The years go by

Time flies when you you’re having fun…right?

It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago my little George turned 5. How is that even possible?
It seems like just yesterday I was spending countless hours at various physicians, trying to nail down what was going on…wondering where his road would lead.

Yet, here we are. Five.

For those that don’t know, or maybe haven’t been following along, or are new to this blog, 5 is a magic number for my George. It’s an age that science said he more than likely wouldn’t reach. It’s an age that should have brought more issues and concerns and perhaps a little more doom and gloom.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

George broke down the door of 5 and is rarin’ to go. He’s excelled at preschool and may need some advanced work when he hits kindergarten in the fall. Kindergarten. A dream I dared to dream.

It seemed like eons ago that I wrote about finally realizing I needed to give George a life. Not just health…a real life. One filled with friends and experiences and ups and downs. And since then, I started living too.

Do I still worry about tomorrow? Certainly. I don’t know of a single parent that wouldn’t. But why borrow the trouble of tomorrow against the miracle of today?

My guard is still up. I read about the measles outbreaks across the country and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I do what I can to protect George from the known issues that he may face. But I could never fully protect him. There are too many unknowns. Too many variables. So I must use a little common sense and balance.

Five whole years. It seriously feels like a lot longer than that. But if we truly lived by the adage that “it’s not the years, it’s the miles,” George would be older than most.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. My greatest blessing just so happens to come in a dynamite little package that keeps thumbing his nose at what the experts say. Just goes to show that the greatest Expert of all doesn’t follow a scientific journal.

And I am grateful for that.

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Why I beat my kids…

Put down the phone. Seriously. It’s not what you think, I promise.

Let me explain…

Yesterday, while picking George up from daycare, I noticed someone watching our exit. As I thought about what they had seen, I figured they were picking me out as the worst mommy in the place, but I was actually trying hard not to be. Really hard.

Almost every day that George goes to daycare, we race to the door. And every night that I pick him up, we race to the suburban. And to tell you the truth, about half of the time…I beat him.

Terrible, right?

Except not.

At the tender age of 4, my son is learning that Mom doesn’t always have to protect him from everything. That he’s responsible for his own wins and losses. That he can lose gracefully and still love the person you lose to. Of course, he just thinks he’s having fun.

And the same is true at home. We win some games, we lose some games, fits are not allowed, but good sportsmanship is mandatory. Is it hard to lose? Certainly (especially to your mom), but it’s a lesson that we don’t teach often enough these days.

It’s time that we stop telling our children that there is nothing they can’t do…because, truly, there are things they can’t do…at least, not right away. And if you never have to strive towards a goal and work hard, then what’s the value of winning?

Being an adult is hard…but having to become an adult and never having to stand on your own would be harder yet. So let’s spend a little less time making sure everyone has a trophy, and a little more time making sure that everyone is learning something.

And to the lady who may have thought I was off my rocker yesterday…yes, I was racing a 4-year-old, and yes, I won. But Mom needed a little boost to her self-esteem, too. 😉

My prize? The biggest smile and a great big kiss from the cutest 4-year-old I know. I’d do it again in a second.

Teaching our children includes teaching them how to lose, not just win.

Teaching our children includes teaching them how to lose, not just win. And when the prize includes a smile like this, that can melt your heart, well, you better believe that I give it my all!

How to suck the fun out of gifts…the conclusion

Well, guess what? I won. Not the lottery, something much more rewarding than that. I figured out the stinking building sets and have one whole set completed. Only two more to go. Good thing it’s a long weekend for me.

After my post yesterday, I feel like I have to clarify a few things:

  1. My boys play with their toys. I may joke about them being put on a shelf and threatening grounding, but it’s all pretend so I sound like a tough parent. I’m not. Not really. My boys are never given something I don’t fully expect to be broken. That includes the furniture in my house, the vehicles I drive, etc. It’s also the reason why all church clothes are completely washable. I’m prepared for the worst. Kinda like a boyscout.
  2. I really don’t drink that much wine.
  3. I was exaggerating about the difficulties of these sets. They’re actually much worse than what I claimed. Much, much worse.
  4. I will more than likely buy another set if they come out with them. Why? Because I enjoy pain. Actually, because once I have this much of the set completed, the somewhat OCD part of me wants to have the whole set. And since they’re such a pain, I’m guessing they’ll go on a killer sale. And then the cheapskate part of me will also be intrigued. Meaning that the part of me that hates these sets will lose out. 😦 I can’t win.
  5. I lied about #2. Oh wait, my Mom reads this. Just kidding. Really. #2 is completely true. I promise.

