Dinner Time Antics

*I have been going through my drafts. I found this little gem. I assume I never posted because I didn’t have a picture. I happened to remember the picture below is on my computer still. Zen isn’t 1 in the picture, like he is in my  post, but he is still crazy and the picture is fitting. 

When you give a one year old his dinner he is going to want what everyone else is having instead. When you give him what everyone else is having he is going to want his very own bowl and spoon, just like everyone else.

Once you give him his spoon and bowl with “big person” food you are going to have to let him feed himself or he will scream.

When you let a one year old feed himself with his very own bowl and his very own spoon you are most assuredly,at some point, going to catch that spoon as it zooms through the air.

When you give a one year old his very own bowl full of food that bowl will end up upside down on the floor and food will splatter everywhere.

When you give a one year old dinner in his very own bowl with his very own spoon and the spoon flies through the air and the bowl lands spectacularly on the floor upside down you will have a guffawing group of children who all yell “We told you it was a bad idea Mom!!!!

Needless to  say, when you give a one year old dinner there is never a dull moment.

~Andrea

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Let Them be Little

My kids are playing with a cheap $5 plastic bowling set. Zen is sleeping. Where I am sitting I have the perfect view of their game. It is loud and wonderful. They are playing nicely; not something that happens all the time. I can’t take my eyes off them and honestly writing one line of this post takes more than 10 minutes because the kids are fascinating to watch.  I can’t help but look at them and see them as…kids.
So many times I look at them, especially the older 2, and I see my expectations of what they should be able to do. I forget they still need to climb and run and play. 

Earlier I was watching a video on a blog and it said “Though she grows, she is still so small.” That simple phrase grabbed me.

It speaks volumes to me. She is not suggesting her child is small for her age. She is stating that the age of 2 is still little. It is so true. Step back and look at your child with some perspective. How did you used to see a 2 year old before you had one? I am guessing you regarded them as a baby still. Your expectations probably weren’t grand. You didn’t expect them to know their colors and write their name. They are still so little. Yet as soon as we have our own we force them to grow too fast. I am not saying do not allow your child to develop and discover. I am saying just let them be little. Follow their cues. Let them be curious and discover at their own pace. Keep it age appropriate. 

I forced my oldest to grow up too fast. My expectations changed with my second.  can never change that fact I expected more from my eldest child than I did from my students who were older than him. I was never mean or forceful, I was just always ready to start the next thing with him and didn’t allow either of of us to savor the moments. Perspective and hind sight…..

With each child my expectations change. They are only little for a small glimmer of time and those days can be exhaustively long. I know this too well. I will, however, let my kids be little for as long as they need to be.

*written 3 years ago and rediscovered today 11/7/2016.

~Andrea

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3 is not too old to be rocked to sleep. Savoring the moments.

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Letting her make the pizza dough. Her joy is worth it all. 

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Letting her conquer her fears at her own pace makes the success that much sweeter. 

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As they get older they can still play….even if it makes your heart beat harder in fear. 

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Imagine, measure, cut, paint, create…..Making wands.

Crossroads

This year has been emotionally hard on me. One really big reason why is I have had more days than not when I feel like homeschooling 4 kids and caring for a toddler is just not for me. The only person I have mentioned this to is Mark so this is probably going to surprise those who know me best.

I struggle nearly everyday. I am worn from it. I really feel like the 2 girls would benefit from at least a year in a formal school setting. They are so much fun to be with, but I think they both need to find some independence away from their big brothers. I would like to see them blossom into their own beings. Their brothers, bless them, hold them back a little. I know they do not realize it. They are just protective.

My oldest is also going to “officially” be in high school this next year. I would like to focus more energy on getting him situated so he can achieve his very lofty life goals. My sweet 12 year old son would stay home with me also. He struggles and over the years we have discovered the best ways to help him learn and retain information. They are very nontraditional methods so a traditional school setting really wouldn’t be in his best interest.

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Elf is turning into a bookworm. She loves books as much as her eldest brother!

What do I do? I really do not want to send the girls to public school. I am not criticizing public school at all. My oldest went to public school for 2 years and Elf went for half a year until we changed school districts. My objection is personal to our family dynamics, beliefs, and goals. These are things that each family must personally decide on. For me, public school isn’t really an option at this time. I say “at this time” because I am not so bold as to say I am 100% against it. I am open for a change of mind and heart so long as it is the right choice for US.

