Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's Heaven to be Seven!

Oh, William.  I struggle with you.  I do.  I'm writing that here because I'm not afraid to tell you that in person now or when you are old enough to "get it."

When you are at school or when you are asleep I think about you constantly.  And when I think about you these are the words that immediately come to mind:

You are such a good kid.

And then I tear up for not being the mom I wish I could be for you.

You are at the top of your class.  Your teacher said so at conferences a couple of weeks ago.

You have exactly one hundred quadrillion friends.

You are seriously handsome.

You have a deep love for every one of your siblings.

But the minute you walk into the house, things happen.  And I get frustrated.  And you press on.  And I get mad.  And you react.

You are an instigator.

So there we are.

When I sit down to analyze it, I know exactly what it is.  And you are so self aware at the tender age of seven that you even verbalized it to me.

You said: Mom, I think Mrs. S (your teacher) is better than you because she has things for me to do.  Like, activities and stuff.  And you don't.

And so there it is, my boy.  You're at the top.  The oldest.  The one with all the expectations over your head.  The one who should know better.  And take care of himself.  And help out.  The one who is expected to sit still.  And be quiet.  When all the others are not.

But your little mind cannot stop.  You are a do-er.  You need to be working constantly.

You are getting A LOT of Lego sets for your birthday.

You are reading fluently now.  I can pick any book off the shelf and you can read it with little to no trouble.

We thought you might struggle with math since you rarely showed interest.  And then, to our surprise, we received a letter from school requesting our permission to move you into an advanced math class.

You are now allowed to roam our neighborhood (within a block) without supervision.  And you always return the minute I call your name.

You love superheroes and comic books and Ninja turtles and Ghostbusters.

You can recite the entire Despicable Me movie from start to finish. Your memory is crazy.

You are a bad, bad, bad joke-teller.  And a really terrible smile-r for pictures.

Your favorite toys are Marble Run, Snap Circuits and Lego sets.  But funny thing: the minute the Lego set is assembled, you care nothing about it.  You are passionate about assembly and step-by-step instruction-following.

You are responsible when given the chance.  I'm the first to admit I'm too much of a micro-manager and you are much more capable than I give you credit.  You never forget your library books on Wednesday.  Or the days you get to have hot lunch.  You are quick to retrieve toilet paper or Kleenex boxes in the basement closets for me.  You carry full laundry baskets up and down stairs.  You take showers by yourself.  You lay out your clothes the night before.  You make your bed and take out the recycling.

You love football and golf.

You are a really good friend.  And big brother too.

You can get your brother out of his crib and downstairs before I can.  And you can zip others' coats and put on their shoes too all before I even get to the back door.

You share a room with your baby brother and many nights we let you fall asleep in our bed so that you can read with the light on while Bobby sleeps.  Later in the night Dad or I come upstairs to move you into your own bed.  And sometimes, straight out of the Love You Forever book, I'll pick up your great, big seven-year-old body and rock you while you're half in, half out of sleep.

It's the only chance I get to do this when you're not squirming about or trying to make a joke of it all.

I'm not sure if you remember it the next morning or not.  Maybe one time I'll ask you.

But know this for sure: I love you  and am so, so incredibly proud of you.  Our family would not be the same without our goofy, kind, thoughtful, blue-eyed William.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

5 Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging

Wow.  This is my first post for the month of November.  I have a few posts I started writing but never got the chance to edit or publish.  Story of my life.  Here's why I haven't been posting:

1. We got a piano!  Brian's mom gave us theirs.  And it's awesome.  I don't know how to play.  I wish I did.  Brian is the only one of his siblings who can really play so he was the obvious choice for this gift of inheritance.  Playing the piano is one of Brian's top favorite things to do of all time.  So I was a bit surprised when he protested as I was setting up logistics.  I picked the spot in our house.  I set the ground rules for the kids.  I hired the piano tuner.

And when it was all said and done, he stood back and said, "Wow, that looks awesome."

And it really does.  I'm so delighted that my kids will grow up in a home with a piano.  And to be honest, the worries we had about the kids banging on it and waking up nappers, hasn't really been an issue at all. 
2. We got our pictures taken!  With a real photographer.  Who happens to be a dear friend.   Instead of trying to get the perfect formal shot (with four kids it ain't happening) I just had her follow us around the house on a normal Saturday morning.  We did get a few posed shots at the end but mostly I wanted her to catch my kids in their element because that's what I want to remember when this season of my life is over.  She did not disappoint.  There are a few sneaks on my Facebook page if you're interested but I'm saving the rest until Christmas cards are signed, sealed and delivered.  One thing that surprised me is how the pictures made me fall in love with our way-too-small but character-filled home all over again.
It's never the right time.  There's never enough money.  No one ever looks just perfect.  But I'm so glad we did it anyway.  So worth the time and energy.

3.  We've been running marbles!  What's that, you say?

A couple weeks ago while Katherine and Bobby were napping and I was just finishing my lunch I went into our porch to tidy up a bit before William and Lucy came home from school.  Earlier in the day Lucy had drug out the Marble Run box and started putting some pieces together.  We got the toy for William for his birthday last year.  It was played with quite consistently for the first few months but has been forgotten about recently.

As I was picking up the beginnings of Lucy's construction I thought to myself, "Well, if I just stick this turn-y thing here, and the twist-y thing there..."  And before I knew what was happening I blew away 45 minutes BY MYSELF putting together a massive marble run project.  I was pretty proud: I used every single piece.

When the kids got home from school I was like a little 5-year-old: "Come look what I did!"  I got Coolest Mom Award that day.
We played with it all afternoon and have been building new runs almost every day since.  If you have kids ages four and up, stick it on their Christmas list.  Good fun had by all.

4. I've been workin' out!  When the cold blew in, as it does every year in Minnesota, my running legs turned into big fat cry babies.  I knew I couldn't go the whole long winter without running and let all my good training go down the drain.  So I tagged on to Brian's gym membership.  I love it.  Well, kind of I love it.  I like that I'm getting my workouts in.  But I have found out that I loathe the treadmill.  It gets the job done but it's boring.  And hard on my joints.  Brian is trying to convince me to give the elliptical a chance but I'm not sold.  Is it the same as running?  For some reason it seems a bit like an easier way to say I ran 3 miles.  I like that I can set the pace on the treadmill to "force" myself to run faster and so that's why the elliptical doesn't seem like an equivalent. Gym-goers, what say you?

