Minivan Moments

It is no secret to parents that you can sometimes have the best conversations with your kids when you are driving. There is something about the road or the slightly averted eyes that makes it a safe and comfortable place to chat.

Many days when I pick my biggest two up after school, they are talking shouting over each other to tell me stories as we make the all-too-short-to-fit-it-all-in drive back home. And then, just to be helpful, Truman starts chiming in, “Me turn! ME! TURN!” as if I haven’t been around him all day and already heard all his stories. 3yos, man. What a hoot.

This year, though, because my kids are in a two-year temporary building for school, our drive TO school in the mornings has gotten longer. Originally they were riding the bus but the schedule changed (insert eye roll here) and it became far more convenient just to drive them the extra distance instead of heading to the bus stop earlier. And what I have found on these mornings (besides the fact that I need to drink my coffee BEFORE the 7:30-9:00 drop-off craziness of every day) is that my kids and I have some pretty cool chats during those extra early minutes together in the car.

It is during these drives that I get to hear about what is going on at school that day or how things are going with so-and-so and this-and-that in their classrooms. This is when we get to quick review what we have going on later in the day so everyone is (sort of, mostly, kind of) on the same page after school. And this is when they get to just ask me whatever or tell me whatever is floating around their (pretty darn awesome) brains.

I really dig it.

And, because this one cracked me up, I have to share one of our conversations from last week….

As some of you know, HD decided to apply for Student Council this year. The day the applications came home, he told me he wanted to do it and he already had in mind his platform proposal (my words, not the school’s). He wanted to assign student helpers, student janitors, if you will) to help so the custodian wouldn’t have to do as much to keep the bathrooms clean.

“You know, Mom, like I do? They could push down the paper towels in the trash and stuff?”

Love him.

So. We talked about his answers to the application questions and he filled it out, took it back on time, and was told that yes, he could indeed run for StuCo. Yay!

Then, last Thursday morning, when we had approximately 20 minutes before we had to head out the door and I still had lunches to throw together, he tells me that he needs a speech to present to his peers. That day.

Oof.

My Mama heart freaked. I wanted to help him but I didn’t want to do it for him and he was right that he did not have enough time to write it all out himself.

So. We compromised. While I made lunches, he told me his ideas and I wrote out an outline on a half sheet of paper. I then handed it to him, told him to give me his speech, and lo and behold a future debator was born – he did it. He used that outline and elaborated and it was just cool to watch him do that so easily. He practiced a couple times¬† (“Mom, time me to make sure I’m under the time limit!”) and then we were out the door and in the van.

On this particular morning drive, after we had just done the mad-dash outline save, after a week of applications and conversations, is when Harrison decided to ask me, “Mom? What’s Student Council?”

Friends, it took everything in my being not to burst out laughing that he waited until that moment to make that inquiry, but instead I did my best to answer and away we went across town to school where he did share his ideas with his classmates and he was in fact elected to that mysterious entity otherwise known as Student Council.

Bless his heart. So proud of him. So entertained by him in that moment. So glad to have a few extra minutes with them all in the morning, even though the in-out-load-and-go of it all is a damn circus every day. To be a witness to their development and their personalities is worth it. And, thanks to the change up in my coffee routine, I’m coherent enough to remember the funnies that pop up along the way.

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Give Thanks

If you’ve been keeping up with the FB posts here lately, you’ll know that our Crazy May has indeed continued the last few days with RL taking another turn for the sickies Friday night (and then being totally OUT of it all day Saturday) and then Truman following suit (in the messiest way possible) late Saturday afternoon, resulting in more couch “sleeping” and So. MUCH. Laundry!

In the midst of all this chaos I realized I dropped the ball last week on Teacher Appreciation gifts (and also Mother’s Day cards, because adulting is hard), so the kids are taking them this week instead.

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Now I know in the past I’ve done “crafty” TA gifts because I’ve written posts about them (as if someone might pin them – *snort*) but clearly that’s just not happening in our world right now, so instead, a little truth for you. This year I went the “support local businesses” route instead, buying gift cards for teacher gifts (for coffee/alcohol, depending on their preferences – lol) and, a first, store bought (but still local!) cookies to share after LT’s preschool program.

Do I feel bad about this? Not at all. It’s what we could do and no one wants anything coming directly out of my house right now, anyway, so it’s all for the greater good.

img_0100Also for the greater good? Actually expressing gratitude (that gets hard when you’re low on sleep and immune systems), and by this I mean: writing thank yous.

Now. Writing thank yous is something my mom made us do always when we were growing up. I know I sometimes drug my feet a bit on it, but I’m pretty sure I always did them and the habit has stuck with me. I continue to send thank yous because I think they matter and I think they help us focus on the good in our life (and I don’t believe thank yous are just for responses to gifts, an idea that is supported by this book which is a great read), and I want my kids to do the same.

