That House in the Neighborhood

When we first moved into out house in the suburbs, I wasn’t sure how I’d like living so far out from the city. Having lived in a city for the past, oh, 20 years, I was used to the hustle and bustle and living within walking distance to a variety of restaurants and bars.

Then came the kids and the “walking” to our local establishments became a process. It was still fun and convenient, but the ease part of that equation was now missing. And there is no, “go outside and don’t come in til dinnertime!” when you live on a busy main road. I mean, that my kids were 3 and 1 was also a factor, but I also didn’t see it as something that would occur in the near future. If my kids wanted to go outside and play, I would need to go with them.

So off to the suburbs we went. Now the prospect of throwing my kids outside and having them find their own fun was a reality. Except there were no other kids visibly outside for them to play with.

But then…a family moved in across the street with a similar, “go outside and don’t come back til the streetlights come on!” mentality.

I saw a girl near-ish Mahlie’s age, scootering down the sidewalk, by herself. No adult.

“QUICK! Get your scooter, go outside and introduce yourself!” The possibility of a partner in cul de sac crime was imminent.

Since then, a wonderful friendship has grown and my girls are out gallivanting with the neighbors with minimal adult interference. There has been the occasional pine cone throwing  misadventure leading to a poked eye, a less than pleased neighbor that received an apology note from my kids for all kinds of trespassing on her property, but overall my ideal neighborhood situation was emerging.

My husband and I always said we’d be fine with all the kids gathering in our yard. We’d know where they are and there would be someone else to keep them occupied.

Yesterday I had the picture perfect experience. My girls were super disappointed that mommy was no longer keeping her promise to go to the pool all day because oh my gosh long weekends are long. So we put out a sprinkler and I said all the neighborhood kids could come.

And come they did. A sprinkler on the law during the summer is like a Bat Signal to kids. They converged from up and down the cul de sac, lugging their towels, asking for goggles (for the sprinkler?) and squirt guns. Some parents came along and I got out extra chairs and we had an impromptu gathering in the driveway. Some parents looked at me in that knowing way and I immediately gave the invite; “feel free to leave them here- we’re good if you need to go do something.”

For 2 hours my kids had water fights and water chases and water battles. I got to spend more than 5 minutes sitting down.

I’m good with being “that house” in the neighborhood.

Have a great crazy day!

Looking Around

This past weekend my husband was out of town and I had the girls and 2 full days of “what the hell am I going to do?” ahead of me.

My one goal was to wear them out. I planned a packed weekend that ideally would have them crashed out and leaving me alone with my glass of wine at a decent hour. A girl can have goals, y’all.

Saturday was already filled with Mahlie’s track event, and since that involved lots of running, the exercise piece was already taken care of. Afterwards it was to the park to get the little one tuckered. On Sunday it was up and out bright and early, first to a park we’d never been to before, then to lunch at a popular restaurant, the bookstore, the garden store….whoo.

I can guarantee at least one of us was totally exhausted. We had a great weekend, spent a lot of time together, had fun, only a few tantrums, but man.

It wasn’t just the moving around and being busy and being physically tired.

I was constantly looking around.

Looking around at all the people.

And looking for the exit routes.

I’ve taken to planning my “escape route” when I am out in busy areas. The mall, for sure. Restaurants, yep. You’d think a park with so many young kids….but then there was the concert in Manchester yesterday.

I am constantly looking around. For my way out.

It’s exhausting and sad and scary, and I wish I could tell myself “oh, don’t worry, it won’t happen to us here” but that is what I am sure everyone says until it does happen to them there.

I wish I could enjoy my outings with my kids without the morbid voice in the back of my head guiding me to look for the closest exit in case a person comes in to do the unimaginable.

I’m not going to stop giving my kids freedom to run around in their neighborhood. I’m not going to stop taking them out and sharing in new experiences. I’m not going to wrap them in bubble wrap and put them away for safe keeping until it’s safe to come out….because when will that be?

