Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lots of Tackles

March was a crazy month for me. I was so busy for about three weeks straight that I felt like I was spinning out of control and enjoyed the sigh of relief when it was over.

And then April was pretty smooth.

Now it's May and another crazy few weeks lies ahead. Looking at the calendar is a whoosh of STUFF. I know if I take it one day at a time, it will all be fine. But when I look at it as a whole it gets a little overwhelming.

The tackles I am facing in the next two weeks alone...

The little league schedule is not meshing well with our regular schedule this year. When I signed them up, I was assured that the schedule would remain similar to last year. That DID NOT happen. Both boys are LOVING little league this year, but conflicts are already popping up. Noah has to miss tonight because of a pack meeting, next Thursday for a Spring concert, next Tuesday for a scout trip, the following Tuesday for a scout parade. I was wondering if I should just pull him out of baseball because of so many conflicts, but he loves it and after these three weeks of craziness, then he would have to go to all the games and sit in the bleachers, driving us nuts. Luckily, they're not REAL games. They all get to bat and run bases every time they're up so it's not hurting anyone with him missing. But it's still frustrating. And it also means that I never get to watch Aaron play (and I think he's going to be very good) because I am going to be busy running Noah from place to place after I finish teaching each night.

On top of the scout/baseball conflicts, in the next two weeks we have a dentist appointment tomorrow (which Noah has cried himself to sleep about for three nights now), my annual (which I know holds some changes for me), symphony rehearsals and performances all next week (which took over my life last time), my student piano recital in two weeks (which I decided to NOT have either Noah or Aaron perform in), a school board meeting about Aaron's kindergarten for next year, and the school carnival.

AND, on top of all that, Steve's work just took on a lot more business and he is majorly stressed about all of the changes ahead of him since he runs the warehouse. He will be doing driving all over this side of the state with a huge rented truck delivering cable equipment twice a week now, instead of once every other week. He's still not allowed overtime though so he has to get all of the new stuff plus his regular job in that same amount of time as before and he is very worried about it. It doesn't make for a hubby that is thrilled with having to do so much of the "kid taxi-ing" while I'm teaching in the evenings.

Believe it or not, this only scratches the surface of what is in store for the month of May. But, actually, I really like the month of May. And things would have been MUCH worse had we stayed at our old church and added all of that stress on top of this. May is always a cheerful month for me. May brings Mother's Day, our annual family trip to the Meier Gardens, my birthday, and all of the fun activities related to the school year ending. It brings warmer weather, more opportunities to plant more new life into my yard, and the excitement of planning for summer vacation. And, we MAY have found our new church. I will post more about that later, but we are very excited to finally feel like we've found somewhere that will help is grow in the direction that we want.

So, yeah, the stresses at the moment are HUGE. But with the beautiful sunny skies outside and the ability to take everything not only one DAY at a time, but one TASK at a time, this too will pass. And I keep reminding myself that I need to savor each moment as it comes, because too soon, these busy days while the boys are little will be gone and I'll be wishing them back again.

Have a great Tuesday.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

A local TV personality hosted a West Michigan Whitecaps game (our local minor league baseball team) with free kids tickets and reduced adult tickets last Saturday night. We have been waiting for years until the boys were old enough to finally take them to a game and we decided that this was the year. I have always known that when I took the boys to their first game, I wanted my parents to join us. So I emailed at the beginning of the week and invited them to come. I was very excited when they accepted. I was able to use some of the free tickets the boys had earned through reading month at school as well.

Maranda from WOTV

Forecasters all week said it looked like rain for the weekend, but I still remained excited about our outing. We got to the park pretty early, loaded with sweatshirts, coats, blankets, and umbrellas.

We found our seats right behind third base and Aaron had decided to bring his glove in order to try to catch any stray fouls that made their way into the stand. As a matter of fact, one ball DID come our way, but it was a "foam" promotional ball thrown toward us from the Pig Mascot.

The boys have both declared that we need to sit behind first base next time, since that's where all the action was.

Noah was excited when he "got a book" which was actually a program about the players and Noah and Steve settled in to read all about the stats. It was fun to listen to Noah's questions about what different things meant.

It was cool to watch the people take the tarp off the infield and we wondered immediately if it was going to be needed to cover the field back up from rain before the game was actually over.

