Thursday, January 23, 2020

Just Because Kids Get Older Doesn't Mean You Stop Telling Them The Same Damn Things

I giggled at the email I had received. It was from the middle school Language Arts teacher, who informed parents that hoodies were a problem. The kids can't stop playing with them during classtime and they will begin getting them taken away. It wasn't so much what the teacher had said that made me giggle, but rather the image that ran through my head. I was picturing a room full of pre-teens and young teenagers flipping their hoods up and down during classtime. I giggled because it seems like the same damn thing I would have to tell a four year old.

Then I really started thinking hard about it and I realized, I still have to tell older kids things I thought they would realize on their own. Like, shut the bathroom door, don't flip your hair in someone's face, you're stepping/sitting on someone, say excuse me rather than trample your way through. It's a known fact that toddlers and preschoolers are developing spatial awareness. Apparently this rings true for 90% of kids older than 7 that I 've met. 

Before I was a parent to a middle schooler, I would have guessed I wouldn't be worrying if hoodies would cause problems, that necklaces and bracelets would still be pulled on, rings wouldn't be lost and/or swallowed (apparently 12 year olds have done this, according to a social studies teacher who has banned jewelry in the classroom). When I heard about the twelve year old who swalled her ring, I was reminded of when my oldest was ten and accidently swallowed a Lego because he bit on it to get it apart. I was shocked then and I'm still shocked now.

Kids make it their mission to keep parents on their toes. Apparently their entire lives. I spend many moments these days wondering what the hell is wrong with my eleven year old. Is he supposed to be this way? Is this really how middle schoolers are? Am I doing something wrong? After a particularly rough day with him this week, receiving that email was the best thing. Not only did it make me laugh, it reassured me that I was not alone. Everyone's kids are doing stupid things. Not just mine.

For now I'm assured that I'm not the only parent telling my older kids the same damn things I had to tell them when they were toddlers. It doesn't fill me with hope, but it does make me feel less alone. And I ask again, why isn't this shit in the parenting books??!!? 

** I do want to note, because my posts lately concerning my middler schooler has been about the stupidity that seems to hit this age group. Yes, there's a lot of stupidity, a lot of learning going on, but also a lot of growth. It's pretty cool to see everything we've taught him and everything he's learned come out in his personality. Sometimes that's just overshadowed by swallowing Lego's, forgetting phones, and shoving past people instead of waiting their turn.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Multi-Day Weekend

The minis had a five day weekend (Thursday - Monday), BUT our super exciting plans were put on hold due to the weather. Initially when the school calendar was released, I had thoughts of taking the minis to Memphis on this long weekend. That nine hour drive would seem like nothin' these days. However, in between last whenever-that-was and now, I've booked a few vacays and couldn't afford to take the time off and take another vacation. It worked out well though that Hubs had Thursday off, I took Friday off, we were all off together for the weekend, and they got to hang out with friends for their Monday (sure it was a working day for me, but whatever, they were happy). 

Thursday they got to go exploring with Dad at the historical musuem and Friday we made the most of our homebound during the snowstorm day (which was supposed to be our surprise day trip day). Saturday we ventured out for brunch at Americana and to the Art Center, but came home after instead of sledding in the wind and cold. Movies were calling my name and the middle mini had a very important cake to bake and decorate. Sunday we celebrated Grandpa Sheaffer's birthday and cheered on the football teams (we're not Chiefs fans but I'm super excited for them to be in the Superbowl). I am trying really hard to enjoy and appreciate these winter weekends, but I'm waiting to get in an adventure or two soon!

There were arguments about it, but it had been a year or two since our last visit to the Iowa Historical Museum. The minis really enjoyed seeing Iowa tied to places we've visited, such as this rifle and Harper's Ferry. I love hearing what they pick up during our travels and how it impacts their lives.

Friday was our snow and baking day. The minis played outside in the afternoon and went night sledding around the neighborhood after dark.

I have issues. If I stay home on my days off I wind up just looking for more adventures for us. Nothing booked. Yet. 

I love that I didn't have to go out to get the trash from the curb as the snow came down.

We finally saw Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. It was pretty good. Also good was the popcorn and M&M's.

Saturday we got a late start for brunch at Americana, followed by a visit to the Art Center. We had hopes for going sledding, but the wind and cold temps kept us inside. It worked well because Harrison got a start on Grandpa Sheaffer's birthday cake and I, well I, took advantage and lounged around watching Netflix. Sex Education season 2 was so worth it!

