Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Break Here We Come

Tomorrow we're off on a spring break trip. We're looking forward to leaving 40 degree weather for temps in the 80s!

Today, the boys packed their own travel bags. Tonight, I've sifted through their bags. It's amazing what they find to be essential for a week's vacation. (Connor packed a nerf gun!)

Caleb said, "Don't worry, I didn't pack anything dangerous like a light saber."

Whew!





Sunday, March 27, 2011

Praying for Batman

Collin posed with Batman at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

The boys were enthralled with the transformer on display at the Children's Museum.

We folded our hands to pray before lunch today. Collin, freshly two, folded his chubby palms together and began to talk in his sweet toddler voice. We were so excited, it was the first time we'd heard him pray.

He said, "Dear God. Thank you for Batman. Amen."

Chris and I started to chuckle. It's a start, right?

The note left by Connor to his younger brother. Fortunately, the recipient brother can't read and was none the wiser when he received this ransom note! (He also doesn't have any money!)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cooper's Antics

Where I found Cooper this afternoon.

Where I found Cooper yesterday. He attempted to blend in with a crew of mannequins.

Chris has a friend who is the youngest of six boys. His childhood stories are quite entertaining. One of his stories has always stuck in my memory. Evidently, his five older brothers placed him into a clothes dryer and turned it on. The petrified brother rotated once, before he was freed. When I heard the story, I wondered, "While my boys attempt such a stunt?"

This afternoon, Cooper was missing somewhere in the confines of our home. I searched the house top to bottom. Suddenly, I spotted him in the laundry room. He had wedged himself inside the dryer with a smile plastered on his face. Of course, the word spread quickly that Cooper was in the dryer. Within seconds, eager siblings raced to the laundry room, dying to give Cooper a whirl in the machine.

Before Cooper had a chance to be permanent pressed, I tugged him out of the dryer's clutches. He erupted into his infamous giggles. I wanted to be mad, I really did. But, his eyes twinkled, his smile permeated, and his gleeful disposition radiated.

Me: COOPER! Sigh. Smirk. Sigh some more.

What was he thinking?


Today, the boys went to their friend, Liam's Lego birthday party.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy 300th!

The Wood boys devoured a pizza dinner with the Maxwell kids. Many thanks to my sweet (and brave!) friend, Ali. She babysat my four boys and her four children all by herself tonight. She was even still smiling when we picked the boys up. We owe you!

Tonight's post marks the 300th Wood Boys Chronicles post. It seems like a milestone of sorts, and caused me to pause and reflect on the origins of the blog. I suppose I entered blogdom with a wee bit of trepidation. Would my daily musings unfold like an obnoxious Christmas card letter: heavy on words and sugary in content? Would my words come tumbling out in some narcissistic mess?

Despite my misgivings, this blog was birthed in December 2009. You see, 15 months ago, I was blue. Caleb was freshly diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, and everyday life was a challenge. I was wrestling with Caleb, while still parenting three other little boys (oftentimes alone). As the pressure mounted, I began to search for an emotional outlet.

So, the blog began as an electronic confessional. I'd spend my evenings pouring out emotions all over the keyboard. I treated blogging like a therapy session. I truly believe placing my thoughts to keys did (and still does) wonders for my emotional health.

Along the way, I realized the blog was also capturing the truly comedic moments in my day. My four boys provide quite a bit of entertainment. I'm so glad I can write all the preposterous moments and witty banter that occurs within the span of a day.

Thanks to family and friends who have read my words, and have provided encouragement and advice from the content.










Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finding Success, One Dust Ball at a Time

Collin posed before going to school yesterday. Yes, this is really how much we bring to school!

Too much to do, too little time, too many kids. This mantra continually ran through my head this morning. I felt like my mental to do list was bearing into my skull, leaving me totally frazzled. This feeling is no stranger. As I've increased children, I've grown familiar with this notion: the idea of living in a constant state of unproductivity.

I suppose I've learned survival techniques. I've discovered if I set my standards extremely low, the likelihood of personal disappointment becomes slim. So, I enter each morning with such lofty aspirations as: Today will be a success if I can get one load of laundry completely finished. At the end of the day, if the laundry is washed and folded, I feel as if a marching band should be cheering me on (or in the least giving me a really good pat on the back).

