Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Visions of sugarplums...

I'm actually not talking about the kids and their visions...im talkig about mine: Pete and i would sip wine as we would put a few special presents under the tree for the kids as the fire roared and silverbells played quietly in the background. Morning would come and we would be awakened by the pitter patter of tiny footsteps and a small voice saying "santa's come!" The kids would wake up, we would read the real first Christmas nativity story. We head down the stairs and hear shreaks of joy at the wonderous gifts left secretly in the night. The kids would take turns opening their gifts, and we would discuss the fun of each special gift or trinket. Smiles of gratitude on our older kids faces, gasps of thankful joy from the littler ones would fill the family room while Santa Claus is Comin to Town plays in the background. While the kids would play on the floor with their new toys, Pete and i would steal away to a corner where we would sip coffee and exchange our own gifts for each other, savoring every moment of joy we have given our children and each other. After the present opening and the delicious breakfast of butterbraids and juice, we would slip into our matching Christmas outfits. We would arrive a bit early for Christmas mass, so the ushers would trip over each other trying to be the one to ask the adorable family to bring up the gifts.

-We arrive home late and tired from the grandparents
-We work to get the kids tobed by 9:45
-We clean up dishes and trash from celebration and meals earlier that day
-We take tylenol for our headaches and drink pepsi to stay awake
-We let our friend in to help us assemble gifts
-We try to keep our eyes open while cursing and kicking their new toys
-We make 25 trips up and down the stairs and hope that we left enough time for santa to come and make his magic happen
-I am startled at midnight by my 12 yr old throwing up from eating too much crap the day before
-We crawl into bed at 2:45 (3.5 hrs earlier than last year)
-We debate and wonder if we will be participating in more family festivities or perhaps not because of our barfer.
-We are so tired that part of us would be ok with staying at home in our pajamas all day anyway
-We are awakened by our 12 year old at 6:30 saying he feels fine and is ready to open gifts
-We are bombarded by the other 4 ready to open gifts
-One sweet child reminds us to read the true Christmas nativity story before we go check out the santa load.
-We head downstairs to shrieks of joy and excitement
-the shrieks continue to the point that daddy has another headache now and mommy is busy shuffling paper into bags and gifts into piles
-pete and i open gifts to each other while kids beg for us to find batteries and open plastic
-wrap everywhere, gifts everywhere
-forgot to get butterbraids out last night so scrambling for breakfast - hand each of the kids a piece of coffee cake (tha k you friends for leaving that on the doorstep!
-pete make brownies for my mom's while i iron everyone's clothing - 5 pairs of khakis,
5 white shirts, 5 sportcoats
-throw kids into their clothes
-send 3 kids w pete to church to save seats
-throw on my dress and makeup
-show up during the entrance hymn
-i look down the row: we look good. We are happy. We are here. And all the toys and wrap and chaos will still be there when we get home, but for now, we are here.
"Happy Birthday Jesus. Your party was insane. Thanks for hosting this nice afterparty. We needed it."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Very dramatically - "mom, why do you lie?! " i ask what my ten yr old is talking about. He replies that we SAY we love him but he knows that if he were as good of a student as so and so or as great at all sports as so and so that he knows we would love him more. Seriously?! This is the conversation i get to endure, this is the conversation i get to have after emailing his teachers vouching for his hard work lately, after staying up late checking all his homework, after praying, worrying and crying over how to help him succeed, after staying up late transposing his newest band song into the key of "g" so that it is in his range, after picking up his damp socks and underwear from the bathroom floor, after flushing his unflushed waste down the toilet, after making his scrambled eggs this morning, after after after... I nearly answered - "i could not love you more, if i did i would have to stay up all night "loving you" i would have to never sleep to "love you" any more than i already do. Love is not something that we feel. Love is something that we do. A popular country music singer simgs those very words. God doesn't like all of us all that much very often i am quite sure, but He will never stop loving us. I think our job is to act in ways that make God proud to love us. "So son, no i could not love you any more than i do, but you are welcome to work your butt off to make me proud."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Post #365

     I have made it - this is my 365th motherhood post. And it has only taken me one and half years to do a year's worth of posts. My goal was to post daily for one year and so to have 365 posts by day 365. Failed. However, as so many things in motherhood, a failure is sometimes also a success.  I wanted so badly to be able to blog every day, but everyday things began to get in the way: There were nights I could not blog because I fell asleep in bed snuggling with one of the kids. There were nights I missed a blog because we were watching a movie together as a family. And there were many nights that I didn't blog because I was just too darn tired from a stressful, or a physically exhausting day of the tasks of motherhood like grocery shopping, homework helping, bike riding, etc. And in this failure to blog my 365 days in a row, my success is in just what I am blogging about - motherhood. I do not mean success as in "I have it all down, I am the best mom ever" - rather, I mean success in this: I am enjoying being a mother at times, I am struggling in motherhood sometimes, and I am tired from being a mother sometimes, but at all times I am thankful for being a mother.
     Sex makes us pregnant, but God makes us mothers. Prayers to God throughout our days of wiping bottoms, fighting with 10 yr olds, crying over homework, and stressful decision making make us mothers. Last week I felt like I ran the entire stretch of ups and downs and emotional and physical motherhood. I fought with my 10 yr old to the point that we were both crying. I reconciled with that same child to the point where we both were crying. I left in my car frantically looking for my 12 yr old when he was 20 minutes late. I took my 3 and 6 yr olds to the zoo and laughed harder than I have in a very long time as we all watched the hippos mating and pooping right in front of us. I remembered my own childhood as I played Barbies with my daughter. I rejoiced with my son when he brought home 3 A's in one day after many days of struggling in class. No other calling in life can give you so many different and genuine feelings and no other calling can give each of these feeling to you all in the course of a day.
     I thought I would blog so as to remind myself of these funny and touching times of motherhood that I do not want to forget, but I have received a much bigger blessing. When I blog I remember things in my day that I become quite thankful for. When I go through my day with the kids I am inspired to do "blogworthy" activities! When I talk to my blog readers I find that they are going through many of the same things I am, so it is nice to never feel alone. I go back and read old blogs often. I am stricken by how many times I have forgotten about the blog which I am reading. Funny things the kids say slip my mind. Accomplishments get forgotten. Activities we have done and had so much fun doing surprisingly get forgotten  also. Preserving these memories a bit by writing them down, reading them, rereading them, bring me joy and remind me that my children are just that - my children - My memories are their memories, and we can share them forever. As long as I stay present in their lives, we will always have these memories and moments, whether it is over the kitchen table, or over the phone.
     I am not by any means finished blogging. I plan to continue perhaps forever, whenever I have the chance. But in this month of thankfulness, I am extremely thankful for the ability to go through my 365 days of blogging, and read about 365 different memories for which I will be forever thankful.

I don't want to forget:
- Yesterday someone was whistling, and Charlie (3) says, "I can whistle pretty good through my nose, when I sometimes have a big booger in there."
I mean thank GOODNESS I am writing this stuff down! You can't make up stuff this good!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blog entry 364 - playing hookie

It has been forever since i took this time to type down my thoughts, reflect on what was good or funny or gross about my day. Our life has become quite the big balancing/scheduling act of
Raising active kids. While my calendar looks supremely scary to mothers of one or two, my friends with big families have calendars that look the same. Some color-code their children's activities by child, or by sport, others have huge paper calendars on their wall. I personally live by my ipad and iphone calendar and have to admit i get get a little spark of happiness when i get to delete an activity that has been cancelled. I actually like the activities my children are involved in at this point. I feel we have cut things out that arent our favorites, and have added things that seem to benefit each specific child, but with 5 kids in activities, it ends up being a lot and so i relish the breaks. Recently it seemed we had gone weeks without one of those breaks. No downtime for the family whatsoever, no time to just all hang out together at all. So, when my kids who go to st pete had aday off of school,i took things into my own hands. I called Scotty in sick to middle school, got my husband to take the day off of work , ad planned a day for just our family to be together. We walked down to the train station and took the train to Washington, MO. On the train we played cards with the kids, let them pick snacks from the vendor and just chilled out. No video games aloud, so we looked out the train windows and looked at each other! In washington we walked to a diner a couple blocks from the train station and had brunch together. When i looked down the table at laughing, giddy kids, instead of stressed, crabby children, i knew we had done the right thing with our day. After a walk around town, skipping rocks in the river, and walking back to the station, we enjoyed another train trip home playing games and just being together, all in one spot, for 40 more minutes. Not wanting the fun family dayto end, we all went to a movie and then came home to bbq burgers. I was feeling wonderful about our day. But the best part was that although i planned this because i personally felt i needed this day, my kids obviously did too, because each one of them during the day proclaimed to me, "Mom, this is the best day ever! Or Mom, this is the best day of my whole life!" and so, i am searching my funfilled, activity crazed calendar for more days that we can all play hookie.

Some stuff i dont want to forget:
Today at a Restaurant my son blew his nose on a sock from out of my purse. I should really start being more prepared. Why can i always find a sock , but not a kleenex?

Ghost monkeys had a real gig, did awesome, made $42 in tips and got pizza with it.

3 miles with E: i run and she bikes. This is our new exercise we try to do together at least once a week.
-"watch out for that crack mama!"
- "watch out for this tree mama!"

The halloween and thanksgiving inflatables in front of our home. We now have 5 Halloween, 2 for thanksgivin and 2 for christmas i think. Sometimes looking at my home all covered with inflatables all over the front lawn durig the Holidays i begin to reminisce about the days of white lights and real greenery...but then i rememeber that every su gle morning from october through january my youngest kiddo standa staring oit the front windows yelling, "mom! Mom! Look at this! You have to see this!" it is as exciting to him the 30th day they are up as it is the first day! I cant ever take away that joy!

Charlie always has a pocket full of something interesting. Recently he has pulled out:
- a bunch of acprns
- a bunch of nuts (not from a tree, fro
A toolbox)
- a bunch of change
- a bunch of golf tees and a golfball

Me: How did i get the cutest boy ever?
Charlie: Mommy, God made us. 
Me: Thats right.  He did. 
Charlie: Who makes my underwear?
Me: Well, God made a person and the person made your underwear. 
Charlie: No, God made it. 
Me: Well, God made a person who knows how to sew and they sewed your underwear. 
Charlie: Oh! So grandma made it!

