Friday, May 25, 2012

Fifteen years later

Yesterday was exactly fifteen years since my high school graduation. Fifteen years is a long time. In recent years, I haven't thought much about graduation.  At the time, I didn't appreciate the experience as much as I should have. I was ready for the ceremony to be over and go party with my friends. I didn't go to my five year reunion because it was right before my wedding. My ten year reunion was a two day event, and I was able to go the first night. It was nice to see girls from high school and catch up with them. Now that Facebook exists, we can keep up with each other online. Hopefully we'll have another reunion to see each other again, not just through profile pictures!

I went to an all girl Catholic high school, Mount de Sales Academy. It might sound unappealing to some, but I absolutely loved it! We wore uniforms and went to Mass and Confession every month.  Religion was not an elective, we had it every single day, all four years. We had strict rules like not crossing from one side of the school to the other on the first floor and always wearing every part of the uniform, including the nametag. We got detention and demerits for things like excessive talking, missing pieces of the uniform, and cutting through the senior hallway or choir loft. We didn't ride buses to school. Our parents dropped us off, or we drove ourselves, if we were lucky enough to pass driver's ed and have a car. We didn't have a gym at the school. Our dances and graduation took place in the Music Hall. Gym classes took place in an old smelly room called the Refectory. At those school dances, the nuns were chaperones, and we were encouraged to "leave room for the Holy Spirit" while dancing with our dates. The school was small. We had 79 people in our graduating class. We all knew each other by name, even if we weren't close friends. All of this might sound strange if you didn't go to my school. Reading these sentences, the rules do sound kind of wacky. But they were perfect for the school. They made sense. I know that the school has changed since I went there. It has grown.  I recently read that this year will be the 160th graduation with122 girls.

I might not have always appreciated what I had at MdeS, especially when I was serving Saturday detention for coming to school late because we decided to go out to breakfast instead of going right to school. But I really did have best time there, and I made the greatest friends of my life. I am lucky to say that I still have the best friends from high school, true friends, some of which I met as a freshman in the fall of 1993. By senior year, I had some of the friends I would have for life. I didn't realize it at the time, that what we had was so special that we would be friends for life.  Maybe it's because we've literally been to hell and back together and we realized how short life is and not to take our friendships for granted. Out of a tragedy in 2005, the worst experience and darkest time of my life, a bond with my friends was formed that cannot be broken, no matter where our paths in life take us.

Here I am fifteen years later, getting all nostalgic and remembering the "glory days" of high school. I can now appreciate the stories my dad would tell about his younger days and why he'd be so excited talking about old times, although I was totally bored listening to him at the time. I'm sure my kids will be just as bored when I tell them stories about my past as well. Circle of Life?   Back then, thirty sounded SO old. I was seventeen. The only age I cared about was twenty-one. When I graduating, I didn't really imagine my future. I knew I was going to good old community college, and hoped I'd get myself motivated to go to "real" college and get a degree. I hoped to have a family some day. But that was really all I thought about then. I was more consumed with the present, with trying to play hooky from my waitressing job at a retirement home and partying with my friends. I couldn't wait for Senior Week in Ocean City and being on my own with my friends. Here's how much times have changed... we walked to the payphone every day to call our parents or boyfriends to check in while we were at the beach. No cell phones, no texting, no chatting or messaging on Facebook. No laptops or iPads with Skype.  We used change. To make phone calls. Long distance. It's funny that this is a totally foreign concept to my kids!

So, community college came and took a little longer than it should have. I didn't appreciate the college opportunity at the time and didn't try my hardest. But I eventually got my shit together, graduated CCC and went on to UMBC and got a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. And that waitressing job I didn't really like at the time? Well, I'm glad I stuck with it. After three years of working there, this new cook started in the kitchen. I tried to play it cool when my supervisor introduced us, but I thought he was cute. We worked together for a while before we actually talked to each other. That guy is now my husband of almost ten years. Good call on not quitting that job! We have five beautifully exhausting kids together. Never in my wildest dreams in May of 1997 would I have imagined I'd be a mother of five. Come to think of it, I never imagined having five kids when it was May of 2011 either.

