Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Twos

So, Charie (2) beat me down the stairs this morning (in my defense my thighs are quite sore from an intense squat session at my gym), anyway, I am literally 10 steps behind him and as I turn the corner into the kitchen he has managed to already have poured himself a large bowl of cereal in the middle of the kitchen floor, cereal everywhere, milk everywhere. He has a smile from ear to ear. He says "Cereal!" After eating his bowl of cereal he brings me one of Elaina's enormously fluffy tutus and insists I put it on him. And he begins to spin. (Where was my camera on both of these incidents?) At the doctor's office for check-ups for 4 of the 5 kiddos (they draw the line at 4) Charlie climbs the sink, climbs the windowsill, shows off his "jumping naked" skills, and of course destroys that white cleanliness paper barrier. At his brother's ball game, Charlie picks up a large stick...no really more of a small branch, and begins running with it and laughing. He knows I can't catch him - my thighs are burning as I track him down eventually. Which brings me to now - strapped him into his car seat - Where he can't make a mess, where he can't get away, where he can't climb anything, where he can't jab himself or anyone else in the eye with a stick, and he is watching Scooby Doo. Thank you DVD player. I actually really like the twos. He is a hilarious child right now. And still baby enough to keep me from getting very upset at him. Its those threes that throw me for a loop - because after all the struggles at two, by three - THEY KNOW BETTER! But they still do the same stuff.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Inventory of newly broken items on 6/28/10: -Tonight Scotty (11) broke down the bathroom door. When asked how this could have happened, he responded, "Well, we WERE playing superheros." -Charlie (2) crushed a wine glass in his bare hand. (?) He is fine. -Also, I noticed the nice leather ottoman has a very wobbly leg that is basically detached. Inventory of funny stuff they said on 6/28/10: Jack(9): Mom, I think Sophia is in love with another guy. Mom: How do you know? Jack: Because last week she was hanging out with him the whole day while she was here at our house. Mom: Well, they might just be friends. She could have more than one friend that is a boy. Jack: Could you marry someone that you never go on a date with? Mom: No. Jack: Hmmm. Well, what if he asks her on a date before I do. Mom: Well, a lot of guys asked me on dates before your dad asked me on a date. Jack: (thoughtfully) ok...that's....good... Ben(4): Mom, can I have some cereal? I am soooo hungry. Mom: Ben, what did you have for dinner. Ben: Grapes. Mom: Well, that is probably why you are hungry. Want me to warm up your hamburger? Ben: What? You know I hate hamburgers!!!! Mom: Well, you need some protein. Ben: Pwotein? I don't even LIKE pwotein! Mom: How about some meatballs? My friend: Hey Ben, you must like those meatballs, you are eating a lot of them. Ben: Are you kidding!? I LOVE these things! Mom (while putting Charlie to bed): Ok, Charlie I have to go downstairs and help daddy clean up the kitchen..." Charlie(2): (throws his hands over my mouth) "STOP IT! NO NO NO, STOP IT!" Inventory of adorable moments today - 6/28/10: -During Art class in our Art room today, Scotty's good friend, Nina, began to tease Scotty about his funny turtle he was drawing to the extend that Scotty was laughing soooooooo hard he was nearly crying. Scotty often adds something to his drawing that no one else in the class has added. For instance, today we were drawing/painting sea turtles and Scotty named his Triton and put a pitchfork-looking staff in his sea turtle's flipper grasp. -When Charlie got sand in his eyes outside in the sandbox, he came inside and kept putting his eye on my mouth. I finally realized he thought I could kiss it and make it better. -This evening Elaina and friend, Sophia, came into the family room to perform a little show for us. Elaina kept singing the beginning of a song she was making up and then looking at her friend and motioning for her to continue the song as if her friend would know the words that were to come next....her friend finally was like..."um, I don't know the song." Elaina was exasperated.

Ballad to Bear

It is about 10pm. The whole household is trying to sleep, and this is the song Elaina (6) is serenading to Bear, the dog, out loud from her bedroom super loud in a random tune that she has made up: "Come here boy! Good boy, little puppy, come on, get up and wag your tail, get up like this, get up and wag your ear, wag your tail! Bark bark bark bark, open your mouth, shut your ears. You're so furry. Kick your legs back and in front! Kick them forward! Hello mister, hello mister. What's the deal, mister dog. Come here boy! I wish I wish I wish I wish ..... I know I love you, I really do!" And this will continue until she falls asleep singing. I've heard of kids knocking their head against a wall till they fall asleep, or moaning till they fall asleep, or even mumbling, but never have I heard of this loud singing as a falling asleep method. However, we can ask her to quiet down or stop, and it won't matter, she will continue until she is snoozing. And actually, tonight I think it helped Charlie (2) to go to sleep. He was fussing at his doorway until she started singing, then he stopped and I guess fell asleep too. Pretty funny.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Diving Board

I really wanted to go off the diving board, but I didn't want to go by myself, because I would feel like a dork. Not many 35 yr old women go off the diving board at our pool in general, but definitely not by themselves just for the heck of it, and if they did, I'm sure it would be because they were a super diving instructor or something and would be able to do amazing dives. I am not that person. I can do a dive. That is all. But I really wanted to do it. So how happy was I when Elaina (6) said, "mom, wanna go off the board?" I have to say yes at this moment. I can not say no, because then I would be a boring mom. And saying yes and being a 35 yr old mom going off the board wouldn't be very dorky because I would be doing it with my daughter to help her have more fun, and people will realize that. So, YES! I will go off the board. Elaina and I proceed to go off a couple more times and the best part is that Elaina thinks I am awesome and cheers for me, even though all I can do is a dive. She can do 2 things: a jump, and a running jump. Very impressive and quite adorable since as she jumps she curls up her legs and her eyes are wide and she lands on her knees and a little on her belly and then she looks so adorable kicking as hard as she can with her head in the water, not using her arms all the way to the ladder. Very fun family night at the pool. Kids actually ate all their picnic dinner - love that swimming makes them so hungry. Scotty (11) was awesome trying over and over again to do a flip off the board. What determination! Ben began floating on his back with most of his head in the water - this is huge since he had been very water skittish about a month ago. My husband and I actually got to sit in lounge chairs in the 0 depth area having a drink and watching the kids all play together...love that! And as we pulled in the driveway, my big boys decided they would like to play a little basketball one on one in the driveway without me even having to ask them to play...Oh, perhaps this is the beginning of their love for sports! Good summer night...will try to repeat.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bull in a China Shop

I remember when Scotty was young (I would say "little" but he never really was little) he would come bounding through the room, his head way in front of his feet and stumble over whatever or whomever was in his path, and eventually fall over himself with a huge thud. Family members, friends, we would all try to pull our feet underneath of us, grab up our babies, and generally spread out and away so we didn't get stepped on or landed on or plowed into. And it is not just people who should beware, but items. We can not have pretty things around the house, they will be broken. This clumsy, and lumbering characteristic of my large children has not ended, but continued on down through every boy. Elaina is much more careful and seems to have more control of her own body, thank goodness. Perhaps it is the ballet lessons, or the karate classes, but Elaina doesn't cause many "incidents." We had one such incident with my smallest large boy, Charlie, just yesterday. We weren't at my sister's house for 30 seconds when we all heard the loudest crash EVER. Shards of glass shot across the room as a 4 foot glass vase met its demise. The culprit? A 2 year old tornado of a boy, Charlie. My husband and I joke that we need to make sure we always have our checkbook with us when we visit people so that we can pay for our damages. It is no joke any longer. We have bought the church new stained glass windows. We are often apologizing for whatever injury our boys accidentally caused during a rowdy boys' wrestling game. And soon I will be finding a lovely vase-shaped basket for my sister to replace her glass vase...Because we will likely visit again, and my "bulls" aren't ready for any China shop, and probably never will be.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Circus

7 circus tickets - $120 3 bags cotton candy - $12 5 snow cones - $15 1 water - $2 1 popcorn - $3 1 coke - $2 1 clown nose - $3 3 pony rides - $15 1 crying fit - $my sanity Ben saying "Its amazing when you taked us hewe!!!" - priceless! Very fun night at The Circus Flora. We ALL enjoyed it. My husband and I were terrified for the trapeze and other extremely high up performers, but the kids just stared in awe and clapped and screamed out their applause with enthusiasm! At one point Charlie dumped most of a snow cone all over me. At another point, Ben was freaking about wanting a blue instead of a red snow cone, but all mishaps and fits were quickly over as soon as a new act began and grabbed the attention of the big eyes staring in awe. Elaina now wants to be a circus performer. Jack has been wearing a clown nose since intermission, and was extremely interested in the whip and lasso performer. Ben says he loved the parts with the horses and Scotty says he was super impressed by the trapeze artists. And the fact that Charlie made it through the entire 2hr show without having to be taken out says a LOT for the entertainment value of this show! What a lovely evening!

