Summer Wrap Up

August 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm (Family, GOJ, MJ, Parenthood, PJ, WJ) ()

Every time someone asks my kids what they’ve been up to this summer, and this is a favorite question of adults to kids and other adults alike, my kids’ response is “Nothin'” and a shrugging of their shoulders.

I started the summer practicing, and really have always used, an “Embrace the Bored” parenting style. I don’t over schedule my kids (generally). And I don’t feel the need to prepare specific activities for home either. We have plenty of toys, plenty of yard, plenty of books, plenty of craft supplies. Go.

I have a box for our unfolded socks that is labeled “Are you bored? Fold socks.” Translation- don’t talk to me about nothing to do or I’ll find something for you to do. My kids know that mentioning boredom will get them either an instruction to do a chore, a recitation of my motto “Only boring people are bored”, or a lecture on how being bored is a privilege of the rich. Or all three.

Still, I know what irks me about them being ho-hum about their summer is that I wish we’d done more. There were days we lazed around and bickered all day, and I knew we’d be better off getting out, but just didn’t quite have it in me. In practice, “Embrace the Bored” seemed to lead to kids stretched out on couches, clearly bored, but smart enough not to say so. What do bored school-aged children tend to do, I found? Not find a great book to read, but pester various siblings until they find the sibling that yields the biggest reaction. The littlest one, interestingly, is happiest to occupy herself. You can usually find her at the kitchen table, drawing.

I can’t say I’m ready to give up “Embrace the Bored”. I’m not sure why there was not much taking up of interesting projects or play this summer. Perhaps that’s just my point of view. Maybe there was internal processing going on that will bear fruit later, during those hours sprawled on the couch, repeatedly and unfruitfully asking for more screen time (my rule was an hour after your morning chore was done, no more until Dad gets home and we may decide to watch something as a family, may not).

I do wish I’d arranged a few more get-togethers with some of the boys’ school friends. They did play nearly daily with their neighborhood friends. That may have gone a long way to feeling “fun”, more than anything you can pay to go see. But arranging such things is not really my forte, and I was also looking for a job all summer. So I was trying not to commit to anything too far out, such as a camp they could have done with friends. We mostly did family day trips. Even then, some of us like to leave the house more than others. The same kids that complain we didn’t do much this summer have to be dragged out of the house more often than not.

At any rate, all these Nothin’ replies and my usual self-criticism had me feeling some major Mama-guilt about their summer. So I made a list*. Turns out, it wasn’t Nothin’. I had a lot of fun at some of these activities, and I believe the rest of the family did too. Maybe it’s just that the older kids get, the less they know how to do Enthusiastic well. Teenagers are not known for their enthusiasm. Maybe we should have done much less and we’d have gotten over the Bored hump. Maybe many things. My conclusion after some reflection is that we tried to do some fun things, and you win some you lose some. They can choose to believe they had an awesome summer, and they can choose to believe it sucked. Like all things, I can’t control what anybody else thinks.

I will show them this list, though, so in case their teacher asked, they might have something to say. ūüôā

*Here, for the record, so you don’t believe what you hear from my kids, is

What We Did This Summer (June – August 2014)