Fifteen years later, life is totally different. It is supposed to be. We can't live in high school forever. I do wish I could get my high school body back though!  In these fifteen years, I've accomplished a lot. I've lived a lot. I've learned a lot. I've loved more than I ever thought possible. I've experienced the excruciating pain of the death of a friend. I've experienced the miracle and joy of bringing a child into the world, five times over. In high school, I never had a boyfriend. I joked to my friends that I would become a nun. Ironically, I was the first one to get married. I was lucky enough to find an amazing man and marry him.  I appreciate and respect my parents so much more than I did when I was younger. I understand why they made decisions they made. I have a much better sense of family now. I know who my true friends are, and that they love me and I love them even if we don't see each other often.

Fifteen years later, I wouldn't trade the time. I wouldn't go back and change my experiences (except maybe the one where I gave up a trip to Hawaii because my boyfriend was going to be home on Spring Break at that time). Talk about a bad decision!! I guess that was a learning experience too. I don't think I'd tell my high school self to do anything differently. I think I needed to go through my experiences on my own to become The person I am today.  I wonder what life will be like in another fifteen years, but I don't want to know for sure. I'm going to hold on and enjoy the ride until we get there. And then I will feel ancient writing about high school thirty years ago!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Playing Sports

I have no athletic ability whatsoever. Seriously, not an athletic bone in my body. At 32, after having five kids, I decided to try running. I haven't completely given up on it, but I don't like it at all, and I'm not sticking to it the way I should. My childhood experience with sports was pretty lame. I wasn't good at any of them, and I only played a season or two of the sports I did try. My parents offered for me to play sports every time the registrations came around, but I wasn't into them. I didn't really care about sports or want to be a star or anything. I played softball for a few years, but I got a later start around fifth grade, and by then, all the other girls had been playing for years and were really good. I did swim on the swim team for three or four years. I liked swimming, and I actually have some ribbons from winning some races. That was one sport where I did ok and stuck to it for more than one season. My parents asked me every year if I wanted to play basketball for my elementary school. For some reason, I decided to play in eighth grade. Everyone else had been playing together for years. Needless to say, I didn't try out for the high school basketball team.  In high school, I played JV lacrosse freshman and sophomore years. I wasn't good by any means, but I was proud of myself for actually completing two seasons of a sport. By junior year, I knew I couldn't be on JV anymore, and I didn't have a chance in hell of playing Varsity, so I retired my stick. Actually, I think I passed it on to my superstar sister... At the same time that I started softball, my little sister was in first grade and started to play as well. She was the superstar. From that point on, she played softball, basketball, and soccer, and she was really a star. I was more of a sidelines type of girl.

When Princess was around four, we put her in a soccer lesson class at the Y. It was very basic, but she did pretty well with it. As a first time mom with no experience in children's sports, I didn't realize how early you have to register for sports. So, in the fall I looked to sign her up for soccer, and all the registrations were closed. It was ok, I'd be more on top of it the next year. Then I forgot about it again. Now she's eight and has never been on a soccer team. Oops.

When she was in kindergarten, I managed to get the registration time right and sign her up for softball. She was in the beginner league and learned the basics. She definitely didn't love it, but stuck with it that season. Her favorite part of playing softball was the participation trophy she got after the last game. Last year, in first grade, I asked if she wanted to play but she didn't want to. So, I came up with the brilliant idea of having her play lacrosse. I had visions of her playing from first grade all the way through high school, maybe even in college. Even though I wasn't great at it when I played, I could picture myself teaching her some of the basic skills and going to the park to play catch. I thought my old stick might even be in my parents' attic somewhere. Oh, this was going to be so much fun, and so bonding for us!

So, I signed her up. And I paid a lot for it. Kids' sports are freaking expensive. Maybe other people don't think the cost is too high, but I think they're too much money. But since I had a superstar in training, I spent the money. When we got the email with team assignments and the list of what was needed, we spent another small fortune on her stick, goggles, and mouth guard. Thankfully her cleats from the short-lived softball career still fit. I practiced playing catch with her a few times in the back yard before her first practice. When we got to the day of the first practice, I was definitely more excited than Princess. When we had a little over an hour until practice time, I remembered her mouth guard. We needed to mold it to her mouth. It was an excruciating experience. She was crying, gagging, looking like she was going to barf all over the place. I didn't remember it being that bad, but I was fifteen the last time I molded a mouth guard. To a seven year old, it's probably pretty scary. We kept cutting it shorter and shorter, to the point where it looked like it would barely cover her teeth. Yet she still gagged on it. We left for practice anyway, and I figured I'd ask the coach for tips on making it better for Princess. We got to practice, and I was back to being stoked about her playing. I saw lots of people I knew at the field, and I was feeling good about having a daughter playing lacrosse. The kids split into their teams, met their coaches, and started a rotation of stations introducing them to the basic skills needed to play lacrosse.

