Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Summer Sayings

Summers are ALWAYS interesting, not becuase the house is filled with children, but due to the various ages of the kids. These are all kids that I have had since they were babies. There's never a dull moment in the house during our days. There's plenty of laughter, just as many 'WTF' moments, and more face palm times than I can count. I love every minute of the insanity. Here's a few lines and moments that stick out from our one month of summer break:

1.)  "Don't sit on the dinosaur. It hurts your butt. That happened to me last week." Super long pause. "There's a bruise."

2.) Mulberries fall from our neighbor's HUGE tree.

Me: "Don't eat the mulberries off of the ground!"

Kid: "I didn't. I ate them off of the tree."

Me: "The tree clear up there that I can't even reach, that also happens to be all the way in the neighbors yard?"

Kid: Looks up at the tree with wide eyes.

Me: "Care to change your story?"

3.) Kids watched me bake brownies and gluten free vegan cookies for the next day's snack. I told them repeatedly when we were going to eat them.

Kid: "Can I have a cookie to go? I don't think I'm going to be here tomorrow."

Me: "You're definitely here tomorrow. That was an amazing try though."

4.) "I lost a shoe. I don't know where it is. It was on my foot one minute and the next it was gone." We found it in a bucket in the mud kitchen....across the yard from where the kid supposedly lost it. The dog nearly got blamed for that one.

5.) Cussing kids.

 Kid 1: "Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, WTF, Saturday." All kids at the lunch table giggle. 

Kid 2: "I know what HE double hockey sticks really means."

Kid 3: "Do you know the A word?"

Kid 4: "What about the S word?"

All Kids: "Ooohhh, that's so bad! You're NEVER supposed to say the S word. It's worse than the SH word."

After more clarification, the S word is stupid.

6.) "Can we listen to Build A B*tch?" said by a sweet, quiet 5 year old.

7.) "Everyone pause the burrito, I have to pee!" 

        * they were in the midst of a wicked round of Throw Throw Burrito *

Monday, June 28, 2021

A Letter To Myself On The Anniversary Of Becoming A Mom

Dear Momma, 

It's been thirteen short, long years since you became a mom. In fact, right around this time thirteen years ago, you were being prepped for an unexpected surgery. It became your first lesson in how to embrace the unexpected. Thirteen means you're a mother to a teenager now. The "little years" are gone. People no longer stop you in a store or a park or walking along the street just to tell you that you have your hands full. Now they expect you to have your shit and kids together. The truth is, you have your shit together just as much today as you did not much. The trick to parenting is hiding it well I guess.

The years have been long and short, joyful and distressing, and everything in between. Parenting is a mixed bag and you have been here for it all. It's easy to forget all the shit that's been pulled out of the bag because all of the good things that come from it outshine the shit. It's why moms decide to have more than one child. They forget all of the aches, pains, sleepless nights, the troubles. The smiles, laughs, firsts, all outweigh every bad day. 

There are days in parenting that stick out more than others. The day you fell in love with each child, the day you first raised your voice to one of your children, the days you made their dreams come true. All of it has happened within these thirteen years. They've been the most significant years of your life for a multitude of reasons, but it can all come back to motherhood.

The next few years will likely be the most important. Your children become young adults. You can only hope that you've given them the lessons needed to have a steady head, but you will continue to guide them. You've literally made a career out of guiding young children, now you must figure out how to guide them into adulthood. There aren't parenting guides to reach for any longer. There's plenty of self-help books that can guide one into being a better parent sure, but there aren't the same parenting books that one would find for toddlers. Perhaps one day, if this all goes okay-ish, that will be what you write about.

For now, you sit and wonder. You wonder how long it will be until they no longer want to participate in Family Fun Days, let alone be seen in public with you. Right now, at this moment, while you're not their entire world, you're a big part of it. They still talk to you about anything and everything. You know part of growing up is losing some of that and you wonder how you will parent without it? 

I'm here to remind you to keep calm. No matter what happens during these teenage years and beyond, love them. No matter what is said, don't take it to heart. Love them harder. Show them what to do through your actions. Don't lecture, let them lead, as you have always done. They will change, just as you have changed throughout the years. But you know who they were and remember to embrace who they become. Be the guide, the person who walks beside them, who will pick them up when they trip on a crack in front of them. Don't be the leader in their life. Lead your own life with mild abondon, care, and happiness and know they will pay attention. Continue teaching by doing. 

