Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jason's 5th Superhero Birthday Party

When Jason said he wanted to have a Superhero Party, I pictured capes and Lone Ranger looking masks. I found adorable ideas on Pinterest of felt capes on water bottles, decorate-your-own-mask stations, themed snacks and food, the works. 

But he was thinking Marvel Superheros. I could work with that! Batman, Superman, Spiderman, red, blue, and black color theme...loved it. 
Then I realized that I didn't want to have an over-the-top party for my I-just-wanna-play-with-my-friends 5 year old kid. I decided to buy everything themed, until I realized that they don't have Superman birthday party decor…just Spiderman, Batman, or The Avengers. So most of what we bought was Spiderman, which worked out fine because Jason is planning on being Spiderman for Halloween. 

I melted chocolate chips and piped little webs (that I froze until they were stiff) to put on top of the cupcakes. 
Unfortunately, the bottoms melted into the cupcake and fell over, so we ended up laying them flat on top. It turned out cute enough. 
With the leftover, melted chocolate, I created a similar web on top of the larger birthday cake, then stuck a couple of Jason's Spiderman action figures on top. Again, cute enough!
Ryan put a bunch of painters tape in a doorway for the boys to throw crumpled crepe paper into the "web" to get caught. The kids loved this game, but had no interest in any other organized activities (including opening presents or eating cake) for most of the rest of the party. They just wanted to play with all of the new, shiny toys in the playroom.
This was a wild group, that's for sure. My first mistake was not having the pizzas ready when they arrived. Waiting for dinner took forever! Thankfully, we had tables set up outside for them to eat and make their crumby mess outdoors. I bought two pizzas for Kaylin's birthday in August and had an entire pizza leftover. Tonight, I made four pizzas and people were begging for more when it was gone. Boys clearly eat more than girls! 

Had you been in my house tonight, some things you would have overheard include:

"Is there a piñata? Because I only like parties with piñatas."

"We're not going upstairs kids, let's play down here." He shot me a very annoyed look and said, "WHY???" (um, because I would like to contain the chaos and destruction to only one floor of the house, that's why)

(screamed in a helping mom's face) "I said I wanted CHEESE PIZZA, not pepperoni!!!" (after he asked for pepperoni)

"Please don't use the balloon as a weapon."

"Don't you have any juice? I don't like water."

"Can you take your finger out of your nose for the picture?"

(from my mom) "Here is the sidewalk chalk that someone was using to draw on the walls. You might want to hang on to that."

"Why did you blow out a candle on a cake, but you're giving us all cupcakes? That makes no sense at all. I want cake."

"Let's not pull down the decorations, boys."

"No, your friends playing outside can't come in for the party."

"Please stop hugging him so tight - his face is turning bright red."

"I dropped my pizza!"

"I spilled my drink!"

"He hit me!"

"That boy yelled at that other boy!"

"No more throwing blocks."

"I don't want pizza. I'll have chips for my dinner."

"Do I have to play that game?"

"Are you going to make us watch him open his presents?"

"I don't want to be in the picture."

"Jason, get out of the front yard. There's a party inside for YOU."

"Please stop aiming the Nerf gun at people's eyes."

It was a 90 minute whirlwind adventure of birthday excitement. As everyone was leaving, I caught a dad in the backyard breaking down the tables and bringing in chairs, a mom in the playroom putting away toys, and my mom washing dishes at the sink. Had everyone just walked out the door, I would have spent the rest of the night putting back together what a dozen short little people destroyed. Thank goodness for the adults at the party!
I hope you had a great birthday, Jason! Next year, I will cheerfully be paying an establishment $200 to host the party for us. Because tonight was exhausting! And your friends are…very active little boys.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#7 - (Dare I say...?) Have another baby OR totally come to terms with the fact that we are complete as a family of five.

I just realized I never posted about this, but #7 is crossed off my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list. Back in May, I thought I might be pregnant. I was late. Really late. And for the first time in more than a decade, I took a pregnancy test and was relieved that it was negative. It was a weird moment for me.

I sat there for that long "three minutes" realizing how comfortable I've become with how independent my kids are. They can get themselves breakfast when Mike and I sleep in Sunday mornings. They are learning to cook and clean and stay organized and they are so much less needy as each week passes.  They help pick up and shop and are valuable contributors to our household, instead of just adorable little rollie pollies. We have a good little routine going, the kids and I, with school, chores, and throughout the week. 

Then I saw the little pink line, without a plus sign, and sighed a very surprised sigh of relief. 

I am still very, very open to adoption down the road, but for now, I am okay with our family of five. Kaylin still desperately wants a baby sister, but as she gets older, I don't think she realizes how big of an age gap there would be if we had a baby in the near future. 

So I am crossing this one off the list. I don't plan to get pregnant anytime soon, and since the clock is ticking, I think I'm starting to run out of time to have another baby in my tummy. And I think I'm okay with that.
It's hard to believe that the last time I was pregnant was more than five years ago. It seems like an eternity!
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

#92 - Go on a special date with Jason twice (2 of 2 DONE!)

