Thursday, December 22, 2011

bah humbug? come on!




I've noticed a theme lately of friends and family talking a lot about the overwhelming to do lists that are inevitably involved in planning and orchestrating the perfect Christmas.  Complaining about how they want it over with and it's too much.  I get it.  I do.  It's a LOT of work, the thinking of presents, picking of the perfect tree, spending a small fortune on gifts that really most of our recipients don't need, finding the perfect wrapping paper and ribbons, preparing a menu or in our case three menus, buying all the aforementioned gifts and food for the celebrations and of course the beverages and cookies that need to carefully be prepared!  JEEZ I didn't even include in there the holiday cards that need to be ordered, addressed and mailed, then oh then we get the elf on a shelf and advent calendar fiasco's and hey you got your self a good ole, "calgon take me away"....for those born after 1985 you may miss that reference!  Anyway, it's a lot.  I agree, we as a society put a lot of expectations on ourselves to create and deliver the "perfect" Christmas!  The sad reality is in all of that hustle and bustle the real message and meaning is lost and not just the religious background that gave us Christmas in the first place, the meaning of what every holiday is supposed to give us.  A chance to breath, look around us and see all that we are blessed with.  Our family, healthy, together.  The big stuff.

I feel like so much of this little stuff gets in the way of the really big stuff and so many of us are missing the all important and ever true gift that is Christmas.  A day that everything, I mean EVERYTHING     ( I say that in reference to Starbucks specifically) is shut down.  I mean people, how many days does that happen anymore?  It's not open later or really early, its shutdown ALL.DAY.LONG.  This year in MN we are missing out on a blizzard filled 25th and honestly I am bummed.  There is something about feeling like we are trapped in our comfy, cozy houses together with no where to be, no where to go and no choice to do anything but be together.  That to me is the magic of Christmas.  There really isn't another time of year that a day stands so still just for family and friends and for the joy of each other.  I realize that standing still for our house means, waking up at the crack of dawn to pitter pattering feet whispering if they should wake us up or not to rush down stairs for the pinnacle of all parenting experiences when all of the snot wiping, puke cleaning comes to a head and you say, "YES these little leach like creatures are worth it all!" (OK don't shout that, just think it silently in your own head!)  Then we will clean up the war of our home left with impossible to open toys packages while battery searches are sure to ensue resulting in our remote most likely being pillaged for the little life it has left.  And then, clean ourselves up for round two, where we are hosting my mom's family and after that going to Jeremy's parents, yes all in one day!  Oh don't get me started on Christmas Eve, heck or even the 23rd, it begins early here and stays long and it is whirlwind of laughing, crying and stretching ourselves to soak up every inch of holiday spirit left....and trust me by the 26th we are all hungover and not from drinking, ok fine, a little from drinking too!

I say all this not to disparage the magic or jump on the freight train of acknowledging the over the topness of it all, but to say, I get it!  I live the insanity too, and still you won't find me moaning under my breath, or wishing the moments away, or cursing Santa, I love this.  Maybe it's the over achieving, type A personality, maybe, but Christmas has always been amazing to me.  I want my kids to relish in the memories we create and cherish it as much as I do when they get older.  The other day when I was wrapping 10,000 gifts with the special "santa" paper (I heard you can say the elves just use your paper so you don't have to hide and buy special stuff, love it!), I found myself exhausted and annoyed, for a moment, thinking and blaming the only person that I really take most things out on in this state of mind, my husband...why isn't he wrapping all of this crap...ooops, I mean lovely gifts....but then I just picture our kids on Christmas morning their eyes like silver dollars as they see the big stash that santa has left them and that's it.  Worth it.  Every ounce of energy, it always is so worth it.  It begins the same every year come December 1st, I can't wait to fill a bag full of fun things for the Advent house and burn the edges of the North Pole Paper and take the "ink pen" and write as only Santa can some amazing treasured note about the spirit of giving and then watch their eyes light up in amazement.  It's so awesome!  But come December 5th, Jeremy and I are out of ideas from the dollar bin crap to put in there, there is no place for Elfie to "hide" anymore, we'd like to stuff him back in the storage bin, and we are out of inspiring messages from Santa, but come on, we got 20 more days left, time to buck up!  So we do what most good couples do in these situations.  Rock paper scissors, on who has to come up with the message and hiding spot that night.  LOL.  I was on a winning streak for awhile and now well his paper is covering my dang rock a little too much!  But still when you get a winner like this one...


You just have to pat yourself on the back, the kids couldn't stop giggling when I said "Elfie stinks!" and started yelling at him for poopin in our kitchen!  Later I realized the clever spot would have been the doll toilet on top of the actual toilet, ahh well there's always next year.  And yes, I realize when my hubby and I are impressed with our coolest "elf" spot, we are officially old and highly uncool.


So, on these last few days where you may be rushing to buy the one forgotten gift or scrambling to think of the impossible person on your list....STOP and realize in a few days when you are finally in the moment, you can breath and know it's worth it.  So put a dang smile on your face and go tell someone Merry Christmas! :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the magic of christmas

Well look what a little last minute shopping found for us....A glorious perfect shot of the magic of Christmas.....ahhhh heaven.  Ok well just for a moment.  Moments before involved lots of UGH my legs are tired, hey can I get this, when are we going home?, can we go see Santa?  Jeremy and I have determined that 5 is the age for never ending, "are we there yet?" questions.  Well, that also include, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am tired, ooooh I want a treat....the list of I wants seem to never end at this age.  Luckily my well is filled with "not this time" "maybe some other time" "in a little bit" "you need to be patient" "santa's listening".  The truth is the biggest job in parenting seems to boil down to two little things.  Threats and treats.  Kind of sad really, but totally true.  And there is no sweeter treat than Santa and a lil sunshine.  But, to all of those loving this warm MN weather, which by the way means over 30 degrees!  I need a WHITE CHRISTMAS!!!! I mean one of the main reasons I suffer through winter after winter is to tell myself, well at least we always have a white Christmas.  Well folks, I don't think this year that is going to happen and that just isn't right!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

firsts

video
So you ever hear people talk about their kids and as a kid yourself think that your parents had a favorite?  That they really loved your brother or sister maybe a little bit more than you?  I personally haven't wondered this in my own life.  I felt that my favorite child title fluctuated, when I was younger and quiet and sweet, (I know hard to imagine!) my mom and I did most everything together and suppose you could have guessed I was her favorite.  Now, my dad and I have a bond that is indescribable and real and deep, you could say that I am his favorite.  I heard somewhere that when you ask a child, "who do you think mommy's favorite is?" They should answer themselves.  Graham did, Audrey said Nolan...hmmmm better work on that.

