Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Parenting in an Internet Age

I say at least once every other day: "I'd take a thousand newborn sleepless nights over dealing with teen stuff."

I have a deeper appreciation for my parents as I continue on my own parenting journey and delve into pre-teen and teen years.  Don't get me wrong, I was a very tame teenager. I also knew I was the kind of kid who'd get caught doing something I wasn't supposed to, so there wasn't much satisfaction in doing something that would inevitably land me in trouble anyway.   For the most part, I was mouthy and can truthfully say that was the worst of it.  I thought I knew better than my mom and told her.

I deal with that with Andrew currently also.  It's tough.

Some nights I'm so exhausted dealing with a Gremlin toddler, a new baby, a tween drama queen and a mouthy, intelligent teenager asserting his "freedom of speech" {thank you, social studies} that I often fall asleep sitting up before I make it into my bed.

The one significant element that I have no source to garner wisdom from to help me navigate these years, is the internet aspect.

Now.  Having a tween and a teen who have a desire to be online for certain things, we are navigating unchartered waters.  Andrew is on for youtube and playing xbox live and Reagan for instagram and texting.  My parents could control who came into our home.  Explaining an abstract concept like this to kids isn't always the easiest. 

With Andrew, we've been talking about this for years.  He had an internet look-up incident in 4th grade when some kids were talking about something and he came home and googled.  Yeah, enter the conversation about restriction on internet use. And can I just say, GAH---ROOOOOOSSSSS! I've never been the same.

Watching a billion "To Catch a Predator"s made me super diligent about checking up online.

Andrew knows, if he's online, I know that password. There are no secret accounts, social media activity, email accounts, nothing.  He also knows that at anytime, we can {and do} check out what he's doing, looking at, writing, sending etc.  When he was little, Spiderman was one of his favorite movies, so I often toss out the, "With great power, comes great responsibility," with regard to his internet privileges.

Have I had to ground him from being online? Yep.
Have I had to remind him that whatever he puts out there, will never go away? Yep.
Have I had to explain that the same manner of respect in speaking to people applies to chatting online? Yep.
Does he get mad and exclaim exasperatingly, "You always baby me. I'm not in 2nd grade, Mom!"? Yep.
Do I care that he thinks I'm tough? Nope.

Enter Reagan. She got an ipod touch for her 8th birthday from her mom and stepdad. 

Here's again where the blended family/coparenting waters get tough.  We thought she was too young. Not our decision to make though.  It's been fine mostly. Reag plays her games, texts her mom, whatever.  Not really online interacting with others.  A decent while ago, she joined instagram. Her mom made her account private and only her mom and I followed her.  After a little bit, I removed her from following me and unfollowed her.  I explained to Reagan that I have my account to interact with adults and didn't feel she and I needed to be "friends" online. Now, mind you, I'm not posting anything inappropriate on instagram, but I'm not my kids' friend. And I don't want to be.  They have enough friends.   

This school year, Reagan discovered more of her friends on instagram and also began texting and group chats.  It didn't take long, within a group of 9 and 10 year old girls, for someone's feelings to get hurt, drama to start, and issues to arise.  We told Reagan that we didn't feel it was appropriate to be texting anyway and if she wanted to talk to her friends, to call them. So "no texting" became the rule during the week while she's here.   

George and I still checked on her instagram to make sure her pictures were ok, see her followers, who she was following etc.  We can't control that she has the account, but can control what's going on inside of it at our house.  We asked Reagan about a couple people that we didn't know and she explained how she knew them.  We had the conversation about strangers online and she's not allowed to be friends with people she doesn't know etc.  She's pretty agreeable here about stuff--doesn't try to push the issue.  She knows George means business and that's that.

The difficulty with a kid who lives in two places is when their parents have  different ideas about parenting. Regardless of whose house Reagan is at, we want her protected online at all times. That's not to say her mom isn't worried about that as well, but differently than my husband.   If that means Reagan's no longer allowed access to her online stuff while she's at our house, then that's what that means.  It makes life easier all around because there's no back and forth issue. Maybe in a few more years, we'll consider getting her an ipod, but for now, we feel she's way too young anyway. So she'll play with friends instead of texting, play outside instead of gaming. We're ok with that because she's a kid.  George is always going to be in Reagan's online business.  And he should be.

Andrew's still trying to barter with us and his dad for a smartphone for his 15th birthday.  Luckily, we're all on the same page about it. 

I hope one day these kids look back with appreciation for what we did to cultivate them to be healthy, happy, functioning adults, no matter how "mean or unfair" they think we were.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Birthday Bowling!

