Tag Archive | kids

Crash Course in Volleyball Anyone?

If you are a Beach Boys fan, you should be familiar with the song “Be True To Your School”.  I don’t know why, but I have always loved that song.  I also know from past experience that our small school community is an awesome group of caring families.  Yet, I was still blown away from the loyalty and willingness that I encountered when I sent out my S.O.S. message.  I asked one mother, who had two children that were old enough, if one of them would be willing to be a stand in for one night.  Luckily for her children they did not have a current sports physical on file, because she was willing to throw them both into the ring with no volleyball experience what so ever.  You gotta love those moms who will volunteer their kids willingly and without their children’s knowledge.  He he he

The next mother I texted had asked her daughter and the daughter was willing to step in because her school needed her.  Her mother had told me that her daughter did not know any of the volleyball rules, but if her school needed her, she would be there for them.  The mother told me that she could tell her daughter was doing it out of an obligation to her school, not because she really wanted to play.  That was a bit of an eye-opener to see a young girl that had that sense of loyalty to her school at such a young age.  That shows how well her parents have raised her.

I had spoken to one of the faculty members earlier in the week who had mentioned that they would have loved for their daughter to play volleyball, but her daughter was not interested.  Well, I decided to send an S.O.S. text to her, hoping that her daughter would stand in for one game.  She asked her daughter again, yes, this mother asked her daughter.  The daughter was willing to try, but she really would feel better if she had someone work with her on what to expect.  So I volunteered to give her a crash course the day before to the game.

There was one other girl that I had spoken to about playing for the night.  She was very eager to try, even though she had never played before.  So I sent her mother a text and got her approval for her to play.  After I had found a second girl that was willing to play Friday night, I got back with the mother of the loyal daughter.  I told the mother that her daughter was welcome to play for our team if she wanted to AND if the mother wanted her to.  I knew that she was a mother of four children and that her girls already participated in gymnastics.  So I didn’t want to put an additional task on her plate.  The mother appreciated my offer, but said that if I was covered for the game, she would prefer her daughter did not add another extra curriculum activity.  I told her I totally understood and appreciated her daughter’s loyalty for her school.

After school Thursday, I arrived with a volleyball in my hand and a plan to give a crash course on volleyball.  I was hoping to use the school’s gym for the practice, however, it was being decorated for Grandparent’s Day.  So I ended up giving the two girls a crash course on the school playground, during a heat advisory.  So the heat was on in more than one way.  It was physically hot outside and I was teaching them everything they needed to know about volleyball 24-hours before their first game.  No pressure!  I decided that if I didn’t die of a heat stroke, then that was a sign that I was making the right move on getting a make-shift volleyball team together.

The crash course practice went pretty well and the two girls were willing to try.  So I gave them the run down on what to expect at the game.  I showed them how to serve and bump the ball.  I gave them a chance to try it a few times.  Then I explained to them that I was not expecting them to be this ultimate superstar on the court.  I was mostly looking for them to be a physical body to help us make a team.  I told them if they hit the ball over the net that was great.  However, if they did nothing more than stand there, I would be okay with that.  The girls were enjoying the crash course so much that they were asking if it was too late to sign up for volleyball.  I told them that they were more than welcome to join the team if they liked playing Friday night’s games.  I left the school that night with a pretty good feeling.  I knew that I had enough players to make up a team.  Whether they won or lost didn’t matter to me, they were going to be able to play the games and that was the most important part.

Blindsided by the Gospel (Life After Layoff – Chapter 24)

It’s 8:30AM on a school day and I feel like I just ran a marathon.  Why, you ask?  Because we are going on week 2 of school and not everyone wants to get out of bed like Marie does.  I can put a One Direction film on TV and she will wake up very quickly.  However, my other three children will fight me to the death to stay in bed a little bit longer.  I know they all like school in one way or another, but they don’t like getting up in the morning.

So this morning, like every school morning, I get up around 6:00AM and start preparing for the morning wake ups.  I may or may not need to nudge Frank out of bed to get to work.  I eat breakfast, lay out uniforms, take my medication, finish the lunch bags and gather shoes for the kids to wear.  All the while, I am stopping by their beds to greet them with a sweet good morning.  My kids look so angelic when they are sleeping.  Maybe because their mouths are not crying out, “Mom!” when they are sleeping.

I will succeed in getting Marie up and get her to eat some sort of breakfast as she gets dressed and sings to One Direction.  By the time Marie is dressed, she will be asking if we can go yet.  But we can’t get in the classrooms until 7:40AM.  So I have the same conversation with her every morning that we can’t go until 7:40AM.  Then I coax, plead, beg, bribe, threaten and scream for the other three to get up.

With Christopher, I just need to joke with him a bit and threaten to eat his breakfast and then he will arise.  With Ann, I have to rub her leg, put her blanket back on, get her any variety of food items and she will finally wake up.  With Patrick, I am patting his arm, pulling off his blanket, turning on the TV, turning on the lights, getting him food, pulling off his blanket again, turning off his light, turning off his TV, yelling at him and then finally screaming at him that he will be walking to school if he doesn’t get dressed.