Well, that’s about it. We now have a complete seeding system. And four happy boys. And one mama whose fingers are sore. But I did get a brilliant suggestion from a friend. SUPER GLUE! I may have to use that one for the next set.

Good night friends! Here’s a few pics just to prove that I did, indeed, finish…and that I’m not a mean Mama.

And now I’ll patiently wait for my own mother to call… 😉

Complete...and check out all the extra pieces, minus two that were actually needed. But I compromised with colors.

Complete…and check out all the extra pieces, minus two that were actually needed. But I compromised with colors.

The tractor and seeder together. I can't believe I spent this amount of time on this! LOL!

The tractor and seeder together. I can’t believe I spent this amount of time on this! LOL!

EJ was making sure that George wasn't sharing any secret farmer information while Mom was taking photos. Priceless moments.

EJ was making sure that George wasn’t sharing any secret farmer information while Mom was taking photos. Priceless moments.

Farming the kitchen floor...nothing is better than this!

Farming the kitchen floor…nothing is better than this!

 

 

How to suck the fun right out of gifts…a lesson

Excuse me for a moment. I’m a tad delirious and need to share a few thoughts. Actually, it’s just that my eyes need to rest, so staring at the computer seemed like a good idea.

I would like to take a moment to address my friends at Mega Bloks. Your product ranks right up there with a set of Chinese finger traps. Seriously. Except I can just throw away the cheap finger traps and not feel bad. I have a 6-year-old looking at me with tears in his eyes, while I feel like a complete failure for not getting his set put together yet.

It all started with a well-intentioned aunt. And a Santa that found a great deal on Zulilly. Or so I heard.

A set of building blocks…but green and yellow. John Deere. Just like Dad’s. But last time I checked, Dad’s didn’t come in pieces that you had to put together on your own. Not only pieces (828 to be exact), but the pieces come in bags.

Ages 5+...yeah right. Cool set, not so cool set up.

Ages 5+…yeah right. Cool set, not so cool set up.

No biggie. Fewer pieces to lose if you have the project separated into bags, right? Wrong.

The set is labeled for ages 5 and older. Great! Three out of my four boys can build it without assistance! The youngest is almost there as well, he’ll be able to handle it. My 11-year-old is darn near an engineer. He shouldn’t have a problem at all. Wrong. All three were almost to tears a few minutes in.

The problem? The bags mean nothing. You might as well open them all up and pour them into a giant tupperware container to start with..and perhaps a glass of wine. Or two. Don’t put the bottle too far away.

Are you kidding me? Please tell me you're kidding me. They forgot the two most important pieces. Patience and a sense of humor.

Are you kidding me? Please tell me you’re kidding me. They forgot the two most important pieces. Patience and a sense of humor.

I won’t even tell you how long it took me to build the large tractor. I’m almost ashamed to admit it. It would have been fun, but every time I thought I had it figured out, I had to back up a few steps. And let’s not talk about pieces that were missing.

Let's just say that completion was figured in hours...not minutes. A true sign that I really love my boys. Really.

Let’s just say that completion was figured in hours…not minutes. A true sign that I really love my boys. Really.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the planter. And a new bottle of wine. 😉

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • I’m pretty certain that the people who packaged and wrote the instructions for these sets should have a job with the CIA. They could write out the instructions for nuclear weapons and no one else in the world could replicate them. It would end with the enemy rocking in the fetal position, demanding a glass of wine, crying out, “It can’t be done! It can’t be done!”
  • The person in charge of suggesting what age is appropriate for these sets is on crack. “For ages 5+,” yeah right. I do believe the fine print also suggests you have a working understanding of Olde English, hieroglyphics and advanced calculus, as well as a background in engineering…preferably genetic.Oh, and be a member of Mensa.
  • The next person who buys a set of these for my children will also be required to put it together.
  • I have warned my children that these will go on a shelf. If I see anyone touching them, they will be grounded until they turn 475. I’m only exaggerating a little.

