Wednesday, May 25, 2011

School's Out For The Summer

First of all, today is Addy's last day of preschool, and I am SAD and also a little FRANTIC, because I totally forgot you're supposed to give teachers end of year gifties. I think I'm just going to get them something garden-y, since I need to go get more mulch anyways. That cool, you think? Speaking of mulch, I so should have just ordered a giant truckload of it. I've already used TWENTY THREE BAGS, and I need MORE. I've also stained the upholstery of our van trunk, and about three of my t-shirts, with black mulch dye from accidentally buying the cheap mulch the first time. Live and learn.

But hey-o, look at me, gardening and landscaping up in here, just like I swore I would last year as I lay pregnantly sweating on the couch and staring forlornly out at the untended flower beds. I am actually amazed at what we've gotten done considering the weather (and the three small children,) but it's mainly due to the fact that despite the rain nearly every night for two months straight, including scary thunderstorm/tornadoes that send us fleeing to my mom's basement, it actually IS sometimes sunny, if incredibly damp, during the day.

But anyways, about the preschool thing. I am sad to see it end, even though I'm relieved to no longer be doing the frantic rush to and from four times a week. It was the perfect amount of time (two and a half hours a day) to give Addy a break from her brothers (coughcough and her nagging mother coughcough) and to give me a chance to run errands with only TWO helpers, both of whom can be contained in the cart. It also added some structure to our generally haphazard days, since I am not what you'd call a naturally scheduled person.

Take the kids' baths. I know lots of people have the whole bath-story-bed ritual, but us? Kids get baths whenever it seems they need them, be it every few days or twice in one day. Sometimes it's after breakfast, if they're all sticky from syrup and yogurt. Sometimes it's immediately after a trip to the playground or McDonalds, when I just want to scrub the dirt and germs off ASAP. For Eli, it's often following a didn't-quite-get-to-the-potty-in-time incident. In the summer, when we've been outside in the grass and slathered in sunscreen, they always get showered down before getting into bed, even if they already had a proper soap and shampoo kind of bath earlier.

I did use to have a cleaning schedule- I kept to it religiously for several years and it made me feel so organized. Mondays I would dust, Wednesdays clean the bathroom, that sort of schedule. Since Jameson, though, I just do stuff when I can get to it- it's more on a triage basis, as I remember Marie Green once said re: cleaning. I try to keep the kitchen cleaned daily, keep up on laundry and dishes, emptying trash, keeping things sort of picked up so no one breaks their foot on toys, etc. But there is no more regularly scheduled dusting. Sigh. It's ok though. I don't want to look back and remember that I spent my kids' entire childhood fretting over a never ending, constantly repeating to do list. Not worth it.

Do you see here that Addy has lost a tooth? And the grown up tooth is already halfway in? ZOMG MAH BABY! Stop being so big.

Same goes for you, Jamie James.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ending on a Positive Note: FAIL

The good: We got a lot of yard work done today, all of us outside working on various projects and playing in the dirt. I am sort of a task oriented person (more so now that I have kids; I think I just really need the feedback of seeing things getting accomplished) so watching projects being tended to always puts me in a good mood. And lest you think the kids were neglected, I also had a princess tea party on the newly swept and tidied deck with Addy, and had her help me plant and pot a bunch of flowers. Eli "helped" Jim a lot too. When we were going inside around dinnertime, Addy told me it was the best day ever. Coming from a kid who had been crying over a canceled playdate just hours earlier, that's pretty good.

The bad: We have a leak in our roof, coming down in our linen closet. It's also causing mold on an interior wall of our bedroom.

The good: At least we finally discovered what was going on with the mold situation.

The bad: The roof has to be torn up and fixed along an edge, and it can't happen until it's going to be dry for a few days. Which is literally not due to happen around here for about another two weeks. We have storms in our forecast EVERY. BLOODY. DAY. for the next ten days. This is without question the most sucktastic spring I can ever remember. It also means we can hardly ever mow, and our yard looks terrible in the back and is unusable for playing, and I feel sulky every time I look at it from my kitchen window. I realize these things are small scale, but they do contribute to an overall sense of grump which I have to fight off, or I end up snapping at the kids, who are also going out of their minds from boredom thanks to the two months solid of rain.