Charter boat fishing off Westport for salmon (SUCCESS!)
Set up, played in, and maintained our 18 ft above-ground pool
Hosted my Aunt Elly and cousin Chris (in his twenties and therefore way cool for all of my kids) visiting from Alaska
Celebrated my Grandpa John’s 90th birthday camping in Corvallis, OR
Returned two weeks later to celebrate his life in memorium
Visited the Flying Heritage Museum three times, including their annual air show and the last flight of the White Knight)
Bought and lit fireworks for the first time
Visited my parents’ home in Port Angeles
Hiked to Marymere Falls
Had Date Night at Diamond Knot Brewery
Attended gymnastics classes
Backpacked up the Elwha River
Camped with family friends at Flowing Lake- canoed, fished, tubed, and attempted waterskiing
Played at Wild Waves
Celebrated Willa’s 4th birthday at Birch Bay Waterpark
Petted animals, ate junk food, rode ponies, and watched the Logger Show at the Evergreen State Fair
Boated with cousins on Lake Sammamish
Celebrated Father’s Day with a ferry ride and drive to Point No Point Lighthouse- fished
Toured Whidbey Island, visiting the Coupeville Arts Festival and toured Fort Casey bunkers and lighthouse
Hosted and attended several bbqs with friends
Hosted a family party for Willa’s 4th birthday
Attended a Glow Birthday Party at Jump Planet
Played at Auntie Laura’s house on Lake Jane twice- kayaked, swam the lake and in her neighborhood pool
Visited the library at least once a week
Swam at Rattlesnake Lake
Loaded and emptied the dishwasher ~130 times
Shopped for, fixed, and consumed ~360 meals and snacks
Dirtied, washed, sorted, and folded ~180 loads of laundry
Read at least one full book geared for adults
Read many many books geared for children
Climbed to the top of Guemes Island with friends
Celebrated Backwards Day
Swam at Lake Washington with cousins at least twice
Caught our first crab
Camped at Blue Mountain with Dad’s co-worker and son
Went to the Fremont Solstice Festival
Played at Edmonds Beach a couple times
Watched the Bothell Fourth of July Parade
Flew to San Diego for a job interview
Swam at McCollum Pool
Spent a couple days watching our road get repaved
Replaced electrical cables in Mark’s truck and got it running again (both boys helped)
Had friends over and played in the pool and Xbox (many times)
Attended eight doctors visits (caught up on all the check-ups and multiple specialist)
Attended three dentist visits (Holy Cavities!)

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May- Heather’s Brain Download

May 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm (AJ, Family, MJ, PJ, Twins, WJ) (, )

May is always crazy busy in the JaRuud household.¬† Three birthdays and Mother’s Day, all with requisite multiple celebrations, meals, present purchasing and opening, card making, and general merriment.¬† Add this year our life shift to me working again, and it’s a wonder I’ve made it through with a smile on my face.

We went camping this weekend near Blewett Pass.¬† I went late and left early, leaving truly 90% of the camping work to Mark.¬† I wouldn’t feel comfortable sticking him with that all the time, but it was really¬†nice to arrive to camp with a tent set up and leave this morning (to go to work) with only my clothing bag and no kids.¬†

People keep giving me sad looks when I tell them I have to work on Sundays.  (So far anyway) I feel no such dissapointment.  Case in point: on weekdays I get up at 5:45, spend over two hours getting myself and four kids ready to leave, and drive an hour to drop off kids at three different places.  Today, I was able to rise a full hour later, 100 miles away from work, and still arrive at the exact same time.  And then I just work four hours.

I tried to get Willa to sleep for a nap and bedtime yesterday in a tent.¬† Her apparent reaction:¬† “Mama, what the hell-¬†what is this place?¬† Where’s my bed?¬† Why is it cold?¬† Why is it light out?¬† You think I’m going to sleep here?¬† Uh unh, no way, no how.”¬† I’d nurse her and nurse her but she’d startle awake when I tried to stop no matter how asleep she’d seemed.¬† I wasn’t successful until I put her in her familiar carseat.¬† My theory- with my others, especially the boys, I always nursed them to sleep and we traveled with them all over carnation.¬† They never cared as long as they had me.¬† Willa hasn’t nursed to sleep in quite some time.¬† She hasn’t seemed to need it, and sadly, I’m just always needed elsewhere.¬† She nurses and then I leave her awake, and if she’s sleepy, she’s asleep in minutes.¬† But this means, she’s less attached to me and more attached to her own bed.¬† It makes me a little sad.¬† I’m going to tell myself it’s just who she is and try to lay off the mama guilt that I can’t do as much for my fourth child as my firsts.

I’m just happy to nurse her at all.¬† Last weekend, from Friday through Tuesday, she went on a nursing strike.¬† SOOOOO¬†not fun.¬† I felt like I was a first time mama with a¬†newborn again, which no confidence we would ever get the breastfeeding down.¬† No sleep from trying to nurse, getting bitten, and then pumping at all hours of the night.¬† Without the help that often comes with having a new baby.¬† No, instead, I was trying to juggle a family birthday party and full time¬†work and houseguests¬†and… and… and.¬† Yes, I’m fully aware all of this may have actually caused said nursing strike.¬† It turns out I had all the right instincts about what to try, and she¬†finally came around just after I took her to the doctor and determined she was medically fine, no ear infection or other problem readily apparent.¬† Same logic applies as that this weekend we put up tarps to (successfully) avoid it raining.

