Sunday, May 30, 2010

Things That Make Me Feel Old

We had some friends and neighbors over for a barbeque and campfire tonight. And that's when it hit me. I'm old. I know, I know. I'm only 35. You're only as old as you feel. Blah, blah, blah. I'm old.

I say that because our new neighbors are young, just married, 20-somethings. Brad and I were joking about how long we've been married, and the conversation turned to wedding dates. Brad told everyone ours, December 27, 1996. The new neighbor said "oh, my... I was in 8th grade in 1996!". Not cool. The other neighbor then said she graduated from high school in 1999, the year Lexi was born. Yikes.

Yep. I'm old. There are other signs too. Like yesterday, when my 11 year old kicked me out of my bathroom so she could blow dry her hair. When did that happen? How did my baby turn into a pre-teen? While I was aging, I guess.

The fact that I couldn't finish my drink at the campfire tonight might be another sign. Brad and I used to joke about his grandparents sharing a beer and how we'd never do that. Tonight, I handed him my Mike's Hard Lemonade and said "we should have shared". I'm old.

There are aches and pains that remind me I'm 35 on a daily basis too. The way my knees grind when I walk up a flight of stairs is a loud reminder. My ever-slowing metobolism also reminds me I'm not 25 anymore.

But, as old as I am, there are also lots of things that keep me young. At the top of that list... Lizzy. She's always into something, and chasing her around, and the fact that most days I can keep up with her, makes me feel a bit younger.

Jake loves music, and downloading the coolest songs from i-Tunes. Listening to his music makes me feel a little younger, as long as it's not too loud.

My oldest thinks I'm cool, and she and her friends even confide in me. That makes me feel like the "cool" mom, and that makes me feel young. On the flip side, asking my 11 year old for fashion advice makes me feel old again.

My youngest is just a baby. I had my first baby when I was just 24. Sometimes I pretend Morgan is Lexi, and I'm a 24 year old mom. That makes me feel young, for a minute, until reality smacks me upside the head.

Yes, I'm old. And I'm actually okay with that. Afterall, it's only a number. Mine just happens to be one of the biggest numbers on the block. Memo to self: next time we have neighbors over for supper, invite the older ones too!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lizzy's Close Call

I've always thought God must have big plans for Lizzy. Today I got proof that this girl is going places. There is no other way to explain how she survived what happened this afternoon.

The boys were at a movie. Lizzy wanted to go to the park, and I needed to go to the grocery store. Lexi agreed to go to the park with Lizzy if I'd take Morgan with me. I offered to give them a ride to the park, even though it's just a few blocks from our house. They said no, they'd ride their bikes. I was nervous about that, but Lexi is responsible and Lizzy listens to her (better than she listens to me, actually). Lexi loves babysitting, and I thought this would be good practice for her.  I gave Lexi a quick lecture about responsibility, crossing streets, and not taking her eyes off of Lizzy. Still, I followed in the van to make sure they got there. They crossed the first, busy street with no problems. I pulled over and watched from the rear view mirror for a bit. When I realized they were doing great, I decided to go a little further ahead and wait. I waited. And I waited. I was starting to get a little nervous when I heard Lizzy scream. It wasn't her usual goofy scream, it was a something-is-wrong scream. I started driving toward them.

I didn't know what had happened at first, but my heart was racing. I saw people standing around, bikes on the sidewalk, Lexi holding Lizzy, and Lizzy holding on tight to her big sister. I thought maybe she had just fallen off her bike, but I knew from the crowd gathered, it was something bigger than that. It was.

Here's the story I have pieced together: The girls were riding along, Lizzy about a foot ahead of Lexi. A pickup started backing out of a driveway. There was a blazer also parked in that driveway, preventing the driver from seeing Lexi. Lizzy is so small, he didn't see her in his mirror. He backed out, Lizzy fell off her bike and under the pickup. She screamed. Lexi screamed. The pickup kept moving. Lexi jumped off her bike and started pushing the tailgate of the pickup, trying to get it to stop. Finally it did. The driver got out, started swearing and yelling "oh my God, I killed someone".