After meeting my parents and bringing them to our seats, the boys decided it was time to wander a little before the game started. We wandered over to where the little playground area was all blocked off. After a quick little time playing (we crawled under the chain) a security person came and scolded us for going in so we headed back to our seats. The boys stopped for a fun picture behind the whitecaps board.

We stopped on the way back to get them their dinner of a kids meal and settled them in to eat. My parents treated us to dinner, which was awesome. They had pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches that we loaded with BBQ sauce and they were really yummy. I can still taste them now.

When the game finally started, the boys were pretty attentive at first. They were both excited to watch the board that showed the speed of every pitch after it was thrown. They also laughed at all of the silly things the mascots did to entertain the crowd in between each inning.

The kids lasted about three innings before the need to start wandering hit them. That was the nice thing about a small and uncrowded park. I was actually okay with letting them wander over to the grassy hill and play for awhile. They entertained themselves for quite a long time rolling down, up, and sideways.

While it seemed as if they didn't really care about the game, periodically when I glanced over to check on them, I would find Noah parked right down in the front row, watching the game pretty intently. That's one thing about him. Even when we think he's totally off in space somewhere, he is usually catching pretty much everything that's going on.

After awhile, I brought them back to actually hang out with us for awhile. The rain and wind were gradually picking up too and it was clear that the coats and blankets that we were originally going to leave at home were a good thing to bring. It was nice to snuggle under them, especially when our hands started getting cold.

How cute are these boys?

Let's pause for more silliness on the field, shall we?

Back to the story. Somewhere in the seventh inning, the boys felt the need to start wandering again and they worked their way down to the seats right behind the third base dugout. The rain was picking up and we were all starting to get cold, so I called them to us and said that we were going to go sit up higher where it was dry. They came with us and at that point, we decided that we had had a great first baseball experience but it was definitely time to call it a night.

As we were leaving, Grandpa asked the boys to hold out their hands and presented them each with a souvenir Whitecaps baseball of their very own. They were SO excited! I wish I had taken a picture of their reactions, but I think my hands were frozen at that point so it wouldn't have worked.

Despite the cold, wind, and rain, we really had a great time at the ball game. The boys were talking about it at breakfast this morning and there is no question that they want to go to again.

I think we'll wait another month until it warms up, though.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Completely Conceited Girly Post

So I've had lots of serious type posts lately. Ones that actually meant something.

This isn't going to be one of those. But I am still asking for advice.

Girly advice

I am probably one of the least fashion conscious women you will ever meet. I am wearing some of the same clothes I had in college and I don't stray far from what will sufficiently blend me in with society. Same goes for my hair. I am going to be 29H next month (I went to letters at 30...do the math if you wish) I have had bangs for all of those 29H years. When I was younger, my mom always called me a nerd, so I don't think I ever got out of that mind set. Now that I'm heading down the road to 40, I think it may be time to try to alter my self image a little and feel better about myself. The weight loss has been stalled ever since my back injury a few weeks ago and I am hoping to get back into the soon when things slow down a little. But I wonder if I can make a different change now.

About two weeks ago when I went to go trim my bangs, I wondered what would happen if I actually grew them out. For the first time. Ever.

I have a nasty cowlick that has always gotten in the way. I even tried parting my hair in different places when I was younger, but the cowlick never quite let me succeed. When I was a teenager, I did the 80's flip, curl, and spray and stuck them straight up in the air. After a few years in college, I went back to cutting them straight across and curling them under.

Nasty uneven bangs, circa 1994

And they have been that way for 15 years.

So now I think it's time for a change. Here's where you come in.

My bangs are getting a little longer. I got the rest of my hair trimmed with layers to try to even out the look while the bangs are growing out. My stylist told me to just blow dry them to the side while they're growing. And that's what I'm doing.

I googled "growing out bangs" online last night to get some ideas of how to deal with them during this process. Since I have no idea what is "trendy" and what is "babyish" I don't even know which kind of "accessories" they are referring to that they said are going to be my best friend during this process.

And it was even more discouraging to hear that since hair only grows a half inch a month, they might still not even grow out until next year.

