Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spinning Plates and Leaky Pipes. It's All About the Metaphor.

Raise your hand if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Raise your other hand if you are finding yourself haphazardly throwing food at your children more often than you are finding yourself planning and preparing full meals.  Raise your foot if you had four extra errands thrown at you in the last two days that must be done NOW.  Raise your other foot if, after working your tail off today, you still have a house full of stuff not put in its place. 

Now hold that position while you focus on your breathing and count to ten.

You have successfully done the navasana yoga pose, which you can totally count as your exercise for the day.  You're welcome.

I know for sure and for certain that I am not the only mom who is feeling frazzled and frustrated these days.   Almost every single blog I've read or woman I've talked to in the last few days is feeling the same way.  It's like the start of the school year has hit us all upside the head and said, "Hey, you!  Summer's over!  Get your rear in gear and take care of all of those things you couldn't bother doing while you were lounging by the pool!"

Last year a very good friend of mine was raising three children, working full time, and getting her masters.  She had one really, really bad week, and she let loose on her husband.  At one point she hollered, "You have no idea how much stress and frustration I have been holding inside!"

He looked her in the eyes and calmly replied, "It's been leaking out."

I realized yesterday that my stress had popped a leak.

It happened after three children went outside to get their uniforms off the line.  Each of those three children came inside with just the article of clothing he went to get, leaving all of the other clean clothes out there for someone else to retrieve. 

The leak started as a drip.  In the part of my brain that remained rational, I told myself that this is normal middle school behavior.  Middle schoolers don't generally look for extra work to do.  Plus, of the three kids, not one of them could have reached all of the clothes that were out there. 

But as with any plumbing, if you don't fix the original problem, that little drip turns into a big leak.

My leak took the form of a ten minute dissertation on children helping around the house.  It included a guilt trip, in which I said I must be doing something wrong in my parenting if my kids don't see how much I'm doing around here and they don't lift a finger without being asked.  The guilt was layed on thicker when I pointed out that I had selflessly tracked down those uniforms, washed them, and hung them on the line so they would have them for their meet.  I then went into the territory of, "You've never seen Dad or me sitting around at our parents' houses when our parents are working."  On and on, blah, blah, blah, ending with, "If I'm not sitting down, you most certainly should not be sitting down."  They were told to be a whole lot more observant and helpful from that point forward.

We moms try so very hard to balance everything.  To keep untold numbers of plates spinning on their little posts. We run back and forth and back and forth, spinning those plates, always looking for the one plate that is about to fall, desperate to catch it before it does.

And then something unexpected happens to distract us.  One plate falls.  In our efforts to try to save the one, we miss the other two that are wobbling.  They all start going.  And with each crash, we feel more and more stressed and upset that we can't actually do it all.  There is no possible way to keep all of those plates a-spinnin', despite our best efforts.  And too often, we start to feel like we've failed.

My unexpected thing was a call from school telling me that Star broke the cap off of his front tooth.  That was the tipping point that set the whole rest of the next few days off.  Little things that normally wouldn't phase me in the least added up to make me frazzled and ouchy.

My poor kids got drenched.

Last night I sent up the white flag.  We pulled into the driveway at 9:11 last night.  I walked the kids in, then greeted my husband with, "They are your kids now.  I'm done." 

I sat on my rear and didn't do one more productive thing. 

I don't know of a single mother who hasn't been overwhelmed at some point.  These phases don't have to be all bad.  We can use these crazy times to learn.  To evaluate what is really important to us.  To figure out what God wants us to do with our gifts with the limited time and energy that we have.  

Instead of feeling like a failure and getting upset about the plates we couldn't keep going, get rid of some plates.   There is a big difference between a plate falling because we didn't catch it and allowing a plate to fall because we realize we don't need it. 

Ladies, start waving your white flags.  Breathe.  Get perspective.  Do something completely unproductive.  Go to bed extra early.  And figure out which plates you are going to let fall.

