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And I thought the hardest part of meal planning would be coming up with a month full of meals – and just dinner meals – all at once. It turns out, I was so wrong. That was tedious but because I love Pinterest and there are so many cool ideas there, I was able to fill things in enough after figuring out who would be home for dinner on which nights and accommodating for sports and other activities. The hard part, COOKING. And more specifically, not OVER COOKING. I turned into a meal planning follow through failure in 1 week. First, I overcooked, we had too much food after a few days  that there was no more room in the fridge to put anything. And I first thought that I would freeze those leftovers so that we had a few quick servings or meals later. But I am the leftovers eater – that’s typically my lunch. And I hate freezing and thawing and wasting all that time. So then I didn’t cook so that we could just eat the leftovers sooner than I planned. And then we got too busy one day and I didn’t get things prepped before everyone in the house was HANGRY!! (when hunger turns into angry due to blood sugar drops and general irritability) and ready to die from starvation at any moment so we opted for pizza delivery. 20 minutes from computer order to door – I can’t make PB&J that fast!

I am still trying to keep with it to some extent. I did really well the first week and bought everything for the meals at one time, avoiding the quickie and overindulging trips to the grocery. That was GREAT! I will be making some adjustments:

  • Don’t make too much – but that’s hard when 1 “batch” isn’t enough for our large family and doubling it is too much.
  • Plan more “leftovers” days
  • Balance big meals with lighter meals so food doesn’t pile up
  • Utilize leftovers into other dinners better
  • Never ever ever again feed the children. When I ask the kids “what would you like for dinner?”  they give me the “I don’t know” reply. But when I just make something, I get the “oh maaaaaannnn” reply.
  • Problem solved – if I don’t have to feed the children, I don’t have to meal plan!

I’m back to the drawing board – I can see where this is really going to work – in the long run. But it may take a few months of trial and error to get it going smoothly.

We know this. It’s not a secret. One day you’re anxiously awaiting their arrival from the womb and then you blink and then they’re adults – or almost. Almost. How is it that just yesterday I was sending my first-born off to kindergarten, with her brand new glasses and her bangs pulled back off her chubby little face, a backpack as big as she was strung across her back, and a smile that went on for days? There was no fear, no tears. Just a lot of excitement. Last week, I sent that baby of mine off to her senior year of high school, glasses replaced with contacts, bangs dangling and covering her eyes which light up her much more matured face, a messenger bag over her shoulder, and a smile that went on for days. Ok, so some things don’t change that much, they just get bigger. But how can it be that she’s just 2.5 short months from being 18? An adult. *gasp* I always seem to think that I have this under control, I am always internally emotional but can sometimes hold the external together. I take each day in stride. I’m always so proud of my babies and welcome their wing spreading with open arms. But suddenly, almost instantaneously, it hits like a ton of bricks. My baby is almost an adult. Fortunately, I have 4 more babies to raise to adult so I’m still a bit of a ways away from having a full-out heart attack over here. The palpitations are building though.

I’ve now been typing this post for 5 days – seriously. I get THAT distracted by babies and things and OMG the internets. Let me try again while Lucas is distracted by Mickey Mouse and Levi naps, knock on all things that are wood, while I have 2 free hands to type effectively.

My big boys, they have grown like weeds in the past year. I cannot tell you how many pairs of jeans we have gone through and shoes. Shoes now get stinky before they get worn out. yikes! And this summer, the grocery bill, it seriously doubled. And they aren’t even to the stomach-is-a-bottomless-pit stage yet. It’s a good thing there is an 8 year gap between Dillan and Lucas, so we can rebuild the teenager grocery fund again! The physical things are easy to see, but through the summer, I saw a lot of growth in my boys as brothers and friends. They were given some more freedom, allowed to go to the park with friends without mom. It’s only 2 blocks away, but as a trying not to be a helicopter mom, this was a big deal. I send an extra cell phone with them, yep, they also have to be responsible, and they keep me posted about what they’re doing and who they’re with. They were allowed to bike to friends’ houses, too. And while this was hard on mama, it was so good. They argued and fought less, they played together and as a group of friends much more. And by summer’s end, when the soccer teams came out and a mistake was made and they had both been put on the same time, they BOTH asked to be kept on the same team. Yes, my jaw had to be scooped from the floor! This is big. A very BIG step in their brotherly development. The past couple of years surely have had some rough patches. To say that I’m a pleased mama is so underwhelming. I’m elated! But, they should not grow so much. So fast.

