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My “Real” Family Pictures

9 Oct

Family photos…the perfect example of a love/ hate relationship.  As any parent knows, the preparation of finding the perfect outfits and trying to get those perfect smiles is a daunting task.  I will admit that I spent years and many frustrating hours always trying to get that “perfect” family photo.  You know the picture I’m talking about.  The one with the perfect kids, flawless smiles, and perfectly patient parents.  Everyone looks so happy and like they are enjoying every second of that wonderfully joyous time in front of the camera.  I mean really?  We all know “that” family doesn’t really exist.  In my experiences, this quest of trying to obtain the perfect and amazing family image, turned me into a 1st class Mom-zilla.  I don’t need to disclose anymore.  Bottom line it was stressful, ugly, and painful.  But hey, I lived by the rule that as long as we get that one perfect photo (even with hours of photo shop) the mission was accomplished.

When looking back at my photo memories of my “perfect” family photo days, all I can think about was what a liar I was.  Really, we looked perfect, but all I could remember was what a nightmare it was to get that one perfect picture.  Oh, the hours of preparation, the tears, and  the tantrums.  Did I mention the hours of photoshop?  Really, WTH?  Anyone who had ever met my kids knew the truth anyway…

So, I decided at that moment that I was done with the perfect family shenanigan and it was time to show the world what we are really about…wild & crazy chaos.  I decided that if I was going to take the time and spend the money on a professional photographer, it needed to be about capturing the real life of my “real” family.  We are not perfect (actually not even close).  Each of my kids have different personalities and unique expressions.  I wanted that to be captured, not some perfect family that doesn’t exist.  I wanted fun and crazy, and it had to reflect who we are and what we are really about.  Since my happy place is being on vacation, I decided that a great time to attempt this new revelation, was while vacationing in Southern California.  My boys grabbed their favorite board shorts of the season, my daughter and I grabbed our favorite sundresses, and my Hubby & I had a glass of wine to start the adventure.  We were relaxed, had minimal bickering between the kids, and were ready to have some fun.  We met up with Eva from Eva Lempert Photography and just asked her to snap away.  We let the kids help pick the poses (including awkward family photo style) and had an absolute blast.  The best part was that we had some great memories, fabulous photos, and I can honestly look back and see who my kids really were in Summer 2012!   Love them!

To check out more of our wild and crazy photo shoot check out Eva Lempert’s blog!

Disclaimer:  Any photos that even slightly resemble that perfect family… we were most likely bribing our children, allowing them to use potty language, they were teasing each other, or we just got lucky.

Father’s Day Bliss…not really

18 Jun

So to be totally honest, I couldn’t be happier that Father’s Day is over.  For some reason, yesterday at my house seemed to be extra crazy.  Considering that my house compared to most homes, is pretty crazy on a good day, Father’s Day this year was insanity.  Kids were wild, Dad was trying to relax, and even the dog seemed to be barking at nothing more than ever.  I’m not really sure why, but I know that holidays can bring out the worst in kids (even when 2 parents are on high alert).  Well, yesterday brought out th worst in all of us.  So I hoped yesterday to give my husband a little break…I would handle the meals, kids, and clean-up.  In reality, I couldn’t get a handle on it.

All my husband wanted was a relaxing afternoon with his family, to enjoy and celebrate his special day.  An afternoon of hanging out with his 4 amazing kids and minimal bickering would have been fabulous, but yesterday didn’t have the word relaxing in it at all.  The kids want to shower him with attention.  All 4 of them, all at the same time,  and things got competitive.  For some reason with the excitement of wanting to make Dad feel really special, the fighting seems to escalate.

We started the day with brunch on the patio and some incredibly strong wind that come from nowhere.  The winds were strong enough to rush us through our meal and chase napkins all over the yard.  Not really my idea of a relaxing brunch for staying up until 2 a.m. the night before preparing. Then the kickball game…after breakfast my husband said all he wanted to do was do play kick ball.  WTH?  Kickball I thought.  Instantly the kids thought the same thing.  3 people on each team, 95 degree weather, what?  So, kickball it was.  My guys got overly competitive, I got smacked with the ball on my arm, my daughter cried about her feet hurting (btw…sparkly Tom’s aren’t great shoes for running in dirt), and my youngest never got excited and flat out refused to play.