What I wanted, during the nursing strike, was somebody to understand my plight.¬† Mark was helpful and fed Willa bottles when I was frustrated, but he didn’t seem to get how awful it was making me feel to keep offering such a sensitive (physically and emotionally) part of me and getting rejected.¬† He kept saying “Poor Willa” and I wanted somebody to say “Poor Heather!”¬† Actually my mom did and I’m grateful for that, but I was a wreck; I seemed to need it hourly.¬† I have treasured the “extended” nursing the other three and I have shared, and I was NOT going to give up easily.¬† My naturopath actually told me “at ten months, maybe she’s done with the boob.”¬† Numerous books and google searches will tell you, a baby will almost never self-wean before 18 to 24 months.¬† I honestly wonder if I should be thinking about switching doctors… is that crazy of me?¬† It was just such a blatantly false piece of information, and I’m glad I didn’t trust it.

Friday before camping was the boys’ “friend” party.¬† For the first time, we forked over the cash to have it outside¬†our house.¬† It was a fun, but I’m not sure if it was truly worth the money.¬† It doesn’t feel like we created the memories that we have past years at home.¬† Though the boys came home happy, neither has mentioned a word about it since.¬† Yes, we had more kids than we would’ve at home, but other than that… I think maybe next time if I want to spend money on a party I’ll use it for a house cleaner beforehand.¬† Or afterward!¬† But check out the giant squid cake we made!¬† (I have many more birthday pictures but I can’t find the cord to download them.¬† Grrrr.)
Squid cake

Yes, our cake “plate” is a Rubbermaid bin lid.¬† And yes, I’m well aware it is a major phallic symbol.¬†

For their birthday, their class made them “birthday books”, with well wishes and what-I-like-about-you’s¬†from each classmate.¬† Two of Auden’s gave me pause-¬†“What I like about you is that your brother is Parker.”¬† “You are lucky to have Parker as your twin.”¬† While I agree with the latter, it makes me worry a little about their twinship¬†and being in the same class.¬† (In their current program they have to be in the same class.)¬† It’s wonderful to have somebody to do the things you don’t know how to do, but it can’t last forever.¬† Right now Auden reads for Parker and Parker makes friends for Auden.¬† It’s been fascinating to watch… my own personal twin study.¬† (I know it’s not really a study with an n of one-¬†just anecdotal.)

How glad am I that I have another day to savor before we all go back to school and work?  Very!

 

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Six year old fun

November 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm (AJ, PJ)

No time to blog so I will just share a quick thought.¬† I’ve used up my computer time creating our Happy New Year’s card in time to redeem my coupon code, complete with some really bad poetry.¬† I don’t know about you, but those sites’ endless coupons keep getting me.¬† Even though I know another coupon will come along, I end up getting the idea that I must¬†order something, that I might not even want, NOW, on a deadline.¬† Their marketing is working.¬† And I’m mad at myself because¬†I’ve just ordered something that does exactly what another preschool mom brought up the other day- point out how cute girls are (something they can’t change and haven’t worked for), and when talking to boys, talk about what they can do.¬† She’s totally right that society and lots of parents do this.¬† Of course I want my daughters to know they have value for what they’re doing and not how cute they are.¬†¬†And now I’ll be propagating it.¬† Ugh.¬† I’m going to have to sleep on it.

But the one quick thing I actually wanted to write about was what a wonderful age first grade is.¬† If you’re not there yet, I think it’s a safe bet you can look forward to it.¬† As opposed to some of the teen years.¬† How many other years with your kids will you have in want to 1) do a research project about an animal, and then 2) imagine they are that animal the rest of the weekend?¬† Auden and Parker came home Friday with an animal project, Auden a Harris’s hawk and Parker a badger.¬† It’s not due until after Thanksgiving but they were so excited that I was convinced to hold up dinner for over an hour to help them¬†read the literature and¬†write out sentences.¬† After that, they went straight into character and practiced living in the desert.¬† Otherwise known as the living room.¬† I’m realizing that the age¬†Parker and Auden will want to pretend no longer is fast approaching.¬† For now, though, it’s going strong.¬†¬†I love it.¬†¬†Even if it does mean I’ve been attacked by a raptor more than once this weekend.

