Thursday, October 22, 2009
The third trimester is upon me. I realize I have been in the third trimester for over a month now, but just the past week or so it has really come upon me. I'm tired - that's a given. My back is so sore I visited the chiropractor this week. My crotch feels as if someone has placed a vice inside of it and is slowly (and painfully) spreading it apart, hence my walk becoming more of a waddle. The varicose veins in my legs ache all day now and if someone accidentally bumps them I'm on the floor in pain. My belly is stretched and heavy and has that squeezing feeling several times a day (gotta love braxton hicks). My feet are beginning to swell slightly and my once slender toes are beginning to resemble Lil' Smokies by 9 o'clock at night. My seemingly stable mood has begun to resemble playground equipment, some days I'm fine and the next I'm crying, no make that sobbing, over stupid things like applesauce being thrown away. Yes the third trimester is here, and in a way that I am not used to!
To make matters even worse, I failed my glucose test again! I failed the first time by seven points, took the 3-hour test and passed with flying colors. I took the 28 week test a little late and failed by 3 points. I am awaiting the call from the doctor. I'm not sure if he will make me do a three hour test again, or if they are just going to call me diabetic and put me on the stinking diet. I guess I shouldn't have eaten that Costco-sized bag of peanut M&M's last week by myself. My theory of protein and sugar canceling one another out has been canceled out.
I don't want to be the complaining pregnant lady, I know no one wants to hang out with her, but I'm a little disappointed. Disappointed that this might be it. This might be the last time my body (or rather my mind) can handle carrying a little one inside of me. That means this will be the last time to feel a baby kicking my stomach, from the inside at least. The last time I will see my body grow to accommodate God's beautiful blessing, unless we can count M&M's as a blessing. The last time Brian and I will ponder baby names. The last time I will hear Brian say, "It's a....". The last time... Even if this uterus is done, I am thankful for the chance I have been given to carry life inside of me six times. And if it's not I pray that I could do it again with His strength and grace....and that I will be allowed to eat as many M&M's as I want.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Many have wondered if I've had a change of heart. It's really a two part answer. No and yes. I still don't really like it, but I am realizing more everyday the importance of this new role I've undertaken. I am still trying to muddle my way through the curriculum figuring out what needs to be done and what is busy work. I have tried a new way to organize my week, for the third week in a row, and still feel that it needs revamping. Motivation is still slow going for the kids, I'm trying different rewards for work completed but still they dawdle - and still I yell. Comprehension remains a frustration for Brynna and requires repeating a lesson...sometimes several times. It continues to be a frustration for me as well, as I can't comprehend why she can't comprehend, and I feel as if I am wasting my time. The little ones still act as a distraction, as they demand a great deal of attention regardless of the crafts and teaching supplies I give them. The brief reprieves they do grant us often mean more work for me in the long run because they are off doing things they shouldn't; like drawing on their furniture and mirrors or taking everything they own and covering their bedroom floor with it. Vance still poops at inconvenient times, requiring diaper changes in the middle of lessons, and sometimes just needs mama time with a snuggle in a quiet room. Lunches and dinners have suffered greatly during this transition and I miss them tremendously. At least twice a day, I want to give up, but God is so good to me, a whiner, complainer, and bad homeschooling teacher. It has amazed me all the people he has sent to encourage me when I least deserve it. Friends who walk this same path, friends who I didn't think would understand our decision, and even complete strangers at the grocery store. Everyone has either had an encouraging word or has imparted advice that I have been able to implement and benefit from. It has once again confirmed this decision of ours, the decision I wish we had not made, the one that I still don't care much for, the one that complicates my life ten fold, the decision that makes me yell and my blood boil, the one I know had to be made - the decision I know, deep inside, was right.
I am clinging daily to Him and His word:
Galatians 6:9 NIV "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
2 Thessalonians 1:11 Message "...pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something."
I certainly hope this all amounts to something, like my children's academic success, college accolades, and great jobs. However, if I have to settle for the harvest being children who feel loved despite my screams, who learn sacrifice, who develop a work ethic, and are happy caring adults; well then I pray with His energy I will continue tossing the seed no matter how haphazardly I feel it is.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The first day of school is always such an exciting moment in a kids life and I think parents share in the anticipation, because it stirs memories of our own childhood. I only imagined that my first day as a "teacher" would be all the more filled with wonderment. Alas, reality has once again rained on my parade. Knowing full well, and dreading, what my next statement will bring; an onslaught of "I told yous", disgust from moms who do it well and could never imagine saying negative things about their kids, and sympathy from those who have been in my shoes, I will proceed regardless. As of yesterday...
I hate it. Yes, I am afraid I have made a huge mistake. I abhor homeschooling.
This is not my cup of tea. My poor attempts at organization have yet again been foiled. My patience has waned. Never before have I ever felt like such a failure. The first day left me tired, burnt out, hungry without an easy dinner to prepare, and the very existence of my children grated on my nerves. I longed for bedtime; both theirs and mine. I'm sure it didn't help that yesterday school began at 8:00 and finished around 6 pm. It was a very, very long day. My mind swirled with images of the moms who do this and the ease they portray as they handle their days, their lives and I began not to like them. I thought of the moms who said I would have these days and couldn't imagine that they had lived lived this day, because if they had they would have quit. Truly this day that started off with "greatness" was now in a hand basket somewhere in hell. I pushed through my pity party with clenched teeth, unkempt hair, and crazed eyes anticipating relief but thinking it was only a farce. After dinner, Brian and I sat alone at the dinner table for a minute and I lost it, I began crying, telling him I couldn't do this, that I didn't want to do this, and that I would not be birthing anymore children for him. Bless Brian's heart, he never knows how to handle my emotional episodes, thankfully this outburst he didn't pat my head like the family dog as he did the last time I sobbed. He remained relatively silent. I pulled it together still discouraged, but functioning. That's when I noticed he took the kids outside and allowed me to catch my breath. He even had a heart-to-heart with Jace that night and addressed some of the issues of the day. The load felt a little lighter.
