Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Go Outside and Play!

Since having kids, I've heard a lot of people joke about how their parents used to send them outside to play, maybe telling them not to come home until dark. The world seems to have changed, we all lament. Kids have play dates, instead of just going down the street to play with other neighborhood kids. Kids stay inside and play video games or watch TV instead of biking and running around the block. Back in our day, our parents told us to go outside and find something to do!

I don't disagree with any of that, but I remember it a little differently. I remember begging my parents to let me go out and play. We had a swing set and a jungle gym in our back yard. My best friend lived behind me, a quick jump over a low fence with a big rock right at the spot we'd climb over. We had tall trees for climbing and little traffic on the streets around my block. The park with a creek and the pool were right down the street, and more friends were a couple streets over. I always wanted to be outside playing with my friends. My parents didn't need to send me out! There was so much to do outside that I wanted to stay out all day!

I really like the neighborhood we live in now. There are lots of other kids and a nice pool. The playgrounds, however, are only okay. There are some of those plastic contraptions with something to climb up and in and a slide. Even when my kids were toddlers, they got bored on the small playground rather quickly. To get to the swings, we have to walk across the entire neighborhood, which my kids can't do on their own at this point. The neighborhoods just aren't the same these days.
During the years when my kids were babies/toddlers/pre-schoolers, we would go out front to do sidewalk chalk and bubbles, and maybe a few of the kids close by would join, but it was only occasionally and had to be constantly monitored. The next few years, the kids were learning to ride bikes and scooters and the like, but my kids are not ones to clamor to do it on their own and head off around the block by themselves. So it was always a lot of effort on our part to go out and help them and be with them. It's always a good time, but it's more limited time since there are so few free hours we adults seem to have.

Now that my kids are a bit older, they are making friends in the neighborhood and wanting to do things with the other kids. But what are they to do with the other kids?

Well, we happen to have a very large backyard--one of the largest in any of the houses in this neighborhood (or in the nearby neighborhoods). We have plans to build a deck and re-do some of the landscaping at some point, but not for a while. The kitchen windows look right out into the backyard,

We've tried sending the kids out back to play soccer or whatever else, but it never lasts very long. The kitchen windows look right out into the backyard, so I can watch them from inside while making dinner or doing the dishes, so I would like to send them out back more.
So after much research, I have found what I think will be the solution! I found this monkey bars/swing/slide playset! I have read that it goes up to age 12, so we still have a few years that we can get good use out of it--not to mention that I'm pretty sure I will love it and I'm WAY over 12!

It is being delivered today, and we plan to set it up this weekend! I showed the kids before I bought it to make sure they thought they'd really use it, and at first my daughter was hesitant about the monkey bars, since she says she can't really do them. She also asked if I would push her on the swing, since she's not very good at pumping herself. And I'm thinking "Oh, my! We are DEFINITELY getting this now! I can't have kids who can't climb and swing on things!" Those were my staples in play when I was growing up, and I realize it is likely because I had the equipment in my own backyard and went out on it all the time. To her credit, after thinking about it she said she really did want the playset so that she could practice the monkey bars and get better at them. I added she should do that with the swing, too, and she agreed.

I want my kids to be able to go out back and have something right there to play on, something right in our yard so they can't say they are bored and come right back in. I want to give my kids the ability to develop their coordination and sense of adventure! Give them something that will help them grow and try new things and develop their athletic abilities. I want something their friends in the neighborhood want to come over and play with. I want them to have a fun backyard, like I did growing up. I want them to beg to go outside and play, even if I have to cook dinner or do other household stuff.

And I want the ability to watch them play on a summer evening while I sit on the (adult) glider and drink a glass of wine. Maybe I'll swing on some monkey bars, too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Being a Bus Stop Parent

I love the bus stop.

I remember before my kids were in the public elementary school, I would drive through the neighborhood in the mornings and see all the kids and parents gathered at corner, waiting for the bus. I would think to myself that it was so nice to see all those neighborhood kids together and the parents talking to each other. That must be how you really get to know the other parents in the neighborhood, I realized.

And I was right!

When we first moved into the neighborhood, I was pregnant with the Pumpkin. Once moved in, we had the first baby... then the second... and our world condensed. Our focus at first was simply on surviving those baby and toddler years! Once the youngest was a toddler, we slowly started looking around. We would go outside to play with chalk or bubbles, and we'd wave and chat with neighbors. The kids would draw and blow bubbles with the kids who lived in the houses right around us. But it was irregular and short.

