I became a Pinteresting queen before school ended this year for my boys.  I had horrid flashbacks of last summer: countless hours of hearing the repetitive sound of axes hacking away on Minecraft, Teen Titans blasting from the television, and enough “I’m bored” nags from the boys to last me a life time.  So, I became a Pinterest queen.  I searched for ideas to keep them entertained, but it seemed to me that I was the only mom that to this day, does not coddle her little boys with bubbles and fairy dust.  If I were to tell me kids we were making a cute bumblebee craft out of toilet paper rolls (yes, that is on Pinterest for all you lame-o moms), they would have packed their stuff and marched on out of my house.  I searched high and low for cool ideas.  The final product still sounded lame, but I knew I could pull it off.  When I told Baby G and Baby D what their summer plans consisted of, I received the mandatory “UGH!!!” but I promised them it would be much more awesome than they could imagine.  So here goes:

Each day of the week took on a new title:  Make-something Monday, Traveling Tuesday, Wet Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and Figure-it-out Friday.  Each week would then have a new theme based on whatever is going on that week therefore we wouldn’t be tied down to making boring crafts or visiting the same two historical sights in our town.

This first week was off with a bang.  We are going camping for the first time with Baby W this weekend, so our theme was geared toward this trip.

Make-something Monday: First off, I am a horrible mother in the eyes of the boys: they are given until 930 to do whatever they want, but by 930 I expect them to be fed, dressed, and brushed [teeth].  They were then presented with a short chore list which ended with 3 worksheets (today was reading practice) and 30 minutes each online for keyboard/typing lessons.

Too little to really understand what he's doing, but he wanted to practice his writing too!

Too little to really understand what he’s doing, but he wanted to practice his writing too!

Not happy about it, but this is how your brain doesn't turn to mush during the summer months

Not happy about it, but this is how your brain doesn’t turn to mush during the summer months

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then we were ready.  Monday was a craft, and I knew they would hate me if it was lame (see toilet paper bumblebee).  Instead we made lanterns.  We took an aluminum can, drew a pattern of dots, and then – here comes the cool mom – the boys used hammer and nails to make holes in their holed pattern.

Watch those fingers!

Watch those fingers!

So careful..

So careful..

A rare moment caught on camera: brothers helping each other!

A rare moment caught on camera: brothers helping each other!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the holes were punched, the boys painted their cans.  The paint wasn’t very visible on the cans, so to let them have a bit more fun, they painted on other stuff too.

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We left the cans out to dry and later this weekend we will put a glow stick in them and brighten our tents.

Traveling Tuesday:  After Monday, I thought we were on a roll!  The boys seemed so happy with all my ideas – I figured they would wake up Tuesday ready to go.  Boy, was I wrong.  Their chore and workbook list met them like nails on a chalkboard, and after hearing Baby G complain about how awful always having to do something is, I sent him and his hormonal self off to a friend’s house for the morning.  Any fabulous plans I had were unraveling so quickly and it was just day two.  I packed up Baby W and Baby D and we headed out, with a slight change of plans and a detour from the week’s theme.  It was voting day so I decided to show Baby D how he should one day exercise his rights.  On our way to our polling location, I explained to him the importance and value of just one single vote.  Once there, he followed me through the process, but closed his eyes while I cast my vote because, “It’s your secret”.  We ran a few more errands together, and though our day turned out quite differently than I had planned, at least Baby D learned something new.

i-voted

Wet Wednesday:  Last weekend we had a big crawfish boil at our house – and it rained, rained, rained!  Wednesday was our first dry day, and thank goodness because we planned on getting really wet!  After the usual fight with chores, the boys were packed up and ready to hit the beaches.  This time we decided to bring our puppy with us.  Baby L is an almost 8 year old German Shepherd/Collie who is deathly afraid of the water but loves the beach – weirdo.  Packing for the beach as a single adult is so easy: you grab a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, and go.  But packing for three kids and a dog is no easy task.  I needed an oversized sheet for Baby W to lay on, I needed the umbrella to cover Baby W and Baby L.  A water bowl for Baby L, beach toys, towels, towels, towels, snacks, water, hats……. I packed for nearly an hour knowing well that I would likely only stay for an hour! Then once on the beach, the two older boys took off for the water, leaving me with an overly excited and sandy baby and a scared to death but terribly happy dog.  The two of them covered my makeshift play area with sand, threw my water bottles out of the shade and chased other dogs on the beach (yes, even Baby W tried chasing the dogs).  By the time I had the situation under control, I was exhausted and ready to go home.