Charlie loves our babysitter, Miss Debbie. As we are driving down the road yesterday here us our conversation:
Charlie: Is that Miss Debbie's house?
Me: No. 
Charlie: Is THAT Miss Debbie's house?
Me: No, Miss Debbie does not live in our neighborhood. She lives sort of far away. 
Charlie: OHhhhhh.  Is THAT Miss Debbie's house? 
(conversation continued this way until we arrived at our destination - I think we are going to have to drive out to Miss Debbie's house very soon) 

Friday, October 14, 2011

$1 Rats

Wow, who knew that my quick last minute grab in the checkout line at target of a pack of $1 stretchy mice (8 for a $1) would be such a creativity boosting tool! And inspire such fun and joy! I grab this pack of stretchy mice and throw them on my desk when I get home from the store. One kid sees them, "Hey! What are these?!" "oh, those are just some stretchy mice I grabbed at the store. I thought they looked fun." "CAN WE OPEN THEM?!" "Sure." And the fun begins! Soon I am excitedly called into the basement by Ben and Charlie to "see what we made!!!" to find an elaborate mouse home made of blocks and other toys, complete with a mouse gaming area, cars for the mice to drive, a garage, a slide etc. I get a whole explanation of everything I am looking at and they vow to stay downstairs and continue to add-on and expand their mouse mansion. Later I am upstairs and I find the mice lurking around my various Halloween decorations, deliberately placed in creepy spots. In the car I hear hysterical laughter and turn around to find Charlie having a hay day with one of the stretchy mice while sitting in his carseat. He figured out he could get a mouse to stick to his face. Brilliant. Oh how we love the $1 rats! So glad I saw them! Perhaps I should return the $25 toys I have purchased for Christmas. I am sure they make $1 stretchy reindeer....

Where did this go wrong?

I have 5 sleeping kids. One of them has school, the rest are off school. My husband has left for the day already. The 12 yr old who has school rides his bike to school every day. The weather is beautiful. This morning he has to be at school a half hour earlier than usual. I wake him a little earlier than usual. I expect the morning to go smoothly, as he will ride his bike and the other kids can just sleep in. He wakes up seriously crabby,
"I can't ride my bike to school, it's so early!" (it is no longer dark outside, I wouldn't have him ride in the dark)
"No, dear, it is fine, you can ride. Everyone else is still asleep."
After sulking in his bed for 10 minutes he says,
"Well I need to shower and then I will be late!"
"If you had gotten up 10 minutes ago, you would be finished showering by now. Not my problem."
And he leaves the house texting me on the way that he is stopping at Einsteins for breakfast and that he will NOT be calling me when he gets to school. (something I insist he does every day when he rides his bike)
I text back that is fine but he will lose his phone and all independent privileges.
Oh, the teenage years have begun. Trying to figure out where I went so wrong this morning. My sweet boy is getting an attitude and I really do not like it :(

Monday, October 10, 2011

Magnet Man

Charlie, my three year old, has taken on the identity of Magnet Man. He sticks to people. He created this character and his name all on his own. He created it after having a weekend where mom was quite busy babysitting a 2 yr old. The 2 yr old got a new brother who had to be in the hospital through the weekend, and will be through this week also. So we had an extra kiddo for the weekend. She looks a bit like us, and fit right in with the group. But she is 2. 2 is a pretty needy age, especially when they aren't your own child and you aren't sure what they can of or not do, and especially when they are away from their parents for a few days, and so I had to give her a lot of attention. Charlie was somewhat ok with the situation, however I began to notice his little fight for my attention begin to surface. And by today, he has created his own super hero character, Magnet Man, so he can attach himself to me at any time he likes.  He is a smart little cookie.  I wonder how many times Magnet Man will surface as I babysit a few more times this week.

Also I don't want to forget:

Charlie said: "Mom, come look, I just pooped a huge, gomungous pooper!!!! It's like dad's!!!"

I said: "Charlie, How did I get the cutest boy in the world? Where did you come from?"
Charlie said: "God. Cuz God made us."

I can explain that...

We are practically on our way out the door for school this morning when my 6 yr old, Ben, shows me a calendar he brought home from school. It shows that he is star of the week this week. It is monday morning at 7:45 and school begins at 8:10. We drive carpool. And so it begins. We quickly fill out the binder that is also in his backpack (I really need to start checking the backpacks on friday afternoons, or better yet perhaps the teachers could stop sending ANYTHING home on friday afternoons. Have they not realized that by friday afternoons the moms are DONE? That backpack is going to sit there on the mudroom floor until, oh, say 7:45 on monday morning) The binder has a 2 page questionnaire about Ben. "Whats your favorite color? Whats your favorite food? What's your favorite hobby? ("Mom, whats a hobby?" "NO TIME! NO TIME! JUST TELL ME SOMETHING YOU LIKE TO DO!", PLAY? GREAT! PLAY, YES THAT IS SOMETHING...) We get the binder filed out, and I have to find photos of Ben. Photos that show that we are a super loving and active family that does wonderful outings together. Ok, the note doesn't say the photos have to be like that, but really, after the little girl last week sent in photos of their family trip to Disneyworld, we can't b e sending in a photo of Ben at the kitchen counter. Next comes the "special things" he is supposed to bring in. "Ben, aren't your baseball trophy and your new watch your two most favorite things!?" "Yes, mom, they are." Perfect! (And here is where I am lamenting that when Scotty, the first child, was star of the week in Kindergarten, I am pretty sure that I didn't TELL him what his special things were. It is likely that I gave  him ample time to decide on his own.) So, we have the photos, the questionnaire, and the special things....we are set. "Oh, mom, here is another note...HOMEWORK FOLDER HAS BEEN MISSING FOR 2 DAYS. " Crap! Ben, where is the homework folder and why is it missing!!!? "Well, mom, I can explain that." And every ounce of my being wanted to yell, "PLEASE DO, AND QUICKLY!!!! It is time for school!!!" But he looked so thoughtful, and so sweet, and I remembered that I TOLD him what his special things were...so I said, "Yes, babe, where is the folder?" in my calmest voice. and he said, "Well, when we were cleaning up the other day, and you said to put all the things around the house that were in the wrong place into the baskets and tubs, and then we were going to put it all away...well, I stuck it in a tub, but I am not sure where that is now, and I don't really remember which tub I put it in..." We head to the foyer and it is found quickly, and as it is, he exclaims, "HERE IT IS! THIS IS IT!" We are both very excited and as he rushes to the car with his photos, and his binder, and his special things, and his homework folder, I am thinking, "I wonder what was in the other kids backpacks...?"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pizza Night

Why is Pizza Night so magical? It is more than the cheese, the banana peppers, the sausage and the portobello mushrooms! It is more than the dough and the smell of the sauce. I began to get butterflies as I got the idea in my head to order pizza tonight. I got even happier as my kids began rejoicing and ran off to the basement to celebrate...the coming of their pizza. I guess it has something to do with a combination of happiness from mom; I don't have to cook, happiness from kids; it is their favorite food - hands down, and the idea of a party. "Are we having a pizza party?" they will say as they see me ordering. "Uh...sure." and they are thrilled, but I do not have to make a piƱata, string streamers or even invite anyone over. Pizza means party. And usually it means a movie too, which is synonymous with relaxation to this family on a friday night. The weeks are long. The weeks during the school year are a lot of work. Homework, sports practices, music practice, the daunting task of getting everyone in bed at a reasonable hour...fridays free us from all of that. Friday night pizza nights rock. But I am not telling the kids that they make me as happy as they make them, because as of now, they think I am doing this great thing for them...little do they know, it is a great thing for me too : )

I don't want to forget:
-Charlie did cafeteria duty with me today. He was soooo excited to sit with Ben at lunch, and happy to tease Elaina by NOT sitting with her at lunch, and ecstatic to beat up on Jack and all of his friends while they were trying to eat their lunches. He insisted on following Jack out to recess. He hung onto his back and rode around the playground on him. And when it was time for us to go he screamed from the window of the car, "Jack, NOOOOOOO, I wanna stay with you!!!!! Please Jack!!!!" It was somewhat heartbreaking really. And would have been more endearing if I didn't have to shove him into his carseat while kicking and screaming.

-I LOVE hearing Ben sing out song lyrics after having listened to Jack and Scotty's band practicing. If Ben could grow himself up right now to their ages and jam with them every second of there lives, he would. Right now he will have to settle for them letting him sleep in their beds now and then, playing legos and pokemon with him now and then, and riding piggy back on them pretty much any time he asks for a ride.

-Charlie's teacher told me he started to potty a little in his shorts the other day as he was trying to get to the toilet, so she changed his pants. But while she was looking for some clean clothes for him, he told her as he was standing their naked from the waste down that he was fine and that he could just go home like that. No inhibitions...my children have 0 inhibitions.

-Scotty is twelve and still comes up to me for a hug and to tell me I am the best mom ever - I just wanted to document that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Want to feel needed?

I was not feeling well today and was told to rest for the day. Was actually told to go up to my bed, relax and work on some photos or take a nap. I very mistakenly thought I was given the night off. The mistake was thinking I could actually do this and that life around our home would go on. Well, everyone is alive, so I guess LIFE officially is going on. But at 9 o'clock at night I just discovered that 3 of my children will be doing their homework in the morning, because no one did it this afternoon or evening. No one practiced their music. No one did any reading. No one ate the dinner I prepared and left in the crockpot - I was literally feeding them at 9pm.
Want to feel needed? Take one night off.
Tonight I will just be thankful that I am needed and leave it at that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Life Goes on, thank God

In tough times, in times when one is feeling down, sad, at a loss, having a big busy family is so helpful in getting through, moving on and staying thankful. Today i am thankful for having To pick up kids from friends' houses, pick up kids from school, do homework, drive to and from practices, make dinner, help with music practice,give baths, and read with the kids. We are very blessed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

This hurts me more than this hurts you...

