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Happy Halloween


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Sunday, October 31. 2010

What a busy weekend it has been! Lots of fun and lots of celebrations.

We started Friday night of with pumpkin relays for swim team and a cousin sleepover.

Saturday started with a party at a local "apple orchard without apples" as LJ referred to it (there has been a hard frost and there were no apples to be had) complete with hayride, balloon artist, food, hayride, corn maze pumpkin decorating/coloring and lots of fun. The event was arranged by the Dads of a kid on AJ's soccer team. We then headed to a party at the home of some new friends we have met through the online school. From there we split up and L went to a party at her friends, I took LJ to the first birthday party he has been invited to and S took the other two to an annual Halloween party at our friends' house. We all met up there in the evening and finished up a day of celebrations.

Today was a slow start kind of day as the kids were tired. We carved pumpkins and gave stencil design carving a try this year. There is a definite reason the booklet said for ages 12 and over but it was a great lesson in imperfection, letting things go and looking forward to what we will do differently next year. Since each child needed help, wasn't willing to wait and I had never made one before either, it was interesting but we had a great time and the pumpkins looked great as well despite their imperfections. The biggest thing we learned that wasn't clearly stated...or maybe it was and I just missed it, was to cut the small details out first. We will have to try that next year. This afternoon we went to a party at the nearby park complete with little games and a magician that the kids really enjoyed. This evening, we joined several neighbors and friends and hit the streets in search of treats with 13 children and 8 adults. It was chilly but a really great time.

I hope that you had a very special day today.

"Momma, I accidently sucked up......"


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Thursday, October 28. 2010

This afternoon, I left 5 hungry children with a bowl full of kettle corn while I helped L with some school work. Apparently the five of them forgot how to properly consume said kettle corn and there were bits and pieces in a 6 foot radius of the bowl. On the chairs, on the floor, on the table and some even stayed in the bowl. When two of the children had departed, we had dropped off L at dance and were back at home, I had my three kids start to clean up the mess. Each took a turn vacuuming and just before dinner was placed on the table, LJ came up to me and said "Momma, I accidentally sucked up a glue stick." AJ took out the canister and checked to see if anything was in there but found nothing. They checked the hose and no glue stick. We all assumed that he was mistaken. We ate dinner, picked up L, ran and errand, went through bedtime and several hours later, I decided to finish up the kettle corn mess. My vacuum didn't work very well. My vacuum kind of sucks anyway (well actually it doesn't and that is the issue) but it was really bad. I took out the dirt canister and checked. Nothing. Checked the hose and again nothing. Then I noticed the bright orange top of the glue stick stuck up in the top of the vacuum. I couldn't reach it to get it out and when I finally managed to get my fingers on it, it wasn't coming out. I took off the hose and was able with a lot of effort to pull it out. I have no idea how it got that far into the vacuum when that vacuum leaves dirt and other garbage I am trying to vacuum that would take a lot less effort to suck up the hose on the floor! I think the next time my three year old comes to me and says "Momma I accidentally sucked up....." I will take him more seriously.

On my next birthday.....


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Thursday, October 28. 2010

Cousin L and LJ were having quite a conversation at breakfast this morning. Cousin L's birthday is in a few weeks and LJ's is about 3 months away. Cousin L was asking confirmation that the 4 fingers she was holding up was how old she was going to be. She told LJ he too would be 4 at his birthday. He looked at her and said adamantly, "I want to be 40 on my next birthday! I want to have a cell phone. After a brief pause, he added "And when I am 40 I can sleep in AJ's top bunk bed!"

I am hoping that by 40 he will have a cell phone and not really want to be sleeping in the top bunk of his bed in his parents house.

LJ's Dog


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Wednesday, October 27. 2010

At bedtime this evening, the boys were discussing the dogs they would like to get. Apparently LJ would like a pug with a squished up face so it looks mad when you pet it. Talk of dogs soon changed to AJ somehow scaring LJ by making weird voices leaving him screaming and unable to fall asleep. Gotta love big brothers who know just how to assist with bedtime.

