Give Other Parents a Break

My daughter had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy on Friday.  This was not a decision we entered into lightly.  While she has had frequent illnesses, especially this year, it was the sleep apnea she was experiencing that resulted in our going forward with the surgery.  A 4-year-old simply needs good sleep to develop properly.  We couldn’t let her go on with interrupted sleep any longer.

This experience has been rough.  I have gained a new respect, as well as more empathy and sympathy for parents with particular challenges.  Specifically, I feel for parents with challenges in four areas.

1.  Parents of children with chronic illness.  We have had to keep a watchful eye on my daughter because the complications associated with this surgery can be serious.  Besides the general anesthetic, which is worrisome in itself, there is pain, fever, medication, swelling, bleeding, vomiting, constant monitoring and encouragement of increased fluids, limited diet, hindering activity, and I’m sure more that I’m missing in this long list.

It is stressful.  I just keep counting down the days.  But, I realize there are parents of children who have ongoing or permanent challenges that don’t get to count down the days.  I can’t imagine what a toll that would take for an extended period.

2.  Parents with no local support system.  I’ve always wondered how single parents do it, especially when caring for newborns.  If I didn’t have my husband, I don’t know how I could have managed to even take a shower when my children were infants.  In many ways, the almost constant attention my daughter needs for two weeks has been like going back to the newborn phase.  Knowing what I do now, I feel strongly that this should not be an out-patient procedure.

In addition to my husband, my parents are nearby, and I have friends  who show concern and support (as an example, my son’s friend’s family let him stay over the night before so we didn’t have to worry about getting him to school and getting my daughter to the hospital early in the morning).  In today’s world, many people have to relocate for jobs, and they have no family or established friendships in their community.  How difficult it must be to juggle parenting and all of the other responsibilities of life without support.

3.  Parents of children with food allergies or other dietary restrictions.  My daughter could not have dairy for the first two days after surgery.  So much for the promises of ice cream.  My husband bought her some non-dairy ice cream (one made with soy, another with rice), but to be honest, the texture and taste just aren’t as good.  She can’t have any red food or drink, because you can’t distinguish between the food and blood.  She can only have soft food.  She is supposed to drink 64 ounces of fluid per day.  This is extremely difficult to achieve with a 39 lb. child who is not allowed to use a straw or a sports bottle to get all of this liquid in her.

We were at a convenience store yesterday.  She asked if we could buy a snack.  My first instinct was to say “no”, because obviously most snacks at a convenience store are not the healthiest.  But, I have had to say “no” to this poor child so often lately, that I told her we could get something if we could find a treat she was allowed to have.  Unfortunately, between the chips and the candy bars, there was not one thing that I saw that she was could have.

I thought, how trying it must be to have a child who can’t have anything containing peanuts or gluten.  Again, I felt grateful that our situation is temporary, and my heart went out to parents who have to be vigilant about these restrictions every day, permanently.

4.  Parents who seem impatient or pushy.  This child of mine has a history of aversion to medication.  Without getting into a lot of detail, getting medication in her body has been nearly impossible.  We’ve tried everything.  When she was a year old, even the nurse in the emergency room was not successful at getting her to swallow ibuprofen without her gagging and spitting it out.  This time around, with all she had been through, I really wanted to avoid suppositories.

She did not want me to use the syringe, so I gave her the chance drink the 1.5 teaspoons every four hours, alternating between Tylenol and ibuprofen.  It would take her hours.  She admitted, at one point, that none of the medicine from her teeny tiny sips was entering her mouth.  She was wetting her lips and wiping off all of the medicine with a wet paper towel.  She used every stalling tactic between sips that you can imagine.  She’s much smarter than I, so they worked for quite a while.  Then, there was the gagging.  How much was real, and how much was put on to get out of taking more medicine?  Hard to say, but after days of going through this, hour after hour, I was ready to pull my hair out.

The pressure from medical professionals to make sure she gets all of the pain medication and fluid in her is tremendous.  The frustration is incredible.

