Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's a momentous day around here.

Anne Marie got braces!!!

Yes, she's only 8. But she also sucked her thumb from the time she was conceived, pretty much. So we're starting early.

Isn't she gorgeous? I love this girl.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Outside comfort zones

Last week was sooo glorious!
My kids took care of the house.
I got to sleep in.
My kids took care of the house.
My vacuum died. But when I went to Goodwill looking for a used one,  I found a Kirby that someone had given away!
I have always wanted a Kirby vacuum. It lifts my carpet, it sucks so much!
Did I also mention that my kids took care of the house? I was able to get so much done for my upcoming basement boutique. It was glorious!

My mom for a day experiment was mostly a success. I found that 8 is a little too young to handle everything. But Charlie and the older girls did beautifully and I've decided that come summertime, they will each get a day a week all summer. It's wonderful for me, and they will know how to run a house when they graduate from high school.

I haven't told them this yet. I'm sure it will be met with much excitement. Ha!

Also, we had a momentous occasion around here. Jeff and Charlie wrestled.

You are probably scratching your head as to why this is momentous if your husband always wrestles with your sons.

Jeff has never really liked to wrestle with the kids. A little when they are young, but he is really such a gentle person and he doesn't "get it". However, we have talked a lot about why it is good for boys to wrestle with their dads.
~It is a bonding experience.
~It teaches them appropriate and fun ways to let off a little steam
~It is a bonding experience.
~It is a natural inclination for most boys to want to jump on their dad. Reciprocating helps them feel "normal"
~It is a bonding experience.

So on Friday when Jeff got home, Charlie said, "Hey Dad, lets wrestle!"

Jeff hesitated. I made encouraged him to do it. And I wish you could have heard the giggles. From Jeff.

It was really wonderful. Jeff was laughing so hard he couldn't breathe sometimes. Which gives one more reason why dads should wrestle with their boys.
~It's really good for their hearts.

Do your husbands wrestle with the kids?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I must brag

Can I brag just a little? Show off my awesome older girls for just a moment?

Yes, those are two report cards. Both straight A's, both 4.0's. They are up on my messy, fingerprint smudged fridge for us all to admire and ooh and aah over.

I am so proud of them because 4.0's were not a normal occurrence for me personally. I did well in school, but never THAT well. Jeff did. So I attribute a lot of their brains to him. I'm just so gosh darned pleased.

Plus, with six kids, good grades certainly help in the getting scholarships department. So, thanks girls for being so smart!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Have you ever just had enough?

I usually don't complain about my kids on this blog. I love and adore them and I am for the most part completely happy with who they are.

But sometimes a mother has had enough and you get to hear about it today.

We are on midwinter break. I love mid winter break because we can sleep in, hang out, eat cookies, watch movies. But I didn't want to start the week with a messy house and have that get all out of control and crazy during the vacation and end up being left to clean it up by myself when they went back to school.

So Saturday was clean up day. Kate was gone for 10 hours babysitting so she lucked out.

Julia was pretty good about doing what I asked and threw no fits.

BUT. My middle two, lets just say there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Even though Friday was the start of vacation so I let them do this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Believe me when I say that it took every ounce of self restraint and desire to be a fun mom to let them do this. I just let them have their fun, take all the couch cushions off and just go for it.

So when I kept getting sassed about "why do we have to clean up?" and "why do we ALWAYS have to clean?" and "that's not fair!!!" I decided that some de-spoiling and a preemptive strike were due.

So I announced to the older 4 that each of them would have a day during break where they would be responsible for EVERYTHING. Every meal, all the dishes, trying to get other people to clean up after themselves, baths for little kids and dog, laundry, bread making, sweeping and vacuuming. They all just stared at me, kind of scared.

I told them they needed to know what it felt like to have NO help, to have to do everything. The older girls are good about helping me, so this isn't really about them. But it's still good for them to know that no matter what else you WANT to do, there are still things you HAVE to do. And when other people sit on their hineys and do nothing, it takes that much longer to get things done.

