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.

 

 

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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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Grounded

To be honest, I don’t know that I was ever really grounded much as a kid. Maybe a couple times? That’s not to say I was some sort of perfect teenager but I would say my rebellion scale was pretty light (unless my parents remember differently??), which meant there weren’t many times I had to be forced to stay home as punishment.

For some reason, the phrase “grounded” came to mind in this sense today, though, as I was doing my meditating mama thing with Truman after lunch and trying frantically to ground myself after a whirly swirly morning of pinging from one activity and location to the next. When we are young and getting ourselves in trouble, grounding can be one of the ultimate consequences, but now as an adult, I find myself seeking moments of forced slow down more and more.

Of course I realize these are two different meanings of the word, and certainly the reaction to each is different, but is the outcome really that different? When the world is spinning madly out of control, or just moving faster than you might like, making yourself stop and coming back down a notch or five, is so beneficial, so restorative.

img_1855Today I had Raegge’s end-of-year program at her preschool and HD’s end-of-year picnic at his school and a fruit bowl to prepare and a kid to get out the door and two others to get dressed and another nursed and down early for nap (so a sitter could hang with him while the rest of us went to preschool) and get myself showered before 7:30 which always adds an element of challenge and intrigue to our morning routine.

Breakfast? Well, the children got fed but I did not, but you can bet your sweet bippy that I got my coffee, so by the time we got to eating muffins and fruit after RL’s adorable program, I may have been jangling a bit. But there is no rest for the caffeinated (no really, that’s the point, isn’t it?), so right after I dropped the Middles off back at the house, this time with the grandparentals, I darted off to HD’s shindig where I didn’t exactly help much but I did get some extra time with him which was super. img_1875

And then back home to make some travel arrangements and feed people lunch and get the baby down and really, this isn’t all that different from a normal day’s chaos, except all the coming and going is really pretty foregin to me, so grounding I needed. And grounding I will need quite a bit as we transition from school to summer and all the fun and activity we have coming in the next few months.

So breath. Grounding. Forcing myself to stop to take stock of the current moment, keeping my head from spinning right off my head. Because when I do that, when I stop myself from just bouncing from one thing to the next, I get to embrace all the beauty that is around me, even when it means a messy floor, laundry baskets scattered around the house, random shoes everywhere underfoot, and a table that still needs to be cleared from a meal or activity or two ago.img_1882

I think I’ve been waiting for all this to slow down, but I am learning instead that I need to accept that this is my reality. This house and this life and this heart are so full. Although it would be nice if everything could be neat and organized, both in my house and in my head, this is what it is. This is who I am. And I can find groundedness, even in the midst of all this. What more can I ask for? (OK, a house elf would be great, but ya know, win some, lose some, eh?).

P.S. Raegan is a wonderful little photographer!

Christmas Book Countdown

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With just a couple days left in November, it is once again time for a favorite holiday tradition for the Little (and Big!) Welschies – the Christmas Book Countdown!

The concept is simple – select and wrap 25 Christmas books and then use the opening of each one to mark another day closer to Christmas. Brilliant because it helps ease itchy, little fingers that can’t wait to tear apart some red and green wrapping paper, and even better because once you have your collection, it is the gift that keeps on giving year after year. However, even if your bookshelves or your budget lack room for a permanent collection, I learned from some wise friends that you can still pull this off by borrowing books from the library and just making sure you keep them renewed for the month of December. Either way, your Littles have something to help mark the passing time in the midst of December chaos.

Thank goodness for Pinterest where this idea came from a few years ago, and even more thanks for the family members who have contributed to our collection in the time since we first began this Advent Calendar for book lovers. Holidays and tradition go together so well and this one is not only feasible, but fun, as well. The kids are so excited to begin and I am too, mostly because I am curious to see which book becomes The Most Anticipated (Polar Express last year; thinking The Grinch for 2015).

Because I’m a visual kid, myself, I took pictures of our books to share with you below, in case you need title ideas for your own Christmas Book Countdown. Many of these are the same from years past (see the original year’s post for the author/title rundown), but a few new ones have come our way each year so the rotation continues to be slightly different and fresh. If you can’t see author names or titles clearly and want to know them, please message me and I’ll get that to you.