Well-behaved Children

We're at Mac Donalds with my grandfather. Kids are being pretty good, and a nice man sees me trying to bring seven drinks to the table. I actually am pretty dexterous at this so, I manage on my own, but he goes on to tell me how "well behaved" my kids are and "oh, I had young kids once, and when I see well-behaved children, I try to tell the parents and let them know how great their kids are." I told him thanks and also that he shouldn't have jinxed it because "they all have their moments." But I am feeling all proud as I look over and see all my kids smiling and eating and waiting patiently for their drinks. But I was just counting my chickens a bit too early because right after that I see my 11 yr old wack my 9 yr old on the back pretty hard and the 9 yr old yell and tell on the 11 yr old. So now I am over between them squeezing each of their shoulders a little too tightly and talking between clenched teeth, "You two are embarrassing me. I just got complimented on how good you all were being and now my oldest kids are acting like animals. You better settle down right this second or so help me I will find something to do that you will NOT like at all!" And in the next second, my 6, 4 and 2 yr olds are all standing on the seat and playing with their Mc Donald's toys and making them climb all over and being nice and loud. I knew that guy had jinxed it. Truly though, I think the lesson here is more for me. When my kids are grown and when I see a mom with kids wacking each other and climbing all over the place, perhaps I will be able to give her a reassuring smile, because all kids have their moments, even the "well-behaved" ones. also I don't want to forget: -Today when Elaina heard me talking on the phone about my grandfather who recently began thinking about moving to an apartment, she looks at me, and says, "MOM, he can live with us!" So sweet. This is why I love kids, they don't think of all the reasons things wouldn't work out, they just think of the fun and the positives. And we adults are always crushing their "great ideas." I'm going to try to make as many of their "ideas" work out as I can this summer. Hence my big boys creating a Wax Museum movie the other day...I was skeptical at first...but why? I don't believe any real wax was involved. The first thought on ideas in general should really always be "yes you can!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Christmas in June

Ben: "Mom, I want some of that stuff that is hot and we have it when it snows..." Mom: "You mean hot chocolate?" Ben: "Yes! Hot Chocolate! That would be so good. I am freezing!" (I DO like the house very cool in the summer) Mon: "Ben...it is super hot outside, I don't think we need to have hot chocolate." ( There was a heat index of like 112 today) Ben: "Pleeeeeeease mom!" Mom: "Well, why not, but if we are going to have hot chocolate, we should be watching a Christmas movie. Let's have Christmas in June tonight." I LOVE Christmas movies. These are the fun things we get to do when we are moms. No one makes fun of me for watching a Christmas movie in the middle of the summer because, "it was for the kids." I also get to: Play Barbies Build with blocks Set up little Play Mobile towns Eat jello for dessert Run through the sprinkler Go to Sonic every now and then for a snack Dance in the kitchen Watch cartoons in bed Play in the snow Throw snowballs at children Go to Disney World Build "forts" Eat snow cones often And many more fun activities, that would be looked upon as quite odd if I didn't have kids! But since I do, I can do them all I want and even "get points" for doing some of them! So, tonight I got to watch one of my fave movies, Charlie Brown's Christmas, while having hot cocoa and colorful marshmallows all snuggled up on the sofa in our very cool air conditioning after a busy day. And no one could say anything about it but, "awe what a nice mom, doing that for her kids," when really it was just as much for ME! Also I don't want to forget: -scotty and jack and whomever else they coaxed in spent most of the day today making a live action "film" called The Wax Museum. I can't wait to watch it. I told them about the 1950's horror flick, The Wax House, and they really want to see it. I have to watch it again and see how scary it is first. -I spent a good amount of time today looking at and downloading videos from our video camera. I also watched some really old ones. Alas, it is true. Time really does fly. : (

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Isn't our House Pretty!?"

"Isn't our house pretty? Isn't this just a great neighborhood? We walk downtown and have shops and restaurants..." This is what I hear my daughter saying to her friend in the back seat of the car on our way home today. And this is what takes me from my mood of feeling bugged by our need to do house improvements, and boredom about our landscaping and throws me into a great mood. Kids don't care if the bushes in the front of the house look sparse and the lawn is a bit shabby, as long as they get to cut it themselves. Kids don't care if they have to walk through the laundry room to get into the house from the driveway entrance. Kids don't care if we can't keep out a nice display of books and candles on the coffee table, or that we don't even have a coffee table. Kids actually like that in the kids' bedrooms there are huge posters of their favorite characters and posters they themselves have made, instead of perfectly hung art and freshly painted walls. So, now when my family and I walk into a home with a perfect lawn and everything in place I can remember that to my kids, our lawn is perfect too, and everything in our home is in its perfect place too. And when you have many kids, you might as well take on their perspective because #1 they totally have you outnumbered, #2 the perspective of a child is way more fun anyway, and #3 when I am gone, I want my kids remember the things we did together, their comfort in our home together, that we turned our "study" into an art room as soon as we moved in, instead of a mom who freaked out about them touching coffee table books or got upset about them missing spots when they mowed the lawn, or didn't let them try to mow it themselves. Also I don't want to forget: -we had our first day of art classes today at home. (Haven't done them for the past 2 years). The kids did great, and I was especially proud of Elaina! All of the students seemed so proud, and that is my goal each class!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

This morning we had a pancake breakfast together and my husband thanked the kids profusely for cleaning out the garage for him for Father's Day. He also gushed over the card Scotty made for him on the computer. Then he proceeded to do massive work on the yard, the deck boxes full of yard toys, and the porch etc... to prepare for our annual Father's Day bocce tournament. He gave the kids jobs helping him to clean out and fill the sandbox, washing toys and more. Amidst all that we went to church, where at one point I saw 3 of our 5 children all somehow touching their dad, sitting on him, leaning on him, grabbing him. Before the Bocce party he took time out to teach our 4 and 6 yr olds how to ride their bikes without training wheels in the 100 degree weather because they begged him to. (they actually did quite well, picking up on it quickly because of those fabulous glider bikes they have been using for the past 9 months or so) During the Bocce party he was paired with Jack (9) and they came in 3rd place, thrilling Jack to no end. After the party he majorly helped clean up the mess. I laid with Charlie in his bed tonight at 9:45, knowing he was super tired, and just waited for him to fall asleep. When he did he was snoring ever so slightly and breathing sweet breaths on my face. In the dim light I could see my husband's face as I looked at him. I put my hand on his head and prayed over him that he feels the love fully that his father feels for him. I prayed that some day he will get to be a great father too. And I will do the same thing for each of my boys tonight before I go to bed. Because I am so thankful that my kids have a great father to look up to, to learn from and to take after. also I don't want to forget: -Charlie playing in the plastic pools with his fellow 2-yr-old girl cousins, all in only swim diapers. Don't tell my husband - he HATES that! Insists the kids wear a swimsuit even in the privacy of our own back porch. Which cracks me up because we are soooo far from proper....I mean, we have 3 plastic pools on our back porch. -Scotty and I were bocce partners. I played pretty badly. Scotty played better. He was a turd about it! He has some competitive bones in that body....I think I may like it.

