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Mandatory Family Fun

I’ve told y’all before that I’m not a huge fan of over-the-top, Pinterest-worthy birthday parties. For one, we don’t have the money to shell out on crafts supplies that I will purchase and then never complete. Second, our kids don’t eat sugar. At all. And I can’t think of a single kid (or parent for that matter) who would come to a birthday party without cake and ice cream. And, third, I can hardly get up the energy most days to “cook” for my own picky eaters. So, the idea of entertaining a bunch of other people’s picky eaters is pretty overwhelming.

Those of you who know my mom well probably just shook your heads and said, “The apple sure did fall far from the tree.” And you are absolutely right. Really, the apple fell off the tree, and while it was in mid-air, was swept up in a tornado, hit by a truck, and dumped in a field of buffalo manure in Kansas.

[Oh, no. Katy’s using metaphors again. Someone call a therapist.]

So, like we did for JJ back in April, we planned a mandatory family fun outing to celebrate Averi’s second birthday. I say mandatory because I could probably go months without leaving the house and never realize it. My only reminder would be the constant screams from my stir-crazy kids.

Because Averi’s birthday is in October and we live in the middle of so much farmland, I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than a Pumpkin Farm.

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But, to be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of family outings like this. And here are approximately 9 reasons why:

1)  We have to skip Averi’s nap. And Averi without a nap looks like this:

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2)  JJ no longer naps. So outings with him are a crap-shoot.

3)  There’s never enough milk. Ever. WHY doesn’t anyone sell milk?

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Sorry, goat’s milk won’t work.

4)  There’s never enough food.

“No, kids. Mommy didn’t bring snacks. See, that’s why you’re supposed to eat lunch! … Oh, did I forget to feed you lunch, too?”

5)  It requires me to get myself dressed. And I know that seems like a ridiculous thing for a grown woman to say. But pajama pants are part of the uniform for semi-depressed mothers of toddlers. I’m pretty sure I read that in our operations manual somewhere.

6)  It requires me to get everyone else dressed, including my husband.

I won’t elaborate too much on this one, but Brian has become very aware of his wardrobe lately (no doubt because of his sudden rise in infamy). He asks no less than 37 questions EVERY TIME he gets dressed. Except to go to work…where he wears a uniform. I’m *this* close to coming up with a “civilian uniform” for him. It’s easy, honey:  sweatshirt, jeans, tennis shoes, ascot, cuff links, ruffled shirt, argyle socks. Boom, there’s your outfit.

7)  Road trips in the car with Napless Toddler 1 and Napless Toddler 2 are nearly as much fun as road trips in the car with two rabid dogs strapped into car seats.

“Shut up and ENJOY THIS, kids!”

Kidding. I don’t tell my precious toddlers to shut up. (Not where they can hear me.)

8)  The “keep the napless toddlers awake” game is exhausting for everyone.

“Hey, kids! Don’t go to sleep yet. No…look at mommy. If you sleep now you’ll never sleep tonight…WAKE UP!!!!! Only 45 more minutes until we’re home!”

9)  Diapers. Hundreds of diapers. I was tempted to throw the kids in an animal pen and just let them do their thing.

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“I don’t think so, lady.”

So, these are just a few of the reasons that this season of our life is not a particularly great one for day trips that don’t include sedatives (for all of us).

But, as we strolled around Faulkner’s Pumpkin Farm in Kansas City yesterday, and as the cool, autumn air filled my lungs, I remembered why we plan these mandatory outings.

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When I looked over and saw the faces of my babies who clearly needed this time out as a family, I remembered why.

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When I looked through the 300 or so photos that I took and realized that—despite all the whining and complaining that happened in the car—those kids had a BLAST, I remembered why.

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When I watched Brian as he ran and played with our kids, I remembered why.

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As parents, we don’t go to pumpkin farms with cheesy rides and awful music because it’s fun for us. Believe me, if you had heard the kids-sing-annoying-country-songs compilation they had blaring throughout the farm, you would agree. No choir of children should ever sing “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down.” That’s just awkward for everyone.

And though my idea of a fun day would probably include little more than coffee and solitude…

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I have grown to appreciate that motherhood is stretching me in a really good way (it stretched me in really bad ways too, but we won’t get into that).

Aaaaaaaaaaaand we just lost my dad.

This process of becoming less selfish (it’s called sanctification) is a slow one for me, unfortunately. I don’t see the benefits of getting outside of my own house—or my own head—until I’m actually there. At a pumpkin farm. Singing bad country music along with the other children. And smiling about it.

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If it wasn’t for mandatory family fun outings, I would probably never stop organizing the drawers in our house. And our poor kids would probably end up just watching Flowers in the Attic on constant loop. (Seriously, I remember watching that movie as a kid. It’s disturbing. Though, it did give me a renewed appreciation for my mom. Well played, mom.)

Averi, my girl, I know I didn’t throw you an over-the-top, fairy princess birthday party with cake and streamers and confetti-filled balloons. In fact, I realized just now that I forgot to give you the card I bought you and that I put you in a witch’s hat hair bow for your birthday outing.

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So, that’s pretty hilarious (to me).

But, I hope you know how much we love you and enjoy these times together as a family.

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I hope you know that motherhood is truly one of my greatest joys this side of heaven.

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I hope you don’t go and write a book about me called, “Dead Plants in the Basement.”

Did you guys ever see “Flowers in the Attic”? Is it not the creepiest movie ever?

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Comments to "Mandatory Family Fun"

  1. Judi

    October 18, 2013

    Love! Made my heart smile:)

  2. Judi

    October 18, 2013

    🙂 (((HUGS))) Made my heart smile~

  3. karen

    October 18, 2013

    They may have been hungry and milk-starved, but we sure couldn’t tell by the pictures! hahah. That looked like a wonderful family outing and a reminder that we need to get over to our local farm/pumpkin patch because the animals at the petting zoo are still semi-content. Not after we go though (16 month old and all…). Curious question…how does the whole no sugar thing go and does it work? I am pretty in awe of you just at that fact. Do they protest?

  4. Debbie

    October 19, 2013

    I saw the movie. It wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the books. And yet, I couldn’t get enough of them! Clearly I was a troubled youth.

  5. Katy's Mama

    October 19, 2013

    Looks like fun! Love the witches hat hairbow. Averi didn’t look so happy about it!

  6. Lee

    October 20, 2013

    We went to the pumpkin “orchard” today. We actually saw a guy pay $42 for a pumpkin. My three daughters were all crabby, the battery died on the camera, there were no apples left on the trees and there were literally about 1,000 people there. Still, I skipped my Sunday afternoon nap for this miserable time with my girls. Guess what? Over dinner tonight we recalled our adventure and we laughed so hard we almost cried. Misery loves company, especially when it’s family.

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