Valentine Hearts, and Paper Valentines

img_6266Today is Valentines day.
Happy I love someone day!
Tomorrow is Happy 50%off candy at Target day.

Towards the end of January one of my friends posted a picture on Facebook, it was a door covered in hearts, each heart had something written on it.  It was cute and home-made, and full of kindness, all things I love.  So I decided to take it and make it mine.  I was going to cut hearts, but after doing the mental math I decided I was just too lazy to make 84 different hearts, so instead, I bought a few packs of pre-made hearts from my favorite store ever.  Hobby Lobby, I lose all restraint when I go into Hob’lob, and much like Oprah, “you get a car, and you get a car…”  I walk through the store, “you get in my cart, and you get in my cart.”  Seriously I cannot contain myself!

When I got home from my rather small spending spree I sat down and wrote out things I love about my family.  I was afraid it would be difficult and time-consuming but once I sat down the traits and ideas just came out.  I could not write fast enough.
I love your new smile
You are an excellent reader
You are an extraordinary dishwasher loader
You make me laugh
You work very hard on your grades
You play your instrument well, your practice shows
You have very pretty hair
You are becoming a Godly leader
I love to listen to your stories
You pick up shoes like a big girl
You seek justice
I love you
will you be my valentine…
You get the idea, some things were big things, character and other things were appearance, and appreciation.  It was fun to do.    I contemplated doing the big kids, (more on those changes later) but I would have to mail them, and I did not know if they would want all those paper hearts… (if they read this let me know I can send them to you)  I was going to put a heart on each night, I often ended up doing 2 at a time, simply because I would remember when I was already snuggled into my bed.img_6274R’s Door,  img_6275J’s door img_6276E and A’s stairway
(notice the things at the top of the stairs, the JBF sale is coming soon!)img_6264Keith’s hearts made it to our closet, because I put PS’s hearts on our bedroom door.img_6267Each set of hearts was ended with Be My Valentine.  I want my family to know they will forever have my heart.

Paper Valentines.
While I don’t agree with every child getting a trophy, or some school systems removing the honor roll for fear of hurt feelings I do embrace the valentine card for everyone.  We can look back on our childhood and either remember being left out of someones lick’em’stick’em tattoo valentine or (wanting to) leaving someone out of our puffy sticker valentines.  And we all know that kindness counts, leaving someone out is just hurtful.  Each weekly folder before valentine comes home with a class list.  Because I had a moment of clear headedness I purchased school valentines in early January (actually when I was taking O back to the University)  Whoo-hoo I was ready, I even knew where they were, yesterday, after wrapping valentine boxes (empty cereal and cracker boxes) I sat down with the girlies, and we made the cute little eraser valentines from Target (Why does my cart get so full there???)  E had bumble bee ones and A had cat ones.  The set included glue dots, you just put the bee or face on the card, sign your name and you are good to go.  Because A is in 1st grade and writes L A R G E like a 1st grader I signed all her cards for her (and honestly if I let her do it I would be spending more time redirecting her than it would take for me to knock them out myself)  The girls left for basketball practice and I cleaned up our mess.  I put all of Little A’s valentines in a large zipper baggie and left them out for her to take in the morning.  Our morning rush to get out the door, R was leading little A along and she paused to admire her cards, she stopped short in her tacks and said, “mom did these wrong,” R asked “in what way?”  A sweetly replied “they are addressed to MY FRIEND, but not all the kids in my class are my friends.”  R warned her “you don’t need to tell them they are not your friend”  She reasoned with him “oh they are going to know”img_6272To:my friend
From: A
p.s. you are not really my friend…

So IF your child is in my little A’s class and she tells your child that they are NOT REALLY ‘my friend’ I am so sorry, we will now be working on telling the truth in love, and not all truths need to be shared.

Happy Valentines day, go hug someone you love, I was once again reminded how short life really is, and if you don’t get that hug in, or that I LOVE YOU in, it might be your last chance.
jen

Today He Leaves, and My Heart Hurts

Today is the big day.
Departure day.
The day I have dreaded more than any other parenting day I have ever experienced.  Today is the day my first-born leaves to be a forever adult.  Oh sure he is an adult.  He has been a practicing adult for a long time now, he finished his education, and he found a part-time job, actually 2 jobs while he finished his degree.  He looked for jobs in his dream city, set up interviews, and traveled up to that dream city.  He was hired.  He looked for an apartment, he filled out applications, and he secured the apartment.  He has been an acting adult for months/years now.