You hope for many things for your children, but most of all, you hope you have given them the courage to be independent, to love new things, to not be scared of the unknown. You have the same hope for them that you did the day they were born: to know happiness. The most difficult part of parenting is knowing when to let go. When they were younger it was when to let go of them wearing the same pajama shirt to school three days in a row or let go of their weird shredded cheese obsession. As they age, it will be letting go of their childhood. I'm here to remind you to not be sad about them growing older. Be happy that they are living full lives, because these means they are growing. Just as you had embrace the unexpected thirteen years ago, embrace that life is forever changing. Take the moment you need to take it in, then live in the moment, and move on. Enjoy every step, share what you learn, and in case you haven't gotten your own message, embrace it all.


Me/Mom/formerly known as Mommy

To My Oldest On Your 13th Birthday

My Maxie,

It's been 13 years since you came screaming into this world and our world hasn't been the same since. 13 seems like so long, but in reality, it feels like yesterday. You still have the same grin when you get an inside joke (or an adult joke these days). You like to assess the situation before you commit to it. These things haven't changed since you were a baby, but nearly everything else has.

Year 12 was a doozy. I'm sure I don't need to remind you. You went from regular middle schooler to being homeschooled in a pandemic. A request you made shortly after turning 12 because you didn't feel schools would be safe. This is just one of the many examples of maturity you have displayed. You handled everything thrown at you with a levelheadedness that leaves me in awe. Luckily, you have the best of friends around you. The same group of friends you've had since kindergarten! You still like to spend time with them and even us. With every Family Fun Day we enjoy, I have to wonder if this will be the last time you happily accompany us on a trail. Thankfully, we haven't hit that day.

Not that everything has been peachy. That teenage attitude has come roaring in a time or two, such as when the dog pulled you into a lake and you stormed off into the woods yelling at us. But those incidents are few and far between and for that, I count myself lucky.

You rarely say no to an adventure. You love to travel and go to new places. You're careful and calculated, but with a little nudging from your siblings, you do things. You love to learn and research. This has become your strong suit in homeschool and something that I hope you continue to grow in the future. Even though it was your brother who begged for a dog, Zeus has become your best friend. He sleeps with you every night, follows you around, and prefers you to be his main caretaker. For the most part, you do a fabulous job and take it seriously. Occasionally I have to frustratingly ask you if you would like to be without water for half of the day.

You continue to excel at art. There's really not a subject you don't like. Pokemon and Legos are still your preferred toys, as well as board games. You like being outside, running around, and swimming. You like (nearly) all food and have spent a lot of your year cooking, which we turned into part of your homeschool curriculum. This summer you took your first official paying job as my daycare helper. You slayed swimming lessons and decided on another week to become "an expert" at swimming.

Maxwell, as I sit here and reflect on you, I realize how much and how little have changed. Under it all, you're still that sweet, caring boy who loves to do and try new things, a foodie, and my kid that allows me to screw up at parenting and apologize for it. Being a firstborn can be hard, a lot is placed in your shoulders. I realize how unfair that is sometimes, but I also know you will be better suited for the world's surprises because of it.

Much like last year, I don't know what year 13 will bring. I know I can promise you adventure and travel, while we navigate another semester of homeschool. My hope is that you can return to your middle school for your last semester and graduate with your friends. I hope we can continue to turn your dreams into a reality. I hope there's happiness and laughter, growth and learning, and above all, love. I wish these things for you today and always. Thank you for making my life better, for changing me, loving me, and letting me be your mom. I know the teen years are supposed to be challenging, but you have gone easy on me up until this point. I'm always thankful that you're my firstborn because you pave an amazing path for your siblings. I thank the stars every day that you are ours.

We love you and love watching you become who you are! 

Love always and forever,

Your Mom

Sunday, June 27, 2021

When A Night Out Is Our Life Now


Dessert from Black Cat 

For the first time in a long time (a year, maybe?), Mom and Dad had a night all to ourselves. We did....a whole lot of nothing. Maybe it's because our kids are older now, so we can leave them for a while when we need to. The novelty of being able to go wherever and whenever we need to has worn off. When we first left the minis home by themselves to run an errand, it was like we were breaking a rule. It was freeing. Now it's life.

Not that we didn't enjoy a quiet house or a dinner in a restaurant (because that's always nice), but we were definitely "those people" that younger me would have been ashamed by! Here we are in our late thirties, with a night away from the minis and we ran errands, fixed the dryer, did the laundry, and watched a few episodes of Mad Men. I feel accomplished and so disappointed in our boring selves at the same time.

