Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wishful thinking.

My grandfather has come from Pennsylvania, and is staying at my parents house. We LOVE him, so very much, and are happy to have him so close. We are soaking up as much grandpa time with him as we can right now.

He and the kids were going through old pictures, and he explained who was who, and what was going on in the different pictures. There were lots of good stories!

This is one of my favorite pictures. It's of my sister and I, watching my grandpa shave.

We also found my grandmothers jewelry box, filled with treasures untold.

Can you spot baby Amy?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my grandma. She died when I was fourteen, and I struggle to remember her. I wish I could hear her voice. I wish I would have asked her a million things about her childhood, and her parents, and her life growing up. I would have liked to have known about her testimony, and what her favorite songs were, and what she was most thankful for. I wish I could have asked her what she would have liked us to remember about her. I wish I would have asked her what her hopes were for our family. I wish I would have offered to help her, to get her a drink, to walk with her, to sit with her more, to kiss her head, and hold her hand.

It's been on my heart to do all of those things now, with my grandpa. I've been taking videos, doing interviews, and snapping pictures. He is such an amazing part of our family, and I don't want to look back with regrets some day and say "I wish I would have".  I so very much want to remember him. I want to remember his smile, and his laugh, and how he says "Oooh, Amy." And I want my children to be able to remember him too.

So if you have the opportunity to sit down with some of the patriarchs and matriarchs of your family and interview them, I strongly encourage it. Think of questions you will want to know later in the future. It might be about their favorite family vacations, or what they thought of your dad when your mom brought him home. Ask about their grandparents, what life was like when they were little, about the cost of groceries, clothing and gas were when they were young. And if you're able to record it, that's even better. I want to start doing these things with everyone in my family, because truly, we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Confessions of a SAHM...

In an effort to be "keepin' it real" I have a confession.

Being a stay at home homeschooling mom is really hard. Like, really hard. Like, my hardest day at work was never this exhausting. And every now and then I think that I might just go a little crazy...

The noise is constant. Children are loud. And they escalate. "Mom, can I go outside?" " MOM! Can I go outside?" " MOOOOOOM!!" "MOOOOOOOOM!!"

The eating never ends. We eat breakfast between 8 & 9am. Then at 10-10:30am, everyone is starving, and needs a snack. Then comes lunch at 12. Then another snack, and then dinner, and then a snack before bed. And in the middle of all of those scheduled events, there is more talk about being hungry. They eat healthy foods like apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, peppers, carrots, celery and tomatoes for snacks, but none-the-less, they never stop eating. And I have a hard time leaving the kitchen because I am either preparing food, or cleaning up food.

Keeping the house tidy is maddening. We don't let the kids watch much TV, so that means if we're home, the children are usually playing. When I'm doing school with Bella, Grady & Lilly happily play with their toys. They play Veterinarian with every single stuffed animal we own, they pull all of the pillows off of the couches and make pillow and blanket forts, they color pictures using every colored pencil in the box and leave it wherever on the floor it falls, they make snowflakes by cutting pieces of paper into a million little tiny pieces... And while they do play very nicely together, they make very big messes. And staying on top of them to clean up their messes is tiring.

Homeschooling can be rough. Monday and Tuesday were homeschooling nightmares for me. Literally, I spent two days on and off in tears. Bella has recently decided that she doesn't really like "doing school", which means she doesn't like doing her lessons in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. And she drags her feet like nobody's business. She stares out the window, looks at the floor, looks at her hair, gets up, wanders around, goes potty, gets a drink, etc... And her lessons that should take an hour and a half to two hours, have been taking six hours. And while she is taking forever to get her seatwork done, my two littles are pulling out every toy on the shelf. Sigh.

I want so much to be June Cleaver. I want my children to be intelligent, respectful, kind, and well mannered. I want my house to be tidy. I want my husband to come home from work to a peaceful, welcoming environment. I want to always have a smile and a kind word. I want dinner ready at dinner time, and I want to wear pearls all day long, gosh darn it.

So tonight I am proposing some solutions for any other mamas out there that feel like they are on the verge of "losing it",  for friends of the mamas that are about to go crazy, and for the husbands of the crazy moms.

1. To my fellow SAHMs:
Find some supportive people and actually talk to them. Just call them, even if you're crying, and say "I am having a horrible week, my daughter won't do her school work, my house is a mess, and I don't know what I'm making for dinner. I'm trying so hard, and I'm frustrated, and tired."

And secondly, don't beat yourself up. Try your best, but realize that you are human, and not perfect, and that even when your house is a mess and you're having pizza for dinner again, your family still loves you. Whether they say it or not, your children appreciate the time that you spend with them. Hang in there, and if nothing else, just go put on some pearls.

2. Friends of the SAHM:
Be the supportive friend that your mama friend needs. When she calls you, or sits in front of you, crying and telling you that she feels like she's not getting it right, say to her "you are a good mama". Tell her she's not alone, and that you too are on the verge of losing it, even if you're not, just say it, it will make her feel better... Just kidding. But be honest, because the honest truth is that we've all been there at some point in life, and things will get better. Feel free to remind her of that.  And remind her of some of the things she has to be thankful for, even if it comes down to coffee and chocolate, sunshine and fresh air. My girlfriends this morning made a world of difference with their sweet words of encouragement and affirmation.

3. Husbands of the SAHM:
Love your wife enough to give her a break, as much as possible. A quiet, child-free trip to the grocery store, a few hours to roam around the mall alone, or a girls night out with friends will do a whole world of good for her mental health. Even if she hesitates to leave you with dinner clean-up or bath time rituals, say to her "I've got this, enjoy some time to yourself." Your wife will come back refreshed and ready for a new day.

