Summer 2014 Bucket List

Summer 2014 Bucket List by Elaine Griffin from The Laine List

The days are hot. The nights are warm.

We’ve already swam in ponds, and roasted things over fires.

Summer break has finally arrived.

We are all more than a little ready for summer.

We are tired of the grind, yo.

I’ve managed to squirrel enough cash to cut back on my work hours, and we have many, many plans.

I’ve never made a bucket list, but because there is input from 3 people, I figured it would be a good idea, because we all know I will not remember all that. Plus, A LIST!

Summer 2014 Bucket List!

Visit local swimming areas.
Make tie-dye t-shirts.
Visit local farmer’s markets.
See many dollar movies.
Make creativity journals.
Visit the planetarium.
Launch our food blog.
Pick as many fruits and veggies as we can.
Learn to ride a bike.
Learn to tie shoes.
Make a soda volcano sprinkler.
Go to the movies.
Have a sleepover.
Read.
Have a treasure hunt.
Build a fort.
Play laser tag.
Go bowling.
Build a sheet fort and watch movies.
Have a water balloon fight.
Learn the alphabet.
Run in the sprinkler.

I sat down and made this list with the kids, but I have some plans of my own, too. Plans I had hoped to fulfill last summer.

I’m always striving to be a better mother.

More patient. More kind. More present. More willing to drop what I’m doing for a hug, snuggle, or non-emergency need.

To put down my phone (also known as work).

I’m hoping cutting back a bit on work will eliminate stress, and not cause more of it, and we will have the best summer ever. I need it as much as they do.

Here’s hoping anyway! What are your plans for the summer?

Our Trip to the National Museum of Play

Last week the kids and I played hookie we took a field trip to Rochester to visit a friend and go to the National Museum of Play. That place is seriously awesome. I can’t even put into words all they have to offer, so I will let them do the talking.

You’re never too big for this much fun! With more than 150,000 square feet of dynamic interactive exhibit space; the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls, games, and other items that celebrate play; a wide range of programs and activities; and family-friendly amenities, the National Museum of Play® provides educational, entertaining, and unforgettable intergenerational fun.

I didn’t take that many pictures, because I was too busy playing!

museum of play

We strolled along Sesame Street, and had a picture in Big Bird’s nest. We saw comic book hero’s, shopped at a kid sized Wegmans, and played in an arcade. One of the best parts was the butterfly garden. Even though there was a butterfly or probably a moth that kept buzzing my head/face. In case you don’t remember, here is my history with moths.

I love how the turtle looks like he is waving good-bye!

If you are a local or are traveling through Western New York, this is a serious must do! It is well worth the money, and I can’t wait to go back!

The One Where I Spill My Guts About My Son’s Behavior

I’m going to be honest with you guys. I’m really tired of my son.

The level of disrespect and general level of unhappiness is becoming so distressing that I’m barely functioning as his mother. I don’t want to be around him. I don’t want to do anything for him.

I’ve given this so much thought – maybe too much. What am I doing wrong? Why is he so unhappy? Is he depressed? Do we have a real issue here?

I don’t have the answer. He is generally a normal, happy boy. Until it comes to me or his father. The way he treats us is just…horrifying. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is ever right. Ever enough.

Why? How did we create this person who disrespects, demands, and blames us for everything? How did he become so…spoiled?

What do you do when all you want to do is scream, and cry, and hit, and run away?

What do you do when it’s always just boiling. Festering.

When the last thing you want to hear is anyone’s voice. Whether disrespecting, whining, asking, needing.

When you can’t for the LIFE of you imagine what else they could possibly need. What you AREN’T doing?

When the more you give them, the more they want. The more they complain. The more they tell you they hate you. What a terrible mother you are.

Who am I raising? And what am I doing wrong. Isn’t the way he treats me a reflection on my motherhood?

I love him so much. This is not the mother I wanted to be. I wanted to be the mother who has long talks, and listens, and encourages moving away from the norm. Using imagination, experimentation. Trial and error.

But I’m not.

I’m the mother who needs strict adherence to the rules. The routine. Do it now the way I want it done before my head blows off.

I don’t know why. Because I work from here, and I need some level of understanding and order? Because I just need people to not be contradictory even for just a little while?

I don’t know. But please tell me I’m not alone. And that it will be okay.

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Guest Post at The Wordslinger: Musings of a Six-Year Old

Hey ya’ll! I’m happy to announce I am guest posting for my fellow blogger Jim at The Wordslinger today. Please go check out my post, “Musings of a Six-Year-Old” and don’t forget to check out Jim’s blog. I know you will find him as funny as I do! Plus, his wife just had their THIRD child, so please go show some love!

