Thursday, March 29, 2012

a good father

Today is his birthday.

When I met my husband I was just 21 years old.  I was not looking for a husband.  I was young and having fun.  So when I met  him one night at a dance club, I didn't think much of it.  We danced.  We talked.  I thought he was a nice guy, but my heart didn't do anything crazy.   However, before I left the club that night, we exchanged numbers.

And so he called the very next day.

We met for lunch a few days later.  I didn't even let him pick me up but instead suggested we meet at the restaurant.  I was guarded, to say the least.  Surprisingly, our lunch lasted four hours.  We talked, talked, talked, talked.  When it was time to say good-bye,  he asked if he could see me again sometime.  And I said yes.

And so he called the very next day.

We met again for lunch exactly a week later.  Again, I drove myself there.  This lunch lasted another four hours.  We talked, talked, talked, talked -- I learned he had a 2-month old son - and we talked, talked, talked some more.  On the drive home after that lunch I thought,  Why did I have to meet him now?  I'm not ready to find THE ONE now --  I'm only 21 years old!    But I knew.  I knew after that second lunch that he was THE ONE.   I actually had a hunch during our first lunch, but the second one decided it for me.

The thing that impressed me the most during that second lunch was that he flat out told me that his son is the most important thing he has going on in his life, that being a devoted and involved father was his first priority, and if I had any kind of doubts or reservations about that then we should just stop dating right now.  He was pretty blunt about it, and I could tell he meant what he said.  After hearing that, I thought  Okay...this is a good guy.  This is the kind of father that I would want for my kids.  This is the kind of father who knows his priorities.  

This is the kind of father that I never had.

My own father had a drug and alcohol problem, and for most of my childhood he was in and out of jail for such things as drug possession, DUI's, and petty crimes.  He'd be away for months, sometimes years at a time, so my time with him was never lengthy.  When he was home, he often forgot to pick me up from school, or he'd say he was going to show up for a school performance but never would, and he would break promises to me often.  I learned   at a very young age that I could not depend on my father.

But besides all that,  I remember him as a fun and loving person.  He played with me.  He tucked me in at night and told me stories. He would tenderly wash, dry, and brush my long hair.  Unfortunately, he also took me to drug houses, drove stoned with me in the car, and hawked all of our expensive things to pay for his drug habit.  Of course as a young child, I wasn't aware of all that bad stuff.  But my mother was,  and that always lead to big fights and a very tense household.  I used to put my pillow over my head at night to muffle the sounds of their screaming. I don't have any memory of my parents cuddling together or hugging or  even talking kindly to each other.  I only remember fighting.  My mother was always "mad" at him, and I didn't understand why.  In my young eyes, my father was always a happy guy.  He was always fun.  So why was she always so mad at him?  

I remember one day he was in the bathroom and my mom was pounding on the door, yelling for him to get out.  She was pounding and trying to force the door open, but he was holding it shut.  I stood in the hallway right next to the bathroom, wondering what all the fuss was about.  Why couldn't she just let him use the potty in private?  What was the big deal?  When my mother finally forced the door open, I could see my father sitting on the toilet with a big rubber band around his arm and a needle in his other hand.  

Shortly after that incident she divorced him.  I was about seven, maybe eight years old by that time.  The divorce was a good thing because after that my life was calm.  It was peaceful.  The fear and anxiety that I often felt in the pit of my stomach was gone.  I remember that being such a relief to me.  My mom provided everything for me and my sister -- a safe neighborhood, a beautiful house, a big yard to play in, a strong faith foundation, family gatherings, wonderful holiday traditions, and most importantly love and the feeling of being safe and cared for.  I felt secure.  In fact, I can honestly say that there is nothing that I lacked from my childhood.  I had everything...except a father.

Growing up without a father isn't the best thing for a kid.  Fathers are very important!  But in my opinion it's better to not have a father around...than to have the wrong kind of father around.  

So while I was dating Rich, I soon realized that he was the exact opposite of my father.   I could tell that he'd never put anything before his family.  He was a hard worker and a devoted father.  He was a strong personality; didn't use drugs, wasn't an alcoholic.  These things were important to me.  I wanted my kids to have what I never had - a father they could depend on.  

That's exactly what they got.

