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When The Shoe Is On The Other Foot (It Takes A Village – Chapter 4)

Lately, my two oldest kids have walked home from school.  That is not a problem, since we just live down the block.  I go to pick them all up and as I drive the two smaller ones home, the two bigger ones walk home together.  I figure it’s good that they are getting exercise and I am hoping they are bonding a bit on the walk home.

This week the two oldest kids have also gotten dressed and ready to go to school without a fight.  Marie has always been easy to get up, for the most part, but for Patrick it’s like pulling teeth out of a lion’s mouth.  Very painful and very loud.  So when Patrick started getting up on his own and being ready to leave on time, I was shocked and impressed.

When that happens, I have been willing to drive the older two to school early if the other two won’t get out of bed.  It’s a reward for the two that got up without a fight and a motivational tool to get the other two sleepy heads out of bed faster.  However, I would really like to have all of them up and ready to go at the same time.  But beggars can’t be choosers.  You know what I mean?

So the other day, I decided to give the two oldest kids some extra independence.  They had 15 minutes before school started and instead of driving them there, I gave them the option to walk to school if they wanted to.  Personally, I would have ridden to school, considering the fact that it’s an uphill walk.  I told them I would drive them, but if they wanted to walk, they could.  So they chose to walk to school together.

Having the two older ones walk to school for the first time was a bit scary, but I knew I would be right behind them as soon as I had the other two up and dressed.  Plus, I used this opportunity as a way to get the two little ones up faster.  I told them that we needed to get moving, so we could beat their siblings to school.  They liked the idea of waving at their siblings as they were walking up a hill.  LOL  Yes, there is much love in our household.  LOL

So I got the kids dressed and out the door in record time.  There was about 7 minutes left before they were going to be late.  We got in the van and headed up the hill.  I was a little worried at first when I didn’t see the two older kids walking.  But as we got to the top of the hill, we saw them stepping onto the outskirts of the church property.

As we drove by, I slowed down some and rolled down the window.  I asked them if they wanted a ride, but they refused.  Patrick was several feet ahead of Marie and Marie was whining for him to wait for her.  They were carrying their backpacks, which I had offered to bring to school for them, but they declined the offer.  So we pulled into the school parking lot and waited for the two older kids to catch up.

As we walked into school together, with 4 minutes to spare, I realized that their tennis shoes were soaked from the morning dew.  You see, they didn’t cross the street to walk on the sidewalk, because the morning traffic on that street was busier than normal.  So they walked on the side closest to our house and the school…in the wet grass.  Yep, Mom messed up on that one.  But it was something that could be solved.  As I said goodbye to all of them, I promised to return in a minute with some dry shoes and socks to change into.

It wasn’t until I was driving home, that I realized that this was the opportunity I was looking for.  My sister had given me this idea, to show my kids what I go through every time they make me late for work.  This was the perfect time to give my two oldest kids a little life lesson.  So I grabbed their shoes and socks and headed back to school on a mission.

When I got there, I found the kids and helped them get their shoes changed.  While I was helping them, each individually, we had the following conversation:

“Hey, remember how you felt walking to school this morning?”,  I asked.

They replied, “Yeah.”

Then I said, “How you were sort of stressed and worried about being late for school?  And then when you got there, you were really tired and out of breath from the walk?”

Each one of them answered, “Yes, I remember.  I was warned out.”

I replied back, “Well, that is the way I feel every time I am late for work, because you won’t get out of bed to get to school on time.  So the next time I tell you that I need you to work with me, because I am going to be late for work, I want you to remember this feeling.  Then maybe you will be a little more willing to help me out in the morning.”

They nodded their head in agreement.

Then I returned them to their class and walked out of the door, feeling pretty damn pleased with myself.  Now, they might not remember this later when I need them to.  But for one brief second, they witnessed the type of stress I deal with every time I try to get everyone to their proper places in the morning.  It’s like trying to move a mountain sometimes and it really makes me tired.  And I wonder why I’m so tired all the time.  Maybe from some unnecessary stress???

I would like to give my sister a shout out for the idea.  I don’t know what I would do without you, Sis!  You really have filled Mom’s shoes well and I’m very thankful for having you in my life.