I recall my mom having this feeling, saying this type of thing to me as a kid. I also recall me thinking she was insane. I am now a parent. I am now officially in her shoes. I am now aware that she was not insane.

I got the call as I was pulling into the parking lot of church for all school mass. "Mom, I forgot my binder with all my homework in it, can you bring it to me." There is one beat, then another...I recall telling him at the end of last year that 7th grade was going to be different. That in 7th grade I would not be bringing him his homework or lunch or class snack up to school anymore. I realize that my kids may have more responsibilities than many others. They are part of a big family and so they may not get the special treatment and extra reminders all the time that their friends get, but this forgetful, unorganized sweet sweet child needs to learn this lesson before high school. He is the biggest culprit in our home. I only have 2 years to train into him what I have let slide for the last 12 years of his life. I have been the enabler. I have been at fault. So, yesterday when I got that call, after those two beats, I said the hardest thing I think I have ever said to one of my children, "I'm sorry honey, I can't, I am on my way in church. And I am sure you recall the discussion we had before this year began about you being responsible for your own items." He begins to plead, "But mom, please, please! All my homework is in there." I fight back tears and say, "honey, I can't. I love you. I know you are concerned with your gpa but this is just 2 assignments and it is the 2nd week of school. I bet it won't be THAT horrible." Silence on the other end of the line. I begin to worry that he is also getting upset. I begin to worry that now I have sent my son into his day with a terrible beginning. What if I have just left him in the hallway tearing up in front of other 7th and 8th graders! We hang up the phone and I head in church. I get a text, "please bring it after church" I return the text, "I'm sorry, I can't. I love you." And in my text I hope he really listens, that he hears me saying I love him and that he hears me saying that I want him to better himself in this way. Mass begins and I think about this the entire mass.

At the homily our pastor often has parishioners help him portray the message. He grabs kids from the pews and they stand in front of the congregation answering questions, looking a little nervous and engaging the crowd. I have Charlie with me and he is crawling under the pew. I vaguely hear someone with the same name as me being called. I hear it a few times more, and the next thing you know the priest is standing a few feet from me pointing at me and nodding as I am pointing to myself asking, "Me???" "Yes, Julie, you and your little son there, bring him up here with me." We make the long walk to the altar after I gather Charlie from underneath the pew. I am quite red, and trying to remember facts about the gospel....sheesh what was it about? who wrote it? Father says, "Julie, you birthed Charlie, he is 3 years old now, are you ready to send him out into the world on his own?" I say no. He asks me why not and I say because he needs me. He depends on me. Father asks me if Charlie has to worry that he may not have food or a place to sleep. Of course I answer that no he does not. Father says that is because Charlie trusts me. I am his mother and I will always take care of him, Charlie is beaming. Father goes on to tell the congregation that we need to be more like Charlie, when we depend on our most important Father, God. We can not expect to make it through life without Him.

Oh the guilt! My poor baby! My poor seventh grader counted on me, depended on me, TRUSTED me to bring him his work! I failed him.

No, not true. And I know that the truth is that I was being exactly what he needed that morning. He needed me to help him learn his own responsibility. He needed me to stop him from becoming an unorganized, messy student. He needed me to get him ready for the years to come. And just as he trusts that his mom will make sure he has a place to sleep at night, his mom will also make sure he is ready for high school even if the answers aren't always what he wants to hear. And just as he can trust these about his mother, he can also trust that his God will always provide him with answers. Not always the answers he wants to hear either, but answers that if he really listens, will help him become an amazing person.

And I am now sure that it hurts Him more than it hurts us when He has to give the tough answers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Piano school dropout

It is breaking my heart a little bit. Today, Jack officially quit piano lessons. I swore I was not going to ever let him quit. I love that I can play piano and I wanted him to love that he could play piano too. And when I began my Tiger mothering practice regime last year after Christmas break he excelled so quickly. He was proud when he was able to play more difficult songs. We had this thing we could do together. But the guitar has been steadily creeping in for some time now. First it was just some added on guitar lessons from the piano teacher. Then it was real guitar lessons every other week. Now he plays lead guitar in his rock band every week, and soon we will up his guitar lessons to every week. And as the guitar creeped in, I saw the piano creeping out. He began to hate practicing piano and love playing guitar. I suppose in a way the piano helped him realize how much he likes guitar. I argued that he needed the piano background along with the guitar. But I began to worry that soon he would just see music as another chore, and turn against it all together. I really don't want that. And I really do love hearing him sing and play guitar. I am hoping to now watch him excel in guitar far beyond his piano studies. Soon I feel he will be breaking many more hearts as he belts out his love ballads with that guitar on his hip. And since I am his band manager, we still have this thing we do together. I guess I can handle that.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Charlie's Run

I run a lot of mornings. I get back from my runs and Charlie is always interested. He comes to give me a hug and asks about my sweat. He touches my skin to feel how hot it is. Sometimes he says I "gross him out" and other times he says, "i like gross."  He cracks me up. So when he asked me yesterday if he could run with me with eyes filled with enthusiasm, I had to say yes. Today I came home from my run to find Charlie dressed in sleeveless t shirt and shorts, and a wristband. He was ready to run.

We start running down the sidewalk. He is at a full sprint - walking pace for me (but of course I am pretending that I can not keep up)- and his arms are swinging wildly. Suddenly he stops short. There is a robin. "I am going to catch that robin." He tears off into the neighbor's yard. He gets surprisingly close. The bird flies up into a tree. He gets a defeated look on his face (Charlie, not the bird) and Charlie says, "Awww, I can't reach it." He fully thinks he can catch a bird. We continue the run and he stops short again. He is very excited at the next neighbor's newspaper lying on the sidewalk. "Hey! There's some mail! It is for their house!" Back to running. Until, "I can't make it" and he begins to slow motion run, and eventually walk and then stop. However, he insists we go all the way to the Farmers Market. This makes no sense, but he is 3 yrs old, so I ask him to explain, I say, "Charlie I thought you were too tired?" "No. I'm not!" and he begins running again. We finally get to the Farmers Market. He wants to purchase some fruit but the Farmer's Market is closed. I say, "honey it is closed and I have no money." He reaches down toward his own shorts trying to get his own money that he says he has, however he is in sport shorts and not only does not have any money, but doesn't even have pockets. Such an imagination this kid has. I end up half carrying him the whole way home until we are 3 houses away. I tell him we must race and that daddy will be watching from the window when we get there - He is up for it. He starts running again, and holds my hand running the rest of the way. Stopping short one more time however because he thinks he may be able to catch the squirrel he saw run under another neighbor's car. Of course when he heads into the house he looks for daddy for his praise. I wink to his dad to get the right reaction. And Charlie is sooooooo proud.

I have a feeling I will be going on two runs most mornings from now on.

Also I don't want to forget:
-Charlie comes up to me numerous times a day asking for a "Huggie."
-Scotty and I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. There was a horribly scary preview for Paranormal Activity 3. I was covering my eyes during it and I looked over to find Scotty doing the same thing : )
-Had  conversation with Scotty in the car the other day involving liberalism, conservatism, Democrat and Republican, all sorts of things. He converses very maturely. The conversation is getting a little serious and he looks at me and says, "Mom, you don't have to go into ALL the details, I AM only 12."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Its Coming.....

Early mornings
quick breakfasts
lost shoes
missing socks
unmade beds
sack lunches 
"brush your teeth"
"brush your teeth"
"brush your teeth"
forgotten lunches
forgotten homework
teacher conferences
sport practices
"do your homework"
"do your homework"
"do your homework"
squeezing in music practice
dinners on the run
crock pot dinners
MIA dinners
MIA diners
quick showers
business baths
early bedtimes

The school year begins. Pray for my sanity.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Proud Moment

What a fun night! I hope it was as fun for the boys as it was for me. The Ghost Monkeys performed their first concert tonight. 63 in the audience! From the moment the drum beat began I started to tear up a bit. I couldn't help but get all emotional as the months of hard work with the rock band paid off in listening enjoyment for all who had sweetly come out for the first show! Just four songs: Closer to Free, Every Rose, I Fought the Law and Hound Dog. Scotty was quite impressive on the piano. He has taken every song and made it his own by doing some improv on each song. He looks like he is having fun on the piano the whole time, but I know from practices that his hands are hurting by the end. It is a lot of work. Jack really impressed me tonight also. Jack drives me a bit CRAZY INSANE at practices because he has a bit of a need to perform continually, be on stage continually and be the center of attention continually. That is why this rock band is perfect for him however. If you are the lead singer of a band, you better like to be on stage! So glad Jack has this outlet to let his creative art flow! I am really looking forward to the band learning some more songs and playing a longer show next time!
Thank you God for the gift of music ability, the parents to help foster it in me, the chance to have time to take this band on with the boys and pass it on, and the 6 boys who are so very passionate about their band : )

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Mother's Nightmare

Yesterday, we took our kids to Elephant Rock State Park - Pink Rocks as referred to by a friend of mine who grew up as a local - and then on to Johnsons Shut-Inns. Pink Rocks is fun. The kids LOVE to climb around on the huge rocks and I try my very best to keep from sounding like a psycho protective mom as I watch them leap from rock to rock very high off the ground and climb higher and higher faster than me as I am assisting the 3 yr old who wants to do everything his older siblings are doing. Jack and Ben are like spiderman as they climb with extreme agility and bravery. This is scary for me because they think they are invincible. However it is almost as scary watching Scotty climb who is quite tentative and isn't sure of any leap or jump, so it worries me that he really wont make it "over that valley" or "across that crack." Elaina who is actually quite good with the gross motor feels the need to cry now and then. I am not sure if she is actually scared at times or just thinks she should act like she is. Either way, my husband and I don't give in to it and sort of push her along and eventually she is all, "thanks for taking us" and "this was fun." I don't really get her sometimes. During the climbing Charlie yells things like, "Its SHOWTIME!" and then he leaps from a small boulder. Ben climbs super high, stands atop a huge boulder, raises his arms above his head and says, "I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD!" It is moments like these that make me happy we have decided to take on this somewhat scary adventure. Other moments where Charlie chases down a very colorful lizard and grabs it and won't put it down, or where Elaina begins to cry and swear her legs are never going to make it, make me wonder a little if perhaps this was not the best idea. But as we find our way back to the parking lot and get snow cones to cool off, and all the kids are talking about the best climb or leap or animal they saw or experienced, I am glad that we decided to go on this adventure.

