Happy Not Back to School: Homeschool Encouragement

Monday was the first day of public school where we live. Yes, already! Can you believe it? Of course, it wasn’t our first day of homeschool, because learning never really stops around here. ūüėČ

Anyways, I LOVE the first day of public school. Honestly I am downright giddy about it. I feel like a kid skipping school. Not that I ever did that to know the feeling, of course. ?

Not every homeschool mama is doing the happy dance this week, however. All the back to school posts on social media leave some feeling sad and left out. How about you?

Ever feel pangs of envy when you see photos of kiddos with shiny new backpacks, hopping on the big yellow bus? Or perhaps you catch yourself wistfully wondering what it’s like to have SIX WHOLE HOURS to yourself? ūüėČ

Of course, public school moms get their perks too! Sure, when my kids went to public school, there were things about it I enjoyed. But in the end, it just wasn’t a fit for our family.

If you’re already homeschooling, I bet you put a lot of thought into it too. You weighed all the benefits and drawbacks and decided home education was the best fit for YOUR family. That doesn’t mean you will never doubt yourself again, but there’s also no need to wallow in thoughts that don’t benefit your purpose.¬†?¬†(Furthermore, comparing your real life to someone else’s social media life is a sure way to feel crappy about everything, so just don’t even go there.)¬†?

If you’re feeling sad, remind yourself of why you chose this path. Then, celebrate what makes homeschooling awesome!

Like…

  • Letting growing kids sleep as long as they need to.¬†?
  • Making pancakes and eggs when you would be rushing for the bus.¬†??
  • Plenty of time for kids to explore their talents.¬†??
  • Teaching your children things they will use in real life.¬†?????
  • Freedom to travel.¬†‚úąÔłŹ??
  • Empty pools for the rest of August!¬†??

What other benefits can you think of?

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Personally, the first day of public school reminds me how grateful I am. I am thankful to have the freedom to choose what method of education is best for my children. I know not everyone in the world has that freedom, and many who technically have that independence don’t give themselves the autonomy to take advantage of it. Also, I know we may not always have these privileges to this extent, which makes me contemplate how we can make the most of the time we have with our little ones. You could say that the first day of public school is my personal Independence Day, that I celebrate in my own head.¬†?

In conclusion, it’s a new year and a new chapter in our lives that WE get to write. Exciting!!! What will you design for your family this year? ūüôā

A Lesson In Positive Thinking

So maybe you didn’t know this about me, but I’m a big fan of Positive Thinking. I suppose no one is a fan of Negative Thinking, right? From what I hear Negative Thinking is really down in the polls, yet somehow he still gets way more press time than Positive Thinking. ūüėČ

The thing is, no one likes to think negatively, and yet, it happens. Psst… here is the big secret. Whether you choose to think positively, or negatively, it is a CHOICE. What goes on in your head is under your control. Yes, there are other factors and issues, but the words that play over and over again in your head are YOUR WORDS. And maybe someone else put the recording in there, but you are the one who presses play or stop, or just DELETE.

True story! When a thought comes up that makes you feel UGH, say DELETE. Try it, you might like it. ūüėČ

So by now you’re thinking, her poor kids. They have to listen to this positive thinking garbage all day long. Right? I don’t put up with any Negative Nelly-ing.

So last night, Finn says to me “Tomorrow is going to be the WORST day of my life.” Which naturally made Positive Mom want to scream “DELETE, DELETE!!!” I mean, I didn’t because that would be nuts, even for me. Now reading this, you may be concerned that something really dire is about to happen in Finn’s life. What could it be? A root canal? A rigorous test? Is someone dying?

Take a deep breath, it is none of the above. We are going to the pool with friends.

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Horrible, right? I mean, you can do things other than have giant buckets of water dumped on your head, but… Finn hates the pool. Yup. And I understand. For an introvert kid with sensory issues, the pool can be a bit much. Still, he “usually” enjoys it once he gets there.

So, instead of screaming “DELETE!” I said calmly to Finn, “Please don’t ever tell yourself ahead of time how bad something is going to be. Never choose for it to be a bad day. You have the whole day ahead of you. The pool is only a couple hours. Decide it’s going to be a good day. What else do you want to do tomorrow?”

“Go see Banana Split” replied Finn. Umm… Banana Split is a turtle we saw at a state park in Florida 3 years ago…

“Well, maybe you will see a turtle. We do have turtles around here too.”

“I doubt it.”

“Well, you never know. You never know what good things might happen.”

“I know what good thing can happen that will make it a good day.”

“Great! What is that?”

“Someone will poop in the pool, it will be closed, and we won’t be able to go.”

And with that, he drifted off into a sweet slumber, dreaming of failed swim diapers and summer festivity shut-downs. Positive thinking for the win.

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Unless you choose the poop. I don’t recommend it. Thanks for reading.