Mom’s a Snitch & Proud Of It! (It Takes a Village – Chapter 1)

Have you heard the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’?  Well that is very true.  Yet, the roles that we all play in a child’s life are different.  Although the parents are expected to be the authority figure in their child’s life, there are other adults, like teachers, that have a big impact on your children too.  Which is why I had to snitch on my kids the other day.  Like they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat!

Incident #1 happened earlier this week with my dear and loving son Patrick.  We were headed to school the other morning and everyone was in their normal chipper moods.  {Insert a LOT of sarcasm here!!!}  Anyway, the kid’s were getting out of the van and Patrick was angry about life in general, partly because he was tired and didn’t want to go to school.  As he grabs his backpack from the van, he asks me if I placed this little plastic container in his backpack for him.  I told him no and explained that I didn’t know I was supposed to be in charge of that duty.  He huffs around in the parking lot, arguing that he asked me to do it this morning.  Then he calls me a not so nice word (another word for donkey) and storms off to school.

Okay, I get that he is mad and the fact that he calls me a ‘donkey’ doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that he says it loudly in the school parking lot (correction, the Catholic school parking lot).  So I get the little kids into their classroom and before I leave Ann’s classroom, I tattle on my son.  🙂

Ann’s teacher, which is also Christopher’s God-mother, is a good friend of mine.  She always asks how I am doing and she knows that I will tell her the truth.  So when she inquired about my morning, I told her in a quiet whisper how my oldest son called me a ‘donkey’ in the school parking lot.  She stifled a grin and gave me kudos for not murdering him on the spot.  Then I went home to get some cleaning done.

Little did I know that my good friend would take it upon herself to guide my son a little bit that day.  After school, while I was picking the kids up, Ann’s teacher tells me that she put a bug in my son’s ear today.  When I asked her what type a bug, she told me that she had pulled Patrick aside and told him that she knew what he called me this morning and that his mother works her buns off to help care for him and he needs to be a little more Christ-like and practice the fifth commandment to ‘Honor your father and mother’.  I appreciated her helping me out.  God knows I try my best, but sometimes my kid’s don’t notice that.

The comical thing is that when Ann’s teacher told Patrick “A little birdie told me you called your mom a bad name this morning.”, he thought the little birdie was his little sister.  LOL  So when I mentioned to him later that I heard he had a talk with Ann’s teacher, he blamed Ann for tattling on him.  I was quick and happy to correct him and tell him that I was the one that told on him, not his little sister.  He then called me a ‘donkey’ again and I laughed.  Why did a laugh, because this time he said it in a joking tone in the privacy of our home.  I’m okay with that.  It’s when the name is used in anger, in public, that I have a problem with it.  Besides, I’ve been known to refer to him as a ‘donkey’ from time to time too.  I guess you could say it is a term of endearment in our household.

I Want To Know What Happens Next

I have just entered a new place that this blogger has never entered before, I am reading my blog to my children.  This is a big step for me, since most of the stories are about them.  I needed to get my kids to sleep sooner on school nights, so what better way to do that than to bore them to sleep with their mom’s blogging.  LOL

Actually, Marie has asked to read my blog, because she knows I am writing a book about the summer she had brain surgery.  I could give her the blog website and let her read it on her own, however, I don’t remember some of the things I wrote in the beginning.  So I feel more comfortable reading it aloud to her, so I can intercede with more explanation if I need to.

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Picking Up The Pieces

As a mother, you tend to get use to picking up things.  Sometimes the things you pick up are pieces of an item that was accidentally broken by your child.  Sometimes, you have to help pick up the emotional pieces of your child.  It’s not an easy job, but I guess that’s why God created Moms.

The other day, my oldest boy Patrick, fell off a skateboard and hurt his wrist.  He came in the house crying and holding his wrist.  I got him calmed down enough to find out what happened.  He said he had fallen off the neighbor boy’s skateboard and twisted his arm behind him.  I looked him over and was relieved to discover that there were no open wounds on his body.  Then I quickly reminded him that this is the reason I don’t want him riding a skateboard.  He said, “I know, I know.”, but I don’t really think he does know.

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Patrick’s Day!!!