Regardless of my running dilemmas, one thing the gym is providing me with is an outlet to get back into yoga.  I haven't done serious yoga in quite some time.  Yoga isn't for everyone but I have found that it plays a key role in my overall well-being.  I just can't find the quiet, the stretching, the strengthening that yoga provides all on my own.

5.  We've been being awesome!  Things are getting better around here.  And what I mean by that is that when I sit down to write a post I don't immediately think about all the things I want to complain about. (Except Halloween.  I still hate Halloween.)  Bobby has been sleeping better and has, to be frank, become rather delightful and, dare I say, easy.  This month has been a blessing in that the weather has still been decent enough to get out and play and yet the sun is down early which means my tribe is in bed early which means I have more down time before Brian and I go to sleep.  It's a win all around.
Wake up, Dad!
And for the first time in two years, I'm looking forward to a winter and holiday season without a newborn.  Newborns are so amazing in their own way.  But they are tricky.  And time-consuming.  And they don't play well with others.  As Bobby nears his first birthday, I'm really starting to feel like our family is one unit.  Bobby doesn't rely on my boobs every two hours just to survive.  Instead I can make dinner, while William dishes out Cheerios and Lucy and Katherine belt out some tunes on the piano.  We still have outbursts and meltdowns daily.  That's right, I said daily.  And that's what it really is all about.  Setting the proper expectations.  But now everyone can play a part in making this family run and that's lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

So About This Halloween Holiday

I have a confession to make.  It's difficult to admit this because I know I am in the slight minority.

I hate Halloween.

I know.  I can hear you all gasping.

I don't like dressing up.  I don't like the endless supply of cheap candy.  Or the money I have to spend on handing it out to others.

I hate wasting two hours of a perfectly fine evening chained to my front door being all stressed out that I may have grossly underestimated the $18 I thought I needed to spend on bags of candy.  Brian, meanwhile, is on a neighborhood beer walk "supervising" the lil' trick-or-treaters.  Once again, I think I chose the wrong path.

I hate the hours wasted on the preceding days that are spent (by my artsy husband) carving intricate designs into a vegetable that will be soggy-mouthed and tossed in the garbage just days later.

But I do enjoy a roasted pumpkin seed.  So I guess there's that.

I hate the classroom parties where the school and teachers think it's a great idea to stuff the kids with juice boxes and cupcakes and, you guessed it, more cheap candy before they send them home tired and on a sugar high so that they can be forced to eat a quick dinner before returning to their store-bought costume to go beg for more candy.

Then they come home and can't understand why they can't eat all of their candy RIGHT NOW.  I force their sticky hands and faces in the bathtub screaming BECAUSE YOU HAVE SCHOOL TOMORROW!

They wake up the next day with two less hours of sleep than they are used to and totally crashed from last night's binge.  And they're asking for their candy.  At 7 a.m.  Have fun with that today, Teachers.  Payback's a ...

And I know, I know.  The pictures on Facebook and Instagram of all our little ones shoved into a monkey suit are adorable.  But sometimes I wonder if it's really all that cute or just slightly cruel.

Halloween is huge in our neighborhood.  Which, perhaps, has only added to my distaste in recent years.  I think I liked it better in our townhome 'hood when we were lucky to get three kids at our door.

Who are you people who say "Halloween is my favorite holiday!"  Seriously?  Seriously?!

A juicy Turkey with all the sides.  A beautiful tree with presents to boot.  Or how about fireworks at dusk.

No?  Really?  You choose a painted face and a fun-sized Kit Kat over all that?

I don't get it.

Oh sure, I'll participate in the all the pomp and circumstance just like the rest of you.  You'll see photos of my dressed-up four-pack floating around social media.  And I'll answer the door with a smile on my face.  And I'll steal candy from my kids' buckets.

It's all part of the secret contract we signed before they let us take our newborn home from the hospital.

But hear me now: I am not happy about it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


You are sometimes Kate.  Sometimes Katherine.  But mostly Kaf-rine.

And you are totally two.

You love fried rice and Rice Crispies.  Rice, in general, I guess.

Your hair is almost always in your signature pigtails.  While most your age are just starting to grow their locks, you've already had a gazillion haircuts.  And it's still halfway down your back.
You are almost never without your sidekick.  Your partner in crime.  Your almost twin.  Bobby boy.  After baths we plop the two of you in the crib with your nukies and some books and have dubbed it the K&B Lounge.
Daddy is your favorite.  I'll admit it.  When the back door creaks open, even if it was just the wind playing a mean trick on you at 10 a.m., you scurry at lightening speed on your two short legs to greet him screaming his name over and over.

I don't get quite the same reception.

You talk a mile a minute.  And with great emotion.  But we have no idea what you're saying.

Sesame Street is the only show you like.  And you especially love Cookie Monster.

You love to read Llama Llama Red Pajama.  And Pajama Time.

You are a climber and a hanger.  Like scary, climb as high as you can and dangle over the edge.  And you want to hang and swing from everything and anything.  You are freakishly strong.  You protest loud and clear if I don't push you high enough on the swing.
You've got mad t-ball skills.  We're not sure if it's natural-born or learned from the Bigs.  And you can kick a ball hard and fast.  Yet you make no show of it.

Your favorite place on Earth is in the top bunk of your bunk beds.  And with a broken arm already on your resume, this gives me an anxiety attack every single time.

You have been sleeping in a big bed for quite a few months now.  You made an easy transition from your crib.  Every night you go to bed happy and when you wake up you sweetly wait in your bed for someone to come get you even though you are fully capable to getting out unassisted.
Your favorite toys are blocks and puzzles and stuffed animals.  You like to copy your older sister and talk about all things princess but I don't think you actually care all that much.

You are scared of the potty.  This frustrates me to no end since you were going on the toilet for some time before you suddenly refused.  But I'm trying to be patient while you figure things out.
Everyone says you look just like Lucy. And you do.  How lucky am I to get two daughters with such striking beauty?  A rarity indeed.

You want to be just like your older siblings.  But you are your own person and don't ever let anyone put you in a shadow.

You are a caretaker.  Concerned.  You are cautious of strangers yet fearless and brave in the face of danger.  You care less about dramatics and prefer to figure things out on your own.  You spend much of your day alone, wandering about the house, yet rarely do you get into trouble.  When I go in search of you, nine times out of ten I will find you quietly crouching in your room reading Sandra Boynton.

You've got the toughest spot in the family.  No longer the baby.  Not the first born.  Not even the first girl.  Someone will always beat you to the punch.  And yet, instead of fighting to be seen and heard, you seem content with your place.  It's why I've been known to call you my favorite.  And you know, not really, because that would be wrong.  But when a mom has four, she'll choose the one who gives her the least attitude during the day and the most sleep at night.  You win, my dear.

