Friday, March 29, 2013

Part II

We are back home.  Safe and sound.  No airplane crashes.  No untimely deaths.  No horrid accidents.  Whew! 

The vacation started out all wrong and struggled from there.  First, after traveling for 12 hours (and I didn't have the chance to eat once) the resort told us that they had our reservation but did not have our room. They were overbooked.  I felt like we were in an episode of Seinfeld.  They managed to down grade us to a room that was not great. The shower had no hot (or even warm) water and it was right by a very busy road with massive trucks running by all night long. And for a good long portion of time there was no electricity either. 

The next day we were transferred to our reserved room which was better (it had hot water), but it seemed to be one thing after the next on our little getaway. After a while all we could do was look at each other and laugh. We decided to just sit on the beach and drink for the majority of the time and try not to think about anything else.    
It was an absolutely gorgeous beach.  The sand was white and soft and the water was beautiful.  I sat and read my book on a beach chair, and then when we'd had enough sun (and were burnt kind of crispy) we went back to our room and I read some more on the hammock.   
Things we learned on our vacation:

- My once-upon-a-time love for flying has disappeared with motherhood.  I have turned into a bad flier.  Upon takeoffs I begin to hysterically laugh until I cry.

- I am obsessed with hammocks.  I really should get one.

- Todd's ankles can become purple and swollen with sunburn even though the rest of his body is fine.

- Jamaica is just not for us. No need for a second trip to make sure.

- Todd and I can have fun together no matter what the circumstances.

- There is no place like home.  After three short days we were ready to get back to our wonderful kiddies.

I am so proud of how our kids behaved with the grandmas.  They were so helpful and listened so well. The boys even remembered it was garbage day, told grandma they'd take care of it, and quickly bundled up the garbage and recyclables and dragged them out to the end of the driveway before the garbage truck arrived.  And when the satellite got messed up and the tv went fuzzy the boys figured out how to fix it.  Twice! They all kept their rooms clean and put their toys away.  There was no fighting and very little need for discipline from the grandmas.

It felt like a month since I'd seen them and they all looked bigger to me after just three days apart.  We'd brought them t-shirts and little sea turtle snow globes that they were just thrilled about but they kept telling us that their real gift was just having us back.  Aww.  Little darlings.

I guess sometimes the best part of a vacation is coming back home.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Breakin' It

What a difference a few years can make! 

This past weekend we went to the Wilderness Territory in Wisconsin Dells to kick off our spring break. It is the same place we stayed three years ago on our spring break and yet our experience was vastly different this time around.  

This year we could barely keep up with the kids as they swam, played, and went down the waterslides.  This year I didn't have panic attacks trying to keep an eye on three boys that couldn't swim well.  Nor did I have to sit out and watch from a distance as I hung back with Grace.  This year it didn't take much convincing to get the boys on the biggest fastest rides.  This year Grace went down the slides by herself and laughed and laughed in the wave pool.
It was a wonderful vacation.  The kids behaved well, slept well, and really enjoyed themselves.

I must say, I'm pretty exhausted from all the fun.  Good thing Todd and I have our own little vacation planned.

Now if only I can shut my brain off from all my mommy worries and enjoy myself. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eight Is Great

He is a bundle.  A bundle of energy, love, light, emotion, joy, drama, passion, sweetness, and fun all smooshed in to one compact package.


Every person who meets you loves you.  You exude goodness and warmth and charm and fun.  You are compassionate and kind towards everyone.  You are a world class sharer.  No matter what you want to do in life I have no doubt that you will achieve it.  You are a hard worker, competitive, determined, and don't take no for an answer.  And you do it all with a smile.
"Oh that Tommy!" is heard so often from anyone who talks about you.  It is a phrase meant to convey admiration,  fondness,  awe, sometimes exasperation, and always love.  We've said it since you were a baby, and it still rings true today, you are one big walking heart.
Keeping the birthday interviews going, this is Tommy's interview:

Me: Happy Birthday!  Do you feel any older?
Tommy: Yep!

Me: Are you having a good day so far?
Tommy: So far, so far!  You could say that.

Me: What is your favorite part?
Tommy: Seeing my cake.  I can't wait to open gifts!

