Things To Do With Your Kids When There Is NOTHING To Do

 

If you have a small airport in town that flies in small planes, call and get the schedules, pack a lunch, park, and watch the planes zoom down overhead as they land.  I had this idea last summer and can’t wait to do it this year!

Take a trip to a local bakery, look around, and grab a simple treat

Feed ducks, fish, birds at a park

Take a trip to the public library.  Most people forget this little gem that is full of activities, events, play groups, movies to rent, educational computer games, and all things free!

Go to a friend’s house with chalk and decorate their driveway.  I came up with this idea in 7th grade and we would go at night with a parent driving and bomb someone’s driveway with art and messages.  I called it chalking.  You’re welcome.  You couldn’t be friends with me in 7th grade but yet, you will reap the benefits. It’s an innocent, fun “don’t get caught” thing like toilet papering but with zero clean up for anyone involved.

Do things at the mall other than shop:  ride the escalators, the carousel, visit the candy shop or kiosk , play on the quarter ride-a-longs, or for five dollars, get 10-15 tokens at Chuckie Cheese.

Rent free kids movies at rental chains like Family Video.  Always make sure they clean them for you there first to ensure it will play for you later.

In warmer months, go blueberry/strawberry/apple picking with your kids and family.  Blueberry picking is my most favorite thing to do every summer.

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Dollar store trips are the cheapest of the cheap and your kids will like exploring and finding little cheap thrills.  Give each child one or two dollars and let them grab something to take home with them. It’s entertainment to get them out of the house and entertainment for when they get back.

Go to a place in town that you know is there but just never seem to go to like a local painting place for kids, a new playground on another side of town, museum, putt putt, planetarium, etc.

Go look around a pet store.  Sometimes you can watch them wash and groom the dogs at places like Pet Smart.  The little ones think it’s fun/funny/who cares, it’s free.  One of our local places has a big pond in the back where you can feed the Koi fish.  If you start digging around your hometown, little things like that to do will always pop up.

Visit your local humane society.  They always take volunteers and one job is walking the dogs on the grounds.  They will match the size of dog to the child.  I know because they wouldn’t let me walk a Great Dane when I was 19 because I only weighed 100 pounds, haha.

Make a list of things for kids to find outside: a rock, a bird, a dandelion, an ant, something pink, etc. You can make it a scavenger hunt, a race, or just something to give them a goal to meet to see if they can find everything.  This is also fun to do on a long drive.

A personal favorite that I do with my kids is go to a Pet Co/Pet Smart type of store and let your kids fill up doggie treat bags.  WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A DOG and do this on a monthly basis.  We make treat bags for when we visit our friends and families with pets.  It’s so cheap and they feel like they are at a candy store, but you can pass on the cavity and junk and do something out of the box.  Both of my girls can get a bag of dog “Oreos”, animal cracker looking cookies, toothbrush dog bones, and so on and I can get BOTH bags for 2-4 dollars.  They love doing this!

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Fill up the kitchen sink with bubbles and toys…after you have sanitized the mess out of it.

Go bowling and check out http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/.  This site tells you which bowling lanes in your city offer daily to weekly free bowling for kids.  (If you are local to me, sorry to disappoint that there are no participating lanes here.)

Fly a kite

Go to the grocery and pick out a recipe and cook together

Go to grocery and have your kids each pick three new or exotic foods they haven’t tried and go home and have a taste test.  It’s cheap, easy and they may just find something they like.  Have you ever tried a starfruit?  This “activity” is how we did.

Visit a story hour at Barnes and Noble or your public library

Search Pinterest for DIY things to do with kids at home.  It won’t disappoint.

Walk around a toy store and look at all their goodies.  Mine like to go to Toys R Us and “play” in the power wheels they have out.  They don’t move but those kids can fake drive for a good thirty minutes.

Check out your local gymnastics facilities and see if they offer open gym play time during the weeks.

Make cards for friends and family far away and mail them

Go to a restaurant where kids eat free

Check in to your local Home Depot/Lowes etc. and see when the offer the days where kids can come and build things/plant something etc., all for free!

Make something to eat at home and deliver it to your neighbors

Call a mom friend and do a toy swap.  You each gather up three or four toys from your house, meet up with them, and swap a few toys for a few days.  Free and sure to keep your kids busy for a while.

Build a fort

Go to Sam’s Club on a Saturday and go taste all the free foods they offer.  It’s fun not knowing what will be there and it sure beats staring at the walls.

Let your kids tear into your make-up and do your make-up or their own

Buy a 2 dollar bag of birdseed and let them loose in the yard

Doughnut shop runs will get you out of the house and everyone can get something to eat for typically 5 dollars or less.

Go to a park with a ball, book, blanket, kite, toys, etc. and enjoy the outdoors together playing, but not on the playground.  Have a change of scenery from your own backyard.