I have been thinking about this because Graham read his FIRST book last night.  I don't mean every other word, or stumbling to pronounce things so long that you dose off or you might rip your eyeballs out waiting, LOL!  I mean, read it.  Every word and every page start to finish and it was glorious.  Jeremy walked in on him reading and paused looked at me and was like, "seriously is that kid reading that just like that?"  I was shaking my head furiously up and down and not wanting to interrupt surely the most important moment of his life!  He was beaming with pride as he turned each page giving me a high five and so happy that HE was doing it.  Graham has always been a bright kid, curious and uber imaginative.  He was born this way, along with a few stressful quirky personality traits as well, (read other posts!).  But, it was one of those things that we could have pushed, taught him ourselves, worked with him on more, you know the type.  The teach your baby to read type.  I purposely didn't with Graham, one because we butt heads naturally and I didn't want him to grow frustrated from learning because of ME!  And also because that is what school is for right?  To teach our kids.  We forget this sometimes in our society that kids can learn at a kid pace and that's just fine.  I don't want him to read at a 4th grade level in Kindergarten he'd be bored silly and I like him to be challenged and given the appropriate pushing and when it all unfolds so nicely, like three months in to school and voila, my 5 year old can read!  Just proud of him and excited, so fun those moments that come along once in a lifetime.  Watching your child turn their gears just so in their little minds and end up with the answers.  It's magic and makes all the hours of time outs and tantrum filled days worth it.

So, as I was going to bed last night filled with pride, I paused a moment and thought, geez this is what kind of sucks for the middle kid.  I've been noticing it more as Audrey gets older, this whole middle thing kind of blows!  I mean, Graham goes to preschool and we can't wait a NEW adventure for us too, the first time on the bus, the first tooth, the first steps, the first bike ride, he kind of steals the dang show!  I think that is natural, I mean he's our first.  I always thought sweet Audrey would hold her own special place as my first girl and only girl for that matter and I loved that, I wished Nolan was a boy, so Audrey would have a special place despite being a middle child.  It's funny thought, because inevitably she falls into the middle.  I rush her to school, don't chat with the moms as long, don't volunteer as much, don't bring everything perfect, don't think about what to pack in her lunch, or how to practice her alphabet sounds, I mean, she just kind of gets shuffled between Nolan's therapies and needs and Graham's firsts and goes along with the ride.  Is this all bad?  I hope not.  I don't think so.  I mean, Jeremy is a middle and he is awesome.  He learned how to get along with pretty much anybody, make due in any situation, be flexible, positive and happy.  I would say Ms. Audrey is all of those things.  I do try to carve out special "girl time" and do only "girly" things with her.  Letting her know we have a bond like no other. A phrase we say to the boys in the house..."boys drool and girls rule!"  I know, I know not the most polite thing in the world, but it's ours.  Just us girls.

So, I don't know, I don't think I have a favorite.  I think I have a favorite big boy, who is learning like a sponge and impresses me every day with something new.  I have a favorite sweet girl who shares and considers others like no one else.  I have a favorite little baby that warms and melts my soul.  And let's be honest those favorites fall from grace as quickly as they rise.  You won't find me to be a mom that doesn't sell them out.  I mean Graham can scream and fight over NOTHING better than anyone I have EVER met, no I am not kidding, that kid can be nuts!  Audrey can pout and whine and you swear some alien has possessed her little body, but believe it, she can turn on you.  And well, Nolan, I got nothin on him, he's too dang sweet and little to do anything wrong as of yet.  Give it time, his new favorite behavior is biting and pulling out electrical cords...umm yeah, not good.  I haven't mustered up the anger or fear or irritation yet to say NOOOOOO like I would to my others, because come on, the kid can crawl and that is so dang cool, I can't get mad!!!!!  So how about you?  What do you think about this favorite kid thing?  Do you have one?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

choices

I've wanted to discuss this for some time.  It's tough bringing up topics that ruffle feathers, that get people going and think badly of you for your thoughts or opinions, but sometimes, it's necessary.  To say what we need to say.  For our children, for ourselves, sometimes our truth needs a voice.  So, you may not see or understand what I am about to write, it may rub you the wrong way or your perception of me may change.  I'm ok with that.  I've got to do it.

It's funny all that changes in a year.  Our lives have forever been changed by the birth of our third child and his extra chromosome.  He changes how we see the world, the people we pass daily that we used to not see, we stop and look a little longer.  We stop and acknowledge all people now.  Finding value you in all lives around us.  I wish I could say I did that before but I didn't.  My life was so much more shallow and had a lot less meaning.  But, now, now my boy has inspired me to think harder and dig deeper to a place inside all of us that sometimes we don't want to visit.  A place where the value of life is in question.

A lot of people have asked us if we knew about Nolan and DS prior to his birth and if we did any testing, had any markers, I think most people ask this question for the same reason I would if I were in their position.  I would want to know how I could "figure" it out if that were my situation.  We didn't do testing with any of our children.  I am not the most religious person in the world and I am not a fan of "God's children are all blessings."  I am more of the line that yes, all children are blessings and yes, I believe we all have a path and a plan in life and there are lessons to be learned at every turn, but I am not sure if this is "God" related, I don't necessarily use that label if you will.  But, I did believe that with all of our children, they are gifts, miracles and what happens happens and that is our life path.  Now is this a harder pill to swallow when you are faced with it?  Of course.  All that you believe gets tested.  You start wondering, should I have tested what would I have done?  Would that have been better? Would I have been what 9 out of 10 people in this country do and kill my boy?  The answer in my case is no.  I just couldn't.  I know that now.  I know that knowing wouldn't have helped me, I truly believe it would have been harder, I think the best thing was having him to breathe in to hold him to get through the crying and pain of it all.  It made having him easier.  I also never. NOT ONCE have thought life would be better, easier, if he weren't here.  It isn't true.  Now I do say it would be better without Down Syndrome, but not without Nolan and yes they are two different things.  When I first had him I had to learn the lingo, that you say, child with down syndrome not a down's kid or down syndrome kid, because, he Nolan, isn't just down syndrome.  His life isn't defined by an extra chromosome any more than yours is defined by your dad drinking or your mom being a yeller.  It affects you, molds you, but to let it define you, that's a choice.  And I think you'd be rather annoyed if someone went around calling you by something that is viewed less than favorably by the general public, like the "cancer lady" or "fat man"or the "drunk chick" it just isn't flattering and well isn't true.  So no my son isn't the 'downs kid".  He's Nolan first and then he's cute and then he has good hair and then he's got sweet tiny feet and then he's got chunky cheeks and then he's silly and then he's crawling and laughing and smells good and super sweet and loving and well then, maybe then after 24 more things he also has down syndrome.  So you see, it's pretty low on our list of priorities and do I wish the world got this like we do? Of course.  Did I get this a year ago when I saw someone of disability.  HELL NO.  So, I don't judge you, I don't blame you.  I was you.  I just ask you to see differently now. I ask you to see him how his brother and sister see him, with pure love and joy and they think they've never seen a sweeter baby in their life.  They love him with their whole heart.  Maybe someday they'll think differently, they'll be embarrassed or not want to have someone know that their brother has Down Syndrome.  I cringe for these days.  Not for Nolan, but for them, because it's a learning process to become a healthy, well-rounded adult.  And in doing that we all will have different tests and struggles and for my kids, I can only hope that they will pass that one with flying colors and they will come out on top, realizing it is the world that needs change of perspective not our Nolan that needs to change who he is.

