Halloween Festivities 2012

Ah, it’s November 1, and Halloween is FINALLY over.  I know, it’s one precious day, but for my kids, Halloween is pretty exciting.  It’s such an event that they start tossing around their ideas in July.  Sometimes, they even try to get us to buy their costumes in July, like we would ever actually do that!  Anyway, the holiday is over, and Ana says each year, “This is the best Halloween ever.”  It sure was.

For some reason Mario and Luigi are the favorite toys this fall, so naturally that is what they wanted to be for Halloween.  For a change, they wanted a theme, and man, it was cute.  I do hope this the ONLY time my daughter has a moustache, but that is neither here nor there.

Our first event this season was downtown trick or treating last Thursday night.  We had a wonderful time, despite it being the COLDEST October afternoon.  We met some friends downtown and stayed as a group, well, at least when Mario and Luigi weren’t ditching us we were a group.  The best thing about it was the kids were so ready to be done in less than hour, so we made out.

The Fall Festival at their school last Friday night was the second Halloween event this year.  Games with only the best Oriental Trading prizes, decorate your own cookie station, and of course, hot dogs for sale.  What else could a kid want?  This year, Papa spent the night that night, so he came with us to the festival.  It was really special since we don’t see Papa nearly enough, and the kids loved showing him their school.

Finally, last night: Halloween.  The night of the big event was finally here.  My kids came home from school, ignored their candy buckets, and promptly did their homework, for AN HOUR.  I stared at them in disbelief, but totally took advantage of their determination to be good.  Between dinner, and waiting for Scott to get off of work, we didn’t get out until around 7, which is late for us.  It was so cute watching the kids run up to the houses, get so excited about their bounty, and run back to us.  Of course, we figured out that there are a MILLION Halloween social rules, which as needed, we discussed EACH AND EVERYONE.  Trick or treating is hard work.

My heart stopped for a minute, when one little old lady answered her door with a HUGE book, that looked like a Bible.  I actually thought she was going to read them scripture as their treat, and was pretty scared until she opened the book, and handed each of the kids a small piece of candy.  Whew!  (Don’t get me wrong, I love the scriptures, I am not a fan of strangers sharing them with my kids.)  Only in the Midwest could that be an actual occurrence   Scott laughed me for a few blocks for that paranoia.

We live in a neighborhood with few treat givers, and few kids.  Needless to say, those that do hand out treats hand out a TON to each kid.  After about 5 blocks, and less than 20 houses, Ana declared that her bucket was too heavy and she was ready to go home.  We tried to bribe her with M&Ms, but she REALLY was done.  McCartney, who was loving the gathering part of the night, was NOT ready to go home.  Naturally, we split up.  Girls headed for home and the boys kept on trucking.

As soon as we arrived at home, Ana ripped off her costume, dumped out her bucket and started enjoying her bounty.  Minutes later the boys walked in, and my son emptied his bucket on top of Ana’s and dug in.  After about 15 minutes of chowing down, the McCartney said, “Well, Ana, it’s time we pick out our 5 pieces and put the rest in a bag to give away.”  (Which is something we had them do when they were younger, and we still do it occasionally, but we were not going to make them do it ON Halloween.)

“Ok.  Sounds good,” Ana replied.

Scott and I stared at them in disbelief.  ARE THESE OUR KIDS?  They LOVE everything sugar related, and we RARELY give it to them, and they have ACCEPTED the fact that while it is fun to have, there also comes a time when you need to be done.  They put their “Magic 5” back in their buckets, and asked us to please put them on top of the fridge, where they have been undisturbed since.  The rest of the candy they bagged up, and are excited for Scott to take it to work on Saturday.  Scott and I say, “Good riddance.”

Earlier Wednesday night, my son said, “Candy is my favorite part of Halloween.”

“I know you think it is, but it really isn’t your favorite part,” I told him.

He stared at me like I was crazy, however, he proved my point.  He might love the candy, but obviously collecting it is way more fun than actually eating it!

How was your Halloween?  What did you do?

We don’t need Pinterest, We need Memories

I use Pinterest, but I don’t love it. I think it’s a great place for recipes, and ideas, but honestly, I bet I don’t ever make any of those homemade presents I pin. And if I did, they would be so horrible, I couldn’t actually give them away without saying that Ana made them. Half the time, I avoid it because face it, you all pin flour laden, sugar filled desserts, which I can’t eat ever again. Anyway, enough about my opinion about Pinterest, I know so many people love it, and I am not bashing something I use. Secretly I am jealous of those of you who live in the Pinterest reality. 

The other day, Ana made a tissue ghost out of a sucker at a fall festival. Saturday, Ana sighed, “Maybe someday I can make another ghost.”

Suddenly, I was transported to Halloween decoration-making memories from my youth. I remember sitting at our kitchen table, stuffing tissues to make ghost heads, lovingly making scary faces on each decoration. My mom showed me how to make them, and she says, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Before Pinterest, despite her non-creative mind, my mom taught me how to make ghosts.

