Friday, December 31, 2010

Intuitive Ben

I am beginning to think that my5 yr old is quite intuitive. Yesterday at the movie theater he came over to me crying during the movie saying that the movie was scary. The weird thing was, the scary part was coming up, but had not happened yet. The same thing happened at another movie when he was about 2 or 3. He seems to sense the impending danger before they even elude to it. If a 5 yr old can be this intuitive about a movie he has never seen, imagine how on top of it he is when it comes to reading his parents moods and worries. He knows when we are frustrated and have worries and more. So, this makes me worry about stressing out my little boy. But I have decided it isn't all about never letting him notice me being frustrated or whatever, but rather when I do have a worry that he see me deal with it in a good way. So, I pray for patience, and restraint, when I don't show patience.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I failed!

Well, I think it is safe to say that there is no catching up from this blogging Holiday Hiatus. I wanted so badly to do 365 consecutive days of blogging, but then Christmas week came along and just threw me for a loop! There is no catching up now, but there is continuing on, and so that is the plan. I am back with plenty of stories to share and funny things said by the kids and general chaos that is our loving home to relay to you : ) So, a quick Christmas recap of the fun, the craziness, the chaos, and the joy of the past few days: It was our turn to host the family Christmas Eve Brunch. 40 of my favorite people all good enough sports to squeeze into my living and dining rooms to sing my Christmas Carols, eat my food and play my silly games for my silly prizes! In the days leading up to this party I worry that my kids will associate Christmas with cleaning. Just cleaning. But it is not only when it is my turn to host the party that the cleaning bug gets me at the holidays. Right or not, my kids get quite a lot for Christmas. I am ok with it, I have rationalized it this way: We don't buy them toys throughout the year, so at their birthdays and Christmas we may go a little crazy but the toys have to last them all year. So, as Christmas approaches I begin to notice all the other stuff we have already. I see something lying on the floor and I begin to say things like, "If I were Santa, I wouldn't be bringing any toys to this house where I see the kids have so much that they have it all over their floors." And I begin going a little nuts cleaning out stuff. But it is really quite great, because we give away bags of stuff that the kids are "done" with (aka "won't miss") and make room for the new stuff to keep them entertained for the new year. But as I was saying, I worry the kids will associate cleaning with Christmas, which is not all that festive. So, I try to squeeze in fun moments here and there, but sometimes I am just not very attentive to that. I think God knew we needed a "fun Christmas moment" one night when, much against my plan of cleaning - as it was the 22nd, and my party was to be on the 24th, and I needed the 23rd to cook - the doorbell rang and there stood my wonderful cleaning lady, her daughter and her 2 grandchildren. They had a gift in hand, which was so thoughtful, as I know they have little to nothing above what they need in their home. The daughter had written and framed a lovely poem "inspired by God" for our home. As I began to gather my kids to the front door to meet our visitors, and upon seeing the kids introduce themselves, I asked them to stay for pizza. With much persuading by me, my kids, and my cleaning lady's grandchildren, they all stayed. What a wonderful evening! Instead of scrubbing floors, I was forced to sit on the sofa in front of the fire with Christmas music in the background and chat with two amazing women, while our kids ran off and played, giggled and just plain got along beautifully. Their family being from Kenya, I learned about how differently they celebrate Christmas. But after this lovely surprise that kept us having a great Christmas season amidst the party preparations, I hope that they decide to add a pizza party at our house to their new Christmas traditions, because it was a welcome surprise and a very welcome blessing. And with all those people in my house on Christmas Eve, I doubt anyone noticed the dust that I didn't have time to take care of. And one last note about that evening - As the kids were leaving that night, Jack yells from the other room, "This was the best night of my life!!! We have to have them come back!" Thank you Jack - you rock. So, the party was fun, and then came the fun evening at my inlaws where the kids have become accustomed to the tradition of me letting them just eat bread and jello and soda for dinner. Not that there aren't other foods, but I don;t fight it on Christmas Eve. Then we get the kids to bed, do our thing, and wake 4 hours later to 5 hyper children ready to see if Santa came. We say our usual, "I doubt he came, you guys haven't really been that good." and then we all race downstairs to find that in fact Santa must have seen some good in them because he really overdid it AGAIN. After 20 minutes of ripping paper, squeals, and battery search and rescue, the kids are busy playing with their new stuff. My hubby and I never get the chance to exchange gifts, because it takes us so long to help them open all the stuff they got that are basically padlocked into the boxes like Fort knox. But we don't care because Charlie gives us the best gift of all - HE SLEEPS THROUGH THE WHOLE CHRISTMAS MASS! Bingo - Merry Christmas to me and my husband. We have a lovely Christmas mass experience and get to grin back and forth at each other over our kids' heads and really "mean it." Then it is off to my parents for party #3! At one point there were 18 children sitting on Nana's floor waiting for Papa to call their name. I think it was a success because no one was trampled, and I recall no crying! I do however recall my crazy boy, Charlie, sitting perfectly angelically waiting with sweet little hands raised for his gifts. Turns out he had strep throat - no wonder he was so docile. I should have been tipped off when he fell asleep at church. All in all though - a beautiful Christmas Holiday with Family. Also: Charlie and I were sharing a pretzel today at my son, Jack's, basketball game and Charlie said this to me, "You're taking all the cheese in your mouth! You're taking too much!" I can not help but laugh at him when he says these sorts of things. He is so explicit, so thorough in his attempts to relay messages to us. I think it surprises us because he is our first child to speak so clearly and so completely at such a young age. While our other children at 2 and a half years old would say, "Uppy, Uppy!" When they wanted us to hold them, Charlie says, "I want you to hold me up and walk around. I want you to pick me up high and walk around!" At bedtime instead of just crying and fussing in his bedroom, he says, "Jack, I want to lay in your bed with you! Please Jacky, Please Scotty! Let me lay in your bed with you!" None of us can handle it - he ends up getting what he wants because we are so enthralled, moved, or just plain amazed at his ability to tell us exactly what he wants. (Plus he has these huge brown eyes that he bats at us.) Next: Tonight we went to Our Lady of the Snows Shrine to take a carriage ride through the lights, ride and feed the animals, see the puppet show etc and have dinner. We had such a great time. But the best was watching Charlie and Ben. They were absolutely amazed with everything, As we were going through the lights, Ben kept sort of leaping up off the seat and exclaiming, "Look mom! Look at that!" and it would be about something that seemed quite simple to me, but to a five-yr-old who may just barely remember doing this last year, it was all new and wonderful. The puppets in the hilariously awful puppet show that we HAVE to see every year (it just wouldn't be the same if we missed it) really got Charlie excited. First he was afraid of the idea of them, then when they came out, he wanted to go behind the curtain and get them, then he decided to leave the puppet show. But all the while he was laughing, smiling, chatting with the folks behind us, just having a really great time. The best part about all the fun stuff Charlie does these days is that the big kids love it just as much as me and their dad do. They laugh at him, they are amazed by him and they are delighted by him constantly. They are almost always on his side. They are all constantly showing me something Charlie did or telling me something Charlie said. But right now Charlie is losing it in his bedroom because he does not want to go to bed. I, my husband, and each of my big boys have tried to woo him to bed by lying with him, reading to him, playing with him and more, and none of it is working. I think he knows. He knows he can work us and he is working it hard tonight....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Date with Jack

I got to enjoy a nice evening prayer service and choir concert that my son Jack performed in. He and about 9 other kids singing beautiful Advent carols. It was absolutely lovely. After that there was reconciliation service, which my 9 year old's eagerness to participate in inspired me to partake also, which I had not done in a while. This was all very nice and made for a good evening, but the best part came after. Jack and I headed out for tacos. The conversation went like this: Jack: Mom, which animal would you rather be stuck in the middle of the ocean with? A Great White shark or the hugest eel ever? Me: Ooooo, I think the eel. Jack: Mom, seriously that is not smart. You could hide under a shark's body, his eyes couldn't see you because of where they are on his head. But an eel? An eel could wrap around your body and then eat your face off. Mom: I think a shark could smell you though. Jack: So could an eel and plus they are so ugly and you hate eels. Mom: True. I really hate eels. I don't know. Jack: how about this, would you rather have a snake for a pet or an eel? Mom: Eel. Because it couldn't escape and kill me. Jack: what if it was not a poisonous snake? And the conversation went on like this for seriously like an hour or so! Really fun to get to just shoot the shi# with Jack. He's a fun guy.