Check out books on Cd and cuddle together in a bed or in the living room and listen to stories. I love doing this because it involves NO screen time.  It really gets their minds working and encourages good listening skills.

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement For Mothers, From Mothers On Leaving The Baby Years Behind

 

Though known as one of the hardest stages, the baby/toddler years are forever thought of lovingly by moms. Those are the years of precious firsts and the crazy bliss of a baby on your chest and a toddler running down the halls in a costume, are prized as the glory days.  Once you have closed down the baby factory, it can be a sad farewell to a time in your life that you will always treasure.  What’s left?  The teenage years?  Oh brother…

I recently had that one grand finale baby and wondered what all I had to look forward to in the next phase of growing kids.  It’s sad moving on but there is always some special about each stage so I asked some mom of older to grown children what great things lie ahead, and this is what they said.  No one writes about these years and they should!

“I love a ten year old! They have stories and opinions. They are interested in so many things. It just seems to get better. My son loved baseball and soccer. The girls started in dance team and basketball, a little track too. It was wonderful going to games and competitions. But the part I loved was just the everyday talking with my daughters and son and finding out what they were interested in, what they were watching or reading. We would sometimes share a book and then talk about it and it was amazing to hear their perspective and they liked to hear mine once in awhile. To see them enjoy music and have teen band crushes, to introduce them to some old music that they actually like, Grease anyone? It’s all fun for you to relive, too. I think babies are wonderful and sweet. But to watch your children grow and turn into the most terrific, wonderful people that you want to be around all the time is a true gift and blessing. The best is yet to come.” -Bonnie, mother of three grown children

 

“I am the Mom of a 33, 31, 29 1/2, 27 1/2, and 26 year old. The adult years with my children have been so precious to me. They are grown and most of them have children of their own and I am getting to play a big part in the lives of my grandchildren as well. Some days are a challenge and I wonder what in the world I am doing at my age, but then there are some pretty amazingly fun and joyful moments that make up for the hard moments! I love each of my children and grandchildren and they are so much fun to be with now that they are grown. They enjoy teasing and laughing and remembering together. We have a very unique family that has remained very close and for that, I am so very thankful! We share like precious faith in God and even though things aren’t always perfect in each of our individual lives, we care for one another and lift each other up. We just had a wonderful Christmas together and took some time to reflect on what 2014 had meant to us in our lives and what we could be praying for each other about in the new year. Needless to say, I feel that it brought us all closer and helped us to love each other even more. I believe that my children love, respect and honor me and that truly brings great joy.  One thing I know is, that the growing up years pass all too quickly and each moment, no matter how challenging, is going to be worth it all!”  -Judyth, mother of 5

 

“There’s lots to look forward to when the kids get older, especially if they’re involved in cheer leading, dance, sports, etc… Recitals, games, and competitions create opportunities for the family to get together and create memories by attending all their practices and events. Plus, you get to see your child shine, publicly cheer your child on, give them positive strokes for their efforts/performance, and get to know the parents of their friends. And there’s the driving permit and license to look forward to. I really enjoyed that time with both of my kids because it gave me an opportunity to be an expert about something they wanted to learn about! They actually listened to me and wanted my help. During that period of time they seemed to develop a new level of respect for me, like they realized I’m not a complete idiot and I really do know a thing or two! And the best thing is, they wanted to know what I knew! I also enjoyed the time before they got their license because I was the one driving them to all their practices and events and that gave us lots of drive time talking and just being together. And one final thing for now is the traditions we developed as they got older, such as going out to a restaurant after church and letting them take turns picking the restaurant, gingerbread house making contest at Christmas time, shopping for new Easter outfits, & going out to eat on their birthday. These are some of the things they expressed a desire to do so we made them into traditions. The great thing about traditions during the teenage years is they will want to continue them as they get older, especially when they go off to college.” –Jan, mother of 2 children, one married and one in college

 

“There are so many things to look forward to when they get older.

1. Their first real crush. The look on their face when the ‘special’ boy talks to her for the first time. How excited she is to tell you every minute of their discussion, down to the last second.

2. Bonding over girl stuff. Teaching her how to fix her own hair, polish her nails, put on makeup, shaving for the first time. Be prepared for some giggles, lol!

3. Sports or other activities. I love watching each of my girls really glow with their love of their own talent. Payton loves cheering, Ashlyn loves piano, and Hayden, dance. I enjoy watching them each light up like Christmas when the are on stage knowing we are out there watching them.

4. Talking to them, I mean, REALLY talking. For them to ask thoughtful questions and that they still look to me for the answers.

5. Seeing with my own eyes, that I am really raising an amazing person. That the things I have been teaching since day one is taking root. And I am so proud of who they are turning out to be.” -Heather, mom to 4 girls middle school and under, step-mom to two boys who are grown

 

“One thing I love about the older years, and by that I mean even elementary school, is the re-birth of spontaneity.  If you want to jump in the car and go somewhere, go.  You re-gain a freedom that is pinched a little bit when there are naps, nursing, early bedtimes, and so on in the very early years. In some ways there becomes a new ease.

