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My Teenager

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It hit me today…  I’m almost the mom of an adult.

By the time the twins are in kindergarten, I will be the mom of an adult.

Want to know how I figured that one out?  When I was sitting in the passenger seat of MY CAR while he drove us to his school.  Did you read that?  He DROVE me.

Sh**

And now that I’m a little more into my day, and the coffee has kicked in, I realized that my sleepless nights ahead will no longer come from the babies, but from my oldest.  I love that I have kids at all stages of life.  It allows me to relate to so many more moms and stories they tell, but it also allows me to be a little humble and gracious to the stages my kids are each going through because they are all so uniquely different.  Life lessons as a teenager are HARD.  They are beyond potty training accidents and sleep training and positive discipline (or not so positive in my case some days).  And they are not going to get easier.

These are legit life lessons.  I can’t grab his hand and pull him back out of the path of a car or hold him in the deep end.  I can’t kiss an owie to make it better or find his favorite blanket to cuddle.  (Well, I could, but… I’d lose the cool-mom points that I have still remaining).

My child is driving a huge metal object that weighs a ton (especially Betty… yeah, he drove Betty… that should be extra credit).  Mistakes mean potentially a lot of damage.  He did great- he’s so cautious.  My dad always told me to be on the defense, don’t assume anyone around you is a great driver.  I get it.  Aiden will be a great driver and he won’t be the kid that does a lot of stupid stuff (he probably will, but I’m going to play naive for now)- but it’s everyone else around him that worries me.  (Like the lady who was tailgating us through our neighborhood this morning as he was following the speed limit… man, did I want to get out of the car.  I didn’t.  I also only went to grab the wheel once… which I think is pretty good for a 5 minute drive!)

It’s not just physical mistakes.  The heart and brain life-lessons are hard, too.  He had a coach yesterday tell him some not great things (when I thought he played a freaking fantastic game and had two tricky corner kicks get past him… and all the other members on the team).  That hurts.  That stings.  And it’s hard to teach them that sometimes ADULTS forget they are dealing teenagers and that they shouldn’t take their frustrations of a tied game out on them.  On the flip side, he’s old enough to handle that now and we’re beyond everyone getting a trophy or medal for participation, or making a team because they will cash your check you write them (yeah, I said it- if you haven’t entered the world of club sports yet, just have your check book ready.)

And love… We’re not into dating yet (at least I don’t think he is).  And maybe the first broken heart will be his sister’s, and not his, but I’m not looking forward to that day.  What if he’s the one doing the heart breaking?  Lesson too, right?

So I have these toddlers learning life lessons through “yes”, “no”, “that hurts”, “that doesn’t hurt”, etc.  The “lessons” seem so small compared to what I’m dealing with in regards to the big kids.  (even though in that moment with the littles, I totally admit I often overreact and make them really a big deal).  And now I have this teenager, and another almost teenager, that are learning some really big stuff.  And unlike the littles, most of the bigs’ lessons, I just have to sit back and offer support.  I can’t take the lead.  I shouldn’t take the lead … if I did … they wouldn’t learn the lesson, right?  I have no control.  (There it is- my control issues).  I can’t be there to “fix” it like I do with the littles.  The bigs have ground they have to uncover themselves.  I can only hope I did lay their foundation right, and that I did everything I could during those small life lessons to create success (whatever that definition is) in the big life lessons that are about to come.  It also made me realize how important the littles’ life lessons really are.  They lay the foundation.

However, if Aiden and Lucy come to me one day looking for their blanket for comfort, or to kiss an owie, or pull them out of oncoming traffic.  You best believe I will be right there, cool mom points or not.

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The Drop-Off/Pick-Up Line

I feel like I should add “Dun-dun-duuuuuuuun!”

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Ugh- the drop-off/pick-up line… is there anything with back-to-school more terrible and wonderful at the same time?

So great to be able to drive your kiddo to school (or pick them up) and not have to get out of your car, right?  The rainy days, the busy days, the running-late days… I mean really, it saves the day sometimes.

But it also is going to FILL the Facebook Mom-Pages soon with posts and comments and opinions.  Even the quiet, go-with-the-flow mom has opinions about the drop-off/pick-up line.  And yes, even Kale-blending Cynthia, in her pilates pants will let you know how she feels.

