Monday, July 26, 2010

Preschool Camp

Today is supposed to be the first day of our Church's Summer Camp. I'm really looking forward to it, but it's possible it will be delayed a day because there are power outages all over the county. Currently our church is without power and with the weather being crazy hot recently, we can't ask the volunteers and campers to participate in a fun, but hot day.

I think I'm ready. I set up my classroom and finished most of the props ready for this week. I should probably look over today's lesson plan. But I feel pretty good. Last night I was a little nervous because I haven't taught preschoolers before, but I'm sure that my experience with middle schoolers will come in handy ;)  This morning I woke up feeling pretty confident. I met one of my teenage helpers and she is on the ball. I'm really excited to be working with her and I think she'll be great with the kids.

Now we just wait to see if we're on today. Wish us luck!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kite Strings

I have been reading about a book to go with my morning devotionals and sometimes the author just hits the nail on the head. In one entry she talks about having an exhausted heart, where you work really hard towards a relationship and sometimes it just doesn't pan out to what you hoped or expected. She compares it to holding a kite string  where you throw your kite of relationship up into the air and it's fun for a while and then it becomes for work than fun.  Sometimes your kite will soar in perfect harmony between you and the wind, and sometimes it will come crashing down and sometimes you just have to let that kite go and find it's own path.

I realize that I've got to let go of one of my kite strings. I think sometimes that family relationships are the hardest because sometimes you can't just let go. They're family. So you try to mend the relationship or work extra hard at it and it still doesn't look or feel the way you were hoping. I've been struggling with it the last few weeks, but really probably for the last 30 years.

I keep trying to form this relationship into what I think it should be and I think I've been taking the wrong approach all these years.  Maybe I haven't been open or accepting enough. Maybe I've been too critical. Me, critical, no. Yeah, right.  I come by it honestly and it's something I've been working on for the last 14 years.  But anyway, I feel like I have worked really hard on this particular relationship, trying to be supportive, trying to be accepting, trying to be understanding. I think it's been taken warily and the person on the receiving end isn't convinced or understands that I'm trying. So it's accepted, but not really reciprocated.

Anyway, I think it came to a head for me about 3 weeks ago when I found out something out via Facebook (good old Facebook) and was hurt that I found out through a third party called the internet.  That his friends know him so much better than his family ever will. That we will never be let into his core circle.  I feel like all that I've been doing for the last few years has been in vain and that I will never have the relationship with my brother that I've tried to have for so long. So I've decided that I've got to let go of the kite string and not try to maneuver the relationship to what I think it should be and just let it be what it is.

So now that I let go of the kite do I balance loving and accepting a person for who they are, without getting hurt? I don't know...I'm still trying to figure that part out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is Teaching in My Blood?

Last night I had a dream that I was back in a classroom teaching fourth graders. I was making mistakes in some of my routines, but was already making mental notes how to make things go more smoothly the next day.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have any intention of going back to the classroom anytime soon. I love staying home with my kids. I recently told Hubby that any day that I get to wake up and stay home with the kids and not have to leave for work is a good day.  It doesn't mean I'll never work again, but it does mean that I've decided to make my kids my priority. When the time comes, I'll go back to work...but I still don't think it will be the classroom. I have another idea that I'll share in another 10 years ;)

I think I had this dream because I'm preparing for my son's preschool summer camp with our church.  This year I have been recruited as a preschool teacher and I'll be teaching 3 & 4 year olds about religious life in Ireland in year 600 AD or is 400AD?  I'm really excited for the opportunity, but a little nervous. My expertise is upper elementary and middle school. While I have young children, teaching a group of them will be a completely different experience.

At the last meeting for the preschool camp, there was a request for volunteers to help keep the camp running next year.  The current director has decided to step down after 5 years. She has done an amazing job, but it is a lot of work!  We don't use a box VBS (Vacation Bible School) curriculum and it takes the effort of many volunteers to put the camp together for 60-90 campers a year.  Anyway, she suggested that the camp continue with no less than 25 volunteers and is asking for future volunteers to keep the camp going.

