Mama K's Summer School









Every year, about this time, for as long as I can remember...I start preparing for Mama K's Summer School.  The kids usually get a week off just to relax, then we start in.  In the car yesterday, Carlos asked me if we were going to be doing it again this year.  Yes!  Then he asked why.  That's easy, for us, it's about routine and not getting out of the practice of working the brain.  It's easy to get out of practice.  It's not about us teaching new things, just keeping up with the skills they already have.
Here's what we do - each child has a folder with 2-3 workbook pages in it that they need to complete each day.  They also have a journal that they do a page in, it could be a daily "what's happening" type thing or a story, whatever they want.  Last is the reading, we do 30 minutes.
As much as I love the routine of the school year, I LOVE summer.  I love the time with my kids, love reconnecting with them on a daily basis and just knowing them better as people, love the weather, the fun outings, all of it.  I know it's getting close, I've done my part, the folders are ready and I'm counting down the days...yay summer!

SUMMERTIME RULES

NO SCREEN TIME UNTIL…




You have read for 30 minutes


You have written a page in your journal


You have done your worksheets


You have done 20 minutes of Khan Academy



You have completed 1 chore

Growing Up

Carlos left on a trip to Eastern Washington on Wednesday with his 5th grade class.  It's an amazing trip where they tour the Wild Horse Wind Farm, a potato farm and the Grand Coulee Damn.
A friend sent me this picture of him w his buddies at the dam.  It absolutely made my day.  It's not just a picture of my boy, who I miss terribly.  It's so much more.  That smile, that genuine "I'm happy" smile.   I needed to see that.
I think back to Carlos' first field trip to Seattle without his mama.  He was so scared and we tried to make it better by me drawing a heart on his hand so he could look down and know I loved him and was thinking about him, even
 while he wasn't with me.  It seemed to help and we did it every field trip from there on.  Even this year, on the way to the ferry, he asked me to draw him a little heart.  This time, small so nobody would see it but he would know it was there.
So, this picture that came yesterday really let me know that my little boy is growing up.  He's about to change schools and be in a bigger pond.  The Island School has been such an incredibly supportive place for him to grow up, he's become such a confident young man.  He's ready for this.

So Proud


   I couldn't be more proud of my boy - Trey worked hard and got the part of Flounder in Bainbridge Performing Art's production of The Little Mermaid.  He has a pretty big role, lots of dancing and even a solo.  He is the only kid in the whole cast!   I just love watching him do what he loves to do.
   I have to say, my favorite part of it is that he once again shares the stage with Myriah Riedel (she was Peter Pan and he a Lost Boy and now she is Ariel).  He absolutely adores her and it is perfect for Flounder's relationship with Ariel.  I think the audience can really feel how much he cares.  It's very sweet.  Ah, to be 10 with a crush.
It's a super fun show - the bright costumes and catchy songs.  I've been singing them in my head for weeks now.  It runs through Memorial Day weekend (Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 3 plus a bonus show Monday, May 23rd at 7:30).  I will be ushering this weekend and would love to have company, plus Trey loves seeing people he knows at the show!  It's great for kids, too!
Tickets are available at the Bainbridge Performing Arts website.

Here's his bio!
TREY FIELD BENNETT (FLOUNDER) Trey is delighted to return to the BPA stage and thrilled to be cast as Flounder. He was previously seen
in Ovation!’s Oliver!, as Mote in BPA’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nibs the Lost Boy in Ovation!’s Peter Pan, the Mayor of Whoville in BPA’s Seussical Jr., and numerous other BPA Theater School productions. Trey is a 4th grader at The Island School. When he is not on stage, he enjoys learning about Greek Mythology, playing the drums, and hanging out with his friends.

Positoovity


I'm a pretty positive person, but this week has kicked my backside...a big part of it is that we haven't had much time as a whole family, and when we do we are out of sync and it ends with the kids just bickering.  We have forced the time we have together to be hand held electronics free, spending evenings coloring or watching a family show.  They always end up having fun but getting into the groove of it again is painful (and truth be told, disappointing to me - kind of not the "family time" image I have, but then again those moments are truly few and far between)

I need to vent here so bear with me....