So, I’ll continue my being vigilant with my escape route plans. But I’ll be out there. Looking around.

Prayers and thoughts are going out to all the families that lost loved ones or who experienced the traumatizing events of yesterday’s attack in Manchester.

 

The Talk(er)

Have you ever seen the car commercial where the dad is putting his daughter in the backseat of the car, and she is just jabbering away and he’s trying to get to the drivers seat but is politely trying to wait for a break in her chatter?

There was no break in the chatter. So he just closes the door, gets in the front seat, and his daughter is still talking, seemingly unaware that her communication partner had ducked out for a second.

That is my child. Well, she’s not the one in the commercial. But she talks like her.

She is my jibber-jabberer.

I remember being SO excited to hear her first word.  It is the millionth word in the past hour that I am not so excited about. Especially if I am listening to those words through the door of the bathroom.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s not constantly talking. But when she gets going- my word!, or in this case, my hundreds of words!- she just keeps going.

She also loves to talk at times when she shouldn’t be talking. Like when someone else is talking.

Or in class. Which was prominently featured in her most recent “report card”. She is a great student, does her work, does it well, loves to learn.

But the talking….

During quiet work time, during group work time, during hallway transition time, during centers time….ALL.THE.TIME.

Last night before bed we had our nightly “cuddle”, which consists of a hug and a check in before lights out. This is one of her favorite times to “get going”. She’ll go all evening with barely answering my questions, but then when it’s time to call it a good-night, she gets chatty. Last night she was particularly chatty, talking to me all about where she is in Harry Potter, the crazy thing her friend did, the crazy thing she did, how crazy her sister is, why is everybody so crazy…

While she’s talking I am gently pushing her back onto her bed and covering her up and she says, “Mommy, I’m talking too much, aren’t I?”

“Yes, Sweets, you are a bit chatty tonight. Time to rest your brain [so you can talk all day tomorrow].”

“I don’t know why I like to talk so much, why do you think I like to talk so much? Do you know anyone that likes to talk as much as me I don’t think anyone else talks as much as me but I’m going to try and not talk so much anymore”….talktalktalktalktalktalktalktalktalk..

I silently back slowly out of the room, closing the door, listening as my sweet, sweet, child just will not stop talking.

Have a great crazy day!

 

 

 

 

Homemade

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ve noted all of the arts and crafts taking place in our home. I am a glutten for punishment, I know. It sort of makes my heart sing though, when my 4yo comes up to me, abandoning her Saturday morning cartoons, asking if I could “set up an activity” for her. Of course, I then need to abandon my hot cup of coffee to spend the next 30 minutes trying to figure out exactly WHAT activity she had in mind because clearly none of the ones I have chosen, the ones that require minimal adult intervention, make the cut. A small price to pay, I say to myself, as I put my coffee in the microwave for the 9th time.

Whenever possible, I insert art into my kids’ day. They especially like to make art for others. Cards for friend’s and family’s birthday’s are fan favorites.

But the mother of all homemade cards: Valentines Day.

I heart doilies and pink construction paper. Call me old fashioned like that. With buckets full of puffy hearts and a ton of glitter, my girls got to work. Their Valentines did not disappoint.

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Heart shaped glitter laden Valentines in the making!

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The “dead” Valentine.

Sarah decided to give all her valentines “faces” and make them into people. The above was my favorite, the “Dead One” as she called it. I’d love to know which friend got this card!

Do your kids make homemade gifts or cards?

Have a great crazy day!

No Middle Ground

Kids are pretty much “all or nothing” type creatures. There is no “gray” area. When told to do something, they either do it ALL THE WAY or sulk in the corner and proclaim that they CAN’T DO ANYTHING.

Like wearing underwear. Simple enough, right? WRONG!

After her shower the other night, SJ comes out laughing and lifts her jammies to a bare butt.

“SJ, go put on some underwear!”

So, not unlike Joey from Friends, she comes out wearing ALL THE UNDERWEAR.

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Could she BE wearing any more underwear??