The good: At least the forecast of rain gives me a good excuse to skip the nightmare end-of-preschool picnic on Wednesday. And lest you think I'm a spoilsport for calling it a nightmare, let me explain that I spent last Sunday afternoon jammed into an auditorium with literally about ten relatives for every kid in Addy's school, which is also a daycare, and boasts quite a few students. Like, at least a hundred. And there were not enough seats, not even close (it's so comforting when your child's TEACHERS clearly cannot count and sell tickets without considering whether there's even room for each ticket holder to have a seat) and it was a hundred degrees and filled with restless angry people who despite paying money be there to support their kid, would now have to stand to watch other people's kids sing "Row Row Row Your Boat" for forty five minutes until their own child's class had a turn. All this crowding and standing-room-only sitch created a serious fire hazard, as well, and the parking situation was a nightmare. People were grumbling and shifting nervously and sweating, and basically everything about it except the lack of water felt like being aboard the doomed Titanic as the passengers realize there's not nearly enough lifeboats and it's every man for himself.

Friday, May 20, 2011

One Upping

So I was mopping today (pauses for applause) and the older two kids were playing babies in the den while the real baby napped. The pretend babies were getting hungry, so Eli mentioned that he ought to nurse them.

Addy, in a superior tone, "Eli, boys and men have BREASTS, but they don't make any MILK. Only I can nurse the baby."

Eli: "Well my breasts make JUICE, so I think the baby wants ME."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The More You Know...

I'm going to tell you this even though telling you is an admission of a pretty quick and rapid jump off the wagon of good intentions. I am eating sugar again, though not as much as before (i.e. I won't substitute a cookie for a MEAL. Must set a good example!) I have been for at least a week. And?

I've lost three pounds in about ten days, ever since I STOPPED worrying about what I was eating at all because my brain was so busy with all the stuff going on and all the stuff I needed to get done and remember and I just couldn't stand thinking about every bite I put in my mouth TOO.

Now, the goal of the sugar wean wasn't to lose weight, so it doesn't really mean all that much that I had very negligible, if any, weight loss while avoiding sugar, or that I have suddenly lost a few pounds since letting it into my body again. The real experiment was to see if I felt better after getting rid of sugar, and basically what I figured out was this: meh.

To elaborate on the meh: yes, by the end I think I was having fewer blood sugar spikes, so fewer ups and downs and feelings of total wipe out in the afternoon. But I also wasn't feeling GREAT and full of energy all the time, either, as many people had assured me I would. (Could be I didn't give it long enough to get to this point... Or could be that when one is getting up two or three or five times a night with kids, you're just never going to feel GREAT, regardless of what you are or are not eating.) Another issue is that I was eating ALL the TIME when I wasn't eating anything sweet because I was constantly looking for something to substitute for the sugar I was craving. I wasn't eating terrible things, but there were a heck of a lot of apples and cheese sticks and almonds and yogurts getting gobbled down throughout the day while I fidgeted and felt grumpy, wanting just one bite of chocolate. Again, my fault and probably something that would EVENTUALLY go away, but I was very tired of the feeling of constantly thinking about food.

One of my previous issues was that I couldn't seem to STOP nibbling on candy once I started- couldn't just have a bite and then be done. That problem does seem to have been somewhat helped by even a week or two off sugar. Now I have a few bites of chocolate and actually do feel satisfied, and kind of sick if I try to eat more. I seem to be enjoying chocolate and sweets the way a normal person would- as TREATS, not a staple of their diet. And I think I'm going to keep on eating treats at least once a day, because it gives me a lift and makes me feel happy and then I have some coffee and feel perky and go get some stuff done and stop thinking about how yicky I feel. And when I don't feel deprived (again, this is a MENTAL feeling of deprivation I'm talking about, not actual hunger) I'm much less inclined to roam around searching for further snacks later on.