So yesterday I was doing a little Amazon shopping and a couple orders went through and one special offer they had said my payment was declined.  Odd, I thought, but figured the special offer was over or something.  Then went to get a few things at Safeway and went to use my card and it was declined.  Now there are times when I would lower my head and slink out of the store knowing I had nothing in my account, but I knew there was plenty so no reason to have the card declined.  I was pissed more than embarrassed, but after a wander around the store looking for my mother (yes, she had been shopping there, too) I went off to the car to get my checkbook and on the way out a friend said she had paid for the groceries.  What a saint!  I was so relieved.  Got the groceries and spent the next half hour in the car trying to figure out what was going on with my account - apparently someone in California was trying to check into multiple hotels.  Luckily my bank caught it and froze my account, but would have been nice to have that information so I wouldn't be trying to use my card.  So today in all my spare time, I had to go get a temporary card to use (which worked the first time, but didn't work the second time I tried to use it!!!).

It jut gets better...so, we just got over a week of living out of coolers because our fridge was on the fritz, we defrosted it and got it working again (per the appliance company's advice) and this morning woke up to the fridge almost warm again.  Called the appliance people again and they said they would order the parts and come out but in reality we are looking at another  7-14 days without a fridge.  It just plain sucks.  I try to spin my positive attitude and pretend like we are camping, but my little Eeyore reminded me that "no it's not like camping at all, there are no s'mores, no tents, no fun all we have is wet food and that's the bad part of camping"   I give up, it's really no fun.

All in all we are happy and healthy and life goes on.  But really I would just love to have a little break from the b.s. here.  Not asking a lot, just a little.









Are You Doing Your Best?


   I'm reading "Rising Strong" by Brene Brown for a book group, well truth be told they are way ahead of me in reading but I do enjoy the discussion.  Anyhow, it talks about the belief that everybody is doing the best they can.  I'm struggling with that.  I do believe people aren't intentionally doing awful things and that people are inherently good.  I also know that I'm not doing my best.  Not even close.  I think best is what you save for when you go above and beyond.  If I were to try to live being my best every minute of every day, I'd collapse.
  I know this has driven my parents crazy for years, and now that I'm a parent with a kid who is laid back and does things half-assed it drives me insane also.  There was a time in high school that my mom sat me down and said "you are smart, don't you want to rise above getting Bs and aim for the honor roll?  You could have your name in the paper and it would be great!"  My focus was sports, so I did what I needed to do to get Bs and get by, nothing more.  I agreed to show her that yes, I could do it, and in between soccer and softball seasons I made the honor roll.  Then I went back to getting Bs.  I am fairly certain it drove my parents insane.  The thing is, there was never a question in my mind that I could do it, I just didn't want to.
   When Carlos goes out on the soccer pitch, I always tell him to have fun and play hard.  I try not to say "play your best" because if he played his best every minute of the game, he would be running around like a lunatic after the ball.  Playing hard, he knows that there are times when he may be jogging back into position or even standing and waiting but doing your best, to me, means giving 110% all the time.
   What does it mean to you?  Do you think everybody is doing the best they can all the time?  I think feel they are doing what's right in the moment and their best when the occasion calls for it.  Maybe I need different wording but struggling to find it.