Yesterday, against my better judgment, I allowed her to attend her brother’s t-ball practice.  I encouraged her to wear a pull-up because there is no bathroom available there, and we are constantly making her drink fluid.  She said she didn’t want to look like a baby.  Okay.  “Try to use the potty before we leave.”  “I don’t have to go.”  “Try anyway.”  She tried.  Nothing happened.  The ball field is a bit of a walk from the car.  We weren’t there ten minutes when she said she had to go potty.  I drove her to the gas station.  We returned.  In the meantime, I’m trying to get her to take her medicine from a syringe because she was due (I had talked her into the syringe earlier in the day).  She’s gagging and carrying on.  I must have looked like a crazy freak.  Then, she tells me her tummy hurts.  I can’t help but wonder if it’s legit or another stall tactic.  She says she has to go to the bathroom again.  I tell her, she is definitely not coming to the next practice.  I ask my husband to take her because my patience is gone.  They return as practice is ending.

We get home and the syringe is still not empty.  I get her to take another tiny squirt.  She pukes all over me.  I guess the gagging and the tummy ache were for real.  She says her throat hurts a little from throwing up.  My heart breaks.  I feel like a terrible mother for pressuring her to take the medicine when she already felt sick.

I thought of the times I have judged parents who didn’t seem patient or kind enough, without having any idea what they may have going on, and I tell myself, next time, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

 

 

Grumpy, Grouchy, Grateful

Maybe you’ve seen this before.

Sound familiar?

First of all, I have no idea why my kids call me “Mama.”  I’m sure I called my Mom “Mommy” when I was very small, but as long as I can remember, she’s always been “Mom.”  When my son was a baby, I referred to myself as, “Mommy.”  Somewhere along the line, he picked up “Mama.”  Of course, his baby sister has followed suit.

When my kids were very young, no place was off limits.  At some point, I decided I am entitled to privacy in the bathroom, so now I lock the door.  As soon as the door shuts, I hear, “Mama.  Mama.  Mama.”  It then turns into “Mama!”  “What?”  “Mama!”  “What?”  “Mama!”  “WHAT!?!??!?!”

It makes me insane.  I find myself thinking, “Can’t anyone do anything for themselves around here?  Seriously?!” Sometimes, they don’t even try to figure out where I am, or give me time to answer in between “Mama’s.”

But, then I take a breath.  In early 2007, I was single.  I didn’t even have a pet.  I had job responsibilities, etc., but I had a lot of freedom.  Family and friends cared about me, and wanted me around, but no one truly needed me.  Fast forward, 2.5 years later, I had a husband, a baby and a dog.  Now, I have a husband, two kids, a dog, a cat, a number of fish and three ducklings.  Lots of changes in a relatively short period of time.

When I take a breath, I think what a privilege and blessing it is to be needed.  While my kids will need me, even when they’re grown, there will be periods when they’re teenagers that they probably won’t even want my company.  This time of being needed on a daily basis will pass quickly.  While I can’t promise that I won’t have moments of grouchiness and grumpiness, I hope I always remember to take that breath and be grateful.

 

Have I Become the Person I Always Wanted to Be?

We’ve had a long journey to where we are now, in many ways.  My husband and I were married in 2008.  He moved into the condo I bought before I met him.  Fifteen months later, we bought some property out in the country.  About a week after that, we had our first child.

We were both 36 when we got married.  So, we had duplicates of a lot of stuff.  My husband never really fully unpacked there.  Some of his furniture remained in the garage.  When we bought the property, while we didn’t know when we would build on it, we began packing away unnecessary items.  The garage became full of boxes stacked on top of one another.

In early 2012, I became pregnant with our second child.  I finally finished my wedding scrapbooks that year – I filled two scrapbooks!  It only took four years!  But, I figured that was better than never finishing them at all.  We broke ground on our new home that summer.

We had our daughter in the Fall, and we moved into our new home in January of 2013.  It is a ranch-style home, with a basement.  We didn’t finish the basement immediately, but we had plans to.  More time for stuff to stay in boxes.

We finally began finishing it in 2015.  We did quite a bit of the work ourselves (my husband did most of it), and so it took a while.  We just had carpet installed about a month ago.  I now have a jetted tub, and an office/scrapbooking room.  It is glorious.

And now, the unpacking of forgotten items begins.  A couple of years ago, we had a pump go haywire in the basement.  It would occasionally spray a bunch of water everywhere.  It took us a while to pinpoint the problem.  It was an easy fix, with the help of a professional.  Unfortunately, in the meantime, some of my scrapbooking items were ruined.  In the clean-up, one of the wedding scrapbooks was knocked from a table and damaged.  It was set aside to be repaired or replaced later.

