Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Post in 20 Minutes or Less

I have 20 minutes to write this before William gets home from school or Bobby wakes up.  Whichever comes first.

I did end up catching Katherine's stomach bug on Monday night but as far as The Throwups go, this one wasn't too bad.

You know it's been a bad season when I refer to any type of throwing up as "not too bad."

I'm convinced I got over it quickly because Brian stayed home and let me sleep as long as I needed.  I was back in the game the next day without issue.

Oh hey, there's Bobby waking up from his nap.  So let's see if I can nurse and type at the same time.

This morning I decided I would tackle the grocery store.  If this were last year, this day would be known just as Thursday.  But bringing two babies out into public by myself requires a great deal of strength.  And also humility.

I always plan on going to the grocery store on Thursday mornings while Lucy is at preschool but it never works out.  I can never get it together in the two and half hours I have before pickup.  I'd like to tell you that it's because of the babies and their needs but the truth is, I am my own worst enemy.  I have a certain routine in the morning I like to abide by which includes things like eating breakfast, doing the breakfast dishes, putting away folded laundry, making the bed(s), getting myself and the kids dressed, etc.

This morning I told myself that if I could look beyond all that was "undone" I could probably make it to the store no problem and have plenty of time to do all that other stuff after lunch.

Not sticking to a morning routine is one thing but leaving the house in such a chaotic mess?  Well, this is where I might qualify for some sort of OCD therapy.  It truly made my skin crawl to leave the house in that state.  I even kept Bobby in his pajamas.  Oh the horror!

But I got all my shopping done and even had time for a coffee stop.  When I got home I was surprised to find out that the world did not, in fact, end because my bed didn't get made until the ridiculous afternoon hours.  All that and I have a plan for dinner tonight.

Right now I'm in the process of completing the Couch to 5K program.  I've hit a couple of roadblocks with illnesses and iced up sidewalks and upsettingly I'm not as far along in the program as I'd like to be.  And while it's easy for me to get down on myself for not completing all that I want to do I have had to consciously have a talk with myself and remind me that I have four children under the age of six and husband who is crazy busy at work right now.

I'm not going to throw in the towel.  I'm just going to keep my head down and get everything done that I can get done.  Right now.  Today.  And tomorrow I'll start up again.

Next week Brian will be traveling for work and his mom has offered to take Katherine for me.  I am already dreaming about all that I will be able to do with only three kids.

And that's the best way I can describe what's it's like to have any number of kids.  Whatever you had before what you have now is always going to seem easier.

So if you're reading this and you have three kids, or two kids or even just one know that you are not wrong to think this is hard because you have less kids..  It is hard.  You just learn to adapt in any way you know how, put your nose to the grindstone, and carry on.
Random Pic of the Day: A homemade pirate ship.

Friday, April 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes [4.12.13]

1. My new bloggy design is finally complete and I L-O-V-E it!  I can't wait for you to see it.  But before it goes live I need to update my About and Family pages.  According to those, I still have but a mere three children.  Once I get to that in the next week to a year the new design will go live.

I also want to mention that I made some changes to my comment section.  For a long time I used IntenseDebate as my third party comment provider.  Although I loved the ease of being able to respond to comments, I know that it was difficult, if not impossible, for some of my readers to post comments.  So with much sadness I uninstalled IntenseDebate which means I've lost all my previous comments.  Insert huge crocodile tears.  But I'm hoping that reverting to Blogger comments will help all of you who struggled in the past.  So please give it a try.  I love responding to comments so the best way to get a response from me is to log in with your Google Account.  If you don't have a Google Account you can use the Name/URL option and enter you email address into the URL field or at the end of your comment.
2. I just need to say how much better I feel after writing yesterday's post.  That just goes to show what I've known all along which is that writing, and this blog, is saving me loads of cash in professional therapy.  Just getting it all out and knowing it happened and that I've been heard is all it really takes.  This morning was already twice as better as any other day this week.  And also, no one has thrown up in 20 hours so there's that.
3. After I published my post last night I happened to glance at an article on MSN about a British woman who wrote and published an article about how her biggest regret in life was having children.  Now I'm all for being honest but the problem I have with being this honest is that the woman used her real name and, worst of all, her children's real names.  Because, while seeming to be a hero for saying aloud what a lot of women already think, what she really did was state right there in writing that she wishes her son and daughter had never been born.  What a way to have to live; knowing that you weren't wanted.

