Monday, September 24, 2012

Around Here

Fall has definitely started around these parts.  It arrived right on schedule.  The temperatures have dropped low enough for us to have our first fire of the year on Friday night, though we have still refused to turn on the furnace.  

The leaves are starting their change.  A few trees are already splashed in reds and yellows and orange. Halloween items are heavily on display and the kids have been talking nonstop about trick or treating, what costume they will choose, and upcoming trips to the pumpkin farm.  

Our pumpkin spice candles have been working overtime in our house and bags of apples lie in wait for me to turn them into my famous chunky applesauce.

On Saturday Grace and I worked in the front and back gardens clearing out the dead plants and flowers and potting the new colorful mums to take their place.  I couldn't help but notice all the Christmas trees being set up at Walmart when I was picking out my mums, and though it made me pretty angry it didn't change my festive fall mood.  

The one unfortunate side affect of fall is the sickies that always seem to come with it (and the start of school).  We had planned on going up north this weekend to see the magnificent color, but it was supposed to be rainy and chilly and Ben was nursing a cold so we decided to stay home.  

On Saturday morning Ben's throat seemed much worse so we took him to the doctor.  A strep test was done and came back negative.   We figured it was just a nasty virus.  

As the day and night wore on Ben got worse.  His glands swelled so that you could see them sticking out of his neck.  The poor kid was miserable and could barely swallow.  On Sunday we hunkered down and tried to make Ben as comfortable as possible.  The majority of his day was spent in front of the fire (literally, right in front of the fire) trying to warm up and even falling asleep.  By Sunday night Todd and I decided that Ben needed to go back to the doctor in the morning.  

First thing this morning, after the other kids were off to school, the doctor saw Ben and decided to run some blood tests.  The tests revealed that Ben has mono.  A bit of a surprise in such a young kid, but not unheard of.  Poor little pickle.  

Ben is currently in a nice hot bath before we have to go and pick up Grace from school, and then I'm sure it will be more blankets, fires, cuddling, and hopefully we'll get some soup and ice cream and yogurts down.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Embracing Change

The past few posts I have been doing a lot of complaining about how fast time is going and I made it pretty clear that I don't always like change.

In an effort to embrace change I decided to do something I've been putting off for a while now.

Grace got her first real haircut.

True, I have cut her bangs a number of times before, but I never cut the rest of her hair.  First haircuts are a big deal to me.  It always seems to take the child from baby to big kid, and as you know by now, speeding up time in my house is strictly forbidden.

For the boys' 1st haircuts they all went to a barber shop.  For Grace's 1st haircut I thought it would be neat if she got her haircut from grandma (my mom used to be a beautician) just like I always did when I was little.
Grace was very excited to be getting her hair cut.  She has been asking for a while now (probably since I cut all mine off) and was tired of her long hair getting stuck in her armpits when she slept and getting all knotted and snarly.

Grace sat perfectly for grandma and before you know it she was done.

We were both happy with the results.  Long enough to throw back in a ponytail but not so long that it gets in the way.  And she still looks like my little Grace, thank goodness.

Embracing change, little steps at a time.  And it wasn't as painful as I'd thought it would be.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Little Moments

Standing in front of school, picking up the little ones from their half day and chatting with the other moms, I suddenly feel a head on my shoulder and long, skinny arms wrapping around my waist.

"Hi mom." he says giving me a squeeze, his lunch bag bumping against my hip.

"Hi Joe!"  I practically shout at him, thrilled to see him so unexpectedly in the middle of his day.

"I love you, ma.  I miss you."  he says with the same sweet smile he had as a baby and the same huge, round, sky blue eyes.  I make a mental note of his face at this exact moment, sun shining on his white/blond hair, and can't help but see how close he is to catching me in height.

"Aww, honey!  I'm so happy to see you!  Thank you for coming out here to say 'hi'.  That is so nice!  I miss you too!"  I tell him as I try to convey just how delighted his little visit has made me and just how much I treasure these moments I still get from my big ole fourth grader.  I squeeze him again and again, even kiss the top of his head, amazed that he is not embarrassed by the affection in front of a crowd.

He buries his head into me and hugs me hard one last time.

"Okay.  I'll see you later, mom.  Love ya!" he calls over his shoulder as he makes his way back into the school.

"Have a good day, honey!  Love you, Joe!" I call back to him.

He turns one last time on the way up the steps, turns around, and waves.  Still smiling.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Last week I was stressin'.  I was stressin' over the fact that Grace was having such a hard time going to school in the morning.  The crying, the begging, the pleading.  Stress.

