Category Archives: Jaden

Reflections on Jaden’s 8th Birthday Party

Today is Jaden’s 8th birthday. I became a mother for the first time 8 years and 12 hours ago, photo1   almost exactly. Where on earth did the time go and how on earth do I have FOUR more children already!?!?

We like to celebrate birthdays big in my family … my mother coined the term “birthday week.” So last night, we had a bunch of Jaden’s friends over to my parent’s house for an outdoor movie. The party didn’t start until 7 p.m. which is quite late for a bunch of 7-8 year-olds. I had thought we’d be able to start the movie around 8 and then kids would be picked up by 9:30. Not so much … turns out the sun sets at 8:30 ish and it’s not even really dark enough to show a movie outside until almost 9 p.m. Sure wish I would have known that before 7:30 p.m. on the night of the party. Needless to say, I had a lot of stalling time with 15 kids running wild. Annnnd one might say I didn’t do the best job planning either. That doesn’t change the fact, that I was highly unprepared to entertain my own children, let alone the 15 that were dropped off at the front door.

We played Red Light, Green Light. We played ghost in the graveyard, which apparently is called fox in the cornfield when played in daylight. We played pick up the broken pieces of balloons in the grass. We sang happy birthday and eat Minecraft rice crispy bar cake (because it’s photo2something that I can make Jaden-friendly because of his food allergies). I was running out of stalling activities and the sun was still very clearly still in the sky. I texted my sister, who was upstairs, and asked for HELP!!! ok it was a mayday signal. I was in over my head, and I had no idea how on earth to control the situation. Just because you are a mother, does NOT mean you have the gift of controlling mobs of little people called children. I was in over my head and sinking fast.

My sister and brother came outside and asked me what was next – presents, another game, start the movie? They were there to help. I was a deer in headlights and didn’t know what to do. At first they thought maybe I was just being flighty Mel – the one that can’t really focus enough to make a decision. Then, they saw my face and realized that I really didn’t know what to do … they jumped in to help. It was decided that it was time to open presents, then we would start the movie inside and move outside when it was dark enough. THANK YOU!

The rest of the night turned out great. My sister continued to give me pointers on what to do next. When they had all been picked up, I was feeling both like a failure and that I accomplished a miracle, But most of all, I had such a profound appreciation for teachers. They actually choose to do this on a daily basis and most of them actually like it. Saints I tell ya.

Being able to control small mobs of children is not easy – it’s a god-given gift, one that I do not have. There are many talents God did give me, just not this one. It’s also evidence that just because you have lots of children, does not mean you are a good with children. I love my kids to the moon and back, but for the most part, I have no clue what I am doing. I relay on books, parenting groups, prayer and advise from other moms on how to mother. It does not come easily for me, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to be. I find that I’ve got the loving and playing with my children down pat, but not the disciple or getting them to do what they are supposed to do thing down.

I continue learn a lot from my sister in that department. She has the god-given talent of being in control of young people. She is able to captivate their attention and get them to quiet down so they can listen. She shows strength and discpline. She is my role model when trying to be a better mother. Ironic because she isn’t a mother herself (yet). But lordy has she taught me lots and shown me how to be a better leader in my own homes. (Side note: my own mom teaches me a heck of a lot in this department as well!) 

Lessons I learned on Jaden’s 8th birthday:

  1. 8 years goes by really super fast
  2. Jaden is my favorite 8 year-old on this planet!
  3. I have little to no experience (or talent) in being in control of 15 people under 4 feet tall
  4. It doesn’t get dark enough outside for a movie until 9 p.m. and the time between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. can seem like an eternity
  5. When having a “build your own trail mix” bar – kids really interpret that as a “fill my bowl with candy and skip the cereal” bar
  6. Having lots of children does not mean you are good at being in charge of lots of them
  7. Mobs of children can be intimidating
  8. My sister is an amazing teacher
  9. My 8 year old, Jaden, is an incredible little man
  10. I would miserably fail at being a teacher

I have now delegated the motherly task of planning my children’s birthday parties to my sister. She will be in charge going forward. It’s for everyone’s best interest … 

Love, Mel


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An overdue update

I wish I felt more inspired to write these days. There are tons of thoughts, revelations and meditations all floating around in my head. They just don’t seem to want to flow to paper when I finally have time to blog. I usually feel inspired to write something profound after my morning shower (probably a little weird but true) or after I’ve read a chapter in a new book I’m reading, “Un-Glued”. Which I totally recommend to read … But more on that later.