Hometown Holiday

I had a very important date last night…several of them, really. And I thought that maybe I should tell you about it, because, well, really, we talk about most things, don’t we?

Last night I took my four boys Christmas shopping. They each had to shop for one of their brothers. I didn’t limit their spending, I didn’t limit their choices, and it was worth every minute and every dime.

We live in a small, rural community. We have a few stores, but nothing extravagant…yet we had a blast. Let me replay the evening:

Nothing beats a great hometown store...nothing. I've been shopping here for more than 30 years.

Nothing beats a great hometown store…nothing. I’ve been shopping here for more than 30 years.

I went to take Scooter to basketball practice, only to realize that practice was an hour later than I was expecting. No problem, we’ll get some Christmas shopping out of the way at Village Variety. Scooter’s job was to pick one brother, and to buy a gift. He picked Big Bro, found something that “he would love.” We paid for it, had it wrapped and were on our way.

I dropped Scooter off at my Mom’s, and picked up EJ. He picked George. We found a gift, had it wrapped and were on our way.

George met me at the door, ready to go. He knew he was going to go shopping for a gift, and he wanted to buy one for EJ. He already knew what to get him, so we picked it up, had it wrapped (found a little extra something for Grandma), and were on our way.

A happy boy, with his gift for his brother all wrapped and ready for the tree!

A happy boy, with his gift for his brother all wrapped and ready for the tree!

Last, but certainly not least, was Big Bro. He knew that the only brother left was Scooter to buy for, but he also knew what Scooter would want. We picked it up, had it wrapped and were on our way. Voila. Shopping complete.

Big Bro had to carefully determine what Scooter would want. No rushing a well-thought-out gift!

Big Bro had to carefully determine what Scooter would want. No rushing a well-thought-out gift!

And it was the best trip EVER!

Here are the lessons I learned:

  • It truly doesn’t matter what you buy, it’s why you buy it. And if it DOES matter what you buy, you shouldn’t have bought it in the first place. Love isn’t shown with the amount spent, it’s shown with the meaning behind it.
  • A friendly face, a word or two of encouragement to my children and knowing that I’m supporting a local family goes a long way.
  • My children know that my love is not depicted by the number (or grandeur) of the gifts they receive. We do not count gifts in this house. If you are so wrapped up in the gift-giving that you set guidelines, parameters and dollar amounts…well, I think you forgot what the point was for giving the gift. (And I’m not talking budget limitations.)
  • The best gifts I have ever received (aside from my children, naturally), are those that showed how much someone was paying attention: a lasagna pan (I love to cook for my family, and lasagna is my specialty), a necklace that one of my boys picked out, anything that my boys have made, etc. It’s not the amount spent, it’s the “why” behind it. 🙂
  • I am most certain that my boys will follow in my footsteps and will enjoy the giving just as much, if not more than, the receiving. And in that aspect, I feel as if I’ve succeeded as a parent. Yay!

It was a great night, indeed…and in case I get busy and don’t write for a few days again, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my heart to yours. (And yes, I meant that.)

It’s all in the perspective

It’s amazing sometimes to think about how our situations can have a vast effect on how we view things. For example, think back to October. Those first few days of hitting 30 seemed downright cruel, didn’t they? And now, here we are in December, just hoping for a temp in the positive degrees.

I am not ready for these types of pictures, not that anyone is asking me.

I am not ready for these types of pictures, not that anyone is asking me.

 Amazing what a little time does, isn’t it?

 

The same is true for much of our lives. Take, for instance, the children in school. I know for a fact that my sixth-grader is pretty convinced that there is nothing harder than trying to figure out his algebra problems. And all I can think is, “Just wait until calculus!”

 

My fourth-grader is certain that without eating seconds, thirds or fourths at school, he will not be able to physically make it through the day. And all I can think is, “One day, that metabolism will start to slow down, boy!”

The tall one in the red? Yeah, that's my 9-year-old.

