Thursday, August 19, 2010

Losing My Cool

There comes a time in every mother's life when her child's level of cool outstrips her own. This usually happens around the child's thirteenth birthday, give or take a year or two. In my third child's instance, this happened about 11 years early.

Sunglasses and a cell phone? AND they both match her jammies? I just can't compete with that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Artistic Ability Runs in the Family

My husband is an amazing artist. It is the first thing that drew me to him, in fact, as he wasn't my usual type. My mom was trying to set me up with his best friend, in fact.

I'm a very creative person, but unfortunately my artistic talents lag behind my creativity. Thankfully between the two of us, we passed on both creativity and talent to our children. Well, 2 1/2 year-old Miriam is still an unknown, but our boys both spend hours (hours!) each day drawing. I go through a 750-sheet pack of copy paper a month, no joke. (Yay for Target and their cheap paper!)

Thaddeus just turned five early this month. He has outstripped his older brother in love of drawing, I think, and easily churns out two to three times the artwork. His favorite thing to do is draw scenes from cartoons that he watches. He'll copy out scenes off DVD cases and inserts, or just from memory.

Here is one he drew of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.

 Although I prefer the creativity of his made-up pieces, like this one of a train driving off a broken bridge into the water with an alligator jumping up to scare it, while two floating rubber duckies look on. Is it just me, or is that the most awesome alligator you've ever seen?

I'll have to dig out some of my favorites from Isaac too! One of these days, I might even get around to showing you some of Aaron's awesome artwork. After all, my house is completely decorated with it. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Working for the Weekend?

After the weekend we've had, I couldn't help but think of the expression "working for the weekend" and laugh. I swear around here, when Monday morning comes, I breathe a sigh of relief!

We managed to pack tons of fun into this past weekend, but with three little kids, sometimes that fun involves lots and lots of work on our part.

First off, the wedding on Saturday went really well as far as Thad was involved. He only had three melt-downs and all three were over the fact that the wedding couple wasn't going to open their presents at the party (really, who could blame him? The only parties involving presents he's ever been to have been birthday parties so the concept of seeing a table of gifts and not seeing them opened is mystifying!) The first time we broke the news to him, I wasn't sure he'd be able to recover, the poor guy was heartbroken. He cried a couple other times when he'd spot the table of gifts, but reminding him that the presents contained boring things like sheets and toasters helped. No Scooby-Doo videos, Thad! (although I'd have loved getting Scooby-Doo videos for my wedding, ha!)

The wedding was outside, though, and it was FREAKIN' HOT! I think it hit 90 degrees, which is very rare for around here, and having to sit in the heat for nearly 45 minutes waiting for the wedding to start was brutal on the kids. In fact, I missed the last third of the ceremony, because I had to take two-year-old Miriam for a walk through the shaded, wooded paths nearby to get her out of the sun.

I think yesterday was even hotter. We skipped church and the kids played in the little blow-up pool all morning, which Daddy had filled with fresh cold water for them. Then we spent the afternoon at my folks' house since it was the last day my brother was here visiting from Colorado. Mostly we lounged around watching Tom and Jerry cartoons with the kids, because it was too hot to do anything else. The problem with living where it only gets over 80 degrees a handful of days per year is that no one has air conditioning.

Finally, after dinner we all converged on my in-laws' house. They live on the lake - and it is a very clean, clear, refreshing lake too! We jumped in and there was a collective sigh of relief.

I must say, though, I am glad it is Monday and we are back to normal. It is still hotter than Hades out, but at least I have nothing to do but keep the kids from melting. A cool pool and a freezer full of popsicles should do the trick nicely!

I have to say, reading over what I just wrote, that my life looks entirely different now than it did seven years ago. Of course, it isn't surprising considering that then I was child-free with a full-time office job and now I'm a stay-home mother of three! I wouldn't have it any other way (even when I complain that my brain is slowly sizzling away like baking soda doused in vinegar).

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Ghost of Fear

We are going to a wedding tomorrow. It is 1 1/2 hours away and we are taking the kids with us as we've been informed by relatives that we don't dare show up without them.