Harrison and Elizabeth loved Americana's Fruity Pebble pancakes so much that we made our own Monday morning!

This moment got me. All five of us went to the buffet lines, but Max separated and went to the grilled cheese station. We've been to Americana enough that we knew where everything was, so we had no real concerns. As Hubs and I helped the younger two get their food, we looked around and didn't see Max. When we got back to the table we found him sitting down, eating a plate of mac and cheese brisket happily. He went from seeming so old to young again when we took a look at his grilled cheese order. 'Max S' just like at school.

We were surrounded by bridal parties and younger people celebrating. Harrison and Elizabeth gossiped over brunch about everyone's clothes, what they were drinking, etc. I had to tell them to stop numerous times.

We had hopes to walk around the Sculpture Park but the wind was too much. We snapped a quick picture in the "letter person," as Harrison calls it, and then booked it to the car.

My mom made homemade Mexican bread and brought some over. It was delish!

Sunday brought the usual: cleaning, daycare toy rotation. lazy morning, coffee, CBS Sunday morning. Sunday also brought the unusual: an impromptu "cool" quiz from Elizabeth (she quizzed me on what's hot and what's not at the moment. I didn't do well), cake decorating, a surprise birthday party for Grandpa Sheaffer, and a Chiefs win. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Must Haves For Kids By Kids

Matching pajama sets are a must too. They just don't know it.

It's time for telling you my favorite things from the last couple of weeks. Since I spend so, so, so much time with kids and all of my favorites had to do with kids, I figured I'd ask some of my favorite kiddlets what they're favorite things are. So, without further ado, here's the kid's favorite things:

1.) Scrunchies
"Because they're so colorful and soft and I can give them to whoever I like."
- Elizabeth, age 7

2.) Frozen 2 music (also known as a soundtrack)
"It sounds so pretty. We can sing Into The Unknown alllllll day long. Right, Ash?" (I can confirm this is true)
- Rebekah, age 3 1/2 (almost 4) and Audrey, age 2

3.) Black leggings with no sparkles
"Black leggings are so important to have because they're just so cool and you can wear them all the time."
- Elizabeth, age 7
** it should be noted that she's mad she only has black leggings with sparkles because she ripped her plain black leggings and lazy mom hasn't replaced them yet

4.) Lego sets
"They're a must because they're fun to build with and keep you busy so your mom doesn't get mad."
- Harrison, age 9
** Harry Potter sets are all the rage at our house right now. They're trying to collect them all.

5.) Drawing
"Making comic strips or drawing because it opens up your imagination. I usually just draw, but I also sometimes Google things so I can draw them too. There's a drawing app for my phone, but my parents won't let me get it."
- Max, age 11

6.) Pokemon
"They're really cool creatures and plus you can get trading cards and stuff at Target."
- three 11 year olds, two 9 year olds
** it should be noted that this mom doesn't understand why Pokemon is cool

7.) Rice Cracker Medley
- signed by Andrew, age 1. The 9 month old seems to approve too by screaming for more.

8.) The Raina Telgemeier series and Dogman books
"They're really good books."
- Harrison, age 9

9.) Boxes and recyclables
"You can build really cool stuff with anything."
- all kids

So there you have it. Draw, listen to music, play, and keep your recyclables so kids can build with them.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

9 Things To Do With Snow (Besides Play In It!)

Let's be real, getting outside in the snow during the winter with kids can be a pain. First it takes what seems like hours to get them into the proper gear, then they get outside and within minutes someone is in tears because they're cold or they have to pee or snow got inside of their gloves or some other random reason that makes life seem like hell. I mean, stayed tuned for my sledding post that makes snowlife look like a ball, but to get that perfect fun I must go through hell on earth. Therefore, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I opt to bring the snow fun inside to us (so I can bypass the "is it warm enough to even go out?" and all that jazz). We've been having a lot of fun with our snow theme this month and now that there's snow on the ground with more to come, we'll do some of our favorites from years past. 

For all of you daycare providers, preschool teachers, parents, and caregivers who understand snowlife in winter, here are a few of our favorite ideas that can bring the fun into you:

1.) Paint with snow
It's exactly how it sounds. Grab a few cups of snow, use food coloring or actual paint (I prefer food coloring as it ends up looking like bright water colors when dried) to color the snow, and let kids paint away.