Today was better than yesterday, with the first book being cracked just before 9 and the the towel being thrown in with one subject untouched at 3:00 (this included making cupcakes for Brynna's Girl Scout Troop tonight). I figure we can try and catch up tomorrow and if not we will get to it eventually. I would hardly call this a happy ending, I don't think I will see that for at least another 6 years, but at least today I didn't push my own limitaitons, I'm still welcoming their hugs and kisses, and I know if I need it my man has my back. Do I still hate homeschooling? Well hate is a strong word, so maybe I will re-think it. How about, "I don't care for it." Does it mean I'm quitting? I'm too prideful for that and if anything these couple of days have allowed me to see that Brynna really needs the extra attention that I don't think she would be afforded in public school. Most importantly, if I believe that this really was God's calling, then there is no other choice. It's time to step up.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
You would think with five children I would be a pro of sorts about discipline, but the fact of the matter is, I'm not. I hate discipline, whether it be in my own life or in the lives of my children, but unfortunately it is unavoidable. It's one of those things that God directs us to step out of our comfort zone to do. I would say it is one of my biggest struggles as a mom, followed by what to fix for lunch. It's one of those areas where I clearly see my faults and I wish I were better with follow-through and that I didn't yell all the stinkin' time.
Like everything else with motherhood, it seems like the disagreeable behavior seems to be cyclic. Right now I'm dealing with Keely not listening the first time around, the same problem I had with Ryleigh a year ago. Brynna is having the issue of trying to be the mama and constantly correcting and discipline the little ones, something I had to have a heart-to-heart with Jace about 6 months ago. And just like every other stage in dealing with children, when you are in the throes of it, it seems endless and overwhelming.
The one think I think I do well regarding discipline, is back Brian up when he corrects the children. Even when I don't agree with him or his method, my poker face is on and I stand behind his decision. This is not to say that we don't have discussions later about it, or that I don't do "eye messages" when the kids backs are turned, but I believe in providing a united front. Brian and my other strong suit is that we choose our battles. We try not to get hung up on little things. We try to focus on the core values of our family. Do they obey us? Are they being respectful of others? Are their words and actions loving? I love how the Duggars use the acronym of JOY (Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third), when I remember to use it, I do.
Punishment for the above mentioned infractions result in a time-out, a paddle (depending on severity and times of repeating myself) or loss of something important, privileges for the older kids and treats for the younger ones. These consequences are normally prefaced by a warning , "Don't do _______", followed by a, "I'm going to beat the living tar out of you if you don't listen", a "I'm going to paddle you into next week, now stop it," or "Do I need to lay the smack down?" (Annette, these are the empty threats I was telling you about.) After I blow off steam along with my self-confessed horrible sayings, I finish up with the correct punishment.
As for tantrums, I've never (knock on wood) had a child have a major meltdown in public, at least not one that I can remember (you'll see why below). We do have them at home on occasion. I tell them to stop or they can go in their room. If they continue I ignore them, if it still continues I pick them up and put them in either their crib (Vance) or in their bedroom (Keely) until they stop it with the crying, flailing, and all-around-fit-throwing. With Keely I actually have to stand outside her bedroom door holding the door shut until she gives up with her escape plan. It's awful, but after she cries it out and calms down we can talk and I can get an apology. Normally when we are at this point, it's because she is too dang tired to reason.
Speaking of tired, I try not to overload my kids. Major grocery shopping is done by myself on nights or weekends. If I have errands to run, I limit how many I can do at one outing and plan to do the most boring and difficult one first so that there is something to look forward to. This might make me run into town more than once a week but doing two days of three or four errands is far less stressful for everyone and is well worth the gas and anxiety I feel as I break out into a sweaty mess when my kids begin to run a muck.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The questions continue. My bloggy friends are so kind to offer up some more, this time Annette from Live, Learn, Love has inquired about my discipline methods, as well as, a family picture.
I'm a wimp, I'm going to start with the easy part, the introduction to my brood and a couple of pictures. Truth be told, I have to figure out how to word my discipline style so that I don't alarm people. You'll see what I mean in my next post when I confess how I spew many empty threats daily and often lack follow-through, especially if I'm on the computer.
In the mean time, Annette (and others who are not familiar with us), this our family:
We have five kids gracing our holy mess of a home and one in utero.
Jace is our oldest son, he is 11 and entering the 6th grade.
Brynna our oldest daughter and will be turning 9 in less than a month. She is going into the 4th grade.
Ryleigh, another girl, is 4. Although she is ready for kindergarten she is not eligible this year since she turns 5 the day after Christmas and in California the cut-off date is December 15th.
Keely, yet another girl, just turned 3 in June. She does pre-school activities with Ryleigh and for the most part can hang pretty well.
Vance, a boy, is 16 months and as much as I would like to say that I am currently working with his vocabulary or cognitive skills, I'm not. He grunts or squeals and plays with toys that aren't appropriate for his age, such as match box cars and Nerf guns.
In December we will be having our 6th child, and like the other five we will be surprised by the sex.
Note: I have no recent family photos, these are all from our Christmas card shoot we did in November 2008, but you get the point. Hair is longer, kids are taller, and all these clothes are tighter, stained and no longer look new.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
"Have you started homeschooling Jace yet? How do you feel about it? Why are you doing it?
Can you write funny stories about life from when you were a newlywed (if you can remember back that far)? Like when you lived out in the deserted part of the desert. :-)"
I will answer the first part, since my brain has seemed to suppress the early years, and in the mean time I will see if hypno-therapy can help me out.
I have not started to home school Jace yet. The program we are going through begins on September 8th, but I think we can sneak a few subjects beginning next week since they will release the online portion at that time. We are using a curriculum through K12. The best part is that in California, it is offered as a "virtual public school", so aside from our tax dollars we don't pay anything for the books, labs, art supplies, computers and printers. I am very impressed with the subjects, supplies, etc. and am looking forward to the accountability the program offers.
