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?

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.

Magic of Childhood

My children, who talk about dead presidents and God with the frankness of adults, fully believe, with their heart and soul in magic. They believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, fairies, ghosts, witches and wizards.  They believe in the magic of life, the possibilities that anything can be true.

They have faith in God and the goodness of people.  They believe they should serve others, and follow Jesus.  They don’t cry out of worry, because they know that God takes care of them.  Their faith is strong, unbendable, unbreakable.  Have faith, is their simple belief.  Why do we grow out of that?

Yesterday, laying on my bed reading, Ana said, “I hear God’s voice at rest time at school.  I miss talking about Jesus at school.”

“What does God say to you?”  I wanted to know.

“I don’t know, but I hear Him and voices that say ‘Ana’ at night. Maybe it’s angels,” she said.

I love it that my daughter is thinking angels and not monsters. (Of course, she thinks of those too.)

To me, children are the real magic. Anything can happen, there are no limits, if you believe hard enough. They believe hard enough for us, with their whole entire heart.

People have told me, “I don’t know how you find the patience to work with kids.”

My reply, “When you take the time, to see the world of possibilities the way children do, how can you NOT work with kids?”  Working with kids is the chance to feel magic each day.

When you believe in magic, anything can happen, even a simple note from the Tooth Fairy appears.

Childhood is magical and perfect. Us adults have a lot to learn from those little wonders that surround us.

Mommy’s Make-Up

Yesterday morning, in the chaos of getting ready for school, Scott found Ana in the bathroom trying to put on my eye liner.

“No, no, Honey.  Don’t put that on,” Scott said in his gentle, yet firm voice.

Ana burst into tears. “I’m sorry!  I just wanted to be like Mommy!”

“You don’t need make-up, you are so beautiful just the way you are,” I heard Scott say.

I stepped in and quickly washed Ana up.  As a little girl, I remember wanting to play with my mom’s make-up and I know this is a natural stage. “It’s OK, Ana.  Sometime, this weekend, when we aren’t going anywhere.  I will put some make-up on you.  It is fun to play dress up.  Five year olds don’t leave the house with make up on, but it’s OK to play.”

While cleaning up her face, before school, I was transported back in time, to when I would stare at my mom’s tiara from her pageant days.  I remember looking at her in her wedding photos, and pageant folders, thinking that no woman on this Earth could be as beautiful as my mom.  I remember wondering if I would ever be as beautiful as her too.

Later that day, Scott told me that he is worried about her self-image, if she already wants to put on make-up.  “No,” I insisted, “this is a natural thing.  For Ana, make-up is an imitation of Mommy, not a wanting to change anything about her.  It’s ok.  I will play with her soon, so she won’t get into it again.  I did this too.”  While I comforted Scott about the situation, it was a wake up call for me.  More and more I am understanding my importance in her life.

As I watch my little girl, and I am in awe of everything she does.  I love her spirit, her life, her caring about others, and there is nothing about her I would change. I even love her spaciness, although it can be frustrating.  I also find her absolutely beautiful on the outside too.  I love her eyes, and smile, and the glow about her.  She is a person that many love, just for being her.

Of course, looking at how much she imitates me and tries to do the things I do, I know it’s time to keep my promise to God.  Six years ago, before I was pregnant, I watched an episode of Oprah.  The episode was about young girls and their self-esteem, or actually their lack of it.  Of course, the ones who had a terrible self-image, learned it from their moms.  I promised God, in that moment, that I would learn to love myself.  I promised Him that if he blessed me with the baby girl I always wanted, I teach her to love herself, and she would learn it from not just my words, but my actions.

Well, I don’t make promises that I don’t keep, and I admit, I have been working on it, but not really holding up my end of the bargain.

I also remember as a young girl hearing from so many people (and I still do), “You look just like your mom.”  Some people would also say something like, “You both are so beautiful.”  I also remember my mom telling me how special and beautiful I was and then looking at herself in the mirror and frowning, hating what she saw.  When I was a teenager, I remember saying, “Why do you tell me I am beautiful?  I look just like you, everyone says so, yet, you hate how you look. How can you say I am beautiful?”

“You do look like me, Honey, but I do look different than you too.  You are beautiful,” was her reply.  I can tell you now, that while I wanted to believe my mom, I didn’t.   I admit, my love of my body, face, and features has been nonexistent for years.  I don’t blame my mom for my self-esteem, I feel what I feel, and I take full responsibility for it.

However, I understand what the message a mom’s self-hatred can do for a young girl and I don’t want the cycle to continue.  I am really making a commitment to learn to love what I see in the mirror, although it is not perfect.  Most importantly, I am working really hard at accepting compliments, and being comfortable in my skin.  I love Ana so much, that I desperately want to give her the gift of self-love, even if it is hard for me.

I made a promise to God.  He gave me a daughter, and I intend to keep my part of the bargain.  Ana is worth it.

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The Next 5 Saturdays….

Mid August, my son, surprised the heck out of me when he said, “I think I want to play flag football this fall.”

I froze with shock.  “Buddy, are you sure?  I thought you loved baseball.  Do you really want to take 9 month off?  What about going pro?”

“Okay, I will play baseball…” he said.

“No, I mean, do what you want, but I just wanted to make sure you thought it out,” I said feeling like a world-class jerk.  (Yes, I am the same person who complained about the MONTHS and MONTHS of baseball later this summer.  However, if football was the other option, then no thank you.  I love football and it is FUN to watch on Saturdays, but I really don’t want my kid out there getting pushed around and possibly injured.)

“Okay, I want to play football then,” he declared.

“I will sign you up, but are you sure?  I mean, what if they don’t let you play much?  What if the boys aren’t nice?  Are you sure you can handle that?”

At this point, my poor son was staring at me with the face of, “just tell me what to do.”  Poor kid, I felt bad for him, trying to decipher my crazy over a silly 6 week sport.

Finally, I said, “You are seven and this is the perfect time to try new sports, so when you decide that baseball is your sport, at least you tried.” [Ugh!  Seriously, it is painful for me to type how terrible I was that day, but I am an honest blogger, ready to admit my mistakes.  And yes, I SHOULD have just said, “Sure, I will sign you up.” But I am the one who has watched him play the more unorganized sports with mega frustration AND I am the one who has to deal with his frustration the rest of the day.  But that is not what this post is about, so I will move on.]

So, for 6 Saturdays this fall, Ana and I get to watch McCartney play flag football.  Where will Scott be?  Um, at work, so this sport, like all Saturday sports, is totally my responsibility.  Yay! (That is a sarcastic yay! by the way.)

do love watching kids play sports.  I know, I act like I don’t but I really do.  What I don’t like is the getting everyone out of the door, reminding about water bottles, finding parking, lugging the chairs, and all of the standing around, waiting for it happen.  Not to mention the obligation of practices, and trying to remember where everyone belongs on what day.  But if you subtract all of the other factors, I do, in fact, love watching the sport.

The first game, felt really long.  We had to be there early… Why?  I don’t know because it took 30 seconds for my son to put on his team t-shirt.  Plus, game time was over an hour, and we all know, how I hate it when the game keeps going on beyond the allotted time.  Why?  I don’t know… Yes, I am crazy.

Anyway, today was pretty fun.  There was one amazing play in the hour and 15 minute game, and the fabulous play was for the other team.  Although as a viewer, there wasn’t a lot of action, the kids on the field were having a wonderful time, while working on their ever so important flag football skills, and that is what is important.

 

PS New topic: Don’t you LOVE my new watermark? I need to play around with colors, but I am super happy with it!  Amy Hughes from Love Bug designed it!  Yay!  Thank you, Amy!

Putting the Plastic Plates Away

A week or so ago, I noticed that my kids still used plastic plates at dinnertime.  “Hmmm, why do we still use those?  They are both in school.”  As I was reaching up to the top shelf, I suddenly froze, tears entered my lids, and I realized, “I HAVE TWO SCHOOL AGED KIDS!”  My thoughts were racing, my mind was screaming, and I couldn’t believe it.

Yes, the past two years have passed about as fast as a group of snails on their way to bed, but the past 7 years have collectively FLOWN by.  I remembered holding my son for the first time, and thinking, “Our baby is so beautiful, it is our job to populate the Earth.”  On the other hand, where was Ana when I held McCartney?  I can’t even fathom our family without her.  She fits, and belongs, was there a time when she wasn’t with the three of us????

Our lives have moved from diapers, formula, and tantrums, to backpacks, homework, and discussions.  Our milk is disappearing by the gallons, and funny, I don’t have to pour it for them any more.  They get their glass, pour the milk, and put their dish by the sink, without me even knowing they had any.

Every six months, we buy new shoes two sizes larger than the time before.  Their socks are starting to look slightly smaller than mine, instead of tiny.

Ana’s dresses keep getting shorter and shorter, although we keep buying bigger and bigger sizes.  My son measures up to my chest, and he reminds me at least 4 times a week, my time as the second tallest member of our family will soon pass.

Homework, PG movies, sports, community service projects, and PTA meetings are our new reality.

No longer will a band-aid fix the boo-boos and my son questions my facts as truth.  “Show me the book that says that,” he says, instead of, “I believe you.”

The past 7 years are going by like lightning, and if I wait another 7 years to have a moment like this, I will have a teen and a tween.  Oh, my goodness, that thought feels unbearable today.

People told us, that time would pass quickly, and many times, while they cried or we struggled, that felt like a lie. But in that moment, as I reached up high, to place our plastic plates on the shelf, I believed it with my heart and soul.  Each day is a gift, a blessing, a stage to be enjoyed, because they grow too fast, and before you know it, you don’t need the plastic plates any more.

Making Gains – The “First” Soccer Game

Last spring, when Ana begged to play soccer, her first 5 games (out of 6), she was THAT child on the team.  You know which child I am talking about: the one that has fun, her way, no matter what the coach says or does.  The one who is hopping like a rabbit during drills.  The one that kicks the ball and tries to make sure her shoe comes flying off.  The one who laughs and squeals, when no one else is laughing.  The one who purposely falls into the net.  You know the one child on the team who has NO INTEREST in the sport.  After last spring’s fiasco, after a year of watching her behave this way in many sports: t-ball, swimming, gymnastics, we removed Ana from all organized sports until fall.  Even then, we only gave her another chance because she is older, calmer, and begged us to let her try again.

“I promise, I will listen this time.”  I love my girl, but I know her, and I signed her up, but I honestly did not believe her.

At dinner tonight, we, for the millionth time this week, went over the behavior rules in soccer.

“I will listen to my coach.  I will do what he says,” she promised.  I wanted to believe her.  I know she means what she says at the time, but the girl is not competitive and she loves to have fun, her way.

We showed up early, found our field, and waited as a family.  When I wanted to take her picture with my phone, this is the attitude that I got:

Needless to say, I was sure afraid that this fall was destined to be a big, fat repeat of last spring.  (Anissa, if you are reading this, I am guessing you are laughing, because YOU KNOW what I am talking about!)

When her coaches took the field, she walked over, confidently.  (Please notice, I said the girl walked, if you know Ana, you know she doesn’t walk.  She skips, hops, and bounces, but walking just isn’t her thing.)  Scott and I set up chairs, brought our books, and were ready to try not to watch another disaster season.  (Yes, we are those parents.  Judge us if you want, but it is SUPER hard to just watch your child misbehave over and over.  She is our second, and we have witnessed this behavior, many times. We have learned how to cope.)

I looked up during drills and saw Ana standing in line, with her foot on the ball!  I quickly grabbed my camera, hoping that she had turned a new leaf.  When it was her turn to kick the ball into the net, she did it!  Scott, McCartney and I cheered like she scored an actual goal.  You have to understand the train wreck that we watched week after week, last season to understand our reaction.

During the game, my girl, actually ran after the ball.  She even kicked it a few times.  She was in the middle of the 5 year old pig pile, trying to get the ball!  When she wasn’t where the action was, she was running after the action, trying to catch up.  She only came over for a drink, when her coach brought in another player and it was her turn to sit out.  Not once, did she ask to leave the game.

Over on the sidelines, Scott, McCartney and I were cheering so loud.  We kept giving her a thumbs up, and couldn’t praise her efforts enough.  It was going so well.  Of course, the game was probably about 5 minutes too long, because in the last minute, a boy on the other team, hit her head right on her ear.  Our girl, who had been stepped on, kicked, and thrown around the field cried and cried.  She was done with soccer today.  Who could blame her?

On the way home, McCartney said, “Ana, I am so proud of you!”  Despite the tears, still sitting her on cheeks, Ana smiled.

She admitted, “When I grow up, I just want to be a Mommy and a teacher.”

“Oh, Ana, when you play sports, it’s for childhood fun.  You don’t have to have dreams of being a pro.  You can play just for the fun of playing soccer,” I reassured.

“Ok.  Maybe I will play again next week.”

I sure hope so! Tonight’s game was SO FUN to watch (for the first 55 minutes anyway), and we all can’t wait for next week’s game.  I think our little Ana is actually growing up!

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