Good Morning Snow Day

This is Dr. Kathleen Mooney with an important message from the Port Washington School District. Due to poor road conditions, all schools will be closed on Friday, February 5, 2016. Please exercise caution and stay safe. Ahh the sweet sound of the good Dr.’s voice is music to the ears of the three boys of Graywood. After two calls to the house, two to my cell, two to Donald’s cell, and the fire whistle blow we were all well aware that today the children will be home from school. I decided to get a jump on the day, since the good Doctor made multiple calls not allowing anyone to get back to sleep. I sent a quick text to my severely sleep deprived sister asking if, since she is on maternity leave, when the boys wake could they spend the day with her.  She was beyond excited at the thought of spending the day with five boys under the age of 13.  So off to work I went leaving the boys to sleep in with Nana upstairs and a plan in place for my day.

Made it to work without a problem and began to enjoy my hot coffee and my computer in silence at 6:30 am. 7AM- text from Daniel – Mom is there school today.  – No, so please go back to sleep. Nana is upstairs, call me when you wake up.  Back to work I go, concentrating on the task at hand. 8AM – phone call from Chrissy – you said to call you when I woke up and I just wanted to tell you I am awake.  OK Chrissy stay away from each other no fighting, eat something, Nana is upstairs you will be going to Aunt Laura’s when Johnny wakes up. Ok Mommy I love you.  He melts my heart and again I drift off to my project and await the teenagers call that he too is awake.

My Mother in Law called to say her job was closed and the boys could hang out with her.  So again I settle back into my project knowing this was just going to be a PJ’s and TV day for the boys. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when I had a snow day I was home with my stay at home Mom and we played with the neighborhood kids had hot chocolate and thats about it. My kids and pretty much all kids these days need to be constantly entertained. And with todays technology the rest of my day pretty much went like this….text-after-text-after-text.

Mom can I bring the XBox upstairs? Oh so the basement 52″ TV is not good enough for your game playing?

Mom can I go to my friends? No I cannot drive you.

Mom he won’t leave me alone. Please stop fighting.

Mom- Dad said i could buy a $10 game on his credit card if its ok with you. No.

Mom – Don’t forget you need to write me a one page summary for my confirmation on what the Catholic church means to you and how you will continue to raise me in my faith and keep the promises you and Dad made at my Baptism. Due this week.

Mom – What’s for dinner?

Mom- There is no more white bread only wheat and Chrissy won’t eat that.

Mom – Nana is making me farina and I love when she makes it for me.

Mom – I have a sore throat can I take an advil?

Mom – There is no food in this house!

Mom – It still hurts can I take another advil?

Mom- You did not answer what’s for dinner?

Mom- When are you going to the store there is no food here, not even any Nutella left.

On my lunch break I respond…… I AM WORKING BOYS PLEASE STOP TEXTING.

OK Mom but I want you to remember that you need to sign the sheet for my class so that you can attend my ancient Egyptian workshop next week- oh well I don’t think I can attend because your brother has a squid dissection workshop and I have an appointment with my accountant for my taxes. I will call Aunt Laura to see if she can do Egypt or the squid but my lunch is over and I gotta go.

The afternoon at work went quickly and I was headed home to grab the boys to go grocery shopping since I was placed on notice that my supplies were very low.  Well, not one of those rotten little men wanted to help me at the store, but I got them to go.  While in the store, I was roped into buying all sorts of goodies that I don’t normally buy. In fact, my cart was overflowing with food I had to have them each carry loaves of bread and such so they would not get crushed in the cart. Rolling to the finish line I ran into a woman I know from the neighborhood and I said to her “can I trade my cart for yours?”  Her’s had a few items and some dog and cat food. She told me she would take my cart any day because it means that I have a full house. She told me that she remembers well the days of the full carts and the empty wallet.  The silence in her home is deafening she told me and I should look at the large grocery bill as a blessing.

I suppose one day I will look back at the large grocery bill as a blessing for right at this very moment I would prefer the PowerBall as my blessing.