I was thinking about how I was thankful that school would be starting up soon. I desperately miss the quiet two hours in the middle of my day while the babies napped and jaden was still at school. And then I thought about how much I would miss him after the first week or so. How with each year he gains more independence and he will be spending more and more time away from home. I reminded myself to find the strength to embrace these days, as crazy and stressful as they are, for one day they will be over. That doesn’t mean I don’t still look forward to the comfort of our old routine … I just need to take a few moments here and there over the next week to appreciate what I have.

Which reminds me … Jaden lost his first tooth the other night! I’d been begging him to just pull it for two weeks and it finally popped out when we were wiggling it in the mirror after we brushed teeth! He was so surprised that it didn’t hurt! His wide eyes when it all happened were priceless! He was even more excited when he found a dollar bill under his pillow the next morning from the Tooth Fairy!


If only that still worked with adults! Just imagine if it only took someone hiding a dollar bill under your pillow for you to wake up with a smile on your face that would last all day. Imagine being so excited you had to tell everyone you came in contact with — Neighbors, Wal-Mart cashiers, bank tellers, barber, mailman, your boss … You name it! Well that’s what Jaden did at least …

Love, Mel

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Jaden has been begging me for a Mohawk for almost six months. I told him we weren’t going to do it during the school year because I didn’t want his teachers to think he was a hooligan. He didn’t forget and the last day of school, he came home asking when he could get his hair cut. I suppose he was pretty set on it.

I couldn’t go back on my word. So one day this week, after the babies woke up from their nap, we called Cost Cutters to see how long the wait was. There was NO wait! That was our cue to jump in the car and get the hair cut of Jaden’s dreams. I only had two rules … 1. There had to be some hair on his entire head. We were not going to Bic the sides! 2. If he started to act like a punk, we would need to go back to a regular hair cut because I like my boys nice and sweet.

The before

The after

He had THE biggest smile on his face … It was worth every penny of the $15.

That night at his tball game, he kept looking at himself in the reflection of his friends sunglasses. Gently touching the top of his head to make sure it was still spiked. Then the next morning we woke up and the first thing he said was “Mom, do I still have my Mohawk?” Again, gently touching the top of his head. When I explained that he did and would every morning he woke up because that’s how his hair was cut. He was even more excited! “Cool mom its permanent!”

Needless to say, I think the Mohawk fits him well … But then again I’m pretty sure I think my kid is pretty darn cute all of the time. Ok, I’m a little biased!

Love, Mel


Filed under Jaden, Jaden Story

Jaden’s Branching Out from 4K

Today I was one proud mama.  I can’t believe my little, baby (ok almost 6 year old) Jaden graduated from 4K today.  Doug, his mom (Pam), my dad (Pa), the triplets and myself all attended his Branching Out ceremony.

The backdrop was super cute with a tree for each of the elementary schools the kids would be attending next year.  (In the Sussex Hamilton school district, all 4K classes are held in one school.)

Of course when the kids came on stage, all the parents went nuts waving and trying to get their kid to notice them.  Some even leaped out of their chairs … haha  Jaden found us after a bit of searching.  Pretty sure he was more excited to wave to his babies than me.  Oh well …

They started out the ceremony with showing us how well they can say the Pledge of Alligence.  Of course my kid is doing everything BUT saying the pledge.  Still love him thought 🙂

Then they sang some songs – which were delightful!

Then each child’s name was announced along with the elementary school they would be “branching out” to.  They each got to shake Dr T’s hand and pose for a great picture.  Gosh does it get any cuter than this??

ps I told him to tuck in his shirt!  blah!  boys …

Jaden & his locker!