Another thing I love about having grown children is seeing them settle down, become settled into themselves and have their own families.  I see them with their own kids and I get a sense of that this is how it’s supposed to be…the full circle of life.  It gives me great peace to know that when I’m gone someday, they will be taken care of.  I find a lot of comfort and fulfillment there.”  -Joan, aka my mom, mother 0f 8: 4 grown children 32 and up, 4 growing children ranging 10-14

 

“After years of telling them things to say and not to say, to do and not do, with little to no fruit or evidence that it will ever sink in, one day, all of the sudden, you start to see them live out all of the things you worked so hard to ingrain in them in the early years and it’s very rewarding.  Another thing I love is that as I watch my 13 year old grow, I can see the friendship we will have in the future.  Right now, I am still her mother but I see little flecks in who she is and who she is becoming and I can picture how we will have a really beautiful friendship when she is an adult.” -Cara, mother of 3 ages 5, 8, and 13

 

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Now I Know: What Being A Mother Taught Me About My Own

 

When you become a mom, you clearly know you will have kids.  Clearly.  You think everything you learn will be based around children.  But, one of the neatest blessings of becoming a parent is that it helps you in understanding your own.  Being a parent gives you grace for your own mother and father and it gives you a whole heap of understanding for the who, what, and whys for what and how they did things concerning you.  It also gives you a grasp on what all they went through and experienced that as a child, you just couldn’t have known.  Here are a few things I know now about my mother simply by becoming one myself.

She Cried

She cried when you left your blanket behind for good because you didn’t need it anymore.  She cheerfully pumped you up for your first day at school, walked you in with a smile and then cried the whole way home.  She encouraged you that things would be better after another child was cruel to you and let her heart break when she was alone.  She choked up over the look of your sitting over your first birthday candle and she will cry all over again when she sees the pictures 25 years later.  You always thought she was so strong and invincible and she was….but just for you.

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She Saved

Every time my oldest child comes home from pre-school with a precious piece of art work or homework where I can see her little handwriting blossoming, it’s just hard to part with.  Now I understand why my mother saved my schoolwork. They are representations of a time when we were their little baby girl or boy and your mom saved them because she knew we wouldn’t always be.

You may never fully appreciate the old scribbly art that your own mother tucked in a faded folder and your child may never fully be endeared to that first sentence she wrote that you put in an album.  That’s okay.  Sometimes we save so that we can remember a time they were too young to really remember in the detail we could.  We save for the same reason she did:  because they are pieces of the children we never want to forget. It was never really just homework.

She Laughed

When she spanked your butt because you called her a booty old lady, she secretly thought it was funny and turned her face so you couldn’t see.  Turn away to smile.  Turn back around with a serious mom face.  Punish.  Call your best friend and laugh about it 20 minutes later.

She Was Rightfully Peeved By Things

Until you are a mom yourself, you don’t understand the value of silence.  As a mother, I know now why she hated the sound of the T.V. playing with no one watching it (especially the commercials) and when the music was too loud in the car on a busy day.

The sound of you and your siblings fighting. This put her near insanity.

I know why sometimes she simply didn’t want me to have the neighbor kid over or a friend spend the night. She would answer with what I felt was a patronizing, “Um, not tonight.”  I would get frustrated because I knew we would just sit at home and do nothing.  Why couldn’t I have a friend over????!!!!

Oh. That was the point.  Do nothing.  Life is crazy busy with a family and crazy for the parents of the busy family.  Let’s do nothing.  Yes.  Sounds good.  No, sounds great.

She Meant That It Hurt Her More

When someone makes you mad in life, it’s easy to imagine jerking a knot in them.  You want to ring their neck because they are ring neck-able.  So, when you are a kid and your parents are angry and then go on to punish you, you can only imagine them enjoying the act down to their bones and back up again spewing it out in words of “time out” and “You’re grounded!”

Then you raise your own kids and sometimes, it hurts you to see them lose a privilege that hits them where it hurts:  the party they can’t go to now or the special treat they had to return.  Family doesn’t like disappointing each other and that swings both ways.  I’ve even found myself thinking, “Please, just obey.  I don’t want to have to punish you/take this from you etc.” Albeit a necessary evil, it’s definitely not fun to do and sometimes, hurts you, too.

I’ve even learned that sometimes disciplining them is like disciplining yourself.  “Dang it, child,” you say in your mind, “I really wanted to go to pool today, too!”  Sometimes in parenting, you are all losers. Just like sending your kid to school in winter without a coat (nervous laugh).  We can lose lots of ways.  All the time.

