Monthly Archives: June 2013

behind the blog (alternate title: “disclaimer”)

I haven’t been able to carve out time to blog consistently in recent months.  When I have limited time, I tend to sprint toward recording “things I don’t want to forget!”, focusing on the “family scrapbook” part of the blog.  As a result, recent posts have been full of highlights.  The momma in me loves that.  I want my kids to be able to look back through this blog someday and have those happy memories triggered by what they see here.

At the same time, this blog is more than a family scrapbook.  It’s also my connection to other moms.  Sometimes, I am able to get through a tough, lonely day where I am the only adult present for 10+ hours because when the fifth glass of milk tips over onto the table (and I want to scream!) – or I am trying to figure out how long I’ve been walking around with a child’s poop hanging from my ear (seriously, how does that happen without me noticing at the time?) – I think, “I can write about this, and another mother who reads this will appreciate what this moment is like for me”, and I smile.

Recording those crazy memories brings me closer to other moms, even if I never see those moms.

But here’s my question:  does recording our good memories have the opposite effect?

If it does, I am writing to say that if you have recently read about our staycations and trips and living room fun and activities and are thinking we have it all together, we don’t.

But in my little family, we have each other.  And that’s good.

And if you’re reading this, you and I have a connection.  And that’s good too.

To quote a blogger I read recently (at http://www.71toes.com/p/disclaimer.html)

“Disclaimer

 I love blogs.

I get inspired and rejuvenated when I get a minute to read what others write, and there’s something inside me that feels so fulfilled when I have a chance to spill out my own feelings and to make a record of what our family is up to in this blog. Once I write things down, it’s like my brain can relax instead of holding tight onto things that may otherwise get lost in the vast expanse of my own forgetfulness.

But some things trouble me about blogs….

One thing in particular has made me think long and hard about blogs lately. There was this one session we had back at my sister’s motherhood retreat in June that has knitted my eyebrows together in earnest concern ever since.

The topic was something to the extent of how to keep a positive outlook in your motherhood. The question was posed about what makes mothers spiral into depression or negativity.

And do you know what the most overwhelming answer was? Not health issues. Not finances. Not childrens’ behavior issues or the lack of having enough hours in the day to do what we need to do. No. The big answer from a whole slew of moms was that blogs are the problem. Yes, blogs.

And that made me worry. Because I have a blog. And the last thing I want to do with it is depress people.

In writing this blog, my intent is not only to do what I started it for in the first place: to help preserve memories and keep a family journal . . . . [But also to] bind mothers together [or at least feel less alone in the journey myself!]

The goal is certainly so very far from creating jealousy or comparison.

But the trouble with blogs is that we tend to accentuate the positive instead of the negative. It’s human nature. And that’s good, isn’t it? The bad part is that we see that positive “tip of the iceberg” that others are portraying and compare our worst to their best….That’s human nature too. And that comparing is not good.

Despite my best attempts to “keep it real” on this blog, somehow some people misconstrue the good stuff I write to mean that life is perfect all the time. And that just isn’t true. They haven’t seen the 90% of my iceberg that’s under the water hidden from view.

Those kinds of things make me wonder how I can make this more real life. I mean, I want to capture life as it is. But you know what? Life as it is, is good. Not because it’s perfect by any stretch of the imagination, because it isn’t. My kids fight like the best of them. My heart worries endlessly about random things that probably don’t need to be worried about. I forget important things. I have about a bazillion wrinkles. I get mad as a hornet about dumb stuff.

But life is good because I love it. And I’m thankful for it…especially when I break it down into moments. Especially when I slow down enough to enjoy the journey. And that’s the kind of stuff I like to write about.

So I guess this post is really meant to say that I’ve struggled with writing thoughts and feelings for the last while because I worry about making life sound like it’s all hunky-dory around here when there are a million worries and concerns along with the good stuff.

But I’m just going to go ahead and let it all hang out…[just] please know that just because I don’t write every day about things like how I have love handles doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”

: )

She has a way with words, doesn’t she?!

