What do you do with your kids all summer?

Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten starts tonight! Registration will be open through Sunday. All info on the 14-month group is here.

Also, the Summer Reading Challenge is starting again May 15. Why should your kids have all the summer reading challenge fun? Like the group on Facebook, post a pledge of how many books you'll read May 15-September 15, then buy yourself a prize when you hit your pledge.

So, summer plans! In other words, what do you do with your kids all summer? Data points, please.

If there's an at-home parent at your house or your kids are little enough to be in daycare, you're just keeping on keeping on no matter what season it is. But what do the rest of us do?

Where I live now, there are tons of day camps, and they're all starting registration now, so there's still time to plan for it. Camps are also reasonably-priced.

When I lived in NYC, summer day camp registration started months ago and people who haven't thought about it before now may be aced out of spots in camps close to them. Camps are expensive, so it might make more sense to try to do a summer nanny-share if you can put one together.

So:

  • day camps
  • sleep away camps
  • nanny shares
  • Camp Grandma

What else?

How does it work in your area? Is it too late to make summer plans, or right on time? Is summer care affordable?

(My data point: a week of sleepaway camp, then weeks of being on vacation with one parent or the other, then a couple of weeks of day camp at the end of the summer.)

 

Kindergarten!

If your child is entering Kindergarten this year and you’refeeling apprehensive about all the transitions for your whole family, here’s
the solution you didn’t even know you wanted:

Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten

Be on top of logistics, emotional changes, tensions,
and increased skills through the entire year.


Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten
is a 14-month-long “ride-along”
class-slash-discussion group for parents of kids going into Kindergarten this summer, fall, or after the new year (for
you Aussies with January/February starts). Runs April 30, 2013 through June 30,
2014.



SpiritfingersksmallWhy did I call it "Spirit Fingers"? Because being a kindergarten parent feels a lot like trying to keep your fingers moving so no one will be able to tell if you're getting all the footwork correctly. For a video definition of "spirit fingers" click here (safe for work, but turn down your speakers): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTSkvAabm0k

 

The First Month

It starts April 30, and we’ll spend the first 4 weeks
working on the big categories of change you’ll see in Kindergarten so you can
be prepared and know what to watch out for. This month will be structured, with
“thinking points” every half-week to guide questions and conversations, and
help you set up your systems and plans for processing it all.

We’ll cover:

  • your expectations and emotions around Kindergarten, school, academics, and
    your child’s growth
  • how routines will change and how to anticipate changes and
    set up systems
  • your child’s anticipated transitions, tensions, behaviors,
    and increasing competencies
  • externals, including teachers, the school system, testing,
    other kids, other parents, and ways of participating/belonging

 

The Next Phase

Then we’ll take it easier for a month or two until kids
start actually going to school, at which point we’ll be talking about one theme
every few weeks and also about whatever comes up for the participants.

Who knows what wacky things are going to happen over the year? But some things are predictable. I anticipate:

  • fall being heavy on routines and diagnosing changing
    competencies in the kids,
  • winter being about holidays and academics, and
  • spring being about friendships and navigating relationships
    and other people’s kids.

All run through a private secret group on Facebook, so you
can participate from any time zone or location, with no big deal if you go on
vacation or get busy for a few days, and a strong likelihood that there will be
someone on if you need feedback or validation at random times.

 

Big Four benefits of taking Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten:

  1. Guidance in sorting out what all the logistical and
    emotional threads are, so you can help keep track of them
  2. Help in knowing what’s just part of the normal process and
    what indicates something you should stay on top of
  3. Support in working through it all with others in the same
    boat
  4. Safety to vent or gloat in a place where everyone
    understands and will keep things in proportion

 

The Details

It runs 14 months, from April 30, 2013 through the end of
June, 2014.

Run through a private, secret group on Facebook that only
those of us in the group can see and know exist. What happens in the Spirit Fingers
group stays in the Spirit Fingers group.