I am actually excited about the change. I have an idea in my head of what the final product will be but I can already see the funny looks I am getting from some of my piano students when they come into lessons and see how different my hair looks. Believe it or not though, my husband actually complimented me on it the other night. I think I will like it. But it sure is a big question to me about what it ACTUALLY looks like, versus what I think it looks like.

So I ask you....have you ever grown out your bangs? Do you have any suggestions? Which accessories are appropriate for a 29H year old woman? Is it even worth it?

Or should I just give up, cut them, and go back to the same thing I've had since 1973. Okay, maybe 1974 since I don't think I had much hair as a baby :)

But I need help with what to do in the meantime. Do I throw it back in headbands? How much do I clip back? At what point do I cut the rest to match the longer bangs.

So, I told you this was going to be a conceited post. I know that you who are reading this are dealing with REAL problems. As a matter of fact, I am too. But sometimes it's okay to be more light hearted as well. And I really do welcome any help from those of you who've been through this. And you can even tell me if you tried it and then gave up and cut them off again.

Okay...blog lines are now open...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tackle It Tuesday: Next Step Done

Got all of the grass dug up on both sides inside of the bricks. Now all that's left is the fun part...planning and planting




Monday, April 19, 2010

Feeling Our Age

It's 18 hours later and my head is STILL spinning and I still have an upset stomach.

Think I have the flu?

Guess again...


Over Spring Break while I was checking a couple of local websites for something fun to do that day, I checked my FB updates and found a contest sponsored by Maranda, a local TV personality. It was for a family fun pack of tickets to a local carnival.

I generally stay away from these carnivals like the plague. Every time we pass them in parking lots, I call them "stinky carnivals" and the boys get the hint that they need to stop asking because it's NOT going to happen.

But I was itching for things to do and I usually never win anything so I went ahead and entered. About 45 minutes later I got an email saying I'd won. Great... now I actually have to take them.

Yesterday was the last day of the carnival so we finally took the boys. They were excited because usually if we do see one of these, they're allowed to ride maybe one or two rides and they are left wishing for more but mommy and daddy refusing to spend that kind of money. It really was a treat to actually be able to answer "yes" to everything they asked for. It was a big change and one that the kids definitely savored.

The very first ride we approached, the boys decided that they wanted to ride together. Steve and I got in the next car and laughed when Steve's feet had to hang out because he was so tall. After about 10 seconds into the ride, Aaron was crouched down in his seat, crying and screaming in misery. I was in the next car worrying about him when I heard, "It's okay Aaron, it'll be over soon" and then not only was Noah comforting his little brother, but putting his arm around him at the same time.

Wow, they really do love each other. Who'd have ever guessed :)

Anyway, after the first ride, Steve and I were already feeling kind of yucky but the boys were rearing to go. So on the tea cup ride. Spin, spin, spin, stop, spin, spin, stop.


Now Steve and I were both sick to our stomachs and looking for things for the kids so we could take a break. We came to the "funhouse" of which we've seen at every carnival we've ever passed but once again never justified the money to let the kids enter.

Not this time. After going through very hesitantly the first time, this became the one thing that they returned to again and again, every time Mommy or Daddy started feeling sick again, which was A LOT. They especially loved the rolling barrel at the end and Noah got pretty daring with his tricks. It was Steve that realized that we probably should have had Noah take his glasses off during this, but it was fine.

It was funny watching Aaron with all of the height requirements. He is EXACTLY 48 inches, so he squeaked by to ride the bumper cars where the MINIMUM is 48"

And he also got away with the "kiddie" rides where the Maximum is 48"

After about an hour, I was DONE. I still can't believe how sick I got and Steve was not feeling all that great either. Aaron was begging to go on the teacups again, which is the one that sent both Steve and me over the edge, but I figured I could deal with it one more time. It's a good thing he loved it because I actually had to sit down on the ground for a couple of minutes when it was over I was so miserable.

We walked over to watch Daddy and Noah on the flying ride while I was recuperating. Even though technically Aaron was tall enough for that one, this over-protective momma wasn't about to let him on it. I was so scared he would go flying out the back or something. Yes, I really am THAT neurotic.