Starting Over

   For as long as I can remember, I have been big.  Always the tall girl and, in my mind, always overweight.  I recently went through a box of memorabilia and was looking back on pictures from middle school and high school and thinking back to how I felt heavy then.  Believe me, I wasn't skinny, but I also wasn't as big as I thought I was.  Funny how your mind plays that trick an it becomes a self fulfilling thing.
   So after being tired of being fat, Dee and I found the Dukan Diet (basically lean protein and veggies) and lost a bunch of weight really fairly easily and quickly.  Did you know you can lose weight without working out!?  You totally can.  I know I've written about this before and if you really want to read more you can go back to when I was gung ho on that "lifestyle change" and go from there.  It did work, but after we started to add in carbs and fruit the weight started creeping back on.
   I can't tell you how extremely frustrating it is to be down 65 pounds and then watch as it starts to come back.  I jumped in to Weight Watchers and the "No S" diet (I really wanted that one to work!) and back to no carbs and so on and so on.  Nothing seemed to work anymore.  Even back on Dukan for awhile and that didn't work anymore either.  So, while it was great to lose all that, it messed up my body and it is basically trying to get back to the weight it was before.  That sucks!  It's disappointing, it seems like there is no way to win.  It is constantly on my mind and if I hadn't seen someone for awhile, they always seem to look at me funny, as if to say "whoa, what happened!?" and that feels crappy.  I don't know if that's what they are really thinking but that's where my mind goes.  I even had one person come up and ask if I was going to go back on that diet that worked so well - really!?!
   I was about to jump on the no gluten/dairy/soy/sugar bandwagon again, I actually did it for 3 awful days, and then talked with a friend who has counseled a lot of women who have gone through the same thing.  All with the same, frustrating results.  We have talked about this before, many times, and I do respect her advice - just in the past I had something that was working so well so I didn't stop and listen when she told me it wouldn't last.  How could it not!?  We are all looking for that miracle weight loss and I had found it, but I realize now that it's not just about will power and eating healthy.  There is truly one proven, scientific way to lose weight and it's slow.
   So, today I start fresh.  Headed on a long, slow journey that I will stick with and will pay off.  I will change my thinking from "all carbs are bad" to a basic "you get this many calories each day" approach.    I started with www.calculator.net where you put in height, weight, age, gender and activity level and it calculates how many calories you get each day if you want to lose a pound/week (and other options).  I also found a great app (Nutracheck) that will keep track of my foods, basically an online food journal and keep me accountable to myself.  From just starting it this morning, I realize that a lot of my calories came from my morning latte.  Even without the sugar it was 90 calories!
   Here's to the tortoise - slow and steady!







 

Another Way to See Things

Like I said before, we have been listening to a lot of music lately - in the car the other day, one of the boys was asking about what the lyrics of the Indigo Girls song "Galileo" meant.  We talked about reincarnation and how some people believe that what you come back as in your next life depends on how you lived this one.
I had NO clue this chat would go this way - he burst into tears, begged me to never play that song again, ever ever ever.  I pried a little, curious as how he felt so strongly about reincarnation.  He said "if we come back as someone else, I can't handle that.  I would miss my family terribly."
Ah, my sweet, sweet boy.  Yes, death and what happens after is hard. But what if, after you die, you go to heaven and meet up with all of your loved ones?
The last week has been a reminder for me of loved ones lost.
The first was Spencer Reilly, a young man I used to nanny for,  that lost his battle with addiction.  So sad, one of my very favorite kids of all time and so talented.  He recorded this a month ago.
The next was Grandma Pat, who brought so much love into this world.  I got to know her when her grandson was in my 2nd grade class at Island School and she continued to come and read to kids at the Island School long after he had graduated.  She always had a huge smile and a bear hug when you saw her.  She made a beautiful blanket for Erin and God boxes for all our boys (that they still use to put the worries that are too big for them to handle on their own).
Both will truly be missed by all who got the gift of knowing them.

Yesterday It Was My Birthday


"Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed, my life's a mess
But I'm havin a good time"
     - Paul Simon

I truly can't complain - yes, there are things in my life that are hard, stressful and just daily annoyances.  But overall, life is sweet and I'm having a good time.

So, yesterday WAS my birthday...and while I'm SUPER excited to have been given awesome gifts (I'm going to the Peter Gabriel/Sting concert, going shopping for jeans that fit, got beautiful earrings and get to go pick out some great new books and can't wait to play my new game) it was an incredible day for the non-material gifts I was given.

First, I got to have coffee and catch up with a dear friend, I got a video of Carlos from speech saying "Happy Birthday" and he nailed his R!, got a call from my brother and also from little Lilly that made my day, found out that a friend's cancer has NOT progressed further, read a ton of messages from friends on Facebook and then got to spend the evening with those closest to me with a delicious dinner and my favorite ice cream cake.




Hot Chocolate 5k


A couple of months ago, Carlos was nearing the end of soccer season and trying to figure out what to do to stay fit and active in the off season.  He said he wanted to train for another 5k with me, which is funny because he could go out and sprint a 5k any time he wanted to, no training needed.  When we trained for our last 5k I was considerably lighter and it felt good to get out and jog.  When the 5k came around I was ready for it and felt really excited.
I signed us up for the Hot Chocolate 5k, figuring chocolate would be a great incentive to run even if I wasn't super jazzed about running in the first place.  I had a 5 weeks to train, so the couch to 5k program was going to be kicked into high gear and modified down a week.  That was the plan, but my out of shape body had other plans.  I could see that this time was going to be different.  My couple outings on the road left my body so sore, shin splints and aching.  We got a treadmill from a friend and that really helped.  I actually enjoyed it and was feeling good about getting on every other day or so and sweating.  Then along came plantar fasciitis - that bites!  Dee had dealt with it before, but I didn't realize just how painful it can be.  Think of basically feeling like the bottom of your foot is being ripped apart every step you take.  Super fun.  So, I got a pressurized sock, insoles for my shoes, new tennis shoes and do stretching exercises to help - also had to take a week off of jogging.
Not sure what tomorrow's 5k will bring, but I am excited to be with Carlos, Mary and Alice and even if I'm the slowest on the course and can't walk the next day...I will have done it.

