Survival of the fittest…

Reunited and it felt so good!  Pine Cove 14 is in the books!

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We survived a week at Pine Cove.  Some parts of the “we” were actually at the camp, some were not.  I would say the one who got to actually be at camp had a much easier time.  I missed Bree way more than I thought I would.  Wait, that sounds kinda bad.  Of course I missed her, I’m her mom.  But I had no idea that I would feel it in the pit of my stomach each and everyday and that time would move SOOOOOOO slowly.  Truthfully the only thing that got me through were the pictures that Pine Cove posted on 3 of the days.  I so looked forward to looking for Bree’s face in the hundred or so pics they posted.  Even if I didn’t see her, I got to see the types of things they were doing and that made me feel connected.  But when I saw her face, it was just like finding the jackpot.  I was instantly reminded that this was such a great experience for her and I just needed to put my big girl panties on and go to work.

Pine Cove Day 1

From what I have seen and heard from Bree, her first camp experience was everything we could have hoped for and much much more.  I had a dream while she was gone at camp that she would run up to me the day we came to pick her up and tell me that camp was “oh so fun” but that she never wanted to do it again.  This would have made me sad, but it would have been okay as well!

My subconscious was concerned for nothing.

She did run up to me on the last day of camp and tell me that camp was “oh so fun” and after the world’s most amazing hug (see below), all she wanted to talk about was heading to the camp store to buy some more souvenirs!  To say she’s hooked on Pine Cove would be an understatement.

Never fear, I always have tons of questions:

Me: What was your favorite activity?
Bree: Breathtaker (apparently it a high ropes course option that she almost cried on but it became her favorite).  I’ll show you what it looks like on the video, mom!

Me:  How was the food?
Bree: So good and we got these snacks with a cookie on both sides and ice cream in the middle for snack everyday!  (Oh to have her metabolism)

Me: Did you like all your cabinmates?
Bree:  Yes, but I love the counselors the best.

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Me: What was your favorite theme night?
Bree:  Pitch Black Attack – I got to use my night vision goggles.

Pine Cove Day 2

Me:  Why didn’t you wear your big hawaiian hat we packed for theme night?
Bree:  I liked the flower my cabinmate gave me better.

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Mom:  How was the blob?
Bree:  AMAZING!

Me:  Did you write me a letter?
Bree:  Mom, there wasn’t a lot of time to write.  I only had time to write Bennett, Julia (her best friend) and Audrey (her cousin).  You and Grammy sent me so much mail that it took all of FOB (Flat on Back) time to open and read them.  #campproblems

Me:  Did it rain a lot?
Bree:  Only one day and a lot at night, but we played this fun ball game when it rained.

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Me:  What horse did you ride?
Bree:  Polka, she was named that because she had a big spot on her.

Me:  What did you learn about Jesus?
Bree:  He gives us armor to wear to live life!

Me:  Did you miss me?
Bree: So much!!

Me:  Do you want to come back next year?
Bree:  Yep, I can’t wait to see all my counselor friends!

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 Pinprobs and Bree – so grown up!14To07-02- 075

So that pretty much wraps up her week.  I had no less than 5 counselors brag on Bree and tell me that they wanted her to stay the rest of summer.  She was definitely in her element!

Pine Cove again knows how to do this camp thing right.  They had a great way to wrap up camp for the the families.  We arrived at camp about 8:30 (I just couldn’t wait until 9 to see her).  Luckily they were bringing out all their stuff and I spotted Bree a few minutes after arriving.  We hugged and hugged and hugged.  I just couldn’t let her go.  We then got to explore and SHOP and hang out until it was time to head to the dining hall for the final assembly.

Bree headed back to be with her cabin and the rest of camp starting singing songs as they waited to come greet us inside.

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After they headed in, we got to hear all the songs they had been singing all week and watch the camp video and engage in prayers of thanksgiving for such a great week.

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Then each counselor gave a small speech about each of their campers!  Pinprobs said that Bree was just so “loving” – I can’t imagine a better description!

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Final pic with our bunkmate and camp bff Lindy!2014-07-19 09.54.39

Hey Pine Cove…see ya next year!2014-07-19 09.57.51

Not sure Pine Cove is ready yet for the #redheadedwonderboy, but he sure is!2014-07-19 09.58.07

 One final cookie sandwich before we hit the road!2014-07-19 10.06.36

Funny faces by Bauer!
2014-07-19 08.35.32And of course more swinging….the promise of swinging is how we got the boys up so early!
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Murphy party of five!2014-07-19 10.36.01-1

Daddy’s turn…2014-07-19 10.40.15

Glad we had just enough silly string left for the drive out of camp!2014-07-19 10.44.39

So so proud of this girl!2014-07-19 10.46.32

About half way home, she finally gave into sleep!  Her baby brother joined in as well!
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 Camp is hard work, but so so worth it!  Maybe next year I’ll even get a letter!

 

Posted in Bree, Parenthood | Leave a comment

The middle cinnamon roll…

Bauer would eat cinnamon rolls every morning for breakfast.

Before you go disowning me thinking I’m baking before the sun rises each day, he’s only ever known these kind of cinnamon rolls in his short life:

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And yes, I get the reduced fat because I care!

Baking these does require an oven and 12 minutes of my time.  Some mornings, there isn’t enough time because Murphys would never be confused with morning people.  But normally if there is a tube in the fridge, I’ll find 12 minutes to start his day off without tears (at least about breakfast).