The Duct tape wallet

Scotty is hilarious. He gets so excited about things. My husband would say that he gets that from me, and I actually quite agree that if it is genetic, it comes from me, not his dad. I mean I get pretty giddy about stuff, and I'm always wondering why my husband isn't hopping up and down too, or screeching a bit. Anyway, I digress. Scotty gets excited about things. And the last couple days the excitement has stemmed from the idea of... a duct tape wallet! He decided that he wanted to make a duct tape wallet for his brother Jack for Christmas. Then I found out the library was having a duct tape craft afternoon that included making a wallet, so of course I signed him up. When I told him this you would think I just told him that we were going to Disney World. He said I was the greatest mom ever, and he was gasping for breath because of his excitement. Such a funny guy. So he comes home with a wallet made of duct tape that is quite cool, a bracelet for his sister and a pen with a rose on the end for me. And he was VERY proud. He even put 5 bucks in the wallet for Jack! What a nice little guy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Why am I so stuck on finding my kids the perfect Christmas pajamas? I get them pajamas every year to wear to bed on Christmas Eve. I have this vision; Elaina in a white nightgown and the boys in red men's button down pjs. I have Elaina's covered, but the red pjs are illuding me. I know the boys could likely care less what color their pjs are, but since in my perfect Norman Rockwell vision they are wearing red, I really want to find them. I think this desire for the perfect pjs stems from a need to feel in control of something at this time of year. All the Christmas fun and shopping and hustle and bustle makes everything feel like it is going so quickly and so out of control. All the colors, all the craziness, while fun, can be a little...well, crazy. If I can get my kids to all match perfectly and look like a little picturesque Christmas vision on Christmas Eve, then for some reason maybe it will help my own mind settle and sit back and relax and enjoy the vision and the day. I will be tricked into thinking I have some control over my household. Because I am sure everything else about that day is going to be pretty crazy : )

What I say

I say some weird things throughout the day. Today: -No, no you may not put a leash on your brother. No, you may not. -Nope. You cannot set anything on fire. No, put the lighter away, and do NOT light anything on fire. -No, the dog does not want to be on a leash in the house. No, do not put that leash on him in the house. -Get your tongue off of the floor. Quit licking the floor. -Get your body out of the refridgerator. I'm surprised you fit in there. Get out of there. and the classic... -Get your hands out of your pants.

Monday, December 13, 2010


He is listening to headphones while doing his homework. What might you expect an 11 yr old boy to be listening to? Some hard rock? Some rap? Not my 11 yr old. He is listening to the They Might Be Giants Science CD. And he keeps singing out loud, and saying things like, "I wish you could hear this song, mom." and "Did you know the sun is not a gas, liquid or solid?" and "Isn't it funny that when I was little I thought that lava was not liquid?" And at the same time he is working on his science vocabulary note cards. He keeps drumming the air and raising the roof...he cracks me up.


Why am I such a psycho about my kids' hair? I love hair. I love long hair, short hair, full hair, silky hair, curly hair and straight hair. But what I HATE is a bad haircut. Seems like a trivial thing to worry about in such a crazy world, but when you count on a cute looking kid to keep you from grounding them for life or worse, you have to keep them - and their hair - looking cute. For instance - when Charlie came to me this morning with hair fiber (a very sticky, putty-like hair gel substance) all over him and then showed me how he put fiber all over the back of the toilet, the counter, the floor, etc, his cute little face and big eyes, and yes, adorable hair framing his little quivering lip, kept me from going a little crazy. However when he then showed me the toothpaste mess in the upstairs bathroom, complete with toothpaste all over himself, the counters, cabinets, rug etc, I was not quite as calm. This was before the cute haircut....after the haircut, who knows??? Also, my 11 yr old counts on his haircut to compliment his physique. My 9 yr old counts on his haircut to help him portray his rockstar attitude. My 7 yr old sees the whole haircutting experience as just that - a whole experience. She treats it like going to the spa, or getting a pedicure. She requests her hair to be washed, not just sprayed down. She wants it styled. And she uses all these little words and intonations when talking to the hairstylist just as I would when I am talking to my stylist. She loves the whole experience, and if I can make her happy with a simple haircut, then why not? Never mind the fact that she has medium long straight hair that I could trim myself for free. So, 5 kids haircuts at Fantastic Sams today - $85 5 kids who no longer look like ragamuffins - Priceless.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Date with Charlie

My husband took the 4 oldest kids out for the evening. So, Charlie and I had a date night in. First, we took a bubble bath. Charlie loved this and I learned some fun things about Charlie during the bath. Charlie does not like the taste of bubbles. However Charlie will taste bubbles more than once. Charlie calls private parts "tudus." Then Charlie insisted on my giving him a foot massage. He got lotion and handed it to me and said, "Put massa." Finally I realized what he was asking for. Charlie is ticklish and loved his foot massage. Then Charlie wanted to give me a foot massage, however that pretty much entailed him slopping lotion all over me and then saying, "done." Then I talked Charlie into watching Christmas movies in my bed and having cookies. Was not a hard sell. However, I think I will be sleeping in cookie crumbs for quite a while. Small price to pay though for such a great date.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Recital

Tonight was the big piano/guitar/singing recital. I could not be prouder of my big boys! They have been working hard on their pieces and performed fabulously! What a great skill they are working on - to practice something and work toward a goal, and then to finally be able to stand in front of others and show what you have learned. I remember being in recitals as a child. I was always soooooo nervous. My hands would be freezing and sweaty at the same time. I would worry a ton about how I would do. My kids are not like this as they wait for their turn in the recital. Jack jokes around, Scotty reads a book. They just go about their business, and when it is their turn they bound up onto the stage and do their thing. Jack even sings solos and sings along with his guitar pieces. Tonight Scotty played Amazing grace, and Jack played Rockin Around the Christmas Tree on the piano, played and sang Every Rose Has Its Thorn on the guitar, and Sang a solo - Mary Did You Know as I played backup. They made me so proud. It is great to see Scotty progress, and it is really wonderful to have something to do with Jack besides fight! I hope they stick with their musical instruments. It is such a great creative outlet to know.

The Rosary

We have kids in Catholic and Public Schools. Let me tell you a wonderful thing about the Catholic school 3 of my kids are in. We met at church, the whole school and a bunch of the parents, all the teachers, and led by the principal and then the students, said the rosary for a little boy in my daughter's 1st grade class who underwent brain surgery today. The power of the kids' voices in sustained prayer together was quite moving. The Kindergarteners began to sing the Hail Mary for the last decade, and of course there was not a dry eye among the moms in the back of church. There is just something about a church full of children singing, especially in prayer, that sure seems that it should count for a lot. I saw Elaina and Jack on their way out of church, and they were delighted to see that we had been there praying with them. Last night Elaina decided she wanted to go to a second mass (she had already gone that morning) to pray for her friend. God Bless Elaina's friend, and God Bless all those praying for him.

Within an hour

Yesterday within an hour Charlie made a mess of: -milk -yogurt -water -toothpaste And I slipped in the yogurt.

Kids' massage

I hurt my back so I have to stay off of my computer as much as possible (because it kills to sit at the computer) so I have to keep this short and sweet. Yesterday when my kids knew my back was hurting Elaina says to me, "Mom, come here." And she make a shoulder rub hand motion in the air, signaling for me to sit in front of her so she can rub my shoulders. So adorable, so I sit in front of her. And she is amazingly good! While her little soft hands aren't doing any deep tissue manipulation, there is something about her massaging me that for the time that she is doing it, I feel great. At that same moment my Charlie climbs onto my lap to kiss me till I feel better. Jack walks up behind Charlie and starts massaging his back, and then Ben somehow gets into the mix and is kissing on me, massaging on me too. I had 4 kids all somehow touching me, massaging me, laughing and kissing on me at once and it was quite sweet. I did not feel overwhelmed by the commotion. Rather, I think it helped, for the time being. So, since the Chiropractor, massage therapist, orthopedist and drugs have not yet relieved my back pain, I may have to just start using "kid therapy" as often as possible. Who would have thought?