$229 for the entire 14 months.

Simple, easy, smart.

 

Who Should Take It

You should take Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten if you have a child entering Kindergarten (public or private) between now and spring 2014, and

you're either worried/concerned about how it will go, or

you want to be prepared and want some like-minded people to talk about it with as it happens.

If your child did Kindergarten last year and you feel like it totally got away from you, you might consider taking it to get a logistical and supportive "do-over."

If you're considering redshirting (holding your child back a year to enter K), email me and we'll talk about whether you should hedge by taking it: askmoxie at gmail dot com

 

Who Should Not Take It

You should not take Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten if you

  • are homeschooling, because a big part of the course is going to be about dealing with things that are part of schools–teachers, the school policies, other kids, other parents. 
  • have kids going into 3s or 4s in preschool. Enjoy it now, and join this course next year.
  • hate other parents and don't want to discuss anything with anyone.

 

Let's Do It

Click the button to sign up. If the email address I should
communicate with you through is NOT your Paypal address, be sure to add a note
to me so I can email you with details to get into the group. (And if the name
on the Paypal account is different from yours, tell me what your name is in the
notes.)

Click here:


Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten



 

Fantastic!

I’m excited for this class and wish I’d thought of doing it
when my kids were in K! Please pass it along to anyone you know who might need
it. If you have any questions, email me at askmoxie at gmail dot com to ask.


Kindergarten!

If your child is entering Kindergarten this year and you’refeeling apprehensive about all the transitions for your whole family, here’s
the solution you didn’t even know you wanted:

Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten

Be on top of logistics, emotional changes, tensions,
and increased skills through the entire year.


Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten
is a 14-month-long “ride-along”
class-slash-discussion group for parents of kids going into Kindergarten this summer, fall, or after the new year (for
you Aussies with January/February starts). Runs April 30, 2013 through June 30,
2014.

 


SpiritfingersksmallWhy
did I call it “Spirit Fingers”? Because being a kindergarten parent
feels a lot like trying to keep your fingers moving so no one will be
able to tell if you’re getting all the footwork correctly. For a video
definition of “spirit fingers” click here (safe for work, but turn down
your speakers): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTSkvAabm0k

 

The First Month

It starts April 30, and we’ll spend the first 4 weeks
working on the big categories of change you’ll see in Kindergarten so you can
be prepared and know what to watch out for. This month will be structured, with
“thinking points” every half-week to guide questions and conversations, and
help you set up your systems and plans for processing it all.

We’ll cover:

  • your expectations and emotions around Kindergarten, school, academics, and
    your child’s growth
  • how routines will change and how to anticipate changes and
    set up systems
  • your child’s anticipated transitions, tensions, behaviors,
    and increasing competencies
  • externals, including teachers, the school system, testing,
    other kids, other parents, and ways of participating/belonging

 

The Next Phase

Then we’ll take it easier for a month or two until kids
start actually going to school, at which point we’ll be talking about one theme
every few weeks and also talking about whatever comes up for the participants.

I anticipate:

  • fall being heavy on routines and diagnosing changing
    competencies in the kids,
  • winter being about holidays and academics, and
  • spring being about friendships and navigating relationships
    and other people’s kids.

All run through a private secret group on Facebook, so you
can participate from any time zone or location, with no big deal if you go on
vacation or get busy for a few days, and a strong likelihood that there will be
someone on if you need feedback or validation at random times.

 

Big Four benefits of taking Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten:

  1. Guidance in sorting out what all the logistical and
    emotional threads are, so you can help keep track of them
  2. Help in knowing what’s just part of the normal process and
    what indicates something you should stay on top of
  3. Support in working through it all with others in the same
    boat
  4. Safety to vent or gloat in a place where everyone
    understands and will keep things in proportion

 

The Details

It runs 14 months, from April 30, 2013 through the end of
June, 2014.