13 pairs of underwear, to be exact.

We eventually got down to a more respectable 1 pair of underwear, though not without a debate on how her butt “needs to be cozy”.

Have a great crazy day!

Getting My Act Together

I don’t make New Years Resolutions anymore. I don’t kid myself that the “resolutions” I make In January will be in play come mid-year or even February. I’ve got enough issues trying to remember to change the wash over to the dryer and then get the clothes out of the dryer in that time frame, much less take on some goal to “better” myself.

Instead, I’m going to work on getting my collective shit together.

That’s right- my household is rather well maintained (thanks to my mess-fearing hubby) but I am rather all over the place. I have projects, ideas, plans….all in some state of limbo. They were started, but set aside to start another project. Or to sit on the couch and watch Ellen and funny dog videos.

I’ve been in a slump. My garden was never prepped for winter, my post blogs are stuck in the “drafts” section and throwing my kids outside is about as creative as I’m getting with them these days.

I’m not in a motivated state of mind right now. My attention has been so work oriented- which is great, because new things are coming down the pike for me which is hugely exciting, but also slightly terrifying- that by the time I get home my attention span can’t handle much more than a funny internet GIF.

So for the next few weeks I’m going to get back on board with my blog, but in the form of shorter posts, perhaps even just a picture, of the chaos in my life.

I’ll leave you with this. Who has ever walked into a room to find something like this- a scene where you just stop and try to figure out what in the world is going on in those little heads. Have anything similar to share? Post them in the comments!

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Have a great crazy day!

Caution: Dangerous Things

Kids, it would seem, are on the brink of imminent danger ALL OF THE TIME. They fall down. They run into things. They fall off of things. They fall off something and then run into something on the way to tell you they fell off something.

They always need a band-aid for something that does not require a band-aid.

Kids take risks. As parents, our job is to keep those little risk takers as safe as possible and prevent them from physically harming themselves….too much.

Here is the thing though: you need to do this while still allowing them to take those risks that could result in some sort of physical hurting that requires a band-aid.

For our kids to grow up understanding how to take APPROPRIATE risks, we need to allow them to take the risk in the first place. They need to learn their boundaries, what they can and cannot do. On their own. Otherwise we are going to have kids that, given the first taste of freedom, are going to do something incredibly stupid because we were not there to tell them THAT IS GOING TO REALLY HURT YOU AND POSSIBLY SOMEONE ELSE. This happens because they have no idea of their limitations because they’ve never tested them before. And when you are older, your “risk taking” is going to be much more significant; a risk that will land you in jail and/or the hospital or…let’s not think about it.

I was thinking about this over the weekend as we were engaged in all sorts of Halloween fun. Some of these fun things included very sharp carving implements and things with warning labels saying “Toxic and harmful if swallowed”. There were also 0 incidents of calling poison control or 911 for a missing digit.

This is what I did. I showed them how to use the razor sharp tool/deadly poisonous paint appropriately, doled out some very detailed rules such as “be careful”, “don’t poke anyone in the eye”, and “don’t spray this in your face”, then stood back and watched as they very appropriately and very carefully used these items. On their own. Without me next to them.

Kids, when given the opportunity and responsibility, will amaze you. And it shouldn’t even be that amazing, because contrary to popular belief, kids don’t want to hurt themselves. But they DO want to try out that cool thing you’ve told them they can’t touch. So when you give them the chance, they are careful not to blow it. Did they get non-washable spray paint on their clothes? Yes. Did they carve the pumpkin within an inch of it’s ability to stay standing and showing any semblance of at one point being a pumpkin? Yes. Did they have a great time and show mommy that they can be big girls and use dangerous things with a little bit of modeling and trust? Yes.

However, they both ended up running into things and needing band-aids for injuries that in no way needed a band-aid.

Come on, some things never change.

 

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Using Very Sharp Tools

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Just Pretending To Be Dead and Being Eaten By Spiders

 

 

Have a great crazy day and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!