Confessions of a Narcoleptic

NATE is EIGHT

Today, my baby, my very first born, turns eight. It was exactly eight years ago, almost to the minute, that this sweet little thing was born. He was such a good baby and was adored by all. Not much has changed!

This boy makes my heart swell when I look at him. I love him so much, it actually hurts. He really is such an amazingly special child. He is sweet, smart, funny, wise and charming. He will still volunteer to hug, kiss and snuggle with me and I am hanging on to all those moments with all my might. I know some day that this will change. I thought I would write a letter to Nate for his birthday tribute, as well as including lots and lots of photos! (I tried to include all of Nate’s oh-so-typical faces!)

Dear Nathan,

I love you. Oh how I love you. You are my first baby and I wanted you SO BADLY. I really did dream all my life of being a mom and you made my dreams come true. You were (and still are) such a beautiful baby with such a happy demeanour. It became pretty clear in your early years how clever you were. You were speaking in full sentences before you were even 2 and you were so good at expressing yourself. You were also very naughty. And what made it worse is that you knew you were being naughty, but you were naughty anyway. But because you were cute, you got away with a lot.

You amaze me. You are so darn smart – just like your Daddy. I hope you always use your smarts. I hope you don’t waste them. I see such big things for you. You really can do anything.

You are so musical. I love teaching you to sing and play the piano because you are so good at it and it comes so easily to you. I can’t wait to see where you will take this talent. Don’t ever be afraid to sing. You have a beautiful voice and girls like boys who can sing! 🙂

You inherited both of mommy’s and daddy’s stubbornness. This quality has already caused you some grief. Don’t let this stand in the way of you being happy. Sometimes, you have to let it go. And sometimes, you have to stay true to who you are and what you believe in. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, because you can do anything.

You are funny. You make me giggle and laugh every day. I love how you like to make others laugh and feel good about themselves. Hold on to that. It’s a good quality to have.

You were so meant to be the oldest. You are a wonderful big brother, and your little brothers adore you and look up to you. They want to be just like you. Remember that when you are making choices. There are two little pairs of eyes that are always watching you.

Remember that your little brothers are your best friends and your responsibility. No matter how annoying Jax or Logan is being to you, you must always be there for them and stand up for them. Friends come and go, but family is forever.

I want you to always treat others with respect, but more than that, I want you to always be kind. Sometimes it isn’t easy or popular to be kind, but it is always right.

Don’t let anyone push you around. Don’t be afraid to be your own person. You can like whatever you want, and if someone doesn’t want to be your friend because of that, then they aren’t really your friend.

Respect your Dad. He loves you as much as I do, but isn’t as good at expressing it. I see the way he looks at you – his heart is bursting with pride over you. Always listen to what he has to say – he is very smart and will ALWAYS have your best interests at heart.

I hope we can always have the special relationship we have now. I hope you know that I will always love you NO MATTER WHAT, that there is nothing you can do that will make me love you less. I will always be here for you. You will always be my baby boy and I want the very best for you, whatever that is.

You are a good boy. You have an amazing extended family. You are so blessed. Remember this.

Love always,

Mommy



A Hogwarts Birthday Party

Nate & I have been reading Harry Potter together and we are on the fifth book. He decided he wanted to have a Harry Potter birthday party. I have to admit I was pretty excited about the idea and had just as much fun planning it as Nate had attending it!

I printed the invitations on velum paper and made the envelopes out of brown package paper. The letter is taken from the first Harry Potter book when Harry receives a letter informing him that he is invited to come to Hogwarts. The children could RSVP by owl or muggle phone or e-mail. One of the children actually did RSVP by leaving an owl with a letter on our doorstep, which was adorable and Nate, Jax and Logan were so delighted.

The night before the party, I decided I wanted to try and make this brick wall for the kids to walk through to get to Hogwarts. I used 2 long rolls of paper and painted with a mixture of all the paint I could find to create a brick wall with a crack in it. I don’t know if the kids got it or not, but it was pretty easy to do. I would have liked to make the PLATFORM 9 3/4 sign better, but I was literally making it 5 minutes before the kids were arriving.

I printed the potions label from a site online (see my resources at the end) and borrowed glass jars, bought some at the dollar store, to create a little potions display. We ended up having the kids try some of the potions  – they were all edible, just not tasty. It was pretty funny and I think the kids kind of liked being dared to eat some of the nastier stuff.

I borrowed silver goblets from my mother-in-law and bought gold paper plates at the dollar store for our Great Hall feast.

I wanted to give the kids something to take home with them that they might actually play with again. I whipped up these bags the night before. I used polar fleece (Gryffindor colors!) so I wouldn’t have to do any hemming. I used my Silhouette to make the lightening and an initial for each guest. I was so happy with the way they turned out. I also made the table runner with polar fleece too.