If you know me or have worked with me you know that I'll volunteer and then tend to take on too much. I did this with my former job and I completely burnt myself out. So for the last 2 years my mantra has been...let me think about it. I just know that if I say "yes" I'll put 110% into it.  Which is great, but then I get stressed and then stress out my family.  So I held back and didn't volunteer (yet) for next year's camp.    I intended this year to take my new teaching assignment and do what I was told and not take a leadership position, but do what was asked and do it to the best of my ability. But.....

I can't help it! We broke down in small groups to go over our lessons for the week. Since I was the only one in the preschool group that made it to the first meeting I had all the information for the other ladies.  So of course, I sat down and started going over class lists and schedule. I started going over lessons and provided suggestions. Hubby laughed when I told him that I couldn't help it but I'm really good at telling people what to do. Go ahead and laugh. I know you are!

We talked and collaborated and shared ideas...but if there was a leader I was probably it because I led the  discussion. Sorry! I don't mean to, I just can't help myself. I think it's the teacher in me. I also think it's the administrator in me that has always been buried inside. But despite all of this, I do not want to take a leadership position anywhere!!

So it brings me to what I've been thinking about for the last 3 days...should I add myself to next year's volunteer list? This kind of thing is definitely my strength. I have the organization for it, the training for it, and the experience.  I know that if I volunteer that I won't be the only one. The group is filled with other parents who are go-getters, self-motivated, and creative.  I would not be doing this by myself.  I would actually be in a league of others who are in the same mind-frame.  I think the camp is a great idea and I know that my son loves it.  He totally benefits from it and I love the structure.  I would hate if the camp couldn't continue because we didn't have enough volunteers.

So here I am...debating.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All in Solidarity

She is adorable, she is cute, she gives great hugs, she loves her family immensely and she is t-r-o-u-b-l-e! Buggy is great, she really is, but I think she is the one that I am going to have to watch out for. She's at a stage where she thinks running away when you call her is funny. When you give her a direction she does the opposite. She purposely antagonizes her brother, whom she adores. The list goes on!

Buggy truly adores her big brother. She wants to do everything he is doing. She wants to do all the big kid stuff that she is not ready to do. When he is playing by himself quietly, she'll antagonize him so that he'll pay attention to her.  When we go somewhere, she calls Boogie to make sure that he knows that we're leaving and sometimes she'll even go up to him and tug his hand to make sure he's coming along.

Last night takes the cake.  Boogie was given a time out. Time outs work for him. He cries, he's remorseful, he apologizes. When told to go to time out, Boogie has learned over time to just go. At this point I can just point to the steps and he'll go there crying (fortunately he is rarely deserving of a time-out).  Buggy saw this and immediately hit me on the leg. I told her to stop and then ignored her.  She hit me three more times and much harder.  Ummmm, did you want my attention? Why yes she did. She wanted a time out too, to show solidarity.  We used our stern voice, told her we do not hit mommy and that she would be given a time-out.  She giggled, she hit me three more times and ran to time-out. That's right, she wanted to sit next to Boogie on the steps. Hmmmmmm, this doesn't look like it's working.

She was given another time-out location and we are starting the same process with her that we did with Boogs 3 years ago.  Firm, consistency, stern voice.  We also temper this having her apologizing, us providing forgiveness, and guiding her to proper actions.

However, I don't think it's going to work for her. She thinks it's funny, she wants to be with her big brother, and consequences don't seem to work for her. Solidarity, sister. ugh!

Monday, July 19, 2010

This is How We Roll

My family and I really enjoy road trips. It's a good thing since we rarely fly anywhere.  The kids enjoy car rides and they entertain themselves pretty easily.  Though, if Buggy and and I are in the car for more than 20 minutes without her older brother, she's very concerned that we've left him behind and will fuss.

Over the last several years the family has taken several multi-hour road trips. We've driven to Maine numerous times. About 10 hours pre-children, about 12-15 hours post-children.  We drove to Chicago and back last summer. About 13 hours each way. We drove from Chicago to Green Bay...I want to say it was about 5 hours.

Hubby and I always try to finish a long car ride and not break it up into two days. I don't know why we do this to ourselves, but we do.  The car ride is not torturous by any means. However, just because we stay up to drive all day and into the night does not give us a free pass to sleep in the next day. No matter how long we've been driving and how tired we are, we still have to get up bright and early (or as early as the children do) to take care of the kids.

