Thursday, June 23, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons

It has been raining for days.  Almost weeks.  We haven't really had any nice, warm days in what seems like forever.  It has been gloomy and cool for far too long. 

The sun broke through the clouds yesterday and dropped it's glorious rays on us right in the middle of the kids' nap time.  Didn't matter to me.  I woke them up from their sleep and got them into shorts as quickly as I could.  Outside we all went to play with frisbees and soccer balls and footballs and bikes.  For all of 15 minutes.  Then it started to rain again.  

Ho-hum.  We stood under our front porch to see if the rain would pass.  It didn't.  Finally I just told the boys to have at it. 

Before I could change my mind they quickly jumped onto their bikes and took off through the puddles.

I guess they didn't need sunshine after all.
Gracie was eagerly watching and wanted to join in so badly but listened so nicely when I told her she couldn't.  She has been nursing a cold for a while and I wasn't sure it would be a good idea to let her splash around with the boys.
But I just couldn't let her standby and watch the boys have all the fun so eventually I let her join in too.  I didn't have to tell her twice.  In she went.
And she, too, had a blast soaking herself silly.
This one can definitely keep up with the boys.
They all had a blast playing together.  Even the dog got in on the fun.
After almost two hours of soaking in the rain it was time for a good soak in the tub. 
It may not have been the sunshine we wanted, but they had fun nonetheless.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The First Week: Things I've Learned

It has officially been one week since school has let out, and I've learned some things.  Not the least of these is that when you really look forward to something the chance of that event living up to your mind's vision is not likely.  This week has been rough, to say the least.  It started out okay.  I have pictures as proof.  But it went down hill (just like the weather) from there.

Perhaps I wouldn't have learned what I did if this week hadn't been so crappy.  Perhaps said crappy week happened so that I could grow from this week and make the rest of the summer better.  Maybe.  Or maybe it was just a crappy week. 

Either way.  I learned.

-I learned that you can take your kids to their great grandparents grave and it will give your mother much happiness. Not only that but apparently kids like cemetaries almost as much as they like parks.  Who knew?
-I learned that you can yell so much that you give yourself a migraine.  Literally.  You will feel both ashamed and punished at the same time.  And when you apologize to your children for your horrible behavior they forgive you.  And defend you.  And it makes you feel worse.  And when you cry and tell them that you behaved like a rotten person they will cry with you and tell you that you are the best.  And you feel more undeserving of love than you ever have. 
-I learned that it doesn't matter how cold the water is a stream must be played in.
-I learned that when your mother is trying to be helpful it can actually be really hurtful.  Sometimes a mother just needs to keep her thoughts to herself.  I realize that I am not an exception to this rule.  I know that I, too, need to keep my mouth shut a lot more than I do.  I need to think more carefully not only about what comes out of my mouth, but the thoughts in my head as well.  Words and thoughts need to be monitored.  I learned what not to say when my kids are older and have children of their own. Things like, "You kids were so easy!" as a mother is struggling to handle her own children is not helpful.  I learned it is really easy to forgive your own mother when you remember she is your best friend and loves you very much. 

-I learned that wearing all pink does not mean that you won't play with sticks and stones and get soaked in the stream.  Thankfully.
I learned that even though I can see a fall about to happen sometimes I just need to let it happen so that they can learn to avoid those things on their own.  Even if we don't have a change of clothes.
I learned that playing on a sunny playground and swinging on swings is a great way to dry off wet clothes.
- I learned that you can almost SEE children growing if you look closely.
-I learned that sometimes your mother doesn't understand your sarcastic sense of humor and when you say, "I don't think I'm gonna make it to see them as adults" she will think you are serious and recommend you start taking antidepressants to deal with your children. 
-I learned that I need to hover less and just let go.  I need to worry less.  Nag less.  Yell less.
- I learned that when you call your husband at work crying about what a shitty mother you are he will say all kinds of nice things about you and make you feel better.
-  I learned that sometimes you think you are stronger than you are. 
- I learned that I need to smile more.  I need to smile from the inside out.  I need to smile with my guts and my soul and mean it.  I need to smile even when I don't feel like it.  I need to smile especially when I don't feel like it.  Smiling makes you feel better. 
- I learned that some people (well okay, most people) don't like to pose for a million pictures and would rather just run around the playground.  Some people play along better than others.

It was a crazy week.  I hope I don't ever have a repeat of this week.  I hope I can take the lessons I've learned and hang onto them so that I can enjoy this summer with my kids.  I hope that when my kids look back on this summer (and their childhood in general) they will remember all the fun we had and forget about what a crazy lunatic I could be sometimes.  I hope I can stop thinking about how hard parenting is and focus instead of how fun and what a blessing it is. 

I've learned.  Now I hope I remember what I've learned.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Life In These Parts

It has been another busy week.  This was the last week of school, so we had the typical parties and picnics and skits and graduation ceremonies to attend for the boys' classes. 