The truth is, I love being home with my children. I love it. I love them. I wouldn't trade this chaos and tears to go back to work. I know without a doubt that this is the best thing for our family. And as hard as it can be at times, the beautiful times far outweigh the hectic ones. It's just a matter of keeping it in perspective.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grady's 5th Birthday: Welcome to the Swamp!

This weekend we celebrated 5 beautiful years of my sweet son. He asked for a party that included pretend (thank you Lord!) snakes, alligators, frogs and lizards. This mama aims to please, so we rocked a swamp party!

On a side note, The Buckmans have a history of unusually eventful birthday parties. You might remember, last year, we had Grady's 4th Birthday in the same spot, and it had a dramatic ending. And then of course, no one will forget Lilly's 3rd Birthday that ended with a rattlesnake bite and a hospitalization... So I was hoping for a quiet, uneventful, nice party, and thankfully, that is what we had.

I planned this party before the time change, and didn't realize how dark it would get so early. On top of getting dark early, it rained all day, so it was cloudy already before we even started. The rain and humidity was perfect for a swamp-like atmosphere.

 For our arts & crafts project/party favor, we made terrariums. Yes, I am fully aware that a terrarium is usually filled with tundra-like plants, and not at all swampy. It's ok.

Each family made their own terrarium, and then landed a family flag right in the middle. We put down river rocks on the bottom, and then gravel and then soil and our succulents, and then topped it all off with reptiles. Succulents are GREAT plants for kids, because they only need to be watered every few days, like twice a week. They are very hearty, and hard to kill.

Every swamp needs a fishin' hole!

This picture completely makes me laugh!
How cute are these boys?!

We served BBQ chicken, coleslaw, baked beans, chips, fruit and veggies. 
Nothing exciting or original, no clever names, just good ole' party food.

A big "thank you" to a friend that gave us these logs, and to my husband that cut them all to size!

By the end of the night, it was extremely dark and the kids were soaking wet. They were probably dirty too, but I couldn't tell because it was so dark. We had a great time, and were so happy to be able to celebrate this little guy, and celebrate friendships as well. 

Oh, how I love him!

P.S. I need to say a HUGE "thank you" to my friend Melissa for taking almost every single picture in this post! Without her, I would have been digital memory-less. Thank you my friend!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Boogie Boogie Hedgehog.

Happy Saturday!
So in the past, this video has been a family favorite. You'll enjoy it, although you might hate me when you're still singing that catchy little tune two days from now! 

Ever since the kids first watched it, there has been mention off and on about wanting a pet hedgehog. Then this past weekend we went to the Fall Festival, and there was a girl carrying her pet hedgehog around. The kids petted it, and fell in love. And oh, how they wanted one of their own.

On Monday, Bella asked me how much one of these adorable little pets would cost. So I pulled up Craigslist, and typed in "hedgehog". Well, a brand new baby can cost up to $150, but wouldn't you know there was a woman, right in our town, a mile away from us, selling her hedgehog for $50! AND she came with a cage, aspen wood chips, some food and a little fence for exercise time. Will wonders never cease?

So I contacted her, asked her a few questions about her special pet, and we waited for her reply. Well, her reply was lengthy, to say the least. It was all about how she doesn't like loud noises so we should try to minimize those "because we wouldn't want her to have a little heart attack". And she might not let us hold her for two months, because she doesn't like new people and has to get used to their scents before she trusts them. She can't be in temperatures under 70* or over 85*. She can only have a certain type of bedding, and she must get exercise every day. She is nocturnal, and gets grumpy if you wake her up during the day "you would too, if someone woke you up out of your sleep". The list went on and on.

My first response was, "Oh, good grief! That is just not going to work in this house. I don't have time for a diva hedgehog".  But the children whined, and then I started thinking that maybe this lady just babied this little thing too much, and maybe all of that drama isn't necessary. So the next evening we went to pick her up. (We had to wait until after 7:45pm, so as not to disrupt her sleep, and make her grumpy...). The kids named her Princess Prickle, and couldn't wait to get home to play with her.

We brought her home, sat her cage on the floor in the kitchen, opened the lid and peered in, five strange faces, all "oohing and ahhhing" and saying "how cute!". And would you believe that thing hissed at us?! And flexed her razor sharp pokers in our general direction?! I guess Bryan thought maybe she was just kidding, so he stuck his hand in there to pet her, and sure enough, he got poked and hissed at.

She hates us. Forget about grumpy, that thing is nasty! So after we all sat there in a bit of shock, we went to bed.

The next morning, sure enough, she slept.

And slept.

And slept, until after dinner. And then Bryan had had enough of that diva drama, and said, "That's it. I'm not having a pet that hisses at me, and that I can't touch!" And with that, he walked outside. And then he came back with some special firefighting rescue gloves. And then we all proceeded to hold and pet and speak all cutsie to a nasty little beast that was hissing at us and trying to poke us. But we did not care, because we were teaching her that even when she's nasty, we will still love on her.

Yesterday at BJ's I bought her a giant sized bag of cat food. I can honestly say, that I never thought, in a million years, that I would be buying cat food. I think just looking at that smiling cat on the cover makes me want to sneeze. But the princess eats cat food, so that is what I bought.

And in an effort to keep up her exercise routine (and also to show her we're not afraid of her), we took her outside for some run around time.

I think she LOVED the grass. She ran around sniffing and laughing, and singing a little tune. Well, maybe not that part, but most of her quills went down and she seemed relaxed and sweet.

I guess we'll keep her around for a while. She is pretty cute.