Motherhood

The Perfect Shoe Solution

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The house is finally quiet. Well, not totally quiet; I can still hear some chit chat upstairs but that doesn’t bother me- so long as it stays upstairs,

And then I see it; with the open floor plan, I can see straight from the back of the house to the front. And from my hard-earned place on the couch I can see 7 pairs of shoes strewn about  in every which way. One pair parked behind the garbage can. One pair near the toy bin. 2 pairs at two different spots literally look like they are on the run- someone just shed them as they walked. One pair half way stuck under the couch-I already know there’ll be a frantic search party the next morning for those. One single lonely shoe by the sink. Another at the refrigerator. One by the steps.

What is up with these kids??

Grrr….why isn’t this working?

Continue reading “The Perfect Shoe Solution”

Motherhood

My name is Goldie, and I suffer from PPPP. (Persistent Picture Perusing Panic)

They’re all back.

It was one week of camp for boys and one week of camp for girls, and there’s nothing like having them all back under my roof.

This time two of my boys went, which doubled the amount of time I had to spend dissecting pictures.

The camp was so kind and sent 378 pictures over the week. But it’s a double edged sword.

Either I can’t find them, so I panic. Or I find them, but I can’t read the expression on their faces, so I panic. Or the picture catches just a sliver of a right ear, so I panic.

So really, I can’t win.

You’d think by the fourth year of sending kids to winter camp – and it’s only one week – I’d be getting better at it. But nope. It’s just one of the many mysteries of motherhood.

But this time, I really panicked.

I scanned each picture, looking for secret messages of how my boys were doing.

After all, it was my 9-year-old’s first time going to camp; he needed a bit of extra worrying.

The pictures were looking good. I saw the hood of his sweater in one. The tip of his nose in another and I recognized the corner of his sneaker in a third.

And then finally, on hike day, there he is! I can’t see his face, but there he is, walking along the path with everyone.

But wait a second. I take a closer look. I enlarge it on my phone screen. I rotate it.

This doesn’t make sense.

Everyone is walking on a straight path. And my son is walking to the far right. Everyone is going in one direction, and he is going off to the side.

Why is he going off to the side?

I zoom in, I zoom out. Yes, he’s definitely going away from the group.

He’s not a wanderer. But why is he wandering away?

I’m really in a panic.

He’s wandering away and no one even notices.

I check again. Yes, every single kids is focused on walking ahead, and no one sees him wandering off.

Where’s the counselor?

He’s not there. Well, not in the picture.

I quickly forward the picture to my Whatsapp group of close friends, fellow moms who I know would understand my panic.

Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? I quickly message. I don’t want to sound to neurotic; I wait to see if they see what I see.

I anxiously wait for an answer. No one replies.

I try to relax. I’m sure everything is OK, I tell myself. Stop overreacting.

I look at the picture again, which hasn’t changed since just a few moments before. He’s still wandering off.

Should I call the camp director and tell him?

No, I can’t be that type of mom.

But what if he did wander off?

I wait an hour, which feels like forever, until my husband gets home.

“Any pictures from camp?” he asks.

“Oh, you bet! Wait till you see this one!”

I try to hid my neurotic-ness and casually show him the hiking picture.

“Nice, they’re going on a hike.” He points to my 9 year old in the photo. “Look, he’s right there, the first in the line.”

“The first in the line? I thought he was wandering off…”

“Wandering off? They’re going around a bend, he’s the first one there, leading the way to the right.”

Oh.

If only moms were gifted with the same (un)common sense as dads.

Motherhood

It’s not just about juggling

Of all the things I’ve discovered in the past 11 years of motherhood, I’ve reluctantly come to terms with the fact that I can not micro manage every corner of my house or everything my kids are doing.

Actually, I can not micro manage anything.

PJ’s end up in middle of the playroom and don’t necessarily get put in the hamper. Wet towels pile up on the floor of the bathroom after shower time. I don’t always know if everyone washed their hands before supper. It can take a few days until I get wind of a particular project going on in one of the kids rooms. (Very) often the beds are not made. Oh of course, I have a rule that everyone has to make their bed  in the morning. But a rule is only as good as the way it’s implemented. 

And I’m not able to implement everything, all the time.

Many times I have to let things go.

And I’ve decided that that’s ok. 

Really, it’s all just a juggling game.

