Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Let the Sunshine....PLEASE!

Alright, Mother Nature. I’m getting really tired of these cold, rainy weekends. It’s May, for goodness sake. April Showers were supposed to bring May flowers, not May showers. I should be able to get a tan as I work on my garden. But instead, we are cooped up in the house every weekend trying not to kill each other. I’ve had enough of this nonsense.

Even though we endured another miserable weekend weather wise, we did manage to have a little fun in there as well.

Friday night, we rushed through dinner at our favorite little Mexican place and walked into the 8th grade play during the opening act. I was feeling quite awful that day. One thing that the rain didn’t help with was my allergies. With everything turning green, I turned into a big snot ball. Between my throat aching and eyes watering, I did manage to make it through full day of work followed by the play. The play turned out really cute and the kids enjoyed seeing it for the second time.

Saturday afternoon, the younger kids spent some time with their dad. That was awful on all accounts. I guess the kids had fun, but it is never pleasant dealing with him. He really is an unhappy man and oh how I got the brunt end of his misery. I don’t know why he can make me so angry still, but he does. I’m working on it though. One day soon his unpleasantness won’t bother me. One day.

Sunday the girls and I got fancied up for the Mother/Daughter Girl Scout event. It was much nicer than I anticipated. Alex went to a Laser Tag birthday party with friends. My sister, Laura, came over an hour early and we all got ready together. With the music pumping and some wine flowing, it was so much fun. Plus, we all looked incredible for the event.

That evening, we went over to my sister’s for some fajitas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I was exhausted by the end of the night, and never did make it to the grocery store or finish laundry. Yesterday when Layla woke up crabby and clingy, I took it as the perfect opportunity to take the day off. It was great. Layla and I napped, cuddled on the couch, and mostly did 12 loads of laundry. I think I needed the day just to catch up on “mom” stuff. I got the basement clean, the kitchen cleaned out and caught up on all the weekly stuff I neglected to do over the weekend. Alex’s practice got canceled so I was able to cook without having to rush off somewhere else. The kids had fresh sheets and clean rooms. Just that extra day made such a difference in my week.

Today, it’s back to the grind. But I feel much more relaxed since I was able to get so much done yesterday. I feel organized and back in control. The last few weeks of chaos really sent me for a loop, so it’s nice to feel put together again. At least until the weekend rolls around again!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

May Day

Whew! What a week it has been!

Monday night Alex had his regularly scheduled baseball practice. It is always a challenge to get there on time since it starts at 5:30 and I don’t get home until 5pm. This week was particularly hectic because not only did he have practice, but team pictures as well. The kids did a great job after school getting prepared for the evening. It was the first time in the whole nine months that they actually did what they were supposed to do instead of what they wanted to do. But, it’s progress so I’ll take it! Alex and Eva had completed their homework and changed clothes. Alex was nicely dressed in his baseball uniform and actually managed to locate two matching, red socks and his baseball cleats. Grace was also awake and fully ready for her volleyball clinics which started this week as well. I almost thought I walked into the wrong house, but knew I was in the right place as soon as Alex and Eva started fighting over who was going to sit where on the way to practice.

For the first time this baseball season, I remembered to put dinner in the crock pot so we could eat before leaving. However, I did not account for the time it would take to actually serve and eat dinner. I knew I should have just grabbed a sub sandwich from the grocery store over the weekend. A home cooked meal isn’t easy to eat in the car. I left the food in the crock pot and grab some Capri Suns and Vanilla Wafers. Not fancy, for sure, but something to hold the kids over until we could get home to eat.

The girls and I walked over to the park during Alex’s practice. I helped Eva with her book report while Grace pushed Layla on the swing. Eva finished her report in enough time to get some play time in. I had previously told Alex that if I wasn’t back to pick him up from practice at 7pm to just wait patiently because I would be there soon after. Grace’s volleyball clinic started at 7, so I was going to run her there a little early and try to make it back before Alex’s practice ended. Around 6:30, my brother-in-law called to ask if he should take Alex home. His practice ended early and Alex told him I wouldn’t be back until 7. Fortunately, I hadn’t even left yet for Grace’s clinic. I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to run back and forth between the two places.

After walking Grace into the gym, I came back to a car full of hot, hungry and cranky children. I planned on just hanging out in the car for the duration of the volleyball clinic. I quickly changed my mind. The kids and I went home where I was able to feed them dinner and get them ready for bed before piling them all back in the car to go back and get Grace. They weren’t very happy about having to leave again, but what other choice did I have.

