Month: January 2010

The End of Summer

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I need to preface this by saying I wrote this at the end of last summer.  I think I’m longing for warmer days again while being smack dab in the middle of a Kansas winter.  Everyone needs sunshine once in a while.

Some days I feel like I’m living the “Baby Blues” comic strip. The other day I cut one out and posted it on the fridge for my children to see. In this particular one the mom said, “I want you guys to help me clear the table.” But instead, her children heard her say; “I want to remove all the joy from your lives while everyone else in the world has fun.” I can relate to this mentality, and as summer comes to an end, I will not miss this part. Asking the kids to help out a little more around the house this summer has been the equivalent of asking them to cut off their right arm.

This brings to mind the other things I will not miss from summer, like the days they complained there was nothing to do. Or the days I told them to turn off the TV before their brains turned to mush. Their response was usually the same, “What are we supposed to do now?” My response was always the same, too, “How about playing with all those toys, sports equipment and art supplies you thought you couldn’t live without? Aren’t they collecting dust by now?”

I will also not miss the really late nights of my oldest three children, who seemed to have forgotten their bedtime. This was not a good combination with my early bird youngest children.

I will rejoice in not hearing them argue from 8 a.m. until after 3 p.m., the time they are now in school. I will now only endure this before and after school.

Despite these things that made me cringe, the return of the school year is always bittersweet. I always have mixed emotions this time of year – or rapidly changing hormones. Either way, I already miss seeing their sleepy faces in the morning and having them crawl up in my lap until they could keep their eyes open. The lazy days of summer when staying in your PJs all day is acceptable and becomes commonplace will be missed, too.

I’ll miss watching them swim and seeing the forts they built in the basement out of pillows and blankets. Their smiling faces beamed with pride as they showed off their creation. I’ll also miss hearing them laugh at the thrill of racing their bikes down our steep hill. I will remember seeing the excitement on their faces when we told them they could have their annual campout in the back yard.

I will also think of the small achievements they reached this summer. Our son, who was allowed to ride his bike a farther distance from home because he’s older now, and our 3-year-old, who perfected jumping off the diving board and swimming to the pool ladder on her own … causing a minor heart attack on my part at times.

Our older girls excitedly learned to cook new recipes as they reopened their “Baniewicz Diner,” and my son learned how to bake a frozen pizza without any help (this is a much greater achievement then it sounds like).

I’m proud of our teenage daughter who learned to handle more responsibility by having a regular babysitting job, and my 9-year-old that made new friends in the neighborhood. Our baby even reached a milestone saying “Mommy.” (This, of course, catapults her to my favorite child right now.)

Along with all these things I will miss and the ones I’d soon like to forget, all too soon the house will be a little too quiet and the hours they’re in school will seem a little too long. Homework will seem never-ending and our simple schedules will feel extremely busy. And just like every school year that seems to fly by, soon enough I will anticipate the simplistic rhythm of summer again.

Courtesy of the Atchison Globe

Try, Try Again

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How many times should two people try to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary before they decide to throw in the towel? My husband and I know the answer to that question.

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law flew in from Arizona to babysit for us. We had a romantic ski trip planned – destination: Park City, Utah. We were once again trying to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, even though this year marks 17 years of blissful marriage. (We obviously feel it’s never too late to celebrate a milestone.)

Our first attempt at celebrating was the actual year of our 15th anniversary. We planned a cruise with some close friends. What could be more fun than rest, relaxation and lying on a beach laughing with friends? Fate proved otherwise. Fun that year equaled being surprised with our fifth pregnancy! I know it seems odd to be surprised after having four children already, but for some reason I lose all knowledge of how I could be pregnant the minute I find out I am carrying my next baby. Go figure.

Knowing baby number five would be only 3 months old at the time of the cruise, I had nightmares of being up all night with a screaming newborn. I also had visions of the baby going overboard after one strong ocean breeze swept her away. Plan A was quickly scrapped.