{Here is another story that was written and never posted.  It was created on November 17, 2014.  To Patrick – Thanks for spending the day with me.}

I’m sure I have mentioned my very loving, emotional, moody, spiritual, angry, creative, shy 9-year-old son before.  Patrick is my second child and suffers extremely from middle child syndrome.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have referred to him as a pain in the butt!  But I love him with all my heart and he amazes me every day.  So when I woke this morning, I decided I needed to document the day I had with Patrick yesterday.  This way, later in life when Patrick is telling his therapist what I bad mother I was, I can remind him of the day I will forever proclaim “Patrick’s Day”.  (I’m just kidding about the therapist thing…or am I, hmmmm?!?!?!)  🙂

Patrick joined a Lego League at school last year.  It was the first year the school had this club and the coach/teacher was new to the whole thing too.  They started the club late in the school year and when the new school year began, the meetings didn’t get started as soon as they would have liked.  Patrick’s school had two 2nd/3rd grade teams that consisted of four students each.  They participated in their first Lego meet yesterday and I am so glad we went.

I need to back up a step and give you a little detail of what happened BEFORE the Lego meet.  At the beginning of the school year, it was decided that Patrick needed to repeat the 3rd grade again.  Mostly because he was having difficulty reading.  He was about to enter the Fourth Grade with a reading level of a First Grader.  It was determined, through some testing at the end of last year’s school, that he has some short-term memory problems that make it hard for him to remember sight words.  What does that mean, it means he has to work harder than most children when it comes to reading and writing.

Needless to say, he was not thrilled when he was held back a year and I was upset because he would miss out on many things that are not available to children until the Fourth grade.  However, he had a chance to be taught by a teacher he really liked again and he was already friends with all the kids in his new class.  So it was a good decision and he has greatly excelled this school year in many ways.

Because of the fact that he was held back a year, he was able to take part in the Lego League this year.  If he had been in Fourth Grade, he would have been too old to be in the league.  He also wouldn’t have been able to play on the 2nd/3rd grade basketball team that he is on this year.  Which is another thing that he enjoys and I think it is helping him mature.  So as you can see, sometimes a step back can really be 3 steps forward.  🙂

Now, Patrick’s basketball games had been announced before the Lego League meet was and when we discovered that the Lego meets were on the same day as his basketball games were, Frank and I both declared that Patrick couldn’t make it to both events.  Even though his basketball game was at 2pm and his Lego meet was from 7:45am to noon that day, that was way too much for me, not to mention my 9-year-old son.

However, Patrick wanted to participate in both.  He had really worked hard on his team’s project and as his coach stated, “He has really stepped up and took charge of his team.”  So when it was announced that Patrick’s team didn’t have to be at the Lego meet until 9:30 am, instead of 7:45 am and his basketball game wasn’t until the afternoon, we decided to let him attend both.  Looking back now, I am so glad we did.

After reading the Lego meet guidelines, it was clear that this was not an event that the entire family should try to attend.  It sounded like there was not a lot of room around the exhibits and more people would create more noise.  Which in turn, makes it harder for the judges to hear the presentations.  So it was decided that only Patrick would be going with Frank or I.  Since Frank would enjoy watching the basketball game more than I would, I figured I would take Patrick to the Lego meet.  That way, if the other kids did want to go to the basketball game, I could stay home with them and Frank could attend the basketball game with Patrick.

So at 9:00 am on Saturday, November 16, 2014, Patrick and I headed out the door to his first Lego meet, as little voices in the background were asking to go with and crying when the answer was no.  I’m sure to Patrick, that little moment felt like a victory to him, even though it was another heart wrenching moment in the life of this mother, for not being able to make ALL of my children happy at the same time.  Why would Patrick feel like it was a victory?  Well, in his eyes, he doesn’t get enough Mother/Patrick time, “Because of his stupid siblings Marie, Ann and Christopher.”

So off we went, my son and I, to his first Lego meet.  We met his coach and team mates at the event and they checked out the presentation while I stood there.  Believe it or not, it was an event that parents were not allowed to do any work for their children.  I have decided that this is the kind of events I like.  So I stood by and took pictures of the team as they made finishing touches to their presentation.