 

 

A family of Legends

Tradition, community, friendship and family. No summer league represents baseball’s virtues better than the Port Washington Youth Activities Baseball League the Legends. Since the League’s inception, several generations have come through the system. This summer it’s the Alexander’s turn to share in  the family connections and for us they have been extraordinary.   Growing up I can remember that my parents shared many a dinner and I many ice cream cone with the families Joey, Laura and I played softball/baseball with.  In fact many of those families are still in our lives sharing in the excitement of what is the new generation of ball players.  My parents made life long friends and us kids made life long friendships as well.  Now we are reliving those connections with our new found Legends family.

There are so many life lessons to be learned on the baseball field.  It teaches us so much about  qualities such as consistency, perseverance and focus and teaches us about those people who surround us, such as how they support, encourage and inspire us.   When children face a curve ball in life the skills learned on the field can translate to everyday life.  Baseball teaches us about leadership and what happens when there is a confident and consistent coach leading the team.  Baseball teaches us that hard work not only translates to improved play but improved self worth.  But to me by far the greatest lesson Baseball teaches the importance of community for both the player and the parents.

With Danny Boy away at camp, Donald and I continue to attend the Legends games to both fulfill Donald’s coaching commitment and my cheerleader commitment.  Last night the Legends played an outstanding game.  The pitching was top notch, players in unfamiliar positions due to kids out sick or at camp played their hearts out and the game ended in a heartbreaking loss in extra innings.

My Mother was always the loudest and vibrant fan for my siblings and I and I have followed in her foot steps.  You will always hear me cheering loudly for my Danny Boy and all the boys on the team.  But last night with my Danny away I asked some of the boys if I could cheer just as loudly for them.  There is another boy on the team who is named Daniel.  I asked him if I could call him Danny Boy for the night he smiled and gave me a thumbs up while Benjamin yelled “Mrs. Alexander please call me Benny Boy.”  The center fielder Ryan called me over to tell me that he had been bored in the outfield tonight but that was OK because our man Jasper was killing it on the mound.  With our  teams head dugout cheer leader Tal cheering away for his team I overhear Noah (the catcher) telling Jasper (the pitcher) his signs for setting up the ball inside or out.  All while a new member of the team Aidan is smiling ear to ear cause he normally does not play first base and he just had two nice grabs.  Next my little friend Ethan is calling me over to ask what house my Danny is in for the upcoming middle school year and all the boys are a buzz about Weber Middle School.  Then there is my man Isaac who recently had a arm injury and is on “light duty” for the Legends.  I think Isaac thinks I am one crazy Mom, anything I say he looks at me and smiles and it simply warms my heart.  After the game was over the boys were all asking us how two of the other boys were who missed the game today.   Chris who had an ankle injury and Owen who was not feeling well.  They pulled out their cell phone and were texting on their “Legends” group to let the other boys know about the disappointing loss and to see how their teammates were feeling.  They were all truly concerned with their teammates well being.  The sense of community was palpable.

On the bleachers are continuously the many family members cheering on all the boys.  We all seem to share in each victory and defeat.  Grandparents and Parents, brothers and sister’s all cheering on their favorite Legend.  Recently a set of Grandparent’s were at the game and the Grandmother told me “I’m not an athletic person and I don’t even understand most the rules of the game. I’ve been clueless for years on the game of baseball, but I’ve sat and cheered for the team regardless.  My clue-less-ness has brought on plenty of laughter to those around me. ”  Another Grandmother told me she much prefers Hockey its a faster game and she gets easily bored with baseball.  My own Mother in law joins us for some games and proudly reports that she has no clue whats going on yet she looks to see when I clap and then she knows she should be clapping too. The sense of community is palpable.