Run through a private, secret group on Facebook that only
those of us in the group can see and know exist. What happens in the Spirit Fingers
group stays in the Spirit Fingers group.

$229 for the entire 14 months.

Simple, easy, smart.

 

Who Should Take It

You
should take Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten if you have a child entering
Kindergarten (public or private) between now and spring 2014, and

you’re either worried/concerned about how it will go, or

you want to be prepared and want some like-minded people to talk about it with as it happens.

If your
child did Kindergarten last year and you feel like it totally got away
from you, you might consider taking it to get a logistical and
supportive “do-over.”

If
you’re considering redshirting (holding your child back a year to enter
K), email me and we’ll talk about whether you should hedge by taking it:
askmoxie at gmail dot com

 

Who Should Not Take It

You should not take Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten if you

  • are
    homeschooling, because a big part of the course is going to be about
    dealing with things that are part of schools–teachers, the school
    policies, other kids, other parents. 
  • have kids going into 3s or 4s in preschool. Enjoy it now, and join this course next year.
  • hate other parents and don’t want to discuss anything with anyone.

 

Let’s Do It

Click the button to sign up. If the email address I should
communicate with you through is NOT your Paypal address, be sure to add a note
to me so I can email you with details to get into the group. (And if the name
on the Paypal account is different from yours, tell me what your name is in the
notes.)

Click here:

Spirit Fingers: Kindergarten



 

Fantastic!

I’m excited for this class and wish I’d thought of doing it
when my kids were in K! Please pass it along to anyone you know who might need
it. If you have any questions, email me at askmoxie at gmail dot com to ask.

 

The snake

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to say here. So this might be a little fragment of a start…

Depression is a disease that chokes you. I think of it like being in a pit, and I think of myself as a person who alternates among being in the actual pit, climbing out of the pit, lying panting on my stomach a few feet from the edge having just hoisted my way out of the pit, and walking along with roses and sunshine but always knowing the edge is right there and I need to give it wide berth so I don't slip in.

(I'm in the roses and sunshine phase right now.)

But I've been thinking about how depression affects our relationships lately, and have started thinking of depression as a snake that wends and winds its way around us and through us so that before a couple (a romantic couple, a parent and child, two friends) knows it, the depression is binding them and keeping them apart, and changing every interaction into something twisted and scaly, twisty and false. And then the snake starts swallowing whatever was in the relationship–the joy, the trust, the teamwork.

The only way out for the non-depressed person is to heave the snake off and leave, and then the snake is left with only the depressed person. Who is now alone in a pit with a hungry snake.

You can see how this is bad.

If you're in the middle of it, and you're the non-depressed person, you use your normal problem-solving methods to try to work things out and to compromise. But what you may not realize is that the person you love is being strangled by the snake, and you're actually trying to negotiate with the snake. No decisions you make, or make as a couple, are reasonable for the two of you as long as the snake is there, distorting everything and feeding on chaos and hurt.

If the only way to save yourself is to leave the relationship, then you have to leave the relationship.

But if there is any way for you to stay and wriggle out from under the snake and help the person you love to get away from the snake, too, that would be good. You can't save someone else, but you might be able to hold their hand while they're saving themself.

If I could have said it, back the zillions of times I was feeling it, this is what I would have said:

"I am still the same person inside. I just can't figure out how to connect that person on the inside to the outside. If you could push me in the right direction to help myself I will, but I can't see the horizon. Please don't give up on me."

You can't save someone else. But if you can see clearly and can figure out some first steps for the depressed person (who probably can't see the first steps for themself) that would be everything. And if the depressed person takes those steps, it would be amazing if you could hang out sometimes, and just hold their hand.

You can't save someone else. Sometimes people can save themselves if you show them the beginning of the path. Sometimes they can't. But sometimes they can.

 

Remember the helpers

Hi loveys,

If your kids are coming home soon, make sure you have live news media shut off so they can't accidentally see anything about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. Go drink some water and breathe deeply and compose yourself. Once we know what actually happened there will be plenty of time to tell your kids if you decide to.