So, where does all of this chat bring me?  Well.  To testing.  You see there is an early test now a Down Syndrome test that basically can be taken with a simple blood test and let you sleep a little easier that your new baby doesn't have it.  It's easy, can be done early and cheap.  What does that mean to a population that when people find out they are pregnant with a baby with down syndrome, 90% abort them, well it means just that, more abortions, less people like my Nolan.  I started thinking what does that mean for him?  Will he be alone in the world and completely eradicated?  Furthermore I thought, how is this whole, who's worth living and who's not, come to happen.  Is there some boardroom somewhere that insurance companies say, "OK well you can abort these babies at our hospital if ..." How do they determine this?  I just can't wrap my brain around it.  If you are too short, too tall, have 6 fingers, never talk, blind, deaf, autistic?  Anything but perfection?  I just don't get it.  I look at my Mr. Nolan and I think.  What's so wrong with him?  What's so bad? That he can't live alone one day?  That we all have to balance checkbooks?  I mean, seriously?  How many people live into their 40's with their parents by choice?  How many drug addicts steal and ruin their lives financially forever?  I just think if there were a gene for that, would you kill those babies too?  What about if we had a magic ball and you knew your child would die at 10 from cancer? Is that life not worthy because it's not long enough?  Costs too much to treat?  I don't get how or why someone can say all of this is OK?  I just really can't.  People say, well not everyone is financially able to take on Down Syndrome or help those kids?  Well, then people, none of you should have kids.  Because we as parents have no idea, where, how or when our children may die, get injured, change the course of their lives forever.  That is the role of being a parent.  We aren't here to simply have children that please us, that do what we want and make choices that we agree with.  That is the truth.  So, I see these tests, I hear of people getting amnio's on HEALTHY babies with NO RISKS and think for WHAT?  Because YOU can't handle the "risk" of having a less than perfect baby.  Then the sad truth is, you shouldn't be parents.  That risk, is with you at every moment of every day and all you are doing is eliminating a tiny tiny tiny percentage of issues or problems that your child may encounter and to me that is just ignorant and sad.

See this is where it gets dicey.  Because I know many of you that have had amnio's, testing, thought about or perhaps have had abortions, but I can't help but feel this way.  You don't have to agree with me, you can have your own opinions and make your choices that is your right.  I have always felt this way.  My son just really solidified my belief in faith. That whatever comes your way, you can handle it, you can choose to rise above it and embrace it around you.  Or you can let it define you and ruin your life.  That is a choice that I think is worth making.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

intervention







I kinda need one right now.  No not like in the way of hey you have been doing way too many drugs or that glass of wine needs to be your last.  I need an intervention of the mommy kind.  You know it, when your house is clean for like 30 seconds and then destroyed?! How is that? How does that happen?  My house CAN NOT stay clean.  And for me, it drives me insane.  Don't get me wrong, I am not Martha Stewart, but just a little picked up I would appreciate...instead, this is what it looks like, AFTER I cleaned it this morning!  Yes it is just noon now!  So frustrating!  I decided as mothers we need an Elf, you know the Elf on the shelf, our is Elfie, well I want one....one that cleans whatever room is left and when you re-enter TA DA! It's clean!  Is it winter? Maybe, maybe since the kids are in here more and we are not at parks or running around as much stuff is getting nasty!  Yes, notice Nolan, ripping apart toxic magazine pages and trying to eat them? Oh and you also noticed that he is in a short sleeve onesie and it is 13 degrees out?  YEP I am that mom right now, see what I mean, intervention time.  I went to go change him for the third time since he has gotten up, no I a not exaggerating, and what do you think I found in his closest, NOTHING...not one long sleeved onesie, well that isn't true, there was a Halloween one that doesn't fit him anymore so it was between that and the summer one, and there you have it...a mom who is overwhelmed, overworked and well let's be honest, highly under paid at her wits end.  So, in my filthy house right now you'll hear the hum of the washing machine, because nothing says laundry time like when you don't have any clean clothes to put on your child!

 So, I notice all of this because I get to go out tonight, yep, a glorious night out on the town with an old friend, Barrio in St. Paul, so YUMMY, if you haven't been be jealous, it's trendy, delicious and awesome!    But do you know what that means....that means I have to have a sitter as Jeremy is working late, so what does a sitter mean to a control freak like me?  I HAVE TO CLEAN UP THIS MESS!  I can't have a 16 year old come in here and wonder who is raising these poor kids, how do they live and why is the baby in a summer outfit...the horror of it all!  Now, bare in mind that this 16 year old is my cousin, so it isn't as if I need to really pretend I have it all together, but come one, a little bit right?  Maybe it's a delusion only held for me, and everyone really knows my secret.  Like my lovely neighbor who will randomly stop by and chat throughout the year nd I keep telling her, "OH MY this is the ONE night I didn't pick up the kitchen?"  Do you think after 5 years she buys that?  Probably not.  I think that's why today is my intervention, I am coming clean...HAHAHA....and letting my "dirty" secret out.  I don't have it all together.  My house isn't spotless, my kids aren't dressed appropriately even a little today.  And Graham doesn't have hat hair, his hair was that bad when he left and I through a hat on it, I mean that's a blessing this time of year that really needs to be cherished.  We all can just have hat hair and have no reason to bother even doing our children's hair because Audrey looks like she went down a slide one to many times and Graham looks like no one has washed or combed his hair in 2 weeks, and it's only been 2 days, that I am not kidding about!  I do keep their bodies clean, their rooms and laundry, that's on a bi-weekly basis!

