Monday, August 29, 2011

Every. Single. Weekday. Morning.

"Eat your breakfast. Eat your breakfast. Stop talking and eat your breakfast. If you're not going to eat, you need to take care of your dishes and go brush your teeth. Well, if you're hungry, eat! EAT YOUR BREAKFAST OR GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH! No, don't let the dog in, I'm just going to have to put him right back out when we leave. ...Did you brush your teeth? Well then, go brush them. How have you already brushed your teeth if your toothbrush is dry and the sink is dry? Brush your teeth. BRUSH YOUR TEETH! Stop arguing with each other, there is room for both of you at the sink. BRUSH YOUR TEETH SO YOU CAN FINISH GETTING READY! ...Thank you for finally brushing your teeth, now go get dressed. What do you mean you can't find anything? There's khakis in your dresser and school shirts hanging in your closet. I don't care which shorts you wear, pick a pair of khakis and get dressed. Olette, come on, let's get you dressed. No, you don't have to have your shirt tucked in, but I think it looks nicer if you at least start the day with it tucked. Ok, I won't tuck it in. Let's get your socks and shoes on. What? You said you didn't want your shirt tucked in! Ok, fine, come here and I'll tuck it and then you need to get your shoes. Ben, where's your belt? On your bed? Awesome. It's supposed to be on you. Go get it. And get shoes and socks on. Olette, let's get your shoes on. What do you mean you can't find them? They're in your closet, on top of your dresser. Ok, fine, I'll help you look for them. *grab Olette's shoes off her dresser* Really? You couldn't find them anywhere?! Ben, are you ready? What do you mean you're ready? How are you ready if you don't have shoes and socks on? ...Ok, let's go! Where are your shoes?! It's been 10 minutes!! How does it take 10 minutes to put on socks and shoes? You only have two feet! Ok, everyone into the car. The car is not in the kitchen. The car is not in your bed room. What are you doing?! It's TIME TO GO! Get in the car! Sit down. Buckle up. I shouldn't have to tell you this every time we get in the car. Quit arguing. It takes five minutes to get to school, can the two of you please just spend five minutes not finding something to argue about? Just ignore each other! ...Grab your backpack Ben. No, I know you're not stupid, I tell you to grab it every morning because every time I don't tell you, you leave it in the car and have to come back for it. I love you, have a great day!"

Just thought I'd share a glimpse into what our mornings are like around here. Does anyone else find themselves saying the exact. same. things. every. single. day? Or is it just my kids?

(Also, a new weekly feature! I'm not really sure what I'm thinking, scheduling a regular feature for Mondays. I am awful at Mondays. But I wanted to set aside one day a week to talk about my kids, because my kids are awesome. And I like alliterative titles. And there's only one day a week that starts with the letter M. So, MommyBlog Monday it is. And if MommyBlog Monday sometimes happens on Tuesdays? Don't be too surprised.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photography Friday

I haven't had a chance to upload anything new from my camera this week, so today's Photography Friday is just going to be a few of my favorites that I already have on my computer. The kids and I are going to the beach after school today though, so I should have some good stuff to share with you by next week. (I accidentally typed "last week" at first and had to go back and fix it. This week? It's been a long one!)

I didn't realize until after I selected these that they're all flowers. Apparently, my subconscious is in a floral mood. As always, these pictures belong to me. Please do not use them without my permission.

This is one of the first pictures I took with my new camera last year (November, 2010). I'm not sure what kind of flower it is.

Japanese Magnolia buds; January, 2011

The same Japanese Magnolias; February, 2011

Peach blossoms (and a big, fat, bumblebee up near the left corner); March, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All the Drama

Ben is one of those people who functions best when we follow a routine. So every day after school, he's allowed to play outside, or play video games, or just do whatever he wants (within reason, obviously) for two hours. When that two hours is up, it's time for homework. Every day, "homework" consists of practicing his spelling words, any worksheets his teacher may have sent home, and 30 minutes of reading. Every day. No, really, every single day. On Monday? Spelling, worksheets if there are any, 30 minutes of reading. Tuesday? Spelling, worksheets if there are any, 30 minutes of reading. Wednesday? Spelling, worksheets if there are any, 30 minutes of reading. Thursday... oh wait, what? You're telling me you've noticed a pattern? Well, you're doing better than Ben, then.