That leaves private school. Who has money for that though? I have searched local schools and scholarship options. I actually have one place bookmarked that we may be able to make a reality. I have yet to get in touch with the school, but I plan to. There is also online school. That would keep the girls home without having to worry about planning their school days. That doesn’t help with my wanting them to develop themselves away from their brothers though.

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Princess making a cake while Zen watches. 

I really have no idea what I am going to do. Although Mark and I are a team, this is ultimately my decision since I am the one who is home all day with the kids. I know I have my husband’s support and that does make it easier. I know that when I make a decision he will back me up. That is a good feeling. Right now though, I am torn. I am not 100% convinced either way. I am no closer to an answer than I was in October. Time is not on my side. I need to make a decision sooner rather than later.

Why am I bothering telling you all of this if I am at a loss for what I am going to do? Well, writing it all out makes it more real. I need to see how I will react once I start getting feedback, because I know there will be feedback. Also, I feel like I can’t be the only parent struggling with the decision on what type of schooling is best for their child(ren). I want others to know they aren’t alone. The struggle is real. We are all just trying to do what is best and it is OK to doubt through the process.
~Andrea

A Surprise Gift

Zen Baby got a Secret Santa gift. Unfortunately, the generous person (people?) had no clue that a dishonest person had previously bought and returned the gift. This kind person bought a gift that, once opened we discovered, was used. It was missing pieces, the stickers were already added, and one piece was actually broken. Seriously people, be cool. Don’t return stuff broken and then NOT tell the store!

Zen is 2.5 years old, for those who have lost count. He was disappointed he couldn’t play with his toy. “But WHY, Momma? I want to play!”
Two year old toddlers aren’t always reasonable. I tried telling him it was broken and I was working on getting him a new one.

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Here is a recent picture of Zen. He is getting so big! 

 

I tried to figure out where the toy came from. I still am not sure.
Zen just kept pointing to the box and asking hopefully “I play with that?”
I felt so badly.

During one of my Goggle searches for the mystery toy I discovered Kohl’s has something similar enough that Zen would love. Even better, the item was on clearance. Top it off with the fact I have had Kohl’s Merchandise Credit sitting in my wallet for some time now and nothing important to spend it on.

Off to Kohl’s I went. I quickly found the toy. It was originally priced at $69.99. The website had it listed at $28 (for those wondering, it isn’t on the website anymore. My guess is they sold out).
The store had a clearance sticker price on it for $34.99. I went to the register and hopefully asked if they price match to their site. For the record, they do not. Darn. Oh well.

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Original price and clearance sticker price. 

The cashier rang it up and it came up at $27.99! One penny cheaper than online! Yay! Yes, a penny matters to me and I was thrilled! I also had a coupon for 15% off. This took $4.20 off the sale price. My total, after tax, was $25.60. Not bad considering retail value is $69.99. However, I was not done. I still had my Merchandise Credit to use. That took an additional $22.25 off my total. Out of pocket I paid an amazing $3.35! Can you believe that?

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Zen doesn’t have the original toy, but he has a pretty awesome substitute and he is thrilled with it! So what did I buy? I got him the Vtech Go!Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate Amazement Park Playset. The set we got is a Kohl’s exclusive and included an extra 15 pieces of track! Here it is:

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Pretty cool! Especially since I paid a whopping $3.35 for it! I am going to write another post about putting it together (I grumbled a lot more than I thought I would) and reviewing it. No, I am not being compensated in any way. I just want to review it on my own accord for those who are interested in it. You can get this set, without the extra 15 pieces, at other stores. It looks like the smaller set retails for $59.99, but a quick Google search tells me all the big stores also have this on post-holiday clearance!

Zen knows this is not really from me. It is a special gift from a Secret Santa; someone with a kind and generous heart who just wanted to put a smile on my baby’s face. That person is amazing and we send them our thanks and love.

~Andrea

Morning Madness

It is not even 8:30 and I need a do-over. I am trying to get the kids ready for their yearly physicals and it is sleeting and snowing at the same time. Really? Well, OK Mother Nature must be in quite the mood. I have 4 wheel drive though so I will manage.