To cool off, we head then to Johnsons Shut-inns. We had never been. It is like a natural water park as there are all these mossy rocks as slippery as a water slide and all these swimming holes that people are jumping from rocks down into. There are shallow play areas and deeper swimming areas, and little waterfall spot. Lots of rocks, lots of people, lots of chaos. We were not prepared. Suffice it to say that the only reason we made it safely through this day was because of my continual praying on the drive down that our family stay safe on this adventurous outing. At one point as I am helping Elaina get to where she can stand, I turn around to see my husband already in water up to his chest slip into a deep sinkhole while carrying Ben and Charlie. As he jumps off the rock bottom to get back above water I am diving over to help them. See why this is titled A Mother's Nightmare? Eventually we settle in shallow water in a great play spot for us all and relax the rest of our time there. My husband and two older boys go off exploring while I pray no one jumps from high rocks down onto their heads and kills them, and I sit in shallow water with the 3 littles hoping that the guy carrying the bucket and snake grabber already caught the snake.

On the way home I pray again - thanking God we made it out alive. However the kids and my husband are giddy with what fun we have had and are planning the next trip. This was fun, but I have to say...there is a reason my last blog post was titled "My perfect day" We were safely tucked into an art museum, sitting.

Also I do not want to forget:
We have given all of our children nicknames recently:
*Scotty - Circus Freak (don't judge me, he sort of came up with this on his own - we recently discovered at a doctor's office that he has one leg longer than the other)
*Jack - Change Machine (He swallowed a quarter at age 4 and we saw the xrays to prove it. Big quarter in his belly.)
*Elaina - Toothless (Missing her front tooth)
*Ben - Shark Bait (Was bit by a hammerhead shark at the St. Louis Zoo)
Charlie - Billy Goat (Because of his surefootedness on the rocks at Elephant Rock)

Some things Charlie has said to me lately:
Charlie: (on our way to the vet) Why does Bear need a shot?
Me: It will keep him healthy
Charlie: Why?
Me: Because it is medicine that will keep him healthy.
Charlie: WHY???? Why???? WHY???

Charlie: They should put the shot in his paw.

Charlie: See my foot up here? This is really easy for me. It is like I am "YOGA MAN!"
Yoga man is like a teacher to learn us about Yoga.

Charlie: I am going to teach Bear some tricks. I can teach him to jump through hoops.
Me: Oooo, that's a little tricky.
Charlie: No, I just can throw him through.

Charlie: I can jump really high and touch the moon. I did that and the moon feels like chips. And I ate it.

Charlie: Wow! Bear has powerful jaws! That's powerful jaws!

Friday, August 5, 2011

My perfect day

Some would say it is a dangerous game to plan a perfect day in your head as a mother, for fear that it would not go as planned. Some would say it is overly ambitious, setting oneself up for a fall and just begging for disappointment. But some....would be wrong.

At least yesterday they would have been. The kids and I set out on a field trip to the St. Louis Art Museum. At the ingenious suggestion from my husband, I brought along a sketchbook and pencil for each child. 6 children total as we brought a friend along. I brought a stroller, since chasing my 3 yr old throughout the museum was one way for my perfect day to be ruined. I hid the sketchbooks and pencils in the trunk until we arrived at the museum, since the kids would have fought over the pads and pencils the whole way there if I had handed them out earlier, which would have begun to upset my perfect day plan. I mentioned to the kids that a successful, polite and fun trip to the art museum where they used their best efforts at drawing may get them a treat on the way home - not at the museum, since I knew having not said this would have meant much begging as we passed the snack stand at the museum, which would have put a nick in my perfect day. I insisted that Elaina and Ben keep one hand on the stroller while walking through the museum, since losing a child during our visit would have put a crimp in my perfect day. I listened to their suggestions of what pieces they wanted to draw but told them I would be making the final decisions, since a big fight about what to draw would have ruined my perfect day. I decided that it was time to leave before anyone was showing signs of crabbiness, because crabbiness could have ruined my perfect day.

The kids did wonderful sketches of paintings, sculptures, tribal figures and masks, and furniture. They had fun and were proud of what they were able to do.We spent some time rolling down Art Hill (well, I watched) after we were finished in the museum. And we got mini ice cream cones on our way home. It was the perfect day to an art loving mom. Was this by chance? Heck no! Did you not read the paragraph above??? I am learning. I am learning how to  head off disaster before it starts, and I am learning that in the perfect day, everything does not have to be perfect: Two of the boys began to argue on the way to the car. One kid began to scoff at the mini cones and beg for something more, and Elaina and Jack hit heads hard while rolling down art hill. None were deal-breakers for my perfect day. Yesterday, in this dangerous game - I won.

And today we had our Art Show! I surprised the kids by matting their work on black boards and displaying it in the art room on huge white boards on a black curtained background for a little art show for some friends and daddy. They practiced talking about their art to their small audience. The highlight was when Charlie (3) pointed to his scribbles matted on black boards and yelled "Abstract!" We then had some snacks and drinks, for at most gallery showings I have been to their is a little reception afterward.

I hope that what the kids gain from this is a little bit of artistic confidence, a little bit of public speaking confidence, but most of all, a memory of mom having fun with them. I really had a lot of fun, and I am pretty sure that they did too.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shark Attack

I purchased a small surprise for each of the kids the other day after a trip to a zoo while on vacation. I have fun giving them little gifts when they don't expect it, when we are on vacation especially. And since I do not do it often, I feel it is justified. I just picked them each up a small plastic animal:

Scotty named his salamander - Skinker
Jack named his owl - Peck
Elaina named her pink bird -Rosy
Ben named his turtle- Spike
Charlie named his Cockatoo- Flappy (love that name)

Sometimes as a mom I find myself saying the strangest things. The other day I found myself saying, "Oh, Oh, never go after a penis with a grabby thing."

And today I found myself saying to my 5 yr old, "You are the survivor of a hammerhead shark bite!!! That is sooo awesome!" Yes, it is true, a hammerhead shark bit Ben. At the zoo while petting the sting rays and hammerhead sharks, a hammerhead turned while being petted gently by Ben and his teeth injured him. I am not sure if he actually bit down, or if the teeth scraped his thumb, but blood was drawn and Ben is now I am sure forever terrified of petting the sharks. And today just happened to be the first day he ever was brave enough to try to pet them. I had told him the sharks didn't have their teeth anymore. (I really didn't think they did.) I hope he can trust me again some day. So, after first aid and many zoo members came to the rescue and asked us some questions, and Ben got over his belly ache from being terrified by a shark, we headed off to find a stuffed hammerhead shark. Incidentally, we could not find one as as big as the one that bit him! So he has a small token to commemorate his bravery.

The shark attack was the ending of an overnight with Ben, and our friends at the zoo for a little parent and child camp program last night. Myself and my friend were disappointed with the potential for this program that was not met by any means. An overnight at the zoo could be AMAZING. This was not. The amazing news however, is that our 5 yr old boys are such sweethearts and so innocent and easy, that they had a blast just being together and with us and seeing a few animals. Love that they are easily enthused. Not to diminish how enthusiastic their mothers were at keeping them excited by playing animal guessing games and staying generally upbeat the whole time : ) Little pats on the back for us.

3 yr old Charlie's joke:
Charlie: knock knock
Me: Who's there?
Charlie: Fire
Me: Fire who?
Charlie: Fire will kill you! Ha ha that a funny one huh?
Me: No, actually that is pretty scary
Charlie: Oh, ya, we will tell it at Halloween.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Vacation did not afford me any time for blogging. But I would love to sum up this vacation for my readers, and of course most importantly for posterity's sake. First though, my disclaimer: "This vacation was quite fun and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids enjoy each other and play together, with friends, with cousins, on their own, and I fully enjoyed having my own fun with friends, family and the kids whether it was girl time shopping with E or crazy roller coaster time riding with the boys or sliding down water slides with them all."

The sum-up/mishaps of the 2011 trip to Bloomington, IL then onto friend's home in Chicago, Downtown Chicago stay, and then onto The Dells in WI:

-We changed our  plans last minute from Sheboygan to The Dells because of a bunch of smelly dead fish on the shores and in the water in Sheboygan.
-Bloomington plan to play in the water spray park on a 100 degree day was squelched because the spray park was broken. Plan changed to zoo trip. Not bad, just hot! Visited with family and had a wonderful evening. Got to hang with my wonderful college friend and kids got to see their friends too.
-On to Chicago the next day. Lack of air-conditioning in the upstairs at our friend's in Chicago did not get us down, a few drinks at the local tapas bar kept our "spirits" up.
-Lack of air conditioning in the upstairs seating area (where they sat us) at the Rainforest Cafe didnt get us down, but did make us a bit crabby.
-Crabbiness carried over a bit as my lovely husband insisted on walking all the way to Navy Pier in the lovely 100 degree heat.
-Upon arriving back at our Chicago downtown hotel via taxi, I find my husband shaking his head only to discover that is because he left our $120 dollar stroller that we purchased the previous day in the back of the cab. Never to be seen again.
-Charlie must be carried or walk his 3 yr old legs all over Chicago the next day.
-One child who will remain nameless wet his bed in the hotel.
-I slept (using that term loosely) with Elaina and Charlie in a double bed in the Chicago hotel.
-Back to our friends' to sleep a night there (a little confusion with getting the chicago hotel for 2 nights before heading to the dells) - Thank goodness I am a packing genius - this helped the 5 transitions to different sleeping locations throughout our trip, however still not super easy.
-We get to our suite in the Dells - our $415 a night suite - Our air conditioner is not blowing cold air! - I think "must I be hot the entire trip?" - I get it fixed.
-We play hard in the Dells - Waterparks, theme parks daily, restaurants, Deer park - We also work hard in the Dells, Packing up a room that has  been descended upon by 7 hot and tired and crazy people all week, making sure everyone is happy and in a good mood and having fun all week.
-Eventually, we head home. We walk in the door to a perfectly clean house (my awesome cleaning lady and sitter had been to my home while we were gone) and Charlie steps into the kitchen to promptly barf all over the kitchen floor.

