Shoes and Yelling

I am by nature a yeller.  I grew up in a family that yelled.  I learned to yell, even to relish yelling.

Then I married Buds.  Not a yeller.  Doesn’t have the genes, nor the constitution to be a yeller.  He grew up with Family Meetings.

My childhood “Family Meetings” were called “Dinner” and there was always yelling and things might get thrown…like a fork.

So, since Buddie’s comfort was much more important than my need to yell, I finally learned to work through my anger in a different way.  The way sometimes involved my slamming out of our house and walking around the block feeling irate and almost blind with rage.  Very difficult for Buds to understand.

I worked through it by the time we had children, but after the children were older, I realized that I still had the propensity to yell, though not the desire.  It generally came about when I was feeling ignored or tired or under pressure to rush.  I abhor being late, and that rushing feeling doesn’t bring out the best in me.

I realized that one of the main times I was yelling, feeling rushed, and ignored (The Perfect Storm), was when we were leaving the house.

Everyone’s shoes were tossed into the coat closet in a mad jumble.  Somehow the shoes we always wore would wiggle their way to the bottom of the closet every single time they were tossed in there after being worn.  Every single time.

I finally realized the problem wasn’t with the children, nor with me.  It was the  shoes.  The shoes were out to get us.  The shoes were out to destroy my peace of mind.  It was an institutional problem, not user error.

So, I changed the system.  I started by having a bin that was just the shoes we wore most frequently.  That helped, but it was still a massive jumble, and the bin was stuck in a corner, and frequently one of the children would bump against the corner of piano, and that hurt…Better, but not the best.

A week ago, we implemented a new system.  After rearranging the living room, we found extra space for a wooden shoe rack.  Now, each person has as many shoes out as can fit on the rack.  This means Zachy has 1 pair, Noa has 5.

And today, as soon as he had taken off his shoes, The Buster carried them right over to the rack.  That’s a victory.

Plus, I haven’t had anyone say “Mom, I can’t find my shoes,” for a week!  That was worth vacuuming under the couch for.

Lego Wonders

The Buster had his second week of Lego Club, and he is still loving it.  Ms. Lisa led the boys in a rather circuitous route to deciding what they wanted their main focus to be for their Biomedical Engineering Project.  They decided on Health Assessment.  So, they will work together to create a lego creation on an 18″ square lego base that has at least 1 moving part, and has a connection to health assessment.

Lisa really did a masterful job in helping each boy express any ideas he had about what the team could work on, and then voting for their final preference, while making sure all the boys felt listened to and valued.  Ms. Jennifer, the other coach, and I were very, very impressed.

It will be exciting to see what the boys come up with, and, needless to say, Lego creating in our home has moved to the next level.  Mega Boys are more elaborate and larger than ever, and Legoville has seen some perilous times of late, but always manages to come through.

The girls love Lego Club because they get to hang out with the siblings of the Lego members.

The Brain Trust

Buster explaining his vision.

Soccer Stars

The big kids have been enjoying their weekly soccer outings with friends.  Buds and Sir Thy always make it fun for all the children, and they are the perfect combination as coaches.  Thy comes up with the plan, and thinks about the goals for the kids, as well as being fun and enjoying the time with the children.  Buds is there to have fun and be goofy and think up creative games on the spot.  It works really well.  And the moms and Sir Sean consider it a huge success because we get to hang out and visit and watch Rafferty and Noa be goofy.

Sitting on soccer balls and visiting seems to be the kids’ favorite part.

Notice Yessa’s self-tattooing in this picture.

Again with the ball sitting.

Zachy’s feelings got hurt because he couldn’t seem to score a goal, so some sister support was necessary.

Zoe’s seems to have acquired her father’s goalie genes.

The hottest day in a week, and Yessa decided to wear three layers of clothing.  If you look closely, you can see her yellowing black eye, acquired from being knocked into the wooden bench by Chip’s tail.

Good fun, good running, and good friends.

Nightly Conversations

Under the heading of “Things I Never Want To Forget,” comes the nightly conversations with The Buster and Yessa.

Every single night for the last many, many months, Yessa asks the following questions as I am laying in bed with her, rocking her sleep:

“Mommy, what if I am firsty or hungry or have to go poop or pee in the middle of the night?”

and

“Mommy, will you stay awake?”  (She wants me to stay awake as she is falling asleep.)

and, not all the time, but frequently, she also asks,

“Mom, are your toes still purple?”  (I have purple toe nails in honor of Yessa and her favorite color.)

and The Buster has the following hug litany:

“Mom, this hug is because I love you.”

“This hug is because God loves you.”

