Make a Birthday Special

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Collin just turned four. I wanted to make his birthday memorable. I wanted to make his day special. I planned on getting up early and making him pancakes and putting a candle in it. I wanted to blow up balloons and have a little party for breakfast. I wanted to surprise him with a smiley face and his name on the bathroom mirror. I found all kinds of wonderful ideas on this blog post from The House of Hendrix.

Well, sometimes I can be a slacker mom, but with good intentions. Needless to say, I didn’t make pancakes or do any of the ideas above (even though they are super easy, check out the link above). I am not a morning person and the chaos with four kids in the morning is enough to feel as if I have lived a whole day just with our morning routine (or trying to get a morning routine since school just started). But I did manage to pull something out of my sleeve at the last minute.

I had everybody at the table with their Cheerios like a normal morning. I was in the kitchen trying to wake up and feeling a little bummed because I didn’t get up early enough to make pancakes (and wondering if you can make pancakes the night before and just put them in the microwave?).

Then I remembered the doughnuts the kids didn’t finish that my dad brought over two days ago. I reached into the back of the fridge for the chocolate doughnuts that I had been hiding and kind of forgot all about. They might be a little stale, but totally edible. I counted what was left in the bag. Phew, just enough. Eight would be enough for the kids to each have two.

I rummaged through the back of the drawers and finally found four oddball candles. Good enough.

I set the doughnuts on a plate and poked the candles into the doughnuts. I lit the candles and walked into the dining room. All of the kids were surprised and happily left the remainder of their Cheerios for doughnuts. We sang him Happy Birthday. Oh, the look on his face.

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I might be a slacker mom, the doughnuts might have been a teeny tiny bit stale, but it was still a special and memorable birthday, even at the last minute. Mission accomplished. (And I think I will try to be a better planner next time. Bradley’s up next.)

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How do you make birthdays special?

Cricket Killer

It all started the other night right before bed. Bradley came running to me, “Mom, there’s a jumping black spider in my room! It’s really big, Mom!”

A spider jumping? I’m so confused. And ugh! I’m in the middle of getting the twins ready for bed- sitting on the toilet seems to take these two forever and Collin’s being Collin and needing constant supervision. And now I have to catch a spider in the boys’ room?! A jumping one, none the less. And all I really want to do is get these kids to bed because I’m tired and honestly, these kids are driving me nuts!

I really doubt there’s a spider, so I didn’t rush. “Where is it?” I ask Bradley as I go into the room and scan the walls and floor. He points to a corner by the closet, “There it is!” he exclaims.

I look, expecting to see lint or something silly that’s not a spider at all, but there was something there.

“It’s just a cricket,” I say, a little confused because I have never seen a cricket in the house before, especially on the second floor. They are usually in basements or something.

Yet there it was- a big fat cricket skimming along the baseboard. His black body shined in the light as I chased him down and tried to catch him with my bare hands. His legs felt spiny against my cupped hands and just when I thought I had him he would leap out of my hands and escape.

I can’t believe Bradley doesn’t know what a cricket is! I somehow feel I have failed him in some small way because every kid should be able to identify crickets, along with lightning bugs and rolly pollys (you know those grey things with lots of legs that roll into a little round ball when you flick them).

I told Bradley to keep a watch on him and I went and got toilet paper from the bathroom so I could catch it. I used to catch them with my hands when I was little, no big deal. I don’t know when I became such a wimp, the squirming fat body and sticky legs keep freaking me out. I feel as if I’m not setting a good example for the kids, squealing every time it jumps from my hands.

I pick it up with the toilet paper. I can feel its fat body squirming between my fingers. I run to the bathroom and fling the whole thing in the toilet. We watch it swim around the toilet bowl. It keeps trying to escape up the slippery sides of the bowl.

“Mom!” Bradley is entirely exasperated and a little upset by my actions. “Why did you do that?!” he demands. “It’s where we pee and stuff. Gross! It’s gonna die!”  (Hello?! Yea, that’s the whole point. But I didn’t say anything about that.)

I guess I should have/could have let the cricket go outside. It makes me think back to my science teacher in college. Seriously, she would NOT kill a fly. If there was an ant, bug, or spider, she would not hurt it and would get quite upset if you smashed him with your foot or slammed a book down on the insect. She would save the little creature by scooping it up on a sheet of paper and gingerly carrying it outside to let it free. How kind and caring. I guess I don’t always have it in me, considering I’m a cricket killer tonight.

So here was this experience where I could have taught Bradley some sort of lesson, like kindness or taking care of our environment because all animals and insects are important to our Earth…but instead I flushed the jumping black spider/cricket down the toilet.

Cricket killer.

But it’s bedtime! I don’t have the time right now to deal with a cricket and I lost my patience right after dinner when I started counting down the minutes until bedtime.

Maybe next time I will set it free. Maybe next time I will have some compassion for that annoying fly or pesky cricket that shouldn’t be in our house in the first place. Just maybe.


