Sunday, October 31, 2010

The ER trip

Last night was one of many little ER trips on which I have accompanied my children. I get the call while visiting my sis in law in the hospital with her newborn son. Just getting ready to shoot his nebeorn photos and my phone rings. My Husband: "Julie, when are you coming home?" Me: "Not for a while, just getting started." My Husband: "Oh. Well, we've had a little accident. (here is where I begin praying "let them be ok, let them be ok, let them be ok") Elaina is going to be ok. She and Ben were playing with sticks (Here is where I begin praying "not her eyes, not her eyes, not her eyes....") in the backyard and somehow she got a gash on her forehead that probably requires stitches or glue." Me: relieved. "Ok, why don't you bring her to this hospital and I will meet you in the ER." (Here is where I start thinking "plastic surgeon? right on her forehead...she looks great without bangs...but I guess if it looks bad she could wear bangs...") These thoughts are laced with much thankfulness that this is all I have to worry about, a little scar. So many people in the ER have soooo much more to worry about than a little scar. There is a woman in there with the most bruised face I have ever seen. There is a man with his head all wrapped up in gauze. There is another woman with a huge gash in her head that has been sewn shut. And here is where I pray Elaina will never have to be in the ER for any of these situations. So, I finish up the photos of my new little nephew, and then head down to the ER. Elaina looks great. The "gash" is just a half a centimeter, but does require some glue. We hang out in the waiting area with grandma and grandpa, get the glue, then head to Steak and Shake because a trip to the ER, however minor, requires ice cream afterwards. Grandma comments on my "calmness" during the situation. I can't help but think about one thing - If my husband's voice had been uncalm, or if my husband had said anything that made me worry about my child's real health, the situation would have been much different. These children are so precious. And they start out so small, like my new nephew, so dependent on us for their every need. We care for them and try so hard to keep them safe and still let them have fun. But the truth is, we worry constantly once they are out of our arms, out of that bubble we get to keep them in as newborns, that they will come to harm. So many "sticks" out there in the world...I pray that my kids just put the darn sticks down, and get some really good reflexes to avoid the "sticks" in their lives.


I remember my mother saying "life isn't fair" to me pretty often when I was complaining that this or that was not fair, mostly about something I thought a sibling was getting that I was not getting or something that a friend's parent let them do that I did not get to do. I recall thinking that was just horrible that my mom didn't try to even-out the fairness in the situation. These days I hear a lot from my kids about things not being fair between them. "He gets to go to a friend's house all the time" or "He gets to have a friend over why can't I" or "She ate 3 pieces of candy and I only got one" or "Why can't I have a big birthday party with all my friends this year like ALL my friends do every year????" "Why? Why? Why?" "Because Life isn't fair" is a much easier, all-encompassing answer that keeps a mother from having to explain herself every single time. And the truth is, we as parents try really hard to keep things as fair as possible usually. Behind the scenes, the parents discuss who is getting what for Christmas, trying to even-out all the gifts. Parents discuss how to help each child make friends and fit in. Parents discuss who hasn't had much one on one time with their parents in a while and may need some. We do think of these things, and we do really try to be fair people. Kids do not understand the "behind the scenes" goings on, and really would likely just still try to fight their points if we tried to explain it, so "because life isn't fair" rolls off our tongues. And what a fine lesson that is too. I mean, life is NOT fair. And the kids need to learn to deal with that in their lives too. They need to eventually learn that even though their friend gets to spend the night away every weekend with friends while they stay home with the family more, that although it doesn't seem fair to them at the moment, later they may be thankful to have had some family time. Later may be when they are 35, like me, but I would say it is better than fair to be able to say you have a great relationship with your siblings and parents etc. And bottom line: In a family of seven people, stuff just can not be fair all the time. The sooner the kids learn this, and learn to deal with it within themselves, the happier we all will be. If I let every kid have a friend over every time they had a day off school, I would be watching ten kids all day, and then I would have only one thing to say, "THAT"S NOT FAIR!"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blog time

5 reasons I keep missing my blog time and have to keep double bloggiing all in one evening: 1. My husband thinks I don't like to sleep with him, because I am always on the computer until the wee hours. 2. Charlie (2) has decided that we have to lie down with him until he falls asleep at night. And of course I always fall asleep before he does and end up spending half the night in there. 3. Jack begs for me to read with him before bed and I fall asleep reading to him. 4. Elaina wants to do "girl things" at night, and so by the time I finish "girl things" it is quite late and I am too lazy to go get my laptop and bring it to bed. 5. I get up very early to work out in the morning a few times a week, and so I need to get to bed early on those nights, so I decide I will blog in the morning, but then the morning comes and I go work out, and then I come home and get everyone ready for school, and then I take them to school, and then I run my errands, and then I make lunch for the little ones, then I pick one up from preschool, then run laundry and do dishes, then I lie down with Charlie for his nap, and then I fall asleep, and then I wake just in time to pick up the rest of the kids or perhaps early enough to work on a few photos and do paperwork from the kids' school. Then I need to give them their after school snack, take them to their activities, make dinner, help them with homework, pick them up from their activities, eat dinner, bathe them, read to them, do girl stuff with Elaina, put them to sleep, and that brings us back to #s 1, 2, and 3. So, I'm trying to keep up, so that by April 14th I have 365 posts, but they may not be exactly nightly.


