I am not sure when the tradition started, it seems like it was always there. Although it wasn't always "our" tradition. When I was younger, my Aunt, Uncle and Mom would rotate who hosted each of the main holidays. For years now, my Aunt Judy hosts every holiday. I think it changed when she moved to the big house which could hold our growing family. I think we all jsut started to show up at her house. It has become our place for gatherings. There are eleven cousins (including myself), twenty-two of our children and some spouses that attend these holiday activities.
So after the baskets are blessed at church, we will all gather at her house again. The kids will look forward to playing with cousins and second cousins. They will find their well hidden eggs in the backyard, play football or soccer. As the day progresses, the kids will join adults playing card game or hang out catching up with each other. Either way the day will be a lot of family and fun.
I appreciate that my Aunt has continued to have these traditions. My children have grown to love and expect these events. We are fortunate that my maternal side of the family is still involved with each other. Most of us live within 30 minutes of each other.
Happy Easter Saturday!
When we got Dakota, our dog, she never barked. I thought that was amazing. We picked the best dog; she is cute, sweet, loving and NOT a barker. Yet, as I sit here I can hear her going crazy outside barking. Usually when this happens I get a text from my neighbor jokingly saying "Ryan get the dog." It is now a long running joke between us. I say the same phrase when I hear her dog.
Now that she is almost four years old there are a few things that I have learned about our littlest family member.
Despite all of her barking, she is perfect. We couldn't have asked for a better family member. We love her to pieces and I couldn't imagine our life without her. We love you Dakota Ivy, thank you for completing our family!
There is a new video game called Fortnite. Yes, my kids play this game, it is better than Call of Duty. If you haven't heard it is apparently a sensation with the preteens to adults. It would consume my children if I let it. The purpose of the game is supposed to be learning survival techniques. Nonetheless, it is a shooting game where you kill people to be the survivor. You can work in teams with your friends or solo missions.
The other day at Luke's party, he and his friends were taking turns playing this game. One of the boys had never played this game before. This child decided that he would try the game. Not everyone at the party has had their first win with playing the game. They are enjoying playing, trying for a first win with their friends and having a good time.
All of a sudden I hear "I got my first kill!" The house erupts with the chant "First kill, first kill, first kill!" Ten children screaming those very words all in sync at the top of their lungs! I am not going to lie; it is ridiculous that they were that excited about a game. The boy very excitedly walks over to me to share his delight with this accomplishment. I asked him to please not tell anyone that he got his "first kill" at my house. He turned to me with a puzzled look on his face. Before he could speak, I said "honey that just sounds weird!" He started laughing and said "ya that does soundkinda bad!"
Last night we went to the Cheese Cake Factory for dinner. I have never been. I have heard amazing things about eating there. Going out to dinner is generlly a pretty easy task for most people. You can just pick any restaurant and go. It doesn't work that way for me and my family. I wish we could just be that carefree
Going out to a new restaurant means stress. When my sister told me where her son picked to eat for his birthday, all I could think is CHEESE = DAIRY. I immediately start to google the menu to see what the ingredients are...almost everything has dairy in it. I find a couple of things with no dairy, but they have peanuts or treenuts. UGH... I do find that they have a gluten free pasta he can eat but only with marinara sause. Regular pasta sause usually has dairy in it, the regular pasta has egg in it. This website shows there is a bread he can have and a teriaki chicken. OK, I'm starting to feel better about eating out. But I am going to call the restaurant just to double chekc that they can accommodate Luke's food allergies. He manager reassures me that they wait staff is very knowledgable and they will have plenty of options for Lucas.
As soon as tell Luke where we are eating, he swiftly turns his head and says "what can I have to eat there." His fear and worries are my fears and worries. I don't think people understand how challenging food allergies are emotionally. Going to a restaurant where there are endless options for others and you are hoping there is at least one for him. It breaks my heart.