Amazingly, he did not kill anyone. Lizzy was under the pickup. She had apparently realized she better duck and fall off her bike so she would fit under the pickup. The driver never heard her screaming. He only realized something was wrong when he saw Lexi in his mirror.

When I pulled up, he apologized a dozen times. I wasn't sure at the moment what had happened, but I said he was fine, and from what I gathered, didn't do anything wrong. Lexi and Lizzy were both shaking and both totally freaked out. This happened across the street from Jake's cub scout leader's house, who happened to be outside at the time. Just before I pulled up, he told Lexi he'd give them a ride home, and she had asked to use his phone to call me. He said it was simply a case of  bad timing. I think he was a little shook up too. I know I was, and still am.

The driver of the pickup took off shortly after I arrived. I'm sure he's been thinking about what happened ever since, and no doubt double and triple checking his mirrors when driving. Lexi felt terrible, and kept saying how she would never have forgiven herself if Lizzy would have been hurt. I tried my best to assure her it was not her fault. There have been hundreds of times Lizzy has riden her bike far ahead of me. I've been several houses back pushing the stroller. Lexi was much closer than I would have been. She at least was in a position to help. I cringe to think of how far away I would have been. By the same token, I don't think Lizzy or the driver did anything wrong either. It wasn't anyone's fault. Lizzy was watching for cars, as much as a three year old can, and the driver, I assume, did look in his mirror before backing up. Lexi is scared to ride her bike. I can't say I blame her.

I'm still shaking as I write this, and it's been more than nine hours since it happened. I've said a million prayers of thanks and will say a million more. I hugged all my kids a little tighter today and told them all how much I love them over and over again. This incident was a good reminder that life is short, and can change in an instant. It's important to let those you love know just how much you love them. The near-miss also made me think about each of my kids and the gifts they have, especially Lizzy. She may be loud, hyper and stubborn, and she may drive me crazy most days, but she is also sweet, funny, caring, and smart. I can't imagine my life without her. The fact that she only has a scrape on her knee tells me that this kid has an amazing future ahead of her. God wants her here. He's got a plan for her. I can't wait to find out what that is.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rummaging for Treasures

I am not a rummage saler. I never have been, despite numerous attempts. But when my neighbor called to tell me about a huge sale with tons of little girl clothes, I decided to give it one more try. You see, Morgan was born in the fall. All my other babies were spring babies, which means the clothes I do have left are for the wrong season. And that means poor Morgan ends up wearing the same four outfits every four days. She obviously could care less, but I'd like to have a little bit of a laundry break. So, after work this afternoon the little girls and I (and Madonna and Beau) headed to this sale. We were not disappointed. In fact, I may stop at more rummage sales.

I spent $25. Here's what I got for my money:
  • a baby doll for Lizzy
  • two sweatshirts for Morgan
  • a sundress for Morgan
  • three sweatsuits for Morgan
  • three short outfits for Morgan
  • five onesies for Morgan
  • six shirts for Morgan
  • two pairs of pants for Morgan
  • a brand new Creative Memories album
  • two sheets of Creative Memories sticker letters
  • two packages of Creative Memories paper
Not a bad haul if you ask me, especially considering if I would have bought the same things brand new, it would have cost me more than $100. The bonus here is the Creative Memories stuff for myself. That alone is enough to get me to stop at another rummage sale. Those items were a total surprise, and I'm still smiling about the deals I got!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Road Trip

