Peanut is 8 today!!!

My Peanut is 8 today!!! In my ongoing effort to document their years and give them somewhere to go to see how much I love them, we’re going to talk about her.

This year, Peanut, you gained so much. Your sparkling personality, sense of humor, color is just coming to the front more and more. Your quick wit has left your dad and I in stitches more than once. One time comes to mind when you found a million dollar house on the shore, and finding out we couldn’t afford it, you told me “You need to work harder”. We still chuckle and use that quote.

When I was telling you a joke I asked you “what’s bright and colorful” and you immediately said “me”. You are right – you are bright and colorful.  I look forward to more and more one-liners, as well as you continuing to grow and gain in your confidence.

All things bright and beautiful!

All things bright and beautiful!

It’s so nice to know that your confidence is showing off outside this house as well. When your teacher sent home an email regarding you this year, she called you spunky and responsible. Man, your dad and I were so proud of that. It hints at your quick wit and ability to enjoy life, as well as your ability to understand right/wrong, and the kind of internal moral compass you’ve been growing, including your ability to work hard.
Framed!

Framed!

You’ve been showing us more and more of your responsibility, too. You came to us and asked us to help get you get more ready for 3rd grade math. You asked us to help you get to travel softball this fall. You’ve been trying new things like Crossfit for Kids, lacrosse, and dance team. You found some you liked more than others, but gave your all at those activities. You don’t have to like everything you try – but giving your all during the commitment is what we ask and what you deliver.
Spunk!

Spunk!

Your relationships with your sisters and parents and grandparents have been growing as well. Grandpa. specifically, called out that he really enjoyed you hanging out with him when he’s been out this year. You really showed him how well you listened to him and how much you valued your relationship. Grandma has so much fun taking you to do Grandma days because of the obvious enjoyment you get just being in her company.

You had an awesome year last year and we look forward to another awesome year with you. Please keep setting your own goals and working towards them – Mommy and Daddy will help you. Please keep living life out loud. I pray that you continue to find happiness and love and fun along with working hard. You are striking a great balance and I pray you continue to! I love you my Peanut. (Some pictures courtesy of Megan Stans of Digitialbean photography)

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2014 quick round up…

The 5 things I’ve liked about 2014

Although, for me 2014 wasn’t as brutal as 2013, it wasn’t the rainbow and butterflies kind of year either. I’ve got friends and relatives who have buried loved ones. I’ve got friends and relatives struggling with all kinds of problems, so I’m not going to stand up on a soapbox and talk about celebrating every part of this year. I am however going to take a few minutes to talk about the top 5 things in my year in no particular order. (And I’m always grateful for the family – that goes without saying this time).

1. Crossfit for Kids

My two middles get to do Crossfit for Kids now. Their Crossfit for kids coach is a) into physical fitness (obviously), b) a math teacher, c) female and d) has a sense of humor. Really – all rolled into one person. So my girls see that being active and smart as a female is awesome (as they love Coach Jackie! Peanut wanted to leave Christmas celebration to make it to a Crossfit class because it looked like fun!)

It might mean we had got to hear about games called toilet tag, but hey my girls were running around, having fun, and begging to go back every week. You’d be amazed at how much the reminder of Crossfit straightens up behavior. I was forbidden to make swimming lessons on Wednesday nights as that messed with Crossfit. I love that my kids think this is fun, and I think this couldn’t get any better.

 

2. I started running. (Well, as I say, running, jogging, slogging)

I’ve got goals about running, and I’m succeeding. Slower than a lame turtle, you betcha. But I’m getting out there more consistently. I’m getting support from friends and family. The right gear so I can run in cold. The right sort of gentle pushing to make sure I get out of bed most mornings. A willingness to let me race on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Friends who hooked me up with running groups online so I could get support from people who love to run. Friends who run 5ks with me so I get my butt out there and (are willing to drive downtown and know where to park). Its a new community for me, and I have to say I love it. I still don’t have that runner’s high. (Not sure I ever will). But the serenity of running sometimes especially in a cold, clear morning is worth it. That, and the swag from races That’s pretty cool too! Not every run has been great (the morning I came home nearly in tears because I got nearly ½ mile less on my long run than the week before… )

I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

  1. My friends from childhood

This last August, a very good friend lost her husband to a battle with cancer. She is the kind of person that collects friends and keeps them. All of us want to be her friend due to her innate goodness, wicked sense of humor, and awesome sense of adventure. She happens to live near my folks, and many friends from childhood made the funeral. At the funeral, 4 of us who happened to spend lots of time together as kids/teens decided to get together and hang out before we had to go our separate directions. We got together at my folks house the next day, had breakfast, took some pictures, etc. More than that, we were in and out of each other’s lives enough, our parents knew each other and they came, too. I know few people in life lucky enough to have friends from elementary school that you can trust to lock up the house while you leave to go to the airport… And they cleaned up, too! Two of the group couldn’t make it, and they were missed. Here’s hoping to following through on plans to regroup!