We have a minivan to haul all our stuff (pack n play, double stroller, cooler with munchies, baby backpack for get the idea.) An added bonus to our minivan is the DVD player and wireless headsets. We've used them multiple times for long car rides. This year Hubby made sure that we had quite the selection of DVDs and this would be the first year that Buggy would be able to enjoy them.  Do you know that we didn't use it once on our way to Maine or back? Awesome!

One of the things that I did do before traveling was to buy the Chronicles of Narnia on CD. I love books on CD. I have the entire Harry Potter series and listened to them in the middle of the night while nursing and rocking my first born, on car trips, and while making dinner. Boogie has heard "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" at least once a couple of years ago. But now that his vocabulary has expanded he was more interested in it this time around.  He wanted to listen to the whole story and would not take a nap in the car because he was so interested in the story. When we finished "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" he wanted to hear another "Aslan" story. It's a good thing I bought the whole set! We listened to several books on the way home. At one point I told Boogie that he and Lillian could watch a movie until our next stop. He said no and said he wanted to hear Aslan. So that 's what we did! We listened and enjoyed stories all the way home. I was impressed that a book on CD won over DVDs.  He listened and asked really good questions for clarification, which we enjoyed answering.

As a mom and a Reading Specialist I was really, really pleased :)

I currently have The Chronicles of Narnia, The Harry Potter Series, and A Wrinkle in Time on CD. Do you have any suggestions for other kid friendly books on CD? Especially a series? Please share!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This is How She Says "I Love You"

Growing up my mom was not overly affectionate.  She was uncomfortable with lots of hugs and kisses and didn't always say I love you.  She did (and does!) love her family very much, but she doesn't say it with words.  However, over the years, she's softened up.  I think having grandkids have made her loosen up and she is very affectionate with my two little ones. Just last night Boogie ran around the house asking her to be Mrs. Bear and there she was rolling around the floor with my two little ones pretending to be Mrs. Bear and chasing them.  They all had a blast.  It was great to see.  She constantly tells my little ones that she loves them very much. Great to hear.

As I mentioned in a previous post "I Will Be the One" my mom shows her love by doing things for the ones she loves.  We came back from our trip to Maine a day early. After 15 hours of traveling we were all dead tired.  It was midnight and the air outside was sticky and hot.  We walked in and I noticed that my foyer looked freshly swept and cleared.  My kitchen floor looked and felt cleaner than when I left it. The cabinets were newly organized and the counters freshly cleaned. When we dropped off the children in their beds, their rooms were neatly organized and freshly cleaned. The main steps and the hallway leading to all of the bedrooms were newly vacuumed. And finally, the bathrooms were cleaned.  My husband and I looked at each other and said, "Mom has been here." The house definitely had her signature look. Looked and felt CLEAN!  Don't get me wrong, I'm disorganized, not dirty. But before the trip, things were piling up as I tried to get ready for our vacation.  I left the house somewhat haphazard but not in total chaos (as per usual before a trip).

My mom knew that I had been stressed about getting ready for another trip and she knows that I have been very tired lately. (Still gotta get that checked out).  In order to give me a hand she came over while we were gone and helped to clean and organize my house.  That is how she says I love you and I heard it loud and clear.  I am very blessed and I wish that I had inherited even a tenth of her organization, spatial reasoning, and her ability to get things really clean.  

Thanks, Mom. I love you, too!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Potty Training Regression

We have taken 4 trips (long and short) in the in last 8 weeks. Every two weeks for the last two months we have gone somewhere.  The first was to Maui, the second just for a night to our 10 year college reunion, the third for just a night to a wedding out of state, and we just returned from a week long trip to Maine.  What do these all have in common besides lots of packing, unpacking, laundry, and time away from home? The inability for my son to stay dry. ARGHHHH!

My son has been potty trained for 16 months now.  When we're home he's been dry and has not had an accident. Quite honestly, I don't think he's had a potty accident in almost a year...if we're not traveling that is! I blame myself.  This is all my fault. Really.

My son decided at 3 that he wanted to stop using diapers. Awesome.  A little later than some of his peers, but the fact that he decided this on his own, means that he was more willing to do this himself.  Within in the first 3 months of potty training he was nap time dry and stopped using pull-ups at nap time and was well on his way to being nighttime dry.

