A Day at the Pumpkin Patch

I don’t know about you, but nothing says fall family time like driving out to the pumpkin patch only to sit in traffic and scream at each other over port-a-potties, am I right?  Oh, is that just us?  OK then.

We drove to Battleview Orchards yesterday to go pumpkin and apple picking because I said I didn’t want to be stuck in the house all day (I should have stayed in the house) and because it’s fall and that is what required of you.  I hear your Instagram gets deleted if you don’t have quality pumpkin photographs by the end of October.  Anyway, we went to the country store first and it was a madhouse, which should have given us a clue as to how this day was going to go.  Then, we realized we needed CASH ONLY for apples and pumpkins so we had to travel to find an ATM (WHO CARRIES CASH IN COPIOUS AMOUNTS NOWADAYS I ASK YOU), and it was during this journey that Charlotte and I both had to pee.  We then realize all that is available to us are port-a-potties in the parking lot.  I would rather get a UTI from holing my pee than use a port-a-potty, so this is the part of the day where Eric and I screamed at each other about said urination needs.  So, we go BACK to the crowded parking lot to go to the port-a-potty, and when I open the door Char starts SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER and starts running in the opposite direction.  Same girl, same.  She refused to go near them, and none of them had toilet paper anyway.  So we get back in the car, drive to the pumpkin patch, drive through the parking lot and LEAVE to go get pizza and a bathroom.  We arrive at the pizza place and Charlotte sees the bathroom and, I kid you not, screams with joy. “THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER! THE SMELL IN HERE IS REGULAR! THIS IS A REGULAR BATHROOM!” and neither one of us have been so happy to pee in all our days.

After we peed and ate our spirits improved and we decided to go to a store that sold pumpkins, which is what we should have done from the get go.  Charlotte still thought we were pumpkin picking, we still took the obligatory pumpkin photos for social media and we went home with fun fall decorations that I then had to put a hot pepper bath on because the squirrels are attacking my gourds.

YAY FAMILY FUN TIME!!!!!

A Different Kind of Hard

Charlotte has been at school long enough now that we’ve settled into a nice routine.  She’s going to bed easier (most of the time), lunches are packed faster (good thing she only eats 4 foods!), and clothes are usually not an issue.  She’s happy and thriving and I guess that’s really all you can ask for when your baby is in school full time.  But as the days go on, I can’t help but notice how hard it is for me as a mother.  Not because of the new routine, but because for 8 hours a day I’m not with her and I don’t know what she’s doing.  Now, I’ve worked since she’s 4 months old, so I have always spent more time away from her during the day than I do with her, but this feels different.  Before school, I knew she was at home and could always check in to see how she is, what she’s eating, if she napped, etc., etc.  But now?  I can’t just call the teacher and ask about her.  I mean, I probably could, but I doubt that would go over well if  I were that mom.  I sit at work and I wonder who she’s playing with, if she’s being nice, if people are being nice to her.  I wonder what she’s thinking there all day.  Now that she’s in school, it’s a different kind of hard.

Mothering is always hard, no matter what season you’re in.  First it’s the sleepless nights and the nursing and the overwhelming exhaustion of it all.  Then it’s the transition from baby to toddler and all the drama that comes with it.  Now?  Now it’s giving her to school and to someone else for 40 hours a week.  I think I will always worry about her hours there.  Well, worry doesn’t seem to be the correct word.  It isn’t like I’m worried for her safety or well being.  I know she is cared for and safe, but still, there is this nagging little voice in my head that will randomly pop up and say, “what do we think Charlotte is doing right now?”  And then the voice gets louder and louder until I’ve played a scene out in my head where she is all alone in the corner.  Which is RIDICULOUS, but I guess I’ve always been a drama queen.  Perhaps this will lessen with time and experience, but I don’t think mothers ever really stop thinking about what their kids are doing at school during the day.  It’s just a new aspect of motherhood I haven’t really encountered yet.  Trusting that you’ve done well enough in their early years to send them out into the world to be good kids and later good people.  I hope I’ve done enough.

She does come home and talk about school sometimes.  But one day last week I started to ask her about her day, and her response was, “I’d like you to stop asking me questions.”  And that was that.  I’m so glad the attitude is emerging at 4 years old.  WHAT A BLESSING.

Homework!

We’re on our third week of school and got our first homework assignment!  It was due last Friday! We did it last night! We are KILLING THIS SCHOOL GAME GUYS.