“Ana, we don’t need suckers to make ghosts, all we need are tissues and string. We have those. Do you want to make some?”

“Uh huh.” We spent time making the ghosts together, just the two of us. It was so fun, we decided to make more crafts another day. I was tempted to go on Pinterest for ideas, but instead I went back to my memories. I remembered making witches in school, jack o’lanterns, and bats. I am sure there are a million better, more elaborate ideas on Pinterest, but why do those when the fun is I the creating, not the copying?

Today, we continued our craft time, my daughter had NO interest in my craft ideas. She spent the past few days coming up with her own ideas. I am so glad that I didn’t waste time pinning, and buying supplies for a craft my daughter didn’t actually want to do. She wanted art time with me, and I don’t need Pinterest to give her that. Our ideas might not “pinnable” special, but they are ours, and that is what makes them special to me.

Ups and Downs

I am tired.  I am really tired.  Not just the “I said yes too many times tired”, or “the list is too long tired”, or “the when will I ever get caught up tired”; but the my daughter kept waking me up every 15 minutes since 2:30am tired.  Combine all of those states of tiredness, and you have my mindset today.  I am trying to stay calm and happy, and just get through it, but grumpiness took over this morning.

After saying good-bye to my dad (I miss him so much!), getting Scott to work, and running to the store for the necessities for today, I started cleaning.  I admit, when I clean, I get grumpy.  I curse the family and their dirty ways.  I curse the pee all over the bathroom floor AGAIN (Am I the ONLY one who sees it?).  I silent curse everything.  Then I curse myself for being ungrateful for a house of joy and happiness.  I curse myself for being grumpy because I am busy because God is blessing me with work, passion, and opportunities.  I should have turned on music, because when I clean with music, no one gets cursed.

Anyway, as I was scrubbing, the dumbest thing happened.  My cell phone fell out of my pocket and landed on my toes.  For some reason it HURT, I mean HURT, and now, hours later, it STILL HURTS.  Seriously, a CELL PHONE.  How?  Anyway, I cried out in pain because it hurt so bad.  However, my kids didn’t come to see if I was OK.  From another room, I hear, “Mom, what happened?”  However, finding out if I was OK, was not as important as the book he was reading.

Really?  I haven’t taught my kids to drop everything when they hear a scream???  Is that something that is taught?  Are my kids becoming good people???  Feeling like a terrible mom, and so alone, I finish the housework and move on to the next item on my list.

My son, comes to me with his money.  He wants to earn more today.  “I will clean the bathroom, fold the towels, and wipe down the toilet for you,”  he offered.

“Well, I already cleaned the bathroom and toilet today, so you can’t do those things.  However, I am sure we will find some chores for you to do this weekend,” I offered.

“Oh, OK.”  He left the room.

A few minutes later, he returns with a dollar.  “Here, this is for you,” he said.

“Why?  Keep your money.”

“Well, you cleaned the bathroom, so someone should give you money.  Thank you.”

That one tiny gesture was bigger to me than pee on the floor, ignored cries, and all of the other failings I feel each day as a mom.  I am not perfect, and I am not doing this mothering thing well most of the time, however, every once in a great while I get a sign that maybe, just maybe I am doing something right.

Tough Parenting Moments

Monday, after school, in a fit of frustration, my son declared, “I am sick of Fremont and Clarmar.  Why can’t I be anyone’s best friend?”

I paused, knowing he can be sensitive, knowing that he had a bad day/week/month, knowing that maybe it will be better tomorrow.  “What happened?”

“Well, sometimes it feels like the kids are mean.  They don’t really want to play with me.  They don’t want me on their team.”

“Why don’t they want you on your team?  Do you think you can relax about rules on the playground?  Can’t you let some rules slide, and it be OK?”  I asked him.  I know he can be hard to get along with.  I understand that playground rules are different from real life rules.  I know the kids have forgotten that he struggles with this, and it makes sense since they are 7.

“I try.  I try to be nice.  I try to change and act like them.  I try to treat them the way they want to be treated, but no one really likes me.”

In that moment, I pause, I want to cry.  I am sad and I am feeling like a terrible mom.  We are constantly helping our son change.  We are teaching him social skills and trying to help him understand how others think.  He works on it daily.  He tries.  Even when he doesn’t ‘get it’ he still tries.  I know kids get frustrated with him at times, and he knows it too.  He is trying and trying.

The thing I feel bad about: When do others have to change?  Why should he go through life wanting and trying to be different to act like someone else?  If we want him to feel good about being a person with Asperger’s, then we have to accept him, quirks and all.  Kids have to accept him, and others do too.  It shouldn’t be a one way road for this 7-year-old.

After my flood of thoughts and pause, I said, “Well if you are treating others the way you want to be treated, then that is all you can do.  You can’t control others and how they treat you, but you can control yourself and how you treat others.  If kids at your school can’t see that, and accept you for WHO YOU ARE, then they are not worth it.  You are a nice boy, who is trying very hard.”

“I wish that was easy,” he sighed.