2.) Throw snowballs--INSIDE! 
I drew a bullseye on our tiled wall (tip: don't think you're using window crayons and actually use dry erase crayons or it won't come off as easily as you anticipate), grabbed some snow from the backyard, quickly made some snowballs while the kiddos put on their mittens, and then let them throw them at the bullseye. I laid towels down so it really wasn't messy at all!

3.) Make snow ice cream
I love setting out a giant bowl to catch fresh snow and then use this recipe to make a fun dairy-free snack for the kids.

4.) Practice color mixing. 
Put snow on a pan or in a container, use food coloring to color cups of water with your basic colors (I prefer red, blue, and yellow) and let kids pour or paint the water onto the snow (or you can use droppers like these to make the activity last longer). They'll be amazed at the colors they can make! I've even done this with school aged kiddos and they've loved it too. I've put the colored water into old soap bottles and they can write words or make designs in the snow.

5.) Snow experiments. 
Kids love pouring. Kids love trying something new. I've seriously had bowls of snow and Dixie cups filled with a variety of things (warm water, orange juice, salt, baking soda, etc.) and let the kids pour the cups onto the snow just to see what (if anything) happens.

6.) Snow animals. 
Sensory activities are a huge part of learning through play. Get a bin of snow and put animals who can live in snow in it (examples: polar bears, penguins, seals, wolves, etc.). I love these figurines for this bin.

7.) Find the hidden objects in the snow. 
Start by getting snow in a bin, bury toys or other random (water proof) objects in the snow and have kids dig them out. We use sand shovels for this and it worked great! Years ago, I formed snow balls around the toys and the kids used colored blue water and tooth brushes to melt the snow away.

8.) Make an igloo. 
Give each child a small bin of snow and have them make an igloo in the bin. Sure it melts, but they'll have plenty of time to build something and play with it. We added Little People to our snow igloos to live in.

9.) From snow to water table. 
Bring your water table (that thing that keeps your kid(s) busy on hot summer days) inside, fill it with snow, let kids play in it as it slowly melts. Usually by the time naps are done it's a water table, which brings about a whole new way to play with it! Then you can switch it over to playing with snow to summer in winter....
Similar to this one we did years ago: Polar Ice Table 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Movies Weekend

Mid-February - beginning of May is quite busy for me/us. We've got trips, work, more work, projects, a Gala, events, birthdays, special occasions, and more happening. My goal for the next few weeks is to slow things down. The minis had plans to spend the night with Aunt Jenny (my sister) and have been looking forward to it for weeks. Usually Hubs and I come up with something to do: a dinner, favorite bars or trying out new places that aren't mini friendly (axe throwing one time). However, I decided I wanted something a little different. While the minis were away all day Saturday and into Sunday, Hubs and I visited our favorite bar for lunch, had a drink, watched games, ran errands quickly, and then spent the rest of the weekend at home. I'm terrible about sitting, like actually sitting and paying attention, for movies. I have a list of movies I'd like to see but never have the time to view them. So we finally did just that.

Sure, I say I'm watching Netflix a lot, but usually I'm watching reruns of Bones, NCIS, New Girl, or Once Upon A Time. I call these my "fluff" shows because I can have them on in the background while I work on projects or writing. I did write some throughout the weekend, but I also watched movies I've never seen and was present in the moments. It sounds like an incredibly simple weekend, but it was soooo nice to do something we don't usually do. Plus, I could have the TV turned up on the rated R movies and not worry about little ears overhearing any "bad" parts.

By the sounds of it, the minis were completely spoiled: snacks, choices for dinner, games, forts, and movies. They had a blast at Aunt Jenny's!

Meanwhile, I had my favorite cheese curds and watched Joker, Where'd You Go Bernadette, and caught up on the TV show Evil (a new favorite that I started over Christmas break). All great choices. I expected Where'd You Go Bernadette? to be a bit more lighthearted than it was, but some of it really hit home. Now I must read the book! Our movie binge was accompanied by chocolates and frozen pizza. We're fancy like that.

The cat was really happy to have us laying around too.

Sunday was sleep in day, playing in the snow, and watching one more movie, Yesterday, with the oldest mini. Another great one to watch on our snowy weekend. The minis were home for all of five minutes before they polished off our chocolates. I wasn't impressed.

How do you alert your neighborhood friends you can play? You go outside, run around like a crazy person, while you makes as much noise as possible. Works every time.

We've got an upcoming long weekend that will likely involve a snowstorm (so more movie days at home), some exploring, and a birthday party. Instead of being disappointed in our lazy weekends, I'm learning to appreciate them more and more. Especially on those busy days.