Friday, April 30, 2010


I was a mermaid tonight. I went to mermaid school, sang mermaid songs, did mermaid synchronized swim dances, and was given a special mermaid name. I like being a mermaid. It is pretty fun and relaxing. The pool was warm so I just enjoyed being a mermaid in the warm "ocean" for the whole of my late night swim with the kids. At one point in the evening, one of my mermaid friends, a six year old girl, named Ariel for the evening, did a very nice flip demonstration and handstand demo, and then each of the rest of the mermaids and mermen had to try it. I wasn't bad and was awarded a 4.9 on a 5.0 scale, so not too shabby for having not done that for quite some time. So, that part of my evening was a winner. A part that wasn't so much of a winner...forcing my 4-yr-old to get in the pool. He hadn't gotten in the pool the whole week. Sudden fear? New apprehension to swimming? not sure. Finally we made him get in. He was not a happy camper and so we let him out soon enough and he went back to playing. In the old days apparently there were parents who would throw their kids in deep water to teach them to swim. Not cool, scary. But here I am feeling so bad for just making my son get into the pool in his own father's safe arms. I don't want a non-swimmer. It just isn't safe. I also hate the idea of forcing something upon my kid though. Just another parent decision that I will lose sleep over. Fortunately, I think kids forgive pretty quickly. I remember my mother forcing my brother to take swim lessons as the instructors drug him into the pool kicking and screaming. And today he has a lovely relationship with our mother. But I will have to ask him if he held a grudge most of his life about the swim lessons. Anyway, I'm hoping the memories from this trip that stick in my kids' heads are of being mermaids together, riding rides together, watching shows together, watching late night movies together, and eating more icecream than usual. Hopefully they will choose to forget me making them eventually go to bed, making them order water instead of soda sometimes, and forcing them to swim on the last day of vacation. Sometimes as parents we just make mistakes. I'm just hoping the "mermaid" moments outweigh the "mistake" moments. also don't want to forget: -My son's merman name was Flint, and my nephew's was Jimmy Hiccups (made up by themselves)

One on One

I was in a parenting class once (great class, but learned to take some of it with a grain of salt). There was a whole section on making sure we got one on one time with each of our children each day. Each DAY each KID??? I mean the idea sounded wonderful, but where exactly in my day of laundry, dishes, driving to and from practices making dinner, helping with homework, doing baths and putting on pajamas was i supposed to find time with each of my 5 children individually??? I have a friend whose kids demand the daily attention, and I knew I couldn't handle that. So, I started to try to just use the moments I had. I counted it as one on one time when I was driving someone to practice. I counted it as one on one time when I was bathing someone (usually more than one, but one on two isn't bad either). I counted it as one on one when I was helping someone with homework, or wiping their bottom. In this way, I was able to get it all in! That all being said, yesterday I got to spend a whole afternoon at Disney's Hollywood Studios with only my daughter! What a fun time! We watched 3 shows together, rode a couple rides and I got to just enjoy her alone. She was a doll, and so excited about everything. It was fun to just get to enjoy it with her, instead of doing a zillion other things at the same time. So, while I will NOT be getting in some major one on one time with each of my kids every day, I will make a point of maybe once every once in a while just doing a little something with one kiddo so I can get to know them better. It is pretty darn fun : )