Whew, I think Halloween gets me behind more than Christmas. I mean coordinating all the costumes is more difficult than coordinating Christmas outfits. There is more sugar at Halloween. So, there are more insane children at this "holiday." Speaking of insane children, my friend is going to kill me when she reads that I have blogged about her and her adorable son, but I will not use names. Here goes: So I am chatting with my friend about this really nice mom and we are joking about this sweet mom's sons and their crazy antics. About how they are really boys' boys as their dad is a man's man. I mention that one of her sons once got in trouble in first grade for jumping from desk to desk. Now, I have four boys and my friend has sons too, so we get it, but still are laughing about the other little jokester getting in trouble for jumping from desk to desk, thinking of course that OUR children would NEVER do this. Well.....never say never. I am working the 1st grade Halloween party and I turn around to a bit of noise to find my friend's sweet, straight and narrow, pleaser of a son standing and jumping on top of a desk yelling "Woo Hoo! Woo Hoo!" in a sugar rush no doubt! I could not help but crack up to myself as I helped him down off the desk. It is just too funny. As parents we can never think "it won't happen to us" because that is about the time that it does. What a lesson to us all to keep an open mind no matter what someone else's child does or says. Every child will have their moments, and every child is just that, a child. In my friend's little guy's case, I am proud of him for letting go a little and having some fun. My friend will likely also secretly be happy that her son was that comfortable and having that good of a time at school, even though she will likely be a tad embarrassed that his fun came out this way : )

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Simply Piano

There are times in a mother's life that she can't seem to find anything to calm, to quiet, to entertain or to just plain impress her sons at all. As they get older it seems the old tried and true cookie, or balloon, or treat from the treasure chest just doesn't cut it. But sometimes, just when you are thinking you are at a loss, they surprise you. Like tonight. Getting Jack (9) to settle down and go to his bedroom to go to sleep is quite a challenge. He thinks up reasons to come back downstairs to chat with me, get a drink, look for something, etc... But until he mentioned it tonight, I had forgotten or perhaps not realized the power of my playing the piano for him. "Mom, will you play me a couple songs on the piano while I am up in bed, so I can fall asleep?" Of Course! I had forgotten that last year at Christmas he loved hearing me play Christmas carols before he went to sleep. So, about 3 songs later, I am sure he is up there snoozing away. It is a win win situation since I love playing the piano, and never find the time to do so, and Jack needs to hear the piano to get him to relax. How nice it is to still have something so simple to give to my son that he really enjoys. And it costs me only the time it takes to play - which I am happy to spend. Thank you God for this simple, yet somehow powerful tool that made our evening go so smoothly. I will remember this from now on! I pray that the piano and guitar lessons that we dish out weekly for our kids will some day give them this same gift.

Little Hands

Headache. Ever have a really bad headache and ask your kid to rub your forehead? I'm lying on the sofa and I'm in huge headache pain, neglecting my kids, shirking my household chores, waiting for the 2 tylenol and 3 ibuprofin to finally kick in already, when I say to my 5 year old, "mommy has a head ache, can you rub my forehead?" His soft little hands begin to rub my forehead in a little back and forth motion. If anyone else had been rubbing my head in the same way, I swear it would have done nothing at all for me. But little soft warm 5 year old hands felt so sweet, so special, so tender that it really did ease my pain for a bit. Human touch is said to be super powerful. We have all heard about babies that are not held or touched in orphanages having problems even after being adopted to loving families after their baby stages, because of the lack of touch in their lives. My kids always love to be massaged or snuggled when they are not feeling great, or have an illness of some sort. When our children come to us with sadness over hurt feelings or some sort of emotional distress, the first thing we do is to hug them, rub their backs, squeeze them tight. But I have not as often thought about all that their touch does for us, the parents. They are like magical little beings of life. Their sweet little fingers projecting nothing but love and affection as they rub our foreheads, pat our backs, or play with our hair are probably adding hours to our lives. Or better yet, adding a sense of liveliness, youth and worthwhileness to us daily. Thank you God, for the little hands in my life. There are 10 hands in this house smaller than mine, but their power is infinite. Also I don't want to forget: Elaina said: "Mom, Peyton at school said this, and you know how numbers just keep going and there is not a biggest one, it just goes on and on?" I said: "Yes, that's right!" Elaina said: "Well, is the alphabet like that too?"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jack's proposal and other endearing stuff they said

Jack: Mom, Dad, I think I know how I am going to ask someone to marry me someday. Want to know how? Us: Of course. Jack: Well, I am going to write a song about the girl, and I am going to sing it to her, and there will be just a spotlight shining right on the girl only, and when I am finished singing it, I will ask her to marry me. Us: Well, how could she ever say "no" to that! (our little Casanova) Love when Ben says lately instead of "it doesn't matter" or "I don't care" - he says "it doesn't care." Scotty: Mom, I have many classifications of monsters, want to hear them? Me: Of course I do. Scotty: Ghosts, Undead - like mummies, zombies, Dracula, headless horsemen and such, Magic - such as witches, warlocks, wizards and gargoyles, Plain old Monsters - such as Where Wolves, Haunted Jack - Lanterns etc. Me: Wow, where did you hear about these classifications? Scotty: I just thought of them. Me: What classification would a Jelly like substance be like The Blob? Scotty: Um, that would be another catagory, Physical Ghosts. My husband: How about Zool? Scotty: Physical ghosts. Jack: What about Sea monsters? Scotty: Oh, like Loch Ness, Sea Serpents, Lake Monster, Underwater Dragons...I guess that would be a separate classification also - Sea Monsters. Jack: What about Dragons? Scotty: Mythical Creatures. Me: Big Bad Wolf, Ogre? Scotty: Mythical Creatures. Jack: What about Moving Armor? Scotty: (in a tone like "duh?") Physical Ghosts. Me: How about Sesame Street Monsters? Scotty: Hmmmmm, I guess another category called Nice Monsters. Ben: An invisible ghost has no head and two spikes on his hands, one down and one up. How about a Cheese Monster? I think the monster conversation went on for a good 15-20 minutes at least, and will live on forever as one of my favorites. (Ranks right up there with playing "Animal questions" with Ben at the dinner table.)

