Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Ultimate Validation

I spent yesterday being sick. Like, sicker than sick, so today I'm moving a little slowly. Sean decided that he wanted to help me, so he offered to make breakfast. His willingness to pitch in was absolutely fueled by his own urgent desire for cereal that I felt was less pressing than my need for coffee, but at this point I was taking whatever help I could get. I knew it would be messy, but honestly that mess happens whether I'm involved or not so I figured that since clean up was inevitable, he could go for it. 
He gathered 5 bowls, 5 spoons, 5 cups, cereal, and cranberries. He took orders, poured bowls and filled cups... and then... my dear sweet boy gave me the greatest gift of all. 
He said (in a huffy, out of breath voice) 
"Mom, I'm going as fast as I can but they all just keep asking for things! As soon as I do what they want, they ask for something else! Nothing is making them happy and I haven't even been able to make my own food yet and I'm so hungry!" 
(Que angels from above and glorious singing sounds)
"I know buddy, it can be really hard to make everyone happy sometimes."
"Yeah mom, this is BAD. You never have to make breakfast again, everyone is yelling at me and I just got up! I don't want you to have to do this anymore!"
Aaaand...there it is.... He gets it! He really gets it! I know that his 6 year old self will forget by snack time, but to hear him say how hard and totally overwhelming it can be to have everyone barking at you first thing in the morning was totally priceless. Those few little words make all the work so much easier to do knowing that on some level, they are learning.
Thank You Sean! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The countdown has begun

-broken up 2 fights (1 due to lego's, other due to movie selection)
-made 15 waffles
-mopped the floor due to post waffle mess
-1 load of laundry
-stepped in mystery bathroom puddle
-killed 1 prehistoric mega-bug
-vacuumed up 15 crayons worth if wrappers (Kate!!!) 
-wrestled Kate out of bathroom
(let it be noted that she got into the Vaseline so this act needs to be counted as two) 
- finally came to my senses and tossed Vaseline in the trash...

and speaking of trash, my most favorite duty this morning...

-bleaching the boys trash can after having learned that they've been using it as a potty. In their bedroom. Hence the mystery smell that I've been trying to locate. Picture an excited beagle sniffing around a new location... then swap out the cute beagle for a tired me with a disgusted look on my face due to the overwhelming stench having just smacked me in the face. 

It is now 9:36am and Nate, Sean, Claire, and Danny all went hauling outside when the neighbor kids came to play (meaning the neighborhood is currently under siege). Kate is at large, presumably upstairs causing irreparable damage to something, I can tell by the silence. I'm having more coffee....and contemplating what the "Somebody get it and RIP IT DOWN!!!!!!" that I just heard coming from outside was referring to. 

Coffee needs to wait though, because now we have this happening. 

School starts in less than a month friends... less. than. a. month. 
(but not for her... because she's 2)