7 days – seriously, this blog post is taking far too long to complete. Despite the amount of time I can sit in the computer chair in a day, the typing just doesn’t get done. I need to be more skilled at one handed typing and allowing thoughts to flow while doing a multitude of other things – like nursing a baby, bouncing a baby, cleaning up baby urp from down my back and in my lap, while fetching a toddler off a desk or rescuing him from an annoyed cat or four, and trying to keep enough food and water in myself to sustain me for at least one more day. I will finish this now.

Only after I post some pictures. Because, as per my usual, I paraded them outside to the deck stairs, just like I do every first day of school, so I could take their pictures and “awwwww” and swoon over my precious, once were very tiny, babies. I don’t get teary, not on the outside anyway. I love that they can get out into the big world and spread their wings and discover more about themselves every day. I love that I can get a bit of a mom breather and enjoy a little bit of time each day to be just me, not me the mom, though those days are still so numbered with two little pipsqueeks still at home. I love my babies. So much. My heart is full.

And now, my kids have been back to school for 14 days and I have been trying to write this for 10 days! (enter failing blogger grumbles here). Life is busy, it’s crazy, sometimes overwhelming and frustrating but hey, I love it!)

So, here are the pictures of my kiddos on the first day of school – I adore them all so much!

Hannah – 12th, Connor – 5th, Dillan – 4th.

senior t-shirts are cool

Instagram is serious awesome. Here are a few more of those from the past week.
All my boys before school.

It’s Homecoming Week. Two days ago was “Neon Day” where she wore neon so much cuter than we ever did in the 80’s! Yesterday was “Character Day.” Hannah couldn’t be anything other than adorable Pikachu! Today is “School Spirit Day” and they aren’t allowed to wear their cheer uniforms to school (I know, right?! ridiculousness) so she rocked the tutu again with her cheer jersey. (I’m not too sure about those tights or boots though.)

Have a wonderful year my little, precious, tiny, babies-will-always-be-to-me, children! I love you more than words and pictures can ever express. You all are by far the best things I have ever done in my life and I couldn’t be more proud to be your mama! Now, do your homework without me having to ask eleventytwenty times. 🙂

And for mama, let this be a lesson that blog posts should not take 10 days, with or without pictures.

It doesn’t get much better than this – reflecting on the day with my babytoddler nestled in closely behind me and my tiny baby curled in closely and nursing. I am sandwiched between some seriously adorable boys! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love the family bed. It used to be the most adored place by everyone. The big kids, they got so big, so fast. I know they would still snuggle in if I’d let them! The dogs and the cats – they used to be allowed, too, but I’ve not been a fan of all the shedding for some time now. I sleep much better with my wee ones snuggled closely. It is as it should be.

Today was a good day. I have no complaints. I have nothing big to share. It was just good. And happy. And just the right amount of busy and lazy. Some lounging and shopping and visiting with my mama. And while The Littles tucked in earlier than expected, I’m still mostly wide awake right now. I adore watching them sleep and hearing them breathe so smoothly. I love days spent with my kids. Days where there is no whining or Screaming and just filled with giggles and silence and love.

Snuggling close means I should put the portable geekery away and return to the snuggling and close my eyes as well. Soon, these babyangels will be awake again.  They will have forgotten the snuggling and have moved on to crazy boy behaviors that they do so well.

Goodnight happy life!

At the end of the school year last year, on a whim [and some encouraging from a friend], Hannah decided to try out for cheerleading. I was surprised but quite excited for her. But being the clumsy girl that my lovely daughter is, I worried for her safety, for her fragile joints, for her ever injured shins and toes. After a couple hours of practicing and learning routines and a quick tryout, we waited 2 long days for the results and found out that she made varsity football and varsity girls basketball! She was so excited! I was too! I think she talked about cheer stuff most of the summer, doing routines through the house, nearly nonstop. I was glad she had something new to look forward to and that she pushed so hard for something she wanted and she really excelled. Heck, she was far more coordinated than I expected her to be! But this also meant the end to swimming, since they are in the same season. That is where my heart broke. I really had grown to love her swimming and all the swimmers and the parents too. It was a lot of fun. But this will be fun too!

Fast forward to last night, her first football game outside of the stands, in front of the fans, being ‘on stage’ in front of so many people – not something she’s typically comfortable with either. But she did amazing! It was so fun to watch! Her personality really shined through, she smiled so much, and cheered her heart out. She had a great time! We had a great time watching her! I was having many teary eyed, proud mama moments. My baby is all grown up!