Celebrate good times!

"Is the birthday boy still asleep?" said Elaina, in a sweet little mom voice when she walked into the kitchen Saturday morning for breakfast. Was she inquiring about Ben? or little brother Charlie? or even one of her big brothers, Scotty or Jack? No, she was very genuinely inquiring about her FATHER'S whereabouts. Her father, the birthday boy. The kids were so excited to celebrate their dad's birthday. I made eggs and sausage etc. and the kids thought this was just a great way to start the day, having breakfast together, but "then what?" "then what will we do?" They looked for things to do amidst our sort of busy day all day long. The birthday boy was being all coy saying stuff about it not being a big deal that it was his birthday, and how we didn't need to do anything special that day and I said to my husband, "I love to celebrate!" and as our 11 year old, Scotty, walked into the room he enthusiastically says, "Me too!" And he does. They all do. They think up reasons to have little impromptu "parties" where we use wine glasses, light candles, "decorate." And I would laugh about this, or think it was goofy except, I am just like them...or I guess they are just like me rather. It is just fun. It is great fun to think of silly reasons to celebrate, and I love that the kids have caught onto the enthusiasm and run with it, because it keeps me excited to do all this fun stuff with them like "make the perfect fall day," which is what I told my husband I wanted to do one day this week. He chuckles at me, but it is something he totally would expect me to say, so he is not at all surprised. Great thing is, my kids will be totally on board. Very very little eye-rolling will be seen even from the 11 yr old - especially not from him actually. After all, he "loves to celebrate" and so do I, especially when there are so many so eager to celebrate with me : )

Friday, October 22, 2010

He's still just a little guy

Ben is 5. He just turned 5. He has a younger brother. If he did not have a younger brother, perhaps I would still be picking him up to hold him, bouncing him on my knee etc. But he does have a younger brother, so that makes him the Big Brother and very mature. Sometimes this is such a wonderful thing. Like when his teachers say he is so smart, or so kind, or so helpful with the other kids in his class. But there are times that I am lamenting his growing up so quickly all because he isn't the youngest anymore. So today I was thrilled when these 4 things happened: 1. Ben LOVED the idea of making a Haunted Gingerbread House with me today. He was adorable as he found just the right places to put his house candy decorations, and was thrilled to show everyone when they they came home from school. He stood up on a chair to reach, he hugged me, he told me I was great. He was my little guy again. 2. I showed Ben an outfit I bought him today (cords and a sweater with a Bear on the front). I worried he would scoff at the bear. He LOVED it! I pulled it out of the bag and he said, "Awwwwwww." As in Awwwww so cute, not Awwww yuck. Little boys like Teddy Bears. He is still my little guy. 3. Ben fell asleep for a nap on the sofa today. Little boys still need their naps. And so if he napped, he is still my little boy. 4. Ben stood in the foyer making goofy zerbert noises while I talked to the guy that measured our basement for new flooring today. He spun, he zerberted, he danced a little, and skipped around a bit too. LITTLE ones do that, not big boys. So, he is still my little boy. Thank God for my sweet little 5 yr old boy. Just a tad over five years ago, when I was 30 for goodness sakes, not all that long ago at all, he was still inside of me. So he really can't be all that big at all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jack's vocabulary assignment

Me: Jack, why did you get all these answers wrong. All you had to do was choose the word that means the same thing as the underlined word in the sentence. Use the context of the sentence to figure out the answer. Jack: I don't know what any of those words mean. Me: Actually, yes you do. You know what 'provide' means. You know what these other words mean too." Jack: Oh. Ya. Me: Well, Jack if you don't start doing your best work at school, then you are going to have to have a punishment, us making you redo your work when you get home. And when you bring home A's, then you can lie in my bed and I will read 2 chapters of a book to you. Jack: Well, mom, you should have told me that sooner! I mean, if I knew you were going to punish me I would not let my grades be so bad. And if I knew you would read chapters to me, I would be doing better. We have missed a step somewhere. How did we not portray to him that school is a serious thing? But everyone needs their motivation I guess. And I guess if being read to by mom, and the fear of more work motivates him, then that's not so bad.