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Ten Things Thankful Tuesday

November 11, 2010 at 7:52 am (Gratitude, PJ, tens)

(except on Wednesday)

We shall see if I can keep up this NaBloPoMo thing, considering I’m starting this entry well into the 11 o’clock hour.

How can I not do a thankful post every Tuesday in November, the month of Thanksgiving?

Ten things I am grateful about, that make me happy today:

1. Sesame Street. And not because I enjoy the free time I have when my kids watch it.  None of them have ever been interested in it.  Watching it now, it seems a little chaotic to me, too.  Not to mention commercialized.  No, because I was recalling what a part of my childhood and learning experience it was.  I recall eating lunch and watching it, just before riding the bus, every day of kindergarten.  Sesame Street, still going strong on this 41st anniversary of its premiere.

2. Scientific curiosity- Auden requested we have “special time” to do an experiment with pennies and acid (vinegar and lemon juice) last night.¬† He wrote about it in his journal (aka scientific notebook).¬† Warms a chemist mama’s heart.¬† Never mind the experiment was a bust.

3. Geese.  Thank you, kind sirs and madams, for making my goose down comforter.  I sincerely appreciate it.

4. Sheep.  For the fibers here beside me that may make it into Christmas gifts.

5. My knitting group.¬† We meet once a month, since 2005.¬† Only two of us remain from the founding group.¬† The make-up of the group has changed, but it remains an interesting mix of women.¬† Conversation is always lively.¬† Tonight I only got to stay for an hour, though, because of…

6. Parker.¬† My brave funny boy.¬† Weathers an injury like none other.¬† Hit his head on the coffee table tonight, gashing his forehead pretty good.¬†¬†Not a text you want to receive while away:¬†“Parker hit his head.¬† Decent blood.¬† He’s acting funny and says he’s going to be sick.”¬† Thinking of concussions,¬†I rushed home…¬†

7. The cop that did not give me a ticket, though I was speeding quite a bit.  Oopsie.

8. The ER staff.¬† Saw us straight away, and were great with my boy.¬† They asked him if he cried right away (they were trying to assess if he’d lost consciousness), and Parker responded, “I didn’t cry.¬† I think I whined a little.”¬† Tough stuff, that kid.¬† (Well, as far as injuries go.¬† Hurt his feelings, that’s another matter.)

9. The Discovery Channel.  You would not believe how jazzed Parker was to discover his ER room came equipped with a TV.  Or maybe you would, if you have a six-year-old boy.  Storm Chasers anyone?  Personally it made me yawn but he loved it.

10. Whoever the person is that invented glue for securing skin together instead of stitches.

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Chips off the ol’ LEGO block

November 10, 2010 at 6:00 am (AJ, PJ) (, )

I’ve been spending time going through old photographs.¬† A little Christmas project I’m doing.¬† It’s half fun and half a pain-in-the-butt.

Today I found this picture of me, proud of my LEGO creation.
big smile

See the resemblance?
Creations

Creations

PJ requested this

Auden and two recent LEGO ships

I have so many more I could include here.

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Push and Pull

November 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm (AJ, Family, MJ, Parenthood, PJ) (, )

One might have predicted this.

Back in my partying days, I had a friend who smoked (and drank) way too much. ¬†His girlfriend, also my friend, took the tactic of forbidding it. ¬†It’s the Camels or me, an ultimatum.¬† My approach was different. ¬†Forbidding them just seemed so… well, harsh.¬† (Or perhaps I knew that since I wasn’t having sex with him, threatening to withhold it wasn’t going to get me anywhere.)¬† I would try to coddle him along with less smoking, hiding his cigarettes so that his next one would be delayed.¬† But if he really looked pissed, like he needed one, I’d give in. ¬†Trying to explain it one day, I told my friend, “I don’t do Tough Love.”¬† That oft-repeated quote, it explains a lot about my parenting style.