So, in all that dirty mess and after seeing a Facebook post yesterday that someone suggested putting their kids photos from the photo shoot that they are sassy and screaming on their Christmas card, I was inspired to let it all hang out and let you know, this mama, ain't perfect!  But a girl can dream and pretend and well, my Christmas card is dang close.  I love it.  It's so beautiful and for so many reasons.  One of the most shallow things I thought when we found out Nolan had Down Syndrome was about our Christmas card.  I mean this is serious business in the Robbins House, Jeremy has to give me a budget, no joke, I am obsessed with good cards, and we won a contest on an amazing stationery site, so we get a large credit for our cards, well they could be free if I went with the cheaper ones, but who can do that?  So, we won the contest and I got to order the "mini-book" yes, crazy, over the top, obnoxious even, but I am in love with it.  So, when he was born I thought to myself, 'what's the point of amazing Christmas cards now?'.  It's awful to admit and disgusting really and now after a year, laughable.  What a joke? Are you kidding me?  Nolan was the cutest and most amazing thing about our cards, last year and this year when we won AGAIN...yes with Nolan on our card we were selected again and we are hoping for three years in a row, I can be greedy right?  So, here is our perfect card to make up for all of the imperfections previously mentioned!  We are a blend really right, waxing and waning between put together and a frazzled mess.  I like to believe that all of us moms out there have days that we rock it, we look good, feel good and all is right and then, well days like today....it's part of the journey!











Tuesday, November 29, 2011

move it










I live for change...disruption, drama, newness, whatever you want to call it, I like it. A lot. Some of my friends may know this about me, that I am an adventure seeker, never one to shy away from a daring feet. This includes the time that Jeremy surprised me for my birthday and we went skydiving, yep 10,000 feet in the air, with my feet dangling over the edge of an open plane...the scariest part by far, btw....then jump...a leap into open space, I had a hot guy with me of course, that didn't hurt! :) But, it

was awesome, the feeling of risk taking, carefree fun....well that was before kids. Kids change all that naive, free, fun-loving, risk taking behavior, for the most part. Now, well now I take my risks in small doses, that's laughable really because my risks involve moving furniture now. Yep, I like to change the scenery in our house about every 45 days as Jeremy tells me! Its a point of contention with us, see my 5 foot 3 inch...ok fine 2 1/2 inch frame isn't designed to move large pieces of furniture up and down stairs, so I have to depend on him, and well, he isn't a fan of this obsession. I don't believe him for the record...I think he really secretly loves the results of a new room once his move that a little more to the right, oops nope all the way back to the left, WAIT I got an idea, why don't we put that back upstairs in a different place...this is where he draws the line. He has one believe it or not, my
patient and loving husband does eventually draw it and well then I patiently wait a few months and revisit the option again....ever so lovingly.

I can't help it, I love new environments, ya know people who live in one house for 40 years, I just can't see it. I moved every year until we bought our first house, we lived there for 3 years and then here, which we only planned to stay in a few years, until the market went to crap and well now it's been 5, we'll see how much longer! I'm so crazy that I told Jeremy we should rent it out and go rent someone else's house just for fun! I couldn't think of a better idea than moving every year to a new area, testing them all out until finally we decide what is a great fit for us....let's just say he didn't think that was such a great idea! But, I am no
t one of these people who likes to stay still, same old same old. Nope, I want to pack up the boxes, clean out the clutter and find newness! Doesn't have to be bigger or better or perfect or new even, but just different. So, since I am stuck here for now, I like re-arranging our living quarters basically monthly. Nolan's therapist that come to the house have been the ones to most notice it, as they are here weekly and witness the frequency of change. I like gathering opinions and weighing other options from different opinions, it's fun! So, when it is Christmas tree time, you know some re-arranging is going to happen! I REALLY wanted to shake it up and take our eat in kitchen table completely out and put in t
wo big comfy chairs and a big leather ottoman and make it more of a sitting, gathering area just for the holidays! Jeremy nixed that, I think hauling all of it downstairs was the kicker, but a girl can dream! So, here is our living room now...I know I didn't get a before, SORRY....what's the point of a reveal without the before, I won't make that mistake again, and don't worry it won't be long before it's changed.


What I think is funny, is I am passing this on to the kids, whether that's good or bad is up for debate, but they love when I re-arrange, they run around saying, "WOW look at this new room!" And they have switched or changed beds, bedrooms, sleeping directions and arrangements no less than 20 times since we've lived here, no I am not kidding. But they go with it, they think it's fun to have a change of scenery, so much so, that my latest creation, is the bonus room over the garage, I had Jeremy take down Graham's bunk beds and separate them, hung up huge curtains and voila a new fun bedroom, that Audrey insists in sleeping in with Graham and doesn't want her awesome girly room! I'm with her and it's a good thing because taking those bunk beds apart wasn't so fun for my man, so I think it isn't going back to the room anytime soon, we shall see (wink wink)!


With all of this change and moving of "things" one thing that is a constant in our home is traditions. I live for the holidays, love the smell of the change of a season, get giddy for every single one. That's why as much as Jeremy wishes for warmer living arrangements I am thinking that's a no and we will be in Minnesota for years to come. I love the smell of turkey cooking, family laughing, football playing in the distance, it's all the same, year after year and that's one thing I don't ever want to change. I know it will, I know things do inevitably we will face loss and the landscape of our family will change, but for now it is all so perfect that this change feign is at peace. Speaking of change....guess who is learning to crawl...oh our sweet boy....I keep trying to download the video, but this new mac I am on is way smarter than me and I can't figure it out, so I will when I can, in the meantime, GO MOVE SOMETHING!!!! It's fun!



Sunday, November 20, 2011

to ignore or not ignore that is the ?