Chilling in the shade

Chilling in the shade

That's a laughing baby

That’s a laughing baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I hung up my gloves and gave in, my phone rang.  My dear friend, RC, offered us 4 tickets to our local water park.  I have lived here nearly six years and yet have never been to the water park because the prices are so steep!  So with the offer of free tickets and the opportunity to spend an awesome afternoon with a great friend, I jumped right on it!  We packed our beach things in a fury – aided by a sweet homeless man (we gifted him our water bottles and snacks) and rushed home to drop off Baby L.

The water park was fantastic!  The boys rode all the slides with RC because – I’m not even ashamed to admit – I am too chicken to ride those crazy slides!!  Instead, Baby W and I enjoyed the kiddie pool.   Everyone had a fabulous time, and before we knew it, it was closing time.   The boys all picked up a nice tan, while I went home looking like I was slowly morphing into a lobster: nothing that some Aloe Vera can’t fix.

Loving his first water park experience

Loving his first water park experience

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Lazy river - I can handle it!

Lazy river – I can handle it!

With RC and her mother in law

With RC and her mother in law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful Thursday: I decided to give the boys a bit of a break – and be thoughtful – and didn’t present them with a chore list first thing in the morning.  At some point today we will have a lot of prepping to do for this weekend’s camping trip, so I gave them the morning off to play.  Amazingly, Minecraft has not come on the Xbox yet and I haven’t heard, “I’m bored”, but the day is still young…

I had originally explained to the boys what Thoughtful Thursday meant:  we do something kind for someone else.  I gave them suggestions and told them we would decide weekly what we would do, but yesterday the boys informed me they already had something in mind and that I didn’t have to worry about it.  So I didn’t.  I hoped they wouldn’t forget and leave me hanging.  And this is what I found by my bedroom door this morning:

To: The BEST mom EVER From: Gabe Happy Thoughtful Thursday

To: The BEST mom EVER
From: Gabe
Happy Thoughtful Thursday

Say what you will about hormonal, pain in the butt boys; but sometimes – just sometimes – they can pull off some terribly sweet moves.

Lastly we have Figure-it-out Friday.  Tomorrow the boys are set to learn something new, but with our pending camping trip, I knew I wouldn’t have time to write this week’s blog, so I can only offer a sneak peak!  After their chores – ha! – the boys will look up online (they find it thrilling when I give them the green light to Google anything!) information regarding our camp sight: history, special landmarks, local birds or animals.  We will then use all the knowledge they learned – sounds fun, huh?  I can just picture myself spotting birds…

As week one of summer break ends, I can only look forward to the next two months.  Surely, not all days will be as well organized as Monday or fall into place as smoothly as Wednesday.  There will be plenty of days like Tuesday, but thank goodness, they are always, always followed by wonderful moments like Thursdays.

Baby L touching the water reluctantly

Baby L touching the water reluctantly

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The saying goes, “everything happens for a reason”, but I haven’t always been a fan of that belief.   Mostly, I believe things happen by chance or by force but nothing happens that can’t be dealt with.  None the less, sometimes I have to question my own beliefs.  Just yesterday I wrote about the beginnings of life and the wonders of growth.  I thought, as I was writing, to make my post about the entire circle of life: birth, growth, and the eventual death, but I chose to stick to the former half of the equation because I felt joyful holding Baby W.  I wanted to focus on the happy.  But life’s not always peachy.  And maybe I didn’t write about the entirety of the circle of life because “everything happens for a reason”.

 

No one close to me has passed: let me clear that fact immediately.  In fact, just today I witnessed the baptism of my godson!  There’s no better example of life than that!  But today I also received some troubling news about a family member and that encouraged the wheels in my mind to start spinning.