Jaden has had an amazing two years at Willow.  His teachers (and all of the other teachers for that matter) have taught Jaden not only things like how to write his name and how to count to 100, but also how to be a friend and better person.  They have taught him manners and how to deal with his emotions (any other mom’s heard of Tucker the Turtle?).

Thank you Willow Springs for all of the gifts you have given Jaden.  He is a better kid because of you!

To Jaden – Mom is very proud of you!  You have come so far.  I remember last year when we were both crying as I was trying to get you to write your name on your valentines.  Now you color and draw for hours.  You can write your name clearly and know how to spell a few other words.  I couldn’t be prouder of the little (funny) young man you are growing up to be.  Keep being you because that’s who God made you to be!

Love, Mel


Filed under Jaden, Jaden Story, Milestones, Posted by Melissa

Music & Muffins 2012

Doug is finally home from his business trip!  Now there is at least a 1:1 ratio of parent to crazy toddler 🙂

This morning, I heard Jaden ask Doug if he was going to come to his Music and Muffins concert.  (Mind you I asked Doug WEEKS ago if he thought he would be able to go …)  Doug asked Jaden what it was all about.  Jaden said “Well we are singing … so there is music.  And then when we are done, we have muffins … and there is milk.  You love milk Dad.  Want to come?”  What a charmer!  And it worked too!  Doug called into the office this morning to let them know he was going to take a half day of vacation.

Jaden was super excited to see us all there.  Here is a video of his performance:

So Jaden might not have a career in singing & hand movements.  Did you notice the striped tie with his plaid shirt?  That was ALL him this morning 🙂  The bus driver even commented this afternoon that he is his best dressed student. Oh Jaden …

It was a great day today!  Not only was Jaden the proudest kid at school because his dad was there … but we also had our first family bonfire in the fire pit Doug gave me for Mother’s Day last year.

It’s the little things these days that reminds me to keep fighting.  Not going to lie, I’ve started to think and worry about May 26, 2012 already.   It was nice to have a pleasant and calm day to offset the worry.

Love, Mel


Filed under Jaden, Milestones, Posted by Melissa

A lesson on the cost of gas

This morning was going SOO well … until it was time to get on the bus.  Jaden was poking around, getting his shoes on but not before making a game out of getting his socks on.  I totally recognize that I woke up 20 mins late this morning … but we would have been fine had Jaden just not poked and played games with everything!

That being said … it got to be 2 minutes past the regular “leave for the bus stop time” and Jaden was still getting his shoes on.  I saw the bus drive past the window and I yelled “Jaden we’ve got to run!  Hurry!”  With one foot out the front door, I helped Jaden get his backpack on and handed him his lunch box.  I realized he didn’t have a coat, but thought “oh well – we have got to make this bus!  Good thing it’s supposed to be 75 today!”

He gets about half way down the driveway and stops – “I don’t want to run!”  I’m starting to get panicked and sort of ticked that he’s not cooperating.  The other kids at the bus stop are almost all loaded onto the bus by now.  I holler, “too bad – maybe you’ll get dressed quicker tomorrow!”  He takes two more steps and turns around again – “I don’t want to go by myself”  UGH!  Now I’ve totally lost it and am so embarrassed that we are holding up the ENTIRE bus of kids for this little melt down.  So I grab his arm by the wrist (not hard) and am now dragging him behind me as I’m running down the driveway and half way down the block … with NO shoes on.  Thank goodness I had gotten dressed and wasn’t doing this in my sweats and no bra.

The bus driver starts to back up … the bus is making that beeping noise big trucks make when they are in reverse.  The doors open … Jaden won’t walk past the back wheel of the bus.  “Get on the bus” I grit through my teeth.  He shakes his head.  I’m not sure what happened inside of me, but I found my inner calmness and decided that this would be a great Love and Logic moment (I’ve been taking a parenting class on this parenting idea for the past six weeks).  I look at the bus driver “I’m really sorry I wasted your time.  But it looks like we won’t be riding the bus today.  I’ll take it from here.”  He looked at me like “Really?”  Then I take Jaden’s hand and we walk back to the house.