Monday, December 6, 2010


Evenings M-F This week in my family of 7: Tutoring Pampered Chef Party Swim lesson Purse Party OT Server Training Choir Practice Piano Recital Karate Basketball Practice Would love to slow this week down a bit, but then I would be yelling at the kids about watching tv and playing video games - at least these things seem more productive...? It is a fine line.

Christmas Lists

Charlie wants a potty chair from Santa this year. You ask him what Santa is going to bring him and he says, "A potty chair!" He made this one up all on his own. I did not instigate it at all. Scotty would like mostly video games and video game related items. Jack wants an electric guitar. And hermit crabs. And a lego set. Elaina does not mention much. Ben wants a Hex bug set. Little vibrating robot bugs that run around in a maze. And legos. When I was a child, Santa always came through. And I usually liked the stuff I didn't ask for even more than the stuff I did. Santa just has such great ideas ; )

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The 5th

"Are you content with 5?" I get this question, or a version of it, sometimes not so polite, pretty often. Content? Content? How about ecstatic? I got to have 5 children! And they are cool. I mean really cool people. My 2 year old tonight explained to me for 3 minutes and 46 seconds (I was videoing-it was dark or I would post it) about snowmen and snowballs and getting hit in the head with snowballs, and he had this terribly excited voice and face the whole time. He has seen Frosty the Snowman, the cartoon, but there is no way he actually recalls snow. He was a year and a half the last time it snowed. However, in his "snow monologue" he mentions our inflatable snowman who stands proudly on our front lawn, and I say excitedly, "Do you think that is Frosty!?" And his expression turns very serious and he looks me in the eyes and says, "No. I didn't make him." In his brain he is probably thinking, "what is wrong with my mother? She thinks that nylon guy out there is a real snowman! Crazy woman." I do really wish I knew what they were thinking. Or maybe I couldn't handle knowing actually. Tonight I tried to sing a little Christmas lullaby for Charlie before bed and he kept putting his hand over my mouth and saying "NO!" ouch. But even with him shooting down my song, I am ecstatic to have that 5th. And he calls my name as I type...its like 1am...I've learned to wait...they...usually...fall...back...asleep. As long as they aren't crying a lot. Yep. He's back out : )

Friday, December 3, 2010

I am thankful

Thankful for my naive daughter: I worked a Daisies meeting the other day and I could not be more thankful that my daughter sat at the end of the table with the innocent, naive girls as opposed to the end of the table where the girls thought that they themselves ran the show. And again in Ballet class when 2 girls began to talk about their boyfriends (they are all 6-7) and others began singing the k-i-s-s-i-n-g song in a very snotty, not cute, tone of voice at one of the other little girls, and my daughter just stared at them like they were crazy, I was thankful. When it becomes a challenge to feel thankful is when that same little girl doesn't know a good comeback herself when being teased, and I just wish that at that moment she could summon the rudeness to tell off her peers. But deep down I am still thankful that is not the case. Thankful for my courageous son: He sang a solo in front of one stranger, the choir instructor no less, with pink cheeks and ruffled hair, all alone in a quiet choir room with no accompaniment but his fumbling mother on the piano. When it is a challenge to be thankful is when I worry that he will fail and even with all his bravery, get hurt. Thankful for my patient son: Never getting angry when I put him off endlessly from doing what he would like to do - make playdough, watch Christmas movies, make a craft. And when we finally get to what he wants to do, he is happy and kind and easy. Thankful for my Easy son: Does his own homework without help and has since the first day of kindergarten. And this makes time for the kiddos that need more attention at homework time. The same son has a great sense of self confidence and can handle what his 6th grade peers throw at him with ease because he knows he is above them. Thankful for my funny son: Never a dull moment. Can't help but laugh at him when when he is trying to take off and on his own clothing and gets stuck, discovers his body parts all over again, laughs at everything, and is 100% distractable - which is a GREAT thing right now. And thankful for my husband who knows me better than I know myself. I never understood that statement until I had been married to him for oh.....10 yrs or so I'd say.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making Playdough

Ben brought home the playdough sack from school. That meant that it was our turn to make some playdough. Firstly, Ben is so patient. He brings the bag home on monday or maybe it was even friday, but I don't discover the bag until monday afternoon. He goes to school M-W-F. So the plan was to make the playdough together so he could take it back to school on wednesday. Well, because of his siblings' activities- Occupational Therapy, Math Tutoring, Swim lessons, and me helping his siblings with their homework, and piano recital practice, and singing recital practice, and reading practice, and myself and their dad being at meetings for all of tuesday evening - the playdough did not get made by wednesday. Patient Ben did not complain. So finally last night when everyone else was getting ready for bed, and Ben was stalling his bedtime by hanging in the kitchen with me while I worked on my computer, I think of the playdough. M: "Oh, Ben, we have to make your playdough!" B: "Oh, good, everyone else can go to bed and I will stay up and make playdough with mom." (I could see the sparkle of thrill in his eyes. So I think, I have to make this fun and good and a thrilling experience for him.) So, we begin to make the playdough on the stove with him adding the ingredients one at a time. I only had whole wheat flour, so the playdough was becoming a tan color. He begins to add food coloring to make it "red." It turns a gross shade of pinkish orange because of the whole wheat flour. Sweet Ben doesn't complain, but he decides to add some blue to make it purple. It turns a gross shade of dark grayish purple. Smart Ben decides if you can't beat them join them and wants to add green and just make it brown. It turns a disgusting shade of greenish, purplish brownish gray. He does not complain. I tell him it is the color of a dinosaur. He says, "Yes! Because dinosaurs looked like that!" And he is thrilled. Love that kid, and his great attitude. Also don't want to forget: -Last evening Ben picked up a piece of Sweet and Sour chicken without sauce - basically a chicken nugget - and said, "You know, this is actually good. It is good to try new foods."


I spent the whole day working on photobooks for my kids for Christmas. I make them for them every year. They really like them. It is nice. But I think I need to rethink my logic. Charlie spent the whole day watching cartoons so I could work on their photobooks. Admittedly, I am having bad back pain right now, so I could not have been giving him horsie back rides anyway, but some legos or SOMETHING! Sheesh. I'm going to try to find a faster way to get them made I think. And next year...well I'm thinking these may start being birthday gifts, then I only have to make them one at a time! Its genius. Also I don't want to forget: -Charlie keeps asking me to put him in the oven. Is he cold? We keep our house quite warm in the winter I believe - 73. Strange boy. -Spontaneous singing broke out at our dinner table this evening. Sometimes I put a stop to the dinner table singing, but tonight when Elaina started singing "this little light of mine" and we all just started joining in one at a time until we were a whole choir, well it was fabulous! -Ben also started just singing away a song he learned at school about Mary Jesus and Joseph. He had the cutest little grin on his face and his cheeks were flushed pink - he is less of a stage hog than jack.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Shoe

Jack comes to the car with a drawing he did in art class at school. It is a fabulous drawing of his shoe. Really well done. I'm very impressed and trying to remember if at 9 yrs old I could draw like that, and I think the answer is "no." So he tosses the 11x17 sheet of paper up in front of my face as he gets into the car and says, "I don"t think this is very good." (Begging for compliments, which is not at all necessary because like I said, it is a very well done drawing) I decide not to play into his little game though and I say, "Really, why?" He says, "Oh, I don't know, its a little dark." I say "Actually I believe it is quite a good drawing, and I know that you must also believe it is a good drawing, so why all the dramatics to beg for compliments, it isn't necessary." He gets a funny look on his face and then begins to tell me, "Well, ya, I did feel a little like Hanna Montanna with all those kids gathered around my desk while I was drawing it. They kept saying how good it was, and how they couldn't believe I could do that. And my art teacher told me it was really good too. And I told everyone that my mom teaches me art and that you EXpired me, so you better feel good about that after all I went through." Ok, what does that even mean? I mean, yes I get that he meant to say "INspired, not EXpired" and I hope he didn't tell his class that I teach him his grammar too, but why is he threatening me to feel good about his praise of me "after all I went through"....what? after all you went through having to enjoy attention and get complimented by every kid in your class, or "after all you went through" having to say out loud that it was your mom's inspiration that made you great? I have a hard time getting him sometimes. But I will say this, I'm so happy to have a little budding artist to mentor! He and I need things to connect on, and Art and Music may be those things. So, I bought these awesome frames and framed some of the kids' artwork for the basement, and when Jack came into the room and saw his framed shoe, his excitement was all over his face and lips as he started saying how cool that it was and calling his brother in to see it. Glad I could make him so happy, since right after that he wanted to kill me for making him rewrite 6 sentences for homework that were unreadable. Oh, Jack, life is a roller coaster with you, my little pal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Yoda is a Shepherd