Have you figured out who is the difficult one to get out of bed yet?  Yep, Patrick.  Once they are all awake and speaking (ok, yelling) I will hear a variety of complaints, accusations, threats, and bickering from any or all the kids.  This is our morning ritual.  This is the way my kids greet the day.  For the most part, tensions have not been as bad as in the past.  But there is always something they find to complain about.  “My feet hurt.”, “I’m tired” and “I don’t want that” are the normal cries that I hear.

Since Marie has been up the longest, she will normally be in a better mood than the others, so she will try to help out with questions like, “Christopher, are you excited to see your teachers?”  This question will normally backfire, because Christopher is still tired and doesn’t want to think about going to school yet.  Although she tries, I normally end up asking her to stop talking, because she is only feeding the fire with her questions.

We will eventually make it to school, however, I might have to make a second trip back.  Like this morning, Ann forgot her sweater, so I had to run back home to get it for her.  It’s suppose to be 90-some degrees today and the girl gets chilly in class.  Whatever!  So by the time 8:30AM rolls around, I am sitting at home…exhausted.  This particular day, I was also stressed and frustrated with my kids.  Then I sit down to read my daily scripture and this is what the gospel says:

 Gospel                                    MT 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name
receives me. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

Whoa!  Nothing like getting blindsided by God’s word.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones

Okay, I don’t despise my children, however, I didn’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about them at the moment I read that.  That’s when I say aloud, “Okay, God.  I’ll overlook the struggles to be the best mom I can be.”  Because I know that although my children can be the biggest pains in the neck possible, they are the most precious and valuable gift that I will ever receive.  Each and every one of them are a gift from God and I often wonder why I was blessed with all four of them when others are not allowed to even have one.

I will never know what God was thinking the day that he blessed me with my children.  I have often wondered if God really thought this plan out fully, because I don’t always feel like the Mother-of-the-Year.  However, I know that those four children and Frank bring out things in me that I never knew were there.  They know how to bring out the best in me (and sometimes the worst).  I hate to date myself by quoting a 1996 movie titled Jerry Maguire, but to Frank and my kids, “You complete me.”

Too Much Silence (Life After Layoff – Chapter 22)

I never thought I would ever speak these words, but it’s too quiet at home when the kids are at school.  I know that I have waited all summer for this type of silence, but I discovered something about having too much silence.  It gives my mind too much time to think.  I have finally discovered something that I probably have always secretly known, my mind is my worst enemy.  I assume that this is the case for everyone, but then again, I could be wrong.  As for me, I have discovered that when the kids are around, there is so much noise going on that I don’t have much time to think.  The kids act as some sort of buffer between me and my mind.

But when the house is quiet and I’m all alone, my mind starts playing tricks on me.  I start wondering what I will do with the rest of my life.  I wonder if teaching is really for me.  I start to doubt if I can handle a full-time job.  My dream of publishing a book seems unreachable.  I doubt my ability to go back to school.  I turn into a little kid again, I guess.  Where everything seems scary and impossible.  I lose all confidence and faith in myself.

This might seem outrageous to some of you and maybe it is for most people.  Maybe these feelings are coming from my depression.  I don’t know.  But they are real and I find myself struggling with them more and more.  Before you question, I have not stopped taking my antidepressants or changed the dosage.  The only thing that has changed is that I have more quiet time on my hands.  You see, for two months I had to put all my plans on hold, because the kids were out of school for the summer.  Now that the kids are in school, I have no excuse not to go forward with my plans.

There is only one thing holding me back…me.  I am allowing the devil to get on my back and cause me to struggle.  It’s easier to hear his whispers of doubt in my mind, when there is no kids around to distract me.  Because I know that is where the doubt is coming from…the devil.  So maybe I need to adjust some things in my life.  Maybe I need to start doing something that I have always been too busy to do.  Maybe I need to start taking time each day to let God speak to me through the Bible.

Something that I had wanted to do when I lost my job was to read scriptures daily and pray more for people.  In fact, I wanted to learn how to pray the whole rosary, because it is something I have never learned to do.  But somewhere down the road those plans faded away.  Now that I have this quiet time that is consuming me, I guess I need to start doing what I had planned to do…read the bible daily and pray more.  What better place to look for answers than the bible.

So scriptures, here I come.  To find guidance from my creator.  God put me on this earth for a reason and I don’t think it was for me to work in Accounting all my life.  I know he has plans for my life that I can not even comprehend yet.  Things that I would not believe possible.  So I will trust in Him and let Him help me to fight this wave of doubt and fear that the devil has brought into my mind.  Our God is an awesome God!  It’s sad to say, but sometimes I think we as humans forget that.

Survival Guide Review (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 15)

If you recall, I had created a Concert Survival Guide for our 1D Adventure.  Now that we have attended the One Direction concert, I thought it would be nice to go back and review the survival guide and comment on what worked and what did not work.  That way, mother’s of little kids can have something to reference if they take their kids to a music concert.  Oh heck, who am I kidding?  I am writing this so I can remember what worked best, because I see myself taking my kids to other music concerts in the future.  In fact, ever since the One Direction concert, my 4-year-old son Christopher keeps asking when we will go see ‘One Ection’ again.  He doesn’t seem to understand that the concert was for one night only.  So if you see me blogging about packing up and following One Direction around the world, it will be for the sake of my little boy.  (That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.)