He is crying and wailing.  I walk in the house in front of him.  He hits the grass causing a scene because I shut the door.  (He can open the door on his own … I’ve seen him do it a million times when he lets in the neighbor boy to play.)  I go about my business … trying to decide what my next move is going to be.  (insert update facebook status here)

Pretty soon the front doorbell rings.  It’s Jaden.  He’s done with his fit and ready to come inside.  I asked him how he was going to get to school since he missed the bus.  “I dunno.”  I said, “well you think about that and let me know what you come up with.”  After a short pause, he says that I could take him.  I said “You’re right I could … but gas is really expensive these days.  It costs almost $4 a gallon.  Do you have that much money for gas?”  He says he does – he’s got “hundreds of dollars and coins.”

So we go to his room, pull out his piggy bank and he pulls out four dollar bills.  (I was actually quite surprised at how much cash that kid has stored away in his superhero pig.)  We go and get our backpack on and get in the car.  I pull into the gas station close to the house and open the back van door and hold out my hand.  “Ok, that’s $4 for gas please.”  He proudly hands it over.  At this point, I’m thinking to myself that this is too easy, perhaps I should have done something else.  But what do I have to lose now?  So I keep going with it.

At school he proudly gets out of the car and walks into school – no sign of a bad morning anywhere on that kid’s face.  Just as I’m about to leave, he asks me if I can pick him up from school.  I smile, “and how much does that cost”  He says “$4”  “Do you have that kind of money?”  He starts to dig in his pockets.  Of course they are empty because he already paid me the money he had for his ride to school.  We didn’t quite get to finish the conversation before a teacher scooped up his hand and said it was time to go to class.

I went back to the car thinking … I don’t think this kid is going to be uncomfortable until he runs out of money.  Maybe I should take some of it and make a deposit into his account while he’s at school so he runs out quicker.  My Love and Logic instructor, Pam’s, voice echoes in my head – “Have fun with it!  Kids don’t have to be in pain to learn a lesson.”  And that’s what it’s really about, right?  Teaching your kids something?

So I’m interested to see what he’s going to do tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll be $4 richer, or maybe he won’t be complaining when the bus comes.  We shall see …

Love, Mel


Filed under Jaden, Milestones, Mommyhood Meditations, Posted by Melissa

First Day of School

Jaden made it to the first day of school!  As it turns out the long strep throat test came back positive.  It freaking took them FIVE days to call me and tell me that.  I was less than pleased.  However the antibiotics are in full swing and he’s back to his normal self.

Jaden woke up on Wednesday totally pumped for school to start.  He got dressed on his own, eat breakfast and brushed his teeth on his own.  he was super excited and that made me one proud mama.

This cracked me up … Jaden and Daddy with their backpacks.

This was our walk to the bus stop.  He practically ran 20 feet in front of me.  The entire time I was thinking of last year when we would sing our ABC’s while walking hand in hand or talk about something weird and crazy.  He’s just so big.  What am I going to do when the triplet’s are Jaden’s age?  Oh when Weston and Logan are 5 Jaden is going to be 9 … 

The famous rock at the bust stop.

The twins at the bus stop.  I think about to when I first met “N” and “C” last year.  All I could think about was that we are surrounded by multiples!!  Jaden idolizes “C”.  He is just a little too little to play with them.  Jaden sure does try to keep up though.


Jaden was so excited for the bus to get here, he totally forgot to give me a hug and kiss goodbye.  Made my heart a little heavy.  They just grow up so fast!

I stood and watched the bus drive off … until I couldn’t see it anymore.  It’s so scary to put your child on a bus to be cared for by other adults.  This isn’t just an hour or two of babysitting … this is hours and hours of people taking care of him.  And I really miss Jaden during the day now.

This is my walk home … without Jaden.  Lonely.

Later in the afternoon Weston and Logan were playing … it’s so funny how the two of them are totally unaware of personal bubbles.  Weston was jumping on him … and Logan could have cared less.  Silly babies.

