Tag Archive | Mom

Valentine Tears

Today is Valentine’s Day!  A day of love, hugs, kisses and gifts and for some, a day of tears.  Not because the person you are dating didn’t buy you a gift.  Not because your spouse forgot to tell you Happy Valentine’s Day.  Not because your children didn’t show appreciation for what you do for them.  In my case, today is a day of tears because a very special Valentine will not arrive from my Mom.

It’s been 5 1/2 years since my mom died of cancer.  My grief for her is not as debilitating as it used to be.  I can go a month or so without missing her to the point of tears.  But on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, I miss her so much.  My mom always had some special Valentine’s gift for my siblings and I.  It could be something simple like a coloring book or just a box of chocolates, but no matter what, she always had a gift for us.  Even when I moved away, she would send me a care package at Valentine’s with a bag of my favorite candy bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

When I would call and thank her for remembering, she would tell me that she had to make sure her kids had a special Valentine’s gift from her.  (Yes, she would send care packages to all of her kids.)  Which explains my Valentine’s Day tears.  Memories of her love and care flood me with grief over the fact that she is not on this earth anymore.  Yes, I am an adult and a mother of four, I can go and buy as many Reese’s and I want for myself.  But that’s not the point, the point is that my mom took every opportunity to show me how much I meant to her and I miss the fact that I can’t hear her voice or read a special note that she’s written to me in a card.

I miss my mom today more than others, because it reminds me of how great of a mom she was.  I try my best to be that kind of mom for my kids, but I don’t know if I do it as well as she did.  Yes, I have bought some Valentine chocolates for my kiddos to receive tonight.  Yes, I purchased and helped them make out Valentine cards for their classmates.  And yes, I will most likely pop in during their Valentine’s Day party at school today.  But for some reason, that doesn’t seem like as much as my mom had done for me.  I’m afraid my grief for my mom makes my efforts a little less special for my kids.  But maybe that’s just the Devil trying to pull me down when he knows that I am weak.

So now that I have shared with you the love I have for my mom and the pain and tears that come with Valentine’s Day, I will wipe away the tears and do my best to make this day as special as I can for my kiddos.  So that one day, they too can have fond memories of me on Valentine’s Day.  To all those who find it hard to put aside their grief during this Valentine’s Day, I give you my own words of advice.  Spend a few minutes thinking of the one you lost and remember the great things they did for you.  Then get up and make this day a special day for someone special in your life.  Spread the love that you would have shown to your deceased loved one with someone that needs it most today.  Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

 

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Not Today!

There are days that I am stronger than others.  I can normally take a joke and even brush off an insult from my kids.  But yesterday was not that day.  Yesterday was the 4 year anniversary of my mother’s death.  And though the pain is not quite as debilitating as it was the day it happened, the pain is still there.  The thought that I can’t call her on the phone or hug her when I want to brings me sadness and pain.

Which is why yesterday should have been marked on the calendar as “Not Today!” day.  Let’s rewind back to the last 48 hours and I’ll show you why yesterday’s motto was “Not Today!”  On the eve of my mother’s 4 year death anniversary (I guess that’s what you call it.  It’s the day she died, so I’m calling it her ‘death anniversary’.)  Anyway, on the eve of my mom’s 4 year death anniversary I was trying to adjust my flexible eyeglasses when they snapped in half.

Without my glasses, I am useless.  I can see about 5 inches from my face.  So you can imagine what state of mind I was in.  To say I was cranky doesn’t even come close to describing my mood.  I was mad at the situation, I was mad at myself and I was a tad P.O.’d that no one volunteered to drive me to the eyeglass store the next day to get them fixed.  So I did the only thing I could do, I pulled up my big girl panties and duct tape the crap out of them.  See:

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So the following morning (the day that I lost my mom 4 years earlier), I go walking into the kid’s school sporting these bad boys.  LOL  They didn’t just look dorky, they were off kilter on my face.  That would not have been a problem, except for the fact that I have bifocals.  Do you know what happens when you wear bifocals that are not lined up correctly to your eyes?  They give you a headache.  So as I was dropping off all the kids to their classrooms (except for Marie, cause she’s a teen and can go on her own), I was explaining to the teachers that I broke my glasses last night.

I think back now and wonder why I felt the urge to tell the teachers that my glasses were broken.  Surely they guessed that was why I had duct taped them.  I wouldn’t be wearing them like this just for the fun of it.  I may be strange, but not that strange.  So by the time I had left the school, everyone I had been in contact with knew that I had broken my glasses last night and I was heading to the eyeglass store to get them fixed.