Like my mom, I arrange these fabulous cinnamon rolls in a circle all touching each other with one cinnamon roll in the middle.  That one cinnamon roll is my favorite.  It is just soft and full of the wonderful frosting.  It’s like its protected from getting crusty by all the other ones.  If I could eat cinnamon rolls everyday, I’d fight my 5 year old for the middle one.

This morning, Bree saw me making cinnamon rolls and quickly asked if she could have the middle one.  I just looked at her.  She never really eats cinnamon rolls.  Her favorite “healthy” breakfast is frozen pancakes/waffles or pancake wrapped sausage on a stick (yep, its a real thing).  My kids should officially weigh 500 pounds each based on breakfast alone.

My initial instinct was to tell her “no” about the middle cinnamon roll.  Bauer gets the middle cinnamon roll.  But then I thought, is it fair that he always gets it?  Can he call dibbs on the middle cinnamon roll for the rest of his life in this house?

Then I wondered if  she was wanting it just for the sake of making Bauer mad.  Does she really want the middle cinnamon roll or does she just not want him to have it.  I asked her that question.  She said she really wanted it.  I said okay but told her not to make a big deal about it.

Two minutes later, Bauer comes in asking if he can have the middle cinnamon roll.  My first thought is “BREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”!  My instincts rarely fail me.  I knew then there was more to this story!

In the end I gave it to Bree because she asked first and looked me in the eye and said she was just in the mood for cinnamon rolls.  Bauer cried a lot, but eventually ate a couple other ones (there are 8 in each package) that had been in the outer circle.  I’ll know tonight if he survived (after I pick him up from daycare).  My bets are that he hasn’t thought about the middle cinnamon roll one time since breakfast.

I, on the other hand, thought a lot about the middle cinnamon roll today.  I think it just represents how much trickier this parenting gig is going to get.  Up until this point, young kids do things wrong all the time, but they aren’t truly malicious about them.  There is a lot of correcting of behavior, but there is also a pretty easy black and white definition of right and wrong.  Ever since Bree turned 7, I’ve seen the “age of reason” hit with hurricane force winds.  It’s like we moved to the next level of the parenting game again without getting any further instruction.  Now there is motive behind most of her actions.  I can see the wheels turning before she asks for something.  She hides the fact that she snuck one more dessert after bedtime.  When she gets caught doing something wrong, her immediate reaction is to DENY DENY DENY.   Oh and if you don’t watch her, she will find a way to win any board game even if it means breaking a few rules.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s still a great kid with mostly good intentions, but the dynamic is shifting quickly.  A couple years ago, I wouldn’t have questioned her desire for the middle cinnamon roll or a particular tv show or sitting in the middle van seat.  Now, I see her doing things just to make her brother mad and then in true sibling form, he immediately repeats the behavior against her.  I’m seeing human nature and free will come out as clear as day.

I totally get that some of these dynamics are sibling related, but I also know that what happens at home will be repeated outside our doors.  If I don’t call her out on this behavior at home, then this behavior will be repeated at school, church, camp, etc.  She’s learning boundaries and I think we all understand if you watch the news just once in a blue moon that boundaries are something all kids need to learn and the faster the better.

I’m trying to not be too hard on myself.  Just like with my college students, I try to balance being reactive vs. being proactive.  It’s hard to be too proactive because then it appears that you are assuming your kid has not nice intentions and in the end you don’t want to give them any ideas.

Overall, I really do try to trust that she is acting with the best intentions 99 percent of the time.  I pray for her.  I keep a watchful eye.  I pray for Sean and I that we can master this next level of parenting.

And if worse come to worse, maybe next time I’m just gonna say screw the eating healthy and eat that middle cinnamon roll.

 

Posted in Bauer, Bree, Parenthood | Leave a comment

The camper life for me…

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I hear Bennett playing Star Wars in the bathtub and I’ve called Bauer’s name several times trying to get him in the shower (to no avail).  It’s only been a few hours since we left Bree at camp, but I catch myself thinking she’s in her room or watching a show on the brown couch.  She’s spent the night away from home too many times to count, but this is different.  It’s not really the fact that I’m not going to see her for 6 days, but I’m not going to talk to her for 6 days.  Now that is weird.  I won’t know if she liked what they served for dinner or if she got to ride the white horse we saw driving into camp or what she will buy from the camp store for 6 more days.  Some parents were weepy at drop-off.  I was just amazed how she never wavered.  She was so brave…so sure this was going to be the best 6 days of her life that when I asked her if she wanted to walk us back out to the car, she said no.  ”I’m good mom, I want to stay in my cabin!”  Well then….that just happened.

While I’m feeling a little incredulous that this is happening right now, I’m also laughing.  Because as with most things in Murphyland, it was all my idea!  But I’m okay feeling a little weirded out if it means that Bree can have this awesome camp experience.  I think.  I’m sure the week will fly by and I’ll be wondering why I didn’t appreciate having only 2 kids more.  But tonight, I feel a little out of sorts.

So I guess I’ll just recap how I got myself into this predicament:

Ever since I worked at Camp Champions for three summers in college as a camp counselor, I knew my kids would go to camp.  I just knew what a huge character building experience it was for the kids in my cabins and loved the idea that my kids would learn a little independence and self-reliance along the way.  Even though I loved my time at Camp Champions on Lake LBJ, I knew sending them to there for a 3 week session would be too hard on the pocket book and my mental state, so I was open to other options.

I take my UTD Greek leaders every January to Pine Cove for our FSL Retreat and I was in the dining hall last year when I just started looking through their brochures.  I saw that campers can come for a week in the summer when they are going into 2nd grade and that just happened to fit Bree’s profile this summer.  I was really impressed with the staff each time we went to Pine Cove plus I truly believe that you cannot possible have enough Jesus in your life so it seemed like all the pieces were falling into place.