The first week went pretty good.  There was a small tussle at the bus stop one morning and Jaden had one rough day at school (got a time out even.)  Just so odd to hear about my kid getting into trouble.  I was a goody two shoes growing up.

I’m really proud of Jaden and the way he’s been handing everything.  He’s motivated in the morning.  He gets ready on his own.  He sure did a great deal of growing up this summer.

Love, Mel


Filed under Jaden, Jaden Story, Milestones, Posted by Melissa

Birthday Recap

My day started out well rested 🙂  Doug let me sleep in til 9:30 … funny how it seemed like I had slept the day away when I woke up.   Right away the boys wanted to give me their present … Doug paraded out of the bedroom with a hanger behind his back.  Oooo weee he bought me clothes!  He picked me out a beautiful burnt orange sweater with a white shirt underneath (I later found out that he put the two shirts together all on his own!)  I’m not sure about you other ladies, but I find it incredible romantic when a man buys a woman clothes.  When I put it on in the morning I’ll think of him, all during the day I’ll think of him and I know he likes what I’m wearing.  (Good job Doug! wink wink)

The bad news was that Jaden had a fever of about 101.9.  Since the family was supposed to come over for dinner and a party later that night I decided I should take him to urgent care.  I was secretly hoping it was an ear infection it would be contagious.  No such luck.  Jaden talked and talked with the medical assistant about Phineas & Ferb (I’m pretty sure he had to have kids of his own … or a lot of time for Saturday morning cartoons).  No ear infection so we did a throat culture.  No strep.  We assume it’s a virus of some sort.

Called the family … a little virus didn’t scare them off!  So the party was still on.

We had brats on the grill … Doug’s first time grilling.  I think he got a little annoyed by the third time I made him promise not to burn my birthday dinner.  haha  They turned out perfect!

I opened up a few gifts from the family.  A beautiful orange scarf (thank’s Bill … you did a GREAT job picking it out!), an awesome wall hanging of three owls, a gift card to Target so I can start on my winter orange wardrobe, orange(ish) necklace, an orange journal to keep writing in, an orange Pumpkin Pie candle (are you seeing a theme here?) and orange fleece and some moola to go towards my iPad fund.  I was REALLY spoiled!!

We played Family Feud … girls kicked the boy’s hinders!  Then we played Luck of the Draw.  HILARIOUS game to play with friends.  I learned a few things about my family … Sarah draws non-straight lines, Eric draws super small and Abby can draw Darth Vader from memory (impressive).  I laughed so so hard …  I did enjoy a few adult beverages and overall had a really great time!

JADEN UPDATE:  He still isn’t feeling well.  I think we are headed back to the doctor tomorrow.  It’s a shame because he’s supposed to start 4K on Wednesday.  I’m thinking we might miss the first day of school … boo!  He missed the end of last year because of Owen and now he’s going to miss the first day.  I just don’t want him to feel left out for missing the first day.  But it is what it is … not much I can do about it.

I had this realization moment this weekend.  When Jaden starts school this year … he’ll be in school for at least the next 14 years of his life.  All day long.  Made me kind of cry … he’s growing up.  It’s a scary thing as a mom to know that as the years go by I’m going to spend less and less time with him.

Where on earth did the last five years go?  If you find them, please let me know as I’d really like to have them back.

Love, Mel


Filed under Holidays, Jaden, Milestones, Posted by Melissa

Jaden’s 5th Birthday

For Jaden’s party this year, we kept it small.  Just close family.  We had a blast though.  Doug’s parents came down from Green Bay.  My brother and sister were able to get off of work to join.  We were missing my dad though.  He’s traveling in Europe for business.  We remembered him while eating pistachios though … I don’t know I’d have any left if he had attended!  (love you dad!)

It was SO hot we spent most of the day inside and in our super cool basement.  (cool meant in both ways there haha)  I think the day is better told in pictures.

Here’s opening the first present!

Oh yea!!!  A Nintendo DS!  and it’s red!  As if he wasn’t already spoiled … he’s now officially spoiled!


Holy smokes Grandma from DePere (Doug’s mom) … Jaden now has the full Green Lantern collection.  Spoiled is a definitive yes now!