She Was Overjoyed

She was overjoyed when they held you up in the delivery room.  Overjoyed when she saw you apologize to another child when she didn’t know you were looking.  She beamed when she rolled that new surprise bike in for you on your birthday and maybe even more excited than you to give you your first kitten that afternoon.

When you made the team, met “the one”, passed the class you struggled through with a meager “C”, when you made that right choice that made it feel like all your hard work paid off, when you comforted your sibling, when you chose someone else over yourself on a regular day, and when you broke up with the wrong guy even though you loved him.

She swelled with more joy and pride in mothering you than you knew possible. She took joy in you and shared it in a way that you didn’t know could or was being shared that equally….

That is until the one day they hold your own wrinkly crying baby up at a hospital on a day she knows is not too far away.

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She Was Nervous

Mothers are the master’s of, or at least try to be, master’s of braves faces.  When you stuck your neck out and tried something new.  When you got your license.  When you were the new kid at school and went in on your first day.  When she told you not to worry about how that kid would treat you at school today.  When you were sick.  When you picked that boy/girl to date.  When you went out of town alone for the first time and drove there yourself.  Picked the college 4 hours away.  Wore the crazy outfit to school in the 2nd grade that she let you pick out knowing others might be mean…she was nervous.

She Didn’t Always Know

There is no textbook to parenting and dang it, you sort of figure it out with one and then you have a child that’s totally different!  You saw your parents make all of these choices so confidently for you when you were a kid:  where you would go to school, how to discipline you day to day, how to handle insecurities they saw in you, how to talk to you about your feelings, how to teach you to navigate all of the social facets of your young years, etc.  Then, by golly, you have your own and you realize that a lot of times you are making choices and hoping you did the right thing…hoping you did the right thing to yield the result you are going for.  Until you are a mother, you don’t really know that sometimes, she was guessing.  She had to be.  Just like you.

She Knew

She knew you were going to get hurt because she knows that 5 year-olds fall off of beds when you were certain you wouldn’t as you sprang into the air.  She knew that it hurt to be left out or feel “un-cool” but you were positive she “didn’t understand”.

“That was forever ago, mom!  You don’t understand.  It’s not the same!”   Becoming an adult yourself lets you see, growing up overall is pretty universal.

She knew you peeked at the gifts but let you get away with it. She knew you didn’t still believe in Santa anymore but you both silently accepted to keep playing along. She knew you tried to clean up the nail polish you and your friend’s spilled on the carpet but she let it slide.

She knew he wasn’t right for you and that she wasn’t a good friend.  She knew those mean girls were jealous and you thought she was crazy.  Many days you thought SHE was, in fact, the mean one.  And she knew you would feel that way, too.  Why?  Because she had a mother and was someone’s child.

And in all of this, more than anything, she knew that one day you would be typing on a computer somewhere with three girls stair stepped in age sleeping quietly in rooms around you and that you would sit down exhausted and know that she was right.  Even when the trying years of raising you were in full throttle, she knew that one day, if you were lucky, you would know the depth of the joy, the hurt, the hope, the laughter, the weight of welling tears in your eyes, the heartbreak, the pride, and the sound of little ones playing in your ears that turn into the thudding footsteps of a grown child in the halls that is up way too late.  She knows that your day will come when you will live what her heart always knew and she desperately wants this for you.  Because now I know that the greatest gift she ever had was being your mom and I know that because I am one.  Thanks, mom.

 

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When Parenting Isn’t Fair

 

Admittedly, I’m not a good STAY- at- home mom.  If I know I have to stay at home for an entire day, I want to shut myself in a closet with my phone and Oreos and feel sorry for myself.  I have to get out and go.  For me and my personality type, staying shut in with three kids four and under makes me feel lazy and like we are just spinning our wheels all day.  It exhausts me more to stay home on most days.

Today, I did just that.  Well, I didn’t get a hiding place and Oreos but after a long night out-of-town, dare I say I actually felt like staying home.  I was such a total big girl and I think we all pretty well enjoyed it.  Still, by the time the night rolled around and we had to go to a church meeting, I was embracing the spirit of “Is it bedtime yet?”

Church meetings always go long and I’m a pastor’s wife so for me, they are the song that doesn’t end, yes it goes on and on my friend….

They provided childcare but I had to bring all three of my kids.  My 5 month old is a booby lovin’ mommy addict and my oldest’s diabetes numbers didn’t allow me to comfortably drop her off with anyone else.  Those numbers also make for a fun time for everyone but, such is life with three kids and the life is like a box of chocolates effect.  You make it work when you have to with what you’ve got and day-to-day you never know what your gonna get.

