Friday, November 21, 2014

Lately

We've made it!  Today marks the last day of the Rotten Eight!


We've been doing well over here and the days are going by unusually fast - maybe it's the earlier darkness of winter, but I swear by the time I turn around, it's already 4p and I'm left looking at my planner making choices between whether I'll fi.na.lly. write a blogpost this week or get a shower for the first time in three days/feed my children/or fold the clothes that have been in the dryer for two days.  Sorry - blogposts have not been winning recently - but I'm hoping the close of the Rotten Eight will bring a new bounce to my giddy-up.

I was even sort of feeling newly-energized yesterday and washed all the bedsheets (a feat in itself) and took all three kids grocery shopping by myself (heroic!)  Alas, Violet was determined to finish out the Rotten Eight with a bang by partying all night, so I'm running on two cups of coffee and a dream today.  She thinks she's hilarious.


Here's what we've been up to lately...

All this month we've been daily adding to our Thankful Tree.  It's been funny and enlightening to see what the kids want to add and also what they think Violet would add if she could talk.  I keep using language like, "We have so many things to be thankful for," and "How lucky we are!"  It's time to gear up for holiday consumption overload - so we've also been talking about how commercials and magazines try to get us to buy things that we don't need.  Grey has been randomly announcing during commercials on tv, "They want us to buy that truck, but we already have a car so we don't need it."  The fight of consumerism is on!  haha



We've been adjusting to basketball season , as this was the first official week of practice.  That means B goes to work all day, stops in to give us all a hug&kiss in the late afternoon and then runs to practice to get back in time to give everyone a good night kiss.  We all know that time is limited, so it seems like it forces us to really give quality in the moments we get it - isn't time funny like that?

Basketball season basically looks a lot like this at our house:



(Can I also add that I love basketball season because I can see so fiercely the passion that B has for basketball and his players in his face and the way he talks.  Seriously, obsessed with Coach Studer).

#tbt to circa 2001 when Brandon scored his first 1000 points as a sophomore in high school
I started teaching Catechism two weeks ago and I'm really loving it.  It's like a nice step back into a (sort-of) classroom and working with not my own kids.  I'm teaching fifth grade and it's been refreshing to spend time with kids that can ask questions and comprehend bigger ideas- but are still little enough to want to play and do crafts.  I'm really happy to have that hour and a half on Sunday morning to myself being a teacher - it's a nice change of pace from all the rest of my normal with my own three kids hanging off my limbs asking for new sippy cups of water.

entertainment with scotch tape.  Pig Noses.

Also, our little Gemmi bear is still in full-throttle and I have to repeat myself twenty times a day to tell her to, "Please find a nicer way to talk Gemma Rose."  She is very into yell-talking and telling us all what to do with the bratty voice of a tweenager.  She also lamented to me yesterday, "I don't like people."  ...nice.  Every single night when we pray and say thank you for the things we have in our life, Gemma consistently says thank you for both "the playground," and "the ocean."


Grey is a huge helper and very, very patient with both of his sisters.  Honestly, 80% of the time I feel so insanely blessed that this kind, generous,sweet boy is my son and the big brother to our girls.  He reads to them and shares and helps them when they need it, and suggests games they can play together.  Honestly, he is precious and makes me so proud.

And then there is the other part of the day that is filled with insane boy mania:  running. jumping, slamming into things, pretending everything is a weapon, wrestling, tackling, attempting to fly off of things, fake fart noises, talking about butts/poop/throw up, burping, messes everywhere.  Just so much roughness.  I think that's something I'll never quite understand about boys; such jagged, rough edges but such a soft inner core.  The dichotomy of it blows my freaking mind.


Violet continues to be an absolute angel (save last night) and astonishes us and everyone with what a good baby she is.  Thank goodness she wasn't our first - we'd have very skewed views of what normal babies act like.  She is such a pleasant little thing when she's awake, but spends most of her days blissfully sleeping.  No amount of Studer Zoo Crew general loudness can disturb her slumber.  It's the stuff of miracles.

