Where the *&$^ does the time go?!?!

I had to take a “where the time goes” assessment for my orientation to the online program at Arizona State (Go Devils!). Every mother of five wants to intemperate and  have in black and white how little time they actually get to themselves.

“On average, how many hours a week do you spend with friends, going out, watching TV, going to parties, etc?” was where we had to put in family time. However, do I put homework help, bathing, laundry, walking to and picking up from school etc there or do I log that under “errands”.

The end result is that I get -18. Negative eighteen hours per week to myself to do homework, sit in lectures, read etc. And I rounded an average of six hours a night for sleep.   I laughed. Loudly. It woke up the baby. My god. I need an entire extra day in a week according to this generalized bs.

Sometimes there is no balance. Sometimes I listen to Three tell me about her project while I make dinner, sort laundry and helping the baby get his hand out of the shape sorter hole. (yes that was a real example). Sometimes my husband is home and I can tag him in on stuff… especially dinner making. The man can cook *swoon*. However, with his responsibilities outside of home I can’t be sure to have him here… I have been lucky for the past 6 years but we are 98% sure he will be going away for a bit coming up here soon. Being the sole day to day person is daunting but FaceTime is a really nice bandaid for extended Daddy absences. I will cling to that 2% uncertainty but I also know it is what is right, best and needed.

BUT ANYHOW…

There is never enough time in the day. You really cannot do it all without sacrificing something. Multitasking is all good but what task should get more attention that just can’t give it? Work? Family? Yourself? For a long time I “sacrificed” my younger dream and became a stay at home mom. It took some mental adjusting but looking back on the past 9 years: BEST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE.

There is a lot that is sacrificed when becoming a parent. I really thought I could do it all as gracefully as a movie character. But there is no simple way. There is only personal grace. Accepting that maybe the kids won’t have perfectly braided hair. Or that dinner might be cheese, crackers and a fruit spread with a game of “what was the funniest thing you did today?” because honestly you forgot to think about it until 6 pm and the kids are “literally” wasting away from hunger.

Grace in forgiving yourself that it isn’t magazine quality clean. Grace in forgiving yourself that you napped on your lunch break. Grace in forgiving and embracing the limitations of being human.

And also late nights and too much caffeine.

We know I am all about that over caffeinated life.

 

Very Firsts… and Thirds, Fifth and Sixes.

The very first day of the new school year has been completed.

Mission control deems this was a successful day.

Everyone woke up on time, got to school on time, there were no tears or whining. We even manage to get a few half decent obligatory 1st day pictures! I managed to work, do my class, and enjoy time with Five all in the time before the big ones got home.

One got on the bus to his special program today. He has a rare genetic disorder called Coffin-Siris Syndrome (which I should write about one day) and has some mild cognitive and physical delays. He is also besties with the bus driver and was thrilled to see it was the same driver this year.

Two is starting fifth grade. Which is CRAZY because I remember fifth grade fondly. In fact I am friends with my former fifth grade teacher on FaceBook. I hope that this grade is good for him… last year was hard. He is going through “the changes of life” and I think it has thrown him off his groove. Kid is smart, funny and kind but towering over other 9 and 10 year olds can be hard, smelling like corndogs after PE when you forget deodorant (which he was still only 8 and 9 so completely understandable) and getting pimples over the summer can be hard on a guy.

Three is in her element. School is her jive. Desks, checklists, extra sharp pencils. She loves school, her teachers, her best friends, and all things that school has to offer. She cries when other kids misbehave and the class gets in trouble. Three is a rule follower and super diplomat. In kinder a boy was incredibly cruel to her and begged her for attention. When he would say or do mean things she would never retaliate. She demanded that he respect her space, reported him to her teacher and during the meeting that ensued said “He isn’t nice but I think he just doesn’t know how to be a good friend. I don’t want to be around him because he is mean to me but I will still be nice to him in class. Maybe he will see how to be kind and learn.” She was 6 years old. 6. Speaking with kindness and dignity. Girl is going to grow up and be a better human than I ever could be.

and Four.

Yesterday was Four’s very first day of Kinder. Which she has been chomping at the bit to attend since Three started Kinder. She hasn’t slept in 3 days. “I AM GOING TO KINDERGARTEN!!!!” And apparently yesterday was everything she could dream about. She told us all about how her teacher read the “The Kissing Hand”, how they learned how to ask to go to the restroom, that there are twins in her class and that they are so cute because they wear matching clothes, that she made friends.  She was disappointed that she hasn’t learned to read yet. Her father explained that reading takes time and practice and we can help her practice at home. He was told that he can’t teach her how to read because he isn’t a teacher like that. He can teach her how to ride a bike and do science but not read…. She has odd ideas but we will just groove with it.

We are so lucky that all of our kids are so excited to learn. That they view the classroom as an opportunity to have discussions, make friends, and explore the world. I hope that feeling never goes away and that they are always this excited about their first day of school.

The honor of Breastfeeding: the good, the hard and the ridiculous.