On to the review of my Survival Guide for our 1D Adventure:

  • Skip opening act – Because of Icona Pop’s “R” rated lyrics and because the kids will not see this as a fun build up to the main event.  They will see this as torture, because they came for one band and one band only.        This was a great call on my part.  Even if the opening act is a “G” rated band, it’s not a good idea to make little ones seat through an additional hour at a concert.  Thanks to some replies back from a comment I made on One Direction’s Facebook page, I was able to estimate our arrival time so we arrived when the opening act was completely over and there was an intermission before 1D arrived on stage.  Kudos for Mom!!
  • Watch California concert video before-hand – This way they will have an idea of what it is going to be like.  I would hope that it will be scary enough to my little ones that they will want to stay at home with their aunt.  I doubt it, but a mother could always dream.     After we surprised the kids with the news about the One Direction concert, I showed the kids the California concert video.  The theory that it would scare my little ones out of going was wrong.  But I think it helped to prepare them a little bit for what to expect.  What I didn’t expect was all the questions that Marie and Patrick would have after watching it.  They were wanting to know if our view would be better than that and didn’t understand why I didn’t buy tickets for floor seating.  (Um, cause I’m not rich!  That’s why.)  So I sort of wish I hadn’t shown the two older ones the California video.
  • Get earplugs – This way the kids will not be as overwhelmed by the shrill screams of the fans.  I don’t know if they will want to wear them, but I hope they will be willing to wear them after they watch the concert footage.     Earplugs…good.  My children…stupid.  LOL  I had bought a box of soft earplugs that you put in your ears.  This should be a simple thing that I can get my kids to do.  Wrong, they were not going for the earplug thing.  I was smart enough to bring two headphones that had been broken.  So I cut off the cord and since the headphones had belonged to the kids, they were willing to wear them.  So don’t throw those broken headphones away, reuse them for events like this.  Patrick and Ann ended up wearing the headphones.  Marie refused any type of device that would block out the band, so she will probably have hearing problems in the future.  I wore earplugs and was able to get some to fit in the outer area of Christopher’s ears.  I even gave some earplugs to another fan’s mother that was sitting by us.  With all the screaming around you, I’m glad we had them.
  • Glow-in-the-dark shirts are a must – My thought is that if we all have glow-in-the-dark shirts on, then the kids will not be as afraid in the dark.  So I went to a craft store and bought some glow-in-the-dark iron-on material that you can print a decal on and attach it to a shirt.  I also got some glow-in-the-dark fabric paint.     I am sad to report that my glow-in-the-dark iron-ons didn’t glow in the dark.  I’m not sure if I did something wrong in the creativity process or what, but we did have some good-looking shirts when the lights were on.  I never tried the fabric paint, so I guess that is something we can try on a rainy day.  I still believe the glow-in-the-dark shirts is a great idea though.
  • Glow-in-the-dark necklaces – Another item that we can wear, to help counteract the dark arena.     The glow stick necklaces and bracelets worked great.  In fact, they acted as entertainment to my little ones while they were waiting for the concert to start.  I would highly recommend them.
  • Pre-paid parking spot – I purchased a parking spot to one of the Gold level parking garages on-line.  This way we know we have a close parking spot and can arrive at the concert later than the other fans.  Plus, like my sister pointed out, we might be carrying a few sleepy kids on the way back to the van.     This was the best idea ever.  In fact, we saw what it would have been like if we didn’t get a pre-paid spot.  We had to make a U-turn in a Denny’s parking lot on the other side of the interstate in order to get into the concert traffic.  While there, we noticed a sign for $2 concert parking in the Denny’s parking lot and many girls and chaperones walking the 2 or 3 block trek to the stadium.  Marie asked me why we couldn’t do the same.  She just wanted to get to the concert as soon as possible.  I told her that I didn’t want to walk that far with all the kids.  I am usually the one that will go for the best price, even if I have to walk a little more.  But I am so glad I went the expensive way this time.  The price I paid for the Gold level parking was worth it’s weight in gold.  We got a parking spot right next to the venue.  I’m talking, the equivalent of a close parking spot at Walmart.  So we had a very short distance to walk.  This was a great thing to have when you had stood for two hours, holding little kids, in the heat.  So around 11:30 pm when we were driving out of the venue’s parking lot, we were watching the people who had parked in the Denny’s parking lot start their trek back over the interstate bridge.  Sometimes cheaper is not always better.  
  • Enough Adult Supervision – I have learned over the summer that I can’t be in two places at once.  That is why my sister and my niece are coming with us.  So if/when some of the kids can’t handle the noise of the concert, I will be able to have an adult walk with them in the corridors.  While another adult (hopefully me) can be with the ones that want to watch the concert.     This is definitely a must.  It was so helpful to have my sister and niece there to help with the little ones.  They took Ann and Patrick out to the corridor when the screaming was too much before the concert.  They helped me hold the two little ones up during the concert.  They helped keep track of all the kids in the crowds.  Without their attendance, that concert experience would have ended a lot less enjoyable.  So bring plenty of back up.
  • Last but not least, No High Expectations –  Not on the concert itself, but on our experience.  I live my life WITHOUT rose-colored glasses.  I know that all four of my kids are not going to act the same way towards this event.  I know that one might be excited and another one might be scared to death.  So if I don’t have high hopes that we will all have the best experience ever at this concert, then I won’t be heartbroken over the outcome.     I was so right on this one.  Not all the kids enjoyed the concert the same.  I believe in my heart that each one of them had a good experience, no matter how brief, during the concert.  However, some of them were ready to leave half-way through the concert.  While some of them, like me, wanted to stay until the last song was sang.  In fact, as we were waiting for the concert to begin, the girls in the crowd were getting so excited that they would scream over any movement they saw on the stage.  That was when Patrick and Ann was asking to go home.  I didn’t want them to be miserable, but at the same time, I didn’t want to disappoint Marie by leaving before the concert even started.  Thankfully, with my sister and niece’s help and some popcorn, Patrick and Ann stayed for the concert and had fun.  Like I said, they wanted to leave before the concert was over, but they did have moments where they let the music get in them.  So I have photos of them smiling and some photos of them sad.  The thing is, I know that if I suggest going to another concert down the road, they are going to remember the good parts of the 1D concert and forget about the things they didn’t enjoy.  Because that’s what humans tend to do, block out the bad stuff.  Going into the concert with No High Expectations helped me enjoy the experience for what it was.  My joy was not crushed by my kid’s actions.  I enjoyed it to the fullest and brought home many great memories of our 1D adventure.

