Schools Out

May 24, 2017

And just like that another school year ended. Last week the kids got released for their summer break. The build up to the final day was action packed with “fun in the sun” days, recitals and class parties. This marks the end of Keane’s 3 years of pre-school. Now my fast growing child will move on to Kindergarten (Primary School) in August. Thank goodness Cullen still has another 2 more years of pre-school, cos I’m not sure this momma is ready to have 2 grown up boys on her hands yet. And while both Keane and Cullen were sad at the idea of not seeing their friends and favorite teachers several days a week, and Keane who’s fully aware that come August, school’s about to look a whole lot different for him, right now they’re focus is on enjoying mornings with no wake up calls, more relaxed daily routines, later bedtimes and lots of play dates with friends that will more than likely be focused around water, to help combat the excruciating summer heat.

Speaking of heat, it was a hot one for the boys “Fun in the Sun” Day.

But Cullen and his classmates appeared oblivious, once the parachute and beach balls came out.

While Cullen was busy with parachute games, Keane was prepping for the sack-race.

But Keane has yet to master a good sack-racing technique.

Down we go.

The rest of the racers have finished, but Keane’s still wrestling his way back into the sack.

Meanwhile, Cullen is getting ready to tug-of-war. And appears to be a little confused as to why he was handed a piece of rope to hold.

The addition of some teammates and with instructions to “pull”, they did.

And then they kept pulling. Heading off across the field like a threesome of little Forrest Gumps.

Eventually the teacher caught up and wrangled them all back.

Keane’s turn on the parachute.

The aggressive streak in Cullen was fully satisfied by this bean bag tossing game.

Keane and his classmates are up on the tug-of-war. And here we have a classic boys vs girls situation. The boys.

The girls.

And the girls team was not playing. They had these boys on the run right from the start.

Down go the boys. Victory for the girls.

Another go and this time the teams were a mix of boys and girls.

Working on some sand art.

Cullen had a slight soakage situation happen at the “hook a duck pool” while I was with Keane at the sand art. Which will explain why his suddenly shirtless.

I could think of nothing I’d hate more than being in a bouncy castle in the blazing heat, but these kids didn’t seem bothered at all.

The end of year school performance and Keane’s class did a montage of nursery rhythms. Keane is far right with his classmate Michelle and they are doing “Old Mother Hubbard”. Keane is the dog.

Keane’s class (again he’s far right) getting ready to graduate pre-school.

He’s a legit pre-school graduate. The piece of paper makes it so.

Proud walk.

With his fellow graduates.

Between the kids, the dogs, the cat, the fish and the turtle, you would think there are more than enough things in this house that I’m trying to keep alive. Well apparently not, cos now you can add 2 gecko’s to the list. And no, I’m not kidding. See, this is the kind of shit that happens when Daddy watches the boys. Both Keane and Cullen are knee deep into all things dinosaur and all things reptile right now. Keane had been talking for months about wanting a gecko. He watches all kinds of wild life documentaries and loves reading books on reptiles. For whatever reason he was very drawn to the gecko and asked if he could have one. Being the responsible parent I am, and believing it to be a phase that would pass soon enough, on top of the fact that I know nothing about geckos, had no interest in learning about geckos, nor did I want them in the house. I distracted him with my subject changing skills and creative stall tactics in the hopes that he would forget. But he didn’t. He became even more obsessed. Then one day while I was working and Daddy was parenting solo, I came home to find 2 very excited boys, bouncing around the room talking so fast and yelling so loud as they competed to be the first to tell me that we now had 2 geckos. I fake smiled my joy and surprise to the boys, as I simultaneously tried to telepathically communicate my hostility to The Husband, who was blatantly avoiding eye contact.

Now here we are, with 2 new members to the Doyle family. And me, already and expert on all things prehistoric, now find myself expanding and branching out, reluctantly I might add, into everything reptile.

Here we have Keane’s gecko, he named him Toekay. Its a leopard gecko for anyone who might be interested.

The gecko on the right is Cullen’s, he named his Moekay. So there we have them, Toekay and Moekay.