Eight Hopes and Dreams for Two Kids

It occurred to me around Mother’s Day that I have never really sat down and thought about my hopes and dreams for my kids. Of course, I want the obvious things that we all want for our kids – health, happiness, etc, but I’ve never participated in any deeper reflection, because, frankly, in general, it’s just not what I do. But I am making an effort to more fully enjoy life and appreciate all that I have, which I think requires reflection, so here we go.

1. Most of all, I wish for you both to experience true love. Even if you can’t keep it, although I hope you do, I want to know how it feels to love someone so deeply, you would go to the ends of the Earth for them.

2. I know this sounds really crazy, but I hope that you experience heartbreak, and I know you will. It will come in the form of disapointment at not getting chosen first in gym class. It will come in the form of teen angst when the boy or girl you like doesn’t like you back. It will come in the form of anger when we can’t send you to private college and we make you start at the community college. I promise you will survive, even though you think your chest has been cracked open. You will even be better because of it! And you know I am always going to be here to lend an ear. And probably also unsolicited advice.

3. This is another crazy one, but I hope you experience some struggle. Not the kind that kills your soul and makes you heartless and jaded, but the kind that makes you stronger, and better able to appreciate the beauty and joy that surrounds you. If you work for what you have you will never be sorry.

4. Speaking of beauty and joy, I hope that you truly appreciate the beauty of your life. Find beauty in the mundane, in the quirky, and in the grief. It is how you will get through life and move on.

5. I hope you are able to exhibit self control and the ability to step back and just breath. Enjoy without over-indulging. Make good choices in the face of pressure. Sometimes the most effective thing we can do is nothing.

6. Have the strength to chase your dreams and never give up. Also have the strength to realize sometimes dreams change, and that’s okay. If it’s your dream (not my dream, your grandparents’ dream, or your significant others’ dream) chase it, and help those you love chase their dreams too.

7. Although it is great to have your family and a significant other for support, make sure you have the ability to be self-sufficient. Get an education. Get a job. Don’t depend on other people without some sort of a backup plan. Shit happens, and you need to be prepared to take care of yourself.

8. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you. Okay, it does matter what *I* think of you! I think you are great. You were put on this planet, in this time, for a reason. Be kind to yourself so you can fulfill all you were meant to be.

What are your hopes and dreams for your kids?

My Kids Love Me, So it’s All Worth It

My kids have been driving me absolutely nuts these last couple of weeks. What’s new, right?

I don’t know what it is. Post-holiday wishing for more?

OMG we have cabin fever, where the hell is the snow it’s February in Upstate New York, and all we have to play in is mud?

We are just Ass Holes because we are 1.5 and 5.5 and we are supposed to annoy our parents?

Mommy is going through a period of serious self-doubt and stress, so we are feeding off of it?

I don’t know why they are making me crazy. Who cares, it doesn’t matter.

I will tell you what DOES matter, though. In the last few days, I have had two of the winningest parenting moments of my life.

Little ultimate rewards, that make being a mom the best job in the world.

Last night, while snuggling the boy to bed, he spontainiously threw his arms around my neck and whispered in my ear, “You are a great mom.” I can’t tell you how much that soothed my RAGGED soul. It was literally like the angels sang in my ear. I am not the mother I wanted to be to him, so to hear him say that was the best gift I could ever ask for.

Tonight as my husband and I sat talking too loudly in our too small house, right outside the bedrooms where the boy and girl sleep. The boy would sleep through a nuclear disaster. The girl can’t sleep through me even thinking about peeing. In the bathroom that is also right next to her room.

Anyway, we “adults” got talking and we spoke over a whisper and she woke up. Oh no. She could be up for the next several hours. It’s 10:00 pm. Seriously. But instead, she whined a little and called in a gentle Road House Rosie voice, “maaammmmaaa!” And then she rolled over and went back to sleep.

But she called me, and after the initial deer in headlights moment, I didn’t care. Because she called me. And at that point, she could have been up all night, and I would have been happy to rock the night with her.

Because in spite of me, she called ME.

In spite of me, they love ME.

And in these two moments, two pure moments, I am reminded about why I do what I do. Why I stay home. Why I am a mother. It’s hard, and sometimes, no, a LOT of times, it sucks. But not today.

Taxidermy, pink hearts, nose warmers, gator-feet, vampire slaying, and the zombie apocalypse on Etsy

Halloween Zombies by Elaine Griffin Designs
Yeah, we were zombies for Halloween!!