Tonight my mo - in - law and I were talking with my 2 yr old, which is ALWAYS entertaining. We were telling him about the Nativity and Christmas and all and eventually my mother in law asks him if he knows about the Shepherds and he says, "Yes! We hab shepper on da tree! He fights!" and we say that no he doesn't fight and he keeps saying that he does, and then he goes over to the tree and points out the "shepherd" which was a Yoda ornament with a light saber. I get the confusion, I mean they both wear robes and both have wrinkles. But I am reminded to get into the real meaning of Christmas a bit more with my kiddos. We did light our Advent candle this evening, but then we really didn't know what to we said our usual prayer and then ate dinner. I think this season requires, deserves, more than a candle lit and a 2 yr old thinking that Yoda is a shepherd. So, my goal for before tomorrow is to google nightly Advent prayers/devotions and to gather all of our Christmas, real Christmas stories and put them close at hand for the season. However something good is seeping into my kids heads somehow, since this afternoon my daughter said this, "Mom, every time I walk down the stairs and see our Christmas tree I say a little prayer." I say "REALLY? what prayer?" She says, "Hail Mary, or Glory Be." I have no idea where she got this, but I like it.

Decorating the Tree

LOVE decorating the tree with the kids, but there are a few things I should remember for next year: -Charlie will eat the candy canes no matter how many years you have been hanging the same ones on the tree. -Charlie will try to scale the tree in order to reach the higher up candy canes. -Charlie will scream for the whole night of decorating unless you let him suck a candy cane the entire time. -Eating 5 full-sized candy canes doesn't kill a 2 year old. -Do not let husband put the tree decorations away this year. No matter how busy you are, it isn't worth the smashed ornaments you will open up - especially your favorite Santa : ( He will not wrap them in the tissue. -Do not throw your back out the day before decorating, or you will end up with boxes of decor on your family room floor for 3 days because you will be moving 10x slower than usual. -Buy a tree that is 6.5 ft tall. 7.5 is too tall for our star to fit, and you will end up having to fashion something with a bow or something... -Jack will get tired of decorating after about 5 minutes. -Scotty could decorate all night long. -Elaina wants to know where we got every ornament and whose each is - perhaps writing on the bottom of the ornaments would help? -Ben will not enjoy dinner no matter what you fix, so don't worry about pleasing him on "decorating the tree" night. -The best spot for the tree seems to be the music alcove - even if the kids think it would be better in a zillion other places, and tell you so the entire time. -Stay in a good mood. It is not very festive to hear yourself say, "Come on, let's get this done." We're halfway to a decorated house. Can't wait to be 100 percent done and drinking hot cocoa in front of a warm fireplace. I'll report when that happens ; )

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O Christmas Tree

We are headed out to pick out the perfect Christmas tree! I would like to be heading out into the snowy woods to chop down our own tree but a few things are stopping us: No snow, no woods, no ax. So, we will head to the Church parking lot and search the tree lot there for the perfect tree. I asked the kids each what their idea of the perfect Christmas tree would be and these were their answers: Scotty: "Tall but not too tall, not higher than 8 feet. It should have many needles, but not drop a lot of needles. It should have no yellowing needles. Long soft needles that aren't too prickly. Not too thin. Not too thin or thick branches. Pointed top. Lets see...anything I missed...shouldn't be able to see the inside, the trunk." Jack: "Well, it has to stand out. Tall but no too tall. Long branches for all those ornaments we have. It should be special. Not made with hands by man, as in a fake tree. It should be real, because then you will have your own tree that God made for you." Elaina: "Can it be like wide and kind of skinny? And this tall (she shows me with her hands a height as tall as she is) and this thin, (and she shows me a width of about 12 inches with her hands), branches about this long, (she shows me a width of about 12 inches again). On top a little point so we can fit the star on top. Green needles about this wide (2 inches). A thin bottom." Ben: "I think I would like one really big so we can put some ornaments on it. And it would be really good...what else...hmmm...only pine needles on it would be good. I do not want to see the branches, only the pine needles. On the top, I would like that to be a star." (then he burped, said excuse me and walked away). Charlie: "Ummm, a blue one. And candy." I will report on how I did on fulfilling their wishes....we are off!

Stuffy nose, hurt back

"Mobby, by dose isn't wooking!" (translation - Mommy, my nose isn't working!) Charlie woke with a stuffy nose this morning, and so this is what I heard upon waking up in the room next to him. I just started cracking up, which actually hurt pretty badly, because I threw my back out yesterday, so any sort of jostling is killing. The good thing about throwing out your back is this: my kids are forced to help more, and actually feel a little bad for me. They have each come up and asked how my back is feeling and sort of wince when they see me wince. Sort of cute. Elaina offered up a back rub. Scotty has been responding to my requests very kindly, and Jack even didn't require multiple begging sessions for him to help out. So, I may just have to have a hurt back next week too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Day

What a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am thankful for: Scotty - that he was able to do the turkey day run almost running the whole time and said afterwards, "I feel really good about myself." Jack - that he was brave enough and not too overly attention seeking, at singing beautifully for the family at my mom's. Elaina - that she has so many little girl cousins to be her "little sisters." and that she is a wonderful big sister to all of them. Their love for each other is very mutual. Ben - that he goes off and plays with his buddies, his cousins, and there is rarely an incident. They play so well together and have such fun together and remember each other from holiday to holiday with love and affection. Charlie - that he is the sweetest 2 yr old ever made. That he could entertain a room full of people and get us laughing with just a look in his eye. That he is happy almost always. My husband - that he shares in all these joys with me so willingly and thankfully and that he will drive home after a big day of eating and drinking! For my parents, siblings and all my family - that they were all able to be together to celebrate what we are all most thankful for, a loving God who gave us so much.

The Feast

I didn't even go to Ben's thanksgiving feast. My husband did. Ben was soooooo excited to hear that his dad would be going. I was not offended. I have been to many a Thanksgiving feast. I was just happy that Ben was so excited. And he really was. He ran around all day the day before singing a song about how his dad was coming to his feast. So sweet. The littlest things really mean a lot to them. We think they don't notice what we do for them sometimes, but I think they do. As a matter of fact they are pretty much noticing everything we do. Which made me so proud to read the recipe for pumpkin pie that Ben wrote at school: "Cook it in the oven just have to guess. Then eat it. Wait, first we say our prayers, THEN we eat it."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spa Night

Last night my kiddos needed baths and nails cut, and they were rebelling. So I said to pretend that we were a spa and that we were heading up to the sauna for our showers and then our pedicures and leg massages. The kids jumped all over this. They were really funny. After their showers, they all (except Scotty, I think he was out with dad or something) came into my room and laid down on my bed. I put a Christmas movie in and began the cutting of the toenails. After each kid, I would lotion them up and begin the leg/foot massage. My daughter, who is quite used to this and LOVES this and also happens to be super NOT ticklish just lies there like an adult would. A look of pure relaxation on her face. And she talks to me like I am working for her, gives me directions on what she would like done next, makes me massage her toes a certain way. My next client is a 2 yr old, and he is first against the idea of having to lie down on my bed because this reminds him of bedtime, which he is against right now. So, I just put the lotion on him and begin massaging his little feet and legs and the next thing you know, he is lulled into a super relaxed state, head back, eyelids drooping. In line next is my 5 yr old and he is a bit ticklish and funny about it. He tries not to laugh, but can't help it and he also thinks it is quite amazing that his toenails are barely long at all compared to his brother's. My final massage is for my 9 yr old. I begin by cutting his super long nails - he is nine, why does he not just tell me when he looks like this? I am quite embarrassed for what his teachers must think. Anyway, when I get to the massage part he giggles uncontrollably and nearly kicks me in the head numerous times. Super sensitive, this boy is. So I get to hear him laugh a ton and that is fun, because he needs to laugh like that more because of me. He laughs a lot, but usually not because I am instigating it, and it was fun to be the cause of his laughter. Human touch - so powerful!

