It’s About Her – Why I Stopped Watching the NFL

At 1:00 today, I was prepping dinner and the kids were playing. The TV wasn’t on even though the Steelers game had just started. We stopped watching NFL games in our house this season. It’s refreshing to no longer plan our day around football. An hour of the game was spent at the park this afternoon – it was sunny and warm enough to be outside without a coat. The kids played at the playground while I got some exercise and on several occasions Ruslan chased me through the field. Our time was much better spent outside than in front of the TV.

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The only thing that has been difficult about not watching NFL games has been my regular football chats with my Dad. I started watching football with my dad at a very young age; I have always been a football fan. My dad and I have always talked about football together.

When the Ray Rice story hit the media this summer, I told my dad that I was considering not watching any NFL games. I couldn’t support the NFL when it was clear to me that they had no respect for women. We talked about the allegations and what I heard from my dad included a good dose of victim blaming because that’s the story he was hearing in the media. By the time the video came out, he was hearing more facts and was shocked at the statistics on domestic abuse.

At that point I realized that my dad probably had no idea about how difficult my first marriage was, after all I did a great job of keeping those details to myself. I was embarrassed and miserable – being yelled at everyday, having things thrown at you, and being made to feel worthless - these are not the stories that you want to tell your friends and family. One day stands out among the others, an occasion that made me realize I couldn’t stay with my ex-husband anymore. He brought a dozen roses home for me one day which was a huge surprise. My immediate response wasn’t appreciative enough so he took them away, told me that I didn’t deserve them, and snapped them in half.

By the time we separated, I didn’t recognize myself and it took me a long time to rebuild my self-esteem. I was lucky. I had a good job. I stayed home on a random weekday and called my mom. I told her that I needed to move in with them and I packed my bags. It was hard to admit that I had screwed up, that I had made a bad choice, that I couldn’t make my marriage work. But I had options and I realized that I needed to get out before things got worse. Many women don’t have those options and when an organization like the NFL doesn’t make a clear statement, the abusers are validated.

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But why stop watching NFL games? What does it really accomplish? Aside from not buying Steelers merchandise, there is no real impact to the NFL.

Like so many other decisions Juliana, Ruslan and Wyatt influence most of the choices that I make.

Juliana knows that both Scott and I were previously married and she’s old enough to ask questions. Why didn’t you want to stay married to that other man? How did you know that you didn’t want to stay married anymore? I keep the answers simple – he wasn’t nice to mommy, he didn’t respect me, he made me sad. She asks me why I would marry someone who wasn’t nice to me and we talk about respect and making good choices about the people that we choose to spend our time with.

Juliana has started to echo these conversations when she talks about getting married – instead of saying that she wants to marry someone who is rich or is really cute, she tells me that she wants to marry someone who makes her happy and treats her with respect.

I want to be a good example to them. I want to help them avoid the bad choices that I’ve made in my life and learn from my mistakes. I want them to believe in themselves and be confident in who they are. I want them to make decisions based on their belief system. I want to raise children who will stand up to bullies and support those who are not as strong.

I want them to grow up free to be who they are.

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Teamwork

Recently the boys have been more double trouble than double the fun. When they are together, they are loud and wild and get each other more and more wound up until someone gets hurt. Yesterday the boys were playing loudly in their room when Ruslan started to cry. I went upstairs and Ruslan told me that Wyatt hurt his mouth. When I asked how he told me that it happened when they were playing the fighting game. But injuries are only a pause in the action and they are right back to climbing and pushing and getting into trouble together minutes later.

Today my Dad took the boys to the park for a while. He was helping them slide back and forth on this contraption at the playground and eventually he got tired of pushing them and stopped. The boys figured out that they could team up and help each other. After the past few weeks, I really needed to see them working together and having fun. These are the pictures that you dream of when you find out that you are having twins.

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Ruslan 5.5

Ruslan at 5-1/2 continues to be full of energy. He goes from sound asleep to wide awake – loud and in constant motion. He runs, he yells, he climbs – he thinks that he is invincible. Railings are for sliding down, the back of the couch and his headboard make perfect balance beams, he can jump from high places, he worries his mama with the constant acrobatics.

ruslan55-5 ruslan55-6ruslan55-7 ruslan55-8He also gives the strongest hugs and kisses and tells me that he loves me a lot, and when he wants to sit still he will cuddle close and tell stories – he loves to talk almost as much as his sister.

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Tuesday evening Ruslan was walking around the house pretending to be a T-Rex (normal Ruslan behavior). The best part is when he is a T-Rex he holds his arms close to his body and waves them around saying “Look at my tiny arms.”

