Monday, May 29, 2017

Preschool Graduation

My youngest mini finished up her preschool career last week in an adorable ceremony, followed by ice cream with her classmates and lunch. I took the day off and had big plans of getting things done in the afternoon, but emotions got the best of me (more like took over) and I was sidelined the rest of the day. 

I heard this song on the radio as I drove my mini to her ceremony Thursday morning. It was quite perfect for the day.....and also the start of my "sweats" (I'll share that story later in the post).

My little graduate. They sang songs and then got their preschool certificate. She had a wonderful year and is soooo excited to start kindergarten. I'm sad that there's no more babies to go through this amazing preschool.

Grandparents were in attendance too.

So, here's the story that everyone is asking me about....Elizabeth chose to eat her graduation lunch at McDonald's (ewww, but to a kid it's heaven. I get it). As we drove away from the preschool for the last time, I started crying. Then I continued crying. We sat down for lunch and she pulled out her portfolio from the school year. I cried even harder. It got the point where everyone around us was visibly uncomfortable. Towards the end of the meal, Elizabeth looked at me and said, "we need to go soon. Mom is REALLY sweating bad today." The sweat being my tears. It was a cute moment in a very emotional day for me.

Despite our errands that needed run and various other obligations and commitments, I took the rest of the day to deal with my "sweat." Elizabeth more than entertained me by dancing with her flowers from Grandma and singing me songs.

Read about my tough time saying goodbye to the preschool years here. Good news: I've stopped crying about my lack of children after my youngest. Bad news: Kindergarten starts in three months, when I'll have to take time off just to "sweat" about that.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Goodbye Little Preschool And All You've Represented

I am a wreck today. A visible, I shouldn't leave the house kind of wreck. You see, my youngest graduated from preschool today. They did the whole cap and gown ceremony. That ended with the words "and now I'm in kindergarten!" That's not what set me off though. It probably should have, especially when she insisted we stop up at her new elementary school to snap a picture.

What really set me off was saying goodbye to the preschool. Walking out of the building for the last time, knowing that we wouldn't be back in this capacity again. I liked the safety, the small classes, the phenomenal teachers, the outlook on early childhood education. Everything matched my own beliefs. It was the perfect place for my children to grow and learn.

I couldn't put my finger on why exactly I was having such a hard time saying goodbye to the preschool. As I mentioned before, I didn't have a problem acknowledging my youngest heading to kindergarten. I'm actually fairly excited by that one. As I sat crying at our dining room table, sobbing for the umpteenth time today, I realized what I was having issues with.

It's what the preschool represents (for me). You see, up until this point, one child finished up preschool and it was a "have a great summer! See you in the fall when _____ child will be here!" This year, we didn't have that. I don't have anymore children to see off to preschool. I don't get anymore preschool family fun nights. I don't get anymore first family portraits or an excited  "(insert child's name) wrote their name for the first time!" at pick ups. No, all of my children can write their names. All of my children are past the preschool age....and there's the source of my tears.

It's not about keeping my youngest a baby (as many have suggested to me). It's about not having anymore after her. As done as I know we are, as done as I am, with the whole baby/having kids scene, it suddenly stings that there's no more. While many firsts lie ahead, many firsts are behind us. We'll never get those again. That's rather tough for this momma to swallow, despite it being (nearly) five years since we made the call of no more babies (we even threw ourselves a party. Read about it here). 

As I was driving to preschool graduation, I happened upon a song that I found appropriate for this time in my life (also, Coffee House radio on Sirius has been my jam lately). I smiled through my ridiculous amount of tears, because sometimes life puts something in front of me that is needed. I know life goes on (and on and on), but I will take the time to mourn this change for me as a mom and us as a family. I will miss having my own littles around. I will miss those preschool parties and the simplicity of it all. But....

(by Langhorn Slim and The Law)

Things could be stranger but I don't know how
I'm going through changes now
I've spent a lifetime trying to figure it out
I'm going through changes now
And I've just begun
Under a purple sun
There's many reasons we are what we become
I'm going through changes, ripping out pages
I'm going through changes now
I knew it once, but I forgot
I'm going through changes now
We want everything but what we got
I'm going through changes now
Maybe it's too soon
Under a purple moon
But I'd ride off with you in a big balloon
I'm going through changes, rattling cages
I'm going through changes now
Things could be different but I don't know how
I'm going through changes, through all of the strangeness
I'm going through changes now

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When The Hell Will My Child Sleep Through The Night???