I made it to the eyeglass store and waited in my van while my back up glasses were being made.  Since I had the time to kill and I was getting sleepy in the van, I decided to call my sister.  We had a good one hour conversation on the phone about a variety of things.  But the one thing that stands out is the way my sister reminds me of my mom.  My sister has 7 kids and they range from 25 to 10 I believe.  (I know I should be a better aunt and remember my niece’s and nephew’s ages, but I have enough trouble remembering my four kid’s ages sometimes.)

Remember her daughter Louise?  My niece that went to the One Direction concert with us?  Well, she decided to take a vacation to Colorado.  She was driving out on her own and meeting up with a friend that was flying into Colorado that day.  Some mother’s would be worried about their daughter traveling alone for such a long distance.  But not my sister, because my sister is just like our mom.

You see, my sister was able to let Louise take a trip to Puerto Rico by herself to live in a Hostel for a few months and just experience the culture.  If she could make it through Louise’s Puerto Rico trip, then a trip to Colorado was like a walk in the park.  Besides, she told me on the phone that she had a good feeling about the trip.  Even when she was not able to reach her daughter, because the cellphone coverage was not strong enough, she didn’t freak out.  Because she had a good feeling about it.  That’s exactly how my mom was, she would leave her worries at God’s feet and know that He would protect us when we left her.  She was a very brave mom, but I didn’t always see how brave she was then.  I had to get a little older before I realized how many times my mom had stood there bravely as she watched her children take off and fly on their own.

I had told my sister that of all days, this was not a good day to have her daughter in the middle of America without cellphone coverage.  She agreed that many times the thought of Louise getting in an accident on the day of our mom’s death anniversary did pop into her head.  But she would push the thoughts out of her head and be at peace with the situation because she had a good feeling about it.  I hope that when my children get older and start to take adventures by themselves, that I will be able to be as confident as my sister and mom were.

In a way, knowing what my sister was dealing with that day gave me some sort of comfort.  You know that saying about misery loves company.  Not that I wanted her to be miserable, but to know that today was a little difficult for her helped me feel less alone.  I wasn’t the only one walking around struggling with simple things on the 4 year anniversary of my mom’s death.

Before I go any further, may I say that I have one cool niece.  In fact, all my nieces and nephews are pretty darn cool.  They go out and do things that other people dream of.  I am so glad they have that sense of adventure in them.  Their grandmother is smiling down from Heaven on them and she is very proud to know that they don’t let the fear of the unknown keep them from trying.

As I mentioned before, I am a pretty easy person to deal with.  I will overlook quite a few things that my family may say or do.  But as I was waiting for my glasses to be fixed, I had sent a text to Frank.  I had noticed that he had withdrawn a larger amount of cash from the bank account than he normally does.

So I asked him, “Why did you take so much money out of the checking account yesterday?”

He replies back, “Because   stupid.”

I looked at the text and was pretty sure what he meant to say.

I do believe he meant to type, “Because I’m stupid.”  Because that’s the same thing I would have said to him.  However, on my mom’s 4 year death anniversary, that little typo didn’t set so well in my stomach.

So I texted him back and said, “Ok, did you just call me stupid or did you forget the word “I’m”????”

He replied back with, “No, I’m stupid.  lol”

I responded back with “Good answer.  LOL”

About five seconds later, Frank calls me on the phone.  We laughed about the typo and then I told him that I was just about to come down to his job and kick his butt for that comment.  LOL  Like I said, ‘Not Today’.  Yesterday would have been fine.  Two days from now would have been fine, but not on my mom’s 4 year death anniversary.

You would think that by the time I got home with my backup glasses, things would get better.  After all, I could see again and things were in alignment.  Wrong!  When I went to get my kids, they had to comment on my new glasses right away.  For the most part, they were just excited that I had new glasses.  But Patrick decided it was be a good idea to keep telling me that I looked like a nerd.  That might be true and on a normal day I would just let it go.  But ‘Not Today!’, not on the day I was mourning the loss of my mom.  So needless to say, by the time Frank got home I was at the point of shooting Patrick for his remarks about my new glasses.

It was around this time that I realized that there needs to be some sort of shirt that people should wear on this type of occasion.  It needs to be a t-shirt with a logo like

“Lost my Mother 4 years ago today.  Handle with care.”  

Or “This is Not the Day to Mess with Me!”  