Happiest of birthdays to our two-year-old.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Just an Excuse to Post a Really Cute Picture

I'm sitting here at the computer and out of the corner of my eye I'm watching Katherine take an entire roll of floss out of a brand new container.  It's giving me some peace and quiet so I don't even care.  And it was free from the dentist so, you know...

Now she's trying to press the buttons on the netbook where William and Lucy are watching It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  William tells her no but she insists.  Then he says, "Katherine, you're almost going to be two.  You need to be a better listener."

And that's called irony, my dear boy.

I took the babies to my mom's this weekend.  Brian went to a Notre Dame football game and dropped the older kids off at his mom's on the way there since school was out on fall break.  It was a lot of shuffling around and a really long two-and-a-half-hour drive by myself with two babies but it was worth it rather than spending the weekend as a football widow with four kids.

The boys were battling strep throat last week.  I used to get all stressed out when one of the kids was sick.  Now, with four kids, two in school, it's just become a way of life.  The school year begins and I wonder, again, why our clinic doesn't have some sort of punch card program.

But Bobby's situation was especially tricky.  He's just ten months old today and that's pretty young to get a strep case.  At first I wasn't even certain that's what it was.  He was prescribed a powerful antibiotic since our area, in particular, has seen a lot of amoxicillin-resistant strep strains.  The antibiotic is disgusting with a capital D.  On his third dose he actually gaged himself and threw everything up.  And the diarrhea and subsequent diaper rash that it causes...I haven't seen anything like it.

I had so much anxiety around giving him his medicine that by Day 3 I convinced myself he didn't really have strep so I quit the drugs.  And so by the next day he had a full on strep rash.  I tried to call the clinic to get a new antibiotic but the on-call weekend doc wouldn't budge.  I wanted to punch someone.

Regardless, I still had a relaxing weekend at my mom's with half of my kids.  The weather was cold but I took the babies for a quick walk outside anyway just to get some fresh air.  Katherine refused to wear her mittens even though I'm certain the windchill hovered just above zero.  She also refused to leave the playground as Bobby and I were most certainly getting frostbite.  Definitely a Minnesotan, that one.
Stop the cuteness.  Stop it right now.  I mean summer's my favorite with swimsuits and sun-kissed skin.  But a babies in beanies?  I feel sorry for Florida babies.

I beat Brian home yesterday by four or five hours.  We did a quick dinner and bath and early bedtime.  Then I had time to get my ducks in a row before the rest of the army arrived.  And then I got the text.

"L just threw up in the car."

An expletive may have escaped my lips.

I mean c'mon.  Give a lady a break.

When she got home she seemed fine.  And Brian said she ate dinner fine.  I was confused.

"Tell me exactly what happened." I said to Brian.

He said she was reading in the car with the light on.  And then playing with his iPhone.

"Brian," I said, "she got carsick."

It happened one other time to her but it was so long ago it didn't even occur to me until I put all the facts together.

She slept soundly through the night.  Woke up and ate breakfast like normal and went to school.

But I'm not going to lie.  Even though I was certain she was only just carsick and not bringing a virus into our home, I still went to bed with a pit in my stomach.  Tossed and turned as every other child woke that night for some reason or another.  But not Lucy girl.  She was healthy and happy.

Oh dear God, please keep it that way.  The Pukes have no place in our home.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thank God for Weekends [And A Recipe for Soup!]

Albeit the dreary weather this weekend it turned out to be a nice series of days for us.  It was a good end cap to a very long week in which I think most of you were worried about my sanity after my last post.  I entered Monday morning thinking I was a fool for writing what I did on Friday.  And then 3:00 hit and I was most certainly sure that what I wrote was pretty all true.

No matter how much I get done during the day, no matter how much time I've had to myself, no matter how well-napped the babies are, all hell breaks loose when the Bigs come home from school at 3:00.  Are we the only house?!  Suddenly all at once every one wants my attention.  And a snack.  And a new diaper.  And to have a full on meltdown.  They want to go outside but they don't want to change out of their uniform.  And when they do go outside someone gets poked in the eye with a  stick and screams bloody murder.  Then they come inside and it's a fight to hold off screen time for as long as possible lest their brains turn to mush.  All the while I'm trying to piece together the ingredients we have on hand in my head to make a healthy and delicious family dinner.

Only three more hours until Dad gets home.

So we took a break and didn't get a thing checked off our to-do list this weekend.  But we did take the kids bowling and we went to church as a family and we went to the apple orchard.  It was full and joyous.

On Friday, to warm the souls of my family on what was a rainy, windy and cold day, I made my annual butternut squash soup.  I found this recipe years ago on but I've altered it so many times that it now has become my own and resembles almost nothing of the original.  This soup is crazy amazing and my kids all ask for seconds and thirds.  And whenever kids eat that many vegetables in one sitting, the recipe must be shared.

This recipe does take some lovin' care. It would not be filed under Quick & Easy. I let myself off the hook on rainy days.  I go through backpacks and then I let them pick out a movie and get all cozy on the couch while I immerse myself in the kitchen.  In some ways (a lot of ways!) rainy days are easier. So I recommend keeping it in your back pocket until a wet and cold day just as I did.

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and diced
2 Carrots, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons butter (or more if you're into that)
1 Onion, peeled and diced
2 Celery stalks, diced
1 Apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 Red bell pepper, diced
1 Teaspoon dried rosemary
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil for roasting

1. Arrange the squash and carrots in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Note that the smaller you dice the squash the more caramelized it will get.  Some like this, some don't.  If you've never cut up a butternut squash before, see this helpful guide.  Drizzle the squash and carrots with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a cast iron oven or stock pot over medium high heat.  I used my beloved Le Creuset that my MIL gifted to me so many years ago.  Toss in the onions with some salt.  Sauté until translucent.  Add the celery and other pinch of salt.  After two minutes add the apple and some more salt and then the red bell pepper and some more salt.  I add salt after each addition because I think it enhances the flavor better during the cooking process than it does when I add it at the end.  I also feel like I end up using less salt this way.

3.  Let all those veggies hang out over the heat until the squash and carrots are done roasting or until everything is nice and tender.  (If it's taking too long for the veggies to get soft you can always add a bit of the chicken stock and simmer it.)  Then add the squash and carrots and rosemary.