As I start writing this, I’ve been up since 11:30 pm because of the baby. It’s 3:00 am and she has more energy than I don’t even know what right now. What.the.hell. We’ve watched Dora. Lots and lots of Dora. If that isn’t enough to make anyone madd under normal circumstances, I don’t know what is.

I would not have indulged in Grey’s Anatomy and gone to bed at the late hour of 10:00 had I known what was in store for me.

I tell you all this just to give you a sense of where I’m at.

Which is why I’m cruising the interwebz while the baby empties the tv cabinet of DVD’s and generally destroys our living room. I give up. I don’t have it in me tonight. This morning. Whatever.

I never get to surf the interwebz just for fun and entertainment anyway. So thank you, baby, for seeing that I really needed this time. And what’s more, I’m going to bring you the top five most radical things I find on Etsy! Plus a bonus at the end for those of you bracing for the zombie apocalypse! You’re so welcome!

Did you know taxidermy existed on Etsy? Sheep brain. Fetal pig. Bats. No words.

I’m all about supporting artists and small business. Believe me. I am one. But let me give you a little advice, people. If you want paper punches, go to your local craft or fabric store, buy some cardstock and some punches, and punch to your hearts delight. It doesn’t take any kind of skill at all.

It never occurred to me that teens/tweens/women needed crocheted nose warmers. Why didn’t I realize this? DUH.

Gator foot back scratcher! Why the hell not!?

This one is for my mom. MOM, I AM SO GETTING YOU THIS FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY! I HOPE YOU MAKE IT UNTIL THEN!

For all of you prepping for the zombie apocolypse, I’m going to keep my eyes open for a zombie slaying kit for you. No probs. Until then, here you go, a print of zombie rules.

Oh yeah, happy Friday the 13th!

The Versatile Blogger Award, a crazy day, and why are 5 year-olds so rude?

Versatile Blogger Award
Versatile Blogger Award

Yo, yo, YO! I’m happy to announce I was awarded the Versatile Blogger Award! I’m stoked to be honored with this, and I would love to thank my friend and fellow blogger MJ Monaghan for bestowing this upon me. I am going to check out the other awardees soon, as well as fulfill the blogging obligations that go along with this honor. Which I think is super fun! Please go check out his blog, and all the other blogs he nominated!

Usually I try to post earlier in the day, but I got swamped! I was going to do a wordless Wednesday post, and post my 12 goals in 12 months visual that I’ve been thinking of creating, (Thank you Nancy from Midlife Mixtape!) but I never had time to do the visual. *sigh* I was going to follow it with a discussion of my new business plan, which I think is very exciting!  Maybe next week? I am happy to say that I am finally able to think clearly and figure out how I can make marry blogging with my graphic and web design business, Elaine Griffin Designs. Part of my new business plan involves super awesome theme customization. I’m working on The Laine List and my very sorely neglected industry blog, plus a couple of other blogs in this week and next. I’m becoming an expert on the in’s and out’s and versatility of the Twenty Eleven theme from WordPress. I love this theme. So many awesome features and plug-in options! It’s versatile, adaptable, and just plain AWESOME!

Anyway, A LOT is happening business-wise, and I’m crossing my fingers that business is picking up. And if it does, it just makes me super gladder to have been laying the groundwork to maintain peace and balance in my home/office!  Maybe someday I can have only one job! Rock on!

Observation: 5 year-old’s are the meanest, rudest, most ungrateful monsters on the planet. At least mine is. I love that boy to death, but I will tell you what. I’m beyond tired of being talked back to, told no, and generally argued with. AND TODAY HE “WHATEVER” ‘ed me. RAGE!!

Today came and went so quickly. I feel like I’m on a crazy train. Do you ever feel that way?

My passion project: Reclaiming my power so I can be here for everyone else

passion and success quote from Walter CronkiteThe NaBloPoMo prompt for today is: Are you pursuing a passion project?

It is funny that this prompt comes today. Since last week I have been mulling over a blog post about how women set personal and professional goals and prioritize life so they can be better to themselves, their children, spouses, and what have you. I am my passion project. I am reclaiming my power so I can be better all-around.

Have you ever been in a really dark place but didn’t know it until you came out of it? That’s how I feel about my whole life. Nothing bad has really happened, in the scheme of all that could happen. But life HAS happened, and somewhere, I think a VERY long time ago, I lost myself. My mother would say that sometime in the tween/pre-puberty years, I lost my power.

And so I’m trying to take the power back by taking the time to pursue my professional goals, which to be honest are also my personal goals. After having my kids and being home with them it has become obvious that I wanted, no NEEDED to have a career. I HAVE to be successful at something outside of raising my family. I need that validation that comes from having a successful career. I need to use my brain or I go to very deep, dark places. Also, someday both of the kids will be in school, and I don’t want to be a droid working in an office. I need to keep myself fresh so I can take off when they do.