He was growling and collecting stuffed animals and telling them that he was taking them to his cave. He created a space in the corner of the living room behind a chair and he took “the babies” there – he made a point of saying that he was stealing babies – stuffed animals that belong to Wyatt and Juliana.

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Over the past few days Ruslan has come home and gone straight to his cave. In addition to the babies, there are cars and Legos and other random toys. It has become quite the little hideout.

ruslan55-3 ruslan55-2Ruslan was standing near me growling and breathing loudly and I asked if I was in danger or if he only steals babies. He confirmed that I was safe and growled that he only steals babies.

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Ruslan: At school we have a big carpet with letters and animals and we all have a square.
M: What letter do you sit on?
R: Letter R! And there is a bunny.
M: It is probably a rabbit for letter R.
R: No, it’s actually a bunny.

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Ruslan flips through a stack of books in bed each night before he goes to sleep. If you are downstairs, you can tell that he is reading because you hear a thump as he tosses each book in a pile on the floor. Some nights he “reads” a lot of books.

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R: I cry at show and tell every week.
M: Why? Does something sad happen?
R: Isabelle brings the same thing every week.
M: Why does it make you sad that she always brings the same thing?
R: She brings the helicopter that is the same as my helicopter and it makes me miss my helicopter.

Today Ruslan finally took the helicopter to school for show and tell. I hope that no one cries.

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They Walked Up the Steps Hand in Hand

My babies started Kindergarten this year and it is already 20% over.

The boys are 5-1/2 today.

Juliana is a third grader – real, big kid school.

Juliana turns 9 tomorrow. Time is moving much too quickly right now.

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When it was time to get on the bus on the first day of school, Juliana led the way and the boys followed her. When they reached the bus, Ruslan and Wyatt held hands and walked up the steps together.

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Wyatt has Juliana’s Kindergarten teacher and Ruslan has Ms. O. Ruslan came home on the first day and told me: “I really like Ms O; we decided that we are going to be best friends.” Since then Ruslan has decided that Ms. O is his favorite person. I think that they are both awesome!

wy-openhouse2 ru-openhouse3The boys were so excited to show us their classrooms at open house – they ran back and forth between the two classrooms.

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The bus comes early in the morning and I let them sleep as long as possible. Then we have a very action packed 30 minutes of getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, shoes and coats and backpacks, and out the door to the bus.

boys-waiting boys-afterschoolOccasionally there is time for a silly picture before the bus arrives.

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Festivals are More Fun with Friends

For the past 3 years we have made a fall date to go to a local farm with friends. These 3 have posed for silly pictures.

farm-2012-1 farm-2013-1Went on hay rides.

farm-2012-2 farm-2013-4Ran through the corn maze.

farm-2012-3 farm-2013-2And climbed on the old truck.

farm-2013-3This year I brought the boys along for the fun and we managed to get all 5 together for one brief moment.

farm-2014-2And once again they ran through the corn maze (we even made it out the exit) and went on a hayride.

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But once we reached the old truck, the boys didn’t want to do anything else. They had no interest in the animals or games. They were content to climb on the truck until it was time to leave.

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I love watching these friends grow-up together.

I Can Still Hold Them Both in My Arms

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Today is the last day that the boys will spend in the childcare program where they have spent the past five years. In August 2009, when the boys were 16 weeks old, the childcare program that Juliana attended started an infant program. That program opened with 3 babies – Ruslan, Wyatt and Finnegan. With the . . . → Read More: I Can Still Hold Them Both in My Arms

Kindergarten Camp

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When I took the boys to Kindergarten Screening at the beginning of the summer, they took the first time parents on a tour, they handed out new information, and they talked about Kindergarten Camp. I thought that Kindergarten camp must be new, but they told us that they have offered the program for years and . . . → Read More: Kindergarten Camp

While Ruslan Dug Holes in the Sand

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Yesterday was a perfect day on the beach. The humidity was low, the temps were moderate and there was a lovely breeze. I took turns playing in the waves with each of my children and I showed them how to use all of the sand molds that we had brought with us; then I sat . . . → Read More: While Ruslan Dug Holes in the Sand

Ten Years Ago, Part 4: Our Wedding Day

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We were married on a cool Friday evening in July – for someone who doesn’t like to be outside when it is hot, I was chancing an outside wedding in July. We had picked the date only a few weeks in advance, I bought a dress on Clearance that needed no alterations, we ordered a . . . → Read More: Ten Years Ago, Part 4: Our Wedding Day

Ten Years Ago

Jen and Scott

 

Ten years ago we said “I Do”

And started a wonderful adventure together

 

Nine years ago

A little blonde girl with all the words was welcomed into the world

 

Eight years ago

We were learning what parenthood was . . . → Read More: Ten Years Ago