Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ahoy Mateys!

The kids are all very into pirates these days.  We often hear Peanut and Little Man making their pretend friends walk the plank and I am often referred to as Matey Mama.  So as a family fun event today, we took the kids on a Treasure Hunt Pirate cruise along the Potomac River in Washington, DC. 

After boarding we were told that Scurvy Dog Dan stole the keys to the pirate treasure and we needed to help find him, fire the water cannon's at him and get him to surrender the keys to us and if we did, we all got to share in the booty that was in the treasure chest.  Little Man, always the doubting Thomas of the group, immediately questioned one of the crew and asked if she was just pretending.  She said "Of course not, that scurvy dog is out there on the high seas and we have to catch him."  Little Man was very impressed especially because she said it all using pirate language.  The kids all got pirate painted tattoos on their arms and got their pirate names and then Scurvy Dog Dan was spotted and everyone manned their water cannons.  The first time he got away, but we managed to get him to surrender the second time we found him and the treasure chest was opened and they each got 2 pieces of booty.  One of the pieces of booty that the boys picked was a treasure map and Little Man is 100% convinced that there is real treasure at the X that marks the spot.  The good news for me and Papa Bear is that according to the treasure map, the X is in Mexico so he finally stopped asking for us to find it.  Peanut is convinced that the X marked the treasure too, but declared that the lunch at the restaurant was the treasure so he is satisfied as well.  Sweet Pea picked a lollipop so she didn't really care about the treasure at all. 

We had so much fun and the best part was watching the kids really get into the spirit of it all, participate and ask a million questions.  We did finally have to limit Little Man's questions and he said "But I have about 100 more!"  Which is exactly why we had to limit him!

Manning the Water Cannon


Shooting Scurvy Dog Dan with the Water Cannon

Pirate Butterfly tattoo

Doing the Pirate Dance

Me and My Pirate Crew

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Letter About Chores

Dear Little Man, Peanut and Sweet Pea,

Today we had a conversation about your chores and responsibilities and I am sure that you didn't grasp the whole picture, but you will one day.  I was teaching Little Man how to vacuum the couches properly and teaching Peanut to vacuum the stairs and Sweet Pea, you were using the ENTIRE spray bottle of vinegar to clean one door knob and it seemed that you doing your chores was actually more work for me, not less.  And then I remembered that I am training you for the future, the future of doing chores more independently but more importantly, the future of being a part of a team.  So after chores were done, I sat you down and we talked about the chores we were all doing.  Little Man asked when you were all going to start earning allowance and I explained that every family does this a little differently but in our family, you were not going to be paid for putting your own laundry away...EVER.  We talked about what makes a team and you all decided that working together was the most important component of a team.  We talk about Team Family all the time and so I reminded you that as a family we are a team.  No one pays me to make you lunch and wash your dishes that is a part of my responsibilities as Team Mom.  Your responsibilities as Team Kids are to go to school, try your best, clean up after yourselves and live by the family rules.  One of those rules, is that you do your chores not for money but because it is your job, your responsibility as Team Kids.  So while it is important for me to teach you how to accomplish your chores, it is even more important to me that I teach you how to be a functioning responsible member of a team, a family, without thought to monetary reward.  And it isn't always going to be fair on a team, in a family, some people will have to pull more weight than others.  Little Man, for a while you will have more chores than your younger siblings but one day you will go off to college and they will have to do all of the chores without you around to help.  But even if it is never equal, it will always be fair because we will only expect from you what we know you can give.  In life, as you will hear often, things aren't fair.  We don't want you to grow up thinking that just because you give to others, they are obligated to give to you.  You do your part, you hold up your end of all of your responsibilities and you do it because it is right and good.  Be the good in the world and be happy and rewarded with that knowledge alone.  I know you may never thank me for teaching you this, but one day I am sure that your husbands/wives will thank me and not just because you know how to clean a toilet and mop a floor. We expect you to earn your keep around here, pitch in, be a part of Team Family and while I know this may not be the way your friend's families handle chores, it is ours, for better or worse.  I think that all you might have gotten out of our conversation this morning is that you don't get any money for your chores and that you don't agree with that policy so we will work on it, together, just like we worked on your chores this morning, together.  Now go clean your rooms.


Monday, June 24, 2013

First Swim Meet

Little Man participated in his first swim meet ever this evening.  The entire thing started off with tears as we got ready at home and nerves set in.  He tried talking his way out of going and bargaining with us and we just continued to get him ready.  It didn't help that he was exhausted from a morning of playing at the pool and an afternoon of camp.  I knew if we could just get him there and get him settled he would be fine. 