“And this hug is for a good night.”

All of that brings such a smile, and a reminder that children love traditions and consistency as much as adults.

The Joy of Fall

With the fearless cousins in tow, we headed out to a nearly organic orchard about 45 minutes away.  It was a perfect day to be out, climbing trees, slipping over rolling apples, crunching a freshly picked apple that you had just plucked off a tree.

The Monkey loved the chance to shinny up trees like the climber that she is.  The Buster and Cousin O had a great time running from row to row, randomly picking apples that looked red and ready.  Yessa and Cousin M hung out with Uncle Z and me, randomly picking apples, eating apples, and looking around in that way unique to young ones.

Yessa has been sporting the pajama look lately.

Uncle Z helps Yessa find the perfect apple.

And he tries to help Monkey reach apples just a lllliiiiittttlllleee higher up.

We ended with a picnic in the open air.  You can’t quite see it in the picture, but Uncle Z removed the table’s centerpiece for our meal.  An animal skull of some unknown species had been the table decoration when we sat down.  Mmmmm.  Yummy.

After sharing yogurt, watermelon, pears, and cat cookies, we headed home, full of sun, and dreams of applesauce. A morning well spent.

An Opportunity

It used to be that a broken toy was seen as a tragedy.  There would be crying, accusations, anger, and sorrow.  That is still sometimes the case, but, just as frequently now–at least if the toy or item is electronic, it’s an opportunity!

All three children received free pedometers in the mail from Subway yesterday, and The Buster’s had soon been squished by someone accidentally.  He brought the 4 little orange and metal pieces up to show me, and we realized the front of the pedometer was still working.  It still showed numbers on the front.  Then we were so intrigued to try and figure out how it worked.  We spent 20 0r 30 minutes testing out all sorts of different theories and looking in the back of the other pedometers to try and see how they count steps.  It was fascinating.

And the look on Buster’s face when he realized we had figured out how to make a “broken” pedometer count…that was priceless.

A Perfect Morning…

We’ve decided to make one day a week our Museum Day, and we started today.  We drove into downtown Herndon and parked at the Municipal Lot where we could be close to everything we wanted.

Our first stop was the Herndon Depot Museum, and it was much bigger and even more interesting than I had hoped.  We stomped around in there for 45 minutes or so, reading displays, talking about what we found interesting, looking at a paper mache statue of the Captain Herndon that Herndon is named for.  (He went down with the ship.)  The very nice woman working there had a treasure basket for the children to troll through so I could peruse the brochures on hand to have options for other Museum Days.

Then the kids voted to have scooter time next, so we unloaded Bike, Scooter, and Plasma, from the “5” and headed off down the W and OD Trail.  It was a perfect temperature, lots of sun, and the kids just zoomed along.  It wasn’t too busy, which was great for my piece of mind.  When Yessa reached her limit and I ended up carrying the plasma, we turned around.  Dropped the scooters off at the “5,” and headed for the library after a walk through the Herndon Farmers Market.  It isn’t nearly as large as the Lake Anne FM on Saturdays, but much less busy.  It was fun for me to watch Zoe interact with a gentleman from a bread company while I watched the two little ones climb around on the caboose that is parked in downtown Herndon.  She looked so adult-like as she visited with him.  She came back over to us to tell us how delicious the pumpkin bread sample was that he gave her, and we headed over to purchase a loaf of pumpkin bread.  Then a purchase of choco-chip cookies from another baker, and then to The Closet.

A very nice woman, whom I suspect is homeless, based upon her shopping cart, told us we were headed the right way for the library, but on Thursday mornings The Closet is open, but the library doesn’t open until 1.  We’ve never visited The Closet before so we headed over there.  The Closet is a thrift store sponsored by local churches.  Pretty much a Goodwill Store.  It was quite busy on this Thursday morning.  The children found lots of toys that they bought with their allowance, and it led to a great conversation about buying things at The Closet rather than Target or Amazon and how much money they saved.

I had an interesting interaction when we walked in the front door, which the children didn’t notice.  The woman who held the door for us as we walked in said, “Why aren’t you kids in school?!”  I’m sure she meant it in a fun way, but it came across rather assertively, so I just ignored her.  She followed up with, “Too young?”  which I took to be a further attempt at polite conversation so I replied, “We’re homeschoolers.  This is school.”  She replied, “Well, this is a good place to get an education.”  That was said in a very friendly, positive way, so I nodded and went on my way.  It was just a reminder to me that even though it feels normal and comfortable to go everywhere with  my posse, to other people who aren’t used to seeing older children out and about, it probably will invite comments.  Interesting…

After we purchased out two sack fulls of toys for $13.69 at The Closet, it was time to head home for lunch and play and rest before the big kids’ first soccer practice tonight.  It’s Buddie’s debut as a soccer coach helper with Sir Thy, so we’ll see how that goes.