People told me I was crazy, brave, even dumb, for doing it, but I did it anyway. This weekend, I took all four kids on a road trip. We went to Crookston, Minnesota to visit my sister and her family. It's about a four and a half hour drive. It's an easy drive.. interstate almost the entire way. But my children can make even the easiest drives super difficult, especially when the kids outnumber the adults (which, in my van, is always). Here are some of my favorite survival tips:
  • Electronics. Whether it's a Nintendo DS (or a DSi XL, in Jake's case), an iPod Touch, or a dvd player, electronics are key to a quiet drive. We bought our first dvd player for our van in a moment of desparation. Lexi was five, Jake was three and we had driven to northern Minnesota for a wedding. It was quite possibly the longest trip of our lives. But in 2004, dvd players in vehicles were still pretty new, and we hadn't splurged yet. I was hoping to do some research and make a smart purchase. But, after a long, painful drive to the wedding, the thought of two tired kids and two hungover parents (it was a wedding, on Brad's side of the family, of course we were a little hungover!) together in the van for six hours was too much. We stopped at the first Best Buy we found and bought the first dvd player we found. We finally replaced that dvd player last year, only to upgrade and give each of the big kids their own. Now Lizzy uses it (but will only watch Alvin and the Chipmunks and Punky Brewster). That's okay with Jake and Lexi, because they have moved onto much cooler personal electronic devices, like the DS and the iPod. I'm sure soon we'll buy something for Morgan too, just to keep her quiet. I'm not usually a big fan of video games and movies (I'd much rather my kids play outside, or use their imaginations) but when it comes to road trips, movies and video games are essential if you want to be sane when you arrive.
  • Food. This should be a no-brainer. Snacks are vital to surviving any trip. I have even been known to pack snacks for the trip to daycare, which is just a five minute drive. Kids who have full bellies are much happier kids than those who are starving. Plus, road trips are a good time to get the treats you don't normally give your kids. I try to limit the junk food my kids eat, but again, when it comes to road trips, all rules are pretty much thrown out the window. This weekend my kids ate Nerds (a messy, off-limits candy in everyday life), pop, and cheetos (hate the orange fingers!). They were happy and likely on a massive sugar high.
  • Cash. This is so important. When you're traveling with kids, there is no time to write a check, or keep track of how much you charge on the debit and credit cards. Cash is easy. When it's gone, you're done spending. Plus, sometimes it's easier to send the big kids into the gas station to buy more Nerds, pop or Cheetos.
  • A sense of humor. When all else fails, laugh. The three year old just spilled an entire box of Nerds in her carseat? Hilarious. The nine year old is whining about being bored. Funniest thing ever. The baby is screaming because she's tired of being in her carseat? Laugh it off. A fake laugh can quickly turn into a real laugh.
  • Baby wipes and hand sanitizer. These two items can make any mess disappear. Don't be caught on a road trip without lots of both. That reminds me, I need to restock the van with both.
  • Sunflower seeds. When everyone is sleeping, or playing with their electronic devices, driving can get pretty boring and tiresome. A bag of sunflower seeds does wonders to keep you awake. Make sure you also have something to spit the shells into.
  • Diet Coke. If you forget all of the above items, you'll probably survive the road trip. But if you forget the Diet Coke, you're doomed. Not only does Diet Coke go great with sunflower seeds, the empty bottle makes a great spitter for those seeds, and the caffeine also helps keep even the most road weary mom awake. But there is a fine line you can not cross.... you must have just enough Diet Coke to stay awake, but not so much that you have to stop for an unplanned bathroom break. Trust me, you do not want to upset the children who are content with their video games and movies or wake the sleeping children just to use the restroom.
  • Camera. A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure you pack the camera and take lots of pictures. These road trips, no matter how long or how short, will be memories your kids, and you, will never forget