But today…  it is official.  He is leaving our family for his career, for his own life.  He is moving away and spreading his wings, or some such stupid crappy lines.  What in the world, he is not a bird.  He is my son.  I did not parent a bird, who has animal instincts I parented a human, he thinks, he feels, he reasons and he loves. He is passionate, and brave, he is smart and so very funny.  And today he is leaving our little lives to seek his own fortune, his own life, his own legacy.

We made a lot of mistakes with him.  He was our first child.  Our experiment, things like potty training and sleep training were easy.  Heart training not so much.  Getting him to settle down and be serious, teaching him to think of others first, showing him how to plan and be self driven, not always easy, but so very worth it.  We failed often but we loved more than we failed.  He taught us the things that are  important which has made us better parents to the other children.  He showed us first hand what toddler parenting, elementary parenting, middle school parenting, high school and college parenting looks like.  Now he has to train us in adult parenting.  Because I don’t know how to do that.

He makes me laugh, until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me angry until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me proud until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me sad until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

He makes me love until I cannot breathe and I have tears running down my face.

My dearest child,
I love you so much, I am so proud of the man you are, and the man you are becoming.  I want you to remember the fun we have had, the adventures we have gone on and the love we have for you.  I want you to know Jesus like we know him, I want you to succeed in life and learn from your mistakes.  I want you to form relationships with people who will stretch you, people who will make you a more compassionate and a gentler, more comfortable you.  I want you to go out and seek adventure, I want you to try new foods, explore new places, and learn new things.  I want you to sit quiet and watch people, I want you to find a way to serve in your community.  I am so proud of you, I loved watching you perform, and do the things you loved to do.  I see the relationship of big brother you have shown to your younger brothers and sisters.  I see the bond and I want you to keep it alive.  I have made mistakes parenting you, and I want you to know that I am sorry, and so thankful that we both grew as a result of those mistakes.  I want you to go out in that big dream you are experiencing and I want you to succeed.  I want people to see how smart you are, I want people to learn from you, I want you to learn from them.  I want you to experience all life has to offer, and I want you to remember that we are always here for you, we will always love you, so much more than you will ever know.  I want you to love, and be loved, I want you to succeed, and I want you to remember that we will always welcome you home.  I love you so very much my heart hurts, I am so thankful to be your mom, and so proud of you.  I want you to remember who you belong to.
I love you,
mom

So Please do me a favor, go tell someone you love them, call someone you love, tell them you love them, go hug your kids, read one more book, listen to one more joke, snuggle for one more minute.  Because one day you will watch them drive off with all their belongings and you will realize just how very fast time moves on.
go hug your kids, they need your love
jen

 

An Olive by any other name…

This last week it was a mom win meal night.  I was making nachos. What is not to like with nachos?  A whole meal piled on chips!

I had everything for the nachos except olives. The ground turkey was seasoned and simmering on the stove top, the beans were warming in the oven and the queso cheese bubbling away.  I had plump red tomatoes and a perfect avocado. (You all know how difficult it is to get a perfect one!  I had a perfect one.)  I realized I did not have black olives. So I sent Keith on a search for sliced black olives. He took the baby along with him. Now at this point I feel like I should say Keith is a very smart man, and he is quite skilled at many things, he goes to Publix, weekly for me but he does not like to go buy things that he normally does not buy. If it is new to him, he wants a specific name brand. So I gave him one. I even spelled it out to him.

They left and I proceeded to slice and dice.  Shortly after, he called a kid asking them about the olives. I spelled the name again. The kid repeated the message. I grumbled about how could he not find the can. Then as I was slicing the avocado with one of my new Christmas knives (thanks Kim) I took a huge slice in my thumb. Hilarity broke out as bandaids were searched then antibiotic cream while trying to clean and bandage my poor thumb with a heart beat, Keith called again. Then came a series of texts and pictures. As I stood being bandaged by R and C took away the sharp knife  I smartly said how can it be so hard?  I sighed at the time it took him, My sweet husband is ever so patient with me.  He texted me a picture asking if ‘these’ will work.  He could not find the brand I sent him for.  I was so wrong.  It was the brand I THOUGHT I sent him to get, only not at all what I actually told him, and S P E L L E D O U T F O R H I M…  img_5858I almost told him a red can but instead I told him a brand that does not exist in Olives…

When he came home  I apologized and hugged him. I showed him my bandage thumb and apologized for being so wrong and so confident.