For the newbie moms- it can be the utmost terrifying part of her OWN back-to-school time.  Everyone knows the “new parent” when it comes to the line, amiright?

After 8 years of experience at multiple schools- I think I’ve seen it all.  (every year surprises me though).  I’d like to think I have some expertise to share.

So how do you navigate it?  How do you keep it upheld in all its intended glory?  Don’t worry- I’ve compiled a list.

  1. DON’T BE A JERK.  I said it.  I’m not kidding.  I’m really not sure if there is any other advice that needs to be given.  You don’t know what that mom in the mini-van with the messy bun and glasses on went through 20 minutes before getting in that line.  Have patience.  Have grace.  (I also tell you this for your own good because she may truly be at her tipping point and I would hate for you to be on the receiving end of a tired mama-bear in a mini-van… and two tired mama-bears in mini-vans is probably one of the most terrifying things ever when they come in contact with each other).
  2. Follow the rules.  This can go with #1.  I’ll make it separate.  Someone has taken time to go through the safest and most efficient ways to get our kids into a building from giant moving pieces of steel and metal.  If they tell you don’t pull a u-turn, don’t do it.  If they tell you that you shouldn’t travel a certain direction down a street, or you should only turn one way when leaving the lot… then do that.  So driving the long way around takes a whole extra 2 minutes.  Great.  2 more minutes to talk to your kid OR enjoy the quiet.  DON’T be the parent that thinks the rules don’t apply to them.  They do.  They were actually written JUST for the parents that think rules don’t apply to them.
  3. Go with the flow.  Seriously- just watch and take it in and note what the other cars are doing.  You’ll see the veterans right away.  You could probably time them like a pitstop at the NASCAR races.  Pull up-unload- and green light, go!!  If the other cars aren’t parking and getting out of their cars… don’t do it!  If people aren’t getting out of their car to have a quick smoke break before their kid gets in… don’t do it!! (I wish I was lying when I said I haven’t seen this before… and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal on school grounds).  Observe, and follow.  And go with the flow.
  4. Don’t take anything out on the teachers or crossing guards.  Are you out there doing what they’re doing?  Are you going to plan on doing it?  No?  Ok- so don’t complain.  Unless you want to get out and do what they’re doing- then you have every right to complain.  If you’re sitting in the comfort of your car- keep opinions to yourself and maybe give them a smile and a wave.
  5. Make sure your kid is ready to get out.  But if they’re not, it’s ok.  They’re kids.  Not machines.  And if the person behinds you honks… smile, wave, and then send them this blog and ask them to refer to #1.

Seriously- back to school is crazy enough.  Let’s not make it more difficult on each other by making the parent drop-off/pick-up line something more than it is.  No power battles,  no races, no creating new rules… just take a deep breath, take a sip of that (probably now cold) coffee, smile, and go with the flow.  And then be thankful that something as crazy as the parent drop-off/pick-up line does exist.

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5 Mom Must-Dos for Back-To-School

School starts here in about a week.

I have 5 kids entering 3 different schools- (note: next year I will have 5 in 4 different schools- eek!).  This is the twins first year in preschool and this is a whole new ball game.  Making sure all 5 kids have their health forms, and we have all the appointments scheduled we need to schedule, and I’m making sure I’m not missing a back-to-school meeting at any of their schools.  I seriously could use a personal assistant just to keep me on top of it all, and they would be busy all.the.time.  Which got me to thinking- we do some much for them during this time of year… what are we doing for us?

While it’s important to make sure your kiddos are set for their “best year ever”, it’s also just as important that you are taking care of YOU.  Back-to-school can be just as stressful (if not more!) for moms than it is for the kids!  Let’s be real- have you felt totally lost and overwhelmed in the Target back-to-school section finding the exact color of folders, highlighters, the right number of markers, and telling your kids “no” to all the “extras” they want!? Or keeping track of all the paperwork and emails from the schools, only to find out you still don’t have it right?  Plus, we’re at the end of summer- and while we all started out with great intentions about “the best summer yet”, most of us are probably secretly… or not so secretly… counting down the days.

The overwhelm is real.