And do it before your stress starts leaking.

Speaking of rain, Isaac is headed our way, bringing all sorts of it. We're supposed to get up to four inches in two days, which, when combined with the extremely dry ground, will cause major flooding. So we're told.

Let's just send up a little "Thank you!" prayer that it was on my heart to cancel that Labor Day party.

It was one seriously large plate that I didn't need to be spinning.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Tale of a Different Sort of Ugly Duckling

Normally, I am not one to blame my parents for my flaws.  I don't think anyone should.  All parents make mistakes.  The vast majority did the best they could.  At some point, we all need to grow up.  To thank our parents for having us, raising us, and doing their best.  We need to forgive them for the mistakes they made, learn from them, and move on. 


However, while organizing photos yesterday, I discovered that there are two things about which I must point a big ol' accusatory finger at my mom and dad.  These weren't mistakes. One of them was very likely willful.

1.  My lack of fashion sense for most of my life.
2.  My lack of understanding about my hair.

It all started with my mom.


From what I'm told, for 1972, she was quite hip.  Recently, I found out that she and my dad actually owned a disco bar for a couple of years when I was young.  Certainly only hip folks did things like own discos.

I have no problem with her putting me in equally short dresses when I was a toddler.  With bloomers, it's just a good look for any two year old girl.

But at some point, a mother should really just stop putting her daughter in short dresses.  Little kids run, play, and swing.  Dresses just aren't practical.

I'm the one on the left, whose underwear is actually showing.  Why my aunt and grandma, also in the photo, didn't stop my mom I'll never know. 

Even my first day of kindergarten, she couldn't bring herself to dress me appropriately.

I vividly remember one day in kindergarten.   We were having our indoor recess time, and I was crawling all around with the other kids.  Out of the blue, a little boy yelled, "I can see your underwear!"  I was mortified.  And that is the day I started to rebel.

Oh, the fights my mom and I got into over dresses.  I refused to wear them, and she continued to want to make me. 

The only time I didn't fight her was the day of my First Holy Communion.  I knew a dress was required attire, and at least this time she bought one that came close to finger-tip length.

In fourth grade, she thought she was going to finally win.  It was picture day at school, and she had a dress she wanted me to wear.  I, of course, refused.  Big fight ensued, until she brought out the most hideous of pant suits.  She said I could either wear the dress or the pant suit.  I am nothing if not stubborn, so I chose the pant suit.

The pants were the same horrid plaid.  Yessirree, I showed her who was boss.

Every year, the FOP held a Christmas party for all policemen and their families.  Santa would show up, and each and every child would get to sit on his lap and receive a gift.  Normally a very nice, age and gender appropriate gift.

Once again, my mom insisted I wear a dress.  And this one was a doozy.  I put up the biggest stink ever, but she wouldn't back down.  This is when having divorced parents came in handy.  I put the dress on, but stuck a pant suit in my bag to take with me.  I knew my dad wouldn't care if I wore a dress or not, as long as I was dressed appropriately.  Being that my mom always made me choose between a dress or a pantsuit, I figured the pantsuit would be fine.

I wore the dress for a photo or two, so my mom would know that I wore it.

And then, before the Santa thing, I changed into my pantsuit.

Remember I said "normally" had good gifts?  For some reason, this year they ran out of the right gifts, and I got stuck with a stuffed mastodon.  Or maybe they didn't run out.  They just assumed that a girl who wore a mechanic's outfit didn't want the girl gift they had waiting for her.

Now, I can't just blame my mom on my lack of fashion sense.  My dad contributed in his own way.  As we got older, he would buy each of us a sweatshirt for Christmas.  My brothers always got funny ones, my sister always got a name-brand, fashionable one, and I always got the ugly one.  One year it was a colorful, psychedelic looking cat sweatshirt with matching cat earrings.  The favorite, though, that still gets discussed to this day, is the dandelion sweatshirt.  As a senior in high school, I received a sweatshirt that had a dandelion on it that had gone to seed.  The seeds, as if a child had picked it and blown them into the wind, went across the top, onto my shoulder, and down one sleeve.  It was awful, but he thought it was beautiful.  To this day, he insists that it was.  (See where I get my stubborn from?)  Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it in order to put it to a vote.

