Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer Challenges



The last day of preschool was celebrated at Orange Leaf with preschool buddies!  The sillies ran rampant.



Connor's third grade class enjoyed a lunch at a classmate's house.






Many Hoosiers spent Sunday at the Indianapolis 500.  We took the quieter option and toured around the 100 Acre Woods at the Indianapolis Art Museum.  


I loved spending Memorial Day weekend with my college buddy Rachel.  Seems like just yesterday we were ordering breadsticks in the dorm!


My kids adored having a sleepover with Rachel's boys.  Future college roommates?

Every new season has its challenges.  Winter brings wet boots, missing gloves, and hot chocolate overload.  Fall ushers in leaves here, there, and everywhere.  Spring carries with it the daily confusion over wardrobe selection due to extreme fluctuations in temperatures.  Summer has its own set of struggles, many of which I had forgotten about during our endless winter.  

This weekend, as water guns were pulled out of hibernation and swimsuits were dragged out of the recesses of dresser drawers, the array of challenges flooded back.

Water guns

If trapped on a desert island, this may be the one item my boys request to have with them.  They adore racing around the backyard, ducking behind trees, and blasting an unsuspecting sibling.

But...

More than likely, the unsuspecting sibling doesn't delight in the soaking.  Or, a suspecting sibling (one carrying his own water gun) is none so pleased at being a target.  They race into my arms in full hysterics.

Son:  He (sob) soaked (whimper) me (wail)!

Me:  But you're out in the backyard, clad in your swimsuit, holding a water gun.  Right?

Son:  He got me wet.

Me:  (Scratching my head.)  That will happen when you are in the backyard, clad in your swimsuit, holding a water gun.

Son shoots me a look of surprise as if he never contemplated that possibility.

Water balloons

I experienced one of the best days in my life this weekend. Caleb figured out how to tie HIS OWN water balloons.  Oh happy day!  Caleb called his new found skill "a blessing and a curse."  Now his little brothers race up to Caleb and beg him to tie their balloons bulging with water while I sit peacefully in a lounge chair relaxing.  Gone are the days when I'm huddled around a water spigot, soaked from head to toe thanks to an endless amounts of punctured balloons! Thank you Caleb!

Slip 'n Slides

I knew I was walking on dangerous ground when I placed this season's slip 'n slide into my grocery cart.  Slip 'n slides are my husband's nemesis, but because he loves his sons so much he's learned to peacefully coexist with these kiddie favorites.  True, after the use of the slip 'n slide, our yard looks like it was scalped in places.  And yes, we have never found a suitable place to store a wet plastic slide the size of a school bus (and so it lounges just about everywhere).  But the endless amount of play makes it all worth it (in my eyes at least).

But I'd rather referee a fight over water guns, rather than snow balls any day.  

Ahh...summer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

PSA: Never, Ever Ask A Woman If She's Pregnant





Collin's preschool class held a graduation ceremony yesterday.  My shy guy Collin found the whole thing a bit overwhelming and hid behind a classmate during much of the presentation.  I found it overwhelming too, but because my last baby was graduating from preschool!  

Last night I was standing in a school foyer with two of my sons.  Another mom moseyed over to me and shifted her gaze downward. She exclaimed, "Baby!"  I followed her eyes to my midsection where my five year old clung to my waist.

"Yes," I proclaimed.  "He's still my baby, even though he's a new preschool graduate!"

She looked perplexed and continued, "No, you're having a baby!"

A moment of confusion ended in clarity.  I experienced a split-second silence before the arrival of an emotional storm.  

I stammered, "No, I'm not having a baby.  My hands are certainly full already."

She laughed and rattled on about how utterly insane it would be for me to add another child to my ample brood.  I tuned her out a bit as my inner thoughts demanded the floor.  They screamed, translated, and rehashed the conversation.  

Summation:  

She thinks you're pregnant.  You are not pregnant.  She thinks you're pregnant because your belly is big.  Your belly is big because you are overweight.

My inner critic roared and fired up a litany of buried neuroses.  In the span of a nanosecond, I had come up with the solutions to combat my plump pooch.

I will stop eating everything but carrots.

I will run miles upon miles until I take on the form of a female Forrest Gump.  


I will do crunches until I pass out.


And if those don't work, I will wear baggy shirts that stretch to my knees and don't offer one single hint at my shape.


As those thoughts continued to race through my mind, I reflected on something my mother always says when I'm faced with self doubt and inner turmoil.  She says, "Focus on the truth." 

I stopped and took a deep breath.

The truth is:

1)  I'm in great shape.

Just weeks ago, I ran the Boston Marathon.  I workout six days a week and can still hold a decent pace for someone so elderly (so says my kids).

2)  I eat (fairly) healthy.

75% of the time I eat a healthy diet.  And as for the other 25%?  I think running many miles a week merits the eating of a cupcake (or two).

3)  I've had four kids.

My belly skin has stretched and re-stretched so many times that the elasticity has gone kapoot.  But my precious boys bring more joy to my life than a toned mid-section displayed in a tight T.

4)  I carry my weight in my front.