On Tuesday when a neighbor offered to stay with the kids while I took Grace, I jumped on the opportunity. I typically have a hard time accepting help from others, but I knew the kids would be so much happier if they got to stay home and play as opposed to being in the car for the next 3 hours. She was so sweet to stay with them and even ordered in pizza for dinner.

Yesterday night, I woke up several times with a bad stomachache. Apparently the left over pizza did not sit well with me or I just managed to pick up a stomach virus. I debated going to work or not, but decided I could stick it out. By late morning, I knew that I didn’t want to be at work anymore. My stomach was still bothering me, and I just didn’t want to be at work. I took a half day and a 2 hour nap. The weather was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t justify not taking advantage of it. So after my nap, I moved out to the back yard and soaked in the sun. It was absolutely glorious and I began wishing I had kept the kids from school and spent the day at the river with them.

Grace had her last volleyball clinic last night and I thought it would be a great day to take the kids for sno-cones during her practice. We had the windows down, the sun roof open and the music pumping on the way to the park. I was envisioning a picnic table by the lake, sno-cones and kicking the soccer ball around. It would be the perfect little evening with my kids. Or so I envisioned.

When we reached the park, we learned the sno-cone vender didn’t actually open until May 4th. The kids were bewildered by a park with no playground and had no interest in a picnic table by the lake if sno-cones weren’t involved. I drove to the neighboring playground only to see it overflowing with children. Alex took one look at all the “babies” and declared it a big fat NO!

We were close enough to the Westport area and still had enough time to get ice cream. When we reached Cold Stone, both Eva and Layla were asleep. They didn’t want to wake up even for ice cream. So we skipped the ice cream and went back to the high school to wait for Grace. We had 30 minutes before her practice was over and the thought of sitting in the car for that long sent Alex over the edge. He went into meltdown mode. I was finally able to rectify the situation by forfeiting my phone to him for Netflix and the promise of both a soda and a candy bar from Quick Trip on the way home.

There was a group of freshman girls standing near our car after getting Grace from practice. I asked Alex if he enjoyed his view while we were gone. He said, “Yes! I’ve been looking at myself in the mirror and I am hot!” At least he doesn’t have self-image issues!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Recap

The weekend got started a little early for me since my work let us all leave 2 hours early on Friday. With this early dismissal, I was able to make it to school in time pick up the kids. They were quite surprised to see me there waiting. It was the first time all year that I had been able to pick them up from school. I am so grateful to my mom, dad and sister who are typically in charge to getting the kids to and from school each day.

An even better surprise was Eva asking me if I’d take a nap with her “like the old days.” I wanted nothing more than a nap before I got Layla from the babysitter, so I was delighted to snuggle up with my first grader. I’m sure she is the only first grader in the world that requests nap time after school.

I took Alex along with me when I went to pick up Layla. I also grabbed a couple pizzas for dinner. During the entire drive, this boy did nothing by complain about how boring his weekend was going to be. It must be the age because I can’t remember a time recently when he wasn’t complaining about something.

Saturday morning, Alex and I headed out to his first baseball game. It was raining when we left the house, but I had just gotten an email stating the game was still on. Since the ballpark was 40 minutes from our house, I thought it was possible that the weather would be better there. It was raining when we got there, as well. I hung out in the car until the start of the game. Then I wrapped myself it a big blanket and went to the bleachers. I had no intention of sitting in this rainy, cold weather for the whole game, but I wanted to get the line up so I didn’t miss Alex at bat. After the first 6 batters, the umpire called the game. I was a little frustrated that the game wasn’t called 2 hours earlier to save me getting out of bed and driving there, but nonetheless, I was glad we could just go home.

My niece spent the rest of the weekend with us. The house was in a constant state of chaos and I couldn’t keep a room clean any longer than it took me to get it that way. I gave in after my third attempt and retreated to my room. This is where I spent the majority of my weekend. Taking naps, watching movies, reading books. The house may have been a disaster, but the kids weren’t vying for my constant attention. This is a win in my book.

Sunday evening, I finished up the laundry and gave haircuts to the kids. The girls just needed a trim, and I was used to doing their hair. I had never cut a boys hair before, though. I watched a 5 minute You Tube tutorial and decided I could do it. I have to say I even impressed myself with my success. It is a little longer on top than necessary, but I can fix that tonight.

All in all, it was a pretty uneventful weekend, but one that provided rest and relaxation. I’m hoping for some sunshine and warm temps for next weekend, because I’m getting the itch to get out and do something!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Never a Dull Moment

In an effort to drop a few pounds before swimsuit season, I have significantly cut back on my calorie intake. Judging by the headaches I’ve been getting prior to the end of my work day, I’m guessing I’ve taken my efforts a little too far. I am happier with the number on the scale, however.