If you're feeling any 9/11 ptsd, you're not alone. I'm a little shaky right now. I'm going to drink some water and get ready for the kids to get here from school.

Remember the helpers.

Reach out if you need to.

Courage.

Q&A: Staying with someone who threatens you

Someone who I'm keeping anonymous wrote in, and I've also changed some details here for privacy:

"…hubby
and I are discussing separating. Kind of. He refuses to go to
counseling. Absolutely refuses. If we separate/divorce, he claims he
will go after full custody of our kids — this despite that I am the
primary caregiver at this time (I worked full time until one year ago). I
don't know what to do. Later today, he apologized for "the
conversation" when he said if we separated, he would basically be an
asshole and go after the kids and refuse me custody. I love him and want
to stay with him but not if he continues to be such a jerk. I would
probably agree to a separation if we could have the kids 50-50.

I haven't consulted an attorney yet so I don't know what is possible.

My question is to those moms who have endured separation and divorce:
HOW did you know it was truly the time to end it vs just
enduring/forgiving/going on????"

Oh, so many things. Before I get started, here's a message to every parent who is full of anger and is lashing out, i.e. the questioner's husband: Stop using your children as pawns.

NONE OF WHAT I WRITE HERE IS LEGAL ADVICE. I AM NOT A LAWYER. IF YOU ARE EVEN THINKING ABOUT DIVORCE, TALK TO A LAWYER IN YOUR STATE WHO SPECIALIZES IN FAMILY LAW.

To anyone threatening your partner with taking their children away:

1. Your job as a parent is to act in your children's best interests. Always. At every time. And the best interest of every child is to spend as much time as possible with each parent (assuming the parent is safe for them to be around). If you cannot put aside your own feelings about your children's other parent to allow your children a full relationship with that parent, you are not doing your job.

2. The second you threaten someone to take away their children, you need to see a therapist. Right now. This week. You are not managing your emotions well, and you need help figuring out what to do next that will be best for the children, and for you.

3. If you genuinely feel that your children's other parent is a threat to their physical or emotional safety, call a lawyer. Your lawyer will advise you about the steps to take to protect your children.

4. If you are threatening to take away someone's children to force that person to stay with you, you have gone off the rails. This is the kind of stuff that people do on soap operas*. Not real life. You can't force someone to want to be with you, and blackmailing them into a relationship is definitely not going to do it. Take a few deep breaths and find a therapist to help you through this.

To anyone who is being threatened:

1. Love isn't fear. If you're afraid of your partner, you shouldn't be with that person.

2. If your partner is making you afraid, that is abuse. Even if you're not afraid physically, someone who makes you afraid in the relationship is engaging in abusive behavior.

3. Your children see everything, even if you think they don't. Kids who grow up inside abusive relationships grow up thinking it's normal, and look for that dynamic as adults.

4. Tell someone. You can get out, safely, and people will help you.

About the threat to "go after full custody":

I'm not sure exactly what he thinks is going to happen. He'll explain to the judge that he's mad at you for wanting to work on your marriage and then wanting to leave when he wouldn't work on things, so he should have full custody of the kids? Judges aren't stupid, and their priority is doing what's best for the children. They won't just "give" custody to the person who's angriest, or who feels wronged, or who spends the most money**.

It is a long, difficult process to terminate parental rights or even to limit contact (I know there are some readers who have had to do this, and it's grueling). It happens when it is not safe for children to be with a parent, because the parent has addiction problems or other issues.

In general, judges do not take into account "who did what" when determining how much parental time each parent gets with the kids. Things leading to the split are between the two adults, and have nothing to do with the children. Your partner could do all sorts of mean things to you and as long as they have nothing to do with the kids, your partner still has the right to be a full parent.

Your children have the right to spend as much time as possible with each parent.

