Christmas, Holiday, Kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Trees…Tinsel… and Three Kids

img_4367img_4364Yesterday we took our annual trip to the Wisconsin Tree Farm to pick out the O’Brien Family Christmas Tree… not to be confused with the Griswold Family Tree. Daniel and I are the perfect mix of picking a tree that has no business being in our modest size home. I always go for the tall ones and he always goes for the big round ones. Usually, by the time the tree is in the house there is NO room for a star or angel as the top is smashed into the ceiling and if you indulged a bit too much at Thanksgiving you’re going to have to find an alternative route around the tree as it’s usually so round that it takes up the entire walkway.

The Wisconsin Tree Farm is a great family owned business right on College Street in Fayetteville. Each year the Latzig family from Merrill Wisconsin comes to Fayetteville, lives in a camper and sells their homegrown Christmas trees in the Gator Golf parking lot. They have all types, Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir and Scotch Pine just to name a few. We have purchased a tree from this family every year we’ve lived in Fayetteville.

 

We don’t have a designer tree, never have… but I love our tree as it’s covered in ornaments that both my husband and I have collected as well as the kids handmade ornaments they’ve made each year at school. It’s colorful and about 75% of the tree is covered in some type of kid craft that involves glitter, paint, and sequins.

Am I the only one that has this grand picture in my head of how decorating the family tree should go? Let me set the stage for you…

We are all in the living room listening to the Pandora Christmas radio station, fire flickering and hot chocolate or egg nog in everyone’s cup. We all sit patiently while my husband puts the lights on the tree. After all the lights are hung each child goes to their marked Rubbermaid tub and begins placing their ornaments on the tree, taking turns and making sure they are well spaced in order to have a well-balanced tree. all three kids listen to me as I say, “Be sure to put the heavy ones on the top branches.” After the tree is covered in ornaments we sit and listen to the music and stare at the tree filled with lights while everyone gets sleepy for the night.

NOPE, not at all close to the madness that happened here last night (remember my post on Hostage Negotiating?) … Here’s the real picture…

We are all in the same room most of the time and yes, Pandora radio is playing some of our favorite Christmas tunes, but there is no flickering fireplace as it’s a little too warm for that just yet. No one has hot chocolate or egg nog at this point because the milk that my ten-year-old was trying to boil in the tea kettle is shooting out the whistle whole as it got waaaaaaaayy too hot. I’m burning my fingers trying to clean up boiling milk from the stove while my son is yelling from the other room that he’s hungry and my two-year-old is screaming at the top of her lungs because we won’t let her touch any ornaments. It’s finally time for the lights. I work to get the lights on the tree as my husband unravels and checks each strand… Apparently, we aren’t moving fast enough for my son who is trying to see how many times he can slide off the arm of the sofa onto the ground behind the tree and make his way out without touching any branches… our very own American Ninja Warrior!

After all the lights are finally on the tree, it’s time for the ornaments. Now you know those Rubbermaid tubs I was talking about, each marked and organized with each child’s ornaments… HA, wishful thinking… we have four to five buckets full of ornaments wrapped in 5-year-old newspaper and old grocery bags (read this blog from Rubbermaid – awesome storage idea for ornaments). The kids are holding the newspaper and unraveling them so quick that ornaments are hitting the floor like raindrops. We ALWAYS have a designated area for ornaments that need to be glued back together, because we just can’t do it without breaking any. We should probably buy stock in Gorilla Glue this time of year. The kids are all trying to attack the tree at once and all the heavy ornaments that they placed on the weak lower branches are hitting the floor one by one. My two-year-old is climbing the ladder that I forgot to move post – Christmas tree lights and as soon as you go up to make sure she doesn’t fall she repeatedly tells you “GO WAY!” By this time I have stepped on at least three hooks and a shard of glass from the broken ornaments (think  Marv from Home Alone entering the window with no shoes).

My two-year-old has now come up with a new strategy to reach the branches she can’t quite get to, toss those Christmas balls right on up towards the tree and see if they’ll stick … of course bringing two or three other ornaments down along the way! By this time the tree is pretty full and I start hiding ornaments because we need to wrap this party up before someone falls off the ladder or has to go to the emergency room for glass removal. The two-year-old is now standing over by the wooden nativity scene picking up each animal and very loudly showing off that she knows her animal noises.