The icing on the cake – it was a photo of HER that made the morning paper! HOORAY! But here are the ones that I took.

 

It’s always been one of my favorite things to do with my kiddos when they are just so small – we take a nice warm bath together. The open spot on Lucas’ navel finally has closed up and I felt comfortable enough taking him into the tub for the first time – we sure were tired of counter top wipe downs! It’s always a bit of a chore – a timing issue really – to get us both in there, without pee flailing around or anyone getting the chills, hoping the water is just the right temperature – warm enough for me because I usually like it scalding hot but cool enough that I don’t burn the baby, not slipping and falling, and having all after bath items ready to prevent chills and diaper accidents outside of diapers. But then it’s always relaxing and lovely.

Lucas and I slipped right in. I was nervous as to how he’d first react to the water so I held him close and secure. I laid him on my legs and slowly lowered them into the water. His hands and feet were floating, his face was concerned but not unhappy. He settled in quickly and enjoyed a good float. I washed him quickly in case this turned out to be something less than fun. But it didn’t, and he floated, and he moved his arms and legs and made little waves and splashes. We soaked and talked and I smiled at him and loved him with all of my heart and more.

No matter how much we plan ahead, the first day of school always  sneaks up on us. We did plenty of last minute supply and clothes shopping, running around, planning, and getting everything in order. With plenty of shiny new items, backpacks, and clothes, I sent the kids off to the first day of a new beginning this morning.

Hannah left bright and early for her first day of 10th grade. How did my baby girl become a sophomore in high school? She was really excited to see friends she hadn’t seen all summer, to find out what her classes were like, and to wear her new clothes and show off her new dark hair and green eyes! It is about the fashion and friends, ya know. She has many long days ahead – a rigorous course schedule and demanding swim schedule. Many days she’s gone 12 hours or more. She’s more than capable and determined, I just hope she finds some time to sleep!

Connor was so excited for school that he was awake and dressed at 6am! He got his breakfast and brushed his teeth and got all of his things together and then had to wait so long before it was actually time to leave for school! 3rd grade – I really don’t know how these kids grow so fast. It seems like I was just taking him to kindergarten. He’s developed his own sense of style lately, bracelets and hats and all things ‘cool.’

Dillan is never excited for school – but this morning he was actually up very early on his own and got ready for school just fine. He was full of smiles and a little excited for the first day. I’m sure that will wear off by the end of the day but at least we had a positive start to the morning! He and Connor have similar styles, though Dillan is less concerned about matching than Connor is. He did a good job and my baby baby is off to 2nd grade!

I finally was able to take some time for me today and get  my hair cut. Another 5 inches fell to the floor. I swear it was that much that I cut off just 6 months ago. My hair probably holds the record for the fasted growing ever.

My boys love my long hair – they were a little bummed to see it shorter. It’s still below my shoulders so not the drastic change it could be, but enough I guess that they wished it was longer.
I took them shopping for some goodies and necessities for our big trip coming up next week. Since school got out the boys have seen me minimally, they love being out at the lake. Since they don’t yet know about the baby, they have no reason to pay attention to my waistline even though almost every time I walk past a mirror I’m looking for obvious changes. So far, there had been nothing. I feel the bloat but it’s hard to see, especially to anyone else. But the past few days, that has all changed. Finally my uterus has popped up out of my pelvis and is rearranging some things and definitely showing a little bit of a baby bump. I was trying not to let it all hang out – I don’t want to give it away to the boys yet – not until James is home next week and we can tell them together.

And then it happened. As we were walking through the doors into Target, Dillan blurted it right out. He said to me, “mom, you look like you have another baby in your tummy.” Shocked, I said, “oh yeah?!” and we each walked into the bathrooms. He didn’t say anything else after that. But I’ve hung onto that thought all day. I even texted James. Just too funny. Won’t he be surprised to know he was right! There really is no hiding it anymore, I can’t suck it in any further. The only cover up is something baggy.

I can only wonder what Dillan will have to say in another few months when I’m a big round basketball!

This is the day that I dread all year-long. It comes once a year and really is one of the saddest days I have. It’s the day that Hannah leaves for her dad’s for the summer – a whole 6 weeks. It’s such a long time to not see her at all except on the crazy pictures she posts to Facebook. I miss our daily routines and silly senses of humor together. I get bored of watching soap operas by myself.