I’m not a good planner but, for this situation, I am glad I planned ahead.  It made the experience much better than I could have imagined.  So if you are as crazy as me and decide to take your little kids to a music concert, go prepared.  You can do anything as long as you have a desire, a plan and good support to back you up.  This is probably the craziest thing I will ever do in my life…or is it?  LOL  By now, you should know that this sort of thing will become the norm for my family.  We will most likely attend many, many more concerts in our future.  Because life is too short to sit around in the comfort of your own home.  Sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone and let your hair down.  As long as you have a plan, anything is possible.

Family Hugs

If you have followed my series ‘Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom’, then you know that I have camped out at my sister’s house for the last four days.  Her willingness to let me and my kids stay at her house for free is what made it possible for me to bring my kids to the One Direction concert.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to afford the road trip and the motel stay.  So I am forever in her debt for that kind gesture.

But what she gave me the last four days is more than a floor to sleep on and a bath to bathe in.  If you ask my kids, they would say that their aunt also gave us good food to eat, new toys to play with and access to their pool.  But something that my kids might not realize is that my sister and her family has given us so much more.  It’s not a tangible thing that you can pick up.  It’s a feeling that can be relayed through words and actions.  The best way to describe it is the feeling you get when you are embraced in a hug from a loved one.

My older sister and my brother-in-law has blessed my parents with seven grandchildren.  Actually 9 grandchildren when you add my niece’s husband and my brother-in-law’s nephew who we consider part of our family.  Their children’s ages range from 10 to late 20’s.  Yet the vast age difference does not matter.  The little boys are best friends with the big kids.  They are a tight-knit family.

Although my sister only has her three younger boys left at home, the older kids are in town.  With the exception of one of my nieces who is roughing it out as a camp counselor this year…in Hawaii.  Boy, that gig must be pretty sweet.  🙂  She is the only one I have not gotten to see on this trip, but I did get to talk to her briefly on the phone.

I had stood there in awe many times this past week, as I watched the older kids stop by to see us and their younger siblings.  The younger boys greet their older siblings like they haven’t seen them in months and when the older kids say goodbye, they hug everyone like this could be the last time they see them.  That gives me such a warm feeling inside.

Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a house full of love, but I don’t recall this much hugging going on in my childhood.  In fact, this week has made me realize that my immediate family doesn’t hug one another enough.  We hug family when they have come to visit and when we are saying goodbye, but my immediate family is not hugging one another as much as we are yelling at one another.  This is something I will work on changing in the future.

Because I want my kids to be more like my nieces and nephews.  I want my kids to love their siblings so much that they hate to see them grow up and leave our house to make their way in this world.  Not be thankful that their sibling has finally moved out so they can take over the space.  I want my family to be a hugging family too.

Yes, my sister’s family will forever be known as the Hugging Family.  Because that’s what they do, they love one another so much they have to hug each other.  And it’s not just that, they don’t just hug the younger boys and then have nothing to do with them.  They talk with them, they play with them, they help them with things.  They walk back into my sister’s home and take on the role they had in the family as if their beds were still under that roof.  They are not visitors, they are family.  The older kids might have their own place they live at, but they still belong in their parent’s home.

My wish is that my immediate family will be that way too in the future.  That Marie will still feel like she lives at our house, even if she has her own place that she calls home.  That Christopher will look at Marie’s visits as a treat instead of an invasion of his space.  I hope I can get my family to be more of a hugging family now, so that my grandkids can witness this type of bond that my sister’s family has.

