Date Night – All the Juicy Details!

Date Night – All the Juicy Details!
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Okay, the title might be a little misleading, but this was how my husband and I themed our much needed date night per our almost 10-yo daughter’s request – and it helped make the night fun!  

For those of you married/together with younger children, you know that going out for the night as a couple sometimes becomes nonexistent as life gets in the way. That is how it became with my husband and I, so when my mom came into town (she’s still here) and told us to go out Saturday, we totally took her offer to watch the kids!  We decided to dress up a little and finally settled on dinner and walking at the mall–we live in the south, so a walk in the 95 heat and 80% humidity park was out of the question. On the way out of the door, my daughter – ever the romantic – whispered for me to have fun and tell her all the juicy details when we got home. 

Upon entering the car, I told my husband of the request and we just ran with it.  While driving, we agreed that we would not discuss work or finances and that we would just try to talk. Again, if you’ve been with your partner for a long time, conversation sometimes needs a jump start!  When we were almost to the The Pub (great fish and chips), my husband mentioned taking me somewhere after and that I needed to remind him, but wouldn’t tell me where…I didn’t press it and we proceeded to have a good time. 

At The Pub, I ordered the fish and chips & a beer, and my husband ordered an apparently fabulous Classic hamburger. We talked about fantasy traveling and things we wanted to accomplish…a little bit about the kids… some hand holding, then a fly in my beer (we took outside seating).  Thank you fly for ending our diner :(. 

Afterward, we walked the mall and enjoyed its much-needed air conditioning, more handholding, and comments of juicy details. Doors were held open, quick kisses in public, smiles whilst making eye contact, a regular PG romance novel. 

When we were back in the car, I reminded my husband to go where he wouldn’t tell me. He took some turns and asked me if I recognized the area and was genuinely shocked that I didn’t – he almost ruined the juiciness… All was made up for as he parked in the exact spot in front of the building where we first met & had our first quick kiss!  Of course, since we have been together 11+ years, and clubs are short-lived, the location now holds a hibachi grill, but the parking and building still the same. I haven’t been there in 11 years, since we first met and I came down to the Atlanta area to stay with my dearest friend!! We sat in the spot where I gave him my e-mail, not my phone number as I was newly single and wary. In present day, we reminisced and then kissed for several minutes (for the sake of juicy details of course) then started for home. Ever thinking of the family, we got ice cream from the grocery store and spent the rest of the evening with my mom and the kids.  Of course, my daughter got to hear all the juicy details in the end.

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My Toddler Dropped a Pint of Purple Paint on the Living Room Carpet!

My Toddler Dropped a Pint of Purple Paint on the Living Room Carpet!
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Yep, you read that title correctly…purple paint. On the carpet. Lemme back up and give you some, well, background. I have been in the progress of painting my dinning/kitchen area from that bland “new house” flat paint to make it more personal. I can get detailed with that process later, although I’m not like others online who are fabulous decorators…I proudly steal ideas from Pinterest and alter them for my area!! So, I finally finished the dining area and moved to the living room this 3-tiered plant holder that was holding the gallons and jars of sample paints. I told my 8-yo to put the rest of the paint in the garage for now (I still have above cabinets and these columns to paint a different color) and while he was doing that, I was prepping lunch. Wellllll, in the middle of lunch prep, I hear a big “thump” and turn around to see that the 2-yo had picked up one of the sample pints (with a screw-top lid) and dropped it on the plant holder, thereby knocking off the lid, creating splatter and a HUGE puddle of purple paint!!! –I now know the meaning of “the world stood still” — I’m not going to lie; I really thought that I was going to freak out more than I actually did considering that our house isn’t even 2 years old! So yesterday, I posted a quick list on my personal Facebook about what to do in case of this seemingly disastrous event more as a vent, but then thought, why not blog about it? I’m sure that this might happen to someone else, and if they can find my post helpful, then that will be great. Please remember though, I am not a professional when it comes to getting paint out of the carpet, I just happened to rock that situation yesterday!