The plan was originally to have our kids go to public elementary school and then to home school our kids when they came of middle school age, unless we could miraculously afford private school again. The plan changed, the miracle didn't happen and the thought of home school seemed impossible the more children we had. I thought that I would become certifiably crazy if I home schooled and had little ones to tend to as well. So in true God fashion, He made happen what I had given up on. He had Jace request to be home schooled. At first I dismissed it, but the boy didn't let up! So I took the leap and signed up after a couple of months. We began to receive the boxes of goodies and I felt bad that Jace was getting such an awesome opportunity with such outstanding curriculum that I began to feel bad for sending Brynna back to public school. I asked her if she wanted to be home schooled and she refused stating she would miss her friends. Fine. I then got her state testing results and was not pleased. I know Brynna is a smart girl, but her take on life is more creative, non-traditional and the disconnect was apparent when looking at the scores. I tried a different approach to swoon her, I offered to get her horseback riding lessons. Still no. Okay, I thought, to each his (or her) own. I wasn't going to force the matter. Out of nowhere, the week before public school was to start, she changed her mind. We were at the doctors and she said she wanted to learn at home because sometimes she didn't hear things at school and the teachers would not repeat it. I don't think I will ever know what triggered the thought. The impending vaccinations for her siblings? Playing "I spy"? Singing songs? After a hundred "Are you sure's", she remained firm in her choice, and I signed her up too.
So, now I am home schooling both of the older kids (4th and 6th grade), piecemealing a pre-school curriculum together for Ryleigh and Keely (they beg everyday for home school), and will have an infant and a toddler at home. The first two weeks after accepting my new found role, I was stoked. Couldn't wait for it to start. Feeling confident. Cleaning and organizing the playroom like never before. Then something happened. What? I'm not sure. But I doubt myself now. Doubt our decision. The "what if's" flood my mind. What if I can't find the time necessary? What if the kid's test scores drop? What if the kids think I'm an idiot? What if others think I'm crazy? What if I am crazy? What if I loose even more of who I am to this mothering thing?
Ridiculous, huh? Maybe, maybe not. My feelings are real, hopefully not correct, but definitely worries of mine. I'm clinging to the fact that this is not uncharted territory, many a woman has done this before me, many are doing it now. My pressures are not so different then others; there are teaching moms with more children and less resources than I and they are raising well-educated, well-adjusted individuals. But still I fret. I'm praying. Praying I can do this. Praying I won't screw my children up too much. Praying that Jace and Brynna don't discover the truth too soon; that their mother doesn't know everything. Praying that I don't get lost in the jobs I do, but that they enhance who I am. Praying that the teacher's manual will fill me in on what the heck a predicate is again before I have to teach it.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I found that answering questions was a lot easier to do then to sit in front of an empty blog page searching for inspiration. It was reminiscent of journaling in elementary school. The topic is already picked, I just have to respond. So, with that being said, if you have questions let me know and I will answer them. (A note to family: this is not the time to ask when we are coming East.)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
In every pregnancy there is a time when non-maternity pants are too tight and all the maternity pants are too large and fall down - constantly. I am there and not happy about it. I guess I really can't even blame the pregnancy/maternity thing since I have been guilty of "showing the end of the butt crack," as Brynna says, on more than one occasion when I'm not knocked up, but the problem has escalated and is hampering my life. I now walk over things I would normally bend over to pick up and put away. I hate to do the laundry since my front loading washer and dryer require me to squat to swap loads. Playing with the kids on the floor is a guarantee of crackage and while changing a diaper the other day, Keely dropped a penny down my pants; most likely because of her father constantly calling it a coin slot. These are the main reasons why I have decided that baring my back side has become a necessity. Why I am going to integrate it into everyday life so that my kids believe it is the norm. I have decided who cares, it's a butt, we all have one and instead of standing erect all day and bending at the waist with one leg jutting back to help keep my pants in position I am going to show my assets. No longer will I squeeze into a too tight pair of non-butt-showing, non-maternity pants, that mark my abdomen with with bright red indentations. And I won't settle for unflattering sweat pants everyday that make my rear look as if it is two feet tall just so I can make it through the daily chores. No I'm going to wear the maternity pants and I am going to plumber-ize my life without regret. My derriere is going to see the sun. If those women who sport and show their thongs like an accessory are viewed by some as sexy, how much sexier will it be when there isn't a thong to distract the view, because my cotton panties have slid down as well? I realize that this is a bit of a stretch but I am done with yanking my pants up or pulling my shirt down. Sick of the jean designers making pants that won't stay where they belong. Upset at the movement to dorkify "mom jeans," the pants that guarantee no display of buttocks.
So for at least the next five months my posterior may be slightly viewable. If you take offense look away, if it ends our friendship I'm sorry, but I will no longer allow material to ruin my day, I will not become a slave to the yank and pull. Realize I mean no disrespect, but I am frustrated, tired of worrying, at the end of my rope, ready to live life...ready to crack up.
Note: This picture is NOT me, but I wanted to allow you to see what you will be experiencing if you decide to still be my friend.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The other day I said something about the evolution of society and Brynna stopped me and said, "Mom, we don't believe in evolution." I tried to explain to her that although we don't believe in the biological evolution of man, we were not once an ape, evolving is something we should eagerly desire for ourselves. I'm not sure what changed the subject; whether it was a fussy child, a song on the radio she would rather listen to, or her wandering off, but there it ended. I didn't think much more of the talk until today. You see today is my birthday, and I'm sure like many of you, it is a time of reflection of who we were and who we are now. Okay, seriously my reflection normally consists of me thinking, "How did I get so old?” and “When did my legs begin to look like those of an elderly women?", but today it was deeper and the conversation with Brynna resonated with me. I began to see my own evolution; physically, domestically, emotionally and spiritually. The definition of evolution is as follows: a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.
The physical evolution is hard for me to grasp, at least in the aspect of evolving into a better form. I miss the once thin tan body adorned with small perky breasts that has now been replaced with a pregnant belly, three months bigger than it should be; varicose veins on my legs so large I can't even shave over them without fearing nicking one and dying from massive blood loss; and miniature breasts that belong on a tribeswoman on the pages of National Geographic. The truth of the matter is, I struggle with the belief that I have evolved into something better than I once was, especially after glancing through a magazine or watching the TV, but I try to focus on the positive. I give it my best shot to look at my deflated breasts with admiration for the five, soon-to-be six, babies they have nourished. I size up the overinflated basket ball belly that houses a baby that is proportionate to a tomato and am grateful for the spacious abode it provides. I try to adjust my gaze from what I wish I looked like to why I look like I do; it makes acceptance much easier and the “better form” because a bit more clear.