Once the kids started elementary school, I walked them up to the bus stop every morning. I would see the same parents and kids on the way there. We started chatting regularly, walking together. I even learned which kids went with which parents. And my kids started making real friends in the neighborhood.

Now, after the bus picks up the kids, I often stick around a few extra minutes to chat with other parents. I feel like we keep each other informed of what is going on. Oh, tomorrow the 1st graders need to remember their projects! Today the 3rd graders are doing testing in the afternoon? Tonight is the concert for the 4th and 5th grader chorus? Be careful when you cross that road with the kids, because people speed right through the intersection and almost hit one of the girls!

And I like that I get to know the kids, too. At Halloween, I walked around the neighborhood and really knew the kids who joined up with mine to trick or treat or just to chat. I see the kids at school and realize that the girl in the Pumpkin's after-school activity lives around the corner. The girl two houses down has become my daughter's best friend, and I am able to chat with her parents about what is going on.

I grew up in a very neighborly neighborhood, and I really wanted to raise my kids in similar type of neighborhood. The regular trips to the bus stop have been a wonderful way for me to feel the sense of community around me. We have a wonderful school, and it's great to get to know the kids and their parents better, especially when they live right around the corner. And now that it is becoming summer, we will again run into these kids and parents at the neighborhood pool. Because of the bus stop, my kids will have neighborhood friends to play with and I'll be able to chat with the other parents I've been getting to know, and the feeling of community will continue.

Friday, June 3, 2016

And a Diagnosis for the Boy

Before the Pumpkin got her diagnosis of ADHD, we had a slightly different evaluation done for the Pookie. The Pookie was evaluated to see if he has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). He does indeed have sensory issues, but it is not quite at the disorder level.

There were signs of sensory issues since he was a baby, and especially as a toddler.

He always needed strong input to his sense of touch. As a toddler, he didn't just run up and hug me, but instead would throw his whole body into me, full force. Every time. He can't just brush up against something, but bangs into things and people. There is no counting how many times I've had to remind him to "be gentle with Mommy" not because he is trying to hurt me (or anyone), but simply because soft touches don't really compute to him.

He always held his hands over his ears and freak out when there were loud noises, especially sudden ones. This could be difficult to deal with, like in public bathrooms with automated flushers! (I learned to keep a post-it note in my purse to put over the automated sensor while he used the potty, then I'd send him out of the stall before removing the post-it and letting it flush.) There was the jazz-for-kids concert I took them too, where he covered his ears and needed to move to the way back, while I hoped that he/we weren't offending the musicians. And of course the Marvel Universe Live! show we were all so excited about seeing, and within the first 5 minutes of bombs and gun blasts and lights flashing, Londo had to take him out of the entire building. Not just the auditorium, but the entire building! When he needed to go potty, Londo convinced him to go back to the building to use the potty there, but Londo told me that his entire body go more and more tense as they got closer (Londo was carrying him and felt it very clearly).

The lights at the Marvel show were an issue in addition to the noise. Sudden bright lights? Freaks him out. And just in general when there is a lot going on, he is overwhelmed. All those years of tough drop offs are partially to do with his getting overwhelmed when he would walk into a classroom. Too much all at once, especially if a bunch of kids try to run up and greet him. Sensory overload.

And then there is the picky eating. Have I mentioned the picky eating? Huh. I don't think I have. Apparently there is a name for kids who are more than just picky eaters--resistant eaters (it really is a thing). And that is what he is. We have struggled for years with his resistance to try anything new or different, and the handful of things he does eat has dwindled, since he gets tired of foods and/or doesn't like them any more. And no one better dare say to me (again!) that if he's hungry enough, he will eat what we server. Turns out? He won't. He'll just get hungrier and crankier, and I have to deal with that on top of everything else! We've tried a few different approaches and seem to be making progress over the years. It's a taste issue, smell issue (he actually doesn't have a good sense of smell), texture issue and a mouth/tongue mechanics issue.