Parent Teacher Conferences

"I've never, ever, had a student like Scotty. He's....he's....just a mystery to me. He can be doodling, reading a book and fully participating in my class all at once. And this isn't a criticism. I'm just still trying figure him out. I was actually quite a lot like your son, but I always got in trouble. He's getting an A in my class. He really cares about getting an A. He will tell me why he deserved an A if I give him anything lower than an A on an assignment. I will win that negotiation, but I like his drive. He's just really like no one I have ever taught." said his Social Studies teacher. "Scotty is the very best Science student I have. I tried to type out comments there on that paper I handed you, but how many times can you say, 'He is awesome. He is a wonderful Science student.' He was great dissecting the cow eye." said his Science teacher. "Well he really likes your class, and loved dissecting the eye." We say. "Well who wouldn't, really, I mean the cow eye is so amazing! I don't think people realize what is back there in the head. There is a lot of fatty tissue........." and she went on and on about the cow eye dissection. Of course she likes Scotty. They are the same person. "Scotty is really a little Math genius. He is such a sponge. He grasps these high level concepts so quickly....Usually there are gaps for the kids that show up having skipped a grade, but I have not noticed any with him so far." And then she went on to speak in a secret math language that only she and my husband understood, and I just nodded like I had a clue about what they were speaking about, which I did not. "Now, here in the grade book, anywhere you see that he has anything less than an A it is because I can't get him to show me his......(and here is where I think she is going to say "work" like showing all the work on a long math problem, right?) but instead she says, "assignments" before the end of class. He really needs to organize better. He usually comes up with his wrinkled homework from somewhere in his enormous backpack at some point during the class, but really it is due at the beginning of class. The rest of the class turns their assignments in in a bound composition notebook. Perhaps you should purchase him another one. I think he lost the first one." These conferences for Scotty are quite enjoyable. I mean who doesn't like to hear about their "conscientious, really good kid, very bright, kind and ambitious" kiddo. Next week we get to go talk about our "creative, rambunctious, funny, not-so-into-school" kiddos. I pray that the conversations to come are productive. That seems like a safe prayer.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I can't hear you, I can't hear you, I can't hear you...

I'm not talking about my kids saying that phrase. It is me. I used to hear a cry from another room and I would go running in to solve the problem, mediate the fight, "discover what was fair." Boy, have things changed. these days I still hear the cry, but it is more of a background noise. And believe it or not, that background noise almost always disappears as long as I stay as far away from it as possible. I wish so badly that I had learned this gift of "letting them work it out, fight it out, solve it, on their own" when my older two were younger. It would have saved me years of yelling, stressing and general angst over my boys fighting, arguing etc. These days, there is a thing here or there to have angst about, but none of it revolves around my being involved in my kids disagreements. By my staying out of it, they have learned to stop looking for answers from me, attention from me, and help from me in their fights with eachother. About 5 minutes ago I heard a "hurt cry," you know, the one where you can just tell that there may be a mark. But, I gave it just a count of 3, because something in the cry told me that my son was looking for some attention rather than there being a serious injury. And not to my surprise there was no second wail. Somehow the boo boo caused by his playdate friend I think, went away without mom coming to the rescue. If there is blood, they will come. If there are large contusions, they will come. If there are broken bones, they will come. So, usually these days, having learned that mom only comes when actually necessary, they don't come running. "Work it out on your own" has become my motto, and since the kids know this now, they have stopped coming to me to mediate. They already know my answer. And guess what, even though I always swore that my instigating child would be "winning" all these fights without me there to back my more peaceful child, I was absolutely wrong. He won for a while, but eventually they have seemed to even it out on their own. If you have young children, I challenge you to start this "I can't hear you" attitude NOW. You will be saving yourself years of heartache and yelling!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Getting some sleep

So, after a very busy weekend in Chicago with Elaina, I wake up monday morning with one hour left to drive to get home only to realize that I am chaperoning her field trip that morning to the pumpkin farm. So, I get her home by 7:55 to meet her dad in the driveway where she switches cars and is off to school in the same clothing she wore all day on Sunday. I, also in my same clothing, begin to rush around cleaning out my car in case I end up driving a group of moms to the pumpkin farm. I blogged before about what cleaning out my car is like...add to that a 10hr round trip road trip, and the job only becomes bigger. So, by the time I finish cleaning it out, I have to head to school to gather for the fieldtrip - in my same clothing that I wore the day before. Fortunately, I was in Chicago the day before and no one knows this. After the field trip I call my sitter, my mom, and ask her if I could stop by the grocery store to get cake mix to make a cake for my Father-in-Law's and husband's birthday celebration that evening. So, I go into the grocery store, get distracted by the deli and produce and end up forgetting the cake mix. I don't realize this until my mom is gone and I have 1 hour to bake a cake before I have to pick up kids from school. So, after calling all my neighbors for cake mix, I end up doing a lemon pound cake from scratch, popping it in the oven in time to leave and grab kids from school, drop some of them at the library, take the rest home, so I can run in the house, get the cake out of the oven, grab my computer so I can work in the car while elaina is at tutoring, which is where we head to next. I drop Elaina at tutoring, begin to get my computer out of its bag, and fall asleep promptly in the front seat of my car in front of the school. If anyone had peeped into my van they would have seen a sleeping 5 year old, a sleeping 2 year old and their mother also snoozing away. Is this a sign of being a bit busy? I wake up about 2 minutes before Elaina comes out to the car, and we head home meeting my husband in the driveway for just long enough for me to run into the house, ice the cake, grab the birthday presents, holler for my other 2 boys who walked home from the library to get into the car, and we are then off to the birthday party. After the birthday party. When we arrived home, I smartly offered up to be the one to snuggle with Charlie "till he falls asleep" and I then fell asleep myself for the night. Here's to hoping that today goes just a bit more s...l...o...w...l...y. However, as I was typing that, I heard my 2 year old waking up for the day. I guess the kids just don't value their sleep like parents do!

