Friday, October 28, 2016

You're never going to believe what happened!

Wow! What a whirlwind of a week! I'm honestly a little bit overwhelmed as one minute i'm sitting on my couch watching kid shows in my pajamas, while holding a fussy, teething baby and eating stale animal crackers, and the next minute, i'm on the phone doing numerous interviews for various news stations and online publications. Okay, while still in my pajamas, eating stale animal crackers and holding a fussy, teething baby. Some things haven't changed at all.

Today something incredible happened to M and I can't wait to share the news because it's seriously amazing (keep reading because I promise i'll get to it soon and you do NOT want to miss this one), but I wanted to say a couple of things first.

First off, our family wanted to send a huge, enormous thank you to each and every one of you for all the kind words, support, birthday wishes, cards, gifts, etc. They mean so much to him and he appreciates it all so much! M would like to make a video to thank everyone, as he doesn't want to accidentally leave anyone out.  I will be posting it on my Facebook page soon so please like my page if you haven't already: Life On Peanut Layne

Showing off a few of the super awesome gifts he received
I'm especially touched that people are sharing their personal stories with us about similar birthday party experiences. M feels very comforted by your stories, and now says, "Mom, i'm not the only one this has happened to. It's actually happening right now as we speak".  Well he is hoping to change all of that and today he told me he had a job interview next week. When I asked him what the job interview was for he grinned and said, "It's called The Goodness Company".  He went on to say that he wants to make sure that each and every child has a very happy birthday and that no one feels sad and lonely on their birthday.  Really, that was my sole purpose for writing the post, but he says it so much better than I ever could.

Second, many have criticized me for being a crappy party planner (well, duh, just go back and read a little bit of my blog because as you will soon discover, I suck at many things). Some have said I made excuses and didn't take any responsibility, which trust me, I totally do. No one is a bigger critic of me than me. I understand and acknowledge our mistakes in planning this party, and no i'm not mad at the other parents at all, nor do I blame them in any of this. It's not about placing blame, it's about making changes so this doesn't happen to another child ever again.  As I pour over the countless heart wrenching stories (while crying my eyes out), some major things stand out to me.  It doesn't seem to matter where the party was held, as many kids had parties at swimming pools, bowling allies, fun centers, skating rinks, restaurants, etc, and still had not a single child show up.  Some kids handed out invitations a week or less before the party, some gave two, three, or four plus weeks notice, and still not a single child showed up (or only one or two). So this tells me that the issue isn't about the party planning (or lack thereof), the party location, or about how cool or uncool a party may be, it's about the need to bring back the RSVP.  It only takes a minute and can save a lifetime of heartache.

So, enough about that for now, and onto the really good stuff!  The big exciting news is M got a very special surprise phone call today from oh, just this author who writes a little book series called "Diary of a Wimpy Kid". You may have heard of him before, Jeff Kinney!! Of course you've heard of him because he's a super famous author, and his book series and movies are hugely popular, but he's also an extremely nice guy who has brightened up my son's world so much, that I don't know if he'll ever stop smiling.  Not only did Jeff take time out of his super busy day to talk to him, but he FaceTimed him as well and gave us a personal tour of his office/studio, which is decked out in DOAWK decor and is pretty much the coolest office i've ever seen.  M is now telling anyone who will listen that he has a new friend and he wants to be just like Kinney, and has been working feverishly on his own comic book series all afternoon.  To really top it all off, Jeff is also sending him an extra special gift that I will post about when the time is right, because it's unbelievably awesome.

Don't mind me...
i'm just FaceTiming Jeff Kinney over here.
Peanut was glued to his big brother's side the entire time. 
He's also a DOAWK fan. Who isn't? 
Pretty sure this is the quietest these two boys have ever been in their entire lives.
"Hey Jeff, would you mind calling them every day, preferably
between 3-5 pm when they're typically chasing each other 
throughout the house like wild dingos?"
I cannot even begin to thank Jeff Kinney enough for reaching out to our sweet boy, and to a couple of very special people who helped connect him to us, in order to make all of this happen. Thank you so much for making his dream come true! We are so humbled by the number of people who just wanted to make sure that our son had a happy birthday and to know that he is loved, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  This will truly be a birthday that none of us will ever forget.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Parents Please Don't Forget to RSVP

I write this post with swollen, puffy eyes, still raw and burning from crying myself to sleep on my pillow. What was supposed to be a fun filled birthday party weekend, complete with pizza, cake, games, prizes and friends, went horribly wrong.

To understand my devastation, I first need to tell you about our newly turned nine year old son. Mae Mae (nickname used for his privacy) is a bright, sensitive, caring little boy who loves animals and babies. We jokingly call him the baby whisperer as he has this incredible ability to calm a crying baby.  He's also an avid animal lover and a vegetarian by choice.  While his peers may be busy being wrapped up in their cell phones and video games, M's prized possessions are his stuffed animals and plushy characters from his favorite movies and shows.  He's also a naturally funny boy who loves nothing more than to make people laugh. He's known by friends and family as a future Will Ferrell in training.  In our large, chaotic family, he's the peacemaker child who's easy to please and looks at life with hope and optimism. He's the kid who would give the shirt off of his back to a stranger, hand over a beloved toy to make another child smile, and would give his mom his favorite candy bar without hesitation. He's a bit of a rare breed these days in an ever changing world where the majority of communication is done online, invitations to events consist of a social media announcement, and manners and etiquette are becoming obsolete.