When first married, Brian and I had Hamburger Helper four times a week for dinner. Even though I had a dishwasher, the dishes would pile up in my sink until we ran out and I was forced to wash some. My laundry room floor was covered with dirty clothes and I completed a load of laundry possibly once a week. Once washed and dried, the laundry would sit on the guest bed unfolded until we wore it – most likely wrinkled. The only thing ever ironed was Brian’s military uniforms and that was because they had to be. I think the only time I even thought of cleaning our house was if people were coming over. Now, I meal plan two weeks in advance, but I always keep frozen pizza and cereal on hand for when I can’t pull it together. I actually utilize my dishwasher daily. Laundry is kept in hampers and is done several times a week and now the clothes sit folded in baskets in the laundry room until I am motivated to put them away. I now think about keeping a rigorous cleaning schedule, but I still only really clean before people come over. There is still much to learn about keeping house and motivation to do so, but when I look at where I was and how far I have come I am grateful for evolution, but even more so is Brian. (He has banned Hamburger Helper from even crossing our threshold of our home.)
My emotional and spiritual evolution goes hand-in-hand. Immature, would best describe my then. Not that I am claiming maturity now, but I do strive for it, even though I often fail. Looking back to my earlier days, I was faddish in my causes. A bandwagon jumper. Passionate without knowledge. I admit that at times I still fall into that rut. I equate just with right, and then find out that sometimes they are not one in the same. I now try to look for a little more information before diving headlong into a movement. During my evolution thus far, I have heard my father’s wise words, the same words I believed to be the babble in my youth, resonate with truth in my adult life. I have learned that just knowing who Christ is, being raised in a Christian home, and confessing him as Savior does not commensurate real relationship with Him. Rather I have found real relationship; in speaking to Him, in hearing Him speak to me, His discipline, the times he has allowed me to suffer consequences of my own actions, the times He has rescued me when I least deserved it. More importantly I have discovered His love for me. I have learned that any relationship whether holy or less than, requires effort, honesty, and communication. I have learned that a gradual process is not what I desire. I would like to expedite the changes and reach my best form as soon as possible, but I am grateful for changes no matter how small or how long they have taken because they mean I am progressing. Progressing towards being a better wife, a better mom, a better friend, a better daughter, a better disciple, a better Erica.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Why is it so hard to get back on the proverbial horse? I have been trying to write for days and at this present time for many minutes. No luck, bucked from my pony again. My last post was ages ago when I wrote of my uncle, who has since past away. Even though many things have happened since that entry, I can't seem to elaborate, collect my thoughts, or even really recap life over the last several months, but please know I am trying. Trying to lasso these scattered notions into some semblance of a blog post, making my best attempt to pull myself up on the saddle from the one foot that's caught in the stirrup.
Friday, April 24, 2009
It’s been years since I’ve seen him, but I can vividly picture him, over 20 years my senior, wishing everyone he met a "Happy Birthday" and how he would say "Yes, dear", with his eyes tightly closed and his head cocked so far to the left, his ear almost rested on his shoulder. He was always praising God with a "P.T.L. Praise the Lord" or a "Happy Birthday Jesus." I can imagine him gently rocking as he built with Legos stacking bricks on top of one another, just so my Pappy could take them apart again. He had a fondness for toilet paper, pens, and toothbrushes. Before leaving our house my mom and grandmother would have to check his pockets so that in the morning we didn’t have to make it through the day with tarter encrusted teeth and so my grandmother didn’t launder the five Bics he had stashed. The toilet paper, a parting gift of sorts. There was the time he shut my sister's cat in my dresser drawer and we didn’t find it until several days later (yes my room was that messy, scary huh?). He was more than funny stories, he participated in the Special Olympics, he had a job, he went to church, he loved bowling, he had friends. He had a life, not like yours and mine, not typical, but he had one.
You may wonder why I’m using past tense. Well, my Uncle is now lying in a hospital bed battling cancer, from what I am told, he is a shell of who he once was. He has fought this battle before and won, but it has returned and now he is weakened and most likely won’t pull through. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to fly back for the funeral. I won’t visit him in the hospital much to my dismay. I could find solace in the fact that he wouldn’t know me anyway, like I said it’s been years, but then again his memory would often surprise me. I could comfort myself with thinking that at least I can remember him the way he was, but that would be selfish and ridiculous. The fact that Roger is lying in a hospital has made me see myself as being somewhat retarded, as well as a retarder. Retarded, in the fact that I have the tendency to disengage myself from home and my family in a way that only allows me to remember people as they once were and not how they are now. Good or bad, I’ve done it with everyone, not just Roger. I pick and choose what I want to remember, what I choose to involve myself with back home. The things that may hurt I tend to stand-off from. I don’t see life for what it really is sometimes, I hinder the truth with blindness so that I don’t have to deal with what I don’t want to handle. You see if I went to that hospital bed and I saw Roger lying there with an ashen face, the rosy-cheeked-man just a glimmer, I may not like what I’m seeing but the truth of the matter is I should be rejoicing. I shouldn’t retard the process, delay the progress, of what he is going through because in weeks possibly days my uncle will no longer be considered what some call a retard, but he will finally reach his completion. He will finally get to be whole in the presence of the one he loves so much. Nothing will be hindered; no more seizures just dancing before his God, no more body laden with cancer he will be covered in righteousness, no more limited understanding for God will reveal his ways to him, and no more building with Legos for God has built him a mansion. And all I can say is P.T.L.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Normally my jokes of faux food are a hit, when I was employed my "mark" fell for the message from Mr. Lyon and called the local zoo-like Feline Compound, and the kitchen sprayer with the rubber band gets the unsuspecting hand washer every time. This year though I wasn't in the zone. My meatloaf made from Coco Rice Crispies didn't firm up in time. The chip bag I replaced with carrots and put in the kids lunches were upgraded for cupcakes before even being opened. Even my jello drinks did not set all the way before having to serve them to the kids. This year was a flop. All of them fell short, even the one my brother suggested, the one I played on Brian. I woke him up as usual for work and told him we were expecting again. Even though he believed me, he was unphased, slightly excited and just asked me questions. I had to end it quickly since once again I didn't get the elicited response. My prank arsenal was depleted, I was done for the day. Then it happened fifteen days later, the best April Fool's joke ever. Sadly enough I can not lay claim to the ultimate joke, I was not the pranker but was instead the recipient. The only April Fool in our house this year was me as I stood in the bathroom barely peeing on a pregnancy stick before two lines magically appeared. Yes, we are pregnant!!