Thursday Ben had his last day of 3K.  Next year he will be going to a different school because the 4K program at the boys' current parochial school has to be in the afternoon and that just doesn't work for us.  Ben will instead be going to a preschool at an arts center nearby.  It is a great program and we had Joey at the same school when he was in 3K (that year our parochial school didn't have a 3K because of low enrollment).  We signed Ben up yesterday and he is so excited.  I don't think he quite understands that he won't be able to go to school for another few months.  I think I will be dealing with the "Am I going to my new school TODAY?" question for a long time.  *sigh*
Friday Tommy "graduated" from kindergarten.  It has been such a fabulous year for him.  His teacher is amazing and has all of the kids reading already.  She is so enthusiastic and fabulous.  Tommy just loved her and my dear tender boy actually got teary saying goodbye to her.  Aww.
Joey is done with second grade too and is now officially a third grader.  He has done so much growing this year.  It started out a bit rough.  Second grade is such an adjustment from first grade.  So much more homework, and work in general.  I think he was testing his boundaries and seeing what he could and couldn't do, and what he could get away with.  We cracked down on him, and he responded very well.  His teacher did a great job of being firm but patient with him and he ended up having a great year.  He was even made student of the month! 
Now I have a third grader, a first grader, and another in 4K.  Amazing.  Crazy how fast time can go, even while the days sometimes feel so long. 

The boys have been riding bikes and playing outside as much as they can considering the weather has turned cool and rainy.  Add to that our dirt filled backyard and they don't have a ton of options.  Yesterday when Todd was working with the construction crew in the backyard Joey and Tommy were putsing around back there too.  I came out to tell them to stay away from the workers and found Joey up to his elbows in a massive pile of dirt (with his school clothes on).  When he heard me sigh and saw my eyes rolling he just said, "It's a boy's life, mom.  It's a boy's life."  And with that I shrugged my shoulders and headed back into the house.  Can't argue with that. 

Our addition is almost done.  The siding is on the outside and the walls were textured and the ceiling was painted yesterday.  Now we have to stain the woodwork and paint the walls.  After that the carpeting goes in and all will be well and good.  I can't wait until it is done.  Our back patio will be poured early next week and then hopefully we can plant some grass in the backyard right after that so the boys will actually be able to play out there again in a few weeks.
And speaking of our yard.  We had a huge bunny in our yard digging a massive hole in what little grass we did have.  It made me really mad until I saw 6 or 7 tiny baby bunnies coming out of it.  They are just beautiful.  They even let me sneak up to them to take a few shots.  You probably can't tell from this picture but they were each only about three inches.  So sweet.
Last night they were huddled under a nearby bush.  Why they didn't want to sleep in their underground nest I don't know (maybe they are too big now) but I hope they make it okay.  There are a ton of cats that roam this neighborhood (and some foxes and hawks too).  Hopefully, they all make it and grow up and move far away from my yard and my flowers.  ;)

Now we are anxiously awaiting for the weather to catch up with the calendar so that we can truly enjoy our summer break.  After this week of craziness and rushing around it would be wonderful to relax in the nice warm sunshine and soak in a bit of summer.   We have so been looking forward to picnics and swimming and camping and bonfires.  I hope the summer weather comes soon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Good For The Soul

What do you do when your children are driving you crazy?  Apparently, you stuff them into the truck with more gear than you knew you had and drive three hours to a jam-packed cabin to spend time with family. 

I had my doubts.  I wasn't sure how it was going to pan out.  We didn't even have enough beds for everyone who was going to be at the cabin, but we hoped to make it work.  I shared a room with Grace.  Todd and the boys slept in the hunters' quarters in the basement.  Todd's mom and dad got their room, and his sister, her husband, and their daughter shared another room.  It worked out, dare I say, perfectly. 

Todd and the boys got up early and quietly as mice they ate their breakfast, got dressed, and headed out to go fishing before the rest of us were even awake.  Grace and I slept in long past our normal time and took our time getting dressed and eating.  By the time we were ready the fishermen were back with a bucket full of perch and smiles all around.  

The rest of the day was spent the way it should be when the weather is in the eighties.  Outside. 

It ended up being an amazing weekend.  Everyone was well behaved and had a great time.  The hummingbirds and dragonflies were out, and 5 or 6 eagles constantly circled above the lake all weekend.  The weather was perfect and the bugs were few. 

We were worried about how Todd's dad would handle all the commotion but he did amazingly well with all the people around and was fairly clear for the majority of the time.  He and I even had a moment at dinner on Friday night that brought tears to my eyes.  He told me how proud he is of Todd and that he couldn't ask for a better son.  He said how happy it makes him to see his family enjoying the cabin that he built and that he is so glad that we are all so close by.  Again he said he couldn't ask for a better son, and then added, or a better daughter in law.  He commented that Todd and I are a great couple and he thinks we work really well together.  Throughout the entire conversation I had such a lump in my throat I could barely talk.  Though Alzheimer's takes away his ability to recognize his family he still comes shining through sometimes.  And it helps us to remember that even when his brain doesn't let him see us his soul always knows.  When Todd and I had a minute alone I told him about the conversation I had with his dad.  Though Todd knows his dad feels that way, hearing it means so much right now.  It was a beautiful way to start the weekend. 