Both the boys are responsible for the care of Toekay and Moekay. Every couple of days, Keane makes sure to clean out all the gecko poop.

And both of them love to feed them. The kicker being that geckos like to eat live food.

We buy these meal worms, small living worms that the lads love to feed them. Crickets are another meal time favorite. But we’ve had a few crickets escape in some of the feedings.

Just yuck!

Once the tank is clean, the water dish replenished and the food dish filled with worms, its time to return the gecko to their home.

Toekay is hungry.

Got himself a juicy worm.

Happy Campers

May 17, 2017

A quiet update on the illness situation. I did make it to the doctor (with Cullen in tow). Got a prescription for drugs (not the ah-mazing kind, but the kind that allow me to remain present and perform all of my daily mother duties uninhibited). It took 3 more days but eventually the medication kicked in and I was on the road to recovery. Which is a good thing cos this week has been CRAZY! Summer break has arrived for the boys, so their final week in school was full of end of year parties and concert performances. For Keane this marks the end of his 3 years of pre-school. Its now time for him to enter Kindergarten (thats Primary School for all the Irish people in da’house) and although he appears to be ready, am not sure momma is. But before y’all start rolling your eyes in anticipation of an onslaught of emotionally driven declarations of how time, just appears to have accelerated and how quickly things have moved from dependent baby and toddler phases to a little boy determined to flex his independence muscles at every opportunity, I will pause, and save that flood of emotion for next month, when Keane turns 5.

Switching gears, let me just share what went down one day last week in yet another post school pick-up car park adventure. But very quickly, before I get into it, let me give you the play by play of a standard school pick-up day. The moms arrive to collect the kids. The kids are released and usually spend about 30 mins (sometimes 60) playing on the grass areas surrounding the small car park. While the kids play, the mommas catch up on “current events”, off load some of the frustrations and challenges associated with raising kids, question the mentality of men and reminisce about the life we once had prior to securing the future of the human race. All pretty standard. But one day last week, during their play time, Keane came running up to tell me that he and his friends had decided to camp out. With a little more probing I discovered that it was going to be happening the next day, after school, right there on the grass next to the car park. He would be bringing tents, blankets, snacks and drinks. But not the TV cos its too big and no iPads cos there’d be nowhere to charge them. The parents could camp out too, just in case the kids got afraid once nighttime fell. They had it all figured out and were so excited, it felt wrong not to support it. Keane’s friend Gracie-Jo even called him as we drove home to discuss a few more details. Like an alternative to setting up a tent, cos her mom felt like a tent in the small grass area next to a school and church, wouldn’t be ideal. I agreed, so the kids decided on just sleeping bags and blankets. The discussion then switched to a campfire, so they could make s’mores. Again the mommas had to intervene, you know, general personal and public safety concerns, so the kids agreed to bring the marshmallows and pretend to roast them. They had it all worked out. And once we got home, Keane and Cullen spent the rest of the day and evening, talking about and gathering everything needed for the next days camping experience.

So here we are, post school pick-up, just a couple of friends all set up for camping. The joy this whole experience brought was adorable.

Graice-Jo’s mom added to the enjoyment level by bringing popsicles.

Happy little campers.

With the temperature right around 80 degrees (26 celsius) things in the sleeping bags got a little hot. So it was time to get out and explore.

Gracie-Jo and Cullen work together to get the fire set up for “roasting” the marshmallows.

Popsicles and marshmallows weren’t enough for Cullen, he’s back digging in the snack bag.

Eventually the camping equipment is used for other purposes, like squishing Gracie-Jo.

Or getting tangled in.

I’m happy to report that we didn’t end up camping throughout the night. 2 hours in and the heat was bringing to drain everyone. And Cullen was desperate of his nap. But for those 2 hours these kids were so happy. They had come up with this idea. Made all of the plans, worked out all of the details, adapted those ideas given the various restrictions, gathered the supplies and with a little support from the mommas, pulled it off.