He won his heat and was the overall winner in his age group in 25m freestyle and placed 2nd in 25m backstroke.  My favorite part was how excited he was to get a ribbon.  I am so proud of my Little Man.

We will probably have tears again for next weeks meet, but I get it.  He gets nervous and anxious just like me but he also pushes through and comes out the other side stronger and more confident! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Time Trials

We wanted Little Man to participate a little more this swim season and to encourage him we decided to have him swim at time trials.  This does a few things.  It gave him the experience of a swim meet without the pressure of actually swimming against people.  It gave him a baseline time for his events so that he can see his improvement over the swim season.  And most importantly, it gave him the confidence to know that he really could do it just like the big kids. 

So at 7:45 this morning we arrived at the pool for warm up laps and since they have the 6 and under boys go first, he swam his first event by 8:30 and his second event by 9:30.  The entire ride to the pool he peppered me with tons of questions because he likes to talk through his anxiety.  I get it, I totally get it.  I feel for my boy because I have a ton of anxiety that I cope with on a daily basis and I love that he talks through his instead of keeping it inside.  Anyway, I had no answers for him and was secretly very anxious myself.  Once we got there he was taken under the very capable wings of his coaches who talked him through everything. 

He did awesome and hopefully we will find out his times this week so that he knows what time he wants to improve on in his first swim meet in a few weeks.  The best part is that is doubled his swim confidence and he has decided all on his own that he should move up a lane if the coaches suggest it again and he took the swim test at the pool so that he can swim in the deep end and go off the diving board.  The only down side is that he is going to give me a heart attack because I caught him doing forward flips off of the diving board with his new found confidence. 

On our way home from time trials, Little Man told me that he knew I was proud of him just for trying new things and doing his best.  He was quiet for a few minutes and then he told me that he loved me so much because I taught him that doing his best was all it took to make me proud.  My sweet, sensitive Little Man - he has no idea how proud I am of him. 

Patiently waiting for 25 meter backstroke to start

* I will post videos of his events later

Friday, June 14, 2013

End of School Year Events

We have been insanely busy with end of school year activities.  I really wish someone had told me that while the kids might not spend a lot of time learning in the last two weeks, the parents sure do spend a lot of time volunteering and going to functions/ceremonies/parties.  I had no idea that the first two weeks of June would be the busiest weeks of the school year for us.

The first event was the end of year party where the kids rotated through party stations.  I was on the craft station which was crazy in so many ways.  MeeMom was in town and watched the Littles so that I could be with Little Man and once Little Man figured out that he was missing MeeMom time, he started crying so I brought him home early from school and life was good. 

The second event was the K-2 Award Ceremony and Little Man's class presentation of Click Clack Moo where Little Man played Farmer Brown.  The presentation was adorable and I loved my Little Man coming out of his shell in his acting debut. And since this is my blog and I can brag if I want to, Little Man received the award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Reading and the Responsible Student Award. 

The third event was field day where Peanut, Sweet Pea and I volunteered at the Dizzy Bat station.  It was a ton of fun but so exhausting.  Little Man told me that having be a volunteer at his school was like Christmas because it was so exciting to get to see me. 

There are definitely days when being a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom has it's true advantages and being able to attend these events and give Little Man his Christmas in June is a perfect example.  Next year I will be more prepared for the craziness that ensues with end of year activities (on top of soccer season overlapping with swim team etc!)

Little Man and Friends at Field Day 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Journey vs. The Destination

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that "Life is a journey, not a destination."  Sweet Pea embraces this statement daily.  The boys would probably disagree with him profusely. 

Each morning we leave the house to go to walk to the bus stop.  As soon as we have safely crossed the street the boys go tearing down the sidewalk to the corner, they reach the lamp post declaring winners and losers and rotten eggs.  They only care about the destination.  Sweet Pea might take 20 minutes to make it to the corner, stopping at every crevice, flower or worm or just deciding it would be best to walk backwards for half a block or in a spinny motion until she falls.  She doesn't really care where she is going but she has fun getting there.

Today after taking Little Man to the bus and Peanut to camp and running a few errands we found ourselves with some time to play.  I asked her if she wanted to walk to the park and she was giddy with glee to go.  So we walked hand in hand all the way to the park.  As soon as we got to the bottom of the very big hill where the park sits she says, "I have to go pee pee."  Seriously?  So I ask her if she wants to walk home.  "Yes, let's go home!"  So we climb the very large hill and walk back down the street to the house.  She uses the bathroom and then says she wants grapes. So I clean some grapes, but them in a bowl and grab myself an apple and a piece of cheese.  "Let's go the park"  So we walk back down the street, passing our elderly neighbors who must think we are crazy and climb back down the large hill.  We get to the bottom and Sweet Pea says, "I want an apple."  Seriously?  I ask her if she wants to go home and get an apple and she dances in place saying 'Yes, let's go home and get an apple!"  So we climb back up the hill, walk down the street and I clean and peel her an apple.  "Let's go to the park!"  Seriously? 