So what does a mom do?  No worries- I’ve compiled a list of some Mom Must-Do’s to fight the back to school overwhelm.

  1. It’s ok to say no.  Seriously.  To your kid… to friends… to the HSO committee (sorry!).  A wise person once told me that every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.  What are you gaining or sacrificing by saying yes to something?  Analyze what you are saying yes to!  It’s ok to say no.  (you can tell this to your kids too, they don’t have to sign up for everything under the sun)
  2. Move.  Whether it’s walking, running, working out, yoga, horse back riding, dancing, Zumba, whatever… just move.  There’s this whole science behind movement.  It can make you happier, relieve stress, help you sleep better… the list continues.  It doesn’t have to be long or intense- anything is better than nothing.  (and I mean, I may know a place that offers great classes with other moms… just saying)
  3. Take advantage of Sundays- they are a great way to reset for the week with your family.  Take the time to go over what is happening in the week ahead.  Practices, games, meetings, projects, big assignments… put it all out there and make sure everyone is on the same page.  This will help you prepare for events and not be caught off guard.  This can also help with meal planning!  Have games and meetings all afternoon Tuesday?  Sounds like a great night for a crockpot meal that can cook all day and people can eat as they come and go.
  4. Create a happy space… and go there.  Maybe it’s your kitchen, room, office.  Spend time there alone each day.  Maybe it’s waking up 30 minutes before your kids do and enjoying a cup of coffee or your favorite book or journal and spending time just being able to focus on you.  Maybe you’re more of a night person… spend time then focusing on you and setting your intentions for the next day.  Give your mind time to breathe.
  5. Drink water.  You think I’m kidding and I’m not.  It’s easy and it’s simple and the health benefits are abundant.  Half your body weight in ounces of water.  You’ll thank me.  Maybe not the first few days (or nights!), but eventually you will.  You’re future self will thank you as well.

The most important thing is to not forget about you.  Take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of you for your kiddos as they are about to start the next school year.  Don’t get lost in the overwhelm.  You got this, mama.

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A New Chapter

So I’m starting a thing.  Mama-Bear is taking over the page.

I definitely don’t consider myself the expert of all experts, but I think I’ve had a little “life-experience”.

As a wife, mom of 5, and entrepreneur… I always get asked how I do it all.

Sometimes I do it all… and sometimes I fail miserably.  So why not learn from my mistakes? Or my successes?  I have 5 kids- all in different stages of life (except, of course, for the twins.  But even they are so different).

I’d like to think I’ve been through a lot that other moms can relate to.  Easy pregnancies, high-risk pregnancies, twin pregnancies, early miscarriages, second trimester loss, breastfeeding, formula fed, first and second marriages, blended families, leaving a career to start a business, potty training, driver’s ed, tween girls, and a child that we are going to have an “alive at 5” party for when he turns 5.  I wish I was kidding.  (It’s a Hard Knox Life).

You can receive all the life-hacks and goodness in four different ways

  1. Follow this Blog
  2. Like (and follow) my Facebook Page HERE
  3. Like (and follow) my Instagram Page HERE
  4. Sign up for one of our bi-monthly Workshops in Oswego (found on Eventbrite and Facebook)

Can’t wait to connect with you more.  If you have a mom-hack you are looking for- shoot me a message.  If I don’t have the answer- I will find someone that does!!

-Lisa PBL_1273hs

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you might be a toddler if…

Hey- I’m Knox- I’m 3.  Maybe you remember me.  Its been a while since I’ve been able to write about life as I know it… so here I am.  Back again.

Its been so long since I was able to sit down and write that I should fill you in on a few things.  First of all- I’m 3 and in preschool and loving every minute of it.  The twins- yeah, they’re still around and they are 2 (and craaazzzyy).  Didi (Lucy) is in 5th grade and Charlie (Aiden) is in high school now and I LOVE hanging out with him and his friends.