 I used a water-based paint, and I think you need a professional for sure with oil-based paint

  1. Try Not to Cry. Seriously, this was almost going to happen for me. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that once that paint was split, the carpet was screwed for life. Get that negative thought out quickly – you got this! I also thought about my husband and how we’ve had some unexpected financial expenses that have been somewhat stressful, and I did not want him to have to come home to this!
  2. Get the Dustpan and Scoop the Extra Paint Up. My memories are a little fuzzy with the beginning of the process since I was probably suffering mild shock. But I picked up the pint, put it on the planter, and then looked at the puddle. My daughter asked, “Mommy, what do we do?” and I replied, “I don’t know.” Then within a minute, I had a plan. My son fetched the dustpan on my command (he does a lot of fetching) and I scooped up the excess from the puddle and brought it to the trashcan, and put the dustpan in the sink. A quick Internet search indicated that I should keep the paint wet, so I attempted to put plastic wrap over the largest puddle – it’s in the picture**.
  3. Ban the Kids to the Upstairs — except the kid whose job it was to put the paint in the garage – he will fetch things for you. Oh My Gosh. I should have paid more attention to this boy and his proven inability to follow through with instructions, and this whole thing could have been avoided! I quickly told the kids the password to the upstairs T.V. so they could take the 2-yo so I could work on this problem. –Note to self: change the password
  4. Get a Jug of Water to Soak That Paint up and Dilute it. This is the main thing with the water-based paint – KEEP IT WET so it doesn’t dry up and make you purchase new carpet so you won’t forever see the stain of your inattention to the children (while making lunch for them). While the other kids were watching T.V., little man had to keep refilling my water jug to keep the paint moist and dilute it, along with towels, and whatever else I needed!
  5. Get Your Wet-Vac. If you have a toddler, get a freaking* wet-vac! I happen to have just a spot cleaning wet-vac, but that will still get the job done, albeit much slower than if I still had the full-sized one.
  6. Spend the Next 2 ½ Hours on Your Knees Wet-Vaccing that purple paint, scrubbing it off the chair, the freaking* fireplace…Damn Splatter Spots! This was soooo time consuming! I have recently been diagnosed with early onset of osteoarthritis, but have been suffering for some years now, so this process was really excruciating at times, but necessary to get that paint out of the carpet!
    1. You need to keep pouring water on the spots and vacuuming it up until the carpet is clean. At first though, the spots expand with the water animaged there was growing fear in my belly at the thought that I was making the problem worse. However, if you stick to the process, while the wet spot might be larger, the paint will be gone!!
    2. Make sure to take care of the little spots before tackling the largest. Not only will this give you an idea of how the process WILL work, it will also give you the confidence and courage to attack the largest puddle.
    3. The fabric chair had 3 spots on it that I used soapy water and a toothbrush to scrub.
    4. I did have to take a lunch break in the middle of the puddle, so I left a towel on top of it – make it a quick break though because you don’t want your wavering energy to fold on you now!
  7. Use Multiple Towels to Help Soak up the Extra Water to Prevent Mold. This was another job for my 8-yo as he fetched towels and had to soak up the clean spots, first with a light colored towel to see if the paint was indeed removed, and then with a dark towel to just soak up the moisture. My carpet is a beige color, not white, so I probably over cleaned a bit to ensure complete removal. Also I really don’t have any “good” towels – because of 4 kids – but that’s why step 8 is critical as well.
  8. Wash the Towels. On cold. I also did a pre-wash to ensure that the purple paint came out. I just put them all in together because no towel is truly “white” anymore in my house. Also, clean the dustpan and any other cleanup from this ordeal. You will be too tired and sore to do this later.
  9. Nurse the Offending Toddler – Don’t blame him (or even the 8-yo as tempting as it is) because he doesn’t know better. However, after this rush away from mommy for over 2 hours, he was pretty distraught and really needed a nap. So nurse that baby. You will both feel better, and you can finish the cleanup more effectively when he’s asleep!
  10. Acknowledge That You Freaking* ROCK because no more paint on the chair or carpet.
  11. If You Find a Splatter Spot Later – Cut That Out! First of all, the paint will probably be too dry and the above method would be useless. Second, you are over this and need a break – get the scissors!
  12. Decide it’s pizza (or take-out) for dinner because you are over this Suzy Freaking* Homemaker crap and your back hurts. I phoned my husband afterwards and told him what happened. I was so exhausted at this point that he thought I was drunk – “No honey, just dead tired from painting/cleaning all morning, then cleaning up paint from the carpet all afternoon!”
  13. Deal With What’s Next.  I still need to try to dry scrub some minor paint areas from the stone fireplace, but I don’t know, perhaps I’ll just convince myself that now it has more “character” because I’m really over it!

*Some curse words have been modified from their original.

**I didn’t take many pictures because I was desperate to clean it up.  However, I managed to get the one in of the major puddle after scooping up the excess and right before cleaning it.  This was more so my husband would understand the fatigue better!

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Home for the Summer…It’s a Good Thing, Right?

