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. 

 

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This is my Body and I Love it for You

I lay on the couch on yet another snow day morning, another day stuck home with the children. At this point in time, I had lost count at how many days we had been home and had long stopped caring if the children ate, slept, pooped or wore clothes.

I couldn’t have told you when I last showered or even if my underwear was clean. Putting on a bra or real pants seemed like an impossible task for you see, we were snowed in but there was also the plague making it’s way through the house.

Snot was flowing and puke was spilling. This is the stuff that makes day drinking happen.  It was so bad, I knew the inevitable should happen… I had to clean the house.

But later.

I adjusted my position on the couch, turning more on my side and as I scooted my shirt pulled up revealing my stomach. I was playing on my phone, it didn’t matter to me.

She came out of no where as she often does when I’m laying down. It’s funny she never wanted to cuddle as a baby, always wanted out of my arms, miss independent so similar to me. But as the years have past, she never misses an opportunity to crawl on top of me and nestle her head just under my chin.

mother and daughter

She seems to need to be close, breath me in.

I never push her away even when she decides to cuddle at the most inconvenient times like during ‘wrestling’ between me and her father but that’s what happens when we forget to lock the door.

She crawled on top of me, sticking her bony child knee in my groin causing me to scream.

“Sorry mommy,” she said with a giggle but not stopping on her way up.

She lay her head down, I wrapped my arm around her and I could feel her relax. I continued reading on my phone and she began to trace the lines of my shirt.

She traced the scoop neck of my tank top and with a hint of mischief, let her finger slide over my breasting knowing that she shouldn’t touch it because breasts are one of those special parts no one gets to touch (at least for now, I’ll talk to her about ‘2nd base’ when she’s older).

Her finger reached my exposed belly, “Mommy, your shirt is too small. I can see your belly.”

My normal reaction would be to quickly pull down my shirt, covering a part of me that I’m not the most proud of, that’s not ‘perfect’ and don’t want people to see. My body would tense and cringe. I would usually swat her hand away as she tried to touch it, telling her no. But this time, this time I decided to just let her touch.

I decided the message was to important.

I want to raise a strong and confident daughter. I want her to know she’s beautiful because she is. I want her to embrace her imperfection and know that she is perfect because she is who she is and there is no such thing as the perfect body. I watch her watch me as I look in the mirror and do my makeup. She questions why I wear it, what I like about it. She watches me dress and stress over clothes that will hide those areas I don’t like. She hears me say things like, “Ugh this makes me fat.”

She sees my insecurities…. I need to let her see my confidence too.

My body is beautiful. It’s healthy. It’s strong. It’s sexy. It’s done amazing things; pushed on another’s chest to make blood pump when their heart had stopped, turned on a man I’ve known and been with for more than 17 years and most importantly, my body has given life to 4 children, 3 of whom lived inside me all at once.

I want her to know that I am proud of this body of mine and I have earned every scar, freckle, wrinkle and stretch mark. Well, some I earned and some were just given.

She traced the stretch marks on my stomach, buried her finger deep in my belly button and poked my stomach to watch the squish wiggle. I didn’t say a word, just watched her, let her see I wasn’t ashamed.

Her hand went flat and she placed it on my stomach then laid her head on my chest.

“My momma,” she said. “…pretty and squishy.”

I kissed the top of her head and held her close. She stayed a few more seconds and just like that she was gone but I can only hope the message, though it will need re-enforcing, will always stay with her.

 

 

The Mirror

“What should we get mom for her birthday?” Jeff asked as he drove, Hayden and I to the restaurant to celebrate Hayden’s 9th birthday.

“I don’t know?” Hayden said from the back seat.

“Well, what does mom like?” Jeff asked

I looked up in the rear facing mirror at Hayden and waited for the answer. This was going to be good.

“A new phone,” Hayden said with a smile. “Mom really likes her phone, we should get her a new one.”

Jeff snickered and Hayden beamed for making Jeff laugh but those words hit me right in the heart. They stung deep. I tried to smile and brush them off as Jeff asked Hayden what else I liked.