Sean was on board (cost and all) if Bree was committed to going.  From the minute I showed Bree all the pictures on the website, she was ready.  She thought it seemed like a perfectly normal thing for her to do.  It didn’t matter that none of her friends were going or that she would spend a week at a place she had never laid eyes on before.

In a nutshell, she’s is so my daughter and we never looked back.  I registered her back in March and before we knew it summer was here.

As chance would have it another little girl, Lindy, who goes to our church was going the same week.  Her mom and I met for dinner and introduced the girls.  They hit it off famously and we immediately requested they be cabin mates.  Lindy’s mom had a older camper too so she was able to answer my million questions and that put much of my uncertainty at rest as well.  WIN/WIN!

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Over the weeks leading up to camp, Bree perfected the 2 minute shower (she knew there would be a whole cabin of girls waiting to get clean).  She also decorated her trunk and I was able to just “help” her and not let my type A perfectionism cramp her style.

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We started packing a week ago and Bree followed the packing list provided by Pine Cove down to the last letter.  I put three pairs of pjs in her trunk and she quickly told me the packing list only asked for 2.  WOW.  She helped think up what to wear for her theme nights (which they have 5 of….OMG!) and is truly convinced that she will fill the 25 stamped and addressed envelopes with letters while she is there.  She is a self proclaimed camping pro and novice all at the same time.  If only there was a video feed live from her cabin.  It would be classic.  I’d have to take off of work for sure just to watch.

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Bree only wavered in her commitment to do this camping thing once in the last 5 months. And all it took was me showing her the website pictures again to remind her why she had been so excited to begin with.  Good job website developer!  This seven year old is just insanely confident she can do whatever she puts her mind too.  Oh if I could bottle up that confidence for 10 years from now.

All week she has been counting down the days to leave for camp.  Today I opened my eyes from a deep slumber and heard “Pine Cove” come from a very excited girl.

We decorated the car with shoe polish, got the silly string ready to go, packed up her trunk and some Murphy boys and hit the road after church.

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We timed our departure to have a lunch break on the road.  We pulled into the DQ outside of Canton with a bunch of other future Pine Cove friends.

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Without even saying it, Sean and I knew we had just created a “tradition” of eating at DQ before camp for the rest of our foreseeable future.

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It was a monumental stop as Bree had her first blizzard (m&m)!  This day probably couldn’t have gotten much better.  Oh wait, that camp thing.

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We got back on the road and there was excitement every time we saw another decorated van or SUV headed the Pine Cove direction.  Once we got close, Bree humored me and posed for the token “I’m going to camp at Pine Cove” pictures.

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Then she and Bauer enjoyed hanging out of the sunroof while we inched along the camp road.

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2014-07-13 14.49.01They even humored me with a “selfie” when I cheered and stood up through the sunroof!

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Having worked at camp before, I can honestly say these Pine Cove (PC) peps have this whole thing down to a science.  But in a “I’m gonna make you feel so special that you are coming to Pine Cove” way.  We made our way in the 100 degree heat (thank goodness rain and a cold front are headed in on Tuesday) across camp.  All along the way, I think we were both in awe that all those pictures on the website were now life size.  Sooooo cool.

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I dropped off all Bree’s “mail” at the assigned spot and they wrote her cabin name on every piece.  These PC people are so smart and tell you to just mark what day you want the mail delivered and don’t worry about that pesky USPS.  Over the past couple weeks, in an effort to make sure Bree would not get homesick, I recruited friends and family to write her letters. I put together 5 packages with fun stuff and all the letters to be “mailed” each day of the week and put one on her bunk for tonight.  Grammy did the same.  She’s going to be inundated to say the least!

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We found Lindy before we even made it to the cabin and were “relieved” to hear that she had saved Bree a bunk.  In my mind, I was screaming, “Please let it be the top bunk!!!” as this was Bree’s most dire request when camping was first talked about.  But my words said, “That is so awesome, Bree, you and Lindy are officially bunkmates!”

Luckily, God has an amazing way of surprising Bree and I when we deserve it the least:

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The boys were obsessed with Bree’s new top bunk as well!

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All the counselors at Pine Cove have funny or just fun names.  I was warned abut this by Lindy’s mom so I was ready when the girl in the parking lot introduced herself as “Burn Baby Burn” and was more than slightly amused when Bree’s counselor said her name was “Pin Probs” (short for Pinterest Problems…not sure she could be more perfect for my craft-loving daughter).  She is a junior at Texas Tech (just can’t get away from those Red Raiders) and seemed to have an answer for any question I could think of.  I asked what they do when it rains (its supposed to rain all but one day this week) and she said they switch things around of the girls don’t miss any of their fun activities.  The perfect answer for a mom who has been fretting about the weather all week and pictured all that money being paid for her daughter to build forts in her cabin.  It’s like these people are professionals.

After a quick swim test and a trip back to the cabin to change, Bree hugged all of us and was ready to assume her new camp life.  Bye guys, catch ya on Saturday!

So the Murphy family of four headed out.  We were going to the car when Bauer remembered the awesome swings we had passed on the way in.  An hour later after lots of swinging and a bit of miniature golf, we left the Pine Cove utopia and headed home.

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After the amazing time swinging, golfing and the sighting of a huge angry bird, it will not be hard to convince these guys to come back here again and again!  Maybe even on Saturday :)

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So here’s to a week praying for my Bree to be loved on by her new PC family and for me to enjoy living the boy mom life.