So, Jeremy and I have been discussing for some time our kids and their obsession with, well, how do I say this...US! It sounds all sweet at first like, "oh your kids really love you!" And I hope this is true and like to think that, but really, why do they want to be with us, over pretty much anything else? I've run the gammet on do we spoil them too much? Give in to their every whim, bring them to fun places, I mean, the zoo, the beach and the mall IN ONE DAY! Yep, I've done it! See, it's a lot on me, I like to be busy, running around, exploring the world, with my kids. I'd way rather do that then let them watch TV or learn video games, I just don't like the whole sitting around thing. So, this summer it hit me, I think my kids like being with us too much. I know it sounds impossible, but if you wake up and go to a park by 9, then the beach then another park in the afternoon, the ice cream truck at night and chasing daddy around the house playing monster, cap that with a candyland game and well, you right there are in childhood heaven! What can be wrong with that, right? I mean, isn't my job as staying at home to involve my kids in fun activities that we learn to play, laugh and have fun. These days include helping make pancakes and eggs for breakfast, cutting the bread for lunch and stirring the rice for dinner, also setting the table and clearing it off, wiping up their own spills, picking up their toys, I mean, it isn't that they aren't responsible for their things or respecting people..or learning how to cook and clean. It's just that it's all too damn fun! I mean don't you remember being a kid and you would play a game with your parents ONCE A WEEK? Not three times by 10 am? It's hard to know when enough is enough. When our days shouldn't be planned around our kids. I am pretty sure my parents days were planned around their life unless it was our birthday or something. And well, around here it's Sunday and well you wouldn't know it, I take today for instance....an anything but spectacular family Sunday...woke up went to our Aunt and Uncles restaurant for breakfast, which includes Mickey Mouse Pancakes and Waffles, then to Costco where we run around and caved on buying stuffed bird puppets (don't ask)! Getting home, playing with said puppets, getting our outdoor gear on and going sledding, at 11am, coming in having lunch with hot cocoa and marshmallows, playing with doll house and puppets with mommy, playing football with daddy, back outside played with neighbor kids for 30 mins in the snow then with daddy for 40 more, then back inside to watch a movie...finally a lil quiet time, then played together and read books, I mean lots of books, then back outside at 5pm to go sledding AGAIN and attempt to make a snowman, back inside at 6 for dinner. Bathtime with more toys than water, dance contest for 30 minutes then story time and finally bedtime. Are you exhausted? We are! But, it's family time right? They are little right? I just don't know. I don't know what is too much and not helping them.

So, I read this article tonight....

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/how-to-land-your-kid-in-therapy/8555/1/

And it makes me feel what I have been worried about this whole time to be true. It is too much. Our kids have no idea what boredom, real boredom is like. And lately I have been working with both of them in the morning before school and what I mean by that is I IGNORE them. I FORCE myself to not engage in fun stuff and be all business. Just listen to my radio show and make them breakfast, let them play on their own, but no major fun stuff. And you know what? It's working, Audrey has been asking me, "when is school?" This coming from a girl that was crying every time I went to bring her. I don't know, it's tough this whole parenting gig. I feel guilty when I don't spend time with them doing engaging activities and I feel guilty when I ignore them. I know this may sound highly obnoxious and I TRULY am not trying to! It's just that there really is a place in being selfish and taking care of what we as parents need to do without feeling badly for our kids. I think our generation has lost a lot of this and believe our kids should be happy and having fun ALL of the time and really, they could use a little boredom a little neglect if you will...I think a lot of my independence and strength has come from learning and knowing I can do things on my own without the help of others. Apparently I need to let my kids do this as well and seriously let go of this dang mom guilt! Does it get easier, ever? stop.laughing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

crafty? check.

Sometimes I like to think of myself a certain way, you know like totally different than you really are? Simple things really, like my makeup bag, it is AWFUL, a disaster, I for some reason hoard makeup and before you tell me how disgusting that is and all of the bacteria, send me youtube clips of 20/20's showing the creatures that call home my 5 year old Mac eyeshadow collection, let me tell you...I KNOW! It's nasty! But for some reason I don't go through and organize and clean my makeup drawer like I do my fridge....why is that? So many random things like this occur, I have this image of my sweaters and shirts all color coded in the closest so neatly hung and all it takes is a random friday night going out and to tear through there like Hurricane Irene and bam, my dreams are all kaput. This may be TMI for some of you so hold on tight...I take this whole living to a new level, oh yes, I involve my husband. See I used to tell him, I wish I was a girl that wore matching bra and underwear sets, but I just can't, either I don't like the bra that much or too much that I don't want to wear it with just those undies, or I just don't like buying all of the matching sets, I mean, come on it's a rip off and I don't want to waste our money on that! But, in reality, I secretly wish to be a woman who does. Who underneath it all has it going on! You know the type. The perfectly creased shirts all crisp and ironed, hair is gorgeous and I gaurantee she has a closet that looks like a Macy's display. I want THAT life. To be THAT person...it just isn't in the cards! So one year, my husband being amazingly thoughtful, went and did "Oprah's favorite things" for Christmas for me, so I kept opening package after package of beautiful little things that I LOVED....my favorite lip glosses, a new wustof chopping knife, a Coach wristlet in Okra color, I mean he was good, it was amazing, then the ultimate package, three sets of lacy, beautiful perfect bra and undies (I can't stand the word panties and let's be honest this is all a little TMI anyway!). He ventured into my nursing bra, when we were dating bra, post babies bra, collection and determined as best he could my current size and went for it! He mentioned something about me always wanting to be matching and now I could! So sweet, so perfect, so. not. me. :) I did it for about 2 weeks, but let's just say the undies and bras that he selected were more on the "mens" side of liking than a woman, not really everyday kind of wear if you know what I mean! And then I realized it, they don't make matching sets for everyday, I mean, unless you want a plain beige bra with a plain beige granny panty...LOL....you match at least!

It was so sweet none the less and I totally appreciate it, but have sucum to the idea that I am indeed a mismatched girl through and through....so when I find a project that is "crafty" I fail miserably! I tell myself I can do that! And buy it all and find a pile of junk when I am complete and left with spray glue and paints, canvases, you name it, it's stored somewhere or I just threw them away, but I try! So, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, I LOVE LOVE LOVE her decorating, attitude on life and her little boy has a magic chromosome like our Nolan and can I just say, he is the CUTEST little boy EVER! So, I always ooooh and ahhhh at her works of art and think I wish I could do that! Finally a couple of weeks ago, I saw this post.....

http://wwwourunexpectedjourney.blogspot.com/2011/11/let-decorating-begin.html

and I thought for the 724th time, I can DO THIS! So, I followed all of her simple instructions, glue holly on a letter...lol...and hang, guess what it looks like....HERS!!! It's beautiful, so much that I made another one for my bestie using sparkly balls and love that one too (the B isn't for bestie, it's her last name, :))!


So, you know what this means right? I have new found confidence that I can in fact be a better me and live to a higher standard and that's a mighty scary thing, because project 725 is sure to be a bust, but you just gotta keep on trying and finding inspiration in other mom's, that's just essential and fun!

Monday, November 14, 2011

rudolph



s

Graham and Audrey are obsessed with playing Santa and Rudolph right now...yep I am aware that this all began on November 9th, but I mean, you can't blame em right?