 

Enter At Your Own Risk: Lego Disaster Clean Up

Remember this picture of Finn in his room from How Finn Got His Knack Back?  Yeah, this one where he was looking really happy, surrounded by a sea of Legos and Snap Circuits?

Notice the Lego bin tower in the background that has no Lego bins in it.   They and their contents are ALL ON THE FLOOR.

Notice the Lego bin tower in the background that has no Lego bins in it. They and their contents are ALL ON THE FLOOR.

 

A disaster zone, right?  Although Finn seems to have a mental inventory of each piece and it's location on the floor.

Although Finn seems to have a mental inventory of each piece and its precise location on the floor.

Despite Finn being totally content with the situation, every one else was fed up with not being able to so much as walk through the room anymore.

Time. To. Clean. Up.

Naturally, Finn was completely overwhelmed by the idea.  Being a gracious Mommy (sucker), I agreed to help.  Helping of course means I do 95% of the work while he writhes around on the floor, occasionally tossing something in a bin and acting like life is really hard.

I didn’t mind helping, but I was soon aghast at what I found. ¬†Seriously, it wasn’t for the faint of heart:

Lego mini figures with their pieces strewn everywhere, yellow heads just rolling around willy-nilly, not so much as a hand left attached to an arm. All I could think was “Who does this to their mini figures???”

My first instinct was to put them back together, but soon I was overwhelmed. How do you choose who to help? The grandpa because he’s charming? The Ninja Turtle because he’s part of a set? ¬†The Yeti because we just got him and could we not keep it together for THREE DAYS??? ¬†And do I just leave the Snake guy because he’s kind of creepy? Doesn’t he still deserve arms?

So I decided the best thing to do was to gather all their pieces and put them in one bin, creating a sort of safe zone where they might at least have a chance of being reunited with their missing parts.

legopartsAfter AT LEAST TWO HOURS I stumbled out of the disaster zone. ¬†Honestly, I had completely lost all sense of time while I was in there. ¬†Every time I was about to give up I would see another little arm peeking out of the bricks and have to keep searching. ¬†I was physically and mentally drained from the experience. ¬†(That isn’t a joke. ¬†For real, I had HAD IT.)

At the end of the day, Finn had assembled sixteen mini figures, which he proudly declared were his own “Series”. ¬†There are still more displaced torsos and hands in the box, but I will sleep well knowing I did all I could.

And I’m pretty sure that I ranted enough about “You’re not getting anymore mini figures if this is how you treat them” to make an impression on a certain little person… ¬†Let’s hope.

 

 

Kids Are Gross

I was going to write about something different today, but after having to put my couch slip covers in the washing machine I felt a new inspiration coming on:

Kids Are Gross.

Through the fine art of the English language, I’m going to try to convey this concept with as little disgust to the reader as possible. ¬†I don’t want you to have to wash your couch slip covers too.

So, here’s a question for you. ¬†Are all kids gross? ¬†Or is it just boys? ¬†I’ve heard friends say that their girls like to be neat and clean. ¬†And I do remember that when I was a little girl I wouldn’t even open my mouth in the morning until I had gone straight to the bathroom and scrubbed my teeth. ¬†(I don’t know if this is usual for girls or if I was especially neurotic?) ¬†What I DO KNOW is that when I tell my boys to brush their teeth, they say “WHY? ¬†We aren’t going anywhere!?!” ¬†or “I just won’t breathe on anyone.”

Much to my dismay, my kids seem to have a disdain for basic personal hygiene.  Not to mention a keen fondness for poop.  POOP, POOP, POOP.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard that word, well, for starters I would hire someone to clean the bathrooms every time the boys used them so I never had to lay my eyes on such horrors again.  Anyways, my personal theory is that girls are probably gross sometimes, but boys have pretty much corned the market on grossness.

The thing that really amazes me though is the ability these children have to blithely ignore their own ickiness while being thoroughly nauseated by someone else doing the same thing.  Remove the mustard from your own face before gagging over the ketchup on the face of your brother!  <- Pretty close to what the Bible says, although perhaps referring to weightier matters.  Anyways, it is a lesson we need to learn around here!

Seriously, meals at our house are a NIGHTMARE. ¬†Everyone is messy and they are all too worked up pointing out the other’s messiness to worry about having good manners themselves. ¬†Example:

Beau: ¬†“EWWW! ¬†A crumb just flew off Finn’s fork! ¬†It LANDED right by me! ¬†I CAN’T EAT!!!!” ¬†(As he points with food covered fingers.)

Dad: ¬†“Finn, stop waving your fork around! ¬†Beau, use your fork! ¬†Pasta is not a finger food!”

Beau: ¬†(licking fingers) “Sorry, Daddy.”

Finn: ¬†“Dash is being GROSS! ¬†He just spit out his food! ¬†EWWW! ¬†I’M GONNA PUKE!”

