Friday, August 31, 2012

Not Happy

I'm not happy.  Most parents are pretty freaking ecstatic right about now.  Me?  I'm not happy.

I don't want school to start.  I feel like stomping my feet on the floor, crossing my arms over my chest yelling, "Hell no, we won't go!"

I'm a freak.  I know.

It feels like the beginning of the end.  Dramatic much?  Perhaps.  But that is how I feel.

This is the first year that all of my kids will be in school.   For the past ten years I've never not had a little buddy with me at home.  A little shadow following me around (here comes the lump in my throat again).  A little partner for every car ride, trip to the grocery store, or errand run.  Oh sure, Ben is only in half day kindergarten and Grace is just in school for a few hours three mornings a week but still.  The beginning of the end.

You see, I like these little people of mine.  Of course they drive me crazy and make me want to pull my hair out of my head 20 times a day, but my days are still better with them than without them.  I like 'em.  I want to freeze time right now and live this life in slow motion.

Don't get me wrong, I can use these few hours here and there to get things done.  The time won't be wasted.  And I have big plans for when the kids are older that involve me going back to school and becoming a nurse as I'd always planned.  There are things to look forward to.  But.  Well.  I just don't want to be there already.  I want to be here.  I want this to stay.  I don't want things to change.

And yet, they do.  Every day.

Once school starts time seems to gain momentum.  Faster and faster and faster it goes as I stumble and run to keep up.  Hang on.  Hold on.  Remember.

My little people are all excited.  Thrilled to be starting new adventures, learning, growing.  I won't ruin their fun.  I'll clap and cheer and jump up and down and they'll never know I'm holding my breath and swallowing down the empty in my chest.  I'll be a fabulous actress.  'Cause that's what we do.  We give them wings so they can fly.  And though they may be too young to fly far just yet, it is the beginning (of the end).

PhotoStory Friday

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Take A Tour

School begins in less than a week and we are trying to get in as much fun as we can in these last few days.  Tonight the kids take all of their school supplies to school and meet with their teachers and classmates at the ice cream social.  Tomorrow we are off to the county fair.  And hopefully this weekend we will be enjoying a nice, long relaxing weekend up north.  But today we needed something fun to do too.  And what better place to go and explore, imagine, play, and enjoy.
The last time we went to Bookworm Gardens Grace's leg was in a cast and it was difficult to be able to fully enjoy all that this magical place had to offer.  I promised her that when her leg was all better we would go back.  I posted some pictures of the gardens in my post about our fairy house but I don't think any of the pictures I took captured just how fabulous this place really is.   There is so much to see you really have to visit over and over again to notice all the details.  If you are within an hour or so of this place I highly recommend that you visit (it's free!!!).  

Each area is themed after a popular children's book or series.  This is from The Magic School Bus.  This is the first thing you see as you drive up to Bookworm Gardens, and one of my kids' favorite stops.  The kids can go in the bus, push all the buttons, operate the doors and windows, and take turns "driving".
Beautiful paths wind throughout the gardens with every type of flower and sculpted trees all around you.
The kids can take a break on a grassy couch inspired by "He Came With The Couch".
Play areas are everywhere.  Whether they are in a picture frame, building fairy houses, playing musical instruments, reading books, writing letters, digging in the sand,
or ready to duck into a hollowed out tree a la "Winnie the Pooh" the kids are having fun.
They even practiced their meditation during a Japanese tea party.
Next it is on to the tree house.  Fully stocked with "Magic Tree House" books, blankets to lie on or rocking chairs to sit in, it really is a cool place to sit and read.
Next we are off to the farm where, and I'm not kidding you, the kids spend hours watering all the herbs, spices, tomatoes the size of your head, cucumbers, pumpkins, apple trees, and flowers they can find.  It is a popular spot, it seems, as it is always full of tons of kids watering, watering, watering.  The kids are so busy having fun I don't even think they realize that they are learning about recycling, planting, fertilizing, and natural foods.  Peter Cottontail's hideout in Mr. McGregor's garden is a favorite little house to play in too.
The only way to tear the kids away from the farm is to promise them that the pond is the next stop.  Gorgeous koi fish swim around lily pads and a gentle waterfall.
I must remember to bring breadcrumbs for the fish next time.  Believe it or not fish don't like pebbles.
Inside each stone lamp post throughout the gardens are little cabinets containing books.  Plenty of benches and chairs line the paths as well so that you can sit and read your favorite stories.
After a quick read under the trees we wander through the caterpillar tunnel.
On the other side of the tunnel "Horton Hatches The Egg" in a tree.  Next you can go on a dig for dinosaur bones in the sand.  You can even pretend to be one of the three little pigs, or the big bad wolf, if you are so inclined.