And today is his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Babe.
We all love you so much!

Wow, there's a lot of candles on that cake!

Today I'm linking up with Things I Can't Say: Pour Your Heart Out

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

just like a three-year-old

We were passing the time at a soccer game this weekend, and I took some photos of Aria.  I told her to jump so that I could try to capture motion.  

So she jumped.

And instead if catching her image on the way down,  I captured it on the way up, which makes this photo look a bit creepy, in my opinion.  It looks like she's levitating, or something strange like that.

I like this photo much better.  Little pieces of fly-away hair caught by the sun -- so sweet.

Sometimes Aria can be such a sweet and cooperative little model for me.

But other times, well....

she just can't help 

but to act

just like a three-year-old!

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Monday, March 26, 2012

naps are good

At lunchtime he got angry at his sister for turning the umbrella towards herself, leaving him exposed to the sun... so he flung her plate off the picnic table, spilling her sandwich all over the cement.  The dog quickly grabbed it and ran off.  Mom was not happy.

During outside playtime, he got angry at one of his he took a baseball and threw it at a window of our house.  Luckily he's only five and his throw isn't that powerful yet, and the window did not break.  But still.  Mom was not happy.

After lunch he got angry when I told him to turn off the X-box because it was reading time and not playtime...and he stomped his foot and threw the X-box controller down on the floor.  It didn't break, but still.  Those things are expensive!  Mom was not happy.

So after this last incident,  this five year old who doesn't take naps anymore was sent to his room to take a nap.  Oh, he wasn't happy about it.  Not one bit.  

"But I'm not tired!"  he protested.  
"I won't fall asleep!" he threatened.

Okay, I said, tucking him into his bed.  Then just lie there and don't sleep.  But stay IN your bed.

He told me I was mean.  
I told him I loved him.  And I shut the door.
I went back five minutes later to check on him, and this is what I found:

SLEEP.  It does a cranky, angry, throwing-a-fit five-year-old boy good.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

funny guy

I know...where have I been, right?  I'm totally slacking on the blog.  Sorry about that, but I've been swamped.  Just too many things going on lately.

The kids and I have been laughing at this guy all day.  He's my new favorite.  He lip syncs the words to the Saturday Night Live's skit  "Surprise Party"  and acts out his character, "Sue", perfectly.   Can you watch this and not laugh?  Challenge yourself.  I haven't been able to do it.  

Below is the original skit from Saturday Night Live.  
It's kind of fun to play both at the exact same time so that the dialogue is in sync.
But watch the guy's version first! 
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birthdays and birth days!

A.J. had a great 9th birthday.  We surprised him with a night at The Medieval Times.  None of the kids had ever been there before, so it was a treat for everyone.  They are still talking about it, asking when can we go again?

If we were living in those times, A.J. would have been a knight.  Definitely.  He was fascinated by all the weaponry that was on display.  Some of these swords had a price tag of over $500 ~ crazy!  So much for our souvenir idea!

Me and my Birthday Boy during the show!

Afterwards we all went over to meet our Yellow Knight and get his autograph.

The night of A.J.'s birthday party, Andrew came down with a fever that soon turned into a deep cough. The day after that, I got what he had... and a day after that, so did Aria and Alex.  So the four of us have been sick.  It hasn't been fun.  And every time Aria coughs, she gets very mad and says, "Andrew made me sick!"   I always feel sorry for the kid who brings the sickness into our house.  There's no mercy here for the bringer of the bug!  The kids can be awful.  "Thanks a lot, An-DREW!!!"  they will say, in between the coughing or sneezing.  

They never say each other's names correctly when they are mad at each other.  Instead, it's more like this:

Ais- LYNN!
Al- LIX!

They do it just to make the person mad.  They say it in more of an angry sing-song voice, too, just to add the extra annoyance quality.


Anyway, I've been down for the past two days, but I'm on the mend and should be 100% by tomorrow. I'm planning on it, anyway.  I've been power walking/jogging lately, and I'm looking forward to getting back in my running shoes.

The trails that I run/walk on.  This is a lame photo but you can see off to the left of the picture how the trail winds around the hill....

It takes me 55 minutes to complete the trail, and that's when I power walk and jog some of it. Some of the hills are very steep, so they slow me down some.  But it's a great workout, and when I get home the kids alway ask, "Mom...did you wear sunscreen? Because your face is RED!"  