4.  Now you'll want to puree everything into a soup.  I have an immersion blender which I believe to be one of the best inventions of all time.  But if you don't have one of these you can just use your blender or food processor or even a food mill.  You'll want to make sure and puree it in batches though.  Which is why I love my immersion blender because I can do it all at once without dirtying another item.  You can make the soup as smooth or as chunky as you'd like.  I happen to like mine a bit on the chunkier side.  During the pureeing process it helps to add a little bit of stock.

5.  When the ingredients are pureed, return to the stove and add the stock or what you have left of it.  Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the cream and simmer 5 more minutes.  Enjoy!

I serve my soup with par baked ciabiatta rolls that I cover with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary before baking.  This soup keeps really well and can be refrigerated and reheated though I'm not sure for how long because ours was gone in less than 24 hours!

Now if this recipe were really Pinterest worthy, I would have taken some great photos of it.  But I did not.  Mostly because my hands couldn't be bothered with anything besides a spoon.  So instead, you'll have to settle for some apple orchard shots.  There's an apple in the soup so it's kind of related, right?

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Triumphant Return to Blogging (Or Something Like That)

I'm toggling between the choice to write a lighthearted "Here's Why I Haven't Been Blogging" post or a "Holy Crap This Mothering Job Kinda Stinks Sometimes" post.

Let's start with this: The whole month of September was something of a blur.  It wasn't something every week.  It was ten things every day.

I'm straddled between being a mother of school-aged children and being a mother to babies.  They are two very, very different things and I'm still trying to figure out how to do that dance.  How do I quiz the first grader on his spelling words for tomorrow's test while the toddler is screaming incomprehensible words at me and the baby has poop running down his leg?  I'm not making that up.  It really happened.

How do you bathe four children and tuck them in at a decent time while still getting a couple of books read to them and picking out one's picture day outfit and another's field trip attire and cleaning up dinner while also leaving some time to maybe ask your spouse how his day went?

How do I fit exercising, eating, showering, sleeping and maybe some writing all within a 24 hour period?

Well that answer is easy.  I don't.  I get to pick one, maybe two, at most.

Right after Brian landed from his week-long business trip we headed straight into the eye of the storm: Wedding Week.  Brian's youngest sister got married.  It was the pinnacle event of the year.  And it was so much fun.  But also a whole heck of a lot of work and planning and coordinating.  We ended the wedding with a hotel room just to ourselves without kids.  I strategically planned that knowing I would most definitely need it.  And it was great.  And my mom was all kinds of wonderfulness for staying at the house with the kids.  But bliss only lasts until you get that one text that says one of your kids just barfed all over the dining room floor.  And instantly I'm slammed back into mom mode.  Vacation over.

No 24-hour bug here.  Katherine caught a doozy of bug that had us running for buckets for 48 hours straight which meant our weekend was eaten up with bleach and approximately 47 loads of laundry.

Monday morning Brian started working at a new company.  I'm really happy for him.  It's a company that he's been wanting to work for forever.  He's become so talented in his career and I'm really proud of the ease for which these opportunities seemingly fall effortlessly into his lap.  This one took two months of back and forth before we made a final decision and I'm not going to lie, I was hesitant.  Maybe I still am.

All week he's left early and been home late.  This is a major shock to our family routine.  It won't be like this forever but it is our new normal for the next few months as he gets ramped up.

And so all week, as he's gone before my coffee has been poured and I watch the minutes click past our normal dinner time, I'm left wondering what it is that I want to be when I grow up.

There's been a lot of talk about leaning in and leaning back these days.  But I know there's no easy answer.  I desire it all with only a fraction of it within a reasonable grasp.

Anyone who says they love every minute of being a stay-at-home parent is a liar.  Either that or they haven't done it long enough or don't have enough kids to drive them bonkers.

Anyone who says they love every minute of working full time and dropping their kids off at daycare every day is also a liar.

I know women can't win this game.

I want to be at home with my kids so that Brian can work to provide for us.  But I also want to escape the feeling that I exist only so that others can live the life they want.

I know that writing is key for me but time is ever absent.  As I write this I have dripping wet hair and no makeup.  I haven't eaten anything for lunch.  Bobby is pulling every article of clothing out of a shopping bag I had ready for storage.  Then he is crawling under the table and biting my toe every few minutes.  The lunch dishes are still scattered.  The laundry needs to be changed.  The bills need to be paid.  Dinner needs to be prepped.  I have an hour and half until the kids get home from school and hopefully, if I'm lucky, just as long until Katherine wakes from her nap.  Then it's snacks and backpacks and a fight about turning on the TV.

But today I made the choice to write anyway and that feels good.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Day in the Life of Crazy

It's 2:00.

I'm sitting in the clinic's waiting room with the two babies.

I came 20 minutes early in hopes of getting in faster only to find out the doctor was running 20 minutes behind.


Because when I'm late, that's when I get the look of shame.

Neither baby has napped and it's like they are high.
Katherine is continuously throwing her blue Jellycat elephant on the floor and then proceeds to let out hysterical, uncontrollable laughter.

It's contagious.  Except no one in the waiting room is humored.  Tough crowd.

I haven't showered since Saturday.  I did remember to brush on some powder and a few swipes of mascara just so I wouldn't scare anyone. I left the house in jeans, last night's pullover and a bumpy ponytail.  Did I brush my teeth?  I can't remember.

I'm so hot it's a miracle no one has stopped me to ask if I might be single and available.

What's holding them back?  Oh, these two babies?  No worries.  They're just on loan for the day.

We were one hour into Brian's four-day business trip when I realized, without a shadow of doubt, that Bobby most certainly had a raging ear infection.  His first one.

I called the clinic amid his whimpering cries.  They could get me in at 2:00.  But the big kids were out of school at 2:45.  It would be tight.

And this is where you praise Jesus for good family.  My sister came to the rescue and took over pick up duty.

Because when the appointment lady said 2:00 what she really meant was 2:35.

It's fine.  No really.  I love pulling tricks out of my sleeve for the baby and the toddler when they are tired, hungry and in an endless wasteland of no toys, bad soaps on TV and an array of various viruses creeping along every handle, button and knob.
Still waiting...
Under my breath I tell Bobby he is going to seriously owe me HUGE for the rest of his life if he doesn't actually have an ear infection.

And that's when you know you've gone to another place. When you wish for your kid to be sick.  Just so everything is justified and you can get the damn antibiotics and hope for a solid four hours of sleep.

While your husband is halfway across the country at one of those posh restaurants with old black and white photos of the Rat Pack on the walls.

Oh but God love him.  He knows it's a mountain I'm climbing and he doesn't ever pretend like he's got it worse.

Of course the doctor confirmed Bobby had a terrible double ear infection.

He told me treating the infection with antibiotics was optional.