Beau: ¬†“I can’t DEAL with this!!! ¬†I’m going to eat at the counter!!!”

Me: ¬†“I’m going to pour some wine.”

photo-1Ah, nothing like a relaxing family dinner. ¬†Oh, and by the way, they aren’t joking when they say “I’M GONNA PUKE!” ¬†Take this morning, for instance.

Dash had pancakes with a little peanut butter on them.  I washed him up after he was done, but I forgot to get his plate off the table.  A few moments later, I hear screams from the living room.

“HELP! ¬†MOMMY! ¬†DASH IS WIPING PEANUT BUTTER ON US!!! AGGGHHHH!!!”

And, because that’s not dramatic enough, “I PUKED!!!”

Yes, Beau, actually puked on the couch because Dash wiped some peanut butter on him.  So while I took the slip covers off and put them in the wash, Beau went to take a shower because he felt compelled to scrub off his first layer of skin after the incident.  And I still have to ask him if he used soap after washing his hands???

If you think the food based incidents are bad, just imagine when something really nasty happens. ¬†Like this weekend, when we were out driving on the highway in Dad’s car. ¬†All three boys are lined up in the backseat, seemingly in good spirits when suddenly, a crisis ensues.

“EWWW!!! ¬†Dash is picking his nose!” ¬†At first they are amused by it, like, “Cool, Dash is just like a big boy now!” ¬†… until he is successful.

“AGGHH!!! ¬†DASH HAS A BOOGER! ¬†HE HAS A BOOGER!!!”

I scramble to open some tissues from the glove box, but my fingers can’t work fast enough. ¬†“JUST GIVE THEM A NAPKIN!” hollers my husband.

“I’M GONNA PUKE!!!” cries Finn.

I hand the napkin to Beau, who is somewhat of a booger fan and is able to handle the task. ¬†But it’s too late. ¬†Finn is puking all over his pants and his booster seat.

Thankfully, I have an extra pair of pants and a BIG pack of wipes for just such an occasion. ¬†So we are soon on our way again, with the windows rolled down to air things out. ¬†(Until we hit construction and the asphalt smell becomes more overwhelming than the vomit smell.) ¬†The next 40 minutes are spent in bumper to bumper traffic with Finn crying that he can’t stand the smell of his own mess and the rest of us not wanting to be asphyxiated by road construction gases.

“I hate puke!” ¬†he complains. ¬†“I wish there was no such thing as puke!”

So do we, Finn, so do we.

Sorry, I hope I didn’t make you too nauseated with these stories. ¬†Myself, I have a pretty strong stomach (and good thing for that). ¬†How about your family? ¬†Are your kids grossed out by each others grossness?

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Off The Leash

Look at this cute backpack I got for Dash.

IMG_2528Awe. ¬†It’s so cuddly and he just loves it. ¬†Here’s another shot…

IMG_2523What? ¬†What’s that strap hanging off it? ¬†Uh, yeah… I’m not sure ?… ¬†It just came with this extra piece…

Okay, okay, it’s a leash. ¬†But we prefer to call it a Snuggly Chaos Management Buddy.

You know, there was a time when I had no idea that a baby “leash” was such a controversial item. ¬†I got one for Beau when he was a toddler and I was taking him to the airport. ¬†I was worried about him running off or getting kidnapped while I was dealing with luggage or plane tickets. ¬†REALLY? ¬†Not wanting to lose your toddler is controversial?

Well, apparently there is a school of thought promoting the idea that children should LISTEN and BEHAVE. ¬†Interesting, right? ¬†Apparently there would be no need to restrain these small people, because just the sound of an adult’s voice would stop them dead in their tracks. ¬†It sounds like a promising theory, but personally I would like to see further research on the subject, particularly in regards to 18 month old boys.

The other objection some have to the Chaos Management Buddy is that “Leashes are for dogs and children aren’t dogs.” ¬†I totally agree that children are not dogs. ¬†I have had both children and dogs and they are not the same thing. ¬†For instance, children climb things where as dogs do not. ¬†They both have about the same risk of running into traffic or biting someone. ¬†So, no, I would not compare my dear child to a dog. ¬†He is more like a spider monkey with a hint of wolverine…

Just kidding! ¬†But joking aside, back when Beau was little, I was a lot more concerned about inviting public scorn for trying not to lose my child, or for making any other unpopular parenting decision. ¬†I wouldn’t want some strange person who knows nothing about me or my situation or my child’s temperament to think I’m a BAD parent! ¬†How awful it would be if they judged me!

But by now I have more or less gotten over that. ¬†(Or at least become desensitized to it?) ¬†I do what I feel is best for my kids because I know them best. ¬†And I know not everyone is going to agree, which is FINE because I’ve seen that things work out okay when I go with my instincts.