Home for the Summer…It’s a Good Thing, Right?
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Teachers constantly hear from non-teachers that they’ve got it made because of all the various vacation time. I will tell you, I LOVE what I do…and I NEED those breaks. It’s really a matter of necessity that anyone who stays home with his or her kids for the summer and feels the joy of sending them to school will understand! I need a break from those 30+ teenagers per class in order to regain a sense of sanity. If you are a stay-at-home-mom, and you never feel the need to leave your children for your sanity, then I’m not speaking to you; you are awesome, but I am not that person!

 First of all, I love all four of my kids and wouldn’t give them up for the world, but I realized a long time ago, that I make a better parent if I’m working than if I am at home all the time.

I am the personality that needs at least a semi-structured schedule, but am terrible about imposing it upon myself. I also really enjoy my career choice and the feeling of self-sufficiency that goes along with it. During the summers, I have the inspiration and dream that I’m going to get all this stuff accomplished and that I am going to get the kids on some sort of schedule and eliminate most of the screen-time they get…but then hanging onto my sanity gets in the way of all that!

This morning, for example, I meant to write early since it’s been a while, however, the 2yo had different plans that included hanging onto me crying like he never gets to see me – even though he sleeps in my bed and still nurses 2-4 times a night to get back to sleep – I need help!! This has been a consistent battle because he wants to nurse after eating breakfast and drinking a smoothie. So, I am now writing this as his favorite show, I guess from day care, “Teletubbies” is on. I never thought I would like that show, but it has now become my favorite since it frees me up from a whining toddler. I should also mention that I’m trying to nurse less during the day, and he sometimes needs the distraction from his addiction to the boobs.

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Summers are also full of celebrations as there is one birthday in June and 2 in July.  This year, I have jury duty during the week of the July birthdays in addition to needing to complete my dissertation proposal!  I would also like to finish painting the kitchen, started 2 months ago, and generally organize sections of my home since I don’t really have the energy during the school year.  All doctor appointments are crammed into the summer – I now know that I have early onset of osteoarthritis in my joints, mostly from the hip down, which can make walking painful without the proper shoes (yay :/).  My mom is coming to visit in July, which is awesome! Additionally, I want to plan for the first month of classes since I am teaching a different course than last year, and have eliminated using the books from another course, since I don’t have enough for all the students to take home – I teach 3 different contents per semester, which can become overwhelming.

So to get back to the original point, sorry for the sideline, when I stay home for the summer, I become the full-time stay-at-home mom…except once a week when I put them in day care because I have to work on my dissertation in the library, free from a toddler! I go from one full-time job to another that is about to drive me crazy. These long vacations are a good thing and actually help me get excited about going back to work because I get a break from MY kids…only to work with other children. It’s a vicious cycle and one that I wouldn’t want to change.

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Picking up my oldest from the airport after spending time with Grandparents in Arizona.

I leave you with this today; you must watch the show “Odd Mom Out” on Bravo (this is my opinion only) because the main character is sooooo relatable to me. I am dying laughing every time I watch it (DVR’d of course). The first episode of the new season shows her and her husband dropping the kids off for the first day of school and crossing the finish line, to show that they survived the summer home with the kids…then…well, I won’t spoil it further, but it’s totally me!

I need some advice from anyone out there…I’m trying to wean this toddler from nursing and also to get him out of my bed (I’m finally ready), but he will not go quietly. Help!

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The Start of Summer Memories

The Start of Summer Memories
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Last week marked the beginning of summer with the celebration of Memorial Day. My family went to the beach for probably the last time this summer, and really enjoyed the sun, heat, and relaxation! My husband and I are now leaning toward a goal of a vacation home on the coast in the far future!! All we need is about a million dollars – hahaha!

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Anyway, walking along the beach is such a soothing experience for me, when I have thought that the beach sun was my enemy all my life – well, the sun still is, but it was amazingly relaxing. I really enjoy taking the kids in the morning to walk along the waves and collect shells. My toddler has no fear with this water, and spent most of his time trying to conquer the sea – he would squat down in the water and then hold both hands out as if using the force to stop the waves from coming. Then, he would stand and lean back as the waves were covering him up to his waist, then straighten up and wait for the next assault with adorable strength. I have no pictures of this event because we were in the water and I didn’t want to drop my phone! Most of the time, I spent walking and holding his hand tight so he wouldn’t make a bee-line to the waves. The two older kids (my oldest is with his father for most of the summer) played in the surf and helped out with baby Z.

Another cool feature of the weekend was the tropical storm that never landed in our area, much like this current tropical storm has skipped over the region!  The night it came near the coast, the sand was blowing along the shore (the only time I got to walk alone) and the clouds gave off some awesome sunset colors!  This, my friends, was not a time for shell collecting.  However, since the sand was blowing low, and not in my eyes, the walk was enjoyable….it’s amazing how the surf can be practically unswimmable, then calm the next!


