Popcorn Moments

When a bump or booboo happens in our house, we use bags of popcorn kernels that we keep in the freezer to ease the aches and pains. They are cold but not too cold and mold to the shape of whatever body part needs the comfort. Perfect, really, except for when the owies we need to heal aren’t physical, and we have an off day.

To say that this week has been a little off would be a bit of an understatement. Somehow I managed to schedule All The Things, which resulted in my rushing off to yet another appointment every single time Ben got home from school, as well as no family dinners on the docket until tonight.

See? Off.

Unfortunately, HD had an experience at school yesterday that was also a little off. For the sake of privacy, I won’t say any more than this about it – the poor kid was not excited about going to school today (and this, on Pajama Day AND – of all things – Popcorn Sales day!). Now, he also came home yesterday with a raspy voice and we spent much of this morning trying to figure out if he was sick sick or nervous sick, and after talking, talking, talking (both of us with HD, me with a couple friends and the school counselor, bless their hearts), we worked it out to where yes, he was actually up to going to school for the day.

Naturally, this kind of stuff breaks my heart. I never want to see my kiddo hurting over the words of others, and quite truthfully, I wanted to keep him home today for his very own PJ & Popcorn day with me. But since we can’t live in a bubble, and he was up for going, to school he went, and, perhaps as a result of the circumstances, I’m pretty sure he took a bigger piece of my heart than normal with him.

Definitely because of the circumstances and the added hubbub of the morning, I spaced out the $.25 he needed to buy his bag of popcorn after school, and when I realized it at 11:00 a.m., I almost (for the 3rd time today) burst into tears thinking of his disappointment.

OK. I get it. It’s a quarter-bag of popcorn. Clearly he’d live without it. But the kid’s had a rough 24 hours and I didn’t want the messiness of the morning to have any more impact on him than it already had, so I quick formulated a plan to fix it.

Ben was already set to bring RL home from preK today, so when he showed up with her, I had a lunch ready and waiting to send with him that he could eat on his way, and this note to take to Harrison at school before heading back to the high school:

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Am I helicopter parent for doing this? Or a tiger mom? Or some other stereotype? Might be. Totally don’t care, though, because even though this is a tiny thing, I am hoping it brings a huge smile to kiddo’s face, and he knows – once again, always – just how important and loved he is.

And here’s hoping to many more years of popcorn being all we need to fix the hurts.

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Game OVER

In what appears to be an alarming trend this month, we – the Welschies – find ourselves in the midst of another long and rocky week. Like FULL to the max with commitments for the grownups and still not done as tomorrow is a 12+ hour-long day for Ben because of PTCs.

Apparently the Little Welschies wanted to add to the fun and hilarity of our schedule because they started their Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. – except neither Ben nor I realized that because the little buggers SNUCK DOWNSTAIRS AT 5:30 IN THE MORNING AND TURNED ON THE WII AND PLAYED MARIO KART UNTIL WE GOT UP AND FOUND THEM AT 6:45.

WTFAYFKM – all rolled into one – is how one might describe the looks on our faces when we realized just how early they had gotten up and just how they had been spending their time.

A little backstory: weekend before last, we attended a fundraiser for Food4Thought, one of our local faves when it comes to mission, donating, and events. They do amazing work in the community and are excellent at engaging kiddos in their cause. They have this not-so-little fall shindig with a Mario Brother’s obstacle course that our crew adores, and this year the event also included a projector hooked up to a Wii with Mario Kart on tap. img_4517

Now, Mario Kart is not entirely foreign in our house. I am positive my kids have seen Ben play it before (but not nearly as obsessively as he did in college, tyvm) and have maybe even tried it themselves, but not extensively, by any means. But they got a chance to try it at the fundraiser and liked it (even though, really, a 3yo? Not exactly the best racer skills…), so we’ve played a few family rounds with our own copy of the game since then.

OK. Fine. No harm done.

Until this morning when one of them got a freaking wild hair to wake up his (I’m guessing here) siblings and entice them to go downstairs where they raced for an hour and fifteen minutes unawares to their parental units.

Actually – that’s not entirely true.

I was totally woken up by thumping above my head, but since I don’t (can’t) sleep near a clock, I have no idea what time that was and, at the time, I just assumed it was bathroom breaks (except then no one came down to tell me good morning and after a bunch of tossing and turning I fell back asleep only to be woken up later in the middle of a really weird dream to the news that my children were downstairs helping themselves to video games before the crack of dawn. Awesomeness).

As you can imagine, their behavior and awake factor was wonderful the rest of the day.