Last night I found myself hugging someone else’s husband as their child missed a ball.  While last week I was hugging and jumping with another Mom as Danny Boy shot a bomb of a homer over the fence for his first out of the park home run.  At the end of last nights game I was on my hands and knees drying off the tears of a young man who’s Mom could not make the game and by my side was another Mom hugging him and letting him know it’s going to be ok that we lost. Across the field was yet another Mom jogging to that boys  car to greet him and give him a  hug before he left.  She wanted to remind him that we are a team and no win or loss is because of one person we are in this together.  The three coaches gathered the boys before we left and with arms wrapped around each other praised these little men on an outstanding performance against a club team that is made up of the best of the best ball players.  The dedication shown by these coaches has been top notch.  Coaching at all levels involves much more than making out the lineup, batting practice, or coaching third base. Coaching involves accepting the tremendous responsibility you face when parents put their children into your care.  The sense of community is palpable.

Legends

Camp Mom and Dad

Johnny Angel, Danny Boy and Chrissy Mac are all currently residing in an Upstate NY summer Camp operated by Local Union #3 IBEW called Camp Integrity.  Our kids had mixed feelings about going to camp for the first year, although it was Danny’s second year: They were excited, but also scared. “TWO WEEKS!?” Chrissy cried when I told him what, to me, was great news: They were going to summer camp! “They have kayaking and arts and crafts!” I said cheerfully, trying to drum up excitement. “And archery and fishing!  I’ve never been kayaking myself, You’ll get to do it before I do!”  For weeks we spent evenings talking with Dan asking questions about what to expect.  And for weeks Chrissy said “I am not going.”  John sat quietly during most discussions soaking in all the information and wondering if he made the right choice to attend.  All while Mommy and Daddy planned to break out of the routine, reconnect and rekindle.

The drop off went well, the packing was a nightmare yet in the end they all had what they needed.  I am already having anxiety about the amount of laundry I will need to do when they get home.  Johnny’s bunk is a short walk from where his younger brothers are.  Walking in teenagers were all over the place, throwing footballs, Frisbees and  playing music.  We settled him in and then moved to the area where the younger boys would bunk.  Donald and I settled Chris and Dan into their individual bunks and said of goodbyes.  I told Chrissy where all his items were stored so he would know what I packed for him.  I ended with these are your water shoes for the lake.  He said I told you I am not swimming in the lake.  His counselor said swim test in thirty minutes…..it was in that moment that I thought no fighting with Chrissy for two weeks.  This poor guy has to deal with his I am not doing that attitude.  I silently smiled and gave my hugs and kisses and off we went to make sure John was all settled in.  John was talking to his counselor who came all the way from England through an exchange called camp America and I was happy to see him connecting with him.  We gave our hugs and off we went to break out of the routine, reconnect and rekindle.

So why send my three boys away for two weeks.  The thing is, I believe that it is important to challenge our children in todays world. To get them truly outside of their comfort zones so that they can grow and mature.   Our desire to challenge our kids was reinforced in our belief that kids who always have problems solved for them believe that they don’t know how to solve problems.  You have to let your child ride their bike and fall.  Why? Because they need to learn how to manage that fall and get back on the bike.  We are sending them the message that we believe that they can manage those falls along with emotions like loneliness, homesickness, and anxiety. I believed that they could, at the tender ages of 13, 11 and 9, handle these difficult emotions themselves, without me standing over their shoulders telling them to relax. As awful as it sometimes feels to me, they simply don’t always need me there, telling them what to do and what to think and how to react.

UNPLUGGING!  Yet another reason we were interested in sending the boys away.  Tuning into nature is something they just are not programed to do in todays world.  I know they will have tried dozens of new activities, took on new challenges, and learned to accept their discomfort as a part of their growth without their iPods, iPad and iPhone’s!    We are all well aware of the effects of too much screen time on our own ability to concentrate and our social interactions. And we don’t want that for our Boys.

In the five short days the kids have been away reconnecting has been the theme.  Not only has this given Donald and I to reconnect as husband and wife, it has allowed us to reconnect with our “former selves.”  We have had dinner with family, drinks with our Fire Department friends, planned playdates with some old friends and set aside alone time to fall in love all over again.  Next week I have even scheduled us to do a shift at Fire Medic’s for Ambulance duty just like old times.

Sending your children away to camp requires a leap of faith and the anxiety of it all will be worth it. It requires an ability to manage the emotional discomfort that comes with not-knowing, not-controlling, not-checking—it requires just trusting. But I’m comfortable with that discomfort.  But mostly I am comfortable with the new found temporary silence, full fridge, full checking account, full tank of gas, empty laundry basket and date nights with Donald John.

