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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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.

 

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. 😉

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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