So this post is all about me.  Yup, just me.  Thought I would fill you in on a few of my favorite things to do:

  1. TAG-TEAM:  Many of you know I used to like to pick on the twins.  Especially Grif (only because he cries all.the.time).  But its crazy.  One day it just happened.  I realized Grif was bigger than me.  And he bites.  And he can fight back.  So I don’t pick on them (as much… let’s be honest… I still do, sometimes) and instead I have learned that I can get a lot more accomplished if there is more than just me.  So I recruit them.  Like when I need to reach the fish food on the shelf, or dump toys and electronics into the fish tank, or get food or candy I’m not supposed to, or fill up cups of water and dump them on the floor… you get it.  It definitely helps having power in numbers.  The twins are pretty helpful when it comes to this stuff.
  2. PAINT: I’m super good at painting.  Painting with paint, water, play-doh.  I paint on paper or walls.  Anything works, really.  Play-doh on walls works really well (and I guess is super hard to get off of walls- who knew?)
  3. HAMSTER HELPER: Didi got a new pet.  I want a pet too.  Mom says no.  So instead, I try to help Didi as much as possible with her new pet.  Her name is Ginger.  Didi keeps her door locked now so I can’t get in to check on Ginger anymore.  I used to check on her while Didi was at school, and one day Ginger looked lonely so I got her out to play with her and she just ran away.  She came back to dad though and crawled into his hand, which is good.  I was worried.  But ever since then- I’m not allowed in Didi’s room.  So now I have my own pretend Hamster named Ginger that I take care of (though she isn’t as fun as the real one).  She lives in one of mom’s bird cages on the shelf and I like
  4. FISH FEEDER: So Charlie has a bunch of fish in our house and I’m really good at feeding them.  Fish are hungry.  A  lot.  So I feed them as much as I can, whenever I can.  I even put in some toys and XBOX remotes one day for them to play with, but mom wasn’t happy.  Have you ever tried fish food?  Its not that bad.
  5. OUTDOOR EXPLORER:  Being outside is my favorite.  I love being outside.  I love to go for walks and see new things like the diggers at the end of the street and talk to my next door neighbor Mr. Franklin.  He’s one of my favorite people.  He has a cane and just laughs at whatever I say.  I told my mom I want a cane like that for my birthday.  I also can open doors now and have tried to go for a walk a couple times on my own, but mom doesn’t seem to think that’s a good idea.
  6. SUPERSTAR: I guess mom and dad used to like to karaoke a lot.  So mom set up their old karaoke machine in our basement and it has TWO WORKING MICROPHONES!  Griffin and I are really good at singing duets.  Our two favorites right now are Happy Birthday and Go Cubs Go.  Do you know how loud it can get when him and I are both yelling into the microphones?  So loud.  Its awesome.  We also have some pretty intense dance parties and Whitney is a really good dancer.

 

So those are just a few of the things I like to do to keep me busy.  I love my family and love hanging out with my older siblings and get super excited when dad comes home from work.  The twins are ok, but still get in the way sometimes… ok, they get in the way a lot.  And even though my mom gets upset sometimes, I love snuggling with her and giving her lots of hugs and kisses.  She loves snuggles (and taking deep breaths and reminding herself that this is all a phase and that it goes by too quickly).

 

 

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Knox’s Top 10

Well its been awhile since my mom has let me update this thing.  Can’t imagine why.  The twins are on the move.  And by “on the move”, I mean “tag team partners that climb, fall, walk, run, roll, hide, and move… sometimes together…but usually in opposite directions making it entertaining to watch mom and dad reel them back in”

See, its funny… they think they are big.  Like me.  They aren’t.  But I let them think they are.  So they copy what I do.  Which never ends well.  Griffin usually ends up in tears.  The kid is always crying.  I take great pride in knowing exactly what to do to push his button.  It really doesn’t take much.  Sometimes just a quick chase down the hall is enough to bring the tear flowing.  Mom gets mad.  Thankfully the kid hasn’t figured out he is as big as me yet.

Whitney- well- I try not to mess with her.  She’s some kind of crazy.  I try to do the same things to her that I do to Griffin, but then usually I’m the one that ends up crying.  Embarrassing to admit, but its true.  Mom and Dad keep saying she’s tiny but mighty.  And they say she’ll beat anyone up that tries to mess with Griffin.  Thankfully she hasn’t tried to beat me up yet.  I mean – I could totally take her…right… totally…  Anyway- she feisty when she actually lets dad put her down.  Its crazy… she has dad wrapped around her finger.  He literally tries to set her down for two seconds to do something and she hits the floor like an angry elf and sure enough, he picks her right back up.  Her game is on!  Maybe she’ll give me lessons…hmmmm….