My husband and I escape to the garage for 60 seconds to put all the empty boxes away… we pause and look at each other like we’ve just been through an F5 tornado and bust out laughing while we hold each other up from exhaustion.

It’s the same thing every year… I have a pretty picture in my mind about how it’s supposed to go, and then it goes in a completely different direction. It’s crazy and the house is now covered in glitter, pine needles and ornament hooks (I used the old trusty Hoover Wind Tunnel to get the glass up already… that thing is like the perfect kid, cleans up and very quiet) but in the end, everyone had a good time. The kids will remember the laughs and their baby sister telling everyone to go away and saying “haw hee” as she holds up the donkey from the manger scene (one of these days we’ll tell her it’s hee-haw, but it’s just so darn cute). For now, I’ll treasure the years we have left with each of them while they want to be around us, want to help decorate and make fun family memories. I can’t wait to see what next years tornado will bring!

What is your family Christmas tree/decorating tradition?

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Kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

“Mom…I’m Bored!”

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It’s been two days… 48 hours that my two older kids have been out of school, that’s it! I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard, “mom… I’m bored” over the last two days.

When I was 8 and 10 I used to spend hours outside or down the street playing with my friends. I’m pretty sure it was only when it was too dark to see that we would finally go inside. I remember making up all kinds of games to play or setting up cans to shoot with the BB gun (no, I’m not a girly girl) and my all time favorite memory had to be making a car out of a moving dolly and actually riding it down the street (yes, without a helmet – Please don’t tell my kids).

Kids are overstimulated these days. Screens are everywhere and I think it kills their creativity. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as the next person giving in and allowing more screen time to get them out of my hair while I’m trying to work or on a conference call, but I really think I’m doing them a disservice.

I was so tired of hearing “I’m bored” I even looked up a list of 101 things to do when your kids say they’re bored… below are some of the suggestions, I’m sorry but seriously.. is this  a serious list or a list created to just to make me laugh.

  1. Plant a tree – I usually don’t have trees that are ready to plant just lying around
  2. Act out your child’s favorite book – Not sure a book on wrestle mania would be the best one to act out.
  3. Build an indoor tent or fort with couches and some bed sheets – This one’s okay, we’ve done it before but once they’re done building it, they’re right back to being bored… and then I have to wash all the sheets again… dog hair!
  4. Head to the local library – this is a good one… if my son can use his inside voice
  5. Create paper mache –um no, BIG MESS
  6. Plan a scavenger hunt – We’ve done this one before… we made our hunt a video scavenger hunt for added fun.
  7. Learn how to tie-dye T-shirts – Um no, see number 5. BIG MESS
  8. Count how many times you can spin in a circle without getting dizzy – The answer is 5 and then someone falls and gets hurt… possibly me.
  9. Construct an indoor obstacle course – this is a good one for rainy days
  10. Choreograph a dance routine – If you know me, you would just laugh and shake your head no at this one
  11. Take silly pictures with a camera. My kids do this all the time and then I have to delete stuff from my phone because there is not enough memory
  12. Make a paper mache volcano and mix baking soda and vinegar for an explosive reaction – Explosive reaction, really?? No!
  13. Break out the pots and pans and practice drumming skills –
  14. Rearrange your child’s bedroom – afraid of what I may find under the bed
  15. Ask “what do you want to be when you grow up” and then plan your day around that career. Last time we asked my son what he wanted to be he said a “boxer and a diamond digger” hmmm… we may skip this one
  16. Count and roll loose change lying around the house – My dad does this one with the kids… they seem to enjoy it.
  17. Run relay races – We do this one a lot because it also tires them out
  18. Give the family pet a bath – We have a Great Dane… NO WAY…my daughter took it upon herself to do this once… it ended in all of us chasing the wet, soapy dog around the house.

After making it about half way through the list I stopped… clearly this list was not going to give me my magic answer.

I read a few articles about how it’s good for your kids to be bored. Why You Should Do Nothing When Your Child Says, “I’m Bored” and Handling Boredom: Why It’s Good for Your Child.