Moms Can’t Get Sick

May 11, 2017

So I’ve been struggling through the week with a sinus infection. Initially I assumed it was a cold. But 3 sleepless nights in, with zero improvement in symptoms despite increased intake of fluids and lots of vitamins and over the counter medications, I realized that this was no standard cold. My cold had crossed over into a full blown sinus infection. Now I know there’s never really an ideal time to get sick, but for us mother’s, there is literally NEVER a good time to get sick. Sickness is an inconvenience and a nuisance. “Take it easy. Go to bed” is the advice everyone loves to give. Like it never even occurred to me that putting my head down on a comfy pillow and soft bed would be a good way to help my body beat this infection. But guess what? I’m a parent and my kids don’t care if I’m sick or not. They still need to be fed, dressed, brought to school and then to their various activities. They still want to ask endless questions, show you everything they’re doing and have their favorite stories read at night. So the one thing you desperately need to help your body get better, rest, is the one thing thats impossible to obtain. The solution? You continue to lash recommended dosages of the useless over the counter medications into your body, hoping that this time it might take the edge off and you stand a change at making it through another day with horrible headaches, endless snot and a low level aching throat. After 7 days with no improvement, the realization that I may need to take myself to the doctor finally registers. Now the trick becomes that of finding a window in an already over scheduled week to make this happen. And its probably going to have to happen with at least 1 of the kids in tow. And of course I’m not going to be able to take any of the really good drugs cos they might make me sleepy and while sleep and pain relief sound ah-mazing, I still need to be present and retain the ability to wake up when my kids need me. Being a parent really sucks sometimes.

Anyway, now that I’ve managed to drag the mood down, lets try and turn things around by sharing some Cullen photos. Cullen is currently in a very imaginative phase. Every morning he wakes up, he will tell me as I walk into his room who is going to be that day. “Morning Cullen did you sleep good?” “I’m not Cullen I’m Park Ranger Aaron“. Or “I’m not Cullen I’m a raptor“. Or “I’m not Cullen I’m Marshall (from Paw Patrol)”. Then the challenge is to remember to refer to him by that name all day. Sometimes I forget and that really pisses him off.

This particular day he was Park Ranger Aaron, so he put on his park ranger clothes and we headed off for a walk on the park trails so he could make sure life at the park was running smoothly.

Magnifying glass, to track creature foot prints and look at tiny bugs.

At one point while Cullen was busy with some of his park ranger duties, I hide a dinosaur egg. I thought the discovery would give him endless joy and excitement. And it did, for a few minutes.

But the joy and excitement turned to nervous fear as he began to realize that if there was a dinosaur egg, then there must be a dinosaur momma close by.

Poor guy, he’s very concerned that finding this egg may compromise our safety.

So I had to reassure him that dinosaurs were still extinct and that this egg was fossilized. So no momma dinosaurs would be coming back. Eventually he felt safe and began his fossilized egg examination.

The Car Park Puddle

May 5, 2017

One thing we’ve had plenty of this Spring here in Georgia, rain. Rain at levels even Irish people would raise an eyebrow at. And what typically happens with extensive rain fall? Puddles, lots and lots of puddles and lots and lots of mud. And if there’s one thing a kid can’t resist, its a puddle. So on rainy days school pick-ups always end up like this, a mess of wet, dirty fun. Usually Keane and Cullen are joined by their friend and classmate Gracie-Jo, who just so happens to share their love of “water sports”.

The moms have actually gotten into the habit of keeping the kids boots in the boot of the car, for days such as this.

Lets kick the fun off with a run and jump.

I just happened to have the fishing nets in the car, from a walk Cullen and I took to a stream a couple of days before. So Cullen thought he’d take a stab at trying to find some fish in the puddle.

Gracie-Jo wants to fish too.

Cullen caught a” fish” (aka, a leaf)

Delighted.

Cullen decided he was done, but Keane and Gracie-Jo wanted to keep playing. So I took Cullen’s wet clothes off and set him up in the boot with his dinosaurs.

I look around to see Keane and Gracie-Jo are no longer in the puddle but under a drain “showering”.

Like WTF??

Taking a minute to empty some excessive water out of their boots.

Back in the puddle.

Gracie-Jo is swimming.

The fun is over and even Cullen doesn’t want Keane and all his soakage coming near him.