  1. My daughters’ teachers

The two middle girls are in 2nd grade and Preschool. I’m constantly amazed at their teachers. I volunteered in the preschooler’s classroom for a day. It was a reminder of how gifted some people are in teaching. This teacher is amazing. She’s patient with these little crazy monsters and feeds their brains and souls. She honors the strengths of each and works gently on their weaknesses. After three hours with my 3 littles, I want to scream, yell, and throw my own tantrums, and here she is with a gaggle of 3-4 years old that she only met in September, and she’s patient and kind and loving. All the time. Mind-boggling, but I guess some people are just meant to do some things, and she’s meant to teach. I’m so glad she teaches mine.

Meanwhile – over in the second grade classroom, my daughter is being nurtured, loved, disciplined (hopefully, rarely), and also taught by a great teacher. I think my favorite part of the year is that the teacher felt bad disciplining her for reading during math lesson (the teacher was literally teaching the math lesson and my kid whipped out a book…) Both Mike and I are absolutely cool with the discipline – time and place for everything – but the teacher did stop to think about whether or not that was appropriate. So now – I know she’s worrying about my kid like I do, too. That’s a gift you can’t pay for, it’s one you’re lucky enough to get.

(I imagine most teachers care enough to do the same, but we all know not every teacher should be teaching.) Other teachers in that building care too. I know that if my kid needed a safe place to go, she could find several places there.

  1. The amazing amounts of babies born to friends and family this year.

I can’t keep track of how many babies were born this year, several having their first, and several having their third. (and two seconds). I love seeing new babies come into this world, and joining a family that’s been waiting for them (whether or not they were a surprise or planned, fought for, etc). These babies are just a reminder of love and innocence, and isn’t that the kind of reminder we need more often (Now, I’m not proposing you go off and have a kid as a way to fix anything, including not loving yourself or your partner so don’t go off all cockamamie on me here.) To the three friends (I know of)  having a baby next year – I’m excited for you and sort of including you in this list!

I also love the reminders that yep, we’re done, but that’s another story.

Milestones

I’ve been thinking about milestones and kids. The kinds of milestones that no one tells you about. Things like when your kid can suddenly play by themselves for longer than 5 minutes. (Miracle – you can start dinner super quick!) To be fair, I’d started thinking about this a while ago when I read a blog by Laura Garwood about the milestone when her baby let her read him a whole book without flipping pages before she was finished. Some stages are easy to see the end or beginning, and some just slide right through you till you have a kid graduating from high school. (Where did 8th grade go?) or a kid preparing to make her First Reconciliation (seriously, wasn’t she baptized 5 seconds ago?).

I try really hard to not hurry my kids through any stage as I know that eventually I will miss the good parts of that stage*.  But sometimes I wish they were spontaneously capable of certain milestones while I still wish they could be my snuggling wuggling baby. All of my “can’t wait” milestones are about your kid getting more self-sufficient.

  1. Get their own shoes on.

As in, “For the love of Pete, we’re late again. Get your shoes on. Let’s go,let’s go, let’s go.” Now, instead of getting my shoes on, and theirs, and tying everyone’s, they can at least get them on enough to get to the car! Oh, the glorious few minutes! Now, if you have three girls 7 and under, all trying to all get shoes on, inevitably there will be chaos as they all decide to try and piss off one sister by taking theirs, or tossing a sister’s shoes to the other side of the entry way, and with any luck down the stairs “by accident”. While you are practicing your breathing (he, he, whooo, he, he whooo), you remind them that you have made them leave the house with no shoes on with snow on the ground, and that the encounter with DCF was not enough to deter you from doing it again.

Amazingly, shoes will go on much quicker. Score 1 for self-sufficient (and a little fear of the elements. Note – this doesn’t work as well in summer time, unless the blacktop is hot enough to hurt!)