I swear, I became the joke.  I believe that people would buy clothes for me, and bets would be placed to see if I would wear it.  The things just got uglier and uglier.  But because I was a good kid, who was never able to get a sense of what was pretty and what was not, I trusted the gift-giver.  I wore everything.  (Although I only wore the dandelion sweatshirt under bigger sweatshirts when I had track practice in the snow.)  I mean, really, this had to be a joke, right?

And now, for the second thing I blame on my parents.  My hair.  I have awesome hair.  Thick and curly, but not too curly.  Unfortunately, I never knew how great it was.  I hated my hair. 

It started with my grandma.  She was a hairdresser her entire adult life.  Naturally, my parents had her cut our hair.  I am fine with that, up to a point.  When you are going outside the box for a different haircut, she was not the best choice.  Children were not her target market.  She did the hair of the ladies in the neighborhood, who would sit under the drier and chat with her.  For a while there, Grandma actually worked at a morgue, doing the hair of the dead.  Let's just say, she wasn't having to keep up with new and fashionable hair trends.  So one day when I was in second grade, my parents dropped me off at her house for a haircut.  I guess I told her that I wanted a short 'do, so she obliged.  And then threw a perm in to go with it.

Oh, the insanity of it all.  And my, that took a good long time to grow out.

Finally, though, it did grow, and I desperately wanted a Dorothy Hamill.  I loved watching her skate, I thought she was glamorous, and for the first time in my life, I had an idea of what I wanted.  I even talked my mom into taking me to a salon to get it done, as I knew my grandma, who would surely do her best, had no idea how to cut a Dorothy Hamill. 

My mom and I headed to the salon in the mall, where she left me in the hands of the stylist.  I really wish she would have stuck closer.  I don't know if the woman didn't know who Dorothy Hamill was, or if she didn't care, or if my sister had snuck her a $5 bill to get back at me.  I walked out not with a Dorothy Hamill, but a mullet.  As one of my children said when he saw it, "You looked like a dude."

My parents aren't all bad.  They did pay for me to get braces to fix my beaver look.   Although, it was the worst orthodontist on the planet.  That will have to be another post.

He was only saying what everyone else back then was thinking.

We thought the perm in second grade was hard to grow out.  This little mishap was so much worse.

Years and years of bad photos, patiently waiting for it to grow long enough that I could fix it.

(And have you noticed the lovely attire in these mullet photos?  I was still in the "wear whatever other people buy me" phase.)

And while I'm ripping on my parents, I might as well tell you about the worst Halloween ever. My sister, who never endured these indignities, because she always wore the dresses my mom got for her, was a princess. A lovely princess. I, on the other hand, was a bum. My mom had seen an idea in a magazine that she thought was just the cutest idea ever, so I got to be the guinea pig. Not my brothers, who you would think would be the logical choice. No, it was me. She dressed me up in normal bum attire (How un-PC we all were back then.) but added a beard. The beard entailed putting Karo syrup and coffee grounds on my face. All over my chin, lips, and jaw. Oh, it was terrible. It stunk, and it itched, and it tasted foul.  I so wished I had the picture to show you, but I think my mom destroyed it.  Once we got to the point of having to get the beard off of my face, she actually felt bad.  She got rid of the photographic evidence, hoping I would forget about it.

My ex-sister-in-law once commented while looking through family photo albums, "Good grief, no wonder you didn't date until you were 16."

She's right. 

And when I finally did meet the guy with home I went on my first date, we were at swim team practice.  I was wearing a bathing suit and a swim cap.  He had no idea what kind of hot mess he was looking at.  By the time he saw me in all my big-haired, oddly-attired glory, it was too late.  He had already asked me out. 