By the end of the meeting, one of my children had their shoes and socks off (as always), one was starving to death, and my baby was ready to nurse and go to bed.  My husband couldn’t help me really because he is the pastor and like parenting, it feels like an always on the clock job.  All I wanted to do was say, “Okay, it’s over.  Let’s go home.  Grab the kids and run.”  Basically, that is what I said.  Like many times though, I had to leave alone and deal with the chaos that ensues at bedtime all by myself…just like I’ve dealt with the blissful but chaotic life with kids for the 10 hours prior.

Sometimes, well, a lot of times, it is so hard to see your husband get the freedoms you desire and need.  The lunch breaks at work with friends and no one to strap into a chair or share your food with or tell to sit down.  The ability to ride to and from work in a car all alone, able to make phone calls on a whim without kids interrupting and the freedom to jam to any song that hits the radio. Being able to go somewhere with no thought of your milk letting down and needing to either get home to feed a baby or turn into two concrete speed bumps if you stay out as long as you’d like.  Even that husbands can go out with friends for a night or to an event and not have to have a fleeting worry or even the tiniest instruction to give you on your child’s care.  Why?  Because we know it better than anyone.  We need no direction and they need not worry when the kids are with us. Moms have got this.  We’ve always got this.  That’s an honor but even with the best of husbands, which I have, it’s not a simple pleasure that can be completely returned. We can’t just run off and expect they know every little thing to do. After all, they aren’t there all day for all of the steps, routines, and nuisances.  Because mothering is our specialty, we can’t just get up and go and unfortunately, lots of times become the assumed baby sitter.  You know the feeling of your husband saying, “Let’s go out to eat with so and so…”  and the first thing in your mind is, “Yeah, we will all go out and eat but you will get to do more of talking and focusing.”  You know that feeling because even with the best of the best on your spouse team, you are still mom and knowing best, typically gets you more of the load…even when you are together.  Many times I go through a scenario in my head and think, “Really, I’m not going to get to enjoy the company or myself so it’s just easier to keep kids at home than at Red Lobster.”

There is nothing else I would rather do than be stay-at-home mom right now.  I love being the expert because it means I’ve learned and loved all of the intricacies of my children. However, I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I’m always happy that he can book that trip, make that lunch appointment, or even run an errand on a break at work and all he has to do is jump out of the car and run in alone. I would love to pick up laundry detergent that effortlessly!  The imbalances feel unfair and I know a lot of couples deal with bitterness when they feel the gap between what each role requires.  Don’t get me wrong, our husbands work really, really hard and their jobs are important, valuable, and difficult.  I am so thankful for the JOBS my husband has.  He is a pastor but also holds down another job, too.  Life is busy.  Even in that work though, there are changes of scenery, quiet moments, and a clock in and out time.  There is an end.  Motherhood knows no time clock.

The fact is for me that right now I’m writing a blog at 9:30 that won’t be completely done for another 40 minutes.  I have a lunch to pack, three sets of kids clothes to lay out tonight so the rush to preschool will be less chaotic in the morning, a mess on the floor all around me, a shower that needs to be taken and it better get done before my baby wakes up to nurse again in 2 hours.  Then I will finally crawl in bed, wake every few hours in the night to nurse a baby next to a husband that gets to simply go to sleep and stay that way.  The best of dads are helpful and willing every hour of the day and night but really, only the moms are on-call.  Sometimes the weight of the unceasing job of parenting suffocates me.  I look down the days ticking away at the calendar and think, “How long will it be until I will get a break? A real one.” Not one where I’m rushing through a store racing against the next time I need to feed my baby or getting home to help with dinner.  When I see my husband’s schedule, it’s hard not to be frustrated when it feels like he catches all of the breaks.  It’s not that he doesn’t deserve them.  It’s just that we both do and it’s easier for one than the other to get them.

There are times that parenting feels unfair.  There are times that you are even jealous that he gets to leave at night for a meeting!  “Must be nice,” you say over the kids crying as you step over toys while he shuts the back door.

I am lucky that my husband is very helpful but just know, as a full-time mom, even though it lessens the burden of the job that never ends, all of us feel worn out and on the clock.  All of us, working out of the home and in the home, feel the unrelenting-ness of always being the “go to” person in the house for everything.  On hard days, it’s hard not to just want to throw your hands up at it all.

Twenty four hours a day since your children were born, you both became full-time parents.  It’s a job you both share and a role that doesn’t leave you even when you are 85.  Either of you.  We love our spouses.  We love the heck out of being mothers.  Still, sometimes it’s not even the husbands we resent or the spontaneity they still have partially intact or the ease in which they can do things on a daily basis we can’t.  Even when you are mad at your spouse for getting to do what you can’t, when parenting feels unfair, it’s not about the person.  It’s simply that by nature, there’s a difference.

And on sleepless, knock down drag out days, that pill is really hard to swallow. Sometimes it’s hard standing in the difference.