Now that I have my own scrapbooking room, I finally got around to transferring the pages to a new album.  It’s given me the opportunity to look at it for the first time in quite a while.

In it, I had printed the prayer I had asked my nephew to read at our wedding.  I believe I found it in a wedding planning book that offered reading and prayer options.  I’m not sure of the copyright issues, so I won’t include all of it here.

While I believed in God at that time, sadly, I can’t say for certain if I was really expecting God to hear this prayer, or if I just thought they were nice words for the ceremony.  What was amazing to me when I read it, nearly nine years later, is that God has blessed us in all of the requests included in the prayer.

One of the areas that struck me, was the ending, which stated (paraphrasing) . . . and many years from now, may I look at you and think, because of you I am the person I always wanted to be.

It made me think about how much I have changed since we were married.  While my husband has been incredibly supportive in my career choices, especially some that were potentially risky to our financial situation, we have had our share of problems.  Marriage is hard.  These days, people are encouraged to wait until they’re older to get married.  We were on the older end, even these days.  Frankly, I think getting married older, when you’re set in your ways, is actually harder.  I think there is something to be said for marrying young, experiencing firsts, and growing up together.

What I realized, was that it has been the trials in our marriage that have made me closer to the person I want to be.  When I said my vows, I didn’t know who that was.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  While it’s easy to point fingers and blame the other person when things aren’t going smoothly, ultimately, we can only change ourselves.  Marriage has forced me to look at my own immaturity, and I finally had to grow up, big time.

Through trials, my relationship with God and my marriage have been strengthened.  From the English Standard Version, James 1:2-5

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

I was lacking wisdom.  I was so unwise, I thought I was wise.  When we’re going through trials, we just want smooth sailing.  But, it’s through those challenges, we experience true growth and learning.  I’m praying that nine years down the road, I’ll be even closer to the person I want to be.

 

 

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Rocking Motherhood

I had not heard of this #RockingMotherhood tag until Jaclyn Bree’s thoughtful nomination, inviting me to participate.  Check out Jaclyn’s blog Jaclyn Bree:  Living the Rocky Life.  Jaclyn shares creative DIY, money-saving ideas.

Soooooo, my assignment is to list some ways I am rocking this motherhood thing.  This is not easy for me, as I feel humility is always the way to go.  But, it has given me a little time to reflect and think about some things that have worked well with my kids.  In the spirit of positivity, I won’t list all of the things we’ve tried that did not go so well!

  • I read to the kids every night.  Both of my kids love books.  In fact, an extra book is a reward for taking a bath.  That started when my son was around 3-years-old.  He used to scream when I rinsed the shampoo out of his hair (it wasn’t because it was getting in his eyes – he just decided he no longer wanted water on his head).  I bribed him with an extra book if he could get through a bath without screaming.  It worked beautifully, and four years later, both kids still remind me at bedtime that they had a bath, so they get an extra book.  Now my son often reads a book to me at bedtime.
  • I make my kids somewhat responsible for figuring out how to get along with each other.  My kids fight over toys way more than I would like.  My husband and I established a rule.  If they keep their toys in their bedroom, they don’t have to share.  If it’s in the living room, they have to share.  This has provided a side benefit of them keeping fewer toys in the living room as well.  It also gives them some control over the decision-making.
  • We make a big deal of all of the milestones.  There are disadvantages to being older parents.  But, one of the advantages for our kids is that my husband and I waited a long time to have these babies, and we don’t want to miss a thing.  Whether it’s a birthday or preschool graduation, we celebrate!
  • I make sure my kids know I am happy to see them.  I got this advice from the book, “Hold On to Your Kids:  Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.  This is one part of many in creating a positive association so your kids will trust you and keep a bond with you as you guide them through childhood.  When my son was three and four, he used to greet me and be excited to see me when I got home.  My daughter still does and is.  But, now that my son is 7, he doesn’t even acknowledge me sometimes.  So, I seek him out, give him a hug and ask how his day was.
  • I force my kids to interact with adults and other kids.  My kids don’t have tablets or phones.  If we go out to dinner, they are not allowed to bring a book.  While, giving them something to occupy them so the adults can talk, might seem like a break for me, I don’t think that’s serving them well long-term.  They need to learn to function in social situations.
  • I try not to downplay compliments people give me about my kids.  When someone tells me my kids are beautiful or sweet, I agree with them.  I’ll say, “I’m not going to argue”, or “I think so too, but I realize I am biased.”  I won’t say I’ve never been guilty of saying things like, “They have their moments”, because the tendency is for us to think of them as an extension of ourselves, so we want to deflect those compliments.  But, they hear us talking about them.  They are their own people, and I want them to know I am their biggest fan, so I’m making an effort to agree about positive things said about them as much as possible.
  • We expose them to new experiences.  We have been fortunate enough to be able to take some trips over the last couple of years.  We go to a lot of zoos and aquariums.  We also visit state capitol buildings, ride trains and go to museums.  Of course, all of these things cost money.  But, there are less expensive, and even free things we can do with our kids that allow them to see new things and interact with different people.  I take the kids to the library (free!), and along those lines, our library has free passes to the local zoo.  Some of the local museums offer free kids’ days, and we often take advantage of those.  We’ve driven to different states to see family.  Driving doesn’t cost too much these days (gas prices are down now) and they get to see all sorts of new things passing through different states.