Cleaning Day

Every other Thursday is cleaning day. (This week because of Thanksgiving though cleaning day fell on a Tuesday.) I don't dread cleaning day. No, I really like it. Could be because I know that at the end of the day, the whole house will be in order. Could be that I know that I get to spend the whole day at home, no running around. Could be that on cleaning day I have very little guilt about letting the kids watch a lot of tv. Could be that I love the smell of Pine Sol. But mostly, I think it is because of an amazing woman who I hired to come and help me clean! We spend the whole day cleaning: me with the changing of sheets, the numerous loads of laundry, the general cleanup of children, digging clothing and "other" stuff out from under beds, toy organization, closet organization and more, and my angel who comes every other Thursday puts on the rubber gloves and cleans all the surfaces that I uncover, floors, counters, bathrooms and more. I usually try to make it a cleaning day for the kids too. I will pile up all the crap I find under their beds and put it on top of their beds. I will take their clean clothing up to their rooms for them to put away themselves. I will take them to the basement and delegate chores to get the playroom cleaned up. Making it a cleaning day for the kids is actually a lot of work. It would be so much easier to just do it myself. I mean I could put their clothing away, organize the basement playroom etc, but I suppose I need to keep having them help as much as they are able. Otherwise, I will end up with less help than ever. And if I can get them cleaning on cleaning day, perhaps it will carry over to other days, and some day...there won't have to be a specific cleaning day for mom, and mom could find something else to do with her day, like take the kids to the zoo, while her angel comes and does what she does. At least this is what I keep telling my children, especially when they complain that I am always cleaning. I will report if it ever happens.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Family Photo Shoot

Not my family photo shoot. No, I had a shoot tonight with our family piano teacher's family. She has five children as I do. She has 3 boys and 2 girls. They are beautiful children. But, well they aren't all really children anymore. One has a family of his own now, and then the others are spaced pretty evenly and go all the way down to 13 years old. I had a lot of fun taking their pictures. What does this have to do with my children? Well, I am always worrying about time going so quickly and worrying about how I will feel when my kids are all growing up. Today I got to see a family right in the midst of that happening, and it was just lovely. They were having a really good time together. I could tell they loved each other a lot and their comfort with each other as I took photos of them lying on each other, leaning on each other, hugging, goofing around together, and just enjoying their stolen time together today (because lives are so busy) was very refreshing. Today I was given a gift of sight, a gift of what is to come, and it is something to look forward to, not to be afraid of or worry too much about. I know that no family is perfect, and I know that this loving family has their own struggles as all families do, but there is beauty in them finding their way together, and in them leaning on each other when they need to, that I believe will always be there. Thank you to God and to this beautiful family for this gift today.

The Concert

Our piano teacher sent us an invitation to her brother's family concert at their church. I decide that we are going to this concert come hell or high water because it just seems like such a "family" thing to do. Something my whole family can enjoy together that involves no purchases or a big expensive meal, just us all hanging out together listening to fun music! And at this point my reader is thinking - "Here comes the big rub, the true reality of the evening, being sooooo much different than poor Julie's idea of what it would be" BUT NO! It really was a fabulous evening of family hanging out, singing, dancing, giggling and more! I got into a hand clapping game with my 11 yr old son! We were laughing so hard and having quite a fun time! My littlest 3 spent most of their evening rocking out on their blow-up guitars (my husband had to splurge a little and get them the cheap guitar souvenir es) up on the stage with the singer. My 9 yr old danced and swayed and was laughing with his brother. And after, after we got our cd's signed by the artist and headed toward home, my husband could not help but turn into Ted Drewes for frozen custard. A perfect evening. Ok, we did purchase a couple small things, and dessert, but the real fun was doing something together that we all enjoyed and finding a common denominator between a 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 35 and 37 yr old. Yippee!

I get distracted

I don't know if it is having a big family or if I would be like this if I had no children at all, but today my day went almost exactly like this: -Started to work on putting away kids' summer clothing and realized I needed more tubs so -I changed out of pajama pants and put on a bra, and then -I ran to Lowes to pick up some storage tubs and remembered I needed a new basket to hold Charlie's laundry in the laundry room, -so I grabbed one of those too, and I saw some smaller tubs which reminded me i needed to organize my art room and so I -grabbed some art tubs -When I got home I began organizing my laundry area, and halfway through I walked into the kitchen to get a drink where I saw the art tubs so -I went into the art room and began to organize the art closet, while organizing in there I got hungry and popped into the kitchen and opened the fridge where i saw the leftover pork so -I began to put the pork and a bunch of other ingredients into the crockpot for soup, and then I heard the laundry beep, so -I went onto the laundry room to change loads, and I began to fold one load, but the phone rang, so, -I answered the phone in the kitchen and realized the kitchen was a mess, so -I straightened up the counters which were really sticky so, -I got out the Lysol and began scrubbing down all the counters and the dining table and chairs, and then, - I sauntered back into the art room and worked on the art closet organizing again, which is where I found a ton of glasses being used for pencil holders, so I emptied those and brought them back into the kitchen, which is where I smelled Charlie and so -I took him into the back room for a change, which is where I noticed the mudroom was a disaster, so - I started straightening it up and realized there were no diapers in there, so -I took Charlie upstairs for the change and that's where I found the little screwdrivers I also had picked up at lowes so that we could unlock the bedroom doors, so -I began to go through the box of screwdrivers to see which one was small enough to use as a key, I figured it out and I put one above the door and the other in my bedroom which was where I found some things that belonged down in the kitchen, so -I headed back down there but on the way I popped back into the art room, and I finished the organizing, but there was a big pile of trash so -I found a trash bag in the kitchen and took out the art room trash, but while I was outside I ran into my husband and the kids and -I had to stop and watch Jack shoot a few. I slithered away back into the house where I was reminded that we needed to eat soon to get to church on time, so -I began dishing out food for dinner, we ate and -I was taken downstairs to see the lovely painting job my husband had done on the walls in the basement, which is where we keep the out of season clothing, which is when I remembered what I was for sure going to get done today.... PUT AWAY THE SUMMER CLOTHES. Which did not happen. Perhaps I am ADD, and perhaps I should go a little easier on my 9 yr old who can never finish a full task without getting distracted.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What matters most

Right now my husband is upstairs apologizing to his 9 yr old for hurting his feelings. He did not realize when his 9 yr old showed up to his 11 yr old teams' practice that his 9 yr old thought he was there to help the team out. Since his 9 yr old was bouncing a crazy ball all over the gym and never took his leather jacket off, and was being goofy, he didn't know that his 9 yr old was actually waiting. He was waiting to have his dad call him over to help out the team. We are human. Parents are human. We get caught up in other thoughts...winning, not getting embarrassed, doing what we think others expect us to do. And we forget, as my husband said, that the only thing that really should matter to us, or at least should matter most, is our own kids and what they think of us. Sometimes we have a lapse in judgement and we get too worried about doing what we think we want others to see us doing. But you know, every time I see a parent be goofy with their child, or take time to explain something to their child, or just generally show respect for and care for their child even when it would be easier or more socially acceptable to do something else, I am impressed by that parent, for taking the time out to care about their child's feelings more than they care about what others think. I am so glad that my children's father cares more about his kids' feelings than he does about being "right." I think there is no shame in admitting to your child that you lost sight of what mattered for a minute. Your child will likely be a more caring human to learn this lesson from their own parent. Also I don't want to forget: -I took Charlie and Ben to a big mall (St Louis Mills) today and they rode a train and carousel and other little rides. We had pizza, ice cream, a little candy. We saw Santa, and got antler hats. We played at the huge playground. The trip could only have been better if the mall had been without stores. So many temptations for them. But at least they could get excited about asking Santa for stuff. That mall is a superb winter outing. I bet we end up there a lot. Ben asked Santa for a Hex bug set and Charlie asked for candy. Also Ben said he was going to go home and ask Jack what he wanted for Christmas, so that he could go back to Santa and tell Santa for him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Savor that moment