The one discussion that we had before we left for the carnival was that we were going to ride rides but there would be NO begging for games or stuffed animals. Noah is the most guilty of that most of the time. He actually obliged and I decided to go ahead and reward him. The carnival was actually pretty much dead because of the press. Yup, it had been shut down the Saturday night before because of some teenage gangs causing trouble, so the attendance was way down. So because of that, the game dude was very willing to negotiate and I managed to negotiate a guaranteed larger prize for both boys for the cost of one game.

So not only did the kids FINALLY get to ride on everything they wanted, but they even got to leave with new "buddies". After two hours, and mommy and daddy feeling REALLY awful, we told the boys we needed to leave and get a snack and then maybe we'd come back. Luckily, with the promise of ice cream, it wasn't that hard to pull them out and while we were having our treat the kids really didn't cause that much of a stink when we told them we were going to go home instead of returning to the carnival. I think both of them could see just how sick their parents were.

By the time we got home, my head hurt so bad and Steve was falling asleep. We put Bolt on for them and both went to bed. After we got up, Steve was feeling a little better and I was trying to, but we really both felt the remnants from the rides for the rest of the night.

As I sit here writing this, I feel myself getting queasy again just thinking about it. I was really glad that for the first time ever, I could say "yes" to the boys when ever they asked to do something, but I also and a little surprised at how badly the thing affected me. Hopefully, when we pass carnivals from now on, the boys will remember yesterday and the fun they had, but also know that we will not be visiting one again.

Friday, April 16, 2010


If you are a facebook friend (and if you read me regularly, let me know...let's be friends) you know the little wrench that's was thrown into our school plans for next year. Warning: this is yet another one of those wordy posts where I try to sort out my feelings in writing so it might not really make any sense to anyone else.

I took Aaron to kindergarten round up yesterday. Mostly as a formality since it will be the same teacher and classroom as Noah, and he has spent the last three years being allowed to play in that classroom. But I was met with some interesting changes that are making me re-think everything for next year.

The boys have been attending two different charter (tuition-free, publicly funded, privately-operated) schools. I had to do this since I didn't feel Aaron was ready for kindergarten last year and needed a Young Fives program. The plan has always been to move him to Noah's school next year.

It's been a struggle having them in two different schools, especially since Noah's is quite far away. But his school is so awesome that I wouldn't change it. Which brings me back to kindergarten round up yesterday.

Apparently, more people are starting to realize just how awesome the little school is and there are 30 kids signed up for the 20 slots for kindergarten next year. The program (up until now) has been full days M, W, and F. It was perfect for Noah when he was in kindergarten , transitioning from half days M,W,F preschool. But it's a different story for Aaron.

He has attending school five half days this year, learning a TON and he loves school. He can read at a first grade level and is constantly craving more knowledge. I was ALREADY worried about him only going to school only three days next year instead of five.

And then the principal announced at Kindergarten round up yesterday that they are asking the board to approve TWO kindergarten classes to allow for all of the kids. One M,W and one T, TH with rotating Fridays. That would mean that my six year old who can read, needs a LOT of help with fine motor skills and LOVES to learn would only be going to school two days a week for half of the school year. Plus, it would also mean that the little school that I have loved will be adding a new class every year, thereby eventually doubling the size of the school.

I lost a lot of sleep thinking about this last night. So I went in to talk to the principal again about it this morning. Instead, I decided to speak to the secretary and one of the parents (Noah's "girlfriend" since kindergarten) from Noah's class and whose other daughter would be in Aaron's class next year. As a matter of fact, 9 of the 20 kids have older siblings in the school at this time. They made some good points about how growth for the school is actually a good thing and that 40 kids in each grade rather than 20 could be wonderful for the school as well. After pondering their words, I agree that it would probably be good to be a LITTLE bigger.

But I am still worried about Aaron for next year. Two days of school just isn't enough.

The other option is to leave him where he is just for the kindergarten year. He would still get priority if I move him to Noah's school in first grade, since Noah will stay at BCCS no matter what. And he would still have school every day, just like this year. I had already talked to the young fives teacher about his reading level and she assured me that the kindergarten teacher is well experienced in dealing with advanced readers in the classes. But I have some really bad issues with this school and staying there for another year is not really what I want to do. But it MAY be the best thing for Aaron. It would mean two school schedules for yet another year. Plus, I don't even know if he can stay now that I had already told them that he would not be returning and he may have lost his spot.