So, am I really rocking motherhood?  In some ways yes, in others no.  I’m sure all mothers have days when they feel they are totally failing, so participating in this actually did give me some needed encouragement. Thank you, Jaclyn, for the opportunity.

The #RockingMotherhood tag rules:

  1. Thank the blogger that tagged you and link to their blog.
  2. List 10 things you believe make you a good mother (this is just a guideline. It can be more or less than 10.)
  3. Tag 3 – 5 bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood Tag.
  4. Grab the #RockingMotherhgood badge below and add it to your post or sidebar.

I would like to nominate the following mothers for the #RockingMotherhood tag:

Belinda at Better Than Busy
Jewel at Write away, Mommy:  Becoming Better Writers and Mothers
and Dawn at Just Doing My Best

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Planning Ahead – A Virtue or a Fault?

I am a planner.  Even more surprising in this day and age . . . I use a paper Franklin planner.  I have had this leather planner since 2000.  Isn’t that incredible?  I wonder how many thousands of times that thing has been zipped and unzipped.  Other than one spot where I spilled white-out on it (another outdated tool that I still use), it looks new.

I have tried electronic planners.  I’ve lost data when they have failed.  Unless I lose or forget my planner, I know it’s going to work the way it’s supposed to.

I write just about everything down.  I do also use my Outlook calendar at work – but it’s more of a back up for the times that I accidentally leave my Franklin at home.

I’m not saying I never forget about a meeting or show up more than a few minutes late, but it is rare.

I am an individual who is prone to anxiety, and it could be argued that planning and wanting to control everything are some of the negative traits associated with those tendencies.  While I’m not sure you can ever fully eliminate all of the inclinations associated with an anxious personality, I truly feel I have largely overcome my anxiety.  I actually enjoy planning.  Weird, huh?

I like work projects that require coordinating people and events and making the pieces fit together.  We have a trip coming up, and for me, nearly half of the fun is planning the route and where to stay and what we’ll do.  But, we don’t like to plan to be somewhere at 7:00 AM.  I even include relaxation time in the plan.

It’s probably no surprise to you then, that I see planning ahead as a virtue.  However, I know there are some negatives.  My tendency to plan (some may say over-plan) can be annoying to others – especially non-planners.  Thankfully, I married someone who has the same philosophy about traveling that I do.  The flight, the rental car, the hotels, all booked in advance.  The outings can be more flexible.

Speaking of flexibility – that’s the other downfall.  I don’t like unknowns hanging over my head.  I don’t like working around other people – especially if they are not planners!  These people drive me insane!  Why do I allow other people to have this power over me?  I try not to – but it is a problem!

I feel myself getting a little tense thinking about it.  Deep breath.  Reminder – God puts people, whom we may find difficult, into our lives, to refine us.  If everyone was like I, I wouldn’t have experienced some unplanned adventures, that frankly created some of the best memories of my life.

While I appreciate the positives about spontaneity, I don’t beat myself up over my desire to plan things out.  It makes me reliable – someone others can count on.  I like that.  My husband has expressed appreciation in my ability to map out the details or of our road trips, and that makes me feel good.  Also, I don’t see it as a burden.  As I said, I enjoy it.

