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Last week was the beginning of a new school year, and my first-born went off to his first day of kindergarten.  The entire experience was so wonderful for him, and a bit emotional for me.  Thankfully, I had worked out all the tears prior to the kid parade on the first day.  The night before his first day, I cried myself to sleep as the slow-motion montage of his life played in my mind.  When I awoke the next day, I found him curled up on the dog bed at the foot of our bed, totally asleep.  I took a quick shower, got dressed, and lay down next to him and watched him sleep…and cried some more.  Not tears of sadness, but tears of happiness and an overwhelming sense of pride that my sweet baby boy is now a big kid. 

The Big Kid Kindergartener!

His first day was fantastic, he loved his teacher, his classroom, his classmates, everything!

Oh my sweet, Mommy loves you!!

Of course, later, we celebrated with ice cream.  Blue ice cream.

Why do kids love the blue ice cream??

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At the end of last week, our family took a trip to Six Flags Great America.  I have not been to this grand place for 9 years.  That’s back when Craig and I were just dating.  Young, in love, & spontaneous!  So to say that this trip was slightly different than the last, would be an understatement. 

This year’s trip was a completely new experience in that it wasn’t about me and how many roller coasters I could ride.  This trip was about experiencing a theme park through my kids’ eyes.  And the result did not disappoint.  One thing Great America has done since I last visited was to add more things for the shorties to do.  As a kid, I remember some sort of Bugs Bunny area with a big fun house and some other stuff.  Now, there are three dedicated kids areas, plus additional rides that shorties can ride outside of those areas.  It was awesome.

Waiting to ride The Whizzer!

Cole loved every second.  Well, okay, maybe not the end of the day when he got really mad that we would even suggest that the park was closing and we only had time for one more ride.  How dare we stop the fun?  I mean, really.  Anyway, up until that point, he was so enthusiastic, ready for more rides, more thrills.  He rode his first big roller coaster as the first thing we did upon arrival.  The Whizzer.  Chicago folk, can I get a woot woot for the Whizzer??  Aw yeah.  The Whizzer is a fabulous introductory coaster for the shorties.  You sit in a car, with the front person essentially in the lap of the one behind.  Perfect for a parent taking a kid on the ride.  Perfect for a couple to ride.  Extremely awkward for brother and sister.  Which was me and my brother.  Cole wanted to ride with Daddy, so Jon and I rode behind them.  Once we got situated, we just sat there waiting for it to start, feeling more awkward with each passing moment.  So Jon broke the silence by singing, “Hey!  It’s weird to have to sit with my sister!  It’s very awkward to be sitting here with everyone watching us!”.   I started laughing and looked at the people who were next in line, and they were looking anywhere and everywhere except at us, sharing in our awkwardness.  We just had to laugh.  What else could we do?

The awful Ricochet, pre-ride, pre-desire to vomit.

The bummer part of the day was that I was somehow nominated as the official “circular and vomit-inducing spinning ride” chaperone for the shorties.  I used to love those types of rides when I was younger.  Not so much now.  There was one in particular called “Ricochet”.  Just the name should tell you what horrors it had in store for riders.  It started up and as I sat with Cole and he screamed with delight, I was praying to not puke all over the people riding in the car behind us.  I needed a moment after that one.  I also rode the Great America version of the teacups.  Good gravy.  Can I get some sort of Awesome Mommy award for having to endure all of those horrific rides, please?  Urp.

One of the best rides was Roaring Rapids, a white-water raft ride where you pretty much get soaked no matter what.  Caroline was tall enough for this one so Grampy waited off the ride with Myles (who was passed out at that point anyway) and Craig and I got to ride with both Cole and Caroline, and Uncle Jon and Grammy.  It was so much fun.  I have to say, for my little prima donna daughter, she was incredibly brave that day, willing to try whatever ride she was big enough for.  She even went on Logger’s Run, another water ride, that had a huge, fast hill at the end.  Prior to plunging down at the end, it’s pretty mild, just floating along “rivers” and clicking up hills.  She was loving it until the end.  Craig sat with her (it was another sitting in the lap type ride) so he could basically envelop her for the hill.  I turned to see how she did once we splashed down, and she burst into tears.  Poor baby.  “I don’t ever never ever want to go on that ride again!!”, she sobbed.  Okay, baby.  I’m shocked she even wanted to go on in the first place, but I kept telling her how proud I was that she was so very brave.  I said she didn’t ever have to go on again, but wasn’t it great that she could look at the ride now and say, “Yeah, I’ve been on that ride.  I’m pretty awesome.”  That satisfied her enough to calm down, though she had to report to Grammy that the hill was pretty awful.

