Crap! It’s Summer Again… Now What?!

It is my experience that most people look forward to summer.

I don’t like those people.

Since I happen to be a mom of school aged children, I hate summer… loath it, don’t want it to start. I tried to rip June, July and August off the calendar and hide those months until my husband informed me that that was just a dumb plan and really wouldn’t keep summer from coming.

Ok, fine.

We will have summer.

But I am not going to like it.

Ok, that’s not true. I’ll like it, well I want to like it.  It’s just that I have gone soft. I am not used to the kids home all day every day being all up in my business.

boys being silly

I’m not used to their non-stop crazy antics like what the hell is a banana fart and why does it involve trying to pull over the dinner table.

I mean, last summer about near killed me. By the end of July, I contemplated breaking the law just for a stint in Jail because Jail sounded like a little slice of heaven.

Yeah, it was bad. If you don’t believe me… just ask my liver. We still aren’t on speaking terms.

Anyway, you get it. I was dreading the end of school.

But then it hit me.

I am a strong, smart, college educated woman. I have life experience. I can do something about this. I can plan. I am good at planning. I can organize. I am so so about organizing.

I put my girl panties on and asked myself, what is it about the school year that I like besides the fact that the kids are going from the house for more than 6 hours a day?

And I answered myself, “The schedule!”

We have a routine. Its all laid out. The kids know what is going to happen, I know what is going to happen. It’s wonderful.

Then it hit me, so simple, so genius, so awesome… Let’s have a daily summer schedule that is posted so that the kids know what is going to happen when. It will be laminated because laminated things mean business and are respected. Then when the kids are ‘board’ or asking to watch TV or play video games for the 87th time in the first hour of being awake, I can just point at the schedule.

Bam! Done! Shut your mouth and do it!

The other thing that is a sanity savor for this summer is activities. Things to go and do so that we are not just stuck at home looking at each other. Things that get us out and let us experience the world… or at the very least the city where we live.

But going out and doing things can get very expensive and before you know it you can spend your whole wine fund on sending kids to summer camps and we all know that it just unacceptable.

Now don’t throw out the baby with the bath water just yet, tempting as that my be and  turn to your trusty friend the Internet, Facebook and even talk to people, yes real face to face conversations with people, and you will find little gems like Michael’s Passport to Imagination program.

PassportSummer_2014_pin_US

 

Michael’s, you know the craft store, has a summer crafting program for kids. It’s for kids ages 5 and up held across the country at Michael’s stores. It happens Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting June 16 to August 1st from 10am to 12pm and it’s only $2 per kid.

For me that’s $8 for 2 hours of entertainment for the children. That’s crazy talk because getting them to clean the basement costs me at least $20… and they don’t even like doing that.

This year, Michael’s has partnered with 7 of North America’s best museums to create a museum road trip. Each day, kids will experience culture through crafts with projects inspired by world-class museum exhibits.

Hot damn! I’m signing my kid’s up.

It’s a win win situation. The kids get to learn cool things and they get to craft with crafting professionals at a craft store which will keep the glitter use to a minimum at my house meaning the dinner table will not look like a stripper’s closet threw up on it.

Stages of a Butterfly

We are so going next week, maybe twice so make sure and watch for stories of our experience.

And in the mean time… Good luck to us all. We are gonna need it.

 

 

*I was not compensated to write this post… I was given a gift card to attend the Passport to Imagination program but I would have attended it anyways because kids love crafting and I have to do something with these kids. 

 

Boys are Dumb

Elmo

Sometimes I feel really bad for my daughter being in a house of mostly boys. If it wasn’t for me, she’s be truly the only girl because even the cats are boys.

Don’t get me wrong, she totally holds her own against her brothers. She is after-all a tom boy and when that doesn’t suit her, she is bossy as hell which she comes by naturally because she is my daughter.

It’s just that no matter how much she tries to be like the boys, she can’t be a boy. Those natural born, genetically given, imprinted girl tendencies will always come out . She can’t help it which means no matter how hard she tries she, like me, will never fully understand boys.

For example, whacking a tree with a stick. The boys do this. They get great joy in performing this task and will go at it for hours on end but when asked to explain why? Why do they do this? They will just shrug their shoulders and pick up a rock to throw at other rocks.

It makes no sense to me. I have just come to the conclusion that there it must have something to do with the penis. There must be something in that organ that makes these acts make sense to them. And since I will never have a penis, I will never understand it.

Claire is slowly grasping this concept.

It’s difficult for her. All she knows is brothers and their weirdness and since she wants to be included with her brothers and their play, it’s a daily struggle. But sometimes, when she’s feeling girly and those female tendencies are at their highest and she can’t take it anymore.