It took me about two seconds to realize Princess had inherited my athleticism. She was much taller than most of the other kids. She was much less aggressive than the other kids. When everyone ran in to scoop up the ball, she kind of hung back and let everyone else get to it. She was more interested in talking to her friends from school than actually playing lacrosse. She stopped for a drink about ten times more than everyone else. One of the times she came to me for her water bottle I realized she wasn't wearing her mouthguard. She said, "I'm supposed to wear it?". Wow. I made her put it in and she immediately started gagging. When she got back on the field I watched her take the mouthguard out and stick it in her pocket. This was not going well. The rest of the practice was just as hard to watch. My mind wandered to her playing in highschool, gagging on her mouthguard and constantly pulling at the strap on her goggles, and I realized her lacrosse career might not be what I had dreamed for her.

When the practice was over she told me she hated it. She didn't like playing, she thought she was going to throw up from gagging, and it was too much running for her. I felt my bank account laugh at me since the money was already spent. The next practice was three days later, and she spent the entire three days whining that she didn't want to go and that she didn't want to play. We practiced wearing the mouthguard at home, which didn't help at all. In the end, her lacrosse days were very short-lived. One whole practice.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of Facebook posts about kids playing sports. It's a great time of year to be active and spring sports are in full swing. So far, my only experience with kids' sports has been with Princess. I'm pretty sure that with four boys to go, I'll become a true soccer (or football, baseball, basketball, etc.) mom. But for this season, I'm on the bench.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trouble stories

Having Trouble, I now understand why so many things have been invented. Did anyone see Modern Family when they went to Disneyland and Lily was on a leash? I totally get it. We have a runner too. There are little child safety tabs on our windows that let the window only be opened a certain height so a child can't push the screen and fall out the window. I get it. We have a lock at the top of our front door. I get it. Child safety locks on cars, buckles on carseats, buckles on carts, gates at the top of stairs... those are mainly used for the safety of a child. For Trouble, they're used as restraint, to keep him in the cart, in the carseat, down the steps, in the car. Here are a few Trouble stories from the past week.

When my kids are playing together, I hear, 'Mommy, Trouble is doing ____' (something bad), or 'Trouble is going to throw ____ at me', or 'Trouble is climbing on the _____' about 100 times. To be totally honest, I ignore them a lot because they all tattle on each other. Usually what I hear when they are playing outside is, 'Trouble threw the ___ over the fence'. Yesterday it was his juice cup over one side of the fence, the basketball into the other neighbor's yard, and a dump truck over the back fence. Princess climbed over for the truck, and I lifted Pirate over to get the things from our neighbors' yards. (Our neighbors probably hate us.) A few minutes after everything was recovered from over the fence, Princess and Pirate both started yelling for me. Princess was holding onto Trouble, who was halfway up the fence. So, the two year old can climb the fence. Pirate would never attempt to climb the fence at almost five years old, but Trouble is doing it at 2. I shouldn't be surprised. He's been a climber as long as he's been walking. He was the first of the kids to climb out of the crib.  He was climbing onto the dining room table  grabbing the chandelier when he was not even 2. I guess I never thought about the fence though. I figured he was safe in our back yard. We even have a padlock on the gate because we thought he might eventually open the gate to escape. There's really no stopping the climbing. Hopefully he outgrows it or gets bored with it.

