Making Peace with Sunday Dinner

Just shy of a year ago, my feathers got seriously ruffled when someone made a comment to me insinuating that I wasn’t doing enough as a mother by not having a hot meal ready to go the second we walked in the door from church. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about church, you know that it often hits me in all the feels and leaves me sweaty and exhausted by the time service is over because, well, five kids 10 and under makes for a long haul, no matter how welcoming the majority of the environment is to their presence (and thank goodness for all those who are so gracious and accepting of my wiggly, not-so-little herd).

Today at church was the kick-off of Sunday School, which Ben teaches, and the baby no longer naps through, so the whole crew was there bright and early to get all the info and send 4/5 off to their classrooms (actually, the baby tagged along with Daddy and his class because after him heading back to school two weeks ago, she’s not really willing to let him out of her sight if she can help it, come the weekend). And then we stayed for service, as is our tendency during the school year (sorry, summer; you sort of went off the church attendance rails this year).

By some force of magic (and the help of a familiar, friendly face), Wilson went to the nursery during most of the service. That meant I got to hear more than I normally do which is always nice, but we still had Truman (who went on an all-day early-bday extravaganza to Omaha yesterday and is still in fall-out today) and a “How much longer is it???” asking Lincoln from like the first hymn on, and yeah – still sweaty, still tired when it was all said and done.

And you know what?

That’s fine. It’s totally OK for our time in the pew to be a little bit challenging right now (and for the foreseeable future). We’ll get what we get out of it and our kids will hopefully get something out of it too, and someday far from now, we’ll be empty-nesters who can actually pay attention start to finish and that will be a grand adventure, although in a totally different way.

For now, we’re going to let some things go, and by things I really mean Sunday dinner. I didn’t really care too much last year when the flip comment came my way (except for the rudeness of said comment) and now a year later, I am just full-on embracing the fact that our Sunday routine after church is going to be constituted of precisely No Routine.

After my kids have held their sh!t together for 2.5 hours of Sunday School + a full church service, I really don’t care what they do once we get home, short of cleaning their hands and changing out of their church clothes*. I don’t even care if they sit down right away to eat; I mean, why would they want to after being so still for so long leading up to that point?

You want to go play in the dirt? Fine; change your clothes first.

You want to go read a book? Fine; wash your hands first.

You want to eat some left-over pizza or a granola bar and crackers or some watermelon for lunch? FINE. Change your clothes and wash your hands first and have at it!

I just don’t care for formality at this point. What I care about is that my family is here and free to have a little say in how they unwind and process and if we can give them a little more grace and space in the doing so, along with ourselves, then that’s all the better.

*I really wish I had gotten a picture of the little Welschies today before we came home and they changed because how they dress for church is definitely another avenue of Pick Your Battles (and Mama’s not picking this one) in our house. Lincoln was in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Truman, khaki shorts and a t-shirt. Harrison, sweatpants with a “fancy” t-shirt and his dress shoes. Wilson in a cute little dress. Raegan in a fancy fancy dress she got as a hand-me-down from friends. So basically, a giant hodgepodge and again, it all went fine. I might fight this more on days they have to sing/play bells in front of the congregation, but beyond that? Whatever. img_4915I will dress myself up as I like and I remind myself that just like Jesus doesn’t give a flying flip if my kids eat cheese and crackers for lunch after church, he also doesn’t care what their clothes look like, no matter how much society may try to make us think otherwise.

 

 

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Off He Goes, Go He Must

All of our babies have family namesakes (some on multiple levels) and it is from Lincoln Thomas’s, my dad Tom, that I know the phrase used above in the title. From as early in my memory as I can go, which is probably about the age LT is now, I remember my dad saying some version of, “Off I go; go I must” when he’d be headed out of the house to the field or the truck or where have you. This phrase seems fitting today because Lincoln Thomas embarked on his own first big adventure away from home – full day Kindergarten. img_4862

Of course Linky’s had some practice at being away from us over the last three years with increasing days of preschool, leading up to five day half days all of last year. But this whole away-from-home-all-day-every-day business? Goodness, it feels different.

Of course I know he’ll be fine. He is my small-but-mighty, my little-but-fierce and I know he’s going to learn and love a lot about school this year. Getting him to this point this summer, though, has felt like a bit of a proving ground.

