The Battle Wounds of Childhood

The nearing end of summer signifies a great change my family will soon embark upon. No, not just starting school. Something that impacts us even greater.

The battle between summer and childhood is coming to an end.

The war that breaks out each year around the days when it starts to get warm is not one necessarily of violence or animosity. The attacks are not planned and there is no general leading the fight. It is merely incidents and accidents that weave their way through little children brought on by the force known as Summer.

Summer has a cruel way of luring children outside to play. It makes them run, jump, ride their bike and roller skate. And then without warning it knocks them down and laughs in their face.

This is where I come in. As a mother to 3 children I am constantly tending to a scraped knee, elbow or bump to the head. It seems my role as infirmary nurse is never done and my supplies of band-aids, antibiotic ointment and ice packs are always in need of replacement.

It doesn’t help that my two older children have contracted a strange addiction to band-aids and require them for every little injury regardless if there is broken skin or blood. The band-aids act as a sense of security and my children apply them generously to everything that even remotely hurts from small bumps to stubbed toes.

If band-aids were an indication of a wounded soldier my children would definitely earn a purple heart.

In this war between Summer and childhood there is no white flag to wave. There is no truce to sign. You must just wait it out until the chaos subsides and we enter the autumn and winter months when there are fallen leaves and snow to soften the blows.

Until next year when Summer rears it’s ugly head in our part of the world, lures children outside to ride their bikes and then knocks them to the asphalt with a roar of laughter and the fight between the two parties starts again.

Here is a picture I took of Bency the other day. Notice the band-aids on his eye, knee and a toe!

Here is a picture I took of Bency the other day. Notice the band-aids on his eye, knee and a toe!

 

* Also, check out MomTimes4’s cartoon today that she did with the idea I submitted!

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I Get It. I Got It. Really. Truly.

“Do you get it?”

“Yep, I got it alright! It’s pretty darn funny!”

“No, I mean did you really get it? How do you get a baby astronaut to sleep? You rock-et (laugh, laugh, laugh)! You know instead of ROCKET, it’s rock-et. Like you’re rocking a baby in a rocking chair. Are you sure you get it?”

“Honey, I really get it. Really. Truly. I totally understand it. It’s so funny. If I could slap my knee any harder it would fall off. The thing I don’t get though is who on earth would put a clearance on a baby to go in outer space. That part doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“Well, maybe it’s dad who is a real astronaut couldn’t find a babysitter so he had to bring his baby to work with him.”

“Yeah, maybe. That sounds about like my luck too.”

And this is how it is now. My 8 year old daughter “gets” jokes finally. I never thought this day would come. For the last two years she has checked out joke books at the library and I have had to explain every single joke and she still could not comprehend them.

Just 6 months ago while going through a knock-knock joke phase she would make up her own jokes. Her favorite was:

Knock, Knock

Who’s There?

Tigger

Tigger who?

Tiggerific

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It doesn’t even make any sense. If I heard that joke once I must have heard it 5000 times and I had to do an obligatory laugh every time she told it. There were days that I often considered dunking my head in a bucket of boiling acid but I held out hope that this phase would soon pass. And it did.

For a fleeting moment I was happy when she finally started “getting” jokes. That is until she started explaining every single one to me and why they were funny. She does not have to tell me why an astronaut’s mid afternoon meal is called “launch” instead of lunch. I get it. It’s so hilarious; now pass me the bucket of boiling acid.

I really should just be content with this new stage. It’s sweet and innocent. It really doesn’t constitute much effort from me except for a hearty laugh every time to let her know “I got it. I really, really got it!”

Besides, I’m sure I’m going to really despise the next stage; the next stage when she “gets” jokes like: “When life gives you lemons, stick them in your bra.”

“Do you get it? Instead of making lemonade you stick them in your bra because your boobs are as flat as pancakes.”

Yep, I got it. Totally get it. It sure is funny. It’s actually Tiggerific!

cartoon

 

 

Swallowed Up by a Sea of Childhood Treasures

I remember being about 10 years old at my grandma’s house. There was an older lady who lived up the hill from my grandma whom my cousin and I would go visit from time to time. She lived in an old farmhouse all by herself and she was a hoarder. I had only stepped into her house once and at that time you could really only walk a few inches before being roadblocked by a huge stack of newspapers and a tower of milk jugs. Like I said, I was only 10 years old but even I knew this was beyond any mess I had ever seen.