"Experts" helped me throughout my children's first several months of infancy. They helped answer a few puzzlers through toddlerhood. After that, all bets were off. I relied on medical journals and advice from fellow mommy friends because there's a whole lot of things the experts miss. I mean, A LOT.

One of the most misguided notions of parenting is when your child will sleep through the night. Here's a spoiler alert: you won't consistently sleep through the night for YEARS. Now, most nights my children sleep through the night. By through the night I mean falling asleep anywhere from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and waking up by 6:00 a.m. That's an early wake up call for someone like me, who could still sleep until noon.

There are those nights where all three minis wake up. There are those nights still where hardly any sleep is had. On those nights I want to hurt the "experts" who claim your child should be sleeping through the night by a certain age. Have those experts even raised children???

As I write this it is 4 a.m. and I'm having a cup of tea. I have been up every hour with my FIVE YEAR OLD (something the experts would find unacceptable I'm sure) since 1:30 a.m. I've snuggled, done potty breaks, gotten countless glasses of water, played with her hair, fallen asleep on her pillow only to be woken moments later by a "mom, are you sleeping???" Now I've finally gotten her to sleep and I can't sleep.

 4 a.m. never looked so good....on her. Me? I don't even remember taking this picture.

I've got the soothing sounds of She & Him on in the background, the lights dimmed, and I'm sitting here thinking about what I should have for breakfast. Should I just eat now? Then go back to bed and sleep a few minutes later than usual? Or keep trying to sooth myself into sleep and eat later? Also, since I'm thinking about breakfast, do I need to pack lunches for tomorrow? Did I remember to stuff a "small special snack" into the middle mini's backpack?

My thinking is paused when yet another mini pops out of bed. "Is it morning yet?" he asks, when he hears my music playing. I tell him to go back to bed (after a trip to the bathroom, because the last thing I want is to spend my day washing pee sheets) while I rest my body. I physically hurt from the lack of sleep, yet it's routine. Not as routine as when the minis were newborns and I was up every few hours for feedings, but routine nonetheless. My body may feel tired, while I've become acclimated to very little sleep. Anything after 4 hours of sleep is restless.

Seriously, I knew babies, like baby babies, didn't sleep through the night, but I never dreamed I would still be dealing with sleepless nights 9 years in. I mean, they look so cute when they sleep.

Why can't they look like this every night???? The saying "I'll sleep when I'm dead" rings true to me at this hour. Also at this hour, I'll switch to coffee, as the cats (yes, even the freakin' cats) are pretty sure mom is up for the day. Edit: I fell asleep thirty minutes before my alarm went off for the day as I was petting the cat to keep him quiet from waking up a child. The children slept well past their usual wake up time. #parentlife

Saturday, May 20, 2017

It Was One Of THOSE Meals

At this point in our parenting career, we've mastered going out to eat with the minis. We know books and magazines keep them busy, crayons and coloring can cause fights ("no I want the red crayon!" screamed loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear is not something I care to repeat again), peeing before we get to the restaurant is a requirement because we want to avoid bathroom breaks as much as possible (my minis make it their mission to see how many times they can pee in one meal time at a restaurant. They also have this knack of needing to pee right as our food is set on the table), they've learned how to order for themselves, ask for refills if needed, and sit politely in their seats. Knowing how to behave in a restaurant is something my husband and I bill a top priority in raising our kids and have stuck to taking them out to a variety of restaurants once a week.

Even with all of the practice and knowledge, we still have those meals. You know, the ones where you think your child(ren) have lost their damn minds....

Wednesday night we decided to take the minis to our/their favorite Mexican restaurant (side note: we also ran into Lauren, where we discovered it was both our nights to cook....and we both took our family's out to dinner. This is why I love her). We go to this restaurant quite often. I should have known this dinner visit would be different than others as soon as the minis switched their regular orders up.

The boys ordered adult meals. Adult meals. Our bill doubled just because of that.

The youngest mini declared she had to pee as soon as we sat down. She did the logical thing and just crawled under the table instead of trying to talk to the boys about moving.

There was singing and dancing in seats.

The real treat came at the end of the meal as we got up to leave. Our youngest put her purse on and I noticed her stuffing a few things in (the purse). When I questioned her, she rolled her eyes and told me she was just grabbing a few things to keep her busy at the store. So what did she put in the purse? The remainder of her meal for one. The meal she said she didn't want a to go box for. She just stuffed it in her purse...along with a giant pile of napkins "just in case." She then proceeded to spread a napkin out and FILL the napkin with our basket of chips on the table "because there's no more room in my purse for them." Seriously, where does she get this stuff???