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On Their Own

So, this was it, the first time we let "the big kids" Scotty and Jack (11 and 9) really go off on their own...together...with their cousins...with a cel phone...with explicit instructions and threats and synchronized have some big kid fun. Epcot is a circle, so much easier to navigate than the other parks. And since Disney has installed a super fun scavenger hunt for my "big kids" age group, we felt it was time. Today Scotty and Jack were more thankful, chatty and sweet than usual once we all met back up a few hours later. It had to be because of having gotten to enjoy some freedom. And feeling thankful towards me for that. I always hear the little sayings about "loving someone and setting them free, cutting the chord, untying the apron strings etc."But I have always thought I wouldn't have to worry about that whole idea until they were like headed off to college. Truth is, I think life throws these little tests in our paths, stuff to get us ready. So that when college, or marriage, or driving school comes along, we are less likely to totally freak out. Other little tests I am reminded of now: letting my 1 yr old figure out the stairs, letting my daughter deal on her own with peers telling her they don't like her drawing, holding in my gasp when each of my kiddos has gone down on their knees on the sidewalk, letting my kids start swimming without their floaties. All these steps may sound like the normal progression of things to a non-parent, but say any one of them to a parent and they will fully understand the strength it takes for a parent to allow these instances to occur, in order to help make their children stronger more capapble adolescents and someday adults. So, I realized today, I am only at the very tip of the iceberg on these "letting go" decisions. There are so many more to come, and I am sure that with each one, I will pray a little harder, worry a little more and pace a little faster. Because after all, even though I may get better at keeping a confident face as I let them go, I will still always be a mom waiting for their safe return back to me. also I don't want to forget: -Charlie's and Ben's faces as the fireworks at Epcot literally lit them up. Charlie pointed and stared in wonder, all smiles. -Elaina's face after she ate her icecream and then my crepe - cream on her nose, chocolate around her mouth... -The fact that Scotty called a crepe a CREEP. So cute. -Ben being so sweetly attached to his cousin, Drew. They have been such wonderful buddies on our trip.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Magic Kingdom

The most wonderful place on earth...totally kicked my butt, and from the snoring sounds, it kicked the kids' too. But not before it wowed, ooohed and ahhhhhed everyone. Soon my snoring will join the chorus. just a couple things I don't want to forget: -Ben on Its a Small World ride - "mom, it reawy is a smaw woold. Smaw Camals (goats), smaw candycanes (they were actually huge)." -Charlie's face lighting up on every ride and his pointing and "awwww, ooooh!" His reactions to the parade and light show were worth the tired kids, crabby moments, and even the argument with my husband about where to stand for the fireworks.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Squeals of delight

Imagine the following words squealed in the highest pitch possible and at an amazingly fast speed, "oooooo, I love this, I love being scared, this ride is so fun, that show was awesome, I bet I am the best at doing these slides, I love icecream, I love the princesses, what are we doing tomorrow, when are we having breakfast with the characters...." Seriously, my six-yr-old daughter has the term "perfect daughter" down pat. She gets sooooooo excited about everything. If she has icecream, it is "the best" icecream ever. If she has her cousin do her hair, it is "the cutest hair" ever. You can't compete with her excitement level, and I worry that things won't live up to her excited expectations, but she always comes out absolutely squealingly thrilled in the end. I hope and pray she keeps this enthusiasm for life forever, and she might...after all I think it may be in her genes, as I was the one who wanted to stay the latest at the parks today and squeeze every ounce of life out of the parks that they had to offer! So, I think I have my partner for fun for life! What a blessed mom I am! Tomorrow we go to Magic Kingdom and she sees the Princess' castle - perhaps the squealing will be heard all the way back in St.Louis : )

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peter Pan

My eldest son has a favorite food, you know it if you know him He's been around long enough to have decided and to have chosen My youngest son puts himself to sleep in a big-boy bed He puts on his own covers now, and lays down his own head My daughter swims just like a fish without a single care She's not affraid of anything, just ask her and she'll dare My four-yr-old now dresses himself, picks out his own clothes He wears no rompers anymore, his dad says he's too big for those I just realized my nine-yr-old has passed the fit-throwing stage I guess he actually passed that up at a much younger age While with my kids today, while swimming and playing till sunlight passed I realized my kids are growing up so very fast Tomorrow we play at DisneyWorld, tomorrow we'll have a ball Tomorow we'll be like Peter Pan and not grow up at ALL! this one made me cry a little.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