Indigo Girls



So Dee and I actually went out last week - I know!  We really never go out, it's rare.  The logistics of us both leaving the house are insane since we have 7 kids, but for the Indigo Girls concert we made it happen and it was SO worth it!  A night filled with friends and great music, couldn't be better.
These ladies have been a part of my life for a long time now, seems they have a song for everything and the meaning is deep and I can sing shamelessly along with them and feel as if we are truly singing together.  Sappy, I know, but I realized at this concert that I wasn't the only one who felt this connection with them.  There were smiles and tears and so much love!
They didn't play my new favorite song (Elizabeth - take a listen!) but they rocked it!
What I left with, besides a full heart really to take on life, was a rekindled love of music.  We always listen in the car, a lot of pop that the kids like with a few classics thrown in, but there was music lacking in our home.  That is not the case anymore.  Allison Krauss while making dinner, Adele in the morning at breakfast, James Taylor while I feed the baby, and of course the Indigo Girls!

I found this You Tube video of the concert we were at - love that the audience was really the stars of the show.  I think so many left with their hearts full!

Indigo Girls Concert  https://youtu.be/TlNfY34Qdog

The lyrics to Closer to Fine stand out for that night as well....although I didn't end up at a bar, per se, and I think I left with the clarity I was seeking.

"I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before
I went in seeking clarity. "

Will It Be Easy?

 
We have been foster parents for about 13 years now.  We have had many different kids come through our door, their stories may be similar but they are all unique little people.  They immediately bond with certain members of the family, differs every time and after 58 kids I see no pattern in how that works.  Everyone has their "special" little ones that come through.  
The calls we get in the middle of the night, and the calls for the kids who have experienced abuse and are literally broken are the ones that we just can't say no to.  It's a wake up call for any drama going on in our lives...we have it pretty damn good.  There is NOTHING that compares to having a worker show up at midnight with a sleepy child, who is scared and really not wanting to be passed off to another adult saying that they are now going to be safe.  They have just lost everything familiar to them, no matter how scary or abusive it was.  It was home, it was what they knew.
I think about the note I write if our kids are with a babysitter - how much/what they eat, how often, if they prefer a back rub at bedtime or to be put in bed with a story and a sippy cup of water, do they take a pacifier? or have a nickname? The list is long...and when kids come to us, we get their name and birth day and sometimes even that isn't right!  We do a lot of guessing and get many "are you crazy?" looks when we try what the norm is for our kids.  We once had a little girl who only ate things that came out of packages.  We learned this quickly - and put carrots into mini chip bags and as long as it came out of a package she was good.  After about a week of her being at our house, we drove through McDonalds for a quick dinner and she was so excited, bounced up and down in the backseat yelling "yay, food!"  In her mind, we were finally feeding her!
Daily life is so different, depending on the family.  I think we are pretty typical, but I am told so often that we aren't.  I keep going back to the saying, "Will it be easy? Nope.  Worth it? Absolutely."



Hard to Say Goodbye

We have been blessed.  I know that.  We have had 57 little people come into our lives that have changed us for the better.  We may have had them for a couple of days or a couple of years, but each one is different and it is always hard when they move on.  And besides our 4 adopted kids, they always do move on.  In a perfect world, we stay in touch.  Whether it be through Facebook or still getting to see them, watching them grow up is a gift.  The others we have faith that things went well, we have to believe that.
The one thing people always say about why they can't be a foster parent is that they could never give them up.  But you cherish the time you have with them and know that you were a safe place for them to be when they needed it most.   Another child comes and life moves on, but the grieving still happens and the pain and loss is still felt.   
We have had people say "oh, you must get used to it" but it's never easier.  I can't begin to explain how heartbreaking it is to watch your 11 year old son sobbing and begging that his "brother" not leave, or watch a child you have loved as your own for almost 3 years wipe away your wife's tears on her last night in your home.  This is hard stuff.
The last couple weeks have been exceptionally tough on our family, even to the point of questioning if fostering is the right thing to do.  We will get through it, it will strengthen us as people and bring us closer as a family and we will be better for having loved these amazing kids.  We will always be here for them if they need us and we will always love them as our own.