This woman isn't selfish for regretting having children.  She's selfish for having published it for all to read!  The vengeful side of me hopes that, well, I'm just going to stop right here because the Christian side of me says that's the thing to do.

And I would like to say, for the record and especially after yesterday's post, that there hasn't been a single day, how hard it might have been, where I have, even for a nanosecond, regretted birthing any of my four little nuggets.  The end.
4. On the other side of things, have you heard of Gabrielle Reece's new book?  What a breath of fresh air!  She's on Rock Center tonight and I, for one, will be DVRing that to watch with Brian.  Like the British writer, she also says some pretty shocking things, namely, that for a better, happier marriage women should try being submissive to their husbands.  But it's not what you think.  I think it's something that women already do but we don't recognize it as such.  It's about making your husband feel his masculine role so that he, in turn, can make you feel feminine.  A role where you are cherished, honored and respected as a wife and mother.  Isn't that what we all want?

Maybe there are women out there who find this a little offensive and too 1950s but it was spot on for me.  I don't mind serving my family in the ways of laundry and making dinner and being the primary caretaker of the children.  And in turn, I love it when Brian demands respect for me from the kids, when he opens doors for me, when he brings home the perfect bottle of wine for me or when he locks the bathroom door so that I can have 15-minute hot bath.  It's all about serving each other in the way we want to be served.  Great stuff there!
5. Speaking of making dinner, wow have I been a slacker in this department.  Remember back in the day when I wrote a whole series of posts on meal-planning?  What happened to that lady?  I still really love to cook but the planning and shopping have proved difficult as of late.  But last night I prepared a total winner of a quick & easy meal and I made it up all on my own.  Take that, Pinterest!  So here it is if you're interested.  I bought all ingredients at Trader Joe's.
6 Half-baked Ciabatta rolls
1 pkg of smoked turkey deli slices
1 pkg of brie cheese, sliced. (I opted for the log so it was easier to slice but you could also use the triangle version.)
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly.

Slice the rolls sandwich style.  On each roll place one layer of brie cheese, one layer of apple and one layer of turkey.  Spread butter on the top half of the roll.  Press each roll firmly together.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 10 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown and the cheese has melted.  Serve with a veggie side or small salad for a complete meal.

Brian and I both agreed roast red bell peppers would be a good addition.  Or maybe some baby spinach?  I'm going to try that next time.  And just a note that our family easily plowed through all six sandwiches so you may want to consider making more if you've got a hungry bunch.

6.  I have an urge to write about the weather and just how awful it is but I don't want to repeat the broken record that is currently every single Facebook status.  So I'm just going to say to you, Mother Nature, that you are the cause of more than half of my bad moods.  So get your act together.  The calendar says April 12 but the view out of my window says January 12.

And you dang well know it's going to go from 48 degrees to 88 degrees in one 24-hour span.  And then we'll all be complaining about the humidity and whir of the air conditioner.  That's just how it goes.

7. I have a girls night tonight and it could not come at a better time.  This particular one is with my high school gals and wow am I so thankful for them.  I can't imagine living in a world without that group.  Where we go out every month or so and laugh till we cry and cry till we laugh.  Where we know each other's parents by their first names.  And all our brothers and sisters too.  Where we don't have to explain 15-year-old inside jokes and that we all know what it means when we say Pete's or Elden's or the corner of Nokomis or Rotary Beach.  Because we all grew up in the same small town.  We all lived the elementary, middle and high school years together.  And when you've known someone when they were at the awkward age of 14, well, you really know them. J- hurry up and come back to us!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Is Hard

I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Brian was bathing the kids. As I scrubbed the kitchen sink I started writing this very post in my head. I wondered how I might go about apologizing for yet another post full of complaining.