Monday, May 3, 2010

On My Mind

Every time I log onto Facebook (which is more times than I'm willing to admit) I'm asked "what's on my mind". I usually write something short and funny because really, no one cares what's on my mind. They don't care that I am craving a Diet Coke or that I don't know what to make for supper or that I have a huge pile of laundry to do. All those things are on my mind (although I've made a big dent in the laundry today, just in time for m y family to create more). But there are other, more interesting things on my mind too and I can't keep all these great thoughts to myself any longer. So here goes...
  • One of my very best friends is about to have a baby. I've been saying that for awhile, but this time I'm confident baby will be here soon....she's being induced at 6:30 tomorrow morning. I'm so excited for her and her husband. It's baby number three for them and I've been lucky enough to see the first two just hours after their births. I'm hoping to do the same tomorrow. I really didn't think she'd make it through the weekend, but this is a stubborn baby. I've been trying not to be a pest, not calling her and limiting my texts to just one per day to check on her. I have to believe if she needs me she will call, and if she goes into labor she will text. It's reminded me how miserable those last few days of pregnancy really are. I didn't want to talk to anyone, see anyone, go anywhere, or do anything. I didn't want to answer questions like "you're still here?" or "no baby yet?". Duh. I didn't answer the phone for the last few weeks of all four of my pregnancies. I was, quite frankly, a bitch. I'm pretty sure my friend feels the same way right now, so I'm doing my best to leave her alone. I'm really not sure if I'm more excited to hold her baby or to see my long lost friend again! I miss her!
  • I am caked out. We've had seven cakes since April 15th, and still have two left to go. We always have cake for breakfast on our birthdays, then another cake (or cupcakes) for daycare/school, another for the friend party, and another for the family party. I'm psyching myself up to make cupcakes for Jake's birthday on Thursday and his friend party on Friday. The thing is, I don't really like cake. Yet I eat it. Strange. Maybe I'm sick enough of it that I won't give in this week. I'm so thankful the next birthday in our house is Morgan's, and that's not until November.
  • I will be the first to admit that Lizzy is a handful. I like to say "she has a lot of personality". The kid is hilarious and keeps us on our toes. Still, I truly believe she is a good kid. And I can deal with her attitude, her temper tantrums, and her meltdowns. I think kids need to go through those things to learn that it is not acceptable behavior. What I can't handle is unsolicited parenting advice. Today we were leaving a store and Lizzy decided she didn't want to get in the van. Jake got in and I was putting Morgan in her seat when an older lady asked Lizzy, in a joking way, if she could take her home. Lizzy said "no" so the lady said she'd take the baby instead. Even though I already had Morgan half way buckled, I took her out so the lady could see her. The stranger put her arms out like she wanted to hold her. I drew the line there, and Lizzy got possessive. She came running to the van and would not look at the lady or answer her questions. I was starting to get a little creeped out too. The lady would not stop. She told me how she had done daycare for years and never had problems like I was having with Lizzy (um, ok...she was actually being pretty good at that point). She even told Lizzy to "knock it off" when she was fussing and told me kids talk to adults the way they are talked to. I'm pretty sure that was a slam to my parenting skills. I just kept smiling and quickly buckled everyone in. The lady patted me on the shoulder and wished me luck. Even Jake picked up on the fact that she thought Lizzy was a brat and I was a bad mom. While it was super annoying, it was also a good reminder not to stick my nose in other people's business. Despite what that crazy lady thinks, I do have a lot of parenting experience and I think I'm a pretty good mom. But, not everyone wants my advice. It's important I keep my mouth shut and let others raise their children the way they want. I will only offer my advice when asked. I kind of hope I see that crazy lady again. I have a few things to say to her, now that the shock has worn off!
  • Until last week I had never been to a chirpractor in my life. But when I couldn't even get Morgan out of her crib last weekend, I decided it was time. I've been there five times since, but my back and neck felt better after just the first visit. I am now a believer. And while it may break me, it is money well spent. I don't have time to have a sore back... I have too many things I want to do with my kids!
  • Brad and I had the rare opportunity to go out with friends over the weekend. Jake stayed at a buddy's house and Lexi and her friend Tess babysat the little girls so we could go out for a drink with Tess' parents and another couple from the neighborhood. I had forgotten how much I love hanging out with my husband, and with other adults. Brad's in his busy construction season and his long hours started last week so we haven't seen much of each other, especially without the kids. I even had two beers! And yes, I was tired the next day, but it was a good tired. I'm already looking forward to our next night out. It's pretty nice having a built in babysitter!
  • Lexi informed me there are only 18 more days of school (not counting weekends). That is the best news I heard all day. Partly because then Lexi, my built in babysitter, will be around more. But I'm also excited for this school year to end because it's been a really tough year for Jake. He and his teacher do not "click" and I'm starting to think she just doesn't like him. Of course, I just get Jake's side of the story, but it kind of sounds like she's out to get him. At this point, there's nothing we can do and we've told Jake to just be on his best behavior and get through the year. I've also told him it's an important lesson. There are always going to be people in our lives that we don't "click" with. It's important to learn how to tolerate them and get along. Unfortunately, it's not a lesson I wanted my son to learn in third grade!
  • Finally, sleep is also on my mind. There are more things too, but at the moment, sleep sounds pretty good. So, on that note... good night!