Well, maybe not. Bug just dumped the pancake mix all over the counter, and between the counter and fridge. Princess spilled the coconut milk on the table. Zen decided he is a big boy and can pour his own cereal. The entire 32 ounce box into a baby bowl and the bowl was on the floor. It is a race between me and Sunny Day on who can get to the cereal first. I win, thank goodness, and she gets put away so we can clean. I sit on the floor and start picking up the cereal and Bug trips and dumps his dustpan of pancake mix and crumbs onto my head. I had already showered.

So I walked away. Sometimes we just need to. Sometimes we need to step back and breathe; in my case I write.

It will be OK. My kids are amazing and funny and do not usually dump things on my head. It could be worse. I know this way too well. So, I will breathe and move forward.

~Andrea

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Swim Life

The smell of chlorine never completely washes away when you are a swimmer. I have 3 children on the local YMCA swim team and one who takes swim lessons. We are at the pool at least 5 days a week. We have swim meets once a month until summer when it changes to once a week for 6 weeks.
The kids shower at the YMCA immediately following swim practice. It doesn’t matter. The smell of pool follows us home. This has become our lives. We are a swim family. We talk about seed times and strokes. The terms dry land practice, pool deck, drag, and flip turns are common words for us. We say things like “Fly fast” and “Breast is best.” Speedo and TYR are favorite brands.
Ask me what I think about goggles and I will immediately tell you to order bungees. They are by far worth every last cent. I will tell you what brands to avoid and to not let price scare you. Sometimes they cost more for a very good reason; they are better. I have had moms whose children are in swim lessons come up to me and asked me to help get goggles on their child. I have fixed more goggles than I can remember. Goggles are our “go to” accessory, or so it seems.
Each child has a preference for swim cap material; latex, rubber, silicone. I know the tricks of getting each strand of hair under the cap. I can whip a cap onto a head so fast it is a blur of motion.
Swim suits litter our bathroom. Towel bars are for jammers and hooks are for suits. Towels get slug over the shower bar. We have backpacks for swim only. They are each filled with extra goggles, caps, suits, swim team shirts, water bottles, and all the shower items needed. Yes, I bought 4 of every shower item so each bag would always be stocked.
We miss events because “Sorry but we have swim.” We have been late because “Sorry, swim went over.” Dinner is often after 8 because, well, we were at the pool. I do not think we can manage a conversation without some version of the word “swim.”

We love it though. The kids jabber about practice and what was hard and what was easy and what number they were during practice (first to go is always fastest so this is important) and what their goals are.
I am a fixture on the sidelines and I talk with other parents. Our conversations are diverse, but swim always trickles back in; “Are you going to this month’s meet?” “Did you see the video Coach made?” “Did your kid get a qualifying area time?” We are a swim family. We cheer for each other’s kids, we know when people are sick, we know who is struggling with what, and we know who has beaten their best. We support each other. It doesn’t matter that I want my kid to be faster than your kid, in the end we are a team.

This is our life, swim life, and we wouldn’t change it for anything.

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Bug, C-Dog, Elf waiting for swim practice to start.

~Andrea

This Week in Pictures January 9-15 2015

Here is a look at random moments from our lives this past week. It was a bit crazy, but full of fun. Enjoy!

Mark and C-Dog playing air hockey at the YMCA before swim practice

Mark and C-Dog playing air hockey at the YMCA before swim practice.

Elf decided that her bed was a cozier place to do school work than at the desk or table.

Elf decided that her bed was a cozier place to do school work than at the desk or table.

Bug after swim team practice. We were waiting for C-Dog to get out of the shower.

Bug after swim team practice. We were waiting for C-Dog to get out of the shower.

I decided to pull out some old costumes. C-Dog was loving Mark's cloak but Sunny was a bit leery.

I decided to pull out some old costumes. C-Dog was loving Mark’s cloak but Sunny was a bit leery.

Family breakfast. Recipe to follow soon! Be on the look-out for it.

Family breakfast. Recipe to follow soon! Be on the look-out for it.

Elf decided to help Princess with her school. Sisters and friends. Princess is learning to spell her color words.

Elf decided to help Princess with her school. Sisters and friends. Princess is learning to spell her color words.