Hold my hand

Got busy making Father's Day pancakes and forgot to post last nights blogpost! Here it is... Elaina: "Mom, I'm going to hold your hand forever." When she's 16yrs old and driving away from me instead of 6yrs old watching The Incredibles with me, I'm going to remind her that she said this. When she's 26yrs old and running her own life instead of asking me "can I?" before every move she makes, I'm going to remind her that she said this. My husband talks of "enabling the kids to go to far off colleges, and helping them be able to study abroad some day." I realize these are great opportunities... for other people's children. Its just that with my kiddos at 11, 9, 6, 4 and 2, I can't imagine them ever being very far out of my reach, let alone that far out of my sight, touch, and general area. They are so vulnerable now, so affected. Ben was scared to watch The Incredibles and had to sit on Dad's lap. Even Scotty (11) was inching so close to me while watching the movie that I accidentally knocked him in the head. They love their parents right now a lot and they say it a lot right now too. I tend to think it is because WE say it a lot to THEM. It is reciprocal. So, if that truly is the case, then what my husband and I need to do is to make sure we keep saying it a lot even to the big boys. But as we watched this movie all together and I looked at each one of my kids, I could see how very different they all are. How they each have their own special gifts and talents that I'm sure one day will take each of them to either a distant college for study, or a far off jungle for veterinary medicine, or a who knows...Hollywood to be a star... So, as I watch Mrs. Incredible encourage her kids to be brave and use their special super powers, I realize I probably can't realistically hold my kids' hands forever and still be able to encourage them to use their gifts to their potential. But I'm going to hold their hands as long as I can, and hopefully when they come home and we watch a movie together they will still sit so close that I can accidentally knock them in the head. Because I will be holding their hearts forever. also I don't want to forget: -ok, this stage that Charlie is going through is hilarious and terrifying at the same time. He loves to pretend to be a monster. He growls almost continually and says, "I a moster!" And then he pretends to eat us; we are all so afraid he will bite us. But its so cute we can't stop him. -kids were so proud of cleaning up the garage for daddy for Father's Day. -Ben is still wearing the Cardinals hat, I think we are on at least day 4. -watching Ben and Elaina do Wu Shu ( a type of Kung Fu class) may be the cutest thing in the world.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Completely random stuff I don't want to forget

9 and 11 year olds conversations: Jack: "Doesn't light affect you if you are a ghost?" Scotty: "No, I wear spf 2000." Jack: "How to be a nerd, dress up as scotty. How to be handsome, dress up as jack." Scotty: While smothering his brother, "Say something nice." Jack: "Ok, how to be cool, dress up as scotty." Jack: "How to be a baby, get a very soft fabric and wrap it around you. Shave your head. Put on a mask that looks like scotty." Jack: "How to be a photographer - look as pretty as mom, as awesome as mom and as cute as mom." (I wonder what he wants) Jack: "How to scare a baby: dress up like scotty." Tonight's entertainment; snuggled on Mommy and Daddy's bed, eating oatmeal for dinner and watching Starwars. Charlie wouldn't stop licking me tonight. He got this idea to lick from somewhere, and the next thing you know, he is like a little puppy. Ben has been wearing his cardinals hat for like 3 days straight.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What they say

She finishes her ballet recital, we are all so proud of her for doing the right tap steps and smiling the whole time. We congratulate her, we hug her, daddy gives her flowers and a stuffed little doggie. We talk about where we should go to dinner, and Elaina (6) says, "Grandma, you should've gotten me a present, or some flowers." Grandma has raised some kids, so she isn't phased. But I'm like, nice. Really nice. I tell her that is a rude thing to say and that, you don't get gifts after dancing, and that you MIGHT get flowers from your daddy each recital if you are lucky and if you do your best. I mean for goodness sakes have we taught her nothing? She's never heard ME say those words. Soon enough she is trying to give away the flowers daddy gave her anyway. The bottom line is, kids will say embarrassing stuff. I guess it is because they are just experiencing everything for the first time, and they are very honest creatures, and they say what is in their head. I'm guessing Elaina saw someone else get a gift from someone and assumed that's just how it goes. But if she kept her opinions about it to herself, I would be a bit happier. Hopefully next time she will. I recall my sister telling me that once when she herself was pregnant her daughter was with her at church, her daughter pointed to someone sitting behind them at church and said, "Is that lady pregnant too?!" My smart sister just kept facing forward and without looking back at the lady at all who may have been pregnant or perhaps just a really large woman, just said, "No talking in church." Good move. The trick is to dodge these embarrassing situations, because they WILL happen. Or if we can't fully dodge it, just apologize and move on. And if later we can throw in a lesson about it, even better. Later, we are at the restaurant and Elaina is pointing at someone at the table behind me saying, "wow! Look at that tattoo, she has a tattoo mom, wow!" We were at Target once, when my toddler at the time was asking out loud about the person in the wheelchair standing near us. The first time my cleaning lady from Kenya walked into my home, my toddler just stared continually. And how about in public restrooms - I feel like I am on guard continually in there about what I need to be ready to respond to. My kids will be in the stall with me, they'll hear someone pooping or passing gas or whatever and I just begin to pray they don't speak, but it doesn't work and they say things like, "mom, someone is tooting! It stinks in here. Wow, they had to go a lot of potty! Mom why do you have that hair there? Mom, did you wipe good?" And it doesn't help to play deaf, because they will just keep saying it louder and louder. Kids don't take hints. I started thinking that it would be nifty if in public our kids would just go mute for a bit, and then begin to be able to be heard again once we are out of public earshot. But I'm not sure that would be worth missing out on the good things they can do with their words in public, like Charlie (2) making every elderly person's day by waving and saying "hi" to them in grocery store lines, or Elaina making a friend while in line at the post office, or Ben saying "Mom, I love you" right in front of the bitter person who gives me a dirty look while I'm checking out at Macy's with my hands full, or Charlie shaking every one's hands at church and saying, "pssssssssssss" at the sign of peace. So, I guess I will just gear up for some more embarrassing situations, and hope that grandma's hearing begins to go. also I don't want to forget: -you can tell which mom's are the stereotypical "stage mom's" at these recitals, they're the ones wearing stage make-up even though they won't be performing on stage. Weird. -at dinner last night Elaina kept using a grown up voice and saying, "isn't this a nice place, oooo, this bread is delicious, what a lovely place..." -We really missed Scotty and Jack while they were at grandparent's this week. They were hilarious calling home each evening to tell me all the gross stuff they learned from their camp, "Grossology." I had promised them Etiquette classes this summer, and instead I send them to "Grossology" camp...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Being Thankful