I wake up before the rest of the kids, but soon I hear a couple of them playing in their rooms. Then I am descended upon by 2 little boys. They deftly hop up onto my bed and assume the same position I am in, lying on my stomach, up on my elbows reading emails. Charlie has a book and says, "I read this to you." Ben is right next to him grinning from ear to ear. Charlie begins to say the 2 words that are printed on each page, "1 Elephant" and Ben is pointing to the animals and helping him count them, and has this huge smile on and says, "He is reading! He can read!" And the two of them continue throughout the whole 10 page board book this way, Charlie "reading" and Ben helping him count all of the animals. They are so proud of themselves that when the story ends they just giggle and laugh and tackle each other on my bed. I am torn the entire time between getting this whole scene on video or just enjoying the moment. But this big part of me wants to enjoy the moment again and again, so I want it on video. The moment has passed, but I grab my phone anyway and begin to record their laughter and their silliness. Their big sister comes in the room and I get her sleepy face on camera. That sleepy face that later will be twisted into concentration at school, and sullen in a moment of sadness over her brother reprimanding her, and grinning when I tell her we are having a dinner she enjoys. By the time the big boys begin to stir in their rooms we are in full swing "go" mode and I am giving my morning orders, "Lets go, get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, meet me downstairs for breakfast and making lunches." Someone can't find a shirt, someone else can't find their toothbrush. Someone doesn't feel like eating breakfast, and someone "likes my hair this way." Within an hour we are rushing out the door to make it to school just in time to beat the bell. And as I drop the oldest 3 off, and am left with just my youngest 2, I look in the rear view mirror as we sit in the school parking lot, and remember when this was my oldest 2 in their car seats, with the whole day ahead to decide what to do and where to go. And I think I physically can see time going by so so fast. I want to hold onto these morning moments where I am read a book by a 2 yr old. I want to hear that laughter of 2 brothers wrestling on my bed forever. But I know that they will some day not too far away be the ones walking into school every day, and then it will be just me and my car left in the school parking lot. So, to make the moments go a bit more slowly and to make them count, today we made s'mores in the backyard with our cousins in the middle of the day, and tomorrow, well tomorrow maybe we will just make them again, because I didn't get it on video ; ) Also I don't want to forget: -a pencil popped up out of my toaster today along with my English Muffin. Crazy thing is, I was not phased. Crazy is becoming my norm.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Book Report

This evening Jack and I went to a coffee house to work on his report on a book that he said that he finished reading 2 weeks ago. This is how it went down: Mom: So, you need to make an outline, a list, of what happened in the book in the order that it happened and then we can begin to write the script for your puppet show (the form he chose to do his report in). Jack hands me a paper he has been working on. I read it. Mom: So, what happens at the end. Jack: Ummmmmm, I just can't remember. Mom: Does he die? Does he come back home? Jack: Ummm, ya, I don't know. I can't seem to remember what happened. You know, maybe I didn't actually finish reading it. Mom: Are you kidding me? You lied to me? Jack: Oh no. I didn't lie. I think I thought I finished it because I didn't see any pages marked to show where I was, so I think I just thought I finished, but I don't think I really did, because I can't remember what happens. Mom: Great Jack. You now have this evening to finish the book, and only tomorrow to make puppets, a puppet theater, write the script and practice presenting it. Jack: Ya. He begins reading. He oos and ahhhs as he reads. He literally says out loud, "oh that's sad" and "whoa, this is a sad part" as he is reading it in front of me. Jack: Mom, this is really fun reading here with you, I love you. Thanks for bringing me here to do this. How am I supposed to come down as hard as I feel I need to when he is thanking me and telling me he loves me? He is more clever than he lets on.


Lately I am having a hard time balancing out how much time I want to spend cleaning up, yelling at others to clean up and making my house guest-worthy with how much time I want to spend "playing." I go through this inner struggle in my head often. I tell myself that some day when I am dead, the last thing I want my kids to think about me is that I sure kept a neat house, or that I sure made them clean a lot, or that my carpets always looked really clean. But I also am in a better mood when things are "pretty" and pretty to me means cozy, straight, and smelling nice with candles and perhaps cookies baking in the oven. Obviously we can not always be in that state, but I am finding it harder and harder to get into that state at all lately. Just keeping up (or not keeping up) with laundry and running people places, and cleaning up all the "stuff" all over the house is taking up a lot of time. I put into place all of these organizational tools in our home so that everything has a place, so nothing needs to be lying around. But the things can't get into their spots on their own. So, "less is more" starts to ring in my ears, and I get into a big "get rid of stuff" mode. My son's preschool class did a beautiful project that involved reading a story about a boy who accumulated so much stuff (mostly toys) that he ended up missing the space he used to have in his home. It was so crowded with stuff. He ends up having a sharing party and giving a bunch of stuff away and is happy to have his space back. I like this whole idea, and what better time to clear out some clutter than right before Christmas, when my kids are about to accumulate a lot more "stuff." So, 3 bags were out the door to American Kidney Foundation. But I think I need to fill some more bags, because I still don't smell any cookies baking in the oven. Also I don' want to forget: -Charlie plays on his own just as Scotty used to do. He is building with blocks right now, very into it. And he will sit and look at books for quite a while. Surprising that the 1st and 5th would be so alike in this way. -Last night Scotty said, "Mom, I think tonight before I fall asleep instead of reading my normal fictional novel, I think I am going to read through my 'everything you need to know about math, science, history and grammar' series of books." -Charlie has been running around with one shoe and sock on and one bare foot, for like half an hour. -Jack told me yesterday that he really didn't need very many Christmas gifts this year, maybe just one thing, or even none, because he already has everything he could ever want, family and friends and a home etc. He goes back and forth between saying that, and showing me lego magazines and pointing to his favorites. -I just found Charlie on top of the 5 ft toy shelving in the playroom.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Places I find Charlie

I just found Charlie in the kitchen. He had stacked up an upside down laundry basket, then put a car booster seat on top of that and was climbing onto the counter so that he could get a banana. Wouldn't it have been easier just to ask me for the banana? Also have found him: -Crouched down on top of his own dresser. -Sitting on top of the bathroom counter, in a cape, brushing his teeth. -Inside the refrigerator. -Trying to climb into the oven. -Stacked 2 small folding chairs and was trying to climb over a gate. -In the guitar case. -In the toy shopping cart - stuck. -In the under-the-sink cabinets -On the neighbors trampoline (apparently he figured out how to open the gate to our backyard - it is now padlocked) We need a padded room.

Home repair to do list

Below is a list of things that my husband and I (and my father and anyone else we can swindle into helping) need to do to get our house looking a little less "Sanford and Son" -ish. All are home "injuries" cause by my children: 1. Fix hinge on the hideout door (kids pulled the hinge off) 2. Re-insulate the sliding door (kids picked at and pulled off all the insulation) 3. Fix the Foosball table rod (kids hung on it and broke it in half) 4. Replace the baseboards by the laundry area (kids have kicked at them enough that they have totally come off) 5. Fix kids' kitchen cabinet hinge(kids pulled it off) 6. Repaint the powder room (kids peeled a huge strip of paint and drywall off right under the toilet paper) 7. Clean the rugs (no explanation needed) 8. Replace basement staircase spindle (kids broke it off) 9. Wash all staircase walls, or repaint (hand prints) 10. Burn off the crayon melt from the gas fireplace logs and Get new fireplace screens (Charlie threw a bunch of crayons into one of the gas fireplaces and the pilot light melted them all over the logs) 11. Get the rest of the fingernail polish off of the floor (Charlie did his own nails) 12. Fix curtains in the dining room (someone hung on them and ripped the top) 13. Cover or patch the holes in the playroom closet door (Ben and a friend used pool cues to poke a bunch of holes in it) 14. Fix the pool cues, and install a locked pool cue case (see #13) Those are the main ones.

