Then the Universe saw my poker face…

Well it has been a hell of a long time. I will be honest. I haven’t written because I am hiding. This past few months have been garbage. Like a smoldering, rotting, festering and really stressful pile of garbage.

-School
-orders (the husband is being called back for a while)
-work
-life in general can suck.

Even the fun stuff we have done has been shadowed by the stench of stress.

My kids… well a few of them… all got THE LICE.

yeah, I can see you itching already but keep reading if you have ever dealt with this because I am SURE you could use the laughs.

It all started in mid-January when my best friend and her family came over for a day. We had fun. Kids played. Grown ups day drank and we all had a good laugh over the silliness of the VR thing that they got and brought over.

Then the next day I get a phone call from the BFF about how her daughter had lice. That the kids in daycare keep getting lice and set it all on fire. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor or clean you keep your life: lice don’t give AF.

I live in an unnatural level of terror of lice. Something about the trauma of getting lice from a birthday party when I was six and having my mother comb through my hair from my new home of the bathtub for a week straight scared me for eternity. I lecture about hats, hairbrushes and try to keep the girls hair combed and tidy… tea tree oil for everything!

After mentally screaming. Check kids. No lice. Check them every day for a week.

Phew!

Then a couple of weeks later got a note from the Kindergarten (which is a petri dish. They are so precious but FFS they are also little festering monsters of runny noses, sticky hands and sand) that there was a lice thing: my kid looked fine but they need to let us know.

Phew! But we comb through and throw back-pack through the drier. Just in fucking case, ya’ll.

Now we were off to this big pretend-fun-for-the-family-before-husband-leaves-for-work thing in California. It is for a long 4 day “weekend”. SO we pack up the kids. We load up the mini-van and we drive to death by powerpoint. We decided that while we were there: DISNEYLAND! Woot! Planned the trip all set for the last day in California! PLUS, we can visit my sister who is just a hop skip and jump away!

WRONG.

This is where my kids DO get lice.

After 2 false alarms. They get lice while we are literally in a completely different STATE.

This, what is set up to be the greatest surprise we manage to pull off ever, is where the girls get THE LICE. Big scary adult ones! The kind that lay eggs that leads to full infestations!

of course.

SO. We spent 6 hours. Yes, that is correct: SIX HOURS at my sisters house washing everything they have been near. Treating their heads and my head and my husbands head and mentally screaming. 100 dollars in lice shampoo and untold hours combing through hair. For the record: my daughters both have longer hair. It is thick and Three has super gorgeous beachy waves NATURALLY. Which makes this process take 10 times longer.

FINALLY: After hours and hours of three adults combing through 5 children hair we raise our arms and say: I think we are good. I check the hubs. He checks me. I then check my sister. We are filled with cautious relief.

At least we caught them early. Only the 2 girls had them but they shared a bed. We killed every last (I think honestly it was only like 5 or 6) lice that day.

But the eggs… for fuck sakes… the eggs are the big problem. The shampoo doesn’t murder the eggs so you have to pull them out one by one. AND they are itty bitty and hard to find and Four hates sitting still that long.

She fusses and fidgets and we end up watching a hell of a lot of “lolirock” on Netflix. This show is trash, if you don’t already know. Zero substance but it made her zone out for the hour a day I combed through her hair.

Lice live for like 30 days. They are eggs (Nits) for like 5 to 7 days and then little babies for 5-7 days and then adults that lay nasty eggs for like 5-7 days and then they, like, retire or something and just make kids heads itch for 5-7 days. Then they die.

So, by doing exactly as instructed we have treated the kids every 5 days. Well… I shaved One, Two and Fives heads. And we seem to have stopped this before  it spiraled out of control

If this ever happens again I am going to just start from scratch. Shave everyones head and throw all the bedding, stuffed animals, car seats, clothes, dress up, barbies, bags and linens out in the garbage. It is all replaceable. My mental health is a little less replaceable…

It is always something here. But I swear to all that is holy I will shave Fours head if she ever gets them again.

First comes love and then you choose to work at it…

Recently, a coworker just asked me a question about my marriage. “How do you make time for each other?” It is something I get asked a lot. It is pretty obvious we made some time for each other at one point or another in that we have evidence of making time.