Some of the girls were crying while their moms were putting on their make-up. I heard a mom get very upset with her daughter for putting sparkly gold lipstick over her red stage lipstick. She threatened her with a "strike one!" Elaina was a dream. She thinks of the whole experience - ballet dress parade, dance rehearsal, recital - all as a big week-long game of dress-up. I know I am lucky in this. Some little girls seem to let it go to their heads, and begin fretting about the attention they're getting or not getting etc. But through it all, Elaina just had fun and kept thanking me and asking me why I was doing things for her, like she was surprised by all the attention. Maybe she has this "thankful personality" down pat, or maybe she is just really good at making me THINK she does, but I hope it sticks. I want to make my kids thankful for the THINGS they have also. I struggle with this a bit. We have 5 kids, four of them are rambunctious, clumsy boys. They break things left and right. Some of the things are items we really need or really want to replace right away. But if we always are replacing everything, how do they become thankful for what they have...thankful enough to be more careful with their and MY things? So, I decided that making them more in charge of their own finances may help. My big boys now get a significant allowance, but they now pay for most of their expenses - birthday gifts for friends, snacks at a ball game, new goggles, items they break, etc... They have also picked a charity to give a fifth of their allowance, and they separate the rest into "spending" and "saving." They have begun to think about what is important to them. And I'm hoping as they begin to realize what things cost, they will become more thankful for what they have. Recently a friend was telling me about her new boyfriend having grown up with a lot of money. At first she was worried that he may be a bit spoiled and feel very entitled. Then she learned he had been working since he was like 12 years old. I don't think it is necessarily how much you grow up with, but rather how you grow up with it and if your parents can make you thankful for it. So, tall order for parents, but I think this thankful attitude is a better gift than anyTHING we can give them. I pray I can give my kids this gift. also I don't want to forget: -Elaina wore a fur white muff on her head for her tap number - how adorable is that??!! -Elaina's thighs in her tights and tap outfit. Love them. But they're getting leaner, and soon I will miss them. -Ben has been hanging with his cousins the past few days - overnights here with his buddies. He is having sooooo much fun, the embracing, the funny stuff they talk about, their cute little speech impediments - REALLY sweet. And such good timing because his big brothers have been spending the week with grandma and grandpa. The other night at bedtime, before the cousins had arrived, Ben said he missed his big brothers. The cousins have helped take his mind off of missing them.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Might Be a Mother If...

You might be a mother of young children if... You have ever been awoken at dawn by little fingers prying your eyelids open. You slept with someone who is not your husband last night, and you aren't in trouble for it. Someone ever said to you, "We were upstairs not jumping on your bed." You wiped a nose today other than your own. You put food in your mouth and then realized it had already been in someone elses mouth. You said, "in a minute" twelve thousand times today. You have begun to worry about the amount of hormones that are in your milk in your refrigerator. You ordered 4 snow cones with nerd candy toppings today. You ran someone down in the rain twice to keep them from being struck by lightning in a swimming pool today. You have to chase your remote control, your phone, your pens, your toothbrush, etc...around your house. You have to pry your remote control, your phone, your pens, your toothbrush, etc...from a very tight little grip when you need them. While on a walk you think of getting a petition going that says that everyone should have to back into their driveway, so there would be no backing out. You have tried a banana, grape, monkey snot rainbow flavored snow cone. You pray when you are on a roller coaster. You pray when you are driving in the rain. You pray when you watch the news. You pray a lot. You check everyone in the household's breathing before you can go to bed. You take 3 minute showers about every 3rd day. The artwork on your walls cost you nothing, but it is worth everything to you. You often have small rocks and legos in your pockets. You find legos in your cushions. You find legos in the dishwasher. You find legos in your bed. You never sit on toilets that you don't have to flush first. You worry about education. You worry about pesticides. You worry about preservatives. You worry a lot. You get smacked and punched and instead of being mad, you have to hold back laughter. You get kissed and hugged multiple times a day, even when you are crabby. You are the luckiest woman in the world.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What's Next!? What's Next?!

Ben and Charlie wanted to go to the park while Elaina was in class today. We stop at the park, I open the van doors, and they sprint to the playground. "Watch this mom! Look what I can do! Watch how fast I go!" They proceed to utilize all of the park equipment to its fullest potential. Running up and down the slides, spinning on the merry go round, riding hard on the rocking spring cars. I even make them do a lengthy obstacle course throughout the park equipment. I figure they will for sure fall asleep on the way home from the park, or at least be tired enough to have a quick lunch and relax in front of cartoons for a bit. Instead as soon as we get in the car they are all asking what we are going to do next. They always want to know what is coming up next. So we go home, they play in the sprinkler, and they want to know what we are doing next. They have lunch outside and they want to know what we are doing next. They come inside all wet and mess up a bunch of areas of the house and they want to know what is next. I say "Naps!" but the only one that ever falls asleep for a nap is my 2 year old. So tonight I figure, early baths and bedtime. So right after dinner I take them up for baths, and they do the usual - splash around in the tub, dump out every single last bath toy, and exert what I figure must be ALL of their energy and then they want to know what is next. We are now on my bed "watching a movie." However my 3 youngests' version of watching a movie has much less to do with movie viewing and much more to do with jumping on my bed, jumping on my face, finding, stealing and using my toothbrush, and just rolling around in my room. And they want to know what is next. I want to say to them, "kids, you are kids! enjoy the moment! Don't worry about what is next, don't worry about the future right now." Leave that to us parents. But we need to take some of our own advice. I can't seem to make a move lately without consulting my calendar, so many things planned to be "next" on my list to do. So, once again instead of TELLING the kids to "enjoy the moment and quit worrying about what is next" I guess I should try to do that myself more often. Although, I must admit tonight I'm a bit excited for what is next - BEDTIME : )

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jack and Me

Mom: "Jack, could you mow the back lawn?" Jack: "What? Can't scotty do it?!" Mom: "No, he did the front, you can do the back, you get $5." Jack: "It's soooo hot!" Mom: "Jack, can you empty these baskets for me?" Jack: "I did it last time! It isn't fair. His job is easier than mine!" Holy moly we are alike. I've known it, my mother has said it a zillion times, it is obvious. But today when childhood stories started flying around the room and my sister's stories kept painting me as such a stubborn little snot - well, I just had to have some compassion for my Jack (9). He often fights back, shirks chores, whines about doing many things I ask him to do, complains about life not being fair. And in these moments I very often lose my temper and end up either yelling or punishing. I'm not saying it isn't warranted, but perhaps I could at least relax inside myself a bit. I mean I turned out to be a pretty nice person, successful in what I want to do, married to a really neat guy. And most importantly, I'm pretty sure that my mom at least likes me NOW. But I really wouldn't blame her at all if she wasn't so fond of me growing up. So, the plan...try to remember what I was feeling at my most frustrated moments as a kid, and try to figure out what would have worked on me, and use it on Jack. I need to think of this as a blessing that he is just like me - I should be able to figure him out! Something else to remember: There are many times he does show a great deal of responsibility - bathing his brother, reading him stories, putting him to bed. Making a meal for the family. Practicing his piano and guitar. Not all 9 yr olds have these responsibilities, and he is pretty good about them. I should try to remember that in the heat of battle : ) also I don't want to forget: -Charlie said Grandma for the first time tonight - "Gammy!" -Ben just said, "I'm not tired" and almost in the same breath, fell asleep. -Scotty and Jack are at grandparents for the week - miss those boys already! Who's going to make breakfast? -When Elaina realized she had to borrow a pair of her cousin's undies after swimming, she was so thrilled she squealed. She really adore's her big-girl cousin.