“Maybe some coffee or new sunglasses, mom is always wearing her sunglasses even when it’s not sunny…” Hayden rambled on. I couldn’t focus on the conversation because in my head, I was beating myself up.

I know he didn’t mean to hurt me. I know he was just being honest and it’s true. I do love my phone and it’s usually always in my hand. But I suddenly wondered, is that all he sees of me? Does he think I want to be on my phone more than with him?

My kids are excellent mirrors.

They seem to have no problem finding my flaws and reflecting them back at me. Every little ugly thing about myself, they magnify. I see it and it stings. It’s like a constant reminder that I had no idea what I am doing as a mom. They don’t do this on purpose, it’s just a fact.

I am a yeller.

I feel like I’m struggling to be heard. The noise of life is all around and to cut the chaos, I yell. It’s also my stress release. I’m like a pressure cooker ready to burst and to release that pressure so that I can focus, I yell. I yell at my kids and during some conversations my throat is raw afterwards.

“I just don’t know how to parent without yelling,” I lamented to my mom as we sat and ate lunch. “And that means I’m raising children who yell at each other, yell at me.”

She looked thoughtfully at me and then because she is my mother and still after 30 plus years of being a mother is at times insecure, she asked, “Was I a yeller? Did you get that from me?”

I didn’t mean to be her mirror and reflect her flaw but because I am her child, I did.

A smile spread across my face, “I don’t remember you yelling.”

We got quiet and both took bites of food, kind of both seemingly pondering motherhood.

She was the first to break the silence, “Say, you didn’t tell me that you made a crafty tail-mix snack for Hayden to take to school as his birthday treat.”

“Well, I didn’t think it was that big of deal,” I said as I took another bite.

“When Hayden was at my house, he went on and on about how the two of you worked together, pouring all sorts of treats into a big bowl, stirring it up and then putting it in little bags that he decorated with Halloween stickers. He was so proud that he got to make this treat with his mom and then give it to his friends,” she said. “From what he told me,  you made like 30 little bags. Wow.”

I looked at her as a single tear rolled down my cheek and I released the breath I didn’t know I was holdinhg.

“H-h-he said all that?” I asked, my voice getting caught in my throat.

“Yes,” she nodded.

I couldn’t help the second tear that rolled down my face.

“That was a bad day,” I began. “We had gymnastics that night. And homework to get done before going and then I added this project…. all I remember was yelling at them to stop stealing pieces of candy and to stop sneezing on the bowl.”

“Well, all he remembers is that you took the time to make an extra special treat and that you did it together,” my mom said.

I wiped the tears from my cheeks.

“It really wasn’t that big of deal,” I shrugged, trying to lessen the situation.

My mom reached over the table, took my hand and looked me right in the eyes, “Yes, sweetie. It was… to Hayden.”

And that’s when I realized, he didn’t remember the yelling either.

 

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.

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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.

Let’s Get You Home

I woke up that morning with a big smile on my face. I didn’t toss and turn and avoid getting up and I only hit snooze button once instead of the usual five times.

Today was gonna be a good day, today my baby was coming home.

It didn’t really hit me that he was gone until we had returned home from dropping him off. As we walked in the house and the triplets scattered, I instantly felt a pain in my heart. Someone was missing.

And that’s when gates opened and I crumbled into a mess of sobs.

My oldest son away from home at camp for one week.

He was so excited to go, couldn’t wait for the day when he could go to overnight camp. I was so proud of him. Seven days away from home, not knowing a soul at camp and not even blinking an eye when we all said good bye.

But as the week progressed, my need for him increased. I couldn’t help but worry… Was he eating enough? Was he sleeping? Was he wearing sunscreen? Was he drinking enough water? Were the kids being nice to him? Was he changing his underwear? Was he having fun? Was he missing me?

I can’t tell you how many times I wished that I could just call and check on him. Every day, I would excitedly check the mail for a letter, a quick note, a random art project of feathers, something that would connect me to him but nothing came.

I told myself that this was a good thing. He was too busy to miss home, miss the family, miss… me. That’s how it should be after all.