Many many states are defaulting to 50/50 custody, so to deviate from that you have to really show why it would be better for the children–not the parents–to have a different arrangement. That takes a long time, and involves professional assessments. It's serious and not something you should just decide to do as revenge.

To everyone going through a split and keeping the focus on the best interests of the kids:

Thank you. You are doing the best that you can, and that's all anyone can ask. Also: It Gets Better.

My recommendations to the poster are:

1. See a lawyer. You don't know what's going to happen but you need to know what the laws are in your state and what's likely to happen if this goes to court. Ask people for a recommendation of a divorce lawyer they loved, then go in for a consultation. You'll have to pay for the consultation but it'll be the best money you'll spend, even if you end up staying together.

2. Your husband needs to see a therapist. Whether or not he'll go with you, he needs to get himself straight. Threatening you with going after full custody is a sign that he's not thinking clearly. I don't know if he's a physical threat, but he's engaging in abusive behavior, at the least, and needs to talk to a professional about it.

3. I hope that you find a path that keeps your children as safe as possible to grow and thrive. The best-case scenarios are that your husband gets help and you two can work it out, or that he gets some help and you can mediate a divorce and stay out of the court system and save thousands of dollars. I hope for one of these for you and your children.

 

My recommendation for everyone involved in any kind of divorce or co-parenting situation: Read the book Co-parenting 101: Helping your Kids Thrive In Two Households After Divorce by Deesha Philyaw and Michael D.Thomas. It lays it all out about what's possible depending on who you are and who your child's other parent is, and how to do the best for your kids no matter what your co-parenting circumstances are. Super-practical and realistic, not judgy, and not overly sentimental.

 

* Seriously. On Friday's episode of Days Of Our Lives, Chloe told Daniel that if he didn't break up with Jennifer to be with her, she would take their son away and Daniel would never see him again. Chloe is not emotionally healthy, and this is a soap opera, and even she backed off by the end of the episode.

** Another soap opera fallacy is that if you spend enough money and hire the fanciest lawyer you can get custody and force the other parent out of the children's lives. It doesn't work that way at all in real life (in the United States, at least, although apparently it does in Salem and Pine Valley), although if one parent doesn't understand how things work and gets scared (or has a lawyer who doesn't fight for their rights and advises them to settle for less) sometimes you can bluff and get a custody arrangement that sucks for everyone, including the kids. I hate that.

Book Review: Minimalist Parenting

I’m reviewing “Minimalist Parenting” because I’m friends with one of the authors, Asha Dornfest. (I only review stuff I have a personal connection to or that I find on my own.) That means I wasn’t going to say anything bad about the book, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do*.

This book feels like it was written especially for me and you, and for Moxites in general. It’s got all the things we love:

1. The overriding philosophy that you’re just great the way you are, so verbalizing your style and preferences is the way to go instead of trying to follow someone else’s recommendations.

2. A whole wide toolbox of things to try in all different situations, with the understanding that one or more will work for you but you can ignore the ones that don’t fit.

3. New ways of thinking about concepts, and questions to ask yourself to get to the essence of the situation.

4. An inclusive and welcoming attitude for whatever your style and priorities are.

I was a little hesitant, initially, because I was thinking “minimalist” meant Asha and Christine (Koh, the co-author) were going to tell me to get rid of my stuff. They do not. Instead, they’re telling me to think about my stuff and figure out which of it is making me feel good, and then get rid of the stuff that’s making me feel bad. Which is excellent, as that’s the direction I’ve been going for the last five years anyway, so it’s SO NICE to hear someone else saying that I should focus on what nourishes me and not feel guilty about getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t. (I’ve got more on guilt for you later this week.)

They do the same with time, so they don’t tell you to cut out anything frivolous, but they do tell you to cut out the activities that aren’t doing anything good for you. Love it.

