2014-THANKSgiving

10 Reasons Not To Keep Your Baby’s Gender A Secret

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gender-reveal-question

One of the only things that I had to look forward to during both of my pregnancies was finding out the baby’s gender at the 20 week ultrasound. Seriously, it was all I lived for. To me, pregnancy was a long and often boring experience. I literally counted down the days until I could find out the gender, as it was one step closer to putting a face to the name of the passenger I was carrying in my belly.

I just like to know stuff. If you are someone on Team Green, who has the patience and fortitude to hold off to find out the gender of your baby until the epic moment of birth, more power to you. I can’t even pretend to understand your decision, but you have my respect.

Funnily enough, there are many parents who play coy about keeping the gender of their baby a secret. The good news is that while it is entirely your decision to find out the gender or not, and to tell family and friends or not, there is very little pressure on you.

No one cares about your baby’s gender as much as you do. If you want to keep it a secret, that’s just peachy. But there are 10 great reasons not to:

1. You are impatient.

2. Secrets don’t make friends.

3. SPOILER ALERT—it’s going to be a boy or a girl.



4. No one really cares that much, they’re just asking to be polite.

5. People will stop asking you the same question again and again because you will finally give them an ANSWER.

6. You can’t stand the thought of the technician knowing something you don’t at the 20 week ultrasound.

7. It will give you something to talk about at your baby shower.

8. A gender reveal is an easy way to get Facebook likes.

9. Everyone will find out eventually.

10. No one cares.

Related post: Everything You Really Need to Know About Pregnancy

This post first appeared on Mommyish. Read more here.

Parenting An Average Student

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boy-studying Image via Shutterstock

One of the most challenging aspects of raising my son was accepting the fact that he was an unmotivated student. Though his father and I tried not to let his grades define how we saw him, especially during high school, they did have an impact on how we viewed ourselves as parents. We had moments of self-doubt and, at times, questioned the way we had raised him. What had we we done wrong?  What did we miss or fail to do to motivate him to succeed?

Nothing really, it turns out.

It was never up to us to motivate him in the first place. He had to find the motivation within himself.

In the hyper-competitive world of AP classes, honor rolls, valedictorians, students-of-the-month, perfect SAT scores, 4.0 and above GPAs, scholar athletes and more, having a child with average grades is considered a serious problem by many parents and can even be viewed by some as embarrassing and shameful. A “C” student might as well be a high school dropout as far as many top-tier colleges and universities are concerned. Some high school counselors, who can be overloaded by the sheer number of students they manage, and private admissions consultants, concerned about their reputations and admission rates, are quick to dismiss average students as junior-college bound.

Just because a student has average grades in high school doesn’t mean he or she won’t succeed in college.

My son was an average high school student, graduating with a GPA that was just shy of 3.0. There were a number of reasons for his less-than-stellar performance in high school, including a mild learning disability (ADHD) and a severe lack of motivation. His father and I did everything we could think of to ignite an interest in academics in his intelligent but disinterested mind. Among other things, we hired tutors, including the one PhD English teacher at his high school who had been so inspirational to our older daughter. As I surreptitiously listened each week, I was struck by how utterly bored my son was, despite the fascinating (if somewhat exasperated) way the teacher explained the text. For me, a voracious reader with an English degree, my son’s disdain for literature was both sad and a little terrifying. How would he ever make it in college without the skills to interpret complex writing?

And yet, when it came to sports, my son was a font of knowledge. His recall of baseball and football statistics was encyclopedic. He could dissect and evaluate every play in a football game the way mathematicians solve complex calculus equations. What good would all of this information do him, his father and I wondered. On the other hand, we felt the life lessons he learned playing football in high school – commitment, discipline, respect and teamwork – would be of great value to him, so we supported our offensive lineman and his team. We hoped that his zeal for learning about sports would someday translate to his academic pursuits as well.

The belief that attending a top 50 university is the only path to success is not only untrue, but impossible for the 95% of high school students who don’t have the grades and/or the financial ability to attend one of these elite institutions. There are thousands of excellent schools that will admit average students and offer them the growth experiences and education that are the reasons to attend a college or university in the first place. My son was fortunate to be accepted to one of those universities.

