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.