With the minis getting older, I'm noticing a lot of these subtle changes in our lives. This is another one, but I can't say this one is bittersweet. This change happened right under our noses and we only realized it this morning as we were on our way to pick them up from grandparents. There was once a time when I would eagerly leave the house without the kids at the end of the day because all they wanted was to be with me, touching me, needing me. Occasionally a mini jumps at the chance for errand running, but they're no longer attached to me all hours of the day.

While our beer was nice and cold, and we didn't have to rush our leisurely dinner, a night out without kids is now a normal thing for us. I honestly didn't think we'd ever see that day when the minis were toddlers! I had looked forward to this time and thought of all the wonderful, cool things we would do. Never did I imagine the most exciting thing we would do on a night out is fix our dryer.

I'm always amazed at how small our bill seems when we dine with the minis!

Control Yourselves With The Pokemon Cards


So, we learned last night that Target now has a limit on the number of Pokemon card sets you can by. Two. It doesn't matter the size of the card packs, it can be a $5 pack or one of the ridiculous $60+ packs, but no more than two. Apparently, grown ass adults can be found waiting around Target for new trading cards. Before this idiotic rule, these grown ass adults would buy out the entire Pokemon card section within minutes and then re-sell them for a higher cost. 

Adults. I picture creepy men waiting for trading cards. I do not understand this. I told my own two Pokemon obsessed boys that if I ever find out they're waiting in line as adults for children's trading cards, they will be disowned. Now, because of this, we can't buy three pack of trading cards at once for OUR THREE CHILDREN.

Children who will actually use the trading cards to trade and play games with their friends. We had to do separate transactions because of this rule. Was it a huge deal? Not really, but I would be aggrevated if I had my kids with me trying to make purchases and wouldn't be able to buy the cards all at once. I've seen an unreal amount of stupidity from people lately and this is definitely up there with it. While I don't like this rule, it's not necessarily Target's fault for *needing* to put the rule in place. It's stupid, grown ass adults who can't control themselves with Pokemon cards. Get. It. Together.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Swimming Lessons Week


This may have been a crazy week, but it was well worth it! Swimming lessons have never been negotiable in our house, they were a must. That said, our kids kind of suck at swimming. Or at least they did. The lessons we signed up for were only one week long, but each lesson was nearly an hour. The minis got TONS of practice, learned some new strokes, and most importantly, many new safety lessons. They ended the week confident swimmers and now we'll be confident parents when we go to lakes, rivers, swimming holes, water parks, you name it. 

We made sure to pick our favorite local pool (that also happens to be less than 10 minutes from our house), so while the youngest had her lessons first, the boys, dog, and I walked around the park and on the trails. While the boys were in their lessons, I walked the dog because Elizabeth wanted to watch (and critique) her brothers. I loved watching from the mountain bike trail at the top of the hill because it overlooks the whole pool!

After a week of hard work, Friday was fun day! They got to show off their new skills and play around the pool. Elizabeth spent 45 minutes jumping in and out of the pool and floating somewhat successfully. The boys practiced diving over and over again and then jumped off the diving board. We talked them into diving from the boards. After a few tries, they got the hang of it!

We are no longer surprised to get notes like this about the middle mini, especially when I heard him say to his instructor (after knowing her for two days): "are you sure you know what you're doing with us?" O.M.G.

Getting Back To Normal Is Kicking My Ass

 It's been a busy month. This past week in particular, has been long. There's been work followed by dinner then a night at the pool for swimming lesssons. We have three kids and long lessons. We've been at the pool each night from 6:30 until nearly 9 p.m. That's our entire evening. By the time we get the minis showered and into bed it's 10:00. Needless to say, there hasn't been a lot of relaxing or free time happening. Even our weekends have been busy (thanks to birthday month).

All of it is kicking my ass. Most of 2020 was emotionally and mentally draining. Summer 2021 is physically and (occasionally) mentally draining. It's hard to believe that our normal was once being busy every night of the week, with children's activities, meetings, dinners, outings. After a year of casual Zoom meetings, being home nearly every night, I honestly can't imagine going back to that crazy schedule. My twelve hours of sleep last night can also attest to me being drained from the long week.

My ass is kicked. While the minis are off spending the night with grandparents tonight, I'm going to enjoy a leisurely drink with dinner and then relax in a quiet house as I gear up for one more crazy week.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Father's Day Weekend

Who else struggled to get those decent Father's Day photos?? I'm waving my hands wildly in the air over here. I failed to get a cute picture of them strawberry picking, none of our brunch on Sunday, and we attempted a few at the water park, but the minis were more focused on spending time with a friend they ran into. We did a lot over Father's Day weekend and overall, it was a good weekend. The reality of the weekend was that there were tears, time spent apart because we had different things going on, and very few pictures captured.