Or “It’s my mom’s death anniversary – Look out…You’ve been warned!”  

This way, the people who are around you that day, will know that you are not fully in control of your emotions and their actions could cost them some pain in the long run.

Yes, it has occurred to me that I might appear to be a little overly sensitive on this day.  But you know what?  I lost my mom and for the other 364 days of the year, I don’t let the sadness get to me as bad.  So I think that I deserve at least one day to be overly emotional as a memorial for my mom.

My mom was not just my mom, she was my best friend…and I miss her.  I know there will come a day that we will be reunited again in Heaven and believe me, I look forward to that day.  But until that day happens, I guess I will continue to flag this day as the “Not Today!” day.

I love you Mom and I am so thankful you were in my life.  No matter how short the time might have been, you taught me so much and I am forever in your doubt.  R.I.P. Mom.

Embracing the Pain

I’m sorry for being away for some time.  There has been a lot of things happening lately.  Because of the date my husband and I chose to be married, I just finished a week-long celebration of events.  Talk about a whirlwind of emotions.

First there was Mother’s Day and since I have four children, I definitely deserve some sort of celebration there.  Then three days later, on Wednesday, May 13th, my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years.  Has it all been sunshine and rainbows?  No, but I couldn’t ask for a better person to share those hard times with.  Then two days later I celebrated my 45th birthday.  Yep, I was married two days before I turned 30-years-old.

I was surprised to find myself missing my mom the most on the my birthday.  Yes, I missed her on Mother’s Day.  But I guess I was too busy sending special messages of encouragement to my friends that were trying to make it through their first motherless Mother’s Day, that I didn’t have time to focus on my motherless life as much.

I missed her on my anniversary, but I was too busy making the day special for my husband that I didn’t have time to focus on my loss.  But when my birthday came around, it all sort of piled on top of me.  Maybe because I had started a tradition about 20 years ago that ended when my mom died.

When I was in my early twenties I started having a balloon or a carnation delivered to my mom on my birthday.  It always had a note attached that said something like “Thank you for giving me life.”  It was always addressed to my mom AND dad, because it takes two to tango. (If you know what I mean.)  But in reality, it was my mom that carried me in her womb for 9 months and then continued to carry me physically and in her heart until the day she died.  So I guess it has always been my mom that I had felt deserved this gesture the most.

After my mom passed away, my Dad had became technical savvy enough to make an account on Facebook.  So for a few years, I had sent him a virtual bouquet of flowers on my birthday.  But this year, I didn’t do that, because he’s been sick and hasn’t been on Facebook for a while.  Plus, he was in the process of moving back to his summer home in Iowa last week.

So is the fact that I didn’t send my traditional (real/virtual) flowers to my parents bothering me this year?  Maybe so.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that so much has changed in my life these last 9 months and the one person that I wish I could talk to is not here any more.  I miss my mom so much.  I miss her everyday, but the hurt is just a bit fresher lately.

My mom was my confidant, my best friend, my biggest cheerleader and I miss her so much.  My mom is the reason I started writing this blog, because I needed to find a way to get things out of my head.  Not just the sorrow I felt about losing her, but just my everyday stories.  There were times we would talk on the phone for hours, because I had to tell her about all the things that the kids had done recently.

So when my mom died, I lost my one-person audience that I could always depending on listening to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I have friends that listen to my stories and there is always Frank.  Of course, Frank doesn’t always hear me at times.  If there is a special game on the TV, I can talk for hours and he wouldn’t have a clue what I said.  My mom was the one person that would listen to the same stories and not tell me that I had already told her that.  She could finish my sentences for me and if there was ever a time when I lost my train of thought, she would overlook it and we would go on to another topic.

We would talk on the phone for more than an hour and afterward my dad would ask her what we talked about and she would say, “Not much.”  Because we would talk about anything and everything.  Things that were important and things that didn’t matter.  We just loved to talk or maybe you could say that we loved to hear each other’s voices.

If I ever tried to hide the fact that I was worried or scared about something, she could always see right through it.  Even if we were speaking on the phone and I tried to act nonchalant, she could tell by the tone in my voice that something was wrong.

She had this mother’s intuition about her that told her when she needed to give me a call.  She would call me up and tell me that I had been on her mind a lot and then I would tell her of some struggle I had dealt with.

My mom was amazing and I miss hearing her voice.  I miss telling her about my dreams and confiding about my fears.  I miss telling her about some stupid thing that her grandchildren did or telling her some great achievement they accomplished.