Me: What is your favorite color?
Tommy: Blue

Me: What do you want to be when you are older?
Tommy: Football player!

Me: If you could go anywhere for vacation where would you go?
Tommy: Up north.

Me: What is your favorite animal?
Tommy: Sheep

Me: What is your favorite sport?
Tommy: Football!

Me: What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
Tommy: Go up north.

Me: What do you like to do when you're up north?
Tommy: Go fishing, go swimming, go for walks with daddy, go skiing, and ride the Mule with daddy.

Me: What is your favorite food?
Tommy: Noodles with sprinkle cheese and butter.

Me: If you could be any animal what would you be and why?
Tommy: I would be a sea turtle because they can swim fast.  (?)

Me: What is your favorite class in school?
Tommy: Math

Me: What is your favorite book?
Tommy: Magic Tree House books.

Me: If you could be like anyone in the whole world who would you want to be like?
Tommy: Daddy

Me: What's your favorite movie?
Tommy: I don't really have a favorite movie.

Me: Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Tommy: Bugs Bunny

Me: If you could meet any one person who ever lived on earth who would you like to meet?
Tommy:  Jesus

Me: Good answer, Tommy.  I think we're done here.
Tommy: Thanks, mum!  That was fun!

I can not imagine my life without you, Tommy.  The world is a better place with you in it.  You are only 8 years old and already have so much going for you.  I can't wait to see what the world has in store for you.

You are my little teddy bear. My little schmoozer.  My little charmer.  I look at you and still see my expressive baby with those pinchable cheeks.  You are still my baby Goldensbear, and know matter how big you get you always will be.

Happy Birthday, Thomas!  I love you!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

On Paper

On paper this weekend looked great.  In reality it was a mess.  Mostly, thanks to me.

I have been a grouchy, cantankerous mess.  I exploded too many times to count.  I put myself in solitary confinement for most of the weekend and that still didn't help much.

Luckily, the little people seem to have had some fun anyway.  The boys participated in their Boy Scout box car race.  All three of them were very good sports and I am told they were best behaved boys there.  Well done, boys!

Grace was invited to her first ever birthday party.  I thought she would be thrilled but she refused to go unless I promised to stay there.  Somehow, I managed to put my nasty, foul mood on hold long enough not to spoil the party.
So there you have it.  Looks like a great weekend, right?  Yeah.  Well.  Looks are deceiving.  I feel badly for my family having to put up with me.

It's funny because I really don't have anything to be upset about.

There are only so many times I can blame my foul mood on this horrible weather (it is snowing again right now as I type).

I really can't blame my craziness on the colds that have been ruminating around our household the last week or two because this is the first time we've been hit with any kind of sickness in a long time.  We've avoided so much of the horrible sickies this winter and this cold (while annoying and sleep depriving) really isn't that bad (unless you ask Todd who is apparently the only one who got REALLY sick ;) ).

I can not keep blaming my tantrums on my air-headed children that forget everything from their boots, lunch bags, JACKETS, and very important homework projects at school.

I can't even blame my bitchiness on my PMS which has seemed to refuse to turn into MS making me late, late, late.  Seriously.  Late.  I have never been this late unless a child was then born 9 months later.    Alas, there is no child in my near future and I am still so late.  Ugh.  I'm sure it will finally arrive when I am on vacation with the kids at a WATERPARK this coming weekend.  Or maybe even when the hubby and I are on our first vacation in 5 years in JAMAICA next week.  Whatevs. (tmi, i know.  sorry)

See?  See what I'm doing?  I'm being bitchy.  I'm going on vacation in a week and I still have the nerve to bitch and complain.  I should seek help.  Seriously.

I feel like I could eat myself into a coma.  Or have some serious cocktails to take the edge off.  But, being the genius that I am, I gave up all sweets and alcohol for Lent. Man. I am a glutton for punishment.

Whatever happens I better buck up because we have a lot of fun stuff coming up. Tommy's birthday is on Thursday, then we are leaving for a few days to take the kids to Wisconsin Dells, and then after that Todd and I are outta here for four days. Nothing but sand and sun (and hopefully safe travels and no plane crashes whatsoever, or broken children to come home to-ugh-I gotta stop it!).  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Stupid March

Sponsered by LouCeeL

Gray clouds block the sun
Snow continues to cover
Dumb, cold, gloomy March

Tease us with promise
of lovely, warm springtimes past
still fresh in my mind

But this is just mean
Twenty degrees below norm
Not what I hoped for

It's snowing again
No hope of sunshine or grass
How much can I take?

