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?

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

Five Stars for Magna Doodles

The boys were sprawled out on the living room floor, heads bent and getting along wonderfully. “Wow!” is all I could say and wish this happened more often. They were taking turns, there was no arguing, and they were really into what they were doing.

They were drawing on the Magna Doodle! And they were doing some really cute drawings. They would fill up the screen and show me their work, proud smiles plastering their cute little faces and their blue eyes lighting up.

But every time they would go to move the little orange handle across the screen to erase, I would silently cringe, wishing I could save that one for the scrapbook. But they created more little masterpieces over and over again.

Bradley eventually got bored and left the toy all to Collin. And even without his brother, Collin sat and drew pictures for a good 20 minutes, which is really good for this busy toddler who seems to never sit still unless Umi Zoomie or Bubble Guppies is on.

Collin and his creations, which are planes by the way.

So I give the Magna Doodle five stars for keeping my kids busy, playing cooperatively together, and using their imaginations. They drew planes and cars and people and animals and shapes and all kinds of stuff.

The downside, Mommy can’t save their little masterpieces. UNLESS I take a picture! (which I finally smarted up and started doing.)

The other amazing thing about this toy is that it is durable. Bradley got it for his second birthday, and he is almost seven…so the toy is about five years old. We have lost all the magnetic shapes or the dogs have eaten them, but it still works great after all these years, minus that it doesn’t erase completely and give you a clean plastic sheen-  you can still kind of see the old marks-  but the kids don’t seem to notice or know any difference.

I love little hands and their creations. Priceless!

xxx

My Baby Turns 3

I can’t believe my little Collin just turned 3!

I think back to when I had him and how much he has changed. It’s amazing how they grow so fast. I want to catch every little memory and keep it, like collecting butterflies in a jar. But since I can’t, I will settle for pictures and writing the little things down. 

Happy 3rd Birthday, my crazy little Collin!

xxx

Creativity Always Wins: The Poop Monster Saga

How can one sweet little boy turn into such a little stinker in a matter of minutes?

 

When you tell him he has to poop in the potty.

But tonight was a night for celebrating and extra cookies. If you are a parent who has recently been doing the potty training thing, you will understand and find humor in it. If not, you will probably find a post about pooping quite boring. But sorry, I don’t care… Because this is a happy time for Mommy!

Collin is pretty much potty trained, and a good thing because he’s gonna be three in less than a week. But for some reason he just wont poop in the toilet. He will whine and cry for a diaper. I have done everything imaginable to get him to just SIT on the toilet, besides tying him down. And I am so sick of skid marks in the little Tansformer underpants and cleaning up turds. I am tired of cleaning the damn carpet. I am tired of extra unnecessary laundry. I am tired of trying to bribe him to just to take a crap in the toilet. And as much as we love books around here, reading doesn’t work either.

But he finally did it! And it wasn’t with bribes, it was with creativity and I guess a little fear, as much as I don’t want to admit the last part.

He comes into the bathroom, “Poop, Mom. Poop!” Ugh! I resigned myself to cleaning up another mess, but he didn’t actually go. So I finally got my big girl pants/mommy britches on and quit giving in. “Don’t you dare get off that toilet until you poop!” He whined. He kept getting off. I kept having to get my tired butt off the Lightning McQueen footstool to put him back on. (Yep, I took a seat figuring it would probably take a while). “I don’t care if we’re here all night,” I told him. “We are not leaving this bathroom until you finish and go poop in that toilet!”

Needless to say, that didn’t work.

Until I spotted the Poop Monster right outside the door. (I don’t know where I come up with these ideas, they just hit me in the spur of the moment.) “Collin! Poop! You have to poop in the potty,” I said and glanced out the bathroom door nervously. “The Poop Monster is coming! He’s gonna…” (and I did have to think on this one) “He’s gonna bite your butt! You have to poop in the potty.” And I made all kinds of farting noises. “You have to do that to keep him away. And go poop in the potty before he gets here!”

You know, he looked a little scared. “Mom, shut da door! Shut!” he motioned at the door with his little hand. I shut the door. I didn’t want to totally scare him, even though it was a little fun – I’ll admit it. And so did Bradley, who was in the shower and couldn’t resist popping out from behind the shower curtain at that moment and yelling “Boo!”

“If you make the poop face and go poopy in the toilet he will go away. He wont bite your butt.” And needless to say, after the look of panic on his face (even though he was having fun too, we were fighting a monster!), and repeating the process several times with lots of fart noises, and urgently glancing out the door, he finally pooped in the toilet for the first time!