I consider myself pretty crunchy.  But with four kids and a husband out of town all week, now was not the time to go all holistic on The Baby.

So drugs it was.

And then when the pharmacy advertises Drive Thru as one of their perks what that really means is sit in your car and suck in fumes for 20 minutes because there's no way in hell we're helping you before these other customers that are standing right here in front of our face.

I rolled down all the windows so they could hear The Baby screaming.  And also the other chilluns running amok in the back seat.

Back at home it was freezer-to-microwave, preservative-loaded, not-an-ounce-of-nutrition, cancer-causing macaroni and cheese.  I'm honestly not even sure how they ended up in my freezer in the first place but boy am I glad they did.

I sliced up some red peppers and called it part of this complete dinner.

Half of my pack was in bed by 6:30.  And the other half was bathed, jammied up and reading books on the sofa before seven bells.

It was some kind of awesome.

The night wasn't a total loss.  I felt accomplished when I finished scrubbing the kitchen floors even if I was cursing my mother the whole time for giving me these stupid OCD genes that say, "MONDAY IS CLEANING DAY. DO NOT DEVIATE!"

Showering is for the birds.

These are the days they don't tell you about when you're 7 months pregnant with your first baby and you're shopping at Pottery Barn Kids trying to hunt down the perfect bumper and matching crib skirt.

I kid you not, Bobby sleeps in pink bedding.  Pink.

They're going to pee, poop and puke all over it anyway.

I sound bitter.  I'm not.

It's just that when your kid is sick and your husband is away and you're just trying to survive by eating cancer noodles, you realize none of that crap matters.

Throw some love on those kids and all will be fine.

Today is a new day that included a hot shower.  And a happy baby.  And lots of coffee.  It has been divine indeed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

School and Siblings

Here are the obligatory First Day of School photos for all the grandmas that read this here blog.
Lucy is so stinkin' cute I think I might die.  I love that while all the other little girlfriends in her class were dressed up in the latest fashion trends, she was still rockin' her old school peter pan collar and puff sleeves.  Oh Lucy girl, don't ever grow up.

Things were not very stressful this year because everyone is going to the same school as last year albeit a few schedule changes.  So I totally thought I had a handle on my emotions as I walked my big first-grader to school for the first day. (Click to see my Instagram video.)

We gathered on the plaza with the rest of the school and found his teacher's line.  William is never afraid or scared to try new things but he always has just a hint of nerves on the first day of anything, especially if he doesn't see anyone he knows right away.  He doesn't have very many friends from last year's class in his class this year so I was sensing just the slightest bit of anxiety from him.  But we found his line, I gave him a hug and a kiss and then stepped back to congregate with the rest of the parents as we awaited the ringing of the first bell. 

I stood back and watched him anxiously fidget from afar.  And then the greatest thing in the world happened.  His kindergarten teacher from last year, the most magical teacher ever, tapped William on the shoulder.  William turned around and lit up like a Christmas tree at the sight of her.  She cupped his face in both her hands, kissed him on the cheek and then enveloped him in a hug and wished him well in first grade.

At that point I was thanking Jesus that I thought to put my sunglasses on that morning.

I wasn't crying because I was sad my little bird was leaving the nest again.  Yes, the first day of school is ever the reminder that there's no going back.  Kindergarten last year, first grade this year, second grade next year, and on and on.  But that's not what had me emotional.

As I watched my little guy and this teacher he so loves much I was emotional because I'm so thankful.  I'm so thankful for this beautiful boy who loves, LOVES school.  I'm so thankful for this wonderful school that feels like I'm sending William off to the comforts and love of Grandma's house every time I say goodbye in the morning.  Because that magical teacher from last year?  She is no exception from the rest of the faculty and staff.  I'm so thankful Brian and I have found a way to afford this school and this house that's so close to that school.

This year Lucy is attending afternoon preschool three days a week.  Her school, affiliated and across the street from William's, dismisses at the same time as the big school so much to her delight she gets to walk home with William in the patrol line.  This is a big deal.

Yesterday I stayed close behind with Bobby in the Ergo as I watched the two of them walk hand in hand.  There are quite a bit of kids that walk in the line and they are all running and pushing and making their way down the sidewalk. At one point Lucy got caught up in the shuffle and tripped and fell.  She started to cry and William knelt down to help her up.  Other kids were still trampling by and I heard William shout, "Watch out, guys! This is my sister!"

I melted a little bit.

The summer was long.  And it was hard.  But the day before school started William and Lucy played outside together all day.  They started a flower stand.  They picked a few flowers in the yard, set up a table on the sidewalk and started soliciting poor passersby.  This was an idea thought up and orchestrated all on their own.  There was some bickering about cost and who would get to operate the pretend computer, as most business partners do, but mostly they were getting along beautifully.

I was reminded that even though we all need a break from the closeness of summer and we all need to do our own thing, those two are siblings first.  And that will be forever.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Toddlers Escaping Death

Last night Katherine had a pretty big accident that ended without so much as a bump or scrape.  It was one of those things that could have ended badly.  Like, really badly.

We were over at Brian's parent's house for the evening so that I could attend a bridal shower for his sister.  Just as we were about to load all the kids in the car and head home, Katherine decided to make one very large end table her own personal jungle gym.  She secured her hands to the edge, lifted up both her feet and that's when the table, and the massive lamp that sat atop it, toppled over on top of her.  Except it didn't.  Miraculously both the lamp and table somehow missed her little body.  But the dent left in the hardwood floors is enough to make me a little nauseous.

There was a lot of panic.  And screaming.  And crying.  It was pretty traumatic.  And I'm not just writing that for the sake of drama.

Bobby ended up on the floor in the rush to the scene so he was crying.  William, not understanding everyone's sudden alarm, was crying.  At least half the adults were choked up.  And Katherine, scared out of her mind, was of course hysterical.

I secured Bobby and Brian took to Katherine.  It didn't take too long to realize that we had just narrowly avoided a major incident.  We combed through her little body upside and down.  After her broken arm earlier this summer I was having a bit of PTSD.  If there was a problem I certainly wasn't going to let it linger for a couple of days like I did before.

Nana offered ice cream and all was right in the world.

I think I feel the worst for Brian's mom who has called and texted me no less than five times since last night.  She knows it could have easily gone the other way and keeps rewinding and replaying the events in her head.

I admit to thinking about it a few times as I tried to fall asleep last night.  But mostly I'm unaffected.

The truth is, these things happen.  Kids are constantly just barely missing death's door or serious injury.  If you really think about it, it's a damn miracle any kid makes it to their third birthday unscathed.  And Katherine's guardian angel, in particular, seems to be working overtime.