One more note about logistics…if you’ve got more than one kiddo, there are plenty of ways to take turns to keep it “fair” (are we the only house that lives in a world of constant Tabs Keeping on whose turn it is or who had it first/last, whatever “it” may be??). Last year we let HD and RL swap the selecting and opening duties;  this year, however, I believe LT will want to get in on the action, so perhaps we’ll add in a “holding during reading” job to keep it evens stevens.

Whatever your titles and whatever your approach for fairness, I hope you try this fun, family activity. It is a simple way to come together each day to read and remember about the messages of love and giving which are really what matter most this time of year.

And with that, we wish you a Merry Christmas Book Countdown!

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We have everything from religious to spiritual to character-based in our collection.
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Last year’s Most Anticipated in this bunch.
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Some of my visual favorites in this set.
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Some of the kids’ favorites!
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Old school meets a new book from Grandma.

 

Opening Order:

A Peanut’s Christmas (this was the wrapped one from Grandma)

Stick Man

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

Star Bright

Santa is Coming to Nebraska

The Christmas Magic

Oliva Helps with Christmas

A Christmas Wish for Corduroy  

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Bear Stays Up For Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the much sought-after book of the year!)

Star So Bright

The Legend of Saint Nicholas

The Polar Express

Best Christmas Book Ever

An Otis Christmas

Home For Christmas

Jingle Bells

The Best Christmas Ever

Thomas’ Christmas Delivery

The Christmas Story 

Santa Bear

The Spirit of Christmas

A Curious George Christmas

 

150-12

A week ago today, we were very much breathing a sigh of relief, as it finally, thankfully, ended a week-long stint of Miss Raegan not being able to eat a full meal/go a full day without urping. That is, two weeks ago today, she started her day by getting sick and then went a week straight getting sick at least once every day (and in the case of that Saturday night, many many times of icks).

At first we feared flu but there were no other symptoms and she would randomly seem fine, only to get sick again later (and still randomly), which left us freaked out and confused and her totally wiped. We finally discovered on that aforementioned Saturday that she had an ear infection (her second in less than two months) and the drainage from that was upsetting her stomach. Poor baby girl!

However, even once we knew what was going on, it took days for the situation to improve because she was so worn down at that point. Raegge’s never been a big kid, so imagine her going a week without a decent meal and you can about guess how many of her ribs I could feel when I gave her hugs and how lethargic she was: “Carry me to the couch!” she’d whine/ask as she sat at the table, 10 paces away, and she legitimately didn’t have the energy to do it herself. That is just not my kid!

But finally she started keeping food down again, and with each day of this last week, we’ve seen her come back to herself more and more.

One way I knew she was better? She started loving on Truman again. IMG_0967This photo is actually several weeks old now (and you wouldn’t believe how much both of them have aged in the weeks since), but it’s pretty telling of how much Raegan loves her littlest brother. And she suuuuuper loves to give him hugs and kisses and get right up in his business to tell him how cute he is (in a really singsongy baby talk voice, the origin of which baffles me). When she was sick, she wasn’t all over him (um, thank goodness! as that is good practice for contagious germ bugs!), but this week? Oh, yes. She’s loving on him all the time.

Another indicator? She’s been able to return to preschool! Last week we kept her home both days based purely on energy level and she didn’t even fight us (it was a short week; by Friday she probably could have gone, but not last M/W). And goodness, does she seem to enjoy school.

One highlight of RL’s preschool life thus far, was, of course, getting to be the Helping Hand. The first pic below is from her initial crack at it in September. It’s the day they get to bring snack and be, in her awesome version/wording, the Lean Lieder (get it? what it actually is, I mean?). She was super proud to be the helper, just as she is pretty much every day when she comes home. The second shot is from “dress like a cowgirl/cowboy day” and again, this isn’t exactly how Ben or I pose for pictures, so I guess we’ll leave it at this: her personality is awesome and we love to see it come out in various forms!