Still, being a parent is a lot like wearing a sign that says “Open For Public Criticism!” ¬†Whether you’re the mom running frantically after an off-the-leash toddler, or the one trotting behind an on-the-leash toddler, or the one who is having all the exits shut down because she has no idea where her toddler is, you can be sure there is someone standing idly by, shaking their head in disapproval.

Let’s see… We have the Old School Folks who reminisce about the days when you could just go chop a branch off a tree and beat your kids with it. ¬†Then there are the ¬†Paranoid Vigilantes who are standing around watchfully with CPS on speed dial. ¬†And don’t forget everyone’s favorite parenting critic, The Perfect Mom. ¬†Bless her heart. ¬†She is more than happy to take a break from flash card drilling to tell you in excruciating detail How You Too Can Be Awesome. ¬†She has time to do this because her children are plowing through a midmorning snack of Doritos and Coke. ¬†Awe, Perfect Mom, it’s okay. ¬†Nobody’s really perfect!

They all mean well.  But sometimes it does get old!

SERIOUSLY, if the worst psychological damage my child incurs is because his mother was really worried about him getting lost in a public place, then I think we are going to get away with a really cheap therapy bill. ¬†Thanks for all the well meaning opinions, but we are doing okay. ¬†Everyone is happy, and Dash has no idea his Cuddly Buddy carries a stigma with it along with an small pack of washable crayons. ¬† And the best part: ¬†I didn’t lose any kids.

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Wait, there’s only two here… Has anyone seen Beau?

ūüėČ

Shopping With Kids: A Survival Guide

This past Friday I took a mini vacation.  I got in my Honda Odyssey all by myself and drove to Starbucks.  After my Frappucino port adventure, I sailed on to Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.  And then I went home and made dinner.

As lovely as it was, I’d just assume take the kids, or at least one.¬† Why?¬† Because when I’m ALONE I can’t shake the feeling that I have actually forgotten someone.¬† I think “What if I misunderstood and I was supposed to take them with me?”¬† Or worse, “What if I DID take them with me, but forgot about them in the backseat???”¬† I have to check three times to make sure the baby isn’t actually in there, left behind in the sweltering heat.

Once I am in the store, I can’t quite remember how grownups shop by themselves.¬†¬† For example, imagine being halfway through shopping when you realize you are pushing a kiddie car cart without any kids.¬† (Yes, I did that.)

Besides, after 8 1/2 years of motherhood, I think I really have shopping WITH kids down to a science.¬† In fact, I’d love to share some of my tips for a smooth shopping trip with The Smalls in tow.

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#1-¬† Have your coffee at home.¬† Who doesn’t love to stroll through Target with a nice hot cup of Starbucks in hand?¬† Forget it.¬† That type of thing is for childless people.¬† Obviously this is harder when you went to Target strictly because you ran out of coffee.¬† But, if you are desperate enough to stop at the in-store Starbucks, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT let your kids talk you into buying them cake pops.¬† Kids who are experiencing post-cake-pop-sugar-rush running through Target?¬† While the baby screams for your iced coffee and you start wondering if you should just give him a sip so he’ll be quiet?¬† (BTW: I am in no way admitting that I have done that.¬† And I’ve never seen those cake-pop fueled boys playing with the colorful toilet plungers before in my life.)

#2-¬† Be prepared!¬† Even if you don’t buy cake pops, in all likelihood, someone is going to give your kids a snack at the store.¬† It could be the free cookies at the bakery, or just a sample from the deli.¬† If you don’t like walking around with a handful of half chewed pastrami in your hand, looking for a trash can, then you really should have SOMETHING with you for clean up.¬† Wipes or tissues would work, I definitely always think about bringing those.¬† If not, a crumpled receipt is adequate for a small job.¬† What about a case of sudden food regurgitation?¬†¬† Why, just have them spit it in your reusable shopping bags.¬† Improvise, people, improvise.

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#3-  Dress for success!  If you read my post on looking presentable, you know this has nothing to do with being stylish.  The priority when choosing your attire is twofold: Movement and Coverage.  Oh yes, those wedge sandals ARE adorable!  And WHAT exactly are you going to do when your 3 year old simultaneously goes deaf AND BOLTS towards the toy isle?  Are you not going to wish you had shoes more suitable for a 50 yard dash?

And what about those pants that are just a LITTLE too tight paired with the T-shirt that is just long enough to hide everything *if you don’t bend*?¬† What happens when the baby dumps a baggie of crackers on the floor and you realize the only way you can pick them up is to expose an embarrassing amount of muffin top to everyone else in aisle five???¬†¬† As you briskly move along so focused on your list that you couldn’t possibly have seen the mess, you JUST MIGHT wish you wore something that didn’t leave you in danger of having a People Of WalMart moment.¬† (This is a purely hypothetical scenario of course.¬† I can’t explain why it came to me in such detail.)