Welcome Home. I could really use a vacation from my vacation : )

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vacation is coming....

I love the idea that starting on Saturday afternoon:
-I won't be doing any laundry
-I won't be returning any calls
-I won't be answering my door
-I won't be cooking many dinners
-I won't be making people clean their plates
-I won't be scheduling any playdates
-I won't be running any errands
-I won't be driving people to practices

because on vacation...I vacation, as much as humanly possible when 5 kids are in tow.

Also I don't want to forget:
-Charlie has been trying to use a lot of big words lately. Recently he came up to me and said: "I don't have an injury." (whatever happened to boo-boo?) "Did you know Bear has retractable claws?" (retractable? really???)
-Kids had a lemonade stand yesterday. I was no part of it. If they were going to keep the money for themselves, then they were going to do the work. Cute signage, cute little song "Le-mon-ade! 50 CENTS!" So, I watered the landscaping while they were out there for a while since I have quite a fear of the way people drive their cars up to the curb and expect my kids to lean into their car with their lemonade glass. I actually do the same thing to other lemonade stands, but I KNOW I am not going to steal the child, so I feel it is ok, but truthfully I am just teaching that kid to keep leaning in, so I should start getting my lazy butt out of my car. Anyway, when people drive by and don't stop for lemonade from the 4 little sweet singing faces with the homemade sign - I want to throw rocks at their cars. That is why I stop at every single lemonade stand I see. Today I stopped at three, and by the time I got to my son's baseball party I really had to pee. Worth it.
-Scotty had a day planned with a friend. Other friends called and asked us to join them at Dave and Buster's - a favorite of Scotty's, of course. Scotty knew he would be keeping his original plans, but said to me, "You guys will still go, right, you guys should go." I love that he would hate to be the reason the rest of the family didn't get to do something fun. We brought him home a treat : )
-Picked Jack up from his guitar lesson. I love watching him talk about (and practice in the car on the way home) something that he is soooo into. It is awesome. He is doing well, and smiles a lot while doing it. A parent's dream.
-At Elaina's swim meet (where she always takes last place, because she is just out there to enjoy swimming, I swear) as she comes up for breaths while swimming down the lap lane, she is smiling. Love her.
-Ben...I missed him today...I mean I really don't remember having any interaction with him today...I know he was with me as we went to watch swim practice. I know I bought him new tennis shoes today. He was there. He tried them on. I know he came into the grocery store with me and heard me hiss, "quit throwing that around in here!" I know he came to Dave and Busters with us and walked around with our friend's daughter. I know he then stayed home and cleaned up his room while i got my hair done. I know I saw him playing from a far at his baseball party tonight. and I know right now he is upstairs snoozing from being put to bed by dad while I was at my softball game...but I really do not remember talking, hugging, kissing, connecting at all with him today...I guess tomorrow is going to be a big day for Ben...I am going to be all OVER him! Sweet little Ben never making a fuss.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Packing Plan

I am very excited about my vacation packing plan for the family. We leave saturday for bloomington, for a night, then onto some friends in chicago for a night, then into downtown chicago for 2 nights, then onto Wisconsin for 3 or 4 nights, then back to bloomington or chicago for maybe another night on our way home! That is a lot of unpacking and packing back up in and out of hotels and  homes etc. That means a lot of the kids rummaging through suitcases, throwing dirty clothes back in with clean, stealing each others underwear, kids dressed in unmatching clothing, and then me trying to repack it all back up for the next location. BUT, I have an ingenius plan for this trip that will stop the madness! 

Here is the plan: I will pack each of the kids outfits individually in plastic grocery bags - one shirt, one shorts, one underwear, one boxers/nightie to sleep in - Each kid will have a plastic grocery bag per night of our trip. I will label all the bags with the kids names and throw them all into one big suitcase. At each location, each kid will carry in however many bags per nights of the trip we will be staying at that particular location! I will have 3 other small bags - one with all swimwear, one with all toiletries, one with 2nd pairs of shoes. These bags will go inside at each location. Pete will have one suitcase for the trip and I will have one for the trip, as we can probably handle unpacking and repacking our own stuff. I will bring plastic trash bags for all clothing that has been worn, so that I can launder it when I get home. 

This is the first time I have ever looked forward to packing!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teaching Friendship

I thought, wrongly, that friendship was something that  kids would learn by experience, by being thrown in with a bunch of kids and letting them find their way. It isn't that kids don't learn a bit about friendship from this, but they just do not learn everything. I am reminded often that even the "good kids" (meaning the kids we think are the easy ones, the kids we think can barely do wrong) can make very bad decisions.

It was a great playdate, going oh-so-smoothly. My 2 littlest boys had 2 of their very best friends over along with their mother and their little newborn sister. We had 3 hours of the normal kid craziness, and then a neighbor popped by to join in the action. And in my head I thought, "perhaps I should talk to my generally easygoing young son about introducing his 2 friends to each other." But instead I decided that he would probably be fine and when they all ran off together I did not intervene. Hindsight is 20/20 and suffice it to say, I should have intervened. Soon, the playdate was crashing down a bit. Ben pushed his friend who he had been playing swimmingly with all afternoon. His friend was physically ok, but worse than a physical injury, he hurt his sweet friend's feelings.

Mothers hate this situation. We feel guilty that our kid was insensitive and we feel guilty that we have not taught our kid how be a good friend. The mothers of the kids who have been offended don't know what to say. They feel sad that their child is hurt, but they also feel bad for the other mother, knowing that the other mother feels bad. It is just an awkward situation. Almost every mother knows both feelings.

So, today after the friends left, I called my son into the room and asked him what he thought he should do about hurting his friend's feelings. He said through tears, "write him a letter?" Now this sort of cracked me up, because my 5 yr old cannot write anything much but his name. So I suggested he call his friend. His phone call with his friend was sweet. Both friends were honest about their feelings. When my son's voice cracked while apologizing for hurting his friend's feelings, I got all choked up and started to tear  up myself! I think the honesty and "heart-on-their-sleeve" attitude of young children is quite refreshing, and moved me.

I know that childhood friendships have their squabbles. I realize that this is not the last of pushing, name-calling and apologies in my children's lives. I just hope that early intervention now and then can create more loving, understanding and ultimately sympathetic and empathetic people for our world.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


When we were little my mom would take us to the neighborhood pool every day of summer. We had swim lessons for the first hour we were there and then we stayed and played all day until we came home for a very late lunch. There was a fence between where the mothers could watch their kids in the lessons and the pool. My brothers would cling to the fence with fingers and toes at 3 yrs old screaming and crying that they did not want to go into the water. My mom would sit stoically shaking her head and say, "Take them into the pool." The other moms sitting around her sometimes seemed shocked at her heartless manner. I am sure they were the mothers of 1 or 2. My mom, mother of eight, and non-swimmer herself, was determined that each of her children would not only become watersafe by age 4, but able to save her drowning self by age 6. I admit, I used to watch my screaming brothers and feel awful for them. I am sure I begged my mother to go save them from the torturous situation she was idly watching with a seemingly cold heartless disposition.

Yesterday, I was that cold heartless mother. My 5 year old has had a water fear for the last couple years. Not just a reluctance to put his head under, or fear of jumping in. No, he would cling to me and shake when we neared water he could not stand in while I was holding him.  This summer, I was done with it. I felt my own mother entering into my skin, I swear, as I drug my 5 yr old into the pool. It began like this: I set up swim lessons with a cute young girl, and I tried to enstill upon her that my 5 yr old was going to need some force, but that he COULD do it (I knew this because one rare day I somehow managed to get him to dog paddle halfway across a lap lane at the Y! There was bribery involved. I knew he had it in him) I proceeded to watch the instructor gently teach him to blow bubbles, float on his back cradled in her arms, and kick while holding onto the side of the pool. The lesson ended and I knew this was going to be a long series of lessons ending with him so proud to put his head under, and I would be no closer to  having a watersafe child.

Back to me being the cold heartless ingenious mother. Yes, I said ingenious, just a bit of foreshadowing. So, we are at the pool playing and I pick up my 5yr old and pull him into the water with me. I throw him towards the side of the pool over and over until he is dog paddling on his own about 6 feet from me to the side. Then I tell him it is time for the watersafe test. A test where he jumps into water above his head, and swims himself back to the side of the pool and climbs out. To say I was met with resistance would be the understatement of the year. He clung to a pool chair at the side of the pool, He sat in the chair and held on. He was amidst sunbathing mothers, crying and clinging to a chair. I grabbed him around the waste, kept my face super calm, and said, "buddy, you can do this." I pulled him AND the chair into the pool. The surrounding mothers were beginning to stare. I flashed to my mother staring through that fence shaking her head. Ben was crying loudly. I said, "Buddy, you can do this and as soon as you do I am going to buy you a slushy, new goggles and any item you want from the dollar store." Weeping, he clung to me as I walked us into the seven feet water. And he says, "I am afraid I am going to drown!" I said, "I would never let that happen to you." Treading water I threw him to the side. He made it fine. I said "climb out and jump in towards me and swim to the side and climb out." He is crying standing on the side of the pool. I reach my hand out and he runs for the poolside chair. I jump out of the pool and grab him and pull him back to the side. I hold his hand and he jumps in, I let go and he swims to the side. Again. I hold his hand and he jumps in, I let go and he swims to the side. Then, I say, "on your own, you can do this." He jumps in on his own and he swims to the side. He is beaming. I say, "Again!" He climbs out, jumps in on his own and swims to the side. We do this at least 2 more times! He says, "I am watersafe now!!!" He is ecstatic. beaming. He can't wait to show his daddy and his instructor.

Later, that day, he says to me, "Mom, remember when I used to be scared of the water?" I am thinking, "Ya, an hour ago." But I say, "Ya, man you are such a big boy now, so great at swimming. Can't wait for you to show everyone." And the true test of success, he bravely showed his swim instructor today. And he has not even mentioned the dollar store or the goggles. However I am so proud of him, that I will be coming through on both.