Last week was World Breastfeeding Week! (which you can learn more about HERE) I breastfed all 3 of my natural born children. I thought a lot about my journey. Each one was different.

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He couldn’t get comfortable, I wanted to wait until 6am when the alarm goes off…

Three was born  at the very tippy top start of the breastfeeding movement. I had little support from anyone but my mother and husband. I was told that she would starve, not grow, be spoiled, and never be as healthy as her formula fed counterparts. I fought back from doctor’s advice, family judgement and a nasty case of colic to be able to nurse her until she was 12 months. I regret stopping then. I don’t think she was ready and neither was I but I caved in the face of expectations.

Four nursed until she was 8 months. She switched to mostly formula and she liked it just fine. Things in our life were insane then and returning to a job at that point made nursing her hard. Besides once she could have her Daddy feed her she was less than interested in nursing. She is still a major Daddy’s girl and I think she honestly prefers him to me.

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Five is lip tied and is nursing on at 16 months. Nursing him has literally been excruciating at times. He also cluster-fed for 6 months straight because nursing was hard for him too. There were some major life events going on and I feel like nursing him was a comfort thing for both of us. Nursing a walking, talking, goofball toddler is… interesting… But extended breastfeeding is also ridiculous. Five likes to poke me, prod me, flip upside down, kick me in the face, roll his cars over my neck. It has moments were I literally do not want to. But the kid is persistent and will work HARD to get that boob out for a sip of milk. It doesn’t matter when or where. When Five is thirsty for some milk he will get some milk.

Breastfeeding overall is AMAZING. Nursing provides a connection to a child that is beyond words. Watching this human that you pushed out of your body by loin or surgery thrive on this stuff that comes out of the boobs you previously used to lure your mate is AH-MAZ-ING.

I honestly still lure my mate with these girls (even though they are a little flatter and lower … actually they are more like sad pancakes… far different than they were when I was 20). He is easily distracted, firstly… and boobs totally make him forget what he was doing. Plus, I am lucky that every change my body has gone through in bringing his daughters and youngest son into the world he cherishes.

I really started to look at my body differently. My body is badass. My body can run races, lift edges of sofas with one hand, function highly with extended periods of sleep deprivation and nourish infants.

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This is my life now…

That being said. Breastfeeding is hard AF. It can be lonely, painful, it is exhausting. It is not as rainbows and glitter party as it looks on the surface. Mothers looking up at their infants with love. That is there. But so are sore nipples, wonky milk supplies, dietary things (I had to stop consuming dairy… and Dairy is my drug). Breastfeeding is very literally done with: blood, sweat & tears.

Which makes it so beautiful. So empowering. When it is hard know that you can reach out to the mothers around you and they will (despite what the internet does) lift you up. They will love you on your journey. They will give you advise and cheer you on. They will tell you what has worked for them and they will tell you jokes. But most of all they will be your TRIBE. They will fight for you no matter what you decide to do.

So in honor of World Breastfeeding Week I lift up my medium cup of Dutch Brother’s Carmalizer in honor of all the momma’s out there that fight the fight for the future. That despite bleeding nipples and two hour sleep intervals still use their temple to let a new temple grow. Here is to you. Here is to me.

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Summer Break is gonna break me.

First & foremost:

I loooove my children. All 5. I love spending time with them. They are enchanting and amusing and creative.

HOWEVER, now that the disclaimer is out of the way:

Summer 2016 is upon us. I have 5 children, 2 dogs and a crotchety, lunatic cat (I am not petting her fast enough and she is attacking me) in my house.

Winters here in the valley of Arizona are perfection. Chilly but sunny, no snow on the ground unless you go up to the mountains.

Summers are a different situation. It is supposed to be 107 this week. ONE HUNDRED and SEVEN degrees outside. At that point it is too hot to sit in the shade. It is close to 95 degrees at nine in the morning. It is like living in the sun.

Something breaks in your soul when you have to brave 117.

Thank goodness for the public library. The library I take the kids to is literally a gift to my mental health. For some reason during less than ideal weather my typically awesome, chill kids turn into bickering, whining jerks.

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The Library (bold and italics and said in a honey voice) is where I take them to explore the world in air that is conditioned for comfort. Long live the public library. Long live the librarian that accepts with grace the completely convoluted tale of the search for the book with a red cover that number two will take her on.

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There are infant story times, music, science programs, reading challenges, BOOKS, air conditioning and currently a very cool Maurice Sendak exhibit.

Plus, the wifi here is AMAZING.

Lovely, Lovely Butterflies

Before life got a bit crazy and super hectic with the Hubster working full time and attending University full time we took a minute to really spend time together. We had lunch dates. We went on hikes. We knew that coming up that we would not be able to spend as much time just together. That the time we get is valuable… a really long period of time apart during his military really impacted how we view the moments we get.

On this particular morning we took the smallest of the hooligans to a magical place called Butterfly Wonderland.

