Monday, September 27, 2010

A Family of Families

Are you a hopeful person?  I am.  That's got upsides, like a generally optimistic outlook, and embarrassing consequences, like two failed home businesses.  One of which was when I attempted to sell Halon Fire Extinguishers... let's just say that I'm a much better Internet researcher now than I was then. 


I get my hopes up.  I want to believe things people tell me.  So when the pastor yesterday talked about our church, a group of people following Jesus, becoming more and more like "A Family of Families."  It made me cry.  I thought about all of the times in the last 4 years since our first child was born that I desperately wanted to live near my family.  I need help and the closest family we have is my in-laws who are in and out of town because they are RVers. 

So I started imagining what it would look like to be in A Family of Families

I'd like to be the 50's Housewife of the Family in the kitchen baking and serving up yummy meals surrounded by perfectly dressed children and a clean house.  I'd like my calendar to be full... 4 of 7 nights with guests or being a guest works for me.  I'd like to help if someone is sick or just had a baby.  And yes, I'd wear an apron to do it all. 

Then reality set in. 

What if it's like in-laws?   

Please don't misunderstand, my in-laws are amazing people.  I sincerely love them.  And yet, they're still in-laws.  For example, their version of helping isn't necessarily what I consider helpful.  So, instead of Holidays being relaxing times of rejoicing together, I have panic attacks... really, I had a panic attack last fall because my husband invited his parents for dinner last minute without consulting me.  It took me an hour to come inside and I had to go to the store to buy bread to go with the cold dinner because I couldn't think of a better excuse for being unable to just share a meal.

That's the problem.  I desperately want to be in A Family of Families, but it takes a while before in-laws are as close as your own parents and siblings.  I'm sure everyone's experience is different, but as for me, I don't know how to really let people in.  I don't mind if folks see me with my make-up on and a smile (sometimes fake, mostly real) on Sunday mornings.  But if someone stops by on Monday afternoon (like today), I might have a problem if they were to see me lash out at my kids for not napping or that I'm completely overwhelmed with my life and that I'm running on "E". 

My Family might see all of me
instead of the version of me I allow them to see. 

Instead of getting to be the Betty Crocker of the Family, it's more likely that I'd be the crazy aunt.  You know me, Auntie Momma Drama, the volatile one who drinks too much.  I'm much more likely to blubber on the phone saying, "I've got groceries to put away, a dirty house, laundry out my ears, an obligation tonight, 4 children who won't nap, another obligation tomorrow morning, out-of-town guests early tomorrow afternoon, and the recession didn't end last June... HELP."  (BTW, "help" is pronounced "heh-yulp"... it's a two syllable word where I come from.)

What scares me, too, is that I can't control the help My Family of Families would offer.  I'm sure someone would offer to come do my laundry while I manage my children, but then they'd see my underwear.  I'm sure someone else would offer to take my kids, but my kids might jump on the couches or scream about a toy... my children are loud.  Maybe someone would offer to bring dinner so I have one less thing.  And then, the worst could happen: someone might just say, "Stop blogging and get busy."  No matter what they offer, I hate asking for help... remember, I don't want anyone to see all of me

I wish I knew what to expect so I could either sign up and get my hands dirty - or - run for the hills.  But I have no bloomin' idea what A Family of Families looks like in practice.

Then again, I'm hopeful... maybe The Family won't always be in-laws. 

I'd love some feedback:  Are you in A Family of Families?  Who are you in that Family?  (Remember, I'm the crazy aunt.)  Are you looking for a Family?  Or are you as apprehensive as I am?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Work in Progress

I've said it, you've probably said it: "I'm a work in progress."

I'm a piece of work, a lot of days.

Maybe I'm more like an area roped off with yellow tape filled with workers in hazmat suits... that's a project. 

I wish I were the Sistine Chapel... I know it's not finished, but at least it's beautiful.