Today is Julia's day. She has already made breakfast, she is cleaning the kitchen as I type this, and then she will make bread. I have heard several sighs as I gently remind her what she needs to do next. I'm sure that is nothing compared to what my boy will say. But I REFUSE to raise a son who doesn't know how to clean, cook or run a house. That is not fair to his future wife.

I am lucky to have a husband who does his best, what he lacks in experience he makes up for in his true desire to lighten my load. And many a nights he has cooked, done the dishes and then put the kids to bed so that I can get other things done, or just have a break. And Charlie will be this kind of husband if it kills me!

So there you go. I will take pictures this week cuz how could I not?

And even if they don't learn some big lesson like I'm hoping they will, at least I get the week off!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's done

She is still cute. But I miss her sweet, lovely, long blonde hair. I would run my hands through it every night as we snuggled and I sang Flower gleam and glow to her.

But she is a dolly, and I love her, and it will grow again.

Here is Henry, looking like all men do while they're waiting on a woman.

And here she is, the 3 year old who now looks five. My baby doesn't look like a baby anymore. Waaah!

Oh the joys and sorrows of motherhood. She is sooo dang cute, though, isn't she? Love that girl, long, short, or completely bald. She will always be my baby!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In the depths of despair

Nora cut her hair. Again.

But this time there is no hiding it or just leaving it. It's irreparably short. In a very obvious place.

So tomorrow will be the reveal of her new short hair cut. Boo Hoo!

And when did this happen? While I was upstairs showering. Jeff was working from home, sitting at the kitchen table. And Nora was at the kitchen table with scissors from our Valentine making activity.

Jeff is a very hard worker. So focused in fact, that he didn't notice Nora cutting her own hair.

I'm honestly not mad at him. They've all cut their hair under my watch. But it's quite comical that he was sitting at the table with her. That's all.

I'm not letting this ruin my Valentine's Day, but it's a challenge to be sure. I love her bouncy long blonde hair.

But I suppose I will love her new short, bouncy blonde hair too. *sob*

Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend annihilation

This is pretty much what my whole house looks like right now.

It's not exact because the camera is in Jeff's glove box. So I pulled a photo from Halloween preparations. Otherwise I would honestly show you what my house looks like after the weekend.

It ain't pretty.

I don't know when I got into the habit of not doing dishes and tidying up on Sunday night, content to say, "I'll do it tomorrow."

But somehow, that has become the norm and because of that, I hate Mondays.

And I kind of hate Tuesdays as well, because I never get it all the way back to normal on Mondays. Looks like it's time to re-evaluate the way I do things.

Since I don't have pictures of my annihilated house, I will instead share two stories about names that made me laugh.

We were talking about the kids names and how we decided on them. We were talking about Henry and how we had also considered Harvey and Harry.

Anne Marie pipes up and says, "Weren't you thinking of naming Henry, Mildred?" She was dead serious.

We laughed and laughed. No, we never considered naming Henry, Mildred. I honestly have no idea why she thought that.

The second happened on Saturday. We've been getting a lot of phone calls for some name that doesn't live here. Jeff had enough of it and told one company to please stop calling because no one lived here by that name and they call all the time.

So the girl asks him for HIS name so that she can put that in the data base so they will stop calling.

Jeff told her he didn't want to give her his name, (cuz we all know they will then start asking for him), but she said that she had to have a name. So he says, ok, "My name is Daffy Duck. Can you put THAT in your data base?" She said she couldn't, so he said, ok, how about John? My name is John. "

It was hilarious. Jeff is so kind and good, that when he acts sassy at all, it's because he is really fed up. So we'll see now if we get any more calls. I kind of hope so, it would be fun to add Barb Wire, or I.P. Freely to their data base.

Ok, I am going to try and get this place in tip top shape cuz tomorrow is VALENTINE's DAY! Aren't you excited?

I am. Even though I'm not eating treats, it will be fun to make cookies with the kids, give them yummy goodness in the form of chocolate and shower them with all of my love.