The bottom line is, I miss my mom so much it hurts.  And I don’t know how to make the pain go away or even if I want it to go away.  It might sound silly, but if my pain for her loss goes away, does that mean my love for her goes away too?  So I guess instead of wanting things to be easier and not so painful, I should embrace the pain and find a way to celebrate the fact that my love for my mom is so strong that it physically hurts.  I can’t think of a better tribute that I could give my beloved mom.

Thank you for listening to me ramble.  To those of you who have lost your mom or dad or someone very special, I hope you can find a point in your mourning to embrace the pain your broken heart is feeling and celebrate that your love was so strong.

Also remember, it’s okay to cry.  I think that a person needs to shed tears to clear their emotions.  To get the good and bad emotions out of their systems.  I use to be the type that didn’t want to cry in front of someone.  Now, I will cry at the drop of the hat, in a room full of people, and not care if everyone notices.  So go ahead and give yourself a chance to have a good cry.  We all need to do it now and then and in the end, you’ll feel a lot better.  I know I did.

Pennies From Heaven (Life After Layoff – Chapter 4)

You know that saying about pennies from heaven?  They say that when you find a penny on the ground, it’s a sign that someone in heaven is thinking about you.  After the day I had, that might be true.

I had a big day today, getting one step closer to my future job as a teacher.  When I was heading back to the job placement center after lunch, I found two pennies in the parking lot.  I picked them up, said thanks to my mom for the encouragement and walked in to talk to a college counselor.

Things went better than I expected and I left there with myself much closer to my teaching degree.  I was very pleased with myself.

Then I dropped a few books off at the library, before I picked up the kids from school.  It was then that I found another penny in the parking lot.  This time, as I picked it up, I knew it was mom’s way of telling me she was proud of me.  It brought a tear to my eye, knowing she was watching over me still.

Some people would tell me that those pennies were not from heaven.  They just fell out of a person’s pocket.  But I don’t believe that.  I believe that they are from my mom.

Some Days Are Harder Than Others

It’s been three and a half years since I lost my mom.  For the most part, I do pretty well.  I got past that part of grief where you wander around trying to figure out what’s the point of living.  I got past that point of feeling hollow inside.  I know that mom is in a much better place and that I’ll see her again.

So when I have a day like I had today, it takes me some time to figure out what is wrong.  I’ve been feeling irritated at everything today.  Feeling out of place and hopeless.  Couple of times, I just wanted to fall to the ground and cry over silly things like a spill that my child made.  It was during one of those clean ups that I realized what was wrong.  I miss my mom.

I miss her everyday, but not in this sad way.  Normally when I miss her, I have a smile on my face, because I know she is watching over me.  So it threw me for a loop when I realized that my problem was that I was grieving for my mom.  But I really shouldn’t be surprised that I miss her around this time.

My mom loved Easter.  When I got older, she would tell me that every time she saw Easter bonnets in the store, she wished her girls were small again.  I just know that my youngest daughter, Ann, would be sporting a new Easter bonnet from Grandma this year if my mom were still alive.

So what’s the point of this post?  For starters, it shows that you can still get sad even after you think you have came to terms with your loss.  Second, it shows that sometimes you can be bothered by something without knowing the reason. 

Third, and very important, enjoy the precious time you have with your loved ones.  You never know if it might not be the last.

I wish you all a blessed and Happy Easter!  May God be by your side on this holy day.

Sincerely,
JoAnn

Please Stop the Ride, I’d Like to Get Off!

My life is a roller coaster ride and right now I want more than anything to have the ride stop, so I can get off.  I am a mother of four and a wife of a diabetic.  This I can handle…most of the time.  I am going to be 45 years old in a few months, so you could say I am definitely a seasoned adult.  A pretty tough and strong adult that has stood her own ground.

BUT, I am also the baby girl of my parents.  My mom has been sent to Heaven to be there to greet me when I arrive.  My dad is still on this earth, but we don’t know for how long.  So currently, this little girl would like the ride of life to stop, so I can get off.  I want to go to my bed, pull my covers over my head and sleep until everything is over.  Because my Daddy is in the hospital and I’m not so sure he’s going to make it out alive.

Bare with me, as I create a timeline of the past few weeks.  I am honestly doing this for my benefit, not yours.  Because time really has went by too fast and I can’t keep up.