So today is full of questions. The board meeting about the kindergarten changes is May 10 and I definitely plan to be there to hear what everyone has to say and the resulting vote. And I will be talking to the office at Aaron's current school about keeping him enrolled for next year for right now, if it's possible.

Not sure what the answer will be right now. But now that I've got it out of my head and written down, I can let it sit for awhile and go play Trouble with Aaron.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Yard

Next month marks eight years in our little "starter" house which will most likely also be our "finishing" house. We really have done quite a lot to improve it through the years, when little chunks of money have come in. We've done major repairs, such as new roof, new furnace...adding central air, and a new water heater. We've made structural changes such as ripping out a "fake" bathroom in our bedroom, pulling down a wall in the basement, pulling down the paneling upstairs and redoing it with drywall. And we've one minor repairs such as putting in carpeting, re-painting almost every wall (some of them several times), and many other repairs that I am forgetting.

Our bathroom is a huge necessary project that will take thousands of dollars, so that will just have to wait.

But every spring, I get motivated to make changes outside. Our house had NO landscaping when we moved in, and I have striven hard to improve it each year.

This year, my plan is to get my lawn back healthy again after a few years of neglecting to fertilize it so I went to Menard's to get some supplies. While I was there, I noticed mailboxes on sale. That is one things that has ALWAYS bothered me about our house. We had a hanging mailbox on the siding with no overhang and for eight years, we have had sopping wet mail every time it rained or snowed. So, at a severely discounted price, knowing I had an accompanying job this week, I texted (yup, texted) a picture home to Steve to see if he thought we should do it.

An hour later, I was happily home with a six foot pole and a mailbox. Steve was NOT happy.

Even though the box and the employee told me I didn't need cement, he was furious that I hadn't bought any and insisted that he couldn't put the post in anyway without a hole digger. So after I went about my own business and let him stew for awhile, I noticed him finally coming out with the shovel and starting to dig.

And dig and dig and dig.

It had to go three feet into the ground. After quite awhile of digging and measuring, the hole was finally ready to place the pole and start refilling it with the dirt. Another battle ensued when I told the boys that it would be a cute picture if they got in the hole and Daddy got mad at both me for suggesting it and the boys for wanting to do it. We compromised after awhile though...using the boys to pack the dirt down after we had filled about two of the three feet back up.

As the hole was almost filled, it was REALLY wobbly in the dirt, and after a little bit more scolding from my hubby about not getting cement, I had an idea. I had removed an entire row of bricks from the front landscaping a couple of weeks ago to allow more sun to get to my crocus that were coming up. I thought maybe we could use four of those down around the post to secure it better. After some finagling to make them fit, since it was so close to the cement steps, it worked and we were able to resume filling in the dirt.

After a little more hemming and hawing, hubby was finally willing to take down the old mailbox for me so we could have the complete look.

Although the story COULD end here, it really doesn't. I was motivated yet again because the mailbox seemed to be sticking out into the middle of the yard, which made me wonder if I should re-do the bricks in our front. I had actually been wanting to re-do them for a number of years, but I wanted to do it right this time

Sunday after church, hubby was nicer about helping me and we set to work. I placed the bricks where I wanted them to go and he dug the trench for me. I spent a couple of hours placing each brick evenly in the ground, instead of just laying them down haphazardly, like before.

We still have work to do. We need to dig the rest of the grass out from the bricked in area and plant some new flora in there, but I really am shocked at how much better it looks.

The boys kept busy in their own ways. I had Noah use the wheel barrow to get yet another scouting elective accomplished, and then they kept busy with the neighbors collecting all the bugs that we dug up while we were placing the bricks. It was all good until Noah brought the bugs in the house overnight and proceeded to spill them all over his carpet before school Monday morning. I was glad that he had already been taught to use the vacuum and after quite the event, the message that "bugs stay outside" was driven home quite well.

I LOVE yard work. I love that I can get dirty, sweaty and stinky for a couple of hours and then walk away with a vastly improved area.