Oh and there was a meltdown about the .25 cent gum in the dispenser that they wanted (I legit did not have any change on me) but couldn't have.

So, just when I think I've got this stuff down, the minis are there to prove me wrong.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Surprise Skip Day

I went from being a mom who was a stickler about missing school (sick days with a fever only) to my minis having two skip days this school year. The first skip day was a result of our big testicles talk (don't remember that one? Learn more here), but thankfully this second skip day was much less thrilling.

Since we had planned on going to Ohio Mother's Day weekend, I had made arrangements to have the minis out of school for two days. When the weekend brought us to Chicago instead (read about our weekend here) we knew the minis didn't need to miss any school, but since we got home late Sunday night, I surprised them the next morning with a skip day.

Good thing I did too--they were exhausted! I had been hopeful that we'd make it out of the house and maybe to a park (or the lake), but alas, we stayed home, rested, slept, cooked, played a few games, watched Netflix, ate leftover Chicago style pizza, and went to bed early. Even the almost 9 year old slept for 3 1/2 hours for a nap and still went to bed at 8 p.m. Chicago definitely wore them out!

The cats were REALLY happy to have us home again! They were glued to my side all day (well, all week really).

His special "building designing wardrobe." A good portion of the morning was spent trying to build skyscrapers and designing buildings in his sketch pad.

Silly faces.

Yep, the daycare/play room is just as messy at the end of the day even if I have the day off!

I took some time during naps to plan out the first couple of weeks of summer vacation. I aim to make every summer epic.

Again, the cats because I couldn't get away from them!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend In Chicago

It's the start of our road trip season! We had planned to go to Ohio for an extra long weekend, however that didn't quite work out the way I would have liked. Instead we opted for a crazy 48 hours in Chicago. Chi-town is one of Hubs and I's favorite places (also the place where we got engaged) and we had only taken the minis once for a short trip last April (read about that here). 

A picture from our engagement taken (nearly) ten years ago. We went to "our" spots this trip and told the kids our story. You can read a brief rundown of our engagement here.

We thought they were at good ages to take to the museums and be able to walk all around the city. Well, the good news is they were able to walk around the city with no issues (10+ miles in one day actually), but we found out the hard that museums aren't really their thing. A couple of hundred dollars lost on admissions to places and a lot of our time was spent exploring our favorite Chicago parks and people watching as we walked up and down the many streets. 

We booked a hotel room through Hotwire and got an amazing deal on the Sheraton Grand just off of Michigan Avenue (and right along the river). We got a nice river view room with two queen size beds. We're accustomed to bringing along a blow up mattress because hotel rooms are made for four. Sometimes being a family of five can have simple difficulties, but we manage! The hotel room was $80 per night, plus $55 per night for parking. Those of you who don't know downtown Chicago well, that's a pretty amazing deal.

 Did we pack for a weekend or a week? Hard to tell with five of us to pack up!

After a later than planned leave time thanks to a missing portable dvd player (and thus, the purchase of a new one) and one big fight that required us to pull over and have me get in back with the kids, our drive was easy. The kids actually did amazing with the drive (both ways). I'm pretty sure we've turned them into road trip lovers.

 Beautiful sunset

Hubs and I had a good laugh as we drove down into the parking garage, ducking our heads as we went under the low if that made a difference.

The minis took in the river view from our window before crashing. We woke up a few hours later to the oldest mini staring out the window at the tall buildings. We quickly found out their favorite thing to do in Chicago is walk around, look at the big buildings, and comment on the architecture.

This little one slept through all of us getting ready for the day.

We got everyone up and ready to go, and then set out to get breakfast. We had planned on going to Yolk, but a quick Starbucks breakfast won out both days. Our plan was to eat breakfast and then drive to Field Museum, but once we started out walking, we chose to just keep walking. We walked up and down Michigan Avenue, through Millennium Park, Grant Park, the lake front, and ending at Museum Campus. It was A LOT of walking, but the kids did amazing with it!

City kid. He snatched my coffee way and finished it off!

We took the minis to Buckingham Fountain (aka the site of our "engagement"). They thought it was "really really cool, but I wish we could play in it."

 What a difference 10 years makes!

Lil Miss E got tired at this point and hitched a ride on dad's shoulders. 