First Day Of School Tears

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Collin just got on the bus for preschool. I know I said I was going to throw confetti and have a party on the sidewalk when the bus picked him up for his first day of school- the kid has been driving me crazy all summer! But I cried a little. He looked so little sitting in that big bus and kind of scared, timid, unsure- totally NOT Collin. I know he will be fine. This isn’t his first year of preschool so I was surprised when the unexpected tears sprouted. (You can read about his first year of preschool here.)

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I didn’t think I was going to be this way this year, all sentimental and teary eyed. I did this last year for Collin and this is my fourth time for Bradley, so I’m experienced, almost a pro at sending the kids off to school. I have been reading friends’ facebook posts and looking at their pictures and hearing their stories about the first day of school and I was rather cocky, I am so not going to be that crying mom. I’m ready for all of my kids to go to school and get out of the house! Well, that’s what I thought…but I guess no matter how you feel or think you feel at the time, it’s still hard seeing them grow up.

bradley first day of second grade

Bradley had his first day of school last week. Second grade!! When we were walking up to the building I had him stop so I could take his picture. “Mom,” he said, all embarrassed. “Just let me take your picture once and give me a hug and kiss, otherwise I will do it when you are standing in line with your friends,” I warned. He complied. And after the bell rang and I was in my car…yep, you guessed it. A few unexpected tears leaked out. Maybe because he’s getting so big and I can actually embarrass him now. I used to be so awesome. These changes are hard. (You can read about his first day of Kindergarten here.)

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But at least he gets to have a cool ride home on Wednesdays. Thanks again, Grandpa Russ!

Two down and two to go. Just a few more years and ALL of my kids will be in school. YIKES!

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For now Elsie and Mallie are content watching for their brother’s bus to come home. Soon enough they will be ready to go off to school too. That will be a double whammy!

When in the world do the tears stop for the first day of school? Will I still cry when my kid walks into junior high, high school?

And why am I the one crying?! Why aren’t they crying for their dear ol’ mom? Oh, well. Guess I’m lucky on that one. It would be even harder if they cried too.

Temporarily Misplaced

Yea, I have lost my kid… temporarily. He always turns up.

You see… The kids in this house are like mice; they infest the place. You see one running through and disappear into the other room, then two more come scampering through the kitchen. One minute they are there and the next they’re not. You only know that they were there by the trail of toys left in their wake. There are just so many I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of them all. But my little mouse, Collin, scared the crap out of me the other night.

I was outside after supper taking a break (a.k.a. trying to hide out) and here comes Collin out the door. He hops on his motorcycle and starts riding up and down the sidewalk. I notice the smear of ketchup still on his cheek from supper and wonder if he ever did eat his dinner. He was messing around so much at the dinner time I thought he might be at the table half the night finishing supper.

“Did you finish your dinner?” I asked him, kind of little irritated he found me. I need to find better hiding spots.

“Ummmm…yea?” he said. So I knew he didn’t.

“Did your dad say you could be done?”

“Ummm…yep?” he said.

I didn’t believe him. When I went inside he was still riding his bike. I looked at his plate lying on the dining room table. <Humongous sigh>  He barely ate any of his hamburger and maybe two bites of his green beans. I asked B if he said he could be done and he said he didn’t tell him that. “Well, you better go get him to finish his dinner because he said you told him he could be done.” (Nice way to pass this task off, huh? This is just my way of trying to get a break and sharing this wonderful job with his good ol’ dad. I’m tired and it just seems things are never-ending lately).

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B called his name. No answer. I told him he was out in the backyard. He went to hunt him down and I started working on the after dinner disaster, a little surprised and tremendously relieved that I was actually getting some help in at least one area.

B came back in, “He’s not out there.”

Hmmmm…I didn’t see him come back in. I don’t know. Maybe he snuck by and is watching tv upstairs or something. After B did the initial sweep of the house and he didn’t turn up I decided to help look.

We SEARCHED everywhere and called his name. Garage. Upstairs. Under beds. He couldn’t have gone anywhere, I kept thinking and repeating it to myself over and over again. I mean, this place is like a maximum security prison. He couldn’t have gotten out the back because of the garage door. He couldn’t have left the yard because we have a high privacy fence, even though it wouldn’t surprise me if he scaled it to escape, I mean- he is Collin, a kid who can climb walls with his bare toes and has been doing it ever since he was able to stand. But the fence thing…possible, but unlikely. It is pretty tall.

I kept one eye on B and checked in the opposite places he was looking. He was looking a little amused. I was starting to panic. You know, that mom thing. I was starting to get frantic. My stomach was starting to get all fluttery. I kind of felt like I might cry. Rationally, I knew he had to be there somewhere. I mean, what the hell?! A kid can’t just disappear in his own house within two minutes…but he is Collin (the kid who is inevitably going to give me gray hair). The front door was latched (and he can’t reach that) so he couldn’t have snuck out the front… so where could he be? I made all the kids stop what they were doing to help us look.

The Collin search was on.