Then in my infinite mothering wisdom I changed the game on him.  That's right, I did.  With my husband's work, he has the opportunity to do a rotation in another state for a short amount of time, anywhere from a month to a little longer. Being a newly stay-at-home mom and wanting to support my husband's career endeavors, I encouraged him to apply for a rotation in Chicago.  Two years ago, it was denied because he was working on a big case and his boss really wanted him stay local so that they could finish it and suggested that they postpone it until the Fall. He couldn't do that because our daughter was due at the time and neither of us thought that was a good idea.  So he ended up going last Summer for 6 weeks. 

At the time of his application it didn't occur to me that I could have a new baby and a potty training preschooler.  My husband left for 3 weeks and we joined him 3 weeks later. In my infinite wisdom as a mother I thought this would be the ideal time to break my son of his pacifier. Yes,  I know, brilliant.  All that I ended up doing was take away his comfort while Daddy was away and then blow all of our hard work so that Boogie was no longer nap time or night time dry and instead just induced night terrors for the next 6 months. Yup, brilliant.

So here we are a year later. Boogs is day-time dry. At times nap-time dry and rarely night-time dry. Every time we take steps to being completely dry, we have gone on vacation and it has throw us off two weeks. Then we get back into it and once again, it throws his schedule. *sigh* 

While we are on vacation, we are doing so much that Boogie will take a nap, but he's so tired that he sleeps through the opportunity to get up to go to the bathroom and we are left with wet sheets. The thought was that since he was getting a good nap, then he would be able to wake up in at night and use the bathroom (which he had done successfully several times), but no go. The pull-ups don't contain all the liquid and he wakes up wet. Sometimes with wet sheets, sometimes, not.  We've done everything from limiting his night-time liquid intake, to making sure he goes potty before bed, to even waking him up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (which by the way just makes everyone unhappy as he screams and cries in his sleep and sometimes pees and sometimes doesn't) and all to no avail. He still wakes up wet.

I've looked at our calendar and it looks like we are done with our vacationing for at least a year.  I hope that with us going back to our regular routine my poor little Boogie will go back to being completely dry. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So Much to Do!

I have so much to do in the next 24 hours, it's ridiculous.  I've been really tired lately and it's been hard to get things done.  A friend suggested getting my hormones checked out and it's definitely something on my to do list...unfortunately my to do list already has 164 things on it! I'll get to it eventually...

Anyway, I had a very specific to-do list written down for the last two days and today.  However, I realize, my to do list is not the problem (well not entirely).  It helps to keep me motivated and clearly outlines what needs (absolutely has) to be done.  What I have come to realize is that it's the timing. I have simply not allotted enough time to get the things done that need to be done.  Some of this stuff I could have gotten done several days ago, but feeling so crummy it's hard to get motivated and to get moving.  Yesterday was a great day. I had gotten enough sleep, I had called a babysitter, I pampered myself a little, went out to lunch with friends I hadn't seen in over a year, and actually got a couple of things knocked off my to do list.  It was great!

Then, I started working on the never ending laundry.  As I'm washing, drying, and folding clothes, I realize that I'm folding and putting away clothes faster than they are washing and drying. This becomes a problem when I need the clothes that are being washed and still need to be washed. *sigh* I spent 3 hours doing laundry last night and still have several loads to do today. While I'm waiting for the clothes to finish, I'm multi-tasking. There are a couple of things that I need to get preschool lesson plans and I'm having writer's block. I think it had something to do with the late hour. I was still doing laundry at 11pm. Of course, then I couldn't function, but I also couldn't sleep. I had too much on my mind.

Now I'm tired, frustrated, and definitely afraid I won't get done today what I absolutely have to get done. I'm going to have find some time somewhere and rearrange a few things. Unfortunately, it's made me cranky. Grrrrrrr.  I'm just going to have to dig deep. zzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The new Toy Story 3 is out and I would love to take my kids (ages 4 and 20 months). I heard a lot of good reviews and everyone who has seen it has loved it and even got a bit emotional.  However, even though it is G-rated, I was warned that there were a few parts that might be too scary for my kids. For this reason I have opted not to take them and will wait just a little bit longer for them to see the movie, probably on Netflix.  But I'm still debating...