 

Early this morning I found out my aunt, ZA, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  We don’t know yet what stage she is in, we don’t know yet what her treatment plan or prognosis is.  We know only that it is malignant, that at 40-something she is still young, and mostly, that she is the mother to a sweet young girl.  My first gut reaction was fear.  Fear of the unknown, of death.  In this very moment no one can tell how things will turn out for my ZA and we all remain hopeful and positive, but the situation awakened a small drumbeat in my head, pounding louder and louder reminding me that the wonders of life come full circle for everyone.  Are we prepared?

 

Two days ago a popular radio host passed: Kidd Kraddick.  No one saw it coming.  News of his passing has been plastered on the walls of social media.  I listened to his show when I rode to school in the mornings, but I was not a particularly avid follower.  I know that he was a great humanitarian and philanthropist, but I am also confident he was a great son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend.  He was a normal person after all.  But tomorrow morning when I turn on the radio, his voice, which is the only association I have with him, will no longer be there.  He is truly gone.

 

And that is what scares me.  One day we are here talking, laughing, loving, hating, eating, seeing – and the next day we are gone.  The next day someone will wake up expecting to hear our voice and will find a deafening silence.  Death is a topic we often choose to ignore because it is scary and dark, but eventually we all have to deal with it.  I know I am not at ease thinking that one day – any day – it will happen to me and everyone else I know and love.  So how do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable?  Is preparation even possible?

 

I’ve already mentioned the saying, “everything happens for a reason”, but we have so many more sayings out there, overused yet under-thought that I truly believe can aid us in being better prepared for that eventuality we wish not to speak of.  Here, then, is my impromptu preparation list:

 

1)      Wake up and smell the coffee:  starting off straight to the point, face reality as it is.  Don’t pretend that you live in a world that isn’t true, which brings me to…

 

2)      Life isn’t always perfect, but just smile:  things are not always great, but a smile can brighten anyone’s day.  I am a firm believer in smiling when on the phone with someone: they can’t see you, but they can sense your temperament  through the smile.

 

3)      Always stand up for yourself, others, and what you believe in:  there is nothing worse than regret, so always do what you believe is right, including…

 

4)      Love a whole whopping lot: don’t fear loving others.  I love kisses and hugs and I love you’s.  Never-ever let fear of rejection stop you from loving others or expressing your love for others.

 

5)      Make lifelong friends:  you will never be alone so long as you have one friend by your side, so know no stranger because everyone out there is a potential friend.

 

6)      Go the extra mile: help a stranger, bend backwards for someone in need.  The satisfaction of helping someone brightens your soul and theirs.

 

7)      Remember the sky is the limit: always try harder for something better, bigger and greater; not to be mistaken with obtaining worldly possessions, but rather for achieving self satisfaction and self pride.

 

8)      Savor every bite and every sip:  we were blessed with over 10,000 taste buds in our mouths – what a shame to not use each and every one of them to fully enjoy a glass of rich red wine or a cold ice cream.

 

9)      Teach: share your knowledge with the world, whether it is teaching a child to ride a bike or sharing a recipe with an old friend; your knowledge will be wasted if it never leaves your mind. And lastly,

 

10)   Always remember Rome wasn’t built in a day:  a great life will not happen overnight and no single action will make a person forever grand, but a life well lived, day by day, can become a fortress of history and grandeur that will never be forgotten.

 

These sayings are not new to any of us, but taking a moment to truly analyze each one will show us how we can live a more fulfilling life, so when the time comes, whether suddenly or painfully slowly, we can depart this world knowing we left a positive legacy in our shadows.

 

Kidd Kraddick will be missed by his fans, colleagues, family and friends, but he was able to leave a footprint so deep in many people’s lives that his voice rings on – even if we can’t hear it.  And my ZA, though our hopes are that she will fight like a warrior and overcome this grave hiccup in life, is now offering us a reminder that it is never too late to stop and think of those ten guidelines of life.  How do we want to leave this world?  What impression and memory do we want people to have of us?

 

Live life to love and you will never have to fear the unknown again.  I should make that number 11 on my impromptu preparation list.  Then again, it should be number one on all our lists.

 

Finding the reason for it all