Have a happy day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

*At the gym today, I saw an ad for Komo 4 news that gave a glimpse of a segment they are doing at 11 o'clock about the dangers of fireplaces and small children. We had our own horrific experience with that. I almost started crying while on the treadmill. So because it still worries me, I'm reposting about our experience. Maybe it will keep someone else from letting their little one wander too close.*

Parenthood:Not for the faint of heart. Originally posted May 11, 2009

Saturday began beautifully. Clear, blue skies. Warm breezes blowing. Children trampoline jumping and bike riding. Delicious food eaten outside.

If only it ended that way.

We were enjoying a delightful visit with Grandma and Grandpa, Jeff's parents. Relaxing inside after the previously mentioned delicious food. The children were scattered throughout the house and the neighborhood, reading, playing with friends.

Why is it that in stories, these peaceful moments are interrupted with blood curdling screams? Sadly, such is the case in this story as well.

We heard Nora, crying a cry that meant only one thing: terrible pain.

We rushed to the family room where she had been. Kate was already bringing her to us, panic on her face.

"She fell against the fireplace and it's on!"

I took Nora from her, immediately looking her over, trying to find the cause of the screaming while asking "Why was the fireplace on?" The gas fireplace, warming in wintertime. But with glass that heated to temperatures that could burn.

As Jeff and I looked her over, we could see a layer of skin gone from a patch on her forhead, the instant blistering on her cheek. The immediate devastation as we realized that our baby, our sweet, tiny little girl was burned.

How badly we didn't know, but immedately it was clear she needed medical help.

Thankfully, Don and Donna were there. Donna calmly told us to just go and they would take care of the kids.

Jeff and I rushed to the car trying to remember where the nearest emergency room was. Too far away we came to find out. But there was an urgent care nearby. With Nora on my lap, writhing in pain (oh how I wish that weren't true!) we made our way through stop lights and traffic, trying to remain calm, I was unable.

I cried with her, I stroked the unburned side of her face. Repeatedly saying "I love you, I love you, I'm so sorry!" Even now, I can't type it without tears. I tried to keep her from touching it, and all the while she screamed.

Jeff dropped us off at the entrance and I ran in with her. As soon as I said she was burned they had someone take us back immediately. Jeff filled out the paperwork and then joined us. His own soothing words to Nora, his own grief filled face. Nora still crying in agony.

They asked us what happened. We tried to explain. We still don't know how or why the fireplace was on.

They looked her over. Was there damage to her eye since her eyelid was burned as well? We were forced as her parents, to help hold her down, while her tender eyelid was held open so that they could put drops in that would help to see if her cornea had been damaged. Thankfully, it looked fine.

But you must know, the entire time, Nora looked at me, looked at me with pleading to make it stop. To please help her, to rid her of the tremendous pain she was feeling. And all I could do was tell her I was sorry, that I loved her, stroke her little legs, kiss her. I was screaming on the inside, trembling with the effort it took to not scream outwardly at them to make the pain stop. To help her. All the while, her eyes locked on mine, begging for relief.

Then we saw her hands. Her left hand, a match to the left side of her face. Red, raw, blistered, twisting in a way that seemed to be trying to throw off the pain somehow. Her right hand, fingers blistered, not as badly, but still unbearable to look at.

Then thankfully, mercifully, the motrin given, the ointments applied. The crying slowed to a whimper. The exhaustion from all the pain and crying took over, and she slumbered in her daddy's arms.

And as we sat there, I could feel it. I could feel the prayer that was said on her behalf. And I told Jeff "They're praying for her. The kids, your parents, I can feel the prayer that they said for her" And I cried anew. Feeling the love that was pouring over us, for us. A loving Heavenly Father answering the prayer of Nora's brothers and sisters, of her worried grandparents.

And she continued to sleep. Peaceful. Safe.

They discharged us, told us to bring her back the next day for a recheck of her burns.

