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My First Bird Flaps His Wings

graduateOnce again it’s been quiet around here on the blog. But trust me, it’s been far from quiet in my home. Aidan graduated today. And the flurry of activity around here has been frenetic. A good kind of busy for sure, but we are all in overdrive.

aidan and momI have a lot to say about this momentous day and I have a TON of pictures to share with you, but I’m close to exhaustion. So for today I’m just sharing a taste of the festivities.

jason and aidanOf course Aidan graduating kicked my butt emotionally. I expected that would be the case. What I wasn’t prepared for was how emotional I would be over his buddies graduating too.

Above is Aidan’s close friend Jason. He feels like my third son. He has sat at my kitchen table countless times and he will be sorely missed. He actually complimented my cooking. Sniff.

aidan graduatesAnd then there is my own hatchling. I’m so jumbled up inside that I can’t even share my feelings quite yet. Happy, sad, anxious, proud, relieved, hopeful. I run the gamut. But I’ve been so busy preparing for this day that I haven’t had much time to sort out my feelings. Not that my feelings matter. It’s his day. So enough of my ramblings.

Here’s a short montage of our day…

Make your own slide show at Animoto.

Ready Or Not, Here She Comes

20130504_101514-1I’m not sure how it happened, but Shannon is now moving up to middle school. I could not be more surprised if unicorns came flying out my butt. Ok, that might hurt a bit, but you get the idea. Seriously, this caught me off guard.

You see, Aidan is graduating next month. NEXT MONTH! Can you believe that? Craziness. It feels like just yesterday I was rocking that kid in the nursery while listening to Raffi on the cassette player. Never-mind that my kids have no idea what a cassette is. As it is, the idea that I would rock any of them to a song called Banana Phone has them doubling over in fits of giggles.

I personally thought Banana Phone was a jaunty little tune. And do you remember Baby Beluga? Another melodic masterpiece.

But I digress. Aidan is graduating from high school and Shannon is moving on to middle school. And you all wonder why my head is about to spin off my spinal column.

Really, this is all very good stuff. I’m so proud of my kids. They are growing, maturing, becoming more independent and these are all very positive things.

But at the same time I’m anxious over it all. More for Shannon than for Aidan. He will go on to college and be fine. But my daughter is about to enter some treacherous years and I really want to insulate her from some of the social crap she’s about to walk into.

I remember those years and let me tell you, they aren’t fond memories.

But that’s the thing about parenting, we can’t protect them from everything even though we want to.

So, I will have to pull back on my helicopter mom rotor blades and let her fly her own aircraft.

And this is a huge step for me. Stepping back is something I struggle with. But I recognize that it’s in her best interest that I do so.

Yesterday we had a walkthrough and meet-n-greet with the teachers at her new school. Watching Shannon walk the halls and classrooms was so surreal. It was like watching a video on fast forward.

But this isn’t a movie. It’s the real deal. My daughter is growing up whether I’m ready for it or not.

I’d much rather push out unicorns.

Our Easter

IMG_6026Our Easter was a very quiet one this year. Just the six of us. Well, as quiet as anything can be when there are six people together, but you know what I mean.

One of our traditions is to take our littlest ones to our local Shaw’s store for their annual Easter egg hunt. We’ve been doing that since the boys were wee tots and we’ve always enjoyed it. But this year we missed it and I was feeling really guilty about it. So, we did an egg hunt in our own backyard instead.

IMG_5969We did the egg hunt in two stages. One for the boys and one for the girls. That way the girls would have a fighting chance. There was even a golden egg for the girl’s hunt. And of course they were both determined to find it. Can you find it in the picture above? It was even hard for me to spot!

IMG_5960We hid the girl’s eggs in pretty obvious places. On tree branches. Peeking out of shrubs. And some just laying on the ground. The girls have a very low frustration threshold which we really didn’t want to cross.

IMG_6003But the boys? Yeah, my husband had a bit of fun making it very hard for the boys to find their eggs. Once the boys found out that their eggs were not filled with candy like their sisters eggs, but with cash instead, there was much more passion in their search.