Trip of a Lifetime

It's been over a month now since this amazing trip, I can hardly believe it.  Doesn't even seem real.
Here are some pictures of our amazing adventure!
My brother is an amazing teacher and guide and took Dee, Mary and I on a trip down the San Juan River by raft.  There we learned about Anasazi history, saw ruins of small villages and held ancient pottery.  We sat by campfire and reminisced and listened to great music.  We saw nature (even caught a little lizard!) and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking and changed at every bend in the river.  I missed the kids terribly, but the adult time with Dee, Mary and my brother was just what I needed.  We hardly ever get a chance to talk without someone interrupting so 6 days was indulgent.  Hoping to make a slideshow of all the pictures, but this is a little glimpse.
















Tales of a Soccer Mom

There are times when you see you child step into an activity and their whole being lights up.  That would be soccer for Carlos.  As a former player, I have to say this makes me incredibly happy.  I love soccer.  The excitement, the camaraderie, the action.  Good people play soccer.  It's a great game.  I hate to miss a game, it's fun to watch and now that they are at the "not a blob running around a ball" stage, it makes it even better.  They are actually playing intense, good games.
Last weekend, Azzuri was ranked #6 in the league and playing against the #3 team.  It was an intense game, very evenly matched teams.  Things started to go downhill when a mom stepped onto the field and kicked a ball (in her defense, she thought it had gone out but then had a TON of attitude about it).    We were leading 2-0 and the other team started to panic.  The play started to get much more physical, the refs weren't calling much of anything.  At one point, our goalie went up to grab a ball and got elbowed in the chest.  He had to leave the game.  No call.  Play got even more rough, and as one of their players were near the sideline, he told another teammate to take out the new goalie.  There was a cleats up slide into goal and still no call.
  Where I'm going with this is that Carlos was defending the biggest, roughest kid as well as the one who said to take out the goalie.  Mama Bear came out in me and I watched a bit more closely.   Watching my son was out there getting elbowed and pushed down and manhandled a bit, I was curious how he was going to react.  I am proud to say, he raised up his game and met the challenge.  He is a physical player already, but his intensity tripled and he did it in a fair way.  There were no dirty hits or attempts to hurt anyone, he just played good, clean, tough soccer.
   Not sure how the other player's parents felt about how that game went, I think they were upset about the loss.  There was so much more going on, encouraging kids to play nasty,  the part of youth sports that I hate.   Way to go Azzuri, you played with honor and heart and pulled out the win.







5am in the Hotel Lobby


I had thought it would be funny to mess with Dee and bit last night and switch sides of the bed.  She is such a creature of habit, this wasn't easy for her to accept but I insisted.  I mean, we are in a hotel for 2 nights and why not?  Live a little!  Well, my little scheme brought a couple of laughs from the kids as Dee tried her best to negotiate changing back but in the end the joke was on me.  Woke up bright eyed at 4am and Dee was still sleeping peacefully on my side of the bed.
This little joke backfiring has led me to find out that there are interesting discussions to be had in the hotel lobby at 5:30am.  It's the time before the breakfast buffet starts, there is CNN streaming with news of the Paris attacks and a 40 something man came up to ask me if there had been any updates.  I told him what I had read this morning and he said, "you know, this is why I don't want grandchildren"  I immediately thought he meant that the world was such a horrible place that he wouldn't want his grandchildren to live in it, but no...I asked him why he thought that and he continued on to say that he loves his kids and all, but that he worries about them all the time and he knows he would add that same worry about grandkids and he doesn't want to go through that.  He also loves his kids so much he doesn't want them to have to feel that.  So selfish yet with deep love.
It's interesting, because you do worry about your children in a way that a non-parent just can't understand but I would never let that worry stop me from experiencing the love that comes with being a parent.  It's pure, it's deep, it's something you also can't explain to someone who has never been a parent.
Parenting isn't easy, it's not always fun but the rewards are incredible.  Does the love outweigh the worry?  For me, it does.  Apparently not for all.  Food for thought for the day.