We are all jugglers. And if you’re a mom, that takes your juggling to the next level. You add a couple extra hundred balls and up the speed by 500% or so.

But the aim of the game is not just to be a good juggler. It’s to realize that not all my juggling balls are the same.

On the contrary, they are quite opposite. Some of them are glass; the most fragile and delicate type.

And some are made of extremely durable rubber; no matter how hard they fall, they will bounce right back up.

The goal of the game? Don’t confuse which balls are glass and which are rubber.

Myself. My husband. My kids. Each one of them. The smiles on their little faces. The atmosphere in our home. These are my glass balls. These cannot be dropped, no matter the circumstances.

The house. The laundry. Fancy dinners. Matching socks. Sales. Beds that are made up each morning. Clean floors. A clean bathroom mirror.  Sinks that don’t have dishes piled up. Walls that don’t have some marker designs. DIY projects and cutesy homemade crafts.

They are all rubber. Every single one of them. If I drop them for an hour, a day, a week, (a year)…I know they will bounce back up. Eventually. 

And that truly guides me through each day, as I watch my rubber balls scatter in all directions, further and further from my grasp.

Organized closets? That’s a rubber ball, it’ll bounce back. 

Quality family time and not losing my cool? That’s a glass ball. I can not let it drop. It is not worth the price.

Always focus on the glass balls, they’re much harder to repair if they fall.

Motherhood

Mommy Camp Exposed

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Mommy camp.

It’s like being a walking, talking  Pinterest board.

There’s at least 273 easy and creative things to do with your kids – without having to leave your house!

It seemed so simple!

We’ll do home made play dough and cake pops and then colored gel sensory something or other. And then collect empty toilet paper roll thingies and make the 76 easy and no mess things that are so simple and fool proof..

We’ll cut sandwiches into cool shapes and everyone will gobble them up because of the cool shapes..

We’ll slice watermelon and kiwis and avocado and spinach and make ices that will fool the kids and they’ll lick every last drop, asking for more.

We’ll cut pool noodles and use ice cube trays to make the greatest water toys ever.

I’ll make all those colorful and bright signs and charts and the kids will follow all my marching orders, tucking all their stuff in the right places…

Another day of mommy camp passes and I fall onto the couch, too tired to even read.

I mentally go through my Pinterest-board-mommy-camp-day…

I manage to start the day off with a quick shower, put on some clean clothes and I’m the last one to join the breakfast crew.

I cracked, beat, flipped and scramble eggs, while I myself scramble from counter to counter giving everyone breakfast. Make that their second breakfast. My husband had already given them breakfast when he started the first shift..I was lucky to have the late shift of 8 am.

3 bowls cinnamon life, 1 bowl maple brown sugar life…oh no, that was supposed to be 2 bowls cinnamon…pour contents back in box, get another box. Soymilk, almondmilk, regular milk, spoons and I have breakfast under control. I sneak over to make a coffee while everyone is immersed in their food, which I know will last for at least 90 seconds.

I clean up two floor spills, one table spill, one ice-maker flood, dump some things in the sink and join my kids at the door to wave good bye to my husband like he’s leaving on some long journey, while truthfully he’s going all of a mile to the Chabad House and only till 5 pm. Not that many hours until then, I convince myself.

I direct everyone to get dressed, wipe up another spill, dump in a load of laundry and say a little prayer that I should remember to get it into the dryer before tomorrow.

Feed the baby, dress the baby, change two diapers.

Trip over some cars and referee a Lego battle.

Remind everyone we are leaving to the park in 12 minutes, so we can get there before the heat does.

Balancing the baby in one arm and trying to keep him from grabbing my marker, I scribble some pictures on our makeshift daily schedule so the kids know what’s happening.

They’re not totally decipherable, but good enough for our mommy camp.

Put on socks, velcro shoes (once again validating my no-shoes-with-laces policy) and strap in car seats.

Diapers, wipes, snacks, drinks, sunscreen.

Shlep out bikes from the trunk, distribute helmets, lug out the scooters.

I sit in the shade and do nothing, relishing every moment of the shade and the nothing.

I give out water bottles, and guard them as told.

Push the toddler on the swing, feed the baby.

Answer some questions by random strangers…

Yes, they are all mine.

Don’t worry, they’re not ALL boys, there is a girl in there somewhere.

Yes, I do have cleaning help.

Yes,  I do homeschool.

And I leave the rest for them to discuss when I’m out of earshot.

Time to leave and pile in the bikes and scooters and helmets and we are back home…just in time for lunch.

With the baby in one hand, I crack eggs, beat and flip and scramble…grill cheese sandwiches, yesterday’s pasta…No cookie cutter sandwiches, no cutesy nothing.

One thing is for sure, in mommy camp we do a lot of eating.

Baby and toddler go for a nap and now we can start activities.

Set up a paint project – outside. Nothing from the list of 101 creative ideas. It’s called freestyle. They can paint whatever they want. We focus on the process, not the result (read: they’re busy, that’s good enough for me!)

I direct cleanup and then clean up the rest. And 2 spills.

Baby is up. Feed and diaper again

Ooh and aah over paint projects and listen to elaborate descriptions of what it’s supposed to be.

Wash a few dishes.

Sweep the floor, minimally.

Referee another Lego battle.

Clean a spill.

The kids get into bathing suits and I spend the next hour contemplating if I should make a chart to keep track of who splashed who in our tiny kiddie pool that’s really too small for so many kids and telling the kids to close the back door and not get water in the house. No fancy water toys in sight, only good old fashioned cups (and some other things that someone sneaked out of my kitchen and that I pretend not to see).

No avocado spinach trick-your-kids ices.

Strawberry mango smoothies, some liked it and some didn’t and cleaned more spills, only these were sticky.

Change another dipaer.

Somewhere along the way, I’m not quite sure when or how, put together food for dinner.

Referee computer time.

Wiped up a spill.

Join my kids at the door to greet my husband, giving him a hero’s welcome.

Supper, showers, baths, brushing teeth reminders and kids in bed.

Sit with each kid a few minutes and chat about their day.

Nothing about my day was Pinterest worthy. Definitely not the pile of wet towels at the back door, the scraps of paper and crumbs and scissors and gluesticks that litter the kitchen floor.

Mommy camp is exhausting, grueling, draining and at times challenging.

But mommy camp is also spending every moment of my day with my biggest fan club, and that makes it all worth it.

They make me feel important.

After all, I’m changing the world, one diaper at a time.

Life in General, Motherhood

Kids, by definition

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It was a great trip. Fabulous. Fun. Hectic. Crazy. And a lot of other things.

6 days schlepping around LA, attending the wedding of my sister in law, daily breakfast in Cafes – it was all incredible. And beyond exhausting.

There were many moments, as my husband and I herded our 7 little passengers in and out of our great big 15 passenger van, that I wondered why we didn’t just go home already, back to our space.

But I knew that stressful and exhausting were two mere details of such an awesome trip spent with extended family. So many aunts and uncles for my kids to con into buying them every treat possible (especially those with Red #40).

And I learnt a lot on the trip. I learnt a lot about kids. Ok, it’s nothing that I didn’t know before. But I find, as a mom, I can learn the same thing every day for 10 years and still it will surprise me.

So here’s what I figured out.

Kids, by definition, will:

  1.       Make noise
  2.       Touch everything they see.

Hence it brought me to the conclusion that the two most useless, wasted statements to say to children are:

  1.       Be quiet.
  2.       Don’t touch.

And trust me, I got to say that many times over our trip.

At the Café when other people were trying to eat.

When they had a display of different drinks that the kids had to touch.

Over the two days in a hotel that didn’t have a sound proof children’s room –when, oh when will they start making child friendly hotels?

When they ran up and down the loooong hallway in the hotel.

When we walked through the mall and the kiosks had the most delicate, fragile items within arms distance.

And there we were, telling the kids to be quiet and not to touch.

But that’s like telling a mom not to worry.

It’s telling a child not to be.

Because kids, by definition, make noise and touch things.

We can’t tell them to stop being.

But we can tell them how to redirect their nature.

Go outside to talk loud.

Use a lower voice inside.

Ask before touching something that’s not yours.

Things like that.

But still, it’s not foolproof.

Kids need to be kids, and they will make noise and they will touch things.

And adults will continue to get nervous from it.

But the adults are the ones who have to adjust their reactions, not the kids.

And trust me, over the trip I sure had plenty of opportunities to work on this!

Oh, and there’s one other discovery I made on the trip.

Kids will fight with one another when traveling in a vehicle, no matter how big the vehicle is.