OK OK OK so it isn’t entirely our fault (we never heard the teacher handing it out) and it isn’t Charlotte’s fault at all because she kept telling me she had homework and I kept telling her she didn’t (because I didn’t know!!!) but we finally found out about it and got the assignment.  Better late than never!

Charlotte was SO excited to do it when I got home last night.  If we had more time I would have gone out and got more arts supplies, but we worked with what we had and she spent a good hour completing her version of herself.  Here is the finished product:

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It looks like a hot mess (much like Eric’s shoes on the floor…) but she was soooooo proud of it!  She couldn’t wait to bring it in today and show the teacher and I love that she was so confident about it.  It’s very colorful, just like she is.

We also received her next assignment so we’ll be able to complete this one in a timely matter.  She is really loving school and it makes me so happy.  She’s also loving her weekly gymnastics class and her very best friend from her class is in gymnastics with her so every Saturday is a joy.  Things are going well for Miss Charlotte Shea!

A New Routine Means New Stress

Well folks, it has only been 4 nights of preparing Charlotte for school and I still haven’t fully grasped the fact that I’m going to be doing this new nightly routine for years and years and years.  I feel like I’ve entered a new season of parenthood.  When I get home from work things feel even more hectic than they did before and I am not totally used to this yet.  Now in addition to making dinner I have to make a lunch for the next day, and with a child that treats food like poison, this is no easy feat.  I make her help me, with the hopes that if she picks what she wants she’ll eat it, but she’s pretty much coming home with everything I’ve packed.  One day she ate maybe two bites of something and told her teacher she was saving it for later.  And because she isn’t eating at school she is then requested 47 different dinners and snacks when she’s home.  WHY IS EATING SO HARD! I LOVE TO EAT! JUST LOOK AT THE EXTRA 15 POUNDS I AM CARRYING BECAUSE OF MY LOVE OF FOOD!

Also, I don’t know about any of you but I didn’t give Charlotte a bath every night in the summer.  I was very lax about bath time and bedtime, and now I have to be strict about both and it’s adding to my stress.  When I say it’s bath time she tells Alexa to set a timer for 20 minutes.  When I say it’s bedtime she tells Alexa to set a timer for a thousand minutes.  Last night I told her Alexa should be her mother.  At least I’m getting her to go to sleep before 9 PM though so at least I feel like I’m winning there.

She really is loving school though and I couldn’t be happier about that.  It’s a big change for her, going all day every day, but she goes in with a smile and comes out with a smile.  The other night in the bath tub she was using her toys and pretending they were her classmates and it was the cutest thing.  Last night we went through her Scholastic book catalog and picked out the new books she wants, and she was also really excited that her teacher knew her birthday was on February 27.  So at least I don’t have to worry about her in class and only about the fact that she’s on a self imposed hunger strike.  She’ll eat when she’s hungry, or so people tell me.

Beauty Musings

First, I’d just like to say how much I LOVE seeing all of the back to school posts.  I’ve seen some negativity from some people who weren’t thrilled that their feeds were filled with HAPPY CHILDREN going back to LEARN, but I think that with all the stupidity and negativity in the world, seeing your kiddos smiling faces as they go back to school warms my heart.  Charlotte had a great day – even though I was with her – and she went outside to play without even looking back at me and didn’t want to leave.  She has a shortened day today so hopefully she is just as happy when my mom drops her off as she was yesterday.  Hooray for school!

Second – now this has nothing to do with school or children – but everything to do with being a woman so I’m sure moms will agree with my latest thought.  Anyway, I’ve stopped getting manicures and pedicures and have just learned how to do it myself as best I can.  I never really liked sitting there getting my nails done, although I still love a good pedicure, but I just honestly don’t have the time.  Sure, I could make the time, but I just don’t want to, you know?  So I’ve now taken that money and invested in monthly eyelash extensions, because they make me feel joy, make me feel beautiful, and I LIKE laying down on the table every three weeks while getting my lashes put on.  I can lay on a table without moving for an hour! It is RELAXING!

Last night, as I lay there, I realized something insane.  As women, we spend a LOT of money on beauty related products that men never do.  We pay for manicures, pedicures, makeup, hair products, hair color, etc.  And don’t even get me started on the cost of tampons and pads, which are a NECESSITY and not a want, but that’s not where I’m going with this.  Last night I realized that we spend a lot of money on having hair ripped off our bodies when we get waxed, but here I am spending money on having hair GLUED to already existing hair on my eyes.  After I thought that I felt pretty silly that this is what I was doing.  But then I looked in the mirror and didn’t give a you know what.  Sometimes you have to spend money on what makes you happy, and for me, that is artificial lashes glued to my regular lashes on a monthly basis.  Huzzah!