Not every weekend can be picture perfect, but here's what we did manage to capture:

Strawberry picking at Iowa Orchard required reservations that I made earlier in the week. No one in my family cared to listen to me that we had reservations and we nearly missed our time slot. The berries themselves were wonderful! We picked a lot with very little effort. Of course, the oldest (as in, the almost 13 year old) broke down first because it was hot, he had to lean down to pick the berries, and a series of other complaints I drowned out. Then the youngest stopped picking because "it's a lot of work." She offered me pats on the back while I leaned over and picked all of our berries. The middle one was a trooper for most of it.

Somehow, even through all of that, they talked me into mini apple cider donuts and strawberry slushies from the concession stand. I hadn't had my morning coffee yet, so as we made our way to the nearest drive thru coffee shop, the minis declared the berries the best they've ever had and they look forward to strawberry picking next summer. That statement was a little too soon for me after listening to them complain for the last hour!

The oldest: "I'm not smiling."

Errands were ran, Father's Day gifts and cards were dropped off, I went out for a dinner with friends, and the minis went to a pool party. 

No one could agree on where to get breakfast from Sunday morning, no one wanted me to make biscuits and gravy, so we settled on bagels from Panera. It wound up being the perfect breakfast! We haven't had Panera bagels in so long and they hit the spot. Plus, we ate our fresh strawberries from the orchard and I surpised everyone with Panera cookies. 

Our favorite place to spend summer days: Adventure Bay water park. They swam right into a friend and spent the rest of the time talking and swimming.

Sunday evening we had to do chores and repair the curtain rod and curtains after the dog panicked in his kennel while we were gone. That was a fun surpise to come home to, but there's never a dull moment in our lives, so not shocking. It wasn't a perfect weekend in the least, but we'll likely remember it for it's imperfections.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Harrison's Birthday Celebrations


My kids love deciding what we do and eat on their birthdays. It's a highlight, especially because we get to celebrate at daycare. June is pretty much one big party to them! For the first time ever, Harrison planned a very laid back birthday. He had his menu planned since May, but as far as activities go, he didn't have many requests. We brought out the Waffle Blocks in the backyard for a bit, but most of his day was spent reading and building his new Lego set. 

A quick cuddle session on the couch before daycare began.

His breakfast choice was cereal. I don't serve cereal for breakfast often because the kids seem to be hungry right after eating it, but obviously it's allowed on birthdays!

I meant to snap a picture of the cupcakes, but instead snapped a selfie...which Harrison said was good because it was National Selfie Day. I later opened by photos on my phone and discovered an unreal amount of selfies of my children.

Waffle blocks and Kinetic sand are still a hit after all these years!

Harrison's requested birthday treat: brownie on the bottom, chocolate chip cookie dough, a layer of hot fudge, and topped with a cookie dough ice cream. 

Ramen noodles, mixed veggies, and strawberries for lunch. Harrison was thrilled he got to finish off the pot of ramen!

We still did math and reading, as requested by the birthday boy. He's trying hard to finish the last Harry Potter book, so there was a lot of reading happening on his birthday.

Afternoon snack was yogurt parfaits. Usually I only offer berries, bananas, granola, and occasionally Cheerios with their yogurt parfaits, so all of the kids were thrilled to see M&M's and (vegan) chocolate chips to the parfait choices!

It took him a total of 3 hours to finish his Attack On The Burrow Lego set.

Mishap at dinner. He got a bit too into his pho and splattered it everywhere.

Harrison's birthday was also the start of swimming lessons. We made the night a family affair. While Elizabeth was at her lessons, the boys, dog, and I hiked around Greenwood Park. It was a gorgeous evening! More than anything, Harrison was excited to NOT be the one in charge of picking up the dog poop!

Last pictures of his first day as an 11 year old. He still sleeps with no less than a dozen blankets, 5 pillows, a robe, and a sweatshirt "just in case." I'm not sure what the just in case is for, but he's prepared for it!

The highlights of his day were drinking the rest of the ramen out of the pan, eating pho for dinner, and going to swimming lessons (he liked this because not only did they play games, but he was also better at the breast stroke than his older brother, so that automatically made his highlight reel). It was a perfect day for an 11 year old!