Myles totally soaked at Wiggles World

The highlight of the day for Myles was Wiggles World.  He was able to ride every single ride (5 of them), and of course, play on the Captain Feathersword pirate ship playground and splash in Henry the Octopus splash area.  Oh boy, did that kid splash.  At one point, he was peering into an opening on the side of this little splash structure, and it sprayed him right in the face suddenly.  He backed up in shock, looked at us, screamed in delight, and went back for more.  The child was SOAKED, and loved every second of it. 

Cole on The Little Dipper, all by himself!

Another fantastic kiddie ride was the “Little Dipper”, a kid-sized wooden coaster that Great America bought when the infamous “Kiddieland” closed for good last year.  At least its glory will remain for more generations!  This beauty of a coaster was special because Cole insisted on riding all by himself.  He was tall enough to ride without an adult, and he was set on it.  So, we waited while he got in line, waited his turn, and finally got on.  They even made an announcement: “We have a 5 year old on board with us today who is riding all by himself, ladies and gentleman.  Let’s give this young man a round of applause!”  It was so very cool.  Caroline even went on (another shocker!  I never thought she’d want to go!) with her uncle Jon, and loved it, begging to go on again.

Caroline with her Uncle Jon on the Little Dipper

Perhaps the best part of our day, was that because we were there at the end of August, on a weekday, the crowds were far less than normal peak season.  A lot of schools are already in session, so it seriously cut down on the amount of people.  It made for a much easier time packing in the most fun possible, since the lines were so short.  Seriously.  Like, maybe a 5-10 minute wait for major coasters.  We will keep this in mind and likely do it again next year.  Who’s coming with us?

Cole and Caroline on Busy Bees

Wiggles World: The Big Red Airplanes

Daddy with all the kids in the Wiggles plane!

Waiting to ride the teacups

Oh Look! Here's me trying not to hurl!

The end of summer is looming.  I’m not too happy about it.  This summer has actually been quite wonderful.  I have fallen in love with my kids all over again.  We’ve enjoyed lazy mornings.  We’ve relished making plans for fun day trips.  We’ve played at the pool.  I love my kids. 

Now let’s be real here.  There are days when I have not been so overjoyed with their behavior….uhhhh, see previous post.  But for the most part, they’ve been a lot of fun to be with, and totally entertaining. 

And so now we prepare for the beginning of a new school year.   And I have a kindergartener.  Has it come to this?  I can’t believe I have a kindergartener.  My oldest is going to kindergarten.  I don’t consider myself a “weepy” mom who fights back tears at ever major new life stage, but for some reason, I’ve been having trouble with this one.    Every time I think about sending him off, I get a bit teary-eyed.  Thankfully, I don’t have to send him off on a bus, and I know a few friends who do.  Oy, that would be way too emotional for me.  No, we shall walk down the block, around the corner, and send him off in style.  And then we shall turn around, walk back home, and I shall weep the entire way.

I know all will be well, but that first day is gonna be difficult. So to all my mommy friends who have first-time kindergarteners, I stand with you in solidarity and sobs.

Oh boy…confession time.  I was one of those people who would observe young mothers and with my most judgemental attitude, would make proclamations of “Oh, I’ll NEVER do that.  What’s wrong with that mom?”.  Of course, I was also known to claim how I would never repeat the horrible atrocities my own mother made against me when I grew up.  You know, like how she got annoyed with me when I was behaving like a complete crazy.  Imagine!  Certainly, I would never get so angry and/or annoyed with my children!  I would cherish them always, every second of the day!  This is where my *snork* comes in to play – that laugh that gets caught in your nose as you struggle to keep it from sounding sarcastic, which always fails.