But that still stings.

When we arrived at camp, I was giddy. I couldn’t help but smile. We had about 20 minutes to wait until the end of camp program started and it took all my self control to not run through camp like a lunatic yelling and shouting his name. Being in the same location as him but not being near him was killing me.

I just wanted him.

We decided to walk to the seating area and suddenly there he was. He popped up in the window of the dining hall. He was surrounded by friends and all smiles.

boy at summer camp

The triplets ran to him and he acted cool. He nodded at me and his dad, said something about needing to eat his toast and then was gone from sight.

I sighed.

There he was. I had laid eyes on him. He was wearing pajamas and a straw sombrero, his face was smudged with jelly and dirty but he was in one piece. He looked happy.

It was then I released the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

As the campers walked into the seating area and took the stage, I was flooded with memories of my time at summer camp. The freedom to be a kid. No parents nagging, no real rules to follow, just good times. I felt goose bumps prickle my arms as the kids sang some of their camp songs and I knew this would be a time he would never forget.

I watched my son pick at his hat, toss his shoe in the air and do anything but sing the songs. I smiled to myself, being away for a week really didn’t change him. He was still the same kid.

The ache in my arms grew stronger. I wanted him. I needed him. It was long past time.

All the campers filed out and were supposed to head back to their cabins and that’s where families would be reunited but I couldn’t wait.

The sombrero made him easy to find and from the way he was trying to play is cool but also wondering around looking, I knew he wanted me too.

“Hayden!” I called.

He didn’t hear me.

“HAYDEN!” I called again, louder but still he didn’t hear me.

“Hey,” I said this time close enough to touch his arm.

He turned to face me and literally fell into my arms and that’s when the tears began to fall as he tried to press his little but big body into mine trying to erase all the distance between us.

At first I was worried he was hurt but then I knew… he just missed me.

I held him. I held him as we stood together in the middle of a crowd of people. I held him as tight as I could.

And he held me back.

Finally, I pulled him off of me to get a good look at him.

Before me was my oldest son who, even though was only gone a week, looked older… more mature, more independent. He was also dirty. Probably the dirtiest kid I had ever seen.

He wiped the tears from his face making the dirt smudges worse, he said to me, “Mom, I ran out of underwear so my weenie is just dangling in my shorts.”

A spry smile spread across his face and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Come on,” I said pulling him close and kissing his forehead, “let’s get you home.”

mom and summer camp boy

Six Year Old Sex Ed

Sex-Ed

“Mommy, what’s that circle thingy under my penis where the pee comes from?” Jake asked from the top of the stairs.

It was just after bath time. The kids were getting pj’s on and I was finishing cleaning up dinner. I set the dish down that I was washing, grabbed a towel and walked over to him,  “What?” I said, very confused.

“That circle thingy under my penis has all the lines on it, what is that?” he asked again, not really clearing things up any.

I just looked at him, for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what in the world he was talking about. Circle thing?

“Jake, that is your pee sack,” Quinn jumped in and clarified. “It holds all your pee.”

Finally the light bulb went off and I understood what he was talking about. Jake was asking about his scrotum.

Now, I kinda think that because I don’t have a penis, I shouldn’t have to teach the boys about theirs. I will talk vagina all day long with Claire but I am not the penis expert in the house. I wanted to call for Jeff to field this line of questioning. He has a penis he should answer the questions but I am a nurse for goodness sake, I can handle this. It is just anatomy.

“Boys,” I began, “that is not your ‘pee sack’ or where pee comes from, it is called your scrotum and it holds your testicles.”

They just looked at me and immediately both their hands went south and began to fondle.

“What’s testmacles?” Quinn asked.

Oh man. I totally opened that door. Now how was I supposed to explain what testicles were for without going giving a full sex ed lesson. I was walking a very fine line.

I decided being honest and scientific was the only way. Let the questions come, I am good at dancing around things and confusing them with science and big words if needed.

“You need your testicles because they make something that you will need to make a baby. Then you will need a mommy and a daddy to make a baby.” I said.