Elaina and her food

"I'll have what HE'S having! It smells delicious!" As she sits down at a table near a man eating a huge skillet of scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns. "I LOVE bar-b-que wings!" "Celery is my favorite vegetable!" "Let's get the chocolate volcano cake...!" And I say, "or maybe donut holes?" And she says, "yes, donut holes, that's what I wanted!" "I think I'll have coffee." I say, really? Not hot cocoa? And she says, "COFFEE." And then proceeds to order herself a hot cocoa. "It smells like chicken in here." I may send this girl to chef school. She just loves her food. Just like her mom

Girl Stuff

What a fun Saturday with Elaina and my sis and niece! Even the DRIVE to Chicago was fun. Elaina is either a total sweetheart, a VERY smart girl or possibly both, because she was very good about not begging for things to buy, staying in a generally super mood, and just being quite a joy to be around. She makes me want to do many more fun things with her in the years to come! The fun stuff we did today: -Lunch at The American Girl Place Restaurant where the wait staff sang happy bday to her. -Shopping at The American Girl Place where Elaina picked out a little puppy for her new doll, Lanie. I also picked out matching t-shirts for she and her doll and a doll hair care set. -Shopping on Michigan Avenue all day long; Disney Store where she picked out new waterbottles for herself and brothers, and I picked her out a Princess Tote bag. Nike Store where she got a new pair of school shoes. Nine West where I got a new pair of flats that match her new school shoes! -Dinner at Rainforest Cafe where the waiters sang to her and gave her donut holes with a candle in them. -Back to the hotel for spa evening in our hotel room for us and the dolls. A positive about only having one daughter: I get her ALL to myself!

Funny stuff the kids said

When we're in the car and a popular dance song that the kids like comes on, sometimes the older kids will yell, "turn it up!" So we're in the car the other day and the song Half of my Heart, by Jon Mayer and Talyor Swift comes on and my five year old, Ben, says, "Turn it up, I love this song." I turned it up and said, "THIS song? Really? And he says, "oh ya." I didn't realize my 5 year old was such a hopeless romantic : ) Lately when accidents happen to Ben such as: He drops a loud metal menu holder onto the tile at a restaurant, and it makes a big crashing noise, or, he spills his milk shake all over the table, Ben says, "I do NOT know how that happened." As if there are spirits among us creating chaos wherever he goes. Lately when I am singing a song and Charlie (2) wants to tell me something, or doesn't want to go to sleep and he figures the song means bedtime, or sometimes if I am just talking to someone and Charlie wants my attention, he puts his chubby little hand over my mouth and says, "Shut it." I SWEAR I never say that to him or anyone! However, he has been saying it so much lately, that I've found myself starting to say it! I never thought the 2 year old would be such a bad influence on me and his older siblings!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Errands with Ben

Ben decided to count his money in his piggy bank this morning. $17. Not bad for a 5 yr old who does not get an allowance, and basically makes his cash by finding change on the ground and scrounging pennies from his siblings and mother. So, I promised him that if he helped me with some chores around the house, he could go on my errands with me and use his money for something he wanted. He also was to use some of his money for his friend's birthday gift. You might think he would be looking for something small for his friend, but no, he got he and his friend the same thing, lego sets. And he was ecstatic! And so proud to dump his very own $17 in change onto the counter at Borders. "Back-up to the front." called the checkout gal. I told her it was $17, but she apparently didn't believe me. I did not care. You cannot embarrass me or my 5 yr old, beaming as he spent his very own money. I've been in way more awkward situations than making a checkout gal count out $17 in change. And most of those instances were spurred on by a 5 yr old, or 3 yr old or 1 yr old too. And all have been worth it once I see the joy they have brought to a crazy little kid's face. So, go ahead and call your "back-up" and go ahead and roll your pretty little eyes folks, cause I've got 5 things way more important than worrying about you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Stolen Day

Me: Wow, I really can't wait to use these 3 hours while Charlie is at Little Sprouts with the grandparents to get some work done. I have so many photos to work on, and the house is a disaster. Thank God I have all morning. Diane: Julie, I think it is your day to go help on the Little Sprouts outing. Me: Nooooooooooooo......................................... So, this morning did not end up being what I planned it to be. Not even close. But how could one complain about getting to spend an absolutely gorgeous day outside with her little son, who may be the cutest, sweetest 2 yr old in the whole wide world! All it took was one "I luz you too, mommy!" to put me in the right mood for a non-productive, but quite wonderful morning. There is nothing better than using binoculars made from toilet paper rolls to search the grounds of the botanical gardens for birds, butterflies, and to my Charlie's disappointment, the ever elusive owl. "But Charlie, the owls are sleeping, honey, I don't thinks we will see any owls." "Please, Mommy, I wake up all the owls, OK?" Seriously, I wish I knew where they were. I would have found them, captured them and let my loud little guy wake them up! For goodness sakes, I hate disappointing him. But it takes so little to distract and intrigue him. For instance, he spent quite a bit of time floating the "hats" of acorns in the fountain. Every time he found one, he just had to put it in the water and watch it float away. And honestly if I had had all day long, I would have sat there and watched him do it all day long. Because it was adorable. Also, he could get very excited about seeing various sticks on the ground. "Look, stick!" And then he would carry it for a while, making it touch different plants and using it to dig up a little mud here and there. What fun : ) So, while I did not get my work finished, or really even started yet today, I did get to spend an unforgettable day with my 2 yr old, who will not be 2 forever. And my work will be around forever, and will always be waiting for me. But my 2 yr old, well, I know he won't always be waiting for me, or dragging me through a muddy garden, or shamelessly yelling, "I luz you too, Mommy!" So, thank you God for my stolen day with Charlie, my little drop of sunshine amidst a busy crazy day.

