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?

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.

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.

kids at park

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?

Wake Up! Let’s Go to the Park.

Before I was even all the way awake this morning I was thinking of a way to get out of the house and procrastinate some chores.

Who else might possibly be awake this early with kids? So I texted Brandi, my partner in crime with things to do with the kids.

Me: Wake up! What are u doing today? I got a shit load of laundry and haven’t showered yet, but I think I’m gonna throw my hair in a pony tail and put on some clothes and take the kids to the park. Wanna go? Supposed to rain later. So we gotta hurry.

Brandi: Ur text just woke me up.

Me: Haha! Wake up. It’s nice out and prob not for long!

Me: I’m just jealous I can’t ever sleep in past 8.

Brandi: I don’t have any kids here. lol.

Me: How that happen?! Lucky!!

Brandi: I made it happen. lol.

Me: Can I borrow your magic wand for next weekend?

Brandi: My magic wand was a birthday party and my dad. lol.

Me: 😀

Me: So does that mean u don’t want to go to the park? haha

Brandi: Yes!

I would have loved some other adult company, but the kids and I made it anyway. It wasn’t too cold, considering that it is November in the midwest. But it was windy. We had a great time. I let them run loose and wild. AND I knew that they would take a good nap when we got home and I could probably get some “chores” done.

 

Sometimes you just gotta get up and go. Forget the weather forecast.  Forget the makeup. I can wash my hair later. With all these kids, if we don’t just go….we will never make it out the door. And I just wanted to get out before it rained on us. What a great morning! Love the spontaneity of it all. Those are usually the best times. 

xxx

Collin’s First Day of Preschool

I had it all planned out in my head how Collin’s first day of preschool should go. I would pick out a really cute shirt, maybe one that he got for his birthday, we would walk hand in hand up to school and I would tell him how big he is and what to expect. I figured he probably wouldn’t want me to leave and would cling to my leg, but I would tell him that mommy would be back and give his pale cheek a kiss and hold back my tears as I looked at his light blue eyes and protruding lip as he tried to be a big boy and not cry. It went nothing like I planned, except maybe the shirt part. I should have figured, Collin is my crazy kid. We never know what to expcet when it comes to him.

Collin’s First Day of Preschool

He started preschool a month or so ago. As soon as I found out when his first day was going to be I started drilling him on important questions that every 3-year-old should know, like name and age. Plus, this was going to be his first time away from his mama or any other adult who knows him well, so I felt these were pretty important questions to be able to answer.

“What is your name?” I asked him.

“Tree,” he said, really meaning three but holding up four fingers.

“No. That is how OLD you are. Three. When I ask you how OLD you are you say three,” I said, adjusting his fingers to holding up three, even though they kept springing back to four and five.

“Four, hive (five)!” he said, grinning.

“NO. Listen. When I ask you your name, you say COLLIN,” I explained for what seemed like the millionth time in the last couple of days. “What’s your NAME?”

“Tree,” he repeats with the finger thing again.

“NO. You say COLLIN. SAY COLLIN.”

“Tree,” he says.

We have done this many time with the same results. Over and over and over again. Really?! I could feel the frustration creeping up my back. C’mon kid, get with the program! I thought to myself.

He finally says his name, but it sounds like “On.”

I do the drill over and over again throughout the evening for the next couple of days. I have asked him so many times and keep getting the same response, I might just start calling him Tree. Oh, well. He’s only in preschool, he’s only “tree,” so I guess he will get it eventually.

The night before school I searched through the toy boxes for Bradley’s old Elmo book bag that Collin loves to wear, feeling the first day of school excitement all over again, but I started to get discouraged. I couldn’t find the darn book bag anywhere! I tossed dolls and legos and action figures and plastic kitchen food over my shoulder, digging deep into the trenches of all the toy boxes. When I was knee deep in toys and looked around at the disaster of a mess I made, I finally found it, but not in the toy box. It was laying against the wall by all of the shoes…in plain sight. Figures.

In the morning I talked him out of wearing his fireman gear for his first day of school and wrestled him into a really cute shirt.

When I first pulled into the parking lot Collin says, “Bye, Mum! Bye, Mum!” like I was just going to drop him off. Heck, I didn’t even get parked and he was already saying goodbye? At least let me pull into a parking space!

“Collin, Mommy is going to take you INTO the school. You can’t go by yourself!” I told him.

“No, Ma! I BIG!,” he pleads.

This is not how I pictured this moment at all! And all I can think of is seriously kid?! Let mommy do her job and take you to school. Usually kids cling to their mother’s legs and don’t want their moms to leave. They at least let them get in the building! He probably wanted to be dropped off like Bradley, who just jumps out of the car and says goodbye, but he is in first grade.

When I got him out of his car seat and his book bag on his back, I held out my hand. “C’mon. This is gonna be fun! Your first day of school!”

He smiled real big but wouldn’t take my hand. He can be so stubborn. When I insisted he tucked his hands under his armpits. “No, mum. I big. I do,” and he tried to walk like a big kid with a purpose, like he knows where he is going. Silly boy.

I was tempted to swoop him up and prop him on my hip, kissing his cheek and stealing hugs. But I didn’t. I let him walk like a big boy.

Every door we came to he tried to open. “This one, mum?”

“No, all the way around in the front,” I told him at least three times, after he tried each and every door.

I had him pose for a picture in front of the school. He was excited and I got a lot of cute pics, which is probably the only other thing that went how I planned for this day.

When the bell rang we walked to his classroom. I looked at the little kid art on the wall, trying to imagine what Collin may create, trying to image what kind of student he might be.

We walked into his classroom and he sat right down at a table and started coloring and was as busy as could be. He barely looked up when I said bye. I was so worried this would be a hard day for him. Obviously it was much harder for me. I walked down the hall, expecting tears. But really, I felt a sense of relief. Everything is going to be fine. He already loves it, so I love it. It just wasn’t how I expected the morning to go.

What first day of school memories do you have with your kids? Who was it harder for, you or them? Or was it  relief? Because I think by the time I get kids number three and four into school, it will be sad but also a big sigh of relief. I guess in a couple years we will see.

xxx

My Babies Playing Spoons

I think with a little more practice we could start a band. The babies are great at playing the spoons, at least Collin and Elsie are… I’m not sure what Mallie was doing in the background. She gets sidetracked easily. They all do!

Earlier tonight I got out a few plastic Easter eggs and buckets. It’s amazing how busy and entertained they were with these silly little objects. It’s not the first time I’ve done this trick. Whenever I really want to get something done, like the dishes or a telephone call, this is one of my tricks. You can’t do it to often or it becomes normal and boring. But it sure is special and fun doing it every now and then. And they played forever and I got so much done! 

They got the spoons for themselves and went to town. I thought it was adorable, although a little noisy. But we had a blast!

AND Bradley lost another tooth tonight. On his way up to bed with a little tiny baby tooth tied up in a plastic baggy he asks me, “Mom, is there more than one tooth fairy?” I thought about it for a minute, unsure how to answer. And he says, “Like is there one in China?”

“Yea. I think there is one for every country.” It’s the best I could come up with. Sometimes you really have to think on your toes.

“Now go to bed so the tooth fairy can get to work!”

xxx