Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dads Who Rock

1. Teach their kids how to do stuff they love to do
2. Talk about what they are thankful for every day and make sure their kids do the same
3. Get down on their hands and knees and play up a storm
4. Introduce their kids to new experiences
5. Help kids see what is good and what they can learn from any given situation, "good" or "bad"
6. Make sure they don't give in to every "kid whim" just to be nice or not to cause friction
7. Talk about real-life issues with their kids
8 Watch movies with their kids (especially animated ones the mommy doesn't necessarily want to see)
9. Expose their kids to others who are less fortunate and come up with action plans about how to help
10. Make sure their kids respect their mother and often tell her how wonderful she is in front of them
11. Teach kindness as the number one expectation
12. Let their kids make their own mistakes and don't say "I told you so" afterwards
13. Hug their kids
14. Say "I love you" all the time, even when they're not loving what their children are doing
15. Laugh a lot
16. Don't hold a grudge
17. Compliment their kids on an array of qualities
18. Help their kids to see what they can get better at, rather than talking about what they're "bad" at
19. Read to their kids
20. Tuck their kids in
21. Make "daddy time" every single day

PS: If you've got a dad that rocks or if your partner is a dad who rocks, today is the day to let them know!

PPS: These rocking rules apply to moms, too!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Birthdays Rules for Divas

I'm an expert on the topic so allow me to share my pearls of wisdom.  (And, no, do not give your sweetheart pearls for her birthday; they imply that you think she is either old, a librarian or a Barbara Bush fan.  Not good.)

Here are my top ten over-the-top recommendations that you should not only read, but be sure to pass on to your partners so they know the "rules of engagement."  If they don't know, you're not going to get what you want.  And divas should ALWAYS get what they want...

1. You don't just need a day, baby: you need a whole month!  

Start two weeks before and carry on for two weeks after.  (It can get a bit exhausting and cause a fair bit of weight gain so start out slowly, gain momentum, and then wind down in the final two weeks.  Then go on a detox.)  Live it up; do it all; heck, ride an elephant!

2. Throw your own party.

I used to wait for people to plan parties for me, but then I never got the party I wanted.  This year I realized I wanted a Mexican fiesta so I booked the restaurant, invited some of my favorite people, and then let it all unfold.  It doesn't need to be a big deal.  Book a restaurant.  Invite people.  Have fun.  The margaritas flowed, the nachos were consumed, lots of kissing was perfection.

3. Be very specific with your significant other about your gift requirements.

By this I mean, take him/her into the store and point to the merchandise that you desire.  If you want to be surprised, give him/her two or three choices, and say, "Please buy me one of these (or all of these), but this is the one I like best."

4. Be sure to enlist your friends to help your significant other (especially if he's a male).

If you haven't realized it yet, this column really is for the ladies.  (Sorry, gents.)  The only time my husband has ever heard me use the D word is after a particularly unsuccessful Mother's Day debacle (combined with a particularly intense hormonal onslaught).  Breakfast in bed?  Check.  At 7:30 AM?  Big fail.  Eggs?  I hate eggs.  But the children wanted to make me eggs?  It's not about the children; it's about me!  Flowers?  Check.  Carnations from the supermarket?  Uncheck.  Don't get me wrong.  The intentions are good: princely, even.  The chromosomal make-up may just have to take the blame (and perhaps my princess-like prerequisites).

The solution is elegant and simple, however: get the ladies in your life to drop not-so-subtle hints about exactly what you would like to have happen, and then pretend to be surprised when they actually do.  Buy your friends dinner afterwards to thank them for their efforts.  Don't let your husband/partner know that you know there have been little elves assisting behind the scenes.

5. There should be a minimum of two parties.

If your birthday does not fall on a weekend, make it clear that you want a special birthday dinner THE NIGHT OF your actual birthday (cake included) and another romantic dinner or party minus the children on the following weekend.  Isn't that just common sense?

6. The older you get, the better the celebration should be.

It gets harder and harder to impress, I know, but it also becomes more and more important that we aging women feel affirmed and loved and beautiful.  Pull out all the stops.  Let the champagne flow along with the compliments.  Don't be shy.  Heck, you don't even need to be sincere.  Just do it.

7. Your birthday should also involve girls-time only.

And I don't mean family time.  (Though, of course, there should be that, too.)  A spa treatment should be booked for two to three besties on the weekend following your birthday that will allow you to pamper and gossip and maybe sip a bit more champagne if you're not too affected by the margaritas from the night before.