The Crick

I never have called a little body of slowly flowing water over rocks and sticks, a crick before, but this was definitely a crick. It was warm. It was amidst huge shady trees that turned into woods. It was shimmering in the sun that creeped through the trees. It was full of little creatures. It was little boy heaven. We made a busy day even busier by deciding to join some new friends for a little trip to the crick. After playing mommy and me soccer with Charlie and watching Ben play soccer too, we took our picnic lunch to the spot I will forever more refer to as a little piece of little boy heaven. Charlie fell asleep on the way there and so he slept right through the other 5 boys all splashing into the creek, seeing who could go the deepest, throwing rocks into the water, finding "hidden trails" in the woods, laughing, giggling, picnicking, and just generally having an absolute ball. How do we forget that this is the type of fun that is their favorite? Why had I not found a spot like this before now? Not only is it just the most fun for the boys, but it is the absolute most fun for me! I get to kick back, smile, take pictures and just enjoy my boys being boys, so carefree, so unstressed, so relaxed. I love watching my kids play sports and take music lessons etc, but watching my kids just have fun for the sake of having fun, no lessons intended, is a whole other kind of joy for a parent. And we can;t forget to include these joys into our daily lives. And if we feel that we need to include a lesson in every outing, how about this: The day picnicking at the crick taught us: -to relax once in a while -to share with our friends -to laugh at each others' silliness -It taught us about aquatic life -and trees -and leaves -and nature -and it taught us how to have fun : )

Monday, October 11, 2010

Elaina's boots

Elaina asked her grandmother for a raincoat, boots and an umbrella for her birthday. She got the most adorable raincoat, boots and umbrella. She also got an adorable fall/winter outfit from her aunt. She has been wearing the outfit and boots and carrying the umbrella ever since she opened them on Saturday. He cheeks are flushed from being so warm in the outfit and boots, but she will not relent. She actually slept with her umbrella and an adorable purse that she also got for her birthday. I go in there to kiss her goodnight and she is sleeping, snuggling her umbrella and purse. How freaking adorable is that!? I mean please let these days go slowly so I can cherish the moments that my daughter is so thrilled by these types of things. This morning I got to give her her birthday present - the American Girl Doll with her name - Laini. She squealed and laughed and smiled and was just ecstatic. Then I got to tell her about the Chicago trip she and I are taking this weekend to the American Girl Place. I am the most lucky mom ever! She is such a joy. I cleaned her bedroom for her and set up her dolls on her bed all in new outfits. Her daddy is bringing her flowers tonight, and I am serving her favorite foods: macaroni and cheese, shrimp, and broccoli with cheese. In her lunch today I gave her her other favorite foods; sushi, salami, olives, grapes, crackers, cheese, and a cookie shaped and iced like a dog face. I also blew up 2 tiny balloons and wrote happy birthday on them and stuck them in her lunch box. I hope the ice pack didn't cause them to deflate. Can't wait to hear her say, "Mom! Why did you do that for me?!" And I get to say, "because I love you and I thought you might like it." And she just grins. It is what she does every time I do something kind for her. So sweet. And makes me want to do more stuff for her!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Ben: M0m, Charlie just ate a gummi bear off the gym floor! Mom: Ewe, Charlie, gross, no no. Ben: And it had a HAIR on it. I almost threw up. Especially when Charlie came up to me to help him get the hair out of his mouth.

Quote of the day!

Ben blows out his candle on his cake at Macaroni Grill. Mom: What did you wish for? Ben: That we would all be friends. Mom: That' s nice, do you think it will come true? (and here is where I wish I could prtray the inflection and tone of his voice. He says it sort of nonchalantly with a part smirk, part frown. Ben: I don't think so. Mom: Why? Ben: Well, I mean, it was JUST a candle. My only realist. The rest of my kids have their heads stuck in the clouds and the 5 yr old has it all together. I better work on "bring back the magic" for this guy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What I actually did:

took the kids to school, ran to the bakery to pick up Ben's birthday school snack, took the snack up to school, got a lego set for Ben from his brother, P.O. bought cupcakes, got 3 birthday gifts, got feed corn for a party game, got decorations at Party City and the Dolar Store, Ordered 3 quiches and 2 pies and get 4 cupcakes, wrapped gifts, pick up kids from school, met daddy for lunch at Macaroni Grill, took the kids to the Zoo for Ben's birthday, took the kids to Wu Shu, went to starbucks and drank a bunch of coffee, had pizza at home and movie at home for Benny's bday, bathed kids and put them to bed, worked on house, went grocery shopping for the Saturday morning brunch birthday party, had my babysitter and construction guy over from midnight till 4am... decorating the house with a bunch of bats and butterflies, etc making apple pies and pumpkin cakes, and egg casserole, clean the bathrooms, cleaning up the back yard, fill the little swim pools with feed corn and spider rings, organizing the toys in the basement, finding all the folding chairs and tv tables and card tables, cleaning up art room and set up the kids activity, straightening up the house and set it up for the party. And everything was lovely.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