When I got home yesterday, all I needed was a few minutes to shut my eyes and wipe away the nagging headache. Grace ever so kindly offered for Alex and Eva to keep an eye on the baby. They, however, were content riding their bikes. After I bribed Eva to come in for just a few minutes because mommy needs to get rid of this headache, I was able to retreat to my room. I have become the queen of 20 minute naps. I would really love a nap that didn’t result in me being jolted awake by a kid screaming bloody murder. That’s a luxury I just don’t have.

In that 20 minutes, Alex managed to tick off Eva. Her scream turned into my alarm clock. Her stomping and slamming of the bedroom door ticked Grace off and in turn she slapped Alex upside the head because she was trying to take a nap. Layla had unwrapped an entire box of individually wrapped tea bags and used them for decoration in the kitchen and dining room. It was also during that 20 minute time frame that they decided nobody really had to watch the baby.

Dinner was a success, though. I made a typical rushed night meal of “make it up as I go along” pasta. I found some tomatoes and olives in the fridge to sautee up with some garlic and basil in olive oil. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar and topped it off with some feta cheese. In true Grace fashion, she proclaimed she wasn’t eating dinner and it was stupid that she had to sit at the dinner table with us since she obviously wasn’t going to eat that. Also in true Grace fashion she ate all of her dinner while telling us about how she wasn’t going to eat it because it was disgusting. She was the first one finished and stomped off to get ready for the Girl Scout meeting she obviously wasn’t going to because it was also stupid. Alex and Eva took a little longer to finish their dinner. It is more time consuming to pick out every single tomato and olive, not to mention the time it takes to wipe off each noodle. Once the table was cleared, the little ones gathered up their homework and a few toys and headed out to the car. I went to retrieve Grace from her room with my speech prepared as to why she would indeed be attending her Girl Scout meeting. However, Grace was already out in the car waiting for me to drive her to the stupid meeting that she obviously wasn’t going to.

On the drive there, she confided that the only reason she was going to this meeting was for the snack. I’m glad she has the Girl Scouts to rely on since her mother can’t seem to meet the needs of a starving pre-teen.

I took Alex and Eva to the park down the street after dropping her off. Alex finished up his homework while Eva did flips over the seats. I was going to let them get out of the car to play at the actual park, but since they were having so much fun treating the SUV as their own personal playground, I didn’t see the need. Also, I could smell the baby and neither her or anyone in the car were happy with that stench, so we went home.

Grace texted 10 minutes into the meeting telling me it was a waste of time. I thought that the guest speaker must not have shown up after all and asked why. Her response, no snack!

My phone rang soon after with an auto reminder of the 1st grade bake sale. I made a quick stop at Walgreens on the way home from the Girl Scout meeting. I thought I would just grab a box of brownie mix and send my little darling to school the next day with actual baked goods. Apparently, Walgreens doesn’t carry brownie mixes…or at least not in the hair product aisle. I managed to get out of there with a variety of hair products and accessories, a carton of ice cream and two packages of cookies.

Eva was sound asleep within minutes of me getting home. This morning she woke up to plate full of chocolate chip cookies and wondered how she missed out on the baking.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's the Little Things

I must have really won the girls over yesterday with the popcorn and ice cream dinner. Eva provided me with the sweetest note and portrait of myself:

Grace sent me this text message as well today.

It melted my heart that they paused their screaming match long enough to think of me in a way other than referee.

Sadly, the moment passed way too quickly and I was back to who did what first and why and how and “OMG she’s ruining my life”!

Brother Alex just persevered with the tormenting right up and past bed time. What a hard worker that one is! No need to pause for sweet sentiments to his momma when he can go on picking on the baby while stepping over and around and on his book bag and homework that he so graciously spread throughout the entire living room.

I decided to revel in the moment of my daughters’ sweet gestures and take a long, hot shower.

Apparently the shower wasn’t quite long enough because the kids were all still awake when I got out. Layla has been quite the challenge to get to sleep these past few weeks. She typically sleeps in my bed since she has conquered climbing out of the crib. Although, she just recently conquered climbing out of my bed as well.

I just wasn’t ready tonight for bed at 8pm nor did I have the patience to lay with her for the next two hours hoping she’d fall asleep. So I tucked her in, ran like hell, closed the door at the bottom of the steps and prayed she wouldn’t fall down them.

Grace and I have been a teeny bit obsessed with Gossip Girl. But since the flooding of the basement last week and the overall lack of effort I’ve put into cleaning it up, the big TV has been off-limits. She couldn’t stand the suspense anymore, so we snuggled up in her bed with my laptop that she claims as her own and got our NYC rich girl fix.