  • Saturday, Feb. 21st – I spoke to my Dad on the phone.  His surgery that was scheduled for Monday, Feb. 23rd was postponed to Wednesday, Feb. 25th.  As we spoke that day, I commented that it was a good deal he had to wait, because he did not sound well.  He had a bad cough and was taking an antibiotic for some sort of infection.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 25th – Dad has surgery on some disc in his neck and the surgery went fine.  He had had trouble with his legs and the doctor said there was a pinch nerve in his neck that was causing the problem.
  • Thursday, Feb. 26th – I spoke to my Dad on the phone, but the conversation was short.  I had come down with the flu, but had not been diagnosed yet.  I was coughing so bad, that I was losing my voice.  My Dad’s surgeon had to operate through the front of his neck to get to the spot he needed.  So my Dad’s esophagus was swollen and that made his speech was very heard to understand.
  • Friday, Feb. 27th – I believe my Dad was released from the hospital to go home and heal.  I have to go with that theory, because I was so sick that I don’t remember.
  • Saturday, Feb. 28th – My Dad had trouble breathing, so my step-mom, Naomi, brought him to an Urgent Care during the day where he was given a breathing treatment.
  • Sunday, Mar. 1st at 12:44am – Naomi calls to tell us that Dad had still been struggling to breathe, so she brought him to the Emergency Room.  He was admitted into the hospital and placed on a breathing tube.  Naomi said he was critical, but stable.  The doctors had told her that Dad was breathing with his chest muscles until they got tired, then he started struggling to breathe.  They are thinking he has pneumonia.
  • Monday, Mar. 2nd – The results from the throat culture had not come back yet, but they were treating him with three different antibiotics to knock out the infection.  He had been sedated when they put him on a respirator, but he had woke once.  They tried to lower the respirator and he was breathing without the machine, but they had to sedate him again, because he was getting to irritated.
  • Tuesday, Mar. 3rd – Dad was doing well.  They were treating him for pneumonia and they were sucking out some thick brown mucus from his lungs.  They had the respirator at 20 breaths a minute.  But when they cut it back to 9 breaths a minute, Dad was overriding the machine.  They are hoping to have him off of the respirator by tomorrow.
  • Wednesday, Mar. 4th – They had removed the respirator off of my Dad and they said he had the nasty type of pneumonia.  Things were looking up.  Although he was still in the ICU, they were hoping to get him to a regular room soon.
  • Friday, Mar. 6th – Dad was still in ICU, but still off of the respirator.  The speech pathologist check to see if he could swallow properly and he could not.  That was probably because in the short span of four days, my dad had two respirators down his throat and had his esophagus irritated during the operation.  Not to mention the infections he had fought before and after the surgery.  So at this moment, he was getting fed through an IV.
  •  Saturday, Mar. 7th – I got a call from the daughter of my Dad’s close friend, George.  She wanted me to know that her dad had passed away to cancer that morning.  When I heard the news, I called Naomi and advised her NOT to tell Dad about it yet.  She was already thinking the same thing.  Although dad was getting better, he was still very weak.  He still had a swollen throat, so he couldn’t speak well.  The news about his friend’s death would cause him to cry and build up more mucus, which he didn’t need now.  Plus, he would want to speak to George’s wife and his voice was not good enough yet to have a clear phone conversation.  On the up side, they had placed my dad in a normal room.  But he had a sitter assigned to his room, because he kept trying to get out of bed and was too weak to stand.
  • Sunday, Mar. 8th – My dad was placed back in ICU.  He was having too much trouble breathing.  They had said he had some carbon dioxide built up in his lungs.  So they were putting him on a breathing machine that would help him.  They didn’t want to put him on a ventilator again, if they didn’t have to.  So they had him on some type of CPAP by-pass machine.

It was at this time that I had to throw the ugly question out there. (That’s what my sister called it, “the ugly question”)  LOL  I sent a Facebook message to my siblings:

“I’m throwing this out there, because I don’t know the answer.  At what point do we need to talk about going to see Dad?”

I asked the question that none of us wanted to ask.  At what point do you say, that’s it…I’m going to the hospital?  Because it’s not like he is in the hospital a few blocks away.  We are all in different states.  In fact, my oldest brother and I are the closest to Dad and it will be a 12 hour drive for both of us.  So we had a conference call and decided to wait to see what my brother learned from the doctors on Monday.