All I need to do tomorrow is; take the kids to school, run to the bakery to pick up Ben's birthday school snack, take the snack up to school, go get a lego set for Ben from his brother, buy a cake mix, bake a cake, wrap gifts, pick up kids from school, meet daddy for lunch, take the kids to the Science Center for Ben's birthday, take the kids downtown Kirkwood so Elaina can interview a shop owner for a class project, take the kids to Wu Shu, take Benny out to eat for his birthday, bath kids and put them to bed, go grocery shopping for the Saturday morning brunch birthday party, get pumpkins for the kids coming to the party, go get decorations and party favors, decorate the house with a bunch of bats and butterflies, etc make apple pies and pumpkin cakes, and egg casserole, clean the bathrooms, clean up the back yard, fill the little swim pools with feed corn and spider rings, organize the toys in the basement, find all the folding chairs and tv tables and card tables, clean up art room and set up the kids activity, straighten up the house and set it up for the party. I can do that. But I am going to have to add "make and drink a big pot of coffee" to the top of my list : )

Charlie blew his nose on my curtains

Charlie blew his nose on my curtains. He also blew his nose on his shirt, my shirt, and 2 bath towels. It isn't that he has an aversion to kleenex. He actually often says, "I nee a tissue." It is just that he loves blowing his nose more than he loves tissues so wherever, whenever he is, he just blows! So, I have some extra laundry this week. Or maybe I need to stop thinking of situations like this as "extra"ordinary circumstances. I mean, last week it was "extra laundry" because someone wet the bed. The day before it was "extra dishes" because I let the kids cook the dinner. Another day it was "extra" work for me because the kids played in the beans and rice all day. I'm beginning to realize these instances are not "extra" at all. They are our normal. They are our everyday. Perhaps it is this way with a lot of things in life. If what we think of as "extra" or going the "extra" mile can become our normal, then what a more fulfilled, more meaningful life we could lead. If my kids see donating their saved up charity $ from allowance as a normal act, not as a big extraordinary act, then giving can become a normal part of their lives. If I can see helping out the school or church or man on the corner as a normal act, then I will find bigger even more meaningful things to become my extraordinary acts. And at home, if I begin to see "extra" laundry and dishes and "extra" time spent with the kids as my norm, as my "how it is supposed to be as a stay-at-home mom", then how many piddly arguments could I be avoiding with my husband and bad moods could I be avoiding for myself. After all, life is not June Cleaver and the Waltons. Life is kids blowing their noses on your curtains, forgetting to flush the toilet, and wetting the bed. The sooner this becomes a mom's norm, the sooner she will be happy. Thank you God for my "normal" extraordinary life. And thank you for letting me share it with some friends who just happened to stop in tonight on one of our "normal" yet extraordinary evenings of home construction, homework, quick dinner, smelly kids getting home from soccer, tired kids being crabby and a mom who never had a chance to put a bra on today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What they love to do....

8:30 am Picture day up at school 10:15 am Soccer at Vetta 11:30 am Farmer's Market to play 12:30pm Out to lunch with friends So, now we are home and Ben is just "so bored with nothing to do and no friends to play with...." I guess unless I plan on keeping him busy the entire day, I may as well do nothing with him, because it is never enough action for him anyway! I am trying to convince him to have some quiet time with books, legos, or a puzzle. Not going over well. All that tells me is that he needs more practice at "quiet time." ; ) Watched Elaina do a one on one swim lesson tonight. My husband and I are learning. Witnessing our kids do something that they themselves chose to do, rather than something we strongly suggested or chose FOR them is soooooooo much more fun! Elaina did soccer last year. She liked it. She liked running around with her friends. She liked having a uniform. She liked the IDEA of soccer. But did she ever kick the ball? Did she ever do anything in the games but blow me kisses from the sidelines? Of course not. She was 6 yrs old, and not a competitive gal. Some of these little girls were competitive soccer stars already. They were great at soccer. Elaina just was not into it. But she didn't hate it. So, this year when I weighed all the options of what I wanted for the kids to be doing for sports this fall, in other words what I wanted to be watching for 7-8 hours a week, and what I wanted to use our precious time as a family doing, I thought more seriously about it. I asked Elaina if she would rather do Soccer or Swimming. She loves to swim. She chose swimming. I asked Jack if he would rather do soccer or karate. He chose karate. I have heard zero complaining about practicing either of their new sports. I am watching them progress and be excited about their progression! They are having so much fun! What fun this is for us all! I was never a swimmer. I was never in karate. But I LOVE watching both because my kids love doing them! Who knew? In these days of over scheduled kids and ADHD kids and therapy for our kids, perhaps we as parents just need to learn one lesson. To listen to our kids.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gross messes from today

Dog threw up on the sofa.

Ben spilled sticky apple cider all over the kitchen.

Baking soda all over the sofa and mudroom (don't even ask).

Charlie fell at dinner and spilled milk all over me, my leather boots, table, chairs, floor.

Liquid leaked through the bottom of a Taco Bell cup in the car.

Playground ball in a pee-filled toilet.

