Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I hate school

I know I could write a positive, uplifting post about the first day of school, full of hopes and aspirations for the upcoming school year. I could say things about how proud I am of the boys they're becoming. About how fast the years have gone and how excited I am to see them grow and develop. About all the things they're going to learn and experience this year. But what I really want to do is sit and cry and scream, "I don't WANT them to go to schooooooool!!!!" Since I don't officially have a 2 year old in the house right now, I will gladly fill in for the moment and lay kicking and screaming and wailing on the floor "I HATE SCHOOL!!!!!!" 

Okay.. That feels better. But back to my almost 30 year old self isn't much better.. I still hate back to school. I love them being home all summer. I love the carefree, laid back unstructured days. I love the generous family time, the memories of camping and fishing and swimming that we made. I don't want them to end.

I think the big reason I struggle with back to school so much is that instead of seeing it as 
"The first day of school" (contrary to the sign on our front porch..)

I see it as "The last days of summer." I know that this summer, with my kids being this age will never come again. Never again will I have 8 and 6 year old boys, a 3 year old girl and a 1 year old baby. Never again will they play together the same as this summer. Never again will they ride their bikes the same or swing the same or play in the tree house the same. It's over. Next summer will be different. There might be some things that are better. There might be some things that are harder. But one thing is for sure. This particular summer will never come again. Ever. That's really hard for me. 

I remember reading once that we celebrate so many '1st' milestones. First foods, first steps, first words, first day of school, but there are so many 'lasts' that we don't celebrate, simply because we don't realize they're the last. Like that toddler book that you feel like you've read 100 bagillion times. Someday you'll discover it hidden under a pile of books and wonder how long it's been since you read it. You'll realize it's been years. When was the 'last' time you read it? If you had realized it was the last time would you have read it differently? With more voices and enthusiasm instead of merely reciting the lines from memory with your eyes shut? What about the 'last' time you rocked your baby to sleep? The 'last' time you sang them a good night song? The 'last' time you woke up to a midnight feeding? When will be the 'last' time you push them in a swing? If you knew it was the last would you push a little higher? Give a few more under-dogs? When will be the 'last' time they cuddle up in your lap and tell you they love you? I guarantee when these boys are in high school they probably won't be sitting on my lap, so when will the last time they do that be? Will I know it's the last time? Probably not.

This 'last days of summer' is the one thing I  know is the 'last' of. A new school year brings so many changes and before I know it they'll be yet another year older again. I know I can't spend my days wondering when every hug, every book, every thing will be their last. I know it's a good thing we don't know the lasts of everything. My heart already broke into a million tiny pieces this morning when I had to drop my kiddos off at school. I just couldn't go through life if it had to break like that every day. 

Last night as I snuggled with the boys on the couch we finished reading the last page of Little House in the Big Woods. In it, Laura is listening to Pa play the fiddle and sing about the days of long ago, and she thinks to herself that "This is now." She realizes that "They could not be forgotten. Because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."

So as sad as I am to send them off the school, as much as I want to throw a giant tantrum and keep them small and hold them close to me forever, I know I can't. I know it's not possible to know when the lasts of things will be. And I can't spend my life wishing for days gone by. 

This is now. And it's a pretty darn good now. 

I hear my boys getting off the bus. I'm off to spend some 'now' with them. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Birthday Comparisons

This is SOOOOO cliche.. but really.


It seems like just yesterday I was wondering how in the world I was going to handle 4 kids, how Ella would ever possibly adjust to not being the center of the universe (*snort.. I thought that would change. silly me), how I would feel about having a typical child after Ella, having nightmares about spinal needles breaking off in my back.. 

And now I cannot imagine life without our little Hudsy Hoo, our Snooder Pud, Hooder, Herb, Pud
 (The kid has a lot of nick names..) 
He makes us laugh every day with his silly faces

crazy antics

and general mischief.

Today is your FIRST BIRTHDAY Hudson! We are all very excited for you, but this week I can't help but contemplate a little on the differences between this first birthday and our first child's first birthday and.. well, I've come up with a few comparisons. 

Differences between the 1st birthdays of our first and fourth child

First Child-3 Months before 1st Birthday: Party Planning begins. Pour through magazines and books, spend every waking hour on Pinterest in search of the perfect party theme.
Fourth Child-3 Months before 1st Birthday: Unsure of what month it is. Try not to drown in laundry.

First Child 2 Months before 1st Birthday: Finalize theme, colors, coordinating invitations, etc.
Fourth Child 2 Months before 1st Birthday: Unsure of what day it is. Just. Keep. Folding.

First Child 1 Month before 1st Birthday: Send out personalized hand addressed invitations complete with RSVP's
Fourth Child 1 Month before 1st Birthday: Is it really 2014 already??

First Child 1 week before 1st Birthday: Begin cleaning house top to bottom making sure every surface shines.
Fourth Child 1 week before 1st Birthday: Realize child's birthday is this week. House is a disaster. Maybe we could have a party at Grandma's?

First Child 5 days before party: Buy coordinating themed plates, forks, cups, napkins, balloons, streamers, banners, table cloths..
Fourth Child 5 days before party: I hope Grandma has a few leftover 4th of July plates. If not? Ehhhh.. The kids eat with their fingers all the time anyways.

First Child 1 day before party: Pose birthday boy for adorable 1st Birthday photo shoot, complete with baby fat roll naked goodness and head to toe chocolate cake smashing.
Fourth Child 1 day before party: Baby and almost entire family contracts Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. Flaming red bumpy rash covers entire baby fat roll naked goodness. Mommy spends 27 hours a day comforting achey children. "Party" and photo shoot cancelled.

First Child day of party: Cake is baked, house is scrubbed, banners made, balloons blown up.
Fourth Child day of party: Family says its okay to come around them. Husband promises to call all family members. Party back on.

First Child 3 hours before party: Make homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, scraping an actual vanilla bean for the vanilla flavoring (yes I actually did this..)
Fourth Child 3 hours before party: Buy my first ever can of store-bought frosting.

First Child 1 hour before party: Sit back to admire marvelous handiwork.
Fourth Child 1 hour before party: Return home (with a fever) and a plan of action to get cake decorated in record time. Discover husband didn't tell anybody about party. Family members have dispersed. Party cancelled again. Choice words seethe through throbbing head.

First Child Party Time: Friends and Family gather from around the globe to celebrate the miraculous first year of life for this glorious child.
Fourth Child Party Time: Meager gathering with a few family members who just happen to be around that day. 

First Child Party Time: Child is surrounded with gifts galore from mom & dad, aunts and uncles, grandparents, first cousin's best friend's beautician's neighbors..

Fourth Child Party Time: Ehhh.. Just give him some tissue paper to tear up.

Hudson, even though you didn't get an elaborately themed party this year, or even really much of a party at all, and I may have just grabbed your present off the counter and thrown some used tissue paper around it without even taping it so you could 'unwrap' it, and we're probably going to go get groceries this evening because.. let's face it- we're out of milk. And bread. And cheese.. (Hey, we've had contagious diseases all week.) But that definitely doesn't mean we love you any less! You have made this past year so much fun and we can't wait to see how much you change and grow in the next year. Let's just try to keep the 911 calls to a minimum..