A monster house provides even more fun (which means time to let mama sit and relax in the shade for a few minutes).
After a full day of running from place to place the kids are exhausted but still unwilling to leave.  
Hunger (finally) wins over and on our way out we stop at our favorite spots one more time to say good-bye.  "Good-bye to Horton on the eggs!"  "Good-bye Magic School Bus!"  "Good-bye Little House in the Big Woods!"  "Good-bye to The Three Bears!"
It is a wondrous place.  I took a million pictures and I still haven't captured it all for you.  It is such a kid themed place and yet you don't need kids to visit.  I saw so many adults wandering around enjoying the gardens just as much as the kids.  Again, if you are in the area you must stop in.  You won't regret it!

One fun day down, five more to go!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I kinda want to cry.

I feel like I am on a merry-go-round, going faster and faster, hanging on with just my hands as my feet fly out from under me.  Desperate to hang on even as the ride tries to fling me off.  Part of me just wants to let go and fly off.

Ben's surgery was rough.  It was much harder than I anticipated.  The anesthesia really did a number on him and made him miserable.  He couldn't stop puking.  They wouldn't let us leave the hospital (even after that department had closed down) because they were worried he would get dehydrated.  Finally after about 10 hours I convinced them to let me take Ben home (where he continued to vomit).  

The next day was better but his poor eyes were a mess.  Proceed to the picture with caution.  

Consider yourself warned:

At least at his point he could keep some dry cereal and water down.

Today we had the follow up doctor appointment to see how the surgery went.  While Ben's eyes look good (meaning no infection or torn stitches) the surgery may not have been as successful as we had hoped.  From here we wait and see if his eyes adjust even more as they heal.  It was not what we wanted to hear and kind of sent me spinning.  I feel nauseous.  I just can't imagine telling him he needs to do this all over again in a few months.

I realize I need to keep this in perspective.  In the grand scheme of things I suppose this is not the biggest deal in the world.  Still.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Up Early

This morning we are up early to get Ben to the hospital for his eye surgery.  It is an outpatient surgery and should be no problem, but I am filled with nervous energy that I will be trying my best to conceal from my scared little Benny boy.

To calm my nerves I am having yet another cup of coffee (shut up) and looking through the pictures I took yesterday at one of our favorite swimming spots.  Seeing as how Ben will not be able to go swimming for at least 10 days after his surgery, and then school starts, I figured we had better get to our swimming hole one last time this summer and soak up some sun, fun, and swimming.

It was not as hot as I would have liked, and it rained earlier in the morning, so the water felt especially cold when the kids first attempted to swim.
Grace quickly decided the water was too cold and went back to the sand to warm up and do a little digging while the boys took to their floaties.
When the chill became too much the boys went to join their sister.  Joey said that he was going to dig to the center of the earth.  Sounds like a good way to warm up to me!
Digging to the center of the earth is hard work and soon the boys were sweaty enough to jump back into the water.  Luckily the sun had come out, the temperature rose to a nice, toasty warm, and the boys were able to swim to their hearts' content.
Even Grace decided to take a little swim.
It turned out to be a great day and a great way to have one last hurrah at the lake.  After a few hours everyone was good and pooped out, ready for a big dinner, and an early bedtime.  Just the way it should be.

In a few minutes I will wake Ben, whisk him off to the hospital without any food or water and play the sit and wait game until his surgery time comes.  If you would, please say a little prayer for my Ben and his beautiful blueberry eyes.  Thanks!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Getting Ready

Summer is quickly coming to an end.  

Yesterday I made the trek to the store (sans kiddos, thank heavens) and spent two hours buying school supplies (markers, crayons, paints, pencils, rulers, protractors, pencil cases, folders, binders, notebooks, on and on and on), gym shoes and gym bags, and more paper towels/kleenex/hand sanitizer than I thought possible.  With four children to shop for this year (oh, be still my heart) I tried to make the extensive lists as simple as possible.  In order to keep myself from getting too confused I went through the store four separate times and bought each child's supplies individually.  It sounds crazy but it actually really helped.  Each child had their own bags of supplies and when I got home and labeled everything (I mean EVERYTHING) it made it much easier than going through the bags all over again and trying to sort out who gets what.  