No matter how much he craves routine, he just cannot accept the notion that homework must become part of that routine. He refuses to acknowledge that homework is non-negotiable. Despite the fact that, since KINDERGARTEN, whining hasn't gotten him out of homework, he still hangs on to the notion that, maybe today will be the day Mom has had enough of the whining and she'll just let me skip the homework. I guess I could admire his optimism. ...if I wasn't so absolutely, completely sick and TIRED of having the SAME argument every. single. day.

And it's not like they're reasoned arguments, either. Oh no! His main point is always, without fail, "No one likes me! Everyone in the whole world hates me and that's why they give me homework. You hate me and you want me to be miserable, so you make me do my homework. The whole world hates me... (repeat over and over and over for at least half an hour.)" It's exhaustimg. I've come to dread the moment the clock says 5:00 and I have to tell Ben, "Time for homework!" I actually have to steel myself up, give myself a pep talk, and remind myself why I can't just let it go for the day.

So I'm grateful for the times when I get to laugh through the ordeal instead. Those days are few and far between. Aside from the over-done theatrics, there's really not much to laugh about when listening to what is basically the extended version of "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms." (Third verse: You hate me, that's why I have to do homework. I'd rather die than write my spelling words." I know, I know, the meter is off. Don't look at me, I didn't compose the lyrics!) But yesterday? Oh, yesterday I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. Because in the middle of over-dramatically throwing himself onto the recliner, he launched into this soliloquy-- "Everybody hates me! Everyone treats me like I'm this piece of... piece of wood! That no one likes!" I lost it. Lost. It. I laughed until I cried and then laughed some more. And for the rest of the evening, I referred to him as "my little piece of wood that I love."

But now I have this to ponder: Either my son is metaphor challenged, or he stopped himself before positing that he was a piece of something-his-mother-should-not-hear-him-say. I'm hoping for the former.

(*Side note: Today was supposed to be another new weekly feature reveal that was supposed to have been drafted yesterday. But, in usual Erika fashion, I realized at the very last minute that I had to be at the kids' school to meet with the gifted education specialist. Ben gets to join the gifted program this year! ...maybe he'll learn some better metaphors...*)

Friday, August 19, 2011

A New Weekly Feature!

I've been a little disorganized this week, seeing as it's the first week back to school for the kids, and we're all getting used to our new schedule. I was hoping to debut all of the great new weekly features I've been dreaming up all summer, but it looks like I might need to just start small!

Welcome to (drum roll, please....) Photography Friday!

Picture-taking has become a huge hobby of mine, and I love sharing the pictures I take. I started a flickr account a few weeks ago, but there's only one picture up so far. I need to learn all the ins and outs of flickr, but that ended up getting filed under "things I can do once the kids are in school." So hopefully I'll work on that in the next few weeks, too.

I don't really consider myself a photographer-- that word seems to imply a certain level of professionalism, and I'm really more the point-and-shoot-and-hope-for-the-best type. But we're going to call this Photography Friday anyway. Because I like alliterative titles. (As you'll see when I debut the other features I've been working on.) And it's only my slightly neurotic need for proper spelling and grammar keeping me from calling it Fotography Friday.