The day went on with a water fight in the house, one hand slammed in a door, my 8 year old ran away (he came back though), about 5,000 fights, 20 loads of dishes, and one frazzled Mom…get the point?  I knew I hit a low when I told the kids they could bathe the dog for pure entertainment purposes.

All in all, we survived.  As this great photo shows, Dad read a book and took a little nap.  He also got a little alone time (ok, so he had to go out for a 2 mile run in 95 degree weather).  On a positive note, I will say that we ate a few really yummy meals,  indulged in plenty of bacon, and ended the night off with a few mojitos.  But the truth is, I’m feeling a little guilty.  I don’t’ think this year made the list for best Father’s Day ever, at least not today.  I know we will look back on this crazy day and have fond memories at some point and some people even say that we will miss these times (although I’m not totally convinced).

Since we will be spending some time this summer in the tropical paradise of Belize, I’ve decide that I’m going to do Father’s Day over.  I’m going to do it right though.  I am planning to take advantage of 1/2 priced cards this week and stock up.  Make breakfast in bed for my husband and set out for an all day sailing trip.  Perfect day…kids will be happy and someone else will do the cooking.  Who cares that we will be celebrating our great Dad on a different day than everyone else!  Also, next year, I am going to plan Father’s Day right.  I think I will schedule our summer adventure around Father’s Day, since travel is truly my family’s happy place.

 

 

Why I Hate Hiking (with kids)

12 Jun

I realize that hate is a strong word, but sometimes it is really the only appropriate way to describe something.  Hate is really a great word to describe how I feel about the art of hiking (with kids).  It’s exhausting, draining, and overall is a pretty miserable experience.  I realize that many would disagree, but that is just how it works for my family.  Maybe it is a combination of my overactive & wild boys mixed with my needing to be in control personality.  But seriously, hiking with my family is simply a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.

I haven’t always disliked hiking.  In fact, one of my first trips was with my husband was to Yosemite.  We spent an amazing weekend hiking, exploring, and dining.  It was about as close to perfect as I could have imagined.  Then came baby #1, and hiking worked.  Then, baby #2, and it was a little tougher.  By Baby #3, it was starting to change.  Quickly.  The 1st hike with 3 kids (four and under) was rough.  One mile, 2 potty breaks, 10 snacks, a few tantrums, about 50 sticks collected, 500 rocks thrown into the water, and I don’t want to leave out that the “hike” was done with an infant hanging off my boob the entire time.  Then came baby #4.  Insanity.  Somehow, I still felt pressured that hiking was the right thing for my family.  How can fresh air and beautiful scenery not be a great experience?  I didn’t like hiking, the kids didn’t like  hiking, and my husband and I were at each others throats the entire time.  Good clean family fun…right?

These pictures say a thousand words, but there are more words.  Whining, crying, fighting, tired, thirsty, hot, cold, freezing, cramping, hungry, dehydrated, hurting, bored, wet, sweaty, teasing, about to die, hurt, sore, scared…need I say more??

The actual moment of deciding that I hated hiking happened in Zion National Park in Utah.  First, this place is beautiful…absolutely amazing.  But when hiking with my fabulous 4, beauty doesn’t matter, it’s a pain in the ass.  So, “the hike” began with 3 of the kids carrying sticks turned “walking sticks”.  It was a typical hike.  Whining, complaining, jumping off of everything, throwing every rock, and “be careful” was said about a million times.  Then, right before my eyes, my oldest jumped off a rock, tripped, and that stick flew out of his hand.  It hit my daughter (drama queen) in the face.  She started screaming (the gasping for air kind).  My husband screamed at my son and grabbed the other stick away from my then 4 year old.  Both boys started to cry…hysterically.  I yelled at my husband for getting so mad.  Our youngest in the backpack started wailing.  There it was for all to see, 4 kids hysterical and 2 adults fighting.  Just then, I looked up and there was a group of European tourists watching us.  The look on their faces was horror, total shock.  That was the moment that I decided I HATED hiking with my kids and that we would not be traveling to Europe anytime soon with my brood (Europe is not ready for these kids).