Nachos for the win, non-existent black olives for the not win

What about you, ever been so confident and so wrong?
go hug your kids they need the love!
jen

We Survived Another Year of Christmas Card-slash-New Year Card Pictures

dsc_0012It is that time of year again Christmas Card Picture time, as you all know it was once again Keith’s favorite way to spend an evening.  He loves getting the pictures taken.  He loves to plans out outfits, and shops for new clothes, he likes to organizes schedules, he makes deals with a friend to come take our pictures.  He works so hard to make this a reality for us.

Okay…
so in reality, yes he is awesome, but he just barely tolerates these pictures.  He smiles and plays along, he does not complain, at least I have never heard him complain.  That is why he is awesome.

Getting schedules together was almost more difficult than getting coordinating clothing for everyone.  Well, actually, now that I am thinking it was more difficult getting schedules together.  C works, O was away at college, we had to wait for her to get home, for C to be off work and for R to have a night with out activities.

I went through the kids closets and realized that if we went with the red/black theme than the boys were the only ones needing new clothes.  On black Friday, I went shopping.  Not super early I just did not even care that much, and I only went to one store!  Score for easy shopping, and sales!  Belks had just what I needed.  After literally an hour and burning up my phone battery trying to find shirts everyone would agree on, and in the correct sizes C walked in the store.  He was a huge help since I was really struggling.  Now we all coordinated but no one “matched.”

We met at a lake downtown for our pictures, if you have read all my Christmas card posts, than you will recognize this background for pictures.  This used to be the old paddle boat rental area, the boats are long gone, years ago the city began to revitalize the down town, this area is beautiful and much safer than when I was a teen.

dsc_0035We tried for the organized family look.
But the darn tree was just too awkward and spacing was off…dsc_0041We tried the album cover.
Which I was a fan of but everyone was worried that PS was going to fall…dsc_0001We went back to the gate with the Christmas banner
but you can see how that worked…

We laughed and the boys made fun of me, We tried and tried but just were not feeling it that night.   Thankfully the friend who took the pictures works with college age students, she was not annoyed by the big kids who could not stop messing around.

After the sun started to set and we were about ready to give up THIS is what we ended up with.  I love it!  dsc_0055 When we were done getting the shot little A started to cry and asked NOT to be turned upside down anymore.

We did it, we survived another year of Christmas Card Chaos.  We lived to tell our story, I cannot imagine what next year will be like.

Go hug your kids, and take a minute to plan a family picture.  It is likely you have not done one in a long time, and life is just too short to miss the opportunity to make another family memory, and get another family picture.
jen

Cinnamon Sugar Wall

Tonight while we were eating dinner of bacon, eggs, french toast, and whoops I forgot hot buttered toast.  During dinner PS was struggling with her chocolate milk in a straw, so R took off the cover for her.  Really not a problem she drinks out of cups with out straws all the time.  Later she went to climb down from her chair she knocked her cup, it fell off the table, did a little acrobatic flip motion, with chocolate milk cartwheeling everywhere before it settled on the floor.  The milk was contained to a small 6 foot area.  I just sat waiting for the cup to stop moving while R jumped up to grab a towel.  When he came back he crawled all over the floor wiping up the milk so I could wash the floors after we finished.  When he turned around to wipe under the table his only comment was, “good grief it is just like the government corrupt from the bottom all the way to the top.”

When the girls remembered they wanted toast, the were problem solvers putting the bread in the toaster and getting it out when it popped.  I put butter on PS toast while E and little A did their own, PS was with out cinnamon sugar, because she was too busy licking her butter off her toast.  Kerrygold for the win!  The girls were taking turns with the sugar shaker when R looked over and little A and asked “What are you trying to do build the Trump wall of sugar”?  We took the sugar shaker away from her.

What about your house, do you have a butter licker?  Or a political comedian like we do?

img_5090Go enjoy some warm buttered toast with hot chocolate soon, when I was little I remember on our coldest winter mornings, my mom would make us cinnamon sugar toast and hot chocolate.  It was so good, she always put more than enough butter and sugar on to make a little warm cinnamon-sugar crust.  It was lovely, then we could dip our bread crusts in our hot chocolate.
This was my favorite mug as a child.  It brings back hot toast hot chocolate memories.  It is old, and I assume one day it will be antique although the monetary value will be little, the memories are great.  Do you still have your favorite mug?  We keep it hidden in the top cupboard because we have lots of humans in our house who spill, things, drop things, and break things.
(and I am not just talking about the little kids…)

Go hug your kids, they need your love
jen

I Won’t Feed You Macaroni Ever

Tap time is precious at our house.  I look forward to it every day, and sometimes I look forward to tomorrows nap.