It's more likely that I'm a particularly tough piece of clay... Isaiah 64:8
But now, O LORD,you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
While I have aspirations of becoming a beautiful vessel worthy of fine flowers and prime placement, I'm feelin' like an ashtray.  Like a 4th grader's art project with some serious defects.  *sigh*
But hey, you can use an ashtray.


Monday, September 20, 2010

A Broken Plate

Maybe I'm just a little slow on the uptake.  Maybe my bachelor's degree didn't actually give me any common sense.  Maybe my ideal world just doesn't exist.

I feel overwhelmed a lot of days.  I mean, come on... I have four children four and under.  I've been mistaken for some kind of Supermom.  Please let me dispel that myth once and for all:  Do Supermoms raise their voices?  Hide in the bathroom with the fan on?  Call their husbands in tears two or three times a week?  Well, if they do, sure I'll go pick up my uniform from the cleaner's.  Um, no. 

I always admire the Mommas that always have clean houses, home cooked meals, pretty blogs, Gap Models instead of children, and a smile to boot.  I aspire to be like her (she's a myth, by the way)... I want shiny floors, homemade whole wheat bread, a cupcake blog, children whose shoes are on the right feet, and at least a shower.  But I don't always get what I want. 

So this hit me the other day after I let my son watch Blue's Clues after he got home from preschool.  I told my husband because I was so excited by this revelation:

When my patience runs short
and my to-do list is long,
my kids can watch TV.
(told you I was slow)

I know many of you have lived by this principle for years.  I, however, am eating my words when I type that.  I never wanted to be the Mommy who sits my children in front of the television (or computer at our house) because I don't want to interact with them.  On the contrary, I love my children and I wish I had the energy to keep up.  Instead, I find myself losing it because
I can't keep that many plates spinning. 

So the plate that hit the floor is the TV.  I let it fall because I don't want them to be afraid of me and my little tirades.  I don't want them to remember Mommy being mad... or, sometimes, sad. 

So while the little ones sleep, the big kids can sometimes watch Kipper or Pingu or Blue on Netflix because Watch Instantly is the best invention EVER.  And, there are no commercials so my kids aren't demanding Rescue Heroes, Pop Tarts, or Disneyland.   

I'm sure more plates will fall ... like how I'm a little particular about what we eat and the cleanliness of my home.  Then again maybe, I'll actually pick up a few more plates along the way once someone at my house can tie their own shoes, cross the street unaccompanied, or make a PB (no J) sandwich.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Great Debate (or at least one of them)


I hate to admit this, but maybe my honesty will give others permission to be honest as well.

These M&M's have been in the bottom of my purse since Tuesday.  They were a welcoming gift from my Discussion Group Leader at MOPS.  They were in a cute little paper box and the box came open trapping these delicious morsels in the debris-filled seam at the bottom of my purse next to a *clean* diaper and a toy for my youngest. 

sadness ensued

And then... the great debate:

 Do I or do I not eat the M&M's? 

It's now Sunday and I haven't decided yet.  They won't melt. But are they "clean" enough to eat... if I blow them off.

My choices are:

a) clean out my purse, throw them away *sniffle*, then, thoroughly clean the lining of my purse/diaper bag so that if this ever happens again there will be no debate... no chocolate shall ever meet ill-fate again.

b) gather the chocolaty-goodness, inspect them for specks of foreign matter, eat them, and not feel a shred of guilt... no chocolate should ever go to waste.

c) show my small children what happened... at least someone will enjoy the chocolate. Then, thoroughly clean the lining of my purse/diaper bag so that if this ever happens again there will be no debate... that's MY chocolate, dammit.

We shall see...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Parenting Math

No one said anything yesterday.  Didn't you know it was an important day at our house?  I'll never forget September 17, 2005.  I wrote it down in several waiting rooms.  I looked at calendars to verify.  I can't believe it's been that long...

It was the first day of my last period when I got pregnant with Seth. 