I have always been strong on saying “I love you” to my family, but I’m a little weak on my physical expressions of love.  So that is something I am going to try to work on more.  To embrace my kids more, while they are still around, so that they will come back for more once they leave to make a name in this world.

So thank you big sister, for all the many things you have given me this week.  You have not only provided me with a place to lay my head and food to eat.  You did not only help me care for my kids at the concert.  You have taught me some valuable lessons about life that I had overlooked recently.  You have such a wonderful, loving family and I just want to tell you that you and your husband have sown so many wonderful seeds into this world and we are all blessed by your bounty.

Although she can’t tell you in person, I know that Mom is so very, very proud of the family that you have created and the woman who you have become.  And I am very thankful that I have you in this world to file some of the void that Mom’s death has left.  I love you sis, more than words can express.

The True Concert Experience (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 14)

I will admit that during the first song of the One Direction concert, I was thinking that I could get the same enjoyment from watching a One Direction presentation on my TV, in the comfort of my air-conditioned home.  Yes, that is a sign that I truly am middle-aged.  HOWEVER, that thought changed later into the concert.

I was not like some of the adult women that were sitting in the stands, waiting for the concert to get over so they could go home.  I was on my feet, singing and dance like I just didn’t care.  As I have mentioned before, I am not a thin woman.  I was making my sleeveless shirt blossom more than it probably ever wanted to.  But I didn’t care.  Because in my mind, I looked like all the other woman and girls in the crowd.  I was beautiful the way I was, because the songs that One Direction were singing to me told me so.

I was also singing and screaming at the top of my voice and I didn’t care if anyone liked it or not.  It was mid-way into the concert that I figured out what was so magically about going to a concert.  It’s not the fact that you can see your favorite band in person, because although our seats were good, you couldn’t see them up close and personal.  Although my sister and Marie are pretty sure that Harry and Niall both looked right at them some time during the concert.  Heck, maybe they did.

Thankfully, with modern-day technology, you could see the band members clearly on the big screens they had on the stage.  So in a sense, it was like going to see them at a movie theater, because you spent the most part watching the big screen instead of following the moving bodies on the stage.  However, there is something special about attending a concert that you can’t get from the comfort of your own house.

You get to hear them talk to the fans and make little impromptu jokes that may or may not change at every concert.  You get to hear them tell you that this group of fans is the loudest group they have preformed for yet.  Even though that may or may not be true, they make you feel special for that short time you are spending with them.

But the real mystery behind the concert experience is giving back to the band.  No, I’m not talking about physically throwing a bra or something onto the stage.  (I am happy to inform that no one from our party lost any clothing during the concert.  Heck, we were so sweaty that our clothes were stuck to our bodies.)  I’m talking about showing the band how much they are appreciated through a number of vocal ways.

Yes, the first form of appreciation is the screaming.  It’s the first and most common thing you think to do when you are in a venue that big.  You want your voice to be heard above the rest.  But as the concert heats up and you get most of your screaming out, you start to sing.  You sing with the band, like you are part of the band.

It’s like the sign that Marie was holding up during the whole concert, you start to feel like you need to sing with them so they won’t leave.  You don’t just sing with words, you sing with feelings.  One song might not be as well-known or as well liked as some, but you sing it because it’s part of who One Direction is.  Then that special song comes on that you have waited for and you sing, at the top of your lungs, like you are alone in your car.  You do it as a way to give back to the guys that have given you so much joy.

You sing with all your heart, as if the band members of One Direction were your Music Teacher and you were trying to get an A on a music test.  You take the memories, the emotions, the experiences that the song gives you and you bundle it up and give it back to the band through a song.  Your voice may not be as great as them, but you sing it with all the emotions that run through you, all the emotions you need to let go of.  You give back to the band the one thing they have already given to you…memories.

By singing with all your heart and soul, you show the group that they have made a difference in your life.  That you have connected with them on a level they never knew existed.  It was so awesome when this revelation hit me.  When I realized why we needed to travel so many miles and stand in a hot arena to see our favorite band.  It was so we can give back to them the same joy they have given us.

Yes, I’m sure that One Direction would probably not be willing to go perform a concert like they did Tuesday night for free.  I know that the fact that we purchased concert tickets is why they had agreed to perform.  I know that they are hoping through their performance that they will be able to sell more merchandise.  But I know that no amount of money could make those guys get up there and perform the way they did.  I truly believe they do it, for the most part, for their fans.  To show their fans their appreciation for helping them get to where they are now.  To feel like their music made a difference to someone’s life.  To be appreciated for the musical gift that God gave them.

From what I witnessed Tuesday night, I believe that One Direction felt the love that their fans showed them at the concert.  I believe they (or I hope they) could see how many people found joy in the music they created and that they felt as loved as they made all their fans feel that night.  So you see, going to the concert isn’t about seeing your favorite group sing their songs flawlessly and expect to see them as clearly as you do on a TV.  The true concert experience is giving back to the group the same love and joy that they have given you.  It’s a way for fans to say, ‘Thank you!”, “Well Done!” or “Your music matters to us.”  It’s an experience that I am glad I got to witness with my four kids, my older sister and my niece.  I was ‘Dancing All Night To the Best Song Ever’ and I was happy and smiling and ALIVE!

