Month: September 2015

You will not find a single onesie in my house.

We went around the room and introduced ourselves and our children at Story Time today at the library. I was the only mother there with her child, the rest were grandmas. And Jack was the only littlest brother, the rest were the firstborns of their families or had new babies in their homes. All of those big brothers and sisters were smaller than Jack, my baby.

My baby boy

I’ve been used to having little kids, but even my littles aren’t so much anymore. With potty training started and only months of breastfeeding left, motherhood is starting to look different.

My Mom, On Her Birthday

When I’ve asked my mom what she wanted for her birthday, all my life she has told me the same thing. “To spend it with you.” And now that these yahoos have come along, she wants to spend it with them, too.

My mom with the kids on her birthday

Truly, this is all she wants, on her birthday and in her life, is to be with us.

Today is her birthday, but she is the gift – to us. I am thankful every day to have her in my life and the lives of my children. We are all better people for loving and being loved by her.

You know, the kid who growls at everyone.

Captain Jack

Kids say hi. He roars.
“He’s being a dinosaur.”
I have to explain.

(He’s actually being a pirate in the picture.)

In which we learn it is okay to change your mind.

I took Phoebe out for some back to school shopping the Thursday before preschool began. We arrived at the mall early. The stores weren’t open yet, so we walked to the fountain. We took a selfie.

Shopping day with Phoebe

We each threw a penny in and made a wish. Then Phoebe threw three more in – one for each of her siblings – and all four of them wished for the same thing. She said they wished that Phoebe would get her ears pierced.

None of my kids have their ears pierced. I’m not opposed to it. My attitude is, if they want their ears pierced, we’ll do it, but I’d like for it to be up to them. That’s how my mom handled it with me. I still remember how special and grown up I felt when I had mine done. I’d like for my kids to feel the same, but any time they have expressed an interest, the conversation has gone like this.

“I think it’d be cool to wear earrings. Mom, can I get my ears pierced?”

“Sure.”

“Well, does it hurt?”

“Yes.”

“Uh, nevermind.”

But this day was different.

“Phoebe, do you really want your ears pierced? For real?”

“Yes! Let’s go, Mom. They do it here,” she said, walking to the tall chair in the doorway at Claire’s.

I reminded her that it hurts. By then, the store clerk had made her way to us and was telling Phoebe it feels sort of like a shot at the doctor’s office. “But it doesn’t hurt forever.”

“But it does hurt,” I said.

She said she wanted the Rainbow Dash earrings. I suggested we go get her shoes for school and come back for earrings, if she still wanted them. She scrambled up in the chair. “I want them. I’m ready.”

The clerk told her to relax, it would be a while. We needed to learn about how to care for her ears. I needed to fill out the paper work and she had to get everything ready.

“Are you sure, Bee? You have to wear them for a long time before you can even change them.”

“Mom, I AM SURE.”

It was clear she had made up her mind. “Alright then,” I said. And I got excited. “Let’s do this!”

We giggled. We squealed. We fantasized about how jealous Julia and Lucy would be. I let her pick out a stuffed animal since they were only $5 with ear piercing and they would pierce the animal’s ears, too. She chose a cat she named Polka Dot I Love You Cat.

The clerk drew dots on her ears with a purple marker where the earrings should go.

“Okay. Are you ready?”

Ready?

“One…two…three!”

Oh!

She was shocked. It hurt! She did not expect this! Why didn’t we tell her it would hurt!?!?! Why did we do this to her! She was only joking when she said she wanted her ears pierced! “I said, ‘I want to get my ears pierced!’ and Mommy said, ‘For real?’ and I said, ‘No!’ But she made me do it anyway!”

We showed her the earring in her ear. Wasn’t it beautiful? It was! Beautiful! She was so brave! So grown up! So…regretful. So afraid of feeling that hurt again. The clerk and I tried to cajole her into getting the other one done. A grandmotherly woman shopping nearby stopped and joined us in our efforts. She offered to buy Phoebe a pair of earrings! We offered a variety of solutions. You can close your eyes! Sit in Mommy’s lap! Mommy will hold you! Once your ears are pierced, YOU can pierce Polka Dot I Love You Cats ears! You count this time! Phoebe suggested we count to one hundred.

A shameful amount of time passed. I finally said, “Let’s just do this, Bee. Let’s just get it done.” She knew I was through negotiating. She jumped from the chair and, in her panic, broke a store mirror. The food court patrons turned toward the crash and Phoebe started to sob. An indignant voice rose above the chatter, “She’s making her get her ears pierced.”

I picked Phoebe up, hugged her, and sat her back in the chair. “Phoebe, are you going to get your other ear pierced? You’ve already got one.”

“I’ve changed my mind. Take it out.”

I knew she was through, too. I hung my head. “Can we take this out?”

The clerk looked apologetic. “You still have to pay.”

“Of course.” I considered it a fine for my idiocy.

We walked back to the fountain, exhausted. Phoebe carried Polka Dot I Love You Cat. I carried the “I just got my ears pierced at Claire’s” bag with my new, $50 Rainbow Dash earrings. We sat on a bench.

“I’m not mad at you, Bee.”

“I’m not mad at you either.”