A year and a half later, (after pretty much being up to our necks in diapers and bottles for that length of time), Plan B was put into action. My husband surprised me with a ski trip shortly after the New Year. As it turned out, we were to leave, no other than, the day of our latest Arctic Storm. So much for timing. Add to this the fact that two of the children ended up with the stomach flu the night before my mother-in-law arrived.

With the storm quickly approaching, our first flight was canceled on behalf of the airline the night before. Not giving up, we rebooked a new flight and spent the night near the airport to avoid the treacherous drive. That night my husband got the stomach flu and a phone call from home revealed child number three had the flu as well. Not good. Feeling serious guilt leaving three sick children.

The next morning the airline canceled our second flight. Two canceled flights later, one husband down, and three sick kids, my husband still wasn’t giving up. I, on the other hand, was convinced this was a sign our plane was going to burst into flames and disintegrate as it crashed to the ground. I even mentioned our will wasn’t up-to-date. My husband’s determined look in his eyes told me he wasn’t giving up just yet.

After he waited 45 minutes for a customer service agent to help him, we were booked on two different flights with so many layovers that we were going to see the entire United States before we got to Utah. Somehow this didn’t spell romantic anymore. On to Plan B, sub 3 – change our destination to sunny California. Who cared that we were packed for snow instead of sun? The flight was to leave in 30 minutes. The only problem was, we weren’t parked yet, we’d also have to catch the airport shuttle back to our gate, and our luggage wasn’t checked. Did I mention they were already boarding the plane? Finally, my husband reached his limit. Thank God, I was going to live after all.

Needless to say, the drive home from the airport was extremely quiet and my husband was still not feeling well. We arrived home greeted with the news child number four contracted the stomach flu, too. Once again, up all night with a sick child, romance being the farthest thing from my mind.

After a few days, five healthy children and one healthy husband later, it was time for Plan C. The theme for this romantic get-a-way was simplicity. Drive to Kansas City, stay in a romantic hotel for a few nights and drive back. Wouldn’t you know it, it finally worked! Now my only question is, what about our 16th anniversary? Or better yet, our 17th, which is a few months away? My answer: We already celebrated those in one fell swoop. I’m not about to push my luck.

Complements of the Atchison Globe

Wake Me When it’s Over

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Every once in a while, there’s peace and tranquility in my household. It’s like being at a spa and having a pedicure and manicure without thinking about the price. Lately though, peace has gone out the door and madness has come storming through.

In a matter of a couple of weeks, my toddler got a red warning card at school. She yelled down the hall at the top of her lungs, rested her feet on the backside of her chair and blew her straw during snack time. At home, she has refused to take naps the past few days, causing tantrums the equivalent of a tsunami.

In the meantime, my 19-month-old is Houdini. She has escaped from her crib an average of three times per night. Talk about getting my heart pumping. We have recently moved her to a bed, to avoid concussions, broken bones and any other medical problem. Now, still an escapee, we have double and triple-checked all child proofing around the house. It’s no wonder parents don’t sleep.

One of my older children, who usually excels in school, has dipped down a few grades in English. It’s killing me and frustrating my child. Extra credit anyone?

My sixth child, oops, I mean my husband, recently asked me when would be a good time to have company for dinner. I didn’t even have a chance to look at our calendar to give an answer. Doesn’t this scream, “Now is probably not a good week!” The date originally started with Sunday, then turned into Friday and ended up being the next day! We didn’t have a drop of milk in the house or even an egg. Coincidentally, it was the same day I volunteered to drive to Topeka for my son’s field trip.

To top things off, I can’t seem to forget what my OBGYN told me at my last appointment. How can this be? I forget everything else without even trying. Unfortunately, it keeps popping up in my brain when things look really bleak and I’m searching for a glimpse of hope in the near future. She said, “By this time next year, you’ll have a two-year-old, turn 40, and be pre-menopausal.” Is there any medication for all of this? Maybe this magic remedy will be my million-dollar idea, although chemistry was never my strong point. I still don’t use the element chart, which my teacher promised was as essential as breathing.