“… yeah and then Elmo’s head will explode,” Jake said in between bites of waffle.

“Next his body. It’ll explode all over the street,” Quinn chimed in making Jake and Hayden snort with laughter.

“And his purple blood will be all over the place making the buildings explode,” Jake said, gesturing with his hands.

“The explosion will be HUGE… EPIC!” Hayden added.

“Elmo’s exploding head,” Jake said, now beside himself with laughter.

“STOP IT! STOP IT!” Claire yelled at the top of her lungs across the breakfast table which made the boys laugh harder and broke me of my Facebook reading trance.

“Claire, don’t yell,” I scolded.

“But mom,” she whined. “Make them stop. Tell them to stop talking about explosions.”

When she said that word the boys snickered and giggled again like they were all 13 and in a room where there was naked boobies.

I sighed at her request. My sluggish not fully caffeinated brain trying to comprehend what was happening.

“Boys, stop it,” I said halfheartedly, just trying to keep the peace.

Claire gave me her, ‘mom that’s totally not gonna work’ look because she thinks at times she is a better mother than me and pushed back her chair to take her dirty dishes to the sink. The boys once again started discussing Elmo’s head exploding and purple blood going every where.

“Why do they have to talk about exploding so much?” she said looking at me, waiting for an answer that would enlighten her.

“I don’t know,” I said after a sip of coffee.

She wasn’t satisfied and she stared at me, her eyes begging for knowledge and understanding.

Then I felt like I could keep the secret no longer. I had to give it to her, I had to give her the only answer that has been keeping girl’s (and women) sane since the beginning of time.

“Boys are dumb.”

 

Mama’s Losin’ It

The Day that’s Better than Christmas

Do you hear that?

Listen really carefully.

That’s right… Nothing.

There is nothing to hear as I sit here at my kitchen table. Well, the cat is snoring pretty loudly.

That’s right. There are no screams, no bickering, no fighting, no annoying video games, no one yelling “MOOOOOM!” Nothing.

I can whisper and hear it. I can even hear myself think and… and have a complete thought without someone asking me for a snack or if I think that black snake in the sandbox would make a good belt.

And why is it all quiet around me?

Did I manage to find gypsies willing to take the children on the road with them? Oh no, something better happen.

https://vine.co/v/h59xzlDUEp6/embed/simple//platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

SCHOOL!

Summer break is over and it’s back to school. Oh my God, it’s probably wrong to be this happy about the kids going back but I don’t care. I am giddy.

Giddy.

Well, you saw my happy dance.

This summer has been insane. Just insane. I don’t even know where to begin. I mean this summer stopped my blogging. That’s crazy to me. I just couldn’t find the time or the energy to write. There were so many stories that I wanted to tell but couldn’t because I was playing referee or making someone something to eat or cleaning up mud or sucking down coffee to survive the sleep deprivation caused by a boy child waking me in the middle of the night to tell me his penis was itchy due to the fact he got poison ivy all over it.

It was non-stop balls to the wall, my liver begging me for a break, daily survival.

And I did it.

I survived. I think.  Well, I do have 6 more gray hairs on my head, a constant dull headache and darker under eye circles but I suppose that just comes naturally with motherhood.

So now, I sit for like the first time in 3 months in silence. My personal space once again my own and my bathroom time once again just between me and the toilet without a child wanting to see my poop color.

School happened just in the nick of time. One more week of the kids home and I probably would be on the phone asking if the local loony bin would accept cash or credit cards for an extended stay.

I love those kids but it’s time for a little space between us.

Sure our fall schedule scares me and there will be 4 kids who will need homework help nightly but that’s ok. I’m sure I have some brain cells left. It’s going to an interesting school year and know that I say, God bless the teachers of my children.

And as for blogging, I got stories to tell and hopefully time to tell them.

It’s good to be back in the school routine.

So freaking good.

No Public Adjustments

photo (1)

I could feel it ride up as I drove. It was like a string being pulled up tighter and tighter. I would need to do some serious adjusting as soon as I stopped the car.

I tried to shift in my seat, hoping that would make a difference, trying to find some relief but nothing was helping.

Since my rediscovery that I am a woman and not just a mom, that has meant my underwear choices have gone from cotton white table clothes to more dainty things like boy shorts, bikini briefs and thongs.

I like wearing these new sexy undies, they make me feel good. It’s just that sometimes the thongs… well, they take things a little too far up.

Despite what you may think, I do find thongs very comfortable to wear. I don’t feel like I have something constantly up my butt. Quiet the opposite, I feel like they ride up less. The number of wedgies I have to deal with has greatly decreased. They also make me feel sexy and pretty. And from what I can tell, the man of the house likes them too.