2.   Dress themselves

Once your children are old to dress themselves, people will start assuming that whatever crazy outfits they are wearing are not of your choice. Merely, they are considered bi-products of the young’uns learning to spread their wings and make their own decisions. I figure as long as they are covered, matching is irrelevant, and frankly just a bonus. I really don’t care if we have polka-dots, plaids, argyle, horizontal and vertical strips, if you got yourself dressed, I’m a happy momma camper. I’ve sort of quit buying cute matchy clothes because they will rarely chose to wear them together. I’m all about the mix and match, or not match as the case may be these days!

3.  Feed themselves

Everyone speaks about the first time for rice cereal or oatmeal. Or the oat cereal. Or holding their own glass. But when you get to the point where you get to make one meal, just one, and everyone partakes of the same meal. Priceless. Today we had chicken and biscuits, and peas and apples. I didn’t have to do anything special for the little two except butter their bread. (When are knives okay again? I’m looking forward to Peanut’s ability – well maybe not). It’s not so much that they will eat what my husband put in front of them, just that they are physically capable. In my house, you eat what’s served, or you don’t eat. I am not about being a short order cook! I just love not buying baby food and finding the spoon and spooning it in, and then arguing while they try to take control of the spoon and ducking the flying whirled peas.

4. Homework on their own.

Did you know some children can do their homework on their own? I mean, come home from school, sit down, do homework (get a good grade on it), turn it in all by themselves? I didn’t. I mean, my oldest does it, but my elementary school kid? Everyone talks about that first day of kindergarten or first grade. But what they fail to tell you is that you are going back to school, too. You will have homework. reminding them to do their spelling and/or make it legible. Sitting with them through the tempers as they work through their flashcards on math. Praying they don’t realize you can’t pronounce anything in Spanish correctly. Don’t get me started on permission slips, remembering to send in the class snack or finding the baptism picture again. I really don’t mind the questions, if they are confused (math isn’t a fear for my husband and I, as the internet does a fabulous job of letting you re-learn any concepts you’ve forgotten – dividing polynomials, anyone?), but I would love for that to be the exception and not the rule. Of course, haikus may be my Achilles heel.

5. Going to bed on their own.

The moment you realize you can say “go lay down, and go to sleep”, and your child will. With limited “I need to go potty moments” or “Can I have some water” or my least favorite “the randomly getting up merely because you had to move them to a bed from a crib” phase. I love reading them their books before bed. And laying them down. And knowing I won’t need to go in to see them again until morning. Well, at least one of them is there (the oldest no longer requires a “read to me” time). I’m dreading this weekend when we move the baby from her crib to a toddler bed. We have to, she has started climbing out of her crib, so we have to for her safety. But I’m dreading it. I know it will lead to months of “go to bed” “stay in bed” “get back in bed” moments. Hours of them. Some people calculate how long women shower or shave in their life, or how long people are stuck in rush hour, but me, I’m thinking about the hours lost a night dealing with “get in your bed or so help me God I’m going to find the duct tape”. He he who. he he who.

6. Going to a public bathroom without you having to go

Now maybe it’s because I have 3 small girls. And maybe it’s because my husband deals with the potty conversations all day long. But every time we’re out in public, I am the one taking them to the bathroom. And you have to get up, leave your supper, lose your place in line, rush around looking for the nearest bathroom. (Note – they never need to go potty when you are walking by one, or when you are already going for another child.) You get to the bathroom and you hear “I don’t have to go anymore, Mommy”. He he who. he he who. Oh, to just send them by themselves? Living the dream, baby

7. Buckling themselves into the car

Maybe not so for those of you in Florida or Texas where negative 50 wind chills are the stuff of legends, but here in Minnesota, it gets cold. And there you are trying to get your gloves off so you can buckle those carseats that are to you what childproof medicine caps are to people with arthritis. IMPOSSIBLE. The metal is cold. The straps are unyielding. The children are crying and cold, and arguing because they can’t feel their hands under their gloves. And one has to be unlucky to be second. So you get one buckled by the grace of God, and you look down to realize you have one to go. You realize that you can’t, just can’t practice your breathing because it’s so cold that any extra amount of hot air will just freeze your scarf (if you remembered one in the chaos of getting shoes and coats and mittens and hats on the children while they shout about not being cold) to your nose.

 

I’ve got my dreams. All of us eat our breakfast, put our shoes on, grab our backpacks with our perfectly done, non-mommy-helped homework in it, run from the house to the car, and race in, open the doors, shut the doors, get seatbelts on, start the car and turn on the heat, all within 50 seconds. And when they come home, they do their homework, and use the restroom on their own, and go to bed.