Actually, I could already see the ill effects of that much screen time that early in the day before anyone left/went to school, and I honestly considered sending apology notes to their teachers but that would have involved explaining the apparent free-for-all nature of our house and that just didn’t seem like a good idea.

Somehow everyone got through the day without falling asleep (except for the sweet babe who still naps), but the end of the day was not without tears and extra long stalling, because that is what overtired children do best. They also excel at getting up really early instead of sleeping in to recover, so you can bet we are unplugging and hiding the Wii to avoid future such adventures.

For Pete’s sake. Or eff’s. Take your pick.

 

Don’t Blow Your Top

Believe it or not, from time to time, I stop and think, Should I really post that?? That being a status update or a picture I quickly snapped of my kid or sometimes even a blog post. Yes, there is in fact a filter in place. Occasionally I let the filter broaden a bit and I get a little more real because life ain’t always pretty. It’s just not.

You can consider this one of those less than pretty posts.

Actually, it’s not all that bad. OK – it’s not all that great either, but it is very much real.

In the last two weeks, our morning routine has been, ummmm, strained by the 3yo. Take your pick of the threenager vs. 3yos are a**holes debate as evidence that I am not alone here, but wow. When the 3yo decides to be VERY 3YO before 8 a.m., Mama about loses her damn mind. For one, I have not had my coffee yet by then because I have to wait for my first cup until after I nurse the baby down for his first nap. So, my Go Get ‘Em-ness isn’t quite functioning well, much less prepared for meltdowns and BATTLES OVER WEARING PANTS.

Yes, pants. PANTS have been the culprit of both of our disaster mornings with Lincoln here recently, and for the love of all things holy, can someone please explain to him that we live in NEBRASKA and WINTER IS COMING? He is going to have to start wearing ever-lovin’ pants and soon.

The second reason this crap makes me crazy is that it unfairly puts stress on Harrison as we are then late to get out the door and walked over to his school. He shouldn’t have to be counted tardy because of his brother, but we can’t just leave said brother at home in no pants, so we have to wait until I can get something on Lincoln’s legs and then get him hauled into the stroller.

This morning’s meltdown was heightened by the fact that when I finally got LT out to the stroller where the Bigs were waiting, I found that they had managed to break the only opener we have for our garage door by pushing it too many times.

I’m sorry. Am I the only one out there who is constantly amazed by all the shit kids can manage to break? Things you never could have predicted they would break? Kids break all your shit is a parenting Truth that all people should be warned of when they bring their first kid home. Honestly. [side note: please, do not take my reality sharing for lack of gratitude. I love and am thankful for my shit breakers, even when they are currently breaking my shit.]

So. Screaming/refusing to wear pants (I got him in shorts) 3yo, and shit-breaking Bigs. Not the best 7:40-7:50 a.m. I’ve ever had. And, because I am human, I got frustrated. And when I get frustrated, I tend to throw things.

Now, I’ve never been a hitter and sometimes a yeller, but here is the truth – throwing things happens. Normally I throw pillows. Yes, pillows, from the couches in my living room (you guys, I just realized they are called throw pillows, so I don’t think I am actually that off target here). I do not throw them at people, just as hard as I can at the floor and that usually helps.

Here comes the shameful part: today, because we were already in the driveway, I snatched HD’s backpack off the top of the stroller (Why? Because I suppose I was quite pissed about the garage door and wanted him to carry his own dang bag to school instead of making me do it?) and chucked it at the ground. And guess what happened next? Water started pouring from his backpack.

Yep, in my childish angst, I broke my child’s cheap-ass water bottle that was inside his bag. Awesome. What a terrible and immature lesson I just gave my kids, right? Right.

In panic and remorse and already late anyway, so why  not? mode, I went back in the house where lo and behold, we had an extra bottle that would fit the same nozzle and began to fill it up for HD. He followed me inside and, because kids are amazing like this, wrapped his arms around me as I filled up the “new” container for him. And he just held on until I got the task done and talked to him; when we left the kitchen – again – a minute later, we were both OK. I apologized and he apologized and we high-tailed it to school just fast enough to get there in time for a quick Kissing Hand before his class went in for the day.

img_3938So why I am sharing this? Because this is real. I had a crap moment and my kid forgave me anyway and I learned that the throwing has got to stick to the pillows. I don’t hit my kids because I don’t want them to hit others. I also shouldn’t throw their stuff because that’s not exactly teaching them to care for the belongings of others.

No pillows around? No throwing. Foot stomping and deep breaths, it will have to be. Because guess what? My kids are going to continue to break my shit. Apparently I am capable of breaking theirs too, and cripes, if that isn’t a kick in the pants moment of humility, I don’t know what is.