FUD Public Service Announcement



Ok, so Dee, Mary and I are headed off to Colorado tomorrow to go rafting with my brother (YAY!).  We will be out in the middle of nowhere on the San Juan River, with no access to cell phones or bathrooms.  This got me thinking that maybe we ought to get a FUD (Feminine Urinating Device) to make the whole bathroom situation a little easier.
Jumped online and saw that the Evil Empire had the Go Girl so last night I grabbed Levi and headed over to get one to surprise Mary and Dee.  The sales clerk, who was a little socially awkward, showed me where they would be on the shelf but they were sold out.  I asked if he could call to the Bremerton store to check if they had any and he reluctantly made the call.  That was awkward.  They were sold out as well and this sweet man was trying hard to give me other options.  I told him we couldn't order online because we were leaving in a day, he asked if we could stop at a Walmart in Seattle or perhaps drive around and hit Cabella's and get one.  Or maybe we could get one at the place where we were flying into.  As he was listing off my options, and I kept gracefully trying to get out of the conversation, I realized he was truly horrified and worried.  I told him it wasn't a huge deal if I didn't get one and he said, "Well, I would hate for you to not be able to pee for 4 days."  Seriously?!  Did he think I wasn't going to pee for 4 days?!  I told him not to stress, that I had managed for 43 years to pee when I needed to.
Oh and don't forget that all this time, poor Levi was standing there absolutely mortified that I was talking about bathroom stuff with this man in the middle of a store. Ha ha ha, I know.  What 12 year old boy wants to hear that #1 their mom uses the bathroom  #2 is talking about it in public!
We left Walmart and headed to Big 5, where Levi's embarrassment continued.  The clerks there tried to help but their only solutions were me taking a portable toilet on the plane (nope but tempted) and these weird bag things that catch the pee (hell no)
I had called REI earlier in the day and they, of course, didn't hesitate to tell me they had Freshette in stock.  Levi and I headed there to get it.  He fell in love with REI and almost forgot why we were there.  I discreetly found what I was looking for plus a few extras, paid and as we were headed out he offered to carry the sack.  I was about to hand it to him when he reeled back and said "Holy cow, no way, I almost forgot what was in that thing!"
I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.  My sweet boy.  We talked a little about it on the car ride home and he was perplexed about why on Earth I would even want such a product.   I told him how it worked and he said "I could have saved you a lot of money there, mom, and got you a funnel"  His other main concern was that we would want to start using the men's bathrooms.  Yuck, no.
So now we have our FUD and are packed and ready for the trip.  Not sure how it will work, but glad it provided some comic relief and a nice bonding time with my oldest boy.
If you want to read more about FUDs, click this link!




Liar Liar

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is lying.  I seriously hate it.  We tell our kids "Truth Builds Trust" and live by that.  They ask us hard questions, we tell them the truth.  It may be padded a bit to be age appropriate, but never a lie. (well, besides Santa and all but that doesn't really count).  If you tell the truth the first time, no consequence.  If you fess up after a bit then a lesser consequence.  If you never do, ya it's not good.
This morning, I put bread into the toaster and let everyone know that they could grab their piece and make it as part of their breakfast while I got other things done.  Things got busy, of course, and Dee asked who hadn't eaten.  I had seen two kids sit down at the table with me, the other I hadn't seen.  I asked him point blank "did you eat breakfast?"  The answer was "yes, I had toast with jam on it.  I remember because I spilled jam down the front of my shirt."  Too many details, this kid was lying!  I asked again with the same response.  I asked him to please go get the shirt that was covered in jelly as proof of his story.  He came down with the shirt he had been wearing the night before, with a big water spot on it.   I then asked, "So, I'm supposed to believe that you ate the toast, spilled jam on the shirt and then CLEANED the shirt?" The answer this time was, ""ok, I didn't want toast for breakfast so I made all that up" UGH!


Can This Week Be Over Yet?