With all our polar vortex days this winter and the inevitable cabin fever that we all have, {which translates to everyone getting on everyone's nerves} we welcomed the opportunity to get out of the house and go to a birthday party!  It was a bowling party!  This would mark Lily's 1st time bowling also. 

We had crappy weather that day, some roads weren't clear, but we. were. going.

George ended up not coming with us and sleeping longer. That night shift is tough.  Andrew was looking forward to it, but got a migraine on the way, so he spent the entire party sleeping in the car.  Bowling alley + migraine = bad news.  Poor kid, between everyone in his dad's family having migraines and everyone in mine, he was definitely doomed to have them too.

Lily was a bowling machine!  She loved it!  Her first time literally, she got a spare!

It was tough to let friends take turns, but with the help of Victoria's daddy running the lane, she was better and he kept things in order!
She literally only stopped for snacks and pizza only because I made her. She even skipped out on cake! Of course, she asked for the cake on the way home and then was mad she didn't have any.
Lily and Audrey were dancing. ♥

Violet hung out from in her carseat and stayed toasty warm! She wore her best winter dress too. :)

It was actually the kind of party where all the kids had a blast with each other bowling, took a breather to eat and wish Dominic a happy birthday and then back to bowling!

 Happy birthday, Justin Beiber Dom! We love you!

I love our friends and their kids! We're so fortunate to have such a great group of people to spend time with and between 15 kids, there's always some kind of party!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl Party in Pictures

Charlie looooooves the babies, so she got a minute when Miss No-Napper Violet wasn't screaming. 

The Lilys playing with the princess castle because they think they are princesses.

The boys and their video games...and food. I love that Stef's kids and always Logan just smile at the camera without a word.

Two of the sweetest girls I know...always making sure they take care of all the little ones. Sometimes that means playing with them, sometimes that means cleaning up after them or letting us know what in the world those little girls got into. I love Lexie and Audrey!

Violet finally crashed. Complete with phone sound machine to block out the noise.
Half-time entertainment...

The Peanut Gallery.

Andrew stopped in for a minute to check out the half-time show.

Lily in her princess dress up heels.
The other Lily with her hands upon her hips...when she dips, you dip, we dip.

Liam and Violet's 1st SuperBowl.  He was clearly a Seahawks fan. Violet clearly a Peyton Manning fan. 

2014 Super Bowl, out.

The Weekend is Ovah

Happy Monday!  Is there such a thing?  Umm, the sun is shining, we're one more day closer to warmer weather, so I'm going to go with yes...for now.

This morning started off slow due to a late night watching the SuperBowl with friends. It was a nice time just hanging out with our great friends.  I know I say this all the time, but we're so lucky to have such good people in our lives who love our kids {and us} where we can just be ourselves and relax.  So, despite the disbelief of the football game where seemingly only one team played, we had a good time. 

SuperBowl Party in Pictures
Violet's 1st SuperBowl

I awoke to a too early alarm, my husband's kiss, and a "hey, it snowed a little bit."  Got Andrew off to the bus. That kid is a trooper. Went to bed with a sore throat and I fully expected him to want to stay home this morning, but off he went.**  Violet is usually ready to eat as Andrew needs to wake up in the morning, so we were up for the day--mostly.  She and I doze after she's through nursing usually until Lily comes and climbs in bed.  I love my mornings with my girls, no matter how tired I may be. 

We headed East shortly after getting up to pick up Reagan to get her to school.  Her mom was worried about the roads since it had snowed some, but all the roads were clear except their street. Not ideal, but she needed to go to school.  The girls and I were up for the ride since I suspect we'll be stuck home again later this week.

Backing up to the beginning of the weekend, Friday after school, Andrew had his 14 year well visit.  I was curious to see how tall he actually is, since he clearly has shot up recently.  Plus I wanted to see how much Violet had gained since her weight check at 3 months 9 days before.  I grow 'em tall and slow to gain weight. That has been consistent for all 3 of them from day one.  Andrew is 5'9" which is the 95th percentile for height. 

After the doctor, we headed to the grocery store then home to make our traditional Friday night pizzas.  Lily has really gotten into wanting to help in the kitchen, so that's perfect for her! She loves to help with the cheese, especially.  A little on the pizza, a little in her mouth, a little more in her mouth, a little on the pizza. Andrew and I started doing this when he was two and now we've started again. Sometimes it switches to Saturday nights, but there's always a kid {or two} helping and something Lily now asks about each week.   Lily, Violet, and I fell asleep watching Despicable Me that night.

 Weekends have been really nice lately--filled with just the right mix of family time at home and friend time. 
**Andrew just sent a text asking me to pick him up at the bus stop...fever, chills, achy, sore throat...1st man down.