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Husband Speed & The Pace That Kills You

 

My dad and I are a lot alike.  When I was growing up he was ALWAYS walking fast to everywhere we went and I would make fun of him.  He always seemed to be on to the next thing and made even walking from store to store an efficient use of time.  It didn’t dawn on me that I had turned in to him until early in our marriage when Lance would be annoyed that I would be ready to IMMEDIATELY leave the restaurant when we had finished eating.

“We are done.  I just don’t want to sit around here when we could go do something else.”

“Oh my goodness.  I am my dad.  I am making even efficient use of even date time.”

Needless to say this tendency got way worse after having kids because free time became as rare as a four-headed goose.  I’m DEFINITELY not wasting time now.  If I was ready to roll and “out pacing the lot” waiting for the check at dinner as Lance claims, you better believe I ask for the check before we are totally done eating now.  Oh, I sure do.

Given my nature and type 1-ness, now that I’m a mom, when it comes time to getting ready at home, I am a well-oiled machine.  Only a mom knows what all goes into getting three short humans ready and out of the door for any event.  This event could be going to the grocery or the President’s house.  It doesn’t matter.  Both require staying on schedule to the millisecond, if you plan on getting somewhere fifteen minutes late. Notice I didn’t say on time, I totally meant to say late.  It takes most mother’s everything to get somewhere after it’s started.

When I get my kids ready everyday, I have a game plan.  I lay out their clothes the night before and I make them stand in one spot while I completely get them ready start to finish.  Before I did this I would get a shirt on and then they’d  run off and play princess for five minutes.  Then I would double arm catch them as they ran down the halls and strap their pants on.  It was a marathon of stop and start dress-a-thon.  No more. From their hair to their toes, it all happens in one spot and I have all of the garb ready to go pre-dressing them.

Because I do this every day I know it takes using every second of working towards leaving to actually leave.  I always wish I had help and I love when my husband helps and he does help a ton.

But, friends….everyone know there is mom speed and husband speed.  I actually sometimes get them out faster on my own than with help.  See the well-oiled machine part for that.  Its my sole job most everyday so I know I don’t get points for awesome mom speed.

When I lay out the girl’s clothes and ask if he could get them dressed and then see him standing in front of the T.V. holding a bow in his hand with no kids around for miles, I feel like I might explode.  Combust.  Commit myself to the loony bin.

“We are going to be late!  Can you please just put their clothes on?”

In my head I’m wondering how in the world is this complicated.

Tune in 10 minutes later and each girl is wearing half of an outfit and he says he’s looking for something.  I start to twitch.  I analyze his lackadaisical pace and I start to feel the time ticking away and feel like I’m now getting ready in slow motion.  “There is so much to be done,” I think as I stroke on my mascara.  I hear and see all that needs to be done and envision my husband happily skipping through the house and I feel like I’m in one of those bad dreams where you are being chased but can’t run fast.

“Why is my hairbrush brushing so slowly?”

“The toothpaste won’t squeeze out!!!  What’s happening to my hands?!  I’m losing strength!!!  We are never going to make it!”

Seriously.

My husband is killer good at helping out and I know I’m lucky but sisters,  can we all agree that hubbies just don’t operate with mom-like efficiency?  Case and point, Lance is putting the girls down for me tonight so I can write my first blog since being on vacation.  He has been at it for about 25 minutes and he got one in bed for a few minutes and now she is up running circles in the living room saying, “Look at me!” and the oldest one hasn’t even looked at the bed and he has called her in the living room to sing musical notes and seeing if she can match pitch.

So what we have to show for almost a half hour of bedtime routine is everyone awake in the living room singing and running.  It pains my type one personality heart down to its well organized and controlled beats.

Lance reminds me of a fun-loving hippie kid who wants to color in their coloring book in their underwear when everyone else is loaded in the van with the vehicle running.

You yell to the hippie kid, “Come on we are 20 minutes late to the wedding!”

They say, “Hold on mom I’m almost done coloring this butterfly wing.”

Five minutes pass.

“What are you doing?!?!?”

“I’m naming all the butterflies.”

“Johnny, Georgie, Flutter Butt….good done!  COME ON!”

That’s my Lance just namin’ ole’ Flutter Butt while I twitch and shake trying to put on my kid’s sock.

To be fair, he wouldn’t be coloring butterflies.  That was rude.  It would be something more manly like WWF wrestlers or beards.

Lance, I appreciate you helping me and your colorful beard drawings but God bless America…..we gotta go.

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Photo Credit:  Geek Philosopher:  Free photos for personal and commercial use.

 

 

Gone Patchin’: Affordable Family Summer Fun

Originally posted in June 2013 but had to bring it back for summer!

You have got to see if there is a blueberry, strawberry, or ANY type of patch or orchard that allows you go pick with your family.  In my hometown, there is a family owned blueberry patch that they open for family picking and we had the most fun AND relaxing time.  Even my girls were great pickers and got their own picking pails.  Eden picked lots of our family’s berries and Salem stole about 20 off the bushes.  Scandalous.