The wands were the highlight of the party for me. My FANTASTIC little brother made them all for me from wood dowels and stain. They were each unique and so cool. The kids loved them.

Using free printouts from “Just Another Day in Paradise”, I made these spell books with cheap photo albums. The kids were each presented with a bag, a wand and a book at the beginning of the party.

We served hot dogs for our Welcome Feast – not very fancy, or themed, but they were cheap and easy! I wanted to make butterbeer and found lots of different recipes online. They were all kind of complicated and I didn’t know if the kids would even drink them, so I just ended up buying A&W cream soda in the states (because it’s not pink) and making floats.

The cake left something to be desired, but the kids hardly glanced at it, so it didn’t really matter. It was sort of a rush job the morning of, but Nate seemed happy with my lightening P! 🙂 Jason made the golden snitch.

We hid ping pong balls all over the main floor and the kids had to try and find as many as possible. I painted one of them gold and the person who found “the golden snitch” was the winner.

We played “Muggle Quidditch”, which I had such a hard time figuring out how to do. We have these mini hockey nets and one idea I read was to use little brooms like hockey sticks. I could not find mini brooms anywhere! We had a more complex way of playing, but the kids ended up basically playing hockey with no sticks. The kids LOVED it. I was worried they would get bored, but they played for so long. Some of the kids even went home sweating from the game.

We hid a bunch of plastic creatures outside for “Care of Magical Creatures” and the kids had to find them. They each got to keep one to take home and “care for”.

We had a potions class and I think that might have been the favorite. We mixed a couple of different things together to make some different potions. I think the favorite was the “veritaserum” we made. (Truth serum!) I mixed club soda with pop rocks and made them each drink some. Some of them really liked it. The funny part was when they started admitting things because I told them it was truth serum.

At the very end of the party, the kids got to visit Hogsmeade and get some candy from Honeydukes.

My mother-in-law came to help and dressed up as Professor McGonagall. It was SO GREAT to have her there to help out!

It was such a fun party and Nate said it was the best, so in my mind, that is a big success! I can’t take much credit for the ideas though! I was definitely inspired by parties I found online!

My online resources:

  • http://www.fun-kid-birthday-parties.com/harry-potter-birthday-party-idea.html
  • http://zitzmanfam.blogspot.ca/2012/04/harry-potter-birthday.html
  • http://www.ivillage.com/official-hogwarts-invitations/6-b-139571
  • http://justsweetandsimple.blogspot.ca/2011/07/harry-potter-invites.html
  • http://www.missanthropistskitchen.com/2011/07/30/butterbeer-float/#more-3289


In Remembrance

I hope my cousins don’t mind, but since this is pretty much the only journaling I get done, I decided I wanted to post about my aunt. If you asked me who my favorite people are, the Wynder family would make the top of my list. I was so blessed to be raised with such wonderful extended families. We spent most of our family vacations with our grandparents and my Aunt Meredith and Uncle Bruce’s family and these are some of my fondest childhood memories. We never did anything fancy, or went anywhere especially exciting, but we always had the greatest time and I am so grateful for those holidays.

I loved my grandmother very much and still miss her every day. My Aunt Meredith had little pieces of both my grandma and my mom in her and I always felt like she was the next best thing. I knew that if anything ever happened to my parents, Meredith and Bruce were going to take care of us, and it sounds strange, but I took great comfort in that.

We spent so much time growing up in each others lives. I considered my cousin Joanna to be one of my best friends – we were only a month apart. We had sleepovers during holidays and wrote letters back and forth. When I was at Meredith’s house, I never felt homesick because she was my mom’s sister, so there was so much that was the same. From the crafty decorations they made together, to the food they baked, to the way they laughed. Like I said, next best thing.

There are so many things I could say about my beautiful aunt Meredith. We shared the same middle name, and that always made me feel special – that I was named after my mother’s beloved big sister. She is probably the sweetest, kindest person I will ever know. That may sound like an exaggeration, but if you knew her, you would know I am right. She never yelled. Never raised her voice to her kids. I try to remind myself this every day – that it’s possible to raise children without yelling. And she raised the best kids. The very best.

Like I said, I could go on. Ramble on about all the little things I remember and loved. But most of all I want to say that I love her. She was a very special person. My kids loved her. I will miss her.

And to my cousins, who are so dear to me; I will share my mom with you. She can be your next best thing. She would love that because she loved your mom so much. And I know how much she loves each and every one of you; like her own children.

Lots of love…


Follow-Up

So has anyone read Chapter One? (Catch up HERE.)