Jeremy and I were having a family weekend with the kids, no going out, no entertaining, no big to do lists, just us. It's hard for an over planning, entertaining nut like myself. But, it was awesome. We listened to Christmas music until Jeremy's ears bled. We made crafts and thought of gifts for others, shopped Toys R Us and imagined what we wanted to get ourselves, Jeremy wants the Wii more than the kids I think! But, it's all in the anticipation isn't it? Life really boils down to that it seems. The moments that you plan, dream and work towards. Not really the moment itself...funny how that works. I love taking this time of year to appreciate all that we are grateful for, all that we are blessed with. It would be ideal if we could do this daily, because listen, Saturday was a LONG DAY. And resulted in us taking the kids to Boca Chica's (Mexican restaurant)and Jeremy having one too many Don Gueremo's (the best margaritas ever!) and requiring my driving skill on the way home, lol, listen he deserved it! :) But, still it was fun, being us. It felt great. All until Graham through his hissy fits and Audrey decided to jump ship and join him and well Nolan, what can I say, that kid is just plain amazing, so I don't complain about him, like EVER.

So much so that this morning, while I was feeding him, my voice got a little tense and said, "come on Nolan..." (after blowing raspberries of mangos all over me!) And Graham said, "mama are you serious?" I said, "Am I annoyed with Nolan, well yeah kinda right now!" Graham's faced looked at him all somber as if to say, "sorry buddy, your fun ride is over, join the club". But it isn't really true. Nolan is our love, our baby and well, he's just so dang sweet you can't really be upset with him. Last night he was just plain crabby, a very rare occurence, but happening more now. He seems to be finding his voice, like the rest of our kids. He too says, "HEY I don't like this!" Jeremy was leaving on a flight and looked at me sadly due to Nolan being crabby and not really calming down and I said, "it's fine babe, really." Because with Nolan it is. I had a baby that didn't cry or complain for almost a year. He just laid and snuggled and really didn't do much else, and let me tell you it gives you perspective, that a little opinion is good. It's crazy how you grow and realize not to sweat all the things you did when you were a new parent. How you look back on the years and laugh at all that you complained and worried about. I mean, geez, talk about perspective, it just isn't worth it. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not some mom that doesn't get all wrapped up and annoyed with the whining, demanding, slave labor I feel consumed by daily, it gets old. But with Nolan, I'll take it. It's different. I appreciate it. I value almost all moments I am in with him, so differently than those that I did and do with my others. Watching your child go through something as tragic as Nolan did this summer forms your brain and perspective in a whole new light. And with every tragedy comes a gift if you look for it, I have always believed that. Not easy, not painless, ever changing and there will be times that I am sure to cry and feel sad again over him having down syndrome and his delays, but for now, it's all good. I feel blessed.

Nolan is sitting, like really sitting for up to 5-10 minutes at a time, learning to manipulate objects in his hands while sitting, (if you have a kid in PT you know the accomplishment of this!) I remember them asking me if he switched objects from his right to left hand and back again, well guess who's doing it all now? What a champ.




And what's even better than the love you have for your kids and sharing that with your husband and the world around you? Watching them have and share it with each other. There is no greater joy than the sibling love that our kids share. To see Graham not run to me in the morning, but to Nolan, to smooch him, make him giggle like no one else. To have Audrey say to me, "I want to lay with Nolan, can I sleep with him in his crib?" They smother him with love. Truly, there isn't a time I have ever seen them upset with him, annoyed with him, nada. Now, is this going to change, of course!!!! He will chuck toys at their head soon enough, he will take the last cookie and earn the last treat, he will find his place of annoying behavior as well. But for now, he is just love to them and them to him. What fun is that?


What was I so worried about? I go on a baby center with moms with babies with down syndrome, used to go on more and not really that often now, but I saw a post on there this last week from a mom with a new little one month old baby and she was simply asking, "when does it get easier?". I remember such a short time ago feeling the ache of my heart when I thought about Nolan's future and our future as a family. I remember Jeremy and I talking about traveling the world when our kids went off to college and living in far off cities, like Rome and Bali, just to do it, or maybe a year in NYC? How awesome. We dreamt of that life, that in reality probably wouldn't have happened anyway. That we either financially or emotionally couldn't be away for that long or given in to due to health or who knows what. But we had a dream. I still have those dreams, they just had to change a little, they just had to add a little boy into them and help of others to accomplish. But really what is the notion of independence and freedom, from what? Isn't there always something like health, money, obligations holding us back from truly doing all that we dream to do? So, I don't blame Nolan or DS anymore, if we want to do those things, we can, that will be a choice we can still make. It just won't be exactly how I pictured it, so I add that to the list of marriage, motherhood, staying at home and every other damn thing I thought I had figured out! I've just realized that finding peace with life struggles, finding a place of calm is just a timely, patient process and one that doesn't have an ending. It's a constant flow from learning, stretching and growing to appreciating, loving and breathing. Tonight as we were driving home and the kids were looking up the dark sky for a red blinking light, known in our house as Rudolph, Graham said to me, "Wasn't Rudolph's dad mad that he had a red nose when he was born?" I smiled to myself and thought, wow, you are amazing Graham! We continued to talk about the story and how Rudolph's red nose that all the other reindeer made fun of ended up saving Christmas and helping Santa and it was perfect indeed...

Ok...well...I have a little 5 year old in reindeer pj's that can't sleep...it was fun using my brain for a little bit anyway, goodnight. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

throwing fruitful fits!

What's the importance of men in our lives? What's their value on our daily struggles, triumphs and challenges? I often find myself in the throws of anger or irritation with my husband and chatting with my friends about this topic, men....they can be pains in the you know what! Then I find myself longingly understanding the point of sister wives (you know that show on TLC about polygamy, ok maybe you don't!) Anyway, call me crazy, but I get it! I think it would be AWESOME to have other women who helped with me chores, emotional breakdowns, were there when I was sick, could help my kid out when I felt helpless, women, we have this ability don't we? To understand each other. To know when one of us needs a meal, a hug, a drink, a day of shopping, to tell us we are beautiful with our muffin tops and all. Don't get me wrong, we can equally tear each other to shreds and spread jealousy faster than forest fires. But, we get it, this journey of motherhood and we are there for each other. But, men, well, sometimes they just don't. They look at us as if we have two heads, three eyes and wonder what planet we landed from. This doesn't help. At. All. But, it's true, we are crazy and yes I mean the head spinning kind of crazy, from time to time and they tolerate a lot, our men.

