Can't just eat hot dogs right?

We’re about to take our first family vacation ever. For those counting, we’ve been married 14 years as of this coming Tuesday and our oldest child turns 10 this year!
We’ve done things, but always with a set of grandparents along – usually footing the larger part of the bill.
We’re going camping, in the mountains, where not even a cell tower can bring me the interwebs.
Mr.’s idea of lunch and dinner consists of sandwiches and hotdogs. This is okay for a day or two but not for five or six and he fails to remember that our oldest daughter doesn’t eat bread. Momma had to make a meal plan for a week that would feed 6 picky people with no microwave or oven. I found a gizmo so I could make chicken nuggets over a campfire, I’m taking my pot and Coleman stove so I can make Chef BoyRDee.
I also figured I could just snack them to death. This tub is full of good things and bad things alike and this doesn’t even include the real fruit. If so much as ONE person complains about being hungry before next Sunday I might just leave them at the lake…. indefinitely.
No electricity, no air mattress, no phone, no help, just us – together – a family.
To say I’m nervous is an understatement.
To say I’m not excited would be a lie.

Squashing the genius within

It would have never crossed my mind to go gather “supplies” from around my house and get creative with them. I never stole momma’s yarn, screwdriver, clothespins and t.p. rolls and ran off into the back yard to act like MacGyver. I don’t really know what would have happened but I’m pretty certain it would have been a bad bad thing. For the longest time my mom and I had separate crayon boxes and coloring books. I wouldn’t dare touch her stuff. I still won’t. Not without explicit permission and sometimes supervision.

As I got older, I started noticing how the kids in school getting awards and accolades were raised in environments that allowed for creative inventing and experimenting. Testing, trying, pushing, creating, risking, succeeding and failing. I was jealous. There was and still is a part of me that thinks of how much “more” I could have been if I had been allowed to explore my world that way.  I know now that there is more to a person’s creativity and success than just living in a more free environment. There are people all over that had nothing to explore or creating with and they still grew to be amazing people.

It is a misconception in my head. Mix it with my regret over all the things I could have done had I been more this or more that and you end up with a mom heck bent on making sure her kids feel free to be, to explore, to create, to test and to dream.

It’s killing me.

They sneak “supplies” out of the house and it gets broken or lost. I can’t tell their clean clothes from the dirty clothes because they dump the hampers to make boats or pulleys or offices. Clotheslines with knots in them strung up in dangerous fashion. Furniture being pulled together, concoctions of various shampoos and lotions in the bathroom, collections of trash to be recycled into some new contraption and towers of dishes (that come crashing down) from emptying the dishwasher because putting them away just wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t balance the coffee mugs 5 high in a leaning tower while walking across a kitchen chair bridge to the cabinet.

I’m tired. They don’t put anything back and they have no concept or concern for respecting other people’s property.

**I made an effort to teach the ‘everything is God’s’ lesson but sadly, it just made their argument stronger…. I can’t say you took MY stuff if it’s all God’s. As an adult I get it, but when arguing with my little geniuses my head wanted to explode**

I don’t want to squash their ideas or hinder their natural learning process but most of this is just wasteful messes. They are illogical and while I should be able to turn it into a lesson I seem to be completely incapable of explaining to them WHY it was a bad idea.

Do you let your kids experiment and explore independently? Do you let them have access to tools and rope and craft supplies and such or do you specify when and how things will get used?

I have spent two days undoing the damage they have done when I could have been, and should have been doing my regular chores. Now it’s all backed up again. Doodlebug just informed me their clothes were put away.

Except for Taderbug’s. Hers were in a pile on the floor where her basket is supposed to be because she’s using her basket as a desk.