Rain Dance

Kids can have fun wherever they are. Today it was at an outdoor graduation party in the pouring down rain. Guests begin arriving and relaxing on the lawn furniture. Conversations start up and unfortunately so does the rain. We all scamper into the garage. All of us that is besides all of the children. They are unfazed by the rain...no better yet, they are enthused by it! Suddenly they are creating quite the entertainment for all of the huddling adult guests in the garage. The kids are dancing with umbrellas, jumping in the puddles, finding slugs on the fence, playing soccer in the wet yard, playing wet ping pong, and they are laughing and yelling and energized by the water! The adult guests begin to grab cameras, laugh and point and talk about the funny kids and all their fun. Earlier this week the fun was at the dentist. The dentist? Yes, the dentist. How do my 5 children find joy in the dentist's 5 foot X 5 foot waiting room? They tease each other, see who can jump the highest, show each other weird stuff in magazines, crawl under the furniture, ask me a trillion questions, and play with their new toothbrushes. Oh, to have a child's perspective on the world. Obviously we can't have that perspective all of the time, but it would be great if now and then we can get ourselves to "play in the rain," instead of just taking pictures of it. Also I don't want to forget: - at the graduation party next door, Elaina went home to change out of her wet dress, and came out in unmatching skirt and top and the top was on backwards. She was very proud, so I just let her stay that way. - elaina actually found a friend tonight who likes bugs and critters as much as she does! They played with the slugs from the fence for at least an hour. - charlie has been snuggling with me in bed as I've been blogging. He came up to me about 15 minutes ago with his lips puckered, so I puckered and waited for the kiss, instead he blew in my mouth and puffed my cheeks up, and now he thinks this is very funny. I may never get a normal kiss again. He just fell asleep on me. Is there anything better?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer's Night

I'd like to make myself believe the planet Earth moves slowly... I've been singing that song, Fireflies, in my head, a little out loud too, all day today. My son, Scotty (11) loves it and has been playing it a lot. I actually am really hooked on it too. I think it is the refrain for me. "I'd like to make myself believe the planet Earth moves slowly." This is the perfect expression of how I am feeling this summer. I really want time to just slow down, for Earth to spin a little slower, so we have time to really experience and enjoy this summer. Tonight was a gift. We headed up to the pool to meet some friends. At least 5 families showed up with all of their kiddos. We all ordered pizza, and shared snacks and some drinks. The kids all played together for hours. I saw my big boys laughing hard. I saw my Ben (4) making new friends. I saw Elaina squealing and giggling with her girlfriend. They played hard, dared each other to do tricks off the diving board, had a big kids' table all set up to eat pizza together. The hours trickled along, as I watched them enjoy this nice long summer's night together. These are the times they will remember. When I recall the best moments from my childhood summers, swimming at the neighborhood pool with all of my friends and siblings till dark and riding my bike for hours top the list. Now days we can't let our kids ride their bikes off into the sunset. We have to worry about people stealing them etc. But when chances come along that lend themselves to a moment of unyielding fun and joy for the kids, we should take the opportunity and just enjoy it. And it is fun for us parents too. Not just because our friends are around to chat with, but because seeing our kids have unabashed fun is super enjoyable for us. Watching them swim and not worrying if they are "doing their best" or "winning the game" or "following the rules" is very low stress for us. This evening they were playing their hardest, but not to win, just to have fun. So, we stayed at the pool till 10, and just figured they would sleep in a little this morning. (not actually the case for a couple of my children that have inner alarm clocks set for 6am, but still, it won't kill them either.) I thank God for last night and pray we have some more summer nights like this. also I don't want to forget: -Charlie learned to float this evening in water wings. He finally picked up his feet. He kept yelling, "I float!, I float!" -Elaina asked me if she had a fat belly today. I said, "your belly is just right." She said, "well, I don't want to look fat." I began to worry that her saying that meant that she was worried about that already at age 6! But later at the pool when I found her in her tankini with the top all folded up and her whole belly sticking out without a care in the world, I decided she probably is ok. -I heard some nice music coming form the family room, and realized it was my big boys playing a guitar/piano duet with Jack singing of He's Got the Whole World in His Hands just for fun. They kept trying it over and over until they got it right. I was so proud.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Catcher

His concentration and focus have never been great. His teachers have mentioned that he "gets distracted, distracts others." He can't seem to look me in the eye for longer than a couple seconds when working on a school project together. He can be that "antagonistic" little stinker that disturbs the household. He can make a bowl of cereal and leave the spilled cereal all over the counter, the box on its side half off the counter, the milk sitting out, and the refrigerator door standing open. I can ask him 4 times to take his shoes out of the hallway and the shoes will remain there. However, put him behind the plate and be amazed. The concentration is immediate. There is no asking him to pay attention. His focus is keyed in on that baseball coming at him. His squat is natural, his glove is unyielding, nothing gets by him. His attention warrants the pitcher's attention and helps the pitcher stay focused. His accuracy wielding the ball back to the pitcher helps hold the pitcher together and keeps him calm. Keeps him in the moment. Coming off the field he knows just what to do. No one asks him to take off his equipment and set it in its spot. He deftly removes his gear with practiced hands. His helmet comes off first to reveal his sweaty head and smiling face. As he removes the chest plate and shin guards he is telling the batters good luck. He says "I am like Iron Man in my gear." He is in his element. As the next inning begins he crouches to gear up with enthusiasm and no anxiety noticeable. Grabs his glove, and with authority smacks his mitt, willing the pitcher to bury a few more right at his own 9-yr-old chest. Finding what they love, what they can sink their heart into can make all the difference in their days. As terribly long as these 3rd grade baseball games can be, I won't tire of watching my son in his comfort zone. And I need to bring him to this zone more often, perhaps in the backyard, or perhaps at times even just in conversation about "the game," so I will get to see that sought after focus, attention and concentration we have been looking for. also I don't want to forget: -today I had 5 boys running a muck throughout the house, ready and waiting to go swimming. I myself had just ran upstairs and changed my sweaty self into a swimsuit. Frazzled I run downstairs and announce it is time to leave for the pool. About that time I realize my daughter has barfed. She starts crying, I'm trying to decide what to do because we have an extra friend over to go to the pool with us, and another friend we are supposed to be picking up on the way. As I am considering the situation and dealing with crying Elaina, and myself beginning to lose it, I spin around only to accidentally knock my 2 year old into a counter and cause a crying fit. I regroup. I send all the boys into one room to watch tv and to keep the crying baby happy. I wash my daughter up a little and take her upstairs for a shower. After the shower she says she is fine and so a new swimsuit goes on her and we head out the door. I pray the whole way there that she isn't actually sick and ends up barfing in the pool or something. Fortunately my prayers were answered. All was ok. Thank you God for sending me Hilda, the wonderful woman who helps me clean every couple weeks and brings with her a breath of fresh air and a big dose of reason. She reminded me to relax, chill out and regroup. And being a grandmother of many herself, she reminded me that every barfing incident isn't a calamity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dog Museum, The Mall, and The Pool

At the Dog Museum: an art museum made up entirely of paintings, sculptures and photographs of dogs only. Charlie: "Dog! Dog! Dog! Dog! Dog! Dog! Dog! Dog!Dog!......." Ben: "OOOOOOO, that's my favorite type of dog! OOOOO That's my favorite type of dog!, OOOOO, that's my favorite type of dog!" Jack: "Awww, cool look at this dog attacking that dog! Awwww check this out! OOOOO, this one is famous!" Scott: "Hey, mom there is your favorite type of dog. Cool. Neat picture. Wow." Elaina: "That's an Airedale Terrier, and look it's a Terrier just like our dog. I'm going to get a Retriever when I get big. I like big Labs." Before kids when I used to go to art museums I would sit and stare at art for hours. I would wander the halls, study the paintings, read all of the plaques. The Mall: Ate at the food court - Rode the carousel - Played the Claw game - Got Orange Julius' - bought kids' swimsuits. Before kids when I used to go to the mall I would saunter through the stores, try clothing on, get a coffee and sit for a while, leaf through books at the book store, let those people at the kiosks file my nails. The Pool: Gathered our 4 bags, and 6 towels into the kiddie pool area - Chased Charlie between the kiddie pool and the big pool - Lured Charlie into his water wings - Got splashed over and over by my 9 yr old - gave him a time out for ignoring my protests - Fed 5 kids a picnic dinner. Before kids when I used to go to the pool I would oil up my body and lie in the sun. That's it. Before kids life was B O R I N G . Thank God for my kids : )