"It's Breaking Night"


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Monday, October 25. 2010

I thought I could quickly run through a few math questions with A-girl as she usually flies through it. Tonight, because I want and need to her to move quickly, she is taking a long time. So far she has answered 3 of 15 questions in a time frame that is about twice as long as usual. the reason, she has broken her pencil 4 times in those 3 questions. As she handed me the pencil this last time, she announced "It's breaking night!" I thought we were ready to sail through the next ones, but she just announced, "I have to go to the bathroom!" This could be a long process.

LJ and Halloween


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Friday, October 22. 2010

LJ is a deep thinker. Last year, he was extremely cautious of Halloween and all that came with it. This year, he seems to be exploring it with a lot more enthusiasm and excitement. Friends of ours put on an incredible Halloween party complete with haunted house and craziness. Last year, he was not impressed and he made sure that "Fred"(a prop in the haunted house) was not around when we went to visit several times after the party. A few days ago, he got to go to J's house and saw a lot of the prep stuff for the party. He helped put batteries in all the decorations and he really liked them. He even turned the lights out and informed us that the spider under the web wasn't scary at all. Neither were the dancing skeletons. As we drive about he has been studying various decorations and billboards and commenting on what he sees. "Look at that scary guy mom!" (an add for a Halloween costume store on a billboard, complete with glowing eyes along the highway to dance class which we pass several times a week). With great interest he watches the kids try on various masks in the stores but wants no part. He studies all the costumes and accessories as we go from place to place trying to find A-girl a blue gingham dress for her costume. Yesterday, he had to come with me to L's Girl Scout meeting and they were having a Halloween party. He wore his monkey costume and stood nearby me the entire meeting soaking up the girls and their antics. He seemed most glued visually to one of the girls dressed as the bride of Frankenstien complete with a nice black, weaving scar line all over her face. His sister's and her friend's blue spray painted hair didn't seem to phase him much as they hung out as Thing 1 and Thing 2/ Clearly he is taking it all in and coming up with conclusions. As we were driving this evening he asked "Mom, do scary guys like monkeys?" LJ has a monkey costume he wears a lot and is planning to wear on Halloween so I assured him that costumes might be scary but not the people that were wearing them (although some are but I decided that was a lesson for another day :-)) and that I was pretty sure they liked monkeys. We were stuck in traffic and not moving so he sat contemplating and then asked "Do witches try and kiss monkeys?" I was not sure where to go with that question. Clearly he is still trying to figure out those crazy witches. I was not clear as to whether he wanted to be kissed or not. Before I could answer, he told me he thought it would be gross to kiss a witch and was immediately off on another tangent and I was left wondering why my three year old was talking about kissing witches.

When parenting gets tough, it is tough to parent.


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Thursday, October 21. 2010

When kids have a tough time, it is a tough time to parent. As children struggle to find their way, make choices that break trust and resist all guidance it challenges you to the core. Despite everything you do being done out of such an intense love for your child that you would do almost anything to help them grow, learn and move forward it is viewed as hating them or punishing them and the result on the outside looks anything but loving. Its hanging out in that area of not being liked, having constant rolling eyes at everything that comes out of your mouth, groans, signs and more eye rolls at your suggestions that makes you question what kind of parent you really are. How far is it from the kind of parent you wanted to be? Hoped to be. Dreamed to be. Its not the incredibly satisfying moment of your little ones telling you how much they love you and giving you such a huge hug you almost lose your balance. It is an incredibly lonely, frustrating, challenging place to be. It is the hard day to day, non sugar coated, heart wrenching part of being a parent. Its the day after day wondering if you are making an impact at all and then if you are, is it actually the impact that you were wanting to have. Did you actually build their self esteem or end up reinforcing their own well established low self esteem? Its where you wonder if they actually respect you at all or if pure loathing has taken over. It is a time of uncertainty with results that will take a long time for you to see if you see them at all. Yet, you know you have to keep pushing forward, trusting, having faith and hoping in the end that they will come to know just how much you truly love them. Each and every one of them. Its when you reach out asking for suggestions, ideas and needing lots of support. You move forward, wondering if you are making the right choices, and moving in the right direction. Its a spot I think we as parents are all in at some point (and likely many points over and over and often in the same day!) and unfortunately some seem to spend a lot longer here than in other spots in the journey. For anyone finding themselves here currently, much patience and peace.

