So school got out.
YAY.  Because I have been totally this mom.
Then again, I'm also this mom who is freaking out at the sheer number of children that I need to entertain for days and days and days.
I ate a lot of feelings worth of Cheetos today.  A lot a lot.

I have wanted summer more than anything, and now that it is here I sort of can't breathe.  We have little on the calendar that we had last summer (adios to most of the camps/vbs/vacations) just blank square after blank square.
Blank squares are a little scary to this accustomed to being very busy family.

Last summer we had a loose daily schedule for the days that we were home, and it worked very well for my needs-to-know-everything-in-advance child, as well as my needs-to-ask-me-all-day-long-what-is-next child.  This summer a schedule is mandatory.  For their security and for my sanity.  We also needed a weekly activity schedule to better navigate the blank squares.

I had them printed at Costco (which somehow I braved with all four of the little ones, fed them in the food court, which has Pepsi not Coke HAPPY DAY, found Puddle Jumpers for cheap, got gas, and brought everyone home alive) and have a feeling that ten thousand times a day I will be pointing them to the schedule.  Somehow though, sending them to the schedule is much better than having to say no to their requests.  Less saying no means less drama.  Less drama means less Cheeto eating.

Lets see how it goes.  Lets see if I can breathe tomorrow.

In case you are going a little crazy and this sort of schedule might help your family's sanity, I made blank versions that you can download here.

They are sized as 11x14 and the text can easily be added in PicMonkey, or throw it in a frame or laminate it and use a dry erase marker to make it changeable, or heck, just go with a sharpie.
Whatever is less stressful for you.

I don't even know what to call this salad (is it salad? it is salsa?) It's like Texas Caviar, except it isn't.  California Caviar? It has things like beans and it is served in a salad size bowl and we always eat it at our annual summer couples bunco.  So Bunco Bean Salad is it's current working title and I am going with it.  It is either that or I-Want-To-Marry-Cilantro-Salad.  Because I do.

It doesn't photograph well, it has a questionable name, most dudes won't touch it, but I cannot not stop eating it.  It screams school is almost over and picnics and happy times and kids napping so I can sit in a corner eating and eating and calling it my precious.

(Makes enough to serve a crowd)

2 cans corn, drained
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
3 ripe avocados, diced

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup salsa (I use Pace medium)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all salad ingredients except avocados.
Whisk all dressing ingredients together
Pour dressing over salad
Chill until ready to serve
Add avocados right before serving

Serve with tortilla chips, or just eat with a big old spoon.

1.  Shining 2.  Brushing  3.  Smiling  4.  Sweeping  5.  Playing
6.  Walking  7.  Sleeping  8.  Reading  9.  Baking  10.  Watching

Beauty in the simplest of days.
(Not pictured, the now mildewed laundry I forgot in the washer days ago, the sink full of dishes, the insane kitchen floor tantrum involving kicking of cabinets, or the bottle of gross thumb sucking stopper poison that I just didn't have it in me to paint on babygirl today. So there's that.)
ten on ten button

So this parenting thing is NO JOKE.
Life has fully unprepared me for life.  Parenting has fully unprepared me for parenting.

There are mornings that I just don't want to face.
There are nights that I don't think I will make it until the glorious hour of 8:15 when everyone is sleeping.

Maybe I am alone in this.  I have a feeling however, that I'm not.

Our dear baby boy has a personality better suited for being the firstborn.  A firstborn that is the center of the world, who can have a predictable schedule that isn't interrupted with the busy lives of his big sisters, who doesn't have to share, or wait, or not be the whole center of the world thing.

So that's fun.

If I was documenting a 365 project of him on Instagram it would have the hashtag #365daysofshanehatingtheuniverse

Not all the days, but at least once or one hundred dozen times a day, he hates the universe and all of the people who live in it.  Including me.

It usually occurs when he is given water instead of juice, or is stopped from running out into the street, or forced to be buckled in a shopping cart, or today for instance, given half of an In-n-out cheeseburger instead of the whole thing.


So as we muddle through our days together, as we learn patience, attempt to figure each other out, and by night, when I force him to lay against my shoulder in the dark quietness of his room, I pray that he is washed in joy and peace, and ask God to give me the grace and strength to be the mother he needs.

I need so much grace. So much strength.

It's the hardest thing in the world.
Sometimes I don't need answers, advice or solutions.
I just need someone to tell me that we will survive.
I am hanging on to that.

Besides I think, deep down, secretly, when he doesn't know I'm looking, he really, really, really likes me.
Did Drew have to shoot 999 images of him furiously trying to wriggle away from my arms?
For sure.  But for one frame, one split second, he nestled in, still and smiling.
She has no idea what a gift this picture is.  What encouragement it is to my weary heart.
I love this boy in all of his wildness and fury.
This little smile and snuggle will help me survive.

Survive we will.