Now the bags, backpacks, and gym shoes are all labeled, set aside, and ready to go.  Job done.  

This summer, same as last year, I had the boys doing school work in the morning.  There is a fantastic website called Super Teacher Worksheets that allows you to print out worksheets for all different subjects, grades, and interests.  It is fab-u-lous.   The boys are actually excited to do their work.  It is challenging but fun.  

My boys have worked on math (adding, subtracting, decimals, fractions, multiplication, division, word problems) penmanship, reading, writing, spelling, science, and social studies.  Not only am I confident that I am sending them back to school at the same level they left in June, but I know they have learned a bit more as well.  

As a matter of fact, I was very disappointed with the 4K program Ben was in this past year (he learned NOTHING) and was concerned about him being behind in the kindergarten program at my boys' school.  When Ben went to get his eyes tested in May he had to use pictures for his exam because he didn't know his alphabet well enough.  When Ben went to get his eyes looked at again last week he knew all his letters.  I was so proud of him and now I know that all the work we've been doing this summer is paying off.  I am confident he will do well with the rest of his kindergarten class. 

(I really had to chop this photo because my boys like to sit around in their underwear in the morning.)

I am really proud of my boys and the work they have put in.  Technically, we are ready for school to begin.  Emotionally we just aren't there yet.  We have much we want to do.  More swimming.  More playing.  More campfires.  More fun.  

Hopefully these last two weeks will go nice and slow.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I'm overwhelmed.

You're only three and I'm overwhelmed.  

Overwhelmed by your humor.  

Overwhelmed by your spunk.

Overwhelmed by your independence.

Overwhelmed by your sweetness.

Overwhelmed by your gentleness.

Overwhelmed by your caring.

Overwhelmed by your toughness.

Overwhelmed by your light.

Overwhelmed by the joy you bring.

Overwhelmed by you.

Your love.

My love for you.

No words could adequately explain the depth of my love for you.  Nothing I could say could possibly express the gratitude that I have in my heart for you.

  Out of all the little girls in the whole world how did I get the best one?

Happy Birthday, my sweet Grace.  I am so proud and honored to be your mama.  I love you with all of my heart. 

Love, Mom  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's Tough

I never quite know if I'm doing a good job or not.  When I was working full time I would get progress reports, and raises, and kudos, and I would know the bosses were pleased.  Now my job is much harder.  I take it very seriously.  I am not working for money.  I'm working to make good people.  And yet in this job there is no feedback.  I don't have anyone telling me, "You handled that so well!"  Or, "That was such a nice thing to say when he was upset."  Or, "I don't know how you stayed calm but way to go!"

As parents we don't get that.  We just have to try our best and hope that we are making the right decisions.  We don't know how our decisions will pan out until years down the road, if ever.  Each decision has the possibility to nurture and teach or scar and hurt.  Of course we always want a positive result but emotions are involved in this job and many decisions need to be made in a split second.  Mistakes are made.  And we hope they are small mistakes.

We hope that maybe someday there will be validation.  "Mom, remember that time you found out I stole a tube of chapstick from the store and you got me out of bed, made me get dressed, drove me all the way back to the store, held my hand as I was crying when we walked into the store, and made me apologize and give back the chapstick?  I'll never forget that.  I learned my lesson."  Or, "Dad, remember the time you were driving us up north in that horrible snowstorm and you kept pulling over to help dig people out of the ditch even though you didn't have any gloves?  And then you even towed them out with your truck though you were worried your truck couldn't handle it.  I always stop to help people now."  Or, "You two always believed in me.  Even before I believed in myself.  I always knew that no matter what decision I made I could count on your support."

You hope they are getting it.  You hope it is sinking in.  You hope you are doing a good job.  But you never really know.

And it is the not knowing that is tough.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I Told Him To Duct Tape Me To A Chair!

The last time I chopped all my hair off I loved my new cut.  For about an hour.  After that first hour past I kind of regretted the decision.  Yes, it was a cute cut, but it made me feel old.  And not so cute.  And dowdy.  I don't know.  I just missed my long hair.  I always feel better with long hair (insecure much?).  

