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Archive for September, 2007

connect for…

Cole and Tim just left for “guy weekend.” They are headed north for two days at the cabin to bond, hang out with family, and help get things ready for winter and hunting season. I’m hanging out here in Racine with the other kids, going to soccer and violin with Anna Mae, and catching up on yard and house work. Believe it or not this was my idea.

 

Don’t laugh – I can explain…

Years (and years) ago my Great Uncle Dan confronted my parents with what he thought was wrong with “kids these days.” He said parents don’t take time to just spend with their kids. They sign them up for all kinds of activities and chase around with them, but they don’t really spend time just being with them. Parents need to find ways to really connect with their kids.

It’s funny that this comment went right past my mother who spent at least 80% of her day operating a one-woman shuttle service for her four daughters, and while I totally enjoyed all the opportunities that Mom and Dad gave me – I have to admit that when I heard Uncle Dan I knew there was something in what he was saying that was right.

However, in my family having my Dad’s undivided attention meant we were in trouble like we had never been in trouble before. It was something to be avoided at all costs. Plus, Mom did not trust my Dad alone with us – a fact that my Dad worked long and hard to instill in her – I’m pretty sure so that he would never have to deal with us all by himself.

On the other hand, Mom hated the cabin and no I don’t think hate is too strong a word. From her perspective going to the cabin meant weeks of meal planning and packing just to be uncomfortable and cold. But worse yet, she would be required to face her fire phobia  – just picture candles, fire places, and gas stoves –  in a place where she would ruin it for everyone else if she just couldn’t relax.

 

Needless to say I didn’t go to the cabin much as a kid.

 

No, I don’t require therapy. My parents did spend time with us in ways that they felt comfortable. Believe me – I got plenty of attention and I’m not a victum of anything. Our family turned out just fine – all connected and intact. I totally see why Dad was happy to keep the cabin a “female free” zone for the most part. Let’s face it, that’s not something he had at home. And quite honestly a “girl’s weekend” with my mom is would have been what most weekends were back then with all the hours dad was working. So perhaps Uncle Dan’s advice was not meant for them, but instead for the kid who was listening in the background.

Already our children are keeping Tim and I way to busy and I imagine it will just continue to get worse. Our evenings are short and the time is filled. We hardly have a chance to connect with each other let alone the kids. Unlike my Mom, we both love the cabin and are looking forward to sharing that place and what it means to us with our kids. So after years of talking about it, Tim is off to at least take that time with Cole. Hopefully later this fall we will plan a weekend when we can all go. For now – it’s a start.

In a few years, Truman will be able to go along and not long after that I will be able to come up with a plan for “girls’ weekend.”  So as insane as I feel sending my two threads of sanity away for two days I am trying not to complain and instead remember the wisdom in my Uncle Dan’s words.

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easy on the ears…

“I have to yell because if I don’t yell nobody listens to me!”

 

I know, I know – I was NEVER going to say this stuff to my kids, but alas I have become that mother I swore I never would be. The irony is that as I got out of bed today I actually was praying that the morning routine would go well and I would not have to run around like a crazy woman. The prayer was prompted because that’s exactly the method used to get them into bed last night.

 

Tim is traveling for work and it is at these times that I realize just how important he is for the evening routine. I am such a morning person that by 7pm I am on auto pilot and nothing else of much good is going to get done. So last night when soccer was rained out and I realized that I didn’t have to take the entire tribe to practice by myself I was both relieved and worried. Sure we could all put on our pjs and catch up on the book reports and other homework that is due each week, but these kids were going to be hungry and I had promised McDonalds at the soccer field.

 

We did get take out and as they finished their homework and found “Dancing with the Stars” on TV I made them promise that they would go to bed immediately when I said it was time. Of course that’s not exactly how it went and by the time Tim called to check in I was fried.

 

Yes, but today was going to be a new day – a chance to make it all better and I was going to be filled with positive energy and the ability to charm them into a perfect morning. Now, all I can remember is what Cole was telling us he learned at church last week in the Children’s Homily. The priest said that when you pray to improve yourself in someway, God gives you lots of opportunities to get better at it. When I told him that I pray all the time that I don’t yell so much he answered, “Yup the priest is right you sure are getting lots of chances to work on that Mom.” And then he added, “Pretty soon you start getting good at not yelling, because it’s a lot for us to listen to while you practice.”