We cheered. We high-fived. He was so proud.

So creativity wins out this time. I couldn’t bribe the kid to take a crap, but I was able to scare the shit out of him!

What kinds of trials and tribulations have you gone through with potty training? What worked and what didn’t? What did you find yourself doing that you couldn’t believe you actually did?

I once bribed Collin that I would let him use my computer if he went…kind of glad he didn’t that time because I probably wouldn’t have a computer left after that one.

My other favorite “creative” story was with my nephew, Jonas, when he was two or three. He was terrified of fireworks and would freak out. I asked him if he knew who Tinker Bell was and he did. I told him that Tinker Bell ate a lot of beans and that was her up in the air flying around and every time she farted it made a big bang and all those pretty sparks. He thought it was hilarious and totally forgot about being terrified. He was just looking for the little fairy flying in the air with exploding farts.

Sometimes you just have to be creative. And even though I kind of scared my sweet little blonde boy; we had fun, it worked, and I should get a gold medal for best creative story for taking a shit.

xxx

My Little Tough Guy

I don’t know why everything always seems to happen to Collin. Maybe it’s because he’s two. Maybe it’s because he’s a little dare-devil. Maybe it’s because he runs around like a little mad man. Maybe because he is just a crazy goofy kid. I don’t know. But over the weekend we had another injury.

He was on the platform of the swing set looking out of the opening and waving wildly at Grandpa Don, “Hi, Papa! Hiiiiii!!!!” and cheesing it up with that super cute honery grin.

And before we knew it he was falling out, face first, from the swing set. A horrible nose dive. It was like it was in slow motion, but Grandpa sure did move fast to try to catch him.

I took him and rushed him inside, holding him close. I wasn’t worried so much about the blood between his eyes, it was how he landed. I was so worried about his neck. But he was moving okay.

It actually looks a lot worse than it really is. It actually doesn’t seem to bother him that much, unless he sees a picture of it. When he looks at a picture of himself with the owie he holds his face and says, “Ow, mom. Ow!”  Otherwise, he has forgotten all about it.

Poor baby. Everything seems to happen to him. You can read about his finger that almost fell off here, or another bloody lip here… and the list goes on. He always has scraped up knees and bruises, but this was a little more than that.

Brad said, “I don’t think any other kids will want to mess with Collin. He is a little bad ass. Look at all that he’s been through and he’s only two. Tough little shit.”

He sure is.

And I think I have some gray hairs now.

xxx

My Help

They fold laundry.

They “pretend” to sleep in the basket.

They cook.

 “Hot!” he says.

They clean.

And they sit around acting cute.

With help like this, I shouldn’t complain. But seriously, it takes me all day to do a few chores. It’s like running a mile, but really you haven’t gone anywhere because you’re on a treadmill. They sure are cute, though!

Oh, well. Eventually they will be big enough and I will leave them with chore lists, just like my parents did for me and my sister growing up. Man, I hated those lists! Dusting, vacuuming, folding laundry, dishes, washing windows, mowing the lawn, and the list goes on. So I know that eventually I will get to sit back and relax… because with this many kids, surely there will be at least a couple who will do their chores.

But in reality, I’m sure I am just entertaining a wonderful idea. I can already hear the griping and complaining now. “Mom! Elsie’s not helping!” or “Mom! Why do we always have to do everything?!”

Every stage is a joy and blessing, right? Enjoy them while they are young and at home because pretty soon they will be grown and out of the house. (I say this as Elsie just stole Mallie’s pacifier. Mallie started hollering and screaming and whapped her sister upside the head. And Collin just disappeared into the kitchen to get into who knows what!). Let the fun begin. Or I should say… Let the fun and games continue!

I often wonder how other mom’s get everything done and keep the kids busy. Is there some secret? What are your tips and tricks? Seriously! I would love to hear them!

I let them play with play-doh this time to get things done. So by the time I got the laundry done, I had a play-doh mess. But it kept them entertained for quite a while and I folded clothes like there was no tomorrow.

 xxx

I Know Accidents Happen…But I Still Feel Horrible

I’m not the kind of mom who freaks out over every little scrape and bruise my kids get. At least not anymore. Maybe I was with my first one. But after number two, three, and four…you loosen up a little. “Get up. You’re okay. Brush it off. Quit crying.” And we go on. There’s no time for excessive whining. Get up and get over it. Unless it needs bandaged, then you get a few more extra hugs and kisses before we go on with it.