I don’t know why I felt the need to post this tonight.  Maybe because I have been struggling with some decisions about how many activities to involve my kids in this summer, and I have recently realized that I really have to let go of comparisons to what other people are doing and figure out what is right for us.  (More on that later, but man, it is a struggle!)

And maybe because I realize that while I’m listening to random folks and thinking, “I should be doing that!” and feeling badly that I’m not (even though I know it just wouldn’t work for our family), someone could be reading/listening to me and thinking the exact same thing.

So I’m quoting someone else’s disclaimer, because I don’t have the energy to write my own at the moment!  : )   And because in addition to feeling guilty about the things I’m not able to do with my kids, I was feeling guilty about posting the things I was able to do with them.

Motherhood is a very guilt-inducing state sometimes, isn’t it?!

I have no catchy end to this post, because my brain has sort of shut down (as it now does every night around 8pm!), but I can say this.  Sometimes, for no reason, I feel a tiny instinct that I should say something and I have no idea why.  And anyone who knows me knows that (sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse) I will usually err on the side of saying it.

And tonight, for some reason, my tiny instinct told me to write this.  And then, while ignoring that instinct and searching the internet for “tips on creating chore charts” and “advice about allowances for kids”, I stumbled across a new blog – and this disclaimer – that addressed the very instinct I had been trying to ignore.

So here you are!  A peek inside my muddled, unedited brain, in-between Disney posts : )

And a little blog hug from me to you!

Love,

K

 

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Playing hookie at Disneyworld!

I have waited to write this post because I wanted to have time to do it justice, but I am accepting that there is never enough time…

…so I’m just going to do a quick intro, then caption a bunch of photos and say,

“We played hookie for a week and went to Disney!”

The intro:

It was a fantastic, last-minute, unexpected (but always hoped-for!) event.  Grammy and Grandpa came with us (thank you; we loved being with you!).  We pulled all the kids out of school to go.  The timing just worked…T was free because he’s not yet 3; H was easy because he is still very content to sit in a lap or ride in a stroller; the girls are young enough that being out of school is fine (allowing us to go when the crowds were very minimal); and although there was rain (and rain, and more rain!), the reality is that we do fine in the rain.  It’s the lines and heat that get us, and both of those were driven away by the drizzle.

First, a few memories that I don’t have photos for…

(1) The hailstorm on the way down.  Holy moly!  Kudos to my husband for driving safely through that!  And kudos to the kids for rolling with it.  It was so loud they couldn’t even hear us explain what was happening.  Side note: the manufacturer of our sound machine should add a “hailstorm” setting next to “whale call” and “ocean sounds”, because it put T and H to sleep in seconds!

(2) The hotel we stayed in en route.  We entered the lobby during “happy hour” and descended on the buffet like a herd of locusts.  The manager came over and played with the kids, brought them cookies from the vending machine (“since the fresh baked ones we’re making aren’t ready yet”, she told us), and upgraded us to a suite with no extra charge.  The kids were so excited about having a bed in the same room as a TV they went a little bonkers and were jumping on the mattress.  T was so excited at all the hoopla, he exclaimed between happy bounces, “This is awesome!  I love Disneyworld!”   . . . Ha!  I loved hearing that!  We could have just driven to the local Marriott and he would have been totally thrilled. : )

(3) The rides at the parks.  There were too many kids to juggle to get the camera out during most of the rides, but oh how we loved those roller coasters.  E did space mountain with her dad.  Both girls did thunder mountain and splash mountain with dad and me (while Grammy and Grandpa took the boys on a train ride).  And T loved the kiddie roller coaster.  He would have gone on the bigger ones if he had a few extra inches.  Oh well.  Next time!  (Note to future travelers: they insisted that each child have an adult with them on the rides because E is not 7 yet…thank you for braving the roller coaster with us Grammy and Grandpa!  Also, ask us for details on the fast pass and baby friendly “rider swap” program if you’re planning a trip…)

(4) The video I accidentally made, but will never share, on the way home.  I tried to film a short clip of the kids at a mall food court, but accidentally neglected to turn the camera off.  So what I actually have is a 40 minute audio tape of the 6 trips to the mall bathroom we made with the older 3 kids.  (Heaven help me, it was one of those “I have to go again” days and the lines were long and…anyway…it’s an awesome audio of the conversations we had about “what was your favorite part of the trip” and “I loved this” and other priceless memories from the week, interspersed with lots of horrific bathroom sounds.  What are the chances?!