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Animal 20 questions and other random weird stuff said this evening

Most nights at dinner the kids want to play Animal 20 questions. Here are some exerps from this evening's game: Ben: Is is a bird? Mom: Yes. Ben: Does it have feathers? Mom: Does it have fur? Ben: Yes. Jack: Ben, is it green? Ben: Yes, but it isn't a baby alligator. This is gonna be the trickiest one. Mom: So it has fur and it is green? Ben: hmmmm....... Mom: ok, Ben your turn to think of an animal again. Ben: ok, I didn't guess the penguin, because I like it and it is my special animal. Mom: ok, I'm thinking of an animal. Ben: I can't think, I can't think!!! Jack: Does it have fur? Mom: Yes. Elaina: Is it a person? Mom: No. Elaina: Is it Jack? Mom: Remember it is not a person and it has fur. Jack: Naked mole rat? Ben: I hate those - they're naked and I hate them. Jack: Does it play the guitar? Mom: No. Jack: I know a monkey named Joe that plays a very good violin. And I know a mole that plays a guitar that he made himself out of nuts. I also know a rat named Rozart that plays piano and he is blind. Ben: Is it a sock puppet? I just felt I should document the bizarreness of how this game goes when we play it. It is nearly impossible to guess the kids animals since they seem to forget the difference between fur and scales. On a separate note: I just sent the kids upstairs to start showers. Jack is supposed to be in with Charlie. This is what I have heard so far coming from up there: Jack: "NO NO NO NO NO....Charlie just peed in the shower!" Me: Jack, not a big deal, it will go down the drain." Jack: "Well, he keeps closing the drain because he wants his pee to stay in the tub. Ok, never mind, now he wants out. We are done. I washed his hair for you, and mine too." Me: "Really? in the 2 minutes you have been up there, you have washed both of your hair?" Jack: "Yes." Me: "Well, I'm going to smell your head, and if it smells, I am coming back up there to wash your hair for you." HUMONGOUS THUD Me: What was that noise???!!! Jack: "Oh, it was just me turning on a light." Really? Kids are so odd. also I don't want to forget: -The kids were outside catching fireflies in jars tonight. Seriously adorable. Jack caught 18! I was quite impressed actually. Elaina kept catching them and letting them go within a couple seconds. I think her love for creatures wouldn't let her keep them captive for long.


When Elaina (6) began classic ballet when she was 3, and spent most of the class rolling around on the floor, I thought, "hmm, maybe this isn't her thing." But she said she liked going, so I kept taking her. Today, when I see her stand in the correct positions, curve her arm the right way, and count as she does her stretches, I am so proud of her (and me) for keeping her dancing! She may not dance forever, and she isn't the most graceful in the class, but for right now it is so great to see her feel good about herself. (Also, it is adorable to see her in those tights!) To see her look of concentration on her face as she tries to follow the teacher's instructions. To see her giggling with her dance friends. And to hear her say, "stretching is hard!" and still want to go back to do it again next week. There are so many influences on girls today even at her young age of 6 yrs old that are coming at her. I hear little girls talking like teenagers, or trying to. I hear them talking about their BFF's and Hanna Montana. I cringe when my own daughter tries a bit failingly to talk this way herself. She is actually such a naïve and "little girl" little girl. She likes playing baby dolls and veterinarian, and ballerina. But I know she feels the pull already to be like the big girls and watch big kid tv etc. I LOVE when instead I hear her say she wants to watch the big girls dance at dance school. Or when she looks adoringly at her dance instructor's helper who is about 12 yrs old. These influences are ones I want her to keep her eye on. So, when I see her trying but failing a bit at keeping up with the dance steps or when I think about the fact that she is going to be about 6 feet tall and perhaps not the perfect form for a ballerina, I think, all the more reason for her to stay with it. In ballet no one kicks you out or laughs at you if you don't know any Hanna Montana songs, if you rather play baby dolls than pretend you are a teen. And they let you dress up like a ballerina and twirl around! Just what 6 year olds are supposed to do! So, her idol may not be Angelina Ballerina forever. But if I can direct her attention to soccer player, Mia Hamm, or volleyball player, Logan Tom or pianist Olga Kern instead of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, I think she will be just fine! also I don't want to forget: -after having a blow-up with my son, Jack (9), we had a nice talk before bed about helping each other out. I'm really hoping that it sticks. -Charlie waved goodbye to daddy for about 15 minutes as he left for an out of town trip, saying, "bye daddy, bye daddy, bye daddy!" I didn't want to tear him away from the window, he was so sweet.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Church Dance

The dance goes something like this: We take 2 cars to church because of a basketball game that Scotty needs to get to right after mass. I walk in with half the kids after my husband already is seated with half the kids. I search the usual pews...the very back of the church on the right, the very back of the church on the left, the cry room...finally find him halfway up the isle in the very middle, so I guess we're being ambitious today. The rest of us squeeze into the pew. We are bookended in by 2 other families. Interesting because we will have to decide who to step over and on during our 30 trips to the bathroom, and cry room and vestibule. The people in the row behind us give us the grins, you know those, "Ah, what a lovely family" head cocks to the side. I look down the row to my husband, give him the little "aren't we a cute family" grin. He grins back. Charlie (2) LUNGES from his arms onto the pew. His rubber soled little tennis shoes now sound like tap shoes on the pew pacing back and forth. He laughs at the families behind us. He taunts us with his moves toward the toys and crayons that the bookend families have brought. We lure him away with our lame lonely book that I manage to scrape up out of my purse. Didn't even bother to pack a ziplock of Cheerios this morning. Usually I end up on the floor of church trying to pick them all up as my 2 and 4 year old lift my skirt to show the lovely families behind us my underwear anyway. Then I always have to eventually stand back up with a big red face from all the blood rushing to my head, and my hair is all crazy looking and I try to grin like it was no big deal to scoop up a bunch of cereal while trying to avoid a kid smashing my fingers with the kneeler and climbing on my back like I'm a horse. So, because I didn't bring the food today, Charlie is on the prowl for something to entertain himself. He begins tackling Ben (4). Ben can't help himself, laughs out loud and they begin a sort of head butting thing. We separate them. They resist somewhat loudly, so we try to distract them. Elaina (6) is all over me. Kisses my cheek continually. Pets my arm. Fingers my hair. I try to enjoy this as a loving touch. I try to thank God for her sweetness. Mostly though I try to keep her from wiping most of the makeup I applied in the car on the way to church from my face. Soon I am positive I look pretty much the way I did when I rolled out of bed this morning. Meanwhile, Charlie has begun to talk out loud continually. Mostly saying "no" to me stopping him from precariously leaning over the pew threatening a fall onto his head or at best into the lovely families' laps behind us. At this point those lovely families' older children are giggling at him. A few of the other adults back there are likely wondering when I'm taking the 2 year old to that "perfect little cry room we have back in the back." I'm trying to decide if it is time to start squeezing past one of the lucky families we sat next to. I pick one and grab my talker and head to the back of church trying not to make eye contact with any parishioners on the way because for all I know at this point my top, which is of a lightweight flimsy variety, has likely either hiked up under Charlie's bum and is showing my big secret control top undies or Charlie's wandering and grabbing hands have pulled down the front of it so low that my bra is hanging out. Truly, I don't want to know what the scene is so I don't look to the crowd for clues. I choose to stay in denial. My first attempt at Charlie control is to avoid the cry room. We head into the foyer of church. Who designed this area? No one with children I am sure. There are stained glass windows (one of which we have as a family already broken and paid $300 to have fixed as one of my lovely children literally smashed his friend through it during some rough housing after mass one day). There is an intricate statue on a side table. Very breakable, very white, very expensive looking. There is a heavy gold crucifix standing on another side table. Not heavy enough to be stationary, but heavy enough to use as a weapon. There is a glass front cabinet full of photos. There is a roped off temptation. It is a cute little circular area down a couple stairs with a statue of a saint with a very delicate sword that moves (Charlie figured that out). There are hundreds of pamphlets in a little rack at my knee height! We soon are in the cry room. 2 other families are in there. With all their kids. We have no toys, no food, no reinforcements whatsoever. Charlie begins to open the door to the fire hydrant, which at this point is thankfully one inch out of his reach or we would all be wearing snow. But he starts banging the door to the fire safety equipment open and closed. I hold it shut. He screams. He climbs onto the chair by the light switch and a ridiculous knob that controls the volume of the priest and musicians. Soon we are all in the dark, startled by the sudden booming music and feel like we are at a rock concert. I try the "ignore him and he will stop" thing. Doesn't work. I block the switches. Charlie screams and smashes his head into my thighs over and over trying to get to the switches. I convince him to get a book from the bucket for us to read together. We do this. I try to get him to grab another book, but he has spied someone's Thomas trains. The train's owner is not thrilled to share, so there is threat of a scuffle, but Charlie is distracted by a nice mom offering him coloring books and crayons. This helps for a bit. Then Charlie sees the rocking chair, which incidentally is precariously placed right in front of some large pole that Charlie realized he can bang the chair up against if he rocks hard enough. Time for Communion. "Charlie, want to go see daddy and go for a walk?" Yes. We head back into the crowd. Pass Charlie to dad. 9 year old is hanging on Dad, 4 year old is hanging on him, daughter is leaning on him. He looks like the Pied Piper. We head to Communion. I pray as I walk up there that God is cool with this being my only connection with Him so far this day. (I also pray that my son stops stepping on my heals as we walk). But there is peace. For these 50 paces we are not a rambunctious crew trying not to make a scene. For these 50 paces we are going up to God as a family maybe singing, hopefully praying, but definitely "being" part of His family. These aren't just MY kids acting up a bit at church, they are God's kids acting up at church. These aren't just MY kids playing with my face as we get back to our seats. They are God's kids playing with my face. If this is how God is touching me today, let Him. So as Elaina begins to braid my hair, and Jack begins to lean on me as if he is exhausted beyond control, I just breath in and then out, and let Him in, and hope that God stays there all day, because I need Him to.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Arranged Marriages