IMG_6018You know, it’s pretty cool how something so childish as an Easter egg hunt can make even the teens smile. There are very few activities all four kids can do together that they all can enjoy, but this one got them laughing and helping each other out. Except for that golden egg. The girls were each determined to find that one on their own.

IMG_5984In the end, Leela was the victor. And this did not go over well with Shannon. Next year there will be no golden egg. There should be no tears on Easter. Unless they are shed in gratitude. I’ll make an exception for that type of tears.

IMG_5990Leela being the tender hearted kid that she is, she shared her prize with her sister. While the pastel eggs were filled with candy, the golden egg was filled with two dollar bills which she split with her sister.

IMG_5995And that did my mama heart good. With that, we all went into the house and stuffed our faces with chocolate. The end.

The Flip of a Switch

I remember lots of things about my children as babies. How they smelled (oh, that delicious baby smell), their infectious laugh, their wobbly first steps. Lots of precious memories.

Of my oldest, I distinctly remember carrying him around in a pouch on my chest. It was the safest place I could keep him. Attached to me.

As a mom, we spend a lot of time protecting our ducklings, don’t we? We worry, we fuss, we keep a close eye on them. Because let’s face it, we’d give our lives to protect our children.

And for all of the eighteen years I’ve been home with my kids, this is the role I’ve played. Protector. Until yesterday.

We had an incident last night that left me unsettled. Nothing major (but I didn’t know this at the time), just something that made my tummy twist into knots and had me worried about the safety of my kids.

Sensing that something was amiss, Aidan came to my side. “I’ve got this mom”, he said. And he said it with such calm and confidence that I couldn’t help but feel comforted.

That same baby that I wore tucked between my bosom is now a good two inches taller than myself. His shoulders are broad and he looks like he could work on a farm. Strapping. He is now able to physically protect me.

It was in this moment that I finally saw my son for what he is, a man. 

My role as protector for this particular child is over in some very real ways. Of course I will always try to protect him from whatever I’m able, but the point is that he is now able to defend himself and also his family.

The roles have been reversed. And as right and as natural as I know this is, I just didn’t seeing it coming.

Three Girls In NYC

Our weekend in New York City started with the girl’s very first cab ride in the city. Now, they’ve been in cabs in other cities, but those rides did not prepare them for this experience.

As we zipped along the streets at breakneck speed, the girls sat there very quietly taking it all in. Keep in mind, my girls are not quiet children.

Once at our destination, the girls scrambled out of the car. Leela looked at me and said “Our cab man really likes his horn” and Shannon piped in with “Everyone in a car likes their horn here”.

And then they realized that they were in front of the American Girl Place and they practically dragged me by my camera bag into the store….

Now, I have a few things to say about American Girl Place. Of course your children are going to want to bring their dolls into the store. This sort of goes without saying. But there is a problem with this. Your girls will then have to take said dolls and packages all over NYC with them for the rest of the day.

Let me make that more clear. YOU will have to carry the dolls, packages, your purse, your camera bag, the kid’s hats/scarves/mittens and anything else you accumulate for the rest of the day. This is pretty much unavoidable and you might want to consider bringing muscle relaxants and Tylenol in your purse. You will need it.

Another observation. I told my girls they could choose one outfit for their dolls OR one small American Girl pet. Christmas is next month and their stuff is tres expensive. So, I thought it was a very reasonable expectation.

Well, after seeing the three floors of merchandise, telling your child that they can spend around $30 at American Girl is like telling a kid who visits Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory that they can choose one solitary M&M as their treat.

But I stuck to my guns even though we watched as parent’s carried out multiple shopping bags filled with dolls and clothes. It was a lesson in delayed gratification.

If you visit American Girl Place, I’d suggest visiting towards the end of your day. You’ll still have to drag the dolls around, but maybe by the end of the day the kids will be too tired to visit every level of the store. Maybe.

After American Girl, we visited the Hershey’s Store. Located conveniently right across the way from the M&M’s store, the Hershey’s store made my girl’s eyeballs pop out. Candy bars as big as their head, Hershey Kisses as big as a bowling ball and a machine that rained miniature chocolates. It was a lot for my cocoa bean loving offspring.

I had to temper the girls with “just choose one small thing” more for the impending sugar crash than the expense. I needed the kids to make it through an 8:00pm Mary Poppins show.