Being bored is usually what leads to some pretty neat activities that they think up on their own. After I decided I wasn’t going to give them a running list of options and just told them to figure it out, they had the best time! They played a pretty cool wall ball game outside, played in the rain and tried to see if the wind would lift them off the ground if they hit it just right with the umbrellas. They road bikes and scooters and laughed together most of the afternoon.

Next time they come to me and say “I’m bored” I’m going to say “I love bored” go figure it out!

Parenting, Uncategorized

Hostage Negotiating

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Can I get an Amen? Does anyone else ever feel like this?

My really good sleeper (child #3) did not get her nap in yesterday and it was torture on all of us. We attempted to take her sleepy self to my older daughter’s basketball game and it was like wrestling an alligator to get her not to run out on the court or right out of the gym door. I think at one point I was even letting her play with my fingernails (ok she wasn’t playing with them, but more so trying to rip them off) so that she would sit still. You know it’s not going to be a good experience when the toddler goes through her “sit still and be quiet snacks” before the opening tip.

By the time it was all said and done I needed to take Advil for my jaw and she was chewing on her toes. That’s right, she had done the old toddler move… You know the one, when they don’t want to sit in your lap and they arch their back really quick and their head ends up cracking you right in the chin, sending this sharp pain up your jaw line so bad that you see stars. Yep, at that point I handed her off to husband for a moment, and the next thing I see is that she is quiet, yes, but it’s because she’s removed her shoes and socks and is now chewing on her toes…. Whatever! If she’s quiet and still, at this point I could care less… I was really impressed that she could get her toes all the way to her mouth!

The rest of the day was spent looking at the clock and praying that it was closer to bedtime than it really was. As much as I wanted to come home and put her back in the bed, I knew that would mean a late nap and a crazy wild toddler when it was time for bed that evening, so we stuck it out.

Add two older siblings to the mix and that’s really where the crazy comes in. I mean, riding in the car with the two of them in the back seat really makes you rethink what a genius idea it was for limousines to put the partition between the driver and the passenger rows. AND, why has someone not thought to do this in the family SUV… I would pay extra for that!

Even our four-legged child (Duke the dog) couldn’t keep his crazy contained. I won’t go into detail, but when your 140lb Great Dane is in the house while your gone and has a very, very bad stomach issue, all you can do is toss the rubber gloves when you’re done cleaning up and pray that the nice living room rug will make a full recovery and not have to be burned.

Sometimes, I just want to lock myself in the bathroom, eat chocolate and cry… but let’s face it, they’ll find you there too! At the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade our crazy for anything else in the world. Sure, it’s hard and they try my patience a lot, but they’re good kids. They have big hearts and dream big so I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of them. I thank God every day for all three of my kiddos and always ask for strength and wisdom to make it through another day of being a parent. Oh, and yes I thank my parents for putting up with me for so many years.img_3767fullsizerender-23img_3791

 

 

 

Parenting

Things you never knew you had to say…

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If you’re a mom like me, I’m sure you can relate to this quote. It’s always the things you never imagined you’d have to say to your kids that will zap your energy…

“No, you cannot clean the new flat screen TV with milk!”

Wearing underwear isn’t optional. You must wear underwear.”

“When you shower you need to use soap, every time!”

“No, we don’t ask random strangers if they’re going to have a baby, especially when they are men!”

I mean, I could write a book of all the things I’ve told my kids that I never thought would have to be explained.

In the moment I get so frustrated that I’m even having the conversation. Then afterward, sometimes LONG afterward, it’s fun to think back about all the things they say and do. I used to think that it was just me, but don’t worry, every mom has a conversation with her children at one point or another that she never dreamed would be necessary. AND I can tell you if you’re the mom of little boys, hold on for the ride as you will have these conversations A LOT!!

My oldest two, who have been the main culprits, are now ten and eight. I fear that our conversations are going to start changing quickly…

“No, you can’t wear that out of the house!”

“No, you are not old enough to have a cell phone yet!”

BUT, with an almost two-year-old….I Can’t wait to see what the next few years will bring!

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O’Brien Girls
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The Boy