If only I was genetically gifted enough to put weight on in the chest region instead of my core!  Instead, my weight sets up camp in my belly and doesn't seem to want to leave!

5)  I'm a 40 year old mother.

I will never again have my 16 year old body.  My 40 year old flesh and muscles aren't as cooperative.  The sags, droops, and rolls are badges of a life lived, well and fully.   

Armed with theses truths, I felt an inner peace interrupted with feelings of annoyance and anger.  

This mom wasn't the first individual who has asked if I am pregnant, but I hope she'll be the last.  And so, I'd like to issue a PSA to all those in the blogosphere who are considering asking a neighbor, grocery clerk, teacher, dental hygienist, mail person, or anyone else whether she is pregnant.

Here it goes:

DON'T ASK

There may be a 95% chance that she is pregnant, but with the 5% chance she is not, please (oh please) don't risk hurting her feelings and spiraling her into a wave of self doubt!

You may say:

But she's wearing a baggy shirt and holding her belly.

DON'T ASK!

But she's holding a positive pregnancy test.

DON'T ASK!

But she's walking around the aisles at Babies 'R Us.

DON'T ASK!

But she's wearing a shirt that reads, "Baby Mama."

DON'T ASK!

But she's wandering into the hospital's maternity ward with her husband.

DON'T ASK!

She will tell you if she's pregnant.  And if she doesn't, maybe it's not your news to know.  

If you're just dying to know, hint around.  Ask whether she's spent time in a hot tub lately or has any plans to ride a thrilling, loopy roller coaster this summer.  Maybe, just maybe, she'll let you know.  

But if she doesn't, DON'T ASK!

Please!  









Monday, May 19, 2014

Can A Mom Get Bonus Points In Heaven?





Collin and I are enjoying a few "dates" before summer begins.  Last week we hit the zoo and got cozy with a few friendly fowls.


Cooper and his reading buddy and neighbor Stephen at the Young Authors first grade production.


Cooper reads his original work, "Horrifying Monsters."  He warned me in advance, "Mom, there may be words you don't understand!"

Collin and his Blue Lions team celebrate their final soccer game.






Celebrated my niece and nephew's birthdays at their petting zoo party.  Caleb's summation of the party, "I know it was a party for three and five year olds, but I think everyone had fun."  Indeed.

Having a physician husband means I spend many weekends manning the boys alone.  While I've become quite good at dragging four boys to a soccer field or basketball court without the assistance of another pair of hands, I'm still mastering ferrying them to church on my own.

Sunday morning was another of those mornings.  At 7 a.m. I was up and oozing with high hopes.  This was the morning; I could feel it in my bones.  The day when I'd arrive at 9 a.m. church with four boys perfectly coiffed/nicely dressed/ fresh smelling/grinning/fed/and ON TIME.  And, oh yeah, ditto for me too!

Evidently the boys didn't get that memo.  The 1 1/2 hour church prep time, didn't play out smoothly.  Roadblocks popped up along the way.  I fussed with a seven year old over the merits of wearing pants in 39 degrees.  I remained strong with a five year old whined about the breakfast choice.

At 8:40, we were piled into the car and cruising towards the church parking lot.  I took a glance in my rearview mirror, surveyed the boys in the backseat.  A few wore mismatched attire.  About 75% brushed their teeth.

I started to think about whether there's extra credit points in heaven.  Does a mom receive credit for ferrying her children to church, but then can bonus point be earned for the condition her children arrive at church?  Does the bonus point system work like this:

10 pts. teeth brushed
10 pts. clean clothes
10 pts. clothes worn that were NOT found crumbled on the floor
10 pts. hair styled
100 pts. for shoes

(And remember, this is times four!)

For mornings such as this, if there is a bonus point system in heaven, I imagine the points would be earned differently.

10 pts. for the mom who shows love to a sleepy, grumpy child.

1O pts. for the mom who expresses joy to her children even when the milk is spilled and cereal litters the floor.

10 pts for the mom who demonstrates peace to the siblings squabbling over the last muffin.  

10 pts. for the mom who shows patience when the toddler insists on brushing his own teeth.

10 pts. for the mom who oozes kindness to a child who isn't showing the same.   

10 pts. for the mom who shows goodness to children buckled into the car who insist on running back into the house umpteen times to retrieve coats, shoes, Bibles, and pens.

10 pts. for the mom who exhibits faithfulness to church attendance, despite the numerous roadblocks.  

10 pts. for the mom who responds with gentleness to sassy or snarky remarks.  

10 pts. for the mom who shows self control to the tween who insists his mother is the reason they are all late for church.

  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day




 Friday night was spent at the school's mother-son party.  It was a lively crew.  I'm sure this event had a much different feel than the school's father-daughter dance!



Mother's day was celebrated at church, then touring around downtown by foot and then paddleboat.


The day ended with a Mother's Day dinner with the mothers in my family: my Grandmother, Mother, and sister.

This morning I joined a few friends for a Mother's Day run.  We met at an hour many would consider insane, under a blanket of darkness.  The minute we stepped onto the trail, lightning crashed and thunder boomed.  My running friend Gwen jumped and uttered a few words unbecoming to a mother on her special day.  She raced to her car as if the lightning took chase.  The rest of us followed albeit slower and giggling still at her string of words (worthy of a sailor).  We agreed being struck by lightning on Mother's Day would certainly be a bummer and damper any holiday plans.