But there is always one troublesome one, one where the fit isn’t quiet right. There in lies the problem.

I pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car. The kids burst through the open doors like bees leaving the hive in search of pollen. Thankfully, a shiny rock on the ground caught their attention and I knew this was my moment.

I reached around to quickly fix my underwear but this thong had a mind of it’s own and apparently was trying to go up to my head via and internal route by way of my butt hole.

This was not going to be an easy, quick, sneaky wedgie pick. Nope, it was going to have to be more aggressive.  I was going to have to go digging… maybe even lift my skirt up.

I scanned the parking lot for people.

Nothing.

The kids had moved their attention to a stick and a bug and where staying out of the way on coming cars.

I moved a little closer to the van and used the open drivers side door as a bit of a shield then I went in.  I tried to get at my underwear through my skirt but it still wasn’t happening so I lifted up one side of my skirt and slide my hand to my ass. I bent over just a bit  to grab the string that was in a place go string should go, found it with my finger, did a little wiggle and pulled that sucker out.

Oh, sweet relief.

The wedgie caused by the throng string trying to violate me in ways I was not happy about was finally fixed. My ass could relax.

Whew!

Then since I was up there, I decided to fix my tank top by pulling it down which made me realize my boobs need adjusting and pushed up. I got all lady bits situated, smoothed my skirt down and turned to call the kids to me so that we could go into the store when I noticed the person sitting in the car watching me.

This person had just watched me wiggle, pull, tug, adjust, pick, prod and do things that should only be done in the privacy of one’s bathroom to my clothes and body.

I couldn’t think of anything to do so I just stared back at the person who’s eyes were as big as saucers after my little show.

You could cut the awkward with a knife.

“Mommy, can we go?!” one of the kids said breaking my trance and bringing me back to reality.

I nodded at the child and turned to walk into the store. I would feel my cheeks get red but then the hilarity of the whole situation hit me and I just laughed.

Maybe I’m not as ready for big girl sexy undies as I thought I was but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. Although, in the meantime, that thong it totally being retired.

The Wine Pour Battle

“Ok, they are all ready for you,” I said with a sigh as I walked down the last two steps.

Jeff didn’t look up from his computer but only grunted.

“Did you hear me? They are waiting for you.” I said, slightly annoyed.

“Yeah. I’ll head up in just a minute,” he answered me.

Since he answered me, I knew that he heard me so I walked into the kitchen, opened the cupboard and pulled out a wine glass.

It was my favorite time of day. The kids were finally in bed, sure they were still messing around and I could hear them giggling but I didn’t really care. The day full of constant, “Mom. Mommy. Mom. Momma. Mom. Mommy” was over. It was time for me.

It’s not that they are bad kids or anything or are constantly misbehaving. Quite the opposite, for the most part they are pretty good. They make me smile and laugh They show me the world in a different way. I do enjoy them. I like them. It’s just that by 8pm, I am done. I want time to have a complete thought or no thoughts. I want to just be still and not have to get anyone anything. I’ve been up and moving, constantly doing something for someone for almost 14 hours and since nap time is long a thing of the past, I’ve had no break.

Yeah, their bedtime will always been my favorite time of day.

I chose a bottle of wine from the wine rack and rummaged around in the drawer for the cork screw. When I found it, I opened the bottle and poured a glass. I took a sip and exhaled. I felt the warm red wine coat my throat and I could feel my body relax.

“All tucked in?” I asked as Jeff returned from upstairs.

He nodded as he too went to the cupboard and removed a glass.

I watched him intently.

“What are you doing?’ I asked.

“Um…isn’t obvious?” he began, “I am going to have a glass of wine. Is that alright with you?”

I snickered, of course it was alright with me, him having a glass of wine didn’t bother me, him pouring the glass did.

“Yeah, that’s fine… can I pour it for you?” I asked.

Jeff rolled his eyes at me.

And thus began another round of the longest standing argument in our marriage. ‘The Jeff Pour’ vs ‘The Jen Pour’.

wine pour battle

I like to pour a smaller glass and have more of them and he likes to pour a larger glass and nurse it longer. We normally share a bottle which means about 2 glasses of wine each.  The problem with this is that is larger glass sometimes means there is less wine for me. It’s selfish I know and I suppose we could just open another bottle but then I’d want some of that wine and mixing two bottles of wine is just not right.

In the grand scheme of things, I realize this is a silly argument. I know I should not care but I do. It’s just my thing. Just like I like the light switches all up or all down, I care about how much of an over pour Jeff does.