Again I held her on my lap on the way home. Her hands wrapped in burn cream and gauze. Her face glistening with anti-biotic ointment. I kissed her head, stroked her skin, melded her to me. My own personal agony still fresh inside me as I held this precious girl. But mindful, thankful that it was not worse. That we were bringing her home instead of sitting by a hospital bed.

At home, more prayers said, hugs and loves, and Nora settling back in.

She has second degree burns on her hands and face. We'll be taking her to Harborviews burn unit just to make sure. She's so little. Overly cautious we will be.

And yes, the fireplace has been turned off with the key. No more flip of the switch will ignite it.

And yes, I feel guilty. Even if there is no blame assigned, as her mother my job is to protect her, to prevent injuries, to foresee potential hazards and remove them. Even when that is unreasonable, as a parent you can never help but feel this way.

Now, I will gather my children a little closer, hug them a little tighter, kiss them more frequently and express my love more often. That in itself has healing power, for all of us.

And not for the faint of heart.

A picture.

Of Nora.

Healing. New wrapping. Tylenol with codeine, heaven sent.

My heart breaks a little every time I look at her. I retreat mentally when I gaze at her wounds, so that I can hold it together and not cry imagining how it felt to have her tender baby skin pressed against searing glass.
Obviously, it's a work in progress. And perhaps, until she is completely healed, that feeling won't leave me. I couldn't suffer the pain for her, I couldn't take it away, no matter how I wanted to. So I allow myself to imagine it, to suffer mentally, to feel anguish for not being able to protect her adequately. Empathy. In this instance, it's my bizarre language of love.
But it is love. Love for her, love for my other children. Love for any child or parent who has suffered pain or grief. Perhaps I'm a bit melodramatic, but know that I am aware of how fortunate we are. That this is a minor bump on the road of life. She will heal, it will be fine.
In fact, she's in her high chair throwing cereal everywhere. It seems that she is ready for life to be normal. No more sadness mamma. Feed me, love me, hug me and kiss me.
I'm good to go.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Parenting 101-adapting as you go

This is very typical for our family: Charlie playing his ds, Julia reading a book, while life goes on around them.

It is also very typical to repeatedly go into Charlie's room and remind him to put the ds or book away because it is 10:30 at night. Julia I don't remind as much, as she is learning to manage her own time well.

Some nights I'm too tired and I just want to sleep instead of being a good mom and helping my almost 10 year old go to bed. And then we all pay for it in the morning when he has a really hard time waking up.

It's a work in progress, this mothering thing.

Other things I have worked out. Yesterday was beautiful here, so I took Henry and Nora to the park. The first park we tried was closed because the wind storm the night before had knocked down so many branches. The park with the bathroom, unfortunately. So we found another one. Without a bathroom.

5 minutes into being there, Nora comes dancing over to tell me she has to go potty. Leaving and finding a bathroom wasn't an option, because I wouldn't want to come back. And she couldn't pee behind a tree or on the car tire like I let Henry. (He loves having something to aim at, and then I don't feel quite as bad since most of the pee ends up on our own tire. Please tell me other moms let their boys do this?)

But luckily for all of us I am a huge diet soda addict and I just happened to have a large McDonald's cup in the car. So we climbed in the back of the van, she did her thing, and back to playing we went. After I disposed of said cup in the trash, of course.

It wasn't 5 minutes later that another little girl ran up to her mom and said she had to go potty. Nora, hearing this, perked right up and said, "My mommy let me go pee in a cup!!!"

The other mom didn't look around to see who this little girl's weird mother was, thankfully, but I laughed and laughed. It just seemed so fitting somehow that Nora would be so excited about peeing in a cup and wanted  the world to know. And I wouldn't tell her NOT to tell anyone. In fact, I highly recommend keeping a large soda cup in your vehicle for just such an emergency.

Just remember to throw it away;)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Singing about candy makes me smile

On Saturday Kate and Julia performed in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The musical  no doubt.

Julia was Ms. Teevee and Kate was a child/cook.