The beginning it was easy. Everything was new and exciting. Talking to each other, sitting so close that in a dark corner we were one silhouette. The future, wants, dreams, fears. Memories. Opinions. Conversation and physical contact were one and separate. We were young and fell hard. We had both left relationships that had caused us deep emotional harm.

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The beginning, way back in 2006

But time moves forward. We have grown older and we have grown apart in some ways. In other ways we are closer. We work to make this work still. We take trips to be together. But we are two people that arrived in a place together.

We are still two people. We had very different upbringings, we have different interests and we have very different tastes in movies. But we have a lot in common and we enjoy each others company.

Relationships get pushed to the back burner as life gets hectic… especially when you have kids. Sometimes the partnership of keeping tiny drunken lunatics alive makes the relationship become harder. For a while my husband and I basically only discussed the kids. We went opposite directions and never came together for the mental intimacy that is necessary.

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This is our wedding photo in 2007

We grew differently. He left on a great adventure. His family that he loves so much was out of sight and out of mind. he made some choices that shattered a small part of me. choices still breath through the cracks left behind. Those choices profoundly changed the dynamic of our relationship.

The version of me my husband fell in love with is mostly gone now. The version of me he fell in love with was incredibly unwell. She haunts me still. Lingers in the background of me and keeps me awake at night. causes me to forget to make dinner, pay bills. Sometimes her anger and instability starts to leak through.

The man I fell in love with is mostly gone now. He is different now than he was at 21. More stable, less spontaneous. However, he is also more comfortable being himself all the time.

We have grown as individuals. Which means we work at knowing each other and the people we are becoming. I love him and the life we have but it is a quieter relationship then the tumultuous, intensity of our youth. We love the person each of us has grown into. It isn’t bad but it is different. Love is not static.

Love is a living breathing thing. It must be cared for and allowed to change. It has changed slowly in some ways and in other ways it has changed quickly.

I am not static. My husband is not static. We grow and change because we are alive.

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2014! 

People seem to look into the dressed window of our lives and see… something. It is carefully curated to look this way: easy. it isn’t any relationship is hard and adding in flaws and five small humans makes it even more challenging.

But that is what makes a relationship worthwhile. The downs are downs but they make the ups so much more delightful.

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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A past that Haunts: America & Racism

This is just MY personal opinion. Based on MY personal experiences.

I grew up pretty normal. An American kid. In a southwestern town. My parents aren’t perfect, we were poor and they had issues they overcame in order to provide for their children. We are also a family that check {caucasian} on every bubble sheet or document. My siblings all have a white name. I did not. As the child of a previous marriage I carry the name of a man I never met. It really was a beautiful name. Also, I look white, my natural hair is an auburny-brown, fair skin with lots of freckles… I never stood out by any standard. However, after 9/11/2001 my world changed drastically.

Because of this I have an interesting take on racial profiling.

I was placed on the FEDERAL NO FLY LIST. I have had difficulty getting my passport when all I want to do is sit on the beach in Mexico with my husband while One through Five splash in tidal pools. All because my maiden name. Because it is persian. middle eastern during a time that our country is at war with the middle east. I was called terrible things by the parents of friends. I was physically harassed by TSA agents, Police officers and many others. All of them said the same thing to me “But you look so white.”

I LOOK WHITE. They wouldn’t have harassed me if my name had been that of my siblings and the man that actually raised me: because it is generic and that makes me not a threat.

I cannot even imagine the terror that people of actual color, people that cannot change how the world looks at them by getting married. I changed my name for a number of reasons but mostly because it is so white. Like the Scottish version of Smith. My husband has seen the difference between how a white kid in Louisiana and a black kid in Louisiana are treated for resisting arrest. Louisiana has a history of killing based on race (please refer to the police killings following Katrina)

There are GOOD police officers. I have met them. I know them and they literally rescued me after a car accident while my husband was away when I was 200 miles from home.

There are bad police. My very own Maternal Great Grandfather was a bad, racist police officer.

Good officers do not deserve to be hung for the crimes of the rotten ones. They need to be held up by our nation as the example. GOOD Cops that picked up the badge to protect and serve. Good officers deserves to work with officers that are there for the same reasons they are: the greater good. To help rescue those in need from those that are preying on them, to be role models for our children and who we as Americans can turn to with out fear, no matter our race/religion/creed, for help.

