Stupid College…

This may come as a shock to all of you, but I am a HUGE procrastinator. I mean seriously people. I have been procrastinating this post for over a month now. But it is time… On June 10th, my twins graduated from high school. I kept thinking that if I didn’t post anything about it, it wouldn’t have really happened. Newsflash…that doesn’t work.
Graduation actually did happen and this weekend we celebrated it Hough-style, in other words in a BIG way, with tons of food and tons of family and friends and (in my opinion) tons of fun. As I was running around like an idiot, I was not very good about taking pictures. I handed my camera off to Gianna to take some pictures so that we would have some record of the party…enjoy! lol
My beautiful graduate Nicole
My handsome scholar DJ
Here are a few shots of my pinterest inspired decorations…
This was on our dessert table…
These were pictures of the kids that we hung around the canopies…
These were the center pieces on the tables.
Ok, so now that that is out…let’s talk about what graduation is really all about…
When I became a mother, 13 1/2 years ago, I was overwhelmed by the love that I felt for the three little ones that my husband blessed me with. It was kind of scary how immediately my feelings for them came. They were mine…period. Those feelings have only grown over the last 13 1/2 years. If you have any doubt, question it…I dare you.
How could I have not fallen in love with them…seriously?!?
So over the last 13 1/2 years of having and raising kids, I have figured a few things out. First of all, diaper bags get smaller and smaller with each additional child. I can’t explain it, but it is truth. Secondly, with each child your “normal” changes. Each new little addition changes the family. Normal is a constantly changing form of flexibility. And thirdly….the first day of school is basically the beginning of the end.
Ok, so that last part sounds a little bit dramatic, but again I say, it is truth. When your children are babies they need you for everything. They literally depend on you for everything, food, clothing, safety. Heck, they even need us to teach them how to pee in the potty! Your lives revolve around each other. You are the center of their lives and they are in turn, the center of yours. But once your kids start school, it all starts to change. They make friends in school. They have teachers that are not you. The center of their lives starts to shift away from you. Each passing year brings a little bit more distance. They just don’t need  you as much. This isn’t a bad thing. It is the way that things are supposed to go. I realize this, but I don’t have to like it. 
I thought that I had pretty much become used to the “cycle.” The older they get, the more independent they become. The three older kids can drive and have jobs and (gasp) social lives that do not involve me! Can you believe it?!?! But here is what I have forgotten, or rather what I have been denying. Even with the whole growing independence thing, they were always home at the end of the night. I knew that as we were heading to bed, all 9 of my kids were safely tucked in to bed, or at least at home. But here is the thing…this stupid cycle has thrown me a curve…College. 
In the next three weeks, I will be taking my babies shopping for things like bed sheets, printer paper and tylenol. I will be helping them pick out mini fridges and laundry baskets. I will help them load up their clothes and computers and take them to their respective colleges where they will go to sleep each night..2 hours away from home. Ugh…
DJ will be attending St Vincent College where he is planning on majoring in Elementary Ed/Special Ed. He is such a tenderhearted young man who loves kids, that I know that this is going to be a great fit for him. He was invited to attend training camp for Soccer and will hopefully be on the team. He has been playing soccer for years and really enjoys it. I attended orientation with him and he really seemed to like the campus. He was the only boy in his major, which could be a huge advantage for him! All of those cute elementary ed majors to study with…just sayin’.
Coley has decided to attend the Franciscan University of Stuebenville. I was so excited that she chose to go there. The rich Catholic tradition is practically visible when you step on campus. I think that she will blossom there. It will be an amazing time for her. She has decided to major in biology and eventually attend medical school to become a pediatric heart surgeon. Dream big girl! Her attention to detail will only help her to succeed.
I am so proud of my wonder twins that I could just burst. On the other hand, I am also sad and kind of pitiful. Who in the world will laugh at my lame jokes if DJ is over an hour away? Who will finish my sentences if Coley is 2 hours away? The centers of their lives are no longer us, my husband and obviously me. They are going out in to the big scary world without us. But here is the thing. We have been preparing them for this. Their whole lives have been a preparation for this moment. I guess the important thing is that along with Brian and I, there was always someone else in the center of their lives, the Big Guy, God. Hopefully while Brian and I have been making our (not so graceful) exit from the centers of their lives, God has become an even bigger presence. I know that as long as they keep Him there, they will be fine…even if they are going to bed somewhere else. Stupid College…
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Waste some time!!!!

So, there are those days when everything is so wonderful and follows along perfectly with my plans. The kids are obedient and happy and helpful and get along just smashingly. Ok, so I guess that there are those days. At least that’s what I have heard and…ummm… read on facebook. Those kind of days only exist in my dreams here in the Hough house. The only thing that is even remotely accurate in this “dream world” of mine is that my kids gets along smashingly all right. That part is true, at least in a Noah-threw-a-wooden-hammer-at-Gianna-and-smashed-her-in-the-stomach kind of way. (sigh)

My fantastic and possibly overly ambitious idea of Camp Hough has been well received by the Houghlings. We have enjoyed painting and crafting, making tents and building with Legos. We have learned about a few saints and the kids have learned how to cook and bake a few things. We have put together puzzles and I even taught the middles how to play Backgammon. We have even managed to head to the pool several times. It has been really nice. But the problem that I have is the same problem that I always have. I plan these wonderfully “pin worthy” things to do with the kids and then real life sets in. Doctor’s appointments and dentist appointments, college visits and bills needing to be paid, paperwork and crabby uncooperative kids. And let’s face it, there are just those days when I am happy that we all manage to get on clean jammies and brush our teeth at least once before bed.