She left bright and early, it’s a long drive. I’ve had the day to myself with just The Zoo. The silence is kind of nice at first but it quickly turns to boredom. I am reminded of how little she used to be and all the fun things we used to do. Summer just isn’t as much fun as it used to be with my kids all going different directions and not being home how I want them to be. They boys would rather be at the lake, I can’t blame them there – so would I. James is working plenty and not home to keep me company either. I think he gets frustrated with my phone annoyances that come out of lonely and boredom. Hannah doesn’t get annoyed though, she plays along. I’m so thankful for her phone. We don’t have to sit and have conversations, I don’t feel like I’m interrupting her time with her family there, and we can just text chit chat off and on throughout the day. It’s not the same as her being here but it makes her that much closer to me anyway.

I count down the days until she’s home. I can’t wait!

I don’t know how it happens, every year seems to go by faster and faster. It’s so hard to believe it’s already May! Though every January I wish to wake up the next morning and it already be May – but once it’s really here, I can’t believe how fast 5 months of the year have gone. And we’ve  not even been super busy as a family. Now we will be and the rest of the year will zoom on by!

Soccer games started 2 weekends ago – the first was windy and chilly but the second was all out rain and wind and nastiness. Connor, of course, played both games but Dillan opted out of his. He’s just not as into it this year as he has been in the past. Maybe if we can get some warmer weather back around here he will change his mind. I love a good soccer game, but not in the wind and certainly not in the rain!

Hannah’s busy with track though I’ve yet to be able to make it to any of her meets. I have to admit that going to a track meet does not excite me. I know she enjoys track but I don’t. I love going to her swim meets and I love the soccer games. I just can’t get into the track meets. She’s doing well though – she’s working hard to master the high jump. She’s not very tall and she certainly has more muscle than most high jumpers [she’s a swimmer!] but she’s getting the hang of it and really likes it.

James got home on Sunday and we’ve been a couple of lazy bums. Pregnancy exhaustion is in full swing and with the crummy weather it makes sleeping in all morning extra easy. It doesn’t make us productive at all but it sure is cozy! Even the dogs stay in bed all morning, they don’t want to spend any time outside right now.

This morning was Muffins With Moms at the boys’ school. We got there later than I wanted and missed some of the fun but we still had a good time snacking on muffins together. Well, not Dillan, he swears he doesn’t like muffins anymore. But he had juice. I love spending time with them at school.

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo and I went to Dillan’s class for awhile when they were beating open a poor burro pinata. Those first graders are pretty funny! I have some pictures – I’ll have to add them in later. Nothing exciting but they’re cute.

Just 3 more weeks of school! It’s going to fly by – then summer will get extra crazy too! So much going on for us, so many things the kids want to do. But I’m looking forward to losing the school day routine for a while and just doing our own things. I miss spending relaxing time with the kids. It seems we spend so much time rushing around between activities and homework and errands that our quality time has suffered a bit lately. We’re too busy and too grumpy and I just want to lounge around in the sun and the yard with the kids and the dogs and do a whole lotta nothing all day! I’m not rushing May but I’m definitely ready for June!

I can’t complain, I have an amazing family, an adorable zoo,  great friends, a business I love, and it’s spring – my favorite time of year. The kids are active in sports and school right now – just over a month to go before summer break. James is busy on the road but his summer break will be here soon too. Business is going well, strong and steady and I love what I do.  And the grass is greening, leaves are budding, birds are chirping, the air is warm and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I love being able to get outside with the kids and dogs and enjoy the time with each other and to just feel human again. Winter time can be so blah and depressing around here.

I could go on being wishy-washy for miles – it’s just one of those days. I feel so happy inside and I feel lucky to have great kids who [most of the time] are a total joy to be around. I really enjoy seeing their successes and watching them learn new things and find their individual paths to follow. They make me so proud, sometimes so frustrated, but I just love them more than anything!

I miss James. He’s been working an awful lot lately but it’s been good. We’re thankful there are loads to haul even though we get a bit lonely. Thank goodness there are cell phones and laptops, I’d go bonkers otherwise! I really just love every second that he is home and able to spend time with us.

The sun is on its way up today and it’s going to be very near 70* and I feel like being outside all day. It might just be a great day for some yard work and more biking and general good times with the kids. It doesn’t get much better than this.