So we all have "those weeks" where it's hectic and you are trying to get things done and everyone seems a little more on edge and stressed out, right?  Meltdowns are more common, both kids and parents.  That's been this week for us.  It's hard.
Many resentful feelings on my end because the kids are too old to be entitled freeloaders and should be helping more around the house.  Feeling that they should be grateful for the mom taxi taking them everywhere, doing their laundry and making their lunches.  But that's not the reality, they aren't even aware that I feel this way sometimes and if I tell them they shrug it off.  It's not that they don't care, I have to remember that they are kids and so all consumed with their own reality that its always a shocker to them when I get fed up.  Instead of a "thank you, mom" it's a "you put WHAT in my lunch? Gross" and when you ask them to take their clean, sorted, folded laundry to their room you would think you asked them to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush.  I should probably be asking them to do more, but with the resistance I get with the few things we do ask it seems easier sometimes to just do it myself.  Truth be told, I'm a control freak and they aren't the best at cleaning to my expectations and I have to do it again so it's easier for me to just do it myself.
We have a lot of kids (7 in the home right now, ages 12, 11, 10, 4, 2, 1 and 5 months) and that equals a lot of pure maintenance work for the parents.  Lots of dishes, laundry, taxiing, listening, playing, tucking in, feeding, etc.  This is a choice and I'm not complaining, just tired.
I love a big family and I wouldn't change it for the world but there are days when I wonder how life would be different with just one child.  Would we be always hanging out and talking about our feelings?  We connect with our kids daily, sit with them through their struggles and do our best to empathize and help resolve issues.  We make family time and read with them after we put the babies to bed.  We support each other but life is rushing by.
I am being very intentional to the things I say YES to lately.  Honoring time and togetherness.  We are surely missing out on amazing events, but we are becoming stronger as a family.
This I must remember this week as things seem to be in chaos mode.  Take time to sit down and breathe it in.  These days that our kids (the boys especially) want to spend their time with us is rapidly passing and I don't want to miss a minute.

Back Up the Hippie Bus

This weekend I literally stopped myself, while I was walking through the kitchen, to laugh.  I have becomes a total hippie without even realizing it was happening.
Yeah, I still shave my legs and drive a gas guzzling SUV and my boys are playing XBOX and we have a tv...so not REAL hippies.  Let's face it, the hippie van wouldn't hold all of our people and I can't grow out my straight hair to save my life.
We have always tried to eat well, make homemade rather than store bought as much as we could and all but it's getting ridiculous.
I stopped and laughed because I was testing my kombucha brew, after I had just pulled kale chips out of the dehydrator and had filled it with "zucchini gummies"  Don't mock until you've tried them, they are seriously not bad!  My kids even like them (all but one who refuses to try them) and have asked that I make more.  A couple weeks ago I made Black Bean Fudge and they have asked when I'm planning to make it again.  Seriously, people, there are some healthy tasty options for regular people out there.  I do try to find a balance, we do eat store bought processed stuff and there are nights when a run thru McDonalds is just about all I can manage for dinner.
We have also started doing some family meditation.  Can you believe it?  Nope, me either.
I'm just a typical soccer/theater mom trying to make smart choices for the family.  Sometimes they are a total bust, sometimes we find a great new healthy snack!

Eyes Wide Open

The last week I have been picking up one of the little guys I nanny for at school and we have been staying to play at the school playground for awhile.
It has been seriously eye opening for me, so this post isn't meant to be judgmental in any way.  I think I am able to get a different perspective as a non-parent at this school, I really don't know many of these parents and they tend to sit and chat with each other or at least sit near each other and I'm the outsider.
I think we all, at times, have fallen into the trap that is having our children playing while we are checking out Facebook, ordering from Amazon, seeing if we got any new emails, chatted w friends, etc.  I've done it, especially back when my boys were younger and the three of them would go play and not seem to care if I was there or not.  Honestly, with a playground full of kids they don't really want to play with their mom!  I'm good with that, but here is an observation I have made.  Every single day, as I sit alone at the school playground and watch the kids play, there have been times where parents were completely oblivious to what their child was up to.  Yesterday it was two moms talking about how overbooked they are, not really complaining but saying with pride how every single day they have activities after school (except every other Friday).  As if that meant shot their child up the social ladder!  While they were talking, one of their children was close to jumping off the top of the monkey bars and another was swearing at the other kids on the playground.  They were literally less then 20 feet away from the moms.  Next to them was a mom so consumed with her smart phone, that her daughter (who was maybe 10 feet away) had to call to her 12 times to get her attention and show her that she could skip 3 rungs on the monkey bars.  She had literally been hanging there, arms fully outstretched for a couple of minutes calling for her mom.  The day before it was a dad who was busy on his phone and his young son had just scored a long goal on the soccer field and the game came to a halt for a minute while he tried to tell him the news but he never looked up.
For me, this is sad.  I've been that mom and my kids have been those kids.  What am I going to do about it?  Make a change.  Nothing is more important than my kids.  Nothing.  There is no Facebook post, email or recipe that can't wait.  I will still do a quick peek or answer a text, but for the most part I am making a promise to my kids that my attention is on them (even if I'm not hovering over their every move or directly playing with them).  I'm not aiming to create self centered kids, but ones who accomplish things on their own and don't have to yell for me 12 times to give them a thumbs up.