I don’t mean I’m permissive.¬† Though my husband might disagree.¬† I make them clean their room and do their chores and homework.¬† I get my fair share of “you’re so mean”s. ¬†(Recently I found a piece of paper that Auden wrote on: “I hat my mom”. ¬†Good writing for him, but I won’t pretend it didn’t make me sad.¬† When I asked him about it, he didn’t even remember writing it and claimed it was Parker.¬† I know it wasn’t, as Parker still only writes lower-case a’s if forced.)

I mean that I don’t see the point in being forceful and demanding when trying to get the children to do something. ¬†Recently it’s come up with reading. The boys are just on the cusp of reading.¬† They can sound out words if they’re short and use short vowels.¬† I find it incredibly exciting, because I remember the way the world opened when I learned to read.¬† Mark tries to get the boys to sound out parts of their bedtime reading.¬† My feeling is bedtime reading is for relaxation, and learning to love reading at bedtime.¬† Not for frustration.¬† I don’t want to push them so hard they start to hate books.¬† I’d rather “pull” them along by encouraging sounding out at other times, and by reading books at bedtime that demonstrate how great books are.¬† Books that capture their interests, and that I enjoy also: If You Find a Rock, Henry and Ribsy, Y is for Yowl. Thursday night the boys and their dad had a giant blow-up over bedtime reading. He made them read “baby books”, with short words, and practice reading. ¬†They’ve all gotten over it, but I still think it was a set back in reading and parental relations. ¬†His way might get them reading faster, or it might not. Not if they learn that reading is a hateful chore.

Reading came up again last night. I found Junior Pictionary for $2.99 at Goodwill (score!) and we played it, the boys and Mark and I, after Greta went to bed. Loads of fun, it was.¬† I enjoyed both seeing how they guess and watching what they’d draw.¬† It was the most fun I’ve had in quite a while.¬† No, really, it was.

It took them a while to get the concept of drawing objects around the object you are having somebody guess.¬† Auden’s “tooth” looked like a plain ol’ rectangle, for instance, until I suggested he draw a few more and the mouth around it.¬† It didn’t take long though- Auden drew our specific fridge complete with crap cartoons from the Economist and magnets from places my MIL has visited and artwork from 2008 and notices for museums events last summer stuck on the doors (OK, not quite that detailed) and an arrow to the ice machine for “ice”.

The pushing them to read came up again, though. ¬†I’d have them look at the word to draw¬†and see if they knew it.¬†¬†But if they couldn’t sound it out pretty quickly, I read it to them. ¬†I didn’t want to hear any whining about not wanting to try, spoiling the fun. ¬†Mark, however, did his thing, spending a while each time working with either kid on “banana” or “vacuum” or whatever it was. ¬†They did balk a little bit and I was starting to get a little annoyed (without saying so).¬† But after a few turns they just expected it.¬† This night the pushing was effective, looking back on it, because they were so excited to play the game. ¬†It worked because of the fun, not spoiling it.

[Sidenote story: Auden misheard/read “sand” as “send” and tried to draw that.¬†¬†How would you draw “send”?¬† I think a lot of people born before, say 1990, would draw somebody sending a letter.¬† Auden made a valiant attempt to depict sending an email, but I never got to send.]

Are you a pusher or a puller with your children (if you have them)?  We probably have to accept that we can change some, but our natural tendencies are going to come out in this aspect of parenting.  Our kids are lucky enough to have both.

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Halloween Anecdotes

November 2, 2010 at 4:49 am (AJ, Family, GOJ, PJ, Running, WJ)

Halloween magically went off without a hitch this year.¬† No fights about eating too much candy, no costume disasters.¬† The worst thing that happened was Greta tripping while trick-or-treating, trying to keep up with her brothers and friends, who were running from house to house.¬† Hopefully the magic of Halloween will spill over into the magic of Thanksgiving and the magic of Christmas, rather than meaning we’ve used up our one good holiday of the year and Christmas will suck.