 

P.S. Ironically (not really – just a moment of No Mama Alone), my friend Kim just wrote about forgiveness and apologies and kiddos. You should check it out here.

 

Shoe Tying Hell

So it’s been a few years since I read Dante’s Inferno, but it is not hard to remember the basic concept of various levels of hell (connected to various levels of sin, but so not where this post is going, so let’s skip that part, OK?). Today I discovered that certain tasks of raising Littles must come straight from a Parenting Purgatory, in which it too has levels, and one level is definitely dedicated to sleep, another to laundry, and still another, teaching – that is, teaching life skills, such as wiping one’s own ass (also not where this post is going, thank goodness) and tying one’s own shoes.
Shoe Hell is where we found ourselves on this, the last day of summer break before school starts tomorrow.

Do I feel in part like a (not so proud) Bad Mom that my now 7yo/first grader still doesn’t know how to tie his shoes? Yes. But do I also have confirmation from friends who also have first graders who cannot tie their own shoes? Yes. Whew.

This life skill was a total summer goal of ours and we totally didn’t even try it until today. Not the best planning on my part, eh? But you guys, I totally believed the Pinterest lies, I mean links, that told me this could be accomplished not only in just one day but in five short minutes! I even watched the video last night and thought, OK, that should work.

Here was what we will now call Attempt No. 1: Magic Fingers

It very much did not work. I am sorry, but Magic Fingers, My ASS.

img_3391Problem No. 1: my children cannot even do the “simple, like normal” tie that is the foundation of the whole damn process. Automatic red flag, my friends.

Problem No. 2: the video goes way fast and does not keep repeating instructions so it is either get it or get super frustrated.

Problem No.3: I can’t freaking do it. I sat on the floor with my two oldest and my very own shoe, watching and listening and trying for 5 minutes times at least 5 or 6 and NO DAMN DICE. Not once did I – the 34yo – actually tie my shoes using this method.

Which led us to what we will now call Attempt No. 2: Magic Molly (seriously, folks – what’s with the magic?? You are making a Muggle out of me because I just ain’t buying it!)

It also very much did not work.

Problem No. 1: Because this was just what came up next on YouTube, I had no idea what she was going to say or what prep work (knots and marker colored strings) was involved, so we immediately got lost and the children started blaming me for not helping them/their stuff not being right (I was mad dash scrambling to tie knots on one side of their laces and use masking tape – the closest thing nearby – instead of markers on the other).

Problem No.2: See above — yelling, whining, finger pointing children. No way. Not having it.

Problem No.3: I said “No way. Not having it.” and took a step back rather than trying to continue down this purgatory spiral (as continuing would have easily resulted in my flipping the eff out) which totally backfired because then the children also wanted to quit (face palm) and the whole thing was just clearly not happening.

We needed snacks and hydration at this point, so I don’t know if this method is actually flawed or if our timing was just bad, but as it was, it still was not the answer for us.

And then, because FB and the universe are little bit crazy, we landed on Video No.3 (look for vid on shoe tying, of course), which a friend happened to just share on the FB this afternoon, as she was also trying to teach a Little to tie shoes today. No mama alone, right? Right.

So this one looked good. No mention of MAGIC in the title, for one thing, and her voice sounds just like that of one of my dear friends, however, the same fundamental flaw also found in the first video — assuming my children understand the basic first loop/tie move — exists here, which is tricky. I’m not sure you can call something the EASIEST if in fact the first step is actually not yet easy for the attemptee. Anyway. It’s not like anything could go much worse than the first two rounds, so I decided why not? and gave it a whirl.

After a little work with just me and the two of them on the assumed step, we watched the FB video to see the remaining steps and lo and beholdimg_3394HD did it! Only once (he tried again for good measure and was not happy when it didn’t pan out a second time), mind you, but it was totally there for a moment, so I am taking it and running with it as a victory, damnit.

RL was still in frustrated whiny tears over the assumed step, but you know, considering she’s not even 5 yet, I figure we have a couple years, not a matter of days, to figure out this crap.

Also, there is this – a three-minute TED video my uncle shared with me about the science of shoe tying that explains that pretty much all of us are doing it wrong anyway. WHO KNEW THIS WAS SUCH A COMPLEX SUBJECT?! Guess I will cut myself some slack in the mom department on not knocking this out of the park today.

 

 

I Can’t Wait to Meditate

If there has been a resounding theme this summer, coming at me in all forms – written, spoken, face-to-face – it has been simply (and not-so-simply), slow down. SLLLLOOOW. DOWN. Sounds easy enough, right? Right. Until you actually try it and then wow, you see just how challenging such a task can be.