Can I just say I totally agree with them? It really is a good idea. I mean as long as you have decent parents, then they want what is best for you. They aren't swayed into making hormonal decisions. They have been through marriage already and know what is necessary to make a relationship work, and what does not work. Parents have already been through break-ups and hard times. If our kids would let their parents pick their spouse for them, I believe they would be pleasantly surprised. I would pick a lovely person for each of them, and as an added bonus for me of course, I would love my daughter and son in laws. My grandparents' marriage was lightly arranged, along with my grandmother's sister and her husband's. Sisters married brothers. Both marriages were absolute icons of what a beautiful Christian marriage should be, complete with romance, love, loyalty, trust, children and a very strong love for God. Maybe they were just lucky, but maybe the girls' dad knew what was good for them and acted on it. Incidentally, my sister and I married brothers also. Not arranged. At least not arranged by our earthly parents, but I do truly believe these marriages were arranged by our Heavenly parents. So, what does this have to do with my day with the kids today? I witnessed my 11 yr old having a wonderful time with his friend of 5 years, a girl. They posed for pictures together, rode rides at the carnival together, smiled ear to ear together all evening. None of this fun was related to anything even remotely romantic. They are just best friends. They treat each other with love and I really believe this kind of friendship is rare. So, can I just arrange the marriage now? There will be no worry of him finding a person who will treat him with the respect he deserves. There will be no worry of him finding a person who he can laugh with and who brings out the best in him. I don't know how my parents have done it. Watch each of us go through boyfriends and girlfriends and now spouses. Tonight what is on my heart and mind is the idea that very likely someday 5 more people will be a part of our family. And I love our family the way it is, but realize that through marriage this family can be even better. I just want my kids to choose those people who make them even better than they are and therefore our family even better than it is. also I don't want to forget: -Bubbles began pouring out of the fun house as soon as Scotty ran into his friend, and they began jumping and hitting them and laughing, and after all the lawn mowing, reading, helping with younger siblings and high-level math testing he has been doing lately, it was wonderful to see him being a kid. -Charlie wore most of what he ate tonight at the carnival: root beer, snow cone, funnel cake, corn dog. -Jack sweetly shared his carnival winnings with his siblings to keep the peace - thank you! -Elaina was so excited riding rides with all her little girlfriends tonight! I am so thankful that she ran into them and was able to hang with the girls for a while : )

Friday, June 4, 2010

Room to Grow

Ooooo, I hate giving them room to grow. I really like taking and having full control over my kids' actions. I like knowing where they are at all times, who they are talking to, what they are wearing, what they are saying, why they are saying it. I like finding their friends for them. I like keeping them from eating unhealthy foods, planning their snacks and controlling their portions. I like them following me like little ducklings or like a dance train where everyone is connected and stays together. This thought process and whole attitude works just fine for toddlers. Some of it even works out fine for 5-8 year olds. But as I have been experiencing lately with my 11 yr old...I have to give him some freedoms. So, today I let him meet me and the younger kids at the park. We took the car and he showed up later on bike. Then I let him meet us at The Magic House, stay there a half hour longer than us, then stop by a small candy store on his way home on his bike after we had left by car. I was a bit of a wreck, but he had a cel phone with him and checked in appropriately. He stayed on sidewalks the whole time. He didn't talk to strangers. He bought little tiny pieces of candy for his siblings on his way home. So, I think I am ready to let he and his friend, a very responsible girl, ride their bikes to and from the library together this summer. But it won't be near as comforting as taking him there myself. I will worry the whole time he is gone, and probably call his cel 4 times. But I'm a newby at this. Once I mentioned to the mother of a girl down the street who is in Scotty's class that perhaps when they were older they could walk to school together. The mother was like, "Ya, she's been walking to school for like 2 years already." In my defense, this little girl is the youngest of 5. Scotty is the oldest of 5. Big difference. This is that whole "unknown territory" issue again. Until we have seen some smooth transitions to new stages, and some new stages that have worked out well, mothers can't just let go without some major worry and apprehension. Today was a big step for me. And I guess for Scotty too, but he seemed awfully calm about it. In his head he was probably thinking, "My mother could have let me do this years ago." But little did he know, that in my head I was thinking, "Am I letting him do this too early?" I know in my head that it is a good idea to give the kids room to explore, room to make their own choices, room to make their own mistakes, but in my heart it will always be so hard to give them room to grow. also I don't want to forget: -Had soooo much fun at the Cardinals game tonight with Elaina, Ben, my mom and dad and sister! The kids were really good, and funny too. Elaina and Ben both just have this great energy. They think everything is "soooo exciting!" The night was topped off with a fireworks display that they were super excited about. -Charlie was totally trying to ditch me at The Magic House today. rounding corners quickly so I couldn't catch him. At one point it was like a bad after school special: He enters an all mirrored area, I try to follow him, he gets out and rounds a corner before I can catch him, then he re-enters the mirrored area, so I go into the other side of it to catch him on his way out, but when I get in there, he isn't in there, because he must have turned around and left though the in door! And he was my only charge! Scotty had the other two!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Walking the line