They are $3.50 a pound and you pick as much as you want.  It’s cheap, green, fresh, local, tastier than store-bought, and very family friendly.

I’M IN LOVE WITH DOING THIS!!!  I’m sure there are tons of places to pick tons of things in your hometown.  Ask around or look it up.  It was awesome!

If you live in my hometown, leave your email in the comment section and I’ll get you the information.  Blueberry picking is only for the month of June!

 

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The Rant About Houses, Children, and Smells

My house looks like it has reached the point of no return:  half eaten birthday cake on the counter, Salem’s food droppings on the kitchen floor, bags, receipts, coupons, all choking each other out on the island, Lance’s clothes hanging on the back of the couch which really gets on my nerves in case you were wondering….

a huge cardboard coloring play house I had to tape to together in the middle of the living room floor, crumbs on the rug, light bulbs out in the living room, and the stench of a diaper hanging in the air that I keep catching wind of. Who knows where that diaper actually is.  All this begs the question, do you want to come over to hang out?  No really, the other question:  Why am I not cleaning right now instead of typing?

NO, no, no, seriously, what I really want to know is can I put this house back together because as I sit here on the couch in my husband’s pants and my new old navy tank (stellar), I feel like it has become impossible to master.  It’s officially a lost cause.  I concede to you oh great house of wonders.

Sometimes having two little ones at home and trying to clean gives me this mental picture:  A mother walking through a house picking up and a child dancing along behind her tossing new things to the floor like candy in a parade. I don’t know if stay at home moms keep really put together homes but if they do, I’ll take some of what she’s having.  I don’t drink caffeine, maybe that helps.  Seriously though, to me, it seems like you would have to clean and pick up without ceasing to keep your house in form and there is no way to be spending any time with your kids if you do that.  I pass on that option for that reason alone.  After all, I didn’t choose to stay at home because I wanted to be a stay at home maid,  I’m a stay at home mom.  Don’t get it twisted, shorty.

I wish I could do it Mary Poppins style and make things all fly around in the room into place.  If you didn’t have time to clean up, you could always put it in your Mary Poppins purse because she pulled a floor lamp outta’ that thing.

It’s unfortunate that it’s not easier to do because I don’t know about you but a messy, disorganized house makes me want to ride on the crazy train, next stop, 5th and stressful street….one way ticket.  Clutter makes me do a mental dry heave.  I hate living in disarray.  Truly, I do.  I think the reason we moms all end up in that situation is because it’s just SO busy.  I can put up five things in one room and get on a roll but while I do that, I have two mobile kids disassembling some other room and then by the time I get to that, it’s nap, time to eat, time for Salem to literally stink up an entire room or time to get ready aka the never-ending task.  It takes approximately 1.9 hours and 19 seconds to get all three of us ready and that’s with me not being fancy so you ladies that look cute with a flock of kids that look cute, you also need to join the perfect house committee and be researched for a book to be released later.  My kids look cute but by the time they are cute, I have no will to live, much less moisturize.  Because getting out the door is an hour-long series entitled: “How Many Times Can Mom Go Back In The House To Get Something She Forgot: Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4”, I have to stay out at least double the time that it took to leave.  If not, what are we all fighting for?  I promise you, if I put the kids in the van and immediately got in the front seat and started to back out, they would say, “Mom, is that you?  Who is driving this van?  Let me out of here!”

Houses are messy, kids are crazy, marriage is hard, life is real.  We all love being mothers, we do.  We all know our kids are growing up fast and that we will miss every moment of it one day and sometimes, I already do.  Still, my house looks like a dumpster.  My husband has two jobs: one regular, one ministry which is also known as the job that keeps no business hours.  I forget to call people back, text them, etc.  I have the words “appointment” on dates on my calendar with no times next to them.  I have a pot in the sink with burnt rice stuck to the bottom and all of the stresses of daily life really just leads me to just want to throw the entire pot away rather than chip off rice pieces.  I sometimes put my kids in the garage in their car seat five minutes before I’m ready to leave so that I can go back inside and brush my teeth or finish packing the diaper bag because it’s so much easier to do something alone.  I take naps.  I don’t accessorize like ever….like thirty years ever.  I wore a maternity shirt on my date last Friday, although it was subtle, it’s for real y’all.  I wish I could wear maternity jeans from the Gap every day and I’m still praying that’s the next trend.

I’ve been more impatient with my kids the past two weeks than I want to be.  Sometimes, and by that I mean, all the time I want to kill our cat.  When I shut this laptop and see the house behind me, I might just pack my bags and go somewhere else for a few days and pray when I come back that it’s been magically transformed.  I’m exhausted.