Pure Joy


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Thursday, October 21. 2010

Today my house was full of the laughter and the joy of children. We had 2 extra kids in the house today due to a school holiday and the noise and activity levels were very high. My plan had been to have the older two kids work on their school today as we need the time to catch up but it became clear quickly that that was not going to work very well for a number of reasons. I decided to let them play. We have been so focused on catching up, accomplishing tasks related to school, working days as well as evenings and weekends and a lot of the interactions as a result have not been as positive as I would like. The kids were really enjoying themselves. Trust kids to bring the joy and laughter back when you need it most. There was lots of play, some cleaning, a trip to the ice cream store, decorating cupcakes, creating art projects, running and boisterous outdoor play. It was music to my ears and filled my heart. I believe the most creative activity today was the designing, building and then playing with a zip line made for dolls and stuffed animals. Very ingenious I must say. They found ropes and bungee cords in the camp gear and created an elaborate maze throughout the swing set. They set their dolls and animals in shoe boxes lined with blankets and attacked them via small bungee cords to the other ropes. Impressive. Of course no meeting of that many children in a small space would be perfectly harmonious but it was pretty close. Then at the 8 hour mark, things started to get a little rough but they quickly turned around and they seemed to enjoy their day. I held on tight to the joy and wonder of the day for I knew that the emotions would be up and down as we went through the rest of the day.

Things heard at my house (or while out) lately


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Tuesday, October 19. 2010

By A-girl at the grocery store "You're not just mean. You are nice and mean. You are mean because you won't let us buy whatever we want but at least you are nice enough to feed us."

I was trying to get AJ to focus on using some of his spelling words to write a poem or song. He was bouncing all over the lobby of the dance studio but did stop long enough to choose the words hour and shower and come up with this, "I took a shower for an hour, then decided to play with Joe Mauer."

"Wait til I put my monkey pants on, I can't leave home without them!" LJ to a friend that was taking him to their house to play for a bit and of course he needed to take his Halloween monkey costume.

"You need to keep your butt in your pants at our house." (one of my younger children to a friend who was over playing and mooned the other kids for reasons unknown)

"Do pumpkins expire?" (LJ a couple of days after we threw out some salsa after his oldest sister refused to eat it because it smelled bad and had pasted the expiration date. Of course she had quite the dramatic display to go with it.)

Shaun the Sheep


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Monday, October 18. 2010

Recently, S introduced our children to episodes of Shaun the Sheep via Netflicks. They are obsessed. They beg for it, talk non-stop about Shaun the Sheep and get so excited when we watch an episode. I still have not quite figured out what the fascination is. They are animated stories of a bunch of sheep, a sheep dog and a farmer and their adventures. There is no talking except for the odd jibberish and the British influence is heavy. They are quite silly but I must admit I have caught myself smiling and nearing a laugh a couple of times once I got past my "this is really dumb" mode.

The best part of watching the adventures of Shaun are the kids' obvious pure enjoyment but LJ's reactions are incredible and intense. He completely cracks up and his responses are appropriate despite a lot of "adult humor." He really gets it which is not only terrifying as I try to figure out how my 3 year old understands what he knows but incredibly entertaining. He is a pretty serious little guy who doesn't often burst out laughing but is more likely to stare you down and try to figure things out than laugh. But watching these episodes he is often in deep belly laughs cracking up and barely able to contain himself. The other kids thoroughly enjoy it as well and find it numerous but definitely not to the same degree as LJ. He absolutely loves Shaun.

If you get a chance to watch an episode, I encourage you and then you to can also sit and wonder why a three year old would find it so incredibly funny and wonderfully entertaining.