It was a weekend of:

Playing and swimming in the water
 Making up games
 Fishing with family
 Playing with cousins
 Wearing pretty sandals.  And going barefoot.
 Splashing piggies with Grandma
 Brotherly love
 And nature's beauty

After this weekend I am optomistic for summer.  I know that when school comes to an end on Friday we will be able to fill the summer with good times and wonderful memories.  I'm hopeful now.  Though I had my doubts before we left for the cabin this weekend turned out to be just what we needed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Torn and Tattered

Hmmm.  Where to begin.  So much floating around in my head these days that it seems I've just been avoiding writing about it because I'm not sure just what to say.  Here it goes...

-  My uncle passed away last week and we went to his funeral on Memorial Day.  It was an outside service at his house where we had camped and fished and partied so many times before.  As we pulled up to the house I swore I saw Uncle Larry sitting at the picnic table before I remembered why I was there in the first place.  It hasn't really sunken in that he is gone.  This is going to take some gettin' used to. 

-  The construction on the addition is coming along.  There are always workers going in and out the house and there is always pounding and sawing throughout the day.  I can't wait until this project is done.  Just to have a peaceful afternoon (or morning) again would be bliss.  Not to mention being able to let the boys play in the backyard.  Or having GRASS in the backyard again.  Oh glory!  I can't wait.

The room will be amazing when it is done.  I always say that the one thing I miss about my old house is my sunroom, and the addition has that sunroom feel to it.  There are windows on all three walls and it soaks up the afternoon sun with all the southern and western exposure.  It will be great! 

(Not a great shot, I know, but I wanted to show how the addition opens up the space and how airy it is. And also the lovely piece of plastic that separates our living space from the workspace that the boys just LOVE the mess with)

-  My boys are driving me crazy.  Seriously crazy.  I don't know if it is just the end of school madness (seven days left) that has them so manic or if it is just a phase.  Either way I hope it passes quickly.  It seems that no matter how many times I ask them not to do something the minute I turn around they are doing the very thing I asked them not to do.  Every time I give them an inch of freedom they break something, or hurt someone, or act naughty.  I just don't get it!  In just the last week Joey kicked Ben in the face and split his lip, his tongue, and his gums.  A few days later Ben kneed Joey in the head and Joey got a concussion (he threw up from it and everything).  Then last night Joey yanked Tommy down to the floor so hard that we thought Tommy's shoulder was dislocated.  And this is all while they are PLAYING with each other.  It isn't malicious.  They think it is all in fun!  And then when I tell them to stop "wrestling" they look at me like I am the meanest mom in the world.  It is insanity.  The other day I let them go outside and ride bikes and play ball but when I glanced out the window I saw them digging massive holes in the front yard under the neighbor's trees.  WTH???  Then when I let them play down in the basement I came down and saw them splashing water all over the place from my fish tank.  WHY??   What is happening to my boys?  I just don't get it.  And these are really good kids.  Seriously.  I just don't know what has gotten into them lately.  I feel like I am scolding and yelling nonstop. This past week or two I have had serious doubts about whether I will make it to see them as adults.  I just don't think I'm gonna make it. 

-  Just this morning I was telling my mom about what the boys have done recently and she didn't know whether to laugh or cry for me.  She knows what it is like because she had three boys as well.  I know girls come with their own difficulties in raising them, but I tell ya, having three boys close in age is insanity.  And I don't think anyone can understand it unless you have it.  Craziness.  My sister has three girls close in age and she just watches my boys in disbelief.  And like I said, my boys really are good kids, it is just the energy level that wears you down.  They can't sit still.  They can't focus.  They can't play with any one toy for longer than a few minutes.  It seems like they are constantly bursting out of their skin. 

Anyway, my mom said she will say some prayers for me, so that made me feel better.  ;)

-  I went to church this morning for the childrens' school mass. It was the third graders' mass and they asked the Kindergartners if they would like to join in with them.  Tommy was assigned a reading part.  I couldn't believe it.  I was nervous for Joey when he had his first church reading in first grade and now Tommy was going to do a reading and he is only in Kindergarten.  Unbelievable. 

Tommy got up to the podium and read his petition slowly, carefully, and with feeling.  I was amazed.  He did so well, and he was so completely proud of himself.  It almost made me forget how rotten he was before school this morning.   I did have to laugh when I thought about the words he read:  "For all those who are struggling to decide between right and wrong, that God may guide them in the right direction. Let us pray to the Lord."  AMEN to that, Tommy.  That will definitely be my prayer for myself and my family this week.

Tell me, what are you praying for?

(By the way, there are certain blogs that I haven't been able to comment on this week.  For some reason I keep getting kicked back to my Google sign in page and then when I sign in my comment isn't accepted.  It just keeps kicking me back to the sign in.  It seems to only be the blogs that have the "Post As:" button after the comment box.  Anyway,  I am reading, and hopefully this computer glitch will be fixed soon.  Thanks!)

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson