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?

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.

Be Gone, Double Chin!

Yesterday, Ana hijacked Scott’s iPad and took countless photos of herself in Photobooth.  Upon discovering this, I did what any good mom would do, I jumped in and played around with her.  It was so fun and silly!  We laughed, and I think Ana’s side almost split open a few times.  I almost wet my pants. 🙂  It felt amazing to laugh and laugh with my little girl.

However, that amazing moment isn’t what this blog is about.  As we were fooling around, I noticed something, my double chin is gone.  I mean, that I had to drop my chin way to my neck to even get a semblance of one.  Even in college, when I was at my lightest (which is 20 pounds less than I am now), I had a double chin.  It has been around since I hit puberty, and I completely thought no matter what I looked like, I would always have one.

“You have a round face.  Some of us just have that full look.” Are phrases that I heard years ago when I complained about my double chin.  I stopped whining about it, well because, what’s the point.  My double chin was on my “When I win the lottery I am getting plastic surgery” list.  Well, I am not saying I will never get plastic surgery, but it definitely won’t be to remove my double chin.

I hope you don’t think that I am bragging or anything, well I guess I am kind of bragging….  It’s just that for years and years I gained weight steadily, despite hours and hours of efforts.  I have shed countless tears and hated my reflection period.  I felt like the real me, was lost.  A few short months ago, I feared that I would be overweight, or possibly obese for the rest of my life.  At 33 that is a terrible feeling.  I desperately wanted to be found; to look like the face I wanted to see in the mirror.  I have worked hard for this weight loss. And lately have been taking insane measures to get to my goal size and I can’t wait to get my free t-shirt!  I have given up my vices, and my favorite foods forever.  (Now, I might even have to give up cheese and dairy because my body is not responding well to cow’s milk products any more.) I don’t care, well I do care, but I accept it.

I have given up so much, including my double chin.  Everything is, and continues to be worth it.

(No need to comment, this post is written 100% for me.)

Failure is Underrated

When I grow up and am in charge of the world, or at least when I can get others to listen to my strange ideas,  I want to teach people, especially my kids, how to fail. I think failing is underrated in this day and age, especially from those of us with big dreams, high goals, and almost unrealistic expectations for life.

“What do you mean? Don’t you want to succeed? Don’t you want your kids to be successful?” asked the skeptic.

My answer is simple, “Yes, I want to reach my dreams, I want success, and I want the ultimate happiness that Earth has to offer. I also want my kids to live a happy life, reaching for the sky. However, they will not get there if they don’t fail a few hundred times first. I firmly believe it, and little anyone can say will change my mind. The truly successful people in our world, learned how to make mistakes, and fail many times.

I don’t just want my kids to learn how to deal with failure, but I want them to know the heartbreak of it. I want them to feel those sad feelings of rejection, and cry the tears of disappointment. I will be there when they fall.  I will listen to their tears, anger and disappointment.  That is my job as their mom.  Then I want them to get over it, pick themselves up, and reassess what they could have done better. I want them to make a plan on how improve their past mistakes, and be even better than before.

It sounds cold, but when I look at how my life has improved because of my past failings, I can’t help but hope my kids know how to fail, just so they can succeed.

For years and years, I failed to lose weight no matter what I did. During my weight gaining/not losing process, I learned how to get up in the morning and work out. I learned how to get over the tired feeling, and which workouts I enjoy.  I learned the joy of completing a race, and that I can physically make my body do almost anything. I also learned the key for my body’s nutrition, and that is to get rid of gluten. I believe with my soul, that ten years of failing, is leading me to being healthy for the rest of my life, especially now that I am having weight loss success.  The mindset, “I can always lose this 5 pounds,” is dangerous, and I will never feel that way about weight loss.  I have failed too much, it’s time to succeed.