#4-¬† Enjoy their company!¬† Oh sure, shopping with kids can be a drag sometimes.¬† But isn’t it nice to just engage with them and have some real conversations?¬† Like this one:

“Mom, in the word unicycle, does uni mean one?”

“Yes, it does.”

“So, unibrow means one eyebrow?”

“Yes, it means one eyebrow.¬† And one eyebrow means you need to do some eyebrow plucking!”

“Nah, I wouldn’t care if I had one eyebrow.”

See, the insight you can gain into their little minds?¬† It doesn’t get better than that!¬† (Which is something to remind yourself of when someone needs and emergency bathroom break and you’ve got a cart full of frozens.)¬† ūüėȬ† ūüôā

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And yes, this guide was primarily about grocery shopping trips.¬† What about clothing?¬† I am strictly an online shopper.¬† Shoes?¬† Well, it would be nice to try them on, but I can’t go back to Famous Footwear any time soon.¬† Really, what were they thinking with those big red benches that look like trampolines?¬† WHY make the store look like a play area unless you want it to become a play area?¬† Foolish on their part, really.¬† Hmm, maybe I will do a future post on how to save your sanity for real by never having to leave the house.

Now it’s your turn!¬† What tips do you have for shopping with kids?¬† Or what crazy adventures have you had in the grocery store aisles?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Exuberant Mr. Tom

When I was a kid, I had a friend who I would go and spend a week with most every summer.¬† This friend had a baby brother she adored. Let’s call him Tom.¬† Tom was the same age as my own baby sister, probably about 2 at the time.¬† My little sister was sugar and spice, a precious doll baby who was always smiling and well behaved.¬† So, when I got to my friend’s house this particular summer, I was HORRIFIED to find that little cherub faced Tom was actually the Muppet Animal in a toddler’s body.

In my twelve years of life I had never seen anything like it.  This wild, untamed little person was wreaking havoc on their entire household!  What was wrong with this child?!?  What was wrong with the whole family?!?  I was aghast as over the week I watched one chaotic situation after another unfold involving Tom.  Tom was screaming.  Tom was throwing things.  Tom somehow locked himself in his room and cannot get out.  Tom was screaming more.  Everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off  trying to appease this pint sized dictator named Tom.

At the end of the visit I eagerly went back to my own home, where three little girls sat around quietly playing with dolls and reading classic literature.  I was SO very glad I would never have to deal with the likes of TOM again.

At least not for another 23 years.

My Tom, aka Dash, was born like a tiny 8lb 4oz freight train.¬† The doctor was running down the halls of the hospital just to get there in time to catch him.¬† He started screaming immediately, didn’t stop for about 3 months, and now he just REALLY LIKES to scream.¬† The littlest thing will set him off.¬† Zero to meltdown in one second flat.

But really, he doesn’t need something to upset him, he’ll scream just for fun.¬† SCREAM. Laugh. SCREAM. Laugh.¬† SCREAM some more.¬† He is delighted by his own deafening loudness.

Take this morning for instance.  Up until 10pm the night before (as usual), Dash slept in until 7:30.  I carried him down the stairs, but when I went to set him down, he pulled up his landing gear and refused to stand.  I set him down anyways, gently, because frankly, I wanted both hands to get the coffee pot going.  Cue SCREAMING.

Okay, maybe the little dear is hungry.¬† I had promised Finn I’d make waffles, but I gave everyone yogurt smoothies to tide them over.¬† Dash was happy with for a minute, until he decided it was more fun to turn the sippy cup upside down and watch it drip.¬† I took it away because yogurt smoothie is too expensive to pour all over the floor.¬† More SCREAMING.

One thing that Dash really likes playing with is water.¬† It seemed like a good substitute for the dripping smoothie, so I filled a little plastic tea pot and gave him a bucket to pour it into.¬† He took the lid of the tea pot and dumped it on the floor.¬† “WAWA!¬† WAWA!” he hollered in a raspy voice, demanding a refill.¬† Soon, all the kitchen towels are on the floor, soaked to capacity.¬† Finn comes in the kitchen to check on his waffles.¬† “Be careful, the floor is…” BOOM.¬† “wet.”

Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt, just wet and ticked off.¬† Okay, that’s enough of that.¬† “WAWA! WAWA!¬† WAWAWAWA!!!!”

Soon enough (as in before my brain completely liquefied), the waffles were ready.¬† Everyone was at the table eating.¬† Dash took a couple of bites and then started chucking his food at Beau.¬† “AGGGGHHH!¬† I can’t eat!¬† That’s disgusting!!!” wailed Beau, pointing at a piece of waffle.¬† Beau has a weak stomach, which is an inconvenient trait to have around here.

The table was quickly vacated and I washed Dash up.¬† Within moments he was back at the table, climbing on top of it, eating the big boys’ breakfasts off their abandoned plates.¬† Perhaps this was his plan all along?