During Musical set work PS did not get a nap.  She usually fell asleep around 6pm and slept until the next morning.  Once the set was done we fell back into nap times,  although she does not always sleep she always gets put in her crib.

Today I heard her telling her baby and her sister O’s elephant Lottie, “I won’t ever feed you macaroni ever.”  I don’t know who does not like the good blue box, but she promises not to feed it to them anymore.

One evening PS found my purse, she opened my wallet and said “mom you have no money in here.”  I laughed and said ‘i know’ she asked ‘where is your money…”  it is the same question her daddy has been asking me for 23 years now…

Go hug your kids, they need your love
jen

 

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Ok I actually did NOT leave my heart in San Francisco, I left it in South Carolina.  Well, my heart and my daughter.  It was August, and I survived.  Dropping child #2 off in a far away state, for a great length of time is not any easier the second time around, and if I were to be honest, it is harder.  Harder because this time I knew what to expect, this time I knew how hard it would be, and I knew how long it would be until we can see the child again.

Since time and tide wait for no man, the princess graduated from High School in the spring and we began prepping for University.  I shopped until I dropped.  We shopped together, we shopped with friends, we shopped with family, we went a lot.  Each and Every trip I was reminded why we were going, it was hard.  But we did it.

August was deadline month.  Drop off day was looming, and while I was sad she was not.  Where I was inwardly cringing, she was outwardly celebrating.  She kept a count down that made her cheer, I saw her countdown and cried.

We realized after taking #1 to that University in that far away state, that taking everyone was not easy.  The princess decided after that experience she wanted to go alone, just the 3 of us.  Dad, mom and O, a month before departure she decided that we all would be going, Child #1 could not go, he had work, and classes to register for.  So we loaded the van, and Keith’s car with her things.  (we took 2 vehicles because Keith’s job changed and he needed to be back before Monday)  We had one last favorite meal and we left.

img_3050Her last porch picture.img_3073The van was so crowded.  We drove to our dear friends/family house and spent the night with them.  We loaded all of the things from Keith’s car and bought a mini fridge for the final 90 minutes of our trip.  The baby is in her seat next to R. img_3082O sat on a big desk ball, and J held a basket of things, the back row was filled, the back of the van was full and under every seat we had her things. img_3078I was given the responsibility of holding the fish and the plant.  I am happy to report both survived and are thriving in University life.img_3077The last 90 minutes were so hard for this mama.  I’m pretty sure if I was in the driver’s seat we would have come home instead of going to  that university.
(don’t mind the old lady reading glasses, I admit my eyes are old)img_3089One of the advantages of having a brother over 6 feet tall. (notice how tall her room walls are, he is standing on her desk, and still not at the ceiling, one of the benefits of being in the oldest dorm on campus.  Her closet is 2x at big as the rolling wardrobes the newer dorms have.  And she has above the closet storage that anyone who needs more space would be envious of, you can fit a toddler size mattress up there in the space.)img_3097He did much better than I figured he would.  He did not break down and cry, I did.img_3103Because her University is a Christian liberal arts university, we had family worship.  I am happy to report that I had the youngest child at the entire event.  My own little world is so diverse, from dorm rooms to diapers…  I love my little family!img_3130Giving her a family hug.  She loves the affection!img_3138Ta Da her dorm room.
Her roommate is sweet and a great match.
** a little room decoration update, the lights had to come down over Thanksgiving break, per fire code**img_3151Saying good bye was tough for this little girl, she has slept with O and been a constant shadow for years.  She left O and did not break down into sobs until we pulled into our own driveway.
It was the response I expected just not the time line I expected.img_3170Saying good bye was not so easy for this little girl either.  She loves O so very much.  img_3176R was promised a 15 sec hug.  He took full advantage.  When it was over O said “he hugs so awkward.”  I showed her the picture and said “No honey YOU hug awkward…”img_3198Holding her back from leaving us.  J was very sad to see her leave.img_3162Kisses for O.img_3208The last picture together for a long time.  I cried most of the way home.  Who am I kidding I cried most of the way up too, and I cry often at home.

She is loving the University, some classes are difficult and others are so fun!  She is being stretched and is learning so much, we miss her we are so glad she is happy and healthy.

So while part of my heart is far away, the rest of my heart is happily close at hand.

GO hug your kids, and tell someone you love them time moves just too fast.
jen

p.s. I get to hug that girly in 9 days I can’t give her a big hug!  We will have her for almost a month, although she is a starving artist now so she will be working odd jobs to earn some money for school.