Tuesday, February 15, 2011

random us

A certain daughter of mine has a tendency to be a bit right-brained. As in 99.8%. I'm not completely sure, but I'm thinking she got a leeeetle bit of that from me. Anyway, this translates into a few challenges at school. For instance, remembering to follow through on assignments (or even remembering that an assignment was made) is sometimes difficult.

"What report??"

Another thing that gets lost in translation are notes. In fact, just a few weeks ago Emmy came home from kindergarten and announced that the afore-mentioned sister had gone on a field trip that day. Hmmmmm. . . Really? I had no idea what she was talking about, which worried me. I hadn't sent a lunch, and had never signed a note. There was nothing to do but wait and see how it had all played out.

Turns out, it never played out at all. As in said daughter had to sit in an empty classroom (except for a teacher and a few other boys) doing homework while her class went on a little outing. No note= no field trip. When asked about her day, she admitted that she had first felt kind of bad, but then got over it after everyone said it was "so boring" anyway.

I felt like mother of the year.

Later, I spoke with the teacher who told me that she could have called me, but felt like it would be a good lesson. I agree, except I'm never sure if it will be a lesson learned. Lessons happen often, learning is another story! We'll see. The funny thing about this whole episode is that the girls have a job chart which lists their tasks to be done each night.  To be perfectly honest, we usually only get around to using the list about twice a week (if we're lucky).  However, this particular week I had tried to bribe the girls by telling them that I would take them swimming on Saturday if they could get everything on their lists done, every day.  Well.  It was working like a charm, or so I thought.  One of their tasks is to give Mom or Dad all the papers/notes from their backpacks.  Interestingly enough, when I checked the job chart, this little deed had been "done" every night!  That's why I found the stack of twenty + notes! (no, I'm not kidding!) in her backpack a little alarming.  Turns out, we'd missed more than a field trip.  Little sisters backpack looked suspiciously similar- little stinkers.  (Needless to say, we didn't go swimming.)

Anyway, all that evening daughter relayed to me snippets of the many conversations she had while supposedly "working on her homework" in her little detention setting. When she is in the right mood, this gal is a waking stream of consciousness, and I could tell what had happened that day. I'm pretty sure everyone was treated to her running commentary on life (which can actually be quite charming, if I must say so myself). She went on and on.  Then, in the midst of her conversation,she told me how at some point one of the boys had looked at her and said, "You are kind of random".

Of course, she then immediately asked me, "Mom, am I random?"

I smiled as I told her something like this, "I think you are fun and creative in a random, unique way that makes people like you."

She laughed a little bit as she retorted, "Ummmm. . .Yeah.  I don't know if he meant it in a good sort of way."

I've thought about that conversation so many times in the past week. If she is random, I like random a lot.

I received an email from the same teacher today, stating that daughter is missing lots of math assignments and she'd be sending it home with her today. (This teacher is awesome at helping me stay in the loop). When I saw the list of about ten assignments, I put her to work.  You can bet that's what daughter has been doing all. night. long.

However, right now I'm choosing to look at the bright side. Last year, it was twenty assignments.  Last year, there were tears. This year, she knew what she needed to do, and she's been hard at work (as hard as a 99.8% right brained person can be with a stack of math assignments) most of the night without hardly a complaint.

Things are looking up.

And the brightest part of all? When I checked her list to see what she'd gotten done, I saw some words written at the bottom of the page that made me laugh. I know her well enough to know that it was written in a moment of distraction after she had focused for as long as she could possibly muster.  (As a side note, this girl is a master at the art of doodling.)  This is what she had written:

Teacher: "What's the definition of infinity?"

Johnny: "Tonight's homework assignment."

I love this girl.  While extremely dramatic in some situations, she has a charming (if sometimes a little frustrating) knack at refusing to take some parts of life seriously.  That is really good for a mom who sometimes takes everything too seriously. 

I often come face to face with my shortcomings as a mother and household manager. I have never, ever, ever mastered the skill of a carefully crafted after-school routine. I have tried, oh!  I have tried!  It is just so hard for me to stick with a routine anyway, and then extra, super-duper hard when I see the kids come home tired and ready to be kids.  I guess I'm an old fashioned believer in the "kids should be kids" philosophy.  Alas, we are not 100% homeworkers. We read everyday for enjoyment, but rarely record it in our "reading folders". And at piano?  We show the poorest practice record every week.  Every week!