But for a while I didn’t know what to do for a career. I knew I needed to do something that I could do mostly from home. We need the income, but the cost of going to work is outrageous. Plus I still want to be home with my kids. I still want to be here after school, and have the flexibility when they are sick, or there is a vacation day. Or to be a room mother. Or whatever.

I also knew I need to create, so after a lot of trial and error, I decided on graphic and web design, and later, blogging. I already have a ton of student loans, so I didn’t feel like I could justify another degree. So I had to totally retrain myself. With several years of training and practicing behind me I am spending less time working for money doing jobs I hate, and more time building my business. I am now taking risks (by not working as much for pay) and spending a lot of time writing, networking, and working for free to build my portfolio and reputation. This is not easy on the family since I do still have to work for pay, and so I have to squeeze a lot in to every day. But we manage, and we are all learning how to better manage our time and fulfill each others needs. And I am much happier.

I HAD to find something that was me. I was not being a good mother. I was not being a good wife. I was not being good to me. I had to find an outlet for my creative energy and emotions. Simply being at home is not good for me. I need contact. And I am not afraid to say I need validation. Who doesn’t?

I am my passion project and I am taking my power back, and we are all better for it.

What is your passion project? Have you, or do you plan to make time to pursue your own goals? Do you think it is important for you to do this in order to be good to everyone around you?

Epic mommy fail

Here’s the setup

We are a one car family. Which is great for the environment and our perpetually empty bank account, but it kind of, okay, really sucks. But we make do. My husband car pools to work a couple days a week and I make arrangements to have all the doctor appointments, errands, etc. fall on the days I have the car. Our son started kindergarten this year and although there is an option to bus, I decide we will walk to school! First of all, the school is fairly close. Second, I’m not ready for him to take the bus. Okay, I said it. Sometimes I’m “that mom.” Lastly, I see this as my opportunity to finally get the exercise I really, really need. Here are the facts, folks. There’s a lot of jelly in this belly and I’m fairly certain my muscles have started to seize.

So all of this walking crap is great. Except I get up at the ass crack of dawn to settle in at my dining room table to work. Which means, walking or not, I have to come up for air and stop working to give us time to get ready and enjoy the morning. A task I am almost completely physically and mentally incapable of doing.

Fail #1: Complete Morning Breakdown

Fast forward to this morning, me screaming at people to get ready. The baby is screaming and throwing food. The boy wining about not being able to get his sweatshirt on and OMG a sweatshirt AND a jacket is SO uncomfortable! Yeah, he really said OMG. We finally get out the door and literally start running to school. We try to make it fun by playing red light green light, tag, and whatever else, but it’s just not working out to be a happy time. There is no bouncing back. I’m apologizing profusely and promising better mornings to come. The boy is reminding me of slip-ups from the past, which is quite frankly making me want to turn around and make him walk the rest of the way himself.

Finally, we get there. The teacher’s aids are all like, “hey, wow, look at your red cheeks from the cold!” And we are all like, “and yeah, the running!” hehehehawhawhaw. So I say to my kid, “don’t forget to tell your teacher I put money in your folder for ice cream Friday!”

Fail #2: Ice Cream

So the teachers at the door are all like, “yeah, we serve ice cream on Thursdays.” Me, kind of arguing a little, “I’m sure it said on the note that came home that ice cream is served on Friday.” I mean, come on, shouldn’t Friday be treat day? Sheesh.

Insert blank stares and slight shakes of head from teachers.

So I say to my son who is rather pathetically looking at me like I am the worst failure ever, “I’m so sorry buddy. You can have ice cream after school as a special treat okay?” This mildly satisfies him.

Teacher: “Well at least he said okay!”

Me: “Yeah, what can I say, he’s used to me.” And then I walk away and have to put on my aviators because I am crying.

Fail #3: The baby

So I pull myself together and get trucking. Just as I’m about to come to the place where I have to decide to take the short way or the long cut, the baby starts screaming. Again. She is not satisfied with any toys or the random leaves I give her. But, I take the long way anyway. Jelly in the belly, you know. And I really do need to also take care of me. Next time I have to remember to bring my iPod.

I’m not a bad mom (I tell myself) but I’m starting to realize I really suck at what should be super-simple mom no-brainers. What gives? I know what I need to do. I just have to do it.

Do you suck at super-simple mom no-brainers? Are you awesome at super-simple mom no-brainers? I would love to hear about it!