So I turned on the the TV, told her to sit and eat her apple while I sat down for a bit.  I enjoy a good journey, but at that point I was just keen on the destination.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Swim Team Adventure

Do you remember last year when Little Man cried through his entire first swim team practice?  Well I thought this year that the first day of swim team was going to go much smoother due to the fact that Little Man has been on swim team for an entire year (he did winter swim team too) and even though it is Peanut's first year on the team he just doesn't seem to stress that much.  The entire way to the pool Little Man is peppering me with questions.  Who are my coaches going to be?  Will I know these coaches?  What lane am I going to be in?  How will I know what lane to go to?  He was seriously stressed out about it and I didn't have any answers for him other than it will all be okay and we will figure it out together.  Peanut seemed totally unphased and his only questions were "Do I get to swim?" and "Can we stay and play afterward?"  True to form, Peanut went right over to his area and jumped in and held onto his adorable goofy grin for the entire time.  Little Man stayed stressed out and shed a few tears until he figured out what lane he was going to be in and got himself situated with a coach that he knows.  When I saw him crying I started walking towards him and was stopped by a friend who assured me that the coaches could handle it and that it was a mom-free zone so step away.  Poor Little Man is so much like me, I really feel for him in his times of stress because I am the exact same way.  Peanut is more like Papa Bear, go with the flow and don't worry about it until it happens. 

My favorite part was watching Little Man and Peanut hold hands at the start of practice.  I am still not sure who was reassuring who.  Peanut had me in hysterics the whole time.  He kind of sort of listened to his coaches when it was convenient and when it wasn't, he just did his own thing.  When he was told to put his face in the water and blow bubbles he just sank down to the bottom of the pool and when he came up he said "I blew bubbles down there, is that ok?"  The coach just patted him on the head and walked away.  I think they may be doing a lot of that with Peanut this year.  I loved it.  Getting him out of the pool afterwards was close to impossible. 

I predict a very very fun and relaxing summer spent almost entirely at the pool.  You won't hear me complaining.  Roll on summer break!

The boys holding hands before practice

Saturday, June 1, 2013

To Us....For Next Year's Beach Trip

Dear Us,

We would like to remember some important things for next year's annual beach trip and we know that in the daily grind, growing kids, busy days that next year around this time we will think, darn, I wish we had written down the things we wanted to remember from last year.

1.  Don't overpack - it is so easy to do one load of laundry a day on vacation when you don't have to cook, clean, pack backpacks, clean bathrooms, wash floors, etc.  We only need 3-4 outfits for each kid and it should all easily fit in one suitcase.

2.  Meals - we only need 4-5 meals for the week, one night can easily be leftovers from the week's meals and another night we can splurge and go out for dinner.  If we go back to Outer Banks Brewing Station just go for dessert and drinks and let the kids play during the live music - the food isn't worth it.

3.  Toys - the kids are at a point that they are so entertained by the beach and pool and hammock and bunk beds that they don't play with the toys so don't pack them anymore.  They have aged out of needing that kind of provided entertainment.

4.  Things to do:
Must go back to Roanoke Island so that Peanut can torment the sailor/pirate again.
Climb the lighthouse (for the boys, Sweet Pea probably isn't tall enough)
Go-carts and fun rides - this is a must and we promised we could go back again next year
Order crabs and shrimp early in the week; pick it up around 4 and let the kids watch a movie while we eat on the porch in peace.
Go to minigolf early in the day or on our way out of town - the kids love this and one day we will get to enjoy it too
Go to the children's museum on a rainy day (we didn't have a single drop of rain this year)

5.  Order pizza from the car on the way home to feed the monsters while we unpack; it will make things so much calmer and easier (in theory)

6.  If the beach house doesn't have linen service, pay extra for it.  It is worth it not to have to wash sheets when we get back

7.  If the beach house doesn't have wifi and we plan on Mama Bear getting some work done while we are there, investigate some hot spot options

8.  Borrow movies/DVD's for something new to watch on the car ride - keeps the sanity

9.  Check out the redneck monster truck park "Grave Digger" because Papa Bear really wishes he were redneck enough to pull this off

10.  Stop at the Virginia Living Museum on the way down, it is a great way to break up the trip and a great time with the cousins.

11.  Purchase a family pack to-go order of the Currituck BBQ on our way into town where we always stop for lunch and go to High Cotton for a perfect and cheap BBQ lunch on our way out of town

We get smarter each year and this year we will actually have a way to remember all of our super smart epiphanies.