11 hours of requests in the car

Can I have some water? Can you take my shoes off? Can I have some water too? Can you show me how to draw a car? Can you take off my shoes? Can you help me with my homework? Can I have some cereal? Me too! Me too! Can you put a ponytail in my hair? Can I have some more water? Can you tell me about Florida? Can I have some water? Tell me when we will be there. I have to go poopers! Will you wipe me? Can you put this movie in? Can you press play? Can you turn it up? Can I have a chip? I want a pencil. Can we go to McDonalds? Can I get fried chicken? Can I have a chocolate shake? I need a drink! I really feel like some fruit. Can you press play? Can I have grapes? Can I have another peanutbutter cracker? Can you help me with my homework? Can we get icecream? Pass me some chips. Can I have some water? More grapes! Can I have a hug? Can you put the air on me? When are we going to get there? Can I have a drink? Funny stuff they said: Ben: looking out the back window in Tennessee, "MOM! Look how far we are from home!" Ben: "I feel it in my head, Florida, I feel it in my head!" Ben: upon seeing a truck pulling a fancy trailer while traveling through the mountains, "oooo, a mountain truck!" Elaina: pretending, "I was lost in the forest, and I saw your car and I just runned in it." Ben: 2 hours into our second day of driving - "This is the best trip EVER!" Scotty: "Mom, where's the snooze button for Ben?" Scotty: "Mom, where's the snooze button for Charlie?" ....and we finally made it safe and sound.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Mom, When will we be at DisneyWorld? Mom, When will we be at DisneyWorld? Mom, When will we be at DisneyWorld? Mom, When will we be at DisneyWorld? Tomorrow night Tomorrow night Tomorrow night Tomorrow night Just 6 or 7 more dvds till we are there. The excitement in this Embassy Suites overnight hotel room is staggering. I'm sure this conference center is used to much more refined and quieter days - and nights - I hope we don't get kicked out. But I can't bring myself to shush them. I mean really what can we expect of 5 kids who have been cooped up in the car for 5 hours, some of those hours spent sleeping (blessing and a curse since they are bouncing off the walls right now). Literally, one of my children just smashed himself into a wall and spun around and yelled, "yeehah!" Charlie just keeps running a circle around the 2 small rooms swinging his arms - happy to be free of his carseat I guess. One kid smelled weird after the trip, so has already had a shower. And the other 2 immediately started looking up what movie we could order, because 11:30pm is a perfect time to begin a movie. Oh, and eat pizza. Vacation - you gotta love it! Oh, and I remembered all my kids' clothing for the overnight bag, but (and those of you who know my story won't be surprised) I forgot my own clothing for the overnight bag. Being a parent sure shifts around the priorities - who would have thought I would forget to bring my own clothing?! (And my husband and I are just too exhausted to go back down to the cartop carrier and get me some clothes.) I have become much more low-maintainence since motherhood. Kids are high-maintainence. They just are. Even if your kids are "easy" they still can't change their own diapers, get their own snacks on a road trip. Toddlers can't read their own books. Someone has to cut the grapes in half for them, drive them places. Hold the non-swimmers in the pool. With all these extra things to do for them, we parents don't have time to be getting manicures, ordering complex meals with things "on the side" in restaurants, shopping for the perfect accessories, packing our OWN clothing for a trip. So, we can thank our children for giving us the opportunity to become more simple, humble, less self-absorbed humans. Without them, we may be just a bit too into ourselves!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Shoes

I love buying toddlers new shoes. It is like you have just given them a new lease on life. Immediately they begin running around in circles, jumping, "oooo, ahhh! new shoes! new shoes!" They can suddenly jump higher, run faster, smile bigger. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that their new shoes are TWO SIZES bigger than their old pair (in my defense, boys feet grow VERY fast). It is more than getting the correct size. The new pair must wow them, and most brightly colored tennis shoes will do just that. Today, I began my day thinking, "sheesh, lots of errands to run, Charlie (22mos) is not going to have a very fun day." However to my and perhaps Charlie's surprise, it was a whole different story. Once we reached Stride Right Charlie's whole attitude was lifted! A fish tank in the corner may as well have been the Chicago Aquarium. The Bright bulbs in the ceiling may as well have been super planets. The open floor plan - a gymnasium. Add to that a balloon and a cookie and you have Disney World to a 2 yr old. (He hugged a salesperson) No more stroller riding, he was determined in his new shoes to run the length of the mall, balloon in one hand, cookie in the other, smiling at every old person he could find! Spinning, looking over the railing, pointing to the mall fountains, and of course looking down at his new shoes! After all that fun, this tired boy was more than happy to ride in the stroller as I tried on swimsuits - not nearly as fun as shoe shopping - and fall asleep on the car ride home. Oh, if we adults could hang onto that childhood spirit our whole lives. We would be dancing down the isle to communion at church, hugging strangers at the mall (or at least giving them all a smile), running off our baby weight, singing while we make dinner...Fortunately we have these little ones to remind us and draw us back into the childhood innocence and fun. Tomorrow, I think I may just find a fountain to play in - in a new swimsuit! (actually i will probably just stick my hand in.) also, I don't want to forget: -Charlie crawling across the table to eat his sister's spaghetti -Jack made everyone breakfast and lunches today without being asked! -Charlie woke me this morning having pooped his pants, stuck his hand into his pants, and proceeded to make a mess of it all (well, I kind of want to forget this, but I said I would document the "gross" so...) -There are 4 naked, and pretty clean (having bathed themselves) children running around playfully screaming upstairs. I'm sure some day I will miss this. The idea of a quiet household could not seem further away than it does right now. And I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Using the Force for Good

