Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hello August

Dollar movies in the nice cold air conditioning, refreshing dips in the community pool, bug bites on our ankles, our skin covered in sunblock and drenched with sweat, slip n slide races, fireworks lighting up the sky, Italian Ice always in the freezer, frequent sleepovers, roller coaster fun, seashell searching, beautiful sunflowers, frozen yogurt in waffle cones, story time, banyan trees, art projects, birthday celebrations, Lego's everywhere, the tooth fairy making her appearance, and, lots and lots of football is how I would describe the summer of 2013. Ah, good bye June. Good bye July. Hello August....
The beginning of August always seems to throw me back into school mode. Yesterday, I asked, then, made the boys try on their school uniforms from last year and it never ceases to amaze me how they grow up and out of garments that just fit them a couple of months ago. So, the hand me downs are handed out, the school shopping begins and the long carefree days become more structured as I must ease them back into bed times and routines. I admit it, I am over worked, over tired and overwhelmed by this time of year and as much as I loved everything we did this summer, I too, need some structure back and I am starting to count the days until the first day of school (16 to be exact!) I know, I know, then it's early mornings, homework, volunteering, soccer practice, soccer games, and a whole different set of chaos but I can squeeze in a little more time to myself to get the house back in order, plan another garden, start blogging again and just be me.
So, hello August. I know you mark the end of summer vacation but that's okay. I am ready for a change even if the kids aren't  ; )

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Great Escape

School is out in our part of Florida and summertime is in full effect!
Aw, the never ending question of "what are we going to do today, mom?" is constantly buzzing in my ear every summer as we tackle the heat and humidity in search of some form of daily entertainment. The beach (check), the movies (check), watch one, no wait, ALL of your dvd's! (check) Do I even dare to mention that they should be doing some math or reading? (sometimes, check)
I have spent many summers turning on the hose, pulling out the slip-n-slide and filling up the kiddie pool. Then, watching them laugh and eat popsicles as they melt and drip down their arms.Well, those little boys of mine are getting older now and those simple treats are just not as much as they used to be.
So, here is what I have decided to do. Spend this summer differently by really getting to know my kids' interests and finding things to do that match those interests. Our theme for this summer is The Great Escape! Instead of filling time just for the sake of filling time, we are taking advantage of this time we have together by filling it with activities that enhance or educate us in subjects we are already interested in. My kids are loving this approach and I am loving not having half as much complaining.
My oldest enjoys history. So, for our first history lesson, we took a drive up to St. Augustine to really get a taste of Ponce de Leon and the fountain of youth. We read a book about his voyage before we left to add to the excitement of the journey and it turned into an experience he (and we) will never forget. We drank the water and laughed about how we didn't look any different, we headed to the spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, and imagined what the ships looked like to the Indians as they approached land and we actually got to tour a replica of a spanish ship from that time period which was amazing!
My middle son's requests are few but always meaningful. His request for this summer is to learn how to read better after a very frustrating school year for him....oh, and a trip to Lego Land! (There has to be something fun in there too) So, the Lego Land request will take place next month for his birthday and the reading, well, Mama will not disappoint you with just plopping you on the couch and painfully watching you struggle with the same books over and over until they get easier. Nope, not enough. I have enrolled him in a reading program at our local and fabulous museum. I take him once a week and they read a book and do some kind of activity to act out the story. I love the creativity of it all and he is being exposed not only to new books but also being encouraged to tap into his own artistic expressions of what and how he heard the story. It is so nice to see him free to express himself since he is stuck right in the middle of a bossy older sibling and a younger one that steals the show. So, it warms my heart to see him shine free of sibling competition and I love that one and a half hours of alone time with him every week.
Then, there is my youngest. Too young to really tell me what he wants and too busy to do anything too long. So, there is nothing wrong with filling up the kiddie pool, sliding around and eating popsicles with him for now until he grows into his own interests.
As for me, I am taking them to an exhibit next week which celebrates great american artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Norman Rockwell to name a few. It is just as important for them to know me as it is for me to know them and my love of the arts is what I have decided to expose them to this summer and to also visit exhibits I have wanted to see with them along for the experience.

With all of this extra time we have together in the summer, is there anything you are doing to turn and ordinary day into an extraordinary one?

Image credits: Giuseppe Arcimboldo - portrait is entitled, Spring. It depicts the image of a man's side profile comprised of spring fruits and vegetables. A style he repeated and is famous for.