As a home schooled child, he's never had a real birthday party before. Don't get me wrong, he's had parties, but they were limited to his mom and dad, siblings, grandpa and occasionally a family friend, but usually just his siblings and parents. This worked well for many years as he was young and didn't really know what he was missing but last year on his eighth birthday, he really started to notice that he didn't have any friends. We held his party at Chuck E Cheese, but couldn't think of anyone with kids his age to invite so we did the best that we could and invited a couple of family friends. Unfortunately no one showed up and even though he was used to only having parties with his siblings, my heart ached for him and I vowed that his ninth birthday would be different.  After his party ended, I patted him on the head and said, "Next year you'll be in public school. You're going to have lots of classmates to invite. Don't you worry buddy." He smiled and his big brown eyes sparkled with excitement as he replied with "Yay! I can't wait!" This ninth birthday was supposed to be his year. His special day. His first real party with friends.

His favorite book series is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Since his dear old mom is severely challenged in the crafty department, I ordered him custom invitations on Etsy, an edible DOAWK cake topper, and turned to Pinterest for DOAWK themed games.  He handed out multiple invitations to his friends at school, and one from taekwondo and eagerly counted down the days, hours, and minutes until his birthday.

When his birthday finally arrived yesterday, he was up before the sun. He hung streamers, blew up balloons, cleaned his room, took a bath, picked out his outfit, set the table, and carefully assembled the treat bags for his friends.  "Only three more hours until my friends arrive" he yelled. "This is the happiest day of my life, Momma. I can't wait until my friends get here!"

Hours before the party...
Still very much full of hope and excitement
One of the many DOAWK inspired games we had planned..
M helped me with these 
Waiting for guests to arrive....
He was so excited and anxious....
His edible cake topper...which didn't exactly fit on the cake like promised but close enough
When the party time came and passed, and none of the party guests were here yet, I started to get a little nervous. I had asked parents to RSVP on the invitation, but hadn't received a single reply. Since we're new in town (and school just started a little over a month ago here), I didn't have phone numbers for any of the parents. M rides the bus to and from school, and unfortunately none of his friends are at our bus stop, so I don't have the opportunity to see the other parents (add in a super fussy baby to the mix and some days i'm lucky if I even get to leave the house). I expressed my concerns with my husband the night before his party but he reassured me that "Nobody seems to RSVP these days. Don't worry, they'll come. Kids love birthday parties."  I considered cancelling the party, but M told me that five of his friends had told him they were coming so I was worried that if I cancelled, they would still show up. Our daughter had a birthday party earlier this month and none of the girls RSVP'd but four of them still showed up anyways, so we were cautiously optimistic.

At first I hoped maybe they got lost, or were running late, but we live near the elementary school and our house is not difficult to find. I included our vital contact info-address, phone number, on the invitation, etc. I was most definitely reachable.

M who was starting to get a bit anxious, ran outside, and began to run up and down the street. Each and every car that turned down our street he craned his little neck to get a better look, while hoping and praying it was a missing party guest.

But no one came. Not a single child.

Shortly after my husband arrived home with enough pizza to feed a small army.  The party should've been in full swing at that point, but instead M hung his head, his tiny shoulders began to shake. "No one came Dad. I guess i'm not very popular at school" and he sobbed. 

Words cannot describe the utter and complete devastation that washed over me, my husband and my nearly 70 year old father who was almost brought to tears himself.  Seeing my heartbroken little boy sitting all alone at his brightly decorated, empty party table was more than I could take.  I briefly excused myself to my bathroom and sobbed quietly, as I didn't want to upset him any further.  My dad and husband did an excellent job of distracting him and we made the best of it.  One of our family friends did show up and even though he's an adult, M was really happy he came. We ate as much of the pizza and bread sticks as we could stomach, sang happy birthday and ate cake, and even played a silly game that M was eager to play with his friends.  He opened presents with a big smile on his face, because, well, that's our boy.  Despite his pain, he tried his hardest to have a good time. My dad offered to take him bowling, something he's been wanting to do for a while. We showered him with hugs, love and kisses in a feeble attempt to salvage the disastrous day. We came home tired and exhausted. Once the kids were safely asleep, my husband and I fell apart. There's only been a few times i've seen my tough, manly husband tear up, and last night was one of them.

Trying desperately to make the best of a very bad situation
So we packed up and went bowling...he loved it! 
I don't blame the kids who didn't show up, and i'm trying very hard not to blame the parents as i'm honestly too devastated to be angry.  There are a million excuses and scenarios that could explain why no one showed. Perhaps they didn't feel comfortable sending their kids over to our house for a couple of hours, perhaps they already had plans, perhaps their child was sick, or perhaps their child's invitation never made it home and is crumpled up into a ball at the bottom of their backpack, who really knows? What I do know though, is that M will likely never forget his ninth birthday. It will forever be etched in his memory bank as that one year when no one came to his party. And that kills me as a parent. And it could've all been avoided by a simple RSVP, via phone call, text, email, whatever, etc.  I know I will definitely never ignore those four little letters ever again. 