Good police officers do not deserve to be sniped out by an angry man like what happened in Dallas.

BECAUSE NO BODY DESERVES TO BE MURDERED. IN COLD BLOOD. DUE TO PRECONCEIVED IDEAS.

But the BAD cops, that are crooked and scared and racist and violent, need to have consequences within the realm of the laws that they swore to uphold but bent to their will, tried by the people they promised to protect but betrayed and not get away with murder of unarmed People over and over.

Racism in this country… It is ugly. It is there. It is heartbreaking when that racism causes people to FEAR for their lives. for their children. I am white. I happened to have a name that was middle eastern. I feared for my safety. I feared for the safety of my muslim and middle easter APPEARING friends after 9/11. I have been called horrible names. I have had my life placed under a microscope and was told that I should just accept it because it was for the greater good of the nation to have my Constitutional rights infringed on (and yes you can always tell when your phone is tapped, mail is intercepted and when you are disproportionately pulled for “random” checks). I was able to hide from that as soon as I became married.

People of color cannot and SHOULD NOT EVER have to hide for fear of preconceived ideas about themselves. Not every Black man is a thug. Not ever Muslim is a jihadist. Not every Mexican is illegally in this country.

Black lives matter movement is important because they are American lives that even 70 years after the Civil Rights Movement still have to stand up and say “Hey, we are here and we deserve to be equal.”

I don’t see the BLM as just for black people. They are the voice of every oppressed person in this country. Black, brown, muslim, LGBTQ. Of every marginalized person in this country. We should all stand up because this is America and we are free to have our voices to point out unfair treatment. To voice out when we see infringement on the rights of the people around us.

To the people that think that a group standing up and requesting the same civil liberties and basic human rights as you are asking for special treatment (IE the right to get married…) then you need to maybe go out your front door and find a little empathy.

Because if we don’t we are no better than the people that turned their heads to oppression in the past.

Peek-a-Boo, Fool

There is nothing like playing peek-a-boo with a teething baby while trying to shampoo my hair to really bring my life into perspective. The other 4 are currently screaming at each other through the bathroom door about who needs which Lego (I think that is what they are saying). I have no privacy and no dignity.

11201841_10207735839057150_1908224425333868708_nEvery so often I have a moment of “Huh.”; a moment that makes me stop dead in my tracks and think: How did I get here? A bit of an existential crisis.  Especially since I was sort of thrown into it headlong. Which is what happens when you fall head over heels for a person with children. But how could I not fall head over heels for One and Two? They are absolutely amazing little guys and I am in awe everyday about how very lucky I am to GET to be their Momma.

However, I really miss privacy. Quiet. Sleep.

Because I am a human I sometimes think what our lives would be like if we hadn’t had children. If we had somehow met earlier in life and neither had the relationships we had before this. What if and could have been flood my mind while looking at the screaming 5 year old that happens to look exactly like my sister lays on the floor of the cereal aisle. Should haves haunt me when I am cleaning baby food off of my ceiling.

Life could be… Quiet. Smaller. Probably with a lot more BIG adventure. Probably more opportunities for “romance”. BUT  “romance” is why we have 5 kids. Four is a statement to the truthfulness of “just once”. But what if we had chosen no kids.

Maybe. Or we would be as big of train wrecks as we were at 20 and 21 except a decade older. We weren’t exactly the most pulled together humans when we first met. Basically we found another person that enjoyed us despite the demons we were dealing with.

Then I look into the eyes of these tiny humans. These people that are developing into doers and shakers and jokers right before my eyes. That have their own interests and hobbies and personalities despite genetics and parental guidance. (Three is very organized and persnickety… Husband and I cannot figure out where this trait comes from). I’m in awe. I am suckered into parenthood over and over again by these hooligans.

If I had to choose even in moments of my absolute selfishness (oh sleepy lazy mornings how I miss you) I would choose this path I took. Over and over again. I would leap head long over the cliff, having faith in the arms and the potential of the broken man I fell for. I would open my arms and most importantly my heart and soul to One and Two. Discovering how faceted love can be. I would choose singing out of tune “peek a boo!” with a screaming 9 month old with shampoo running into my eyes. I would chose phrases like “Work it out or the legos will all belong to MEEEEE!”

Every single time. Because this is heaven. And who needs sleep, privacy or dignity while in heaven?