So if you are like me, sometimes you feel like your life and house is one big disjointed mess of chaos.  Being a mother and being a stay at home mother is not always magical, as nothing of value ever ultimately is.  Yes, these are the good ole’ glory days of having sweet young babies with Playdoh on their hands and loud laughter in the halls.  Still, just a reminder today that you’re normal if your house should be condemend, if you can play “Guess that smell” in five different rooms of your house, and if it ticks you off when those “glory day’s” Playdoh gets on your rug.  You don’t have to love it all to love your children OR to be a good mom.   Sometimes being a mom is scrapbook worthy and sometimes it’s  a run and hide from the doorbell kind of day because ain’t NOBODY seeing my house this way!  Listen cronies, you aren’t alone.

Family: A Love Story

As I shut the door behind me I heard Lance begin, “Once there were two little girls, Eden and Salem….”  Usually Eden gets two bedtime stories and 2 books all by herself but tonight, for the first time, she asked me to get the still awake Salem out of her crib so that she could lay in bed with her for stories.

“Can you put Salem in my bed to sleep?”, she asked while slightly choking up.

“Baby, she can’t sleep in there but she can come in for a minute.”

“Can she lay down with me and hear some stories from Daddy?”

“Sure,” I said with a smile.  As if I would turn down the first time a sister asks for a sister semi sleepover.

Earlier tonight while they were playing, Eden said to her, “You’re my best friend say-say.”  I felt so warm inside I could have had a heat stroke.  When you are pregnant with your second child, these are the moments you look forward to:  two little people, two big people made, becoming true friends.  I know they adore each other but tonight, it was almost like she would miss her if she slept in her bed without her. Tonight it was more than just I love you because you are here, familiar, and family.  It was an I love you because you’re my friend.  That’s different.  That’s special.  I know that comes naturally when they are this young and that it’s not always a given in stages in later years but I hope they are always dear friends.  After all, one of the perks of siblings is built-in friends.

This whole day has been a great day for all of us, really.  Thanks to global warming it was almost 70 degrees the first week of February so I washed the car, cleaned it out, played in old leaves in the yard with both girls, and pulled weeds.  Hey, if we are all going to die in a blazing earthen inferno and all of the polar bears, penguins, and endangered animals are vanishing, at least enjoy the one slight benefit:  warm days in winter.

I filled Eden’s watering can so she could dump it out several times.  I let Salem sit in the grass much to her delight.  Really, it’s the first outdoor experience she’s had where she’s big enough to think dead leaves and brittle sticks are cool.

We blew bubbles, picked up dinner, played with her doll house while Salem slobbered on the heads of all of the little dolls.  We watched t.v. and let our home show the marks of a house well-played.

It all ended with two tired little girls all worn out and ready to sleep.  Actually, true to the story, one ended up with a rash and fever but as the ever chill second child, she was still all two-toothed and smiles.

While Lance was telling stories to Eden, I held Salem and gave her a bottle in the dark in the chair that I rocked Eden in as a baby.  The light crept in and two big eyes that look just like the ones my mom looked at when she fed me, stared intently up at me.  I swept her little “bangs” that are growing down on to her forehead and just felt the indescribable feeling of motherhood…the one that gets you through stomach viruses and being trapped in the house with sick children and cleaning pee and milk off of the living room rug.  The feeling that makes Octo-moms and Duggars.

I lay Salem down just right before I hear Lance call out, “Mommy, we are done.”  That’s my cue to come tuck Eden in.  I’m ALWAYS the last one in. Everyday of her almost 3 year life, ALWAYS the last one in.

I lean over my monkey pajama-ed, wind-blown haired toddler and look into those same type of big eyes.  I ask her, “Do you want me to tell you what you are going to do tomorrow?”  Then I begin with the list of the things that every child loves about their grandparent’s house.  This story includes chocolate eggs because they still have some rogue Easter bag of candy that Eden is very aware of.  As I end the list she whispers, “Again.”

I tell it ALL again.  Every word.  Every time.

As I finish she says, “Kiss and a hug!”

I give her one of each and when I hug her she says, “Keep hugging me.”  That sounds sweet when you hear another mom tell you their kid said that but when it’s your kid in your ear,  there is none better.

I went to the door, grabbed the knock, and she whispered, “Keep hugging me.”

So I went back again and hugged her some more.  I told her about how special she was to me while I hugged her.  I always like to tell her now that even when she is big I will always be her momma and I will always take care of her no matter what she does or where she goes and that I will always be so proud of her.

“Night night, mom.”

“I love you, Eden.”

When I hugged her that last time I asked her, “Will you always live with me?”  It’s the sort of question you want to ask as a mother just to hear it as much as you can while they still believe it.  So, so precious are these years.

Walking down the hall, I savored tonight both for myself and for two little sisters that love each other so very much.  In my heart there was a sigh that knows that one day it will all just be a story just like tonight…..

that once…..

there were two little girls, Eden and Salem.

 

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