Awesome Support Group (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 12)

I did it…I took my four kids to a One Direction concert and lived to tell about it.  (The kids all survived too, by the way)  🙂  The reason I know I’m alive is because my body feels like all the One Direction tour buses ran over me…several times.  I have a headache, a neck ache and pains in my body that I have never felt before, but oh, how it was worth it!

What did the kids think?  Marie enjoyed it more than any of them, which is a true sign that my baby isn’t a baby anymore.  All though I hate to admit it, I do have a teenager in my household now.  Marie proved that last night when she rocked it right along with thousands of other screaming teenagers.  She was on her feet through the whole show and (bless her heart) held up the sign that I had created for the photo shoot throughout the concert.  It was as if that sign was what made One Direction be there on stage and if she put it down, they would leave.

Patrick had a problem with the crowd and the screaming.  We had been there for maybe 45 minutes when he was asking to go home.  I don’t blame him, the screaming was loud and it was hot.  But I couldn’t turn around and take all the kids back home when we hadn’t even experienced a second of the true concert.  All we had seen at that moment was videos from other artists.  Not long after Patrick was wanting to leave, Ann was starting to cry and wanted to leave too.  So I told her that her aunt would take her out to the corridor, where it’s not as loud.  Ann really wanted me, not her Aunt, but I told her that I couldn’t leave Marie.

Yes, I did a very non-Mom thing at that moment.  I chose to do something that I wanted to do over something my kids wanted me to do.  I had brought my oldest daughter to see this concert and I wanted to experience it with her.  Call it my last chance to bond with her before our relationship is strained from her teenage hormones.  I wanted to be there with her, enjoying a band that we both loved.  It sounds pretty simple and I shouldn’t feel guilty by telling Ann no…but I did.  Ever since I have become a mother, I have put my kid’s wishes first and my wishes second.  I have done that freely for 13 years, without complaining.  However, when you have four kids and they all have their own agenda at hand, it gets a little hard pleasing everyone and still be able to make yourself happy.

Thankfully, my sister came to the rescue and convinced Patrick and Ann to go with her to the corridors.  It was a weight off of my shoulders and I will never be able to thank her enough for doing that.  But yes, even though the problem was solved, I still hated the fact that two of my children would miss out on this experience.  As for Christopher, he was willing to go to the corridors too, but only if I went with him.  He wasn’t crying like Ann was, he was more curious about where they were going.  When I told him he could go with them, but I was staying, he decided to stay too.

My niece Louise was my go-between for my kids.  A little bit after my sister had taken the two kids out of the venue, my niece went to see if everything was okay.  She came back to report that my sister had bought them some popcorn and she was going to bring them their water bottles.  She stayed out in the corridor with them and helped my sister get them hydrated and feed.  Believe it or not, those two amazing women convinced my two children to come back to the concert right before One Direction went on stage and they had fun right along with their big sister.  God bless my sister and my niece!  They gave me the best gift in the world, the gift of no worries.  They removed the burden of feeling divided by my kid’s wishes and let me just enjoy the moment.  And that’s exactly what I did…I enjoyed LIFE with my kids.

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The Secret Revealed (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 8)

Yesterday was the big day I had waited for.  Time to go bowling, time to get our photo session done and time to tell the kids about the One Direction concert.  It was a day full of emotions.  Not just for the kids, but for me too.  The day started out like every big day does.  The kid’s excitement was overflowing to the point that I wanted to kill them.  I had butterflies in my stomach just thinking about what would take place at the bowling alley.  Plus I was doing my best not to stress out over the photo shoot.

As I said, I had butterflies in my stomach.  The kind that make you want to vomit.  (Sorry for that graphic image)  It was from a combination of excitement and fear.  I wanted to share the surprise with the kids, but at the same time I was afraid their reaction wouldn’t be what I was expecting.  It was like waiting for Christmas day to arrive to see if the kids liked their gifts, but multiply those emotions times 10.  Believe it or not, I actually told Marie that if she played one more One Direction song on her tablet that morning, I was going to kill her.  Here I was, getting ready to break the news to the kids that we were going to see One Direction in concert and I was telling Marie that I couldn’t handle hearing one more of their songs.  Man, nerves really do funny things to people.

I feel like I did a pretty good job of not stressing out over the photo shoot.  Or should I say, getting prepared for the photo shoot.  I had purchased some sleeveless shirts for the kids and I to wear at the concert.  My plan was to attach some glow-in-the-dark iron-ons to them for the concert.  But first, I was going to use them as our outfits for our photo shoot.  The shirts are all different colors and Frank has a sleeveless shirt that he wears to work that matched.  So sleeveless shirts and shorts were our choice of clothing for the family pictures.

Did I freak out when Ann picked a pair of shorts to wear that had a little stain on it?  No.  Did I freak out when I noticed Frank’s work shirt looked a little faded in the back?  No.  Did I freak out that Patrick was still sporting an overgrown  mo-hawk, that I was in need of a trim and that Marie’s hair had decided to tangle?  No.  I decided that these family photos weren’t about the clothes we wore or the style of our hair.  It was about our family documenting a fun, once-in-a-lifetime event together.