Of course, my brother was not able to speak to a doctor on the phone today, but he spoke to Dad’s nurse.  The nurse said he didn’t think my brother needed to get on the next plane immediately, but that Dad was critical.  So my ever-wise brother found out that this nurse started his shift at 7:00am and would be getting off work at 7:00pm.  My brother made arrangements to call this nurse tonight, before he gets off of duty to see how Dad has been in the past 12 hours.  Hopefully, the nurse will be able to tell him if he’s seen any improvement or sudden decline of my Dad’s health.  Then we will make our plans for the next step.

Now do you see why I want this ride to stop?  I do not want to be on this roller coaster ride of unknowns.  I want to be a little kid again, with my mom and dad by my side and not have to worry about illness, death or responsibility.  Yes, I am shutting down.  Because just like a computer, a human’s brain can get overloaded and burn out.  So if anyone has a way to turn back time or can stop the roller coaster ride that I am currently on, I’d appreciate it.  I just need to get a chance to get my feet firmly planted to the ground for a minute and take a few deep breaths.  Because I’m not so sure I’m ready for what is coming up around the next turn.

I know I don’t need to ask, but I will.  Please pray for my Dad and Step-mom.  For me and my siblings and for all of our kids.  And for my Dad’s brother, during this difficult time.  We are all trying to keep it together and we will, but only by the grace of God.

P.S.  Thank you for letting me walk through the past few weeks with you.  It made me see that my Dad has fought and that we do have things to be thankful for.

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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Christmas Vacation…A Day With No Tablets!!

I conducted a science experiment on the fourteenth day of Christmas Vacation. As I mentioned previously, I had four children that were getting more and more irritated with each other.  The night before, my husband took the tablets away from both of my oldest kids, as a punishment for fighting.  So I decided the next morning to make ALL of the tablets disappear for a day.  How many tablets do we have in this house?  I’m embarrassed to say, but our children should be thrilled with the electronic devices they have at their fingertips.  Yet they never seem happy, because someone always wants to play a game that someone else is currently playing.  So I decided to have a day without electronics.

This was a difficult decision, so I had to think long and hard that morning, before making it. I knew that if the tablets were taken away, I was going to have to provide the kids with entertainment.  I finally decided that it was worth a try.  I had enough energy at that moment that made me believe it would work out.  So the tablets were tucked away in my room and I made a conscious decision to not use my phone during the day either, except for phone calls.  It wouldn’t be right for me to play Cookie Jam or surf my Facebook account all day long, while my kids were not allowed to have their electronic entertainment.  So except for speaking to my husband on the phone, I too was making it a day free of electronic entertain.

My five-year old daughter Ann woke up first, which is typical.  She always wakes me up early, wanting me to get up with her.    She settled into her favorite chair and wanted the tablet.  I told her that the tablets went away for the day.  She started throwing a crying tantrum that was ridiculous.  It was like watching an addict quitting cold turkey.  She was yelling that she needed the tablet to watch “The 7 Ds” cartoon.  I told her she could watch it On-Demand on the cable TV, but she wouldn’t believe me.  Yes, I still allowed them to watch cable TV.  I wasn’t stupid, I wasn’t going to take away the tablets AND the cable TV from these kids.  I could have been murdered that day, if I had done that.

So I pulled up the cartoon on the TV and Ann finally calmed down.  She wasn’t thrilled that they weren’t the same episodes she could watch on the tablet, but she was content enough to watch the new ones.  So my first test subject acted exactly the way I thought she would.  I was pretty pleased with myself, because I didn’t give in and hand over the tablet when the tears and yelling wouldn’t stop.

Next to wake was her little brother, Christopher, and he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of no tablets either.  Ann made sure to announce this tidbit as soon as he woke up.  He cried around for a bit and then was distracted with breakfast.  So my second test subject acted the same I predicted he would.   The third to wake up was my oldest daughter, Marie, who had to put on a show and whine, “Mom, I didn’t get to play on it yesterday.”  However, she was willing to accept the rule with very little argument.  So far, every test subject acted the way I assumed they would.

The last child to wake was my 9-year-old son, Patrick, which I figured would throw a complete fit.  You see, he had received a new tablet from Santa for Christmas.  So his actions surprised me when he accepted it without crying or fighting me.  So my hypothesis was wrong, I had guessed that my son Patrick and his little sister Ann (who I like to call, Patrick Jr.) would be my toughest challenges.  Yet Ann was the only one that really threw a tantrum.  Wouldn’t you know it, when I thought I had my kids figured out, they go and change on me.  🙂

So after Cafe Mom was done serving breakfast to the masses, it was time to be creative.  I had worked out a system that allowed each child to be in control of the TV remote for an hour each.  Which meant we watched a variety of Disney and Nick shows during the day.  If the kids were not interested in the show that was on, they would play with a new toy alone or together.  Which worked out good, but I sure got tired of hearing, “Play with me Mom!”, when all I wanted to do was just chill.