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Then we went and looked at all the chrysalis. A nursery of baby butterflies. I didn’t know that chrysalis’ come in every texture and color I could imagine. The kids… and me… really loved catching the chrysalis’ shake while the butterfly tried to break out into the world.

Next to the gorgeous Butterfly Garden where butterflies are free to flutter about. This room is designed to look like a rainforest with plants and flowers everywhere. And WOW it was absolutlely beautiful, peaceful and exillerating. Ellie and Four ran around delighted by the little flying jewels and the coi pond. At the time my hair was really really purple so the butterflies really couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t edible.

My favorite part of this entire day was watching my husband with our youngest daughter and yougest son. My husband is an amazing father. Always taking the time to explore the world with our five children. In married life there are always moments that you find yourself falling head over heels for your spouse.

Life gets busy. We have jobs. He is in school. Before he was busy doing army things. We have a whole heck of a lot of kids that always need attention or conversation or guidance. But there are moments where I look up and the world stops. This day was one of those days. The relaxed, joyfulness of his time being spent exploring these little flying bugs with a four year old and a 6 month old really made my heart soar and my stomach flutter.

I found a man that loves me. That adores the humans we are raising… that loves babies and toddlers and children (and eventually teenagers but we shall see how much he loves that) being a father . That sits still for minutes and minutes so he can let his four year old inspect the butterfly that land on his head.

I am so glad that we have the life we are building. That we get to rediscover the world through the eyes of our children. Those moments make me rediscover the love I have for my husband. Day after day.

 

Twenty Bucks Will Get You Four Boxes

It is Girl Scout Cookie Season. Thin mints. Somoas. Tagalongs. Sugar on sugar on sugar all available from adorable little girls that really just want to go to camp. Available exactly 2 weeks into your “New Year, new me.” shtick.

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That time of year that Three really hones her skills as a sales woman… she will sell ice to Eskimos let alone a Trefoil to a diabetic. Where my ethical compass becomes jammed and much like a crack dealer I will sling cookies to anyone that glances at me twice. I will pop the back hatch and sell cookies in the drive thru at Starbucks. I. Do. Not. Give. A. F**K.

HOWEVER: this is her deal. She is a third generation Girl Scout and it is super important to me that SHE, THREE, does the leg work. She brings her order slip to school. She calls family, friends, neighbors. She carries cases around at the soft ball field. She counts the money. She sends the Thank You cards. She sorts and when available delivers the cookies. THIS IS THREE’S BUSINESS. This is the 1st taste of working with costumers, planning and setting goals.

People can poo-poo the Girl Scouts. I applaud it. It isn’t just camping and sewing. It is about learning the skills to succeed. Confidence. It is about exploring the things that interest you. It is about building lasting friendships and making SWAPS.

I am proud of the person that is blossoming. Three is my 1st born. My tiny little perfect human. She is sweet and kind and organized and everyday I see the baby melt away a little more and the bones of the young lady below appear. She takes my breath away.

Since joining Girl Scouts 3 years ago (she was the cutest little Daisy I have ever seen!!!) Three has found her voice. Moving from shy to soft spoken but fierce as hell. I am so glad that she gets the opportunity to hear no. To develop her skills as a future business owner.

Also… she has some cookies if you’re interested…

 

 

String Cheese Incident and Parenting

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My baby screamed for an hour. From midnight to 1:15 am. one fifteen in the morning. I held him. I nursed him. I laid him down. I held him. I walked miles (a basic guesstimate) in a circle in the living room. He screamed until I laid down with him and he finally fell asleep.

Five thrives on human contact. On physical reassurances when he is having a difficult baby moment. Cuddles and the warmth of love is how he is soothed. (Totally different from the others) Last night was filled with lots of 9 month old difficulties. Teeth and growing and maybe a little stress from face planting while walking around uneven surfaces.

This is sooo hard. I am exhausted. Husband is exhausted. One to Four are wide awake. They slept like logs. Getting up this morning was painful; my eyes burned. Five had finally fallen into that deep floppy baby sleep at 6:30. Which is ten minutes after I was supposed to be up getting the other kids ready for school.

Exhaustion can lead to a snappy crab Momma monster. Coffee can keep that beast lulled. But there is really only so much coffee.

Today, after a long and painfully sleepless night, after running the older kids to their respective schools: Four and Five made my heart soar. They were playing together, Four showing Five how to use the little xylophone he received for Christmas and she would dance. The dancing, the music, the laughter. It filled the morning air. Playing together without bickering or crying or any of the other things that constitutes “playing together” when you have siblings. Just making joyful sound.

Moments like this make me remember the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by String Cheese Incident:

Can I lay down tonight
Without feeling regret?
I know the love that I give
Becomes the love that I get

The small moments when they are in the world all alone are moments that rejuvenate me as a mother. Honestly, as a human, these moments giving me faith in the future and that maybe I am doing ok. Even when I accidentally forget to make sure they all of jackets when we leave the house. The love of my family lights my way and grows exponentially… even when I haven’t slept in 10 months.

Life can be trying but sometimes we just need to have a moment where we dance to a feel good song.