Is that Green Lantern or a green bird?  Funny story about the ring … that night when Jaden was in bed, I walked by his room to see a green glow coming from under his covers … someone sneaked his green ring into bed.  He would say “but the ring has chosen me!”  Apparently it’s a Green Lantern thing?


Ok I had to try the mask on.  This is one of those things I’m going to do when he’s 18 and totally embarrass him!  Looking forward to it …


Well I’m not the only other one to try on the mask.  Is the mask small or is Jake’s face extra large?

My mother in law … giving a few extra kisses to the boys.  You could tell every once in a while when someone would think about Owen … they usually grabbed a baby to hug/kiss.


The proud birthday boy with his special wheat, diary, milk, egg, soy free cake!  This took a lot of effort from the YaYa … three trips to a grocery store, begging for an exchange of some bad coconut milk from a closed specialty story, three layers turning into two … and a whole lot of love!  Only a very special YaYa would go through so much trouble.


Why not just take a bite out of your cake?  Not like anyone else is going to eat it!


Opps, one candle left … Jaden has a girlfriend!  Now which one is it?

Overall it was a nice day with family.  I seriously can’t believe I have a five year old though … where on earth did the time go?

Love, Mel


Filed under Jaden, Milestones

Jaden’s Birthday Extravaganza!

Jaden’s birthday was filled with fabulous-ness.  Chocolate cupcake for breakfast with presents.  Cars 2 movie with a friend.  I was sad when we invited a friend because I thought Jaden wouldn’t want to sit on my lap in the theater.  But he surprised me and curled right up in my arms.  I was beaming so bright I thought someone in the theater would ask me to turn it down.

During the movie Jaden spilled my soda on my lap.  Yep, right down my crotch.  He started yelling that it was cold and on his back.  After getting him taken care of; quiet and back in his seat.  I assessed the damage done to myself.  Khaki capris with Diet Mountain Dew.  I was SURE it was going to look like I peed my pants when we walked out of the theater.  I was SO lucky!  It had dried enough that no one could tell, but me.  It was still damp and cold to say the least.  Never a dull moment when Jaden is around 🙂

Then in the evening we had our first T-ball game.  That’s right … the Yellow ‘Beaver’ team played the Dark Blue team last night.  I’m not quite sure he got MVP status, but he did provide some quality entertainment!

Here is Jaden “playing” 3rd base.



Jaden “sitting” in line when his team is up to bat.



and he’s still playing with his hat in the out field …


This was a great “4 year olds are playing t-ball” moment.  Jaden is playing “pitcher.”  (Which requires him to stand on the pitcher’s mound while every kid hits the ball off of a tee.)  The child in blue was on first base after hitting the ball.  His team-mate is up to bat and hits the ball.  Jaden runs to get it … along with the runner on 1st base!  Pretty darn cute.



And because I’m “that mom” here’s a close up … he was playing hard!  No worries, there were no injuries.  He was just fine!

After the game Jaden got to choose if he wanted to go out for gelato.  (We found out during the 4th of July parade that he can have the fruit flavors of gelato!!) or if he wanted to play at the park.  He chose the park.  (I was a little bummed as I was looking forward to ice cream all day!)  When we got home he got to open his “big” gift from Doug and I.  An automatic nurf gun!

Ok … I HATE it when Jaden plays with guns, but Doug is really ok with it.  So I just say we aren’t allowed to play with ‘real’ looking type guns.  Yep we are “that” family on the block … we play with toy guns AND play video games 🙂

I think Jaden had fun on his birthday.  I hope we were able to make it extra special for him.  There were times of course that I missed Owen and wished that he was there to celebrate Jaden’s birthday.  I wished that Jaden didn’t have to carry the truth on his 5th birthday that his baby brother died.  He’s far too young to have to endure that kind of truth.  But was a part of the day … just like cupcakes were a part of breakfast.

This weekend is his family party.  Should be another great day!  Just hoping he doesn’t get too spoiled!!!

Love, Mel


Filed under Jaden, Jaden Story, Milestones, Posted by Melissa