God always knows when to humble us doesn't he? Here I was thinking I was so funny, almost smug at times, tricking friends and family for years and he reminded me who has the best sense of humor of all. Thankfully his humor is more thought out then salad toppings in drawers and electronics from Spencer's rigged to chairs, and most importantly it is always accompanied with blessings and not humiliation.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
For the first 15 minutes, following the 15 minutes that it took everyone to potty, I floundered in dread. Not that anything dreadful was happening, but my mind was trying to formulate a plan of how we were going to make it through this jam packed place, alive, and actually having fun. Why couldn't we be like Jon and Kate or my beloved Duggars? Often when they visit museums and attractions, they close the whole place down or the camera crew creates such a cushion that it's like being alone. I began to think that big families can't do attractions like normal families, unless they have some TLC status. I couldn't even get all five at once up to the window to see the dang puffins. My double-wide stroller was just another obstacle that added to my anxiety, as I would get gridlocked while the family moved forward without me.
To the credit of my brood they were awesome. Unlike some others, they waited their turn and said nothing as other children pushed them aside to view the jelly fish and the sharks. I secretly wanted to tell them to shove the Gap child model down or better yet push her in the touch pool and I would look the other way, but thankfully they are much better than me, in more ways than one. The crowds phased them very little - they stuck together with no wandering off and they looked out for one another, enjoying each others company.
Afterward we walked around the harbor at Long Beach and the kids loved rolling down hills and playing in the sand, I was grateful for a few minutes of quiet, while I sat and enjoyed the cityscape. Filled with great restaurants and beautiful hotels I became a bit jealous of the mother of the little girl I wanted to feed to the sharks. I envisioned her having the single-child jet-setting life that I imagine many LA moms to have, and having all these places at their whim. How nice it must be to eat at whatever restaurant you want, to stay at hotels and not have to sneak kids up so that you don't exceed the 4 person per room limit. Yes, ashamedly, I admit the green-eyed monster paid me a visit on that bench I was warming. Even as I watched the kids play and I joked and laughed with them it still stayed with me, the want of more, the guilt of not doing enough with and for my kids, wishing we could do elaborate vacations. Are you shocked? I was. I tried to shake it but it clung to me like the sand to Vance's runny nose. Even as we left the picturesque city and headed to meet Brian who was in Orange County on business, I quietly let it bother me. I selfishly thought of all the things I'm missing out on; weekends away with Brian (after all who can find a sitter for five kids), delicious foods at my favorite restaurants (I would eat out everyday if I could), the clothes (I still have things in my closet from 12 years ago that I still wear - no offense would be taken if anyone wants to send me to What Not to Wear). My mind began thinking of all the things my kids are missing out on because of our decision to have a larger-than-most family; the family trips to amusement parks and far away destinations, the bikes and boards Jace wants, and the toys the others want. Not to mention all that Brian sacrifices as he goes to work every day for us. There I was driving the 405 with a gray cloud over my head, thinking poor me, poor us, we're missing out on so much.
We pulled into the place where we were to meet Brian and as we sat there listening to Vance who had been screaming for the last 30 minutes from over stimulation, I wallowed in my "woe is me" thoughts some more. Then I saw him. There was Brian, breaking the law by jay-walking across the divided highway, and I felt such a relief, such love for my life. The clouds parted and I knew I was missing nothing at all. Maybe it was the four days apart, maybe it was the PMS finally settling, or maybe it was God reminding me of what I have. At that moment in time my pity party evaporated. Seeing him, my goateed honey, brought life into perspective. Brought our family into perspective. My envy for the mom with the adorable rude child dissipated. Why would I want to travel the globe, wear Jimmy Choo, and never regulate my restaurant food consumption, when we have the desert to explore, I can sport a "vintage" t-shirt from High School, and I have an easy rockin' pot pie recipe that the whole family loves? My five kind children may have taken away my chances for living the "good" life in the opinion of many, but what they have left me with instead is a blessed life, for which I am thankful.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I would like people to believe that I nurse and have nursed my children because it is so great for their development and that it makes them healthier and smarter. Actually those were my reasons for Jace, however once I realized the benefits it afforded me, my motivation was selfish. I am a lazy mom. I hate to wake in the night. I hate to wash dishes. I always forget to restock the diaper bag. I don't like to exercise. So when I realized that I could just pull the baby in bed with me to feed and sleep at the same time, I became a fan. The fact that there were no bottles to wash, made me never regret the decision. I was grateful that even though I may have forgotten the pacifier and baby toys, I could always nurse the kid quiet. The way the pounds would drop off me like leaves in the fall made me practically an advocate for breastfeeding. Now there is Vance, making me question my nursing choices, and apply salve to my bruised nips.
So what's a mom to do? Even before the economy took a dump I refused to pay $20 for a can of formula. I could pump, but then there is the time involved with standing in the bedroom with my equipment for 20 minutes three times a day. A whole hour a day, where the little ones run a muck while I shout at them from behind closed doors for what they are doing or about to do - sounds like a bad idea to me. So then I heard that goat's milk is the closest milk to human milk and could be given to infants. Evidently the milk is healthier than cow's milk and would be beneficial to the whole family. My interest was piqued. I began the research, thinking I could buy a nanny and save us a whole lot of money, since we go through 4 gallons of milk a week. Although I had never had a milking goat the memories of raising sheep made me a bit giddy inside. I approached Brian with my request, and in typical Brian style he never gave me a diffinitive answer. I took this as a yes and began searching Craig's list and furthering my goat-milking research. I found the momma goat and her baby for $100, that equals around 20 gallons of milk, five weeks of milk buying.