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Also exciting in the world of RL is this: the first time we painted her fingernails! Because she actually had fingernails to paint!

IMG_1204Yes, in all honesty, it has probably been two years since I have had to clip her nails because she’s been chewing on them, and never when I could see her (so, at night, I guess?) to try to get her to stop. We started talking about her not biting her nails at least a year ago and I kept telling her that we’d paint them once she quit it but it wasn’t until this fall that that actually worked. So I clipped and she picked the color(s – two blues) and I painted and then she made faces at me while they dried. Again with the personality, I tell ya. She’s the best!

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And just how long did it take for her nails to dry while she made these faces? If you ask her, she will probably tell you “150-12” minutes/days/years because somehow that made up number has become her favorite and she uses it all. the. time. In fact, I am pretty sure she has used it “one hundred fifty-twelve” times in the last month at least.

So she may be losing her baby face and coming into her almost-four-year-old little lawyer ways, but dang if she doesn’t keep the ride interesting!

Piles

You guys. I have muscles in my face (namely those near/below my left eye) that are currently twitching and they have been twitching all. day. long. You know what causes that? Sleep deprivation, of course, and a great big pile of hubris.

You see, last night I started writing a post about how, basically, I am sort-of, mostly, pretty much winning at this Mom of Four thing. I mean, not 100% Perfect, or anything, but rocking it all the same, even when I have to get Harrison to AND from school meeting places which I totally did Monday and Tuesday of this week!

Tangent: and that is even with total shenanigans Monday morning in which one of my beloved children managed to lock everyone out of the house except the baby (who I had obviously planned to go back in and get after loading everyone else in the van). Thankfully I did not have to MacGuiver or break anything to get back into the house, but my heart was in my throat, freaking out when I discovered what happened. Hopefully said beloved child learned a lesson because wow, I don’t want to go through that again!

Anyway, my post last night didn’t get finished because the hubs and I ended up having a Hulu date that took up the wee bit of time before bedtime nursing/preparation for Truman, but that’s probably for the best because this morning slammed into us like, well, like a Tuesday, actually.

After record-breaking sleep Monday night (not even going to tell you how long in hopes of not jinxing it/never having it happen again), Truman was up at normal 3:45ish time this morning and decided it was going to be an hour long feeding/changing session (not my fave when middle-of-the-nights last over an hour). I tried to go back to sleep after that, of course, but didn’t, and was totally lingering in bed this morning (still not sleeping) when I heard footsteps rushing for the bathroom and HD’s commentary that his sister had totally just gotten sick, smack dab in the middle of breakfast (mad props to the hubs for starting breakfast with the Bigs each morning so my tired brain/butt don’t have to and for handling the first round of icks today).

So. No preschool for Raegan this morning, of course, and a huge Thanks! to the friends who once again picked up HD this morning so I didn’t have to load a potential puker in the van; instead I got to stay in my same clothes from yesterday and deal with the meltdown that was this little girl who very much wanted to go to school….so much so that she still put on her clothes (including her swimsuit over her jeans because today should have been a swimming lesson day for her) and was wearing her backpack around (while crying) for a solid 30 minutes.

The four of us who were house-bound today + RL's suit-over-jeans look.
The four of us who were house-bound today + RL’s suit-over-jeans look.

Eventually she calmed down and eventually the suit was removed from her outfit, but it is a good thing she stayed home because breakfast was not her only moment of yuck for the day. Poor thing couldn’t eat a thing without getting sick, and by 3:15 she was so tired, she fell asleep on me in the rocking chair where I usually nurse the baby (who was sleeping in his carseat post-HD-pickup), and snoozed there for 45 minutes. I love getting some extra snuggles, but not at the expense of having a sick kiddo.

OK, so maybe I’m still rocking it a bit with my mom skills considering I got through today in one piece (and even snuck in a shower, thank goodness), but seriously – the eye-twitching-tireds of the last 18 hours added to the oh-craps of hoping no one else gets sick has me worn the hell out and feeling like a pile of mama mush right now.

How many weeks remain until summer vacation?