Toddlers, by nature, are curious beings and you just do the best you can to keep them safe.  And then you pray like their life depends on it.  Because it does.
The Toddler
In other more light-hearted news, we are in the midst of a major heatwave.  Which is funny because we had a rather mild summer.  I would argue we had some of the best weather in the country for the better part of July and August.  But just like Old Man Winter never forgets about us, neither do the dog days of summer.  We're playing out the final days of summer vacation in the A/C or outside with our toes deeply submerged in ice cold water.

And so, with sweat dripping down our brows, we're crawling to the finish line.  That being the first day of school in four very long, very hot days.  Today has been so boring and dull that I described it to Brian as "a black hole of infinite nothingness."  Which is pretty dark now that I'm rereading it.  But when the most productive thing done all day was to relocate all the school supplies from the Target bag to the backpacks, well, we're struggling.

But at the very least today will go out with all my children still in tact and apparently, as of late, that's saying a lot.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Only 13 Day Until School and Other Less Important Updates

We're nearing the finish line, folks.  And I'm equal parts, "Whoop whoop! Homestretch, baby!" and also, "Omigosh summer is almost over--QUICK! What fun things have we forgotten to check off the Must Do to Make a Happy Childhood list?"

I had this one really bad day last week where nothing of any significance happened.  It was just a really looooong day with a lot of fighting and screaming and not listening.  When things get to that point I really want to overreact and send the Bigs to their room for the rest of the day.  The real reason I'm impatient is because their erratic behavior is getting in the way of me taking care of the babies who have more pressing needs.  So we all get a little annoyed with each other.

And that right there is the best illustration I can use to explain why a school routine does wonders for us.  I literally need another adult (their teacher) to take over for a few hours so that they get their activity needs met and I can devout time and attention to the babies for the lion's share of the day.

Everyone's happy and homeschooling is not for us.  The end.

All that said, the babies are progressing like crazy and I'm really starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, we won't be in this season of infants and toddlers for the rest of all eternity.

Bobby has been crawling for about a month now.  A full two whole months ahead of any of my other babies, who, it should be noted, were late crawlers/walkers.

This boy can move.  And also get into stuff.  I had forgotten, after having two back-to-back girls, just how active little boys are.  Say what you want about gender neutrality but I think it's a whole big chunk of baloney.  Little boys and little girls are innately different.  They just are.  For one, I'm pretty sure that every boy is born with a little bit of ADHD.  Which, I suppose, would render the term "disorder" unwarranted.  But I guarantee you every mother of a little boy at one time or another has wondered, "Should he get tested?"

The answer, in most cases, is no.  He's just a boy.

Last night I tried to get Bobby out of the bath but was failing miserably because he was obsessed with this little ball I had thrown in the water with him.  I had to grab both him and the ball to get him to cooperate.  After he was all jammied up he was still having a love affair with this ball so I decided, what the heck?  And I put him to bed with the ball.  I didn't hear a single peep after that.

Some kids have a blankie or stuffed animal.  Bobby has a ball.

In other sleep news, we put Katherine in a big bed this week.  Brian's mom took the big kids to her house for a couple of days so it seemed like the perfect time to give it a whirl since she had the bedroom all to herself.  I'm thinking Kate must have something else up her sleeve because this process was way too easy.  I do think, however, the fact that we didn't acknowledge the change AT ALL played in our favor.  We just simply placed her in the bed like this is what we had been doing forever.  She's been sleeping 12 hours at night.  And when she wakes up in the morning she just sweetly calls for someone to come get her.

But the big kids are headed home as we speak so the sleeping arrangements for tonight are already on the top of my mind.  I had Kate in Lucy's bed, which happens to be a full size.  So potentially I could put the girls in bed together and hope for the best.  Otherwise there is a trundle option for our model of bunk beds that I could look into purchasing.

Do any of your children sleep in the same bed together?  What are the positives and negatives?

As for my own personal updates, I've started running again!  I was sidelined for a couple of months by an ankle injury which I may or may not have remembered mention here.  Anyway, it's all healed and I'm back at it three mornings a week.  It is a total sanity check for me because if nothing else I'm getting out of the house for 30-40 minutes in the morning.

I'm having an internal debate about whether it's better to run with or without music.  I usually run without music.  I like to hear my breath and footsteps because it helps me get into a rhythm.  I ran with music for the first time last week and was surprised to find that I was completely wiped out after only two of my usual three miles.  I looked at my clock and realized only 16 minutes had passed.  An eight-minute-miler I am not.  The music propelled me to run faster which is great except when your goal is distance instead of time.

So maybe the key is run without music until I think I can't go any further and then let Bon Jovi propel me the rest of the way.

Yesterday I made my annual trip to Target to purchase school supplies.  Does anyone else get totally excited when you see all those racks stacked with office supplies?  All I can picture is how organized I could be (a giant dry erase calendar!) or how calm and quiet and crafty we could be gathered around the table drawing (new crayons!) or snipping (Fiskars!) or creating (construction paper and glue!).

Then the Target Lady rings me up and is all, "That'll be $177, please!"  I'm all, "Whaaaaaaa...?"

Fifteen-cent folders add up fast.

I didn't go supply shopping with the kids this year but spied this gem on Facebook this morning and had to share.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rolling With It

I thought we could just start out with this little gem.

If you have a Facebook account, or Instagram, or Twitter, or a blog it is common and easy to post the best of the best of your super idyllic life.  I am just as guilty as the next person.  Who wouldn't want their old middle school friends to see just how crazy awesome your life is now?

Except that most of those perfect pictures represent about .001% of actual life scenarios.

So here's my real life.  A lip curl smile.  A I'm-2-hours-past-nap-and-I-don't-want-to-sit-and-smile-ANYMORE! A diaper ready to burst. And an are-you-kidding-me look.

This is real life.  And it's so awesome.

Shortly thereafter Brian snapped this photo of me.
I'm posting it to show that sometimes if you give up on getting the perfect photo, you'll get one when you least expect it.

Katherine didn't want to sit still or look at the camera.  William wanted to look through the binoculars. So I sat down and chilled out.  It was past 1:00. We had just finished up at the Farmer's Market and took a stroll down to the ol' Mississippi to get a better look at the lock & dams.  We ate fresh local blueberries right out of the carton.  The kids sampled green beans.  The yellow kind.  Brian and I sampled whiskey. (For real!)  We bought buckets of corn and juicy tomatoes.  The kids ran and ran and ran.  And then melted down.  And we took it in stride because we were out and doing something.  All of us.  Together.

