Liberty Hall Museum

What a hidden gem we found in Liberty Hall Museum in Union, NJ.  I have to tell you, I thought I hated all things ‘history’ until Gavin developed a real loved for it – places, movies, documentaries and historical novels. Gavin’s way of learning about history is way better than what I was exposed to in school. When I see something from this vantage point I am usually really impressed – like I was at this location. I remember things when I see them and hear the facts told in story form. I’m sure my kids do too.

The docent that lead our tour had first-hand knowledge of the family that inhabited this historic house. It’s a place that has hosted 8 presidents and goes back to 1772. Truly, we were walking in history’s footsteps :)

001 002 003 013 018 019The English Garden was wonderful and right now apples are ripe and $8 a bag to pick. I’ve heard they host wonderful teas here as well. I think I’d leave The Boyz behind for that ;)

Check out how I am doing on my 30 Day Challenge here.

Challenging

I had a horrible experience on Sunday morning when I went for a walk. It was sunny, cool and breezy and I knew it would be good for body and soul. As I approached a house coming up on my right, I could hear a father yelling at his child/children. He was loud, he was swearing, his tone was nasty and his words were terrible. I could hear his kid whimpering and crying. I stopped dead in my tracks.

My heart started racing and my hands were shaking and I couldn’t catch my breath. He kept yelling, yelling and yelling – the kids kept crying. Part of me wanted to go up to the door, knock and say, ‘Dude, I’ve been there. What can I do to help.’ I did not think that would go well at all. I could not help but wonder what someone has heard through an open window at our house.

So, I stood there. And worried. And got more and more upset. Then I ran into a friend and she stood with me and listened to this man yell at his kids. We deemed that it was ‘regular’ yelling – the ‘pissed-off-lost-your-head-totally-had-it kind of yelling’ – not a ‘call DYFS’ kind of situation. Still sad. It got quiet and we moved on.

Well, sort of. I have not really ‘moved on’.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve yelled. I’ve lost my mind and my temper. I hate it when it happens, I make appropriate apologies, debrief things with the kids. But it’s not enough. I know that apologizing doesn’t make it ‘ok’. I really want to do more than say ‘sorry’ and try harder.

So I am taking The Challenge from The Orange Rhino. I’ll start with 30 days. It’s a manageable goal. I don’t know if I’ve gone 30 days without yelling – I don’t think so :(

I am so glad there is a mom who has chosen to be this open and honest about yelling – the causes, the damage, the aftermath and the solutions. She has come up with lots ideas and strategies to help.

I don’t think it is as ‘easy’ as that. I have issues and triggers and know that there are things that send me straight through the roof. I think this challenge will make me more conscious of how I handle the next giant surge of anger and frustration. If I can manage it for 30 days, what would make me think I can’t catch up to The Orange Rhino – she’s at 521 days :)

I am intent on getting that guy’s yelling voice out of my head – but most of all my own yelling voice out of my kids’ heads.

Please tell me you think it’s possibly to quit yelling? How about joining me?

(I’ve set the days on the right to ‘0’ because it’s only fair to start there)

Sunday Scenes – Random

It was a regular day. And that was nice.

Outnumbered and Overwhelmed

Yep.

If you’re not into hearing me complain go here or here or here or here. I like these blogs and maybe you’ll like them too.

Otherwise I want to tell you that I am clearly in need of a new skill set to mother to these children. I really need to up My Game. There are things that are making me bat-shit crazy – am I allowed to swear here? I guess I’ll find out if my mom reads my blog.

Ethan plays Christmas music. Loud. Often. Constantly. My whole family knows that I mostly hate Christmas music. I make an exception from about December 15 to the 25th around noon. It’s not like that’s a lot to ask. We’ve given him headphones – then he sings really loudly in his very distinct tone of voice with his very garbled speech. Who do you want to hear? Ethan or Mariah Carey. God help me. (I am not using ‘God’ in the vain sense – I mean it)

Ethan does nothing I ask. He always says no. Always. Says. No. ‘Go brush your teeth’, ‘Go put your shoes away’, and ‘stop packing and unpacking your entire room into moving boxes’ are all met with ‘No!’ I mean, sometimes I have to “MAKE” him do things he doesn’t want to. That takes a dose of patience & persistence that was given only to Mother Theresa – so I’m shit out of luck. Uh-oh – does my mom actually read this?