I decided that we should look the way we normally do.  My hair might be a bit unruly, but that’s the way I usually look.  The stains and fading on the clothes probably wouldn’t be noticed by anyone but me and even if it did get noticed by someone, who cares?  These are the clothes that we normally wear.  Even the fact that my shirt was a little snugger than I would have liked didn’t bother me.  This is the shirt I bought and this is the way I look right now.  I want these pictures to show what my family is like.  If that means showing off my WHOLE imperfect self, so be it.  I want the kids to look back at these pictures down the road and be able to remember this day like it was yesterday.  Even if that means Mom’s body takes up more of the pictures than I would like.

So we made it to the bowling alley and the photographer was waiting for us.  The kids did very well, getting along with each other and with the photographer.  We bowled like we normally do, we ordered and ate food like we normally do, we even stopped at the game room afterwards like we normally do.  There might have been a few extra smiles than normal, but I believe they were genuine smiles, not fake ones.  Along with the smiles, there were some moments I had the traditional stressed out look on my face, but that’s okay.  That will give the kids a chance to remember the many faces of Mom.

By the time the little kids and I bowled one game, the others had finished bowling their second game.  Then it was time for the unveiling of the secret.  I had made a sign that the photographer printed out for me to use as a photo prop.  So we gathered the kids together and shot a few posed photos and then we announced to the kids that we were going to the One Direction concert.  Marie was the most animated, however she did not scream or cry like I thought she might.  Patrick was acting like a typical boy, not wanting to show his enthusiasm.  Ann was all smiles and Christopher was jumping around with the sign…once he figured out what it meant.  🙂  I was pretty pleased with their reactions and I think I’ll be very pleased with the pictures the photographer took.

After getting home and answering five million questions from the kids, Frank took Christopher and Marie to watch a local baseball game.  Patrick and Ann stayed at home with me and we worked on getting the glow-in-the-dark iron-ons attached to the shirts.  I realized, during that evening, that after I had told the kids the secret I had been hiding for a month, my feelings had changed.  I was still excited, but I also had this feeling of remorse or relief or something.  My excitement had decreased a bit after I shared it with the kids.  Like I was giving them part of my excitement when I told them the secret.  So now I was only carrying around 1/5 of the excitement level than I had before.  It was weird to feel like it, but it did.

So now that the kids know and tomorrow is Monday, I guess I need to get busy and get things packed up.  The kids are excited and want to help.  I just hate packing, because I know that I will forget something before it’s done.  As long as I don’t forget the tickets to the concert, I’ll be okay.  🙂

Sound of Silence (Life After Layoff – Chapter 20)

My last post made me realize something exciting and scary at the same time.  There are only 3 weeks left of summer for my kids.  Woo Hoo!  I’m on the downhill slide and I haven’t killed them…yet.  Is my first thought.  Then a minute later I am thinking, Oh crap, I have so much to do in a short time.  Where has the time went?  They say that time flies when you are having fun.  Of course, in our family some of the time has flown while we slept in…a lot.  However, that is about to change today.

I am going to do my best to get my kid’s sleeping pattern back on track.  We have too much to do and too much fun to have in the next three weeks to sleep through it.  Boy, do I sound confident, as I am sitting in my house enjoying the peace and quiet of four sleeping kids.  🙂  That beautiful sound of silence is too good to let go of by waking my kids up.  Yes, silence has a sound.  When you live in a household of 6, you learn that silence is a sound, a sound that doesn’t happen that often.

So as I sit here in my infamous green “sleeping” chair, blogging away, I am enjoying the sound of nothing.  No whining, no fighting, no giggling (Giggling in my house = siblings going overboard and not listening to mom), no begging, no angry words, no “MOM” being hollered out by each and every one of my children.  Just silence.  Before I had kids, I never knew how wonderful silence was.

As I was saying, I’m sitting in my infamous green “sleeping” chair, which has some hypnotic powers that makes old people (like Frank and I) to nap at the drop of the hat.  However, it makes the younger generation bounce off the wall (or should I say cushions).  Go figure!  So my strong stance on reversing the habit of sleeping in late is weakening as my body forms into the comfy chair and I feel calm and relaxed, due the sound of silence.

For a mother of four kids who has been with them 24/7 for the past 6 weeks, this time is rare and too good to pass up.  It is what I live for.  However, it also makes it hard to get things done around the house when you sleep in late every day.

It’s hard to make doctor’s appointments for school physicals when you can’t be conscious enough to make a phone call during business hours.  Not to mention, actually getting to the appointment if it ever gets made.  Oh, this battle of wanting to sleep a little more and yet wanting to feel like you have accomplished one thing today.  It’s a difficult battle that could go either way.  To nap or not to nap, that seems to always be the question.

But not today!  I am going to do my best to fight that urge to go back to sleep.  I’m going to fight my urge to want to tip-toe around the house, in hopes to keep my kids a sleep a little longer.  I need to do this for them.  I need to get them back into the routine of going to sleep sooner and waking up earlier.  I need to get off of my rump and get things done around here.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I’ll make a few phone calls and then drift off to Sleepy Land for a while.  That is until one of my kids wakes me up, wanting something to eat for brunch.  Yes, we eat brunch now.  Because we are normally eating our first meal of the day around lunch time.