After having my children I have realized that even G-rated movies can be a bit too scary. Think about the Disney classics. I grew up on Disney movies, but think about it:  Bambi--Mother dies (we own it, still haven't shown it to our kids yet); Snow White--witch, scary stepmother, Incredibles-murdering robot; Toy Story 1--Neighbor kid does experiments on toys and they are new scarier versions of themselves.  The list goes on and on.

For this reason, my husband and I are really particular about what our children watch.  Especially since my son seems to be sensitive to anything scary.  He came home from childcare at the gym one day telling me he didn't like the Incredibles because it was too scary. They showed it at the gym, I didn't know about it and couldn't prep him, and he wasn't comfortable going to anyone to hide behind when it got to scary.  If I had been there, he would have had at least been able to snuggle with me.

 I remember that we brought Ratatouille for him on one of our trips.  We popped it into the portable DVD player, gave him a pair of headphones and didn't think about it.  Twenty minutes later he's waving his arms around screaming "Stop, Don't do that, AHHHHHHH" in the middle of the plane. (Even though I'm sure we watched it with him at home at least once before he saw it on the plane).  He had gotten to the part where the old woman pulls out a shotgun and tries to kill the rats.  It was supposed to be comedic, it wasn't (for him).  This was a couple of years ago.  My son was petrified. We watched it again last night and he kept hopping up and down when the rats where in the one point he ran into the kitchen and started to say, "Skip it, Mommy, skip it. Did you skip it?" Not a fan of the shotgun.

For my son's 4th birthday we took him to see "How to Train your Dragon." We knew it might have some scary parts and it did. But my husband and I were both with him. He sat in my lap the whole time. He did try to take off his 3D glasses a few times to make it less scary. The interesting thing is that the part he disliked the most was when Hiccup's father told him "You are not my son." It hit hard with my son and even though we pointed out that the father asked for forgiveness and Hiccup forgave him. My son stubbornly said, "He is not a nice man and he is not a good father."  That was the scariest part for him, that a father would deny his son.

So maybe we shelter our kids too much. They are only allowed to watch PBS and Sprout (a PBS affiliate). They watch preschool shows. They don't watch a lot of the popular cartoon tv shows because I think the content is too grown up (even though the jokes would probably fly over their heads). We stick to Thomas movies and Veggie Tales. When we do wander into Disney or Disney Pixar movies...we make sure we are all there together and someone has the remote to skip through any scary scenes.

Though we do look forward to sharing some of our favorites when the time comes. Star Wars, anyone? It does make me wonder if Buggy will be exposed earlier to "scarier" movies because she'll want to watch the same movies as our son does.  I wonder if it will become a non-issue as we (if we) have more kids and the younger ones will exposed at an earlier age. I wonder if it will be less scary to them because they'll be watching it with their big brother or sister.  I wonder....

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 4th

Every year we go to my SIL's home and have a BBQ on the 4th of July.  The whole family goes, the kids play outside, the adults hang out and talk outside, there's good food, and fireworks afterwards.  It's a really nice time for all of us.

This year my husband really wanted to see the parade that they do in his old hometown.  The one that they do by our current home is sweet, but small and short.  The one that they do in his old hometown is about 2 hours long, has many floats, candy, state officials, and for the parade that is held earlier in the afternoon they have 5 fighter jets that fly overhead to commence the festivities. It's so popular that people started putting their chairs out to save their spots on the main road about a month earlier.  The whole thing is pretty awesome.

The kids are at an age that we could sit and enjoy a long parade. This year we really lucked out and had good weather, hot, but not humid.  We also met up with one of Hubby's sisters and her family and we were able to enjoy the parade with four of our nieces.  The kids had so much fun being with their cousins, listening to the marching bands, and waving to everyone. Good time had by all.

My favorite part of the day is going to Hubby's other sister's home for the festivities. I think it's one of the easier celebrations to host (I hope she thinks so!). While she still has to prepare her home for the onslaught of our clan (it's 29 of us for a "immediate" family gathering) we spend the majority of our time outside, the kids entertain one another, and there is none of that "schedule" that goes on when you host a birthday party. So we don't have to worry about gifts and cake. Everything is pot luck and buffet style.

