Minecraft = Fighting Zombies*

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You ever have one of those nights where both your 8 year old and 6 year old are sobbing over the injustice in the world, you and your spouse are yelling just to be heard over the din and the dog won’t stop barking because she really, really wants that steak you’re trying to eat?

Yup, me neither.

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The kids have both discovered Minecraft. Scorch has been into it for a while, but a few weeks back the Bean got bit by the bug. They are pretty limited in how they can play (we don’t let them play with others, etc) and for some reason they both insist on playing on the iPad even though we also have it on the computer. So every.freaking.day for the past two weeks has been a fight over who gets the iPad when and for how long.

The Bean has started to wake up earlier to play and the kids try to beat each other to calling dibs on the iPad before even we leave school to head home for the afternoon. It usually worked itself out and we’re so busy that the kids only got little bits of time to play here or there throughout the day. But with night coming earlier and the days getting chiller, the time spent playing was starting to grow.

The Hubs and I finally did what we should have done weeks ago and put strict limits in place. To say neither kid was happy with us would have been like saying the Pope is only a little religious. The iPad and computer are now off limits in the morning before school and they only have a set amount of time each day after school to play. Once that time is up, no matter how they use it, it’s up. No going back. If you don’t use all your time in the afternoons, you don’t get extra time the next day.

Evidently those rules = the world ending. Who knew?

The Bean was ticked because she used her 30 minutes up right after we got home from school and had to *gasp* fill her time playing or reading until bed. This lead to an epic fit that included her 1) telling me I was the worst mom ever, 2) I wasn’t her friend any more and 3) that she was running away.  Oddly enough she didn’t take me up on her offer to help her pack her bag and lunch for when she left.

keep-calm-and-blame-momScorch was a sobbing mess because he spent the entire time after school until bedtime playing baseball outside. So he thought when he finally came in and started eating dinner (at 7:30 mind you, which is when we normally start bedtime) that he’d get his 30 minutes. He was heartbroken when he found out that he didn’t get to play and then just plain furious when he realized that his 30 minutes from today doesn’t get tacked onto his time tomorrow.

So that is why at 7:40 tonight both my children were sitting at the kitchen table sobbing, the Hubs and I were yelling (at the kids, at each other and at the dog) and dog was barking for our steak that Scorch was finally eating. Good times in the Heat household tonight, good times.

*Fighting Zombies = my kids, not the game characters

A Year Later

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The kids and I listen to audiobooks in the car now because it’s the only way I can get them to stop squabbling. We recently started the Ramona series and began Ramona and Her Father today on the way home from school. Within a few minutes of the start of the book, Ramona’s father loses his job. The kids are worried, the mom is a stressed out mess and the dad? Well, he just doesn’t know what to do with himself.

It’s been almost a year to the day since I lost my job. I never saw it coming and it hit me like a blow to the gut. My VP IM’d me, asking me if I could talk and I happily agreed, thinking he wanted to discuss a project we were working on. Nope- he didn’t ease into it at all, the minute I said hello and asked how he was, he told me that there were layoffs happening around the company that day and unfortunately half my team, including myself, were being let go.  We’d be on the books for another month to wrap things up, there would be a severance package coming, goodbye and good luck.

And, that was that.

I remember calling the Hubs and sobbing and apologizing and wanting to throw up. I called my old boss, who went through something similar, and did more sobbing. Between the both of them they convinced me that everything would be OK. And while I knew that I would eventually land on my feet, the guilt was overwhelming. As I was listening to Ramona and Beezus, her sister, on the audiobook today brainstorm ways to make money for their parents I thanked my lucky stars that my kids were too young last year to get it. The cut backs we did were behind the scene and most didn’t touch them in any way they knew about.

It was hard and stressful and so damn scary trying to think about how we were going to make that severance package stretch as long as possible because we had no idea how long I’d be unemployed for. Date nights morphed into sitting at Tim Horton’s with a spreadsheet, pouring over bills and bank accounts, trying to figure what could be slashed. The Hubs got used to leftovers and the kids discovered that extras were no more.

But, a year later, we’re still standing. As crazy as it was, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have a current job that I enjoy the hell out of with some coworkers I adore. I’ve discovered the joys of working in an office again and found a job that allows me to balance that need to be in the office with the needs of my family. We’re much more budget conscience and shop more frugally and with greater intent. But the greatest blessing has been the people I’ve met this year. People who gave me a chance and valued the talent and skills I brought to the table at a time when I didn’t have much confidence in myself. People who encouraged me and believed in me and who pushed me to a new path I never saw coming. Would I want to go through all that again? Nope. Am I glad I did? Absolutely.