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This felt like it went on forever (I was kind of scared)…but in reality probably lasted five minutes at most. I was standing on our enclosed front porch scanning the sidewalks…paranoid. If I didn’t find him soon I was sure I WAS GOING TO FREAK OUT!!!

I took some deep breaths and calmed myself down. “Collin!” I yelled. “Do you want a snack?”

His little blonde head popped out between the couch and box of books on the front porch, a little sweaty but smiling and all happy. “YES, MOMMY! I want candy,” he said.

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Duh! Why didn’t I do that sooner?! Would have helped my nerves. Every mom knows to bribe their kid with candy or toys when desperate. It’s like the cheese in the mouse trap for the darn little rodents.

And then I yelled (I hate it when I yell), “Don’t ever do that again! You scared me! Now go eat your dinner.” I wasn’t giving him any candy.

B was like…it wasn’t that big of deal. Calm down. Grrrr…it sometimes seems like dads are so much calmer when it comes to disaster, or “possible” disaster. Whatever. I’m blaming it on the mom hormones.

But I heard B say to Collin while he was nibbling on his hamburger (and the little mouse was looking very pleased with himself), “Collin, don’t hide unless you tell somebody you’re hiding.”

“Okay, Dad,” he said.

It was simple and it was done. No big deal…for them.

I really need a break…because normally I would find the humor in the situation, at least I would after I found him…but not so much that night.

Have you “temporarily misplaced” (a.k.a. lost your kid) lately?

p.s. Man, that fear just really scared me, put things in perspective.

candy crush addiction

I posted over at Quad City Moms Blog today about my Candy Crush addiction.

Yes…I am hopelessly addicted to that darn game. I am going public with it. I tried to hide it for a long time, but there comes a time when you need help. Come check out my post.

Cousins are Forever Fun

Cousins are friends forever. They are the ones that you run around with all summer long; climbing trees, catching lightning bugs, water fights, slurping popsicles, riding bikes, and playing make-believe games (my favorite of the kids’ right now is their time travel game where they go to dinosaur world, leaf world, swimming world, you name it and they have a world for it).

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Cousins are what childhood is made of. I am so glad that I am able to be home this summer so all the kids can play together. It never ceases to amaze me that after spending all day together they still want to spend the night with each other. They are the best of friends.

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And as exhausted as I am lately, summer is wearing me out and I am ready for school to start (and I think I’m the only one), I am thankful for the chaos of the kids.

Today they made me so happy.

It all started with a craft. “Go outside and sit at the tables and we will do our craft,” I hollered to the kids. They all cheered. But do you think they went and sat at the tables and were ready?

NO WAY! Of course they didn’t listen.

I put the paint box under my arm and headed outside. What in the world were they doing?! I could hear their voices through the window and it definitely didn’t sound like they were sitting at the table ready for our craft, which really kind of annoyed me because I thrive on organization and structure.

But what I found (I was so lucky to have the camera in my hand) just made me smile and laugh.

This is what cousins are all about…(and why I was laughing instead of being annoyed because they didn’t listen.)

Having fun and making things up on the spur of the moment. They have the moves! And Collin being Collin, did you catch the part where he tried to take Kiley’s leg out from under her? I didn’t until the second viewing. Geesh!

And it also made me realize something…I am so task driven and love my schedule…But sometimes you have to stop and dance. Enjoy the moment.

I think of all of my cousins and the fun and trouble we created, especially over the summer time, and I can’t help but laugh at all the stories that run through my mind.

Today I am thankful for all my cousins. We had a lot of fun. And I am going to stop and have a little fun before the kids start school.

What are some of your favorite past times with your cousins? Share them in the comments. I would love to hear your stories!

***note: That was Elsie screaming at the end of the video. I was not stepping on her and she was not hurt, she was just under my feet throwing one of her normal tantrums, which is a whole other story for another day. We are just used to it.***

The Real Reason I Take the Kids to the Park

Almost everyday, weather permitting, I take the kids to the park in the morning. They have a blast and work on running out some of that bundled up energy AND it makes me look like the coolest mom ever- Rock Star Mom.

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But truthfully, there are “alternative reasons” why we are at the park.

1. It gives me space from the kids. They are not right under my feet whining or complaining about something to do or being bored.

The bonus for me: I sit in the sun and relax. I read, write, or plan out my week. I take time to just RELAX a little.

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2. My main goal is to wear them out so when nap time/quiet times rolls around they are actually asleep or quiet.

The bonus for me: I get time to fold laundry, do the dishes, sweep the floors. But seriously, who am I kidding. I catch up on my new show, Pretty Little Liars, or I take a nap also. I spend that peaceful time doing what I want to do.

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There are so many things I SHOULD be doing…and I will get to them. Right now it is important I do things with the kids, like taking them to the park.

You know, it kind of sounds like I really don’t do anything with them. But we do all kinds of stuff. I’m with them every day and all day. These are just some of the ways I find time for myself amidst all of the chaos.

A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

How do you squeeze in time for you?