Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thursday, October 2, 2014

One thing too many

I have always thought extracurricular activities for kids were a must. And we've dutifully driven our girls to dance and gymnastics a couple of times a week for the past few years. Now that my oldest is in first grade, I decided the time has come to let her choose what she wanted to do and in what amounts. BIG. HUGE. MISTAKE :)

She was ecstatic.... And chose everything and then some: Dance class, another dance class, another dance class and ballet (not to be confused with a dance class), gymnastics at the gym, gymnastics at the dance studio, theater and then as the cherry on top swimming on Sundays. I am tired just typing this but at the end of summer, full of energy and fresh memories of lazy afternoons by the pool, anything seemed possible.

Now it is October and I am EXHAUSTED. Her kindergarten was half day and ended at 12:30. 1st grade ends at 2:40 with just enough time to rush home, do homework and rush off again to another activity. To my daughter's credit she does love everything she chose but I can see the strain: the crankiness, and the tantrums barely held in check by pride at being old enough not have them.

I am ready for her to quit something, to let some freedom back into her and my life but here is the rub. We've always told her to finish what you start and all those activities (well, except swimming) have shows at the end and have already started rehearsing and roles have been assigned. So now we wait, wait with bated breaths for December, the final bows and applause and for taking back control.

A 6.5 year old no matter how mature and motivated is not equipped with the capacity to judge what's best for her. And neither apparently is a well rested mother excited that her child is interested in activities she herself loved as a kid. An exhausted and overextended mother of a cranky kid who is about to be put on the front porch with a "FREE TO A GOOD HOME" sign is a whole other matter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The inmates should not be running the asylum!

Today one of the moms I greatly admire posted a link to a blog post that almost made her cry. The post was one of those all pervasive self-righteous "life lesson" where the writer opines that she'd almost ruined her relationship with her child because she'd dared to not cuddle him the second the demand came in. She was tired, the write said but realizing that her son now saw a glimpse of the reality that his mother was in fact human, she rallied and amended her ways, her son's childhood salvaged just in time. My friend was heart broken after reading this because she said she does try to say yes as much as possible but felt guilty that often she just can't. This woman, who takes care of her three sons tirelessly and lead one of them through a horrifying battle with cancer was made to feel guilty by one of a legion of self proclaimed parenting experts and I wanted to reach through the screen and punch the author of the blog in the face.

As you might have surmised by now, I hate these types of blog posts. We are already naturally guilt ridden as mothers, and these play on our weakness: you should play with your kids when they want you, you should cuddle when THEY want it, you should read when they ask, you should plan educational trips, don't rush them, don't strain them, ALWAYS be there. It never stops! Maybe the writer would have more energy to cuddle with her son at night if she had a bit less weight placed on her during the day. Or maybe what she should have done is set expectations: you know, buddy, by nighttime mommy is really tired. How about we wake up 5 minutes earlier and cuddle before you get out of bed?

We are the parents. We are in charge. The kids should be a part of our life and enhance it, just like we strive to enhance theirs. When did the switch in our society flip so that it's the kids who are running the show and the parents feel that if they are not at their beck and call every minute, they are not doing a good enough job? Kids will always be asking for something - it's their nature. But isn't it our responsibility as parents to teach them to recognize that mommy is being grumpy not because she doesn't care but because she is tired and needs a break?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Some silver, gold and white

I am getting my shop back up after a nice summer break: restocking inventory, buying new paints and brushes and finding excuses to get most of the completely irrelevant stock at Michael's. While at it, I realized that I really am out of a lot of my paints AND down to my last white travel mug. The new mugs are arriving next week but for now here are a few BLACK mugs done in silver, gold, and white paints :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer Fun

Summer is always such a busy time but also a time to slow down and enjoy your family. This year I closed down my shop for 4 weeks and got to focus completely on my girls:

It's been such a joy!
I am back in the studio now and believe it or not Christmas inquiries are starting to come in! I have 6 scheduled already and will be taking on some more. But this year I am closing the book on custom orders by Halloween. Last year I was working 18 hour days from October until December 22 and it really did a number on my sanity, not to mention drove my hubby to the brink ;) I will leave you with a few photos from that crazy time and hope to be back and posting more regularly now that I am well rested :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to kindergarten I go

One of the reasons I switched careers and started my own business is so that I could be more involved with my kids' activities, able to volunteer and be generally more there for them. Up until now I really felt like that decision benefited me even more so than them. I got to do what I really love career-wise and show up at their tiny pre-school to do arts and crafts. Well, the 5 year old started half day kindergarten this year. We chose to put her in public school since the one near our house is ranked very high. It is, however overcrowded.  I signed up to volunteer in the classroom once a week and today was my first day. And, now I know how crucial me having more time really will be. Now for the public service announcement: whether you are working or staying home, if you have any, and I mean ANY time to help out in the classroom, do! The eye opening experience of a public school kindergarten class with a 1:22 teacher to student ratio left me depressed, and I love my daughter's teacher. It's just no matter how much she tries there is only so much individual attention she can offer per student and that amount is miniscule. The kids are at completely different levels academically and I could see that the activities that challenged some left others bored out of their little minds. Between the teacher and me, I felt like there were not enough adults to go around, but unless a parent volunteers, the teacher is the only one there. Frankly, it really made me question everything - our decision to go with a public school, our plans for our younger daughter, even where we live. I know I've read all about the dire straights our schools are in but until you see it for yourself, you really don't know. Here is to a better day tomorrow!