When I wake her up to feed her (for real, she sleeps right through feeding schedules), she lets her eyes get adjusted and the moment she recognizes my face, she gets the sweetest, biggest toothless smile on her face.  My cup runneth over every.single.time.


We've been trying out lots of new recipes over the past few weeks for some reason (thank you pinterest) and Grey has been hesitant to try anything that looks remotely different than lunchmeat sandwiches or pizza.  So I tried blindfolding him at dinner to try new foods.  It works for a solid two bites and then he takes it off and decides he doesn't like it again.  While Gemmi digs right in and eats anything you put in front of her including a bite from everyone else's plates. She's our resident seagull.


Here are some of our (minus picky-eater Greyson) recent favorites:
Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta
Baked Tacos
Crumb-topped Chicken Supreme Casserole

For my parents' wedding anniversary - my sisters and I pitched in to get new professional pictures of our family taken by the wonderful Carissa McClellan.  We spent a very (very!) chilly afternoon outside snapping beautiful photos.  Is it too much to order wallpaper in these photos? J.Crew - feel free to reach out to us for modeling in your next catalog....hahah, but seriously...why does natural light, pinterest-suggested color pops, and really awesome photographers with really good cameras make peeps look so fresh?








And then after our group picture - THIS HAPPENED!!


Kevin waited until all the rest of us had left and when the photographer asked if they had any other couple poses they wanted to do, he said, "I have an idea" and.got.down.on.his.knee.and.proposed.

gah.

And now my baby sister IS GETTING MARRIED!!!!  I can't even properly post about this right now because I'm still processing and gushing over this.  Expect a full update when I am no longer hyperventilating.

I was in the parking lot, actually sitting in the truck nursing Violet when Tash came to tell me.  She was fake handing treats for the kids to me (really actually trying to stick her new engagement ring in front of my eyes) and like a total airhead I kept swatting her hand out of my face.  I think at one point, I was even like, "Tash, move your hand."  lololololololol.  finally she blatantly stuck her hand directly into my eyeball and I screamed, "Whaaaaaaaaaat?!!" all the while, Violet is happily drinking along.  hahahahha.  #momprobs

And then I repeated over and over the rest of the evening, "My baby sister is getting married!"


Thanks for hanging around - I'm hoping to get back into the swing of normal here now that the Rotten Eight is over!  Feel free to toast a glass of wine with me tonight over this fact!

(This post brought to you in large part by Violet's nap and SpyKids on the iPad.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Moms! They're just like celebrities!

Moms may live out of the spotlight (like waaaaaay out of the spotlight), but they have a lot of experience living the glamorous perks of celebridom in so many ways.  In fact, some would say, they're just like celebrities!


Moms usually manage multiple projects at a time.
Just like celebrities who act, direct, and run their own clothing lines simultaneously - Moms are also balancing several ventures at once.  Moms are raising kids, taking care of households, holding down full-time or part-time jobs, writing blogs, participating in school board meetings, leading PTOs, fundraising for the peewee football teams, scheduling car pools, researching healthy toddler lunch options, and orchestrating elaborate Elf on the Shelf scenes....nightly...without an assistant.



People are always following them around. 
Sure, by people, I mean a gaggle of tiny humans, but they are like tiny shadows stepping on Mom's heels all day. They're following Moms up the steps, through the supermarket aisles, and even opening shower curtains unannounced!  Moms are constantly surrounded by an entourage - sometimes the company is welcomed; a great way to make an entrance; no chance people aren't noticing us!  But occasionally, Moms would love a little privacy...I mean can a girl get a closed bathroom door around here or what?


They receive unsolicited perks, just for being Moms!
Free cheese slice at the deli counter, hello!  Moms occasionally see undeserved benefits just for being Moms in the presence of their children. Grocery carts returned in the parking lots, doors held while Moms struggle with car seats and hand holding, line skipping in the bathroom for small kids who can't hold it, and lots of extra napkins and clean, non-dropped silverware at restaurants (like an excessive amount).  The best perks of all come in the form of compliments, "You have a beautiful family,"  "Your kids are so polite,"  "Hang in there, Momma, you're doing a great job."



