Saying Yes

Last night I sat and helped my 9 year old sort over 500 Pokemon cards by type. I colored.  I played “mama bomb and baby bomb” with my 7 and 2 year old.

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Chaos at the dinner table. If you’ve ever sorted Pokemon cards then you know a glass of wine is absolutely required.

I would love to say that I always show interest in Pokemon… but I don’t. And it’s been awhile since I’ve played with stuffed animals.   I’m very good at saying “no”. No, I’m feeding the baby/doing the dishes/laundry/working/cooking/reading… I can’t right now.

And recently, my 2 year old said something to me that broke my heart.

“I’m busy.”

I don’t want to be a parent that says no. I want to be a parent that says yes. I’m great at saying yes to the things I already enjoy; I’ll sit and color and talk with them for days. When one of the kids asked for cookies, I got out the ingredients and baked them from scratch… but I’m not sure that really counts.

Yes, I will help you with that thing/watch that terrible show/read that book for the 100th time/play a game I know nothing about/listen to you talk about that thing that bores me to absolute tears.

I can’t always say yes. After all, the things I’m busy doing are usually  important (though, admittedly, not always).  But I can say yes more.

“Yes” when I really want to say no.  “Yes” when it’s easier to say no. “Yes” when I have to make the conscious effort to shut the computer/put down the phone/leave the dishes half done/leave the house unswept and follow their lead.

 

I always end up being glad I did it. After all, who knows… I may even learn a little bit about Pokemon along the way.

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Getting Into the Holiday Spirit… In 70 Degree Weather

It’s 70-something degrees in Richmond right now, and even through we are usually a bit warmer in December this is kinda ridiculous.

I’m not feelin’ it folks.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the warmth… but with the weather being what it is we pretty much skipped the Christmas activities for the weekend, the boys ran around in their underwear, and we did a little yard work and tree hugging.

Tree hugger boy

I’m kind of proud of myself because this fall we managed to squeeze in some fun seasonal stuff like apple picking and pumpkin patches I’m hoping to do the same this winter.  I had a few things on my Holiday “Bucket List” and we’re doing pretty well with them so far…

1. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it. Duh and check.

2. Bake some cookies and decorate them. Check.

3. Go to Lewis Ginter Botantical Gardens and check out their GardenFest of Lights… Check.

Dominion GardenFest Richmond Va

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Richmond GardenFest

 

If you’re in Richmond and you haven’t been there, it’s beautiful. I hate to admit that this was our first time going to see the lights (we’ve been to the garden many times) but it’s definitely going to be a new yearly tradition.  We brought the stroller for Marlowe but Hudson ended up riding in it instead.

Lewis Ginter Dominion GardenFest 2015

I really want to go ice skating, but that’s just weird in 70 degree weather, so we’ll have to wait. So I started making a few tags and ornaments for Christmas presents.

Each year we make some decorations for our tree, last year we did salt dough but I didn’t like how puffy they were. This year I used some air dry clay, which is awesome except that it takes about 2 days to fully dry which requires patience… not my strong suit.

DIY ornaments and gift tagsD

I’ll update with how they turn out in a billion years when they dry, get painted, then dry again.

Speaking of painting, I’m working on a little project which ties in with another item on the bucket list: Hot cocoa by the fire… but it’s not quite ready yet. I can’t wait to show it off.

And, lastly I’m updating my milk-making cookie recipe to make it easier to follow and a cookie-er texture… if that’s a thing.

Back to the holidays… are you getting winter weather where you are? Does the weather affect how you celebrate the holidays?

The Not So Picture Perfect Christmas.

It’s Christmas time!!

Time for visits with Santa, sleigh rides, hot cocoa by the fire. Chopping down a Christmas tree, tying it to the roof and singing carols all the way home. Smiling children baking cookies for family members and on the cover of Christmas cards…

… uh. Kinda.

Baking Christmas cookies chaos

The start of the Christmas season at the Cole house looks a little more like this:

– Bins full of Christmas decorations taking up a giant chunk of our postage stamp sized living room.

– Replacing the fireplace only to find it has missing parts.

– Trying to get a picture of the kids in front of our Christmas tree at the lot and not getting a single one with the kids standing still or looking at the camera.

– Someone yelling “I don’t like this music” in response to the 12 Days of Christmas on the radio.

– A child who is terrified of Santa. TERRIFIED.

– A two year old that needs a nap.

– Someone throwing an absolute fit in the car on the way to see Christmas lights.

– Cutting out sugar cookies and then immediately balling up the dough to do it again.

– A fight over the rolling pin.

– Burning said cookies.

– Nobody is wearing a shirt.

– Don’t even get me started on the photo holiday cards. It’s not happening, folks.

Over the years I’ve found that all my attempts to create a stock photo moment of the holidays tend to fail.

Finally I’ve learned to take it in a different direction. As a family of 6 ( plus 2 dogs and a cat) it’s time I surrender to the Christmas Chaos.

Crazy Kids Baking Christmas Cookies Chaos

I should have known better, but those stock photos put together and taken with insta-worthy-pinterest-perfection just aren’t real (at least not for us). But you know, I just don’t care.

We’ll still put icing on our burned cookies. There will be cocoa (complete with schnapps).  At least one of our 4 kids will sit on Santa’s lap. Eventually, we’ll fix up the fireplace and enjoy an evening by the fire (for a minute or two). The photo Christmas cards are still not happening… but who knows, maybe this year we’ll send out a pack of cards we picked up on our 289th trip to Target.

The holidays, I’ve found, are best served up with a nice helping of reality check and a glass of wine.  My kids are making memories whether I have the perfect photo of them or not. If I try to control their fun to make it look picture perfect or hold a perfect pose, I won’t have fun and neither will they.  What good is a beautiful photo if everyone is stressed out about it?

Over the years I’ve learned that the holidays are much more fun when you embrace what it is…

The magic of Christmas Chaos.

When the going gets tough… enjoy the little things.

Okay… so that’s not how it goes…

I realize things have been pretty quiet here at the MotherBlog. I worried this would happen.  While our family balances work and family time like most families, there’s an additional complication in the mix: theatre.

These days I am knee-deep in  Richmond Shakespeare‘s King Lear playing Regan (there I am on the left looking all Regan-y)

Photo by Eric Dobbs

While I love being a part of King Lear, it means much less family time. I work from 9-6 five days a week and rehearse 6:30-10:30 five days a week. several days may go by where I don’t see Max or Hudson awake.

It’s not easy. And while I think it’s something that is important for me to do for myself, I can’t say it makes me a better parent.

One thing I can take away from it, is that when life gets incredibly hectic, I learn not to take the precious hours (or minutes) at home for granted. If Hudson asks me to blow bubbles, I need to stop what I’m doing and go. It’s not practical, but the dishes can wait. When Max wants me to watch a movie with him. I do. It takes an incredible amount of energy but often, after blowing bubbles or cuddling with Max, I feel refreshed and refocused as if they somehow know what’s better for me than I do.

I have a choice, I can be mad or annoyed or frustrated that I don’t get to see my kids. Or nest in my new house. But I learned quickly that it’s not helpful and only ends up tainting the moments where I do get to be home. Besides, the truth is, This is the life I signed up for.

So that has been my overall focus in the past two weeks.  Taking the small moments and making them big moments.

I have some plans for a reupholster project this weekend I am very excited about I just need to find an awesome fabric!

Tell me. What do small changes do you make when things get really busy? What grounds you and keeps you going?