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?

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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.

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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.

candy crush addiction

I posted over at Quad City Moms Blog today about my Candy Crush addiction. http://www.quadcitymomsblog.com/2013/08/12/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?

Ditching the Kids: My Two Hours of Freedom (thank you baseball camp)

Today I am maneuvering the super highway of motherhood like a pro race car driver. I’m in the fast lane; changing diapers, fixing cereal, and everybody is completely ready, including hair done and teeth brushed, by 7:15 in the morning.

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It’s Bradley’s first day of baseball camp. This is actually his first time for any kind of “camp” and I’m a little nervous and a little bit excited and I really don’t want us to be late on his first day. But I don’t know what I was thinking, I have to take all these little monkeys with me (2 two-year olds and a 3-year-old) and I think I have lost my mind.

And of course things can’t run smoothly. Collin starts running through the house and saying naughty words (can’t wait till we get out of this stage!) and the twins are fighting over shoes. It’s like a big pothole that I got stuck in and came to a crashing halt. I’m stalled and on the side of this motherhood super highway. I’m cursing myself for not finding a sitter for a couple of hours. I don’t want to take this chaos with me on his first day and try to figure out where to be and not lose anybody. It’s like driving with no headlights in the dark.

So I do what any desperate mother would do…I start calling people at the last-minute. “Can you come watch the little ones this morning for 2 hours? PLEASE! It’s Bradley’s first day of baseball camp.” It’s my last-ditch effort. Terri (who watches the kids a lot for me) came through for me. God bless her soul. Saved again!

I grab a jacket and head out the door. It’s a cool morning. If we hurry we just might make it in time.

As I approach the sign in table I am so grateful I don’t have the little ones with me. The stands and fields are filled with boys ages 7-12 years old with all their baseball gear and parents milling around. Not a whole lot of babies trying to run out onto the field, like I know Collin would try to do.

I just sort of stand there, feeling a little lost. I’ve never been to one of these things. Do I stay or do I leave? I’ve never left him before. I feel the jitters in my stomach at the thought –  he’s still so little, he’s only seven! –  and the excuses run through my head. But the rational side takes over, he’s old enough. It’s camp. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do at camp, drop ’em off and pick ’em up?

Luckily I ran into a couple of old high school friends and chatted with them in the crowd. “Have you done this before? Did you do this last year? Do you wait around or just drop them off?” I was so nervous. They seemed like pros. “See ya later. I have other kids at home.” and “I’m gonna go workout and run some errands.”

Hmmmm….why couldn’t I take this freedom and run with it? Why don’t I have plans or things to do? The freedom was a strange feeling I wasn’t sure what to do with. I stood and watched my son in the group go to the farthest field with all of the other boys. Little baseball feet ran through the field in unison, like little wheels going round and round, and my son’s feet blended with the others as he became one of the team. I guess I am free to go.

But instead I still stood there debating in my head, should I stay or should I go? But it’s two hours long. Finally, after making small chit-chat with a grandpa on the sidelines, I decided to enjoy my freedom. I can be like my friends, I can have plans and take the time to go do something. Maybe I should go workout. Nah, I don’t have workout clothes (and a ton of other excuses for that one)….so I went to the library.

And let me tell you, that two hours of freedom felt amazing. I went straight to my favorite section of the library. No kid section. No shushing them. No losing the little stinkers in the aisles. No threats about leaving if they couldn’t behave.

Just me and books. It felt like heaven. I even got to go to the magazine section. I signed up for the summer reading program. I felt a hundred pounds lighter, even though I had a heavy stack of reading material in my arms.

I should ditch the kids more often, I thought as I was leaving the library with a humongous smile on my face. Maybe I could find a “camp” for ALL of them. Do they have camps for toddlers? Hmmmm…it was fun while it lasted, that two hours of freedom.

I think I will find a babysitter again some morning and ditch the kids. This mommy time was just what I needed!

What do you do with your freedom when you “ditch” the kids?

xxx

 

 

Easter Leftovers

It was just last week that I stood at the kitchen counter after all of our Easter eggs hunts and family gatherings. I popped open the plastic eggs and poured the kids’ candy into a community candy bowl; jelly beans, Reeses’ cups, scrunched up packs of Skittles and Miniature m&m’s. My eyes glazed over in a sugar coma as I looked over the sea of candy.

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Holy Crap! These kids have a shitload of candy!

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Let’s do the math. 4 kids + 3 Easter egg hunts (home and both grandparents’ houses) = 8 chocolate bunnies and waaaayy too much candy, probably enough to hold us over until Halloween (I will throw it out way before then). There is so much candy my eyes are turning into jelly beans. I just can’t believe how much candy there is. They got other stuff too; bubbles, bouncy balls, sidewalk chalk, books…but I’m still amazed at the amount of sugar.

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Why do we do this each and every year?

We fill and hide eggs from the “Easter Bunny,” they gobble up as much as they possibly can and bounce around on a sugar high until I take it away, declaring “Easter egg hunt is over. Hand over all your eggs. You are not eating Peeps for breakfast!” Such a mean mom… but I do let them eat a little bit.

The twins, they suck at hunting for Easter eggs. They each found three or four eggs and promptly sat their diapered booties on the steps and ate up their goodies. They refused to find anymore. They were content with popping jelly beans in their mouths and watching the boys collect the rest of the eggs. When they wanted more, they held out their hands and grunted and Collin would deliver an egg to each sticky hand.

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That’s why I decided next year I’m filling eggs with cereal; Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs – all the kinds of cereal I rarely ever buy. Then, instead of taking the time in the morning to feed them breakfast, I can just send them outside to hunt for their meal. Win win situation. It kind of reminds me of a Family Guy episode where the babysitter threw a bunch of crackers in the yard along with Stewie. “There’s your lunch. Go get it.”  I’ve always wanted to do that. Here’s my chance with a good excuse, Easter!

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Until they get older…I can picture it now…them throwing the plastic eggs at me, a blue egg bouncing off my head and spraying cereal everywhere. Orange and purple and hot pink eggs hitting my arms and sides and legs, leaving little welt marks and breaking open, crunch berries and fruit loops littering the yard. “What the hell?! What kind of Easter bunny leaves cereal?! Where are the real eggs?! Where is the damn candy?!” The rebellion.

But I actually did fill a few eggs this year with cereal. After I took the eggs away, the girls just went into a fit. They didn’t understand. They screamed and whined. They turned into the evil twins. It was horrible. So I took a couple empty eggs and filled them with Cheerios and they were happy. Problem solved. Crying stopped. Phew!

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But I was really happy this year. The kids were so good helping each other find eggs. They didn’t push or shove or get stingy. They were so helpful and nice to each other. Bradley, still on crutches with his broken leg, couldn’t even bend down to pick up the eggs off the ground. Collin was so nice and helpful. Bradley would say, “Collin, see that green sparkly one? I want that one.” And Collin would get it for him and pick one up for himself. They were so good, which rarely happens for that amount of time, especially when candy is involved.

So glad it’s over. Time to go eat the ears off one of those bunnies.

xxx