Fire Masters Begin!

Zachary’s Lego Club began yesterday, led by the wonderful Ms. Lisa.  Five boys from ages 6-8 get together every other week to talk about a creation to further the inventions of Biomedical Engineering.

At this first meeting, Lisa had them introduce themselves and tell about a time they got hurt, and what they did to help that hurt, or what their moms and dads, or a doctor did to help.  (Zachary shared the story of getting hit in the head with a wooden block, which made everyone wince.)  Then, she gave them time to just play with legos.

The Buster created a flying submarine spaceship that hauled a cart behind it on the end of a long string for carrying extra legos.

He was also the person that came up with the team name, “Fire Masters.”  Luckily, his other suggestion, “Brick Prick,” was not the winner.  (In case you don’t know, the building pieces of legos are correctly called “bricks.”)

He said the first meeting was “Ten thumbs up!”

Another Birthday Passes

The Monkey turned 8 this year!  We had time with Luc and Aidan and J and B before they left, and we left, and then we celebrated at Grandma’s House, and then we celebrated with the C-Family, too.  It was a good birthday, and she finally got an American Girl Doll (Target Brand), which she has asked for for a long time.

Notice Baby Alive sitting on Zoe’s lap.  Her gift from Lucia and Crew, which has brought much joy and laughter to the family.  (The kids love to see her tinkle and poo.)

Unwrapping Eva.

Two happy girls.

The girls in their matching t-shirts from Uncle Z, Aunt A, and The Cousins.

Grandma and Grandpa VT sent The Monkey and me to Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as our joint present, and we loved it.

The scary blue cake Monkey picked to share with the C-Family.

Any questions on why I called it scary?!

We made a little pit stop for a tractor ride at The Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant on our way out of Iowa.

Pizza and birthday cake with some of your favorite people in the world.  There is no better way to celebrate a birthday.

We did decide, though, that next year, we’ll return to the State Fair to celebrate her birthday, as we did for several years.  We would take party hats and balloons with us, pass them out to people, and share cake with whomever happened to be sitting near us at the Horse Show we attended in honor of the occasion as well.  It was always wonderful, and she and I have missed it.

A two-year-old Monkey entranced by the horses trotting by.

Good times.  My dad had just had cataract surgery, hence the big bug sunglasses.

It was very fun to hand out party hats to random strangers as we walked by.  And, since it was Iowa, everybody was willing to share our homemade cake with us at the horse show.

Traditions are a good thing.

The Sippy Cup Conundrum

A husband and wife had been married for 65 years.  Their children threw them a lovely anniversary party, with an elaborate meal, a beautiful cake, many, many toasts for their continued happiness and health for many more years.

Late in the evening, after they had returned home, they both needed a snack before they turned in, so the husband offered to make some toast.  His wife, who was tired and rather overwhelmed after their big day, sat at the kitchen table watching him.

The toaster popped, he took the two pieces out, he buttered them, and brought them to the table.  He handed his wife the plate with the well-buttered end piece, and took the well-buttered middle piece for himself.

His wife looked at the two plates and burst into tears.

“After this beautiful day, and people saying all these wonderful things about you and our marriage, we come home, and you still give me the end piece.  After all these years, I still cannot believe you.”

Her husband looked up in the surprise and said, “But…I think the end piece is the best part.  That’s why I gave it to you.”

This story never ceases to bring tears to my eyes, and it also summarizes beautifully how the children and I interact about sippy cups.

I am not a fan of sippy cups.  Even before other people knew to watch for BPA in them, they just felt demeaning to me.  I liked our children to drink out of glasses…truly glass glasses or mugs.  We had sippies when the Buster and Monkey were wee ones, but we haven’t had any for years and years.

So, what happens when we go to my mom’s house, or The C Family or Aunt A and Uncle Z’s?  Our children only want to drink out of sippy cups.  I suppose it is the novelty, but they think sippies are the coolest things ever.

We were walking through Target and the Monkey says longingly, “Mom, could we get some sippy cups?”  It was like she was asking for winter boots because I’d been making her walk to school in January in flip flops.

Like many things, the children’s memories and mine will be interesting to revisit some day.  They will wonder at my seemingly bizarre objection to sippy cups, and I’ll wonder why they don’t remember it as me treating them with respect.

Thanks to this blog, I’ll get the last word.