“How does that work?” Quinn asked, being ever curious about the way things work.

Oh shit. Deep breathes. I can do this.

But before I could figure out an appropriate answer to Quinn’s question, Jake asked, “Well are they, um… bone or metal? Because I really think I should have some medal in my body.”

Say what?

I tried to process what Jake was asking and stop from self from laugh so hard that I would need to change my underwear as Claire busted from her room, naked as the day she was born.

“I HAVE A VAGINA!” she screamed while running.

Both boys giggled at Claire and I knew that I loosing hold of this little anatomy lesson.

“Testicles are not medal or bone. They are organs and squishy,” I tried to explain but Claire doing her version of naked aerobics was more interesting, then listening to me.

“Claire.” I said, “Will you put your vagina away.”

As the words spilled from my mouth, I shook my head. Oh the things I have to say as a mother. Also, if I ever have to say that again, especially during those teen years, it will be too soon.

I took a deep breath. I wanted to continue teaching them about their bodies. This was good stuff to know. But  now all three kids were giggling and jumping around naked. Body parts were going every where.

I sighed, my lesson was done.

And as the three started scooting their naked butt on the carpet like dogs  I yelled… “ALRIGHT!  PLEASE PUT YOUR PENISES AND VAGINA AWAY!”

Yup, subject closed.

Letting Go

He walked up beside me and slipped in hand in mine.

I can still wrap my whole hand around it but it’s getting bigger, soon he will be the one holding my hand instead of me holding his.

I give it a squeeze and bring it to my lips. The kiss makes him smile and giggle.

We walk like this, hand in hand, for a while.

The side walk is crowded, there are bikers and walkers and strollers. People have come out for the night’s festivities.

I used to not really like fireworks. I didn’t ever really want to stay up that late. I’ve reach that point in my life where more sleep is the thing that I cave. Also, I lack the right equipment (aka I don’t have a penis) to get really excited about fireworks.

But this year was different. This year, I was excited.

I think it was because the kids are finally old enough for it to be an enjoyable experience. They remember the fireworks from last year and can’t wait to watch them again.

fireworks and a lantern

As we walked back to the grassy lawn where we would watch the show from getting a treat of slushies from the gas station, I watched people.

I watched a young family struggle with a stroller and a overly tired baby in a back pack.

I watched an older couple walk hand in hand, one with a limp from the passing of time.

I watched a group of teen boys flirt with some girls, trying to score a phone number.

I watched two tweens zoom by us on scooters.

“You know,” I said look down and the scruffy head of blond hair next to me, “Some day you are going to want to come to these fireworks without me and dad.”

He didn’t say anything and just kept walking.

“You are going to think it will be so lame to be seen with your parents. We will become so uncool.” I continued giving him a playful little nudge.

He looked at me, with almost tears in his eyes.

“No, mommy. No” he said. “I am always going to want to be with you.”

He grabbed onto my side and then began to hug me like he was trying to climb back into my uterus. It was like he was trying to stop all distance between us, stop time from moving on.

I held him and tousled his blond mop of hair.

“It’s ok, buddy.” I said with a little giggle at his over reaction which he totally comes by naturally, “That is what you are supposed to do.”

“No. I don’t want too.” he said holding on a bit more, not ever wanting to let go.

“Parents are supposed to become uncool,” Jeff said joining the conversation, “You will have friends that you will want to be with more than us.”

“It’s not going to happen tonight or even tomorrow,” I said loosening his grip so that we could begin walking again, “but it will happen. It’s suppose to happen.”

We walked in silence for a moment. Both of us making peace with letting go.

“But I will always come back,” he said taking my hand in his again, “always.”

I squeezed his little but big hand and said, “Promise?”

Before he could answer, he spotted a friend of his, waved feverishly and his hand slipped from mine.

I didn’t try to hold on even though there is a part of me that wanted too. Truth be told, I want him to have friends, I want him to go after them. I want him to learn to stand on his own two feet. I want him to have fun.

So I did the only thing I could, I opened my hand and let go.