Maybe it's not all me

Yesterday I took Doodlebug in to see her doctor. He is sending us to JMU (the university) for a full evaluation. I am scared. I am relieved. I am blessed that one of my online friends noticed my concern and frustration. She shared her story and inspired me to just go ask.
Doodlebug is an amazing and wonderful girl. Her little quirks made us laugh. Her clumsiness. Her adorable inability to look you in the eye when she was talking. The cute way she would cry out “but that’s JUST NOT FAIR” over everything.
Somewhere I was failing her. She seemed unaware that she interrupted I constantly. She could generate a bad attitude in a heartbeat. She has an amazing desire to help (even wants to be a doctor when she grows up) but at the same time she totally ignores you when you say “Hey, that is hurting me” if not hurting you would mean she had to stop what she was doing. We can’t get past the basics of math. Her handwriting is… terrible. Even eating at the table is a mess with her.
The thought had crossed my mind before. The “what if it’s not all me” thought. The “hmmm, I wonder if there might be some reason, other than crappy parenting, that would explain some of her general difficulty with life”.
She didn’t fit any of the profiles for anything I had ever heard of before. Every checklist I was ever asked to fill out at the pediatrician’s office showed a perfectly perfect kid. Everyone saw her quirks. No one questioned them. Some family even said they didn’t see them – ever.
I am not a perfect mom. I AM a good mom. Even though we’ve had a couple of easy “baby years” in our home school I AM a good teacher. I have lots of room to grow and things to learn and places to improve. I’m a good mom because I realize all these things and I keep searching and praying and reading and changing to try and be better. Despite all of this effort, my oldest daughter still seems frustrated and lost most of the time.
Yesterday the doctor said words that elated me and saddened me. He said that I might be on to something. He agreed that the situation warranted evaluation. He said that I might be right.
As we carefully discussed it all, speaking in code for the benefit of the very aware nine year old in the room, we explained to Doodlebug that we were going to take her to talk to some other people. How we were going to take her to chat, play, and take a few tests to see if maybe they could tell mommy a better way to teach her in school.  It could take months to get the evaluation completed. In the meantime, I’m reading and googling and seeking advice from other moms to see what I can change in our day to day family routine that might help Doodlebug. Even if her evaluation shows to issues there is still something in her life that is making things difficult and I need to fix that.
At least now I know there is a chance it’s not just me.
I am keeping an open mind regarding a diagnosis. I am not seeking a “disorder specific” doctor as I want someone to evaluate her overall and come to their own conclusions. I do have an idea on what might be the problem. It’s called a Non-Verbal Learning Disability.
Here are a few links that explain:

(Not so) Alone in the Dark

I was a woman possessed and blessed today! My kitchen is CLEAN. I don’t just mean the dishes are done. I mean three bags went in the trash, two went out for freecycle and I have labels on my cabinet so I don’t have to listen to Mr. Daddy Man whine that he can’t find his water jugs. open a cabinet and LOOK INSIDE is apparently DIFFICULT
I know I did a great job when he walked in and asked who’s house this was. I actually predicted that reaction on twitter a few hours earlier!  I tossed old bottles and nipples and sippy cups that were missing pieces. I junked “toss n go” cups well passed their expected life span. I matched up bottles and tops and sippies and valves and what was left was… TOSSED.
I got rid of all those cups from Applebee’s and all the sectioned kiddie plates that cause fights at the table. My large collection of Tupperware collapsing bowl-freecycled. Old snacks long forgotten and gone stale….tossed. The set of Playtex converter and caps for my breastpump-freecycled. Window sill cleared to make way for the dandelions and wild daisies, sweet gifts from my girls stuffed into baby food jar vases.
It wasn’t what I had planned on doing today, it just happened. I would feel bad that the kids watched tv almost all day but I don’t. They kept coming in to tell me something new they learned. I heard Taderbug reading to Bubbagirl. Doodlebug spent an hour playing a quite complicated strategy game online. Normally I have to clean while constantly being interrupted by little people fighting over what to watch, what to do, who touched who or “hey mom, I have to pee”.
Not today.
Today they behaved. They shared. They laughed. I got things clean.
(okay, before you get all “she thinks she’s all that” on my.. I did NOT clean my fridge nor did I mop the floors. I ain’t THAT good)
Mr. Daddy Man came home early, we shared some coffee, and I fixed the girls fresh spaghetti noodles to go with the leftover sauce I had frozen from a few weeks ago (total Mom WIN). I had these dinners for two from Schwan’s I was going to cook up for us after the kids ate dinner. It didn’t happen.
The kids ate.
It’s currently 8:05 pm. We have not eaten. He is at karate with Doodlebug. I am at the kitchen table wearing out the battery on my laptop typing this while Peanut plays with my almost-dead phone and the other girls read the Nook in Daddy’s chair. I have two scented candles and one tea light candle and it’s getting dark.
Scented candles to not put off much light. *the more you know*
Somewhere around 6pm, as the girls were heading out to play before karate, there was a loud BOOM and our electricity went out. It seems the transformer that runs just our street thought this particular Tuesday was a fine time to go KaBlooooey!
The neighbor said the electricity doesn’t go out here very often.
They also said that when it does go out, it takes our electric company for-flipping-ever to fix it.
So what do you do when there’s no electricity?