Then like all my great plans they started to crumble around me. A friend of mine told me goat milk doesn't taste anything like a cow's milk and tastes rather gross. I heard I'd have to milk twice a day and the amount varies as does the time from a quarter to a half gallon of milk in anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. That barely covers our breakfast. My hopes were being dashed. I was beginning to think if I won't milk myself, why would I want to purchase a goat and milk it. I'd have another mouth to feed, have more poop to clean up after, and have to buy food for every other week. I've decided that I am going to tough it out, literally, or I am going to break down and pump. After all my mom always said, "Why buy the goat, when you can get the milk for free?" Actually she said "cow" and used it in a different context, but the point remains true.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Jace is feeling better, but is getting frustrated with his limitations and his itchy brace. Last night he cried because he won't be able to play and ride for at least a month. I think it was a combo of not enough sleep as well as being fed up with his lack of mobility, the rash developing in his armpits didn't help either. I think the cons are beginning out weigh the pros. Sure mom has been making him cookies, running to his every call, writing his homework, he has control of the television, and his sisters are leaving him alone, but he can't get out of bed without help, can't dress himself, and today he asked me what he would do when he had to poop. It doesn't take long for the fantasy to fade and reality to set in.
This photo is Jace's actual x-ray.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Yesterday the call came, a call from Jace crying, thinking he had dislocated his shoulder. I hung up and tried to spur the other children into action so that we could pick up Jace from his friend's house. Brynna stepped up; brought the dog in, grabbed her homework, and ushered Ryleigh to the truck since she was the only other one completely ready. Vance and Keely had no pants or shoes. I quickly located some and headed out the door. Jace's friend, Sam, lives three country blocks away, and when I arrived Jace was waiting out front covered in dust with tears streaming down his face, his helmet still on his head, holding his right shoulder. I knew this was the real deal and we were off to the doctor's. I called Brian to tell him what was going on and he asked if I looked at his shoulder, to which I replied, "no." He thought if his shoulder was out of socket I should put my knee in his armpit and pull his arm and put it back into place. I kept driving. I can't believe I've been married to this man for 13 years and he thinks I would or could ever do such a thing.
We arrived at the doctor's office and in accordance with Murphy's law as I unbuckle Vance I smell poop. Jace had stopped crying and just sat there with eyes closed so I quickly changed the little man before I got everyone out. We first headed to the Urgent Care. Brynna was relishing her role of being in charge of the younger girls and ensuring they didn't run out in the parking lot. As we crossed the street in front of two waiting cars Brynna led the way with her arm outstretched "halting" traffic. We got inside and as I waited in line I was told by security that because he was 11 we needed to head to Pediatrics. At this point Jace couldn't walk anymore, as it hurt too bad. I grabbed a wheelchair and with a baby on my hip and three in tow, I pushed Jace across the medical campus, trying not to be bitter that the two guards sat and watched me struggle and never offered to help. When we got to Peds we signed in and the waiting began. The kids were awesome. Then after 40 minutes Vance began to fuss, I had no pacifier, no snacks, no sippy cup. Can you believe I have had five children and don't have a well-stocked diaper bag? I can't. So I stood and rocked and bounced and walked and swayed. Jace seemed to settle again and his pain level decreased. He moved from the wheelchair to a normal chair so he could dangle his arm. Then, the domino effect began with Keely having to use the bathroom, followed by Ryleigh. I left Brynna to watch over Jace and I took the three small ones to the restroom. After Keely used the bathroom and touched every foul surface in there we headed back to the big kids. (Yes, she washed her hands.) Five minutes later she had to poop - of course. The bad thing about potty training is that you can't tell them that they don't have to go, because the next thing you know you're sloshing poop filled underwear in a toilet or throwing them in a trashcan, which by the way I didn't have extra with me. We headed back to the bathroom, where she just fondled her porcelain friend without pooping, peeing, dripping or even farting. Frustrated we rejoined the older two; Jace and Brynna had done fine. They finally called us! Back in the room they took vitals, gave him a pain killer, removed his shirt (not a fun time) and put a hospital gown on him. Keely washed her hands several times in the doctor's sink and made huge puddles on the floor for me to clean up. They sent us to X-ray. We had to wait but not very long. It was however, long enough for Keely to pull her pants and panties down and do a spinning "moon" dance. Trying not to laugh and wrestling her with Vance still in my left arm I was able to get them up. Poor Jace began laughing at the site and ended up in tears from the pain. They called his name, but I was unable to go back with him since I had all the kids. Thankfully it was very quick and we were headed back to Peds. We waited 10 minutes in the lobby, where Keely spit on the fish tank and 10 different chairs before I caught her. Visible pools of saliva were in the center of each one. How could she have that much spit? They called us and we waited another 20 minutes for the doctor to come into the room. I hit the lollipop bowl twice to keep the kids quiet and Keely away from the sink, it worked.
Up until this point, Jace had not been able to remember how he had gotten hurt, he only knew he was riding a bicycle on Sam's BMX track. With the painkillers starting to kick in, he began to recall the details. He was on the bike trying to jump a double but didn't have enough speed. He made the first jump, not the second and flipped over the bike with it landing on top of him. He said when he got up he lifted his arm and heard something crack. I felt woozy just hearing the story.
The doctor came in and told us that he had broken his clavicle, and he would need a brace. Off to Orthopedics. Again, Jace was tired and sore so we found a wheelchair and Brynna pushed him. The tech who put the brace on was great and joked with all the kids and printed out the x-ray for Jace.