But, as we all know, we can’t plan everything.  I try more and more to leave a little time free, in case we need to pull over and see the world’s largest frying pan.

Roller Skating is not Like Riding a Bike – And Being Cool is Uncool

I’m sore.  I suspect the soreness will escalate to stiffness by morning.  My husband suggested we take the kids ice skating.  I told him I would come along, but I never could ice skate, and with hardware in my back now – it really doesn’t seem like a good idea.  I would be on the sidelines.  Roller skating on the other hand . . . I’m all about that.  Plus, the kids have been asking for roller skates, but I told them they needed to at least try it before we would consider buying them.

So, we went to church, then out to lunch, and then on to the roller rink.

My husband and I did not meet until age 35.  However, we are only three weeks apart in age, and grew up about 90 miles from each other.  It’s nice to be able to relate to each other, having grown up in the exact same era, in the same region.  Last year, I bought my son suspenders.  My husband said he only had one pair of suspenders.  I asked, “Were they Mork suspenders?”  “Yes.”  “I had those too.”  I don’t care who you are.  That is funny right there.  Unless you’re too young to understand the reference.

Anyway, we both thought we were pretty awesome skaters in 1980, which was probably about the last time I went roller skating.  I didn’t think it was very popular anymore, but everything old is new again.  The parking lot was full, and the place was packed.  Who knew?  We all got our skates on, and I thought it would come back to me, the way riding a bike did after not riding for many years.  Some cliches are true.  But, no.  Being on roller skates at age 45 felt very uncomfortable.  Having two falling kids holding each hand was not helping the situation.

I only fell once . . . but as I was going down I had flashbacks, and realized my last two of three falls as an adult ended in my seeking medical attention and wearing slings.  Why had I thought this was a good idea?

I saw my husband fall, and I loved him a little more in that moment.  You see, as uncool as I think skating is nowadays, there is something about it that brings out the showiness in people.  It does take some skill, and you can move pretty fast, so maybe that’s it.  We were in the center of the rink, which I thought was reserved for little kids.  But, there were people showing off, because I guess they got bored with going around in circles.  They were skating backwards and through and around people very fast.  From my perspective, they were just clogging up the area and causing hazards in a space that was supposed to be safe for learning.  I was starting to get kind of angry about it.

I have one teenage kid in mind, who thought he was pretty cool.  I did not think he was cool.  I thought my husband, forgetting his pride to fall down trying to teach his kids to roller skate was very cool.  Cooler, because I know when he was that kid’s age he was into being socially adept (one of the slang definitions of cool, according to dictionary.com).  Now, I think, the cooler you try to be, the more uncool you are.

 

 

 

 

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Play by the Rules . . . or Don’t

My kids like to play games.    I’m asked to play tag at least twice a week.  I’m old.  I’m tired.  I’m lazy.  I usually say “No.”  But, I will play catch with a stuffed animal if I can do it while lying on the couch.

My daughter loves puzzles and board games.  As long as my children refrain from fighting while we play, I can be found playing Disney Princess Candy Land, the Paw Patrol Pop Up Game, or the Dino Math Tracks Game on any given evening.

Recently, they’ve started playing this “Sly Fox” game . . . I think that’s the name of it.  We saw it on Peppa Pig the other day.  I think my son said he played it somewhere else, too.  We play it inside (this week is unusually warm, but with it being February in the Midwest, we don’t get outside much).  We have a pretty large living room, and a pretty big foyer.  So, the fox faces the front door with his or her back to everyone else.  The others start on the opposite wall.  When the fox’s back is to you, you move closer to them.  When the fox turns around, if you’re caught moving, you have to go back to the start.  Whoever gets to the fox first wins.

I give in a couple of nights a week, and join them in this game.  It’s actually kind of tedious and frustrating.  The game is nothing but judgment calls.  Does blinking count?  Talking?  The fox is allowed to turn around as frequently as he likes, and can watch you for as long as he likes.  My son gets very annoyed with my daughter.  When I’m the fox, I let a lot slide.  Everyone gets frustrated, because, of course there is some part of your body that is not absolutely still, so it’s hard to make a case that you aren’t moving.