Writing thank yous is clearly nothing new in this house, but this weekend you would have thought I threw the biggest curve ball EVER when I asked the boys to do theirs to accompany their Teacher Appreciation gifts (RL was still convalescing and she wrote a thank you note of her own volition on Friday for a friend, so she’s clearly not part of this).

For the record, I was age-appropriate in my asking. HD was asked to write his in entirety and LT was asked just to sign his.

To protect the not-so-innocent, I won’t go into detail about what ensued, but it was ridiculous and long-lasting enough to frustrate even the utmost of patient parents (which I doubt we were given the lack of sleep and abundance of sickies in our house this week).

Eventualllllllllllly, they got their acts together and completed the tasks (and yes, HD wrote the perfectly lovely note I knew he was capable of doing). It’s not that they don’t appreciate and like their teachers; they just didn’t like and appreciate me telling them to tell them. And I get it. Forcing them to do thank yous creates one more power struggle here at home, but dang if it isn’t one that I’m going to keep after because I do want them to give thanks (preferably with a more grateful heart, but we’ll get there). I want them to know how to look around and see all that is being provided for them and to be able to express gratitude for it because those are valuable tools (and gifts).

Eventually we will find a way to remove the struggle from our thanks giving, which as you can see, RL has down in the best new-writer fashion:img_0128img_0126

 

 

The Camel’s Back + Football Pretzels

For the last week, our house has been in attempted healing mode. I’m not entirely sure how well our efforts have been going if we’re still at it a week later.

For me, that means my knees. After taking a tumble on a concrete driveway last Wednesday, it took several days just for the injuries to scab over, much less really start healing. While one is definitely closer to fine than the other, I still can’t put hardly any pressure on them (I can at least bend them enough to squat down to kid level though), and, like most injuries, you just don’t realize how many times in your daily life with Littles that you put weight on your knees until your knees tell you NO.

My discomfort, however, has taken a backseat to the health mystery of Mr. Harrison who has had an incredibly strange seven days/beginning of his school year. I’m no math teacher, so this could be wrong, but at this point he has darn near missed as many days as he has attended (one of those was our own doing with our Eclipse Day).

The culprit for the rest of them? Fever. One that showed up last Wednesday afternoon when I picked him up from school, then spiked on Thursday night (and resulted in couch sleeping shifts for B and I that night), and then persisted at various levels the whole weekend. Of course we kept him home on Monday but ended up not at the doctor because the fever went down (I had my own doctor’s appointments for Baby No.5 that day, so we still had familial representation at the medical park), to the point that he was then good to go to school Tuesday. But then the fever showed up again, low-grade, last night and was still there, low-grade, this morning. So. Another day home, but this time for sure to the doctor.

I should mention that we also did a trip to convenient care on Saturday where they did test him for strep, which was negative, but you know how sometimes you can just look at your kid and know something is still not right? That has been the last five days with HD. img_7527His eyes just haven’t looked right this whole time.

So this morning, another strep test and a finger poke to check blood counts and whatnot. Everything came back – again – negative. But you can tell something is wrong just by looking at him, much less by peering in his throat, so we’re thinking the medical mystery is a virus last week that broke Monday but then resurfaced as a secondary infection yesterday. So meds it is, as many fluids as we can get in him (unfortunately the child got his father’s hydration habits and not mine, so this is a challenge unto itself), and hopefully back to school ASAP.

From a parenting standpoint, this has made the last week, um, challenging. Next to nothing has been normal, and even though I am not teaching for CCC, I am still working via Grounded Sky and coordinating not only a big event for September, but also still teaching yoga classes of various styles. Plus, hello Third Trimester with Baby No. 5. I feel like that should be explanation enough as to why things have been less than smooth these last seven days.

So wth does this have to do with a camel and pretzels?

Today, after getting home with all three boys from preschool pickup, after spending much of the morning at the doctor’s office/pharmacy with two of them, in a span of two minutes, the 4yo managed to lock me out of the house and then then 2yo (once I was back in the house), dumped an entire bag of football shaped pretzels all over the dining room. Normally those aren’t really things that would make a person lose their shit, but I lost my shit. Which really means, I yelled and stomped around the kitchen a bit, and was just generally a big old mess of human because my patience and nerves (and knees, because ouch – literal salt in the wounds trying to clean up the pretzel mess) are shot.

And, clearly, I desperately need some normal, because so far, we are two weeks into the school year and I still haven’t found what that means for us yet. So with our window for establishing a routine being so short before we upturn everything again, I’m not terribly surprised that locked doors and pretzels were enough to tip me over the edge today.