Now, please forgive me if you're not my target audience.  Single men and men without children don't know how important that day is.  It is the day you use to calculate the baby's due date.  It's a big deal.  And I'm sorry if I just grossed anyone out.

Since then, I've been pregnant, breastfeeding, or pregnant & breastfeeding without a break.  That means that I've been eating for two or three for

So if you don't know whether to congratulate me or give me condolences, I understand. 

Now for the Math:
  • We had four babies in less than four years. 
  • We've changed no less than 8,175 diapers and we usually have 2 in diapers (we only had 3 in diapers for 7 months). 
  • We've done about 1,000 loads of laundry. 
  • By themselves, our children have consumed over 200 gallons of milk, over 2,000 bananas, and at least 100 DOZEN eggs.  
  • We've received and handed down hundreds of articles of clothing every size from 0 to 6 years for every gender... including hermaphrodites.
  • We've kissed hundreds of boo-boos. 
  • We've cleaned up dozens of cups of spilled milk. 
  • We've caught at least 15 viruses. 
  • We've stepped on at least 10 matchbox cars. 
  • And we've destroyed the interior of two vehicles. 

But, we've only swallowed one foreign object
and fished one turd out of the bathtub. 
Not bad. 

I can count all of the stuff that sort of sucks about being a parent.

However, I cannot put a value (numerically or monetarily) on the joy our children bring to our 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 900 square foot house. 

Seth has a great sense of humor,
Korynne says cute things,
Jenna gets punchy when she's sleepy,
and Joel is just a happy kind of guy.

So, please, congratulate me.  I've been blessed with FOUR CHILDREN. 

Four children who look at me adoringly, who giggle when I tickle them, who ask me to tuck them in, who give me unsolicited kisses, and who grow up so fast I might miss it.  Just this week:

Seth started school and rides the bus, 
Korynne learned to buckle herself in the car, 
Jenna moved to a "big girl" bed, 
and Joel got his first tooth and is up like he's going to crawl.


Don't tell me I have my hands full...
because my hands are full and I can't smack you upside the head for stating the obvious. 

Don't tell me I'm busy...
I already do that math and I don't have time to tell you how busy I really am. 

Don't look at me as though I don't know what causes this...
I most certainly do ;).   

Children are a blessing
and a gift from the LORD.
Having a lot of children
to take care of you
in your old age
is like a warrior
with a lot of arrows.
The more you have,
the better off you will be,
because they will protect you
when your enemies attack
with arguments.
Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CnC's Kids' Room Puzzle

In a small house, furniture placement is almost as particular as a 1000 piece puzzle.  Some items just don't fit.  Others just need to be turned the right way.


You can see that we have a bookcase, a crib, a bunk bed and a chest of drawers/changing table.


You see that we have a bookcase, a toddler bed, a loft bed, a pack 'n' play, another toddler bed, and the same chest of drawers/changing table.

This gives us a little more play area on the floor and sleeping arrangements for four. 

Here's how it's done...

Crib - $60 purchased over 4 years ago.  It is a drop side crib and can no longer be sold.  It will now become a garden trellis.

Bunk Bed - $35 Value Village steal of a deal (regularly $150 new at Ikea) plus $10 in missing hardware purchased 2 years ago.

Twin Mattress was a gift from my mom.

Crib Mattress came with the crib.

New (to us) Pair of Toddler Beds: $10... for the pair.

New (to us) Loft Bed: $40.

Second Crib Mattress was given to us a few months ago.  We stored it in the crib for a while (see picture).

Tomorrow morning, a lady is going to come pick up the bunk bed.  She's going to pay us $90.

Let's do that math...
Price of the old set: 60 + 35 + 10 = $105
Price for the "new" set: 10 + 40 = $50
Refund for the old set: $90
Total spent in 4 years: $65
Fitting 4 small children in the same room: Priceless (plus a Garden Trellis and reigning Championn of Cheap... bonus!)