After breakfast is REALLY over, I am trying to clean the kitchen.  Dash wants to be IN the dishwasher.  Like standing on the door.  I remove him for his own safety.  SCREAMING.

I wonder if recordings of babies screaming have ever been used in psychological warfare?¬† I mean, I hope not, but it would probably be very effective.¬† After a couple of hours of listening to Dash’s high decibel complaints, my eyeballs feel like they are going to fall out of my head and I just want to melt into a puddle on the floor (except that we have enough of those already.)¬† The point is, I will give him most anything to get him to settle down.

Oh, you want to smear blueberry juice all over yourself?  Okay.  Hmm, we do have to wash you off before you go on the carpet.  SCREAM!

Dump the crayons out all over the floor?  Why not?  I hate to risk upsetting you, but may I suggest some paper to go with those crayons?  No?  SCREAM!

Oh, you found my camera?  And you have that in one hand and a piece of waffle in the other?   Sorry to bother you, but could we please not rub the waffle on the camera lens?  SCREAM!

I was really starting to think that this was A LOT of meltdowns, even for Dash, and he might not be feeling very well.  Then the big boys decided to start moving furniture around in the living room and putting cushions on the floor.  Dash was immediately distracted from his tantrum and delightedly joined them in dismantling our primary living area.

All three of them played nicely for quite some time, at least until Finn closed the door on the playpen with Dash inside and we all had a moment of panic that he was going to freak out.  Fortunately, Dash knows how to dismantle the playpen.  He learned that around the same time that he figured out how to open cabinet locks and scale furniture to reach the highest vantage point.

Yup.¬† He’s a real handful.

So, what ever happened to Tom?¬† I don’t know, I lost touch with my friend when her family moved out of state.¬† But I have a feeling the now grown up Tom is using his boundless energy and exuberant personality to do something fantastic.

And I’m sure Dash will do the same.¬† As soon as he gets over the food throwing stage.

 

The exuberant Mr. Dash.

The exuberant Mr. Dash.

The Path Less Traveled

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”¬† -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday, my six year old had his Kindergarten graduation ceremony.  He was given a beautiful folder with a diploma, photograph of him in cap and gown, and the above quote printed next to the photo.  Love it.

The elementary school at the end of our street is great.  Dedicated teachers and staff.  Nice families with involved parents who are committed to making sure their kids have the best education.  This is the school I have taken one or both of my boys to for the past three years.

But come fall, we aren’t going back.¬† We are taking a new path.¬†¬† (Okay, so that is probably NOT what the school had in mind with the quote… oops.)

This year, we have decided to homeschool.¬† What’s that?¬† Oh, it’s some of you screaming “GET BACK ON THE PATH!!!¬† WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TAKING THOSE CHILDREN OFF THE PATH???”

Yup, I hear you.

Look, this is not something I ever thought I would do.¬† In fact, I remember saying things like “We have a wonderful public school, why would I not want to take advantage of it?”¬† Why not, indeed.¬† Public school is a wonderful thing.¬† Isn’t it a gift for all children to have the opportunity to learn?¬† Many kids thrive in public school and plenty of kids are downright saved by public school.¬† But what about those who don’t thrive?

It’s like this.¬† Imagine that you have a fabulous hat.¬† Why would you have a fabulous hat?¬† I don’t know, maybe you’re going to the Kentucky Derby.¬† Maybe you’re British royalty.¬†¬† Just bear with me and pretend you’ve got the hat, people.

So, this hat.¬† You want to take good care of it and protect it by putting it in a box.¬† But the problem is this box you have handy is made for a different hat.¬† Your hat doesn’t fit in the box.¬† That’s okay, just smash the hat down and make it fit.¬† Cram it, squish it, crush it!¬† Just make the hat fit in the box!!!

Guess what?  People are a bit like hats.  When you try to make them fit in the wrong box, they get crushed.

I can see it happening to my kids.¬† They don’t fit and their spirits are being crushed.¬† So to me there is no choice.¬† We cannot stay on the well traveled path.¬† I have a clear view of where that path is leading, and it’s not somewhere I want to go with my kids.¬† So we will choose another path.¬† We aren’t the only ones going this way.¬† There have been others before us who have pushed the big obstacles out of the way so that we can have an easier time of it.¬† And encouragingly, many of them have reported back that we going to like what we see.

Still, I’m definitely a little nervous about the journey we are embarking on. I don’t take the responsibility lightly and I know it’s not going to be easy.¬† But I am excited too.¬† I’m excited to see my kids start to love learning again.¬† (Yes, in kindergarten and second grade they have already decided that learning is a drag.)¬† I’m excited to give them the freedom to explore the things that are interesting to them, and not just with what little enthusiasm is left after 6 hours of school and an hour of homework.¬† We already have a request to see my van’s engine.¬† This is going to be interesting.