To all those people, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Picture Pages

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Scorch was kind enough to bring home a cold last week. Then he was even kinder by sharing his cold.  I think I’m dying thanks to this damn cold. Because of that, you’re not getting words, you’re getting some of my favorite pictures from the past month or so straight from my camera.

Here’s the kiddos jumping waves when we were at the beach back in August. Good times (*sniff*I miss it*sniff*). Full disclosure, I may have suggested (strongly) that they hold hands for these pics.

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I have had the good fortune of finding shells with heart-shaped holes in them on our last day of beach vacation. Here’s the 2014 edition (2013 can be seen here):

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We took the kids fishing a few weeks ago. The light was spectacular:

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This weekend I realized it had been a good two weeks since I took out my camera, so while the kids played at their favorite playground, I played in the garden:

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Send soup. I’ll be back when I don’t need to have tissues stuffed up my nose. You’re welcome for that visual.

Meanest Mom in the World

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My son is in the shower right now, muttering darkly about me.

Meanest mom ever.

She said we could play…

She doesn’t understand…

We’re going to play all day tomorrow.

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The good news is my kids love being back to school. They love their teachers and recess and lunch and seeing their friends. They don’t even mind learning new things! The wake up every day (more or less) bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to conquer the day.

Too bad they come home exhausted. And not the cute exhausted where they fall asleep at the dinner table and you sigh over how angelic they look. No – we’re talking about full on head-turning, teeth gnashing exhausted. Anything and everything sets them off. Wrong song on the radio, sibling tilting their head too close to the others carseat, being asked to hold the door for me because I’m laden down like a pack mule when we get home because the kids are too busy taunting each other to hear me tell them to get their own backpacks, their ability/inability to play with certain electronics when we get home and on and on and on.

Tonight I managed to become the worst mom in the world to both kids – that may be a new record.

We had pasta for dinner and despite asking for it, the Bean lost her ever loving mind when I put sauce instead of butter on her noodles.

I know I said sauce but I meant butter and why didn’t you understand meeeeee? (last part was said in the midst of a high-pitched sob that could only be heard by the dog).

And then there was Scorch. He wanted to play wiffle ball, so I happily agreed and told him that we had 10 minutes. So for 10 minutes he and I had a great time outside before it got dark – I pitched and shagged the balls as he pelted them all over the yard. We got inside and he had dessert – then he wanted to go outside and play actual wiffle ball.

Wait – I thought that was what we just did? Outside – for 10 minutes? (I was worrying he had early onset dementia)

*tears welling* That wasn’t wiffle ball, that was practice. Now we need to go out and play the real wiffle ball.

Nope- sorry Bud – it’s dark out. We aren’t going back up. We had a miscommunication, tomorrow we can go out and play.

But you SAID – you SAID we could play. You lied to me – you SAID we could play. Tomorrow we’re going to play for 2 hours. 9 innings. You can’t say no.

<Insert long discussion over why we don’t tell parents they are lying and how kids don’t make the rules>

And now, 10 minutes later, he’s still cursing my name.

 

Just Say No

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So…Scorch. We’re finding out very quickly that being in the 3rd grade is evidently the key to opening up all things sports in our town. Including tackle football.

We are a football family. My brother played as a kid as did the Hubs. In fact, when I met the Hubs he was coaching a local high school team which meant we went to an average of 3 high school football games a week. Friday Night Lights is one of my all time favorite shows (clear eyes, full hearts can’t lose!). And, most importantly, Scorch has been playing flag football for the past 4 years and he *loves* it.  So basically, I know I’m destined to be a football mom and, fears about concussions aside, I’m totally fine with that.

But not at age 8.

Not when the weight limit to be eligible to play is 50 lbs and Scorch weighs 54 lbs. Especially not when you consider the upper weight limit is almost 3 times Scorch’s weight.

And not when playing tackle football requires 2 hours of practice 5 days a week with games on Saturday.

So as geeked up as Scorch was about playing, we had to stay no. We’re not willing to subject his little body to football yet and, selfishly, I’m not willing to commit my family to a sport with that intensity yet. We explained all this to him and it sucked. The poor kid is devastated and I feel like the world’s biggest jerk but we’re not backing down from this one.