I think I need some kind of hypo-parenting technique to live with Gavin. He’s is alternatingly resourceful, helpful and brilliant and then…I actually don’t know what to call it and the online thesaurus is not helpful (it only came up with ‘donkey’). The tiny letters that make up the abbreviation ‘ADHD’ does not touch what Gavin exhibits. Just wow. I sometimes feel like we are in a really bad TV drama because the terrible dialogue comes out so ridiculously. ‘I don’t have to listen to you’, ‘You don’t know anything’ and….oh forget it. We need new writers. Wait. We are not actually a TV drama. Shit – this is our real life.

How Sean could get to 5 1/2 without whining, only to make it his primary mode of communication now is confounding. I seriously don’t know how it happened. He still socks his brothers every time he doesn’t like what they say. That doesn’t go well with their particular issues either. We have deemed him the ‘tiny tyrant’ because nothing is ever right – from the seam in his socks, to the length of his fingernails – and yes, I know what Sensory Processing Disorder is – thank you very much. He is currently having some strange vision issues that might or might not be making me nervous and edgy every time he blinks, shuts one eye and tilts his head. <sigh>

Mikey is genuinely the kindest soul with the absolute worst attention span that I have ever seen. With every tool applied for kids with attention issues, I continue to turn around to him sitting and petting the cat. “Didn’t I just tell you….” – I should just record it on my iPhone so I don’t have to expend the energy to speak. “Why are you not using your list?”. Oh yeah, the list, I forgot. If I took “I forgot” out of his vocabulary, he might only be left with ‘I’m hungry’.

There are four of them and they are bundles of issues that dovetail horribly with each other – like the louder Ethan’s music is, the worse Sean’s whining and Mike’s attention. There never seems to be one moment – not one – when one of them is not in need of some type of attention whether positive or negative.

It has been particularly chaotic lately. So I bitch. Here. Because I can.

One of the reasons I blog is that it lets me see how good life is – the highlight reel. I have four, beautiful children – each of them a gift. Not one I would trade for anything or anyone else. 056But I still just wanted to say it. It’s hard sometimes.

Sunday Scenes – 1/2 Day

I forgot to bring my camera to Greenbrook Hockey Club to photograph the boys playing on the same team together. Don’t you know that means? *1* practice and *1* game :) a week (on Sundays), except for Sean who is still on Saturday mornings. It seems like such a condensed weekend. I love it! And I can’t wait to see what Mikey and Gavin can pull off as teammates. Oh yeah, and Dennis as the coach.

Then, there was the impromptu pool party. As fun as it was, the black cloud of ‘what if this is the last impromptu pool party’ sneaked in. Stupid black cloud.

113001 003 004 013 017 024 036 047 045 073Sunday is over. Now onto Monday – wondering what the Monday Scenes will hold.

Serendipity

We were already having a really nice family night out at Colonial Park and were headed for Alfonso’s Pizza, when we caught site of this…

291It was making an obvious landing and who can resist chasing a hot air balloon – not us :)

We watched the pilot gently float the basket onto a spot in a parking lot with expert precision. We kept a safe distance from the balloon, but it was obvious that the crew had others plans and invited us to come closer, look up inside the balloon and watch as the pilot used the propane flame to fill the balloon a little more.

From the moment we met him, it was obvious that Jon Radowski of Apex Balloons is a man passionate about his craft and willing to share it with others. He was very animated about how balloons work and generous with time and expertise. Just when we thought we should get out of his way, he asked the kids to help him fold and pack up the balloon. All the while he gave the kids information about the materials they were seeing and processes they were participating in. We also had a chance to speak with Vinny Panico of Incognito Air who shared lots of information with the boys and us about the sport/hobby of ballooning.

I can’t even tell you how much I love this kind of unexpected, happy coincidence that puts us in the right place at the right time!

I honestly don’t think this is our last experience with these guys. I know a bunch of homeschoolers who would love a lesson in balloon physics :)

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Hunting Tigers in Princeton

I told them we were going to hunt tigers, but they just wouldn’t believe me. Sean finally conceded, but asked if they were aggressive or tame. Mikey caught on once we bought the book ‘The Tigers of Princeton University: A Campus Safari & Photo Essay‘.

You don’t find much nicer places to walk than the grounds of Princeton ~ it is iconic and inspiring. Hunting for ornamental tigers was fun, and in the mean time, we learned a lot about architecture as well. The grounds also have many varieties of well-labeled trees – a little lesson in itself. My favorite was the River Birch.

We have many more tigers to find and I can’t wait to walk these grounds time & time again. You coming?