I was flipping through some pictures from this summer and realized that Jason and I spent a whole day together to complete this item from my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list!

Mike's company has "take your child to work day" once a year and this year, Kaylin was old enough to join in, so I had an entire 9 hour day with my little man all to myself. 

We did all of his favorite things: ran errands, went to the car wash, played at the mall play place, went on the escalator 10,000 times…it was his dream date for hours on end.
Anymore, Jason and I spend a lot of one on one time together and I always coin it as a "special date." Ryan and Kaylin are used to staying home alone while I run to the grocery store with Jason, at least once a week. It gives them a chance to do chores or get their independent work completed and I have a more focused shopping experience. 

Don't get me wrong…shopping with them is not the nightmare it once was. I have turned grocery trips into important life learning! When Ryan and Kaylin come with me, they each get a cart and a list and we split up in three different directions. I'm teaching them to price compare, figure out whether the larger or smaller package is a better deal per ounce, how to pick meat, eggs, and produce…by the time Ryan can drive, I will be able to send him to the store with confidence!

Jason is such an amazing kid, and I've never known why he acts SO different when we're one-on-one. Until this past week. He is SUPER competitive. Light bulb Mommy moment!  When there's no one around to compete with, he is a delight. Now that I've realized his ultra-competitive streak, I need to tame that wild beast. Quickly!
I love this boy!  I tell him that when I kiss him…literally, I'll say, "Oh I love this boy!" and he's started responding with, "…and I just love this girl!"
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Friday, October 24, 2014

A Shift in Focus

Did anyone notice that I abandoned my blog last month? No? You didn't miss me? I'm hurt. 

I didn't mean to. I was looking through the dates of my posts and realized I only posted once in two months, yet I've written four posts in the past week. Yes, I'm fickle like that. 

The bigger reason I disappeared was a shift in focus. For the month of September, Tastefully Simple had a contest/challenge that I got {a little} into. It actually started in mid-August, but around mid-September, it occurred to me that I was doing very well in the contest. I didn't know HOW well, they never told us how many points others had, but during the weekly live-stream video of how the teams and individuals were doing, it was announced that I was the #1 individual point earner one week. With cash prizes for first, second, and third places, I was suddenly very motivated to finish the contest strong. 
So I worked a lot more than usual for those last few weeks of September. I made phone calls, scheduled parties and did everything I could to earn points for this contest. The individual prize for first place was $1000, second place was $500 and third place was $250. 

On the day of the last live-stream video (where all of the final points were announced), this is what came across the screen. 
Do you know what the consolation prize was for fourth place? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. (*sigh*) Looking back, I did what I could do with the time I had. I have three kids and we homeschool, for goodness sake.  I made myself feel better by deciding that the top winner must all be empty nesters and had more time to dedicate to this contest. Congratulations to them!  They should take me to lunch as my consolation prize, don't you think? 4th Place. Sheesh.

I think I had a Tastefully Simple hangover for several days after that big announcement, where I just needed a break from…everything. I wasn't on my computer much, didn't promptly return phone calls, was completely reactive (and barely, at that) instead of proactive. It made me insane, but I'm in a much more balanced place now.

Not only did this contest consume me for most of September, but that first week of September, we also began our awesome weekly Homeschool Co-Op where I'm teaching a cooking class for kids. That takes some time to organize each week. 

Then Ryan started football again. And Kaylin started a new dance class and performing tour group, which she is loving. We are taking a break from tumbling and she's getting to sing and dance and learn stage presence and wear a fancy costume and be on a stage. She's super excited. 

Phoenix also had record-breaking rains one day, which sent my kids canoeing down a grass-retention-area-turned-river with some neighbor kids. They were even on the news!
We traveled up north to Mike's parents' cabin a couple of times for family getaways, which I desperately needed. We rested, relaxed, hit the reset button, reconnected, tra lala…it was fantastic times two.

We took a trip to the apple orchard and picked 30 pounds of apples. We should have picked way more, because they didn't last in our house. We eat apples like crazy! Not to mention that I made homemade applesauce and apple pie with some of them for treats. I found a live worm in one of the apples, which completely creeped me out. I realize they were organic and au-naturale, but seriously? Blech. 
We also hit the pumpkin patch during one of our weekends up north. The weather was perfect, the kids enjoyed the festival on the farm, we had THE BEST chocolate chip cookies I've ever tasted in their farm shop. (okay, fine…I might have been starving, but they were warm and gooey and huge and absolutely incredible) Mike didn't love the $13 per person entrance fee into the festival, but the kids are still talking about horseback riding and bungee jumping. (their version of it, anyway)
Then there was the day that I drove myself to the emergency room. I was having trouble breathing all weekend and it felt like someone was standing on my chest. I thought I was overreacting and went to bed one Sunday night, positive that I would feel better in the morning, but I felt worse. So off to the ER I went. 