Luckily, his mom didn't teach him much about fashion either.

That first date turned into a lifetime together.

And we are perfect for each other.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Apples and Identities

Reading the paper this morning, I was saddened to see that Neil Armstrong had passed away.

I was concerned by the article on the disparity in charitable giving.

I was curious about the balloon they were using to find drug smugglers crossing from Mexico into remote Texas areas.

And I was shocked to see that dead Asians are now living in our country.  

"Some patients have died of overwhelming infections, including some Asians now living in the U.S., although Browne could not estimate how many."

Without a balloon, I would imagine it's pretty hard to get an exact number.

Once I recovered from my reading of the news, the family and I got down to work.  The little boys and I had picked about 40 pounds of apples a few days ago, and those babies needed to be canned.  (the apples, not my actual babies)

Giant did most of the peeling/coring/slicing for us.  By the end, he was a complete pro.

Hubby did the final trim and got the apple slices into the cold water, while I blanched them and filled the jars.

So glad I waited until the weekend to do this job.  With all of the help, it took next to no time at all.

The kids' favorite part of the peeling process was when Giant pulled the rod back and popped the core off the end. The little kids giggled each time he did it...

but the few times he managed to shoot it far enough to hit Hubby in the arm, Hubby performed a monstrous overreaction to being hit, which sent the kids into full-on belly laughs.

Despite the drought, it was one of the best years we've ever had with this particular tree.  And because of the drought (we think) there were virtually no bugs.  They were the most perfectly beautiful apples.

We managed to get two batches done before we had to stop to shower and get ready for church.  The showers were absolutely necessary, as canning apples is one sticky job.  That apple juice gets on everything, including arm and facial hair. 

Thankfully, Star was around to scrub the kitchen floor when we were done.  As he scrubbed, with a big ol' pouty lip on his face, it totally made me think of my grandma.  She has told me more than once about her childhood days spent canning.  My great-grandma would gloat about the hundreds of jars put up for the winter, while my grandma quietly seethed, thinking of all the scrubbing she did to clean up the mess made by the produce in those hundreds of jars on the shelves. 

Well, come Thanksgiving, Giant and Grandma will have something to commiserate about. 

Unlike the folks who can applesauce or apples for pies, we can apples solely for the purpose of making cinnamon apple pancakes.  All morning, kids kept saying, "Oh, that smell.  I can taste those cinnamon apple pancakes already."

So far, we have14 happy, happy mornings waiting on our basement shelf. 

And in about three weeks, we'll be getting some more bacon to go with those pancakes.

As long as we can keep these pigs alive long enough to get to the butcher.

Apparently, that post about the dead pig was a fan favorite.  It took just a few days for it to move onto the "Popular Post" list on the sidebar.

And with the popularity came a new image for me. 

With this whole blogger deal, I can look at the stats of how people find my blog. 

People are now finding it by plugging the words "redneck pig waterer" into Google.

I would really prefer to be found with the words "chic, fun, creative, hobby-farming".

Oh well.

I just need to keep thinking positively.  It could be much worse. 

I could be the gal who is found when people Google "dead Asians living in the U.S."

Friday, August 24, 2012

DIY Birthday Cakes

Between the six children, we have celebrated 52 birthdays.

With 52 cakes.

Fortunately, in order to put Hubby through law school, I worked for Kroger as a cake decorator.  Sure, it's not the most high end of bakery, but I learned the basics.  Certainly enough to rock out plenty of birthday cakes for my own kids. (Totally looks like all of those cakes you've seen in every grocery store across the country, doesn't it?)

If you are one of those people who used to be my customer, I challenge you to skip the store-bought cake and decorate your own for the next birthday.  It really isn't hard.  All you need are these three basic supplies, all of which can be purchased at any hobby/craft store:

1. Decorator bags - Do not buy generic, cheap, or reusable bags. I have tried them all, and the Wilson ones are the easiest to use and, most importantly, don't pop holes in the sides.