4 down. 1 to go, Mom.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Lap

I wake my daughter every morning for 8am swim team practice. They do laps continually using kickboards to practice their kicking and practice doing breast stroke, backstroke and freestyle. They do dolphin kicks back and forth. By the end of it she is tired and ready to chill out. She is not a fast swimmer...yet. This is her first year on the swim team, and frankly she does not have a big competitive instinct. That is ok with me, as long as it is ok with her. But I feel eventually she will notice that others are swimming faster. It would be good for her to realize that this is a race and that she is supposed to be trying to go quickly. I gently explain this. She is not offended. So we go to a swim meet this week and she is scheduled to swim one lap. Literally one lap. Daddy is meeting at the pool after work, I have snacks packed, and we have navigated the super crowded parking lot. She sets up her spot on the concrete near her friends. They visit, have snacks and drinks, and wait. Eventually the moms who are in charge of making sure the girls get in the right races begin to line them up. They stand in line for over half an hour. Daddy and I have been standing on the sidelines of the pool for over an hour. Finally her race is announced. We head to the finishing end of the pool to cheer her on. The horn sounds and our daughter is the last to take off. She begins her freestyle swim, but for some reason is stroking each arm, then floating on her belly and kicking a little, then stroking each arm, then floating on her belly and kicking a little. She finally makes it across the pool. She hops out beaming. "Ok, mom what are we doing now? Wanna go to the mall?"

I have decided to look at swim team as much less of a competitive sport for my daughter and much more as good daily exercise. (And yes, we did use our extra time because of just having one race, to head to the mall.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

My place in the family------------

Just received an email from Jack, (10). He is in Costa Rica with my inlaws. They are having a blast adventuring through the rainforest, the ocean, alligator swamps, volcanoes, the beach and more! Mostly I have  been communicating with my mother in law about how the trip is going, but today I received an email from my own son. He expressed how much fun he as having and then went on to say that he hopes I am "keeping it fun at home for the kids without him." He obviously really knows his place in this family as the fun seeker, the funny guy and the entertainer. Cracks me up that he is worried that we may be bored here with him gone - truth is, he is a bit correct. While the house has been quite peaceful, and a lot quieter this past week, we have also been just a little off without our thrill-finder around. Ben is not quite as rambunctious and crazy. Charlie keeps jumping and climbing on me...a pastime reserved mostly for Jack. Scotty, a child who has sworn to wanting more alone time, keeps asking to have people over to hang out with. Elaina has no one to keep her in line. We will be quite happy to  have our Jack home on Wednesday.

Part of me loves how each child takes a "spot" a "job" in the family on as their own. Jack has obviously taken on the funny guy, fun-man, making everyone laugh and taking the little ones on piggy back rides. Scotty has stolen the brainy position, always telling us facts about what we are doing or experiencing. Elaina has easily taken on the girl spot, which no one had even tried to fill. Ben has so gently become the peacemaker, the one who always goes along with the majority, the one who just finds a way for everyone to get a long. And Charlie - there is no mistaking - has taken on the CRAZY man, always trying to surprise us with his  naughty antics, laughing the whole way.

I am glad they all have found their spot if it helps them feel comfortable to have a "job' in the family. But another part of me worries that they won't reach into other parts of themselves and try something that while may not be their first "job," could be something else they are quite good at also. For instance, Jack, is a smart kid. But since Scotty has "claimed" that position, Jack often does not even try, feeling like he could never be as good at being the brain as his brother anyway. Elaina having literally fallen into her position as the girl has such a laid back disposition because of not having to really try to be anything, because she is already special by just being the girl, makes her lazy. I adore this sweet darling, but she is downright lazy. She does not have to try to impress because she is already impressive by being different from all of her siblings by just being a girl. This is not to say that she does not have many strengths. She is amazing with animals, makes friends so easily, loves to please, and has a fabulous long term memory. These things will be great for her in her life, but her more hidden strengths that she does not give much time to like reading and learning to play piano and swimming - all of which she is good at - she rarely gives her all, because she gets enough attention by just being the sweet, cute, loveable girl. I would be lying if I said I worried about Ben at all - honestly, that kid has found a way to be well-rounded, the right amount peaceful, the right amount ambitious... Now Charlie is another story. Holy cow, I just hope he doesn't get expelled from preschool. His determination to be noticed in this family, to take his place as the CRAZY man has some negative results. He is just 3, so I am assuming that the fact that he:
-spurted a mouthful of lemonade all over my friend and laughed his head off
-went up to a random group of 9 yr old girls in a coffee shop and started hitting them in their heads (they laughed - wish they would have hit him  back and taught him a lesson)
-was found this morning with a spoon in the icecream container just "having his breakfast"
-pees his pants just so he can take another shower
-somehow ends up in our bed almost every night
and more, is going to wane a bit on its own. I am just hoping that he learns that there are more productive, safer, less naughty ways to get attention in this family of 7.

Bottom line - as much as I worry and wish to help my kids always be at their best, and always feel loved and always feel their place in our family, I don't think I have a ton of control over it. Our place in the family does shape who we are. I guess as the mom, just being aware of this can help a little at keeping the kids from getting toooooo into their position in the family as the CRAZY one or the Brainy one and at helping the others explore those possibilities for themselves. So, sending a prayer out to help me help my kids not get toooo terribly stuck in their "rolls" but instead to feel free to try new ideas, new experiences and be brave enough to branch out a little as they become who they are going to  be.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fish guts

There are some things that come up in motherhood that one should be aware of...or actually, no, one should NOT be aware of these things, or maybe no one would venture into this chaos of motherhood. Yesterday I spent 20 minutes detangling fishing lines, baited hooks with huge squirmy night crawlers, grabbed fish with my own hand, ripped stuck hooks from fish gills, tramped through poison ivy, and more. I found myself wiping my worm gut hands on my shorts and grabbing daddy longlegs out of my trunk with my fingers and tossing them onto the ground.

Deep down, I am a bug-o-phobe. Terminix knows me by my first name.  However, it seems that often life can force you to overcome your fears, your insecurities and your struggles, just by doing what life does...continue on. A Firefly flew into the house the other day - I couldn't let it live here, I couldn't kill it in front of the kids, I had to grab it and throw it outside. I could not refuse to bait a hook yesterday. I told the kids I would take them fishing. My husband was at work. My uncle (whom's pond we were at) was away. I had to bait the hook. Then it dawned on me that the kids may actually CATCH a fish. I was going to have to do something with the fish. I toyed with the idea of leaving the fish on the end of the fishing pole as new bait for a bigger fish, and then leaving the bigger fish on the end of the pole as new bait for an even bigger fish, but looking at that Dora the Explorer 18 inch fishing pole, I was pretty certain that the little blue gill I was staring at was about as much as that little pole could hold anyway - so my genius plan was ruined. I had to grab the fish. First try - flip flopping and moss spewing, mud-flying adventure. 2nd try was a firmer grip, and by the 10th fish caught I was dehooking and slinging those fish back in the pond like a pro.

Life moving on is not only a useful truth in fishing and debugging one's home. So many issues, insecurities and struggles are made to be gotten over just by necessity of having children, and those children needing their mom to keep moving on. I used to be quite OCD. I washed my hands a ton. I checked, rechecked and rechecked light switches. I stared at the stove and oven controls for endless minutes before heading up to bed at night. When I left the house, I would sometimes return after having gone 2 blocks, because "I may have left my curling iron on." These may not seem like big issues, but when trying to arrive places on time and trying to get everyone out the door as a mother, they are HUGE. Eventually one has to trust herself that she can do things, that she DID turn off the lights, that if she did not wash her hands that very second germs would not kill her. Five kids later I am soooo much more concerned with the more immediate issues; finding everyone's shoes, getting the kids in the car with no one going out into the street, making it to a 5 yr old friend's birthday party on time, making it to their first soccer game to see them play, making it out the door for dinner with my husband. The light switches, the excessive handwashing and the checking the iron 20 times are not at the top of my priority list any longer.

Perhaps that is why when my husband and I arrived home last evening from a nice long much needed date - I found my hair straightener still turned on in my master bathroom. The good news is this: the house did not burn down because of it. Once one makes it through a few absent hand washes, or lights being left on and realizes that life moves on anyway, and all are well...then one can obsess a little less. Thankful to  my kids for helping me overcome some fears, and just keep moving on. (however I was pretty bugged by the hair straightener when I found it on - I would hate to slip over into the 'absent-minded" realm.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Worms and Fireflies

I took the kids to St. Louis Mills mall the other day and we had a lot of fun. The day of fun cost us $178. Yesterday my kids spent a lot of the day at the neighbor's having an absolute blast catching worms and fireflies. The cost was $0. This is the summer fun I am going to try to experience more of in the upcoming weeks. When my older kids were toddlers, my husband was in school and we lived in a little flat and had the most fun each day walking the parks and feeding the ducks, or walking the mall and throwing pennies into the fountain - and spending $2.10 for lunch at Bread co by getting just 2 bagels and one cream cheese and ice water. It is weird how when we have the money to do more expensive activities, we spend that money, and have a lot of fun, but when we don't, we don't spend that money and we still have a lot of fun. And at the duck pond, there are no kiosks full of candy or pillowpets for my kids to beg at, and there are no claw machines to throw money away at. I would rather toss the pennies or even a nickel now and then into the fountains and be able to get a whole entire wish, than $1 for a chance at another piece of crap that I have to find a place for in my home. I can spare the glass jar for the fireflies and worms every day. And I can spare the extra water to rid them of their dirty muddy wormy hands at night. This summer challenge = more fun, more mud, less $. (and with $ saved I will be taking an ultimate couples spa and golf retreat weekend with my husband)

Also I do  not want to forget:
-When Charlie was catching worms yesterday, he carried a worm around for like an hour. Soon, he had two short worms.
-Ben is awesome, because he keeps his big brothers from being boring video game hounds by asking them throughout the day to , "play legos" or "play super heroes" or "play in the sand" or "cook lunch together." And the big brothers don't say "no." Ben is very convincing : )
-Charlie (3) just said to his big bother Scotty, "Now, BACK OFF!" and he has also been saying that things, "gross me out."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I couldn't blog this yesterday because I was too upset. Here's the thing: I realize that hair grows back. I think that my kids' are cute no matter how their hair is cut (short, long, whatever). I don't normally let little things bother me. We have been through many bouts of stitches etc. (read Krazy Glue blog entry from May 2010). I am seasoned in the "getting over it" stuff. However, what I am not seasoned at, and what I was not ready for apparently, was the passing of time, the letting go of the idea that I have a baby, the growing up of my little 3 yr old.