This is the first time we’ve had to say no to something like this. Sure, Scorch has dealt with no’s plenty of times before but not about something so important to him. I feel like we crossed some huge parenting milestone and I’m not at all thrilled with it. Parenting – who knew it would be this hard?!

 

 

The First Day

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Dear kiddos-

Happy first day of school! For the first time ever, you started school on the same day. That means the Bean is Big now, which means I may have gotten teary-eyed leaving you both at school. Never mind that you both have been going to this school since you were 3 and that the Bean literally only moved up a floor, it was a Big Moment.

In typical fashion, when we got to school Scorch, you were off like a shot playing with your friends and ready to pick up where you left off in June. Bean, you were little more shy and reserved. You stuck to my hip until you had to step away and once you did, you were fine. By the time I left, you were both smiling and back in your groove.

New shoes!

I swear, my kid’s legs are clean- they are just bruised like crazy. Why? Who knows.

So, 3rd grade and 1st grade. How is that possible? I’m so excited for you both this year- it’s going to be great. Don’t ask me how I know that- I just do, I’m your mom. Like every year, I have some hopes for you. Want to know what they are? Of course you do…

> I hope that you have fun. At the end of the day, I hope you enjoy every aspect from math to reading to technology to recess. School should be *fun.* I know school can be a pressure cooker (especially for you, Scorch in 3rd grade) but don’t let that get to you. Stay enthusiastic and keep perspective.

> I wish you kindness. Kindness towards others but also kindness towards yourself. No one is perfect so cut yourself, your teachers and your friends some slack.

> I wish you courage. Be strong kiddos and know your worth. Stand up for yourself and those who can’t, or won’t, stand up for themselves.  Remember right from wrong and know that right will always win, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

> I hope that you learn discipline. (I’m looking at you, Scorch.) Keep track of your things, stay organized and take responsibility for yourself. We’ll help, of course- but it’s time to step up, little man.

> I wish you curiosity and love of learning. Seriously- not everything will be your cup of tea (see me + math) but never stop wondering why things work and how your teachers got that answer. Ask questions. Ask a million questions until you have answers that satisfy you. Want to know things, children – it’s an amazingly huge world and the possibilities are endless.

> I hope you have friends. Lots and lots of friends. The only way you’ll get these friends is by being a good friend. Cliche, but true. So be nice, be friendly, be polite and be open to everyone you meet.

Good luck, kiddos! This is going to be amazing!

Love,

Mom

 

 

See You, Summer!

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Summer 2014 will go down as a simply fantastic summer. And after last year’s hellacious summer, we were owed a good one. This year we didn’t have to deal with the Hubs having the flu and mono at the same time, trees falling on our property, the dog destroying our bathroom or a rained out vacation. Instead, we all stayed healthy, we had two amazing vacations and we haven’t lost a piece of property (knock on wood). We traveled, we spent time with family and friends and we generally enjoyed the heck out of this season.

However, that doesn’t mean that come Labor Day weekend we didn’t freak out and insist on jamming in as much more fun as humanly possible. So Saturday we went up to my father-in-law’s cottage for the day. The lake was bumpy mess but we thew the kids on the tube anyhow. The brain damage was minimal, I think.

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Yesterday was a day filled with the rest of our families- starting with breakfast with my extended family and dinner with the Hubs.

Then today it was time for our first ever kayaking trip – which was just as gorgeous as it looked. The Bean rode with me and Scorch had his own boat and rocked it.

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Then the kiddos and the Hubs fished while I read a book. I didn’t have to touch a worm or a fish, so it was just about perfect for me.

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Returning to a routine will be good for all of us because as this summer has been as chaotic as it has been fun. Doesn’t mean I won’t miss it terribly though.

 

 

#ALSSucks

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If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it’s full of people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. So is Instagram. And even CNN.

And it’s awesome.

I don’t care if you’re tired of it clogging up your feed.  I don’t care if you think it’s pointless. Frankly, I don’t care about your opinion about this challenge at all. Because it’s working.

According to ALSA.org:
“As of Tuesday, August 19, The ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 19). These donations have come from existing donors and 453,210 new donors to The Association.”

That amount of money alone is staggering, but what interests me is the fact that 453,210 people who have never donated to ALSA.org before now have. Over 400,000 now know about ALS and have given money to help work for a cure. And that makes my heart happy.

