Raising Boys in a Sports World

In today’s world, where sports is so much a focal, I often find myself thinking about the perfect balance of raising two young boys in that world. What do I mean? I mean, how do we convey that we too love sports, but we don’t always love what it sells, and we don’t always love every player. I’m talking players who use drugs, players who physically beat their significant others, and players who play dirty. I want my boys to idolize the man behind the jersey for who is AND what he stands for, not just the athlete on the field.

I want to make it clear that my husband and I both grew up around sports. We both come from athletic families. We both played multiple sports at very competitive levels. And we were pretty good too. I firmly believe growing up in a competitive environment taught us both a lot about being good leaders, what team work looks like, and many moral and ethical dilemmas along the way. Not to mention, we were both so heavily involved in activities that we never had time for trouble. My point in all of this is, I’m a big advocate in being involved in any extracurricular activities of your choosing. We have no problem with sports. We love them.

But my whole point in this post is to get the dialogue started in that I want my boys to idolize men who value education, high morals, and whose actions who speak louder than words. I’m not saying there are not men out there in the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc. who do not possess some, all, or more of these characteristics, but I feel the overall majority of these players care about their paycheck and the material possessions the paycheck allows them to acquire. And that is not reality. Signing a four year contract for $87 million dollars is not reality. Having a net worth of $165 million dollars is not reality. Buying a Lamborghini, not a reality. Homes that boast over 16, 000 square feet is not reality. If that is your reality one day boys, I expect a room there!

So what is it I want the boys to value?

Firstly, I want them to value themselves. What do I mean? Find out what your strengths are. If you know anything about me, you will hear me say one thing, “call me slow, call me ugly, but don’t you dare call me stupid.” Why? Because I have always, always valued my intelligence above all else. You can fake being pretty (it takes some time and money), but you can’t fake being smart. Whatever the boys strengths may be, I hope they use them to their advantage. You’re good at math, choose a profession that uses math. You’re good with people, become a salesperson.

Secondly, be a good person when no one else is watching. See a dog on the road, be that person who stops to help it get home safely. Your friends mom is dying, please bring them dinner one night. Being a good person is priceless.

Never stop learning. I would love for them to go to college, I think it’s afforded both my husband and I with opportunities we wouldn’t have had. But if college isn’t for them, go to trade school, find an apprenticeship that makes you feel alive. And when you’ve found a job you think you love, keep learning. Utilize any benefits that may come your way to continue your education. I don’t care if you’re 70.

Be true. Be a faithful significant other. Be there always for your kids. If you find yourself single over the years, be the friend a friend would like to have.

Have a strong inner moral compass, because believe me, over the years you will need it. People will take any chance to cut you down, make you feel small, but don’t you ever stoop to their level. But don’t you let them win either, you kill them with kindness, intellect, but don’t you ever cheat.

I don’t have all the parenting answers, far from it, but I do know it’s a constant evolution, one we are constantly learning from. I’ll let you know in about fifty years how successful we were, or weren’t.

Right now, we are just happy one is no longer crying at preschool drop off!

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The Never Ending Internal Debate

It’s time again for me to reconsider our family options in terms of what’s best for us. Do I go back to work? Do I continue to stay home? I feel like talking about this aloud let’s other moms know they are not alone in all of the overwhelming feelings that come with being a mom.

I feel like I should back up to the moment when I knew it was time for me to stay home. My loving husband always wanted to do what I wanted to do. He said as long as I was happy, we would be happy as a family. We had toured a number of day cares and “schools”. After all of these tours, I felt emotionally drained, because I didn’t feel like I could leave my kids at any of these places. The teachers all seemed wonderful and loving. I also had been spoiled and blessed with a Dad who had volunteered to watch our oldest. We got so lucky in that my Dad doted and loved K more than I could ever have expected.  I loved getting text messages with loving pictures of K and my Dad on their many adventures. But when push came to shove, I knew my it was asking too much for my Dad to care for a newborn and a toddler who just turned 1.

Saying goodbye to my paycheck and amazing benefits wasn’t near as hard as I thought it was going to be. I honestly was extremely happy and relieved to be home. We promised every 6 months we would check in to see where we were as a family and financially. Now we are approaching my two year mark of being at home, and it’s time to reconsider what may be best.

K is in preschool, G will be next year. My dad could definitely handle watching them. We have always paid him fairly for what he does. My problem is, am I going to look back and say “what the heck was I thinking?!” But I also know that money is tight, and at times it can be really scary to think about all the unknowns. None of my closest friends from college have kids yet. So I feel like we have had to tread this journey alone. Very alone.

My job paid well, it would mean we could pay for school and child care, and have quite a bit extra money to pay off student loan debt. We only have a bit left on our car to pay off, and that would be wiped clean if I went back to work. We could get far ahead in terms of saving 3-6 months of expenses. We’ve always hoarded money, so we do have a nest egg, but we don’t feel comfortable paying off debt until we have another steady income. I know, Dave Ramsey would be ashamed of that theory. We could finally start putting a lot of money towards their college.

But then I think of all of priceless things being a SAHM gives us. I take care of the majority of errands all week so my husband can focus on work and his MBA. I try and do all the cleaning. laundry, meal planning, etc. when the kids are sleeping. We don’t have to worry about juggling work schedules to take care of a sick kiddo. The kids get to do so many fun things, library days, play dates, museum trips, swimming, etc. Obviously those are still possible, but we are far more limited and on a time crunch if I go back to work.

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Sick kiddos need the extra cuddles

I guess I’ll end by saying that it’s a blessing to be able to have the choice. We made many sacrifices as a couple and individually to make this a reality.