I almost thought I ruined it.¬† Meaning to fill them up on nutritious food prior to the candy, we prepared noodles, chicken, and sweet potato fries for dinner.¬† The noodles and chicken, at least, are one of the very few sure-fire eats for Greta and Auden.¬† Halloween night, though, Greta refused all of it.¬† Plain noodles, are you kidding me?¬† What’s objectionable about that?¬† I generally don’t believe in food ultimatums, but I made one.¬† “If you don’t eat a bite of sweet potato, you can’t eat any candy tonight.”¬†¬†¬†

It was time to leave, and she wasn’t going to budge.

I couldn’t figure out how in the hell I was going to stay true to my word and not have a tantruming 3-year-old on my hands.¬†¬†Before I could think of an exit strategy, we were on our way.¬† Keeping her from eating candy while hurrying from house to house was easy.¬† Time passed quickly; two hours later we arrived at home.¬† I reminded her that she could have candy tomorrow after she’d had better nutrition.¬† And her reply?¬† OK Mom.¬† What?¬† Seriously?¬† Hallelujah!¬† She went easily to bed, with me in disbelief putting her down.

How cute is this girl?
Peas!

The Friday before I brought the girls to the Halloween party at Auden and Parker’s school.¬† They didn’t even load them up with cookies and candy.
Lots of fun Happy Halloween!

That night, the high school cross country team held a Pumpkin Run.  Nothing like candy to motivate kids to run.  Parker was just sure he was going to win a trophy.  I was doubtful.  Thankfully he was happy with a ribbon and three pieces of candy.
Nothing like candy to entice kids to run

I have recently become aware that I have failed in teaching my children how to pose for photographs.
It

This morning, November 1st, Parker says to me, “Let’s light the jack-o-lanterns again tonight. Then, tomorrow, let’s put up the Christmas tree. I just love celebrating the Holidays!”

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What I said

October 10, 2010 at 6:32 pm (Parenthood, PJ)

8pm on a Saturday:

What I said: I’m so sorry, honey.¬† Puking up¬†[as they call it]¬†is sooo yucky.¬† You’ll be OK.¬† I know, it sucks.

What I thought: Not aaaa-gain. 

What I said: Let’s get you into the shower.¬† We’ll get you cleaned up and into bed.¬†

What I thought:¬† Sure, steam-cleaning the entire family room carpet that you just sprayed with SEAFOOD CHOWDER, NO LESS, that’s exactly what I want to do with my Saturday night.¬† Kill me now.

What I said:¬†Next time you start to feel sick, start heading to the bathroom, OK?¬† Even if you don’t get sick, it’s better to be safe.

What I thought: C’mon, isn’t that obvious?

What I said:  Goodnight bud.  I love you.

What I thought:¬† I love you, my sweet sweet baby who’s getting soooo big.¬† Look at the way your sick feet stretch almost all the way to the end of your twin bed.¬† Wasn’t it just yesterday that you took¬†up only the top third?

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A Camping Alphabet Post

September 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm (AJ, Family, GOJ, MJ, PJ, School, WJ)

I’m the volunteer¬†“librarian” in Auden and Parker’s class.¬† Last week’s theme was alphabet books, which inspired this post on this weekend’s camping trip with Auden and Parker’s school.

A is for Auden, my favorite babysitter for Willa.¬† He’ll willingly sit next to her while I do things like go to the restroom or fetch water.

B is for Bailey’s, what I’m drinking in my coffee this morning to recover.

C is for coffee.  Which I needed Saturday morning and did not ever get.

D is for downpour, of the long-lasting kind.

E is for eagle, an animal our family is constantly on the lookout for.¬† It’s actually pretty amazing how often we can spy a bald eagle around here.¬† Me, I forget to look up, but the generally boys have less to pull their eyes downward.¬† Exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

F is for fort, that the boys and friends had ever so much fun making.  Bonus for mom is the exhaustion that carrying huge driftwood logs all day entails.

G is for Greta, a girl of her own mind.¬† You know how you see moms walking away from their children, saying, “OK, I’m going now,” and the kid eventually runs to catch up?¬† This does not work with Miss G.¬† I can get out-of-sight a hundred feet away, peek to look back,¬†and Greta¬†is still¬†squatting to look at rocks, completely unconcerned for her safety.