Parents or caregivers, please, I beg you not to ignore it either.  I know you're busy, tired, stressed, have a million and one other things to do, etc. I'm right there with you, but please the next time you're tempted to ignore the handwritten invitation from a classmate, please remember that there could be a child sitting at an empty party table, crying into his napkin, feeling unloved and rejected. Let the parents know one way or the other if your child is attending. If you have other plans or don't feel comfortable sending your child, that's fine, but do the right thing and let them know! Had we known that no one was coming, we would've changed the date or time, or we would've planned something extra special for him with the money that we instead spent on the party.  We would've done anything to avoid the pain and devastation he experienced.

This morning as he woke up and got ready for school, he seemed to be in decent spirits. His main concern was making sure that his friends still got their treat bags that he made for them. That's our boy though, always thinking of others instead of himself.  He's a good kid and we definitely did something right with this one. So please, please, please, do the right thing and RSVP!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Six Months

In just six short little months, our lives have become almost unrecognizable. As you already know, we had a beautiful, chubby, baby boy in March.  In July we packed up and moved the fam from Portland to our dream location.  My husband found an amazing new job in his field, and we were extremely fortunate to find a rental house right away. I should mention that finding a rental or even a house to buy in this very desirable tourist town is like an episode of Survivor. People will straight up cut you to be the first one in line at an open house!  Unfortunately our two oldest kids (who are technically grown now but they'll always be kids to me), decided to stay back in Portland, so we're now a teeny tiny little family of six. You're probably thinking that means we're going to have more kids, but I can assure you that there will definitely be no more kids in the Peanut Layne household. My husband finally got fixed a few months ago (I know, I know, took him long enough, right?) but that will be in a separate post called, "Bringing four kids to my husband's vasectomy" so keep an eye out for that one.
Goodbye Concrete Jungle
Hello Beautiful Desert!

My boys are no longer home-schooled. That's right ya'll! I retired my role as a teacher and sent my boys off to public school in September.

First Day of School
 And you know what? They absolutely love it! I had so many fears, panic attacks leading up to the first day of school such as:

Will my youngest be able to wipe his own butt?
Will they get lost heading from the bus to classroom?
Will they say something off the wall and crazy that only home-schooled kids would say?

Okay who am I kidding?

Will they repeat things that they heard their dear old mom say?

But so far they adore their new school and are already making friends. And I adore the fact that from 8:30-3:30 pm, my house is strangely quiet and i'm getting lots of one on one time with Seanie Mac. Speaking of Seanie Mac, he recently cut two new baby teeth, is recovering from his first cold, is eating baby food twice a day, and weighs more than a baby elephant. No, seriously, this kid is HUGE! He's 21 pounds and about 28 inches long, wearing a size 5 diaper and 12-18-24 month clothes. And my arms totally look like Popeye arms from carrying him around the house, but muscles are in so that's good, right?

My Big Bald Cutie Patootie 
 It's funny but I never realized just how unhappy I was until we moved and I was forced to make some major changes in my life.  Before we moved I was in a rut. I was lonely, bored, and miserable, but after nearly seven years in the city, I began to think that my life was as good as it was going to get.  But, I was so very wrong.

It's incredible how a simple change in scenery, putting the boys in school, forcing myself to get out of the house and make some friends, and finally returning to my blog and writing again, is helping me slowly find my way back to myself.  

And boy oh boy, do we have some amazing scenery here! It really does take some effort to be unhappy here.  People are so ridiculously friendly and one simply cannot go anywhere without having a conversation with someone. The cashier will definitely ask you questions about your day, and then proceed to give you a brief synopsis of their entire life story (sometimes complete with medical history).  I found this a little odd at first as I was rarely spoken to in Portland except a quick and forced, "Hi, did you find everything okay?" My big city attitude is slowly disappearing, along with the heavy traffic anxiety induced road rage. I think i've only flipped the bird once in the three months that we've lived here (okay twice) and that's a big improvement from my previous finger flipping numbers.

It's Easy to Love Where You Live
When You Live Here

And before you roll your eyes and think i'm living a Pinterest perfect life or something, i'm still not, nor will I ever be. This morning I woke up to my middle son screaming, "MOM, HELP" at the top of his lungs. As I dashed out of bed, nearly breaking a toe on the door frame in the process, I entered the bathroom just in time to see the clogged, poopy filled toilet, cascade out of the toilet bowl and all over my used to be clean floor.  So yeah, you're very welcome for that mental picture (I apologize if you were eating a sandwich or something). Instead of getting my boys picture ready for picture day (insert groan here), I was lecturing them on their excessive use of toilet paper, throwing towels down all over the floor to absorb the poop water, and Febreezing my bathroom.  Yes, some things will never change my friends.