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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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.

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

Vacation is a Relative Term

So we are on our Christmas “vacation” or holiday “break” from school. And as I do dishes two or three times a day, fold four loads of laundry, bake cookies that stick to the cookie sheet, chase the kids around the house, “Get down! No jumping on the couch. Have you lost your mind?!”…I wonder when the “break” will begin because I think I’m losing my mind.

christmas 2012 022  When you are a mom, the term “vacation” or “break” doesn’t really mean time off to relax or get things done. That term is deceiving. It means chasing the kids around the house, being a referee to the fighting and bickering, “Mum, Bradley said ha ha to me” and “MOM! Collin threw a car at me.” It is thinking (and really believing) you are going to get all kinds of things done with this “extra” time, like organizing the closet and cleaning out the cupboards and then get all stressed out because you barely got anything accomplished and are counting down the hours until daddy gets home because mommy is really starting to lose it. Where is my break? And why wont these children nap?!

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I will admit, the first week or so was fun; waiting for christmas, baking cookies, wrapping presents, playing games, making crafts, admiring the christmas lights. But ever since New Year’s…well, I am totally over it. I am ready to get the hell out of the house!

I need to work for my sanity. I need to see people. I need to talk to somebody over the age of 3. Now, Bradley (my 7-year-old) is pretty good company and we have some great conversations…but it’s not the same as seeing people “out in the real world.”

I love my kids. I just don’t want to be home with them every day, all day. I will lose my mind…sweet and cute as they are. I really don’t know how stay at home moms do it. It’s just not for me. I find myself wishing for work so I can have a “break”…oh, the irony.

Must be time for a mommy night out…or a drink, either one or both will do.

How do you make it through “breaks” and “vacations” from school?

xxx