2.  Decorator tips - Buy only two tips to get you started.  With these two, you will be able to make just about any cake you want.  No roses, but plenty of ideas.  (Which I'll get to later.)  It doesn't have to be #3 and #16, just make sure you have a round and a star.  Note:  If you are going to be using more than one or two colors, buy connectors that allow you to change the tips without cutting open the bag.  They are white, wtih a screw-on piece to attach the tips.

3.  Food color - The gel colors work much, much better than liquid.  You will get a much better, true color with them.  It may seem expensive to buy all of the colors you need, but you just need a little touch to color enough for the cake.  That jar of coloring will last you a looong time.

That's it!

In my early years of motherhood, I would spend hours decorating cakes for the kids.   For Phoenix's second birthday, I was ridiculous.  I made individual Elmo and Tigger cakes for each guest.  Since I didn't know which one the kids would want, I made one of each for each person at the party.

So, one option you have is to buy a mold of the cake you want, then use the star and round tips to painstakingly dot the entire cake with icing.  That is what I did for the Elmo and Tigger cakes.  They also come in large, full-size cakes.

Note:  Phoenix will want me to tell you that he never did like Barney.  The only reason that he has a Barney cake is that someone gave us the mold.  For six months, he thought only of that mold, and was convinced that we needed to use it for his birthday.

If you don't want to take that much time to star the whole cake, you can simply ice the cake, then free-hand draw/decorate an image.

If you don't have an artistic bone in your body, I would suggest the mold cakes.   But even if you have just a little ability to draw, try this.  The kids don't care if it's perfect, just recognizable.

I rarely do these kinds of cakes anymore.  When you have six kids, who has the time?  However, the kids are still excited about their cakes.  I just make them a whole lot easier.

Props are the way to go!

Ice the cake with the colored icing, just like the Nemo cake.  But then, instead of drawing an image, add toys.

I've done a beach scene with Playmobile toys.  (The "sand" was made with crushed Nilla Wafers.)

A construction scene with trucks we already owned.  (The building was made with icing and pretzels, the rocks were Whoppers.  The bulldozer was placed to look like it was shoveling the dirt pile, made with a mound of icing.)

Last year, Giant wanted a soccer cake.  I made the field with green icing, lined it with a white round tip, then made flags and goals with toothpicks.  To personalize it, I cut out a photo of him and some random opponents that made it into my picures, attached them to toothpicks, and stuck them in the cake.  It was simple, but a HUGE hit.  So much so, that Star wanted me to do the same thing for his birthday.  (Too bad I don't have a photo of either of them!)

Yesterday, Cuckoo wanted his cake to be Spiderman and Lightening McQueen playing soccer.  I made the exact same cake for the third time, except instead of his own photo, I used toys.  His action figure was way too big for the cake, but fortunately, Turken has "Cars" Squinkies.  We made a soccer ball out of a marshmallow, and placed them on the cake.  He couldn't have been happier.

We all thought it was pretty nifty under the candlelight.

Now, if even these cakes are too much for you, I have even more ideas.

One of Star's favorite cakes took all of 5 minutes to do.

It was a sunflower, made of a single-
layer round cake iced with chocolate fudge and Twinkies all around it.  That massive thing in the middle was the Spiderman candle he picked out.

For his second birthday, Star was a sick little boy.  A fever and everything.  But we didn't want to just skip over the day.  He was way too excited for it.  So, I made a plain white cake, iced it with Cool Whip, and decorated it with strawberries.

And lastly, if you really don't have time to do any decorating, let the birthday boy decorate his own.  It will not be the prettiest cake in the world, but he will be thrilled to bits to be able to do it. 