It's never a good sign when your kid comes up to you and says, "Can I have a wipe?", especially when your child is Trouble. He always does something bad at the most inopportune times too. This particular occasion was while I was feeding 5 his bottle. Trouble came up the steps holding out his hand asking for a wipe. In my experience, this is usually a sign that there is a "bid dween booder (big green booger) on his hand that needs to be wiped off. Silver lining - at least he's not eating them. With a kid like Trouble you have to look for the positive in all situations. Anyway, this was not a big green booger on his hand. His hand had melted chocolate all over it. Only it wasn't melted chocolate. Or pudding. Or any sort of food. It was indeed poop. On his hand. This gives a whole new meaning to Poop Hand. I have no clue why, but he had stuck his hand in the back of his Pull Up after pooping in it. It was so incredibly gross. I had to stop feeding 5 and clean scrub Trouble's hand, cut his nails, and scrub his nails with a nailbrush to make sure there was no poop left hiding anywhere.  I don't understand why he refuses to poop on the potty.

Yesterday it was raining all day. It was really humid, and although it wasn't hot out, the air had that sticky feeling to it. Normally I'd turn the air conditioning on in this kind of weather, but our A/C wasn't working right. (A sweet $400 later and it's fixed.) Anyway, I had all the windows open as well as the sliding door that leads to the deck. Trouble barely napped, which always sucks for me because I'm getting ripped off of my break from him. I sat down at the kitchen table to eat lunch in the 3 spare minutes I had. My husband called so I could fill him in on the A/C situation, and while I was talking to him, I saw something out of the corner of my eye on the deck. It was Trouble. Standing on the deck. In the rain. With no shoes on. I didn't even hear him open the screen door and walk outside, and I was only 5 feet away. He was just outside to see if it was raining, is his explanation.

These are only a few recent stories about Trouble, and they have all taken place in the past week. There are many more, and I have a feeling tons more are in my future.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day Date!

My hubby and I had a day out with no kids this weekend, for the first time since 5 was born. It was so much fun! We were gone for most of the day, and it was so incredibly nice to be able to have an entire conversation with each other without being interrupted with "Mommy!" or "Daddy!" a million times. We went to Wine in the Woods and had a great time!

Although we were getting a day out to ourselves, it was still a lot of work to get things together for the kids for the day. We planned on leaving by 11:30, so getting ready started right after breakfast. I don't like leaving my house a mess when other people are coming over, so I wanted to clean up the breakfast dishes and straighten up a little. I had to get myself ready, which included the inner battle with myself over what to wear while criticising my body in everything I put on it. I guess that's the problem with not every really having to go anywhere - I'm fine with wearing yoga pants or old lacrosse shorts and tee shirts every day. When I have to get dressed in something else, it is always ugly. My husband reminds me, "You've had 5 kids, and given birth three times in the past three years. Give yourself a break.". One of the many endless reasons why I love him. I settled on a sundress that I felt only slightly whalish in and flip flops because I knew we'd be walking a lot. Then I started my list of 'instructions' for the kids. They aren't really instructions, but sort of a guide to who needs what and when. I filled three juice cups and three milk cups, one for each of the middle boys, lined and put together the bottles for 5, and listed what everyone would eat for lunch. I also listed whose diapers are where and when to change them, give them naps, etc. It's funny how much you take your own routine for granted until you have to list out everything you do in order for someone else to take over. I'm not worried about things not getting done right or anything like that. It's just that I know how much work it is to take care of all five of them at the same time. I like to try to make things easier for anyone helping us.

Once we gave my dad the low-down on what to do for everyone, we hit the road. Princess and Pirate were excited to have someone else to play with them all day. My husband and I were both really surprised to see Trouble standing at the front door crying when we were driving away. I never really think of him getting emotional about stuff like that, but he was really sad that we left.

When we got to the festival, we felt special because my aunt had hooked us up with VIP passes, so we got to go into the VIP tent. We were given gift bags with some awesome cooking supplies from Wegmans. The VIP section was catered, so we could go to the food tables and get anything and not have to wait in line. The wine sampling table also didn't have lines like the tents throughout the other parts of the festival. So, we got free food, free wine samples, free giveaway bags, tables to sit at to eat and drink, and we didn't have to stand in line for food, wine, or the bathrooms. Yes, VIP is the way to go! We also walked around the festival and checked out all the vendors. We were able to sit and talk, eat, drink, and really enjoy ourselves. Is it bad that I didn't miss the kids or call to check in on them? Is it wrong that we were watching other parents chase their kids around and calling them suckers? It doesn't mean that we don't love our kids. We just knew that we get these opportunities very rarely, so we should have fun. For the record, way back when we only had two kids, we did take them to festivals and stuff. I think we even took three kids to a couple events like that. Donkey hasn't been to anything fun, and 5 doesn't stand a chance. Going places for the entire day to something like a festival is just too tough with five kids. And if we have the chance to go alone, we're taking it!