They receive unwarranted criticism from people who don't know them.
Moms regularly get the unwelcome and generally unnecessary negative attention too, usually described as "advice" from strangers.  "You know, my kids acted like that too until I _______________ (gave them more attention/less attention, removed/added something to their diet, put them in school/took them out of school, etc)."  "I never let my kids (eat that, talk like that, play with that, do that...)."

...Mom's are all like, 'Mind your own business please- you don't know me and my struggles.'  And strangers be all like, 'if you didn't want the attention, maybe you shouldn't have had the kids.'  And Moms be like, "that makes no sense."


Personal hairstylists and make-up artists
There is no shortage of people who are eager to help Moms look their best, these people even live in-house for 24 hour service.  Their methods and visions are generally a little unorthodox, and they're always happy to experiment with non-traditional tools (read:  markers, paint, and temporary tattoos).  But their ambition and persistence are unparalleled in the fashion industry.


They regularly receive rare and priceless gifts.  
These gifts are displayed in prominent areas of the Mom's homes; including refrigerator doors, kitchen sink windowsills, and featured picture frames.  These gifts come in the form of fingerpaintings, odd collections found in pants pockets, short-stemmed flowers of the garden poaching variety, front row seats to impromptu dance shows, surprise smiles on the face of an infant, and other regalia delivered with warm smiles and a "look what I got for you Mum! Don't you love it?"




They experience a time in their life in which their bed is like a revolving door.
There is just no telling who Moms will wake up to in the morning - sometimes they aren't even aware of when that person got into their bed.  It's not uncommon for a Mom to wake up to multiple people in her bed, all of whom are invading her personal space and were never formally invited in the first place.  All the while, Moms are feeling both ashamed and loving all the attention.  Ashamed because they know they should really try harder to commit to children that sleep in their own beds.  Yet simultaneously comforted in the fact that this stage of them wanting to be so near their Mom is terrifyingly short-lived and it's actually kind of wonderful.


There is some inside person that is always making their personal business everyone's business.
Moms are not unfamiliar with the moments in which they are in a crowded room filled with people they may or may not know, when someone in their entourage announces, "Mumma said..." followed by something she mentioned quietly to her spouse behind a close door in a moment of shame.  It generally includes gossip and/or a curse word.


Their late night parties can get out of control.
And by late, we mean late enough that sometimes Moms consider just putting on some coffee and calling it a morning.  Moms are up long into the night fighting off closet monsters, occupying infants who confuse night and day, rubbing backs, cleaning up messes(of the urine or vomit nature), donating life sustaining nutrients(of the breastmilk nature), and making mental checklists of both real (upcoming holiday plans) and unreal (unlikely threats to children's well-being) varieties.



They seem to always be in the company of the most beautiful people.
A Mom will be the first to tell you, that no one is more beautiful than the people they keep company with.  Perfect skin, long eyelashes, great smiles, and hair that looks good even with bedhead...granted though, Moms can be a little biased.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Mom Next Door Series: Stacey R


I am so happy to bring today's Mom Next Door Interview to you from my dear friend Stacey.  Stacey and I met through work where she eventually became my boss (because she's amazing) and was one of the people that helped me transition smoothly and confidently into full time sahmhood.  I was so nervous to tell Stacey that I was leaving work and whether or not she meant to - her words of support, encouragement, and understanding about taking a break from the world of grown ups and move to the land of chaos and children (hah) helped me so much.  (thanks for that Stacey).  

I have always admired Stacey as she is resilient, honest, and a dedicated friend, colleague, and above all Mom to her three kids.  Please take a few minutes to read today about Stacey and be inspired as I always am by her graceful march through all of life's beautiful and unfair moments.

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Who are you? I am a 45 year old, full-time working Mom who lives in Murrieta, CA with three amazing kids and one slightly crazy cat. My oldest daughter is 14 going on 18, my son is 13, and my youngest daughter is 11. Some of the details in the previous sentences may explain why I have no blog, website or anything other than Facebook!