I’d like to say I had some great experiences accepting my children’s feelings, but as it turns out, it’s actually pretty hard! I found myself doing all the things you aren’t supposed to. Turns out I’m really good at all the wrong responses! Reading the book has given me a better perspective on WHY I need to change the way I respond.

I just thought I would check in with anyone who is reading with me. Did you have any thoughts on the first chapter, or better yet, any good experiences to share? I’m still going to stick with chapter one, since it seems I need some more work in this area. I’ll move on to chapter two next week.

Thoughts anyone??

Oh – as for the being late goal. I wish I could say that I made this amazing turn around and I was on time for everything I did last week, but not so much. However, I did make a real effort to change some of my bad habits. I made the boys lunches at night and it was amazing. It helped us be LESS late for school! 🙂 Jax had a field trip on Friday that he had to be at school at 8:30 or else he would be left behind. We were the first ones there at 8:15! Yay! It’s a start right?



Pull It Together

So lately I’ve been feeling a little bit like I’m constantly drowning; that I am just trying to keep up and I just can’t get on top of things. I’m talking about my TO DO list, but also about my parenting. This week was me coming close to rock bottom – although, I can imagine it could get and feel a lot worse than I felt this week. I’ve spent a lot of time on the verge of tears or in tears, berating myself for my frustrations and failings and I feel like I just need to PULL IT TOGETHER.

This post is hopefully going to be therapeutic for me. I am a write-it-down, find-some-accountability kinda girl. I am hoping that by working it out on “paper”, I might be able to solve, or at the very least, improve on, some of my problems. Why the public forum? Because, like I said, I need accountability. I am hoping that some of you might want to do this with me. You can post about it, write in your journal about it, talk to me about it…whatever. But I need someone(s) to check up on me, or it will be all talk and no action.

I’m going to start with my frustrations. What is it in my life that is making me so damn unhappy right now? Why am I so cranky all the time with my kids? Why do I feel like I can’t get enough air? What is stressing me out? (OK, so there are a lot of things I’m not going to put on my list, but these are things I can not change, so I’m going to worry about what I can change.)

  • I am ALWAYS late. (Jason hates it when I use words like always and never, but in this case, it’s pretty darn accurate.)
  • My kids DO NOT listen to me.
Basically, all the things that stress me out boil down to those two big problems.

Now for all of my excuses. I am full of excuses. I have excuses for everything, right on the tip of my tongue. Mostly because I have spent so much of my mature life coming up for reasons why I am late, why something is not done, why I missed/forgot something. Am I lying? Sometimes. So here it goes…

  • Always numero uno on my list of reasons why I CAN’T or DON’T is the narcolepsy. I hate to use it as an excuse because I feel like I should be able to keep up, to do what all the other moms do, and when I can’t/don’t, then its because I am too lazy, not because I have a physical disability that impedes me. But I am going to be 100% honest. MOST of the time, the reason I am late comes down to sleep. I have to have a nap before I do most anything, which means I have to work that into my schedule. Often, there is not time for a nap, so I either forego the nap (and fall asleep at inopportune times), forego the event (which sucks for obvious reasons) or have the nap and am late. Even when there is time to nap, I have THE HARDEST time waking up. So I sleep longer than planned and therefore, I am late. My kids are late for school every day because I CAN NOT make myself get up on time. See? It just sounds like I’m being lazy, but I’m really not. It’s a huge struggle for me. This week, I didn’t wake up and Jax was an hour late for a birthday party that he was very excited about. And that is one example of a million.
  • I don’t plan ahead – I procrastinate to the very last minute, which means there isn’t time to get everything done that needs to be done, but has to be done, so we do it anyway…TA DA! We are late.
  • I underestimate how long it will take me to do something or drive somewhere.
I always WANT to change. Every night I decide we are going to be on time for school the next day. Every morning, we are late. I NEED to change. It’s starting to be out of control. So my goals to help with problem #1 are…
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour, at the same time every night.
  • When I have to get up and be ready in the morning, make lunches the night before.
  • Set the alarm for the same time every morning and GET UP NO MATTER WHAT.
  • Don’t procrastinate napping for other activities. Napping takes priority over FB, Pinterest, TV, etc.
OK, onto problem #2. Lately, I feel like I am talking to thin air, all the time. My kids literally do not listen to me. I don’t just mean that they don’t obey me (that’s a problem sometimes too), I mean that I speak and they do not hear me. So I ask them to do things in a nice, calm voice, about 3 or 4 times before I lose it and I scream it at them. THEN they listen. Sometimes. How do I get my kids to HEAR what I am saying? How do I parent without yelling?
So I’ve been reading this book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. It’s a great book, by the way. It suggests working on each step for awhile, recording your progress and then moving on. I tried just reading the book and implementing it, but I think I am going to have to be more deliberate. Here’s the part I thought people might want to participate in. Each week or so, I am going to post about one of the steps in the book. There is a nice little summation of each chapter at the end to help remind you what to do. Then I am going to work on that one thing and report back. Anyone want to join me? Feel free to get the book, I’m sure the library has copies, or just use what I post online. There are so many great examples in the book – I feel like I have been through so many of these exact situations and the suggestions for alternate ways of dealing with your children are so helpful.
So this week, we start with HELPING CHILDREN DEAL WITH THEIR FEELINGS. Here are some of the ways we usually respond to our children expressing their feelings to us:
  • Denial of feelings
  • The philosophical response
  • Advice
  • Questions
  • Defence of the other person
  • Pity
  • Amateur psychoanalysis
  • An empathetic response
The authors ask the reader to consider an adult situation in which you might have upset feelings and imagine people using all of the above responses on them. It would be frustrating to have someone respond in any of those ways except the last. (For good examples of all of the above, check out the book.)
Here is how we can help with our children’s feelings…
  • Listen with full attention.
  • Acknowledge their feelings with a word – “Oh…Mmmm…I see.”
  • Give their feelings a name. (“That sounds frustrating”)
  • Give them their wishes in a fantasy. (“I wish I could make the banana ripe for you right now!”)
All feelings can be accepted. Certain actions must be limited. (“I can see how angry you are at your brother. Tell him what you want with your words, not your fists.”)
All of these must be used with an attitude of compassion, or else we will seem phony or manipulative.
The authors also suggest – hold off giving advice and to resist the temptation to “make it better” instantly.
OK, so the assignment of the week is: At least once this week, have a conversation with a child in which you accept his or her feelings. Record what is said while it is still fresh in your mind. You are also supposed to read the many excellent parental examples of real situations as well as questions and answers; so if you have the book, do that too. It would be fun to discuss with people what they think!