So there's my tackle for the week. There will definitely be more to come as I continue to work at the area, but right now I'm going to head out to look at it again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Top Five: Spring Break Edition

Sunday night as we were sitting down for dinner, the usual debate over which prayer we would do before our meal began. Instead of deciding the argument, we decided instead to go around the table a few times and mention things that we did over Spring Break that we were thankful for. Kind of a way to sum it all up before heading back for the last 8 weeks of school. Even though we didn't go anywhere, we definitely kept the week pretty full of activities.

5. Family Time
We started spring break with my brother and his family being here for Easter. We were able to spend some time with cousins each day, which I mentioned last week. We also got a chance to go to "How to Train Your Dragon" (great movie, BTW) with grandma and a younger cousin, which the kids liked. They also got to ride a carousel with grandma and their young cousin, and got me on it as well.

4. Friend Time
Starting out the week with a very full day at a park nearby, we spent some time with different friends throughout the week. We went to the new Alvin movie with some friends that we don't really get together with much anymore and the kids also got to see some other friends at a skating party on Saturday. In addition, some outside time playing with the neighbor kids rounded the week off quite nicely.

Noah with Deb's daughter, Hannah

3. Inside Time
Two of the days were really cold and we were scrambling for things to do. By Thursday, the kids were getting pretty antsy, leaving questions about how summer vacation will go this year, but that's a post for another day. So I packed them up Friday afternoon and took them to an indoor play place to run off some steam for a few hours. Steve also signed us up for a promotional package through his work (he works for a cable company) and for very little additional money than we were already paying, we now have WAY TOO MANY cable channels, resulting in more new shows being watched than I would prefer. Gotta get a handle on that soon.

2. Outside Time
We spent the majority of both weekends outside, but this past weekend Big Time. The weather was in the mid 60's and beautiful and I always get motivated in the Spring to fix up the yard. Our grass took a beating from the mole population and I have been itching to begin repairs. Along the way, we ended up with a huge weekend outside project. I will share the full project for Tackle It Tuesday, but I can tell you it involved lots of dirt and worms. I bet you just can't wait, huh?

We also spent some time with the boys at the park practicing hitting, and throwing for little league.

1. Game Time
For the last couple of months, we had been doing family Wii night on Sunday nights when we used to do board games. The boys and I played several games throughout the week which made it very clear that we need to be doing it much more. We need to work on learning to encourage each other, refraining from bragging, work on taking turns, etc. I got a new Trouble game, as well as teaching the boys how to play King's Corners with cards. That, along with a few others, made games a big hit and I hope to continue it.

The Week Ahead:
It's going to be a crazy one. I got an accompanying job for the week which is going to fill both my mornings and afternoons, as well as Thursday evening and Saturday all day. Aaron also has Kindergarten round-up and little league for both boys is scheduled to start this week.

I also want to share with you that we tried a new church this weekend. It's a full story, but we are definitely MUCH closer than we have been as of yet to finding a new church home.

I am in the depths of laundry, both because my washer doesn't work anymore so I have to double spin and dry everything twice, which is making laundry take forever. On top of that, I need to wash all of the warm weather clothes. If this week wasn't so crazy, I would just try to fit in a trip to the laundry mat. It may actually have to be in the cards for next week. Yuck!

So I have lots of pictures and stories to share, but I am off to bed for now.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Little Nurture Goes a LONG Way

I took this picture of Aaron last week. I loved it immediately. It's not your typical "cute kid" picture but the expression seems to fit him.

He is a highly sensitive boy anyway and I have always wondered how it would affect him as he grows up. He has done extremely well in school this year both socially and academically. Way better than I anticipated actually. He's reading books that Noah read in first grade last year and he is learning how to separate good from bad behaviors socially.

I put him in young fives instead of kindergarten this year because of his sensitivities issues. I do think it was the right decision, even though I think he would have been fine either way, in hindsight that is.

He is prone to "phases" big time though. The last few weeks he has entered into a overly sensitive, crying temper tantrum phase. It doesn't help that his big brother knows how to push his buttons and does it at every drop of a hat, which often makes it hard to figure out which kid should receive the consequence at any given time...the one who instigated or the one who reacted so horribly that things got way out of hand.

Within this phase (which I know was brought on by a school situation, but it still needs to be dealt with at home) he is also back to acting quite a bit younger than his actual age. It was very frustrating this past weekend while we were with so many other kids. He was flying off the handle constantly, I was frustrated at both his behavior and other's reaction to it, and by Sunday I was feeling very dejected.