By 10:30pm, we were both dosing off. I opened the door to head up to my room. On the bottom two stairs was a baby wrapped in a pink fleece blanket. She was sound asleep. Beds are highly overrated anyway.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming

The springtime chaos has begun. This past weekend my sister held a birthday party for my two nieces and one nephew. Since their birthdays land in March, April and May, she thought she’d save us from having to attend three separate birthday parties. As much as I appreciated her effort to free up my schedule a bit, I don’t think my bank account was prepared for the shock it received on Saturday morning when I rushed out to buy each of their presents. In her defense, she did tell us about this party two months in advance. And one of them already had their birthday, so I really had plenty of time to budget and shop for their gifts. But I’ve always been the one to wait until the last minute to buy presents. So after three stores and an abandoned cart in the toy aisle on Friday night, I had to finally buckle down and buy something…anything really…for the little darlings.

I think my procrastination worked in the long run. I didn’t have enough time to be picky or to overthink the gift buying, so I just bought some crap and passed it off as the best birthday gifts ever! I’m lucky those kids think I’m awesome and are not quite old enough to see through my failed attempts at gift giving. All kidding aside, I was pretty happy with what I got them. I just hope the plastic crap they call toys lasted long enough to make it through a round of play at home.

Sunday the little ones spent a few hours with their dad and Grace visited with a friend. I spent my few hours of kid free luxury grocery shopping, cleaning and washing, drying and folding 27 loads of laundry. How I got so lucky to be afforded a few hours a month of kid free time is beyond me. In my state of bliss on Sunday, I completely forgot that Alex had baseball practice on Monday evening. He is the only one who plays a spring sport and last weeks practice was canceled because of bad weather. On my way home from work, I got my calendar reminder for the 5:30 practice. I had to total of 17 minutes to put dinner on the table for four starving children before running back out the door for practice.

Because I didn’t even think to look at my calendar during my free time on Sunday, I had not one thing prepared for dinner. I quickly scanned the fridge to see what left overs I could throw together but would you believe that there wasn’t a single leftover dinner in there!?! I did however find three frozen slices of pizza from at least six months ago and a box of mozzarella sticks from who knows when. They were less than impressed with this but ate it nonetheless. Throughout the practice, I ignored several text messages from Grace first begging and then demanding I bring home real food for dinner. I too was starving as I forfeited any of the pizza or cheese sticks for my darling children. I contemplated grabbing some fast food or even a deli sandwich from the grocery store, but then remembered how I broke the bank purchasing birthday gifts a few days before.

When I returned home after the two hour practice, I was greeted with stomps and shouts of what a terrible mother I am for not providing McDonalds or at the very least Taco Bell for these precious souls.

I realized my mother of the year votes were quickly dwindling and knew I had to pull a trick out of the hat before I was no longer in the running for my obviously well-deserved award.

We sat down at the dining room table a few minutes later to enjoy our incredibly nutrious meal of popcorn and ice cream. Eva announced that this was indeed the best dinner ever!

Maybe I’ll get that award afterall.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Basketball Pride

Last month, the Knights of Columbus hosted a free throw competition at the school. Each student, ages 10 and up, had the opportunity to participate. The competition consisted of 15 throws. The student in the gender/age group with the most baskets out of the 15 would be the winner.

Grace won for the 12 year old girls’ age group!

A few weeks later, information came home about the District Free Throw Competition. Because Grace took first place in the qualifying round, she would represent the council at Districts.

On a Sunday afternoon between basketball games, I took her to the gym for the District Competition.

No one was there.

The competition was supposed to run from 1 to 3pm in a show up and shoot fashion. We arrived at 2:15 pm. Luckily, I have a few connections. After a few phone calls, the district chairperson was back at the gym to record Grace’s free throws.

And a wasted trip it was not.

With her last shot swishing through the net, she took first place in the District Competition!

This past Sunday was the Regional Competition. In her age group, there were a total of 6 qualifiers. As I bit off all my nails in the Duchesne High School gym waiting on her turn, I was struck by how ridiculously awesome that girl is. Not just her basketball skills, but what an amazing young woman she is.

The competition was stiff with the first 3 girls making 19, 17 and 13 out of 25 shots, respectively. Grace was nervous. I was nervous. The friends that came to show their support were nervous. She pulled herself together, focused her attention, found her groove and made 9. Although it wasn’t enough to move her on to the State Competition, it was her own personal best. And really that’s all you can ask for.

I’m so proud of her. My heart swells just thinking about her. She has come so far from and matured so much. The last few years have been hard on all of us. But the greatest reward to any struggle is finding happiness.

And that we have.