So, where will this adventure take us?¬† I’m looking forward to finding out.¬† And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Formerly reluctant learner devours guide to mushrooms... and learns not to devour mushrooms. ;)

Formerly reluctant learner devours a guide to mushrooms… and learns not to go around devouring mushrooms. ūüôā

 

Naptime Half-Baked

What’s that?¬† You’re planning to do something while your child naps???¬† SHUSH!!!!!¬† Don’t say it out loud!¬† In fact, don’t even think it.¬† Don’t you even dare to put your plans out there in the universe.¬† Why not, you ask?¬† WHY NOT???¬† Because those precious little babes will somehow find out that you NEED to do something while they are resting and will drop kick your plans from here to Thursday.

Oh sure, I hear you, “That’s ridiculous!¬† Babies don’t know your plans!¬† They sleep when they’re tired!”¬† Look.¬† I know it’s crazy.¬† And I don’t know how they know.¬† I just know that they know, okay?

Maybe they can sense the anxiety of a parent in need of a break.¬† Kind of like a predator in the wild smells fear.¬† I’m sure not ALL babies come endowed with such talents.¬† But in my experience a well planned day that includes a list of things that MUST GET DONE during baby’s sleep time, means there will be NO BABY SLEEP TIME.¬† At least not until early evening, then they will fall asleep for 25 minutes, just enough to ensure they are climbing the walls until midnight.

I see you’re still rolling your eyes.¬† Fine.¬† I will give you an example to prove my point.

On Friday, I had several things I needed to accomplish.¬† I needed to pay bills and catch up on paperwork (desperately).¬† And I had also committed myself to making fifty brownies to help feed a group of volunteers.¬† The brownies had to be delivered at 5:15 sharp.¬† Of course, when I volunteered I envisioned myself delighting the crowd with ooey-gooey scratch baked deliciousness.¬† When it came down¬† to the wire, I ended up with five boxes of store bought mix sitting on my counter, waiting to be combined with eggs and oil.¬† Well, sometimes you just can’t do everything.¬† Anyhow, all I had to do was make the mix into brownies.¬† An easy peasy chore for nap time and I would pay bills while they baked.

Sounds like a plan, right?

So, nap time came and went with one problem, Dash would not fall asleep.  Still, I was hopeful.  He surely had to fall asleep soon!  Okay, so it ends up being past lunchtime and I still have not so much as had a shower.  FINALLY!  He falls asleep in my arms.  I lay the little angel down and run to get myself cleaned up.  Surely he must be extremely tired and will sleep a good long while.

No sooner do I turn the water on, I hear crying.¬† Make that screaming.¬† “It’s not possible”, I think.¬† Must be the sound of the water… echoing, or the pipes.¬† Screaming pipes.¬† Hmmm…¬† I turn off the water.¬† Nope, it’s really Dash.¬† Go in his room and he’s sitting there looking pitiful with tears streaming and wild hair as though he’s been sleeping for hours. Poor baby, maybe a bad dream. (Although is it even possible to be that far into a sleep cycle in less than 10 minutes?)¬† I try laying with him thinking SURELY he will fall back asleep.

No. Such. Luck.

Now the problem with a baby who hasn’t gotten a good nap under his belt is that he is CRANKY.¬† There is no pleasing a tired child.¬† You cuddle him, he arches and squirms.¬† You set him down, he goes boneless and shrieks.¬† You offer him food, he throws it.¬† You offer him a drink, he dumps it.¬† You give him toys, he hits you in the head with them.

But, I have run out of time.¬† I have slightly over ONE HOUR before I have to leave to pick up Finn from school.¬† If I don’t have brownies in the oven in 20 minutes they will not be done before I need to jet.

Here is where my own stupidity comes in.  Instead of going the easy (normal) route and putting the brownies in pans, I decided to make them into single servings by baking them in muffin tins with silicone liners.  And since I only have enough equipment to do 24 servings at a time, I basically made what could have been an easy couple of trays of brownies into a huge hours long ordeal.  Why???  I have no idea!!!  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So, here I am having set Dash down in the kitchen and there is NOT A SECOND TO LOSE!!!  He is whiny at first but soon enough he is amusing himself and I am off and running, scooping the batter into the liners.  I look out of the corner of my eye and Dash is in the pantry.  Oh, great, he is opening containers and has found bags of dried heirloom beans.  (Yes, there is such a thing.)

Please, Dash, please do not dump out those beans!!!¬† He is shaking them and trying to figure out the zip lock.¬† I would love to stop and take the beans from him, but that would cost precious seconds.¬† Oh, thank goodness he put them down.¬† But, wait, he now has a box of Seven Grain Pilaf.¬† He opens it, dumps the grain pouch onto the floor where we take off our shoes and chucks the box at me with reckless abandon.¬† Next, he moves on to the garbage can.¬† “DASH!¬† STAY OUT OF THE GARBAGE!!!”

