Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bedtime with Cooper

We had the honor of meeting our new niece Amelia.

I didn't feel the least bit guilty about hogging time with the baby.

During nap time for my nephew, the boys hopscotched along rocks in a Cincinnati river.

When we were under our first tornado warning last week, the boys and I moved dinner to the basement.  They found the whole concept of a "tornado dinner party" to be fun.

The TV meteorologist recommended going to the basement and wearing a bicycle helmet during our second round of tornado warnings.  We hate to be insensitive, but Chris found humor in the situation.

Bedtime is my favorite part of the day.

That's a statement I never imagined writing without having my nose grow like Pinocchio. 

For years, I dreaded bedtime.  Bedtime was like the final six miles in a marathon.  It was the portion of the day when I was already exhausted, and then required to put on a final sprint (with lots of additional hurdles).

I loathed evening bath time.  Our baths were a bit more active than those vintage Calgon commercials.  By the end of bathing four boys, the bathroom looked like a soggy aquatic center.  My sons would emerge from the soapy water with more energy and vigor than before they stepped foot in the tub.  Oftentimes, they would sprint out of the bathroom and frolic around in their wet birthday suits.  I was forced to race after them with a towel big enough to wrestle them to the ground.

When I finally tucked them into their beds and turned off the lights, I braced myself for the second leg of the race.  It was the unexpected extra mileage that crept up when boys would reemerge from their darkended rooms with cries for water, hugs, snacks, and extra books.

My boys are older now.  They shower independently.  In fact, they would be mortified if I was any part of their bathing or changing process.  They all know how to read.  And, several sons routinely pick comic books in those final minutes of the day before sleep takes hold.   

A few months ago, I asked Cooper if we could read a book together before bed.  Surprisingly, he agreed.  We both traveled down to the local library and scanned the stacks.  He pulled out Bridge to Terabithia.  It was a unique selection, but something that seemed appealing to both of us.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I looked forward to reading that book together.  It was a story that captivated us both and tugged at our heart strings.  And when a death occurred in the book (sorry...hope not to ruin it:)), Cooper stopped me mid-sentence and asked, " she died?"  It was a possibility neither one of us wanted to acknowledge.  When I nodded, we both tried to hold back tears.  And when the book finally ended, we both seemed to be a little lost.

Now, we are reading the kids version of Boys in a Boat.  It's been timely to read about the struggles to secure an Olympic spot in the 1930s while the Rio games were being held.  

I'm jealous and protective of this time with Cooper. Unwilling to even allow Chris to take a turn.  While I'm loving the storylines, the time nestled with Cooper in his bed while clutching a book is the most precious part of the experience.  

One day he'll be too old for this time, but every evening we have together is a beautiful part of our story.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Starting The School Year Off With a Bang

Our new 6th grader!

8th grader!

4th grade!

Ready for a new school year!

They can only hold it together for so long!

I'll admit, I've been less than humble the last few days.  I keep telling Chris, "I'm nailing it."  Then, I point out the twelve things I've done right that very day.

"I packed the kids' lunches the night before.  When they awoke, I had a hot breakfast sitting on their placements.  They all went to school with clean clothes and well brushed teeth," I gushed.

"And then," I exclaimed and paused for a dramatic effect.  "I had dinner completely ready when they arrived home from school."

Chris, my sweet husband, smiles and silently indulges me in my (misguided) notions that I can keep this up until the end of the school year.

This is how I roll.  I always start out the school year with a bang.  In August, I'm ready to start routines.  I believe all past mom-mistakes can be wiped away with the start of a new school year.  This year, I vow, my kids will brush their hair....every day.  This year, I promise, we will never be late for the first period.  This year, I exclaim, dinners with always include vegetables, lunch boxes will include handwritten notes scribbled on a napkin, playdates will be secured, carpools will be orchestrated, volunteer work will be performed, homework will be checked, practice time will be performed, and .......

But if history is any indicator, with the flip of the calendar my mom steam runs out.

This year, I hope things work out differently.

Nonetheless, I'm enjoying the few days where we're all on track.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Imagination Takes a Neighborhood

I ran by this scene on a recent morning jog.  I just couldn't just pass by it without snapping a photo.

Grandma and Grandpa Wood came by for a visit.  We took Grandma on her very first canoe ride!

We had to celebrate her birthday too!

Cooper sprawled out on the living room floor clutching a pen and a white sheet of paper.  I watched as he vigorously scribbled on the page.  Curious, I peeked over his shoulder.  He inscribed "laws" on the top of the page.  Under this heading, he outlined half a dozen rules.  Immediately, I knew the meaning of his document.

Cooper is the co-President and founder of the Dinosaur Club.  Currently, there are four active members (three neighbor kids who happened to be related to each other).  As one in the leadership position of the club, he takes his job seriously.  Rules and bylaws must be drafted.  Meetings and excursions must be organized.  It's a lot of responsibility for anyone, let alone a nine year old who is also creating a town.

Yes, when Cooper's not leading the Dinosaur club, he and the other club members are active members of a town (name only disclosed between members).  Cooper told me he's the busy doctor/pet shop owner/sheriff while upholding his civic duties to be active in town planning/governance/regulations.

But there's more. 

When the club's not running and the town is quiet,  there are dragons to be slain in mythical kingdoms.  Holes need to be dug in the backyard to escape to China.  Treasure hunters must be captured before they escape with our "finds."  Treehouses must be created with whatever materials are found within the backyard.  Fortunately for Cooper, he has companions on all these adventures who live just feet away from our home.  

When I call him in for bedtime at the end of the night, he's sad to leave the town/club/village/kingdom.  But, I remind him that the next morning he'll arrive at a new location and, fortunately, with the same group of friends.