H is for Heather has a Headache.¬† When the sun appeared at noon, we were beachcombing with no sunglasses or hats.¬† Within an hour, I had a headache from squinting.¬† Within another hour, I had a really bad headache and was dragging four children back to the campsite so I could puke in the bushes in peace.¬† I certainly have experience with the combo of camping and throwing up, but it’s supposed to also involve whiskey and a rocking good night beforehand.

I is for insane, my mental state when I agreed Mark should go down to the Husky-Nebraska game from the camping spot.¬† Had I calculated between tail-gating, driving, traffic, and the game itself I’d be left alone for EIGHT hours with four kids of widely varying interests and walking speeds, I would not have said “Oh sure, honey, you’ve wanted to go to a game forever.”¬† Or more realistically, as he really has wanted to go forever, we would not have gone camping.

J is for just barely, the way I held it together.

K is for Krispy¬†Treats, our contribution to Saturday night’s potluck.¬† (Parker’s contribution- I couldn’t think of K.)

L is for living room, where we had our cosy fire on Saturday night.

M is for Mark, who was a sight for sore eyes when he returned from the game.¬† How grateful I was at that moment that I am not a single mom.¬† Sometimes I love my husband because he’s my Man, sometimes I love him because he’s¬†Help. Picture “Oh, Help” as¬†asked for¬†by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

N is for new friends.  All the craziness was worth watching my boys develop friendships with kids they will know for years to come.  And I met some very nice parents, also, although I had to get past my anxiety that they were all wondering what in the world I was doing there with four children by myself and beholden to their help.

O is for Oreo.  What is a mother to do to contain her four children while she vomits?  Give them Oreos in the tent!  Crumbs be damned!

P is for Parker.¬† Parker, who loves life to its fullest, then crumples and still needs his Mama’s fullest attention.

Q is for quit, which is what we did Saturday evening.  I have never made the decision to come home a day early from camping, but in this case- best decision EVER.

R is for Ranger Dave.  A very nice guy invited to give an instructional beach walk.  What happened instead, however, was a sit-quietly-at-a-picnic-table-listen-to-me-ramble.  My children were not amused.  School on a Saturday?  Too much to ask.

S is for Survivor Games, which Parker played with fifty other kids from his school.

T is for tent.  Thank goodness for rain flies.

U is for Urine.¬† Middle-of-the-night urine in sleeping bags, daytime urine puddling in shoes.¬† Urine, urine, urine.¬† Greta did not once use the actual campground bathrooms the entire time we were there, if that’s any indication of the clothing changes we had.¬† Though I’ve considered her potty trained since last January, I finally put her in a pull-up around the time I started throwing up.

V is for van.  A mini van is to be celebrated when packing up camp in the dark rain can be done by throwing it all in the back without rolling a camp pad or stuffing a bag.

W is for Willa, my sweet sweet easy baby.  Oh my goodness how I love this little (big!) bundle of fleece in my lap!

X is for the pedestrian X-Ray, which we did not need to examine the fish spines we found on the beach.

Y is for yurt, which we were not staying in, unlike many of the families.  But now we know how to spell it!

Z is for the zealous love that I feel for this camping family of mine.

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Making friends

September 14, 2010 at 11:29 am (AJ, Parenthood, PJ)

Grade school marks a big change in making friends.¬† In preschool, my kids were friends with my friends’ kids.¬† In grade school, they make friends who have parents I don’t know.¬† Who may or may not have similar parenting philosophies.¬† I may not even know the child himself.¬† I don’t know how I feel about that.¬†

On the one hand I generally think diversity is good- if¬†my¬†kids¬†are exposed to different ways of dealing with conflict or serving a snack at a friend’s house, they can learn new ways to do things.¬† And see what doesn’t work if they end up watching a friend get yelled at.¬† But, does it really work that way?¬† At six, are they discriminating enough to take the good and throw out the bad?¬† I’m not so sure about that.

In any given room of kids, Parker will find the silliest and most exuberant kids (besides himself, that is) and go talk to them.¬† It doesn’t really matter to¬†Parker¬†if that child was planning on¬†gaining a new friend that day.¬† He has absolutely no social awkwardness.¬† According to him, if he wants you to be your friend you will be.¬† Never mind that this is the complete opposite of the way I think.¬† I’ve known people I really would’ve liked to be friends with but have no idea how to approach.¬† I could take a lesson from Parker- the approach doesn’t always matter- you just do it.¬† At any rate, Parker’s chosen friends in kindergarten were not, shall we say, the teacher’s pet type.¬† More like they were the kids that the teacher goes home saying, “I’d have such a great class this year if I didn’t have to deal with ____.”