I spent a lot of time remembering my summers when my family lived in Southern California. We lived in Orange County and had a pool in the backyard – that’s where I learned how to swim. The house was rented and dad’s job was temporary…for 4 years…and I have mostly fond memories of that time. However, the beach is my focus for this particular blog!

As I was walking the beach with my kids and they were wanting to stop at random places to build sand structures, but couldn’t because we were walking, I seem to remember that my mom never seemed to watch us at the beach – the ultimate free-range attitude. I know that isn’t true as an adult, but being young, I remember playing in the water with friends – just met, or who came with us to the beach – we always met up with other families and stayed the entire day on the sand. San Clemente Pier City Beach (not a plug) and it seemed that we could walk forever in the surf with the water coming only to our ankles, and then make a deep dip, only to return to ankle height. This meant we could walk “forever” into the ocean before it became “dangerous” or have the ability to boogy board. I spent what felt like hours in the water and loved every minute of it. I often wonder that if we had stayed in California if I would have become a bonified beach girl!

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The mothers would have the spot they liked near the playground equipment and would watch us, along with the lifeguards, throughout the day. Somebody always knew where the kids were, and even though we wondered around without an adult by our side, we felt safe… I wish it were like that now. The only thing I felt comfortable leaving alone were my flip-flops. I also think that the shape of the shore makes a difference. When I was young, everything seemed flat (remember, this was about 30 years ago!!) and one could see forever, but in Florida, the shore was hilly and curvy, so I couldn’t see my children from very far. I wish that I could be as free-range as my mother was, but this world scares me a bit.

The advantage of living/vacationing with easy beach access is that I can choose when to go and when to come home without having to camp for the entire day. The main time I hated about the experience when I was younger was lunch-time. I DETEST the crunch of sand in my food, and this is completely unavoidable if eating on the beach. Also, after a certain point, I turned red like a lobster and was always ready to go home! However, at the end of our excursion, there was a snow cone shop we would frequent, the waffle cones, or a pier to walk that would make up for it!

I feel that we are making similar memories for our kids with the shell hunting, beach walking, car traveling, restaurant hopping, and waffle ice-cream cone eating!

*Note* It was fun to go back on the websites to refresh memories of the beach…of course 30+ years have blurred my memory some, but it’s still as cool as I remember!

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Wrapping up the School Year – Reflection Time

Wrapping up the School Year – Reflection Time
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Teaching is considered one of the most emotionally taxing jobs a person could hold, and after working with teenagers for 9 months for my 9th year (it was middle school for 6 years before that), I must agree with this sentiment!! I would not say that it is a thankless job, because there are several students that I reach throughout the year whether it be in academics or life skills, along with some great, understanding parents! However, anyone who has to deal with a teenager or two in the household should know that corralling and holding the attention of 25-35 (yes, classes can be that large) for about 109 minutes can be challenging to say the least. I feel like I’ve hit my stride with management, finally, so that helps when all these new “mandates” come from non-teachers…I wish they had my job for a month…but nothing is permanent in teaching, including how one works with groups of students.

Anyhoo, I don’t want to vent about anything in particular, rather reflect on this past school year for a moment as I’m starting my Memorial Weekend in Amelia Island, probably for the last time this summer. I really like it here, but my dad’s job will only last about 2 weeks more, so I will have to find other, more expensive ways to stay here with beach access…I’m going to walk that beach all weekend as much as my red-headed, fair skinned butt can handle it!

Focus Teresa

Reflection #1 – On Bribery. I heard on the radio my last 2 days of school about how teachers are “bribeable” so that students can pass classes, be highly recommended for a club or activity, and I guess for other random things. Apparently the older teachers are the ones more susceptible to this bribery, I take some offense at this since it wasn’t confirmed through an official poll or anything, but thinking about it, they’ve done their time I suppose. One of the callers said that a parent worked at a local restaurant and seriously tried to bribe her with shrimp so her child could move on to the next grade!! Once a student tried to bribe me with Taco Bell (ummmm…no), but this is expected and I ignore it, or I’ve never had anyone make a serious bribery request…I must have the “you better not try to bribe me” vibe going on, which is FINE BY ME because this is SOOOOOOO wrong!! One lady on the radio said that a parent tried to bribe her with free shrimp, and others said with bottles of wine –how does that even make it on campus!! I’m not saying that I don’t get random Christmas gifts, teacher appreciation gifts, or end of year gifts from students (I’m not an elementary teacher – those guys rack up!), but these small things are because the students WANT to show the love…remember, I teach high school and this isn’t necessarily the cool thing to do!