I went to bed Saturday night wondering what changes we could make to try to counter act the behavior. Up until then, I had been just ignoring it and telling him to stop crying. The result was that he would wander off crying, instigating more fights with whomever (usually his brother) had started the fight in the first place and the problem continued to escalate.

So when yet another tantrum started at my parent's house this weekend, it was suggested that instead of ignoring it, which was clearly not working, I should try to nurture it. Extra over the top hugs, kisses and love each time the crying started.

It's working! All three times he had a fit on Sunday, I tried it and each time when he calmed down, went off in a different direction to do something else, rather than return to the place where the problem started. In the four days since then, we have had a total of ONE crying fit. I am feeling very ashamed that it took someone else to tell me to show my kid some love but this is the same person who has been teaching me how to love people for a very long time when I was never quite taught those skills in my younger years. I just consider myself lucky that I have her now to kick my rear into gear when I need it.

And I have to admit, I like the chance to just sit and snuggle with Aaron. I realized that I don't do that nearly enough with either of the boys anymore. Just because they're getting older, doesn't mean that they don't need that affection anymore. I think that maybe in the name of "discipline" I may have erred on the side of lacking nurturing. It's a good lesson that I need to learn...finding the balance between the two. I have not learned the art of nurturing very well and you would have thought that after almost eight years of parenting I would have gotten better. Luckily, all is not lost. The boys are still young and changes for the better can always be made. If I don't nurture them now, how will they ever learn to nurture others?

It's interesting that the person who reminded me that I need to be more nurturing is one of the few people in my life who have actually nurtured me. It is such a good lesson for me. What we learn when we are young is what we are when we are older. But at the same time, I have also learned that it's not too late to instill nurturing in my kids, because I don't think it's too late for me to learn how either. And I also know that you never outgrow the need to be nurtured...even as adults, we need it too.

The week has definitely been so much better than it would have been had I not been given this advice. Do I worry about what will happen next week? Big Time! Between Aaron returning to the stressful classroom situation and every evening home with Steve and Noah alone, it's going to be hard to keep the new Aaron going.

But for now, I will continue to enjoy the new dynamic that the three of us have going. Noah doesn't seem to be baiting him nearly as much either. Maybe Noah is learning a little nurturing in the process too. One can only hope. Or maybe he doesn't like that little brother gets extra snuggles every time he gets picked on. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. We're happier, which in the long run, is the only thing that counts.

And all it took was a little bit of love.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tackle It Tuesday (On Wednesday)

We're on Spring Break and we've been making the most of it (to the best of our ability). Facebook updates from every single one of my in-laws are all about what wonderful times they're having in Florida and Mexico and everyone else we know is gearing up for or returning from wonderful trips away. We originally were hoping to go to Mall of America for Spring Break but ended up getting hit hard at tax time. As a consolation, we told the boys we would take them for an overnight to Lansing to see the state's capital this week. That, too, got downgraded as bills started piling up. So here I sit, with a very small checking account balance, no gas in the car, and no food in the fridge, trying to figure out a way to make Day Three of spring break fun for the kids.

What is the result?

Let's clean...Woo Hoo!

I have to admit, every time I decide to clean the craft cabinet, the kids have a blast. Noah declares each time a "Craft Day" and makes the most of it. The usual result is a clean cabinet but messy everywhere else from all of the treasures that they make.

This time it took two days, since we were very tired when we got home from swimming last night. But it feels good to have at least tackled one thing in the house. It makes me feel like less of a sloppy mess, both as a parent and a person.

The before picture is pretty awful. It got to the point that each time we opened it, we had to brace for anything falling out on us. And I couldn't even get mad at the kids for not putting things away in there because nothing had its own place anymore.

So, rather than my usual Full Attack where I take everything out and start from scratch, I went shelf by shelf, which actually worked very well this time. I also labeled the front, side, and top of every single bin, hopefully making it easier for the boys to actually put stuff away when they're done with something. We have had the discussion already about which shelves are "fair game" and which ones are "ask permission first".

The thing that amazes me the most is that EVERY SINGLE
ONE of those containers was already in that cabinet, but obviously not being used the most efficiently :)

So the tackle done, the blog post written, kids are dressed, hubby is out of the shower, and it's time to go find something to do as a family today.