Why bother to get out of bed each day? I’m just going to pull the covers over my head and have my husband wake me when everyone’s out of diapers, the mortgage is paid off and all of my children have graduated from college with honors.

Maybe I’ll just concentrate on what a motivational speaker said to her audience. “Instead of saying, I’m having a bad day, say, I’m having a bad moment.” That way the moment will pass and the day won’t be shot. Since it’s been well past a week and a half already, I’ll just change the wording to, “It’s been a bad two weeks.” That way I only have a couple days left to wallow in self-pity.

I’ll just imagine the light at the end of the tunnel being a vacation in the Caribbean (with all expenses paid in full). I’ll soak up the sun, while everyone else blasts the furnace back home. I’ll focus on my daughter graduating from pre-school with honors, my baby staying in her new bed and sleeping until 9 a.m., my other child getting straight As and my husband never inviting company over without a 36-hour window. As for turning 40, having a 2-year-old and going through menopause simultaneously, well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, or jump from the nearest one.

Complements of the Atchison Globe

Speak My Love Language

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Yes, I know his love language.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I read, The Five Love Languages:  How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, by Gary Chapman.  The author asks married couples to rate five areas they feel most loved.  Chapman’s choices include:  words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. The author’s point being, use your spouse’s number one love language to express your love to them.

Of course, my results were completely opposite of my husband.  Receiving gifts rated number one for me and dead last on his list. This has posed some serious problems for us.  My husband has admitted on more than one occasion he is petrified of giving me a gift I won’t like.  I’ve even cut out pictures to help make his shopping experience easier, but it doesn’t always work.

Last Christmas we agreed not to exchange gifts in order to save money.  Neither one of us followed our new rule.  I ended up with a scarf my teenager asked for and gloves I already had.  Maybe it was the stress of the holidays, but after the kids went to bed, I expressed my ungratefulness.  After over 15 years of marriage, how could he mess up my number one love language?

I’ve learned I should never discuss anything after 1AM because my thoughts are completely irrational.  At least, I thought I had learned.  I ended up seizing the moment to speak out anyway because, of course, it felt rational at the time.

Not surprisingly, this led to a small argument.  I mentioned every gift my husband had ever given me starting with our first Christmas.  I proceeded to tell him what I really thought of each gift.  Needless to say, that Christmas Eve didn’t end on a good note. I only went to bed secretly happy because he had to put together a play kitchen for our toddler that contained over 400 pieces.  His frustration brought me satisfaction…cruel, I know.

This year we vowed again not to exchange gifts.  With company in town, I needed to be on my best behavior.  We failed to follow our little rule again, but this year I got smarter.

Always believing it’s never too late to learn from past experience, I bought my own gifts before Christmas.  I brought them home and told him to wrap ’em up.  (Our daughters actually did the wrapping for him on Christmas Eve, but I let it slide.  My grandmother always said, “Choose your battles.”  And she was happily married for over 50 years.)

I have to say, I was quite pleased with my purchases from me to me.  My favorite gift was one of necessity – a bathroom door lock for the master bathroom.  This $8 purchase has brought me seriously needed peace of mind.  I no longer brace the door shut while simultaneously trying to pee at the speed of light.  The battle with small children forcing their way in has ended.  I now relish these 60 blissful seconds to myself.  I’ve even considered making this my new office and my water intake has greatly increased.  (Sometimes it’s the little things in life.)

To my surprise, the gifts didn’t stop with my own small purchases.  My husband bought gifts for me too – big ones – and I loved them!  I scored huge this year.  He didn’t just speak my love language; he shouted it from the rooftop.  When he’s good, he’s really good.  I can only hope that I get better at showing my love for him in his language.

Hopefully, I’ll do it as successfully as he did.

Courtesy of the Atchison Globe