“Me too, I wish it would get easier, but that is life, Buddy.  It’s just a stinky part of life.”

Upon hearing the word stinky, he smiled and laughed.  Toilet humor took over and our conversation was paused.  However, I can’t stop thinking about it.

I pray that I can successfully guide these two kids through life.  I pray they know they are loved and accepted just the way God made them, without letting their little quirks be excuses.  No one ever said that raising kids was easy, and unfortunately, I don’t think the lessons will get any easier.

Our Reset

Earlier today, my mom sent me a text picture of Ana laying in the leaves.  First I smiled and then I cried.  Yes, I cried over a beautiful picture of my daughter.  I cried because I miss her.  I miss my son.  I don’t know when I spent quality time with them last.  I see them everyday in between school, chores, homework, and activities.  Our conversations are quickly about school and our days, then they move to cleaning up messes, getting ready for the next thing, eating, and their chores.  I have missed my son’s flag football games, and he only made it to 4 out of 6.  We don’t miss sports, we commit.  However, our commitments are lacking this fall.

Somehow, we became the family we never wanted to be.  We are busy, and not the productive kind either.  It starts with one yes, then another, and another…. before you know it, you are scheduling things on top of other things, and letting someone down.  UGH!  I am about to scream….instead I cry.  I cry because where is our pause?  Where did fall go?  Our treeless yard is full of beautiful colored leaves, but where is our leaf pile?  Where are the memories of sitting in a pile of leaves and throwing them in the air?  Where are the squeals and the laughter?  Where are our visits to the pumpkin patch or apple picking?  Where did we go?

Starting on Monday, our family schedule is being reset.  We will go trick or treating together, we will enjoy Halloween.  In November, there will be cuddles on the couch, piles of leaves, laughter and time together.  We, as a family, are pulling out of all extra curricular activities  with very few exceptions.

In November, I am giving my family the gift of time.  I am giving them my 100%.  I will be present and happy.  I promise this to them.  Life is too short to waste it being over-scheduled and busy.  It’s time to pause, to laugh, to enjoy each other. That is what our life is all about.

I will not forfeit another season.  It is time to say No.

Kids Give me Hope

I am so tired of campaigns, negativity on TV, news, and in social media.  It’s enough to make one crazy enough woman scream.  So, lately, the tv is off, Facebook is ignored, and life continues on.  I could sit back and think about the issues.  I could go on and on about how people’s view of education is wrong.  I could stand on a soapbox about many topics, but I won’t, at least not today. 🙂

Instead, I choose to focus on the little notes I have found lying around the house.  Ok, I finally picked them up off the middle of the floor after they had been there for too many days.  (Oh, the working mom’s house is back, and probably not going anywhere.)  I don’t know when they made them, but they did it all on their own.  These notes, give me hope, and make me smile.

Our country and world will be fine.  Education will be fine.  Our futures are bright.  Those are the lessons that working with children teach me everyday.

“I wish that there will always be freedom.” – McCartney

I can’t find the note that says, “I hope McCartney will always be my brother.” -Ana

“We all live in a yellow submarine.” -Ana 😉

“For Mrs. Beck, I like the Beatles. Paul, George and Ringo” -Ana

 

 

 

 

 

Moment of Triumph

The other day, after work and a photo session, the kids and I had to wait for Scott at the park.  It has been extremely busy lately, and I am afraid that I have missed fall.  As we waited, I pushed aside my long to do list that was burning in the back of brain, and was present with my kids.   I am going to miss the next few years of their lives, if I am not careful.

The day was perfect.  The air was thin, but not too cool.  The leaves were bright, with some trickling off the trees, one by one.  I could have stayed at that park, with my kids for hours.  Being lazy, I sat down on a swing and started to move.  The next thing I knew, my son joined me, and he soared through the air.  Swinging has been one of his favorite activities since he birth.

Ana also hopped into the fun.  She has never had the desire to actually learn how to pump and keep herself going.  I have tried “tough love.”  You know, I say, “I will give you one push, and then you have to keep going.”  Well, being the charmer she is, she manages to compensate for my meanness, and always finds another kid, including her brother, to push her.  If she can’t con someone into helping her, she usually jumps off the swing and skips to another activity.  On this day, for some reason, I really wanted to swing.  I mean, I really wanted to put my desire to swing over her desire to join us.  However, I did give her the one push that my mean momma self gives her at the park.

At one point, I looked over at Ana and noticed that she was attempting to pump.  Her body swayed back and forth, her legs went forward and back, forward and back, forward and back…

“Mommy, I am moving by myself!  I am swinging all by myself!  I can do it!!!”  she exclaimed in her high-pitched-over-the-top excited voice.  She was moving ever so slightly, but moving all the same.  She didn’t give up and kept gaining speed, little by little.  Baby steps, but successful.

“Look at you go, Ana! I love how you are working so hard on moving your legs and your body!  Yay!”  I let out a huge sigh of relief, my little big girl was going to learn to swing by herself sooner than later.  YAY!

Magic happens in these little moments and I cherish them all.