So I guess I'm back off the bandwagon for now. I'm thinking of trying another sugar cleanse type diet after Jameson is sleeping through the night (so in another two years, I'm guessing! ha ha!) and see if I get different results when I'm regularly sleeping soundly and getting my REM cycles and all that. Because I did like not having the blood sugar dips and feeling more even keeled throughout the day. I just didn't like that my even-keel level seemed to be a low hum of moderate fatigue unsolved by coffee alone. Feeling only SLIGHTLY less tired, and then without any nice sugary pick me ups, didn't seem worth the effort.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dashes of Annoyance

-Every spring these determined birds (the same ones? the same... family, but a new generation?) force their way into our overhang and nest under the eaves right outside our den window. This hole in the overhang has been fixed, but they just keep finding the weak spot and shoving their way back in. So whenever we notice it happening, there are already baby birds living in there, chirping sweetly, and we're not going to evict them to their deaths, obviously. So we say, "We'll just fix it really good once they fly out." And then they're gone, and we forget about it or get distracted with some other urgent project (or the project of keeping three small people alive and reasonably cared for) and then before we know it the birds are back for another spring of baby making. I kind of think we should just tear it even further apart and open a Bird Maternity/Nursery wing of our house, with older, motherly birds bustling around in white aprons and wheeling little bassinets back and forth between the nests.

-Addy's dance recital was yesterday- or more accurately, dance RECITALS, since there were two performances, each lasting two hours, and they have to be there an hour early, so altogether six mother loving hours. Plus a dress rehearsal the night before lasting, I kid you not, four and half hours. And today, in an hour, is her preschool program! Whee! So! Many! Special! Moments! Leading to So! Many! Tired! Cranky! Attitudes!

-I was room mother for Addy's class during the last performance, which involved dealing with: Addy leaving her ballet slippers at home between shows; another girl losing her gloves- and we HAD to find her a pair somehow or the whole class had to skip wearing them, and HEAVEN FORBID they not get to wear their preshus white gloves; one little girl trying repeatedly to run away into the enormous backstage labyrinth, insisting angrily that she "knew her way around"; fourteen girls all having to pee at the same time; everyone forgetting to pack their kids snacks and drinks, seriously EVERYONE, and while I had brought enough stuff for a FEW kids in case a FEW showed up without water or snackies, I didn't have enough for everyone. So I was trying to ration stuff out fairly and also trying to dispense three water bottles amongst all these germy kids without just passing the bottle around and letting everyone take swigs from it. They could not understand why I didn't want them all sharing and were getting very upset that they could SEE water right there but weren't allowed to drink it.

-Oh and then one little girl (the same one who kept trying to flee) "accidentally" drew blood from her line buddy twice within five minutes! First they were lined up waiting to go on stage and she stepped on the other girl's pinkie with her tap shoe, then as they were leaving the stage she somehow "bumped" into her hard enough to cut the inside of the girl's lip with her teeth. Gah. It was really hard to comfort the injured girl and restrain myself from yelling at the annoying, roughhousing runaway. And lest you think I'm being mean, this girl has been a brat to the teacher and the other kids pretty much ever since Addy's been taking dance. And you know what? Her mom's kind of wench-y too. There, I said it. (*cleansing breath*)

-Everyone at our house is sick again with some kind of hacking thing. And not a single one of my kids yet knows how to blow their nose. Nor, apparently, do they yet understand the concept of not letting snotty tissues fall wherever they happen to be standing. (Side rant: how do you even begin trying to de-germ things when kids are wiping their noses on the back of their hands and then touching everything in sight? Seriously? I kind of wish we lived in a tent so I could just throw it in the washing machine on SANITIZE in between illnesses.) To make it worse, both my out of town sisters are in town for Addy's various programs and events this weekend, and now everyone feels like crap and yet we need to VISIT with them because we don't get to see them that much! But how do we see them without infecting them?! DILEMMA.

-The house is in utter disarray from all the running around this week, and I find myself filled with a strange inertia about it. It's like, if the house is generally tidy and one room gets a little torn apart, I hurry to put it right so that everything stays nice. But if the whole house is a disaster, I sort of mentally withdraw and just ignore it for awhile. I get that way about my weight too. If I'm doing well with my eating habits and feeling all slender and my pants are fitting well, then I try to keep it going and feel inclined to make good food choices. But if I've been eating on the go (i.e. crappily) all week, and am so bloated from the sodium that my rings aren't even fitting well, then it's like I throw my hands in the air and eat a chocolate rabbit for breakfast. Whoops, did I just admit that?!