While I was sipping, ok, guzzling my coffee this morning, Gianna started to whine and complain that we haven’t done Camp Hough yet this week. Why haven’t we done Camp Hough? It’s not fair that we haven’t done Camp Hough…blah blah blah. Seriously?! I am barely managing to keep my heavy heavy eyelids open and she is harping on me. Today was one of those days that made Camp Hough nearly impossible. Three kids with  doctor appointment, three with dentist appointments, two boys with sports camp, two at work, a house that looked like a bomb had recently exploded in it, a graduation party looming in the very, very near future and of course “WHY AREN’T WE DOING CAMP HOUGH?!” I kind of wanted to pluck out my eyes and stick them in my ears. That way I wouldn’t be able to see or hear anything that was going on around me.

Am I being a teensy bit dramatic? Well, maybe, but seriously, you did not see my living room. After my coffee settled in and started to work it’s wonderfully amazing caramel macchiato magic, the days events started to fall into place, at least in my head. In reality, the day was full of running around, A LOT of running around. I loaded everyone up and did what needed to be done. In between trips to and from, well everywhere, we were home for a short amount of time and I managed to fold about 5 loads of laundry and scrub out my fridge. I even squeezed in a workout. So while I would love to pat myself on the back for being reasonably productive today, I can’t. Stupid Camp Hough. It is hanging over my head. All that I can hear is Gia’s squeaky little voice, “WHY mom?!? WHY CAN’T WE DO CAMP HOUGH?!”  ugh. Just so you know, I am Italian, I am Catholic, I am a mother and a woman. I have the guilt thing down. It is somewhat of an art form, and if I am being honest, I am pretty darn good at it. Apparently guilt is a herititary trait. Gianna also has the dark gift. She is quite talented at pouring it on, good and thick. Oh, that girl child of mine!

You see this is the problem that plagues us as mothers. We plan some fun and exciting activity and the kids enjoy it. In fact, they love it. And they want to keep doing it, again and again and again. In a nutshell, our awesomeness turns around to bite us in the butt. Camp Hough has bit me in the butt. Thankfully, I keep a stash of craft supplies hidden in various locations around the house, because if there is one thing that can calm the beasts (and by beasts, I mean my sweet little angel faces, of course!) it is an impromptu craft. We mothers need to have a little something up our sleeve to combat the whining and the guilt that is thrown at us for not being able to maintain a certain level of amazingness. It can be a trip to a park, a “wopicle” (AKA popsicle to the over three crowd) an afternoon movie on netflix or the above mentioned craft. Pinterest has saved my butt more than a few times. The whining and fighting had reached a feverish pace and I was starting to go a little bit crazy. I reached up my magical sleeve and pulled out a craft. That should keep them busy for a little while, so that I can just get a few more things done. It didn’t work. My foolproof defense was completely useless. What the what?!? I thought about what was going on. What was I missing? What was the missing link?

So, here is the deal. It has taken me 14 years of this motherhood thing to finally figure it out. I am going to share it with all of you. Most of you probably already figured this out, but I am a tad on the slow side. On the days when you are super busy and don’t have a minute to spare and your kids are fighting like crazy and pushing you to contemplate slightly insane things (like plucking out your eyeballs and stuffing them into your ears?!) there is only one thing that you can do to restore order and peace. Are you ready? Are you sure?

YOU are the missing link! It is YOU! Stop what you are doing. Stop the cleaning or paying the bills, stop folding laundry or making your grocery list. Stop facebook-ing and pinterest-ing. Just stop all of it and spend some time with your kids. Take a half an hour and read a book together, put together a puzzle, make a dessert for after dinner. Just spend some time with them. Snuggle on the couch or build a fort out of pillows. This is what makes you an awesome mom. This is what made my kids love Camp Hough. It wasn’t the crafts or the scavenger hunt. It wasn’t even the “wopicles “or building churches out of legos. Nope, it was so much simpler than all of that. They just wanted my undivided attention. They just wanted to spend time with me! Shut the front door! Are you kidding me. My kids actually like me?!? They like to do things with me?! That was the key. When I stopped what I was doing, and really looked at my kids and became involved with what they were doing, they fought less, they listened better, they were happier and so was I.

It always amazes me that here I am, a stay at home mom, and there are days that go by when I realize that I haven’t had an actual conversation with any of the kids. The whole point of being a SAHM is to be here for my kids. It is so easy to get caught up in doing the things that need to be done for our kids, that we forget all about spending time with our kids. Once again I smile at the wisdom of our Pope. He has called us to waste time with our kids. Waste time WITH our kids. So simple. So easy. It is also, actually, so much fun! So now that I have figured out this little tidbit of awesomeness, I am going to go and waste some time with my littles. I am going to go and play some backgammon with my middles. I am going to go and give them the very first and very best gift that I have to give them. My time. Night all!

Theme Thursday: Sand

Sadly I am not at a gorgeous sand covered beach laying on a towel, basking in the sun, soaking up vitamin D as I listen to the waves gently lapping against the shore…(Insert wistful sigh here…) But the theme for theme Thursday is sand and I looked back through some old pics and found this…
Apparently not everyone loves sand as much as I do. Obviously Peezy is not a fan. He kind of looks like he is need of a shave…and a kleenex…and a hug.
  These next two are two of my absolute, positive, hands down favorites…
This first one was in Erie in 2010…
This is from the same place in 2012…

For more sandy sand  pics head over to Clan Donaldson…