 "Who is in the bathroom?" I asked as I knocked on the door. "Nobody." came Charlie my 3 yr old's voice. I opened the door to find Charlie sitting on the floor with huge scissors chopping away at his long, fine, brown with blond streaked, beautiful, flowing, toddler, hair. I took the scissors. I walked into my bedroom. I didn't stop crying for 10 minutes. When I composed myself, I took him to Fantastic Sams where I sat him in the seat and then hid behind the book shelf in the waiting room where I could not watch as they stripped my three year old of all evidence of babyhood. When I had composed myself enough to join the hairdresser on the other side of the bookshelf, I saw a big boy. I did not see my Charlie!

I have been trying to recognize him since yesterday at 10am, but he still surprises me with his new look every time he walks into the room. He is enjoying spiking his hair up to match his big brothers. Oh, how the time does pass, even when we try our  hardest to slow it down. It is a reminder that we are not in control. I guess that's the hardest part.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer fun

What a fabulous day with the kids. A spur of the moment invite from my brother and sis in law to join them on a hike turned into the perfect summer day. When I try to PLAN the perfect summer day for my family, I usually have all these high expectations of both myself and my children and the fun we will have, and I overdo the whole thing. But the joy experienced by my kids just jumping into the creek, hiking down the banks of the creek and generally just goofing around that came this weekend was a surprise gift.

Jack, my kiddo who is known as "the instigator" in the Villhard household, gets a bad rap for all the instigating he does around here. But there is a positive spin on him being an instigator. On this hike, Jack instigated the idea that we all hike along the bank of the creek. Jack instigated the challenging venture through the brush to get to the creek. Jack instigated not only hiking along the creek, but swimming in the creek. Jack instigated a splash contest that invited all the kids to jump form the high banks of the creek down into the deeper water. All of jack's instigating created the most fun day. All of Jack's instigating brought the shy ones out of their shells, the tough ones to their knees, and the nervous ones a bout of courage. Thank you to Jack - the world's most influential instigator : )

Scotty, my kiddo known as "the brain with legs" around the Villhard household, gets a bad rap now and then around our house for sharing detailed facts with us all constantly. But there is a positive spin on him being a know it all. On this hike, Scotty taught us a few things about nature that we all enjoyed learning. He knew that certain snakes would not be poisonous, and more. Thank you to Scotty for enhancing our nature experience!

Elaina, my kiddo known as "the nature girl" around the Villhard household, gets a bad rap around our house for never wearing shoes, bringing bugs in the house, and having no interest in video games with the boys. But there is a positive spin on her loving nature more than her pink bedroom. Elaina was all over this trip! She led her little girl cousin through muck and mud, over rocks, across logs, and through cold creek waters. Did Elaina shy from jumping off the banks of the creek? No WAY! Thank you to Elaina for sharing her nature love with the rest of us!

Ben, my kiddo known as "the quiet peacemaker" around the Villhard household, gets a bad rap now and then for being too scared to join in, or not tough enough to handle the big boy fun. There was no place for a scaredy cat on this little adventure. Ben bucked up and showed his courage. Good job Ben! Thank you to Ben for joining right in!

Charlie, my kiddo known as "the lunatic" around the Villhard household lately, gets a bad rap often for frankly acting insane! But there is a positive spin to all this insanity. Along with insanity comes a healthy dose of fun, bravery and energy. Charlie scoffed at the idea to walk the easier way with mom and aunt and baby. Charlie was in it for the long haul. And was snoozing in daddy's arms before we made it back to the car. Thank you to Charlie for sharing your energy with the rest of us for as long as you could!

Also I never want to forget:
-The look Jack's face when he first jumped into the chilly water from the high bank; Thank goodness I have a photo!
-Elaina's squeal when she realized the fun was to continue as we all went back to our house with our cousins and had a hotdog roast over a fire, s'mores, and a big sleepover!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Would You Rather...

If you have never player Would You Rather with your children, then frankly you are missing out on a phenomenon, an ingenious parental tactic to learn more about your children, to connect with your children, have fun with your children, and to become closer to your children.

I sit down to a one on one or sometimes a one on 2 dinner with my kiddos. Perhaps the kid has just finished a ballgame, or perhaps they were running errands with you and so you decided to grab a bite together. I always look forward and seek out these moments just to get a little extra one on one with my kids. It is fun. But usually as we decide what to order, settle in to drinking our drinks, and begin to try some small talk, the conversation is sort of lost and I sometimes have a hard time deciding what to say to stimulate a good parent/kid conversation. The game Would You Rather has not only filled this void, but has enhanced my relationship with my kids!

It begins like this; Jack looks at me and says, "Mom, would you rather jump out of an airplane in only your underwear and a parachute, or eat a huge pile of spiders?" I have to answer, then I usually see what his answer would be, and then I get to ask him a question. Somehow last night's turned into a game of Truth also. Last night I discovered these things about my son, Jack, during a bout of Would You Rather and a game of Truth:

Jack is nervous about asking a girl out on a date some day
Jack would rather jump out of a plane than give a speech in his underwear
Jack would rather skydive than cliff dive
Jack would rather be in a jungle infested with hungry bears than surf in shark infested waters
Jack would rather sing with a back up band where the drummer had no sense of timing whatsoever than sing a solo at his school in his boxers
Jack would rather be sodden with a very hairy stinky body than have boogers encrusted on his face for all time
Jack would rather sit next to a very smelly man on an airplane than sit next to a chimpanzee picking bugs from his head
Jack would rather get lemon juice in his eye than smash his finger in a door
Jack thinks of all of his siblings as his best friends
Jack thinks his mom is pretty

Be still my heart.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Who Won?

It is so nice when your kids hit a point where they are actually becoming decent at the sport they are playing, so you don't have to sit on your hands and hold your mouth shut so that you don't correct them the entire time. Last night at Jack's baseball game he played short stop, catcher and a little 2nd base. He was proficient at each position, making us especially proud while playing catcher, as he catches most of the pitches and throws them very well back to the pitcher so that the pitcher is not running all over the diamond trying to get the ball back for the next pitch. I sat in the stands thinking, wow, Jack can really stay focused when he is interested in what he is trying to focus on. We creamed the other team about 25 to 1. I felt bad for them, they just kept walking our batters in. Finally the other team put in a very slow but accurate pitcher and our team began to take batting practice against them, and ran around the bases continually as they had base-hits, doubles and more. Finally the game ends. I see Jack walk up to my husband, the assistant coach, and he says, "Dad, who won?" ARGH!!!!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I was wondering how much the St Peter Festival was going to cost us. I knew it would be a lot. That's fine. Money for the school. What I did not factor in was the $100 for the fish tank and accessories that I had to purchase for our 4 carnival fish that we brought home from the festival. We went to PetCo where a woman made me feel like an absolutely terrible person for even considering keeping the carnival fish in the huge 5 gallon tank I was buying. A pond was apparently the only humane thing to do. No, actually she began her tirade when I mentioned the fish being from the carnival..she said, "We actually really frown on the whole carnival fish situation. Those carnival games are going downhill, and they won't be handing out fish much longer. Our store is very against it." Well that is just fabulous lady. Are you also against depressing all of my children right here in your store as they stare at you with smiles that just turned to complete sadness for the loss of their big plan to finally have some fish???!!! We weren't putting in a pond for these fish. And I wasn't going to depress my kids after all their excitement for these fish. So I spent the majority of my morning setting  up a 5 gallon aquarium complete with blue rocks, a plant, a Sponge Bob and a Sponge Bob pineapple house. Assembled the filter, and dumped in the fish with a little prayer and  promise to my kids that when they die, we can go to the store to get some new fish that will live longer. We believe in fish heaven. When they die, they will be in a slightly better spot than our Sponge Bob aquarium anyway.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A few questions

Do super-models let their kids climb on them?
-Charlie was climbing up onto my head while I was watching a sitcom. He was literally planting his knee on my boob and his foot on my shoulder and then kneeing me in the face with his other knee, and sitting on my head, and then kicking me in the face with his foot. He was cracking up as he climbed and having such a lovely time. As I was taking the abuse at the expense of my son's happiness I began to wonder...Do super-models let their kids climb on them? I mean, they would get all bruised up as I do, and as a photographer who has done many post photography touch-ups, I know I like it better when there are less blemishes to fix. So, it got me wondering. I am not sure I could give up wrestling with my kiddos for a modeling career. Fortunately, no one has approached me and forced me to make that excruciatingly difficult decision. ; )

Am I the only one that smells that?
-There was a smell randomly emanating from around the trash cans in the kitchen. It smelled chemical. We searched the area. We emptied, cleaned out, hosed down, bleached and scoured the cans. We put new scented bags in the cans. Still smelled it. Today while cleaning out Jack's locker in the mudroom, I found in his backpack a very old lunch. There was a moldy piece of unrecognizable fruit in it (size and previously the shape of an orange). There was the smell. The mudroom is no where near the trash cans...There must have been a moldy orange somewhere!!! So glad Jack's laziness about cleaning up after himself helped to solve this mystery.

How many kids does it take to clean up a back porch?
-I asked them a zillion times to clean it up. The back porch  had dirty clothing, shoes, toys, bubble apparatus, leaves, branches, baseball bases, dishes and more all over it. The boys came inside saying that they were finished after having taken the shop vac, sponges, brooms and soap outside. I went to check on their work. I saw dirty clothing, shoes, toys, bubble apparatus, leaves, branches, baseball bases, dishes and more. When I mentioned that they HAD DONE NOTHING!!!! Their response was something like, "oh, I didn't know you wanted us to clean that part up." I do not actually understand them at all.