I didn’t know what we are going to do about this. I tried not to care. I tried just not to look but I can’t stop. My annoyance grows and grows. There has to be a solution.

And one day while walking in the grocery store down the wine aisle, as I sacrificed my body to save a bottle of wine one of the kids was about to knock over, a solution presented itself, literally right in front of my face.

Black Box Wine.

I was skeptical at first. Being kind of a wine snob, I had always turned my nose up at boxed wine. It was cheap and usually not very good but I need a solution to this problem. I didn’t know if I could have another ‘Jeff Pour’ vs ‘Jen Pour’ argument.

I picked up the black box and studied it.

The description, “This wine blends Merlot grapes from California’s finest regions which combine to make a blend brimming with redberry fruit, soft tannins and a smooth concentrated finish”  woo’d me and made my mouth water. The shiny award labels made me smile.

And the fact that it contained 4 bottles in one bag made me place that box in my cart.

Then later that night when I tasted the wine, the flavors of  plums, sweet red currants and cinnamon spiced oak danced on my tongue, I was completely won over.

Curious, Jeff walked over to investigate. I allowed him a sip from my glass.

“Nice,” he said, “That’s really good.”

I nodded, smiled and then handed him an empty glass.

“There are about 4 bottles  in there. So you can ‘Jeff pour’ away.” I said as I walked away with my glass.

It was over. The pour battle was finally over.

Thank you Black Box Wine, thank for ending a many year long argument in such a beautiful and blissful way.

Black Box Wine

It’s time to think inside the box. Available in ten delicious varietals and two sizes (3L and Tetra), Black Box Wine will have you ready to lose the bottle! Black Box Wines is perfect for all your summer gatherings!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Black Box Wines. The opinions and text are all mine.

http://rms.theblogfrog.com/1/black-box-wine/sponcon/207/blog-conversation(inviteId-8285,affiliateId-Jen-2P).js

Made with Cheetah Dust

“Mommy, can I have some more Cheetos?” Jake asked as he shoved the last five on his plate into his mouth.

“How about you eat two carrots first and then you can have some more?” I said making a deal with him because it’s all about the give and take.

He sighed, looked at the carrots, looked at me, looked and the Cheetos and then crunched down on the carrot.

“Guys what are potato chips made of?” Jeff asked after a moment of silence.

Three little hands shot in the air but Hayden answered, “Potatoes!”

“What about Veggie Straws?” Jeff asked.

Again, three hands shot up in the air but this time Claire yelled, “Veggies!”

“Then who knows what Cheetos are made of?” Jeff asked.

I looked up from my plate of mac-n-cheese and hot dogs, what was he doing? Where was he going with this?

The table fell silent again as the kids pondered the question. It was Claire who broke the silence, “Potatoes?!”

Jake and Quinn voiced their agreement but Hayden shook his head, “I don’t fhink so, Claire. Daddy, are they made of cheese?”

“Yeah! The are made of cheese!” Quinn and Claire said together.

I semi-nodded and returned to eating my lunch hoping that everyone else would do the same.

“Nope, you are all wrong,” Jeff said. “They are made of cheetahs.”

Cheetos

I immediately looked up from my plate and glared at Jeff. Really, he was going to go there?

“No,” the kids said, shaking their heads.

“Yeah, look at the bag… there is a picture of a cheetah right no there. That is what they are made of because on the potato chip bag there is a potato and on the Veggie Straws there are veggies.” Jeff said, arguing his point.

Hayden grabbed the bag and studied it and being that he is 8, almost 9, he turned the bag around to try and read the ingredient list.

“Seriously, dad?!” Jake said, giving Jeff his best ‘ you are full of it’ look.

“Why else would they put a cheetah on the bag?” Jeff asked.

I sat back and listened to the conversation, rolling my eyes a few times. This was Jeff’s favorite game. Telling the kids silly things to see what they would believe. It used to be pretty easy to do. They would never question him but now as they are getting old, they are getting suspicious of him and often turn to me for verification.  If he wasn’t careful, the kids would never believe a word that came from his mouth.

“Dad.” Hayden said in his best grown up voice, “That is just a cartoon character they use for marketing.”

I choked on my drink. Seriously, where is he learn that?

“No,” Jeff answered, pushing the issue, “I think it’s because it’s because they are made of cheetahs.”

The arguing was now reaching ear piercing levels and I did what had to be done before a full out word war and food fight broke out. I grabbed the Cheetos bag from the middle of the table and read the ingredients.

“They are made from corn. Corn.” I said setting the bag back down. “Now, everyone EAT!”

I sighed as the table hushed and people chewed on their food… Yup, mom had spoken.