Each kiddo has a Nana blanket. 

What's worse?

I can't really figure out what's worse...

The tub draining slowly.


Knowing that my postpartum hairloss is what's causing the tub to drain slowly.

Maybe the kids can unclog it since it's their fault!

Right now I'm using Nioxin but I'm going to try Ovation Cell Therapy when that runs out. 

Today's Prayer:

Lord, please don't let me go bald. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

IAD... seriously.

My husband and I are conspiring to figure out how we can continue to make this 900 square foot 100 year old house work for us and our 4 wee ones a little bit longer... or potentially, a lot longer.

When you have a small house, you have multi-purpose rooms.  Right now, the laundry room doubles as an office.  The kids' bedroom is also their play room.  The living room/dining room (it's one big "Great" room) doubles as the nursery... because it's the only place that the cradle my husband built for our first child even fits in this little house.  And, believe it or not, our bathroom doubles as a conference room... when Daddy first comes home from work and we need to talk, that's where we go.  With locked doors and a fan, we can actually finish a sentence. 

Anyway... all good things must come to an end.  Our fourth one is outgrowing the cradle (and outgrowing sleeping in the living room/dining room) so we must come up with a solution.  Currently, the kids' room has a bunk bed, a crib, a bookshelf, a changing table/dresser (see, everything is multi-purpose), and a small closet.  There is no room for a second crib... or anything else, for that matter.  I already purge toys and clothes regularly so we need another solution.

One idea we've come up with is finishing out the loft space we have access to through the kids' room.  It's tiny and very hot during the summer.  Right now, it's just a storage space for Christmas decorations and where we've had access to the guts of our house to catch a few unwelcome visitors of the four-legged variety.  *shiver*


If I put my desk and desktop computer up there, I won't be able to just swing by and punch out a blog. 

I won't be able to run over to my Google toolbar to find last minute substitutions for dinner that's on the stove.

I won't be able to get distracted while I'm folding laundry with my new favorite blog or Netflix Watch Instantly (yes, I just clicked over there to see if Bones Season 5 is available yet... it's not).

I won't be able to use the laundry room as my place of refuge when my husband and I aren't jiving so well.  Surely, this happens to every couple.  Retreat to your corners and come out swinging.  Better yet, come out calmly and kiss and make up.  If I had a walk-in closet, that's where I'd hide out. 

So, do I like the idea of moving my computer up a ladder in the room where I dare not break our #1 house rule:  "Never wake a sleeping baby"  just to update my FB status? 


Internet addiction disorder (IAD), or, more broadly, Internet overuse, problematic computer use or pathological computer use, is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life.  Source: Wikipedia, of course (the source of all knowledge, good and evil).

It made me almost anxious to think about having Internet access only a few times a day.  But it might be good.  I find myself computing more than playing games with my children or maintaining sanitary conditions in my bathroom.  I find I'm more interested in headline news and celebrity hairstyles than making a phone call to a friend or reading a book.  And I'd much rather blog than cook or (social) network than shower.  (see the IAD definition above... um, oops.)

So, I'm thinking I'll even ask my husband to move my office upstairs.  I'm thinking I want him to move my computer further out of reach.  It's like when you put a clip on the M&Ms bag and put it on the top shelf.  It's not that you can't get to it, but maybe if it's a little harder to reach, it'll be a little easier to exercise self-control. 

Hi, my name is Clara.  
I'm an Internet addict. 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Best Kind of Dirty

I mopped my floor on Saturday.  I'm pretty sure it's the first time my floor had been even remotely clean since #4 arrived in the spring... early spring. 

But I just noticed a muddy footprint on my hardwoods.  My hardwoods are dark so the light has to hit it just right (or wrong, depending on whether or not you're me) to see it. 

I would normally be a little miffed that this footprint is on my floor. 

I just cleaned, for heaven's sake!!!