Today, I surpassed all personal goals. I polished a few baseboards, spruced up a few dirty walls, and even dived into the spring clothes. At the end of my cleaning binge, I felt like I just climbed Mount Everest. I was beaming. I was glowing. I was a success.

It never fails, on days like today, I'll talk to Chris about his day. He'll casually mention a day full of such activities as resuscitating a patient in cardiac arrest or healing an ailing child. After a few minutes, he'll respond, "So, how was your day?"

Um. Well. You see...

Suddenly, I don't hear the marching band.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sick Days

The last two days, I've been permeated with the stomach flu. Four kids ago, I would have treated such an ailment with extreme reverence. I would have nursed my body to health with massive doses of rest and TLC.

Today, it's a different story. We moms know way too well that motherhood doesn't come with sick days. So, I attempted to hole up on the couch in between carpools and homework. I've come to realize, I can parent sick as long as I keep two principles in mind:

1) I don't have to be a martyr.

No, I wasn't parenting in a manner suitable for the Supernanny, nor did I perform housework to the standards of Martha Stewart. But, I did maintain my sanity, and keep four boys alive for the last 48 hours. To me, that's an accomplishment.

2) There's nothing wrong with an electronic babysitter when illness is involved.

I'm usually a stickler on limiting the boys TV, but stealing a few restful minutes on the couch while Sesame Street entertained was certainly a lifesaver. I don't regret one TV minute that bought me a smidgen of peace. (I even finished one of my new favorite books, "Unbroken.")

As the day progressed, I've felt better and praying that my four little ones will be spared.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday, Sunday

Chris and Collin enjoyed lots of afternoon play.

When I was a child, Sundays were always the same: donuts or some sort of equally sinful baked good for breakfast, church mid morning, lunch out at one of our favorite haunts, afternoon siestas, and finally a leisurely completion to the day. Then, we'd gear up for another busy week, survive the frenzy, and return to the oasis of the seventh day. Repeat and repeat.

I suppose I entered motherhood assuming my children would spend their Sundays in a similar fashion. In my sugary visions, I never anticipated I'd have a husband that worked irregular hours and frequent weekends. I couldn't have guessed family traditions (especially weekly ones) would be nearly impossible to maintain (unless they could be enacted by a solo parent). So, childhood Sundays have faded into memories, and former traditions have withered.

But, today Chris was off work. This Sunday felt like the ones in my memories. It was full of all the good stuff: church, leisure activities, rest, and plenty of family time. At the end of the day, I pondered, "Can't they always be like this?" Reality came rushing in, and I knew the answer.

But, today I savored, and remembered some of my beloved memories.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Overnight Date

Even though our house has ample amount of toys, Connor chooses Dixie cups to provide amusement.

Last night I was feeling a little blue and concerned about Caleb. Today was his classmate's party. I wondered how Caleb would greet the day. With concern mounting, I called my mom to lament. It's funny, no matter my age, there's just something comforting about having my mother listen to my woes. I think just hearing her voice soothed my soul, but her reassuring words provided additional refreshment. We hung up the phone after several minutes, and I felt like a weight had plummeted off my shoulder.

About a half an hour later, my parents called back. They invited Caleb to an overnighter at their house that would include an IMAX movie, dinner out, and a trip to the toy store. Caleb was still up when I received the call, and he beamed when he heard the invitation.

Tonight, Caleb is at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I spoke to him once on the phone, and he seemed happy, and basking in the attention. Grandma and Grandpa seemed thrilled too.

When I was a kid, my parents were always helping me out and finding solutions to my dilemmas. I've realized, they're still at it. I'm grateful that I have parents still wanting to find answers to the challenges that ail their adult children and grandchildren. My parents certainly found a beautiful way to salvage a difficult day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Our St. Patrick's Day breakfast: green eggs and shamrock toast.