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#AuntTina’sLOVES

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I believe it was 2006 when I found out the news that my first Niece was to be born in early 2007.  My sister in law, Kim, told us and I jumped so high I nearly hit the fan as it spun in my kitchen.  All I could think of was all the fun times I had with my aunts and uncles as a little girl and how I could not wait to share that same experience with my nieces and nephews.  The most beautiful little girl was the first to join the bunch; Ava followed by the equally beautiful ,Ella, a few short years later. Amazing to me how the genes work.  To me, Ava is a mirror of her father and Ella her mother.  Ava is feisty and has tons of spunk.  Ella is softer spoken and is more shy.  Mothers always wish the worst of their children’s qualities someday get to bite you in the ass and I suppose Ava is giving Stephen a run for his money much like John does to me.  All we can do is wish the same on them and hope we live to see it.

Prince Michael Joseph joined the gang in 2014 and is almost a year old now.  I am not sure where that year went.  MJ, as I call him, has been walking since 9.5 months and is the light of my life.  We are BFFs and my boys and Ava and Ella totally adore him.  Just this past week on May 22nd, Prince Nicholas James has entered the bunch and my heart is so filled with Joy.  You always think that you love these babies so much how can there be room for more.  Well, the heart stretches and makes room for more, because this little man has stolen my heart at 4 days old.

 

Today I decided I wanted to let Suzanne rest, so I would take Nicholas to my house with Michael and I would make my dinner, a dinner for her and Jimmy, and do some laundry.  I clearly was not thinking straight, as I had two babies under the age of one in my custody.  Michael went in for a nap and I had some snuggle time with Nicholas.  I got dinner started and then my boys got off the bus.  Michael woke up and I put him in his chair for some lunch and then placed Nicholas next to him for the picture above.  MJ looked over the high chair and gave Nicky a look like who the hell are you in my Aunt Tina’s house????  I can tell already they will be BFFs and poor Ava and Ella just can’t get a girl in the bunch!  After a busy afternoon of diaper changing, bottle feeding, watermelon in the hair, cereal crushed on the floor, cooking my dinner, cooking Suey’s dinner, more diaper changing, quick baby showering to get said watermelon out of hair, do-your-homework fighting, eat your green beans fighting, you-really-need-a-shower fighting, an “oh crap I think I put bleach in the color load of laundry” panic attack, making lunches, unclogging the toilet, and a trip on a baseball bat just now… I would not change anything in the world.  A hectic life is a full life.  

These four babies make me the happiest girl in the world… Oh and my three too.  Most times.

 

 

Toothpaste In The Sink

4:45AM and the alarm sounds for the first try of the morning wake up for Donald.  My heart immediately starts to race as I know the morning madness will commence shortly.  I am a morning person, always have been.  Its a fresh start to a new day ahead but for the last 7-8 years mornings for me are why I have been placed on anti anxiety medication.

6:15 – a soft call up the stairs to Johnny for him to wake up.  6:17 – a light and calm “oh Johnny Boy time to get up.”  6:20 – Now get up and come down dressed.  He follows direction and half asleep gathers his books, lunch, water bottle, instrument etc. and gets ready for the day.  He is dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, jacket on and ready for the 6:50 bus.  Always gives his mother a kiss says I love you and off he goes to the bus stop.

6:51 – I take a moment to think about what’s ahead and then I go in to the first floor bedroom of my two little ones Christian and Daniel with a smile and a song.  I usually sing some silly tune to start to wake them and before you know it out comes Christian from his covers.  He is usually only in underwear or sometimes just in a cape and his skinny little legs go hobbling to the couch for some spongbob square pants.

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7:00AM – DANIEL….. Trying to stay calm I try once again with my silly song and he is not amused. I instantly begin begging.  Please please please just get up – Don’t make me go to work all worked up – please just get up and get dressed….

