Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bedtime Stories

Oh bedtime.  Why must you torture me so?

I come in from outside and tell the children to head up to bed.  No response.  I know they can hear me. I guarantee if I said I had free puppies in the garage, every last one of them would have run to me lickety split.

I say it again, go about my business in the kitchen.  I hear Beyblades zinging in the living room, and NO MOVEMENT toward the stairs.

I walk into the living room and tell them a third time to go upstairs and do potty-teeth-and-jammies.  Finally, since I am standing over them, I get a weak response saying they wanted to finish just this battle and then they would go up.

Sigh.  I reminded them (for what is probably the 7947th time of my parenting career) that they need to ask me, not inform me if they would like a moment or two longer to play before heading up.  I am a reasonable person!  I might be happy to oblige when asked first!

Once upstairs, there is a crazy lot of banging and laughing and door locking and silliness, mixed in with precious little oral hygiene and clothes-changing.  I see one child's toothbrush in his bedroom and inquire about it.  "Did you brush your teeth tonight?"  "Yes", says he.  "With what?" I ask.  "My finger", he replies, thinking in all honesty that that is acceptable.  He is quickly informed that it is indeed not and scurries to the bathroom, proper spinbrush in hand.  I hang on to my patience with a tenuous grip and tell them once again that I don't enjoy putting them to bed angry and would they please-oh-please-oh-please get down to business and getintheirbeds!

Finally they settle and Daddy comes home, saving me a bit by divvying up the parenting duties.  He is less frustrated than I since he just came up, and perhaps also because he has more patience.

Bedtime has always been a challenge for me, I'm not gonna lie.  I'm weary and so is everyone else, though the kids "are not sleepy even a bit!".  I don't have as much fortitude when I'm tired and I lose my cool a wee bit more easily.   But by golly, how hard is it to simply get changed and ready for bed?

For a child, it's really hard.  Transitions are a sticky business with kids, I've learned.  We always do a bedtime Bible story and prayers at night, which calms everyone's hearts, most certainly including mine. We've also started blessing the children individually at bed, and I'll tell ya what, dear reader, it is hard to stay angry at your children when your hand is on his head, making the sign of the cross and blessing him.

It is now 8:38 and all's quiet on the western front.  I hear nothing from upstairs, so I'm hopeful they have settled down into sweet slumber.  Soon I'll head up to bed myself and look at their peaceful faces. I'll touch their cheeks and watch their chests rise and fall.  And I'll think how sweet they look and how angelic.  And I will have forgotten all about the discord at bedtime.  Thankfully.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All By Myself

Today I was alone.

All day, alone.

My littlest one started all day preschool today, and that means mamma was home by herself.  Sans children.  Zilcho in the kiddo department.

It was really weird.

I had this heavy weight on my shoulders (self-imposed, I admit) that I mustn't waste the day.  I have this fear that I will spend all my alone days reading, watching Law and Order (I have a severe addiction to that show), eating chips and growing lazier and fatter by the semester.

Okay, that seems unlikely, even to me, but I really want to be productive on these days.  Not that I won't rest and relax some (and shop, a past time near and dear to my heart), but I really want to accomplish things too.  After thirteen years of having little ones underfoot allthetime, that is no longer the case.  Therefore, there is no excuse for my house being a wreck . . .or not going to the Y. . .or not having dinner ready. . .  Anyway, I feel my standards must move up a notch.  And I'm not sure how I feel about that!  Because I seriously still HATE cleaning the bathrooms, no matter who is or isn't in my house, you know what I'm saying??

I'm in uncharted territory now.  Navigating new waters.  I have spent the last thirteen years being a stay-at-home mommy.  And while I still have that job, the terrain is changing.  And I've never been a fan of change!

Still, it was nice to have quiet when I wanted it, and be able to blast my 80's cardio station on Pandora when I wanted that.  So it's all good. . .just different and new.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What ever happened to Charlotte's Web?

"Mommy!"  says my 4 year old while playing on my iPhone in the van.  "This is a good movie!  It's called Babies Come Out of Pigs' Tummies!"