Parents of average students might want to consider doing things differently than we did and fight their understandable instinct to constantly push their students to perform better in school. Many teenagers don’t reach a level of maturity to find the impetus to work hard until after high school. The fighting and arguing about getting him to work harder, study more and do better was futile and frustrating, and caused unnecessary stress for both my son and for my husband and me.

In my son’s case, it wasn’t until he went to college and found something that captured his attention – in his case, American History – that he was able to earn the grades we always knew he could.

My son graduated from college – in 4 years – in the spring of 2014. The key to his success was finding support and counseling throughout his college experience, along with simply growing up. His senior thesis was on the history of the Mexican baseball league and it’s impact on the sport in the United States. He received a B plus on his paper. He now has two jobs, one in management for a college football team and the other in public affairs for a large energy company. He succeeded despite being an average high school student – and without his parents breathing down his neck. He did it on his own, which for me is the most gratifying thing of all.

It’s unlikely a potential employer will ever ask him about his high school GPA. Why would they? There’s so much more to him than that.

Note: This post was written with my son’s blessing and encouragement.

Related post: About a Boy

10 Reasons Country Living Beats City Life

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boy-peeing-outside

Saturday night, as Hubby and I were cuddling on the couch watching a little late night TV, we were forced to inch the volume up to hear over the sounds of a shotgun. And a four-wheeler. At 11:00 pm. And ya know what, it was a completely normal thing round these here parts.

Come on, who among us hasn’t gotten the itch to hop on a four-wheeler and drive around the field randomly shootin’ critters and varmints at 11 at night? We’re just lucky enough to live in the country, where you can do these things, right?

Hubby and I both grew up in the sticks, even though we met while living in the 14th largest city in the US. When we got the chance to move our family back to the country, it was a no brainer. The way we see it, country life is way cooler than city livin’ any day of the week, and here’s why:

1. You can pee outside. Which is extremely important when you have five people in a one bathroom house. Sometimes, ya just gotta go and you gotta go NOW.

2. No one cares if you use proper grammar. As a matter of fact, they look at you like you’re a little touched if you do. Let’s face it, all that energy y’all’re usin’ for whole words and endin’ consonants could be put to better use cleanin’ out the barn, weedin’ your garden or jus takin’ a nap.

3. You don’t have to wear shoes. I am proud to say that three of the offspring and myself possess the ability to walk barefoot down a gravel path without flinching or slowing our pace. Because shoe leather for feet is close enough to a superpower for me.

4. You know why Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are all controlled by the same agency. Shoot, anyone who’s attended a 4th of July BBQ or New Year’s Eve celebration in my neck of the woods, KNOWS how they all go together.

5. You never have to wonder what your neighbors are up to. Out here, gossip travels faster than in the girl’s restroom at a middle school.

6. You can actually see the stars at night. Laying on a blanket in the yard and counting stars? Is a real thing. I don’t just live where the sidewalk ends, the street lights end too.

7. The whole circle of life is a lot easier to explain. Between neighbor’s livestock and our poultry, figuring out where babies come from happens pretty early on and making the leap from critter to human reproduction isn’t nearly as hard as starting from scratch.

8. The kids had time for a childhood. Our refusal to play chauffeur for four insane social schedules forced the Offspring to do things like play outside, make tree forts, read books, and learn to enjoy their own company. Once they got old enough to drive themselves, they could book their schedules as full as they wanted.

9. The sound of silence. Outside of the occasional late night four-wheeler event, crickets, tree frogs, and animal sounds are about as noisy as it gets.

10. Trees. They provide the first sign of spring, shade in the summer, leaf piles to jump in in autumn, and heat in the winter. You can climb them, take a nap under them, and they’re great cover in those rare cases of accidental outdoor nudity.

The Story of Ferdinand

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charlie

One Saturday morning about five years ago, I took all my boys to the baseball field to sign my then-5 year old firstborn up for spring baseball. While I struggled to decide what size hat and tiny baseball pants he would need so I could complete the forms, a few of the coaches who were pacing around the crowd approached me.

“Hey, how old is that guy?” one coach asked, pointing to my second son, Charlie. “Does he play?”  I looked up at them over the head of my newborn, asleep on my chest in his Ergo. “Uh, he’s 3,” I answered slowly and incredulously. “No, he doesn’t play… anything.” Except Star Wars, I added in my head. And superheroes.