Begging does not work.  I then rip the sheets off, I have no success other then finding several missing socks he must have removed stuck down at the bottom of the bed.  Poor Christian is looking for breakfast but I can’t help him because I am only on phase two of my wake up Danny plan.  Now the yelling begins but its a strange sort of quiet yell I do.  You know the one with the teeth clenched together… You are going to wake up your Grandmother who sleeps above you get the heck out of this bed now before I … There is ZERO movement and Christian is deep into his cartoon and has no idea what is happening around him.  I leave him for a moment, pack the lunches in their bags, make sure all their homework is in the bags, planner signed, permission slip signed, contract for good behavior at cultural studies signed, box tops placed in the bag, water bottles filled, snacks in bag, take a sip of coffee, pee, brush my teeth, get my lunch together, get my makeup on, get dressed and start phase three of the Daniel wake up.

7:20 – Now this is serious business no more Mrs. nice Mom.  Now I am lifting him out of bed.  And after some real good threats I get him up.  Standing up and looking at me as I was the devil he starts to undress.  But now comes the part where we fight about its -25 degrees outside and you want to wear what???? Shorts and a tee shirt???? Now we play the I can’t find my sneakers game and your the worst Mom ever because I only have one pair of sneakers.  I get a good ole “I hate my life!” and now its the brush your teeth fight.

7:35 – Let’s go boys we are leaving now… Christian gets his shoes on, brushes his teeth, jacket and backpack on and stands by the door.  I can’t find Daniel.  Where is he?  Playing xbox and wants me to wait cause he just got on and he wants to beat this level.  That teeth clenched yell starts again when I half scream to get the heck up here we are leaving.  Christian is now sitting on the floor because he knows this may take sometime.  Bags in hand I run to the basement to grab the game from him and he knows I mean business.  Up the stairs he come stomping he hates his life and that I am the worst Mom ever and grabs his backpack and we leave.  Get in the car and I ask did you brush your teeth and where is your jacket?  I grab him and bring him inside and watch as he brushes his teeth and then wont let him out without a jacket.  Off we go to school and he says Mom I have trumpet today.  Well guess where that his.  Back home we go….  I drop them off the car door slams in his anger and off to work I go.

This was my morning yesterday and pretty much my Morning today except for on Monday, Wednesday and Friday they need to be at school at 7:15 so all this starts just a little earlier on those days.  When I get home from work and am ready for the bus to drop them off I am reminded by the toothpaste that is left in the sink for me to clean that I will have to do this all again tomorrow.

3PM

Dad Marvullo came for a week visit last week to celebrate the Christening of my nephew Michael Joseph.  While here for a week Dad really got to see the day to day operations in the Alexander home.  One of his greatest observations was – “wow you must really hate 3PM.” and the answer is yes I really hate 3PM.  My son’s Christian and Daniel are bright 9 and 10 year old boys.  They are not easily frustrated by school work.  They may not want to do it but they are not generally rattled to the core with frustration as they have been this year with Common Core Math.  This week Chrissy Mac as reduced to tears, crying hysterically in frustration because he could  not remember what he told me was – the pattern for 2×2 multiplication using the FOIL method.  He asked me I had no idea what he was talking about.  I called my sister who was not available at the moment to help.  He begged me to call the school and ask the teacher, he even picked up his iPod and asked Siri for help.  His frustration was mounting…. and so was mine.

here is his question – 95×94 =________

90×90 + 90×4 + 90×5 + 5×4

8100 + 360 + 450 + 20 =

While this seems as if its not so difficult he is 9!  AND he was thrown onto common core in the middle of his elementary school career.  How can we as parents help this mounting frustration.  The night ended up in a therapy session.  He cried and cried and said he was so stupid, he does not want to ask the teacher anymore questions because his friends must think he is dumb.  He “hates this life in school.” and he wants to use everyone of his homework passes to skip math.  Christian happens to have one of the most talented and patient teachers I have seen.  I can only imagine her frustration in this new math world.

I hope that with his teacher’s guidance, he will  make the adjustments he needs to make in order to regain his confidence in understanding the math concepts that he was already beginning to understand before the new standards and their worksheets came along.