We get to the restaurant, I immediately speak with the waitress about the food allergies. She doesn't write anything down that I say, this makes me nervous. I am firm with my instructions, I am sure I sound like a jerk, but I don't care. It is about keeping my son alive. I ask her to double check the pasta I saw on-line and one type of bread. She tells me that all the past has egg, then pauses and says "we have gluten free pasta, that should be ok." Well that response is not ok with me, "should be" doesn't work when you have an anaphalactic response to your allergens. People often think that Gluten free, means it is safe for everyone. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The waitress isn't really making feel comfortable with her knowledge, I ask her to double check, again.
The waitress tells me the pasta and one type of bread is fine for him to have. By this time I have triple checked to make sure I have his set of epi-pens. Lucas double checks with me that the bread he is going to eat, is safe for him. I reassure him that it is ok. Hope fully, he doens't notice my frequent checks to see if he is ok. I am looking for signs that he is having a reaction. He is smiling and enjoying his plain bread. I can breathe for a second. Then the pasta comes, he and I go through our routine again, reassuring him that it is safe and me checking for a sign of a reaction.
The meal was a success. No desssert here, birthday cake will be served at my sister's house. Of course we brought our own cake for Lucas.
When you don't live with food allergies, sometimes you don't understand the magnitude of the fear and anxiety that comes along with them. One bite of something with an allergen and it can quicly become a life or death situation. This is just small snapshot into the thought process of living with food allergies. It is a constant stream of thoughts in my head everyday, all day. We continue to be optimistic that he will outgrow his dairy, egg, peanut and treenut allergies. Honestly, even with the constant worries, we realize he could have more allergies.
#FoodAllergiesSuck #LukesSkywalkers #FARE
The day finally arrived, Luke's birthday party. There were nine 10-11 year olds, plus two of my own, so there were eleven kids in total. The parents of the kids all wish me luck and tell me that I am crazy. This is a smaller number in comparison to previous years. But they think I am looney because they are also all staying overnight. I have always had the mindset of the more the merrier.
This year there is a new boy that Luke invited. He is timid and very, very polite. He will be welcome back anytime! As the night progresses, he shares that this is only the second sleepover he has ever gone to. This poor kid's introduction to our family is in middle of the chaos of a trampoline place and then to a sleepover.
I review my expectations for their behavior and treatment of my house.
Some are playing video games, three systems are set up. Others are running around shooting each other with nerf guns or beating each other with pool noodle swords. They are loud and busting with laughter. I don't mind it at all. As midnight draws near, it is time to wind down.
I will say that it is interesting to see boys interact. One of the boys is making sure to validate his friendship with Lucas by asking what his favorite gift was. Another boy tries to say that he ALWAYS sleeps in a specific spot when he comes to Luke's house. They are all just trying to figure out their place. I have known most of these boys since they were in kinder or first grade.
Knowing them for as long as I have is very helpful. I know who to warn about helping themselves to the pantry, who to remind that not every nerf gun needs to be pulled out or how to plan for the one who tends to be more solitary.
They are all really good kids.
They are all very respectful and yet still little boys, silly, loud and rambunctious. I really couldn't ask for better friends for my son. They are all so conscientious about his food allergies; they wash their hands without questions and always look out for him.
They are welcome in my home anytime! But it is nice knowing they will all be picked up by 10 in the morning! ;-)
I reminded them, we are going today! The boys are slow moving and not getting that the faster we get out the door the faster they can be back playing their games. I start to raise my voice and let them know I am frustrated by bad attitudes in the house. Next thing I know, they are dressed and ready to go. It seemed like such a struggle to get them ready to get out the door.
We talked as a family that we would start running again this spring. So this should not be news to them. It may not be their priority, but it is mine. Getting fit together is something that I want to do with my children. It is a great way to spend time together.
Lucas is new to this, Ryan and I have a routine that we follow. But today we are starting at day one, week one and added one more to our group. Ryan takes the lead with explaining to Luke how there is a five minute warm up and cool down. He then explains the paths that we take vary depending on how long the run is for that day. He is the leader of the pack today. Lucas and I just follow his lead.
We start on our way, they are giggling and seeming to enjoy the beautiful day. One by one each of us start to grab our side and compare our rib cage pain. I reassure them that it is because we are not used to running. As I am running, I remember that Ryan' speed and agility coach told them to run with hands going in the direction to their nose and back down to their pockets. I remind them of this helpful hint.