Anyway, to kick off Photography Friday, here are a few of my favorites from this summer*:

I accidentally turned this one upside down when I was editing it, and realized I like it better that way!*

Moon Jelly (Orange Beach, AL)

*These photos are mine and belong to me. Please ask my permission before using them.
**This picture is mine and not to be used by anyone for any purpose whatsoever.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Tale of Two First Days of School

Me: Come here, sit down and tell me all about your first day of school!
Olette: Well, we heard a story and there was a puppet, and a girl cried. I guess she was scared of the puppet. And I played with Matthew a lot, and he actually talked to me, can you believe it?! (Matthew is Olette's very, very shy 3rd-or-4th cousin, who happens to be in her class.) And we had breakfast in the cafeteria, and it was pancakes, and it came with a little container of syrup and I dipped my pancakes in there. And then I forgot my lunchbox in my backpack, so I had to eat cafeteria lunch, but it was pizza and salad and it was good, except I didn't eat the salad. I don't like salad. But there was pears for dessert and they were yummmmmy! And at nap time, I laid my towel on my cot. You know another girl brought her blanket? But the rest of us had towels. And I fell asleep, and it was snack time when I woke up. And we had PE in the gym and it was fun, but it was funner when we played on the playground. There's a slide and a tunnel! And when we walk in the hallway, there's a rope. And we all hold on to the rope.
Me: Are you excited to go again tomorrow?
Olette: Yessy, yes, YES! Can I wear one of my blue skirts? And will you braid my hair?


Me: Come here, sit down and tell me all about third grade!
Ben: It's boring. We just sit there and do work. All day long. Can I go outside, now?

You can see the excitement in Ben's eyes. If you look really hard...

Eventually she'll grow into that backpack... and probably far too soon for my liking!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This time eight years ago, I was a confident-- albeit completely clueless-- new mom. This time right now, eight years later, I'm still just as confident and every bit as clueless. Turns out, the mom thing is nothing like riding a bike or learning to play a musical instrument. No amount of practice will ever render your performance flawless. Most of us are just making it up as we go along.

But nine days ago, on the 31st of July, my baby boy made it to his eighth birthday in one piece. Eight years ago today, I was a sleep-deprived zombie facsimile of a human being, praying that my baby would deign to sleep an hour-- just one hour, please, so I can nap a little maybe?-- after he ate. It would be the longest stretch of sleep I'd gotten in the past week. Some babies are perpetually content, only crying when they're hungry or in need of a new diaper, or maybe need a nap. Ben wasn't one of them. Ben cried when he was hungry, in need of a new diaper, or maybe in need of a nap. He also cried when he wasn't hungry, in need of a diaper, or in need of a nap. He cried when I put him down. He cried when I picked him up. He cried when he was hungry. He cried after he finished eating. He cried when he was tired, then he cried to let me know his nap was done. His first two weeks of life went by in a haze of tears and exhaustion-- from both of us! But eventually, we got the hang of each other. (And several trips to the pediatrician later, we got his tummy issues under control, and we were all-- Mommy, Daddy, and Baby-- much happier people!) And now? It's impossible to picture a Ben-less world. It hasn't been easy. Ever. But it has definitely been worth it.

And as much as I wish I could keep him little forever and ever, I'm looking forward to celebrating so many more birthdays!

A Year in the Life of Ben*

Watch, as the young Jedi strikes fear into the black, empty hearts of Sith across the galaxy!
It looks like he's entertaining deep thoughts, here. Really, he's just hoping Mom will hurry up with the Christmas Card photo shoot so he can get back to having fun!

...a boy and his dog...

All he wanted
for Christmas
was his two
front teeth!

...what happens when he dresses himself...

I bet you can't guess his favorite movies!

He saved all his birthday, report card, tooth fairy, and Christmas money to buy himself a new bike!

"Hurry up and take the picture, Mom! I can't just flex my muscles like this all night!"

This was his first year of coach-pitch baseball.
Determining whether to jump over or dive under the waves was his favorite beach game this year.

And getting out on the boat and tubing is one of his new favorite summer pastimes!

*These pictures are mine and belong to me, and are not meant to be used by anyone other than me, for any purpose whatsoever.
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