Our 2nd son, who just turned five, is mildly autistic. Well, the two consultants at Children's Hospital in Seattle have refused to label him as such and instead call it Pervasive Developmental Delay, Not Otherwise Specified - which puts it under the same developmental umbrella as Autism and is harder to say, so we just call it Autism.

What does that have to do with the wedding? Well, for years, going anywhere with all our kids was painful. We slowly stopped going out to restaurants because Thad couldn't sit still through a meal. We stopped going to family-friendly church events or friends' BBQs because dealing with Thad's social issues while keeping an eye on the other two children meant that neither my husband nor I ever had the chance to visit, so it was pretty much pointless to go at all. Essentially we found ourselves avoiding any public group activities because it was too stressful for us and the kids.

However, Thad is now five and - thanks to special ed preschool and both speech and occupational private therapy - he's come quite far socially and developmentally. We've started going out as a family again, and sometimes it isn't half bad!

I am still haunted by the ghost of fear, though. Every time we have a family activity planned, my stomach clenches up and anxiety seizes control of my emotional and logical self. Going to events still isn't the carefree get-up-and-go experience that it seems to be for parents of "normal" children.

In fact, I clearly remember watching the kids play on the playground after church one Sunday about a year ago and talking with one of the other moms. She asked if we were going to the church campout the following weekend. I attempted to explain why we were not, and I can clearly see the blank expression on her face - confusion, disbelief, skepticism, and just plain not understanding. She just didn't GET it. At which point, I got something that I hadn't been getting: normal families had completely different experiences of going out than we did.

Now, a year later, we also sometimes have that "normal family" experience when we go out. My husband and I will look at each other while driving home and be astonished that nothing terrible happened. No freak-outs, no scream-fests, no ten-minute struggles trying to get our son to calm down and just eat ONE BITE of dinner. I remember after one memorable family trip to lunch out and a stroll along the beach, I turned to Aaron and said, "So this is what normal families feel like! No wonder they are always going out and doing things. It's FUN!"

So now I'm facing a day-long trip tomorrow, to a wedding - where kids have to sit still and be quiet for large amounts of time - and I'm fighting down that anxiety. Thankfully, the wedding is outdoors, it is "casual and rustic" according to the invite, and we know from experience that these relatives are easy-going and kid-friendly. Plus my in-laws will be along to lend two pairs of extra helping hands! I am tentatively hopeful that it will be a mostly-good day.

Quick note about my to-do list: I did sort through the kids' clothes, but I didn't get to the dishes. I did make dinner, but I didn't mail my order (she said she wasn't in a hurry and I didn't leave the house to drop it off at the post office). I also cleaned the master bath shower, which wasn't on my list and I can't remember how it came about, but there you go.

So today's list: put together some photos and mats for the wedding gift, wash my outfit that I want to wear tomorrow, and mail the order on my way to my mom's (yay for Nana having Fridays off and getting me and the kids out of the house for an afternoon!) I've decided to let my husband tackle the dishes. After all, I don't want to hog ALL the fun, right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Get Back on the Horse

When I first started my Etsy shop, selling my handmade lotions, I had all sorts of energy. I was fired up about what I did. I loved to craft. I had two little boys. I managed to keep up with them, the house, and still have time to spend online networking and promoting my business.

Fast forward three years or so. We've moved, we had another child, the economy has slumped into the dumpster, and my motivation has slithered underneath like a snake seeking shade amongst the discarded waste.

I don't know how all my good habits morphed into bad ones. I try to change things around, but I find myself standing in various spots of my house, staring at the project I want to tackle and just feeling dejected and useless. The times I don't, one of the kids will invariably find me and need something anyway.

So I'm going to try something a bit new. I'm going to blog about my tasks and to-do lists and goals. I apologize in advance if you follow me and find this utterly boring. Maybe take comfort in the fact that I have "restarted" this blog probably three times and it never lasts. I mean, this post in itself is almost one year, one month after my last one.


Today's goals: 1. sort through the kids' clothes they've outgrown and set aside the fall stuff to take to the consignment store. 2. pack up my Etsy order and get it mailed. 3. empty and reload dishwasher and wipe down the counters. 4. make dinner.

Those seem doable. Most of those I would do anyway, but maybe if I write them down, I'll feel more successful once I've done them. Now to post this and get started!