In my son's reading group, we read a story about a little boy who took a colorful trip to the market to buy items that started with every letter of the alphabet and then the kids were shown two paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo and were given materials to create their own fruit/vegetable faces like the paintings.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Just Breathe....or Cry

Lately, I have been carrying the weight of the world around on my shoulders. I have always had freakishly good coping skills and can usually maneuver myself through anything, but, my little daily pep talks have not been working or even helping.
Yesterday, that weight got just too heavy to carry and came crashing down pulling me along with it. So, what did I do!?! I CRIED and it felt.....WONDERFUL!!!
Why don't I do this more often??? Oh, what a pleasant relief it was to let my big and tough guard down and allow myself to feel sad AND sad enough to reach the point of those comforting tears.
"I am strong. I am the glue that holds it all together. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Push through and move on. This too shall pass, etc...." Then, if none of that works, it's the "just breathe and pull yourself together!"
Oh, shut up, inner voice! Take a day off already! Don't call me, I'll call you when I am ready to talk!
Seriously, though, emotions are there for a reason and it is vital to use them...all of them. With that said, I am feeling better and stronger today. I am back to taking on each issue one by one instead of letting them all join forces and overwhelm me.
Hey, inner voice, we may be talking again soon but I am just giving you a heads up. I am allowing myself to cry now, so, I just might not need you as much...but I do appreciate you too!

How do you cope during challenging moments? Is it an inner voice, a good cry or something else that helps you the most?

Photo image credit: Pop Art Artist, Roy Lichtenstein

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Best Mom Ever

As a parent, it's normal to question yourself and wonder if you are doing everything right.
It's hard raising children and they do not come with instructions so there are many triumphs and failures along the way.
I have 3 boys ranging in age from 2 to 8 years old. So, my everyday life right now consists of potty training and potty disasters, literally dragging them out of bed for school after the 'nice' approach has no effect on them, yelling at them every morning to hurry up and eat their breakfast, pack lunches, pack backpacks, count kids and rush out the door. Then, laundry, dishes, dinner, homework, baths, a couple of praises and a couple of lectures, lots of kisses and the occasional spankings. Then, bedtime and, hopefully, I can get at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep without an awake child calling me before I start the madness all over again.
So, once more, I ponder if I am good at this and will they remember me as a loving mother who always took really good care of them or a frazzled mess who was always running around like a chicken with its head cut off???
Well, my two older boys answered my question, and, for today, and, hopefully, not ONLY today, the same answer was sweetly listed on both of my home made Valentine's Day cards as "the best mom ever!"
To this best mom ever, it was the BEST feeling ever seeing those kind words on my lovely and heartfelt cards!

I'm sure I will be also remembered fondly as that frazzled mess who flew around everyday of their childhood trying to multi task the best I could, but, for right now in this very moment I am the best mom ever and loving it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

So Welcome 2013!

It's over. It's finally over. Another holiday season full of anticipation and joy, the mad rush and the sit back and watch the magic happen, the hauling out and packing away all the feel good mood enhancing decorations, the overindulgent and "oh I ate way too much" feeling!
The angels sang, the sleigh landed, the big jolly gift giver visited, we reminded ourselves of the true meaning and adored the baby Jesus, the treasured photos were taken, the precious memories were made, and the unavoidable new year was welcomed with hopes and kisses.

As much as I enjoy the holidays, I am still amazed every year by how much it throws me off and wears me out! The house gets cluttered, the dishes never end, the kids are overwhelmed and off their necessary schedules. By the end of January, I really welcome this time of year when enough weeks have passed that the comforting feeling of sweet normalcy begins again.
So welcome 2013! What do you have in store for me??? Last year had its ups and downs like most years. We had a very tough kid who never gets hurt succumb to stitches and a "Damn it! Why do I still live in Florida!" reminder in the form of skin cancer, a pay increase (YAY!) and a fiscal cliff deadline disaster (BOO!) that took it all away, a job find and loss and another feeling of re-discovery, a connection to the past by rekindling a never expected to see you again relationship and a feel good vacation to trace the steps of my ancestors that I would not be here without. Another year that tested my boundaries and tugged at my heart.
I am not the kind of person who needs or even believes in resolutions. I think life is a constant work in progress and you have to seize the moments as they happen. It is not practical or even healthy to set unrealistic goals that obviously can't be done over night and I feel like this rushing society we live in does not have the patience or discipline it takes anymore to accomplish the kind of monumental resolutions that I have heard about.
My hopes every new year are simple and my outlook is always the same.....On January 1st, I like to remind myself of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson and I have found that by continually following his advice, it makes it much easier for me to live a good life:  "Be silly, be honest, and be kind."  These meaningful qualities always work well as a good foundation for me to apply in every aspect of my life.
So, maybe consider an alternative to a resolution this year. Tap into the core of who you are and what works for you and try utilizing it more in your life. You may be pleasantly surprised by how good it feels to be you. The real you.  As for me, I will do my best to continue to be silly, honest and kind as often as possible in 2013. The real me that I like to be.