Last night we forfeited our normal routine again. We made a Target run at dinner time which was HI-larious.  Pretty sure we convinced a few people to go child free for the rest of their lives.

We bought cheese and crackers and grapes and hummus and baby carrots in addition to our list items.  Then we drove to the Sculpture Garden in downtown Minneapolis.  A summer family favorite of ours.  There was some sort of photography class happening.  And also some other sort of gathering with a lot of cheering that we couldn't quite figure out.  Either way our party of six was a traditional minority that stuck out like a sore thumb among all the local hipsters and shakers.

On the way home, in between over-tired baby screams, Brian said, "See?  We can do cool stuff."

Like he was previously doubtful.  Or nostalgic.

I knew we had it in us.  Even if I did get home, throw all the kids in bed and chug a beer like my life depended on it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

7 Quick Takes: 8.2.13

1. So this is my 1,001st blog post.  Wow!  I only noticed when I logged in and saw the number.  Six years, four kids and I'm still writing.  Not as frequently, I realize, but I've learned to let go of the guilt of not being a consistent writer and instead letting this blog be here for me when I need it.

Someday I still dream of writing a book.  But today I'm satisfied with just a quiet moment at the kitchen table click-clacking away on the keyboard.  A book though.  I'm putting it out there.  It's going to happen.

2.  My post on Wednesday wasn't supposed to be what it became.  I intended to sit down and write a little update on Casa del Nash but instead this is what came out.  I can always feel it inside me.  When I need to take all the little bits that are floating around and cluttering up my ability to be the best me.  I need to organize them.  Reconcile my feelings.  And get it out in the form of sentences and paragraphs.  And then my life feels real again.

I will never stop writing.

3. So enough of all the heavy stuff.  Updates, updates.

For the past couple of weeks our family has been playing this super fun game.  And when I say super fun what I really mean is the opposite of that.  What you need is this: Three bedrooms, four little kids, two cribs, a set of bunk beds and a whole heap of tolerance and patience.  Sometimes I forget to bring those last two things.

The game is called Musical Bedrooms.  The object of the game is to find the best kid combination within the space we have to get everyone asleep and happy before 9:00.  We usually fail.  But I think we're getting close.


Like I said, tricky.

4. This is the time of year when everyone collectively hangs their heads and somberly says, "Summer's over." And when I say, "Crap, still another month until school starts."  Aside from a gymnastics class here and a golf league there, I'm out of camps which means I have to go inside my own head to think up new and exciting things to do for the next few weeks.  It's going to be R-O-U-G-H.  Hang on, folks.

5.  On the up side, however, college football season is just around the corner.  And I have to remind any of my newer readers within the past year or so that I am not at all being sarcastic.  I had this idea of writing a series of posts on a girl's guide to loving football.  What are your thoughts on this?  If you like it, what would you want to hear about?

6 & 7.  And since I desperately need to shower before nap time is over, I'm going to burn my last two takes with cabin vacation photos since I never posted any.  ENOY!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

To Just Be

Last week I signed the big kids up for an afternoon camp just up the street.  It was three hours every day for a week.  And it was the best idea I've ever had.

On one of the camp days when I was finally somewhat caught up with house chores and the sun was shining and the babies were napping I decided to pull out three issues of my magazine (because that's how far behind I am) and sit in my lawn chair on the patio.  I realize I could have used this extra time to write a blog post.  Or finish my Kindle book from the last year.  Or call a friend.  Or write some emails.

But as soon as I got in that chair I forgot about the magazines.  Instead of consuming my mind with the thoughts and needs of someone else during every minute of every day I realized how lovely it was to hold my face up to the sun and to notice to my own thoughts drift in and out at will.

For a small part of my day I just wanted to be.  I didn't want to cringe when I heard someone screaming about a toy being grabbed from their hands.  I didn't want to think about what I was making for dinner.  Or which part of the laundry cycle needed to be moved through.  I let emails go unreplied and phone calls left unreturned.  The crumbs on the floor sat idle and there were probably still dirty dishes in the sink.

One of the things I love most about being catholic is the Church's emphasis on quiet prayer and meditation.  I'm not a praise & worship kind of gal.  Certainly that has its place and works for some people.  But for me, I feel most at peace and most alive when I'm quiet and still.  Which, as you may have guessed, doesn't exactly jive when you have four kids under the age of six.

Every day it's a sacrifice to live out this vocation of mine.  To wake up and go, go, GO until I have nothing left.  To be needed and then depleted.  If I had to choose one word to describe the current state of my life it would be constant.  I am constantly "on."

And yet, as much as it is a sacrifice, I know it's where I'm supposed to be.  Because there's nothing more holy than sacrificial love.  Even if I might be complaining the whole way.  I'm still putting one foot in front of the other.

When I tell people I have four small kids they ask how I do it at home all day every day with little to no help.

I don't know how to answer that question.

What else should I be doing?

It's like asking somebody how they breathe.

When I was pregnant with Bobby and already holding a baby in my arms they would ask, what are you going to do?

Again, I didn't know how to respond to that without sounding sarcastic.

Because the answer was obvious.

I'm going to take care of my babies.

This life, it pushes me to brink of insanity.  If it didn't I probably wouldn't be doing it right.

And when I'm standing there at the Edge of Crazy ready to fall (or maybe jump), suddenly the sun will come out. And I will realize two of my kids are at camp and the other two are sleeping.  And I am given the gift of a moment to breathe and just be.

Because God knows.  He always knows.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Today's To-Dos

I need to go to the liquor store to buy another bottle of tequila for my batch of margaritas and I'm wondering the most appropriate way to do this with four children ages six and under.

Option 1: I bring them all in.  There could be some breakage.  Or yelling or screaming.  Or at the very least, running about.  In this situation the store clerk may give me all the alcohol I need for free.

Option 2: I leave them in the car while I run in.  Being that today will be one of the hottest days of the summer I will definitely need to use the car's remote start to keep things cool.  But leaving kids in the car on a hot day naturally draws attention especially when said car is parked in a liquor store parking lot and the mom returns with a brown paper bag.

Option 3: I walk there with the stroller.  Two kids will be strapped in and thus immobile leaving the two bigs to be on their best behavior.  But again, a mom with a double stroller and two more kids walking to the liquor store in 90-degree heat? What more could scream absolute desperation?

I sent Brian to work with my favorite bra.  The one whose strap broke on the left side right in the middle of t-ball last Thursday.  That was fun.  The mall is by his office and he's going to exchange it for a new one.  Being that, after two months of use, it's defective and all.