It was lasting like a half hour at least. Charlie(22mos) had been basically losing it since he awoke from his nap. But let me take this story back a step: I was close to losing it before he even got up. Homework time around here with one of my children is quite the fight - "sit down and do your homework please." "I have to go to the bathroom." "Ok, now sit down and please do your homework." "" "If you do not sit down and begin your homework, I am going to send you upstairs alone to your room to do it." "I said I am going to do it, see here I go." "Is your homework finished?" "yup." "let me see it...the definition of bitter is not actually need to use the dictionary and redo this." "WHAT! WHAT! I just got it finished!!!!" "But you didn't actually use your brain. Redo it using your brain." "AHHHH! I am so tired..." and the conversation continues this way as he completes each piece of his homework. And in the background the screaming begins from the napper that awoke crabby. So, that same homework shirker that was driving me insane begins to do a jester act that lulls the 2 yr old into hysterical laughter. He pretends to run into walls. He pretends to slip on the floor. He knocks himself in the head with his own fist. I begin to grin, and breathe a sigh of relief that I don't hear the crying background noise, and that the one who was bringing me to insanity before, is now my savior. I must remember to use these kids for what they are good for: that sounds kind of bad. What I mean is, Mr. Drama can use his powers for more than just evil. He can entertain the baby. I am going to try to find what drives me craziest about each of my lovely little ones and turn it to be used in a positive way. And then maybe when I see that behavior surfacing, I won't be driven to complete insanity, instead I will see the good that can come from this seemingly Dark side. also - today I tried the "smiling more" thing and I think I freaked out my baby. He looked at me and sort of swatted at my face and said, "stop it!" So perhaps they can sense the fact that I was "trying" a little too hard. I'm going to have to work on instead of forcing the smile, I will actually try to feel happiness as I watch my 2 yr old climb onto the counter, steal his sisters cake and scarf it down with his chubby fingers. Ok actually, that made me laugh. But I had to force the smile when the milk was spilled at breakfast...and lunch...and dinner...(I haven't poured a cup of milk in the last 11 years that I didn't hear the word, "uh-oh" within 2 minutes).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Small acts

Got up at 6:30am Got kids off to school at 8 Dropped forgotten lunches off in the school office Helped in Ben's (4) art class Picked up Ben from school Picked up Elaina (6) from school Took Elaina to birthday party Looked and smelled her more closely as she was getting out of the car Took her back home to clean up and change from a "messy" situation that occured during school Took her back to the birthday party at the mall Took Ben and Charlie (22 mos) into the mall for lunch Just as we sat to eat, Ben says, "I have to go potty and poopers RIGHT NOW!" I tell him he can hold it till we are finished eating and hope that no one around us can hear me saying this We eat half our lunch and Ben screams "It IS COMING OUT!!!! I GOTTA GO NOW!" We leave our food and head to the restroom where Ben is surprisingly efficient We go back and finish our meal I get a phone call from school revolving around yet another child's bowel issues. We go get a new battery for my son's watch, then head to Build a Bear to pick up girls from the party Call school to check on son with the issues Get home in time to take Scotty (11) to chess Get Jack out the door for baseball Pack a little for upcoming trip Quick favor for neighbors Chat with neighbors Make tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner feed family clear table convince husband to do baths so I can address mom's birthday invites and my Art camp flyers work on some photos