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Posted in Bauer, Bennett, Bree, Kid Adventures, Motherhood, Parenthood | Leave a comment

Magical powers

magical powers blog

I wrote this snarky yet very truthful status this morning on facebook.  I find it hilarious and extremely annoying that my kids have no concept of the “right” time to ask me a question or for a favor.  They just ask.  I could be in the middle of 18 things but they are oblivious regardless of how many times I point it out.  If I had a quarter for the number of times I have said, “Do I look like I’m just hanging out doing nothing?!!”  They always just stare at me like they don’t understand the words I just said and repeat their request with more urgency.

This morning when I was in the middle of our “dash out of the house” routine and Bauer asked me so nonchalantly if I could just turn up the volume of Frozen in the van.  It finally clicked.  He thinks I have magical powers to do things no other person would be able to do!  It seems comical, but it’s true.

To them, I really do have magical powers.  I have (despite how poorly I judge my performance some days) always met Every.Single.One. of their needs for as long as they can remember.  I’m their person.  I’m their mom.  They don’t know or care that most of the time I have no idea what I am doing.  They don’t know that when they were born (especially Bree) I performed a comedy routine (with crying fits thrown in for good measure) everyday in my care for them.  Burping, feeding, wrapping like a burrito – it was all learned on the fly.  There is no real way to prepare and eventually you are so tired that you learn that making it up is the only way you are going to survive.

I regularly pull fruit snacks out of my purse, have a band-aid ready when they least expect it, know the answer to any question on the schedule, and frequently provide meals on consecutive days.  I find new shows for them to love on Netflix, always know when it is time for new pants or shoes and make life look pretty darn seamless 86 percent of the time.

So without meaning to, I’m realizing now that I have set the bar extremely high.  Moms are selfless like that.  No wonder Bauer thinks my third arm will appear at any point to turn up the volume right when he asks.  He’s not trying to be rude or inconsiderate or funny, he just knows I’m kinda awesome!

Or he’s just clueless.

Probably a little of both!

I think even when we grow up, moms continue to have magical powers.  We can’t or won’t let that expectation go.  At 35, my mom is typically my first call whenever I need help sorting through a kid issue, a friend issue, a wardrobe issue.  She’s my person.  In case you didn’t know, she has these magical powers that just let her do a million things at one time.

Last night, I asked my mom about taking care of the kids for some time in August and she with what could have been tears (but I’m assuming was just twinkle) in her eyes, admitted for the first time that she thought taking care of them for that amount of time would just be too much.  I totally get it!  At 35, I never get into bed at the end of the day without thinking, my kids are too much!  Despite my initial disappointment that would have to find alternative childcare, I was just so thankful to have a mom that could be so brutally honest.  She’s magical like that.  My mom was showing me that its okay to have boundaries, that at some point the third arm gets to disappear for good and doing 5 things at once is just as fulfilling as doing 18.

We talked a bit more and then knowing I had been on my own with the kids all week with Sean out of town, mom’s magical powers came out in full force.  She fed me and the kids dinner and helped me take the kids to the pool dealing with two almost potty accidents along the way.

She always makes everything better!

Watching your parents get older and take on different roles is strange.  And I’m sure it is just as strange for them.  But they never stop using those magical powers to fix stuff, to call you out when you are acting crazy, and in the end just love you on good days and bad.

I’m so thankful for the chance to get to be the mom with magical powers for my kids.  I’ll still complain about their horrible timing because regardless of the magical powers, I’m still only human!

Here’s to moms everywhere who perform magic shows for kid audiences of all ages day after day!

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Posted in Bauer, Bennett, Bree, Kid Adventures, Motherhood, Parenthood | Leave a comment

Cracked…

So I’m an official iphone owner now!  And by official I mean I have my first cracked screen! My beloved iphone has a spider web of cracks down its shiny face!  Luckily the can of Pam baking spray that fell out of the cabinet onto it while I was cooking dinner (yep, this is the reward I get for actually cooking dinner) hit the top right corner so the main screen is still readable and usable.  You just have to look a bit closer through the lines scrolling down the screen.

To say I lost it a little bit would be an understatement.  I was mainly mad because I have been trying to leave my phone in the bedroom once I’m home so I can will not be as distracted around the kids.  I had only brought it out of the bedroom to look up how long to cook tilapia (yep I was cooking fish).  And boom, cracked screen.

A few passive, aggressive pouts and loud words later,  the kids had distanced themselves from the crazy.  I somehow tried to blame Sean for my broken screen because I felt apparently at that moment I was only cooking dinner for him.  He didn’t distance himself quite fast enough.

I did bring myself back down to the perspective of #firstworldproblems pretty quick and Sean ordered me a new screen which he will expertly install this weekend!  No harm no foul!  Right???!!!

Using the phone with the shattered screen this week has really got me thinking.  I have captured some pretty amazing videos and photos of my kids this week despite not being able to see them as well when I record them.  The videos still turn out perfect (except when I turn my phone and they come out sideways – when will I learn???).  The pictures I’ve taken are still adorable (#biasedmom).  I can text and send messages and no one knows or cares that my screen is shattered.

I think it was a good reminder to me that our physical being will never be perfect.  We are all slightly (or on somedays) completely cracked.  But it doesn’t mean we can’t say a nice word to someone or smile as we walk down the hall.  It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful at work or as a parents or have an incredible idea.  Most of the time we are the only ones who even know we are cracked.  It upsets us more than anyone else.

