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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