A Perfect Morning

 I am truly blessed with friendship, true, deep friendships.  I don't get to see my friends daily, seems life lately is busy with the kids doing their things and time passing.   Our family is big (we have 4 adopted and 3 foster babies right now) so we rarely get invited places and truth is, it's tough for us to enjoy an evening anywhere w all the littles.
Anyhow, we have friends who have made it a point to focus on their family and live intentionally.  They have travelled to 22 countries in the last 2 years and were home shortly before heading off to their next adventure.  I admire them having the courage to do this, leaving what's comfortable and known for new places, cultures and experiences.  They have been blogging (www.livology.com) and you can subscribe to their Daily Livits, too.
Back to friendships...as I was pulling into daycare one afternoon to pick up the babies, I saw Colleen and the kids pull in beside me.  What a pleasant surprise!  I had known they were in town but wasn't sure we would be able to connect before they left again.  We gave each other big hugs and caught up briefly and made tentative plans to get the kids together for a Nerf War.  It just made my day to have someone go out of t
their way and follow me into the parking lot just to say hi.
On Friday we got a chance to have coffee, a BYOC very casual get together for the kids to play and us to catch up.  Mary, Alice and Grammy came, too.  I baked up some blackberry scones (http://www.marthastewart.com/317388/blueberry-scones)
and Grammy brought fruit salad.  The kids took off into the yard and it was if time had never passed, they played and laughed and I'm fairly certain they were so consumed in their play that they didn't even know we were there.  The adults got a chance to sip coffee on the porch and catch up on life, time seemed to slow down and it was truly a perfect morning.
I cherish these women, how I feel when I'm with them and can't begin to express how lucky I am to have them as a part of my life and my children's lives.
It was sad to say our "see you laters" but also know that we will never forget that morning at the house, when all was right with the world.


Road Trip

We have had an awesome week with our nieces visiting.  Cousin time is always fun, rarely do we get them for a whole week so that was a  treat.   My parents had booked a hotel room for us to spend a final summer getaway (as long as we found places for babies to be).
There was a lot of juggling, babies here and there, a house sitter for the puppy and everything finally fell together.  We were packed up and just waiting for me to be done working so we could jump in the car and head to the beach.  Got all loaded, sat in ferry traffic and had just made it across the bridge when there was a distinct thunking under
hood.  Not good.  I pulled over, text our friend who always gets us out of car binds and waited for him to come save us.
He came and looked and turns out some little piece had broken off and the spark plug had come loose.  It wasn't drivable so he attached a tow rope, we loaded all the kids in his truck and let Dee man the wheel of mine and towed us back to the island.  Poor Dee!  She was a rock star and white knuckled her way through it.  He fixed it enough for us to drive home until he got the parts for a true repair.  Now 2 hours later than we were hoping, we drew names for who got shotgun in which car and headed out.  You would think that would be easy, but one of our guys has some anxiety issues and the minute we got rolling again, the tears came.  My heart breaks for him, as I try to look at the bright side "we weren't in an accident, we're all fine, we are just getting a late start, we will get to the beach soon"  Finally got him calmed down, yes it was stressful, yes it was scary but all in all it was ok.
We finally got to the hotel around 10:30, said a quick Hi to Nana and Papa and tried our best to get kids settled in to go to bed.  Looking forward to some stormy ocean beach time with the family.  Incredibly thankful for our friends who are there to support us, help with short ones, rescue us when we get stuck and listen when I need to vent about it.  We are here, we are safe, we are enjoying some desperately needed core family time.