How much cash can we spend at our School Festival?
-Tonight we are headed to St. Peterfest. Food. Rides. Games. 5 kids. I will report on the damage to our wallet later. Suffice it to say, Our pastor loves us.

Why is there a folded shirt in the dirty laundry?
-Right in the middle of a rant about the kids not understanding how much I do for them, and a few threats about them leaving their room "looking like this ever again..." I am sorting laundry and I come across a folded long-sleeved shirt. 1.It is summer. 2.It was quite clean. 3.It was FOLDED.  Want to see me go bizerk? Put folded laundry in the clothes hamper.

Did our yorkie really just eat a squirrel???
-As if the 5 kids, their lack of decency, neatness etc...weren't enough for me to clean up after...I walk outside to the sound of screaming from my children to find our family dog not just smelling, not licking...no, chomping down on some sort of rodent, either a squirrel or a chipmunk!!!! Gagging ensued from not just me, but my poor friend on the other end of the phone line with whom I had been chatting. When I started gagging on the line and explained why, she could barely contain her own insides I am sure! Call me evil, or call me a genius, but I made that dog stay outside for the next 36 hours at least, and then took him straight from the back yard to the groomer. If our dog was going to barf up chipmunk parts, it was NOT going to be on my rug.

Good times.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Day of Summer

Up at 7am for swim team at 8am. Kids making their beds, and getting dressed. But then what?.......

Well, that was an interesting day...So Charlie threw a huge fit about leaving the pool from swimming, and continued to scream until he fell asleep, which totally ruined his bedtime last evening, which ruined my husband and I's anniversary "grab a bite together and a drink" plans. I need to get this whole summer thing under control. A plan is needed. As much as I would like to be a "fly by the seat of my pants" gal, I think I may need to amend that to a "plan very well, and pretend to be a fly by the seat of my pants" gal. I will need reinforcements to bribe Charlie from the swimming pool each day. I will need interesting movies in the car to keep him awake on the way home from the pool, so that he goes to bed earlier. I will need a list. A good list of things for the kids to do so that I do not have to hear the words "i am bored" since that throws me into a mad crazy fit. So, here goes:

Summer daily or bi-daily or whatever list:

Swim practice - every morning
Chores - make bed, straighten toys, put clothes away after swim practice
Religion- little daily devotion with mom
yoga - evenings before bed?
math - practice on my Ipad for jack and elaina, and work with their tutor.
Read - in the afternoons for 45 minutes
music practice - an hour a day while I make dinner and/or when they first get up
cooking - help mom make dinner
walk dog - hmmmmm....when we go get snowcones, and send elaina up and down our street after swim practice
draw - alternate with yoga before bed

Art Museum
History Museum
Baseball and bowling Hall of Fame
Powder Valley
Magic House
Free Summer Movie series at the Theater
Botanical Gardens
Science Center
City Museum
Soulard Farmers Market
Cardinals Baseball game
Sky Zone in Chesterfiield
Castlewood hiking and beach

Other things that MUST happen this summer:

-Jack must assemble his Lego spaceship he got in March for his birthday.
-Scotty must do his Potato chip Science experiment thing.
-Elaina must do the scrapbook craft pack that she got for her birthday last year!
-Ben must learn to swim.
-Charlie must go along for the ride and become super smart and cultured by just being there.

Also I do not want to forget:
- Yesterday Scotty said: " I am not very good with putting together peoples' faces and names. I remember one time in 2nd grade when I didn't recognize Nina (his best friend) because she usually wore her hair in a red ribbon, and that day it was our first communion and she had her hair down, and I looked all over for her, but I couldn't find her, and then I realized that she just had her hair down, and she was right there." He cracks me up.

-Charlie picked up a piece of paper today with a tiny bit of writing on it and he began to pretend to read it, "This says, Charlie is a big  boy and has a birthday, and likes Jack..."

-Yesterday Charlie told me this: "I want to go with Daddy." and I said, "Daddy already left." and Charlie said, "That is ok, I am very fast. I can run after him and catch onto his bumper, and hit the button and open the back door and climb over the seats and sit right by daddy." We  better keep the doors locked when Pete leaves for work in the mornings!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Enabler

Apparently quitting being an enabler is more of a step by step process. I was ambitious to think I could quit all at once. If I could have quit all at once, no turning back, then I would not have been calling parents this afternoon and insisting that our children get together to finish their project. If I could have quit all at once I would not have been at Ace Hardware purchasing new mouse trap car wheels etc. If I could have quit all at once I would not have been hot-gluing straws to the underside of a tin can this afternoon. If I could have quit all at once, I would not have pinched my finger in a mousetrap as my 12 yr old looked on. Apparently, quitting being an enabler - a mother who wants to help her child not fail, who wants to teach her child how to "make it all work!" and who has a hard time just leaving the room of an ongoing project - is a multi step A-Z process, at which I am only at part A: Stop yelling. The good news is, I got that part down today. I did not yell, and I was calm. However, I also am now very skilled at making a mousetrap car. Hopefully my son is also.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lesson Learned

I did not want to be making a mouse trap car at 6am. I did not want to be yelling at my 12 yr old at 6am. I did not want to miss my morning run with my 12  yr old this morning. I did not want to have to race around trying to make lunches at the last minute for my children this morning. I did not want to start my day out crabby and tired and questioning my parenting abilities. So, why did I start out my day this way, when I sooooo badly did not want to? Because I am an enabler. I.....AM.....AN....ENABLER. Saying it out loud (or writing it in all caps) feels a little like what I would expect it feels like to be in AA or admit to cheating on your husband or something. Shame. Absolute shame. It is quite my fault that my 12 yr old was able to get up this morning at 6am for our run and calmly mention that he still had a bit of homework to do, which turned out to be a huge end of the school year project where he and 2 classmates were to work together to create a mousetrap car that could travel 5 meters. 5 meters! His car, after the hour of racing around at the crack of dawn to try to pull something together, traveled negative one inch. And accompanying this negative one inch race show was a crazy woman of 36  yelling and huffing and puffing and lecturing about time management and doing projects more than "half-ass" and who knows what else.

I have saved my children from failure too many times. I am not sure if my son learned a lesson this morning, but I sure did, and if I can be strong, and let them fail more often, hopefully they will learn a lesson before it is too late. Next time (because there will be a next time) I will calmly say to the child who says - "oh, I forgot to do some homework" - "Oh, that is too bad for you. Bummer." and then I will have my coffee, make lunches, and drive them all to school, and guess what, the mousetrap car can't travel any less than it did this morning even with all my worry, craziness and commotion anyway.

Also I do not want to forget:
-had a little b-day party today with Charlie and 2 of his buddies, and all three of their big brothers. We went to Build a Bear and let the birthday boys build animals. They were so adorable. Then we went to the food court where we all ate chic fillet and had pirate cupcakes and sang to them. Easiest birthday party ever.
At the "party" my Charlie had a couple of 3 yr old moments. At one point he was going sort of bizerk in the stroller. I noticed numerous mall patrons staring and raising their eyebrows - apparently they never had kids or forgot what it is like. I started to feel frustrated with him and be short with him when I looked at my 2 friends with me who have just little ones - and remembered how patient I was when I just had one or 2. I explained everything to my first son - "Scotty, we are going to leave the food court now, because we will be riding in the super fun elevator in just 10 seconds if we hurry!" "Scotty, we have to leave the play area now, but soon we will come back here for another day of fun, and right now I need your help to find a perfect gift for daddy..." Why on my 5th kid have I forgotten how to have patience sometimes? So, I parked Charlie on the side of the mall walk, and I went around to the front of his stroller and explained to him, "Charlie, we have to leave the food court now because all of our friends are up ahead waiting for us, and we are going to ride in the elevator! and then we will take our new Build a Bear home and play with it!" Charlie: "ok." As my friend said to me as we were walking to our cars, man I can't imagine how it must feel to be told what to do constantly, fed the food we want them to eat constantly, and be pushed where we need them to go constantly.  I mean sometimes we just need them to do, and eat and be what we need, but I feel for them not feeling like they have a choice. A little explanation or giving them the feeling that they have a choice goes a long way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Partner to run with

Almost every morning for the past week my 12 yr old son and I have headed out for a 3 mi run. This may seem like a little thing to some, but to me, the mom of a kiddo who would much rather sit at his computer and run up scores on Pokemon games than run on the sidewalk, it is a BIG thing. When we began our "training" for a 5k coming up in a couple weeks, a month ago, I was met with much resistance, much laziness, and a big bad attitude. I didn't want to over push him, but I wanted a healthy son and I wanted to do this together. Suddenly about a week ago I changed up our routine a bit. I suggested running around town, rather than the track. I suggested using his ipod for some good running music. I don't know if it was the new plan or his getting tired of listening to my urging, but we are on a roll. And it is  helping me so much. I mean as much as I want my 12  yr old to be healthy, I also really need my own motivation to get out there and exercise. I am 36 and the metabolism is not as friendly as it was at 26. So today, when my alarm went off and I was soooooo tempted to just turn it off and go back to sleep, I thought of my 12 yr old who would be missing out on his workout too, and I was able to pry myself out of bed. And then when I walked into his room expecting to find him snoozing, but instead found him up and raring to go this morning, I was further motivated to get out the door. A partner to run with is essential. Thank you to Scotty for being my motivation and helping me get out the door for some exercise...not to mention some fabulous bonding with my 12 yr old boy, who is...well even for all his maturity and intelligence and kindness...a 12  yr old boy.

Also I really don't want to forget:
-Whenever a new song comes on Scotty's ipod as we are running, he yells out its title. I don't why this tickles me so, but it does.
-Halfway through our run this morning, when I was beginning to talk to Scotty about how far we would run before taking a small walking rest, Scotty surprised me by saying (and further accomplishing) that he wanted to run "to the Y" which was our 2.5 mi marker, and was MUCH farther than I expected him to say he wanted to run before a rest. Love his determination.
-For the last block of our run, Scotty breaks into a full sprint (or as close as he can get to it at the end of a 3mi run) I chase him down. Very fun.