When anyone says "Smell that!" The Pookie's response is "I can't smell." Not that he can't smell that thing, but he means in general he doesn't really smell things. I don't have a great sense of smell, but I certainly can smell things. He has difficulty either smelling or processing the smells or maybe both. Even when he sticks his nose directly into a flower, he just kind of shrugs like he doesn't really notice the smell.

So that covers the senses, right? Did you know there are a few more? There is also:
- Vestibular - the sense for movement and balance in relation to gravity. This sense tells your brain if you are right-side up, upside down or moving left, right, forward, backward, etc.
- Proprioception - the sense of where your body parts are. This sense is used all the time when you are moving, for example I can walk up stairs without watching my feet because of this sense letting my brain know where my foot is.
- Interoception - the sense for what's going inside your body, such as when you are hungry and when you need to go to the bathroom.

Every one of those senses have all an issue for the Pookie to some degree. They have not been an issue to the degree where he is unable to function in almost all circumstances. But he was having issues in daycare and pre-school, which is when we figured out there is something going on with him.

In daycare, he was just sometimes "difficult" or overwhelmed. But in pre-school, we specifically put him in a pre-school that had a teacher who understood that 4-year-old boys would act like 4-year-old boys! They are active! They like to bump into each other! But by the middle of that year, the teacher pulled me aside and said perhaps there was something more going on. Then things got better... for a while... then they got bad again in the spring. And she pulled me aside again and said she was worried about kindergarten. She recommended that we look into this and try to figure out what was going on with him. When I mentioned we were worried about him being labeled (like with ADHD), she pointed out that if we didn't get him a label, the schools would--and we likely wouldn't be happy with that label (such as bad kid, problem child, etc.).

After getting Londo's buy-in, I went to our pediatrician. While we talked, the Pookie played on the fire engine-shaped examination table, making constant noise and being constantly in motion. The pediatrician asked me, "Is he usually like this?" I looked at the Pookie and said yes, he was. The pediatrician suggested that we get him evaluated for sensory processing disorder, and she gave me some names. (If I haven't mentioned it before, I love our pediatrician!)

There were questionnaires and an evaluation appointment. He has sensory issues, but not quite at the disorder level. We did occupational therapy (OT) for a while, and we learned a lot about sensory diets and ways to calm him down when he was overwhelmed and exercises to help his coordination and crossing the midline and all sorts of things! We bought him special shirts that squeeze his body and fidget toys to help him distract his body so he can focus on learning.

He had an amazing kindergarten teacher, who worked with him and us and the school to put in place a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) to provide goals for him and a path to reach those goals, including tools and accommodations. The teacher and the school met with us and discussed and implemented ideas to help him not get so overwhelmed and to calm down if he got too upset.

He is now in 1st grade, and doing great! Early in the school year, we talked with his 1st grade teacher about his issues and what he might need (fidgets, gum, noise-canceling headphones, a rocking chair for morning meeting/circle time). His teacher uses tools he has seen be successful with kids in his previous classes, and he has also given us ideas for helping the Pookie at home. All in all, the Pookie doing really well with his behavior and in school in general!

He is an amazing, creative kid. He is so interesting and interested in all sorts of things. He is energetic and thoughtful. The sensory issues we can work through. After all, he totally gets it from me! So I understand, and we all work together to get where we need to be in life. Everyone has something, right? Sensory issues? We can deal with that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Still Fidgeting, But Now With Diagnosis

It came as no surprise to me or Londo when we got the diagnosis that the Pumpkin has ADHD. There have been YEARS of high activity, constant motion and fidgeting, impulsiveness, inability to focus, inability to organize, forgetfulness of tasks and trouble keeping her attention on tasks. I had suspected it for a long, long time. I'm not saying all fidgety babies will have ADHD, but my daughter was fidgety and had other signs and does indeed have ADHD.

Not only at home have we seen these issues, but also in daycare and every year of school. In the daycares, the teachers would pulling me aside many times saying how the Pumpkin wouldn't sit down and participate in circle time. I remember thinking that not all kids can sit that long. But then I'd stay and observe, and she'd be the only one not sitting, moving around, finding other things to get into to the entire time the other kids sat in circle time. And then there were her issues with nap time. Nap time? What is that? Oh that time period when my daughter has to stay put for over an hour in a darkened room with nothing to do? Yeah, that generally did not go well.