Humanness + tunnel of parenthood + recovery mode pretty much = I need a nap, lots of coffee, just a teensy bit of normalcy, and no more damn pretzels.

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No Tears!

Friends, Raegan has been waiting for this day for, well, possibly two years when HD img_7413started Kindergarten, so to say that she was Ready is a bit of an understatement. She was so ready that we had tears yesterday because HD got to start and she had to wait for today! My sweet girl. Can you see that longing look in her eye in the photo bomb from his first day pics? Yep. She was more than pumped to get up today and Get It!

And you know what? It was a great morning. Much better than yesterday, actually. img_7423Maybe it was the sunshine or the fact that now, today, our real big kid school routine begins (preK will be added in a couple weeks and then we’ll have a couple/few months of normalcy before Baby arrives), but wow – total difference in everyone’s attitude and temperament (including Mama’s). Also, she told me I picked “perfectly” with her golden unicorn t-shirt for her to wear today. ūüėČ

img_7435We got to walk with friends to school as we like to do and from there, it was a bit of back and forth across the playground for myself and the littlest boys (naturally the grades in which my kids land line up on opposite sides of the building) but we got to catch up with Big Brother (who ran ahead with his buddies) for a quick photo and hug (and face wipe which I also had to do for Raegan — apparently we need to install some more lighting in our house because I had no idea they still had breakfast faces until we got out in the sunshine of the playground. Whoops.) And then it was a quick dash back to Raegge for all the same before watching her walk in for her first day.

She was a Rock Star. No tears. No freakout when I left her to go check on HD. She just flat out nailed it. And you know what? So did I! I had the sunnies ready to go to hide my blotchy face and tissues in my bag, but no tears, my friends! From any of us! I can’t even possibly explain this except that she was so solid and that helped me keep it together, too. Could the tears still come? You bet. But for now, this – a quick little note to my girl on her first day of school:

Dearest Raegan,

Welcome to Kindergarten, Baby Girl! We are so proud of the amazing person you are and on this, your first day of school, we wish you all the continued fun, learning, and excitement with which you have so anxiously awaited this day. Your strength of spirit, your creativity, and your spark for life are inspirations to your dad and I, not to mention great sources of joy for all who know you. May you always carry the tenacity, sweetness, and love you hold inside you today with you wherever you go, for we know you are off and on your way to do and be amazing. We love you, Raegee. Go get ’em, girlie!¬†

Love,

Mama*

*OK, there are the sniffles. I knew they weren’t far below the surface!¬†img_7429

 

Consequence

You know those parenting moments where you’re not sure if you are punishing yourself or your children? Chalk this one up in that column because my kiddos have officially lost Kindle, and quite possibly for the rest of the week, if not longer.

I found out this morning, shortly before HD’s pick up for school came, that the reason he and his siblings have been playing soooo nicely and soooo peacefully and sooooooooooo long downstairs in the morning post-breakfast is because they’ve been playing Kindle instead of just playing. AYFKM?!

OK. Some back story. A lot of mornings, they do have their hands on a Kindle but it’s for music only. They are my children, HD especially, and Spotify is going pretty much always for one of us during any given day, so sure – music in the morning is fine by me, even when it means I have to listen to the same 5 KidzBop songs 10,000x. Whatevs. But they aren’t supposed to be playing anything on the games side and not even messing with the device even, just letting it play.

You see, contrary to what some people believe who hear him speak (because it is the No.1 thing he talks about ALL THE BLESSED TIME), Harrison is NOT on the Kindle 24/7. We have set times when playing Angry Birds/games is allowed and it is limited. Again, you wouldn’t know that based on how much of his conversations his levels and the games tend to carry, but I promise you. It’s not Free Reign over here.

So imagine my BLERGH when they told me – all on their own, mind you – what they’ve been up to the last three mornings. Not exactly a happy mama, I kept my cool and told them I would think about and discuss with their dad their consequence, but they would likely be loosing Kindle. They were proud of themselves for not lying when questioned, I think, but since they already know the rules, I’m not sure that’s really a victory or a source of pride.

Not three minutes later, HD followed me into the kitchen and started talking about how he wouldn’t care if he lost Kindle because it’s not like the new level opens up today. That’s tomorrow and so and so on. Now, in his defense, it was 100% sass-free talk. It was merely matter of fact statements. Ones that just happened to tip me over the edge, though, and now no, he will not be having Kindle today or tomorrow and possibly not until next week.¬†I’m not nursing Truman as much during the day anymore (actually, not at all during the day – just once when he wakes up in the morning), so I no longer need Mommy’s Little Helper to keep the children occupied during that late-afternoon post-school feeding. And they need to know that the rules are the rules, even when they make it way harder for me to get sh!t done during their waking hours. Dang it.