Reflection #2 – Students Really Care! Students show they care in many ways: paying attention in class, helping to get others to pay attention, doing their assignments, coming before or after class to chat for a minute, adding you to Social Media after graduation (a big rule for me!), e-mails of concern if they felt bad about what someone else did in the class, parents who choose to communicate how important you were to their child, and gifts.   I adore and feel very special when a student chooses to give me a gift, I cherish it and give out “thank you” notes. So, you might wonder, what do high schoolers give? Gift cards to Starbucks (not a plug), cards, candles, and candy are the most popular. The school in which I work has a Secret Senior program where a senior can choose a participating teacher with whom to exchange random gifts throughout the year with Christmas and End-of-year being mandatory…the gifts really vary at this point and it’s a super fun activity! A few years, I could never guess whom it was and was always shocked because I didn’t realize that student felt I made an impact for him or her. Incredibly Touching.

Additionally, the last 2 weekends of school I was REALLY sick, which is also why I haven’t posted anything in a while. The first sick weekend was a cold that knocked me out and made me wonder if I had the touch of the flu. The next weekend I woke up on Saturday to a vicious stomach virus that effectively purged my body of whatever was left and it took me almost a week to start eating like a normal person! On Wednesday of that week, one of my students checked in late and surprised me with Chick-filet chicken soup, and that was my first real meal of the week! I never ask for this stuff, and it is even bringing tears to my eyes now thinking about all the random acts of kindness students will make for their teachers…never let it go unappreciated because they always give from the heart!

Reflection #3 – Bring it Home?  Why the heck do I continue to bring stuff home over the summer thinking I’m going to take time to work on it?!?! I bring less every year, and my goals to accomplish become smaller, but this is because teachers seriously need this break to refresh so that we don’t respond to student’s “smartassness” in a way that would get us fired!! The ideas and energy that I have at the beginning of they year is unmatched, especially when compared to the slow, grueling crawl of May! Honestly, I don’t really touch anything MAJORLY school related until about a week before school starts and the energy and excitement starts to truly build. I mean, I bring stuff home all the time during the school year thinking I can do that, be an effective mother, wife, and student, while constantly thinking of what I have to plan or grade.  Before teaching, I was in retail management.  This wasn’t a particularly stress-free job, but when I went home, I could mentally be home…sometimes I miss that.  This summer, I have 3-4 kids who will stay home with me along with doctoral research to complete to get my approval moving along… ‘cause a teacher never stops learning! New teachers, don’t bring it home – or at least make a pact with yourself to not think about it until about 2 weeks before school.

Reflection #4 – OMG, Now I Have to Cook!  I am not a chef, and I only cook randomly when inspiration hits, sooooo now I need to give my kiddos more than eggs for dinner, and DH might expect a few nights of dinner since he works crazy, hard hours too. Summertime leaves me with minimal excuses to ignore the housework and feeding schedules. Thankfully, I have older kids who will now be adding more to their responsibilities in the upkeep of the home! Yay free labor! But I still have to cook – *sigh*

While these might not seem like “standard” reflections, whatever that means, these were the things I was thinking about late last week.  Remember, 15 years of completed teaching means that I reflect all the darn time, and this was just the weekly moment with the end of the school year.  While I love the structure of a daily routine, I plan on relaxing a bit this summer in the midst of my other stressful commitments because I want to be refreshed for those teenage attitudes (good and bad) come the end of July!

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Mother’s Day – What It Means to Me

Mother’s Day – What It Means to Me
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This mother’s day wasn’t particularly “special.” It was another normal day in the life of parenthood and this time, I am okay with that. The baby and I have been sick since Thursday evening, I with a

My Sick Boy

My Sick Boy

knock-me-out cold, and him with an ear infection and fever that antibiotics wasn’t helping (I’ve since been using a garlic oil that seems to be working). The day care gave the mothers muffins and a juice box on Friday, my 1st grader gave me a really pretty painting of a sunflower from school,

1st Grade Gift

1st Grade Gift

my daughter was super enthusiastic, my 13yo boy gave me a hug, and my husband grilled Salmon (yummy!). Since we weren’t feeling well, the family didn’t go extravagant, but then again, we never  normally do!  However, all of this normalcy got me thinking as to why we even celebrate Mother’s Day and how should it really be done? In the month leading up to this day, I’ve heard radio stations galore trying to guilt children into giving the “adult” gift of jewelry, and then there is the ever-present pressure to buy some sort of floral arrangement and card. Honestly, all this commercialism is just another way to make a person feel down when the “appropriate” gift isn’t given.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a great gift like the next person, but I certainly don’t want my children to feel like they will be loved any less if they don’t give me something age appropriate…this is not why I chose to be a mother! I love every minute with my little rugrats and I couldn’t imagine life without them, even when they are being ungrateful!!