And then I pass by my cabinet in the kitchen where I had hung a little printed note from a little book of daily thoughts. It said, "Every day we are called to small things with great love." Mother Teresa And I think, I should have smiled more today. So, tomorrow I have a goal. We'll see how it goes : )

also I don't want to forget: -Charlie sitting in the sandbox with only pants, no shirt, covered in dirt and sand -Elaina changed her clothes 6 times today (school uniform, after school clothes, cleaner after school clothes, dress-up play prom dress, dress-up gingham check leotard sans tights, cute little ensamble I had wanted her to save for our trip, pjs) -Ben's lit-up face when I arrived to be "art mom" today

Monday, April 19, 2010

Built into a corner

Made the best fort with Ben(4) today. It had walls made of cardboard and wooden blocks. He had been begging me to build that fort for a few days, and sadly I just today found the time. So we build this fort and when we are finished we realize we have built it so well all around us that we can't get out...not without knocking down some walls. At some point in the building, Ben even says to me, "mom, Charlie (22 mos) is being such a good boy, he is not even knocking down our fort!" I say, yes he is being a good boy!", and then proceed to accidentally knock down like a third of the fort. Ben is a fabulous sport about it and says, "well mom, you aren't a very good builder, but that's ok, it is fun to knock it down sometimes." And Ben continues to play, and I watch him and Charlie and begin to think. We build our lives around us with all these activities; practice times, meetings, sport games, parties. And it is fun to build up our lives this way. We like it, and we wouldn't want to not have fun things to do and places to go. Sometimes, though we feel a bit backed in, locked into a routine that is so constraining that we forget that it is ok every now and then to "knock down a few walls." No one gets hurt if once in a while, when you are feeling locked in you decide to "take a day off" and skip the speech therapy session and go to a park and get icecream instead! You can always build the walls back up later if you like. And in the mean time, though your kids may think you are a bit clumsy or scattered for knocking down the walls, they also may say, "its fun to knock it down sometimes!" also don't want to forget -Scotty (11) looked so grown up mowing the lawn today all by himself -Jack (9) came out of school and hugged me so hard I coughed because he can't contain his excitement for the upcoming Disney trip. I feel for his teachers this week. -I love how Ben says "Chawlie." ps. my blackberry is back from the dead!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I just spent the last half an hour thinking up and explaining all of the least serious reasons I could think of as to why an ambulance might be down the street in front of a nearby home, to my 6 year old, Elaina. "Mom, do you think it is a lady? or a dad? or a kid? I hope it isn't a kid! or a BABY!? What if they are scared? Do you think somebody rode in the ambulance with them? Was it a grandma? Why do dogs die? Who is my guardian angel? I think my guardian angel is a dog. What does an ambulance look like? Should we go down there to their house? I think we should go down there." Right about now I am wishing I had put room darkening shades in Elaina's room. They have so many questions. And the crazy thing is, they think I have the answers. When my kids find out I am totally winging it, I will be so screwed. I (35 yrs old) still call my mom with questions. I recently called and asked her: how long chicken is good in the fridge, how I am supposed to be all the places I am supposed to be and do homework with the kids and finish my laundry and dishes and remain sane, if she liked me when I was a kid, if it was ok if a child never learned to tell time, how Beano works (or doesn't work), if my son was going to hurt himself while throwing a fit upstairs in his room. The list is endless. And so I realize, there will be no end to the questions from my children. So, is the real trick to know these answers perfectly, or is the real trick to keep my children's confidence in me and trust in me, so that they keep asking ME the questions? I had a professor of psychology who every time a student asked a question began his response with, "that's a good question..." We always felt so comfortable raising our hands in his class, therefore we participated much more in class (that's why he was the psych teacher). I'm going to work on this. I get endless questions daily. The "whys" from the 4 and 6 yr old are in the thousands easily. Sometimes I just feel I can't answer another "why." But, if I think of patiently answering that "why" as a little step towards gaining my child's confidence and trust, so that when he is a teenager and wants to know "how do I know if a girl likes me? or Why won't you let me go to that party?" hopefully he will at least feel comfortable asking and at best really believe and trust my answers. (disclaimer: every now and then a "why" just needs the response, "because I am the mom and I said so." But you know which "whys" those are.) also: -today Jack(9) rigged up his pedal car to pull a wagon with two siblings for a ride around the driveway (no wonder they adore him) -after having not seen me all day, Ben(4) ran up to me with arms outstretched and said, "hey I almost forgot my hug!"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Death of a Blackberry