My bathroom scale needs batteries, so it's not working right now to tell me if I've lost any weight or not.  And you know what?  I'm not even going to go there.  I mean, I will know when I've lost weight when I can fit into my skinny jeans again, right? No scale needed for that.

My good friend just had her 10th baby the other day!! I'm so beyond thrilled for her! A healthy, 8 pound little girl was born to my 43 year old friend.  My friend is similar to me in that she had her first miscarriage after turning 40, then another, then another. But then one day  she tested positive again, and that one stuck!  And now nine months later she has a new baby girl, born at home ~ she has home births, too!  We are so much alike.   So I'm thinking...since we do almost everything else alike, perhaps that might happen for me, too?  That our 10th might still be in our future?  I guess it's certainly possible!  

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Friday, March 9, 2012


Today I was showing my older daughter how to use Pinterest, and I pinned one of my own blog posts to demonstrate the pinning process.  So now that will go out to all of my Pinterest followers and everyone will see that I pinned one of my own blog posts.  Is that tacky? to pin your own post?  What are people going to think of me?  Why do I care? you still want to
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Tomorrow is my A.J.'s 9th birthday.  NINE is always a very strange age for me, as a mom, when one of my kids turns this age....because all I can think of is this:  OMG half of his childhood is over!  Half!  Then I start thinking crazy things like this:  How has the first half of his childhood been?  Were all his needs met?  Has he been having fun?  Has he felt loved enough?  Have I been doing enough with him?  What haven't I done with him yet?    And I feel a sense of panic, knowing that I only have 9 more years left of his childhood.  So much to do with him, so much to teach him. It's not enough time.  Nine years is just not enough time.  I want more time.  I just want the clock to  S-L-O-W down .... just S-L-O-W down, okay?   When Alex turned nine I said, "Hey, you're 9 today!  That means half of your childhood is over."  and he looked at me with this shocked expression, then his eyes filled with tears and he stared to cry!  Oh my gosh, that broke my heart.  He was crying. I was crying.  It was a miserable scene.  So the next year, it was Avery's turn with the 9th birthday,  and you'd think I would have learned my lesson.  But, no.  Again I said, "Hey, you're 9 today!  That means that half of your childhood is over."  and she looked at me, then broke out in the biggest smile and said, "Cool!"  Oh my gosh, that broke my heart, too.   So I'm not going to say that to another one of my kids on their 9th birthday.  Because no matter what they say, my heart will break.  I'm pathetic, I know.

Today I forgot to pick up Avery from her CCD class.  I dropped her off at 5:00, then drove home to start dinner...and all the while I was cooking and helping other kids with homework, I kept saying to myself:  Get Avery at 6:00.  Don't forget.  Get Avery at 6:00.  Don't forget.   I must have chanted that in my mind 100 times.  Then at 5:50 I looked at the clock and I thought to myself:  Leave in 5 minutes to get Avery.  Don't forget.  Leave in 5 minutes to get Avery.  Don't forget.   But I was only able to chant that in my mind about 20 times, because soon Aislynn came to me with the phone in her hand asking me to talk to her friend's mother to schedule a playdate.  So I was on the phone, giving directions to my house and making plans. When I hung up, I went back to the salad I was making.  Then Aria came into the kitchen to ask me to zip up her pretty-pretty dress that she had just put on, and then Audriana came into the kitchen with her laptop and said, "Mom...I want to show you the prom dresses I'm looking you have time right now?"  and so because this isn't the first time she's asked me this,  I sat down at the kitchen table to make some time for my 19 year old.  Next thing I know, my cell phone rings with a number that I don't recognize.  I answer.

Mom? Are you coming?
Who is this?
Mom! It's Avery!

I glanced at the clock and it was 6:15.  She was calling from the church office.  Ahhhhh!  I forgot!   So I hung up and drove off like a mad woman to go get her.  Luckily our church is only 5 minutes away.  But still.  The point is this:  I forgot Avery.  She was left waiting when everyone else was picked up.  That's got to be one of the worst feelings as a kid.