Skids in kids' undies.

and I have not even made it back upstairs who knows what lurks up there.


We are pretty affectionate around here. Lots of hugging and kissing. I don't know how it really started, we just have it in us I guess. We never really made a decision to be a hugging or kissing family, it just sort of happened. I have some Italian blood, so maybe that is part of it, but it is not just me. My husband is quite affectionate with me and with our kids too. He and I hold hands, give a little kiss now and then when we are out and about, rub a shoulder, or give a hug whenever we feel like it. He kisses and hugs the kids a lot. And I am really glad, because I think there are many families where the mom is the lover and the dad gives a back slap which can be ok now and then too, but often is a cop out for real affection. Because of this, our kids have become quite big lovers, and often can be found to a comedic point trying to give a hug to a friend or a cousin who isn't really a hugger until hilarity. Ben (4) was once heard saying, "I can't help it, I'm just a hugger." So, we love to love. Today however, I began to hug my little hugger, Ben, and that was all fine and good with him, but when I went I said "and now for the kisses!" and went in for some under the chin crazy tickle kissing and zerberting, he says giggling, "no, no, no, just the hugging." And he sort of gave me a look like he thinks he is getting too big for this, that this is a "charlie" thing because Charlie had gotten his right before this, and Charlie is 2. I was so sad! I said, "Are you kidding!?" and began to snuggle and kiss him so vigorously that he was cracking up. But then he sort of shook his head at me grinning, like "my mom is a nut" and said again, "no, no kisses." I am not ready for him to be past this stage. I guess it isn't really up to me.........but maybe it is. I think I may be the one who has brought him to this point. When you have a new baby, you sort of start smooching on the new one and while you still love your other children, the new one gets a lot of the physical affection the other one used to get. I have had this talk with many moms. They say, "gosh, I used to smooch on him all the time, but now with little Mary, she gets all the kisses, and I don't smooch on Gabe as much." Or they say, "I feel so bad, my daughter came up to me after I had been smooching on her sister and said, 'My turn! Do that to me now!' I feel so bad that she had to ask!" I guess it is just a natural thing that happens, but I believe the right answer to it, is to continue the affection for everyone! When you have 5 kids, that may mean giving out a lot of love every day, but really not a bad problem to have : ) So, I could listen to my 4 yr old, back off, and stop the kissing, just give a little hug here and there. OR, I could inch him back into the physical shows of love that he has maybe gotten used to not receiving as often as he used to. Guess which I will choose....Oh ya, the love. I'm a lover, its just in me. He will come back over to my side, its in him too, he just forgot for a bit. (By the way, my favorite TV show, Modern Family, did a hilarious skit on parents giving their kids physical affection just this week, and until I was writing this, I had not remembered it! Perfect timing.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wedding Season

Oh, I am so glad it is Wedding Season! At least for our family it is. We had one this summer, one last night, and another coming up in a month. There is nothing I like more than watching my kids get uninhibited and let it all go on the dance floor, dance with me, dance with their cousins, and go a little crazy. But last night, I didn't only get to watch the kids all doing this, I also got to watch Charlie: -Continually run over to the cookie and cake table and steal all the cookies, randomly taking bites out of them and putting them back, run around licking them, and in general crack up the tables sitting near the cookie table. -Run around in his button-down white shirt, clip-on tie, gray suit pants, and tennis shoes bouncing up and down, spinning, pointing, weaving his way through all of the dancers as he got down to the music. -Go up to the bride during the dollar dance, with a dollar no less than 5 times. He LOVED dancing with her. Something about being picked up by the beautiful girl in the princess dress was intoxicating and apparently addicting for my 2 yr old boy. -Practically pull down a big Christmas light display decoration that was near the dance floor. -Come up to me numerous times toward the end of the evening with his arms up waiting for me to pick him up and dance with him so that he could hug my neck super hard and say, "I hug!" Yup, wedding season brings out the fun, brings out the dancing and brings out the love...for cake, for cookies and for each other. Let the wedding season continue.

Full house Friday

We had a day off school, and while my dream no-school day has more to do with one of my pre-planned family outings than it does with a house full of extra kiddos, sometimes I just don't even try to get my way. So, I went all-in and let 3 of my kids invite over a few friends. You would think chaos would ensue with the mixture of kids filtering in and out, you would think it would be loud and crazy. You would think the house would sound like a heard of elephants lived in it. You would think that with 9 kids, a dog and a beautiful sunny day, energy would be super high. You would be right on. And what a fun day for the kids, and as it turns out for me too! The nervousness of one of the younger kiddos enabled me to have my own "play date" too, as the mom had to stay to keep her daughter comfortable. I guess having a mom you like, stay for a play date while you make lunch for the kids, supervise activities, fulfill kid needs all day, wash dishes and run laundry, is like having a job you love where you also really love your co-workers. I mean, its not really the same as just hanging out with your friend one-on-one having a coffee in a coffee shop, but it is still pretty nice to get to do my job with friends by my side pretty often. How lucky for me that often while I work, I also get to play. And differently than the way it is for business persons to play golf during the work day or go to a baseball game during the workday, I don't have to put on a show or feel like I am "on" the whole time. As a matter of fact if I did feel and act that way, it would probably make my "co-worker" feel very uncomfortable. So, I am very thankful for having my busy and crazy job, where I get to be myself and feel super comfortable.