So where did this holiday come from anyway? I decided to research a bit and went to one of my favorite sites, history.com (not a plug) where I gathered the following information…

The History of Mother’s Day – Paraphrased!

1st:  Mothers have been celebrated since the ancient times starting with celebrations of the Greek and Roman goddesses! Then, “shockingly” the Christian faith brought a form of celebration in the 4th Sunday of Lent so Christians would go back to their “mother” church. Eventually, children brought their mother’s flowers or tokens on this day, but the tradition faded away.

2nd:  The lady who started it all, Ann Reeves Jarvis, started a Mother’s Day Work Club where women were taught how to take care of their children. Ever active with motherhood, she later formed a group mothers who would gather with former Confederate and Union soldiers after the civil war, to help the healing process of reconciliation. I LOVE THIS LADY! She really seemed awesome in that she was active in helping mothers be the best that they could be.

3rd:  A suffragette, Julia Ward Howe, wrote a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” asking mothers to promote peace in the world on June 2nd!!  She was another great advocator, and you should read about her for sure!

4th:  Anna Jarvis, the daughter of the lady above, was the person who started Mother’s Day as we know it now, minus the commercialism. She wanted to call attention to the sacrifices that us mothers make for our children – – probably from watching all that her mother accomplished. Ironically, she remained unmarried and childless, which is probably why she had the time to advocate like she did!! She was able to get the day on the calendar, so that women had a representation in the male-dominated holiday world of the United States. However, she was later disappointed in the running of the holiday since she had imagined this time to be a personal one, not one for commercialism….good ‘ole capitalist America. When she died in 1948, she wanted the holiday off the calendar because it had become far too twisted from the original meaning.

5th:  I learned that I want to go to Ethiopia to celebrate motherhood because they have a celebration that lasts for several days where the families will come together, eat feasts, and sing!! I can totally dig that!

So, the whole reason that we have Mother’s Day is for families to take the time to sit together and realize that their mothers are awesome, while the nation also realizes all that mothers contribute to life.

My 3 oldest

My 3 oldest

Not to brag or anything, but even though I was grumpy and sick yesterday, I know every day that my children love and appreciate me. I know all the time that my husband could not do this parenting thing effectively without me. No one can truly replace the mother figure for a child, and they love you, even when they ignore you at the FFA banquet (that’s for you 13yo!). I don’t want special gifts… I want my family sitting together, eating good food, and appreciating life. What more could any mother ask for??

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there, no matter what your situation, you are appreciated!

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What Happens at 40?

What Happens at 40?
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On Turning 40…

It seems that birthdays get less and less exciting as I age – – I this normal

Can I have a bouncy house for my birthday?

At home, my children are excited that it’s my birthday, and I have to put on a happy face for them, because I don’t want to ruin older birthdays for them – yet… let them enjoy the delusion that birthday’s matter as we age.

Why is it that birthdays are not typically happy times for me?  I have really fond memories of them as a child, so when did this event become a negative?? I constantly wonder why I feel so “down” around my birthday…what’s the origin of this feeling? Why did it appear? How can I get rid of it? I always rationalize that I’m trying to keep my expectations for this day (or any other day of celebration) down to a minimum so that I can’t be disappointed…but why is that? Who is responsible for making me feel special on my birthday, or any other day? …ME!! However, this weight seems to fall on the shoulders of those nearest to me (isn’t this the case all over though?) and I need to really shake this gloom off and appreciate it each moment.

To top it off, this is a DECADE CHANGE!! The last decade change, AKA 30, I was pregnant with my little girl, so celebrating was pretty tame. Now, I have 4 little boogers around me, and the celebrating will also need to be tame, but I think I can slip some white wine in there somehow…

What I Learned About Myself on My 40th Birthday 

So, this day was pretty disappointing for me and I learned some valuable lessons about myself that I hope I can carry on in the years to come.

First: I need to take charge of my attitude and stop being a pansy ass expecting others to make me feel better.

Second: If I want a present, I better make it known in advance and/or get it myself. A mani-pedi with my daughter would have been a brilliant idea.

Third: Don’t get sucked up in the emotion of the day…Somehow this happens slowly over days leading up to the holiday without me realizing that I have a despondent attitude…”suck it up buttercup” must be my mantra!

Fourth: Husbands really try….truly…they just have no idea what you want because they aren’t even related to mind-readers! Tell them exactly what you want, and if they love you, they will do it for you!