But. I think my kids will rise above me. I'm confident that they will succeed in life despite my negligence with their reading folder. I'm banking on them being kind, thoughtful, and honest. Fulbright scholars and concert pianists? Well, I hate to be a dream killer, but. . .

On paper, our bunch is perfectly capable at being exceptionally mediocre.

A few weeks ago, I told Courtney (perhaps in a fit of exasperation) that I felt like I was supposed to be raising robots. Wake up everyday, on time! Clean rooms, teeth brushed, healthy breakfast delivered into their eager little tummies. Homework done, notes signed, folders checked, instruments perfected. They should excel in athletics, joyfully finish their homework (without being asked!). . .the list goes on and on.  Once they enter kindergarten, any good, self-respecting mother feels as though she should have her kids proficient at checking off lists, lists, lists. 

I've never been good at being a robot. (It's that darn right-brainedness, I suppose).

So. Life will go on and so will we. Undoubtedly, there will be more notes I will not see. Homework that will never be finished. Piano practicing that will never see the light of day. Untidy rooms, somewhat unhealthy after school meals, and a generally messy home.

Maybe it's an excuse (I've always been good at those), but it's a mode of survival.  In order to maintain my sanity, I've had to give up caring so much. I've lowered the bar.

I don't worry so much about the one hundred percents. I just want my girls to laugh everyday. To do something creative. Say a kind word, and notice someone who needs a bit of cheering up.  Listen to the song of a bird and feel the sunshine on their faces.  I want them to learn for the fun of learning, and read for the sheer joy of a good book. 

Am I selling us all short if I admit that I'm not terribly worried about my children being super accomplished and highly efficient?  After all, there is only so much time in a day, and I'm afraid efficiency isn't really our cup of tea.

I guess we're all working too hard at being random.

i laughed today

Sometimes my kids are really funny.  I love when I'm going about the routine of a normal day and one of them does some quirky little thing that makes me laugh.  This made me laugh today.

When I saw these little sticky notes hanging on the outside of Kate's door, I laughed right out loud.  Some people hang out a welcome mat.  Never ones to be conventional, we hang out an "unwelcome" mat.  I'm just letting you know- you gotta tread lightly around these parts.  And should you dare invite yourself beyond the unwelcome greeting, don't forget to wait 'til she sees fit to greet you. 

Oh, and you may want to make yourself comfortable (or is that uncomfortable).  This is Kate, and she tends to work on her own timetable. No fuss, no muss.

But don't worry, she'll get to you.

When she's darn good and ready, that is.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"the best valentines day ever"

Happy Heart Day!

Last night we held our little family Valentine dinner.  Candles, rose petals, and pretty decorations make the girls happy.  Happy girls make me happy.  Happy me makes Courtney happy.

So you see?  Happy family!

Thanks to daddy, we ate the most scrump-deliumptious dinner.  Steak, potatoes, rolls, asparagus. . .he went all out (I've been a little under the weather).  I managed to overcook a cake for the occasion, so I guess I wasn't completely worthless. 

Anyway, it was a hit.  All the girls were so happy, and Kate kept looking at us with the sweetest little face and gushing, "I feel so special".  There's just some things money can't buy.  

After dinner, we played a little Valentine game.  The girls had to each find four of the pink hearts that were scattered all over the house.  Each had a number, so after everyone found all of their hearts (mom and dad had to find one too), everyone had to work together to put them in order.  Once the hearts were all counted, the girls found that one was missing.  After looking all over the house, they all laughed when someone spied the missing heart, safely taped to Daddy's behind!

Now that everything was in order, it was time to read the poem written on the back of the hearts.  We each took turns reading one heart aloud. . .

Roses are red, violets are blue
We're here to tell you a Valentine story
of a love that's so true (you might call it a fairy tale!)

Once upon a time in a kingdom not very far away,
A young boy and girl met and were soon friends to stay.

The young lady thought that boy was quite cute, and better yet?  He was nice to boot!
The boy fell in love with the girl and her smile. . .
before long all could see this pair would last quite a while!

Quite a while is right!  The years quickly passed. . .
through high school, then college, this friendship was meant to last!