Charlie and DeeDee (you know them as Aiden and Lucy) are probably the best big brother and sister ever.  They let me hang out with them and do big kid stuff.   I help Charlie feed his fish and get to sit in DeeDees room with her and watch TV.  They say its so I don’t get in trouble from mom.  I think its because I’m a cool kid and they just want to hang out with me.  I watch out the window every day for them to get off the bus and miss them when they aren’t home.

So because its been so long- I’ve decided to make a Top 10 list of sorts.  The Top 10 things in the Hard-Knocks Life of Knox right now:

  1.  The Pantry.  Not only is it stacked with food, but now mom and dad only keep the food on the top shelves and the bottom shelves are totally empty.  Don’t worry.  I figured out how to climb it.  (as are all the other shelves that are low to the ground in our house… all empty… hmm… wonder what’s going on).
  2. The Front Door.  It opens.  I can open it.  I can open it half naked and run down the sidewalk.  I run fast.  Have you ever seen mom sprinting frantically down the sidewalk chasing a half naked boy?  You should.  Its funny.  (Hint: best time to attempt this is when she’s in the middle of changing a messy diaper…trust me…I know)
  3. The Toilet.  I can go on it.  When I want to.  Its a really fun guessing game for mom and dad.  Whitney’s starting to mimic me.  Dad thinks she will be potty trained before me.  That’s what he thinks.  I’m really potty trained.  I just like to make life interesting.
  4. The iPad.  Mom lets me watch it a lot when she’s “working”.  Fine with me.  There are these great songs about Mommy Fingers and Daddy Fingers that I listen to on REPEAT!  They’re the best.  And the videos with kids opening up toys.  Genius.  Kids open toys.  That’s it!  And they’re all over YouTube.  All day.  Every day.
  5. Mud.  And Rocks.  And Dirt.  And Ants.  And Worms.  Worms are my favorite.  I save them when it rains.  But you shouldn’t eat them.  That’s gross.   I tell everyone.
  6. Naps.  Mom wanted me to write this so I remember this one day.  She has Griffin and Whitney and I all taking 2 to 3 hour naps at the same time.  Of course, its when the babysitters are here and mom is at work.  But she seems to think this won’t last long and wants me to remember when I loved naps.
  7. My Birthday.  Mom keeps saying its coming up.  She’s been saying that for awhile.  I’m having a Captain America Birthday party with a very specific invite list and a chocolate Batman Cake.  I just keep walking around singing Happy Birthday until it actually happens.
  8. Chocolate.  Except I never get it anymore.  Mom says I’m crazy when I have chocolate.  I love chocolate.  Chocolate’s my favorite.  And sugar.  Does syrup have sugar in it?  Then yes.  That’s my favorite, too.
  9. Stroller Strides.  Mom started a new company and we get to go workout with her.  We sing songs while the moms work out.  I play games and eat a lot of snacks.  I love yelling really loud when she’s teaching (I actually love teaching the class but she won’t let me) and then as soon as class is over, we talk about how it was such a fun Stroller Strides class.  Griffin, Whitney and I each have our own stroller at home, so we get to have our own classes when get home.  I have a lot of muscles and can do a lot of pushups.
  10. My family.  I love to play with dad, wear his baseball hat, and ride in his car.  Mom gives me snuggles and takes me outside.  Charlie lets me feed his fish and hang out with him building trains.  DeeDee watches out for me and tries to keep me from getting into timeouts.  Whitney is alright.  She thinks I’m funny and laughs at me as long as I’m not picking on her.  And Griffin is alright too.  He’s finally not a baby anymore and will play with me now.  But he still cries a lot when he doesn’t do what I want and I have to hit him or take a toy away to get him to listen. But he will learn one day.  I do love to make them all laugh.  They think I will be the class clown… like my dad.

Life as a big brother to twins is hard… but someone’s got to do it.  Hopefully mom will let me on here some more so I can keep you all up to date on them and all their craziness.

-Knox

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