It's been a long, hard week, I thought.

And then the tears came.

Forget week. It's been a long, hard few months.

Katherine has been sick again. The third or fourth (I've lost count) time in the past two months that she's been throwing up.

Whenever someone throws up my whole being becomes tense. It's like a ticking time bomb. Who will get it next? Can I keep the baby from getting it? Can I keep myself from getting it? Does my stomach hurt? Did I just hear someone else cry out from their bedroom?

And when it's Katherine and she hasn't gotten better and she's fallen off the weight chart my anxiety builds even further. What if something is wrong with her? Like, really wrong? I think about bringing her in to the doctor and then I think about the round of routine tests they will likely run on her and how those tests will more than likely come back normal and I'll hear the dreaded response, "It was probably just a virus all along." All those needle sticks and blood draws for nothing.

And it probably, hopefully, is a string of really bad viruses. But GOD HELP ME if I have to change and wash her bedding one more time. In the middle of the night. At the exact time Bobby is waking up for a feeding.

Brian is right there in the trenches with me. But I know this is a busy time of year for him and I feel guilty that I make him feel guilty because he gets to go to work. He worked from home on Tuesday and I was helping him with some spreadsheets. (I secretly love spreadsheets and Excel functions. I'm looking at you, VLookup!) While he grabbed a call some of his calendar reminders popped up on the screen. I opened his calendar and saw it packed with calls and meetings and follow-up reminders. Then I saw his cluttered Inbox and the number of unread emails. The feeling of what it's like to be in the professional world came rushing back to me. That pressure. It can't be duplicated anywhere else.

And so I took a moment to be thankful for Brian. But also still wishing a little teeny tiny bit that I had daycare lined up the next day so that I too could go into the office for a day.

It's hard for me to air all this out on the old blog. I can still feel the nay-sayers. The people that rolled their eyes when we told them we wanted four kids in this day and age. And the people that rolled their eyes even further when they heard our last two were but 14 months apart.

So, yes, in case you were wondering, THIS IS FRICKEN HARD. It's the hardest work I've ever done in my entire life. Getting up every single day, after a night of little to no sleep, and meeting the needs of four little people. Four little people who each deserve my undivided attention. Who each deserve three healthy meals. And time on my lap. And a story before bed. And clean clothes and clean sheets. And a mom who smiles more than sighs. And one who has more thoughtful words than just yelling. And someone to tell them they're doing a dang good job even when they've been a little naughty.

If a friend tells me she's going to try to complete a marathon would I roll my eyes and tell her there's no way? Would I balk if she got injured during training? Would I laugh if she started crying at mile 14?

I wouldn't. I would be cheering her on like all good friends do. Knowing that completing a marathon isn't one of my personal goals but it sure as heck is one of hers and far be it for me to be the one who brings bad energy into her light.

That's my way of thanking you, dear reader, for putting up with some of my Debbie Downer posts. All your comments and emails, they lift me up. You're right there with me in those dark days knowing full well that this is hardest work there is. And yet.

And yet.

Somehow it's still the best work there is. A paradox until the end of time.

My Bobby, who was a little iffy in the beginning, has turned into just the cutest, smiliest, sweetest tank of a baby boy you ever could find.
And my William, whose only real request in life is just for someone to take a few minutes, look him in the eye and hear him. Really hear him.
And my Katherine, who is still as dear and sweet as ever.  Please get better, my love, so we can hear more of the cutest chit chat in the whole wide world.  Like sugar for my eardrums. 
And my Lucy.  Well, to be honest, I'm still a little peeved about the scene you made this afternoon at Trader Joe's.  And I'm able to laugh about it now only because you are currently sound asleep in your bed.  I continue to believe you will move mountains.  Either as an Oscar-winning actress or the best puzzle putter-together. 
And let's not forget about you, Scarecrow. We all know if you weren't there at the end of each day to make me laugh and pour my beer I'd probably be committed to a psych ward or standing on the edge of a cliff ready to jump.
So there it is.  The good.  The bad.  And the really fricken hard.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Break Ups and Downs

The baby fussed.  I rolled over and pulled up the down comforter.  Winter's firm grip will not loosen.  I squinted to read the clock.  7:09.  And then I smiled.