Notice how clean the top of that decorator bag is that Phoenix is holding?  A big pet peeve of mine is when people fill a decorator bag the wrong way.  It does not need to be a messy affair.  All you have to do is fold the sides way down over your hand when you fill the bag.  Only fill the bag halfway, unfold the sides, push the icing down to the tip, then spin the bag so the icing is trapped in the bag.  Simple.  And neat. 

As I was going through the kids' photo albums to find all of these photos, I realized that I have been terrible about photographing their cakes.  Of the 52+ cakes, I only found about 15 photos.   And the photos I did find were terrible.  Oh, and almost every one was either a cake for Phoenix or Star.  I couldn't find a single one of Giant's.  And he had some serious cakes.  I once made an entire stadium, with icing heads in the crowd and everything, for a motorcycle race cake.  He is never going to believe that we even celebrated his birthday. 

You know he is going to be holding that over my head until the day I die.

If you have any cake decorating questions, just let me know!

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Where, Oh Where, Has My Baby Gone?

My littlest one, Cuckoo, certainly knows how to make an entrance.  He doesn't just walk into a room, he presents himself.  It could be with a song, or with a lion's roar, or a cute little look indicating that he wants to cuddle, but you always know he's there.

Three years ago today, Cuckoo was born, and boy did he make an entrance.  It's like he knew, even before he was born, that he was going to be the sixth child.  He let us know from the get-go that he was not going to be like his siblings.  It was one odd delivery.

The most remarkable part of it all was that I didn't have any pain throughout the entire labor.  When rating my pain, as the nurses always have you do, I gave them a 2 out of 10 every time, only because it really isn't very comfortable to do anything when your stomach turns to a ball of concrete every few minutes.  At one point, the nurse came to check on me, and asked how I was doing.  My answer, "I'm bored!"  I was 9cm along.

With all of my other pregnancies, getting to 8cm took forever, but then 8cm to baby in your arms was quick.  Really quick.  When we got to the hospital, no one was in much of a rush, seeing that I didn't appear to be in any pain.  They all probably thought it was false labor and they'd be sending me home.  We told them of my slow labors, so that didn't get them moving any faster.  Once they finally checked me, I was already at 8cm.  Everyone certainly moved then! 

We all hurried up to wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.

Because I was so far along, the doctor refused to let me out of bed.  I wasn't allowed to walk around or even go to the bathroom.  She was scared to death that I was going to deliver in the hallway or the toilet.  At one point, two hours after being hooked up to the IV, I demanded to be taken off the monitor so I could go to the bathroom.  The nurse let me.

Through the hours, Hubby, the nurse, and I were wondering why the doctor didn't just break my water and get the show on the road, but since she never showed her face, I couldn't ask her.

Finally, at 11:20, more than four hours after getting to the hospital, I felt something.  A big something trying to squeeze its way out.  Hubby ran and got the nurse, and she gathered the troops.   Basically she yelled out the door, "She's having this baby naturally!  The other mothers can wait!"

First push, I felt a big gush of fluid.  I looked to the nurse and said, "Well, I guess my water broke."

She just looked at me with a sheepish grin and shook her head no.

It took a second before the situation became clear to me.  With a touch of embarrassment, I realized that I had just peed all over the doctor.

All I could do was laugh, which really isn't the most comfortable thing to do when you are desperately trying to push a baby out.  And then I turned to the doctor and said, "Well, I bet you wish you would have let me go to the bathroom now, huh?"

With the next push, my water did break and put my doctor's reflexes to the test.  After delivering five other children, I am very good at pushing.  I sent that amniotic fluid flying halfway across the room.  She actually ducked.

Once again, I laughed.  "I guess you should have broken my water, too."

At 11:33 our little Cuckoo came into the world.

And he continues to prove himself to be completely different than his siblings.

All of the other kids have been long and lean.  Cuckoo is short and chunky.

The other kids have all been extremely shy.  Cuckoo talks to people everywhere we go.  He enjoys chatting with people and getting them to smile.  When we are out somewhere, he'll tell me, "I'm going to go talk to him over there," as he points to someone he doesn't know.  A few seconds later, I'll look back to see that he managed to get this stranger (to him, not me) to put him on his shoulders to see something.