BUT... on further investigation, I realized it wasn't one of ours (you know your family's footprints, right?)... it must have been from one of yesterday's visitors.  

Isn't that the best kind of dirty?  The dirt that comes from sharing life with one's friends and neighbors.  We had 9 kids 5 and under... it was GREAT. 

So instead of furiously cleaning, I smiled knowing that my floor is kind of like a guest book.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not Me... Usually.

I don't really consider myself sentimental.  I don't save birthday cards and I don't gush (at least not very much) over tiny baby socks.  But I am having some serious trouble today. 

Today, I got down the box of boy 6-9 month clothes.  (I have a box for each gender in each size, if you're wondering.)  The stuff that's in the 6-9 month box for Joel was Seth's 3 1/2 years ago.  Every shirt that is coming out of the dryer is almost making me tear up.  I have a memory or, at the very least, a picture of Seth wearing each and every one of these little shirts. 

Seth was the first grandchild on my side so Nana went a little Kohl's happy and there are some barely-used, perfectly adorable, long-sleeved shirts... just in time for fall in the Pacific Northwest. 

I keep smelling them hoping that there will be remnants of Dreft.  I've only ever purchased one bottle of Dreft.  You know... the one you buy when you're having your first baby just in case the baby has sensitive skin.

They grow up so fast.   

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Now What?

We've been on the go for several days. 
  • Friday: I took all 4 kiddos to Costco and Wal-Mart all by me onesies.  (A dead coffee pot necessitated the trip.)
  • Saturday: I went to a baby shower that I was co-hosting. 
  • Sunday: We took the whole family to church at the park.  
    • We thought we were 20 minutes late, we were actually 40 minutes early.  We thought lunch would be at 11:30, it was at 12:30.  It was cool and windy on Puget Sound in August.  Brrr... 
  • Monday:  The kids and I went to Albertson's and came home to wash and fold four loads of laundry. 
  • Tuesday: We had a playdate and an interview in the morning, a spur of the moment trip to the doctor in the afternoon (thank Heaven Kyle was home for the ring-swallowing ceremony), and an evening ladies only (plus Joel) Bible study.

Now, it's Wednesday, and I'm not even sure how to pick myself up off the floor. 

I've heard it said,
 there is no rest for the weary...

I need to make dinner for a friend who just had a baby and deliver it tonight.  I need to do a few more loads of laundry and mop the floor because Korynne spilled milk at breakfast so now I really have to mop (before it was only nasty, now it's really nasty).  Jenna has a funky foot skin malady either caused or exacerbated by her orthotics maybe the cream I put on it will work so I don't have to take her to the doctor.  I have to check Seth's poop for a ring.  Korynne just got her hair caught in the axle of a battery powered car.  And Joel, at the moment, is happily bouncing in his jumper hanging from the door jam. 
Believing God: Member Book 
With all of that (and more that I will not air on the Internet), I thank Jesus for the Bible Study apropos.  That's right, to my I-should-know-this-by-now surprise, God knows when I need to hear from Him that He is who He says He is, He can do what He says He can do, I am who He says I am, I can do all things through Christ, and His Word is alive and active in me.  From Isaiah 40...

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary [and He is my strength and my refuge];
his understanding is unsearchable [and He has my best interest at heart].
29 He gives power to the faint [and faint at heart],
and to him who has no might [or mental capacity for the day] he increases strength [and wherewithal].
30 Even youths [and mothers of small children] shall faint and be weary [and lose their tempers],
and young men [and women, thank you very much] shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for [or write a blog and remember] the Lord shall renew their strength [with or without the use of artificial stimulants];
they shall mount up with wings like eagles [and be filled with HIS joy];
they shall run [and chase after small children] and not be weary [or call Daddy in a fit of tears];
they shall walk [and do laundry and cook dinner and maintain peace and sanity at their household] and not faint [or fall in a heap on the floor].

Can I get an "Amen"?