I was inspired by a pair of Mommy bloggers who had posed this question of “what have you claimed you’d never do as a parent?”, on their own blog, Rants from Mommyland  (Warning:  These ladies use edgy language, and it’s  NOT a “Christian” blog, just fyi for those of you who may have issue with it).

So here’s a few things I swore I’d never do:

I will never let my children affect my ability to be spontaneous.

Oh, super *snork*!!  Spontaneous?  There is no spontaneous with kids.  Unless you count breaking up spontaenous fights or cleaning up spontaneous puke.  Oh yes, and spontaneously leaving the grocery store because your child/ren have turned into tiny evil people with their screaming and gnashing of teeth.

I will be sure to keep bathroom time to myself.

Please.  I have had all three kids, plus the dog in our small powder room at one time.  Really?  Really?!?!  And I’ve found that even if I insist on being alone, behind closed doors, I run the risk of the minions destroying something or pummeling one another.  It’s basically an open invitation for chaos.  So sure, come on in and chat with me about what Barbie is up to, or what you want for Christmas despite the fact that it’s June, if it will keep you from setting things on fire.

I will maintain an exciting and fulfilling sex life.

First of all, apologies to any and all family members who may be reading this and now saying, “Fantastic!  Thanks so much for that mental picture!  I suppose my therapist will be happy for the extra cash from my extended sessions.”  Really.  Sorry.  But he’s my husband, so it’s okay.  So, this statement sort of relates to the aforementioned promise to keep a  spontaneous lifestyle.  This aspect of married life now must be planned.  Okay, don’t get me wrong single and/or childless people who are now vowing to never get married or are currently on the phone with their GYN scheduling a full hysterectomy, it’s  not like life is over after kids.  There are some spontaneous moments.  It’s just that the spontaneaity needs to be scheduled.  🙂    All I’m saying is that those moments of  “afternoon delight” probably won’t be happening so much.  Or “morning delight”.  But you can’t help but come to the realization that when those moments happen, you run the risk of someone trying to find you to ask for a drink or help in the potty.  So get a lock on your bedroom door. 

I will never forget what precious gifts my children are and cherish every moment I have with them.

Are they precious gifts?  Yes.  Do I keep that truth in my mind at all times?  Not so much.  Because when two kids are shoving each other to the ground over a broken toy that neither of them really love, but because both want it, that means it’s the best toy ever, and the baby is pulling on your pant leg wailing “Up!  Up!” while you’re trying to make dinner for goodness’ sake, it’s a bit much to deal with.  And no, when they turn into evil minions of horridness, I am not so much thinking, “Oh, my precious treasures from heaven!  You are all such sweet blessings!”  No.  I’m thinking more like, “If they don’t stop screeching and smacking each other, I will join frying pan to my forehead.  Violently.”

I will not have children who throw temper tantrums in public places.

I’m not really sure why I thought I could control the evil that resides within my sweet babies, but you cannot stop the unleashing, people.  I don’t care if their diet is entirely organic and completely balanced.  I don’t care how many hours you played Mozart to your baby bump.  I don’t care how many hours you’ve spent reading to them.  Or the sweet moments of bedtime prayer.  They will turn on you.  And if you new parents are staring at that sweet angel sleeping in your arms or babbling adorably on the floor and thinking “Gasp!  Not my little pumpkin!  He’s the bestest, sweetest, most wonderfullest widdle baby there ever was, yes he is!”.  You. Are. So. Wrong.  When they are tired and/or hungry and you have to run to the store because you have absolutely no edible food in the house and it should only take 15 minutes for you to grab the essentials so they should be fine because it’s not very long at all.  Wrong.  They will go from quiet sweetness to evil screaming spawn of the devil in less than 30 seconds.  Then you will find yourself in the middle of the aisle, box of cereal bars in hand (organic and all-natural, of course!) mouth agape as you survey this child who you do not recognize as your own anymore.  And as you contemplate what your next move should be, you can be sure there will be people who pass you and think, “What is wrong with that woman?  Can’t she control her children?  Ugh.  Disgraceful”.  I know this, because like I said, I used to be that person.  And now I know better.  Oh gracious, do I know better.

What are your “I Nevers?”