The boys were dying to play outside. Could I really deprive my munchkins of nearly 70 degree weather? I told them to change, and then they were welcome to frolic outside. A few minutes later, Cooper descended the stairs. He was wearing a....swimsuit! (Cooper actually decided to wear two swimsuits today!) I guess I wasn't surprised. The Wood boys seem to think any temperature surpassing 40 is tropical and worthy of water play and sunbathing. (Connor even asked me if we could go to Zionsville's outdoor pool!) The boys ran out the door and didn't stop for hours. They squeezed every last minute of warmth and sunshine from the day, and begged me to bring it back tomorrow (let's hope!). I sat and wondered just what my neighbors must be thinking as they watched the boys running to and fro clad in only swimsuits. Did they think they were crazy or wish they could join in too. I'm thinking the latter.








I wrote about the boys and dinner in my last post. Tonight's dinner was also filled with drama. We served Caleb's all time food nemesis: broccoli (which just happens to be one of Chris's favorite foods). He acted as if we placed a mound of worms on his plate and declared, "Bon appetit." He went ballistic, and was inconsolable. We tried the hard tactics with no progress. Chris and I began to exasperate. Then, I looked at Caleb, and realized he was crying like I do sometimes when I just need a good cry. Haven't we all cried sometimes and really not known why? I walked over to his chair, and put him on my lap. He didn't resist. I looked into his eyes, and felt like he was wrestling with his biggest opponent: himself. I rocked him and talked him down. Eventually, he stopped crying and wore an expression that was a mixture of exhaustion and relief.

With Caleb finally under control, I asked if he'd like to take a walk just the two of us. My pleas were rejected, he knew his bedtime routine and a walk wasn't part of it. So, we compromised and played a game of cards in his room wearing pajamas. In between cards, I slid in casual conversation. His classmates' party came up, and his sadness over a missed invitation was voiced. I expressed understanding, and teared a little bit wondering what sadness he was harboring. At the end of the game, few words were actually exchanged, but relationships were being formed and strengthened.

Connor eating a green shamrock cookie!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Real Boys Don't Eat Quiche

The faces I got at dinner.

The tears flowed too.

Tonight, I prepared dinner while the boys watched a TV show. By the time the show was finished, dinner was prepared and plated on the table. The boys arrived at the dinner table at the same time. They all stopped dead in their tracks. A hush fell over the group, then gasps, followed by sighs. Then, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. The collective opinion was, "What was I thinking?"

They gasped in horror at the slices of quiche that adorned each plate. The funny thing was I assumed they would like quiche. They adore pie crust, and love eggs. But, when I combined the two, and referred to with a word foreign to their culinary vocabulary (think chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese), they revolted. I suppose I should have known; other standbys such as chicken pot pie and lasagna met the same reaction with my crew of picky foodies.

But, the chef's policy is all diners must at least sit and eat a portion of their entrees. So, the boys sat with solemn faces and shoulders hunched. Caleb was the first to secure a bite of quiche onto a utensil. His three siblings held their breaths, anticipating his next move. In one quick motion, Caleb shoveled the mound of quiche into his mouth. He didn't just stop at one, he soon disposed of almost half of the piece. The other brothers weren't as quick to comply, but with a dinner treat dangling over their heads several more followed suit.

Connor held firm. He glanced at me with a "I'd rather be dead than eat quiche" sort of look. I held firm too, giving him a "I can't be outdone" sort of glance. Finally, his brothers became frustrated with Connor. A dinner rule is everyone completes dinner before dessert is served, and Connor was the only one standing between them and a box of Girl Scout cookies.

Finally, Caleb began coaching him. "Connor, just swig tons of milk in your mouth, and then you won't even taste it. Eat it fast. Don't think about it." His comments made me laugh, and finally Connor digested the most minuscule piece of quiche imaginable.

Dinner was finally over. I'm thinking quiche won't appear at the dinner table anytime soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Cost of Daylight Savings Time

Collin's second love (after football): Batman!

Just a mere six years ago, we Hoosiers had it good. We didn't worry one iota about daylight savings time. We left our clocks alone. Our children slept. We slept, and didn't oversleep or under sleep. Life was simple, and I was happy.

Then came Governor Mitch Daniels. Promoting economic development means changing to daylight savings time, he declared. People listened, and daylight savings time landed in Indiana in 2006.

For the last five years, I've been holding a grudge. I'm not a fan, and I can safely say most of my friends with little ones agree. Does Governor Daniels understand how hard it is to get children to sleep? Has he ever tried to coordinate multiple children's naps just to get one moment of peace and quiet? Has he ever tried to explain to a six year old why they need to go to bed at what seems like 6:30 p.m.? Has he tried to wake a child up for school in what feels like 5:30 a.m.?