Based on frustration levels (both his and mine) and gray hairs (just mine), I’m pretty sure we went through some serious teenage-like push-away phase during the last month where I know he still loves me and I love him but holy moly whoa…challenging attitudes and behavior and moments and just all the things that I guess are making it easier for us to separate now that he’s off to school all the time? That’s how that works, right, as they claim more independence and grow? They sometimes have to gain that space by making it for themselves.

Both the hubs and the BFF think that some nerves and anxiety on LT’s part might be behind it all, and that’s probably all true, too. Goodness knows, I’m as mama-heart-nervous to send this one off as I have been with all the others. As much as I know he will be all of these things, I sit here and ache a little with the longing for him to be OK, accepted, understood, and loved. I mean, it’s what we want for all of our babies, yes? Now and always. Yes.

But the beauty of this kid and all that is sweet (and those little bits that sometimes turn sour) is that he was indeed ready to go this morning. It probably helped that his own BFF is in his class and started today too, which is another calming factor for all of us, I think.

All told, the first morning was fantastic. We stood all smiles and high fives in line until it was time to go, and he told me he didn’t need me to go in the building with him, so we stood and we watched and not a tear was shed by any of the Welschies, not even Mama! For as hard as the last few weeks have been, I know it will be equally hard to be away from him all day today.

So to all you mamas sending pieces of your heart off to school this week or the next (or the next), trust me when I say that I get it when you are both so excited to see them go (again – multiple levels to this, my friends) and missing them like crazy while they’re gone.

But off they go, as they must. This is the way, the path, and bumpy as it may be at times for all kinds of reasons, it’s an honor and privilege to be along for the ride with these incredible young souls.

 

Medical Mystery? We’ll See.

Oftentimes I use this space to sort out life as I write. Getting my thoughts down in words has always helped me process which means I don’t always know where I am going to land by the end of a piece when I begin it. Such is life, right?

But today’s post feels even more open-ended than that because I know for certain that when I hit “publish” I am still not going to know any more answers than I do in these opening lines, no matter how large my word count grows.

Long story short, I’ve been dealing with unexplained, persistent, and at times really troubling abdominal pain for much of this summer.

In typical Type-A fashion, I didn’t want to go in to see someone about it at first because I wanted to give it time and figure it out myself. But as the weeks passed and things didn’t improve or show any sign of definite cause, I decided it was time to seek out professional help which I did a week ago.

Thankfully, as of now, nothing is presenting that seems imminently scary and that alone is a huge relief. However, what that leaves us with currently is taking time and space (and a few other measures that I’ll keep private for now) to allow some hopeful healing to take place.

If things improve, awesome; that’s obviously the best outcome possible. If they don’t, we’re back to the drawing board, so to speak, to keep seeking out answers by more extreme means. But there-in lies my writing conundrum in sharing any of this because I really don’t have resolutions to share at this time and that’s hard for me. Waiting and wondering are hard for many of us, I would assume, especially when pain and discomfort are involved. But I’m doing what I can to lighten my load (any time I utter a phrase like that I snort because we all know that is easier said than done, yes?) and make changes to my routines that might help the healing process.

Enter one attempt: the standing desk.

One pattern I have noticed this summer is that sitting tends to aggravate things and that’s how I tend to hold my body when doing all of my online teaching/grading. So after hemming and hawing for a few weeks (another pattern of the summer, unfortunately), I decided to invest in a standing desk from which I can do more or most of my online adjunct work. It is early days in terms of deciding how the standing feels in my body versus sitting, but the colors of it are already making my heart happy, so I figure that’s as good a start as any to improvement.

Where things go from here only time will tell, but in that meantime, I’ll do what I can to aid and assist the process of healing.

Raging Ducking Batch

I’m not the first parent to clarify the difference between vacation and travel when it comes to going places with kids, and this isn’t the first time I’ve written about such on the blog. But today has been an interesting Day of Fallout, post-travel, that is usually reserved for when our kids stay somewhere without us and then come home. Except we all came home yesterday and apparently we all needed to exorcise some Fallout tendencies today.

It doesn’t help that our travel, which was six-ish days long, involved some unexpected high stress of a really sick baby. Thanks to Zorfan and ibuprofen, she bounced back remarkably quickly, but Ben and I had two nights out of five with extremely little sleep and clearly I’m still feeling that lack in the here and now.