Happy Friday folks! May your lashes be long and your child’s bedtime be short!

Burger Mania Fail

If any of you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my stories from last night where Charlotte received the Burger Mania game shes been after and the subsequent meltdown over the game.  If you haven’t, I’ll set the scene.

Charlotte has been asking for this Burger Mania game for weeks and weeks and weeks.  I looked it up on Amazon and it wasn’t terribly expensive, so I told her I would order it for her as a back to school present.  She isn’t back to school yet, and back to school presents aren’t a thing, but I still feel like I need to justify buying her things so she doesn’t turn into a spoiled brat, so here we are.  Anyway, we ordered it and Amazon promised it would arrive by August 30.  Of course there was a problem with the shipment, and it did NOT arrive by August 30, and after many, many chats with Amazon I had to just reorder the dumb game and it finally arrived last night.  Charlotte was actually screaming with glee when she opened it and, at this point, even I was excited to play it.

The premise of this game is simple enough.  You set up all of the burger ingredients and pick a card that explains the way to build your burger.  You use tweezers to put the ingredients on a conveyor belt and you have to complete your burger and put it on the plate before the conveyor belt knocks it off.  You can’t use your hands and you can’t drop ingredients.  Simple enough, right?

WRONG.  This game was impossible, even for me and Eric.  The conveyor belt is too fast even on its slowest speed, the tweezers get stuck as you’re trying to use them and it’s almost impossible to get the burger on the plate without dropping it.  After a half an hour I was able to get 3 burgers done poorly, much to Charlotte’s chagrin.  There was so much screaming and crying.  SO. MUCH.  I told her there was a reason it says 6 and up and that it’s hard for adults too.  I told her she has to practice to get better and thought maybe this game could be a good learning experience.  She cried all the way to the bath and kept saying “I AM SO DISAPPOINTED” over and over.  What a fail.

Eric sent me a picture this morning of burger mania set up – Charlotte has decided to wants to play it, but she’s going to cheat and use her hands the entire time.

Learning experience, indeed.

Almost Time

The end of August always comes much faster than I anticipate and the chill in the morning air always signifies that school is just around the corner.  When I was younger I always loved the first day back.  It probably had a lot to do with the fact that my birthday was always close to the first day, and I specifically remember my first day of 5th grade WAS my birthday and it was very exciting.  Those days are long gone, but now we are gearing up for Charlotte’s first year full time.  She’s going to UPK and her day will last from 8:45-3:05 (three days a week she’ll be there until 4 because working parents = aftercare).  I think she’s ready for this, and for the last few weeks we’ve been getting her supplies.  She has a unicorn backpack, pencil case and lunchbox.  We’re really into unicorns these days.  My biggest source of concern is the food situation, since Charlotte eats really nothing that is suitable for a school lunch, so what I’ve done is buy her a thermos and one of those kids bento boxes in purple and pink (these are now her favorite colors, green has taken 3rd place, after we painted her friggin’ room green).  I told her we’ll pack macaroni or soup in the thermos to keep it warm, and the bento box will have fruit and crackers and pickles and bread.  JUST BREAD. WITH NOTHING ON IT.  Like a prisoner.  I’m really hoping she starts to expand her eating when she gets to school and sees that other kids eat different things, but I highly doubt it.

The first day of school is only an hour and a half and I get to stay with her which, I think, will be a good transition.  The second day is a drop off and also only an hour and a half, but my mom is going to have to do that and I bet she has anxiety over this too.  And then Monday she’ll start her full day schedule and I hope and pray she goes without a fight.  I really think she will.

Another thing I’m not too thrilled about is the scheduled nap time that UPK is required to have.  When Charlotte naps (which is rare) she doesn’t go to sleep until 10 PM, no matter what time she naps.  Without a nap she’ll go down anywhere between 7 and 8, which I think is appropriate for a school aged kid.  She’s going to have full days and be tired, but if she starts sleeping on the damn cot at school we’re going to have problems at night, so I’m hoping I can tell the teacher to give her a book and she can just sit there and be quiet.  I just don’t think 4 year olds need naps!  I don’t think it’s necessary! END THE MADNESS.