And it's not just me saying this.  People are forever telling me how stinkin' cute he is.  Yes, I'm well aware that people say that to all mothers to make them feel good.  This is different.  When people see me, they come looking for him.  Grown men and women intentionally bring food to bribe him away from whatever it is he's doing.

Even my grandma is completely smitten by him. She has actually called me to check on how her little guy is doing. She NEVER called me before he was born.

The other kids have poker straight hair. He got my curls.

Being the sixth, his life is different than the life his older siblings had as toddlers.

First off, you'll not see his curls in any of these pictures.  If he doesn't get it washed every day, the curls fall out.  He most certainly doesn't get a bath every day.

He has the chance to do things the older kids are just now doing.

He may not always be able to do it, but he does give it all a try.

When you are talking with someone or looking at something, and he wants your attention, he doesn't just call your name, or bother with the whining that the other kids did.  He simply grabs your chin and physically turns your head.  He started doing this when he was only 9 months old and continues doing it to this day. 

He loves to sing.  Unfortunately, he sings songs that my other children would never have known as toddlers. And he does it at the top of his lungs. At home, in the car, in public.

He is a child who knows what he wants and has no trouble telling you what it is.

Take, for example, the day he moved out of his crib.  He was beyond excited.  He kept bouncing around yelling, "I'm in a big bed like everybody!" 

He was thrilled to finally get to lay down in it, covered in the sheets that he picked out.  Before we even said prayers, he asked Hubby and me, "When are you going to leave?"

We were completely expecting him to get out of bed many times that first night, just because he could.  All of the kids did.  They like the idea of being free to go to the door, open it, and yell down that they need something.  We were shocked that he didn't do this even once.  We never heard a peep from him.

Until 2 hours after we put him to bed.  We heard someone step on the vent.  The vent that is really just a fancy metal grill in the floor of their room, which is directly over the room that we had been in all night.

We looked at each other, with the, "Did we just hear what we think we heard?" look, then took off upstairs.  Over the previous two hours, he had moved every book off the shelf and to his bed.  There really wasn't even room left for him on that bed.  When we came in, he started screaming at us.

"I NEVER want you in here!  Go away!  I NEVER want you in here!"

He does, however, have a few characteristics that show that he is part of our family.  Things that the other children did do.

Despite the occasional demands that he doesn't want us in his room, he is a wonderful snuggler.  He loves to curl up on your lap and just be held.  All of my boys have done this.  Shoot, they still do.

Unfortunately, he also inherited my sweet tooth.  Unlike the other kids, though, he knows how to use his charm to acquire junk food everywhere we go.

He builds with blocks every day.  Elaborate buildings or long, complicated tracks for his cars.  And like his brothers, he cleans them up every day without being told.  They don't clean up after themselves now, but for a few years they were such good boys.  Hopefully, he will be different from them in this area, too.

It's so hard to believe that he's already three.  Although, his short stature makes it a whole lot easier to deny the fact that he is getting older.

Today, we will have some fun celebrating Cuckoo.

We'll have his chosen chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, then head to the playground to play.

He wants his birthday cake to have Lightening McQueen and Spiderman playing soccer. All of his loves in one succinct scene.

He has already gotten a card from Grandma.

He is convinced that it says, "Buy 'tella and share 'tella with Buttercup."

I guess he can't get Star's birthday present out of his head.  But, unlike Star, he is going to share his Nutella.

Little does he know, Star is planning on giving him one of the coveted jars. 

He will also be receiving three bags of M&M's from Giant.  He also can't get Star's birthday present out of his head. 

From us, he will be getting a tricycle and a Lightening McQueen helmet.  He's the only one who doesn't have a bike, and it really annoys him.  It's just not easy to find a bike with pedals close enough for him to reach!