I’ll get them up early…tomorrow!

My Summer Journal (Life After Layoff – Chapter 19)

I had a plan for my summer school, to have my kids make a summer journal.  I wanted them to make a diary of what they did during the summer, to show them how much fun they had.  I bought them composition books and I believe each of them have used a few pages of the notebooks and that is it.  I’m not even sure they know where they are now.

So I have decided to make a summer journal for all of us.  I need to do this for them and for me, because there are days when I feel like we are having the best summer ever and then there are days when it feels like this is the worse summer ever.  So I’m going to take inventory of the summer so far.  This is not for bragging purposes, but to help me see that I have done my best at keeping this summer fun for my family.

  • Water Play Fun badge – We have visited five different splash pads and five different pools this summer.  Some of these locations have been visited multiple time.  Sometimes with friends and sometimes just with our family.  Not to mention the many times the kids have played with the water hose in our yard and a number of water balloon activities.  So I feel confident to say that the Water Play Fun badge has been earned.
  • Zoo Goer badge – We have visited the local zoo at least 4 or 5 times this summer.  Some of the times were as a whole family and a few were with me and the kids.  At each occasion we either took a ride on the merry-go-round or the zoo train.  Heck, we have rode on both during the same visit at least once.  So the Zoo Goer badge has been earned.
  • Bowling Fun badge – We have went bowling at least 4 or more times this summer through the Kids Bowl Free program.  Sometimes as a whole family and sometimes just me and the kids.  So the Bowling Fun badge has been earned.
  • Kids Discovery Zone badge – I have taken the kids to a Kids Discovery museum so they could run around and learn while they are having fun.  It’s like an educational Chuck-E-Cheese without the food.  They play with different exhibits that will teach them about engineering and math.  The kids think they are just having fun, but they are also learning about how to build things.  So the Kids Discovery Zone badge has been earned.
  • Tour De France badge – No, I didn’t take them to France to watch the bicyclists.  Nor did I make them sit in front of a TV and watch it for a homework assignment.  However, I did introduce them to the competition of cycling during a weekend in June.  Frank and I took the kids to a local cycling race downtown one Saturday.  The kids had so much fun watching and cheering on the riders that I took the kids the following day to see them race at a different area in town.  They call it “Cry-Baby Hill” because of the steep hills the cyclist have to ride up and down.  It was a great, new experience that will most definitely become an annual tradition for our family.  So the Tour De France badge was definitely earned.
  • Campfire Fun badge – Frank and I took the kids to see our country friends for a cook out one night.  It was the first time we ever roasted hot dogs over a campfire.  The first time to roast marshmallows over a campfire.  The first time to learn that my oldest son has an attraction to fire.  Patrick was enjoying the experience of burning trash a little too much.  I got to watch that kid.  So the Campfire Fun badge was earned that day, along with a possible Too Much Smoke badge.  🙂
  • Baseball Fun badge – Frank and I took the kids to see the local minor-league baseball team play a game one night.  Since Frank is able to get company tickets on occasion, he has taken the older kids a few times this year.  But since he can only get 4 tickets and there are 6 of us, it’s a rare occasion that the whole family will go.  But during our 4th of July weekend, the whole family took a trip to the ballpark.  It was fun, but I spend my time in the kid’s play area, while Frank sits in the stands and actually watches the game.  So the Baseball Fun badge has been earned for the year.
  • Rainy Day Activity badge – We have spent some time at home doing different scientific or art activities.  Patrick is always finding a new experiment on YouTube that he wants to try at home.  So we have made some things like: Cloud in a bottle, God’s Eye decorations, Glow in the dark deco-podge bottles and a Glow in the dark pinata to name a few.  So the Rainy Day Activity badge has been earned.
  • Teen Beach 2 badge – The kids and I have watched the Teen Beach 2 movie enough times that we know most of the dialogue in the movie.  We definitely know all the songs.  So the Teen Beach 2 badge has been earned.

In between time, we have made some trips to the library and just chilled out at home.  There are days and weeks that we are on the move non-stop and then there are days and weeks that we are home-bound for various reasons.

Considering that we are into week 6 of the 9 week summer, I think I have done a pretty good job keeping the kids entertained.  And the summer ain’t over yet.  I still have a few tricks up my sleeve that will surely blow their socks off.

Thank you for letting me take a little inventory of our summer fun.  Seeing the 9 badges I have earned so far, gives me the strength to make it through the rest of the summer.  I want the kids to have as much fun as they would if they had went to a summer camp and I see now that they are.  They are also earning some other badges that I’m not as proud about.  For instance: Night Owl badge, Noon Riser badge, Whiner badge, Sibling Bickering badge and Tablet Junk badge.  Although I am not proud of them, I guess these badges need to be acknowledged too.

After typing this post, I think I may have just come up with an idea for a new game app.  I can call it Summer Time Fun Saga and you have to go through different lands to earn the badges.  Man, if I only had someone who knew how to create an app, I could be rich someday.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just live out the game in real-life and enjoy the riches of good memories instead.  🙂

Happy Summer Everyone!