Note:

*Do not ask me about stage “age 3”. I haven’t found much that I will miss about that stage.

Juxtapositions of parenting

I’ve been thinking about the juxtapositions of parenting. The little things that make you wonder what we’re thinking.

1. You spend all your waking time trying to teach your baby to move, grab things, and walk. Shortly after they figure this out, you start trying to make them sit still, leave things alone, and just quit moving. Taking them to a movie is an exercise in patience as they wriggle, wiggle, dance, shake their booties, and fidget more than someone with ADHD on caffeine.

And the best part of this is that you don’t learn after child 1. Somehow with 2 and 3, you still do this… What’s the definition of insanity again?

2. Teaching your child to talk… Same thing. How much time do we work with our children to say words, sing songs, “use their words”? And how often have we thought “Oh, for the love of Pete, please, give me 5 minutes of quiet. Please, I beg you!”

I can’t tell you how often I’ve wished that somehow being in the car would render my kids comatose. I swear, that all 3 of them can start in and scream, yell and cry, and hey, we’re barreling down the highway with no end in sight. It’s just me, the three kids and all their lung power. There’s no radio loud enough or ear plugs good enough for this. Particularly when one of them loses her pacifier.

And – to be clear (and this is math folks) – 1 kid will make amount of noise. 2 kids do not make 2n; they make closer to squared. And don’t, just don’t get me started on how much 3 make.

3. Questions – I want my kids to ask questions. How do I help them learn, and being girls, how do I make sure their teachers are listening, except to teach them to ask questions. But oh, when the word “why” is uttered 5 times in a row, I want to beg them to stop. I want to take the word “why” out of the English language. When they ask all these questions, I want to cry in frustration. Turns out that whole philosophy of “turn it around, and ask them why” just doesn’t work. Cuz – see #2. They’ll talk just to hear themselves talk. Oh – and hey – making up answers won’t help. It will come back to bite you (see #4).

Things that should seem so obvious, they don’t need a question. Nope – that doesn’t exist. Just yesterday Bug had to go to the bathroom. Off we go. Peanut decided to join us and took Stall 1. Bug bypassed Stall 2 and took Stall 3. Shortly after I sit her down, another unsuspecting innocent bystander walks into Stall 2. Bug says in her oh so quiet voice – “Mommy why are other people going potty?” “Because they have to, too.” “Why mommy?” Because everyone has to go honey”. But “why”… at which point I realize unsuspecting bystander is no longer innocent as she’s laughing her head off!

4. Openness and honesty – We teach our kids to not tell lies, to tell the truth, and to not be ashamed. But somewhere, oh somewhere, we want them just a bit quieter about the truth… And, why do they wait to a very public location to ask or point things out? Turns out Peanut told her 1st grade teacher that “Mommy can’t cook, so when it’s Mommy’s night to cook, we go to Turtles”.

When I first had Peanut, she went to a wonderful daycare. When she was learning to talk, they said to me once “We only believe about 1/2 or less of what she tells us about what happens at home, we’d appreciate the same.” That’s something I take to heart in most conversations with kids. While they tell the truth, the nugget that’s surrounded by so much fool’s gold is so hard to find! (this is a humor piece, so please don’t get upset, as I’m not talking about listening to kids over child abuse). 

4. Aging/phases – We don’t want our kids to grow up. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s a sign of us aging, or if we really just love them and want them to stay kids as long as possible because we’re adults for so long.

But there are some stages I hate. I hate the “feeding themselves” stage. Somehow feeding themselves turns into food on every surface in the kitchen including under the stove. I hate the “potty training” stage and having to go inside every bathroom, and touch way more than I would if I went by myself. I hate the “I throw it, you pick it up or I scream” stage. The “I’m smarter than you stage” can just take the “eye roll and disgusted look” stage with it. Oh – and the “that’s not how my teacher does it” stage… Oy, enough to make me wish we home-schooled (right until I look at the other phases that make me nuts!)

I really, really don’t want my kids all grown up. I dread the day my house is actually quiet. (will that happen?)  But perhaps one day I will be one of those people who tells that frazzled mom to “enjoy these days, they go by so fast” because the romantic nostalgia has set in.

And for the parents who a) have perfect children or b) can’t see the humor in this blog, the greatest paradox is that I still love my children with everything I am, have, and will be, but I still wonder what I was thinking (particularly this many into it!).