But what happened the Monday before last was terrible. I have never seen anything like it and don’t ever want to again. I’m still in a little bit of shock from the accident. Especially since it was my fault. It was an accident, though. And I know accidents happen…but I still feel horrible.

We were just going out the back door to let the dogs in and I shut the door behind me to wipe off muddy dog paws. Collin screamed. Everything happened so fast. Instinctively I flew the door open. Holy crap, it was shut all the way with his fingers in it! I grabbed him up and put him on the counter to look at it. That’s when I about passed out. The tip of his little pinky finger was hanging off, like the top of a flip top box of Crayola crayons. It was so unnatural looking. It looked dead It was purple and black and bloody. It looked like something from a horror movie. It was just hanging there by a tiny piece of skin. Blood was gushing out of a gaping hole and he was screaming. Tears ran down my face and I was freaking out. It was chaos, adrenaline, screaming, panic, frantic phone calls, and a million things all at once.

There were so many thoughts rushing and zinging through my head as I was trying to calm down (which I wasn’t doing a very good job at) and comfort my severely hurt child. And with each scream the blood gushed out of his finger even faster, obliterating a hand towel, and I was having a hard time not breaking down with him. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I called Brad immediately. I don’t even remember what I said. I was screaming at him because I was trying to yell over Collin’s screaming. I made sure he got the basics. Come home. Leave now. Emergency room. It’s bad. Hurry. Collin’s finger is practically falling off. It got shut in the door. Or something like that.

And you know, adrenaline does crazy things. All the while I am holding onto him and trying to comfort him, “Hold on, baby. Daddy’s coming. We’re going to go to the doctor and fix it,” and these crazy thoughts just kept screaming in my head each time I looked at his severed finger or the blood drops on the floor. What have I done? Holy crap! His fingers going to fall off! I’m a horrible mother. Don’t let that finger fall off. BREATH. If it does keep track of it so they can sew it back on. BREATH. I’m a horrible mother. I can’t even be left alone with my kids. I ruined my perfect child. What have I done? I can’t believe it is practically falling off. BREATH. Hurry up, Brad, and get here. Dammit, Mom answer your phone. Call Brandi. Call Mom. Somebody has to be here with the twins. I can’t leave the babies.BREATH.  I’m so glad the babies are sleeping. Thankfully the dogs are outside. I was so afraid the finger would fall off and the dogs would eat it. This is terrible. This is really bad. BREATH. I need to get someone over here to watch the babies so I can ride with to the ER and make sure that finger doesn’t fall off on the way there. Holy, crap! I can’t believe it is hanging off like that. ANSWER your phone Mom! Call Connie. Get someone over here. I’m going with to the ER. Try to stay calm. Steady the room. BREATH. Don’t keep looking at it. Holy, crap. His finger is barely attached. Holy, shit! I’m a horrible mother. Stay calm. BREATH. Hold your baby close. I can’t believe it is hanging there! BREATH.

And the rest was a blur. A dash out to the car. I rode in the back seat with Collin. Brad told me to stay calm. I tried not to cry even more. “I feel so horrible. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t even see his hand,” I said, holding back bawling sobs. I sucked it in and tried to distract Collin with a game on Brad’s phone. He was crying and screaming the whole time. I can’t even imagine the pain my poor baby was in. Ugh!

They got us right in at the hospital. They called it a partial amputation. Holy crap! They gave him a shot…a nerve block…so he wouldn’t feel it. I went outside to get air. I couldn’t see the shot. His dad was there. I needed a breather and to collect myself. I needed to get it together for him.  Which I’m usually pretty calm in situations, but this was just something else. I have never seen anything like it. And I felt so horrible!

They stitched it all the way around. Frankenstein finger. They bandaged it up and gave us prescriptions. You could tell the shot helped. Gotta love pain meds. Phew!

I went home and crashed.

I thought Collin would nap after all that. But he was running around. No bandaged finger was going to slow him down.

And I am so happy that he says the door did it….not Mommy. He points to the door and says, “Broke. Broke. Ow!”  (Even though his finger did not get smashed way at the top.)

Cute video below of Collin comforting Mallie and then he showed her his owie and she kissed it. Awww…they can be so cute.

 

I know accidents happen….but I still feel horrible.

xxx

My Sledding Experience: I Don’t Bounce Like I Used To

They say that as you get older you get wiser. I learned a lot today when we went sledding. I don’t know if I am any wiser, but I did learn that I don’t bounce like I used to.