My Blackberry is full of gatorade. Ya. Elaina (6) drenched my new Blackberry in orange citrus gatorade. I don't even drink gatorade. Yet, gatorade has stalled my social life for well...I'm not sure how long, still trying to figure it out. BUT, I have decided to look on the bright side of these instances and I believe that Elaina may have actually saved a life. Here's the thing. The other day I found myself texting while driving. ONLY AT STOPLIGHTS, but still. I know, horrible. So, if my blackberry was usable today, maybe I would have been texting while driving and killed someone. Perhaps this gatorade incident is just one tiny example of this "challenge that saved a life" phenomenon. I mean we have these predisposed expectations of our kids; an "A" student, a stand-out athlete, a "cool" disposition. But what we get is so often different than what we expect, and we think, "Man, this is hard! Why isn't my kid faster, smarter, have more friends?" But what we forget to look at is that maybe if my kid was the best athlete, I as a parent wouldn't have learned to be a very good, understanding, coach. Maybe if my kid was the smartest in class, I as a parent wouldn't have learned a lick of patience. (side note: teaching some children to tell time can require more patience than many parents can muster) If my kid was the most popular child in his class, maybe I as a parent would have overlooked another boy in class that could use a birthday invitation. I believe something good must come from something difficult. Hey! Jesus actually taught us this...If he hadn't died on the cross, we would all have to go to hell. Ok, I'm really not comparing my Blackberry loss to Jesus' death on the cross, I'm just saying it reminded me of an important lesson, and I'm going to try to keep this lesson in mind an often as I can. also i dont want to forget: -Charlie (22 months) learned he has pockets today. He's been picking up change all over the house (we are a family of droppers) and has been putting it in his pocket and saying, "where'd it go?" and then pulls it out and says, "hewe it is!" -Elaina and Pete are off to a Father/Daughter dance tonight, and Elaina is soooooo excited and asked her dad if she could dance by "standing on your feet." She also announced that she is "taking daddy out for Mexican." -Jack (9) ran his first track meet today and was more excited by the mound of dirt he and his friend piled up on the sidelines than he was by winning the 400m relay. -Scotty (11) is making us dinner tonight - Scrambled eggs, cream of wheat. -When I asked Ben what he wanted to be when he grows up, he said, "healthy food and exercise." I think he misunderstood the question, but I liked his plan, so I didn't correct him.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wipe me!

Yesterday I heard the call: "mom, mommy, mom, wipe me!" This is a usual occurance. However, yesterday as I was wiping Ben's (4) bottom he said these unexpected words, "Am I done?" "Yes," I reply, "You know that you could do this yourself." He says in reply, "Well, that would be awkward." ...that would be awkward. In his little mind, him wiping himself would actually be more awkward than me wiping him. Apparently there is definitely no one else in my life I am more comfortable with than my kids. So, today I am reminded by my 4 year old as I wipe his bum that the people we are closest to are not our siblings, friends or even spouses. No, it is our kids. And they feel it too. This parent/child relationship - this relationship that involves daily cleaning them, snuggling them, spoon feeding them, holding them, singing to them - this is our closest relationship. With whom else can we say we have done these things? Even our spouses can only grab 2 of these 5, maybe 3 I guess if you serenade each other, but still.... You know it is fleeting. Everyone says it is. I read daily forwards about how in 20 years I will "realize my kids are grown and gone and I will miss and sadly forget the everyday details of their childhoods." Not fair, really not fair. I've spent years of my life growing these kids inside me and then more years wiping them, holding them, crying with them and lord only knows what else. Today - with my children ages 11, 9, 6, 4 and 22 months - I am vowing to NOT forget these days, to NOT let these days go by "in the blink of an eye." How will I do this? I will start slowly. One day at a time. One year. This is my first goal. For the next 365 days I will remember and blog these moments - the sweet ones, the gross ones, the messy ones, the sad ones, the happy ones and, I'm just assuming here, the funny ones. So, 364 days to go, and countless moments to remember...