Even though she wasn’t a housekeeper she was a very nice lady and strangely enough on one particular day I was visiting she took me with her to shop for a trailer to put on her land because she could no longer get into her house. Afterwards she took me to the local A&W stand for a hotdog and root beer and it was quite a lovely afternoon.

I often think of that dear old lady as I watch my own house filling up. I don’t save newspapers or milk jugs and you can usually find a path through our house, but the amount of stuff I save for my children is slowly engulfing our house. Someday I fully expect to be swallowed up by a sea of artwork, favorite toys and beloved baby clothes. If we had a big enough property I might actually consider buying a trailer to put in our yard to store it all and really that is just insane.

Instead of parting with all of this childhood nostalgia I just continue to add to it and with that comes more storage containers for it all. Our house is filled with tons of antique trunks and boxes holding all of these treasures and this past weekend I had to make one more:

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter's treasures

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter’s treasures

I also made a box for one of my daughter’s friends who is having a birthday this week. I figure we can’t be the only ones who need storage containers:

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A box I made for my daughter’s friend

And as I sat working on that trunk to hold more of my daughter’s treasures I pondered our whole storage problem and how we could have accumulated so much stuff and how many more years I have left in their childhoods to grow their collections. It’s really quite mind-boggling.

Even though I realize this problem; it apparently never truly sinks in because the very next day this is what I had my children do:

My kids painting huge canvases outside

My kids painting huge canvases outside

Someday, I will be that lady taking a visiting child to shop for a trailer with me because I can no longer walk through my own home. Afterwards I will take them for a hot dog and root beer and it will be quite a lovely afternoon.

There Really is a Candy Land

Do you lie to your children?

I do.

I tell them things like, “No, I didn’t put onions in the casserole,” or “We have to leave the park NOW. They are closing it early today,” or “Sorry, I don’t have any money for a bag of M&Ms.”

Two years ago I told my kids that there really was a place called Candy Land. This isn’t a lie. Candy Land truly does exist as I mentioned in a previous post called Yes Dear, There Really is a Candy Land.

Thanks to my mom, I really got to take my children to Candy Land this past weekend.

My mom has spent the last 6 months creating Candy Land in her backyard for my kids and many more. She found almost everything at rummage sales or the thrift store and then went to work handpainting everything herself. She also made quite a few of the things with her saw and power tools. She is truly a remarkable lady who brought so much joy to kids and adults alike with this labor of love.

Enjoy the photos that I captured on that glorious day!

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That’s my mom on the side of the tree who created all of this!

A clever sign above a mirror!

A clever sign above a mirror!

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This chocolate area was really cool. The pots are filled with cocoa bean mulch which really smells like chocolate. The kids had fun digging in it!

This chocolate area was really cool. The pots are filled with cocoa bean mulch which really smells like chocolate. The kids had fun digging in it!

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All of the children's furniture is stuff that my mom found for a couple of dollars and then fixed and painted! The treats on this cupboard were made by mom out of wax!

All of the children’s furniture is stuff that my mom found for a couple of dollars and then fixed and painted! The treats on this cupboard were made by mom out of wax!

This is an old manger converted into a little house!

This is an old manger converted into a little house!

These decorations were bought at after Christmas clearance sales

These decorations were bought at after Christmas clearance sales

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This cupboard was full of dishes and the kids had a ton of fun playing tea party!

This cupboard was full of dishes and the kids had a ton of fun playing tea party!

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My mom made tons of little cakes and treats out of wax!

My mom made tons of little cakes and treats out of wax!

One of the doll houses my mom painted and decorated

One of the doll houses my mom painted and decorated

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The table of candy

The table of candy

ribbon candy

ribbon candy

more doll houses in Candy Land for the kids to play with

more doll houses in Candy Land for the kids to play with

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My mom also cut boards and painted all kinds of signs

My mom also cut boards and painted all kinds of signs

Inside the candy house. My mom decorated this. She used blocks to make the furniture

Inside the candy house. My mom decorated this. She used blocks to make the furniture

All of the kids playing a game of Four Corners to burn off all of the sugar they consumed!