Learning to Let Go

I love my dad. Deeply. I didn’t grow up with him though. I had step dads; but mom was very adamant that NO ONE disciplined her children but her. I have NO idea what dad’s should do, or sound like or act like except what I’ve seen on tv and movies.
I really didn’t think it would be a big deal. Only once in a while do I feel like I missed out on something- I get sad- and I move on. I have him now, he’s awesome, everything’s good.
Now I have a husband and we have children. HE is Dad and I’m having a hard time.
I feel like his Dad was pretty harsh. Not abusive! But the whole family seems to speak to each other with a “what the heck were you thinkin’ when you did that ” attitude. Even when you are right they act like you were wrong. They also almost always sound like they are yelling at you… or at least loudly speaking with an unsatisfied tone.
Well not ALWAYS, but a lot. Not normally to me, but to Mr. B for sure.
So I have a tendency to monitor and coach his conversations with the kids. I prep him for time spent with them and feel the need to stand behind the children giving him hand cues. “Be Nice” “Let her finish” “Stop Growling” “Don’t Eat Them”
But today, today I let him extend their “no tv in the bedroom” punishment out another two weeks. I bit my tongue when he went upstairs, even though I KNEW the sobbing six year old would only sob harder, and let him say what he wanted and with the tone he wanted. He was calmer than I expected. He used language I wouldn’t approve of, not foul language, just not very “soft and mommyfied”. Now our children are doing what they were told to do; something they were NOT doing before he went up there.  He did just fine, without my input.
I need to learn how to let it go. Let HIM go. I hurt their feelings all the time because I’m being their parent and not their friend. I need to stop worrying that he will hurt their feelings. I need to trust that he is their dad and it will be okay.I need to let him stand up for me with they disrespect me. I need to stop defending them.
It serves no purpose for me to preach that Daddy is the leader and for my children to see me block his every attempt to act like the leader.
Learning to let him be in control is hard. I trust him with so much, why can’t I trust that he can handle disciplining our children. Deep down I know he’s a much bigger softie than I.

So I'm a dinosaur huh?

Doodlebug (9): Hey Mom, can you guess what’s in my pockets?
Me (much older): Tomatoes
Doodlebug: HOW DID YOU KNOW?
Me: I’m smart like that.
Taderbug (6): MOM IS LIKE A TROODON!
Me: I’m like a dinosaur?
Taderbug: Yep!
Me: Cuz I’m big?
Taderbug: Nope. Troodon’s were smart! You’re smart! So you are like a Troodon!
And that’s how we do science class kids.

The purpose of this blog

This is not my original blog. This isn’t even my second or third blog.  I’ve had Too Busy 2 Clean, I’m not crazy I’m homeschooling, Valley Walkers, Turtle Doodling, and a variety of bizarre random posts on mommy social sites.  I keep going off on tangents, posting certain topics for a week or so thinking that is what my readers want to read. It is like my blog has multiple personalities.
I finally decided last year to stop with all the posting here and there and consolidate everything here. The posts are still pretty random in topic but my wonderful readers have hung around to see what comes out of the chaos next. I became disenchanted with blogging shortly after the New Year because I realized I was “pumping” out posts rather than writing to my readers. I had lost my blogs main purpose!
I want to share ideas with my readers. I want to share reviews with my readers. I will always want to make things to give to my readers! The purpose, however, of my blog….deeeeep down…is to give me GROWN children (in the future ya’ll) a peek inside my head- in real time.
I talk to my family ‘elders’ now and listen to them retell stories of what it was like when they had little kids. It all seems filtered. If I’m having a bad day then they tell me a fluffy version of their bad day and quickly end with a “but it all turned out okay”. That’s all fine and dandy dearies but what I need as a mom is to know that there were days where Nana burnt the chicken because she was cleaning up a puking baby while my mom and aunt jumped on her sofa.
Ok, well THAT probably never happened but you know what I mean.
I have three girls. One day they may be moms. One day I want them to be able to read my blog (or a printed version of it) and see what mom used, what she liked, what worked , what didn’t. I want them to know that it was hard and I cried and it was good and I laughed.
Twenty years from now I will be past the urgency, the exhaustion, the drama, the fears, and the anxiety that accompanies being the mom of little ones. Twenty years from now I will retell the stories with the confidence of a mom who knows it gets easier and better. I want my girls to know how I felt BEFORE I knew it would all be okay.
I want my son to have a deeper understanding of where his wife is coming from. I want him to see that she is going to be so very very frustrated with him and yet love him with the deepest of loves.
And when I start getting all “this isn’t that hard just do it this way” on them….they can hand me my blog.
For my kids so they will see what it was really like inside my head. rather than the fluffy happen versions of my life i’ll be exaggerating when I’m old.
Blogging from my Android….probably from the bathroom.