Monday, May 09, 2011


Thank you all for your sweet comments on my last post. I try not to dive into despair too often, but every so often it just seems like all the small things of everyday life are piling up into one GIANT thing that is slowly burying me alive. What is that one saying? "The problem with life is that it is so very daily." That's exactly what it is. It's that the same dishes you wash and put away today are going to be waiting in your sink for you tomorrow. It's that the routine of laundry- pick up from the floor/basket/hamper, sort, wash, dry, fold, put away- seem ridiculously excessive, and I sometimes wonder if we shouldn't all just dress and undress right in the laundry room to cut out a few steps.

There's this Jim Gaffigan bit where he complains that the weird, cyclic continuum of shopping- we buy the box of trash bags, we take it home in a plastic bag, we open it up and put a clean trash bag in the can, we throw away the plastic bag IN the trash bag- makes him feel like he's being punked. I sometimes feel that way re: the daily grind. Am I being punked? THIS is what my life is? To wipe the same spots off the stove top twenty thousand times? To empty the diaper pail every single day? It's not that I'm unhappy, it's just that... that it often feels that there isn't any discernible PROGRESS being made; I'm just madly spinning my wheels trying to keep our household afloat, and all my efforts add up to a house that is still in a state of general untidiness, stickiness, and odor, and kids that are still shrieking and bopping each other with toy cars and changing clothes ten times a day.

But. I do know that it won't always be this way. "It's just a stage!" as everyone always tries to reassure me about every parenting problem. But I believe it, actually. And I know that there will also be a stage when everything isn't sticky, and when I have time not only to manage my own life but to help other women manage theirs so they feel a little less overwhelmed. I know this because I see it happening in my mom and mother in law's lives, so I have hope. Also? Gratitude. Happy belated Mother's Day, you guys. Thanks for taking care of us!

P.S. Kids, I know genuine, un-forced smiles are a little too much to ask for, but at least try to look in the same direction next time we do pictures, m'kay? And not look deranged?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

This Is Just... Off The Rails, Here

Um, this is a rapid fire, absolutely no rough draft or editing going on type post. Am frantically getting ready for Jim's birthday party, to which I optimistically invited almost thirty people because hey! May! It'll be spring time and sunny and we can all just hang outside! Except... it has rained for thirty days straight, more or less. Our backyard is literally a giant muddy sponge almost as soon as you step off the deck, ending in a sort of soup bowl of standing water which my husband and BIL are currently trying to reroute by way of a giant EFFING DITCH in our back yard. To which I say, heck yeah, if that's what it takes. I am unspeakably sick of having a huge backyard which is virtually unusable months out of the year because of the horrible drainage issues. I'll take a giant ditch if it means the dog isn't filthy to his ankles every time he goes out to pee.

Can you tell I'm a little cranky? I'm a little cranky. The week started with the horrible news of the two deaths I mentioned, then we found out a teacher friend had been fired due to some.... personal issues, I believe, more than professional, so that sucked. I've been getting more and more anxious about the state of the yard, wanting so badly to be able to use it for the party and becoming more and more resigned to the fact that we WON'T be using it and that thirty people are going to be milling around our (smallish) house with nothing to do but eat stromboli for three hours.

Oh, and Jamie fell out of his jumperoo the other day- or more accurately, the whole dang thing fell off the door frame somehow (the only thing I can figure is that I put it on wrong- hangs head in shame) and while I was tearfully calling the hospital for a reminder on what to watch for and an assurance that he was probably ok, I heard Eli start screaming and crying because he had HIT HIS HEAD while jumping on the couch, something I've only been lecturing them about for, oh, their ENTIRE LIVES. I had to hang up on the nurse to go attend to his head injury, then call her back to check on Jamie's. A fine parenting moment!

