Pumpkin Patch

Last weekend we went to a pumpkin patch with my sister and her family.  Only our two youngest wanted to go, so we were a smaller family for the afternoon.

It seems like we've been taking our kids to the pumpkin patch for years, but now even the twins are getting to the age where they may not want come next year.  This place had lots of things to do including a hayride, corn maze, petting zoo, and a huge playground.  We had to park in the overflow of the overflow parking, so many others had decided this was a great afternoon activity too!

Time ticks by and I can remember well the fun we've had with each of our children at various pumpkin patches over the years.  It seems a rite of passage each fall to choose a special pumpkin and experience farm life for a day. 

Life is busy and sometimes it's hard to take time out for fun.  Honestly, we had to make ourselves go on Sunday, but I'm glad we did.  Next year my girls may not be as enthusiastic about petting farm animals and riding in a wagon, but this year they're still young enough to ride a pony and get excited to carve their pumpkins.  These are the things I'll someday miss in my normal everyday life.

Family Vacation Reality Check

See this view...

Don't get too excited.  If you're a parent, you will not be enjoying this view.  You'll be too busy making trips back and forth to the hotel room carrying heavy beach bags filled with sand toys, boogie boards, and beach rocks that your cherubs declare they can't live without.  You'll help build sand castles, play football, and take out kayaks.  Planning and acquiring enough snacks and drinks to fill hungry children will take up an extraordinary amount of time.  If there appears to be a lull in the activity and you attempt to nap in one of the comfy chairs, there will immediately be a siren song of sibling rivalry demanding your attention.

Remember that bike riding on the beach you were fantasizing about?

It will be fun for about a half mile.  Then someone will complain about going too fast, too slow, it's too hot, too far, or beg to stop.  Chains will fall off multiple bikes, multiple times, and you'll look wistfully at the other bikers as they ride joyously by with none of these problems.

You'll end the bike ride hot and on edge as you try to encourage your kids to hold it together through the last few feet of sand. 

Meal conversations will consist of, "Can I have some?", "Mmmm, this is good", "I hate that!", "Sit down in your chair", "Hey, I didn't get any! That's not fair!", "Do I have to sit there?", "Can I sit by you?", "I don't like this", and "Are you going to eat that?"  Lively debate will ensue over whether lemonade or chocolate milk is better.

But...you'll also have funny inside jokes, moments between siblings that warm your heart, and the freedom to just be without all the daily obligations. Less time will be spent on electronic devices and more time will be spent really seeing the ones you love.  

Yes, your family vacation will be a lot of work, but it will be worth it.  Worth it to see and do new things together.  Worth it to establish family traditions and memories that you can laugh over in the years to come.

And these are the reasons you'll plan to come back and do it all again next year.  Right after that loooong drive home!


My two boys are almost five years apart, so they don't need to compete with each other because they're each at such different stages.  They're free to enjoy what they have in common like sports, sports, and more sports!  Plus it doesn't hurt that the younger looks up to the older and defers to him in most conflicts.  These beach pictures capture what I find to be so interesting about their relationship...let's provoke one another and see who gives up first.

Either the older will push the younger into a screaming rage, or the younger will drive the older into some physical altercation that stops just short of inflicting major pain.  For the most part, it's all done in fun though and seems to be something they have to do when interacting.  I'm fascinated and entertained by this while my husband is annoyed and tries to break it up more often.  Maybe because he is a younger brother and can identify more readily?   My boys remind me of puppies competing for the title of top dog.  It's an amazing thing to watch, this jockeying back and forth, that ends up coming full circle into friendship.  I hope they'll always be close because I think what they have is a treasure.

Getting Away

It's fall break and we're using hotel points to enjoy a relaxing few days on Hilton Head Island.  The biggest reason I wanted to come back here was the great bike riding.  You can bike forever on beautiful flat trails around the island or for miles right on the beach. 

It's a slow time of year, so both our rooms were upgraded to larger suites.  All of the kids have their own beds in one suite and the other is just for mom and dad!  Bring on the fun and relaxation...                             