You see, my extended family was hit hard by ALS when my brother-in-law’s father was diagnosed. His decline was quick and it was brutal and Steve, sadly, passed away 2 years after being diagnosed. ALS sucks. It robbed a family of their father and the world of a good, good man who deserved better.

My niece, supporting her grandfather.

My niece, supporting her grandfather.

If you don’t know about ALS, here are a few resources for you to check out:

> ALSA.org (you can donate here too. If you can, please do so!)
> A quick video by at 26 year old recently diagnosed with ALS. (Have tissues on hand.)
> Often Awesome webseries: this is a documentary series that follows Tim LaFollette’s battle with ALS. Each episode is 20-40 minutes long and takes you through Tim and his wife, Kaylan’s battle and life with this horrible disease. It’s moving and sad and heartbreaking and it is one of the best things I’ve seen online. Watch it to understand what ALS does to a person and their family.

My family hasn’t taped our challenge yet- we were nominated when we were on vacation and by the time I realized it, our 24 hours had passed. So we donated, as we do twice a year since 2010.  We’ll tape our video soon- the kids can’t wait!- but until then, educate yourself. Learn what you can. And please, please donate.

Lucky 13

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Today the Hubs and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary. If the Gods are smiling on us, we won’t be spending it eating dinner at Friendly’s. But since we’re going out with the kids, we probably will. That Mac n’ Frank meal is a staple of the Bean’s diet.

This year for our anniversary I resurrected the “10 Things I Love About You” list. It was something the Hubs and I used to do for each other on Valentine’s Day instead of getting each other gifts. But then it fell the wayside. Life got busy and it just wasn’t a priority- it was easier to get a card and some flowers and call it good. But this year, I told Hubs it was all I wanted for our anniversary.

When we got married people always told us to make sure we took time for ourselves as a couple; to tend to our marriage. And we nodded and smiled and thought these people were crazy- of course we were going to take time as a couple. Of course we were always going to put each other first. We were madly in love and only had eyes for each other so that advice seemed a bit redundant.

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13 years later, it makes perfect sense. Kids happened. Life happened. Jobs, friends, volunteering, coaching. All these priorities started competing for our attention and it was easy to take each other for granted. The calendar filled up with a million things taking us both in opposite directions. The kisses goodnight became routine and not passionate and the conversation stopped being deep or funny and ambitious and just started being about what we were doing the next day.

Nothing drastic happened, but we both realized this year that we forgot to put the attention on us. Which is where it should be. Because without us, everything else falls apart. So it was time to pull back the “10 Things I Love About Your” list. These lists are hard – at first it’s hard to think about 10 distinct things. Then it’s hard to narrow it down. And then it’s hard to write it all down and explain it. The lists take time and effort and a lot of thought- which is the most I can ask of any gift.

I love this man like mad and saying “I do” was one of the best decisions of my life. So here’s to 13 more crazy years filled with love, laughter, tears and all the rest of the good things life has to offer!

 

And Just Like That…

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…Summer is almost over. How did that happen?

Well, I know how it happened. It was a very fun combo of baseball + vacations + work + never, ever sitting still. Ever. We have never had such a busy summer and the craziest thing is I know that this is just the start. We only had one kid with a 3x a week commitment- soon it’ll be both kids and bigger commitments.

We just got back from a wonderfully relaxing vacation to NJ. We started going to the Jersey shore 12 years ago or so- it was a place the Hub’s family went to yearly when he was a kid. I admit- I was a snob about it, all I knew about NJ was what I saw on TV, which was not favorable. But here’s a little secret I found out- NJ is gorgeous.

Even when it’s grey, it’s gorgeous.

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But let’s face it, it’s a heck of a lot more gorgeous when it’s sunny and 85, which it was for 5 days in a row:

SunnyDayScorch and the Hubs were on this trip with us but you don’t see them in these pics because they spent hours every day playing in the water. The waves were huge thanks to an offshore storm and Scorch, oddly enough, loved being pummeled by them. The harder they knocked him down, the more he laughed. He walked away from vacation with skinned knees, elbows and a raging case of swimmers ear (to be fair, he was nursing that before we left- we just thought it was an ear infection).

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We ate wonderful seafood, saw some spectacular sunsets, rode the ferris wheel a million times, rammed each other in bumper cars and spent at least 5 hours a day at the beach.  It was just about perfect.

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So here’s to 2 more weeks of summer!