I have nightmares of
Gads of dog poo piles thawing
from beneath the snow

Blanketing the yard
When spring finally does come
Horror awaits me

Stupid, stupid March
You may be on your way now.
I like you no more.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


And they just keep coming.  These lessons in letting go.  The branching out.  The getting older, growing up.  Each day I am tested in a new way.  As much as I want to hold on these children of mine keep spreading their wings.  

On Saturday Tommy had his first sleepover.  It is actually the first sleepover in our family as Joe had a few sleepovers planned but they kept getting cancelled due to illnesses and such.  Anyway, the stars aligned and Tommy was invited to his friend's house on a weekend we didn't have any major plans.  And the little cold Tommy had earlier in the week had subsided just in time.  

Saturday morning when Tommy awoke he immediately began packing his overnight bag even though he wouldn't be going to his friend's house until 4 o'clock.  To say he was excited would be an enormous understatement. Luckily, he had a four hour First Communion preparation class to attend that morning to take his mind off the impending evening of fun.  

The afternoon had finally rolled around, after what felt like a lifetime to him I'm sure, and Tommy checked and double checked his backpack to make sure he had what he needed.  He grabbed his pillow and sleeping bag for his first ever big boy night away from home.  And minutes before he headed out the door for his first night away I watched him slide his lambie tenderly into his pillowcase.  Immediately a knot formed in my throat.  

Such a juxtaposition of baby and big boy.  I know Tommy felt so grown up and yet he grabbed his lambie that he has slept with since birth and carried it with him.    
It was a reminder to me that even though they are getting bigger they are still my littles.  And it is still a big, scary world out there.  They might not always have their lambie, or bear-bear, or yellow, or puppy to comfort them but they will know I am always here.  The ever vigilant mama bear keeping them safe and slowly, slowly preparing them for the big world ahead.

Tommy's night went really well.  He had a blast.  We were a little more subdued at our house.  We jumped every time the phone rang (yes, we worry too much) and we all remarked at how the house felt strange with one of us missing.  It was a feeling none of us liked, this empty spot in the room, at the table.  And when Todd mentioned how strange it will be when one by one our kids grow up and move out of our house and I had to choke the rest of my food down through my tears.

In the end, Todd and I decided that none of our kids shall ever be allowed to go to a sleepover again.  Okay, we're not that mean, but it was harder than we thought.  We missed our Tommy.  I tackled him the minute he walked through the door and hugged him and smooched him every time he walked by.  Tommy would roll his eyes but there was a smile on his face and I knew he enjoyed being missed.

I hugged each of my kids a little tighter today during church, snuggling each of them in close to me when I could.  So thankful for the family that God has given me, and this time we get to share together, no matter how quickly it seems to rush by.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Return of Haiku Friday

Sponsered by LouCeeL

The ick is coming
Runny nose, sore throat, fever
There is no escape

One member gets it
Then we all have to get it
A house of sickies

Two calls home from school
"Pick me up mom.  I feel sick."
Where's the Sudafed?

Oh spring won't you come?
Replace our winter sickies
With flowers in bloom

Monday, March 4, 2013

Push And Pull

Parenthood is a strange dichotomy.  You spend all this time teaching your child to be independent, building his self esteem, urging him to try new things, to trust himself, showing him how to be responsible, how to be brave, and then when he actually puts all these things that you've taught him into practice it scares the crap out of you.

My children are all fairly cautious.  They are not the kids who learn to swim by throwing themselves into the deep end of the pool.  They are never the ones walking on top of the monkey bars or jumping off of the playset.  You'll never see them hanging upside down from trees.  They know the risks and they weigh them carefully.  I was less cautious as a kid.  I was by no means mindlessly reckless, but I took risks.

Much of my time as a parent has been teaching my kids to trust themselves and be daring once in a while.  You know, live a little.