In kindergarten at the Montessori school, I had to go in to meet with the teacher and the director to discuss the Pumpkin's behavior issues. She is spirited, I'd think, and high energy! Aren't there a lot of kids like this? Well, just like the fidgeting as a baby, some kids are just more high energy than others. And the Pumpkin is a lot more. The Pumpkin needed some special treatment (now I've learned the official word is "accommodations") to get her through the day. The teacher explained she did some research on the internet and found some things she was going to try. Ways to keep her on task, a place for her to take a break and calm down, things like that. She mentioned that she found these ideas on a site about kids with ADHD, but she was careful to add that she wasn't saying the Pumpkin had ADHD and that she wasn't suggesting a diagnosis. Just that they had some good ideas for the Pumpkin.

At the time, I was scared of those four letters. When I was growing up, those letters were just starting to be used, and they meant something was wrong with that kid! I didn't understand what it really meant, and I was scared that my child had something wrong and would be labeled.

We got through kindergarten, and the teacher was great working with the Pumpkin. But now I was also starting to research tips for dealing with high-energy kids, which led me to websites about ADHD. I started reading and learning about it. My eyes were opening, and I was starting to understand what ADHD really means and how my daughter had all the symptoms. Londo still wasn't ready to label her with anything, and I agreed. But boy, those sites helped me understand that she wasn't trying to be difficult or make things harder than they needed to be--her brain works differently from mine and others. For many things, she needs help and guidance, not parents getting mad and yelling.

A few weeks into 1st grade, I got an email from the Pumpkin's teacher asking me to come in and talk about some issues she was having. When I sat down with the 1st grade teacher, she explained to me that the Pumpkin was having issues sitting for long periods, focusing on her work, being easily distracted. As every teacher (or even every adult!) who has had the Pumpkin would say, she is very smart! But... she sure did have a lot of energy! And she wasn't finishing her work. She was distracting other kids. Etc., etc., etc. I explained that I was pretty sure she had ADHD, but that we were not ready to get it diagnosed. The teacher was understanding, and we discussed things she could do in the classroom to help the Pumpkin stay focused and get her work done. She was a fabulous teacher, and we worked with her throughout the year to make sure the Pumpkin had a good year.

And 2nd grade, pretty much repeat the paragraph above... email a few weeks in... meeting with teacher... not ready for a diagnosis... I let the 2nd grade teacher know what seemed to work and not work or stopped working for the Pumpkin in 1st grade. At the parent-teacher conference in November, the report was overall good, but she was still having some problems with focusing and finishing her work. Londo and I talked with the teacher about whether or not these issues were interfering with her learning. She said not at that time. But as the year progressed, the Pumpkin was finishing less and less work in class. She would bring it home, and we'd make her finish the school work with her homework. It was excruciating!

In late spring of her 2nd grade year, the teacher emailed again, saying that the issues were now interfering with her learning. The teacher and we parents tried different incentives, but it was still a struggle for her. Londo and I final agreed that it was time to get her diagnosed.

I remember the day I had my eureka moment about myself, when I realized I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. My entire life felt like it made sense. Just having a name for what had been going on for YEARS made me feel better. I was able to look it up and find ways to deal with it.

I wanted that for the Pumpkin.

I met with our pediatrician, basically saying "You know how we have all suspected she has ADHD? We'd like it official now." The pediatrician, who has been the Pumpkin's pediatrician literally since birth, nodded knowingly and gave me names of people who do evaluations.

That spring into summer, we set up all the appointments for the in-depth evaluations. Her 2nd grade teacher, Londo and I filled in numerous questionnaires about the Pumpkin. She went into the appointments and was tested for ADHD, learning disabilities, IQ, and some other things.

Near the end of the summer, Londo and I met with the woman who conducted the evaluations. She reviewed the final report with us. There was nothing surprising in it to Londo and myself. The Pumpkin is extremely smart, very creative and interesting, and great at verbally communicating. There was no doubt at all that she has ADHD. She did not have any learning disabilities. And she also has a diagnosis for general anxiety. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Londo and I just nodded and looked at each other knowingly.

It helped to have the official diagnosis going into 3rd grade. Our school is really fantastic about how they handle different types of kids and all of their needs. We put in place a 504 plan, which documents the accommodations the Pumpkin needs in order to function in class at the same level as her peers. Having the diagnosis and the 504 plan in place means that what she needs is recorded in official documents so that every year each new teacher will know what she needs. The email from a new teacher a few weeks into a school year won't be needed, because we already have information on record and I will reach out to the teachers ahead of time letting know the teachers know about the diagnosis, that she has the 504 plan and that we will support anything the teacher needs.