I failed to get a teaching job this spring/summer. This failure, opened me up to new opportunities. Because I wasn’t teaching, I able to have lunch with a friend. Over lunch, she told me about grad school. With a huge leap of faith, I enrolled in a wonderful program, that will lead me to the right job. Had I gotten a job, I would have ended up where I left off, which is not a good thing. Plus, I have wanted to get my masters for years, and now I am.  I love my schooling and the work that goes with it.  I finding this love of learning is feeding my soul and for the first time in years, I feel like I am moving forward to new and exciting territory.

I have failed at photography. I have always loved taking pictures since I got my first camera in first grade, but I never understood it. Once the digital age hit, I started taking even more pictures. I can’t even begin to count how many digital files I have wasted on a photography mistakes, nor do I can to even count the number of cameras I have gone through the past 7 years. However, now I know, what makes a good picture. I know how to capture the moment, and I know how to make it perfect, or at least represent the moment. Had photography been easy for me, I am sure I would not have learned the science of light. That has made all of the difference in my skills.

I have also made big mistakes out on photography jobs, those mistakes, which I have shed mountains of tears over, taught me how to fix my mistakes. Had I not messed up, my mind would not learn to check my settings, over and over again. I am confident in my skills, now that I have messed up, and learned how to fix it.  My lessons in photography have pushed me to learn more and more.  Now, I feel confident when schedule a photo session, and my heart sings even more when I process and can relive the love of a family again.  It is an amazing job, and I love it.

Yesterday morning, I awoke to an email explaining that I did not get a writing job. I had a moment of disappointment, but my second thought was, “How can I be better? How can I make my dreams come true, despite this unwanted feeling?” I know with my heart and soul that this rejection will lead me to something greater and bigger than I can imagine today. I just need to figure out how to learn, grow, and seek out the next opportunity.

I could go on and on about my failings. Few things in this world have felt easy for me, however, my struggles have led to lots of happiness. My life is better because I have failed time after time again.

So when my kids come home nd talking about how “easy” something was for them, I am slightly sad. I want them to work at a level that is hard, in a place where they might fail. I want them to learn rejection, so they can learn how to deal with it, instead of giving up. I want them to really understand that on the road to making their dreams come true, they might fail, but they will be better people for it.

Really successful people fail before they succeed. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can ask da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Dr. Seuss, Thomas Edison, Oprah…. The list goes on and on. Failure leads to learning, and life lessons lead to success.

Shame on you!

So, only days and days after the really funny moms started a mom shaming campaign, I finally was inspired to join. (Click here for the other shaming posters). Basically, a bunch of blogging moms from our atomic reach tribe, Blogging While Mom, are admitting our sins and shaming ourselves for the whole world to see.  I am sure it was inspired by this dad’s story and the public out cry because of it.  I see it as funny, and I understand that others don’t, but whatever.

Anyway, this week, after thinking really hard, I started feeling like, “Whoa, my mom sins aren’t that bad.”  Or “I don’t lie to my kids, yay me!”  I was just about to give myself a nonexistent You are an Awesome Mom award when this happened:

After school, I emptied the kids’ backpacks full of worksheets and projects from school this week. After oo-ing and ah-ing over each little star, (they were watching a movie, but I am sure they could feel my pride in them,) I did what I always do with their school papers: Buried them deep into the recycling bin.  I continued on with my day.

Later, Ana, seeing that her backpack was opened, said, “Mom, what did you do with all my papers from school.”

(Knowing that she wanted to keep each one, and they would then end up all over her room, creating another fire hazard, until they were ripped to shreds, and then I would have to ask her a million times to pick up her room, where she would cry and whine about hard it is, until all fun activities were threatened, and her room would finally get somewhat clean, and those precious papers of today would end up in the recycling bin in a few short days…) I said, “Hmmmmm, I laid them somewhere.  Where have you looked?”  We then looked around for a total of 2 minutes when something shiny caught her eye and said papers were forgotten.

See, I don’t lie to my kids, but that doesn’t mean I am completely honest either!

What are your sins as a mom?  Come on share them, we ALL have MANY!

Check out these funny moms on Facebook.  Click “Like” (on Facebook) if you like to laugh! You can also “Pin” the Top 35 Most Pinteresting Moms too! (And the shame continues…)