Reason #495 to own an iPhone:  It entertains children, albeit with questionable children's programming.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Little Moments

As the school year rapidly approaches, I am finding myself surprisingly wishing summer break would last just a bit longer.  A couple of weeks ago, as we unwound and unpacked from vacation, the start of the year sounded mighty fine, mighty fine indeed.  But now, as things have settled back down, I have been able to take note of the little moments surrounding me, and I am enjoying the flexibility that summer affords.  Just a little over a week until I share these little (and not-so little) people with school.  I'll miss moments such as these:

Every morning, my husband gets up for work at a reasonable hour, and, well, I don't.  That is, I might wake up at a mostly reasonable time, but then I loll around in bed, reading, looking at Facebook, checking out Pinterest, just relishing those moments before my feet hit the floor and I must go downstairs and face the music (er, the breakfast mess on the island).  And almost without fail, one or two or even three little ones will crawl into bed with me.  We cuddle, we chat, and sometimes a child or two even goes back to sleep!  These moments will disappear when school starts and the alarm dictates my waking hour.

My oldest daughter is a lovely girl, if I might say so myself.  She is always willing to watch the kids for us (with or without payment - we pay her for certain things and not for others) and that has afforded us some quiet time together this summer.  Whether it's going out for a date or taking a walk, she can hold down the fort for us while we're gone - and as my pediatrician says, that means "we've arrived"!

On my back-to-school Mommy's Nights,  I have enjoyed precious solo time with each of my kids.  On my very last evening out, my 9 year old son, sporting his brand new braces, turned to me and said "My Mommy!  My beautiful Mommy!"  I don't know how many more years my sons will call me beautiful, so I cherish his exuberance and love.

My littlest daughter loves to ride her bike around the block and is constantly asking us to take her.  I should oblige far more often than I do, because it is a win-win for both of us.  She gets to ride, which brings her great happiness, and I, I get the far better deal.  I get to walk behind her and watch her ride.  My heart is full as I watch her little brown legs pedal as fast as they can, her white-blonde hair poking out from under her helmet and blowing in the wind.  Her tiny body sways back and forth as she pedals, and every now and then, on her own timetable, she lets go of one of the handlebars and twists her little bell.  Just following her brings me great joy.

The three oldest kids have all attended camp this summer and they all had an unbelievable time.  No one wanted to leave, which I take as the best possible scenario.  They made new friends, were mentored by their counselors, grew in their faith, learned new skills and played crazy games.  I never went to camp because I was always too homesick - I am so very glad my kids are not hesitant like I was - they jump right in and enjoy it all.

These are only little moments, but they define my life here.  My children, my husband, our faith - these little moments add up and are really the big ones.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mommy's Nights!

School starts two weeks from tomorrow!  Around here, that can only mean one thing - Mom's about to lose her mind!

Just kidding (mostly).  It means Mommy's Nights are in full swing!

Every year, I take each of the kids in school (which is all of them now, sniff sniff) out to dinner and to buy their school supplies.  The kids and I talk about these nights all year long and as they approach, they start deciding which restaurant they want to go to and who gets to go first and which folders and notebooks are the best.

And I get to eat well for a couple weeks!

Though that is certainly true, I love these nights for the one-on-one time that is hard to come by in a family our size.  We always work hard to carve out time with each of the kids and this is one of those great times to really get to spend quality time together.  In short, they're a highlight of my summer.

I have taken three of the kids so far, with the other two this week.  We are in a Budgetary Smackdown (perhaps I'll write about that later) which basically means we have put the kibosh on extraneous spending for a bit.  So I was in a quandary about what to do with these dinners out.  But my husband and I both realized that they are too important to skip, so we went forth with scheduling them all.  And I'm so glad we did!  We can scrimp on other things for a bit - this tradition is too important!

My eldest son went first, and we went to Golden Corral.  My husband calls these all-you-can-eat buffets "troughs" and he's basically right.  We ate too much and felt slightly miserable as we shopped for pencils and calculators, but we had a great time nonetheless.  My son said something to the effect of "I think I need to rethink my tradition of going to the dessert bar twice!"

Next was my littlest gal, K.  We had a Mommy's Afternoon, due to scheduling trauma.  We went to Walmart for her few supplies and had ice cream in the McDonald's there.  It might sound less exciting, but nothing with that girl is boring!  She smiled and hugged and loved me the whole time.  It was fabulous.

Tonight was my night with my seven year old guy.  He cracks me up at every turn, and tonight was no exception!  He chose a local Chinese place and begged me for Mountain Dew.  Because he has a very cute smile and it is Mommy's Night, after all, I let him have it.  I kid you not when I tell you that the child burped no less than ten times during our dinner, each one more hilarious than the one before (to him!).  It's 9:00 and I haven't attempted bedtime yet.  I may seriously regret letting him Do the Dew.

I have two more dates on the calendar and I can't wait.  These times together - talking, laughing, joking, burping - are fleeting!  I am soaking it all in.