When I was younger I had no fear. I would start at the top of the tallest hill, take a running leap and belly flop on the sled and go flying down the hill face first. We would weave in and out of trees. We even had double ramps and we always got plenty of air. And going back up the hill to do it again…no problem. And if we crashed, it wasn’t bad. We just shook it off and was ready to do it again.

But something happens to our bodies when we get older, at least mine anyway. When I crash, it hurts. I don’t know if it is because of age and I’m not as flexible as I used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m not as physically fit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy. I chase after four kids all the time. That is plenty of physical activity to keep me fit and trim. But when I crash now, it really does hurt. I go limping back up the hill, if I make it at all, trying not to think about how it looked to everybody else. And also knowing I’m going to be feeling this all week long. Dang, I’m just not as young as I used to be.  

Maybe it is also because we’re more cautious now that we are older. We take into consideration all of the variables that could happen before we go sledding down that hill or doing some other stupid daring trick. I mean, I don’t have time to have a broken leg or arm. I have too many other people to take care of to be down like that.

But most of the time, I do it anyway. I’m just not quite as a daredevil as I used to be. This time there were no trees to steer between.

It all began when I was at the bottom of the hill watching the kids sled down. I was cheering for them and making sure they didn’t go too far and hit any obstacles. It looked like so much fun and eventually I was at the top of the hill sending the kids down to Brad. The extra sled was laying there, tempting me. Childhood sledding memories flew in like snowflakes and the reasoning part of my brain was frost-bitten and not working at that moment, I guess. I’m going down, I decided.

Now, I am smart enough that I didn’t start at the top of the hill. I started half way down. I don’t think it would have mattered where I started, crashing is always hard. I flew down the snowy hill and felt the rush of adrenaline. The next thing I knew, my face was in the snow and my hat flew off. I don’t know if I did a backwards somersault or just flopped over like a beached whale. Whatever it looked like I know it wasn’t graceful. But it did hurt. I just don’t bounce like I used to.

You know, I have always wanted to be the mom who participates in activities with their kids. I want to sled down the hill with them. I would probably even have a lapse of forgetfulness and try that ramp at the skatepark. But I try to remember to take it easy. There are some things I just can’t do like I used to. I can still play baseball, though!  

I took it easy the rest of the day with our winter play. I was cautious. I didn’t do any more sledding. Instead I flung my kids down the hill as fast as I could so I could relive those childhood memories somehow. Hearing their giggles and laughter, seeing their rosy cheeks, and watching them crash was more than enough enjoyment for me.

We had a great time. We even made a baby snowman.

Do you still go sledding with your kids? Or do you cheer from the sidelines? I would love to hear your sledding adventures.

xxx

Bubbling Zombie Brains and First Steps

I read Bradley the list of Dr. Dreadfuls experiments he could make, “Bubbling brains, zombie barf, skin, or a zombie bug mixture. Which one do you want to make?”

He picked the bubbling brains.

He measured, poured, mixed, and stirred the crazy concoction. It started to fuzz and fizzle over the edges. 

“It’s ready to eat,” I told him and passed out the spoons.

“Ewww…It’s sour!”

Bradley was a little worried at first. “No, it’s not real brains. It’s just candy.”

Collin loved it.

It’s been a crazy busy day. Up early because Collin wakes up too early. Work. Visiting with family. Chasing babies. Dinner. Dishes. Laundry. It’s been a very busy day.

Now, late at night, I feel like my brain is starting to fuzz and fizzle over just like Bradley’s experiment. I’m tired. I really wanted to do his Zombie lab another night, but he has been looking forward to it since he first opened it up Christmas morning. So we had to at least do one experiment. It was fun.

AND! AND! AND!

Terri, who watches the babies during the day, called me at work.

“Elsie walked! She just took off like she has always been walking. She walked from the living room to the dining room.”

I was so excited all day. I couldn’t wait to get home to see her walk.

I bragged all day about her walking at work…and also mentioned, “Watch, when I get home, she wont do it.”

And she didn’t. It wasn’t until right before bed that she started walking. She just took off. It was so cute. (And soon I will catch her on video.)

I hope she starts walking more. She will be able to keep up with Mallie and Collin. And I have really been worried about her knees. She walks on her knees almost all of the time. She’s fast on her knees, but we have all hardwood floors. Her poor little knees are like elephant knees, all calloused and red. You know that’s got to hurt. Every night I put Aquaphor on her raw little knees.

So hopefully, she will start walking on her feet more often.

Keeping my fingers crossed. (I know she will do it eventually, I have never seen a two or three year old walking only on his or her knees. She does things when she wants.)

xxx