They assumed there was a problem with my gall bladder or kidneys, ran an EKG, gave me an ultrasound of my abdomen, ran all sorts of tests, they even took a chest Xray. Nothing. They caught the early stages of a UTI, which I didn't think was related, but once I finally filled the antibiotic and consistently took pills for the continuing chest pain for a week, it magically disappeared. Mike thinks it was my body telling me to slow down. So I did. 
And now my life is back to being wonderfully relaxed and predictable again. The kids are back on track with school, I'm working an hour each day instead of 4-5…or more…I'm eating better, exercising again, we're back in a good routine. So you'll be seeing a lot more posts from me, I'm sure. Brace yourself.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Interview with Jason {5 years old}

Me: Can I talk to you for 2 minutes before you go to bed?
Jason: Sure.

Me: Did you have a good birthday today?
Jason: Yes!

Me: What was the best part of your birthday?
Jason: Presents and cake.

Me: What else?
Jason: Spaghetti and meatballs. IT WAS REALLY GOOD.

Me: What was your favorite present?
Jason: All of them.

Me: Are there any gifts you wanted that you didn't get?
Jason: A remote control airplane.

Me: But a remote control airplane needs a runway. It doesn't fly straight up like a helicopter.
Jason: No, a FAKE airplane. With a remote control.
(Yes child, I know what you mean - those hobby planes are not cheap!)

Me: Is there anything we didn't get to do today that you wished we would have done?
Jason: Yes. Hmmm…

Me: What do you wish we would have done on your birthday?
Jason: (thinking…thinking...) Water park!

Me: It's too cold for the water park.
Jason: It is? It's only open on Saturdays?

Me: Nope, they closed it for the winter.
Jason: What is it? It's not summer anymore?

Me: It's fall now.
Jason: Oh.

Me: Did you like having all of the attention all day today!?
Jason: Yes!

Me: What do you think is going to be different now that you're five?
Jason: I'll obey, not take naps anymore…I don't know what else.

Mike: Are you going to be nicer to friends? (we had an incident yesterday with his neighbor friend, Max)
Jason: Yeah, we already talked about that.

Me: Do you think you're going to sleep in longer in the mornings now that you're not taking naps anymore?
Jason: YES!

Me: How late?
Jason: Until, like…1:00. That's the time I have to take a nap, but I'll wake up at that time because it's a long time.

Me: What's your favorite sport?
Jason: Baseball

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Jason: Hmmm….a daddy. A daddy, daddy.

Jason: Has it been 2 minutes yet?
Me: Are you getting tired?

Jason: Yeah.
(a very busy birthday when he's used to a long, mid-day nap will do that to a kid!)

Happy 5th birthday, buddy!
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#77 - Invite neighbors over for a meal

A few weeks ago, when the weather dipped below 100 degrees and all of the kids started playing outside again, we noticed some new kids at the park. Turns out, a new family moved in around the corner and they homeschool!  As soon as I heard that bit of news, I trotted on over to introduce myself to the new mom.
This sweet lady had NO idea there were so many kids in her new neighborhood! They moved in May and had been hibernating with the rest of us all summer. 

Since then, our kids have been playing back and forth and we invited their whole family over for dinner so our husbands could meet and we could get to know them a little bit better.

It's pretty embarrassing that this item took SO LONG to cross off my to do list.  Honestly, we just don't have many people over for dinner anymore. Somewhere in the last few years, this went from being something that we did monthly, if not weekly, to something that just never seems to happen. But I'm so glad we reached out…this family is darling and our kids get along great!

#77 is (finally) crossed off my list of 101 Goals in 1001 Days!
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#93 - Go on a special date with Kaylin twice (done...again)

While Mike plays catch with Jason during Ryan's Tuesday night football practices, I've been purposing to take Kaylin on special dates. 

A few weeks ago, we went for Fall Pedicures, then last night, I took her shopping for Jason's birthday present. She found a great $3 Nerf gun thingy that he will absolutely love.

I just love time with my favorite girl!
Pedicure time!
Candy Cane Toes
Birthday shopping at Target
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Getting the Kids Involved in ALL THOSE Pinterest Ideas

I recently found a great blog post about 8 Genius Ideas for your Homeschool. The list was great, whether you homeschool or not. We already do a couple of the ideas, but I think we're going to incorporate the first one: "Home Ec Day". 

It got me thinking about an idea of my own I came up with recently. I have so many great blog posts and articles pinned on my Pinterest board, but sometimes have trouble fitting in fun things like science experiments and craft projects. 

So I've made my kids responsible for them. 
Once a week, 10-year old Ryan looks through my "Weird Science" Pinterest Board and picks an experiment that he wants to do with the kids. He's in charge of preparing it and gathering the supplies. Then Kaylin, my 8-year old budding artist, is in charge of planning a craft for her brothers. 

While Ryan or Kaylin is in charge, their siblings practice taking direction from them, listening to instructions, and showing them respect. 

Now all I have to do is find something for Jason to be in charge of so he can have a sense of control in his little life!

(if you're interested in following me on Pinterest, click here)
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