Oof, and speaking of Eli, his recent issues have just been killing me. (This is the part where I should say, won't be printing THIS post off to save for posterity.) I've always said if one of my kids were aiming to be my favorite, he could probably manage it, with his cuddly little ways and his face basically a cross between Jim's and my dad's, and his mama's firstborn boy status and all. And also our personalities just mesh really well. BUT. This week he's lucky I didn't abandon him at the firehouse and drive off, cackling like a lunatic, into the sunset.

He is still having accidents so often that there are always a pair of his underwear or pants hanging to dry after being rinsed. ALWAYS. His room ALWAYS smells like wet pull ups no matter how often I empty the trash in their room. He is ALWAYS insisting he doesn't have to go and throwing a fit when we make him. Dudes, this is going on a YEAR that this kid has been in the process of potty training. A YEAR, minus that blissful month or two when he was completely potty trained, before Jameson was born and then all was lost. I'm about to either give up, stick him back in freaking DIAPERS until he decides to take himself to the bathroom, or take him to the doctor to see if he's having some kind of physical issue causing this extreme and lengthy regression.

I try to make no fuss about it, try not to get irritated, try to stay positive. But I know he can feel my annoyance, and it's making him defensive and grouchy and defiant, which in turn gets me even further irritated, and on and on we go until one or both of us melts down. Ex: yesterday in the DMV, when he ran in screaming circles while I tried to handle the always smooth process of dealing with bureaucratic stuff while Jamie cried relentlessly on my hip. Finally as we were leaving and I was getting Jamers settled back into his stroller, Eli darted out of TWO heavy glass doors and into the parking lot before I could catch him, ignoring my warnings and frantic waving. I couldn't even speak because I was on the verge of tears- I was so scared, and so angry, and so furious with myself for not being able to control my kid. Once I got everyone buckled in, I'm pretty sure I was just ranting. "Do you know what a car can DO to you, Eli!? Do you want to get KILLED?!" Etc. Productive!

Ugh. Then I realized I had to get the kids dinner really quick because lo! It was Addy's night for dance class, and it started in an hour! So we went to McDonalds, where at least I knew the kids would eat, and they proceeded to fuss about every little thing, and I ordered the wrong flavor of milkshake for Addy, and Jamie lost his sock in the car, and then the lady at the register was like, "Ma'am? Did you know your baby only has one sock on?" SO loudly that the whole room turned to look at the sweaty mama with the sockless baby on her hip and the feral children clawing at her leg.

Basically the night continued like that: late for dance class, hurriedly running errands for the party while Addy was in class, Eli running off and trying to steal sunglasses and toy cars in Rite Aid and finally having to be physically removed from the store, HITTING me and yelling about the car, losing all his toys for the night, crying hysterically about that, pooping his pants, me grocery shopping until ten pm....

I am living the dream here. Sigh. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even doing my kids any favors by being at home with them while they're small. Would I be nicer to them, more patient, if I saw less of them?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Too Soon

Well wow I've had a bad couple of days. Or more accurately, there has BEEN a lot of bad the last couple of days. Yesterday I found out that a guy I went to church with in high school and with whom my younger sister was pretty good friends died in a car accident, probably due to drunk driving, though the details aren't clear yet. He was twenty five years old, but all I can conjure up in my mind are pictures of a blond, smiling kid about fifteen years old, cracking jokes while we road the bus downtown each Sunday to pick up kids for church. He was such a sweetheart, and now he's just gone. Not here.


This afternoon, Jim learned that one of the girls from the soccer team he coached a few years ago was found dead yesterday, under suspicious circumstances. She was nineteen years old. And now she's gone. Not here.

Sometimes I feel like by having children I have basically bought myself a ticket to inevitable heartbreak at some point. Stuff like this makes me want to bubble wrap my kids and lock them in the house for the rest of their lives. I am so sad that these young lives are over, but the ones I am really torn up for are their families, for their parents. For their mothers, the women who still remember what it felt like to have those babies kick and jump inside them and who are now living out their worst nightmare: burying the child that they once delivered and cradled in their arms. God. I just can't imagine. How do you keep living when your heart is in shreds like that? I know you do, but just... how?

Really puts everything I was planning to post about- scratches on the wall, marker on the carpet, poop in the big-boy underwear- all into perspective. They can tear my house apart and I swear I'll watch it with a smile if they could just promise me to stay alive forever and always.