“Wow,” said one of the coaches, nodding his head with approval. “Listen, which high school are you zoned for? I coach football over at the local school. Let me know if he’s heading my way.” I stared at him, smiled because I didn’t know how else to respond, and silently steered my children toward another corner of the fray, away from the crazy coaches who wanted to recruit my preschooler for high school football eleven years early.

Once upon a time in Spain there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand.

My now-8 year old Charlie has been asking for the same bedtime book every night lately:The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf. Every night, I read it to him and his little brother — the boy who was once that baby in an Ergo — and they end my sentences for me.

All the other little bulls he lived with would run and jump and butt their heads together, but not Ferdinand.

When he was four, we signed my Charlie up for soccer. It seemed like a good beginner sport, and some of his preschool classmates were playing too. He was excited to wear the jersey and to have a team, and his coaches were excited because he was at least a head taller than anyone else on the field. But every Saturday, we would trek out to the soccer fields, and Charlie would walk — not run — onto the field reluctantly. Instead of going for the ball, he would lag behind the pack. His coaches would yell, “Go after the ball! Get to the ball! Run, Charlie!” and he would instead search the sidelines for me and jog over to where I was sitting. “Is it snack time yet?” he would ask me with desperate hope in his eyes. His coaches’ shoulders sagged. He never even kicked the ball one time that season. He did, however, greatly enjoy the cupcake and trophy he received on the last day.

Sometimes, his mother, who was a cow, would worry about him. 

At six, we thought we had found Charlie’s sport. My son loves to swim. His father swam in high school and college, and it seemed to make sense that our children might follow suit. We signed the boys up for the year-round swim team and we attended practices three days a week for months on end. But while the other kids learned their strokes carefully and whipped their arms through the water like curved swords, racing ambitiously toward the wall, my son had a tendency to… well, dip. And cruise. And dive to the bottom now and then, like a dolphin. His young, boyish coach’s voice would ring out across the pool lanes: “Hey Charlie, what’re you doing? Charlie? Hey Charlie, how about freestyle?” But Charlie rarely heard him, because he kept his head underwater. He was swimming to the beat of his own (slow, perhaps reggae?) drum.

But Ferdinand would shake his head. “I like it better here where I can just sit quietly and smell the flowers.”

Eventually, Charlie stopped swimming. For a while, he took karate twice a week. He tried flag football. Finally, this year, we decided he would  take a cartooning class that he absolutely loves at the local art school every Saturday morning and just one hour of group tennis one time a week.

Charlie is a tall, broad child. He looks like a natural-born lineman or a burly water polo player in the making. He might make an excellent heavyweight rower one day, like his uncle. But at the moment, he wants nothing more than to spend his afternoons at home, playing in our backyard or drawing elaborate pictures of his own made-up characters and worlds or indulging in Minecraft with his brothers or friends. It takes some restraint, in this parenting environment and especially where we live, to have confidence in our decision let Charlie be who he is and not expect him to play a sport. At times, I still have small, fluttery waves of panic when I hear about his classmates and their travel teams, their game-winning catches, and their new personal best times. I wonder if Charlie is missing out, falling behind, or if I should be pushing him harder.

His mother saw that [Ferdinand] was not lonesome, and because she was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow, she let him just sit there and be happy.

But what we have learned and accepted, over time, is that Charlie is not — or not yet — interested in competitive sports. He is our Ferdinand the bull. He wants to draw. He wants to  make up elaborate, imaginative “games” in his head and act them out in the yard. He wants to sit on the floor of the family room with his Lego minifigures and  build his own creations — he prefers that to following the instructions to build sets. He wants to make funny faces for his baby sister and make her giggle and squeal. He doesn’t, however, want to go to a practice, or run plays, or do drills. I want him to be physically active, and I like that he is now acquiring a skill in a social sport like tennis that he can use for the rest of his life. I know, though, that no matter how much he resembles the dream of Pop Warner coaches everywhere, my son is not that kid. That, we have decided, is just fine. There is a place in the world for the Ferdinands. He is quite the artist and quite the storyteller. I like him the way he is, and more importantly, he likes himself the way he is. He doesn’t think he needs to be an athlete.

“This is my favorite part,” Charlie says with a smile as I turn the page in the dim light of his bedroom.

And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.

He is very happy.