I’m reading this book right now online with a group of ladies called Limitless Life.  It talks about all the negative labels (cracks) we put on ourselves that hold us back from living the life we can and should live.  God didn’t put any labels on us, that is all our own doing.  I’m working hard to identify all those labels and get rid of them.  When I started reading the book I thought the only way to get rid of the negative ones was to replace them with positive ones.  However, after further thought that just seems silly.  Labels are labels.  They still hold us back.  My prayer is that I can wake up each day and just try to be the best Julie I can be.  It may look different every day.  I just want to work hard while being a present mother, wife and friend.  I want to be grateful.  I want to be God loving.  I want to be authentic, cracks and all.

This takes the pressure off.  It doesn’t make me less cracked but it takes the focus off the cracks.  It is easy to hide behind labels.  But once you take them off, life really can be limitless.  Hopefully I can make this my true reality everyday.  Lots of prayers ahead.

Metaphorically, having no labels means I am still taking pictures with the cracked phone and making memories in this amazing life.  God and those who know me intimately know my cracks and love me anyhow.  Apparently, I’m the only one who is having a hard time loving my cracked self.

I look at my kids and know that these guys head to dream land each night knowing that they get a fresh start the next day.  They aren’t perfect and I definitely know their cracks better than even they do.  But they live fully regardless of obstacles and frustrations they come across (and you know there are a lot of frustrations for 3, 5 and 7 year olds).

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My biggest gift to them as their mom is that they see me loving myself and this life so they won’t ever stop doing the exact same thing!  It is a limitless life and I pray that God can help me shred my insecurities and fear about the future and just live the life he has planned.

This is one of the most thought provoking lines I’ve read in Limitless Life so far: “God has a stunning vision for your life, but if He showed it to you all at once, it would be too much to handle.  In His grace, He gives small glimpses at a time and His unimaginable vision for your life can only unfold as you have the courage, like David, to move into the unknown.” (Gray, 2014)

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 Here’s to new adventures minus the labels and a limitless life!

Posted in Bauer, Bennett, Bree, Motherhood | 1 Comment

Supermom has exited the building…

This school thing, work thing and mom thing all combined is tough folks!

But I’m doing it.  I’m not going to rate how I’m doing it, but I’m doing it.

I love when I started this blog I had such high hopes of documenting life with kids.  I was a bit idealistic to say the least.  I didn’t envision 3 kids probably at that point or working full time and starting a doctorate for sure.  So it seems instead of chronicling everyday life, the blog has become more about birthdays and holidays, which for as crazy as life is, I think is pretty darn good!  I think what I hoped more than anything with this blog, is that I would have it to read when the last kid headed off to college and I sat in an empty house wondering why it went so darn fast (while I planned my trip around the world).  I want to remember the funny things they say and the arguments we have and the ways I learned to hold on and let go.

I’m on a short (too short) 4 week break from classes right now, so I’m trying to get my to do list of life parred down.  Blogging was on the list….so here we are.

I went up to Bree’s school today to surprise her with ice cream during lunch.  I had been promising for weeks to eat lunch with her.  Unbeknownst to me, there was also a PTA meeting scheduled for that day.  Bree asked during the course of lunch why I wasn’t going to that meeting as she had seen some of her friends’ moms come in the door to attend.  I told her that they normally met during then day and with my work schedule it wasn’t something I could commit to.  Then she asked why I had to work and not pick her up in carpool everyday.

A couple years ago, this conversation would have been my worst nightmare as I was convinced all the choices I was making as a mom were probably wrong.  But I have come a long, long way.  I simply answered her that I like working.  I followed up with her liking to have new clothes and go to the doctor and my job allowing for that to happen.  I didn’t even take the time to point out all the other ways I volunteer up at school or in her life.  I wasn’t trying to prove a point to myself which is all that would have happened.  Her mind had already moved on to her ice cream and her friend coming up for a hug.

I’ve become surprisingly okay with my choices in regards to parenting.  Do I sometimes wonder what my life would have looked like had I stayed home? Sure.  Do I look at the clock around 2:45 and think about Bree headed to after school care?  Yep.  But I don’t feel any guilt about it anymore.  AND THAT IS SOOOOOO LIBERATING!

I’m not sure how or when it happened, but it did.  I’m learning to quiet those voices in my head that make me wonder about all the other options all the time.  It’s not fool proof, but like anything else it is a process.  Supermom has exited the building and everyone is still alive and well.

Part of this change is probably due to seeing my kids getting older and excelling in different areas.  You begin to think you haven’t screwed up too much when your kid seems pretty well adjusted, has friends, is performing well in school, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, it takes a village, so I in no way credit myself for all of that!  However, it does help you realize that loving your kids and creating a stable environment seems to be the best combo for any parenting.

Bree-Bree! Bree just continues to amaze me.  She is me through and through.  She fights with passion and loves with that same extreme passion.  She has STRONG OPINIONS about everything.  She has started trying on clothes by herself in the dressing room and our latest disagreement was at Gap Kids when she was determined she would have a two piece bathing suit this summer.  Yep, she’s 7.  No, she did not win.

She loves to have sleepovers.  She would stay at someone else’s house every weekend if she could.  These first grade girls just can’t get enough of each other.  They are best friends through and through.  She is already being influenced a lot by their choices and behavior. We had our first conversation about other students copying her homework and her allowing it.  We talk about not being a “mean girl” and how to have a lot of friends and not alienate those that aren’t as popular.  We talk about how to be a hostess when we have friends over to our house and why its important.  We talk a lot about sharing (yes still).