All of the kids playing a game of Four Corners to burn off all of the sugar they consumed!

My son was so sticky by the end of the day that all of the confetti on the candy table was sticking to him. My brother said he must have contracted a case of the "candy pox"!

My son was so sticky by the end of the day that all of the confetti on the candy table was sticking to him. My brother said he must have contracted a case of the “candy pox”!

This was truly a remarkable event and one that the kids and adults alike will never forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching Her Save the World

I’ve always admired activists; people who are so passionate about a cause. I’ve never been passionate about anything enough that would make me want to stand out in the hot sun, rain or cold all day and shout my beliefs for all to hear.

That is why it is kind of mind-boggling to me that I am raising a budding activist.

It started earlier this year when my 8 year old daughter came home from school and told me she started her own club at school called The Nature Experts. She recruited several other children to join her crusade. According to her, they met on Tuesdays and Thursdays at recess. They picked up trash around the schoolyard and talked about ways to save animals. She also made pins for all of her members.

Her passion has continued on this summer.

She made up several signs and hung them on telephone poles up and down our street.

One sign said:

Save the animals like dolphins, clownfish, and many others. Please stop littering. You could make some animals endangered. Be careful Please. (there was also a picture of a fish saying, “My home is ruined for good. I will not live. Wha-Wha.”)

Another sign said:

Try not to cut down as much trees. We need trees to live. If you cut down the trees we would not be able to breathe. With all the trees you cut down we might not be able to live. Please stop cutting down the trees. (this one included a picture of a girl saying, “I feel like I can’t breathe.”)

My daughter with her signs

My daughter with her signs

The other day she also rode her scooter up and down the sidewalk for an hour shouting, “Save the Animals!” She made her brother run behind her holding up various different stuffed animals. I wonder what the neighbors thought!

She also recently held a lemonade stand/fundraiser in our front yard.

My daughter's lemonade stand

My daughter’s lemonade stand

The kids charged 25 cents a cup and were able to raise $5.00! People were obviously very generous!

After the lemonade stand my daughter requested that we bring the money they made along with some of her own money to the local animal shelter.

Off we went across town to deliver the $9.50 to The Humane Society to help aid them in buying food and medicine for all the dogs and cats.

I love that my daughter is trying to change the world and help out. I love seeing her determination and conviction to this cause. I don’t think I am going to march up and down the street shouting, “Save the Animals” with her but I will gladly make up pitchers of lemonade and drive her across town to donate her money. I am happy to take the backseat role and watch as my little girl takes steps to save the world!

Old School Blogging

My gal pal Sarah over at The Sadder But Wiser Girl recently tagged me in a post that consists of lists of 5 things about myself. I’m still laughing over some of Sarah’s answers! Below you will find my answers to these questions. Enjoy!

Five Things I Have a Passion for:

1. Creating and looking at art

2. Going to thrift stores and garage sales

3. Being a mom

4. History

5. Dessert

I love being a mom to these kids!

I love being a mom to these kids!

Five Things I Would Like To Do Before I Kick the Bucket:

1. Eat an entire can of sweetened condensed milk

2. Wallpaper an entire room with little magazine pictures like I did with my attic (I think I am going to wait until I’m 80 years old and don’t care what the resale value of my home is).

3. Build a rock wall

4. Learn how to build stuff with wood (I guess that would be carpentry skills).

5. Own an art studio for kids (this seems overly ambitious for me but MAYBE).

This is our attic wall...I would love to do this to an entire room

This is our attic wall…I would love to do this to an entire room

Five Things I Say A Lot:

1. Why on earth would you think this okay to do? (this is to both my husband and kids)

2. Just a minute. Hold on. Wait a sec. (I have 4 people constantly asking me for something so they get some sort of variation of this)

3. That is flippin’ hilarious!

4. You are driving me crazy!

5. I don’t know (I seriously have to say this a lot because I get asked questions like “Would hopping on an ostrich save me if I got stuck in a tornado since they can run really fast?” all day long)