We aren't really wine drinkers, so we just had a few samples. (A beer festival would have been a different story!) Plus, whenever I go somewhere and I can have drinks, it's always in the back of my mind that I have kids at home I'm going to have to take care of when I get back, so I know I can't get all wasted. That would have been fun though! When we got done at the festival, we went to a nearby restaurant and got a little something to eat. Clearly we're more into food than wine! When we got home, the kids were just finishing dinner. Princess and Pirate came running out to the car all excited to see us. Donkey and Trouble were just as excited when we got in the house. It was a nice feeling to be missed. We must have been on a high from being gone all day because we had the genius idea to load everyone up and take them out for ice cream. The kids were very excited, and actually very well behaved! It ended up being a great day all around!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another Busy Morning

Pirate has always been an early riser. He wakes up early, just about the same time every day, right around 6:15. When he was younger, it was really annoying because we had to get up with him. Now he gets up and goes downstairs with an armful of stuffed animals. He watches tv and plays with his guys. It's great because he doesn't wake anyone up or bother his siblings. Occasionally we're lucky enough to get a "Mommy/Daddy (he alternates), I'm done!" around 6:30 am to start the day with him. He also gets himself dressed on the mornings he has school. On non-school days, he makes sure he tells everyone he can stay in his jammies longer because he doesn't have to go anywhere.Lately, Princess has also been getting up early. She gets herself ready for school, makes herself a bowl of cereal, and gets her things together for school. She just started doing this within the past two weeks, and I am LOVING it! She's the easiest of the five, but just having one less kid to dress and feed makes the mornings that much easier.

This morning was just a little different than normal because I had a dentist appointment. I know, what better way to start the day, right? My husband worked a super long day yesterday, and my appointment wasn't until 9:15, so I told him to stay in bed until I had to leave. I got up and made myself presentable, which basically includes brushing my hair and putting on a little makeup to try to cover up the circles under my eyes, and got dressed. Then I went downstairs and made breakfast for Pirate and Trouble. Fancy breakfast on the menu today - blueberry PopTarts. If you have incredibly picky eaters and don't want to start the day with a fight, you won't judge me. They went downstairs to play and I took Princess to the bus stop.  Once she was off to school, I brushed Pirate and Trouble's teeth, got Trouble dressed, and got them in the van to take Pirate to school. He was excited because my husband usually takes him to school and I haven't dropped him off in a long time. Trouble wanted to stay at school and naturally threw a fit when he realized he was leaving with me. I took him back home, and woke my husband. My babies who like to sleep in like they're teenagers were waking up, so I changed their diapers and got them dressed. My husband took over with the kids and I left for the dentist.

I was amazingly five minutes early for my appointment. Even more amazing, I was in and out of the office in a half hour. I like going to my dentist because they refer to me as 'Super Mom' which I've said before is one of the greatest compliments! Getting my teeth cleaned is always such a good feeling. However I still don't understand why they talk to me so much while my mouth is hanging open and I can't speak. I guess it's just a weird silence if they don't try to talk to the patients. Anyway, happy to report that I continue to be cavity free!

My dentist office is right next to McDonalds. I was so tempted to pull in the drive-thru and get me a breakfast sandwich. But I knew my husband had to get to work so I refrained. As soon as I walked in the door, he left for work. Normally he picks Pirate up from school, and was still planning on it. But I knew he was already going in to work late and he'd have to leave in an hour to get Pirate, so I said I'd do pickup. Of course this meant taking everyone with me. But really, after the Mother's Day I had, I owe him. Bigtime.