After a total of three hours at Kaiser, we were done. Jace was still in pain but was on the phone with friends reaping the status and bragging rights that go along with a broken bone. He filled them in on how he didn't have to go to school for the rest of the week, that he has a picture of the broken bone, that he can't write for a while, and that he doesn't have to take a shower for a few days. Ahhh, the mind of a child - why was jealous of this list when I was younger? To add one more perk I took the kids to get a Frosty from Wendy's. As everyone said "thanks", Jace said to his sisters, "You're welcome I broke a bone so you could get ice cream." What a good brother to share the benefits of a broken bone with those with intact skeletons.
Monday, March 2, 2009
We have been battling a cold virus, that began with Jace followed by me. My inability to control my kisses while around Vance led to my poor little man getting the crude. Ryleigh has no doubt learned her self restraint from her mother and contracted it from constantly kissing Vance's face, regardless of my shouting. Since Ryleigh and Keely share a room, it was inevitable that she caught it too. Fortunately, Brynna is borderline OCD with hand washing and only touches anyone younger than her if she is commanded to do so. The cough and snotty nose has hung around the little ones like a sloth in a tree, but thankfully the fever has passed and their energy is back. Okay, honestly I'm not so thankful that the energy is back but I am glad they feel better.
Vance has a total of four teeth now with a fifth one emerging. I always love it when the top two teeth begin to pop through and my little babies look like a mini David Lettermans. Since getting the cold Vance no longer sleeps through the night, so I have begun to accessorize with the ever chic black "bags" again. Although he is mobile and wiping my floor with his version of crawling, he has only pulled himself up on things a few times. The doctor said she would be concerned if he didn't start by 10 months, however I have not called because I know he can do it he just doesn't have to since everything is handed to him or he is lifted to get his desires.
Keely has begun to speak a lot more. Not that I understand most of it, but at least she is trying. There are a lot of things I don't understand about Keely, her speech being just one of them. Her desire to shove items down her pants and into her pajamas are another facet. The other night she put her jammies on by herself and when I saw her right leg was twice as large as the left my investigation found two gloves, a pair of dirty socks, and a lego. I felt like a magician pulling things from a magic hat wondering when it would stop. This isn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last. Before the weather turned cold I found a live beetle that she had put in her pajamas hanging out in the top of her diaper. She's an odd one, but we love her.
Ryleigh is doing well, nothing really to report except for the fact that she is growing up too quickly. She is copping a diva attitude, which I attribute to an excess of Hannah Montana. She constantly needs to be reminded of her attitude. I keep her in check with, "Four-year-old-Hannah-Montana-wannabe say what?'' I don't really say that, but if you have ever watched the show then you would have understood that and possibly laughed.
Brynna has begun her own blog, entitled Bryn's Blog, she has even learned to correct her own misspelled words with the spellchecker. I cracked up the other day as she wrote about the book she is reading for school which included the line, "she goes on a trip to a castle with her friend the douches." She meant to type duchess, misspelled the word and picked the first one the computer offered. I helped her correct it before it posted. If you have a chance you should check out her writing and leave her comments, she loves that.
Jace has asked me to home school him next year. Brian and I have been discussing it and weighting the pros and cons but I think we might give it a try. California offers a public homeschooling program where all of the curriculum is free and after speaking with several families who use the program it seems like the way to go. I am intimidated to say the least. Part of my fear is that I am beginning to fall into the large family stereotype; long hair, lots of kids, shopping at thrift stores, meal planning, church-going, desires a nanny goat and chickens. I even own a jean skirt but if I ever put it on with a pair of Reeboks and jump into a 15-pack van, someone please intervene.
Hopefully my next post will return with some semblance of a storyline, but until then this is how our lives look when being squeezed out from under a writer's block.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I second guess all that I say and do at public gatherings. Ten minutes after arriving home I begin "the replay". "The replay" is like a movie in my mind, where I see all my interactions and all my words and I feel absolutely dumb for all that has transpired.
On this occasion, the replay revealed the stupidity of my advice given to her on one of the decorative cards, that I'm sure will become a part of some baby scrapbook. In my defense the pens were not working correctly and I think it threw off my game a bit. I tried five different pens, all of which refused to write my words - that should have been my sign. No, I dug a little more, tried a pencil without any luck. At last my persistence paid off, or so I thought, and I found a Bic to relay my message containing the sage wisdom of my mothering. The writing looked like that of an eight year old, because at that point I had traced my friend's name several times. Not really the problem, but it is vivid in my mind's eye so I thought I'd make mention. I can't remember all of the note but here's the gist:
"My advice for this special time is: to laugh. When the baby is crying, your step-son has broken your favorite something or other, and someone's dog has pooped on your floor realize the situation for the ridiculousness that it is - and laugh." It didn't start off too bad, but right now as I type those words I cringe as a wave of embarrassment hits. She has no dogs! The only relief I have right now is that "ridiculousness" did not appear with a red line underneath it, I woke last night doubting its legitimacy, thinking it might not really have been a word. But let's get back to the dog pooping thing - what the heck? Everyone else is sweet, "get sleep when you can", "let her get dirty", "let me babysit for you" and here I am telling her to laugh when someone's, not her own, but someone's dog poops in her house. Why didn't I say burn dinner or your doorbell rings with unexpected company? No, I picked stray dog feces! I think I revealed a little TMI into my own life. And do I laugh when my dog craps on my floor? Heck no! I spank the dog, threaten to kill the dog, and then I tell the kids I'm getting rid of the little rat-dog and make them all cry; I follow it all up with locking the dog outside or in her bed for the rest of the day. One big jocular moment in time - yeah right.
Maybe my advice should have been, "When you become a mom, lack of sleep wreaks havoc on the mind, and you will write and say stupid things so think really hard before you open your mouth or write your thoughts. Give yourself time to think things through, lest you allow people to peek into the not-so-pretty-window of you life."
That's what I've done the 24 hours since her shower, I've thought about all I could have said and what I should have written. If I had it to do over, it would have said this:
My advice to you during this special time is: to realize what an honor has been bestowed upon you, treasure it.
Sleep when you can, if you can.
Know that it all passes too quickly, except for the stage where they wake up during the night, several times a night - that seems to last a lifetime.
Ask for help when you need it and put pride behind you.
Surround yourself with friends made up of moms that you respect. Take their advice - but not always, at times you have to make your own path.