Being from a small family of four, it's taken me some time to learn to get used to a large family. But over the years (I've been going to family gatherings for the last 13 years) I'm finally used to it. I love that my kids have a ready made play group whenever we go somewhere. All of the kids are good to each other and play with each other pretty nicely.  We still have squabbles that happen with any family, but nothing long lasting and overall they do well.  I like that I get along with my in-laws and all of my BILs and SILs.

Hubby and I spoke about holidays in general and we really like that we spend our holidays with our big clan. My only regret is that my parents are so overwhelmed with the sheer size of the gathering and do not join us for all of our festivities.  But holidays were never a big deal when I was a kid so maybe it's not as bad for them as I think it is. Don't get me wrong, we always celebrated the holidays, but it's a lot different when you do it as a family of four versus a family of 29.  I think my holidays would be complete if my folks were part of the festivities, but overall I enjoy them and I hope that my kids do, too :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mommy Exhaustion

Lately I have been exhausted. Just plain old tired.  I don't know if has to do with working out everyday, having two kids, or what, but I'm tired.

In May I went to the doctor to renew my asthma inhaler prescription before my 5-miler. She asked if there was anything else going on and I talked about my excessive tiredness. She ran lab work on me and didn't find anything outstanding, so we're going to rule out something being wrong.  We did find out, though, that I get up an inordinate amount of times to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. (Ever since being pregnant with Buggy, my bladder has never been the same.)  She said that disrupted my sleep and in turn made me less alert during the day, causing me to want to take a nap in the afternoon.  She prescribed limiting my liquid intake at night (boy, I felt like a potty-training preschooler when she said that!) and to stop taking naps in the afternoon. All sounds legitimate. I also find that when I go to the gym in the morning, I'm way more tired in the afternoon. I think it's because I give it all I have trying to keep up with my work out routines, that I'm depleting my energy and not doing enough to replenish it.

So here I am exhausted, chasing two kids, and trying to stay in shape. I look forward to the day when I am at a healthy weight and can manage my weight with healthy eating and moderate exercise.  I think it will be someday soon. I've made great strides with my weight in the last 8 months and plan to keep it up. Someday, soon, maybe I won't be so tired :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The other day at my TREC class our instructor mentioned that the 4th of July was her son's birthday. Someone joked that he came in with a bang, and she he said, he literally did. Her labor with him was very short and he came into the world just as the fireworks started going off.  Of course this conversation led to the other women describing their labor and their children.  Our instructor also said that with her 2nd born, they were concerned that she would come very quickly and since she lived more than an hour and a half away from the hospital they decided to schedule an inducement.  She said that it took forever for that baby to come and she feels like she forced her daughter to come into the world when she wasn't ready and she is forever forcing her to do things, whereas her son is ready to try something new before she (the mother) is ready.  Another woman mentioned that with her middle daughter they induced her labor and even with being induced, her daughter didn't come and they had to send her home and try all over again later.  She said that her daughter always drags her feet and comes "kickin' and screamin'" when they need her to do something.

I find all of this fascinating. I have heard mothers joke that their children's personalities are exactly the way they came out of the womb.  Who knows if there is any truth behind it, but I still find it interesting. Did I ever mention that I was a Human Development major in college?

I thought about my own kids. With my son, my water broke and then I never labored on my own. After a lot of Pitocin and 27 1/2 hours later my son decided to grace us with his presence. Of course by this time there was some concern and they had to call NICU to make sure he was fine.  As always he was fine. In some ways his life is like his birth. Whenever he gets sick, it's intense in the beginning, but then it  always turns out just fine.

With my daughter she was an easy, easy, delivery.  I labored for easily for 9 hours and hard for another 9. But her delivery was so easy. Three pushes and she was out. It was so easy that as the nurses were cleaning her off, I looked at my husband and said, "I could do that again."  She has definitely been my easy baby. She slept through the night within three months and she is forever my mommy's helper.

I still think they are a little too young to see their "birthing" personality shine through. But as I said, I find this interesting. Anybody out there think that their children exhibit their "birthing" personality? If so, I'd love to hear about it!