One of her best friends, Julia (GG):
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Bree is doing dance again this year!  Her recital is in June.  When I took her for pictures last weekend, I was just amazed at how old she looks.  Oh and how beautiful.  We actually got her short hair to pull back into a “bun”.  She is more convinced than ever that she wants to grow her hair out.  I plan to give her another “trim” after the recital.  I’m still that tricky mom!

Recital pics with another BFF, Olivia:

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She played volleyball this year for the first time.  A friend asked her to be on the team and she instantly said yes.  Then she looked at me and said, “How do you play volleyball?”  So my child.  She has turned out to be pretty good at the serve and will probably continue on.

Did I mention she has a lot of BFFs, here’s her and Kayla before a game with the Sugar and Spikes Volleyball team:
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She is also starting softball again this year.  Those Sweet Stallions have turned into Sassy Stallions and are wearing hot pink this year.  It should be a fun season.

FYI: The bat in the picture below is way too long for her but she wanted it because it was covered in animal print and was pretty.  Dad gave me.  She struck out her first at bat.  Hoping she gets the hang of this pretty bat soon.

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Bree like all her friends is obsessed with Frozen…we have watched it no less than 542 times.  She is also obsessed with riding her bike and scooter and learning new skills like braiding.  She braids pipe cleaners just for fun.

She is also pretty obsessed with me!  I love the relationship we are building.  There are fights and attitudes and frustrations (from both of us), but I feel so blessed to have gotten to have this daughter!

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Our mother/daughter date to Disney on Ice:2014-04-03 19.00.04 HDR

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Power Bauer!  If you ask Bauer how old he is these days, he will say 5 and 3/4ths.  He is on his way to SIX very soon and he doesn’t wanted to be associated with all those newly turned 5 year olds.   Its been a pivotal few months for this boy.  He is still our red headed wonder boy in so many ways.

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As you can see from the above pic, he has lost TWO teeth.  What is fun is that Bauer is already beginning to see the joy that will come from being the oldest in his class.  He was so excited to be the first kid in his class to lose a tooth.  This is probably more important for him due to being so close in age to Bree.  She always gets to do everything first.

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Bauer has learned to ride his bike without training wheels.  This occured in like 20 minutes. Seriously, when this kid wants to do something, it happens.  It took Bree like 4 months :) Now they have another hobby to compete and race each other in.  And cry at the end of when one beats the other.  Awesome.

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Bauer is also trying very hard to like running.  We have done two 1Ks in the past couple months and he has run hard.  Better yet, he is learning to pace himself!  Medals at the end do help with the motivation :)

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Bauer surprised us all at his preschool spring show in April when he stole the show.  He sang so passionately (i.e. loud and clear) that the entire audience was just cheering him on. I couldn’t keep myself from giggling out of the cuteness and pure surprise I felt.  He did such an incredible job that the teachers were telling him for days how proud they were of him.

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Bauer also retired from soccer this past April after three turbulent seasons with the Plano Rovers.  He had a love-hate relationship with soccer.  He liked the idea of it but the actual going week after week/playing in each game/learning new skills really dampened his enthusiasm.  Each week he either played like David Beckham (okay, maybe I exaggerate) or he laid on the sideline crying because we made him get dressed and go.  Like his sister, this kid only lives in extremes.  Sean and I were both thrilled to attend the retirement (end of season) party :)

Bauer getting his team/retirement trophy
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Because we are gluttons, we have let the retired soccer player try out baseball.  He is adamant that he will enjoy this team sport.  His first practice was “not good, it was incredible”, while the second practice he laid down and cried on the first base line because he didn’t get to be the first to bat.  The first two games are this weekend.  We could be attending a retirement party very soon :)

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Bauer has also taken to loving his scooter. He got it from Santa for Christmas (such a smart gift giver) and didn’t touch it til a few weeks ago when he found out it is AWESOME.  Now we can’t get him to stay out of the street on it.  Be careful what you wish you!

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All these successes and journeys lead up to one big step this Fall.  Bauer is finally headed to Kindergarten.  While our “not pooping in our pants” regime has not been 100% effective, it is so much better than even around Christmastime.  He knows what he has to do and is really excited to tell me at the end of each day that he has had no accidents.  Its been a journey with this kid on the potty training front, but like most struggles, you appreciate it so much more when they get it right.  The kinder teachers at Saigling have been warned and an extra set of  clothes will go in the front pocket of his brand new big boy pottery barn backpack.  He’s going to be incredible and they will fall in love with his sweet heart and amazing hair just like every other teacher who has been on his path.

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Big Bennett!  This guy brings a craziness we never expect to every situation.  He has gotten very vocal about his life these past few months.  ”His way or the highway” should be his motto.  In the picture below his pants got wet when we were playing in the water at the Dallas Zoo (he was very clear he would not wear them until they dried) so we played the rest of the day at the zoo sans pants.  I definitely have learned to pick my battles with number 3.

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This kid has a sweet tooth like no other.  His favorite candy is Nerds.  Only a three year old can pick a favorite candy that causes the ultimate mess.  Again, I pick my battles.  You can also tell Bennett is the third kid by his candy reward during potty training.  Bree and Bauer would get ONE m&m after an attempt while this kid gets a full sized reese peanut butter cup.  We are not messing around.  SO CLOSE TO BEING DIAPER FREE!

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Bennett is also our prodigy.  We realized during Lent when we would do our nightly devotional with the kids that he can straight up read.  It freaks both Sean and I out because we just don’t know how it happened.  People who wear diapers don’t normally read.  One night I went in to check on him after we had put everyone to bed and found him practicing writing words from flash cards on his magnadoodle.  WHAT IN THE WORLD!!!  Again, God blessed him with a special gift and Sean and I just get to be the audience, but it sure if fun to watch this kid learn.