Later that night we all went to Target to pick out gifts for A.J's birthday, and I let Avery get her own pack of gum.  As if that makes up for it, I know.  But it did make me feel a bit better.  That Mommy Guilt can be a bitch, so anything that eases it I'm going to use!

A few days ago I saw this video and I must have watched it about 147 times.

Did you watch it?  Aren't they just about the cutest little boys you have ever seen?  Did you hear their sweet voices?  Oh, how I fell in love with these two brothers!  I called and left messages, asking what I needed to do to adopt these two.  I called and called.  Finally, I sent emails to various people within the agency.  I really, really wanted these two little guys to join our family.   I got a response email today:  They were just placed with an adoptive family.   I was too late!  I'll admit that I was bummed about that.   But I'm also happy for them, to know they are out of foster care and now have a family of their own.  Good for them.

What was I thinking, anyway?  Here I am, forgetting to pick up my own kids from events, falling short every single day in different ways, always wondering if I'm giving each child enough of myself, and yet my heart wants others to join our family.  What was I thinking.  

But seriously...did you watch that video?  Have you ever seen such adorable boys?  Who wouldn't want to take those little sweeties home?!!  

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

the homeschool closet

While she is doing this...

and he is doing this...

They are doing this!

Which looks more fun to you?  Math, Social Studies, or building a town out of blocks?  I know which one I would rather do!

My biggest challenge with homeschooling is finding ways to keep the younger two occupied during my instruction time with the older two.  Andrew and Aria typically play with something for about 10 to 15 minutes before they get bored with it.  And when they get bored with it, guess where they come?  That's right.  They come to me.  And they demand my attention, which takes away from my teaching time with A.J. and Aislynn.  And when my attention switches over to Andrew and Aria,  well then A.J. and Aislynn start to goof off, they stop doing their work, and then I end up getting mad at all four of them.

It's not a good way to go.

So I've put together something really cool.  We call it our "Homeschooling Closet".  This is where we store all the FUN stuff that can only be used during our homeschooling hours, and Andrew and Aria have a lot to pick from that will keep them busy.  I keep all the things they play with on the lower shelves so that they won't need me to get it for them, and they can change activities whenever they want.

Almost every box is labeled.  Up at the very top is where I store curriculum that we are not using at this time, and on the door is where I store all the kids' piano books.  This closet is always a work-in-progress, but I almost have it the way I want it.   Just one more shelf at the bottom and I think I'll be completely happy with it.

I love these containers.  They are actually shoe, boot, and sweater boxes that I got at The Container Store. I like them because they come in different sizes, they stack nicely, and they aren't too expensive.

We call this closet "The Homeschooling Closet" because the rule is that they can only play with the things in it during our homeschooling hours.  *For the most part we stick to this rule, but there have been days when I've made exceptions!  

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Monday, March 5, 2012

when it's just one

There is one day during our school week where the older homeschooling kids take a couple of classes with our charter school.  Two of them take an art class, and the other takes a US History class.  This is great for them (to be away from mom for a change!)  and this is also great for Aria, who then has mom to herself for about two hours. For my three year old, there is nothing better than "Special Time" with mommy!

Sometimes we go to the library.
And sometimes we go to the zoo.  It's not a big, commercialized zoo with theme attractions and all that, but more like the zoo in that movie We Bought a Zoo (which is a wonderful movie, by the way! We took the kids to see it and they all loved it, especially Aria)  Its more like a park with animals.   It has monkeys, llamas, birds, anteaters, and some farm animals. 
The grounds are very pretty.  I've been taking my kids here for quite a few years.  I usually have at least 4 or 5 kids with me, but never just one.  It's a very different experience when I have just one.
I enjoy watching her explore things on her own, without following the lead of her older siblings.  I like to see where her own mind takes her and hear the questions she comes up with.   I love the conversations we have.

Sometimes I look at her and feel a pang of loneliness for her, but that's only because I'm so used to having many small children with me instead of just one.  I can't help but to visualize all of them there with her.  It seems very odd to have just one when we visit a place like this.  At the library it's nice having just one.  But at a zoo?  At a park?  Places like that it just seems like the more the merrier.

But that's just my own crazy thoughts.  To Aria, being just one for two hours once a week is nothing short of wonderful, no matter where we spend that time.

And it's kinda special for me, too!

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