The book sets up the philosophy (refining your own priorities for how you run your family life), then talks about time management (using a lot of classic business-related time management techniques and bringing them into the personal), stuff, space, finances, playtimes, school, activities, meals, vacations, and self-care.

This book is probably going to overwhelm you if you have a first baby under three months. If you have kids older than that, though, this book will give you a nice framework for thinking about all the areas of family life so you can assess what you can control and streamline things so you can process the chaos as it happens and spend more time enjoying life and less time feeling like it’s dragging you around.

So: Two thumbs up. You can buy Minimalist Parenting here. Check out the MinimalistParenting.com website, and follow them on twitter at Twitter.com/MinParenting.

* I thought it was going to be more about tips and less about framework. And we all know how much I love framework.

Hump Day

And I completely cracked myself up with that post title. Anyway.

K wrote and asked me if we could talk about sex drive as we age. She'd read this piece from Anne Lamott in which Lamott says that women her age (58) don't want to have sex. K, who is 51 and does want to have sex, thought that was odd. K also offered that her own mother, who is 74, is still into sex.

I'd been thinking about this for awhile, too. I've had a bunch of conversations with women around 40 who feel like our sex drive has increased radically and is much higher now than when we were 30. I'd attributed it in myself to a combo of getting out of a bad marriage and having my kids be old enough that they weren't touching me all the time, but it seems to happen to other women who are not in the same circumstances, too.

So, data points, please. Your age and whether you want sex now, and whether that's more or less than previously, and any mitigating circumstances you think are relevant (single/partnered, age of kids, stress level, blah blah blah). For the purpose of this poll we'll define "sex" as any form of sexual activity with another person that you find pleasurable. (Maybe we should have a separate category for masturbation?)

I'm going to recommend that you not use your real full name here, so do the usual posting anonymously drill with www.fake.com in the URL box.

Linky-loo

Who else has had enough of April Fools Day? Here are some great, REAL things I found last week that I thought you would enjoy:

1. The site Beyond Baby Mamas, about the experiences of single mothers of color. White single mothers are sometimes allowed to speak for ourselves, but single moms of color rarely are. Writer Stacia L. Brown started the site, which cuts through all the assumptions and proliferates nuanced discussion about the varied realities single moms of color are living. Including debunking the myth that there's something less than about single moms, and the "getting married fixes everything" myth that so many people have bought into. Check the post "14 Lies SIngle Mothers Hear About Marriage" for a skilled takedown of that. Very worth it for all single moms to read, even and especially if you're a white single mom like me. (Hang together or we all hang separately.) Great site for allies to read, too. Follow Beyond Baby Mamas and Stacia L. Brown on Twitter.

2. For any of you struggling with infertility, PCOS, and then breastfeeding problems stemming from those problems, City Girl Tales has been a source of comfort and information, from when she first started writing about dealing with her uterus through the birth of her second child. She just posted her last post, and is leaving the site up as a beacon for anyone else dealing with unicornate uterus or any of the other things she's been through.

3. This site about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as 30-somethings really made me laugh.

4. Just checking in about spring allergies. Last year my older son and I tried taking local bee pollen (chewing a few grains a few times a day) for our allergies. The first couple of days the allergies got worse, but by day 5 mine were gone. His were mostly gone by day 6 (but then he forgot to take some with him when he went on vacation for three weeks with his dad and they came back, so he had to start the cycle again.) They came back for me if I skipped the bee pollen for more than a day, but it was totally worth crunching the gross pollen (it tastes like honey-covered crunchy dirt) to get rid of the allergy symptoms. I am not promising that bee pollen will work for you, but it's not that expensive and is easy to use, so it might be worth trying if you're not happy with your allergy meds. I'd look at a farmers market for a local beekeeper for pollen, or a food co-op or Whole Foods-type store.

In other news,if anyone can find my motivation to push through and finish the six remaining assignments I have to finish before I graduate, send it to me, please. Alternately, who wants to write three papers for me and take an exam?