Nearly 10 years later, we stood in the exact spot where we got engaged. I actually have no idea where that engagement ring is and I don't wear my original wedding ring (I don't want the diamonds to be ruined by our numerous messy projects and such), but this spot still makes me smile.

The oldest mini has been begging to go to the Field Museum to see the real Sue. They were all sooo excited to go......and it turns out that's pretty much the only thing they enjoyed at the museum. Basically, I spent $100 for the oldest mini to kinda like the exhibits and to listen to the younger two whine "are we done yyyeeet??"

 Running away from the jaguar.

I thought they would enjoy the story about the Lions of Tsavo. Instead it made them want out of the exhibit.

And this one freaked at the tiger. She was the only child screaming in the times.

Taking a break by Sue's real head before we learned all about dinosaur bones. The oldest mini loved this portion of the museum.

 And she's done....

Hubs and I answered a lot of questions about evolution. 

The last exhibit we saw was the Egyptian pyramid before exploring the gift shop. The minis chose new polished rock to add to the rock collection.

Yes, I walked barefoot back to the hotel because I wore the wrong shoes for walking. My feet are now badly bruised, cut up, and blistered (as I mention before, we hadn't planned on walking all day). Totally worth it though!

We had just enough time after walking through the parks (again) after the museum to rest at the hotel for about 20 minutes before meeting my friend and her husband for an early dinner at Lou Malnati's a few blocks from our hotel. 

More walking after dinner and a little bit of shopping on Michigan Avenue, followed by a mouth watering dessert at Ghiradelli's. This time around I put on my comfy running shoes for all of our walking.

Once we were done with dessert we walked back through Millennium Park to Maggie Daly Park to play. The kids LOVED it! Next time we're in town we'll try out the rock climbing portion of the park.

Finally back and resting in the hotel room! Well, they rested. I got ready and went out for drinks with a friend. Luckily, the minis were so wiped out that they didn't hear me come back late.

Elizabeth to Matt: "here honey, lay down. Cuddle up with me," said through fits of giggles.

Absolutely crashed. That's what 10 miles of walking in one day will do to ya!

Packing up and checking out is always my least favorite part. We have to make sure everyone is ready to go, has everything they need, that no one has left anything behind, etc. Sure enough as we pack up, a mini or two goes behind us and gets things out of bags. Checking out is always a two hour ordeal for us. I'm hoping to improve that time this summer.

Sunday morning was mom's choice since it was Mother's Day. I chose to take everyone to the Art Institute, despite how the previous day's visit to Field Museum went. Well, Art Institute was an even bigger disaster, but I got to see my favorite paintings and introduced the minis to Monet, Van Gogh, and pointillism. I even got a few ideas to try out this summer!

 And this is how well it went....

And that was the end of our time at the Art Institute. I barely managed to talk them into a family selfie before leaving.

Lunch on Sunday included more Chicago style pizza, this time from Pizano's. On our first couple trip to Chicago 10 or 11 years ago (I sadly cannot remember), we got into the city late at night...and starving. We walked up and down a few streets before we came across Pizano's. We make a point to visit whenever we're in Chicago. This time around, we ordered their Chicago style pizza and a thin crust pizza. Both were amazing. We were happy the minis seemed to enjoy this place as much as we do!

The minis were thrilled to be able to color on the tablecloth. They were not so thrilled when we informed them they couldn't bring the (dirty) tablecloth home with us. Thankfully it was Mother's Day so Hubs got to fight that battle.

Our wonderful waiter brought out a surprise dessert for us for Mother's Day (apparently I was the only mom in the restaurant who chose to eat with her kids!): a homemade chocolate chip cookie on the bottom, a layer of ice cream, whipped cream, and tons of chocolate sauce. For not being hungry after lunch, the five of us managed to finish this off!

Our last stop in downtown Chicago (other than my friend's beautiful house in Oak Park for one last potty break) was another walk through Millennium Park. Despite it being only 60 degrees out, the minis insisted on running through the fountains and got soaking wet.

Of course the one mini who said he wasn't getting in the water because it was too cold wound up the wettest! This one doesn't sit on the sidelines for long!

 My most favorite picture from our weekend!

I'm still incredibly impressed with my minis stamina (I mean, seriously, over ten miles in one day!!??!!) and I loved seeing their reactions to the city life. As much fun as it was, we'll probably keep our next Chicago trip a couples only getaway....or until the minis can enjoy the museums and such!