This is what it looks like when I am on the phone

This is what it looks like when I am on the phone

Five Things I Read Recently:

1. The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman (I read this to learn more about my kids and ended up learning a lot about myself)

2. Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd (wife to George Harrison and Eric Clapton…pretty interesting)

3. Hundreds of children’s books ranging from The Potty Book for Boys, The Star Wars Easy Reader Books and Ramona Quimby

4. Penny Press’s Variety Puzzles (ok, so this isn’t really reading but it is a magazine I subscribe to…I absolutely love extremely hard logic problems that make me break out in a sweat trying to figure them out)

5. Country Living magazine (my mom always subscribes to magazines that let her pass on a second subscription to someone else and she always picks me)

Five Favorite Movies:

(disclaimer: I am really not a movie person because I usually fall asleep during them. The following movies are ones that not only I did NOT fall asleep during them but have watched  them multiple times)

1. Life is Beautiful (a movie about the Holocaust)

2. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (a movie about the Holocaust)

3. Say Anything

4. The Help

5. The Green Mile (this is the only book I ever read that I equally liked the movie)

Five Places I Would Love to Travel:

1. Oregon/Washington area

2. Hawaii

3. Costa Rica

4. India

5. A remote African village to help out (I actually looked into joining the Peace Corps when I was in high school)

Five Bloggers I’m Tagging For This Thing:

1. Courtney @ Embracing the Insanity

2. Cathy @ Go Mama O

3. Lidia @ Ohlidia

4. Christine @ Momtimes4

5. Kate @ Did That Just Happen

All you ladies need to do is get to answering and writing so we can all learn a little more about you!

Have a great day!

Melissa

6 Things Your Child Will Never Say

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We recently moved my youngest son out of his crib and into a regular bed. Seeing as we have no further use for a crib; I listed it on Craigslist the other day. I posted a picture of it, a very brief description and the price of $40. It’s not a fancy crib by any means and I didn’t advertise it as one. It is clean, sturdy and does the job.

A man called shortly after I posted it and asked if he and his wife could come look at it. We set up a time and they came. The man was very friendly while the woman wouldn’t even look in my direction or say hello. I showed them the crib which the man seemed very enthusiastic about. The woman on the other hand rolled her eyes, shot her husband a glare and when he asked her if she was okay with it, she shook her head in a way that indicated she was completely disgusted.

I have no idea what the lady expected for $40 but apparently she was hoping for something along these lines:

Even though I kept my mouth shut I really wanted to tell that lady just how quick your child’s time in the crib goes by. You blink a few times and they are ready to go into a regular bed. Also, there is a chance your kid won’t even sleep in it. Only 2 out of 3 of my kids spent any considerable length of time in theirs.

I also wanted to tell her that her child would never say any of these things:

1. I know I could learn my ABC’s better if I just had a proper crib.

2. I promise I’ll stay asleep until 8 am if you just buy me a better crib.

3. You are the worst parents ever for buying this junky crib.

4. Tommy has a better crib than me so I bet he will be valedictorian of his graduating class. 

5. This crib is a bigger embarrassment to me than the time I had a blow out diaper at Story Time at the library.

6. I can only picture a life of hard drugs and alcohol because I had to spend my baby years sleeping in this cheap crib.

Iris crib

 

 

There’s History in Those Love Letters Part IV

In the past I shared 3 love letters that my grandpa wrote to my Grandma Charlotte when they were courting back in 1936. My grandma was 17 at the time and my grandpa was 23. She was still attending high school and he was a school teacher in a one-room school house. If you haven’t had the chance to read those letters; you can do so here:

There’s History in Those Love Letters

There’s History in Those Love Letter Part II

There’s History in Those Love Letters Part III

Soon after he wrote those letters they got married. The letter I am sharing today is a letter written in 1943; 7 years into their marriage and with 2 of their 4 children being born (Janet and Judy). By this time my grandpa had quit his job as a school teacher and since work was somewhat scarce in the rural area of Wisconsin that they lived, he had taken a short-term job in Omaha, Nebraska helping to build their airport. He went with his brother, Denver. I guess in a way it is not a true love letter but by all accounts it shows that my grandpa was still very much in love with my grandma. There is also some important history in this letter. I thought about omitting a part where my grandpa made a comment about African-Americans. Although his comment wasn’t intended to be racist and merely indicated that rural Wisconsin did not have a lot of African Americans at the time; he used a term that is no longer acceptable. After some consideration I decided it was important to include it and to show how far we have come as a country.