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Someone Loves Scissors (and other random Tuesdayness)

Oh my word. I guess the full moon before Christmas is always an interesting one, but my children have been in FINE form today. I give you a semi-chronological list of evidence:

  1. The Bigs emptied every blessed book from our shelves this morning into two huge piles on our couches in a counting contest to see who could get more in their pile. I’ve never thought there was such a thing as too many books until today. Bright side – the shelves now look impeccable because I sorted them as I made the kids bring them back to me after breakfast?¬†img_4482
  2. Lincoln, the child I can never for the ever loving life of me get dressed in anything img_4478other than pajamas, flat out refused to wear PAJAMAS for PAJAMA DAY at preschool. Last night? Totally stoked. Going to wear footies. Today? Not having it. Not one bit.
  3. While waiting in between drop off times for preschool, Raegan was like a loud pinball in the hallway – literally bouncing off the walls and chairs and floor while she played with the baby and some other friends that play the same waiting game we do every T/Th. Seriously. Who caffeinated my children this morning?!
  4. Truman has become the Mad Thrasher any time I go to pick him up for a diaper change. He wants so badly to do his own thing that clearly my desire to keep him dry and smelling so fresh and so clean, clean is totally insulting. Also, he wants to walk. And he gets mad when things or his feet or poor balance get in the way. Also, he is fighting a cold. And he gets mad when I try to wipe his face. Basically, he’s just having A (MAD) WEEK.
  5. The Middles tend to get into a lot of shenanigans while I nurse the baby for his afternoon nap, but today each one had their own infraction. Lincoln, I discovered after coming back downstairs, had taken his glass glass from lunch and chucked it on the floor, which resulted thankfully not in it breaking, but in orange juice (also fighting a cold) being all over the floor. Perhaps this explains why I did not notice RL’s issue until I went to wash my hands in the bathroom and discovered hair in the sink.¬†img_4481
  6. Yep, the girl who loves love loves to color and then cut paper, finally took the scissors to her hair. It doesn’t help that two boys have haircuts today and she doesn’t, but thankfully I can’t even see where she took the chunk out of her hair, so I guess all is well still for her preschool program at the end of the week and we don’t have to add a third cut to the hair dresser docket.

And you guys, this was all before 1:00 p.m.! These children, I tell ya!

But in some not-exasperating-at-all news, I picked up a post at Her View From Home this week and it is live on their site today. It’s about telehealth which I totally didn’t even really know what a legit thing until we tried it over the weekend. Have you ever used it?¬†Fascinating stuff!

So – the rest of Tuesday….well, TBD, I guess. Here’s hoping the shenanigans are out of the way!

Down and Out

As so often happens when I am a) wide awake during a should-be sleeping time, b) nursing, and c) anywhere other than at the computer, I spent much of the 3-5 a.m. hours this morning composing blog posts in my head. Seeing as I didn’t exactly get the hoped for awesome nap to then make up for being up at that time, we’ll see how the actual blogging here turns out today.

So why up in the middle of the early morning? Sick kid. We’ve been terribly fortunate with germs so far this year (knocking over a tree now to hope that trend continues), but apparently the cold weather, plus a couple late nights this week, plus the barrage of germs that is apparently flying around right now finally caught up to poor Harrison, who woke up with an upset tummy and hot forehead at 3:00. Ben brought him downstairs and set him up on the couch and then I camped out with him the rest of the night. And actually, even though neither one of us got much rest, he didn’t get sick any more, so I thought we had somehow landed the most incredible 6-hr-virus ever.

Even more convincing of that fact was that HD woke me up in the beanbag (p.s. we no longer fit on the same couch. I tried spreading out on the far end, but his legs are so darn long that even on my side and scooted to the edge of the armrest, his toes were touching my tummy!) sometime in the 6 a.m. hour, after I finally managed to go back to bed) making fake farty noises, and giggling, so I thought, how sick could he be?

But, flash forward a few hours later, and he still wasn’t eating or up and about much, and got sick again, so there went my hopes of the super fast icks. Poor kid. And now, in the middle of the day, he is sacked out hard in the chaise next to me in the family room, curled up with Cow and an entire nest of blankets which includes my very own baby blanket.

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Thank goodness it is Saturday so Ben is home and can hang with the other kids while I stick close for a bit with my sickie. I realize that since he is now/still sleeping, he may not even realize I am here, but he was so sad earlier because he was alone, so even though this is not at all what we had planned for the day, I’m glad we can slow down and put him right into rest mode (and hopefully prevention mode for the rest of us) in hopes of getting this out of his system quickly.

Whatever you have going this weekend, planned or unplanned, may it be germ-free!!

P.S. He just woke up and is explaining Angry Birds 2 to me – here’s hoping that’s a good sign!