That was a few years ago and things could potentially be getting a little better.  In my head, I still hate to hike with the kids, but I am starting to consider being more open minded.  Maybe next year.

Mother’s Day…the Day After

14 May

I made it through and survived another Mother’s Day.  It always seems that the one day that is supposed to be about Mom, happens to be one of the most crazy days of the year.  It is the day that I really give up all control (well at least most of the control) and let Dad take charge.  He takes care of the meals, the shopping, the kids, and the clean-up.  So, I spent most of yesterday relaxing and resting.  I played around on my iPad and watched T.V. while my family lived life right around me.  I let the chaos escalate right before my eyes, since I knew that they wouldn’t dare ask me to clean it up.  At least not then, on Mother’s Day.  I can aways tell how much work, excitement, and energy went into the festivities of Mother’s Day, based on my damage control of my house the day after.  By the looks of my house this morning, it was a success. Today, kids are back at school and I have the house almost to myself (since one kid is home sick).  Now it is my time to conquer the mess and reflect back on Mother’s Day.

 

The morning yesterday started with “Fancy B” (a nickname in our house for a carb overloaded and sugar filled breakfast prepared by the whole gang).   The nearly 2 hour preparation, actually turned into a lunchtime meal that was enjoyed by all.  The kitchen this morning was still wearing a thin layer from the preparation process and was just the beginning of a day filled with excitement for my 4 young chefs.   We also enjoyed some sort of dinner concoction, where the inspiration  for the entree stemmed from a Man vs. Food episode.  BBQ pulled pork topped hot dogs anyone?  Sound interesting?  It was interesting for sure.  At least it beats the bacon wrapped sausage roll from last year, right?

My husband and kids cleared the table yesterday after each “dining experience” and kept the dishwasher running.  The overflow from the 2 meals and middle school Spanish cooking homework were just too much for our one dishwasher.  This morning the counters were sticky, the stove was a disaster, there was about as much grass & bark in the house as out in the yard.  I know they tried, but sometimes these things just get overlooked.  I bit my tongue and kept my cool all day yesterday (really tough for me).  Honestly, I was just really enjoying every minute of knowing that my husband and kids really couldn’t ask for my help.  I’d deal with the mess tomorrow, I thought.

Well, this morning I’ve scoured the kitchen, straightened out the office from tiny paper clippings covering the floor from homemade cards.  The disaster of the gift wrapping projects done by my kindergartener has been resolved and put away.  I spent some time putting way the 10 added “special” gifts (ranging from rocks to old books) presented to me from my same little gift wrapping guru.  The blood stains from the nose bleed, after the unsupervised tackle football game, has also been cleaned from patio.

I’m a pretty lucky girl to have a hubby and kids who take Mother’s Day so seriously.  I do have to say that the day after Mother’s Day is pretty great too.  I just love to spend a few minutes sitting in my clean & quiet house remembering the best memories of the day.  I can take it all in and reflect on the day of chaos and realize that I wouldn’t change a thing.  It sure feels good to know that I am loved, while I enjoy my clean house with hand picked flowers from my kids and a beautiful card from my husband.  I am starting to think that the day after Mother’s Day just might be the best day of the year.