8. Hotel is optional.

If a party is planned, I would opt out of the hotel.  When you splurge on a hotel, you want to enjoy all the amenities from check in til check out.  If you stumble in too late and too tired and too tipsy to enjoy that luxurious bed and all the other offerings, you might as well grab a taxi and enjoy the splendor of your own cozy bed and save it for another time.  That being said, if a hotel is booked, it had better be good.  Good as in the Mandarin Oriental.  Good as in having a whirl pool tub and buffet breakfast.  Good as in a room with a view.  Good as in chocolates on the pillow and wine chilled in the mini bar.

9.  Pictures must be taken from above and you need to be picture-ready.

Every woman knows that above is their best angle.  Insist that your sweetie shoot from above.  Also, lash out and get your lashes done, your hair blown out, your nails done, your make up done...whatever makes you feel good, and whatever is going to make you look good in those photos you plan to plaster all over facebook!

10. Try to finagle a card or poem

My sweetie has always done this very well on this front with no prompting, and I have saved each and every one of his creations; he may not write me love notes every day, but his handmade creations are treasures.  (And, boy, can my man do a mean decoupage!)  If you have children, get them in on this tradition as well.  Sure, you want the designer sunglasses, but you also want the sincere sentiment to go along with them!

My Gucci glasses: last year's decadent gift

Suffice it to say, I am feeling very loved-up, and the only new start necessary for me is a diet!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

More Yes From Mommy and More No From Daddy

On our Friday night date night last week, Don and I had a "come to Jesus" talk about child rearing and how we might do it just a bit better.  Granted, we both agree that we are excellent parents of two most excellent daughters and we are a ridiculously happy and really quite well-adjusted family.  Plus, we pretty much play for the same team in terms of our child-rearing beliefs and habits.  We're both teachers which, frankly, puts us in a pretty good place as parents: a lot of this stuff we had figured out before these two munchkins came into our lives.

In spite of our eldest having a penchant for overdosing refined carbohydrates and our youngest thinking she is a lion, not a human, a mama who doesn't do well with excessive noise (especially in enclosed spaces like cars) and a papa who leaves his socks in odd places all over the house instead of in the hamper, we are as close-to-perfect as most families can hope to get to in this life time.  (Okay, as close to perfect as we can hope to get to in this life time.)

One thing that has recently come to my attention, however, is that my daughters go to daddy when they want something, not to mommy.  Additionally, my daughters go to daddy when they want something after mommy has said no.

We have solidified our reputations.  And they are typical, I know.

Daddy is the softie, push-over as in:

"Sure, you can play on my iPhone; Of course, you can have another cookie; There's no harm in playing basketball or frisbee in the house; There is no need for vegetable matter when we go out for dinner; and What harm could a Sprite do?"

Mommy is the martinet, no-lady as in:

"No, you can't have another piece of cake; no, you cannot play on my iPhone; No, you are not going on a sleepover with a boy in  your class (she's eight!); Stop swinging so high - you're going to break  your neck; and No, you are not wearing stripes and polka dots together and going to the Friday night school bingo affair even if you like the way it looks!"

As we were drinking our wine in Steamers, our local Cheers bar and a prelude to our weekly just-the-two-of-us dinner, I asked Don if there might be a way that we could have a little role reversal in the yes/no categories just once in a while.  Being the wise man that he is, Don saw the sagacity of the suggestion and thought he might be able to say no to his daughters once in a while just so I could fit in a few yeses.

The experiment began last weekend.  Charlotte had been wanting to sign up for IXL, a super, math-oriented website (that I highly recommend) because she loves to challenge herself, she's getting into math, but mostly because she loves to play computer games and she loves the positive reinforcement of the little "rewards" that they dole out to her.  A membership is a bit expensive, but I also deferred because I think she already has enough computer time.

Don, on the other hand, says, "It's the computer age; she's learning math skills; it's not like she's surfing the net; and it's the monsoon season, for cripes sake. We can't even go outside half of the time even if we want to."

So the next day when Charlotte and I found ourselves alone, I told her, "You know, Daddy thinks it's a bit expensive to sign you up for IXL and we both think you spend a lot of time on the computer.  On the other hand, I think it's really kind of good for you to practice your math.  I persuaded your daddy to agree so let's get you signed up, okay?"

Yeah!  One tick for mommy!

Don played along and our first sneaky experiment may help me reinvent my reputation as not just being the meanie in the family.  It's not that I want to play good cop/bad cop: it's just that I want Don to put down his foot before I do once in a while.  The problem is, I have a lead foot and it gets put down really fast.  My question is: don't all women?

My new start is to become a bit more of a yes woman while still retaining my integrity and high expectations. I also don't want to force the very sweet father of my children to turn into a meanie so this could be a bit of a tight-rope act.  But, then again, when isn't parenting a tight-rope act?  We already feel like we're in a circus, so I am sure we'll manage it somehow!