His attention is diverted.¬† Uh oh, he is coming towards me.¬† OUCH!¬† Now he steps on my foot to make himself a little taller.¬† He is putting all his weight squarely on one of my metatarsals and it is far more pain than you would think such a small being could inflict.¬† His little fingers are patting around on the edge of the counter, trying to find something to grab.¬† But both of my hands are involved in the brownie making industry and cannot be distracted from their task!¬† I try to wriggle my foot out from under him without making him fall, but I can’t so I just have to endure the pain until he gives up and moves along.¬† Ah, relief.

I narrowly meet my deadline for getting brownies in the oven.  And after slaving over box mix treats until 4:50 pm, we are ready just in the nick of time to deliver them.  They look like sunken cupcakes with no frosting.  Brilliant.

And guess who falls asleep in the car on the way to drop off the brownies and gets his second wind to last him until 11pm?

So, I think you see what I mean about planning to do things while the baby is napping.  Or you just see that I have no time management skills and that little boys are not the only ones creating chaos around here.  Whichever.

ūüėČ

This photo depicts a reenactment of actual events. No heirloom beans were harmed in the process.

This photo depicts a reenactment of actual events. No heirloom beans were harmed in the process.

 

Looking Presentable Is A Real Hassle

Having kids really changes a person’s priorities.¬† I think those of you with toddlers or who remember having toddlers will relate.¬† If you are thinking of someday having toddlers, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

A very long time ago, back when we were dual-income-no-kid people, I remember going to work wearing a put together outfit, brand new from my weekend shopping trip.¬† I had flawless French manicured finger nails and matching toes.¬† A working mother of two somewhat snorted at me and said “Well, you can tell SHE doesn’t have kids!”¬† A conversation ensued and some co-workers insisted that it wasn’t about being a parent, you should take care of yourself either way. I agreed and thought that if I became a mother someday I would CERTAINLY still take care of my appearance.¬† I mean REALLY, how are kids an excuse to have unmanicured nails?

Fast forward a decade and 3 kids later…

My idea of a manicure is taking the nail clippers and evening out the jagged edges.¬† A pedicure is once a month putting another layer of nail polish on top of all the other chipped layers. Sure, it doesn’t look great, but I don’t think I stand still long enough for anyone to notice.

I pretty much always let my hair air dry and I tell myself it looks pretty good because it has some natural curl to it.  Until I look in the mirror and realize it looks like a ragged mop head. I still have some pride, so I quickly remedy the mop situation with a pony tail or chic messy bun.  Hopefully I have a nice fabric band to use, but in a pinch the rubber band that came wrapped around the mail will do.

The lighting in my bathroom must be magical because I can usually convince myself that I look pretty decent without makeup.  Then I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror outside of the house and recoil in horror at my own zombie-like reflection.  At that point if I can get to my car, I start searching under the seats and in the compartments, trying to figure out where I left my makeup bag because I cannot remember for sure the last time I used it.

I have some pretty nice clothes, but am hesitant to actually wear them.  Knowing that whatever I choose will have banana smeared on it within 30 minutes is enough to make me pick sweatpants and a 2 sizes too big t-shirt every time.  Then of course there is the trick of just wearing work out clothes because I am totally planning to work out.  Really.  At least maybe.

Of course I do feel better when I make an effort to look nice.¬† So when I have somewhere to go I carefully calculate how much energy I should put into my appearance based on several factors.¬† Such as, how many people am I going to see?¬† Will I see anyone who I know or who I might see again?¬† What will everyone else likely be wearing so I can be sure I don’t look the worst?

And what happens when I do try to look presentable? While I am drying my hair, baby Dash turns on the bathtub water and¬† throws all contents of the cabinets in the tub.¬† Of course I try to stop him.¬† I turn off the water about 20 times, going back and forth, making sure he doesn’t burn himself and I don’t electrocute both of us with the hairdryer in the bathtub.

While I do my makeup, Dash takes my hairdryer out of the cabinet and pours baby shampoo in it.  So, the next time I try to look presentable I will smell like burnt soap.  I look in the mirror to see if despite it all I at least look fit to function in society.  My smokey eye look is more like I walked through a cloud of smoke.  Grey eyeshadow is somehow all over my face.  Too much looking at Dash and not enough looking in the mirror.  Could I get up early and be perfectly coiffed before anyone else gets out of bed, you may ask?  The answer is no.  No I cannot.

TOO. MUCH. TROUBLE.

And this is why I am now THAT mother.¬† The one with the matted hair and under eye circles, shuffling through Target in her hoodie sweatshirt and pants that have peanut butter finger prints on them.¬† The one who young childless women snort at and say “I’m NEVER going to look like THAT when I have kids!”

Just wait and see.¬† They’ll get you too, my pretties, they’ll get you too.

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