They were wonderful. Jeff and I were glowing, proud parents.

When Kate asked Nora what her favorite part was, she said, "you and Juey-la(Julia)"

Hey, that was my favorite part too!

We are goofy and dramatic in our family, so school plays just seem an extension of that. 

I was really proud of Kate, because after playing Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she didn't get a part in the school play the next year when we moved to Maple Valley. It shook her confidence for a while. But she went for it again this year and had a great time. 

And Julia had a hilarious scene where she laments the fact that her son Mike is now only 6 inches tall. 

I have some fun picture of the girls and the cast mates after the show, but my regular lens that I normally use made everything show up fuzzy. So I had to switch back to my zoom lens. Melissa Dillon-any thoughts as to why? Or where I can get it repaired? Thanks.

So here is a slew of pictures for you. It was so fun. And if you happen to be in Maple Valley  this coming weekend, come check out their next two performances!

Oh, and I took a picture with the gates so that you could see Jeff's handiwork in action. And I did Julia's hair. 
Do we have a future as a family in the theatre? Perhaps.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Childhood 101: How to not get kicked out of mom and dad's bed

This is how Henry spent the night.

Sideways at the bottom of our bed.

He avoided notice long enough that he got to stay. Plus, at the bottom of the bed he doesn't make us all hot or  force either of us onto the tiniest of slivers of mattress.

I do think I accidentally kicked him in the middle of the night though. Sorry kiddo.
It's the risk you take.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sweet reprise

I am a girl who likes sunshine, and money.

So is it so odd that the dropping of money in our account and a sunshiny day would have made me feel so alive, and in such a good mood yesterday?

I don't think so either. 

There was a spring in my step as I grocery shopped and soaked in the blue skies in our normally cloudy, grey part of the world.

And being in such a good mood, and being tax return season and all, we took the younger kids out to Red Robin. 

The big girls were at play practice, so I appeased them with their favorite French Dip from Arbys. It was still strange not having them there. But it was certainly not boring with the other 4.

I just think Anne Marie is beautiful. And separated from Charlie by dad, she was calm and lovely all evening.

Charlie gave new meaning to the word persistence. He must have asked, I kid you not, 25 times for 50 cents to play one of the games in the lobby. 

Henry decided that it was more fun to cover his face than to let me take his picture. And it's digital proof that he did in fact spend at least a portion of the evening sitting down. Most was spent running attempting to run around the restaurant and jumping up and down on the seat and talking to his friend who just happened to be sitting on the other side of the partition. 

And Nora. Sweet, lovely, addicted to the little sugar packets Nora. It's a full time job hiding, moving and saying no to the little container full of real and artificial sweeteners. 

It was a fun evening. Marred only by the fact that I could only eat half of my food. Why? Because my stomach started to flip flop and feel weird. So weird in fact that I didn't drink the free refill of diet Coke. That is how you know that I was indeed not feeling well. 
The feeling persisted all night in fact, it's own symphony of catastrophic music, swelling and rising with the rumblings of my stomach, climaxing around 3 am. It was not lovely. 
So now Charlie, Julia, Nora and I have filled our part of the "our family gets the stomach flu every year" bargain.
I can't wait for everyone else to cash  in on this awesome deal. 

My efforts to fall asleep amid tumultuous tummy tumblings were interrupted briefly by our car alarm going off at 11:30 pm.

A  month ago our little blueberry car was the victim of a hit and run in the school parking lot. Since then, you can't lock the car with the remote key-less entry or the car alarm will go off randomly and without any warning.

Seems I forgot that when I got home from picking the girls up last night. 

So, sorry to my neighbors. But no need to worry about car prowlers or burglars. It was just our little car, letting us know that it's there. And loud. 

Now it seems I have a date with my couch. I don't feel that awful, just tired from attempting to sleep all night, rather than actually sleeping. 

But it's blue skies again, after the morning rain has dissipated, I may not be able to stay on that couch for long.

Happy Day!
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