It was hard to steer them away from the M&M’s store. With thousands of lights on their ginormous billboard, it got their attention.

When they saw the towering tubes of self serve M&M’s in every color of the rainbow, I knew there was no going back. I was going to have to let them purchase $12.99lb M&M’s.

The only thing that gave me comfort was that they could take them to the show later that evening and most likely I would still be paying less than the theater treats.

I’m not really sure what the girls were more fascinated by in NYC. Certainly the lights were a hit. Everything seems just a bit more grand when illuminated by tons of sparkly lights. The ordinary becomes quite extraordinary.

But I think the highlight was the shows. We saw two. The first one, Mama Mia, I was a little concerned over it being too mature for them. However, my girls are very big fans of Abba music which clearly is my influence. Dancing Queen is a much loved song in this house.

So, I hoped that the more mature parts of the show would fly over their heads and they would instead enjoy the music. And they did. It was their favorite show of the trip.

We played the soundtrack for Mama Mia on the way home in the car and they sang along with it at the top of their lungs.

Once again, pack Tylenol.

If you get a chance to see Mama Mia, do so. It was incredible. The acting is superb and the music is just over the top incredible. It’s a not to be missed Broadway show.

Our second show, Mary Poppins, was also spectacular. It’s one of my favorite childhood stories. And even though Mary Poppins is more of a story from my childhood than theirs, I thought they would still love the magical story of that umbrella flying nanny!

The acting and music were fantastic, but the set was the most amazing thing. The way they changed scenes from the house to the roof tops was a sight to behold and the special effects made the whole story come alive in a very real way. And to see Mary fly over the audience had my daughters wildly clapping.

My girls really enjoyed the play, but they were starting to hit their wall at intermission. Or it could’ve been the sugar crash kicking in. A 2:00pm show would’ve been much better for my girls.

On Sunday we slept in for a bit, and then we made our way over to the event that was the reason for our trip. KidzVuz FashionTweenstas. An event that showcases all things tween.

The Children’s Place was one of the sponsors and Shannon really enjoyed dressing their mannequins with all of the products in their new line.

Shannon is at the age where she is particular about what she wears to school. Watching her fuss over which accessory should go with each outfit made me think that I might have some responsibility for her fussiness. Clearly this apple tart is made from the same ingredients as the mama apple pie.

While Shannon gravitated towards the clothes, Leela enjoyed checking out the whimsical pillows and sticker books from iscream. I’ll tell you a little bit more about their products closer to the holidays. They have some super fun products for kids!

But the highlight of their day was getting their hair done with Fashion Angels Color Rox Hair Chox. I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled at first with letting them get their hair colored. Even if it was with temporary color that washes right out.

I thought it was going to be messy and and end up all over their clothes. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t messy at all and how easy it was to clean up.

The girls just loved the colors and how simple it was to use. I appreciated that it washes out easily and doesn’t stain clothing. And at $11.99 for a box of 5, I’ll be stocking up on these for birthday party gifts.

We wrapped up our day by filling cups with candies from the jelly bean bar. The perfect thing to do before a four hour drive home. Hence, the singing along to the Mama Mia soundtrack at ear splitting decibels, complete with dance moves. My punishment for letting them partake in Hershey’s chocolates, M&M’s and jelly beans all within 48 hours.

Today we start a sugar fast until Thursday.

That was our weekend. A weekend of widened eyes and expanded understanding that the girls are part of a world much greater than the small town they live in.

Even though I still think they are a little young to understand all that they saw, I’m sure they will remember that we experienced it together. And that is the most important thing.

All In The Life of a Mom

Please forgive the crappy iPhone photos for this entire post. Sometimes I get snippets of my life on my phone when I don’t have my big girl camera around. Not nearly as eye pleasing, but what’s a story without pictures?

I haven’t mom gushed on Michael lately. He drew this eye with an assortment of pencils in an hour. Eye like it. And yes I know I spelled it wrong. I was trying to be cute. Get it? Eye like it? I crack myself up.

Aidan on the other hand made me worry the other day. He decided to bake for the very first time. He was hankerin’ for chocolate chip cookies and I wasn’t in the mood to make them. Shocking, I know.