Family Fondue

5 Mar

The ritual of family dinners have sadly almost disappeared in our home.  I am not proud of this and I really don’t have a great excuse for why this has happened.  I just know we should be eating meals together as a family, but we almost never use our kitchen table anymore.  I understand how important it is to talk as a family, but the reality is it’s happening less and less.  When the kids were young, we actually did great at making this an expectation.  It worked and all fell into place, family dinners were the norm.  It seems as the kids are getting older and the activities run later into the evenings, we are running in 4 different directions.  I am always feeding my family on the run these days.  Our dinners lately are eaten at different times for each person, served diner style sitting at the counter, and eating on paper plates.  I know that when the weekends roll around, I should make family meals the rule.  Not the case.  I don’t have the energy or desire to sit down for a more formal dinner with four loud and fighting kids.  I know we should, but my kids are not easy and I really could use some grown-up time.  The kids are not accustomed to family dinners and it always seems to be a big loud 3 ring circus type atmosphere.  There is always someone interrupting, another one teasing, at least one spill and another kid ending up in tears.  Fun family time?  No, not really!

This past weekend, somehow it happened and we all sat at the kitchen table together.  Not just for any dinner, but a dinner experience.  Fondue.  This slow style of cooking and eating requires both patience and conversation.  These are not things that I would consider my kids’  best traits.  Before the 1st shrimp was in the fondue pot, we already had one fight and a spill.  I was feeling that this was going to be a long “experience”.  Luckily, between the 2nd piece of meat hitting the fondue pot and the 3rd fight, one of the kids asked to play Apples to Apples.  My first reaction was not a chance, we should be talking, not playing a game during our special dinner.  My brain said no, but my mouth said yes.  Let the game begin.

We made it clear from the beginning that we were not playing to win and there was no keeping score.  This was just for fun.  So in between cooking and eating meat and veggies, we played the game of crazy comparisons.  We laughed and really genuinely enjoyed each others company.  Not exactly what I would have pictured for a fondue dinner, but we had a blast.  I guess it’s not a bad thing to have controlled conversations with a lot of laughs, even if we were playing a game during dinner.  As I’m trying to stay sane through these crucial years with my kids, I need to remember that it’s really about spending time together and not about what we are talking about.  Even if it means laughing about things that are smelly, messy, goofy or dainty.  The night ended with a sweet hug from my son asking when we can have a “fun”-due dinner again.  Feeling blessed today and looking forward to our next wild, crazy and loud family dinner!

Little Boys and Danger!

28 Feb

As the proud Mom to 3 active sons, I am still constantly blown away by this boy thing .  The way they think and the things they do are so totally foreign to me. I realize that my boys are a bit more active than most kids and I admit that my boys can be “that” kid.  I have been mothering boys for over a decade and I still am totally amazed by their creativity and desire for danger.  In between jumping from the the middle of the staircase down and hitting each other with sticks & foreign objects, they still manage to find the energy and brain power to think of even more danger and destruction.  Really nothing is surprising anymore and it takes a lot to shock me.

This past weekend, my 2 youngest little men decided to create a homemade roller coaster of sorts.  Somehow among all the proper toys in the garage (bikes, scooters & skateboards) they found an old gardening cart.  Actually, it is just a storage container for an unused bag of fertilizer.  We don’t use it any more as a cart, because the wheels are a little off track.  The older of the 2 convinced his younger brother to hop in and  get ready for the ride of a lifetime.  After a running push start through the garage the real adrenaline rush began.  Down the driveway, off the curb, he flew across the street, popped back up the curb and finally the grass in the neighbor’s yard stopped him, just feet before hitting a tree.  Sound fun? It must be a guy thing.  In the 15 minutes that I thought they were riding bikes on the circle, they must have repeated this 50 times.  Over and over.  The fertilizer bag had ripped and a white powdery dust followed behind appearing like smoke coming form their homemade race car.  But hey at least they remembered a helmet and safety goggles (a.k.a. sunglasses).  Dad had witnessed this little invention of theirs and really didn’t think much of it, but mean Mom didn’t quite see this as harmless fun.  They were so incredibly proud of their invention. I bit my tongue, let each one show me their bravery, and snapped a couple of pictures.  The cart has now been officially retired.

The teenage years are going to be interesting for sure.  I better say my prayers and hope for the best…

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