I can be assured that Governor Daniels never had an Asperger's child, because he'd realize Asperger's children find comfort in routine. When their cozy schedules get shifted an hour, it's as if life is crashing down. Caleb certainly reacted that way. He was unglued this morning, insisting that time was different. He doubted us. He argued with us. He finally reneged, but he looked worn and confused.

So, I'm crossing my fingers Indiana will return to simple. Wouldn't that be easier?










Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Celebration at the Farm

The beloved farm! This 1850 home has housed a member of my family for four generations.

The clever table (made of diapers) decorations in pink and blue!

As a Purdue graduate, my cousin squealed with delight when she received a plethora of Purdue baby apparel.

The female relatives posed for a picture.

The girl cousins!

Several weeks ago I received an invitation to my cousin Laura's baby shower. The whole female side of the family, and several friends, were invited to celebrate the arrival of her twins (a boy and a girl!). The invitation listed the location as: the Raasch Farm. It's funny, there wasn't any address or map included, but every single recipient knew the farm.

The farm is an 1850 Hendricks County home. It has been remodeled a couple of times, but still holds the charm (and challenges) of an older home. The home is stately, shrouded in thick red brick with period touches. The interior beckoned another era: fireplaces fill the original rooms, strong wooden doors stand at the entrances, and family heirlooms and antiques dot walls and bookcases. Cornfields encircled the home, and a jellybean shaped pond flanks the gravel driveway.

I said to Chris once, "Isn't this the best home you've ever seen."

Without hesitation, he replied, "No."

I realized later, we weren't looking at the same structure. Chris saw the home with all its blemishes: cracks, sags, repairs, and updates. (In other words, he saw lots of dollar signs!) I saw a home that was the place where I learned to fish with my grandfather. I spent holidays there with dozens of relatives. We sat in the dining room and gobbled up homemade noodles, warm cinnamon rolls, and persimmon pudding. I spent summers in the yard, swinging on the tire swing and making laps in the tractor. I slept over with my grandparents, and indulged in sugary breakfasts the next morning (compliments of my sweet tooth grandmother).

Today, we celebrated Laura and her babies. My female relatives laughed, hugged, and relished in the beauty of family. When I came home, Chris asked how the shower went. I shared all the glorious details and then said, "I wish you'd seen it." I meant it.




Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wake Up Call

Today, I realized my temperament improves exponentially with the rise in temperature and percentage of sunshine. With both increasing, I was all smiles today (so were the boys).

Finally, the boys had the opportunity to just be boys. I think they really needed some outdoor play, even if it meant just scooping up handfuls of dirt and slinging around clumps of mud.

It was warm enough to run around at a playground. The boys jetted around the equipment, releasing all the pent-up energy bottled during months of winter hibernation.

Finally, it felt like spring!

Connor reached the top of the bars, and said, "You've got to see this view."

At four in the morning, I heard a knock on my door. The rapping was followed with a "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy!"

I groggily answered, "What Cooper?"

"I have a question for you," Cooper replied.

I mumbled, "What?"

Cooper replied in all seriousness, "Are you asleep?"

Slightly annoyed I responded, "I was."

Even though the room was pitch black, I think I could still see the twinkle in Cooper's eyes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Hits Home

Cooper and his friend Annika enjoyed a pizza dinner.

Collin and his pal, Alyssa, sucked down juice boxes.

As a treat, I gave all the kids shamrock cookies. They were devoured quickly.

I learned about the tragedy in Japan first thing this morning. My first thought went to my sweet Japanese born neighbor, Sy. How was her family? How was she holding up?

A few hours later, we talked. She had heard from her father and brother, but couldn't contact other extended family members. My heart went out to Sy. She was distraught, and looked exhausted. I offered to take her kids for a few hours. I hoped she would take a few minutes to herself, maybe even squeeze in a little sleep.

At five o'clock, her two girls joined my boys for a movie and pizza night. The kids had a ball, as they all enjoyed a Scooby Doo flick and slices of cheese pizza. Just taking in the tranquil scene, you'd never imagine that half a world away a country lay in utter destruction.