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Brewer Fever…

I think that is what we called it back in the 1980s and while they may not have such a story book year as all that… I have enjoyed the “better then they have been in a long time” season. So when Anna Mae, on her way home from T-ball asked if we could all go to a Brewer game for her birthday, I though it was a great idea.

Grandma didn’t – she doesn’t “do Brewer games” and so I realized it was not going to be the huge tailgating affair that I first imagined. This proved to be true as the family seemed split right down the middle. Karen and Dad would be there for sure they said. Mom and Cori were Not going to be there for sure they said (in Cori’s defense she does have a new baby). I suggested that both Tim and Cori ask Brian if he wanted to go – I am guessing that neither did because he actually acted surprised that the rest of us had not included him. I am guessing that his years of avoiding typical organized team sports may have wrongly led them to believe that he wouldn’t want to go – but you know what they say about the word “assume.” Regardless, we needed Ella by request of the birthday girl, so because Mom was staying home we traded for Tru and Grace and went to the game as a group of seven.

But, let’s back up a little… The day before the game I asked Ella if she knew where we were going for Anna’s Birthday. She said, “a game.”

Good, “right.”

Anna jumped in, “Do you know what kind of game?”

“No, I do not know,” she answered in her perfectly articulated voice.

 

“We are going to a Brewer game Ella, it’s going to be your first one,” Anna explained making it sound like a major right of passage that only a select few would ever indulge in, and even fewer would actually frequent.

 

“Ella, do you know what the Brewers are?” I asked.

 

“Are they like rules? Like hold you mom’s hand when you go into the street?” she offered.

 

“No, the game, THE BREWERS,” Anna tried to say it louder as if Ella was an elderly deaf aunt and not her perfectly-able-to-hear 4-year-old cousin.

 

“Oh, like follow the rules of the game, so everyone can play,” Ella tried again.

 

“Ella, Baseball, do you know about baseball?” I asked.

 

“Yes, I do.” She said, “Mom says to be careful not to get hit by the bat when the boys are playing baseball.” Grandma jumped in with an explanation that the neighbor kids can get a little rowdy…

 

“We are going to watch the game, don’t worry you won’t get hurt,” I reassured her. Trying a new approach, “Have you ever seen a running hot dog?”

 

“Aunt Theresa, hot dogs do not run.”

Sunday morning we woke up and the race was on to get packed for the game, an over night at the lake, and make it to church by 8am.  I could hear the William Tell Overture going in head all morning… by 7:50am I needed a nap and two Advil. Denied of both we made from the car to the front pew before the first song. After church we called Cori and could hear Ella in the background getting into all kinds of trouble – I offered to pick her up early. Once we had Tru and Grace settled at Mom’s we were off to the game.

The day was filled with such cool memories… ridding the “Long Wong’s” van to the park with Anna, Ella, and Cole bouncing on the seats. The girls pointing out an old building near Miller Park and asking if it is “Holy Hill?” or “Where another princess lives?” Ridding up two escalators to the highest up seats that were half price and came with a hot dog and a soda. Losing Cole, who is afraid of heights at the bottom of the escalator and Aunt Karen trying to reassure him at the top by explaining the architectural integrity of cement. Watching Cole cling to his seat like Spiderman, until he turned around and became totally distracted by the scoreboard and fireworks – I know Norma Rockwell to say the least…

Actually the game did go pretty well – without Grandma, Dad celebrated throwing his peanut shells on the floor without being yelled at, Uncle Tim bought everyone a baseball cap (Anna and Ella even got Pink), I actually got to watch the game for a whole inning by myself, and Aunt Karen bought herself a new pair of Brewer socks so that Ella could wear them into the McDonald’s Land – type playground.  Best of all we were all there for the sausage races.

At the end of the game we went down, down, down, to the field where the kids could run the bases. Their smiles were so big their cheeks had to hurt. Finally, at home-plate they were given a magnet from the lucky sausage that, like the Brewers came out victorious for the day. After the short van ride and walk back to the car, the whole afternoon was already a memory. Three tired children were like sleepy kittens napping in their car seats, awaking only when I tried to switch from the Barbie movie to the radio post game show.

Back at the lake, the kids shared all their stories, and made it sound even better than it was in real life. Best of all was Ella who told everyone that she had a great time and even mentioned that it’s true, “Aunt Theresa doesn’t lie – there is a place where hotdogs run!”

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