It comes with some challenges though in his classroom at preschool.  Apparently he has a low tolerance for the other kids and is starting to push and hit them.  Friendliness does not come quite as easy as reading for this little guy.  I asked him a couple days ago who he plays with at school. I started naming his classmates.  When I named one of the girls, he stopped me and said, “I can’t play with her!”  I asked why and he said, “Boys play with boys and girls play with girls!”  Glad three year olds already know the rules! Unreal.  The girls are probably just scared of my big boy who pushes and just refuse to play with him :)  Good thing this kid is cute!

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While he may not be as friendly to his classmates as I would like, he sure does love our family!  He won’t ever beat Bauer in the loving category, but he really is a very loving child. He kisses and hugs on demand.  Since he’s our last and thus our forever baby, this is super special to me!  He is also really bonding with brother and sister.  He’s not the best sharer (none of them are), but it is amazing to watch the individual relationships grow with both Bree and Bauer.  Bree likes to do art projects with him while Bauer and Bennett play games together (mostly on the ipad).  Star Wars Angrybirds is apparently a great team sport!

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Being so smart and loving takes its toll occasionally.  Bennett doesn’t get a lot of organized naps at home, so he still passes out in the car every chance he gets :)  Even Spiderman gets tired!

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I say everyday to anyone I meet that I am super ready for Bennett not to be three anymore (sadly, we are only half way through).  And I mean it with all my heart.  I know you shouldn’t rush your kids to grow up, but three is just a super frustrating year for parents.  Kids are so independent but not on your timeline.  Actually they have figured out the exact opposite of your timeline and live there.  It’s hard to even reason with Bennett without him screaming his head off until you give in.  And since he’s the third, I give in a lot.  After 7 years of screaming, I’m over it.

But regardless of his age, I’m 95% glad we made the plunge to have a third kid.  He really does add a whole different, very loud and smart, dimension to our family that we didn’t know we needed, but now cannot live without!

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Like I said at the beginning of this epic blog, life is crazy.  But we are hitting a stride. Almost out of diapers and almost two kids in FREE school.  I, for one, never really thought we would see this day.  Despite being way behind in blogging and scrapbooking, the memories are happening.  FAST.  FURIOUS.  FABULOUS.  MOMENTS.

My three little b’s!!!  They really do like each other at least 50% of the time!  I’ve starting imagining the group text messages they will send as adult children to each other when they dealing with Sean and I as old people.  It cracks me up.

Sadly these group bath days are numbered – bathtime with lights!
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 The ipad brings siblings together:
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Wagon for three:2014-03-29 13.53.13-1

May the 4th be with you:2014-05-04 16.05.48-1

The ice cream man comes to our house regularly – I’m raising kids with sweet tooths (or is it sweet teeth)!. Good thing we have dental insurance!2014-05-06 17.42.51

Board game theme for this year’s Mother’s Day – Bauer was so proud the theme was his idea!  I am now the proud owner of Bejeweled, Jenga and Scrabble Jr.!2014-05-11 13.54.49-1

We loved celebrating at my best friend’s gender reveal.  It’s a girl btw!Gender Reveal
What was I saying about a sweet tooth?
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Bluebonnet pics….some are more classic than others!
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We all know I’m the ultimate picture taker so I could  go on and on and on.  But its time to wrap up this epic update!

Summer is next up for the Murphys.  Bree goes to her first week long sleep away camp!  I overheard her tell a friend at school (in a very excited tone) that she gets to spend a whole week playing without mom or dad.  I can’t wait to see how this pans out.  We also have our big road trip to Mount Rushmore to look forward to in August.  It is either going to be one of my best or worst ideas EVER.  Stay tuned.

And meanwhile back at the ranch, this is the scene of the doctorate journey!
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At least, these type of activities are happening right outside my window and give me a great excuse to take a break!!!
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Posted in Bauer, Bennett, Bree, Kid Adventures, Motherhood, Parenthood | Leave a comment

Sshhhhhhhhh…

Some recent thoughts on parenting:

In my opinion, parents today have a pretty good sense of humor about their lives.  I think we know that on any given day we are in way over our heads.  We question why we procreated on a regular basis.  And while we realize we have little to no control over most of the things our kids do, our ultimate goal as parents is to try to steer our kids in the direction of socially acceptable behaviors.  Sometimes it works, more often we end up cringing in embarrassment, and sometimes we just laugh at the insanity of it all.

As a parent of 3 small kids, I’m already calling the day a WIN if I got the majority of said kids to change out of their pajamas into other clothes and convince them to leave our house to go to school or any other activity.  If we arrive less than 15 minutes late for that activity, I get bonus points.

I’ve learned to let a lot go in my 7 years at this job.  Today, I dropped off Bennett for school and he’s teacher asked me if he was ready for his class picture.  I looked at his hair (standing up in about 80 directions) and his mismatched shirt and pants and said “Yep”!  I mean the day was already a win because I was at his school and he wasn’t in pajamas.  He probably won’t even be looking at the camera in the class picture and he certainly won’t offer a smile, so we will have other things to distract us from the hair and his multi-colored outfit.   And if he does smile, I get more bonus points!

I feel like we have a really ridiculous game going in the world of motherhood and parenting these days.  Everyone around you will tell you that you don’t have to be supermom and you should cut yourself some slack, but society still holds you to that higher standard and moms and non-moms all around you will still offer their judgement.  It takes a long time and a lot of self-love to finally come to terms with who you are as a mom or parent in general.