What do you do for work? I work as a Director of Client Program Management for Scantron. I am fortunate to work from my home as a remote employee and travel just often enough to enjoy a night or two in a quiet hotel room. I consider myself very blessed to honestly say I love what I do and the people with whom I work.

How do you unwind ore re-charge?  Being a San Diego native, the beach is definitely my happy place. The sound, smell and sight of the ocean relaxes and rejuvenates me. Spa treatments are good too!



What do you feel like you are really good at as a mom?  I would say one thing I’m good at is keeping a sense of humor – you've got to be able to laugh at yourself and your kids too and enjoy the lighter moments in life.



What do you feel like you wish you were better at being a mom?  I can do a better job teaching and modelling the value of exercise as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. I’m afraid what I’ve taught my children is it’s easier and faster to drive somewhere than to walk somewhere. When I suggest we go for a walk, it might take a few minutes to persuade them to come along just for the exercise and fresh air without needing a particular destination. Regardless, one is a swimmer and one is in martial arts so it’s not too late to change!


Which chore is your least favorite?  Taking out the trash. I used to somewhat joke with my late husband that it is the man’s job to take out the trash. Now, my son fills the much-needed and appreciated job of trashman in our house.


What is the one "Mom Tip or Trick" that you can share that has made your life easier somehow?  Teaching my kiddos age-appropriate levels of independence and self-sufficiency. For example, all three of my children have been packing their own school lunch since they were in Kindergarten or 1st grade. I would make sure we had a variety of healthy and fairly easy items to pack in a lunch, and they would make their own selections. I can’t think of one time when they complained about their lunch because they made it!


What has become (at least for now) your parenting mantra or guiding principle?  Life isn't fair. Some things are beyond our control, not what we expect or want, but it’s often times in our best interest to adjust and keep going. I encourage my children to focus on what is in their control and think about how their behavior or attitude affects a situation. 

  

Who are the moms you look up to?
1. My neighbor, Amy, who is about to have her seventh child. I don’t know how she does it all.
2. My friend, Jen, who willingly chose single motherhood. I didn't sign up to be a single mom, but she did, and I admire her for that.
3. My friend, Vanessa, who has adopted two beautiful children when she and her husband struggled with fertility. From her stories, I’ve learned that strangers can inadvertently be rude or even cruel to adoptive parents, but she has a relaxed demeanor, not letting others’ comments get to her.


What are the small joys of being a Mom that you treasure most right now?  I really treasure the one-on-one time I have with each child. Sometimes these opportunities come in small increments of time, but whether it’s a few minutes or a few hours, I love having time to talk and connect with each child individually. One piece of advice I remember being given early on in motherhood was to foster an environment where your children want to talk with you because they know you will really listen. Start this when they are young and it’s more natural for them to talk about ALL kinds of things, and it will continue through the teen years when you want them to talk with you most.

Monday, November 10, 2014

the spookiest kids of all

So, first things first - I have sat down to work on this post multiple times and one of my little someones has inevitably needed me at that.precise.moment for some dire need (ie. getting them a napkin and cleaning up the blueberry muffin they smashed into the floor...) Perhaps if I could just get nursing completely hands free - that would really up my posting - but alas, I just cannot figure that one out.  

In any case, we are doing well over here - moving towards the end of the rotten first eight weeks of newborn land (only two weeks to go!) and we are getting into a somewhat groove of a party of five.  And to kick off our new family status - we got to celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year.  


In the beginning of the month, the kids brought home pumpkins after enjoying hayrides, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches with their grandparents (thank you!) So, no pumpkin patch for us this year (oops!) but we did carve out some time (heh; cheesy pun) for some jack-o-lantern fun - pumpkin guts and all. 


We prefer to minimize mess by having the kids carve pumpkins topless - HAH.  Efficient Mum or Lazy Mum...it's such a thin rope to walk.    


After a few weeks of admiring his giant pumpkin which Greyson named "Big Jack," he was eager to carve out the same face in this year's favorite Halloween book:  The Spookiest Jack-o'-Lantern Ever!.  Brandon helped him, but he got to do some real life carving himself this year and was so proud.  Big Jack was the piece de resistance to our porch Halloween decor this year!