By the time it’s my son’s turn to be the fox, he is very irritated.  He sends my daughter back for every little thing, as she had for him.  I think, “Why are we playing this?  This is not fun.”  But, the last couple of times we have played, my daughter has realized, with wisdom beyond her four years, that she can’t win.  So when my son turns his back, she gives it her all and tries to run across the room in one “go”  (my children say this British term often . . . “You can have another go!”  Don’t we say “You can have another turn!” on this side of the pond?  Must be another Peppa Pig thing).  She does not even try to stop moving when he turns around.  Instead she dives toward him.  She still can’t win, but it is hilarious.  She gets sent back and runs across the room again – yelling, falling, freaking out – but the best part is that we are all laughing at her.  I get sent back for laughing.  My son yells, between laughs, “That’s not how you play!”  Finally, we’re having some fun.  And then, my daughter says, “I’m done playing that game.”  As usual, she’s calling the shots.

I’ve mentioned our bedtime ritual in previous posts.  Tonight, my son came up with a new game at bedtime.  He informed me that the game is called “Real Word, Nonsense Word.”  You have to say a real word, and then make up a nonsense word that rhymes with it.  Some examples:  neck, bleck; face, zace; wiggle, sliggle.

What turned out to be interesting about this game is that the learning opportunities happened when their second word, which was to be a nonsense word, was an actual word.  So, the times they accidentally broke the rules were most worthwhile.  They didn’t know what the word meant, or that it was a word, and so they learned something new.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m one of those rule follower kind of people.  Always have been.  But, sometimes, when winning doesn’t really matter, it’s more fun to forget the rules and just try to grab it all in one go.

 

 

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Make Room for Pink and Butterflies

When I was in my 20’s and my friends were having kids, I had in my mind that if and when I had kids, I would wait until my children were born to find out their gender.  I also decided, if I had a girl, I would not dress her or decorate her room in pink.  I mean, girls have so much working against them anyway, why start highlighting the differences at the beginning of life?

Well, things, change.  When I got pregnant, I couldn’t wait to find what I was having and did so at my first opportunity, both times.  I do not regret it.

I had a boy and then a girl.  While I would have been happy with two boys or two girls, I feel so very blessed to be able to raise one of each.  Truly, the experience of a lifetime.

I really thought the odds of our having a girl were practically nil, as my husband comes from a long line of only boys on his Dad’s side.  So, when we found out we were having a girl, I was shocked and thrilled.

I had already revised my opinion of all things girly before I found out I was having a girl.  What’s wrong with embracing femininity?  Nothing.  Men and women, boys and girls, are different.  Period.  And that is a beautiful thing.  I don’t wear a ton of make-up, but I need to do my hair and make-up to feel like myself.  I also like to wear dresses.  That said, I occasionally have to put on a hard hat and steel-toed boots at my current job.  Looking like a girl doesn’t mean I’m not capable.

For the first two weeks of my daughter’s life, she wore pink every single day.  I loved it.  My daughter loves her princess dresses, fingernail polish and dance class.  But, she also likes soccer, matchbox cars and my son’s toy tool bench.

My daughter’s room is decorated in butterflies.  I’ve kind of made that her signature symbol.  They’re beautiful and feminine.  But they also represent to me the wonderful process of maturity and growth.  When I see clothing in her size with a butterfly, I have to buy it.  When I see a butterfly, I think of her.  Thankfully, she likes them too.

I don’t impose being girly or not being girly on her.  I couldn’t if I wanted to.  She is very strong-willed.  Her favorite color changes multiple times a day.  Sometimes it is pink.  More often, it is not.  Sometimes she decides her favorite color is white, black, or gray.  She has her own mind, and she lets her opinions be known.  I’m just glad, in the process of trying to keep up with her big brother, she also makes room for pink and butterflies.

 

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Seven is the New Thirty

There was something about my son turning seven that I dreaded.  Doesn’t it seem like there are some ages that just sound so much older than just a year or two before?  Six still sounds like a little boy.  When you think of a 7-year-old boy, you think of a kid with a mind of his own, maybe even an obnoxious one (I do, anyway).

Maybe it’s because age seven is the first age I remember rather vividly.  I remember snippets from when I was younger than that, but my seventh birthday party seems like it was yesterday.

So, I dreaded it, but, of course, it came anyway.  And what changed?  Nothing.  At least not overnight.  Sure, he’s changing. But, he still likes to sit on my lap.  Only, now, he’s often reading the books to me, instead of the other way around.  I really enjoy seeing his reading improve, and watching him laugh when he reads a funny book, as he did tonight.