Anyway, we’re all ready for the school year to begin.  I’m not looking forward to closing the pool or having to tell Charlotte she has to wear actual shoes and pants eventually, but we’re ready for a routine.  I think it’ll be a great year!

Animal House

Charlotte has gotten it into her head that she wants a pet.  I, of course, do not want a pet.  I have a hard enough time keeping all of us alive on a daily basis that it wouldn’t be fair to me or the animal to start a new routine.

One day she asks me for a dog but then says she doesn’t like dogs and she wants a cat.  I told her we will never ever EVER get a cat because I hate cats.  I don’t trust cats and I think they’re sneaky and weird and I just never want one in my house and refuse to care for an animal that would happily gouge out my eyes and eat my body if I died in the house.  I didn’t tell her this though, but if she asks me for a cat again that’s what I’m going to say.  So then she asked for a fish.  A fish I could probably handle.  I could just stick a goldfish on the kitchen counter and let her look at it every now and then until it died and then we could flush it down the toilet together because I feel like she’d enjoy that.  I told her we could get a fish, but then she said no, she wants a UNICORN.  She asked where the unicorn store was and how much they are.  I don’t have the heart to tell her that unicorns aren’t real yet so I just said they’re way too expensive and we don’t have room in our house for a unicorn.  She gave me 37 cents and told me the unicorn could live in the garage.  She’s a problem solver.

This morning she said she doesn’t want a pet anymore, she wants a brother.  And she wants to name him “Broddy” but if she can’t get a brother she wants a sister that she wants to name “Sissy” because she’s original like that.  I wish she’d go back to the fish.

Gratitude

Sometimes, particularly on the days when everything seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, I often wonder if I’m failing at motherhood.  It’s easy to fall into this trap, especially in the social media age where everything looks perfect with the right filter.  It’s really easy to let my frustrations bubble over when I tell Charlotte to stop doing something and she looks me dead in the eyes and continues to do it and I stop and think — am I raising an entitled brat?  Or when she screams at me like some sort of deranged animal and I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one with a deranged animal for a kid.

But then there are moments when something shifts.  Charlotte shows empathy.  She can tell if I’m having a bad day and cheers me up.  She gives genuine compliments out of the blue.  She’ll take my picture and tell me I look beautiful or tell me she likes the way my hair smells or how my dress looks.  She always, and I mean always, says thank you when I do her laundry.  When I bring the basket up, she helps me fold the clothes and she chirps out “oh thank you so much for washing my clothes!”  Last night she thanked me for buying her new toothpaste.  She genuinely gives thanks for small tasks that I do that can largely go unnoticed because they are so routine, and it makes the world of difference.  These are the times when I think that we’re doing a good job in parenting.  Sure, she will scream at us that she is never talking to us again and stomp up the stairs like an unruly teen when we punish her, but she is also cognizant enough to show gratitude and kindness, and that’s one thing I always wanted to make sure I instilled in my daughter.

Now if only I could get her to stop swimming naked.

Vacation?

What’s a word for vacation when you’re away with 5 kids 4 and under?  The word is defined as an extended period of leisure and recreation so that can’t be right.  There is no leisure with children.  There is no relaxing.  There’s a lot of fun, sure, but there’s also a lot of yelling and crying and freaking out and some more crying and threats.  But I don’t think we’d trade in our three days in Lancaster because there were a lot of laughs and memories made.  I truly love my cousins kids like they are my own.  I love watching them interact with each other and I love that my family and I parent in similar ways.  There’s no judging or being afraid to call your kid an idiot in front of each other, because we all know when kids are being idiots.  There was no stress between adults, we all know we’re in this together.  I also find that I have more patience with my cousins kids than I do my own daughter, so when one started flipping a shit at dinner (thrown chocolate milk, anyone?) I truly did not mind getting up from the table and walking around with him.  In fact, I loved the cuddles and his sweet little voice.

When we got home on Friday after eating 75 pounds of Hershey chocolate I was exhausted, but, even more so, I was melancholy.  I loved getting up and having all 11 of us be together and I missed them all.  We were missing some family this year too, so next year we’re looking into renting a house or getting suites so we can all be together at night (because we’ll be 16 and possibly more).  We are going to make sure we take a trip somewhere together every summer, so that our children grow up like we did.  How lucky am I to have the family that I do?  How lucky is Char?