We also held our annual kid Halloween party at our house - it was our third annual this year!  I made a little paper chain countdown for the kids at the start of the week and by Friday morning when throwing the last chain in the garbage at 7am, I spent the rest of the day attempting to explain how time works and that our party did not start until dinner.  It was a long day.  

But f.i.n.a.l.l.y. Grey, Gem, and Violet donned their costumes; a skeleton, ghost, and ladybug respectively, and our friends arrived! It was  low key year, which was perfect but we were lucky to get to jump in leaves this year as it has been our first year with both enough daylight and warmth to go outside.



We played Pin the Heart on the Skeleton, iced cupcakes, played Flashlight Freeze Dance, and ate tons of pizza and cheetos (as per usual).  This year was so fun because the kids were all at the age where they didn't even really want any parental-led activities.  So we all sat around the dining room table chatting while they ran around the house and screamed like wild things.



Little Miss Violet slept the entire party and then woke up at the end to eat and start her own party.  Brandon, Lettie, and I spent our Friday night snuggling on the couch while the two bigger kids fell asleep early from all the playing and cheeto consumption.


Keeping with tradition, we headed to my parents' house for trick-or-treat night and had so much fun.  Grey was out-of-his-mind excited to visit each house and Gem was thrilled to get her hands on copious amounts of sugar - especially gum.  Good Lord, that girl and gum.




Violet was slightly less than thrilled - HAH - and she hung back with my parents to hand out treats to other kids.  B, Uch, and I walked through the neighborhood with our two little goblins laughing about how excited they were and also at what a bizarre national tradition this is - going door to door to get goodies.  It's hilarious and amazing. 

Brandon and I dressed up in whatever we could throw together before loading up three overly excited kids into the truck to head to my parents.  So, we spent the evening dressed as a Hunter and Fortune Teller.  Again, overly efficient or lazy...it's just such a hard call.




After just enough trick-or-treating to please them but keep them (mostly) walking on their own two feet- we headed back to my parents' house to devour 98% of the candy within a 30 minute timeframe.  Hey, whatever, man - it's a holiday.



The very next evening, we stopped to visit with Mimi and unbeknownst to us - it was trick-or-treating in her neighborhood.  So, the ever creative - Mimi whipped up some facepaint from her make-up and the kids hit the streets again, this time with their cousin, to score more bags of chocolate and sugar.  It was like the best two days ever.



We also tried to sprinkle in some kindness to our holiday.  We painted Teal Pumpkins to leave at Abba's house to let the trick-or-treaters that we had non-food options for treats (spooky tattoos). And we "Reverse Trick-or-Treated" to our neighbors, meaning we dropped off treat bags of candy and a Halloween craft that we made to them.



I am sufficiently Halloween'ed out this year and I'm joyfully moving on to my second favorite holiday of the year!  Although we do have a tiny hiccup that we haven't yet smoothed out...As the kids were helping me put Halloween decorations away, Grey told me that we forgot to put Big Jack in the box for the attic.  I explained that Big Jack couldn't get packed up for next year but that we'd find a good place for him in the woods and he will be food for the deer and other animals.  Then...

Grey (sobbing):  I don't want to put Big Jack in the woods!  I love him.
Mum:  I know Buddy, but pumpkins get rotten after awhile - we can't keep him, he will fall apart.
Grey (more sobbing):  I don't think the animals will eat him!  He's too scary, Mum!  They'll be too afraid of him.
Mum:  He is pretty spooky, but I think the animals will be brave.
Grey:  (continued sobbing):  I need your phone, I want to take his picture first.  I need to say goodbye to Big Jack.  He's my friend

After Grey hugged, patted, whispered to, and used my phone as a camera - he finally came back in and announced that he was in fact not getting rid of Big Jack and he's going to tell Daddy that too.  Big Jack continues to sit on our porch slowly rotting away looking ever more creepy as days pass.

Also, my camera roll looked like this: