Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Barely Surviving the First Day of Spring Break


I feel as though this could be my first wordless post ever. The photo alone pretty much says it all. It's how I feel, it's how my life looks.

But I'm not that tired and you're not that lucky, so I'll go ahead and elaborate for a few hundred words.

We kicked off our uber-long Spring break today by having tubes put in Ruby's ears this morning. Hallelujah, the girl may soon be able to hear again! She's a confirmed trooper and though the nurses said things like "She'll be drowsy all afternoon" and "She'll take a good, long nap for you today", she spent the entire day being entirely Ruby. My girl is brave and whimsical and tall and wonderful. I'm gonna keep her.

Where things get sketchy is where I found myself thinking around 11 a.m., "I don't think I will survive Spring break." And then I remembered Summer vacation looming, and a small part of my soul died.

Around 4 p.m. I was holed up in the bathroom with a magazine, a re-heated cup of tea, and a Butter Kek. I felt like a commercial for...something.

I don't even want to hear it, homeschooling moms. You're tough as nails and I'm...uh...not. Maybe I used to be, but I doubt it. My third child brought about the cataclysmic shake-down of my fortitude, and it's not just him. It's the rest of them. It's the me. It's the all of us together under one little roof in late March, when we should be out flitting around in the breeze.

I've come to see that I've defaulted to an existence of water-treader, and I have to tell you, I'm really not a good swimmer. But the biggest pieces of life stay strung together by the finest filaments and I hope they're stronger than they seem. We're in a much better world than we were two years ago, or even one. Progress is charted and celebrated and we've come a long way, man. Just Friday I texted Cory, "Silas is being such a dream-boat!" He's the first to cuddle with me and tells me one hundred times a day that I'm pretty/special/his best friend ever. We're starting to live a little in that elusive tunnel-end light. It feels nice.

But the bad days seem to come in waves, they always know how to find us. Then, it's hard and it's exhausting and it's time - it's always time - for me to pave a few roads back to myself.

I realized a good while ago that I needed more book-action in my life. It has helped.

Now? I need to get my food groove back on. I think I might be repeating myself, but this time, I really mean it. Cooking relaxes me. It fulfills a sparkly part of me that over-shadows some of the gray ones.

It does take some planning though, and that's where I feel like I might be losing it. My well-planned intentions seem to have been forgotten back at the farm. We're increasingly loosey-goosey up in here. (See photo.)

We're colorfun* and crazy and an awful lot of love happens here amid a crap-load of insanity.

But we could stand to reinstate a few rhythms.

So I'm starting with the Mama and the food on our table. I've been tether-balling around between the old me and the one who scrapes something together most evenings. It's time to close the deal, wrap that rope all the way around the pole. I'm a girl who wants to eat delicious food and I'm lucky enough to enjoy making it. I like eating out sometimes, too. I can appreciate a chili cheese dog as much as the next girl.

But it pains me to say that I haven't singed a single brussels sprout in the 7 months that I've lived here. There's just no sense in that crime.

We're going to enjoy this Spring break, dangit. And we're going to start tomorrow.

Calvin and Ruby have agreed to a coffee date with me while little brother is at pre-school. It's so rare for me to get time alone with the two of them and I'm stoked. After that, we're heading to the grocery store.

Mama's back.

So now it's your turn to give me your best tips for dealing with long breaks, meal times, kid fun, and general tools for living happily with a child who is prone to every manner of tomfoolery.   GO!


*Best typo evs!

45 comments:

  1. "And then I remembered Summer vacation looming, and a small part of my soul died." I am in therapy for my pre-anxiety about summer. It started in October. That is not hyperbole.

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    1. I didn't click on the comments to share wisdom, I came to get some. Right now I'm reveling in the 40 (FORTY!) extra minute nap my 1 year old is taking and haven't told my boys I'm upstairs (they'll find me at a commercial break). I'm counting down to the information session they're having in 2 weeks 2 days for the International School we're sending our boys to next year...it's only for 2 hours but it FEELS like real school. And then, and THEN in September, 2 of my children will go to school (where they'll learn to SWIM! Not sure why I'm fixated on that part) for all day and those buffalo chicken recipes I just spent the last 40 minutes pinning will be perfected and it will be glorious.
      I chose to "reply" to this comment because you said "Crap load" and Jen Hatmaker commented on it. I'm not a name dropper, but I might tell a couple people about this....

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    2. Amen to that sister. Our solution is to spend summer working at summer camp for our kiddos, that way my children are constantly entertained and "watched" by the many counselors around :-)

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    3. Oooh...can we come, too? No? That wouldn't be helpful?

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    4. Becca- What camp? My sister takes her brood to Pine Cove in Texas. Next time we are back in America over the summer, we're gonna try to head there. I've heard they cut your kids food for you at every meal and have "Parents only" events. Sold!

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    5. Becca, sorry, I forget my name is set to a private profile. Find me at www.downbytherivers.blogspot.com (ok, I'll stop pretending this is a facebook thread now)

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  2. "You can do it!" said in my best cheerleader voice.

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  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought about summer vacation and freaked out a little this week. I thought it was because I only have one child....crazy as it sounds having one is hard sometimes. Mostly because I don't want to play Barbies for two hours at a time.
    Glad to hear your grove is coming back, I need to find mine too.

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  4. I have felt dread about summer coming every year that my kids have been in school. And then summer comes, and we get in our no-routines groove and then I don't want summer to end (back to routines, oh no!). Spring break is harder because a) no pool and b) weather can keep you inside. My sanity during breaks of any kind relied on a couple things...every day we had a quiet time (my goal was one hour), everyone in their rooms, do whatever is quiet and not destructive. It also helped to trade time with another mom, so each of you has an afternoon. Come up with a big project that the kids can get into - each summer my sister and I would switch rooms for a week. This involved lots of planning and then moving took almost a day. We thought it was our idea, but looking back I bet Mom thought of it! I had a book called something like "1000 things to do that don't involve TV" and we tried to see how far we could get during the summer. Over Spring break we always had one "backwards" day which started with dinner in the morning and went from there. My kids are 21 and 17 now but I still can remember the panicky feeling that summer was coming....

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  5. Wish I could say you were traveling this train solo......today I kept Hillelah home in the a.m. because she didn't seem quite herself post ear infection. Adrian didn't have to go in until 11 - Hillelah's behavior allowed me to draw the conclusion that she was perfectly fine and I needed a break - off to school she went with big bro just in time for lunch! From a post homeschooling momma, I don't know how I did it before :) I LOVE it when my big boys are home.....the littles - not as much (did I just confess that??!!). I continue to remind myself that the littles will grow up just like the biggies did - I need better intention and planning for the time they are home - savor the preciousness that will soon be gone! xoxo

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  6. P.S. To clarify, we switched bedrooms each summer, not just moved other rooms around.

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  7. We joined a family fitness center. I am not a fitness person. It wasn't in our budget until we had Christmas money to use on that instead of higher quality (or more frequent) date nights. BUT in the last few weeks I have embraced the bliss of free childcare (yes, from someone who is a SAHM and not a fan of daycare - EMBRACED my hour or two of free childcare) as I ride an exercise bike or walk a track with a friend. And sometimes I am crazy enough to take my 3 1/2 year old and (special needs) 2 year old to the pool with me. By myself. And it ends up pretty great most times - though sometimes some stress.

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  8. I'm not sure that I can shed much light on this for you. I am, by no means, a home-school mom. However, I am a mom who LOVES when my kids are home in spite of the craziness and bickering that may occur. I'm just wired that way. Maybe I'm slightly insane, I don't know. But one thing that I do know, and is very important to cling to, is that this too shall pass. And when it does pass you will miss it and want it back. At least I hope you will. This, coming from a mother of a high-school graduate, my first baby. I want those days back that you have now. Enjoy them. I know that you do, but I mean REALLY enjoy them. Good, bad and otherwise.

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    1. Girl, we all love it. I mean, really, we do. It's just maybe more dire in some houses than others. Bickering? Lord Jesus, let there be bickering in this house tomorrow! Sounds blissful.

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  9. I am older than you and am here to say I am here, I didn't die, although I thought I would!!!
    NOW it is so smooth, I can't tell you!! I remember grabbing wee snippets of magazine articles and savoring the thought of them for days and weeks in my mind.
    It pays off...the sacrifices you are doing/giving now, BIG TIME! Wait and see...hold tight and don't blink :) The weirdest feeling is that first time you get to leave them home without calling anybody to stay with them. And the cops don't come and nobody did anything that you can tell, haha!

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    1. I say you speak wisdom, Auntie Bliss! It will be so worth it!

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  10. Homeschooler here. And girly, I promise pinky swear that it is ONLY by God's divine intervention that we are not all in therapy and sipping down whiskey on lunch break. It tests and stretches me every day. I couldn't imagine giving up my dream farm and living in a seedy neighborhood, but you do it because you are CALLED to. I'm called to homeschool, and even if I have to hide in the bathroom & beg for mercy, by golly I'll do it. I survuve by God's loving grace, good chocolate and good sex when they're all in bed. Did I really just write that?

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  11. Sending love and positive karma your way... from one salsa loving, introverted, mama to another!

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  12. Haha- this is why I come and read you everyday. You speak the language of my life. Spring Break is next week and I'm already planning ways to keep my rascals busy and not throwing things at each other, poking each other, calling each other potty names and having me frantically texting my hubby "when did you say you were coming home again??" over and over :O). Really, I'm trying to figure out what it is that makes the rough days so rough and the good ones so good. I am so hoping for more of the good than the rough this Spring Break but I know it's going to take some intentionality on my part. I am forcing myself (like you with the coffee date) to be the fun mom next week and to rock Spring Break with these two!

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  13. This homeschooling mama was nodding along with you! Just last week I had to switch my hiding place from the bathroom to the pantry. They know to look in the bathroom so hiding in the pantry buys me a little more quiet.

    My tip on keeping kids busy - theme days! When my kids were still going to "real school" they went to a year round school so they had three week breaks every 9 (i think. maybe it was 12) weeks. To keep them busy I started doing theme days - Pirate Day, Robot Day, Car Day - you get the idea. I used to do them every Tuesday & Thursday they were on break but now we just do them as I have time to plan them. Usually twice a week when they're on break but not always. We just did a Five Senses Day last week. Most of them are on my blog under the label, theme days (genius, I know) It can be a lot of work but I've found that planning a whole day where my energy is 100% focused on them really pays off in the long run!

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    1. I feel like I remember your pirate day??? If I recall, I thought it was genius! :) Thanks for the reminder.

      We have "Circus day" here quite often. ;)

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  14. Regular playdates with me and Leo, of course. And prayers for warm weather so we can shove outside!

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  15. Oh no, now you've got me all in a tizzy. Spring Break officially starts tomorrow. But it sure isn't a break for us mamma's, is it? Outside frees me. When my kids can go outside, in their mud boots and play in the creek and get the imaginations turning- that's what saves me. They come back inside all red cheeked, happy and delightful. And that, my friend, is every mother's dream.

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  16. You are in crazy days, but then one day they will be 18 and wanting to go to the beach for the week with friends....that is a whole different kind of "crazy-mom" feeling! Trust me on that! :-)

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  17. Find a way to go outside or if it is freezing where you live, find one of those indoor playgrounds. Outside is the best for us, especially once they get past asking me to push them on the swing every five minutes to start playing together, digging in the dirt or whatever. Take them to visit a friend of yours (or to the grandparents) who also has kids so the kids can be crazy at a different house, and you two can huddle together. I still try to make everyone do "down time" for a bit after lunch, so everyone (age 4 and 10 and me)can go to their rooms and do something on our own to recover a bit from all this togetherness. At this point in the day I usually don't care anymore if they want to do this together if they can stay quiet and not kill each other--just not me.

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  18. My kids are teenagers now and the ONE thing they talk about the most about their childhood memories were the unexpected, unplanned things we did. TOP on the list was the times I put them to bed, waited about ten minutes and then popped into their rooms with a flashlight and said, "Ice Cream Run! Let's GO!!!" And we'd all grab blankies or whatever and run to the car, load up, drive to the nearest Dairy Queen and eat a yummy treat.
    Another time I went in with the flashlight and said, "Let's go slide!!" We went to the nearest subdivision construction site and I let them slide down the giant pea gravel hills the dump truck dumped the day before ~ in the dark ~ which made it all the more exciting.

    Unexpected ~ unplanned ~ strange times of day or night. That's the key to fantastic memories!!

    Hope this helps.
    Kate

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  19. girl...i hear ya. it's nuts lately. like, stop-asking-mama-questions-and figure-it-out-yourself-or-i-think-i'm-gonna-explode-just-go-outside-make-your-own-lunch-wash-your-own laundry-i-don't-wanna-wipe-your-number-two-again-NUTS!
    mama needs a break and its still snowing and dark outside and my soul just feels dark along with it! ugh.
    BUT. God has been continually blessing my socks off, showing me love in His amazing details and i basically have nothing to complain about, yet i do.

    hear! hear! on the better meals! i'm a hot mess with that, too.

    grace upon grace. soaking it up. xoxo

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  20. wish i had mealtime advice. when my folks visited recently my dad actually told me i need to serve a vegetable to my kids once a day. :o ouch! seriously we are not a good example there. i would love to have someone manage that area of my life...meal plan, shop and prepare. that would be such a huge luxury.

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  21. This is my 'first' summer after not homeschooling. I think I will lose it day 1.
    I get to practice summer next week with spring break. we'll see how this plays out. Currently in middle of renovation of house. I have no sink and no stove, and no budget for eating out. Lots-o-pbj. Be warm, at least in your soul. It's freezing here!!

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  22. We're a homeschooling family too, and I love Mandy's comment-so true and funny. And I love that we all hide in the bathroom. I'll remember that this afternoon when I lock myself in for a minute, ha! If it's a really wild day I'll lock the bedroom door, then the bathroom door, then go in the little toilet room and lock that door. They'll find the keys and find me, but they've got 3 doors before they are victorious!

    I don't have any words of wisdom, but was going to say I'm with you on the cooking bit. Last week I was on a crusade to eat out of the freezer/pantry to get it emptied out. We ended up having lots of cereal and sandwiches because the kids revolted on me. Cereal is meant for breakfast and late night dessert, not main staple dinners, so I suppose I'll get getting back on the cooking bandwagon with ya!

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  23. Hole-ing (that weird looks word no matter how you spell it) up in the bathroom with tea, a book, and a butter kek isn't coping? I'm starting to come out of my fog as well, and I THINK baking delicious treats and meal planning is going to get me there. Here's hoping!

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  24. Oh my -- can I ever relate. We just finished spring break and it was a sweet relief to put everyone on the bus Monday morning. It's weird how taking a weekend times 3 makes it so much more difficult to manage personalities. Here's my strategy:

    Start the break with a trip to the Library. After you're loaded up with lots of books, institute "reading time" for everyone for 25 minutes every day even if they can't really read. This is called your sanity break. And you can totally do it with your bigs while your little is napping (if he naps. does he nap?)

    Go here and get some ideas for projecty things you can do. About one a day or one every other day helps keep them busy. http://pinterest.com/mamalatte/kid-stuff/

    Bake cookies together this week. Twice. And let everyone help. And then serve them for dessert that night with much fanfare.

    Find a family chore they can all help with. My kids love to mop (mess = fun). They also like "fluffing the bed pillows" (this is really just a pillow fight) and washing windows and mirrors (spray bottle = mess = fun). Bonus if you can find one to do every day.

    Go to a video store (or a Redbox, or Netflix if you have it) and select a movie they haven't seen but you know they'll like. Make popcorn, pull the curtains and have movie afternoon.

    Hang in there. The week only lasts a week.

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    1. What a great, fun, DoABLE list!!! Thank you for sharing! My 4 yr old LOVES cleaning the mirrors!!!

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  25. love your honesty - Adventures In Odessey were a life saver when my kids were little, they had to be quiet to hear the story, so it brought a little peace to the household. Plan one thing that is a big deal to them, gives them something to look forward to. Swap one afternoon with another mom - you get an afternoon off and the kids (usually) loved having friends over and enjoyed the other day. As far as food goes, the crockpot is your friend. I loved not having to think about making dinner mid afternoon - that was always my tired time of day.

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    1. I'm getting misty. Those were th days, all snuggled together listening to adventures in odyssey. Yup, it feels like forever but I promise you there will be a day that it feels like it went by much too quickly. (Spoken by a homeschool mama that spent plenty of time locked in the bathroom.)

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  26. Hi Shannon -

    this comment isn't about this post - sorry; but to be brief; I like the way you make me think; your writing is awesome!

    If you want, pop over to my blog and enter my little give away, ok?

    thanks!
    xoTiffany

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  27. is it bad to say that all i can think of to suggest is to drink too much woine and blur the edges of the madness!! i truly canot think of anything else...oh yes io can fresh air...get out! (forgive my wino suggestion, my eldest has sms and sometimes blurring the edges is needed!) xxx

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  28. oh no i made a typo on the word wine!!!! and now i really do look like the drunk staggering in from the park bench! xxxxx

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  29. Pave an area, put a great fence around it, let them bike, draw with chalk, grow some herbs, blow bubbles. As for meals, let them be involved, I often sacrifice a zucchini so my 2yo can cut veges, pick some herbs etc, they almost always eat it all up and it is the food I love too. We homeschool, so my kids are good at self amusing, let them get bored, they will amaze you with there creativity. That said, in summer I like to have a list of activities to call on in "those" moments.

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  30. This was totally the first 3 days of our spring break. Thank the LORD things turned around for us. Library trip, bowling, fast food 2 days in a row (gasp!), painting, etc.

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  31. well. you know i homeschool, but i sure hope you know it ain't all bliss over here.
    so much so, that we sent luke to 7th grade this year, and i enjoyed the small bit of freedom so much that the other two are going to school next year. BAM. :)

    i've already started thinking about my summer FUN list. makes me tired just typing it.
    i refuse to feel like a cruise director but i definitely see the need to schedule some fun on those long, hot summer days.

    wish we lived closer and we could get our kiddos together for the chaos.

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