When he started school, I wondered how long it would take for him to be too cool for his Mama.  I was cautious of giving him too much affection in front of his classmates.  Last year, when I asked if he was too cool for me to give him a hug in front of the approaching school bus, he said it was okay.  I still have my baby!

Last year, I helped with his Valentine’s Day party.  I wasn’t sure how he would be with me there at school.  It was only kindergarten, but still, he was becoming more independent.  As I was talking to his teacher about what I needed to do, he walked up behind me, hugged my legs, and said, “I just love you.”  I was like the Grinch.  My heart grew three sizes that day.

I’m helping again this year, and he says he wants me to.  He still loves his Mama.  I know he always will, but surely there will come a time when he’s too cool to show it.

Still, much like my own 30th birthday, which I frankly dreaded for years, age seven wasn’t the dramatic change I expected (to read more about that, see my post Is There Anything Good About Getting Older?).  You would think I would learn.  As I’ve said before, I’m a slow learner.

 

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Tons to do in Texas

We went to Texas, to see family after Christmas.  It’s a 13 1/2 hour drive, one way, from our house in the Midwest.  That’s without stops.  Needless to say, with a 7 and 4-year-old, there were plenty of stops.  So, the drive took two days each way.  But, it was worth it.  Besides getting to see family, none of us had been to Texas, so it was fun to see things for the first time, together.

Texas is a huge state, and we were only there for four days.  We stayed in the Fort Worth area, so we didn’t even scratch the surface.  We had a good time and saw some interesting things worth sharing.

Fort Worth Zoo.  Our first excursion was the Fort Worth Zoo.  We went on a Wednesday,which is half-price.  We thought that would be terrific.  So did everyone else, especially the week between Christmas and New Years.  It was packed.  We also learned early on how sporadic December weather in Texas can be.  We’d only packed jeans, thinking 70 degrees would be the high.  It was over 80 that day.  The kids whined a lot.  I was hot too.  But, it’s better than the 0 degree temps we had at home a couple weeks before.  No doubt.

Despite the crowd, and being overheated, it is a fantastic zoo.  It’s very large, and I think you would really need at least two days to do it justice.

I love that quote, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”  It’s questionable who coined it.  Regardless, it’s a good one.  I got some beautiful photos of my kids while my brother was parking the car.

Right before one of the chimps showed us all of his goods. Yikes! That’s a fine “how-do-ya-do!”

Dealey Plaza.  My husband is a history buff.  His #1 must-see was where John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas.  I’m not as into history, but I was interested too.  It wasn’t what I pictured in my mind.  I thought it was more of an open area, rather than the congestion of downtown.

The “X” on the road marks the place of the impact of the second shot.
The grassy knoll, and the Book Depository Building from where Lee Harvey Oswald “allegedly” shot John F. Kennedy. There is a museum on the sixth floor, from where the shots were fired (depending on if you believe in conspiracy theories). My husband and I would have liked to visit the museum, but the kids were restless.
Texas
Interesting that the building was once owned by the Rock Island Plow Company. I’m originally from the Illinois side of the Quad Cities.
Wild how many people outlined the word “Allegedly”.

The Frontiers of Flight Museum.  After visiting Dealey Plaza we visited this history of flight museum at Love Field, a few miles away.  It was interesting and the staff was extremely friendly.

This plane was an exhibit that could be entered from the inside of the building. Pretty cool.
The Flying Pancake
All eras of flight were represented.
They even had a play area.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.  We drove about an hour to Glen Rose, Texas, to take a “drive through” safari.  It was awesome.

Wildebeast
I don’t know what this animal is, but it has cool horns.
I think he was posing for me.
Yes – A zebra really stuck its head in my car.

Creation Evidence Museum.  We stumbled upon this museum in Glen Rose.  Really interesting, if you’re into this sort of thing, which we are.

Human and dinosaur footprint found in the same stratum. Fascinating.

Urban Air Trampoline Park.  On our last day, we went to the trampoline park in Mansfield, Texas.  There was a lot to do there for older kids, but the novelty quickly wore off quickly in the “little kid” area.  I’m glad we checked it out, but we won’t be running back any time soon.

We had a lot of fun in Texas, and there is a lot more to do for our next visit.


 

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