I strolled around the other exhibits and got a feel for what the kids were to expect.  I would ask the group of kids what their creation did and how did they make it.  I was giving the kids practice before the real judges came by.  I discovered that most of the exhibits had an actually purpose, yet Patrick’s team project did not.  Their only purpose was to make some simple machines, like a motorized pulley move.  So with some questioning of Patrick’s team and some suggestions, the kids came up with a name for their creation and what it was meant to do.  Here is a picture of their exhibit:

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What does it do, you ask?  It’s a safety lab for carnival rides.  🙂  The little thing that looks like a car is the area that is motorized.  So the little people on top of it spin around when the power switch is turned on.  The two people at the red desk are the lab partners taking notes.  The people lined up in the back of the room are the next test dummies to get on the safety ride.  And last, but not least, the little partitioned area at the bottom right of the photo is the bathroom.  LOL

I think they did pretty great, considering that they had to make up a name and a function for their creation at the last-minute.  When the judges came around, all four of the team members spoke and explained a part of the exhibit.  They did very well and I couldn’t have been prouder.  Or could I?

I discovered 10 minutes later that I really could be prouder.  Because Patrick’s team was awarded a trophy for “The Most Complex and Decorative Award”.  Personally, I think it was the added bathroom that got them the trophy.  LOL  I was so thrilled for them and for our school.  Needless to say, I am so very, very glad that I took him to the meet that day.  It was a very exciting and fun experience…and I think Patrick had fun too.  🙂

Patrick was able to make it to the basketball game in time and the whole family went to see him play.  Afterwards, the family went to get a special treat from a nearby fast food joint to celebrate his big day.  Like I said, it was a great day with my son Patrick.  Yes, I was worn out by the end of the day.  Yes, Patrick still has moments when I want to tape his mouth shut, just to stop him from talking.  But I still love him with all my heart and soul.  He is my inventor in the family and he is always wanting to help fix things.  I see great things for his future as an engineer.  We just have to get him past the 3rd grade.  🙂

When he was in the First Grade, I couldn’t get him to sit down and do his homework.  Heck, I couldn’t even get him to write his name on the top of the worksheet.  He kept telling me that he didn’t write as well as other kids in his class.  I told him I didn’t care what other kids could do, I only cared what he could do.  Patrick looked at me seriously and said, “But I don’t have a working brain.  I only have an engineering brain.”  I told him, “I have no doubt that you have an engineering brain.  I truly believe you could make a rocket some day.  But if you don’t know how to read, write and figure math, than you won’t be able to explain it to the people who will help you pay for the rocket.”  He seemed to understand that, yet we still struggle with homework.  Maybe some day, he’ll create a machine that will help kids like him use their “engineering brains” to learn how to read, write and figure math.  I can tell you one thing for sure.  Whether Patrick builds a rocket or some other contraption some day, he’ll definitely see him soaring high one day in his future.

Is Santa Claus Real???

It’s the Christmas season and my kids are getting excited about getting new presents.  Frank would tell you that they need more toys like they need another hole in their heads.  (Yet Frank purchased a gift for the two of us before he even bought toys for the kids this year.  So who is the real kid here?  LOL)  Anyway, I grew up in a house that believed in Santa Claus.  As I got older, I figured out that my Santa gift was actually delivered by his elves (aka Mom and Dad) but I was not going to call my parents out on this discovery in fear that Santa’s gifts would stop arriving for me.  Because, lets face it, Santa’s gift was always the biggest and best gift I would receive every year.  

So Frank and I have raised our kids to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.  However, as my kids get older, their friends take it upon themselves to tell our kids that these things aren’t real.  The other day, when I was at the store, some neighborhood kids decided to break the news to my older kids.  I guess Patrick came in and asked Frank if Santa was real and then said that the kids next door said Santa was not real.  So I guess Frank went outside and I’m not sure what he told the kids, but I do know that he told the neighbor kids to go back home.  When I got home, he suggested I call our neighbors and ask the Dad to tell his kids to keep quiet about Santa Claus not being real.  I told him that it wouldn’t work, because I remember another child from my daughter’s school last year tell her the same thing.  Unfortunately, no matter what you do, society has to try to ruin the mystical things of childhood.  