Typical Saturday

Saturday...aaah, sleep in, relaxing breakfast, maybe a long walk...lazy Saturday...NOT A CHANCE if you have five kids.  Knocking on the bedroom door starts early with a request to "look at my reflection for reading", then a different voice requesting help with college application essays.  People are up, the kitchen is busy, and the day has officially started.  Thirty minutes later, there's a fight between my husband and daughter over attitude.  The college application process has been in full swing for a month now and the essay questions will drive us all over the edge.  Someone in the house does not want to write about the greatest challenge facing her generation or what she's intellectually curious about.  I'm desperately trying to throw out helpful ideas, but I'm really thinking...Dear College Board,  My daughter is 17 and her greatest challenge is getting up before noon. Her intellectual curiosity shuts down at 2:30 every Friday and will not be heard from until 7:30 Monday morning.  Please give her money so she can graduate with very little debt and never have to live at home again after graduating from your fine school.

Soon it's time for sports practice and my husband and I fit in a walk.  A quick run to the library and then back home for the lunch chaos.  Only ten or so complaints about the temperature of the apples, why are there stems on my grapes, and please don't make me have peanut butter.  Negotiations over who gets the last few chocolate chip cookies rival a Middle East Peace Summit. 

But wait...stop the presses, did all three of the younger kids just play a game together for two hours??  This is worth writing down.  I left them like this to run errands and when I came back they were still here!

We've reached our limit for the day on college resume building and my daughter has left to look for a homecoming dress.  I'm still recovering from the emotional trauma of picking out two prom dresses last April, so she's on her own for this one! 

My niece and nephew come over to play and they head outside with the twins.  They've had forts they call "man caves" set up in our yard for a couple weeks.  Sticks, sleds, buckets, hockey sticks, swim toys and more have all become an elaborate part of an Indian village.  It looks like someone or something is camping out in our pine trees.  Enter our yard at your own risk!

It's almost 3:30 and the "what's for dinner question" will be coming soon.  Seriously, didn't we just clean up from lunch??  Maybe the girls can cook us something over the outdoor fire pit.  It looks like they've got their guns out and are ready to shoot some something!

Saturdays are really busy.  They're emotional.  Our household can be erupting in a fight one minute and laughing the next.  There's yelling and minor injuries and tears.  There are loud sports games on TV and music playing in the other room.  Doors slam and sweaty kids run in and out grabbing popsicles.  Laundry is going and the backpacks still lay where everyone dropped them yesterday afternoon. There's an impromptu dancing celebration over completing one scholarship application. It doesn't look like the movies and isn't in any magazine.  Just wonderful, normal everyday life!

What did you do on Saturday?    

Missing the Messes

The other day I saw one of those signs on Facebook that urges moms to appreciate the little handprints and messes because someday we'll miss them. I totally get the point of such sentiments, but on their surface they strike me as funny. It made me think of this craft that my oldest brought home from kindergarten, Christmas 2001.

Oh, the mommy guilt that welled up in me when I saw this poem.  Guilt that I didn't appreciate the messes. What was wrong with me??  Since that time I've gotten several more of those art projects with that poem and each time I feel the GUILT.  Why can't I just say, "Kids I don't care about you destroying every little thing you come in contact with because it's the memories, the wonderful memories that matter!"  But I really enjoy some structure, a clean bathroom, a bed that's made, clothing put away in drawers, furniture not covered in food. 

As I looked at that Facebook sign, I remembered this view that I see on an almost daily basis as I walk down my hallway.  Now if this picture doesn't inspire mothers everywhere to stop and appreciate the preciousness of their teenage daughters, I don't know what will...

Yes indeed, every time I pass it, I stop to cherish this mess and the wonderful child who created it.  Not.  It's more like I think, what am I doing wrong that after almost 18 years she still can't make her bed and pick up her clothes?!?  Can we not even reach the point that she could shut a closet door?

Or how about these scenes?  Cherishing the mess is the farthest thing from my mind as I risk a broken leg on the footwear obstacle course exiting the garage.

A surge of love does not spring forth when I turn and see the kitchen after everyone has left for school.

Yes, I'll certainly miss the children that made these messes, but I don't think I'll miss the socks strewn all over the couch, the mountains of paper on the countertops and tables, and the things that shall remain unnamed in the bathroom.  And if I do, I'll just pull out these pictures for a fresh dose of reality!

So come on all of you guilty feeling mothers, what messes are you really not going to miss?