Sometime after lunch the kids needed more guidance in keeping entertained.  Okay, let’s be honest, they started to fight with each other over stupid things, like the possession of a chair and such.  That is when I had to pull out my secret weapon…the Disney themed Monopoly board game.

My husband and I had bought it before Marie was ever thought of and I think we played it once.  Frank is not into board games, so it has been tucked away on a top shelf for a good 12 years.  But now that my two oldest were big enough to understand the rules, it was time wipe off the dust and break this box open again.  No, seriously, you would not BELIEVE the amount of dust that thing had on it.  Man, you would think someone would clean around this house.  I might need to fire the maid…oh wait, I am the maid.  Well that explains it all.  😉

Back to my secret weapon, Monopoly, the world’s favorite family board game!  The kids were all excited when they saw the game.  My son Patrick said he had played it at camp last summer, so he was a little familiar with the game.  As I was getting the board set up, the kids were shooting questions at me left and right.  As I think back now, I find it humorous how Marie kept telling them, “Just wait and Mom will explain the rules to us.”  She didn’t know how to play, but she was eager to learn.  I took that as a good sign.

So for the next FOUR hours, I played Monopoly on the floor with the kids.  All the kids except for Christopher.  He will be turning four years old in less than a month, so the only real interest he had in the game was to torpedo the game with various items.  LOL  I had put a movie in for him to watch, but when it didn’t keep his interest he would throw something at us from the recliner.  I guess it was his way of reminding us that he was still here.  Once or twice, when he felt his attempts of being noticed weren’t successful enough, he would play Godzilla and walk over the board game.  Which, of course, caused his siblings to scream at him for messing up their hotels and money.  Christopher may be quiet and laid back, but he knows how to get attention when he wants it.

I learned a lot that afternoon about my kids and the board game Monopoly.  First, this game is a wonderful learning device for all ages.  The kids had to read the cards, add the numbers on the dice, count spaces and money.  I was refreshing my kids on their school lessons, without them knowing it.  Man, I even amaze myself sometimes.  🙂

I learned that my oldest daughter, Marie, should not be trusted with real money any time soon. She has not had enough exposure to money to know all the denominations.  If she had to pay $150 for a property and she didn’t have a hundred-dollar bill and a fifty dollar bill, then she didn’t know how to pay for it.  She struggles with math, but she isn’t flunking out of the class.  She has been taught the standard rules of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  She is even able to calculate fractions better than I can, but understanding the value of and counting money is not her strong skill.  Yet, she wanted to learn, which is good.  She didn’t get frustrated and quit playing, she just asked for more assistance on the money transactions.

I discovered that my oldest son, Patrick, did very well at the money transactions.  Maybe that is because he is our one child most likely to save his birthday money and counts it often.  However, he struggles with reading, so playing Monopoly helped him practice in that area.  I think the fact that he excelled over his big sister in money counting helped boost his confidence in his reading.  So I was happy to see him work hard at playing this board game and not get upset and throw in the towel.

As for Ann, this game helped her too.  Yes, she needed help reading the cards and counting the money, but she was practicing her counting.  Every time she rolled, she would count each dot on the dice to see how many spaces she could move.  The one thing I had to teach her was how to move her token.  She was always trying to cheat and move to a desirable space.  🙂  Or she would use the space she was currently on to count it as the first space to move.  So every time she moved, she would be one space short.  But we worked on it and I think she’s got it now.  Thankfully, she enjoyed it too and did not get bored and walk away.

Along with noticing my kid’s weaknesses, I also thought of more ways to help them down the road.  Once I can get Marie to understand the different currency values, I can teach her how to break a big bill into smaller denominations.  Then my next goal is to teach her how to count back the change properly when she is the banker.  That was always a pet peeve of my mom’s, she would be so upset when she would have a young cashier hand back her change without counting it back to her.  I plan to get Marie to a level that her Grandmother would be proud of.  🙂

I also thought of a way to make a game continue for days on end, so the kids could get to the level of buying hotels instead of only houses.  Plus, venture into the mortgage value of the properties and using the properties for collateral on a loan from the bank.  These are life lessons that my kids need to learn.  Maybe they will be more knowledgeable than their parents are on that topic.  I can see great things that can be accomplished from playing Monopoly.  Who knew that back in the old days, when I was playing this board game with my siblings, that I was learning these valuable skills.  I just thought I was having fun and bonding with my siblings.  (Well, more like being the typical little sister and tagging along with my big brothers and sister, so I could be cool and be part of their grown up world.)

Believe it or not, the time just flew by and before I knew it, I realized my husband would be getting off work soon.  When I announced this fact to the kids, they all wanted to know if we could continue to play even after Dad got home.  In fact, they thought Dad should play with us too.  LOL  I told them that I doubted Dad would play, but that we could play after supper.  I even gave them an option to continue the game or start over.  Around that time was when Christopher decided to be Godzilla again and walked all over the game board, creating chaos and destruction in his path.  So, needless to say, we opted to start the game over after supper.

After Dad arrived home and supper was consumed, the game was on again.  It lasted for another good hour or two before kids started to get tired and cranky, so we had to call it a day and pack up the board game.  Yet, the strangest thing happened, no one asked to play on the tablets.  In fact, I had told Frank that this was a ‘No Tablet Day’ and advised (from the corner of my mouth) that he too should put his tablet away…but he didn’t go for it.  Oh well, I tried!  🙂

So my experiment was successful, we survived a day without electronic games.  Was there bickering?  Some.  Was there screaming?  Only when little brother attempted to wreck the game to get attention.  Did my kids have fun together?  Yes.  Did I feel like an amazing mom?  Of course.  So what do you suppose happened the next morning?

My five-year old woke up the next morning and the first thing out of her mouth is, “Can I have the tablet?”  At which time I said yes.  The other kids soon woke and all the tablets were available and were used.  So was the old Monopoly game put back on the top shelf to never be touched again?  Nope.  More than one child requested to play Monopoly that day and every day since.  I see now that I just created a whole new situation that will suck away my time, because they don’t seem to want to play Monopoly without mom.  What was I thinking?  Never the less, at least they are practicing their skills when they are playing it.  But mom doesn’t always WANT to play Monopoly.  Mom just wants to chill.  So yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, there is a new phrase in our household now.  “Stop fighting, or the board game is going away!”  Kids…Gotta love ’em!

Christmas Vacation…Someone Help Me!!!!

I have four children that range from the age of 3 to 12 and I love them all.  However, after spending the last 14 days with my children during their school Christmas Vacation, I would love them a whole lot more if they were back in school.  As each new day dawns, my children find new ways to bicker and fight.  This is due to boredom, not hatred for each other.  (At least, that is what I keep telling myself.)  🙂  The problem is, they need to be away from each other, to appreciate each other’s company.  Sounds weird, huh?  Well, they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and in my kid’s situation,  it’s true.

The first week consisted of four children anxious for Christmas to arrive.  School was out, Santa was coming and that meant presents would be showing up.  They had just celebrated a mini Christmas celebration at school the prior week.  In one week’s time, they had participated in Christmas caroling field trips, volunteered at Catholic Charities, rode on the school’s float in the annual Christmas parade.  Plus rehearsed and performed in the school Christmas program and had class Christmas parties.  With all of this activity, all at once, I guess they had a legitimate reason to be bouncing off the wall during the days that led up to Christmas Day.

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Meltdown in Aisle 5

Well, actually not in aisle 5, it was in Walmart’s Customer Service line.  (But I didn’t think that was a very good title.)  I was waiting in line to return my son’s defective Christmas present, a flashlight friend that did not want to stay lit up.  It was four days after Christmas and I had been a real female dog lately around the house, so to speak.  {I think you know what I mean.  😉 }  I thought my mood was just because I had been sick and then my cycle started.  Not to mention that my kids had been out of school for a week and was driving me crazy with all their bickering.

So I was standing in line, reading my Facebook notifications, when I saw one from my cousin in Oklahoma.  She’s on my mom’s side of the family and surprisingly enough, I had just been thinking about them that day.  My cousin posted some photos of her family Christmas.  She had been fortunate enough to celebrate it with not only her husband, her three kids and their families; but also her three brothers, their families and her parents.  Her mom was my mom’s older sister.  It was great to see all of her family, especially my Aunt and Uncle.  I was typing the message:  “Looks like you had a holiday filled with love. Lucky you. Happy holidays cousin.”; when the tears started to fall down my cheeks.

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