Donald and I will  just keep reassuring him that the problem isn’t his ability to understand math; the problem is how he’s being asked to understand math. The problem is the experimental “big idea” that he unknowingly become part of.  Became a part of somewhere in between his 3rd and 4th grades leaving him with a different though process he was taught from K-2nd grade.   I really think what they are really ensuring is a generation of anxious robotic children.  Beginning to wonder if the motivation behind common core is education?

Stress levels are at an all time high at 3PM.

Amish and the Alexander’s

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Took a trip to  Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.  Lancaster is the home of a large Amish Community.  I find the Amish people are one of the most interesting and rare communities that exist today. Their group is unique because they refuse to use modern technologies.

I really am not sure how nail salons and hair salons even need to exist in Lancaster.  These woman don’t ever wear shoes!  They certainly don’t go for any sort or waxing of any kind and they do not have manicures and pedicures EVER.    The woman and girls wear very plain no print clothing that is made at home.  No need for Lord and Taylor in Lancaster either these woman only have a few colors of the same dress.  Amish woman do not wear jewelry, not gonna find a Lia Sofia advisor among them.   No makeup, none at all – No AVON knockin on those barn doors.  Amish woman believe the more children they have the more they have been blessed by God.  I have been only half blessed I suppose.

What is that smell?

I am the owner of THREE BOYS. Something smells – Bad.
This seems to be an everyday statement in my house these days.  Growing boys and growing smells.  There are so many days I am thankful that I have been blessed with this brood of little men.  There are other days I would happily trade them in for a dozen hormonal girls. Boys eat constantly and are incapable of noticing the mess they create while they do it and the smell created by leaving the mess all around.
Honestly, I spend my days trying to find one odor or another that is lingering in my home.  I seriously hope they grow out of this stage or they will never going to find a wife and move out of my house!  Please – you other mothers of boys – don’t hold out on me – please tell me where you discovered that boy smell hiding so that I can go and clean it and make it go away.  It’s not in the  bedding, the closet or in their bath robe’s I have washed all of them.  I’m thinking of cleaning the carpet in their room this week to see if it is hiding there – or under the beds.  Danny’s baseball uniform is clean, so that can’t be it either.  It has to be somewhere I haven’t thought of yet. Please tell me where you found it hiding and how you got rid of it.  I almost can’t stand to go in there to deliver laundry!

Anyone with boys will know what I mean. Boy smell is a smell like no other. Plus, mine haven’t even got to the proper deodorant requiring stage yet. And while I do provide them with deodorant they never use it anyway.  So I welcome any tips from you Mom’s out there as how to remove the boy smell from my home.

Pairing Socks and Anxiety

Two things that are a huge problem in my life.  I suffer from horrible anxiety and the amount of socks I have to fold and pair just makes that anxiety worse.  One husband and three children equal a lot of socks.  Summer is over, back to school and this means more socks in the laundry.  To decrease my anxiety I really need answers that look into the depths of the sock-pairing quandary.

In the case of the mismatched socks you would think that making a pile for each color of socks and then you would divvy that up by pattern.  Yeah too much work.  How about this solution,   throwing out all of your socks and purchasing identical socks to avoid the problem entirely.  Yeah too expensive.  Leave it for your husband to do.  Well that does not work because he does not do it and now days go by and you have more socks to fold.  There is always that handy little gadget the sock saver that clips your socks together while in the laundry.  Well how the hell ya gonna get these kids to clip that on when I find most of the socks at the bottom of their bed sheets.  Yeah that’s not gonna work.

Then you have the issue of 1 man and 3 boys with similar socks.  Someone once told me to use a permanent marker and place a initial on the sock so you will know which socks is which.  So I tried it and here is how it worked.  J socks now fit D and D socks now fit C.  Big D socks now fit J and J and D fight over who is wearing who’s sock.  So if C is wearing a D sock D gets mad but D does not realize it does not fit him anymore it only fits C.  Then you have big D and little D confused over who’s is the owner of the D sock.  F this…..

Here is my solution:  Flip flops all year long – Your welcome