For me, slowing down has come in the form of breath work and meditation. After taking two amazing workshops about meditation in July and hearing (and reading) time and time again about how much the breath matters, I began to listen and to notice and really begin my practice of balancing my life and my body with the breath and the focused unfocusedness (nope, not a word) of meditation.

You may remember, this is not my first attempt at meditation. In fact, I did an amazing 40 Days in a row just this spring and it was incredible. But, as it sometimes goes with such ___# of days challenges, the goal is met and then the activity ceases. Or tapers drastically. At least, this was the case for my daily mala/mantra meditation until the end of July when I finally took notice that meditation was just going to keep coming at me until I started coming back at it.

There is so much I could write about the subject, but for now I will stick with the basics of what I’ve been doing for the last several weeks: 4-5 days a week, for 7-15 minutes, I have been meditating using the Insight Meditation timer app on my phone. You guys, this app came recommended by one of my teachers and she wasn’t kidding – it’s the best. Not only can you see how many people are meditating around the world with you right now, you can also do guided sessions, AND all the time you log is going toward their goal of reaching 10,000 years worth of time of meditation. So freaking cool when you think about the good that is rippling out from each person contributing. You may have seen on FB though a couple weeks ago where I sampled the chime sound instead of starting my timer – so far the only downfall that has come from this practice (but hey, I did get in a super long meditation that day, I think!)!

One goal of this mostly daily meditation dedication is to bring the benefit and the practice not just to myself but also to my kids. I’ve been meaning and meaning and meaning to show them the app (the world map of Current Users is so cool) but have kept forgetting, that is, until yesterday. We’d already done outside time and screen time and more outside time (and more screen time) but still had time before supper when I remembered: “You guys! Do you want to meditate?!”

“Med-di-date?” Linky asked.

“What’s that??” asked the other two.

So I showed them.

I showed them the app and the map and even a picture of another little kid sitting in meditation. I showed them the timer and the different sounds and they seemed down with it, so we went for it.

For a whole whopping minute!

But you know what? It was successful!!

The baby was crawling around the floor and us and we totally all got the giggles during the very first minute, but then HD and RL kept asking to go again and again, Harrison especially. We worked through three one-minute sessions and then did a two minute one and none of it was perfect (meditation so rarely is) but more than once, I felt this huge sense of calm settle over them and then me, and inside my heart was doing cartwheels because if I can guide my children in this direction now, help them learn to slow down and tap in to themselves and a higher power now, they are going to be so much better prepared to face whatever the world sends their way nextimg_3316

Like today which was full top-to-bottom with comings and goings and activities, so all of the sudden it was time for them to head up to bed and HD cried out, “We haven’t meditated today!” Because yesterday, after we finished, he wanted to know when we could do it again, said he couldn’t WAIT to do it again, and wanted to do it every day.

Now, I realize tonight’s remembering could have very easily been a stall tactic to put off bedtime for one more minute and ten seconds, but are you kidding me? If it means my kids are sitting in (mostly) stillness, being (mostly) silent with their thoughts, I will let them freaking stall on goodnights.

And I will learn from them, follow their lead, soak up their enthusiasm. When can I meditate again? I can’t wait to meditate (so making a shirt that says that some day)! And I will strive to do it on the daily.

Mama Dates

Seeing as I am leaving this weekend for my First-ever Girls’ Getaway Long Weekend Trip Extravaganza (you guys, when it is the first time happening EVER since becoming a mom almost seven years ago, it deserves a big fancy title!), these few days leading up to the trip itself are a bit different. Yes, there is planning and packing that must take place yet, but also some extra special time with my Littles is needed, too, because, oh my gosh, this is new territory for us and even though it is only four days, it feels (to me and perhaps Ben) like I am going to be gone for. ev. ER!

To counter being gone all weekend, I asked the kiddos if they would like to do Mama Dates this week and when they found out that Mama Dates could equal Mama DESSERT Dates of their choice, they were even more pumped.

I thought we might spread the love out one kid per day but RL just couldn’t handle that, so she and HD both got their turns yesterday. And they both picked Cherry B’s (thanks, RL, for super cute nickname for Cherry Berry), which is to say that Harrison picked it first and then Raegan had to do the exact same (which caused me to flat out tell the gal at Cherry B’s, “see you in a bit!” so she wouldn’t look at me like a crazy person when I came back 20 minutes later with a a second kid).

Harrison love loves Cherry B’s and thanks to some school thing, he had a free 8 oz. cup which he topped himself with junk galore, and dubbed it Extreme Sugar. Sounds about right, but it was free and he didn’t waste any of it and we got to hang out in the seats of his choosing, and he was watching baseball stats on the TV (OK, Little Ben), and all was well.