And, of course, the photos:

Hard to choose which ones to share…The kids LOVED meeting the characters.  And we all just loved being together.  Here’s a random scattering:

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a “high five” with Buzz

T after he defeated Donald Duck in arm wrestling.  One of m favorite T photos ever : )

T after he defeated Donald Duck in arm wrestling. One of my favorite T photos ever : )

Poured rain the day we had the princess breakfast...randomly caught a "carriage" to the castle and the girls were beyond thrilled..."a royal carriage" they still recall!

Sweetest S! We surprised you and E with special occasion princess makeup and sticker earrings this day in honor of your breakfast with the princesses.  It poured rain en route and we randomly managed to catch a covered wagon to the castle.  Grandpa and the driver sang to us as we rode.  The girls were beyond thrilled with the whole experience . . . “a royal carriage!” they still talk about : )

Jasmine and her twin, E

Jasmine and her twin, E

Aurora and her twin, S

Aurora and her twin, S

I don't know who those other characters are, but this is my dad and I LOVE him.

I don’t know who those other characters are, but this is my dad and I LOVE him.

Oh My !!!

Oh My !!!

There is no caption to express how happy this photo makes me.  E is dressed as a fairy, and she was able to meet Tinkerbell and Rosetta this day.  S, though not pictured here, was dressed as a fairy also.  T spent part of the day dressed as Thomas the Train because, well, he's the best character ever obviously, even if he doesn't live at Disneyworld.

There is no caption to express how happy this photo makes me. E is dressed as a fairy, and she was able to meet Tinkerbell and Rosetta this day. S, though not pictured here, was dressed as a fairy also. T spent part of the trip dressed as Thomas the Train because, well, he’s the best character ever obviously, even if he doesn’t live at Disneyworld.

Thank you, Grammy!

Two fun lovin’ gals…Grammy and S!

Grandpa and H, taken back at home, but in honor of their many snuggles at Disney.

Grandpa and H, taken back at home, but in honor of their many snuggles at Disney.

Did I mention that it rained?!

Did I mention that it rained?!

H, wanting to hold his mama's hand on the ride home.

H, wanting to hold his mama’s hand on the ride home.  How I treasure these moments… (even though I had to climb into the backseat while we drove down the interstate at 70mph to get my thumb into position…you are so worth it, H!)

I’ll post a few more photos in a future post so you can see T as the cutest beast ever (cast in a short skit with princess Belle…here’s a preview..).

Oh, what a prince charming, that one!

Oh, what a prince charming, that one!

More later!

Everyday moments (alternate title: the aftermath of imagination)

There’s a bazaar in my living room…

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S’ signs read “3 DOLRS FOR SAPLS” (3 dollars for samples); E’s reads “One doler to buy a toy or a gift”… They were a bit ambitious in their pricing (motivated by a $6 lego set they are saving for!), but did earn lots of pennies, nickles and dimes as we enjoyed our day at the “market”

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For an extra penny, T would spin your playdo pizza in the salad spinner, which “mysteriously” stopped working the next day. Our apologies to Grammy who gave it to us. It was much loved and died in a very happy place, Grammy!

There’s a rocket on my front porch…

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The captain of this particular ship

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Painting it pink!

We call it “the aftermath of imagination”.

(You should see the playroom!)

More “staycation” photos

Still catching up on the last few months!

We stayed home over spring break this year and simply enjoyed a week without a schedule.  I can’t tell you how much we appreciated just being in our hometown, taking advantage of some down time in the house with one another, enjoying some local outings with friends, and visiting a few nearby attractions that we had never made time to see.  My husband even took two days off work to make it a true “staycation” and a family affair.