Now, a year after starting her evaluation, Londo and I are both very knowledgeable about ADHD. Her brain works differently than (most of) her classmates, and that's okay. As we've talked about with her, there are lots of amazing people in the world who have ADHD (her favorite example I gave was Iron Man, because come on! Tony Stark definitely has ADHD!). Having the letters makes no difference in who she is as a person nor her behavior. She is going to be herself, and we love her for it.

This kid has amazing energy and is interesting and is fun and funny and has so many wonderful qualities. She is still very fidgety, but that is just part of the awesome package that is my vivacious, interesting and awesome daughter. This child is going places in life, and we'll help support her getting there.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Blink, and Years Have Gone By

So. Here I am again. It's been about two years since I last posted anything, and I am still muddling through this parenthood thing.

I miss writing. I miss recording my kids' lives. I miss writing out the issues we're going through so that I can better make sense of things. I miss thinking about the stuff that happens in terms of stories. So, I'm going to try to start back up.

The Pumpkin is at the end of 3rd grade, the Pookie is finishing up 1st grade. They are amazing, smart, healthy and (I can honestly say) happy children. We have our issues... who doesn't? But I would like to work through these issues and even share these issues with others as we figure stuff out.

Even though I often miss blogging, the thing that gave me a kick in the pants to start again is getting the weekly update from my daughter's class--in reading, they are learning about how autobiographies, journals and blogs communicate information. I read that and thought about how much I wish I was still blogging. Why not make that wish come true? I have the power to do it! And hopefully, I will again regularly record my experiences and their activities.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Working Out and Changing My Lifestyle

Right about a year ago, things fell into place for me to start working out and getting back into shape. You see, there were two main reasons I didn’t feel I could prior to that:
1.    I didn’t have the time to work out.
2.    I didn’t have a place to work out.

I’m a morning workout person. I’ve tried other times, and I can manage in the afternoons on occasion but not so much at night. I read an article like 12 years ago in a fitness magazine that was talking about how different bodies have different ideal work out times and how it was difficult to keep up a regular routine if you were forcing your body into a time that wasn’t ideal for it.

It was a eureka moment for me. Ah ha! No wonder I struggle to keep up with work outs unless I do them in the mornings! And no wonder Londo always chooses to work out late at night, when that sounds like misery to me! On the flip side, Londo could not understand how I could wake up really early and jump into a work out. Learning that about myself so long ago has helped me over the years realize what I need to do to get into and stay in shape: Have a work out planned and wake up early to do it.

So I couldn’t just wait until the kids were asleep and work out then, though I’d tried that a few times. It simply wasn’t working. I was at work all day long, and I didn’t want to take extra time to work out near my office because I’d rather get home in time to have dinner with my kids. And I have been on morning duty for the kids since they were born, and they’ve need pretty constant attention in the mornings. Not to mention the sleep issues that have been a part of our evenings and nights since my lovely, but not-good-sleeper daughter was born.

But last spring (Spring 2013), the kids were finally old enough and capable enough to be left alone in the mornings for brief periods of time. They were old enough to remember that if Mommy wasn’t in bed when they woke up, she was downstairs working out. They were old enough to play for a while by themselves or with each other before getting ready for the day. They were old enough to sit by themselves/with each other at breakfast and watch a show without me there. Finally, I could find the time (as long as I woke up early enough) to work out in the mornings!

The other issue was also solved last spring. I’m a yoga and cardio person. I like active/power yoga, aerobics and dance-type work outs. For aerobics and dance, I need room. For yoga, I need a quiet, calm place. The only area in our house that could be quiet in the mornings and have enough space for the workouts I like was the basement. But the basement was set up as a play room. A very rarely used playroom, but full of those large toddler toys that we didn’t have room for anywhere else in the house.