So, after that last time I told Todd that if I ever get the urge to chop all my hair off again that he should duct tape me to a chair until I come to my senses.  

Todd did not follow my directions.

So, I haven't gotten my hair cut in about 8 months.  And even then it was just a trim.  I've had my hair long for a couple of years now (that is a long time for me to stick on one hair style- see this post for my crazy hair history) and ultimately I've been getting bored with myself.  However, I can't remember the last time my hair was quite this long.  I think maybe I was a child.  I don't know.  I'm talking looooooooooonnngggg, people.  Long.  

I made a promise to myself a while back that if I ever grew my hair super duper long then I would chop it all off and donate it to Children With Hair Loss.  It is something I've always wanted to do, but never got my hair to a length that would lend itself to getting 8-10 inches cut off at one time.  Until now. 

Unfortunately for me, I really, really like my hair right now.  It has finally gotten to the point where I can throw it back in a braid without it coming undone every 5 minutes.  When I have some place dressy to go I can put the sides back and the curls cascade all the way down.  I have been loving my hair lately, and that is not something I am used to.  

But, a promise is a promise, and vanity serves no purpose.  Right? 


I had Joey take a before picture of me-

 From the front.  See how long?
From the side.  It looks even longer here, doesn't it?  Ugh.  I didn't even fix it up that morning.  You should see it when I have it all curly and stuff.  *sigh*

I still wasn't sure I was absolutely going to donate.  Some info said they needed 10 inches and other said 8.  If it was 10 inches my remaining hair would be way too short, but I figured I could swing 8.  I decided that if my stylist told me they would take 8 then I would do it.


I got to my hairdresser and she asked me what I wanted.  Knowing that August is the salon's month when they take donations for Children With Hair Loss I asked her how many inches they needed.   Eight.  I told her to chop away.  She asked if I was sure, we discussed hairstyles, and I showed her the picture of the styles I liked.

(I also asked for her to try and make my face look like either option too, but that was a no go).  :(

She told me the styles would definitely work with both my curly hair or if I straightened it and ran off to get the rubber bands before I had a chance to change my mind.

Turns out we had to take about 9 inches off just to clean up my ends a bit so my hair ended up being shorter than I expected, but I think I'll live.


this is the new me.
I wonder how long it will take to grow it back out again.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Do Over

This summer had all the makings of greatness.   Four kids all at an age to go swimming, travel, play outside, and have fun.  Todd's work schedule looked better than it had the past few summers.  Weather HOT and steamy making it perfect for sprinklers, water parks, and swimming at the lake.  

Then Grace broke her leg.  Out went the swimming trips and any other fun activity that required lots of running or walking, which is most of what I had planned.  But, we went with the flow and tried to have fun anyway.  We went places with Grace in the stroller.  We played in the back yard.  We made a fairy house.  We went up north.  And it was okay.

Then Todd's work schedule got crazy again.  I don't know why summer is always his busiest time, but it really kind of stinks.  Any plans we had for travel were gone for the summer.  Ah well.  

After what seemed like an eternity (but really just 4 weeks) Grace finally got her cast off.  Hurray for swimming and sprinklers and summertime fun!  Unfortunately she refused to put any weight on her leg so we were even less mobile than we previously were with her hobbling around on it.  

Then Ben had his eye doctor appointment.  We found out that the glasses he had been wearing religiously and begrudgingly for the past 3 months had made no improvement on his eye muscles.  Now he is scheduled to have eye surgery this month (FREAK OUT!) and with that there are many, many doctors appointments and again more restrictions (no swimming, etc).  Worry.  Stress.  Worry.  Stress. 

A bright spot would be Todd's birthday!  Only it wasn't.  It turned out that on Todd's birthday his dad had to be admitted to a nursing home.  It was not a good birthday.  It was sad.  And emotional.  And draining.  And deja vu.  Worry.  Stress. Sadness.  Worry.

The kids have had colds for the past week and today Tommy feels really nasty.  My computer hasn't been working and I haven't been getting my emails.  Tomorrow is a Wisconsin bloggy get-together and I can't go because I will be taking Ben to yet another doctor appointment.  And now I have to start shopping for school stuff.  This summer officially sucks.  

I want a do over.

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