So, after soccer, and after he gets his gifts, we'll head out for a little bike ride.

He'll be thrilled.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This Wasn't Supposed to Be Another Post About Me

Each and every day we are busy.  Rushing here and there, trying to get everything done.  It is easy to get bogged down in the monotony of it all.  It's why I am so grateful for unexpected things that make me smile.  Things that make me get out of my head and my thoughts of the day's to-do list. 

Things like glorious displays of bed head.

Especially when the morning sun shines right through it.

And unexpected gems like this just crack me up. 

I smile when I see someone acting all redneck, with a mattress on the roof of a car.  But when the driver and passenger are holding onto it through the windows, I laugh.  Hard.  Do they really think that, in the unfortunate event that the straps holding that mattress break, they will be able to hold the whole thing on with just their two hands? 

In full disclosure, I have to say that my hearty laughter comes partly from the fact that Hubby and I have done this exact same thing.  Except it was a queen-sized bed on a mini-van.  And four kids were in the van, watching out their windows, hollering that the mattress was sliding.

And in even fuller disclosure, I have to say, we haven't done just this exact same thing.  We do this every year with a 12-foot Christmas tree strapped to the top of our van.  Which is not too bad with a 12 passenger van.  But when you strap a 12-foot tree to a mini-van, get your hand all gummy from the sap leaking out of the one branch to which you clutch, and creep down the road at a speed 25 miles slower than the legal limit, forcing a long line of cars to form behind you, we all might as well just start singing the theme song from "The Beverly Hillbillies."

told you I was a redneck.

 Have a lovley day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today, I Rest

Whatever would we do without children?  They are so good at quickly and succinctly dispelling us of any and all illusions we have of ourselves.

I thought that by packing healthy lunches and snacks for us to eat between the 16 soccer games, keeping us from having to eat concession stand food or grease from the closest drive-thru, I was helping my children play better.  I thought I was being extremely organized, planning ahead and thinking of my family's needs.  Turns out, I am not the loving mother I thought I was.  According to one of my adorable children, I am simply, and I quote, cheap. 
Cuckoo and Turken thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to eat any and all food within grabbing distance.
Some other highlights of our weekend:

Sleeping with Turken and Cuckoo.  Thought for sure that in a king-sized bed there would be plenty of room, and I would be able to get some sleep.  Alas, Cuckoo does not confine his whirlwind of activity to the daytime hours.

Ring Pops.  The little boys got them during an egg hunt at the county fair.  I saved them for this weekend, sure that they would help keep the boys stationary and happy for a good long time while I watched a bit of soccer.  It worked for the first game, not so much the second.  Cuckoo decided that biting the whole thing off was a much better idea.

A playground.  Mercifully there wasa big playground at the fields where Buttercup played.  The little ones were able to get some energy out and have a great time while while we waited for her games to start.

Consolation games.  Three of our kids lost two of their first three games, but all teams at the tournament were gauranteed to play four.  As Buttercup said after having to stay to play a fourth game at 5:25 on Sunday night to determine who finished in last place, "The game was meant to console us?" 

Can you see the dirt getting kicked up as they run?  The field was rock hard and basically dirt thanks to the drought this summer.

Beautiful views.  At least on the two hour drive home we got to watch the sun set.  Too bad the stinky soccer feet up on the dash had to mar the view. 

Sorry to say that I don't have any photos of my kids actually playing soccer.  When having to drag chairs, blankets, backpacks of activities for the little boys, water, and sundry other necessities from field to field, a clunky camera doesn't make the cut.  Not that I would have had two hands to actually take a photo anyway.  The little ones tend to get a bit clingy during soccer tournaments.  (Can't imagine why!?) 

And for the one or two people who care, we surpassed our goal of at least one point per team over the course of the weekend.  We scored 26!  Sure, other teams scored 58 on us, but we're not going to think about that.  Star's team even made it to the championship game, proudly bringing home some second-place bling.

Have a lovely day!