Once the clouds broke, we ventured out again.  The trail was soggy, and teams of frogs took residence among the path.  Despite the wet conditions and creepy creatures, laughter and love followed our steps.  As I fell into stride with my mommy friends, I thought how blessed I am to have friends who can commiserate and celebrate the joys and challenges of motherhood.  It was a truly precious way to start the day.

When I returned home, our red "Your Are Special" plate sat on the kitchen table.  It was filled with cut banana slices and two waffles topped with syrup and whipped cream.  Nearby to the plate stood Caleb, giddy and grinning.  He was the breakfast cook, he confessed.  My husband confirmed his story and gushed about how Caleb looked up a recipe, prepared the waffles, and placed them beautifully on the plate.

To say I was touched seems a bit trite.  Caleb, my beautiful boy who expresses little emotion and rarely displays acts of affection, prepared a Mother's Day breakfast for his mother.  I think my reaction was akin to Oprah's audience members when they all won cars.  I was elated, but speechless too.  It was one of those moments where you know the best gifts are truly the ones that aren't purchased.

I plopped down at the kitchen table and dug into the waffles.  They were delicious, heaven on a fork.  But then again, I'm not sure what made the dish sweeter: the cooking or the kind actions of my son.     


Friday, May 9, 2014

Pint Size Flasher



Per our tradition, we snapped a picture on our actual anniversary.  As we spent our anniversary at a track meet and soccer practice, it's not a glamorous photo.



Connor's started lacrosse.  I honestly have no idea what's going on during the games. 

Yesterday Cooper's first grade class went on a field trip to a nature preserve.  I wasn't a chaperone, and so I had to settle for Cooper's play-by-play when he returned from school.  Cooper gushed about his day and rattled off interesting tidbits.  He proudly modeled his wooden, handmade necklace.  I oohed and aahed.  And then our night was swallowed up by sports practices and homework problems and the field trip was forgotten.

After I tucked the last boy into bed, I checked my email.  Cooper's teacher sent me a message detailing an incident on the field trip bus.  Evidently, another first grader considered the school bus to be the appropriate place to pull down his pants, right in front of Cooper.  In a very professional tone, his teacher assured me the appropriate steps were taken by the school.

As I read her note, I recalled Cooper's vivid description of his day.  Nowhere in his complete commentary did he mention the bus episode.  I can attribute his lack of reaction to the fact he is one of four boys.  In a houseful of males, the exposure of private parts may not register as shocking.  It certainly didn't for Cooper. 

Was this pint-size flasher savvy and calculating enough to wisely select his victim?  Did he think he found the one child that may not raise an eyebrow, let alone notify the teacher?  He was wrong about Cooper.  Immediately, Cooper alerted his teacher and said student was busted.  Yet, Cooper found the whole ordeal to be commonplace and not important enough to be included in the day's observations.

Although said boy may have picked the wrong student, he selected the right family.  The "victim's" mother was also used to such shenanigans (to give the little boy the benefit of the doubt) and didn't raise an eyebrow upon reading the day's incident.  This mother's mild reaction is attributed to the fact she is a mother of four boys.

















Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Preschool Graduation: The End of an Era


We had a night out with the Brinkruffs to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary and their stellar Mini Marathon performance.  Less than two weeks after the Boston Marathon, Claudia rocked the race and snagged a new PR!

"It's one of the saddest days of my life," I cried to my husband.

He looked alarmed and swiveled around to gaze in my direction.

I whimpered, "Look what I found in Collin's backpack!"

He snagged the piece of paper, a white sheet covered with happy figures dressed in graduation caps and gowns.  The  bubbly letters proclaimed the upcoming preschool graduation.  The invite's chirpy tone was mean to elicit excitement and anticipation, but for me it invoked sadness.

It will be the last time I attend a preschool graduation.  His preschool graduation will mark the end of the era; my last baby will advance to elementary school in a matter of months.  Gone will be the days of preschool musicals, finger paint masterpieces, and little one chapel time.

I'll miss the most the days he doesn't attend preschool.  Those precious hours when we can be truly savor our time together and I can focus on him without a myriad of distractions.

Those days are numbered.  I know.  So I'm trying to make the most of the time we have.  I declared yesterday afternoon "Collin's day" and tried to say yes to things I normally wouldn't.  We devoured cookies for snacks.  We meandered around a book store and purchased the latest Skippyjon Jones.  We walked along the canal.

He held my hand as we strolled along the dirt path.  A handful of turtles, a few ducks, and a cardinal made appearances.  He squeezed my palm tighter when geese crisscrossed our walk.  We declared them our nemeses and pondered their demise.  We talked about everything from the silly to the serious (five-year-old serious, that is).  But finally, with brothers to retrieve from school, our walk had to come to an end.  It seemed to finish too soon.

Once we reached our car, I told Collin how much I enjoyed our time together.  Perhaps our walk had to end, but the memories will remain.