vacation by Park Rangers when I was young.  Gramma Jeanne teaches them a lot about nature.  She was always catching bugs with them when they were little.  Eeewww....  She has been such a good influence for the girls. 

While a couple of these may not be related by blood, they are definitely true grandparents to the girls.  Honestly, my kids feel no difference.  They are just as excited to share things with my step-parents as they are with my parents.  I feel like this is such a testament to the two people that love my kids because they want to, not because they have to.  ;-)  It's also really, really cool to look over at an event and see all 4 of my parents hanging out and chatting with each other.  I think that is probably pretty rare.

Last year, when Peyton had a part in the school play, we had all 3 sets of grandparents attend.  It was amazing.  She was so proud to have them there.  They've attended school plays, piano recitals, dance recitals, sporting events, concerts, graduations, birthdays, baptisms, first communions, confirmations, and more.  I know that it can be a huge sacrifice for the grandparents to get to events.  But they all make it a priority.  They are all such a gift to our little family.  And the relationship the girls have with each of them is so unique and special.  Grandparents rock!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Second Child Syndrome...

We have noticed on occasion that Sydney doesn't always get the attention that Peyton did under similar circumstances.  Case in point, high school registration.

Last week, incoming freshmen (freshman?!? No, no, NO.) went to meet with counselors to get their Fall schedule approved.  First of all, we nearly missed seeing that this event was happening.  It was not on our radar like it was when Peyton was an incoming student.  Secondly, I did not attend.  I had another event that night.  So, Mark took Syd.  Weird.

I've said it before, Sydney not only demands less attention, she requires less.  She is much less "vocal" when it comes to us participating.  She likes to be in control, and really wants to be seen as an adult already.  We have to remind her frequently that she is still a kid and doesn't have to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.  That's why she has us.

Peyton is content to let us take care of her.  Her sister plays into this perfectly.  When the girls are home alone, it is Syd who cooks for them.  She is a natural care taker.  Peyton doesn't even take care of herself when it comes to food.  If we ask what she ate when she's on her own, it will invariably be either a piece of cheese, or nothing.  (Says the person who would subsist on cold cereal for dinner if the other people in my house would only cooperate!)

That being said, there are still a lot of parenting type things we have to keep in mind with Syd.  She is nearly incapable of monitoring her own electronics usage.  The other day, after Mark had taken away one of her electronics, I went in her room to see her on another.  When I asked, she informed me it was Peyton's.  It never really dawned on her that if we take her device away, it means she is not supposed to be on any device.

Another component of Second Child Syndrome works to her benefit.  She often gets privileges at the exact same time as here sister...not having to wait until she is the same age.  Her cell phone is a prime example!  She is definitely allowed more freedom earlier.  And, the things that freaked me out with Peyton - driving, etc. don't scare me nearly as much with Syd.

While she has to suffer through hand-me-downs, she also has never had the burden of being our sole focus!  I have a feeling Syd likes being the second (and youngest) child as much as I did. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Wow, she can sing!

Peyton's choir had a benefit concert on Saturday.  Her choir teacher gave her a full song solo!  It was  "Irish" themed in honor of their Ireland trip coming up.  And, my kid rocked it!  Yes, I'm impartial.  For sure.  I did hear a couple people comment on her song though.  "Wow, she can sing".  "She was amazing".  Made my heart proud, especially because these were comments I overheard.

This is one version of the lyrics:

I've often heard my father speak of Ireland's lakes and dells,
The place must be like Heaven, if it's half like what it tells,
There's roses fair and shamrocks there, and laughing waters flow,
Ireland must be heaven if it's half like what I know,

Ireland must be Heaven, for my Mother came from there,
I never seen a living soul, one half as sweet or fair,
Her eyes are like the star light, And the white dog marcher hare,
Ireland Must be Heaven, For My Mother Came From There.

I've pictured in my fondest dreams old Ireland's lakes and dells,
I see a stairway to the sky, formed by perfect wings,
Each wave that's in the ocean blue just love the harbor shore,
And if Ireland isn't Heaven, then It must be right next door.

Ireland must be Heaven, for my Mother came from there,
I never seen a living soul, one half as sweet or fair,
Her eyes are like the star light, And the white dog marcher hare,
Ireland Must be Heaven, For My Mother Came From There.

Ireland Must be Heaven, For My Mother Came From There.

Mark wasn't able to attend the concert since he was out of town.  I ended up missing the very first part of my recording which is a bummer, but I think she's actually going to be singing it again at the concert this month.  Yay!

Lovely, clear shot of my Irish lass.  Ha!

I did have to laugh a little when she sang it the first time at home.  My kids are not natural sopranos.  And this song was HIGH!  But, she practiced a lot, and ended up doing really well.  I could tell she was nervous, but I doubt anyone else knew.

And there is my shameless Mom brag for the day.