Jeff reached across the table and picked up the Cheetos bag. I watched him with a look that said, ‘really you are going to challenge me?’ He read the bag and then set it down.

“Ah, see when they say ‘natural and unnatural’ ingredients what they are really mean is cheetah dust.” he said.

The kids all stopped and looked at him.

“I get it now. Cheetos are mostly made of corn but are sprinkled with cheetah dust because cheetahs are so hard to catch being they are so fast and all.” He clarified.

Each child took a Cheetos in their hand and studied it. Jeff did the same and then popped it in his mouth.

“Mmm… cheetah dust.” he said as he chewed. “Yum.”

Coffee Shops are No Place for My Children

I really enjoy going to the coffee shop. I just like the sights, the sounds, the coffee… the whole experience just makes me happy. Whether it’s a quick in and out caffeine hit or a lingering visit including my computer, the coffee shop brings me joy.

I think that is why I wanted to share this with my children. If something makes me happy, it is only natural  that I would want to share it with the ones that I love most in the world.

coffee shop and children

We descended upon the unknowing quiet coffee shop for an afternoon snack after playing. I was exhausted and needed my afternoon caffeine hit which I would regret at 12am when I was still wide awake.

“Ok, guys,” I said, “we are going to go into this coffee shop to get some snacks and hot chocolate but there are people here reading and studying, doing quiet things so please try to be quiet.”

The children all nodded at me in agreement.

“QUIET GAME!” one of the children yelled as I opened the door announcing our presence.

“YAY!!!” the other children yelled in agreement, “QUIET GAME!”

I shook my head for when they play the quiet game, no one is ever really quiet. Well, they are quiet for a minute until someone makes the smallest noise and then someone tells them they are out but that noise maker disagrees and the quiet game turns into a screaming match that can be heard seven counties over.

“Shhhh….” I hissed, “No. No quiet game. Just be still.”

I herded them all over to the counter, scanning the menu to find out what choices I could offer.

“What drinks do you have that would be good for kids?” I asked the barista.

“Well, we have hot chocolate or we can make Italian sodas,” she answered.

“HOT CHOCOLATE!” the children screamed, jumping up and down.

“Shhh…” I hissed.

I could feel the glares and eye rolls on my back from other people in the shop. I needed to get food in their mouths if I wanted to keep them quiet.

“We have regular hot chocolate or a caramel mocha, white chocolate raspberry, dark chocolate…” the barista began.

I tried to stop her. That was too many choice…  And the children had heard them all.

“Mommy, I want caramel hot chocolate, no regular, no white raspberry, no… um… regular…” the chorus from the children began.

It was on now, the only thing I could do was get out a pencil and paper I write down each child’s specific choice.

Once each child had ordered, I ask the eldest to find a table so that I could pay. I sent them on their way with their choices of bagel, donut, cookie and bananas knowing that if they were eating, they wouldn’t disturb others too much.

“Your total is $34.59” the barista told me.

I coughed and stared at her in shock,  “I’m sorry… you said 34 as in dollars?”

“$34.59” she corrected.

I could hear the children once again getting restless so I just swiped my card. “These hot chocolates better be laced with sedatives for them to be that expensive,’ I mumbled under my breath.

One by one the drinks appeared and I delivered each small steaming cup to each child with the warning, “Don’t drink it yet. It’s hot and it will need to cool.”

As I turned to grab the last cup, I heard the sound of liquid hitting the floor.

“Mommy, it was hot.” was the response the child gave me who was now sitting on a chair in the middle of a hot chocolate pool.

If my hands hadn’t been carrying coffee, I would have face palmed.

“Did any get on you?” I asked as my first concern was for the child’s safety?

“No,” he said with a shake of his head. “B-b-b-but my hot chocolate is gone. I didn’t get to drink any.”

And with that he let out a wail that echoed through the shop. I could feel the level of people’s anxiety and annoyance rise. So I did the only thing I could do.

I mom’d the situation.

I scooped up the wailing child and shoved a donut hole into his mouth to muffle the wail. I picked up the empty cup from the floor, licked it clean and divided the three remaining hot chocolates equally four ways and gave the owners of those drinks my ‘if you want to see your next birthday you will be happy about sharing’ look. I took eighty million tiny square napkins and mopped up the pool of hot chocolate on the floor. Then I sat down as with my children to enjoy my coffee and the coffee shop I love so much.

My coffee…

That’s when I realized in the chaos I had not remembered my coffee, the soul reason I wanted to share my love of the coffee shop with my children.

From now on, I am just going to keep the coffee shop for me and share my love of naps with my children.

That seems a little less messy.