It also doesn’t help that my here and now started bright and early this morning with an unnamed child coming in to ask me if it was time to get up yet to watch a show when unnamed child definitely knew that it was not yet time and if unnamed child had just left me the frick alone and gone to watch the show instead of asking to watch the show, unnamed child would have been in far less trouble than waking me up to ask such a ridiculous question in the first place.

Basically, the (mama) bear was poked early today and she was cranky as all get out for most of what followed. That might have been the case either way on our first full day at home, but wow. It was A Day.

To put it another way, I sent one of my Dear Ones a text that said: “Also, holy smokes. After trying to hold everyone’s shit together for six days away from home, I am a raging ducking batch today.”

And then we decided that wins the Best Autocorrect of all time and even though I have a headache from exhaustion, I’m feeling a little less rage-y around my house. A little less ducking batch, too.

So after getting the littlest two to bed, the Big 3 helped clear the yard and then settled down to a living room Reading Party. Even Mr. Lincoln who can’t yet read grabbed a book and a couch cushion and (sort of) quietly looked at pictures without asking (too many) questions.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot prettier than the rest of the day, so we’re going to go ahead and cling to that brighter spot at the end of a long haul and hope that tomorrow goes a little bit smoother and starts a wee bit later than today.

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Double Digits (and A DAY)

I really, really meant for this post to be all about Harrison and hitting the incredible, amazing, how the heck did we get here so fast, huge milestone of turning Double Digits, but then today happened and my brain is too tired to write two posts, so here I am, combining the tale of my two Bookends into one rambly offering. img_4548

So, the brain fog.

We’re on Day Four of being on the road with our kids and my family and sleeping hasn’t been great while we’ve been away, so even before the craziness of last night came, I was tired and a little foggy. We’ve been making the rounds to different locations and family times in SoDak, which has been good, but you know travel and kids is just hard and trying to keep some semblance of normalcy is hard, too. When you add in sickness, though, everything gets instantly more insane.

Honestly, in our ten years of being parents, I don’t know that we’ve ever encountered a kid sick like this while away from home. And by this, I mean a vomiting baby (who is also celebrating a milestone of 20 months TODAY) who woke us* up at 3AM and kept us hopping until noon when we decided to take a leap and get her checked at local convenient care because her inability to keep down fluids was starting to concern all of us.

*Harrison was one of her roommates last night and he is totally the one who took charge and came to tell Ben and I that the baby was sick, so there’s one point about him in his birthday post: he is a kick ass big brother.

Some Zofran and fever meds, a nap, and a couple hours later and we had a totally different baby on our hands; thank goodness, too,  because she was in rough shape up until that point.

But poor Harrison. We just did not get to spend the same time, energy, or focus on his birthday like we would have had we not had such a nasty distraction for the day.

img_4568Fortunately we still got to do some of the stuff he loves like have Pizza Hut (fact number two about our ten-yr-old) for lunch and two servings of ice cream cake for dessert. He also got to watch a bit extra Zebra Gamer (fact N.3) while we dealt with stuff, and I definitely didn’t hear him complaining about that.

Tacos for supper (#4) and a bit more TV before bed (#5 which is truly a rarity) helped, too. So did getting to go get some lake time and play time (#6) img_4564with his healthy sibs (Dear Lord, please let the rest of the them ALL stay healthy!) and extended family, even though the biting flies were out of their ever-lovin’ minds both times we got near the lake.

Although we haven’t had much read time today, that’s still a highlight in his world (#7) and on this trip, and he’s also had some quality Lego building (#8) as of late, too.

Above all else, he’s still my super smart, super clever, super amazing first born (#9) who is always there to catch a gaffe or insert an observation or a question, and I remain in awe of his big brain on the daily.

And now, just like that, he’s 10. 10! For a whole decade, we’ve been lucky enough to call him ours, and I cannot wait to see where his big brain and his equally big heart (fact #10 about him) take him in the next ten years. If he has any say about it, the answer will be Finland, to work for Angry Birds Land, but that’s Fact No.11, so clearly I’m getting ahead of myself. 😉

Happy Birthday, HD! It may not have been the day we had planned, but you’ve taught us from the very beginning to just roll with it, and we’re so glad you were able to do the same today.