When we go sledding I urge them to go down head first on their bellies.  When we go swimming I convince them they will be fine in the deep end of pool and show them that diving is actually fun.  When we are playing in the snow I show them how to dig tunnels without feeling claustrophobic.

The funny thing about me pushing them is that when they finally do believe me and branch out a little I am SWEATING AND FRETTING AND FREAKING OUT on the inside.  It is a bizarre phenomenon that the same exact things I once did as a kid now scare the hell out me when I watch my child do them.

Going head first down the sledding hill I am watching for each and every little bump they might hit.  When they are swimming in the deep end of the pool I am eagle eyeing them and trying to keep myself from jumping in the water fully clothed just to be near them (just in case!).  Digging tunnels in the snow is great but I check on them every 10 seconds to make sure they aren't buried alive.

This whole parenthood thing is a push and a pull.  And I'm still getting used to it.

This weekend we went to the cabin up north and went skiing at a nearby ski hill, Ski Brule.  We try to go at least once or twice every winter but this was our first trip this year.  Luckily, all the boys seemed to remember exactly what they were doing and after their first run down the bunny hill they already had the hang of it.
It didn't take long for Joey and Tommy to become bored with the little hill and want to go down the actual mountain.  The problem comes in when there are only two parents and four children.  The chair lifts only seat two people and obviously Grace isn't quite ready for the big trails yet.  Which means one parent has to stay back with Grace on the bunny hill while the other parent somehow takes the other three boys up the hill.

We decided to start by taking one boy up the hill at a time to make sure they knew how to get on and off the chair lifts and how to be careful and behave while on them.  Once we had each boy familiar with the green runs we took a break for lunch.

I had mentioned that maybe Joey and Tommy could ride up on a chair lift together and Todd could ride up with Ben. Joey and Tommy were quick to agree and assured me over and over that they would sit still, behave, be careful, and not mess around. Still, I had my reservations. They are 10 and 7 (fine, 8 this month), for pete's sake! Those lifts are HIGH UP. I went over the safety rules with them again and again. Joey admitted that he was nervous about it but he said he really should go with Tommy since he is the big brother and he needs to watch out for him.

When lunch was over we decided to just keep practicing turns and stops on the bunny hill.  Todd went out with the boys while Grace and I played inside for a little while.  Ten minutes later Todd came running back inside and said that he couldn't find Joey and Tommy anywhere.  They disappeared!

I knew right away that the two little farts had jumped on the chair lifts and went up the hill by themselves.  Part of me was really ticked off and scared, and another part of me was pretty proud that my cautious little men were starting to trust themselves.  Todd quickly went off with Ben up the mountain in search of Joey and Tommy.

Grace and I headed out onto the hill a half an hour later and found Todd.  He had found the boys on the top of the hill and they were gleefully skiing from one end of the hill to the other.  He told them the same thing that was running through my head.  "Part of me is really angry that you just took off like that, but I'm also kind of proud of you two for being so brave and independent.  Next time, tell us where you are going before you take off!" he warned them.
Todd and I continued to ski with Ben and Grace on the bunny hill, honing their skills.  Eventually, Grace tired of her skis and just stood on top of my feet as we skied down the hill, and then up the tow rope too.  I'll tell ya what, that is one of the best abs/glutes/quads exercises ever.  I was practically crying by the time we got back up the hill.

Joey and Tommy went up and down the hill for the rest of the day, checking in with us every hour or so, mostly to get money for food or something to drink.  Each time they'd leave us again my heart did little flip flops.  I'd glance over at the chair lifts and an ugly chill would run up my back.  Part of me wanted to make them stay with me.  I wanted to tell them they couldn't go on the chair lifts anymore.  I'm really not good at letting go.

After listening to my safety tips again and again they'd be off. Off on their own. Off where I couldn't see them (probably for the best). Off where I couldn't protect them. Off on their own adventures getting their first real taste of freedom. Off becoming their own person. It was terrifying. And exhilarating.

It was a pretty amazing day.  It was the longest we've ever managed to stay at the ski hill with the kids.  Almost 7 hours of nonstop skiing.

Todd and I have often reminded each other through all the sweat and aches of teaching the kids to ski that someday it will all be worth it.  And we are starting to see that now.  In skiing and in life.

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

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