I was stressing over the fact that coming from a different school last year (that taught him nothing) Ben was trailing a bit behind most of his classmates (except the other kids that came from Ben's same school he was in last year) and his teacher suggested maybe I put him in full day kindergarten.  NOOOOOoooooo!

I was stressin' when I found out that our school will no longer even be offering a half day kindergarten program anymore as we were the last school in the whole area to do so.  NOOOOOoooooo!!!!!

I was stressing over Tommy adjusting to the amount of homework he has now that he is in second grade.

I was stressing over getting Joey and Tommy's homework done in a timely manner so that we could get them to their football practices and games three nights a week.

I was stressing over getting all the lunches packed in the morning, the kids dressed, fed, teeth brushed, hair combed, backpacks packed, myself dressed and presentable(ish) in time for school without waking everyone up at the crack of dawn.

I was stressing over life.  Especially the tiny stuff.  I had nothing big and scary stressing me out.  Just a lot of little tiny stressers clogging up my mind.

The weekend couldn't have come at a better time.

Todd and I had two weddings to go to this weekend, one on Friday and one on Saturday.  I love me some weddings.  And I was even more thrilled that for my cousin's wedding on Saturday we would be SPENDING THE NIGHT IN A HOTEL without our kids.  Todd and I have not had one night away from our kids in over 4 years.  That is a long time, people.  We were excited.  See?

Okay, well, I look excited.  Todd just wanted to get the picture over with and get on the road (I thought the wedding started at 5, but I noticed at the last minute it was at 3:30 and we only had a half an hour to get ready-oops!-little stressful but we made it).  But trust me he was excited too (although it may have had something to do with the fact that he was picking up a new hunting bow on the way to the wedding, but I digress).  I had been waiting months to wear this dress and I was SO EXCITED to finally get to put it on.  And a wedding!  And dancing!  And cake! And family! And a night away!  So exciting!

The wedding was just gorgeous.  I had so much fun.  The whole night was fabulous.  It was just what I needed to de-stress and forget about all the little garbage that was getting me down.

One of the great things about being gone from the kids for one night is how much we miss them.  Both Todd and I woke up at our usual time (so much for sleeping in) and decided to get home right away to take the kids to church.  I couldn't believe all the hugs and love I received when we got home.  You'd think we'd been gone a month.  It is nice to see that they do appreciate their mama (or maybe they just liked the candy packages I brought back from the wedding).

After church Todd went to visit his dad and then went bow hunting for the first time this season while the kids and I all lie down for naps (they stayed up kinda late when we were gone).  When we got up we took a nice long walk through the woods and came back home to a yummy dinner and warm showers.  It was a great way to end a stress free weekend.

As for my worries about Ben?  Well, I worked with him a ton this weekend on the alphabet and I am no longer concerned.  The kid is a sponge.  We made up some great games and he actually asks to practice all the time because it is so much fun.  Not only does he know the alphabet inside and out but he is pretty good at all the sounds the letters make too.

Joey and Tommy have actually been super good about their homework so far (it is early) this year, so I really shouldn't even stress about that either.

I have always been a half day kindergarten advocate, but there is really nothing I can do about the full day option anymore, so I may as well start getting used to the idea now.  Such is life.  Kindergarten is the new first grade, I guess.  Sniff, sniff.

AND, this morning when I took all the kids to school Grace walked right into her classroom without so much as a whimper.  So proud of her.  My big (little) girl.  

It is a great way to start of the week after such a great weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The first week of school went very well last week.  Grace did a great job for her first few times at school.  Though a handful of kids were screaming and crying she walked into the classroom, sat down, and began playing with the toys.  When I picked her up at the end of each day she would start to cry the minute she saw me.  I think it was her relief mixed with exhaustion.  Overall, I was very happy.  All the kids loved their teachers, had fun with their classmates, and were very excited to start school again this week.

However, when we walked into school this morning I could immediately tell that Grace was about to cry.  The minute we got to her classroom she burst into tears.  I walked in with her and sat with her for a while but there was no calming her down.  She begged and pleaded with me to take her home.  She told me she loved me and that she wanted to stay with me.

I put on my big girl panties, gave Grace a big hug and kiss, told her I love her very much and I would be back to pick her up in a little while.  I turned around and walked out the door.  Outside in the hallway I instructed her teacher not to pick her up (a major offense to Grace when it is someone she does not know extremely well) and walked out of school.

I went back home and started my laundry, keeping my eye on the clock.  Two more hours to go.  I washed the windows, wrote my grocery list, and cleaned up the dishes and mess from this morning.  One more hour to go.  I decided to make a run to the store before it was time to pick up Grace from school.  Thinking I was starting to cut it close I rushed through the store, skipped my favorite cashier lady in favor of a quicker line, and sped out of the store worried that I was going to be late to pick up Grace.  Today was not a day to be late.