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Story of Our First Vacation

I feel like I have recovered from our vacation experience enough to speak about it. 
My grandfather was from a magical place called Kelley's Island. Now, it's not really magical of course, but as a little kid I sure thought so. And I was desperate for my kids to think so too. The cottage that was the source of all the perceived magic is no longer in my family, but I managed to rent it just the same. 
This trip was literally years in the making and somewhat of a dream come true for me. 
See, tons of people take their kids on vacations every year. Tons of people take multiple kids on vacations every year. And tons of people, take multiple kids on vacation every year, and have a good time. 
To be clear.... we are not those people. 
Call it fear, call it laziness, or call it practicality.... either way....
Hauling 5 kids away on a trip is not something to be taken lightly. 
Something to keep in mind is that our kids are all still very young, and are all very close in age. That means more hands to hold than we have available, more gadgets to bring than we have room for, and more naps to miss than should be legal. This year, we finally buckled down and decided enough is enough, we're taking the leap! One more step to being a normal family who does normal things like take a 5 day trip in the summer! 
(to an island smack dab in the middle of luxurious (ha!) Lake Erie, which means less than 2 hours in the car... ferry ride included!) 
So, as the days crept closer, I began to prepare more and more. I shopped, and wrote lists, and cooked food. To feed 5 kids for 5 days takes A LOT of food, and there was no way on this earth or above, that eating out was an option. Taking all of our kiddos to a restaurant is a task that I wish upon no one, especially not myself. Nope. No thanks. A full day of cooking to prepare meals for 5 days? Yes please! 
And so, the lists continued. What does a family of 7 need to take on vacations anyways?
Well, the same thing as any other red blooded American family would need.... x7.... Plus some extras. 
The day finally came, we were leaving!!! 
All packed and ready to go, we headed out on the open road... 
in 2 vehicles
... because a family of 7 can't fit in 1 Honda Odyssey when said family needs to pack everything it will need to sustain itself for a week (and I'm not talking extras... think bedding, food... toilet paper?!) I digress... 
Open road! It's amazing! 
I had so much fun driving the route I had taken so many times as a child, showing my kids all of the markers along the way that tells a 7 (6,4,3, and 2)yr old that you're almost there (the Lake Erie monser was gone but the giant still stands and peach butt was as pretty as ever). The ferry ride was amazing, the weather was perfect and the water was sparkly!
We arrived at the cottage and all my summers as a little kid came rushing back. It smelled the same, it looked the same, and I loved it just the same. 
And then....... the kids exploded. The 3 youngest hadn't napped. We tried to feed them lunch (VERY late) and no one ate. There was crying. There was pouting. There was fighting. There was dismantling of the cottage and all of her 100+ years of history that's not completely meant for a family of 5 small kids. My husband and I looked at each other and we sat and just absorbed the chaos as it unfolded around us. Nothing was helping, nothing was making them happy. It was pandemonium. It became clear that sleep deprivation was not helping, so we figured a drive around the smallish island would surely knock a few nappers right out. And it did! And it was amazing... for 37 seconds, until someone had a tantrum and woke up the sleepers and pandemonium sat its big fat rear end right back down on top of us. 
The realization hit us like a ton of bricks, this wasn't working. We tried. And we were failing. The kids were miserable. We were miserable. I'm pretty sure the island was miserable. 
Remember back there where I mentioned we brought 2 cars and mentioned the drive was less than 2 hours, ferry ride included? Well, we faced a choice. We could force a situation that left alone, was not enjoyable for any of us. Force the experience for experience sake...Or, we could divide the household up and do what was best for the kids. The big boys were doing well, it was the littles that were not. 
See, the kids are homebodies. Some would say that it's our doing for not venturing out into the big wide world enough, and some might be right. But, for whatever the reason, they are who they are and to fight that fact is just not worth it. 
I tossed some things back in a bag, packed up my 3 little sobbing disasters, and off we went. They were asleep as soon as we drove off the ferry and were happy as can be when we got back home and they were in their space. Over the next few days they played and we went to the beach and had fun of our own. The big boys did big boy things that big boys shouldn't tell their moms about if they don't want her to worry (or gag). But, the kids were happy. Obviously, had we been further away or only had 1 vehicle, this would not have been our plan of attack. But we did, and so... it worked. A few days went by and on the last full day I decided to pack the kids up and go back up to the island. It might be horrible, but even if it was, it would only be for one night and one night is infinitely more manageable than a whole week of nights. The littles were so excited to see their dad and brothers and we did all kids of fun family things. Bedtime was hideous, and sleeping at night (if you can call it that) was worse, but we were headed home in the morning and so it was fine. 
So, could one call it a vacation? Absolutely not, at least not for mom and dad. 
There was no relaxing, no endless lounging, no extra yummy food or tasty beverages. Just a really old cottage, 5 cranky kids, a few (hundred) bugs, and 2 seriously tired parents. 
But, it was trip that I will never forget and that I will be eternally grateful to have experienced. It was the first step of many and it taught us so much about how to manage our expectations. We learned some lessons that over the years will be absolutely invaluable for our family. I am so proud of us for making the choice to split up and go against the grain of what most people might have done. Our family is not like most other families, so why should our vacations be like most vacations? We modified where necessary and crazy or not, it just worked. So much of our happiness and contentment in any given situation is contingent on our expectations. It's a powerful thing when you learn that you and you alone can control your own happiness- learning that is has nothing to do with what's going on around you but rather, your own perception. 
My perception tells me happiness equals success...and if all my kids are happy, not sure how much more I can ask than that! 

This was the beginning of the end- looks really calm doesn't it? -don't be fooled. 
(3 day break)
And we're back!! 
We met the boys by the beach as soon as we landed back on the island. Perfect. 

I wanted so badly for Kelley's to be a part of them, like it is a part of me...

and boy is it ever...

these kids were meant to throw those stones. 

So thank you West End Club and so long... until next time!

Friday, July 11, 2014

That Must Be Some Tasty Cabbage

The cabbages that the boys brought home from school have gotten huge. Today we discovered a few new friends that have come to visit. 
The advice of what to do about cabbage worms is pretty straight forward (squish them...quick!) but we're taking a live and let live approach to our new buddies. 

After all, it's not often that we get visitors who are willing to put up with our noisy craziness for long. And these little guys seem to be pretty content. 

So, we're just going to keep an eye on them.
(this one is full of little green balls... worm poo... who knew right?)

Word on the street is that they'll form cacoons and turn in to these pretties...
But until then, there will be no squishing. There will clearly be no stuffed cabbage either- But for The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar(s), that seems a small price to pay. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

God Bless You, USA!

There are those, I know, who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream.  They are right.  It is the American dream.  
~Archibald MacLeish

For the record, reading through "quotes about America" made me want to grab a flag and go running through the street exclaiming about the glory of our nation! 
Stay awesome America!