Our Christmas Book Collection

I wish I could say that we do a Christmas book advent every year, but I have yet to get myself together in order to actually do it. However, I do have an extensive Christmas book collection because I love Christmas, I love books and I love Christmas books! I thought I would share some of my favorites and some of the new ones I added this year, since lots of people seem to be doing something similar – you might want to add to your collection too!

At our house, Christmas would not be Christmas without the Nutcracker. I am hoping to do a post all about how to teach your kids about the Nutcracker, but we’ll see if I have time. (Anyone interested in that?) Because of this, I have more than one, or two, or three Nutcracker books and I usually add one every year. You can’t have too many Nutcracker books! (Especially when you are a music teacher…) I think my favorite Nutcracker book is…

or…

This year, I bought…

Which isn’t supposed to come until after Christmas, but I am very excited to see it because I LOVE Susan Jeffers.

I also bought…

Which is only $5 and a cute little book. Yes I know, I am Nutcracker crazy!

Our new books this year are…

Love Tomie dePaola…what more can I say? Beautiful story.

Everyone needs a little Strega Nona at the holidays!

Funny Canadian Christmas book!

How could we NOT have Thomas in our Christmas collection? When this book arrived, Logan carted it around all night.

I bought A Christmas Goodnight because I love Sarah Jane Wright’s illustrations – it’s a cute little book and she has made free coloring pages and puppets to go with it!

You know the book Snowmen at Night? Cute story!

Some of my favorites are… (Note that this isn’t including the classics everyone knows about, like The Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Olivia, Madeline…)

It’s Margaret Laurence. It’s a little old (long) for my boys – maybe Nate will like it this year. But it’s a great story. And did I mention it’s Margaret Laurence?

I found my version of this book at a used bookstore. I love this song, so I was delighted to find this little classic. Another version of this story is on my wish list for next year.

Beautiful artwork! Such a nice and simple way of viewing Santa.

I love The Little Drummer Boy. My mom hates the song, but I love it. I just love the message and the poetry and Ezra Jack Keats does wonderful illustrations.

My boys love this book, especially Nate. It is a VERY detailed explanation of Santa, the North Pole, and how everything works.

On my wish list for next year…

This artist, Astrid Lindgren, reminds me of my childhood. I’m not sure why – I guess because we had a couple of her books. I just love her art, so I really want this book.

Pearl S. Buck? Need I say more?

I think this is a must for our Christmas collection.

Maurice Sendak meets The Nutcracker? How do I not already own this?

This is just a little sampling of our Christmas books, but I thought I would share because I love reading about what everyone else is reading. What is your favorite Christmas book? My wish list can always use more additions!