So, Graham, our 5 year old was up to his more "occasional" antics, improved from "frequent" about a year ago! Anyway, he was up to them this weekend and I just didn't know what to do! My wise and totally amazing aunt gave me some wisdom about 2 weeks ago and well I decided to take it! She said and I am paraphrasing, "sometimes kids are kids and just need to work their stuff out, it isn't about how or what you do to handle it, they need to go through it." She also said, "Children need their dad, that masculine energy that only men can give and you need to step back and let him be a man." I thought about these statement and being the control freak that I am, I had to find a "controlled" time to well, give it all up and say, "go for it!"

So, after our son, who I tend to sell short, because honestly he is an amazingly loving, gentle sweet boy, but really what fun is that too share? LOL....just kidding (about the sharing not him)! Anyway, he was in his mode. Where he can't gain control, screams at the top of his lungs, nasty things, awful things, things you shut your windows for so your neighbors don't judge you....like "icky mama" "poopy mama" "I hate you mama". Yep, lovely right, but listen he's 5, imagine what he can come up with when he's 15, his vocabulary will shock us all I am sure. So, we proceed to calmly and reactionless place him in his room and say when you are calm you may come out. Well, this didn't turn out so well, he began chucking plastic fruit from the play kitchen in the room at the door, bang, goes the tomato....ouch said the turkey...noooo screamed the plastic watermelon, but we looked at each other and said, wth....what is left? This is behavior he completely reserves for us, isn't that sweet? He loves to shower us with special antics! His behavior apart from us is well, PERFECT! So, it is mind numbing why he decides on a perfectly happy, functioning Saturday to lose it. Trust me, with my freakish analytical mind, I wonder, WTH??? And I go there, thinking it is me being to controlling, not giving him enough choices, telling him no to often, to the other spectrum of he is soooooo spoiled, he gets way too much and has no idea of what real suffering is, ummm trust me I have considered having him experience this, but hitting or spanking kids just isn't for us, so tempting though! And after having a child like this, I place no judgment on those that do choose to spank. So, after we have gone through a laundry list of ways to curve this behavior, all that included, star charts, rewarding good behavior, earning toys, taking toys away for a WEEK! Taking away his lovey, you name it, we have taken it, all of his pirate belongings, blah blah blah. Until finally about 1 month ago, I took away the ultimate of all ultimate's, time with his Grandpa Goose. I know you are gasping, how awful, how could I? But you know what? When your kid is acting like a little brat and taking advantage of all things that seem to be heavenly and wonderful, you dig deep. And my dad was taking the kids to the apple orchard and pony rides, hay rides and well, Graham had thrown things, called names and I thought, that's it, you aren't going, your sister is going to go alone. And let me tell you it was torture.... FOR US!!!! That's the truth, right? punishments at any age, really hurt no one more than the parents!!! So, he watched her go and giddily waived goodbye to his favorite person on the planet, my dad, and said, 'I am going to have a great time here.' He proceeded to play on his own and do chores that we asked of him and smile all day, telling us, "this is the best day!" Listen this kid is good. He's smart. Wicked smart. So, that was it for me. I reached my bottom barrel, thinking I surely scarred him for life that he missed a day of fun with his favorite person, but nope, he acted like he couldn't have cared less. Did this stop the meltdowns, well of course not. That would be too easy.

So, wow, that was a tangent....fast forward to this past weekend and he was up to his antics as I described the injured food being chucked against the door. The terrible words being spewed and then I did it. Jeremy looked at me and was like, wth? What do you think? I said, "babe, I have no idea what to do, I think whatever you come up with is good with me and you go, go for it." It was nice. That moment that he looked at me as if my head stopped spinning, one of my three eyes disappeared and he thought I was human again. He was like, "all right". I had NO idea what he was going to do...none! So, I heard some commotion, and then things quiet down, I walked by Graham's room and saw the door shut with silence. I heard Jeremy go back downstairs and thought, huh, maybe he is going to leave him in there for a really long time or something, time kept ticking and ticking and this is what he came out with 40 minutes later....







Priceless isn't it? My husband, who knew he was a flipping genius? Really though, I mean, I thought the whole page of writing the sentence "I am sorry. I love mom and dad.", was a little much for a 5 year old. But, that's not the point. On the spot when presented with the problem, this man that I often give not enough credit to, well he pulled it off, hit it out of the park. And it worked, ok so it's only been 4 days, but 4 days of no meltdowns and screaming and knowing daddy don't mess around. More importantly faith was renewed in my husband and I know he was renewed by me believing in him. The little things right?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My dad always says...

You know it's funny in life the older you get you realize how little your parents actually do know! Like when you're little, they know it all right? They are an encyclopedia of life, from dating to flat tires, to housing investments to cooking, everything they know. Then you get older and well part of the beauty of childhood fades. The beauty that your parents like the rest of us are human.

They too make mistakes, fail to live up to our expectations sometimes, disappoint us, of course. When you are spending your lives with someone on an intimate level such as a member of our immediate family. These things, well they happen.

And in the end we are all trying our best. I like to think so at least, that we are on this parenting journey and trying to do the best for our kids. Doesn't mean we always succeed or that there aren't bumps in the road of course, (like the time it was 30 degrees out and Graham was 3 and throwing a tantrum and I rolled down his window to shock the you know what out of him, yep not my proudest moment).

But, in the end I have been blessed with two parents of entirely two different worlds. And with that, I am open and able to see amply a much bigger picture than if they were the "cookie" cutter kind. I used to despise this. That my family was not the "normal" family growing up, that my parents got divorced when I was 13. Well, I still kinda hate that. But, now that I am a mom, I embrace all that both of my parents did for me, while trying to do their best.

I love that my mom was so creative with her time with us, when the power was out, we would take cheese and wrap it in foil and heat it over the fireplace and read and pretend we were Heidi in the hills of Switzerland. She transported us there with her imagination and enthusiasm. When it was a spooky summer night, we went "ghost hunting" to the cemetery, random, scary as all get out, but you know what, it was always an adventure and taught me to branch out with my kids. To be the silly mom in the Kindergarten class that gets down on the kids level and for mystery reader time, uses funny voices and asks crazy questions. And my son says to me this morning, "I wish you were my teacher mom!" I about cried, and asked sheepishly, "why?" And he said, "Cause we'd have so much fun!" It melts my heart, mainly because 30 minutes before it was at the top of his lungs, "I don't like you mommy, ICKY MOMMY!" LOL. Such is life with children, they will sell you out in a heartbeat!