A song comes on the radio. It is the country song I believe called, "Pray for You" or something like that. It is about a ditched boyfriend who says "Everyone says I should pray for you, so I am. I'm praying that no one calls you on your birthday, all your dreams never come true, a flower pot falls from a window sill onto your head etc...." So, my 11 year old starts cracking up and saying that the song is so funny. I actually really agree with him, but I begin this inner struggle over if I should use this moment as a teaching tool about being kinder or just laugh along with my 11 year old who I don't have a lot in common with right now, but try to pretend I do. I find this inner debate happening pretty often lately as I am talking with my older two boys. Mostly my 11 yr old. I think as they get older there is a real inner struggle for me between wanting to be their buddy so they will feel comfortable telling me stuff and also being their parent so that they stay in line and learn the way to live a moral, good life. It is a bit of a catch 22 though, because in order for them to value what I say at all at their young ages, they have to see that I identify with them at least a little bit. Otherwise, the parent becomes this person who "just doesn't understand! and has no idea what they mean!" So, I think I am deciding that on the bigger things like, disrespectful behavior towards anyone (especially females and adults) I am going to stay in full parent mode. But on the lighter things, like laughing at funny, yet mean, lines in music, I can ease up on the parental comments. The problem comes though in walking the line between what is a big thing and what is a lightweight topic. For this distinction I will have to just try to think what would my mom have done. I turned out fine and I like my mom a lot, so I'll just pray my kids end up with that same outcome as adults and in the mean time tolerate me as well as I tolerate them ; ) also I don't want to forget: -I don't have a lot on my shoulders right now that isn't related to my kids. It is actually kind of nice. I have found myself not just taking them to the park, but actually playing more with them at the park, like picking them up and zerberting them and laughing with them. It is good. -Today was the first day of fun this summer at the pool. Kids had a lot of fun together. Very fun watching the big boys hang out together going off the diving board, and watching the little boys torment each other in the kiddie pool. So glad they have each other. Elaina in true form found herself some girls to pal around with and was in heaven. So glad she makes friends easily. She will need good girlfriends in her life.


"No, guys, we're going to see the regular Shrek movie, not the 3D one, because Charlie (2) doesn't like to wear the glasses. And it is HIS birthday, so we are doing what he wants to do." "Scotty, can you stop playing video games and go outside and watch Charlie because I really need to take a shower, and I need him supervised for a while." "Kids, this year we are joining a different pool, because we don't want to spend so much money." Tiny sacrifices, really nothing at all. And I get so upset when one of my kids complains about making a sacrifice like one of the ones above. I worry often that because today we can give our kids a lot of what they want every day, that we end up giving it to them. Thankfully, being in a larger family automatically keeps them from getting everything they want. I had a conversation yesterday with a friend about teaching our kids the attitude of "service for others" by getting them involved in something for the community. I think this is a very good idea, however I also believe this attitude can and should be taught at home first within our own family. Perhaps instilling the attitude of service at home, sacrificing for each other, helping each other out will grow into a natural attitude of helping in a larger way. (Or maybe they will get so tired of helping out at home that they will never want to do it anywhere else - I hope not.) Sometimes though, I just get angry with them for not "doing it just because they want to help out!" Teaching consequences, sacrifice, and general helpfulness at home could be exhausting if I had to think about teaching it all the time, but since it is nearly impossible for me to run my household without my kids' help, and sacrifice I am hoping some of it they will come by naturally by growing up here. But kids are still kids and sometimes need a little help getting into the helpful mood, especially as the beginning of summer arrives and my kids seem to think that means they get a pass on anything work related. SO, we have begun a little contest between the kids, related to who helps out the most at home, exercises the most, eats healthiest, etc. mostly fueled by a sticker chart and a very occasional tiny eraser treat. So far the kids are very into it. I received a lot of help with taking out the trash, doing the dishes, cleaning up the playroom and more yesterday. So, I have decided a healthy level of competition can also be good for community service. I mean yes, there are many people in the world who give just for the sake of giving and help just for the sake of helping, but even those people get a tax return on charity giving, resume boosts for having volunteered, and everyone loves the feeling you get from having helped someone out. So, to teach a little service, I have decided to sacrifice my righteous attitude of "they should just do it because they want to be helpful!" and instead try to find a kid-friendly way to get them in the service mood. And hopefully they will learn to love the feeling of helping someone out more than the sticker prize, and this attitude will eventually become a part of their personality. also I don't want to forget: -Charlie turned 2. So, I laid down with him in his bed until he fell asleep, which I had not done in a very long time. I always lay with him a bit, but I always leave before he falls asleep. He wrapped his arms tightly around my neck, he giggled, he poked at my face, he whispered. After a day of stopping him from making messes in cabinets, getting into dangerous drawers, escaping out the dog door, running all over the movie theater, eating popcorn off the movie theater floor...it was nice to be in a safe quiet place together : ) -Jack is very into the summer sticker chart. He was Mr. Helpful yesterday, and I am excited to see what today holds! -Ben (4) wouldn't eat his dinner. So, he didn't get to have popcorn at the movie theater, or dessert. This kid has some will power. He got a little upset, but mostly just said, "I didn't want any dessert anyway." (then looked longingly at me while we all were eating popcorn and dessert) -When Charlie opened his Batman Batcave he yelled "Ooooooo, WoW!" And he loved it! And he slept with Batman.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Slumber Parties

I've said it before and I will say it again, I just don't always know the right thing to say. And this is when I am sooooo thankful someone else does know what to say, and once again, it was my kids! Today when Ben was sulking in the closet and about to lose his head about wanting to have a sleepover with cousins, Scotty saw me struggling to cheer him up and ran over and invited Ben over to a sleepover in the family room, complete with movies, games, popcorn, smoothies and sleeping bags. And it worked! Ben became super excited about his sleepover at home. The best part about it is that it is just 10pm and the sleepover participants are all snoring already : ) I think and I am hoping that the big boys (Scotty and Jack) learning to be able to solve the little kids' (Elaina, Ben and Charlie's) problems, struggles and general moodiness, will both be good for the little kids and for the big kids. I mean, for the littles it is wonderful for them to have someone they care about come in and make them feel better, give them something to look forward to and just generally care about their well-being. They obviously have parents for that, but what a bonus to have these other people in their lives who are always on their side. For the bigs I am hoping this skill and all-around problem solving attitude will help them in other areas of their lives. Obviously it will serve them well to help keep peace in the household, since they live here too. But in other areas of their lives I am betting this skill comes in handy too. Dealing with friends and friends' different personalities can be a challenge that my big boys may cope with more handily than others. As we grow into adults we often encounter people in our lives, workplace etc that need to be dealt with very creatively. It's my hope that my kids having lived in this larger household, having dealt daily with many other people will use this to their advantage in their lives. Because you never know when you will have to pull a great idea out of your head in order to keep someone else from losing theirs. also I don't want to forget: -Scotty has been reading my blog. At first I wasn't so sure I liked the idea, but I have decided that it might be good for him to know just how much I think about them, toil over them and generally worry about them. Also, he is very sweet telling me that I write well. It is actually quite a compliment from a great writer. -Charlie has begun "stealing" my arm and saying "MINE" and then cracking up when I try to claim it for my own. This can go on for a half hour or more if I were to let it. -Ben was very cute showing all of his cousins around the Nature Museum we went to. I think he felt cool that he new his way around there. -We saw about 3 dear at least today on the nature path. There were 12 kids and 4 adults all together. We were amazingly silent as we walked within a few feet of them and watched them in the woods. My children have never been that quiet. -Jack got into the car after his first day of baseball camp (youngest age group there) ever and said this, "I LOVED it. It was REALLY hard work, but I LOVED it. You know, at first I was a little nervous since I didn't know anyone, but then when it was rest time, I layed down on the ground and this other kid came over and flopped down next to me and I said, 'hey' and he said 'hey' and then we sort of hung out together and were partners the rest of the day and became friends." So I said, "Cool, Jack! That's great, what's his name?" Jack said, "I don't know that, I guess I should ask him that tomorrow." Boys are funny.