The tall one in the red? Yeah, that’s my 9-year-old.

 My first-grader is determined that he does not have to speak, unless he has fully surveyed the situation, has come to the conclusion that you are an OK person to speak to, and that he has something valuable to say. And all I can think is, “I know that one day I will not get you to be quiet.”

Yeah...that's the look that I will fear in years to come. Watch out ladies!

Yeah…that’s the look that I will fear in years to come. Watch out ladies!

 And my littlest one, the one that can cause the most trouble, all while looking the most innocent, he  believes that the world is his oyster, and there is nothing he cannot achieve, nor is there anything that’s out of his reach…literally, as well as figuratively.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

 And, for once, I completely agree. Yes, he may have some bumps and he may have some limitations, but as cynical as I may get sometimes, I know that he can achieve it all. They all can.

 

Yes, distance from youth may have made me a little wiser, a little more cautious in my optimism, but I know that their drive and motivation can take them far. And I would never do anything less than support them fully.

 

Much like these cold temps, going through a down moment is temporary. Once you’re on the other side, it’ll all seem so trivial. And you’ll be ready to face those demons once again.

 

Just as the temp tomorrow being 20 would seem like a welcome reprieve and a beautiful winter day, our point of view changes, based on where we’re at in life. And I, for one, cannot wait to change my perspective.

 

No, I’m no longer a 20-something with grand ideas of setting the world on fire, but I am a somewhat-sensible 30-something with a plan in place of making an impact on the world around me. I’ve made some pretty remarkable strides already, and already my perspective has changed.

 

You don’t have to live in an urban setting, you don’t have to own the newest gadgets, you don’t have to have the highest of degrees. You just have to have a little passion.

 

And then you have to try.

Day 7 – Thoughts on raising boys

Yes, as you are well aware, I have boys. Four of them. I joke that they’re the reason I dye my hair, but that has more to do with genetics than anything. So here are some of my thoughts on what it’s like to raise boys…and perhaps a tip or two on how to survive:

boys on first day of school

From left to right: George, EJ, Big Bro and Scooter. My crew.

  • I’d tell you to expect the unexpected, but that’s not true. Expect the impossible. Really. Want to hide the last Hershey kiss in the light fixture, in the middle of the kitchen, with no ladder? Go fold clothes. I dare you. You’ll find your son hanging from the light. Seriously.
  • Do not teach them hide and go seek. I mean it. Unless you want to spend frantic minutes looking for them, only to find them in the dryer. Yeah. Not kidding on this one either.
  • Throw out any book that tells you boys and girls aren’t different. I bought dolls for my boys and gave them a kitchen, thinking I wouldn’t introduce any biasness and would let them be “themselves.” The dolls became hostages and lost their heads, the kitchen was turned into a bunker and doll arms became guns. *sigh* I have to admit, I was never a Barbie fan myself.
  • Do not tell your son to “act like a man.” Unless he’s older than 18. I do not want my child to leave his socks on the kitchen floor, expect his dishes to be picked up after him or expect the sock fairy to magically appear each night. (Kidding, just kidding.) Actually, my problem is that our children grow up too fast, and we always expect them to act older, not just act appropriately for the age they are…and there’s a difference. I’m afraid I may have done a little too much of this with my oldest. He has a very old soul, and I worked so hard to raise him to be a good child, I forgot to let him be a child. Lesson learned the hard way.

    Life is never dull around here.

    Life is never dull around here.

So how do you survive it all? I’m not sure I know quite yet, but I do know one thing. Let go. Don’t get so wrapped up in all the different aspects that you forget that you’re living a life. Make some memories. Have a water fight. Give your son a wedgie. Let them know that you’re not just Mom, and that you remember how to have fun.

It can’t be all rules, all the time. Stay up late. Tell scary stories. Play in a fort. Get dirty. When they ask what’s for supper, tell them it’s frog eyeballs and spider legs. Get creative.

Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules. Inside toys played with outside? Sure. But no complaining if something breaks.

Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules. Inside toys played with outside? Sure. But no complaining if something breaks.

The time will fly by, and before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do all these things sooner.

Four boys. Apparently God has a very good sense of humor. But that’s OK…so do I.