As I pulled up to the school I realized I was almost a half an hour early.  Okay, so I was a little anxious.  I took my groceries home, put them away and drove back to school.  As I waited for Grace to come out of school I wondered about what kind of day she had had.  As soon as she walked out the doors I knew she was fine.  She was smiling and happy and told me all the fun stuff she did.  Her teacher told me that she calmed down quickly, requested a hug, and then was happy to go about her day.  I was so pleased.

As I walked her back to the car we discussed what a fun day she had at school.

"School is so much fun!"  I exclaimed.

"Yep!" Grace confirmed.

"See, there is no reason to cry!"  I prodded her.

"I wan'ed to cai." Grace told me.

"Why?"  I asked.

"I just wan'ed to cai cuz I had to get it out.  It make my bones feew better."  she answered wisely.

I guess school can teach you all kinds of lessons.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ready or NOT

 "Having children is like letting your heart walk around outside of your body."

It was even harder than I thought.  I never imagined I'd feel this way, but I am heartbroken. 

There goes my heart (x4),  my world.  

Not even an hour of sleep was had last night.  I tossed and turned.  This morning I just made it back to the car before the breakdown happened.  The husband was sweet and comforting, and shed his own tears too.  How did we get here so quickly?

I went for a run to clear my head but no such luck.  I felt like I was drowning, grasping for air around the huge lump stuck in my throat.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, it feels like the beginning of the end.  Sometimes life seems like one big goodbye.  And so it begins.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our Favorites

With our last few days of freedom upon us we embarked on a journey of fun.   We tried to do all of our favorite things in one weekend, and I'm proud to say that for the most part we succeeded.

On Thursday the kiddos and I went down to the lake to take our annual Packer picture.  Okay, so that isn't exactly their favorite thing (or mine for the matter- do you know how hard it is to get four kids looking and smiling at you at the same time?  UGH!) but the resulting pictures are always a favorite.  I did a similar pose as last year and then also took a few new poses too.  Now all I have to do is decide which one is the "winner" to be blown up and placed in the prominent living room frame over last year's photo.
As a reward for no major meltdowns (okay, I may have had a slight meltdown once or twice but the kids were pretty good) during our photo shoot we spent a good hour picking out the perfect stones to put in our stone jars.  It was good fun.

Since we were so close we stopped at the kids' favorite park.  There was lots of sliding, swinging, laughing, and goofing.  But then it was time to really run the energy out of these kids and I took them to the hill.  They started at the top and ran (some rolled) all the way down.  Then it was back up to the top again.  Down and up, and down and up they went until they were good and exhausted (and hungry).
Believe it or not, after lunch they all asked to lay down for a while.  Eureka!  Score one for momma!  It was a good thing they all napped because that night we were off to the county fair!  This event is something the kids talk about year round.  It is one of their most highly anticipated events, and it really lived up to it this year.  

Of course, the first pic is the kids with the tractors.  It is a must to stop and climb on and "drive" all the tractors the minute we get to the fair.  Then we see the animals, milk a fake cow, and on to the RIDES.  Rides are definitely a favorite.   I was so blown away this year as my boys were all old enough to ride the big rides (by themselves).  Luckily, Gracie still needed me for some of the bigger rides, and she wanted to try them all.  The rollar coasters, the spinners, the ones that take you way up in the air.  She loved them all.  I love my dare devil kids.

It was a very late night after a very busy day.  Everyone went to bed tired and happy.
Friday afternoon we left for a nice extended weekend up north.  The kids fished and swam and played.  They were in heaven.  Thankfully, they didn't even notice how quiet and melancholy their mama was.  It is sad when summer comes to an end.  I am still not ready for school to begin and start yet another new phase of our lives.  All four kids in school.  How did we get here?  Hell, I'm already being asked when I'll be going back to work.

After dinner on Saturday night everyone went out fishing while I stayed and cleaned up.  When I was through with the dishes I went outside, chopped up some wood and started a fire.  It was nice having that time to myself.  The sun was setting to a nice orangey glow that matched the flames of the fire perfectly.  In the dark and quiet I had myself a good old boo-hoo.  I allowed myself to think about how quickly these years are going by and how I only have these kids for a short while.  The tears came and I didn't hold them back.  

By the time the boat returned I was all dried up.  No more tears to shed.  Hopefully I got it all out of my system so that on Tuesday morning I can be all excitement and joy and anticipation right along with the kids as they all start a new year in school.
It was a great way to wrap up this summer.  It was a rough one, but I'll cherish it nonetheless.

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