So, he pulled a cookbook out of my collection and started searching for a good recipe. As he was looking at all of the apparently complicated steps to baking cookies, he announced that he was going to wing it.

I then had to explain to him how baking is not exactly something that you wing. And that it’s part science with that whole baking soda/powder thing and just because you can’t readily find it in mom’s baking stash, does not mean you can skip it.

Oy. Oddly and miraculously enough, the cookies were edible. Much to everyone’s shock including Aidan’s.

Lastly, I want to share with you a partial parenting victory. Sort of…

I’ve been riding my kids for 18 years to put crap away in the bathroom. No one ever listens. I try very hard to put my crap away as to set a good example. Usually.

The other day I used the Static Guard to make sure my skirt wouldn’t ride up my thighs and expose my buttocks to the world. That just wouldn’t be right. Well, on this one day I left said Static Guard on the counter.

One of the kids actually took the initiative to put everything away including the Static Guard, which I promptly used as hairspray the next morning.

On the upside, you could’ve rubbed one hundred balloons on my head and they wouldn’t stick. You just never know when you’re going to encounter  a multitude of balloons.

You really can’t get upset at kids for putting stuff away even if it’s in the wrong place. I guess.

There’s one word that will never be used to describe my life. Boring. Boring it is not.

Wait, I’m Not Done With You Yet

This is Aidan’s senior year. A year filled with all kinds of activities. Most of them prohibitively expensive, but he doesn’t seem too worried. This makes total sense since he isn’t paying for any of it. Funny how that works.

My girlfriend Judy shot Aidan’s senior photos and I tagged along to watch her in action. She’s really good and I hoped to get a few pointers.

But as I watched the photo session, I got a yucky feeling in my tummy. It hit me that this is it. This is his last year at home. My son is about to fly the coop.

And I couldn’t help but panic a bit…

I’m not done with him yet. I feel like there is so much more he needs to know. There are things I’ve missed. That I’m sure of.

Sure, he’s got the basics down for the most part…

Sit up at the table and eat with your mouth closed. Hold the door for the elderly, women and anyone who looks like they could use a hand. Be kind. Eat your veggies. Don’t text/drink when driving. Pick a girl your Mama will like.

Ok, so maybe not that last one. That’s most likely wishful thinking.

He has a good foundation, but I can’t help but stress over what I missed. I’m not exactly sure I know what that is, but I KNOW that I missed some things.

I’m just not ready for him to launch quite yet. But I don’t think this rocket is going to wait for my permission to take off. I just hope I gave him enough fuel for the journey.

A Very Belated Birthday

Today we celebrated the girl’s birthdays. And as many of you know, their birthdays are in the winter. You see, last winter I was still recovering from the accident and there was no way we could do a big party. So, it was decided that we’d have a summer party.

That would have been all well and good if I had the presence of mind to get the kid’s telephone numbers before school let out, but that didn’t happen. So, a September party it was…..

The girls are both uber into Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty bouncy house, Hello Kitty birthday cake, Hello Kitty favors. There was a lot of Hello Kitty in our yard today.

Are you into Pinterest? Well, I love it. But I’ve come to learn that I will never be one of those moms that has the perfect party table.

If you are into Pinterest, you get what I’m talking about. Treats with printed cards letting you know what deliciousness you are eating. Paper swirly straws sticking out of mason jars filled with lemonade. Homemade pinatas. Yeah, that ain’t happening.

I’m a buy a printed table cloth at Target and a pinata at iParty and call it good kind of mom. I wish I was more fancy pants.

Since it was a combined party, there were a lot of kids. So, we bought two pinatas.

Thank God for the bouncy house so the kids could bounce off the sugar before we sent them home.

Speaking of kids, my longtime readers might recognize the friend that is standing next to Leela in the picture above. Do you remember Sarah?

Well, I’m so thrilled to report that our little Sarah is doing just awesome! She is still in remission and looking so much stronger. An answer to prayer for sure!

After the little friends went home, the big kids got into the bouncy house to play.

All six of us took turns jumping around and acting silly. The girls thought it was a riot that the adults were acting like kids.

Can you believe I was in a wheelchair one year ago today?