Fifth: This is the most important. Realize that true happiness is internal and hardly affected by outside circumstances. Perhaps this day, and the days leading up, should be spent in retrospection, especially if I am feeling a bit down. I need to evaluate what stressors are in my life, if they are temporary or permanent, and how I can fix the situation to make myself more comfortable and happy – – It’s my life, my skin, my problem to solve.

STAY POSITIVE – – IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY

YOU MADE IT ANOTHER YEAR!!

**There are no pictures from this event ‘cause I made my birthday suck**

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The Beach

The Beach
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As a light-skinned redhead, the beach is not typically my friend, and I usually don’t enjoy its company either. However, this past vacation to Amelia Island, FL was truly relaxing…and it helped me discover my inner beach goddess, sans swimsuit.

All my ducklings

                           All my ducklings

As a child, my family lived in Orange County, California (before the real housewives), as I’ve mentioned, and the beach was always a weekly summer destination. I guess I liked going to the beach well enough, even though I always seemed to get lobster red, while my ½ Italian mother just got super dark. Oh, the injustice! My main complaints of the beach have usually been:

 

  1. I don’t want to stay all day with no escape except when everyone’s done
  2. My back hurts after sitting on a towel all morning under the umbrella…’cause I don’t want to be a lobster’s cousin.
  3. I HATE the crunch of sand in any snack that comes with us and am immediately repelled…perhaps I should try this as a weight loss technique?? – Just Kidding…I think…
  4. SAND…everywhere
Unexpected photo with Z

                Unexpected photo with Z

However, this short trip to visit my father helped reclaim my love for the beach. I’m the kinda girl who needs beach ACCESS where I can come and go as I please, not be stuck all day. I especially love walking on the morning shore with the kids looking for seashells, another long forgotten love! I even managed to get a tiny glow rather than cooked!

My Mega Shell Find

                      My Mega Shell Find

I was as giddy as a child when I found a largish conch-like shell in the wave, basically, I “threw” the baby and the bucket to my oldest son and ran into the waves as it receded to grab my practically perfect specimen of shell!! – please don’t judge me – I even found one just laying on the sand the last morning as if to say, “this vacation was perfection and goodwill is coming your way…”

This is so not a plug for Amelia Island, but I was incredibly impressed with the quaint location.  There wasn’t a bad restaurant to be had, everything was close together, there was a fort from the civil war and a lighthouse to see, the weather was divine in early April, the people were all friendly, we got to eat at a “dive” that was featured on the Food Network, and we all had a great time, which I didn’t think was possible for a beach vacation and 4 kids.  Whew…super long sentence there!  I hope to go back at some point. —-The most fabulous part of the process was getting out of town, visiting family, and making spectacular memories with the children.  These are things that T.V. can never do for us, and I hope this sparks the urge to get out more than we have been!

Last Morning on the beach

                   Last Morning on the beach

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Skills Learned in Childhood

Skills Learned in Childhood
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I don’t know where this nostalgia is coming from, but I’ve really been reminiscing on experiences I learned from my childhood. Today’s memories deal once again with traveling by car.

I remember that the church my family attended in Southern California had lots of neat activities and socials for its members, and my parents were full participants. I’m not an overtly religious person, and I actually think this church helped me build a spirituality and guided me to reserve judgement for God. Nevertheless, this particular flashback was about navigation. The church once had a scavenger hunt around town for its members where a 2-person team navigated the city looking for specific items (it’s been so long that I can’t remember what!), and other members spent that time setting up the picnic party at a local park for when everyone was finished.  Sounds Awesome doesn’t it?…Well, it is one of the best memories I have!

The Awesome time was because I was my dad’s navigator on the team, while mom and my younger sisters prepped the picnic area.  My dad was(is) so patient in teaching me how to read a map and follow directions, that this skill has stuck with me.  I may not be great at remembering directions, but I can follow them like no one’s business…God help me if the directions are wrong though!!  This time with my father was so precious and I remember loving every minute of it.  He may have gotten frustrated with me, but I don’t recall any of that, only that we spent time doing something together and that I was taught the valuable lesson of navigating and map reading.

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Map App GPS Today!

As I was setting the GPS on the map app to our spring break location in Florida, I wondered if anyone even knows how to read a map anymore?  I’m pretty sure my kids don’t – adding it to the ever-growing list of things I’ve neglected to teach them!  Instead, we type in our destination on the map app that already knows where we are, then wait for it to give us the various route options from which we will choose depending on the latest traffic report.  How wonderful is that?!?  Not to knock the map app, ’cause I LOVE it, but I could also whip out a paper map and figure it out on my own if I had to.  The last time I had to look at an atlas, was on the trip coming back from Wyoming!  Can the younger generation do that outside of the scouts??  Is it a dying skill? A lost art?  A realistic expectation for our time?

