Thursday, December 11, 2014

bag o' tricks

Bradlee has been out of town since Sunday. (Actually, he has been out of the country--in Italy--but that's a post for another day because I am mildly jealous and it will take a full post to process it.)

He will be home in a few days and, despite their belief that he is the way-more-awesome parent, the boys have--so far--done really well while he's been away.

I think it's because of their extreme lack of understanding of time. Toddlers seem to think "tonight" is in 7 minutes and "tomorrow" is after naptime, along with a slew of other fallacies. Therefore, the amount of time Brad has been gone, to them, has been approximately 5 hours.

That said, I kept a bag o' tricks close by while he's been away to alleviate or possibly even prevent any foreseen complete emotional breakdowns.

Usually when Brad is away, I paint something. Last time, in November, I painted our kitchen cabinets. This time, though, I actually had a few little special things planned for the boys in advance. (No need to paint anything when your house is a wreck already.)

Sunday -- We left Brad at church in order to catch a ride with MeMaw and PaPaw (my parents) to meet my extended family for some old time photos and a show. (Experience described here.) If anyone can make my boys forget that their dad is gone, it's MeMaw and PaPaw.

After a long car ride and lunch, Sunday was entirely full of picture-taking and watching a show at Main Street Opry, a live show I've been watching since I was the boys' age.

I didn't realize I was breaking an old time photo rule when I took this pic, but I don't regret it. That's my Granny and Grandpa in the background. They weren't necessarily thrilled about getting their pics taken, but we are happy to have the pics to treasure.

Monday -- "Elfie" made his first appearance in the Lotz household.

Yes, it may be a little late in the season, but this whole Elf on the Shelf thing seems like a huge commitment of time, energy and creativity. You have seen the Pinterest pics of cute little stagings of Elf on the Shelf antics and cute little displays, right? I am not that mom. (Images from here.)

I am the mom who wakes up after midnight and remembers that I haven't moved the thing, and I think two weeks of desperate scrambles to place it somewhere new is enough. Plus, I am unwilling to make a mess that I will have to clean up in 24 hours.

As long as the boys don't know everyone else's Elf is more awesome than ours, I guess we'll be okay.

I also took the boys to my fitness center on Monday. This doesn't sound like much fun, but they love it and I don't take them often because it's all the way "in town." (I won a membership to the center that's about 30 minutes away so I usually go to a closer gym instead.) Ms. Jo, the fitness center childcare worker, is great with the boys, and they have an indoor jungle gym-type thing the boys like playing on, along with plenty of other toys and movies. It's like going to a McDonald's without the trans-fats and the need to supervise in the midst of stinky feet and 25 other kids who have been stuck inside for six straight days.

Plus, I got to work out and take a shower and get dressed by myself; both of which help my psyche more than you'll ever know.

Tuesday -- Amongst a range of regular activities and making gingerbread men, we got our Little People nativity set in the mail. Brody LOVES opening boxes and goes over the top with enthusiasm and gratitude when he gets a present. (I am SO excited for Christmas this year because of this very fact.) The boys have played with that nativity set several hours already, and it's focus on Jesus helps me reconcile my use of the Elf on the Shelf to shame my kids to behave well. :o)

After playing at Chik-Fil-A, where I met with a friend who is pursuing adoption (yay!), we spent Tuesday night at MeMaw and PaPaw's. The timing of our stay was the result of some strategic planning in the timing of Brad's absence because the boys will, at the end of all this, get to see MeMaw and PaPaw every other day until Brad comes home.

This isn't our first rodeo in Brad's absence--although usually when he's gone it's for deer hunting or helping with a bear hunt. Seeing MeMaw and PaPaw helps to break up the monotony of bedtimes by ourselves and Mom-only activities. And it even offered me a kid-free bed most of the night until a sick Brecken joined me. (Croup!!) (Unfortunately it offered my dad a night on the couch and my mom a Brody-Brecken sandwich in their bed.)

Wednesday -- I went to Fight Club (my affectionate term for the Bible study in which I'm involved...I'll have to explain that one later). Normally the boys would go with me to "school," which is what I call the Bible study's children's program, because Brody SO BADLY wanted to go to preschool this year and we didn't send him. However, since Brecken had a fever the night before, the boys stayed home with MeMaw and PaPaw and made gingerbread houses.

Wednesday evening I picked out a present from under the tree and allowed the boys to open it. Just a little stamp/art set, but it helped us pass some time and, conveniently, resembled the address stamp I used on my Christmas card envelopes that Brody wanted to use.

Thursday -- I believe Brecken gave me his sickness, as I am feeling slightly "icky" in general, but we are taking it easy at home today with plans to go to Silver Dollar City tonight to see some Christmas lights with--you guessed it--MeMaw and PaPaw. (My parents are the GREATEST.) If it gets crazy (extra sad, cantankerous, angry, etc.) today I'll break out a Koala Crate (which I ordered at 60% off!). I've never ordered one before, but they look really fun and great for uncreative and uninspired parents like myself.

Friday -- We will spend the morning with some friends and cute college gals, then we may go visit Ms. Jo again. And then we will wait for Daddy to return.

And how do I cope with his absence? Ice cream. Lots and lots of Chocolate Bunny Tracks or Moose Tracks, to be exact. 

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