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Plattsmouth, Nebraska

May 31, 1943

Dearest Charlotte, Judy and Janet,

Denver is writing to Marie so I thought I would write to you too. I have just began to get rested up so I feel like writing.

Well I went to work today. I worked in the shop with Denver, helped on the trucks, took care of the gas pumping and fixed tires and things like that. I sure was a greasy mess when I got done work. I don’t know what I will get to do yet. Swanson isn’t here; he is in Minneapolis. I am staying in a room with Denver and a fellow by the name of Ed Jacques. He is a big fat fellow.

We eat at a restaurant downtown. It sure cost a lot to eat. It is awful crowded in our room. Denver and I may get a room to ourselves right away. One fellow from Arkansas thinks he may go to Asnaha (?) and stay.

Right beside the place we work is a bomber plant. They say they make eight planes a day there. They are taking off and landing all the time. They also try out their guns there.

There is only about two weeks of work unless something else turns up. I will let you know if there is. Some say there is an airport going in at La Crosse. I would rather go up there then. It wouldn’t be so far to take the kids.

I sure miss you and the kids. I sure hope your are well. If the kids get sick be sure and let me know as soon as you can.

Tell Janet there sure is a lot of negroes down here. I looked downtown for something to send home but I couldn’t find anything but I will look again tomorrow night. Maybe I can find something.

Did you go to the Cherser’s Memorial Day? I wished I hadn’t come down here when I did. If I had waited until now I would have known it would be a short job. The company put the bid on a lot of work but did not get it. Unless they can sub contract, the job will be very short.

Well honey, I guess that is about all I know. Take good care of yourself and the kids and give them a big smacker for me.

Are the berries ripe? I sure would like to have a big dish full with a little sugar and cream.

Write soon and tell me something.

Denver just asked me if I was getting homesick and I told him I wasn’t, but I really wish I was going to crawl into that old bed of ours instead of this bunk in the cabin.

When you get this newspaper read you’ll probably need a pair of specks. So I will quit.

With All My Love,

Ed

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A Show of Hands Please

A hunched over figure, taking slow, methodical steps made it’s way through the yard as I peered out the window. It appeared to be a crippled old lady, bent over by the years of old age.

In actuality it was my 8 year old daughter a few months ago making her way home from school with the weight of her backpack crumpling her over and slowing her process.

When she entered the house I helped her remove the monstrous backpack and looked inside to find a book the size of Cincinnati. It was entitled “The Encyclopedia of Dogs”.  I asked her where it came from and she replied that she checked it out from the school library that day. Despite being alarmed by the weight and size of this tome, I wasn’t surprised at all by the title and it’s content. For the past year my daughter had been checking out books from the library every week about dogs.

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Books are always coming home about Yorkshire Terriers, Huskies, English Sheep Dogs, how to care for dogs and how to train dogs. This new book was the mother load though as far as information. It contained hundreds of different breeds as well as common problems that exist within each dog. It explained how to get rid of fleas and mites in ears.

When my daughter wants something she goes above and beyond to gain knowledge on the subject and THIS GIRL WANTS A DOG!

I know, I know, you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, get that girl a dog.”

Iris pic3

It does seem like the simple solution to prevent my daughter from breaking her back carrying huge books around but there is so much hesitation behind my willingness to welcome a furry canine into our family. The biggest factor is that I have 3 children who still need so much care and attention. I just don’t think I can take on the responsibility of one more thing at this time. I’ve told my daughter this on numerous occasions and just when I think she understands and is willing to wait a while longer she brings me this hard core sell the other day:

Daughter: I really think having a dog around will make your life easier.

Me: How so?

Daughter: If we have a dog and one of us kids gets hurt you will no longer have to kiss our wounds. The dog can just lick them.