Saying Sorry

Its amazing what a little apology will do. For instance, if the woman who rudely zipped by on her ride-on cart at Target and RAN INTO my 5 year old today had said she was sorry, instead of shaking her head at my son, I would not have such ill feelings toward her right now. If my 9 year old son's apology that I insisted he give his sister after he yelled at her and made her cry today, had been heartfelt at ALL, it would have stopped his sisters' tears. But instead that large woman zipped by shaking her head, and instead my 9 year old mouthed a barely half-hearted apology. And because of these, anti-apologies, people's days were not as happy as they could have been. It is amazing the power we have when we apologize. We seem to perceive it to be a weakness in our society to apologize, but it is just the opposite. When my kids are acting up because they don't get to have the dinner they want, or the play-date they want right when they want it, if I begin my response with a heartfelt "I'm sorry that my plan is not the same as your plan" or "I'm sorry this makes you feel that way" and then explain my plan, my kids seem to take the situation a bit better. I think it is when my kids feel that I just don't care about their feelings and that is why I made the choice I've made, that they are the most rebellious and angry when they don't get their way. If I can let them know with an "I'm sorry" that while we still need to do things mom's way, I do care about how they feel, and I'm not trying to ruin their day before I lay out my not so-thrilling-to-them plan, then why not. I DO generally feel bad that for instance, the little ones have to be drug around to a bunch of practices and meetings, and I do generally feel bad for the big kids sometimes that they can't see their friends as much as I used to get to do as a kid. So, why not let them know how I feel, rather than making them feel like I don't care. When they feel that I care, they seem more compliant and less rebellious. I was able to stave off a huge fight with my son the other day when he discovered he would be at a family wedding instead of the opening of Harry Potter with his best friend, by beginning with an apology for him having to miss it. The power of the heartfelt apology at the right time can move mountains! And the bonus: My kids are starting to apologize more readily on their own when they see that I am upset about something they have done. Admitedly, I say things like "Don't worry about this mess all over the bathroom, your mother the slave will get it" and "Don't worry about this mess on the kitchen table, I'll just take care of it while you play" in order to instill the guilt.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Popsicle sticks

"Mom, I need some Popsicle sticks for a school project." "Ok, There are some in the Art room closet." "I can't find them." "You haven't looked yet. Look on the baskets in the closet, there are labels." "I can't find them." "Go read the labels." (he leaves the room for about 20 seconds.) "I can't find them." "I know that there are Popsicle sticks in there. Why don't you look through the baskets." "I did, I can't find them. Come help me." "I am making dinner right now, and this is YOUR project, and you could look for Popsicle sticks as easily as I could, so no, I will not go look for them for you. You can find them. You have not even looked yet." "I can't! I can't find them! I don't know where to look!!!!" "I am not going to come look for you when you have not even looked yet." "I can not believe my own mother won't help me with a school project! You are my MOTHER!" "You can use Popsicle sticks or not, I don't care. But I am not doing something you can do yourself. If you need real help with your project, something you can not do yourself, I will help. But looking for Popsicle sticks...seriously???? You have not even looked yet. LAZY." "Fine! I won't even DO a project then! I'm not doing it. I am NOT doing my project." "If you choose not to present a project, that is your choice. You will get an F and that totally goes against your whole plan and ambition to get great grades from now on, but that is your choice I guess." "Fine. I don't care." "YOU GET IN THERE AND LOOK THROUGH THOSE FREAKING BASKETS AND FIND YOUR FREAKING POPSICLE STICKS OR I SWEAR YOU WILL NOT LEAVE YOUR ROOM FOR SPORTS OR ANY OTHER FUN ACTIVITY UNTIL YOUR PROJECT IS FINISHED! WHAT IS WRONG WITH LOOKING FOR YOUR OWN DAMN POPSICLE STICKS! IF I HEAR ANOTHER WORD FROM YOU ABOUT ME LOOKING FOR YOUR POPSICLE STICKS I WILL GO BIZERK!!!!!" (I leave the room. I go back to what I was doing. 20 minutes later he walks into the kitchen with his Popsicle creation finished. He is calm as can be.) "I found the popsicle sticks. I made this. Like it?" "Yup. Can I ask you a question?" "Yes." "Why do we have to have that situation time and time again, where you won't do what I ask until I have gone crazy on you yelling and losing it? Why can't you respond well the first time I ask?" "Never mind. You can't ask a question." "Too late. Answer me." "I don't know. I DON'T know." And I really think he doesn't know. So, solving this problem is going to take a while. I know that me going crazy and using a mean voice gets the reaction I want...gets him to respond the way I want him to...gets him to finally do what needs to be done, but I do not enjoy going bizerk, and I resent having to act like a crazy person for my son to be able to finally respond. Love this boy. Love his creative mind, his passionate disposition. And as I just wrote last night (and possibly jinxed this whole evening into action), I have been loving making music with him, and loving the relationship we share because of it. But I do not love the senseless fights. I pray that my son remembers this fight the next time he doesn't want to do something, and can use my craziness for good, by trying to avoid this whole situation again. It is getting really old.

Calm the Storm

Jack and I have butted heads on many things for oh, about the past 9 years. Lately though, we have had some really special time together. I'm loving practicing with Jack for his Christmas recital. He will be playing a piano piece, singing along with a guitar piece that he will play and then sing a solo to Mary Did You Know at the microphone while I play piano accompaniment. He is very into his singing, and loves to practice with me! It is sooooo great to have found something we both like doing together, and what better pastime than making music together. It is more than just something to do together. It is creating something together. Creating a feeling and a sound, and melding together to accomplish what we are trying to do is very inspiring! Best of all, we aren't fighting at all - the storm has been calmed by this mutual love of making music together! I am reminded that God's hand is in everything. I love Jack's enthusiasm, his self-improvement (for his voice has gotten better), and his bravery to perform in front of others. I look forward to many years of him letting me play back-up : ))) "Mary did you know, that your Baby Boy would calm the storm with His hands?"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My little Subs

So it was ladies basketball night again, but tonight I also got to play with my boys. We didn't have enough players, so Scotty and Jack got to sub! They did great! I was very proud of my little basketball players tonight. Not just for being able to hang with us old ladies, but for being comfortable enough to get in there and play with us. I think I may have been too shy as a kid to play a pick up game with a bunch of adults. I enjoyed Scotty's little grin when he would sink one. I liked catching a pass from him to sink one myself. I also enjoyed watching Jack dribble around saying, "I'm dribbling around in circles!" He was very cute and did a great job for a 4th grader amidst a bunch of ladies. They were both thrilled to get to stay up past 10 pm. I am sure I will pay for that in the morning. So, that's another good night of exercise for my boys who I am trying to keep from becoming sloths. Also I don't want to forget: -after cleaning up a spilled drink, a banana mess, and more, I locked Charlie in the playroom by shutting the gate so that he could be kept safely out of trouble while the rest of the "getting ready" portion of our morning was underway. He proceeded to balance 2 small folding chairs on top of each other, climb up them and try to climb over the gate! He is really something else. -Ben surprised me today. He had his first real punishment today, because he usually does nothing to warrant one. We were cleaning the basement together today and I see all these holes in the toy closet door. Like 1 inch diameter holes. I ask what happened and Ben ends up admitting that he and a friend poked them all in there with pool cues! 8 holes. And so he once again drives home the point...we can't have anything nice. So I made him finish cleaning and spend the rest of the afternoon/evening in his room. I went to bring him his dinner up there and he had fallen asleep. I am sure I will be paying for this at like 3am with a hungry 5 yr old.