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Spitting Bullets

Have you heard the term “spitting bullets” before? Well, I was at that point this morning. My oldest son Patrick, the apple of my eye, the lovable, sweet, caring, pain in my butt, had me to that point this morning. We had to play the traditional “I’m tired” game when it was time to go to school. He didn’t want to get out of bed, however, neither did the other two. Then, as we are walking out the door 3 minutes late, he discovers it was drizzling out and had to have a coat to wear. However, I have no idea where his coat is. It’s most likely in one of the quarantined bags that was placed in the office back in the spring. (We had a little problem with head lice, but that is another story I will have to tell you about at a later date.)

Anyway, I didn’t think this morning could get much worse, but I was wrong. As I am driving to work, in the light rain, I notice my car has a leak. A leak…inside of the car…not from the window seal…from the LED screen that shows what the temperature is outside. GREAT!!!! And how do you suppose this leak was made? My children, that’s how. They have climbed on top of the van more times than I can count and has obviously cracked the roof somewhere. You know, mini-vans are made out of fiberglass these days, not metal. So it wouldn’t take much for an 8-year-old that weighs at least 50 pounds to crack my van roof. Especially if he got on top of it enough times, which he has. I am not saying that Patrick is the only one that gets on the car. The two girls have done it too. But Patrick is the normal culprit.

So now I don’t only have a van that squeals. (Nope, still haven’t fixed that squeal) But now I have a car that squeals and leaks. I was telling a friend at work that I will probably have to get some caulking and hopefully find the crack so I can cover it up with silicon or something. My friend suggested duct tape. In fact, she said they have so many new colorful duct tapes that you can choose from. LOL I told her that my luck would be that there will be enough spots to cover up that I will probably end up spelling a bad word on my car. Mind you, it would be on the roof of my car, so not many would see it. But with the way my life is going, I would end up putting the letters F. U. on the top of my van with some colorful duct tape. Then the next morning the traffic reporter will report something like this, “There are no backups on our main highways this morning. However, there is a very noisy van driving East bound that has the message ‘F. U.’ on the roof of the car.” LOL Yep, my van would be known as the F. U. van for the rest of my life, all because my son cracked the roof of my van. Now do you see why I was about to spit bullets this morning? This is my life…does anyone want to trade with me?

Is Patrick there?

As I have mentioned before, I have an 8-year-old son named Patrick.  Although he is only eight, I am afraid we have entered a new phase in his life.  It’s called Patrick the Babe Magnet!!!!  At the last day of school, one of his girl classmates asked him for his phone number.  I must have been very tired that day, because I gave her my work number.  Well, school was out for about a week when I get a call on my work phone one morning.  I answered the phone, “ABC Company, JoAnn Williams speaking.” then I hear this little girl’s voice say, “Who?”  I reply back with “JoAnn…Williams…at ABC Company” the girl replies back, “Is Patrick there?”  I answer “No, I am at work and Patrick is not here.”  The girl asks “Could you have Patrick call me?”  I reply, “Not right now, because I am at WORK.”  Then I ask “Is this the phone number he should call you at 999-555-1234?”  She says yes and I tell her that I will give him the message tonight and we say goodbye.

I was very blown away for a few reasons.  First, I can’t believe this girl didn’t hang up when I answered the phone stating my company name.  When I was her age I would have hung up right away.  Actually, I wouldn’t have ever called a boy’s house at this age.  Second, I can’t get it through my head that my son has a little girl calling him.  This is all new to me.  I have an 11-year-old daughter that hasn’t gotten into calling boys.  Heck, she doesn’t even call her friends that are girls.  So I really wasn’t expecting this to happen to my son.  I am not ready for this to happen yet.

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Rats!!!!

No, it’s not what you think.  We do NOT have rats.  Last night I went to the performance “Rats!!!” at my children’s school.  They have a play/musical every year and all of the kids are in the performance.  It’s normally quite comical.  This year it was a play about the Pied Piper getting rid of rats in a town.  And yes, you guessed it, my children were the rats.

Actually, my 3 year old, Ann, was a mouse.  She sang “Hickory Dickory Dock” with the Pre-schoolers and they did a great job.  They even had a few hand gestures during the song and they had on little mouse ears.  That is probably the first time I was happy to see a mouse.   🙂  Continue reading