Sy was finally able to contact her family. Everyone appears safe, although some are stranded due to mangled roads. We'll continue to pray for Sy, her family, and Japan.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finding Laughter

Caleb doing today's chore: vacuuming!

Isn't it amazing how quickly a day can unravel? This morning started out great. I spent my a.m. out and about. When I arrived home around noon, things began to go south. I was greeted with one teacher e-mail and one speech pathologist voice mail. They both conveyed the same message: Caleb was having a bad day.

I talked to the speech pathologist and left a voice message with the teacher. Then, I sat and sulked. I shot off an e-mail to my friend whose aspie daughter was also going through a tough week. I thought she would find comfort in knowing her child wasn't the only.

A little later, she replied. She voiced her condolences. Then, she shared another story from the day, compliments of another aspie mom. Evidently, her son (who runs when agitated) bolted from his classroom and hid in the bathroom. The principal came looking for the little boy in the restroom. The boy was prepared for his captor, armed with a can of air freshener. I guess when the unsuspected (and unarmed) principal entered the bathroom, the little boy let him have it, peppering him with rounds of air freshener. I know it was WRONG, but I found it pretty darn funny.

Despite my sullen mood, I began to smile, then giggle, and finally full-blown howl. I couldn't erase the mental image of this poor principal being creamed by a can of air freshener. I have to say, it felt good to laugh.

Today, I'm grateful for my sweet friend. Laughter sometimes is the best medicine!



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Connor and Collin are the brothers that get along the best. Connor is making his little brother laugh.

Collin and Cooper stare at my phone. When did they both get so big?

As a born and raised Presbyterian, I don't remember Ash Wednesdays holding extreme importance. I have no recollection of attending an Ash Wednesday church service, or giving up anything of value during the Lenten season. It wasn't until I married a born and bred Catholic, that Ash Wednesdays seemed more significant. Chris has always treated Ash Wednesdays and the Lenten season with extreme homage. Part of his reverence, includes giving up something of personal value for the 40 days leading up to Easter.

This year, Chris and I discussed what to give up for Lent. Of course, I had plenty of ideas for Chris. Isn't it easier to tell someone else what to give up? Chris took my suggestion, and he unplugged his Play station last night. I was impressed by his willingness to abstain from something so beloved.

Next, I moved onto the kids. I broached the subject of Lent with them. I asked what they would like to give up for 40 days.

Cooper (eyeing his brothers): "Who gets it when we give it up?"

Connor: "I'll give up Cooper."

Cooper in tears. Fighting ensued.

Cooper: "I'll give up broken toys."

Caleb: "I'm not doing it."

Connor: "How about Broccoli."

All four boys: "Yes, Broccoli!"

With all the commotion, I decided to table the boys discussion of Lent for another day.

I finally realized, I was left. What would I give up? I'm sad to admit, my thought process went something like this: "I need to give up something I value, but not something I value too much." I think guilt set in, and I decided I needed to abstain from something that will truly be missed. After mulling over several thoughts, I decided to borrow an idea from my good friend, Cara. I'm giving up chocolate. It will hurt. It will be a sacrifice. I'll miss it dearly. But, isn't that the point?

I'm hoping our family will take the next 40 days to reflect on Christ's sacrifice, in whatever little ways we can.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Asperger's: Seeing the Silver Lining

The boys (Collin and Cooper) enjoyed lots of outdoor playtime with our version of tropical weather (40 degrees).

Did anyone catch last week's Parenthood episode? To recap: two parents inform their son he has Asperger's syndrome. They fumble the first talk, seek professional guidance, and then successfully communicate with their son on the second attempt. Well, life couldn't imitate art more than it did today.

A few weeks ago, we informed Caleb he had Asperger's. He treated our revelation with about as much enthusiasm as if we told him he was having a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. The last weeks, he's remained completely mum on our conversation. We've wondered what he's processed and how he's felt about our whole discussion. We've questioned whether we needed to say more.

Today, we visited Caleb's doctor. I spoke with her alone first, sharing about our conversation with Caleb. Then, Caleb went into her office alone for the remainder of the appointment. At the end, the doctor ushered me into her office. She explained, as Caleb fiddled with a tupperware full of lego pieces, that they talked about Asperger's. She recounted the conversation.