It was such a fun day and the girls really enjoyed spending time with their friends. I had some serious mom guilt over the delay of their party, but sometimes life gets a little wonky. Sometimes you have to just roll with things and in the end they work out.

Not a bad lesson for kids to learn. Not a bad lesson for any of us to learn.

Mother and Son Date

Laundry. It never, ever ends. And yesterday I should’ve been working on it. I mean, if I miss even one day of that endless task, it grows. Sort of like Tribbles from Star Trek. Anyone remember those? I’m probably dating myself with that one.

I went searching on the Internet for some picture of Tribbles to share with those of you who are unfamiliar with them, but apparently the show is so archaic that all of the pictures are fuzzy. Which makes sense for Tribbles I guess. I’m getting old.

So, why waste anymore precious time folding laundry? Especially considering that Macy’s had an awesome sale yesterday that included a coupon for 25% off your entire purchase if you bought their Shop For A Cause pass. The laundry could wait.

Not being one who likes to shop alone, I convinced Michael to come with me. He needed some back to school clothing, and we haven’t done anything one on one in a really long time.

Not that I’m sure that he thinks shopping with mom qualifies as quality one on one time. I’m also not sure if quality time with me ranks very high on his list of preferred activities, but that matters not.

Sometimes kids have to do unpleasant things. It builds character.

 And I needed someone to carry the bags. I couldn’t hear his protests under the mountain of pillows. His feet were still moving, so I knew he was ok.

 After making him try on roughly thirty pairs of pants and tops which I made him model for me, boy did he hate that, and after having him carry enough packages to kill a pack mule, we went out on a mother and son lunch date.

This is where the day paid off as far as he was concerned. In the past I’ve shared with you that Michael is a foodie. The kid can take a bite of something and we can play name that herb. He has an uncanny sense of taste.

He’s my only kid who will eat blue cheese, edamame, lox, octopus, alligator, and pretty much any vegetable grown on the planet. Including those peppers Leela detested. Michael thought those rocked.

It’s the one thing Michael and I share. A passion for food. It’s our common ground. And while food may not be the best base for a relationship, as a mother of a brooding artistic teen, I’ll take it.

 As we sat at our table yesterday munching on a shared Caesar salad, we chatted about life. We laughed about things we saw at the mall. We talked about his entry next week into high school. His concerns and hopes for the coming year.

We actually communicated over that lunch. The older he gets, the more I realize how important that is. It’s a struggle sometimes, ok a lot of times, but it’s a real coup when it happens.

Certainly worth ignoring the laundry for a day!

Letting Go

Today marks the second time my son has driven a vehicle. Once yesterday with his father around an empty parking lot, and now today with me. Two parents with distinctly different driving styles trying to impart our wisdom on our eldest son.

Whose hand is that? That looks like a man’s hand. Not a seventeen year old boy’s. How did we get to this day so quickly? I remember holding him when he was a baby and thinking about this very day. I used to shoo that thought away. There is no more shooing.

I may want time to stop, but hands and feet wait for no one. They keep growing if you like it or not. On the bright side, they are just the right size for stepping on a brake. There’s that.

It’s funny how we each have completely different perspectives on this momentous event. He is thinking freedom, girls, adventure, girls, new life experiences, but still…. mostly girls.

I’m thinking oh my God this is my baby, distracted drivers, breakdowns, deer jumping out of the woods, rage filled drivers, drunk drivers, and girls. All very dangerous each in their own way.

I’m also thinking about him leaving. Like growing up and leaving. A thought that I haven’t really entertained much until recently. You see, this kid of mine- we’ve been butting heads a lot lately. I hear that’s normal. Teens and moms sometimes don’t mix.

But if I were to be totally honest, I have a hard time with the idea of him leaving and not coming back. I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but it sort of sucks.

 We spend all of these years raising these little ducklings, and then we are supposed to let them fly? Part of me wants to clip his wings so he can’t. Wrap him up in bubble wrap so that he bounces his way through life.

However, in my heart I know he is supposed to have his freedom, his adventures, and even the dang girl. So, I have to let him go. No bubble wrap, my hand off the emergency break, with the hope that everything I taught him over the years will kick into gear.