But in the end you realize the little moments and how powerful they are in their hearts and minds. It's in those little, quality time moments that your relationships with them are defined and treasured. Hard to remember during our busy days to stop and look at their drawing and talk about why this pirate ship looks different than the 1000 before. Or what it means to let them paint your nails and gush over how beautiful they look.

My dad, well he's always had a place in my heart. Being his youngest little girl, I am sure that has helped. Also, being that if you have met him, known him for years or passed by him, you would know. Know what is true about my father. He is real. He is genuine. He doesn't take time out of his life worrying about others perceptoins of him, or the shallow things that fill most of our minds. He truly doesn't. I used to despise this about my dad, when I was a kid, I used to be embarrassed that he would pick me up from school after fishing and have a shirt on covered in fish guts and blood, I mean come on dad?! But the thing about my dad that is amazing is he truly loves and cherishs people in his life with little expectation. He could have a lot my dad, he could ask of people all that he gives and well be rather disappointed, because in honesty, most people don't give that much to others. He is a self-made man. He made all of his money from hard work and struggle and he would say a lot of luck. But, I don't think so, I don't think you run successful businesses for 30+ years and call it luck, I think it is motivation, drive, will power and as he always said, "when everyone else gives up, keep going". I wrote a book for him years ago, just a little book, and it was titled, "My dad Always says..." because he has the most amazing true advice! I could tell you a million things my dad has taught me about love and life, tell you amazing thoughtful things he has done, like sending my friends and I to see Oprah for my birthday! About the type of person he is and how he has effected so manys peoples lives for the positive. A most recent example is we were out to eat for our monthly father-daughter dinner at Marx in Stillwater and we ran into a group of local moms I know and we were there an hour before them and two after, yep, my dad survives 4 hours of talking to his daughter and loves it, I love it more, but truly we have a unique relationship that I cherish.

My parents are anything but dull. They have full, rich, lived lives. Somthing they also taught me, live life. Be bold. Be honest. Give back and be generous with your time and money. It all sounds so beautiful doesn't it? That's the thing about life, I can paint a picture in my head of the difficult trying times in my life growing up and my parents mistakes and have your mouths drop open. I can also re-live and focus on all that they did to equally drop your mouth. My favorite quote has always been, "perception is reality". So true. What we see and believe to be true, well it is.

lately though, just in this last year, one of life's lessons that my dad has said to me at least 1000 times, "don't worry about other people Grace, worry about what you do, how you handle yourself, that is all you can do." In reference to being stressed about some wrong doing by me or another. I focused my life on others for so long. What they said when I did somehting right or wrong. How they felt when I hurt them or tried to make them happy. The whole time hanging on that moment of approval or disregard. A lesson many of us women learn the hard way. Trying to do our best, for others, for our friends, husbands, parents, children, the list is endless. And isn't it true that your right way of doing things can also be the wrong way for someone else? I love getting older for this simple reason. Learning little by little just how LITTLE I really know! But, it finally sunk in. I finally understood what my dad has been saying all these years and really it is pure genius. If you focus on your own behavior and being the best you can be, you won't live in regret, or in question, you will feel confident you did the best you could and had true intentions and find peace in that alone. Your results may vary. Why? Because we are human and all of us may try not to disappoint, offend or insult others, but we may, just by being, but that's ok too, that's on them. We don't have the control or answers to make everyone happy, not even our children, and well, my parents know that! They've listened long and hard to years of me questioning their decisions and choices in life. They have always listened. I hope they hear this tonight. I am blessed to have them for parents, blessed that they live life and choose to take risks in love, and taught me to do the same. Love you both.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

the little things...

Sometimes it is so difficult to express myself. It's like I have all the opinions in my head all jumbled and I need to some how unscramble them to make my point. Let's hope my brain can play a good game of scrabble today and let it lose, if not I apologize in advance!

You know what I want for our kids...I want them all to be happy, nice people. Simple really. I feel like today it seems harder. Like instantly my kids are growing up to be bratty. Why you ask? Because we have playrooms now. Seriously, did any of you have playrooms as kids? I know we didn't. Not because our house was small..nope, we had plenty of room that could have occupied hoards of toys and junk that we could demolish and plaster throughout our home. So, what is it? Money? Nope my parents had enough money to buy us copious amounts of crap if they wanted to, but they didn't. I was thinking about it lately because my kids have carved or painted 4 pumpkins and we haven't as a family YET! I keep waiting for them to be excited to get OUR pumpkins. You know what, they won't be. It's the last ones they are going to get and by now, they are over pumpkins. I thought the same thing as I brought Audrey to dance class today in her costume, her first of many days to "wear" it for Halloween, by the time Halloween comes, they aren't going to want to wear it! What happened to the simple life? When we had one Halloween and one pumpkin and one costume, not 20 to choose from, or stores dedicated to it, a pillow case for our trick or treat bag, remember trying to fill it? Not embroidered with our name, or matching our outfit. It's funny. I didn't grow up deprived of anything, had more than most probably, but I remember the excitement of waiting, anticipation, wanting and really I wonder what my kids will remember. What will they treasure, when they've been to Twins Games, Gopher Games, Wild Games, in suites no less. I don't say these things to brag, quite the contrary, I mean what will they have to strive for to hope for and work for?

You know what I hope. I hope it will be far greater than material items that appear to come easily to them and most other children we are around. I hope that they can push all of the surface crap out of their way and remember the simple things. Like the morning mommy let us eat chocolate cake for breakfast. I hope it's remembering when daddy would roar monster and scare them in bed. Or the time that one of them snuck out of their room with the perfect pouty face to say they weren't tired and instead of saying firmly, "get back to bed, NOW!" They are surprised to hear, "come on let's eat popcorn and watch the Xfactor!" (Graham loves Simon now...I think it may be his bossiness...not sure where he gets that!)



Am I to blame for all of the chaotic excitement that my kids have, contributing to the ever flowing pile of toys and junk cluttering the purity of childhood, ABSOLUTELY! I'm sucked in too! I love over the top birthday parties, treat bags, everything in the world from Pottery Barn Kids, Ugg boots on 4 year olds, yep, I am just as bad, so I can't judge anyone else, I can't point fingers, but I do often pause and think, ewww this just doesn't seem right. But, it is the culture we live in and days like today when I get to give my kids the surprise of a lifetime that doesn't involve anything other than people! My dad, Grandpa Goose is going to get Audrey and preschool then go to Graham's classroom and SURPRISE he is coming to pick you up! They are going to be so excited!!!!!