First, she asked Caleb what he remembered most about our prior conversation. She said he responded, "Asperger's kids don't lie." So true. Then, she and Caleb went through All Cats Have Asperger's. This time, she asked him to tell her all the cool things he does that are similar to the cat. He responded, "I have good hearing and smell." Bingo. Finally, she informed him he wasn't alone, and mentioned several other kids from his social skills class holding the same diagnosis.

By the time I saw Caleb, his spine seemed straighter, his eyes a little brighter, and his temperament almost upbeat. As Caleb looked on, she announced all the special qualities Asperger's children hold, and how different (in a good way) they are from their peers. Picking up on her cues, I listed some of Caleb's other special qualities: he is incredibly smart, holds passionate and deep interests, and has an amazing memory. He appeared busy, but I know my words were absorbed and (hopefully) treasured.

As the doctor continued to talk, I teared up just a bit. I appreciate her positive tone, and I know it helped Caleb, but deep down I was just a little sad for him. What was he hearing as the words came tumbling out? Did he feel alone? Did he feel different? Can I shield him from every hurt and challenge that will come his way?

Of course, I can't protect him from everything, but I know I can continue to reinforce the special, unique qualities that make Caleb the boy that's captured our hearts.




Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sleepover

Parker joined my boys in watching a movie and munching on popcorn.

Caleb shoves fistfuls of popcorn into his mouth. Seriously, I just fed him dinner!

Collin finally got sick of using his hands, and just brought the popcorn bowl directly to his mouth. You can guess how everyone else reacted to this!

After the movie, Chris and the boys played Wii Just Dance. Chris is showing the boys how to do the macarena.

We didn't plan on having an overnight sleepover so young. But when one of Caleb's classmates needed a babysitter for the night, we accepted. After last week's invitation snub, we thought an overnight friend might be appreciated.

I spent days dreading the event. Would we get any sleep? Would he get scared in the middle of the night? Would he get along with the boys? I'd have to say, it went much better than I anticipated. Parker was very easy going, even a tad bit intimidated by the sure volume of males in our house.

The boys started the evening with a movie and popcorn. I brought down the bowl and they devoured it within minutes. Being that Parker has only one sibling, he didn't know that they Wood boys learned early, "Eat fast, or don't eat at all." But, as Parker saw the popcorn quickly dwindle, he began shoving fistfuls into his mouth.

Movie watching was followed by wii playing. Around 9 p.m., I encouraged the boys to go to bed (mostly because I was ready to sleep). Evidently, the merriment continued until 11ish (except for Caleb who fell fast asleep). Unfortunately, the party resumed around 6 a.m. Sigh.

I'm definitely not ready for a sleepover every weekend, but we're all pleased that Caleb spent time with a friend. That's worth the sleep deprivation!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Basketball

I treated the boys to McDonalds Shamrock shakes. Two of them absolutely loved it. Can you guess which ones?

Last night, we ate dinner at our good friends, the Brinkruffs, house. The boys had a blast with their friends.

Caleb and Audrey. They've been friends since birth. It's been fun to see the two of them grow.

The weather was plain icky today: rain, flooding, and snow (I think!). The wet conditions, didn't stop Cooper from outdoor play. (Anyone surprised?)

Connor had his last Upward Bound basketball game today. I greeted the last day with mixed emotion: thrilled to have more leisurely Saturday mornings, but sad to see Connor leave an activity that was so wonderful. Connor certainly improved this season. Despite the fact that he spent a lot of time playing the air guitar and showing off his crazy dance moves to his teammates, he ACTUALLY learned some basketball too. Connor learned how to dribble, and pass. He ran down the court with the other players, and seemed to know what was going on. He never did make a basket, but he really tried, and that's all that matters.

Today, during the game, another parent said to me, "Connor looks so happy."

I think he'd just finished strumming his air guitar, but he was running down the court with a smile, laughing with his teammates. He did look happy, and at that point I knew it was a perfect fit!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Missed Invitation

Cooper doing his chores: trash cans!

Connor and our neighbor friend, firing balloons up into the sky (or yard!).