But I catch myself correcting her when she says she got her ears pierced. And she doesn’t want me to wear those Rainbow Dash earrings, ever.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

I do my best to start each school day with a hot breakfast for the kids. They love cold cereal, but it doesn’t seem to satisfy them for long. It’s also expensive, so we save that for Saturday. During the week, I like to prepare them something a little more substantial. I’ve started a meal rotation that really seems to be working for us.

MONDAYS
We have hot cocoa on Mondays. It’s our special thing. Cocoa Monday! I make french toast and bacon and serve it with fresh fruit. I can whip it up quick while the kids make their drinks.

TUESDAYS
Tuesdays, it’s a breakfast bake. I assemble it the night before and toss it in the oven when I wake up. Easy!

WEDNESDAYS & THURSDAYS
We have pancake muffins on Wednesdays and baked oatmeal on Thursdays. We vary them by adding different fruits. I love these meals because they are delicious! And I can get up and get them in the oven, take a shower, and they’re ready when I wake everyone else up.

FRIDAYS
On Friday, we have some version of bacon, eggs, and bread. Usually breakfast sandwiches with english muffins.

I used to think that having the same meals over and again would get boring, but the kids seem to like it better when they know what to expect. They’re not asking for four different breakfasts anymore. I do best when I have a routine. This one allows me extra time to focus on the kids instead of the kitchen and I love that!

What’s the weather, Jack?

He rolls the cube.

What's the weather? Game cube

If it comes up snowy, we toss some cotton balls around. Windy? Switch on the fan! Our camping lantern provides sunny conditions. A spray bottle makes the rain.

It's raining!

His favorite weather is stormy. We crank up the fan, flicker the light, bang a cookie sheet with a spatula, and go crazy with the spray bottle.

He loves this game!

He also had fun jumping over and on construction paper puddles today. Since we’re working on name recognition and spelling, I added our pictures and names to each puddle.

All set for a rain game

He put on his rain boots and I gave him an umbrella.

Jumping on construction paper puddles

He’d shout the name on the puddle and then jump!

Can you find the puddle with your name?

Splash!

Splash!

And we’d sing J-A-C-K-S-O-N to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb every time he jumped on his name.

I’ve really been missing my Phoebe while she’s at school, but I am grateful for this time with Jack. So far, so fun – for everyone.

The Third First Day of Preschool

I cried when Julia started preschool. When Lucy started preschool, she cried. Today, Phoebe started preschool without a hint of drama.

Phoebe on her first day of preschool

She woke up on time, ate a good breakfast, and happily posed for her official First Day of School photo. She held my hand as we walked in to school and kissed it gently before letting it go, calling goodbye over her shoulder, but never looking back. I left with Jack, feeling content that she was exactly where she should be. When I picked her up, her cheeks scarcely held her grin. “It was amazing,” she said with a gleeful hop. Then she told me about her day.

It was just so…easy. I almost felt guilty about it.

Her sisters were so proud of and excited for her and they did their best to show it. Julia combed her hair for her and gave her a spritz of perfume. Lucy offered advice and a huge “I’m so proud of you” squeeze. I was thankful for that because all it takes is a “meh” from a big sister to crush a kid’s heart.

Sisterly support

But Bee’s heart has never been fuller.

School at Home

Phoebe will begin preschool one week from today.

Phoebe's going to preschool!

(That’s the picture we sent to school to label her mailbox and cubby.)

Once that happens, Jack and I will be on the go a lot, shuttling the bigger kids around. Our day will be fragmented into small chunks of time that are easy to waste if I’m not intentional about how we use it. So, I wrote up a little plan for some “School at Home.”

We’re celebrating a theme each school week. For example, this week’s is Family. We’re reading books, singing songs, playing games and doing activities about the theme.

Family Tree

Yesterday, we made a family tree. We stuck our photos on some apples, labeled the leaves and stuck them on there.

Then we made paper versions of ourselves from this paper doll template from Tim’s Printables. The rest of the family saw them and decided to make theirs, too.

Paper Family

That’s been one of the fun things, so far – the way everyone else adds to it. Last week, the little kids went fishing for letters.

Fishing for letters

(We printed them from Kiz Club.)

We named each letter as they caught the fish. Later, when Lucy came home from school, we used them for her spelling practice. Then, she and Phoebe started a game where the mommy fish (the uppercase letters) were searching for their baby fish (the lowercase letters). Lucy turned out to be an excellent teacher.

Alphabet maze

Today, our alphabet maze (from Hands On As We Grow) became an alphabet town.

Alphabet town

“Jack, your house is on XYZ lane!” Cool, right?

In addition to our theme, we’ll work on a letter, number, and color or shape each week. I wanted our letters to coincide with Phoebe’s letters of the week at school, so we’re starting with a few weeks of general alphabet introduction until she begins.

We’ve played the Alphabet Monster Game from Little Family Fun.

Feeding the alphabet monster

And we did some Magic Letter Learning (again, from Hands On As We Grow).

Finding hidden letters

And we’re building a book for our letters, numbers, and colors/shapes all year, adding a page to each of them every week.

Our color/shape book is a picture book. Last week’s shape was a circle. We went on a circle hunt, taking pictures of all we could find. Our favorite circle was spotted by Jack – the eyelet on his shoe.

Jack found a circle

That’s the one that went in the book.

I’m pretty excited about what we have going on. I think we’re going to have a fun school year.

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