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3/5 Tunnel Free

Having one of those “my baby really isn’t a baby anymore” moments today, on the eve of Lincoln’s 6th Birthday.

SIX!

How on earth did we get here so darn fast?

Of course that’s both entirely true and total hyperbole, all at the same time. It is equal parts hard to believe he is already this old and easy to see that we have paid some dues in The Tunnel and are happy to be moving forward with our third kid out of it.

You remember this analogy, yes? That until a child turns six, he or she is VERY much IN The Tunnel of needing you for everything all the time. Each year shifts and more independence comes, but I know no better testament to life with young Littles than this, the Tunnel years.

And tomorrow Lincoln crosses that magical threshold of leaving it!! That accomplishment (on his part as well as ours) is almost as cool as he is.

A quick SIX look at my sweet Yankee Doodle:

  1. He IS a Yankee! At least, he is a huge Yankees fan which is as funny as it is insulting to this Royals-loving household.
  2. He eats, sleeps, dreams, plays, and breathes baseball. And for a little guy, he’s pretty good to boot and super fun to watch as we did this summer during his first go as city rec league. That’s his jersey he is wearing (wither PJ pants) on a bday eve trip to the store today. Cutie!
  3. Still a music kid. Current faves are “Old Town Road” and “Fifth Avenue” by Walk Off The Earth. Love his singing and dancing.
  4. He’ll tell you no when he’s not feeling it but he’s still an affectionate little bug who gives the sweetest hugs and kisses a lot of the time. He’s a tough little nut but has such a tender heart under that shell.
  5. If he could, he’d eat chocolate covered granola bars and blueberries all day long (just not together).
  6. He’s still a kick ass brother. Of course with some of his siblings his brother role includes a lot of fighting and fighting and more fighting, but with Wilson it means nothing but love. She may just stay his favorite person for ages to come.

We have fun parade and family and friend plans for tomorrow which is going to be great. I’m sure at some point, though, there will be a heart-string-pulling moment of looking at him and seeing that little firecracker baby who came just hours after the parade those short six years ago…and another for being lucky to be his mama, because there is none other quite like Lincoln. 💚

Baseball and Berries

Somehow it is already the last week of June. This means that tomorrow I start teaching my (mostly) annual summer ENGL lecture at CCC (while also instructing two online sections of Comp for Bellevue). And that means by the time the lecture is over, summer break will mostly be the same. Done.

Where has the time gone?

The ball field and the garden, that’s where.

This summer we finally went down the rabbit hole of letting our boys sign up for rec baseball; something we’ve put off for years because of babies and bedtimes and just sanity. But Lincoln breathes baseball and Harrison enjoys it, too, so we just couldn’t hold off any longer, about which they are both happy. Ben’s pretty content, too, and has rocked it at taking video of them each night (which is good because we can’t afford sitters every night to stay home with the Littles, so we’ve had to take turns with attending/parenting). But me? I am over it, and this from someone who actually loves baseball and spent both her high school and college years around her best male friends playing the game.

Mainly it’s the crappy evening schedule that has spoiled things for me. The boys are in two different age groups which means two games a week but on opposite nights, so our family has FOUR nights each week of practice/games. And did I mention that some of HD’s games don’t START until 8P.M. which means he doesn’t get home until after 10? So not only is our dinner routine effed, but so is our quiet time and bedtimes, and Mama’s just not having it any more.

So no, I don’t really have to wonder where this month has gone because it’s been spent on one field or another in a constant shuffle of gear, Gatorade, and games.

Also frantic in our world? June bearing strawberries!

Feel free to laugh at me all you want for that because it is a silly thing to stress over, but holy moly BERRIES. This is the year our patch went bonkers and required hours each day of picking, washing, cutting, and (of course) enjoying/eating every single day. If we skipped a day of picking, we paid for it, and here in the last week it finally got away from us with too many berries getting too ripe.

Y’all, we have too many little people who are still dependent on us for many things. Having a garden that is the same caught me way off guard, especially in the midst of first-time baseball crazies.

So again – no need to wonder about the time suck that turned out to be June.

The whirlwind has landed us on the eve of the first week of dual-summer teaching but also the last week of baseball (and again, berries already overdone, so…..). (Summer)Time will continue to fly, but the side hope is that we should have construction updates to come, soon so, YAY for progress, even when – especially when – it comes amidst the chaos.