The beginning of swim meet season


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Saturday, October 16. 2010

I never thought I would say this, but I am really glad that swim meet season has started. Perhaps it is the excitement of A-girl's first meet today. Watching her take her first step up on the block in a meet setting, eagerly waiting to hear the starter horn, false starting because she is so excited or splatting off the block in something that resembles nothing related to a swim race start and as you try to keep from laughing out loud because that was verging on hilarious (right up there with the starts of your other two kids in their first season of swimming), you can't help but catch her excitement, pride and pure joy in living that moment. Or perhaps it is the pure joy in Aj's face when he told us he has qualified for regionals in the first meet in one event and is close in the other and likely would have if he hadn't tried to do a flip turn that he has not mastered and he was off on his turn causing him to lose a lot of time in the turn. A great leap in development was reflected when he stated he was going to keep working on his turns and would get his time down as he perfected his turn instead of just going for the easier turn and the faster result. Or maybe it was watching L swim in her new age level (she and her friends all turned 11 and are in the 12U category now). Its tougher. Qualifying times are faster, L didn't swim over the summer, she is at the point she needs to swim more to really improve and she wants to be in more things than just swimming. As a result she is slower and her friends who practiced and swam in meets over the summer are faster but she is still thoroughly enjoying it. She enjoys being with the girls on the team. Maybe it was the incredible feeling of being able to cheer all three kids on in a sport at the same time. Perhaps it was fact this meet went really fast an was complete in about 2 hours. Or perhaps it was the wonderful positive energy around the meet. Whatever the reason, it was a great afternoon and we enjoyed our time togehter kicking off the 2010-2011 swim season. Go Blazers!

"When we get a .......


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Thursday, October 14. 2010

.....cow can we put this (cow) bell on it? The cow will be bigger and fatter and rounder than the world!" exclaimed LJ

Why?


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Wednesday, October 13. 2010

Why is it that when I have time to work one on one with a kid or push forward with school activities, the kids are never focused, aren't motivated or don't "want to" and when they are finally ready, I have so many demands on my time it is never productive?

Kid songs


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Monday, October 11. 2010

"The Littles" rarely get to listen to kid music in the van as the older two complain about how childish it is. This evening, however, it was just the three of us in the van and we cranked the tunes. There is something about a 6 year old belting out song after song in a whistling lips than only a 6 year old with no front teeth could pull off that completely melts your heart. LJ doesn't sing as loudly but he clearly knows all the words and can sing if prompted. "The Littles" seemed to enjoy the great van karaoke night as much as their mom did. Man, those older two are sure missing out!

End of the Fall Soccer Season


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Sunday, October 10. 2010

Today marked the end of the fall soccer season for both AJ and A-girl and they have both had a great season and wonderful final games.

Up until about 2 weeks ago, some kids on A-girls team still had a hard time remembering which direction they were to be running and on which goal they should be shooting. They seemed to pull it all together in the last two games of the final week. A-girl scored a goal in each of her last two games and the number of goals scored in the final game likely exceeded the number scored in the rest of the games this season combined. It was so much fun to see how much these kids grew, how much more confident they were and how much more understanding of the game they had.

AJ's team also seemed to have trouble gelling as a team. They had great ideas, passed well but they just never seemed to be able to get it all together and put the ball in the net. They lost most of their games but they didn't seem to mind (too much) and had a great time. This past weekend they played 5 games. They had a rescheduled league game Friday night that had been canceled a couple of weeks ago due to poor (wet) field conditions and then played 4 games in a tournament on Saturday and Sunday.

The team AJ is on has enough boys for four 9U boys teams. They tried out in the summer and were placed on one of the 4 teams. Two team are in the maroon division (more developed skills) and 2 in the gold. The first team the boys played Saturday morning was the other MU maroon team. Those boys are the top of the top and while our boys stayed with them for the first bit, they quickly tired and the other team dominated. The tournament they played in was huge and you would think there would have been enough other teams to play that they didn't have to play the upper division of their own team but apparently that wasn't the case. The game pretty much went as most this season and they only got in one goal to the other team's several. Their second game was more of the same. Sunday however, was a different story. Things seemed to click for the boys. They worked so hard and pulled together as a team and won their morning game and continued to play well winning the afternoon game. It was a great way to end the season.

A highlight for us was all being together to see AJ score his first goal on this team. Seeing him score in his neighborhood league was pretty common but his coach has been keeping him on defense so he rarely played as a forward throughout the season despite wanting to. In the 5 games this weekend, he had one short shift as a forward so that made his great goal even sweeter. The last two games were definitely confidence builders for the boys and a great way to end the season. They didn't seem to mind much that they lost most games and learned a lot and had a great time but it was definitely a great way to end the season. They now have a couple of weeks off and then start into winter training. They will practice indoors for 4 months and apparently the changes they make are incredible. We are looking forward to watching AJ grow as a soccer player. It is truly a passion for him.



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