Personally, I think we need to make sure that everyone can read a map of some sorts.  I mean, how could we navigate amusement parks, historical sites, subways, or bus routes without them?

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Road Trips

Road Trips
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Road trips for me conjure up images as a kid sitting in the back seat, where seat-belts were suggestions, and reading the drive away. I could read in about any situation and block out the discomfort of open window noises because of the lack of air conditioning, along with the crazy rants of my two younger sisters.

My family went on a ton of road trips, because sitting in the car for 3 days from Southern California to Ohio was WAY cheaper than a flight for 5, plus we would have the freedom of our car while visiting. My parents had the freedom to take us on alternate routes so we could see things like Mount Rushmore*, Wild West Museum towns, and ancient forests*, while learning how to camp, appreciate our world, and travel with patience!

We also lived in a small camper for a month going from Southern California to Vancouver, Canada. That was one of the best and memorable trips I ever had as a 9yo girl, where my family bonded and I thought life couldn’t get any better. On this trip I experienced fishing for crab, camping in the Sequoias*, viewing banana slugs, catching starfish, meeting new and great people, picking fresh vegetables, walking on a foggy (read: romantic) beach in the morning, convincing big trucks to honk their horns, refusing to go to bed at 11pm because it was “still light out,” roasting marshmallows nightly, visiting Butchart Gardens* (a glorious flower garden with fireworks at night), and other random awesome events that are too proliferous to add. I’m sure the trip wasn’t all roses, but those are the memories that remain with me and I would love to do something similar with my kids.

My children are excellent travellers, for the most part. They’ve partaken in random 5-11 hour trips with relative ease and patience, as long as I pack a decent amount of snacks and they have some toys. Electronics have really helped, but once the battery is dead, which is pretty quick when watching a movie, that’s it! I once drove to Wyoming from Atlanta to visit family with my then almost 3yo daughter and 1yo son when my husband was out of the country visiting family. They did very well the first 11-hour day when we stopped off to visit my dad in St. Louis, Missouri*, but the next day was a little more trying. The best part of the trip was when my daughter told me, “Stop this car mommy, right now…right now, I mean it!” in an authoritative voice! I think we were in the middle of Kansas, so I calmed her down a bit with that and put on some Lady Gaga to brighten her day (don’t judge!). Multiple stops are really the key to traveling with kids, so I would stop about every 2-3 hours for a bathroom break and some running time. I really tried to get rest stop locations, but one time the filthy McDonald’s had to do.  A quick bath in the restroom sink was needed afterwards, but at least they were ready to sit for a bit!

My children all have experiences with multiple plane rides and are world travelers at this point, with authentic experience to share. I’ve gotten compliments from strangers on how well-behaved they are – even the baby (he was 1yo). On the last plane from Paris, we were all separated because we couldn’t reserve seats and the flight attendants spent a good amount of time reuniting families for the trip. My 1yo was riding on my lap in the aisle seat (I know, not the safest and thankfully, everything went well), my 7yo boy sat in the middle, and my husband, by the window. The baby was fabulous and rarely cranky, and we all slept most of the way. My 9yo daughter was separated from the group a few aisles down, and I spoke with the very nice family near her and she proceeded to win the hearts of the people in our section and the flight attendants (evidenced by the multiple beverages she was able to procure) by being her adorable, social self. My 13yo was with his father for the summer, but I know he would be just as awesome.

With our upcoming spring beak vacation in view, I’ve started thinking about the above adventures and how I have been negligent with road trips, where children’s memories are formed. I want to do more, go more places, and give them more experiences, much like I had in my youth. When we become adults, it seems that we are stuck in our routines and take fewer trips for various reasons such as finances, time constraints, perceived discomforts of travel, fear that it will be too overwhelming, etc… However, I want to take more moments to just go. My kids don’t care if we have a ton of money, fancy hotels, nice meals, or even clean bathrooms (well, maybe). They value the experience and love of seeing something new and exciting. They aren’t afraid of the dirt of camping, or the sand that invades a beach lunch. These trips allow them to create special moments in their memories that cannot be duplicated in the everyday schedule of life. I want my kids to experience life and have a broad cultural view. Here’s to hoping that Spring Break at the beach with Grandpa will start the time of random travels and breaking the monotonous spell of everyday life.

*I am not getting paid for any of the links, but thought it would be cool for you to have easy viewing of these awe inspiring places.

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