But the kids were no longer toddlers. They didn’t play with the toys, and we were ready to get rid of them. Every spring, my neighborhood has a yard sale. Anyone can participate just by setting their stuff out on the driveway/yard and start selling. And we did! We put out all the toddler toys and even some baby toys we still had. We sold all sorts of random stuff we didn’t need or want anymore. We didn’t bring anything back into the house, even if it meant giving stuff away at the end.
The kids also set up a lemonade stand, which was really cute, even though they have no concept of how to run a business. ;-)

With all the toddler toys out of the basement, I had all sorts of room down there! When I was young, my dad bought me gymnastics mats to practice on at home. We got those mats from my parent’s house, and we spread them out on the floor. Londo hooked up an old DVD player and even an old VHS player so I could work out to different videos. I made a corner for my hand weights and yoga mats. I was finally all set up!

I started with my yoga, and then some aerobic VHS tapes. I quickly realized that the old aerobics workouts were way out of date. These days, the fitness world was doing circuit training and cross-fit training. Just as our understanding of what was the best things to eat and what to avoid eating had changed, so had the way we work out our bodies.

I did a little research and then bought Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred. I did the Shred for the whole 30 days, 10 days at each level. By the end, I could see the difference. I was starting to get definition in my arms and legs. I was feeling good. I was taking the stairs up and down four flights without changing my breathing.

After the Shred, I decided I was ready for more. A lot more. I decided to do the Insanity! It was a two-month long program, extremely intensive, cardio-based workout program. It was HARD! And I LOVED it! I’d heard great things about the P90X workout, but considering my penchant for cardio (aerobics and dance), I knew that the Insanity workout was the right one for me.
In addition, I started running. Running! Me! The person who used to say, “They only way I’m running is if someone is chasing me!” But Londo got me into it by working with me slowly. I am slow. Meanwhile, he is fast. Very fast. So for him to run at such a slow pace just to help me keep going and find some enjoyment in it was really awesome.

But that’s not all. I also got an app for my iPhone (MyFitnessPal) where I could track what I was eating and pay attention to how all the calories add up. It’s amazing to start realizing how quickly they add up—finish a kid’s left over goldfish, get a fancy coffee drink, grab some McDonalds while on the go, eat seconds because the meal was so good, plus dessert and wine. Once I started to actually track each and every thing I ate, especially after setting a goal and trying to stick to it, I stopped eating mindlessly. I stopped eating when I was full. I weighed my decisions on food choices. I calculated how much I could eat for lunch if I wanted to have some wine with dinner. I PAID ATTENTION to what I was eating, and what I was doing.

In fact, I bought myself and Londo (for Father’s Day) the Jawbone UP lifestyle tracking bracelets. I set goals for my sleep and for the amount of steps I’d take each day (steps being the equivalent to activity). And boy, does that bracelet make you pay attention! The bracelet also lets you record actual activities, so I could time my workouts and record the type of activity and the intensity of those workouts. It even integrates with my MyFitnessPal app!

So not only did I find the time and place for my workouts, I also completely changed my lifestyle. Now, I eat mindfully. I track my calories and activities. I make smart choices in what I do, what I eat, when I go to sleep. And it has paid off. Not only did I lose quite a bit of weight (although I was not really overweight to begin with), but I now have strength and definition. Now I am in shape, and healthy and feel really good. Not just because I look good—and I do look good!—but because I feel good. Really good.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Fabulous Mother's Day

I know not everyone has great or even good Mother's Days. I get so frustrated for my friends who are disappointed by sucky Mother's Days. However a person feels about Valentines Day, religious holidays or government holidays, even if they are "made-up" holidays, I really feel that Mother's Day and Father's Day are important.

Parenting is hard! Raising kids is full of ups and downs. Mothers and fathers work really hard for their children, and I believe that all most people want is a little recognition and appreciation! Is one day a year too much to ask? Even if you are lucky enough to constantly get recognition and appreciation, one full day of being able to take it easy is not too much to ask.

With young children, the onus of Mother's Day (or Father's Day) definitely falls to the partner. (This must be hard for single parents!) Sure, my kids make me cute things in their classes, and the schools have Muffins for Moms, but the day itself and purchased presents can only be handled by an adult. (Which reminds me, I better start planning for Father's Day!)

My husband is just fantastic! He is especially good at being thoughtful and planning in advance. He never just buys any old cliched gift, but instead really thinks about the person he is buying the gift for and what they would find meaningful. (One year before my birthday, I actually had to tell him that sometimes I just want the cliched chocolate or jewelry or lingerie! So he bought me all three for my birthday.) I wish I had his talent for gift buying, but I've at least learned a lot from him.