The only time I felt a slight twinge about our lack of solid plans was when E was assigned to write about what she was looking forward to over spring break.  After hearing what her classmates planned to write, she came home and said “I think we are the only ones not going somewhere”.  However, my perspective was set right again when S responded, “Didn’t you hear?!  We’re going to my friend’s house…they’re petsitting chickens and we get to visit and touch them!”  Well, by golly, the kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement about that!   (Thank you, friends, for letting us visit, and for serving as the entire topic of E’s spring break essay!)

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E holding the chicken in our friend’s living room : )

In addition to that highlight, we spent the rest of break doing (to quote an elderly gentleman I met once) “a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing”.

We…

(1) played the first ever family game of T-ball in the back yard (called on account of hail after 4 innings, if you can believe that)…backyard T-ball has now become a favorite family activity, by the way.  One of my favorite moments was when – in our game of kids vs. grown ups – all three older kids were on base, leaving six month old H as the only available kid, which meant he had to bat.  We helped him earn his first RBI  (reported here mainly because I know you would be proud, uncle B!)

(2) traveled to the local transportation museum

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A real train shed, with a real turntable! The kids got to sit on the turntable while it moved and also got to see a milk truck (a concept we had to explain : )  We really made this trip for T and he loved it.  However, as a note to anyone who might find themselves at a train museum with a youngster, if I could do one thing differently, I would bring his toy train shed and turntable with us, so he could see that this was the same thing, only bigger.  The scale almost made some of the things we love seem unfamiliar.  It also makes my family seem tiny in this photo.  Can you even see us?!

The transportation museum was 5 miles from a park that had a kiddie-train and a carousel and the loudest donkey on earth (seriously, the thing “Hee-Hawed” so loudly and unexpectedly that we all jumped and H started to cry).  Of course, that will be the part of the day all the kids remember! : )

(3) hit our favorite local frozen yogurt shop

(4) concluded our Lenten project (I’ll update this later) and celebrated a wonderful Easter with some wonderful friends

(5) hunted some Easter eggs at home and at our church egg hunt

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If you can see past those faces that I love so much, I would like to point out the orange Christmas ornament on the table behind them. Did I mention that we’re a little behind on the housework around here?

The Easter bunny scaled back on the candy this year and brought each of the kids a small surprise.  The girls each found a small lego set in their basket, T discovered a new addition to his train set (Butch, the Sodor tow truck), and H is enjoying a new sleep wrap since the velcro on his old one, well…let me see if I have a photo…

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H stands for Houdini

(6) The big finale to the “staycation” was a pony ride.  We went to a local farm that, as it turned out, had “lost” our reservation.  It actually turned out to be lucky that we caught them at a time they could do it, and even luckier that the lack of preparedness in the stable meant we were able to help get the ponies ready.  The kids helped brush the animals and saw them being saddled and bridled.  Then each girl got her own turn while T watched and learned.  After he was ready, they doubled up while he got his own ride.

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And here’s T feeding the ponies afterwards…

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It was disconcerting that the petite carrots we fed them were exactly the size and shape of T’s fingers. Fortunately, the ponies have discerning palates.

Of course, the best part of the week was being together, and having extra time to just let a relaxing week feed our imaginations.  For example…

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That place where we spilled the water looks like a hippo!

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I could put pennies there to make the eyes!

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Check me out; I’m riding the hippo!

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My hippo is shrinking in the sun Mom!  What the heck?!

We may have also watched a movie or two…with a horse we rediscovered in the toy bin after our  trip to the farm.  (I played with this horse when I was a little girl and have vivid memories of building a fence for her with Lincoln Logs under Nana’s ping pong table…thanks for bringing up the old toys, Nana!)

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Love the staycation idea.  Now if I could just get the kids to stay little so we could savor more of those “at-home” moments.  I know that I’ll blink and they’ll be asking me if they can go on a spring break trip with their friends.  And that will be fun too, as long as I know where they’re going, that it’s a safe environment, that chaperones are present, that they know how to make good choices, that…

Well, let’s just say again that I’m savoring these moments.  Sit there and snuggle that pony as long as you want, T.  I’m coming over to sit next to you…

More updates to come!