For two whole years, while he was off on a mission
They wrote letters each week.  (Wow!  Two years without kissin!)

She went to school to learn all that she could,
She met lots of friends, but not one boy as good.

As soon as they were home you can bet it wasn't long
before he gave her a ring and her heart sang a song!  "Yes," she said!

It was April 3rd, 1998, a day filled with family and fun.
But the best part of all?  This forever family had begun!

Now they were married the two were happy as can be,
 and soon it would get even better!  The family was growing to three!

Ryenne Ashleigh arrived, Mom and Dad fell in love.
Their own little girl sent from heaven above!

Soon three became four when baby Kate melted their hearts.
She was the sweetest little baby- they loved her right from the start.

The four settled in, they thought life was great!
Then surprise!  Along came Miss Emmy- (she just couldn't wait!)

Wow!  Three little girls was so busy and fun-
It was quite a few years before they'd have another one!

After four years of waiting, it was girl number four!
Miss Claire's so full of life- what did we ever do before?

Now Claire's getting bigger, I'll bet you can guess-
Next Valentines Day will be even better than the rest!

For this coming August our family will be growing.
A boy?  A girl?  There's no way of knowing!

Whatever Heaven sends us- we know one thing for sure.
Our family's love is forever- and it grows bigger every year!

Happy Valentines Day girls!
We love you forever and always!

So. there you have it!  Baby number five is officially on its way, set to arrive the middle of August (which makes our 5th August birthday. . . whew!)  We are thrilled with the news, although I can't help but laugh when I see the look on Courtney's face in this last picture!  I think it fits how we both feel- excitement mixed in with a little bit of "oh my heck!"

The girls were beyond excited about the news, and are still telling us "This is the best Valentines Day ever!"   

So happy. . . so in love!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

island park number two

Instead of exchanging gifts for Christmas this year, my family decided to continue the tradition Grandma and Bop started last year- a winter family reunion in Island Park.  Amazingly enough, they found a cabin that sleeps our entire family!  Complete with a hot tub, a game room, and triple decker bunk beds for the kids- it's a perfect place for our bunch to spend a few winter days. 

This year was great for relaxing.  With the kids entertained by their cousins, we adults pretty much spent the three days vegged out on the couch.  In fact, I'm not sure I moved the entire weekend.  Quite a feat, eh?  We were so relaxed, in fact, that each time we saw the kids running by on the deck in their swimming suits, the most we could muster up is reaching for our cameras to snap a picture.  We're really good parents like that.

There was quite a bit of card playing had by all, with SCUM being the game of the hour.  Even Miss Daisy and Claire had themselves some fun. 

There were crafts by Aunt Andrea, of course.

And some funny one-minute-games. . .

 . . .cousins to play with. . .and plenty of snow to play in!

Until next year, Island Park.  We can't wait to see you again!

island park number one

Thanks to the hospitality of our good friends, the Hurd family, a favorite New Year tradition is going to Island Park.  A few days before the big day, we loaded up some happy but tired girls and headed north. 

The girls love going to Island Park to celebrate the New Years.  And I have to say, I can't blame them.  After all, what is there not to love?  A gazillion girls to play with, a beautiful cabin to play in, and all the snow a kid could want!  The girls (and me, I'll admit) stay in their pj's all day long, throwing on their snow clothes over their jammies when it's time to go outside. 

 And when they come back in?  Snacks and hot chocolate all around.  I tell you- it just doesn't get better!

 As you can see, there is no shortage of girls.  Our four girls, plus three Hurd girls (poor Aiden doesn't stand a chance), and the three Bingham girls (although we missed Emily this year) make for a lot of girl power!  The funniest thing happened when we went to church on Sunday  morning.  Courtney and I headed into the cultural hall first, followed by all nine girls.  I don't know where the other parents were, but Courtney and I had to laugh as we saw a congregation full of heads bobbing as they counted all of "our" children.  I heard one boy tell his mom, "Mom!  That's a lot of girls!"

Now, lest this next picture arouse any suspicions, I have to explain that the boys are celebrating the New Year with sparkling APPLE cider!  With the whole crew of us having gone to high school together, you can bet there are a lot of stories from the "good ol' days".  Us old folks even made it up past midnight this year.  Barely, but we made it.

What a fun weekend!  Thanks to the Hurd family for letting us celebrate New Years in style!