Today they went back to school.

There are some moms who are wonderfully made to be home-schoolers.  I am not among those ranks.

We just finished up a ten-day stretch of Spring Break.  Spring Break is a horrible invention by the schools to reinforce the fact that, despite its name, spring has not yet arrived and also that a warm weather vacation is logistically not in the cards for us this year.

I had a good start.  I created an activity basket filled with envelopes for each day.  Some included a small present to open: a new puzzle, popcorn to go with a movie, or a paint-your-own-flower-pot kit.

The high was on Tuesday when I schlepped all four kids to Ikea ALL BY MYSELF.  We ate lunch there.  Kids eat free on Tuesdays.  Total win.  And then they played in Small Land for an hour while the babies and I carted our way through the textiles; me lusting over a multitude of organizational merchandise.  Bobby slept the whole time.  Wow, is he awesome or what?  And Katherine was only bored until I started throwing randomly spelled toys in the cart for her to inspect.

We got home at 3:00 and everyone took naps.

It went down after that.

Quite literally because that is when I fell down the stairs.  A rare moment when I did not have a baby in my arms.  Thankfully.  I was going too fast and I caught my heel on the top step, fell on my bottom and bumped my way, on my tailbone, to the bottom.  Time stopped.  It was one of those moments when you really want to bawl your eyes out.  And then you remember you're a mom and that isn't an option.  Three pairs of eyes stared up at me.

"Are you OK, Mom?" asked a very serious William.

"Ah.  Yeah." I grunted.

And then I took to texting Brian because when you fall down a flight of stairs you just have to tell somebody and then it feels better.  Kind of.

Wednesday brought a six-hour standoff with Lucy in which she refused to pick up five of her toys out on the porch.  And because she's going to be four in three weeks I had to be tough.  Not mean.  Just serious.  I didn't yell.  I didn't lose my cool.  Mostly because our porch has a lock on the door leading into the house so I could simply smile at her through the windows and sweetly say, "Your lunch is ready! Let me know when you're finished picking up your toys."  She would melt down.  Then recover.  Then start playing with something else.  Melt down.  Recover.  Play.  Over and over again until 3:30 at which point Brian told her she would need to take a nap, lunch or not.  Then she suddenly possessed the strength to pick up her toys and life resumed as normal.

Thursday I was smart enough to line up our sitter for the afternoon.  Brian and I had a lovely lunch in which I enjoyed not one but two new-to-me beers.  Delicious.  Then we had us some retail therapy at Nordstrom Rack.  Hello, new designer jeans for half price.  Hello, nude pumps I've been eyeing for some time.

Brian ended up the big winner as we continued  the charade of pretending we were just another kidless couple with money to burn.  He ended up with three dress shirts, a tie and some non-dad jeans.

After dinner that night we ran everyone around the block in the 50-degree weather.  FREEDOM!  Katherine was a hoot having never felt the feeling of pavement under her feet because the last time they were snow-free she was just a crawler.

I felt good after that day.  But only because I had five whole hours without my kids.  And then I felt a little bad about that.

The remaining days didn't go horribly.  It's just that my kids don't do well with too much idle time.  And planning activities and reminding them to be quiet AGAIN because a baby is sleeping is just so exhausting.

I know there are only two months left of school before summer vacation and you must be asking yourselves, what is poor Jenny going to do then?

I'm not sure.  But I keep telling myself it will be better because the weather will be warmer and our backyard is the size of our entire main floor.  It will be fine.  It might even be fun.  Right?
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