The Run

After finding a bunch of empty candy wrappers in my sons' room, I took my 2 big boys on a run tonight, after a big lecture about eating healthier etc. Here is how the conversation went on the little 2mi run: Me: Ok guys, we're going to do 2 miles running and walking a bit. Son 1: 2? I think we should start with 1 mi this week, 2 mi next week and 3 mi on the 3rd week and then we will be ready for the Turkey Day run. Me: Nope, we're doing 2 tonight. We will walk here and there, but mostly run. Son 2: I feel great! This is awesome! I don't want to walk, I could run all night, I could run backwards (he runs backwards), I could run while talking, I could go faster, want to go faster? (he goes faster) Me: Settle down. Son 1: (huffing and puffing) Is it time to walk now? Me: Nope. You guys are doing great. Keep it up. We are just getting warmed up. Son 1: You said we would walk AND run, not just run for a long time... Me: Relax, you are doing fine. You have to push yourself a little bit. Son 2: I LOVE this! (he starts highkicking his knees as he runs) I think we should run the whole way, mom, want to just run the whole thing, never walk? Son 1: NO! You said we would walk too! When are we going to walk?! Me: You guys are doing awesome, now we are warm. Lets keep running for a while. Son 1: Grrrr. Me: I tell you what, I think you guys can finish running this 1st mile. It is just 4 blocks away, lets run till the end of the 1st mile, then we will walk a quarter mile, run a quarter mile, walk a quarter mile, run a quarter mile? K? Son 2: That sounds great! Or we could just run the whole second mile, I could run the whole thing. Me: No, I said we would walk some, we will speed walk. but we are going to walk a little. Son 1: (Sigh of relief) Me: Come on guys we are almost there, you can do it! We reach the end of the first mile. Boys are proud of themselves. I begin to speedwalk and they follow suit. Me: We are going to speed walk till the end of this street, then start running ok? Son 1: OK! Son 2: OK! We start running again. Both boys are doing well. They are in a rhythm and don't even complain much for the quarter mile run. (which is actually longer than a quarter mile, and the walk was shorter). Me: Ok, when we get to the street ahead we will walk again. We get within 10 steps of the street: Son 1: Ok, time to walk! Son 2: I can carry on an entire conversation, mom, I can talk this whole time and just keep talking, and never stop, what do you want to chat about, want to chat? Me: Well, so can I, but I am not going to! Son 1: (laughing) Me: You guys are doing super. One more block then we are running till we get to our house. We begin running. Son 1: Huff, huff puff. Me: Are your shoes untied? Have they been all loose and barely tied the whole run? Son 1: Yes. Me: Honey! That is not good for your feet, plus that makes you slower. You should always have your shoes tied tightly and snuggly for a run. Son 1: Oh, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch... Me: Feet hurt? Son 1: No, my side. Too much dinner. Me: Breathe steady, in your nose, out your mouth. Son 2: That's what I do. I take a big breath in my nose, then blow it out my mouth. That's how you are supposed to breathe when you run. When I ran track (for one year) we used to run like this for practice. (and he begins running sideways crossing his feet over one another). Me: Fabulous dear, but it is dark and you are going to sprain an ankle. Son 2: Ya, my ankle hurts right now, and my back, but I am totally fine, I'm just going to keep going through the pain. I am totally fine! Son 1: Ouch, Ouch, Ouch. Me: You have to let me push you a little. You know, when I go to the gym, there are people there who yell at me, "Go Julie! You can do it! Pick up that bar! Finish it! You can do it! Let's go!" Son 1: That would make me mad to have people yelling at me. Why do you go back there? Me: No! They are helping me do my best. If I had let you quit when you wanted to, you would have stopped at the first street. And look at you, you have almost finished 2 miles! We are almost there, guys, you are doing super great! Awesome! Very good first run. And we get to the house and they crash on the sofa with water, and frankly, I am barely winded, so I am very proud of myself for being in better shape than a 9 and 11 yr old, but also super ashamed for my kids being in such crappy shape! (admittedly, the 9 yr old did well), but really, I remember being able to run forever as a kid. Today there are too many damn video games. And too much homework, and too much TV. When I was little we played outside when it was cold, we just wore a jacket. There was nothing to do inside anyway. And nothing good on tv till after dinner. Lately I think my kids have plenty of fun stuff to do inside, so they may play outside for a bit, but when they get bored or chilly, instead of thinking of something else to play outside, they know they have go-to fun right inside the door. I'm cracking down...and just in time for winter...this should be interesting.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sweet Charlie

ok, I just had to add a quick post to say that my sweet Charlie keeps pointing to fairies and angels on tv or in books and saying emphatically, "There's you mommy! There's you!" I cannot think of anything sweeter than that!!!!

Visiting Highschools

Today my husband and I took our 6th grader to some high school open houses. We had our 4th grader tag along. We gave Scotty a pep talk if you will about remembering to politely shake hands and look people in the eye when he spoke. After today, my husband and I realize we will not have to give the same pep talk to our 4th grader when it is his turn to tour the schools. While being given tours by faculty and students, Scotty kept very quiet, just grinning when Science Lab was mentioned, and eyebrows raising as we entered the library and the Mac labs. However, Jack was an animated listener with a flood of questions. Below are just a few things that came out of his mouth during the tours. Some were mentioned only to my husband and I, but the others were asked to the tour guides, along with many more questions (at least one per being asked "are there any questions?") throughout the day. When we're in high school, will we have to shave? Can you be a sophomore and date a junior? Do high schools have weekends? Summer? This school is worth having to go to school. I'm not saving up for a car I'm saving up for college. Where did you get that idea for the Bilikin? Does this school have a theme? Do you celebrate things here? (After being given a big talk from a counselor about scholarships and collage choices after their school) What are we talking about here? Are we talking about getting good grades? Jack also asked questions in the Science lab, the Art room, the cafeteria, the theater, the gym, the hallways, the game room, really pretty much everywhere. So, I feel today was a success on a couple of levels. We got to see a couple schools. Scotty got to check out what high school has to offer. And the big perk: Jack is excited about going to high school and at least for the moment is determined to get good grades so he can make it into a cool high school like he saw today. Also I don't want to forget: -Charlie just insisted so strongly that his dad's toothbrush was his, that I finally just said, ok, fine it is yours. -I cut Ben and Charlie's hair tonight. Charlie just saw his hair all over the floor and I keep hearing him say, "That my hair down there!" -All through mass and on the way out of church Jack kept trying to tell me something and I kept shushing him. When we got out of mass Jack was really ready to talk. I said, what is it and he begins to say this, "Mom, does Sophia (his friend of like 8 years who he has quite a crush on) have her ears pierced?" I tell him I am not sure, and he tells me, "Well, can you find out, because I would like to get her a pair of earrings for Christmas?" What is going on? He is nine! I mention that perhaps he's a little young to give a girl jewelry, but he just chuckles and says something about it just being a friendly gift or something. Can't decide if I think this is ok or not. I think I think it is fine. I mean I actually like the fact that he really thinks about what she would want for a gift, and wants to make her happy. He is going to make a very romantic, good husband some day. But in the mean time I may just lock him in his room until he is like 25.

Honey and Nail Polish

Mom: "Charlie, why did you put honey all over your legs and all over the floor?" Charlie: (smiling with pride) "Charlie did it!" Mom: "Charlie, why did you do it?" Charlie: "I no hab honey on my legs." Mom: "I know, Charlie, I washed it off. But why did you do it?" Charlie: "Mommy wash off." Mom: "Yes, I washed it off. Do you like honey?" Charlie: "NO." Mom: "What DO you like?" Charlie: "Apples, Bannas, boffles." And the conversation continues like this for forever, where Charlie endears me with his cuteness and wriggles out of any sort of sticky situation he may have been in because he endears me with his speech impediments and smiles. A similar conversation was also had the next day. I came home from a photo shoot to the smell of ...what was it?...turpentine? Paint remover? Alcohol? Nail polish remover? Bingo on all of the above. My husband is on the floor amidst a 3 foot by 8 foot puddle of goo gone etc and he is saying, "YOUR son is a little TERROR! YOUR son just tried to paint his own toenails and spilled nail polish everywhere." I look right and I see the destruction on the wood floor. I look left and there are my knee-high black leather boots covered in pink and sparkle nail polish. I look dead ahead and there he is, the culprit, grinning ear to ear and sporting a rainbow of pinks covering his feet, legs, and belly. "Charlie, are you supposed to paint your toenails?" Charlie: with pride, "I did it!" At least he takes responsibility. Just trying to look at the positives. And how about these positives to boot: Charlie is very comfortable with his parents. He doesn't have an unhealthy fear of us (although a little fear might be ok at some point). Charlie knows what foods are healthy, honey is actually quite good for you. Charlie is a smart boy, I mean he managed to make these 2 huge messes and then be so incredibly cute in explaining himself that we just hug him. Hug him?! Seriously? I can guarantee that a HUG is one thing I did NOT get after I made a huge mess as a child. We better start cracking down. I'll let you know how that goes.