Caleb's definitely not one for chit chat, but several times lately he's mentioned a classmates' birthday. "It's going to be at Laser Flash," he announced with excitement. "He said he's going to invite me." I'd smile, and say all the things a mom should say, "How cool. Sounds fun. Can't wait." But deep down I questioned whether the birthday party existed, and if so, was it happening anytime soon? (After all, I have four boys that discuss/plan their birthdays 365 days a year.)

This morning, Caleb bolted down the stairs, and demanded I check my email. "The invitations are out," he announced with anticipation. "My friend told me the invites were sent two days ago on e-mail." When I acknowledged, no invitations had been received, he begged to check Chris's e-mail too. It started to become apparent to me (and Caleb) that he had not received an invitation.

He was in tizzy, and returned to his room in a huff. My mama bear protective instincts kicked in, and I wanted to do all I could to protect from any impending hurt. I sat contemplating what to do:

Tough Love Approach: Rejection is a part of life. You need to learn to deal with it at age eight, because it will never go away.

Cheerleader Approach: You'll find better friends. You'll get invited to lots of parties in the future. You don't need to worry about him.

Helicopter Parent Approach: I'm going to call that mom. She needs to know his feelings were hurt. What was she thinking?

Crazy Parent Approach: I'll just take him anyway.

What I finally landed on:

Gentle Loving Parent Approach: I'm sorry you are hurt. We don't know all the details, but let's find something to do just us. I've gone through rejection too. I know how much it stings.

As I was discussing this with my mom today, she mentioned how I should understand how he felt. Of course, I remember being left out of a party or two as an adolescent. But, I'd have to say experiencing it through the eyes of your child is worse. I know he'll get through it, but will I?


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Running Up the Hills

Cooper's friend, Annika, came over to play. Annika loved to show us her karate moves, and anytime I broke out the camera she would pose.

For the last six months, I've tried to run with a running group a couple of times a week. (Unfortunately, it's been difficult to meet lately with the weather, Chris's many overnight shifts, and busy kids' schedules.) What I love about the group is that all the women have a continual desire to run faster, better, and stronger.

I heard the group started out running leisurely five mile runs. They became bored, and started to increase the challenge, incorporating pace, tempo, and interval runs into their workouts. The latest challenge has come in the form of hill interval runs. My running friend, Maggie, said, "You're going to love it." I had my doubts, not finding the words "hill" or "interval" to sound particularly enjoyable.

So, this morning I did my first hill interval run. Five of us 30-somethings moms and one priest (invited by one of the moms) met on the trail at 6 a.m. We started our run at a modest pace following our familiar running trail. Suddenly, Maggie directed us off the trail to a portion of the path I've never noticed. Thinking I knew every last nook and cranny in Zionsville, I was stunned that this existed. It was rolling, that I knew for sure. But even in a shroud of darkness, I could tell it was beautiful and flanked by vegetation just bursting to bloom.

We jogged to the end of the path, and then the portion of the run I had been dreading began: we ran back, and up. We ran at a modest pace to the base of the hill, and then surged to the top. Maggie and Father Joshua stormed the hill as if it were nothing. I panted and wheezed, and felt gravity fighting me every step of the way. The whole time, my inner voice was shouting, "Don't stop. Faster. Faster. Keep Going." Finally, I made it to the top of the hill, grateful a priest was standing inches away in case I needed him to administer my last rites. "Just six more times to go," I thought!

As I jogged down the hill, and my breathing resumed to normal, I realized how I really could stop at any time. I wasn't forced to participate in this crazed workout. I could have easily been sleeping peacefully in my bed, not giving a second thought to this group of running zealots. But something inside me wouldn't let me quit, so I kept running.

When the six surges were complete, the group jogged back to the parking lot. Maggie turned to me, glistening with sweat, and asked, "Did you love it?" I answered in all honesty, "No, but I know it's good for me and I know it will make me a better runner."

I know I've been getting a little deep lately, but I couldn't help think about how those hills are like what I've been experiencing lately as a parent. I'm definitely feeling like I'm in the valley, running up hill after hill. It would be so much easier to stop, but something inside me keeps screaming, "Don't stop. Keep going." As difficult as it may be, it's good for me, and it will make me better. So I surge on, looking towards the top.