And on Mother's Day? He basically gives me the gift of the whole day! I get to hang out with him and my kids or without them in any way I want. I get to have the joy of playing with the kids or sitting in my bed without any of the frustrations that come up in normal activities.

This year was just fabulous. And I'm going to write out my whole day so that I'll always remember how fabulous my Mother's Days are thanks to him and the kids.

Londo woke me up with breakfast in bed at the agreed upon time of 9:00. He made one of my favorite breakfasts: a homemade breakfast sandwich with Canadian bacon-type of ham, scrambled eggs and cheese. He included fruits and a perfectly-fixed cup of coffee. Not only that, but I woke up to him and the kids coming in the room singing "Happy Mother's Day to you..." Each child held a tulip, while Londo held the tray with breakfast. Then they all kissed me and left me alone to eat my breakfast.

Yes, it was as perfect as it sounds.

After breakfast, I went down to open my presents, which Londo had the kids pick out on the internet and make me cards. I got a lavender bath set from the Pumpkin and two magnetic sheets to slide pictures into and hang on the fridge from the Pookie. Super cute stuff, and they really thought about what I might like (Daddy's teaching them well)! Londo got me gifts in a theme. The theme was "strong women" he told me as I opened the gift bag. I got an Amy Winehouse CD, a Miranda Lambert CD and the DVD set of the short-lived, totally campy TV show Cleopatra 2525... a show I totally loved and we'd been talking about recently. In addition, Londo had done all the dishes! Fabulous gifts, each and every one!

I went back up to sit in bed with my computer and immediately put the CDs into my iTunes. And listen to them, of course! I got out of bed before noon (11:45, but that still counts!), took a shower and then had lunch. A fantastic, easy morning. I wanted to spend the day working on a couple projects, which I did next. I finished going through and filing or throwing piles of paper I had in the guest room/craft room.

Once the room was clear (I'm not going to count the piles hidden in the closet), I set up the sewing machine I bought a few months ago. And then, I watched the DVD that came with machine and set it all up! I wound the bobbin! I threaded the bobbin! I threaded the top thread! And then? I practiced a few lines of stitches to make sure it was all working correctly and that I didn't mess it up. And IT WORKED!

I'm thrilled! I've been wanting to start sewing for a long time, and now I have the machine AND it is all set up just waiting for me to make the pillow I've been planning to start with. The Pumpkin got a sewing machine for Christmas (she'd been wanting one for a while), and I had told her that once I set up my machine and start getting the hang of it, we'd get her machine set up and start sewing together! I'm so excited!

It was a lovely day outside, so with my projects complete, I went out and sat on the glider looking through sewing books while the kids played. Londo was going to grill, but apparently wasps made a nest in our grill since last summer. He moved indoors to cook me steak and veggies. In addition, he pointed out that my dad was likely going to be home alone for dinner, since my mom was at her beach house for the weekend. After getting my approval, he called my dad to invite him over for dinner. And my dad told him that my mom was on her way back and would be home in time for dinner. So I immediately called her up and invited her over!

It was really great to have them over for Mother's Day dinner. And I could see that it made my mom especially happy too, making me realize that my siblings and I need to plan a special celebration for our mom on the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. She may say that she doesn't want anything and wants us to spend time with our families getting pampered by them, but I could easily see that it made her so happy to have Mother's Day dinner with us. I regret not realizing that sooner and planning something that she couldn't say no to.

Londo put the kids to bed while I saw my parents out. That night, I just hung out in our bed playing games on my phone and watching the Murphy Brown Mother's Day special. Londo had been having a really hard time with allergies, but he spent the entire day not letting it show. He got up with the kids early, did all those wonderful things (including mowing the lawn so we could go outside) without even seeming like he was tired or dealing with bad allergies. And though he was trying to stay awake to have some romantic time with me, I told him to go to sleep early. I had a fabulous day and was enjoying the TV shows and games on my phone.

It was just a fabulous day! Everything was wonderful! I would have been fine to simply have a day without the kids fighting and me not having to do dishes. But this day, as the other Mother's Days, was well beyond just making me feel fine. It made me so happy. I feel so loved and appreciated and respected!

Too bad every day isn't Mother's Day! ;-)