Me: I guess that would be a time saver considering how often you kids fall down and get hurt.

Daughter: If the boys and I are not willing to go get you something when you ask; the dog can do it. Dogs are great at fetching things. Just don’t ask it to get you a can of soda; it’s teeth might puncture the can.

Me: Great point. You and your brothers have been a bit lazy lately.

Daughter: The last thing is; I know that if we have a dog around there will be no more fighting between us kids. We won’t have anything to fight about because there will be a dog here to play with.

Before I can say anything, my 6 year old son comes bounding into the room and asks, “What are you talking about? Did someone say we are getting a dog?’

My daughter pipes in with, “I don’t know, I am trying to convince Mom that getting a dog is a good idea. I told her that if we get a dog that we won’t fight anymore.”

I will let you be the judge if my family should get a dog after you hear the next conversation:

Son: Yes, there would not be anymore fighting. I can walk the dog and she can feed it.

Daughter: No, I’m older so I should walk the dog and you feed it.

Son: THAT’S NOT FAIR! I AM TOO OLD ENOUGH! JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE OLDER DOESN’T MEAN YOU GET TO DO EVERYTHING!

Daughter: OH YEAH MR. POOPY BUTT? YOU WOULD JUST LET GO OF THE LEASH AND THE DOG WOULD RUN AWAY AND THEN WE WOULD NEVER GET ANOTHER DOG AND IT WOULD BE ALL OF YOUR FAULT!

Son: I WOULD NOT! YOU ARE SO MEAN! YOU ARE THE MEANEST SISTER IN THE WHOLE WORLD! IF MOM AND DAD LET US GET A DOG I WOULD HIDE IT FROM YOU SO YOU COULD NEVER SEE IT! IT WOULD BE ALL MINE!

A show of hands please for all those in favor of my family getting a dog!

Iris pic

How To Raise a Well-Rounded Child (Or Not)

I’ll be the first to admit; my children are not well-rounded individuals.

My daughter is a reading maniac and can rock your socks with the amount of author knowledge she knows. My middle son gives me a run for my money when it comes to a game of chess and recently my 2 year old drew a stick person that has catapulted him into the ranks of Picasso.

This is usually how you will find my daughter

This is usually how you will find my daughter

Why can they do these things?

I can only attribute it to the fact that these are the things that I like to do. These are the things they see me do.

When it comes to sports though; that’s a whole other story.

I spent a lot of time in my youth at hospitals after my forays with sledding, tree climbing, tennis, softball and general lack of grace.

Therefore, as I entered adulthood I pretty much shied away from anything physical. My husband is really no different. He spent his short-lived baseball career as a child picking grass in the outfield. I think my children were kind of doomed from the get-go with the make-up of our DNA.

This has not stopped us from signing our children up for sporting activities. I do want them to be well-rounded. I want them to try new things. I want them to understand about sportsmanship, the importance of exercise, and the difference between a basketball and tennis ball.

Our adventures into this arena have been comical at best. It’s clear we do not have the next athletic phenom on our hands after sightings of my son scoring goals for the other team in soccer, my daughter dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld or just general wincing from all of them when a ball gets thrown their way.

Part of this is due to their young age and I’m sure their hereditary genes but a large part of it falls on me. They do not see me do anything remotely athletic.

This summer I am trying to change that. We are utilizing our pool pass to the fullest. I dusted off my old baseball glove and I have been giving lessons on jump roping without trying to injure myself in the process.

It pains me to do these things both figuratively and literally because in my head I am thinking about all the great art projects I want to do and all of the wonderful books I want to read with them as I am sweating my hiney off.

Will it pay off in the end? I don’t know but we’ll give it a shot this summer.

I do know that after this summer I am going to sit down with the 2 year old and work on his artistic skills more. A talent like his can not be wasted! Maybe Tiger Woods could make a hole-in-one in golf at the age of 3 but he could draw a stick man like this?

This is my 2 year old's picture. I drew the guy on the right and asked him if he could do that. This was his first try!

This is my 2 year old’s picture. I drew the guy on the right and asked him if he could do that. This was his first try!