After that it was a quick trip to Miss L’s Little Free Library where all the kid books were pretty well gone, but he nabbed a cooking magazine instead (why? I don’t know, but he was happy about it) and then we headed home for him to do his screen time while I grabbed Raegge for her turn. img_2734

In some sort of weird sibling twinning phenomenon, Raegan picked the same exact place to sit at Cherry B’s, but her treat was a different concoction that together we named Chocolate Extreme. Note: Mama did not have back-to-back Cherry B’s, thank you very much. The first was good but plenty! Instead, I just hung out and chatted with Miss RL while she ate hers.

After, we hit up the final days sale at a flower stand to snag a few more plants for our front flower beds. Raegan picked the colors: Purple, Red, and Yellow, and even helped put the big cart away when we were all done with it. Sweet, sweet girl.

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I totally thought I was going to be making a third trip with Lincoln yesterday as he was just getting up from nap when I got home with Raegan, but he heard the other kids talking about playing in the kiddie pool in the backyard and instantly wanted nothing to do with ice cream. Crazy, right? But no big deal, we just saved his date for this morning when I took him to Runza for, yes, ice cream before lunch. No wonder my kids love Mama Dates so much! Who wouldn’t?! lol!

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In pure awesome fashion, LT got to enjoy his free kids’ cone and I ordered some fries for us to share, so once again, a good time was had by all. Linky and I didn’t run any extra errands, but we did drive by the “Big Grilla” (read: huge inflatable gorilla outside one of the fireworks stands) and enjoyed our little morning getaway all the same.

Getting one-on-one time with each kid is pretty rare these days, so I am so glad when the opportunity/motivation comes along to make it happen. And really, even though we “ate out” three times, the grand total for all three dates (minus flower purchase) was roughly $10 which is pretty good.

Hopefully in July we can do another round or two and maybe we’ll find some non-food destinations/activities, but I don’t know — the little Welschies might have it in their brains now that MDDs are the only way to go! So more froyo and french fries could be in my future summer plans? Sounds just fine to me! 😉

 

Coming up Welschie

If I could revert back 25 years or so, I would think today was a pretty kick-ass day. For the record, as a 34yo, I still think today was pretty kick-ass, but I’m trying to look at it the day from the eyes of my Littles, and I would say that vacation days don’t get much better than what they got to do today.

First on the agenda, hotel breakfast. Who doesn’t love a good hotel breakfast? HD certainly does as he attempted to eat his weight in cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins, and waffles (and cereal and OJ, too) this morning. All that carb loading came in handy soon after, though, as the kids hit the ground running and did not stop for long the rest of the day.

img_2508While Trumy and Mama napped/hid in the bathroom (yep, still doing that) this morning, the Bigs and Daddy met up with Great Grandpa for some park time near the river (boo! no pictures of that!) and then later collected us from the hotel so the Welschies Six could do the South Dakota Discovery Center together before lunch. You guys, how can you not love this building, much less all the awesomeness it has in store for kiddos? We try to hit this every time we are in Pierre and we are never disappointed. Today’s hottest hot spots were PVC pipe building (HD made a parking garage – lol!) and the Vet Office, Paws and Claws (where RL and LT played forever). Personally, I wanted to take the giant windows with me – love the light!

Next, while I once again hid in the hotel room while the littlest boys napped, Ben and the big kids did lunch (hello McD’s playplace and ice cream!) and then the pool, where they stayed for the next TWO hours – Lincoln joined them for the last 30 minutes or so. They were all in LOVE with the pool.

After showers for all, it was off to Zesto, another Must Stop spot in Pierre for (gasp! more!) ice cream with Great Aunt Jackie. Banana Laffy Taffy sherbet cones (HD and I looooove Banana Laffy Taffy and apparently so do the other kiddos and my aunt!), to be exact, and HD was so pleased, I think his little boy heart about popped out of his chest. img_2555

Then it was on to Great Grandpa’s place for a grill-out of hot dogs and hang-a-burgers (thanks, RL!) and some games, and just general hang out time before we loaded everyone up to come back and crash at the hotel so we can hit the road home early tomorrow.

But just thinking of this day – of sunshine and play time and swimming and treats and family time (which is what this whole trip has been about, anyway), makes my heart smile. I would say there isn’t much that is terribly easy about traveling with this many small children but that doesn’t mean doing so isn’t enjoyable, and it is certainly worth it for them to make memories with each other and extended family to boot. Somehow, I think they agree. ❤

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