So I suppose we all have to shelve our humility every once in a while all in the name of the best interests of this here family.  Which currently include a good bra and even better margaritas.

Tomorrow we leave for our cabin vacation.  Which is why these to-dos are so pressing today.  And I'm all, "Hey! I need to hop on the ol' blog and pound out a post RIGHT NOW."  Because there's no better time to blog than when I have an endless supply of to-dos with a deadline.

Also on the list is getting the car vacuumed.  But I'm out of quarters and I don't want to do it in the heat anyway.  It calls for a trip to Mr. Car Wash.  But I don't actually want the car washed, you see.  With all the bugs and stray summer-y matter the windshield will encounter on our lovely drive through Northern Minnesota, a wash would be pointless.  Is it possible to just pay for a vacuum?

And then there's Bobby boy who had his first full night of sleep EV-AH in his whole six and half months of life two nights ago. SCORE!  Then I went and screwed it up.  Too many errands yesterday and too many short naps in the car made for one overtired little boy who was wound up like clock until way past ten and had a tough night thereafter.  So today calls for some routine and his own bed.

Oh babies.  They are so easy to figure out yet so hard to abide by.

This is my day, folks.  And the dilemmas I'm encountering.

But tomorrow!  Tomorrow is vacation!

Friday, July 5, 2013

7 Quick Takes: 7.5.13

I am laughing an evil condescending laugh in the face of any version of my previous self who ever uttered the words, "I'm SO busy!"


Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Oh life.  It is eating me whole right now.  Not only have I not blogged for weeks, I also have not even turned on my computer or checked my email.  I don't not write for lack of material or out of laziness.  I assure you.

1.  And when you are busy out of your ever-lovin mind you may, for example, neglect to notice that your 20-month-old has a broken arm.  If you don't already follow me on Instagram or Facebook (why not?) yes, this really happened.

My dear sweet Katherine, who possesses a freakish amount of strength for someone her size, pulled herself up on her crib railing far enough to swing one leg over.  She then came tumbling down to the hardwoods below.  There was a long moment of extreme silence followed by the most terrible cries you can imagine.  My adrenaline was pumping as I raced up the stairs, three at a time, to comfort her.

Instantly I was checking her head, her collarbone, her ribs, I had her walk to and from me.  Everything looked fine.  She was crying so hard I thought perhaps she was scared or that she had the wind knocked out of her.  The last thing I thought of was her arm.  And the darndest thing about those one-and-a-half-year-olds is that they can't say, "Hey Mom, check out my arm.  It freakin' hurts like you wouldn't believe."

I finally put it together two days later when she was giggling in her chair at dinner but then yelped out of nowhere when I grabbed her arm.  Immediately my mind rewound the past two days and played out all the times she had been crabby for apparently no reason.  Probably because SHE HAD A BROKEN ARM.  Mom of the year, right here, folks.

The late-night urgent care visit revealed a fractured radius.  That was followed by a cast appointment the next day.  When the ortho specialist was studying her xrays from the night before she was oddly quiet and seemed to be taking a long time.

"Do you think it might not be broken?" I asked, hopeful.

"Oh no, it's definitely broken," she said, "It's just that I think the other bone (the ulna) might be broken as well."

After visiting the hand specialist we never did get a definitive answer but it doesn't matter.  Treatment remains the same. Cast through July 24.  She's handling it like a pro.  Except for the fact that we've discovered she's definitely a lefty thus making eating a little more frustrating than usual.
2. We went to St. Paul's fireworks display last night.  This a big deal.  The last time we attempted this we only had two kids.  But this is the way memories are made so we forged ahead.

We prepared ahead of time.  Naps were mandatory.  The kids were bathed and jammied up before we left.  We brought the double stroller and the Ergo so that only William had to walk from the car to the viewing area.  The weather was perfect.  Not too hot, not too cold and just the right amount of breeze to the keep the mosquitoes at bay.  When it was done we loaded the kids back up, easy peasy.

"Well that was kind of...hassle free?" Brian questioned in a surprise voice as we drove off.

It was really was.  What the heck?  Double our kid count and it just turns into an assembly line of ease, I guess.

3. Last week I hired a company and paid an obnoxious amount of money to have our windows and gutters professionally cleaned.  Worth every penny, I tell you.  It's like I'm living in a brand new house.  I can't even wait to pull up the blinds every morning and look at the sunshine through the beautiful streak-free glass and cobweb-free screens.

This screams happiness to me.  And also a little crazy, I know.

4.  Here's a recent picture of The Baby.
He has finally arrived at the glorious age of six months.  You all remember that it wasn't too long ago when I was writing about how I was aching to get through the newborn stage.

Although most babies become more independent sleepers and eaters at six months, Bobby balks at that idea.  I can't really tell if it's me or him.  I might complain but really, I haven't done a whole lot to force a resolution.  Maybe my subconscious is telling me something.  Is this it?  Is this my last baby?  I'm still unsure but I can't escape the signs that seem to be haunting me everywhere saying, "Hold on to this while you can!"  And so I do.

He has little to no interest in baby food.  And also little to no interest in spending more than three hours at a time in his own bed.  And so my boobs are still hard at work.  Also sleep deprivation is getting a little old.

One massively large improvement is bedtime.  For weeks we couldn't figure it out.  He would scream and scream and scream from 8-10 every night before finally giving in to sleep.  The answer?  He prefers to be a belly sleeper.  Amen, brother.  You go on and show those Back to Sleep campaigners how it's done.  (I'm not making fun.  There's lots of evidence to prove this method actually doesn't do anything to prevent SIDS.  Go on, Google it.)

We also have been known to co-sleep.  So, you know, daggers abound around every corner here.

But back to Bobby.  Cute.  Smiley.  Happy.  Two toofers.  Bald.  Chunky.  What's not to love?

5.  Brian has had a relaxed work schedule since Wednesday.  No coincidence that life has been pure bliss since Wednesday.  I have to keep reminding myself it's not even Saturday yet.  If only we could arrange our summer to be like this every day.

6.  A couple weeks ago we went to see a live performance by the Okee Dokee Brothers.  If you don't know who this is, do your kids a favor and buy their latest album now.  Great for kids and adults alike.  Anyway, my kids are obsessed.  Obsessed!  So when we saw them live it was like I could get a little glimpse into my crystal ball about what life will be like with  Lucy as a tween and whatever the hottest boy band will be at that time.  Scary.
7. And finally, I remembered to take my 4 on the 4th at 4:00 picture yesterday.  Total win.  Enjoy!
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