Realize that all mothers feel like they have miserably failed at their job at one time or another. (The mothers who don't - most likely have royally screwed their kids, they will figure it out in 15 years and it won't be pretty - don't hang out with them.) Take heart, children extend grace to us more often then we deserve and are generous with their love.
Love your little one enough to discipline - no one likes to hang out with other couples whose kids are brats.
Remember the fun that brought you this precious gift - set time aside for you and your man.
There will be days in the beginning when personal hygiene will become a luxury, buy some nice perfume and a hat - it will cover a multitude of sins.
Etch into your mind those adorable moments when you smile at your little one so much that your face actually begins to hurt.
Laugh out loud everyday.
Dream big for her, but don't forget your own.
Pray for discernment, for guidance, for protection, giving thanks always to the Lord.
Your world is about to be rocked - but don't fear it will be the best thing you have ever experienced. Congratulations!
With Love, Erica"
My P.S. would most likely remain the same, "If all else fails, keep a bottle of vodka in the cupboard above the fridge...," you'll need it if you ever get your little one a pet.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Last night at 3:00 a.m. Ryleigh came in our room to tell me she had a bad dream. I told her to go to her room and I would be in to see her in a few minutes. I laid there and drifted back to sleep, it was only when I heard her start to cry that I jumped from the bed in fear of her waking the others. When I went in there she told me that Brynna made her watch the movie Indian In the Cupboard and now she was afraid because the toys came to life. Like any mom, I offered to pray, tuck her in and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Keely woke during this time and requested milk to which I obliged, not cheerfully, but obliged none-the-less. Fifteen minutes after returning to my bed, Ryleigh began to cry out again. At this point in time, my mind begins to swirl with expletives and I again run down the hallway to try and avoid the whole house waking. Granted, my attitude is not as sweet as the first time, but still I try to comfort her by telling her it's just a movie and to think of all the fun we will have tomorrow. It doesn't work, she's still whining. My patience wanes, I then resort to, "The only thing you need to be afraid of is me. Now go to sleep." I'm not sure why it didn't work or why I am not Mother of the Year but it was obvious, I needed a different approach. I thought if I brought her to my room she would quickly go to sleep on the floor and then I too could get the rest that I needed to avoid a major meltdown.
My children don't realize that different levels should be used when speaking indoors or at night time, they only choose to whisper and mumble when I am asking a question that needs an immediate response. So here is Ryleigh making requests for warm corn bags, cooler pajamas, and more lighting in an unhushed voice. The sailor in my mind is getting a little out of hand. "Lay down and don't say a word." Quite ensues. Then 15 minutes later as I begin to rejoin the sandman, "Mom, my arm hurts."
"It will be better in the morning. No more words."
Sleep. I am able to begin dreaming of Keely dipping my couch pillows in chocolate. "Mom, it's hot even when I take the blanket off." That's when it happened. I dropped the S-bomb. "Shut-up." This is a big deal in our house. I was thinking worse, but still it felt good when I said it, but two seconds later I realized that I actually said it and not just in my head...I felt horrible. Brian who obviously was feigning sleep made a little gasp. That just added to my anger, why wasn't he interceding when I am two seconds away from moving on to some hardcore vulgarity. He was saved by the cry, Vance was awake. I commanded Ryleigh to stay put and off I ran to the boy's room. My hope was that a paci in the mouth would do the trick - not so lucky. At this point my face is pressed against the wall praying for God to allow me some sleep. I succumbed to the pressure of the wailing boy child and nursed him for fifteen minutes. I tiptoed in the room and hunkered down under the blanket.
"What did Vance want?"
Are you kidding me? Is she ever going to sleep? "Go to sleep," I hiss.
"Can we pray?" I don't know if I should try to speak to God when he knows all the horrible things I would like to be saying. I offer up a prayer anyway. It's short and to the point, "Lord, Let her sleep. Please! Amen." I shut my eyes as tight as they will go in hopes that it will keep my tongue from passing my lips again.
"And help me not to think of bad things and only good," she chipperly added.
It was 4:50 am, her last request, not another peep from her. Conviction hit. I decided to utter the same prayer in hopes that the potty-mouthed pirate who was wreaking havoc on my mental process would set sail and that I would drift off to dreamland thinking about how blessed I was to have these little ones - even if Vance was up again at 5:20!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Grandmothers don't worry, she is still healthy and thriving, croutons and milk obviously provide some nutritional value, and yes I am giving her a multi-vitamin. My concern, as horrible as it sounds, has nothing to do with her caloric intake, rather it is a pride issue on my part. Why doesn't she like the food I prepare? This little one has consumed dog food on more than one occasion. She frequently gulps her own creations from cups of water that have meat sitting on the bottom, chips floating on top, and cookies that have expanded and developed into mush. She drinks sour milk from sippy cups found days after they were made. Remember from previous posts - she is the one who swallowed the penny? I even think when we went to the petting zoo last summer, she ate a goat turd, yet my meatloaf turns her stomach. Is it possible that goat's produce tastier morsels than mom? I'm not sure, but I certainly hope that the age old statement "We are what we eat" is not true, because I think that would make her a cheap little poop.
Monday, January 5, 2009
I hope those of you who personally know Christ see the humor and recognize the truth of the subject - he was a man, he lived as us, he was just sinless! Those of you who don't know much about Christ and think I am just being funny, please know that while I am trying to make you laugh, God came to earth as a man to connect with you. Not to inundate you with rules but to relate to you in reality. He lived, loved, got hurt, was falsely blamed, became frustrated, enjoyed spending time with others and, yes, he pooped! In Mathew 15:17 Jesus says, " Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out the body?" I don't think he was referring to vomiting.
I realize this is not the typical approach to sharing about Jesus, my prayer is that through my rants and stories that you see the presence of God in my life. I even hope that you will see how God loves this crazy, yelling, at times unappreciative, messy, talks-to-much mother and realize he loves you too. Find out who He is for yourself and don't rely on me or the other extreme, an uptight Christian, discover him for yourself . One thing I've learned over the years is that Christ always meets me in the poop of life. He will meet you too.