During the run, they take off on me. I don't mind. They constantly check back on me to make sure I am not too far behind. I hope they continue to enjoy this with me!
I decided I would go to church today, I don't always go. But today I felt compelled, maybe because it is Palm Sunday or that Easter is a week away. Sometimes, I just need to dig deep to find my purpose.
I sat with my sister in law and listened for my niece’s voice in every song that was sung. She has a lovely voice and is extremely talented. I am so very proud of her. I also spotted an old friend at church too, it was nice to catch up.
I am soaking in how many people attend my church; it is one of the largest in the area. I am wondering if they too are looking for something to believe in, restore their faith too or just their out of obligation. Today, I felt a deeper sense of belonging that I normally do at church. I often think of going but typically do not make my way through the doors.
During the homily today, I realized why I felt compelled to be there. The priest focused on "How do you lift up others?" That was it, that was a message for me (Clearly, it was not just for me, but it struck me). I must have needed the reminder that I can impact others. He discussed that helping lift one person from darkness, and then they can help someone and so one and so one. Helping one person can make a large impact on others.
I am not always a church goer, but I do believe that sometimes we are sent reminder or messages. My first message today was during church to be the sun rise for someone else. "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." - Victor Hugo
I am missing my Grams today (she recently passed) and then I saw her message. I looked at a t-shirt and it said LOVE but the "O" was an elephant with the trunk pointed upward. Elephants are her "thing," so I bought the shirt - that was my second message today. I love you too Grams.
The clock starts, one hour and counting...The room is dark, and you are given black light flashlights to look for clues. There is very little in the room. There are random numbers and phrases on the walls and hidden in objects. There is a mechanical pirate in the corner of the room. You can only ask him three questions. By the time you absorb what is in the room, three minutes have gone by. Fifty seven minutes are left to Escape the Room.
You have to find clues to unlock yourself to enter a second room. Then you have to find the clues to unlock the second door. Once you have found the map and unlocked both doors then you have escaped.
While you are looking for the clues, there are others that get you off track to unlock small rewards. However, you can't keep the rewards unless you make your way through the locked doors.
So what do you do first? Some of the kids wanted to find the rewards first. The others wanted to escape the room first. The time is escaping us, thirty-four minutes left. At thirty one minutes left, we got it! The first door unlocked. Whew!
Now on to the next, it was another twelve minutes until the second door was unlocked. I am happy to say that I was able to get one of the two locks on the second door unlocked! Now it is time to unlock the rewards, four adults and five children working feverishly to get something unlocked!
Three seconds left and we were not able to open any of the extra rewards! However, it was great to see everyone working hard together to Escape the Room!
Spring break has started. I feel like I should be celebrating, yet I am snuggled up in my bed. I am so exhausted, that my eyes are burning. All I really want to do is close my eyes.
As I lay here, I am running through the many things I was supposed to do this week. Kind of like a checklist in my head...Check, check, oops, I forgot that one thing. I gradually move into creating a check list of my new to-do's for the upcoming week.
I was hoping to get some rest and spend time with my boys this week. But as my new to-do list is growing, I am feeling even more overwhelmed.
I will give myself this night off. I am turning off my brain and going to bed!
Planning for the birthday party.... I used to be so on top of this. The party date would be set months in advance. The invitations were perfectly manicured with many activities to keep the kids active and engaged. My friends would joke about how infamous the boys’ parties were. I think I have lost a little of the "umph."
These invitations were hand written, not a fancy computer created invite. They went out a week before, not several weeks out. I haven't shopped yet for the supplies. But at least no games are needed this time. 10 boys have been invited, so far 7 have responded with a "YES."
7 - 10 boys may not seem like a lot, but wait until I write about the aftermath in my house on Tuesday. They are going to a jump place first, then for a sleep over here. I am hoping that they are very tired and go to bed early. Wishful thinking, I know. At some point, my boys won't want a big "to do" for their birthday. So, I will take the chaos and lack of sleep...it is temporary.
Either way, I am excited to have the kids over. Their parents say that I am crazy. This is a great way to get to know their friends and create a relationship with them. I want my kids and their friends to always feel welcome and safe within our home. (Helps keep me in the loop!)