I was surprised last year in kindergarten that some of those frustrating kids actually do have great parents.  See how judgmental parents can be- including myself?

Auden seems to have fallen a little closer to his mother’s tree in the making friends department.¬† As best I can gather, the friends he made last year chose him.¬† One was a domineering young lady who told him one day she was his girlfriend.¬† This was in February.¬† He spent more time making her Valentine than the rest of the class combined.¬† A week after Febrary 14th I found all the Valentines he’d made,¬†hidden in his room.¬† Upon delicate questioning, I extricated the story- he’d been embarrassed to give his “girlfriend” the Valentine, so he left them all in his backpack.¬† A few weeks later when told him she was no longer his girlfriend, he faked sick because he no longer had anybody to play with at recess.¬† Broke his mama’s heart, the whole situation.

I didn’t actually start out this post to talk about my children’s possible friend hiccups, though.¬† Or the lack of control I have over the choosing of said friends.¬† All I can do there is trust they’re smart and they’ll learn from their experiences.¬† I meant to discuss my potential hiccups with their friends and parents of their friends.¬† I have to say, dealing with calling one of their friend’s parents for a playdate fills me with dread.¬† Will they think it’s weird for me to invite their child to my house without knowing me first?¬† Should I invite them to meet us at the park first?¬† Will they want to spend their time standing at a park making small talk with me?¬† I’m not even at school to know the relationship between the kids.¬† Does their kid even like my kid?¬† Do I want this kid to like my kid?

I can’t be the only one that doesn’t know “the rules” here.¬† At what age do you switch to letting the kids talk on the phone to arrange a get-together?¬† I have to say my kids are still blissfully ignorant of the ins and outs of phone conversation, and that’s mostly fine with me.¬† I don’t need them begging for a cell phone yet.¬† I know they know our phone number, but I don’t know that they would actually know how to dial and call us if they needed to.¬† They also don’t have a full grasp of calendaring and what days they might be free.¬† For now I know I need to take care of the details.¬†

At some age that I don’t want to even think about, I suppose one lets their children visit homes of friends they haven’t met, let alone the parents.¬† But what age is this?¬† Ten, twelve, twenty-three?¬† No idea.¬† Obviously it can be whatever we’re comfortable with, at least until our kids are legal adults.¬† But I also worry if I’m too comfortable with letting my kids go, I’ll be judged not protective enough.¬† Am I overthinking this?

A good part of my anxiety goes back to my own troubles with making friends.¬† Parker begs me, over and over, until we call people who I’m pretty sure don’t want to get together with us.¬† I HATE feeling like I’m trying too hard to make friends- my uncool middle school self.¬† So I waffle and deflect his requests and explain I’m waiting for them to reciprocate the last playdate months ago and generally make excuses.¬† Like my former neighbors, for example.¬† Parker idolized their kid, who’s eighteen months older than him.¬† This kid thought Parker was okay¬†when he used to live across the street and was convenient, but now that they live miles away, I don’t think he cares.¬† When they’ve come back to check on the house (they rented it out), the kid hasn’t barely¬†responded to Parker’s excited greetings yelled across the street.¬† Parker has yet to notice that fact, though, and keeps asking when he’s going to come over.¬†¬†Parker came home from the second day of school and wanted me to call the friend he’d made that day.¬† Um, no honey, I’m not¬†psyched up to do that yet.¬† And just how would we find the phone number of one of the thousand Jacob’s at XYZ Elementary?

If you’re into labels, it’s probably obvious here.¬† Parker is an extrovert, his mama and dad, and his twin are introverts.¬† He gets misunderstood sometimes here at the JaRuud household.¬† One definition is that an extrovert get “recharged” in life by spending time with people, and an introvert recharges by spending time alone.¬† He’ll have to put up with us, and drag us kicking and screaming into having a social life.¬† It’s good for us.

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