I’ve learned to brush off snide comments that aren’t helpful from people at the grocery store, I’ve learned to ignore the stares of “I can’t believe you are letting that happen” from people who apparently parent way better than I do,  I’ve learned to stop internalizing the judgement of others and let it make me feel like my kids are doomed.  And most of all, I’ve learned that sometimes I just need take my happy pill and have a good cry in private when I just don’t think I can hold it together much longer.

But all this progress on my “go with the flow” parenting mentality doesn’t mean I don’t go into “mean mamma bear” protection mode every now and then as well.

One of the main ways to put me in this mode is when a stranger “ssshhhhh”s my child. Sean can name every time this has happened and detail the situation.  It’s normally pretty dramatic and memorable.  To me, it is one of the most disrespectful and unhelpful things anyone can do.  You are automatically telling me that you believe I am not doing my job and/or assuming that I love my kid to be loud at inopportune times.

The three times in recent history that this has happened it is always someone who is 60+ who feels the need to help me reign in my children.  Typically, I ignore the first “ssshhhhh” or just give a quick acknowledgement of it.  Luckily (insert sarcasm), people who like this method of “backseat parenting” are pretty persistent and feel like they need to keep “sshhhhh”ing until the situation is corrected.   Just in case you don’t know, just telling a kid to be quiet doesn’t EVER WORK!

Yesterday my mom and I took Bree and her friend Emma to a children’s production of The Little Mermaid.  I would guess that 75% of the audience was under the age of 10.  Bree and Emma took a little bit to get settled down (i.e. they changed seats a couple times) and during the first scene wanted to tell me all their thoughts.  The words, “Let’s use our quiet voices” were coming out of my mouth as I heard the first “sshhhhhh” arrive from behind me.  I turned around to give the acknowledgement and to see who my helpful surrogate parent was going to be for the day to see a women about 65 years old and a 85+ year old women I presume was her mother.  JACKPOT!

My new friend took my acknowledgement as a chance to tell me that kids should be taught to be quiet in the theater.  I quickly explained that this was why I had brought them to a children’t production so I could start teaching this lesson.  She repeated that they were the only children talking in the whole theater.  I stated at this point that she needed to not talk to me or my children anymore.  As could be expected, she was not one to follow directions and made a few other comments about my parenting.

It was my last straw.  I think what older people forget about young parents is that by the 2:15 curtain call for this production a lot of life had already taken place that day.  Before we had even sat down for the show I had already been with 3 very needy children all morning while Sean was at work, I had worked a Girl Scout cookie sale for the Daisys in the cold outside Kroger and I had shuttled 3 girls to a birthday party and helped Bree be on her best behavior. Not to mention at some point during the previous week, I had remembered to buy tickets for this show, arranged childcare for the boys, agreed to take another child to the show, remembered my name and hopefully taken a shower or two.  Yes, this is normal life, but it is also hard.  The last thing any parent needs when they are trying to enjoy a fun event with their child is to be judged.

Luckily my mom was there with us and so it was okay that I needed to leave the theater for just a second.  I was crying at this point just out of sheer exhaustion and went directly to the box office to complain (mama bear is out and ready).  The box office manager (also a mom) was appalled that someone would act like that at a children’s performance.  She offered to move our seats, but with 4 people there were no other seats all together. Sometimes all you need to to be heard and after I had let her know, I felt a little bit better. I headed back to the theater and as I was sitting down I leaned back and told the lady that the box office manager would gladly change their seats if they were unhappy sitting behind us.  At this point she called me bipolar (umm…who throws around real labels like that) and told me that I should learn to control my children.

I left again and she followed me out of the theater.  I got the director of the theater program involved and explained my situation to her while the older lady was pointing at me in disgust and claiming I was crazy.  At this point, I noticed she was wearing a PISD (Plano Independent School District) badge.  She told me that she had been teaching for 32 years and knew how to deal with children and obviously I did not.  I asked her where she taught and said I would stay away from that school!  She dodged my question and then cowardly hid her name on her badge.  Is this really happening???!!!

I told her I was not going to waste any more time talking to her and headed back inside.  She and her mom ended up leaving or changing seats or something.  I never saw her again which was AMAZING.  The director of the theater program ended up finding me later and apologized saying they had never had someone act like that lady before in their theater.  She gave me 4 complimentary tickets to another show and said she hoped we would give them another try.

Sometimes as a parent you are just so THANKFUL when you are told you aren’t, in fact, the crazy one.  I just wanted to hug the theater director and never let go.  But then she might think I am the crazy one :)

That ridiculous 15 minutes aside, the show was soooo sooo fun.  Bree and Emma mentioned the mean lady who sat behind us only once on the way home because their thoughts were filled with the funny moments of these two starfish:

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and the antics of this romantic princess:

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This parenting gig really is such a roller coaster ride!  Not only do you have to deal with your own insecurities about if you are doing a good job on your own, but you have all these “helpers” everywhere you go!

I wrote this blog as a reminder to myself to never forget how hard it is to be a parent even when I’m old and gray.  Holding open the door for a mom carrying a baby in a car seat and trying to wrangle 2 small toddlers.  That is helpful.  ”Sshhhhhh”ing a child who is trying to grasp the concept of “inside” verses “outside” voices.  That is not helpful.

Overall, we just have to trust that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have at that particular moment.  Sometimes we aren’t working on a full nights sleep (ever), a full load of patience (ever) or a full support network!   I hope if we could all just start celebrating the small wins and treating everything else as bonus, we would all be a lot happier in this crazy world.

Posted in Motherhood, Parenthood | Leave a comment