Mommy Wars

Am I possibly the only mom in the world who is absoultely sick of this? I mean come on, there is nothing harder, nor more important job out there than that of parenthood. Parenthood is hard enough, and now we have to worry about being attacked by our fellow parents.

The list is endless these days. You dare take a picture of your child in the car, because someone is going to tell you SOMETHING is wrong with their car seat. You talk about sending them off to preschool, and the next thing you know someone is talking to you about how you’ve ruined them by sending them to school too early, even though you and your pediatrician both agree they are ready. Dare I bring up the pediatrician, because we all know how awful doctors are, or aren’t?!

Let me tell you something, I have been blessed. I have lived the mom life in both camps. I have been a working mom and a SAHM. I have breast fed two children. I also had to move to formula with one child. I have used both cloth and disposable diapers. I have delayed vaccines due to concern, and I have vaccinated them on time with others. I have rear faced both boys as long as possible, and had to turn one forward facing, even though I didn’t feel ready, it was time. I have had to leave my child in someone else’s care other than my own, and I bawled my eyes out like a baby. I have had to leave my child in someone else’s car other than my own, and was happy I was able to have some time to get things done. I have rocked a child to sleep every night for 9 months, because that was the only way I knew how to get him to sleep. I have sleep trained a child when all other methods had failed.

My point in all of this is, we are all just doing the best with what we have at the moment. Please stop using your words to hurt each other. The world needs good parents to raise good children. The world doesn’t need more know it alls who claim to be the perfect parent. What we need is each other.

Saving Money

Before we made the choice for me to become a SAHM we were terrified of taking away my paycheck. I really had a great job, tha paid great, and my benefits were almost unheard of in today’s workplace. Naturally, it was an intimidating situation. But after long talks, and a lot of lost sleep, I knew in my heart this is what I wanted. And my husband fully supported me either way.

After we made the transition I really asked myself how I could work on saving the family money. My husband works really hard to make money, so I felt like it was my job to save money.

1. Stockpile: My first step was completed even before I became a full-time SAHM. We had started talking about the possibility, and I felt like building a stockpile was going to help us while I still had my income. What a GREAT decision that was. In 3 years we have not bought tooth paste, laundry detergent, deoderant, shaving razors, shampoo, conditioner, and some other expenditures as well. All from couponing. I only paid tax on some of the things, and most of the items were discounted up to 75%. Not to mention, I love being able to go down to our stockpile, and grab laundry detergent instead of having to go out to the store.

2. Dollar Store: Okay, I swear I was hesitant at first, but I love the dollar store. The boys really love to make crafts during when we are at home. Construction paper, pencils, stickers, paper plates, etc. are all there. Hot wheels are a big hit in this house, and we go through a lot of those.  For our longer trips I make sure to get the boys some surprise toys from there and it definitely helps keep them entertained. Also, the kids are wondeful at destroying things, so I figure it’s not that big of a deal if they break them.

3. Thrift Store: I can’t even count the number of times I have gone into a store and found Melissa and Doug toys still in the plastic. Or Little People toys that look like a child has never even played with it. Our 3 year old wants to play baseball, and I found a brand new glove for $1.99 that fits his cute hand perfectly. I am a sucker for designer jeans. I found Rock and Republics in my size, just a bit too long. Nothing I couldn’t handle. Seriously, everyone should learn to shop at second hand stores.

4. Sewing: We are shorter people in this house. I’m totally okay with that. But hubby needs to look nice at work, I don’t hate when our pants are too long and dragging on the ground. So I taught myself how to sew on a Brotherton machine. It’s really simple, seriously, if I can do it, anyone can do it. I have hemmed plenty of pants. What normally would cost us $22 a pair, is now free. Halloween costumers last year were all made by me. I made my oldest sons bedding. You can’t find his navy chevron bedding anywhere. I made him a reversable duvet, and he loves it. It even has buttons on it.

5. DIY: When we bought our second house, I knew I wanted a bigger dining set, one that had 8 dining chairs. And then I found what I absolutely loved. I mean it only cost THOUSANDS of dollars, right?! No! I refuse to spend that kind of money on a dining set, working or not. It just doesn’t feel right with me. So, I did what was second best in my book. At a whopping 9 months pregnant, I built a farmhouse table with my dad. The chairs were bought for $4.99 at goodwill and I sanded, repainted, and reupholstered them myself. So instead of spending thousands. I know have a table and chairs I love for less that $500.

6. Photography: Now I am not even close to an expert, but I have taught myself to take pictures on a DSLR camera, and how to edit them in Adobe Elements. Why? Because pictures of your kids are priceless, but if taken by a professional, they are darn expensive. So over time I have learned more and more about our camera, and on how to edit those adorable little faces in the pictures I take. I also taught myself how to make cards and invitations on there, so that they cost me a $0.09 instead of $1.50.

7. Cutting Hair: It started with me just cutting K’s hair since he was so small and his hair just needed some trimming here and there. But then I got to thinking. With 3 guys in the house and all having thick hair, we would need to have hair cuts every 4-6 weeks. That’s at least $60 a pop, really more, because we used to send hubby to my lovely lady, but between school and work, I just ended up cutting his hair too. I watched tutorials and go slowly. And it’s nice, because we do everyone’s in an evening before bath time.

I know none of these seem like they would save hundreds of dollars, but the cost really does add up. I am so happy I have done all of these. I think these are life lessons that I will carry with me forever. I also love that we are teaching our boys to shop smart, and that some things really can be done on your own!

Below are pictures of some of the projects I mentioned above. Our dining table and chairs. I also painted a chair that I bought for $14. It was a horrid pink, but now it matches our navy themed dining room.

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