Monday, December 30, 2013

Movin' on up...

So. Moving Day is Wednesday. The house is very packed. The lease has been signed. We have a listing date for our house. It's all real, for super realsies.

That means we really did just celebrate our last Christmas here. I cooked the last big breakfast I'll ever make in my kitchen, baked the last pie, chose the last paint color. Things I've done dozens of times here are done now.

And it's fine. I am definitely feeling a little nostalgic, but I'm a nostalgic person. I have a very strong sense of place. For some people it's smells or sounds or particular sights. For me, memories have always tied most closely to places. So selling the home my children have known their whole lives is a little disconcerting, but it's also absolutely the right time and the right decision.

Anyway. There's a TON of stuff to do around here once we get all our crap out to prepare it for potential buyers, and I'm dreading the process but thrilled about having it done. Once we sell this house we can take a step back and just be for a few years. We can stop living in limbo, our stuff half-packed, our plans uncertain, in a neighborhood we hate and a house that's too small. A major source of stress will be no more.

We'll spend 18-24 months saving like crazy people so we can build our dream house in the boonies. We'll have a daily routine that is not dictated by home repairs and the stress of an uneasy housing market. I can get my toddler out of my bedroom and into his own. More than one person can poop at the same time.

We can just breathe. I really need a few years to just breathe. Probably not during the simultaneous pooping, obviously. That is not the right time to focus on breathing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Why We are so Super Strict about Media

I actually wrote most of this post over a month ago, but this awesome article I read today inspired me to finally put it up. If you finish this post and still don't get my beef with tween-centered media, read the article for a far more eloquent and thorough examination.

She was a Minecraft Endergirl for Halloween—not iCarlybot or Hannah Monwaverlyplace or a Hey Jessie Labrat or whatever.
My daughter has a natural gift for acting. She can slip into a persona and sustain it so easily that it's shocking. She loves performing and trying on a character, just like her mama, except that she has more natural talent than I do. And this is a very cool trait. If she pursues acting with any real effort, I believe she'll find success and have a wonderful time.

The other edge of this sword, however, is that it tends to carry over into her daily interactions. Bear has always been a story teller. She doesn't maliciously or vindictively lie. I have never, ever known her to make up a story about someone to get them into trouble. She makes up stories about herself, inventing tales about long-lost pets, her dramatic birth in an airplane over Germany, a baseball team's worth of brothers and sisters who do not exist...and she SELLS IT.

So while I admire her natural talent and flair, I am not okay with the telling of tall tales for attention. I've tried to help her channel her creativity into her play and her writing, and it has definitely helped (as has being called out and embarrassed a few times by the people she was spinning faslehoods for).

The thing about Bear is that she is very, very susceptible to media influences. I think part of it is because of her natural gift for trying on different personae. But we have to be very careful about what she is exposed to, because if something looks like fun to her on tv or online, she will quickly adopt traits of the characters and run with them. We don't like her to watch shows about kids who are older than her and are dating and disrespecting everyone in their path. And that is pretty much every kid on every show on Disney and Nick. My ten year-old daughter sees these things and strives to emulate them. And she has friends who do that, too, which makes it even harder to combat.

Our longest struggle has been in trying to help her understand romantic relationships and their unrealistic portrayal on television. She think she's supposed to have a boyfriend, or at the very least, a crush, regardless of what she hears from me. Her friends all have crushes. The kids on tv build their entire lives around their crushes and boyfriends and girlfriends. So she began with the "dating" and "boyfriend" talk a long time ago.

My personal challenge in all of it has been in striking a balance between discouraging age-inappropriate talk while not invalidating her feelings. I don't think it's unusual for a young kid to have little crushes. Those feelings are real. But because of the influence of media, she believes they are far more significant than they should be at her age. This means that we have finally reached a point where I have had to just flat-out ban certain words and phrases from her vocabulary.

And keeping her away from the shows we disapprove of is next to impossible. While they've all been banned in our house, this is not the only place she spends time. Her grandparents have respected our request that she not watch that stuff at their house, but she hangs out with friends, too. And I cannot tell a mom or dad that their kids can't watch tv while my kid is there. There's also a lot of pressure from her friends to watch certain things. Not in a mean or bullying way; just in an enthusiastic, "why not?", we-have-to-talk-your-mom-into-letting-you kind of way. The latest battle over this was Teen Beach Movie. It's not that I'm worried about it being filled with sex and violence. It's just that my daughter cannot relate to a single thing in that movie, but she will try. And she is too young for those personae.

It's a very tricky path to walk, but fortunately being a "mean mom" comes pretty naturally to me, so I stick to my guns. Husband and I are in complete solidarity on this, which helps. He might even hate Disney Channel more than I do.

I'm not here to preach. No one should feel the need to defend their decision to let their kids watch whatever. It's none of my business. This is about my kid and her needs and I have no interest in parenting anyone else's kids. So take this for what it is—an explanation of my stance, not an attack on anyone else's.

Sunday, December 1, 2013 plan...

After an exhausting but very fun trip to Chicago to visit Husband's family for Thanksgiving, we are home and looking forward to getting back to our routine. However, that routine will be changing very soon because...

*drumroll please*

We're moving!


When we decided that building our house next year was just going to be cutting it too close, we were left with two options: stay in place for yet anther 18-24 months in our two-bedroom, one-bathroom home with four people and a large dog, or find a rental and at least live in comfort until we're ready to get into that dream house.

My mental health is at stake here, people, and I mean that sincerely. I've been having a bit of a difficult time lately and I think it's at least in part due to the extremely cramped living conditions around here. There is a toddler living in my bedroom, and while I have no moral objections to this, I am personally OVER IT. I can't spend another month in this house without an end in sight, let alone several years. I'm losing my mind.

So we looked at a few houses and as luck would have it, a friend of mine from my old days slingin' biscuits-n'-gravy at the Bob Evans was looking to rent her house. We took a look, found it to be a perfect fit for our needs, and put a deposit down. We have stuff to do to make it all even more official this week, but the plan is to move in on January 1st.

At that point, we'll do everything we can to our awesome-but-tiny house, put it on the market, and hope for the best. We're hoping it will sell quickly enough that we won't have to dip into our savings much. Hope being the key word.

In the meantime, we are going to try to relax and enjoy our last Christmas in this, the only home our children have ever lived in. Knowing that we're moving in less than five weeks has me both excited and incredibly sad and I know I'm going to cry like a...crying thing. But I'm very much looking forward to having our own bathroom (multiple toilets, people!), a separate bedroom for Bug and all his stuff, and a backyard that's as great as the one we have now (a luxury we did not expect to find). We're also going to have a guest room for the first time ever, which will double as an office. So when Bear is playing Minecraft and Husband is playing Call of Duty, they will not have to compete with each other to be heard.

Husband gets holiday pay the week after Christmas, so he's going to try to work as many hours as possible while I pack like a mad woman. That will make for a tough week, but it will be totally worth it. I've been saving every box that's come into the house in anticipation of this move for almost two years, and between diapers and Amazon, that's a LOT of boxes. Still probably not enough, but a good start.

I'm beginning to ramble. I'm just incredibly excited. I'll post some pictures of our moving process when it really begins, but feel free to leave me any tips or tricks for simplifying a move in the comments.