Game Day/Night is looking good.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Weekend Fun: Cousins and Easter

It was quite a busy weekend for the Wheelz crew. My SIL was here with her three kids, followed by my brother on Saturday. Along with my stepmom, three other nieces, her friend and HER grand kids, ( a total of ten kids for those of you who lost count) we were very busy with fun activities throughout the weekend.

The weekend weather started out BEAUTIFUL, especially on Friday with record temps in the 80's so we spent the day outside. Noah was supposed to have school still but since everyone else was out, we started his spring break a day early. We spent a lot of time outside. We even got a picnic dinner at McDonald's and headed over to a park to play for several hours.

Saturday morning started out absolutely beautiful so we met the rest of the crew at the zoo for the morning. I found out after I got home that there had been a HUGE Easter egg hunt on the grounds of the zoo at the same time we were there even though we didn't notice, which I thought was pretty funny. As the morning went on, it started getting increasingly chillier until we stopped to get the kids lunch and all the kids started getting so cold that they were shivering. About thirty seconds after we got all kinds in the car to leave, it started DOWN POURING.

Perfect timing for our zoo trip.

After taking all kids back for naps/rest times, my SIL and I took our kids to the Public Museum so they could see the Big Bugs exhibit that I have posted about numerous times. We stayed in that area for a long time and the kids really had a good time, although I think the highlight for my niece especially was the ride on the carousel. This was the first time I had actually ridden the carousel with the kids and finally got some decent pictures on the ride.

After the museum, we went for dinner and then back to their hotel to swim until bedtime. It was definitely a very busy day but one that I think the kids will remember for quite awhile. We aren't able to take the boys to a hotel this week like we had promised them, so I think it was good that they still got to swim with their cousins at theirs. They crashed pretty much instantly when we got home, which is ALWAYS good.

Sunday morning came Easter. It was definitely different than the last decade, since we are going to a new church. The service was a different experience but I am still glad that we have found somewhere (at least for now) where we can worship and feel comfortable.

After church, we came home for a little while and let the boys "search" for eggs filled with jelly beans in the backyard. Steve had put them out in the pitch black at about 11 PM the night before,m when we actually remembered about them after the long day. They had fun with minimal screaming (I will post about THAT tomorrow) and definitely found plenty of eggs.

Then it was time to head to my parents for Easter dinner. It was back to being pretty nice outside, even though a bit windy, so the kids were able to spend some more time outside. Another one of my SILs had hidden eggs around the yard for my niece to find and there were a few left in the back. Aaron was so excited to find one, and even more amazed when he opened it up and found a dollar inside. He has talked about it constantly since and I think we may need to continue that tradition in a few eggs next year.

Noah got it into his head to make a Pokemon house with cardboard from grandma's garage and set up a workshop with one of his cousins. They must have sat there for at least an hour, and had the mess to prove it.

While the boys were making cardboard creations, Aaron decided he wanted to walk over and roll down a hill by the house. He loves that hill and asks to go there every time we're visiting. So we took the littler cousins down to the hill. Grandma is such a good sport, rolling down with them, and even allowing the two "wild ones" to run into her and "tackle" her. I got several great pictures of them playing with her. You could just see the joy in all of their faces.

We came home to go pitch some balls to the boys so the could use their new bat that they got for Easter. But by the time we got home, all they really wanted to do was eat candy. In the past, I would let them have a few pieces, and then save some for each day. I decided to try a different approach this year. I just let them eat to their hearts content. They were so shocked that I think both of them ate almost all of it, but then both decided that they had had enough. As of this writing, neither has asked for anymore candy. I think it may have been the way to go. The candy is gone, they got to indulge, and I don't have to worry about them trying to be sneaky for the next week.

It was a very fun weekend and a nice Easter day. This week we're on Spring Break so I am going to try to find fun things to do each day. Steve took vacation days from work tomorrow and Wednesday just so we could spend some time together as a family which will be nice. After a talk with my step mom yesterday, I am working on making some changes in our house with one of our children, which actually seems to be working with the other one too. I will post on that tomorrow.

I hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection Day as well. See you tomorrow :)