I love when I start a blog one day and can't finish it. I chose watching TV on the couch over blogging last night. I deserved it! I had exactly one hour between getting home from the dentist and getting ready to leave to get Pirate. This was my most productive hour of the day. I put Donkey down for a nap then got to work. I did all the thankless jobs - emptying trash cans & taking out the trash & recycling, sweeping, cleaning crumbs off the table and highchair, emptying and refilling the dishwasher, starting laundry... No fun at all, but had to be done. Then I sprayed for ants around the front door and on the front porch. Immediately after doing so, Trouble walked (barefoot) through the bug spray. We had an unplanned foot washing in the kitchen sink, which led to cleaning the sink, which led to cleaning the counters, etc. Then I looked at the clock and it was time to get everyone ready to go.

Donkey was awake and poopy, of course. After changing him, I put him in the play yard and got 5 up, who of course was also poopy. I'm amazed at how fast I can change a poopy diaper. I hope I get credit for it on a resume one day when I have to go back to work. Then I buckled 5 into his carrier and put shoes on Donkey and Trouble. I took them out and buckled them in the van. After that I got 5 and snapped his carrier into the base. We left for Pirate's school, right around the corner. It literally took me longer to get everyone ready and in the car than it took to get to the preschool. When I got there, the entire parking lot was full. So I parked in a handicap space. I had no choice, plus I knew what I was up against with actually getting into the school. First I unbuckled Trouble and had him wait next to 5. I unbuckled Donkey and carried him around to the other side of the van. Again, whoever thought of automatic sliding doors was a GENIUS! While still holding Donkey on my left side, I unlatched the carrier and slid it onto my right arm, then held Trouble's hand so he could hop out of the van. We walked right up to the school and inside and Pirate was ready to go. Everyone wanted to see the baby and I was embarrassed because I was a sweaty mess from the ordeal of getting in and out of the van. Trouble wanted to stay, but thankfully left without throwing a fit. Back outside, I had all four boys and my right arm was killing me. 5 is heavy by himself, even heavier in the carrier, and even heavier when I also have Donkey in my other arm. Thank God I parked in the handicap spot because it was closest to the school, and I would not have been able to walk any further to the car. Back at the van, I had everyone climb in 5's door and go to their seats before I put the carrier in and shut the door. I climbed in Donkey's side to buckle Trouble and Donkey. By the time I was done, I was sweating my ass off. Did I mention it was like 80 degrees out? I got in the car and blasted the AC and thought how thankful I am that I don't have to do that every day.
When we got home I went through the whole unloading process, just as fun as loading, but with the reward of knowing I don't have to leave the house again. Can you see why I choose to never go anywhere?! It's actually exhausting just to write about it, let alone live it! And I have to do it again tomorrow when my husband goes to Dad's Day at Princess's school. It's a lot of work! I wish I could just rent a person for free to stand in my house for the 10 minutes it takes me to pick him up from school. At least there are only 9 more preschool days left this year. Then I get to do it all again on my own next year when Trouble starts preschool!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day with the Best Husband Ever

I had a fantastic Mother's Day this year! It is all thanks to my totally amazing husband .  He has always made Mother's Day special for me, but this year with 5 kids, it was appreciated more than ever. He had to work on Saturday, but once he was home, he told me it was my time. I took a nap while he took care of the kids. Yesterday morning, he made breakfast for everyone, like he usually does on the weekends. But he let me sleep in and come downstairs when breakfast was ready. Usually while he makes breakfast I feed the baby or get the kids dressed or straighten up or wash dishes. This time, I just laid in bed. It was great!

Pirate called me to come down to breakfast and said there was a surprise. When I got to the table, there was a gift bag with a card next to my plate. We usually don't get each other gifts for holidays. We usually  just get what we need for ourselves and save the rest to use on the kids' birthdays and things for them. I was surprised and excited to see a gift on the table for me. I ate my delicious breakfast first (pays to have married a chef!) then he cleared the dishes for me to open my present. He had the camera ready, so I knew it had to be something good. I had specific instructions to read the card then reach into the bag immediately. I did what I was told, and at the bottom of the card was a quote from part of the Katy Perry song that said "That's what you get for wakin up in" with a big arrow next to it, my cue to reach into the bag. I pulled out a travel brochure for Las Vegas!

To say I was excited would be the understatement of the year. I was ecstatic! You couldn't wipe the grin off my face! So here's the story on the Vegas trip.  It's not exactly a Mother's Day present, although it was a Mother's Day surprise. Our 10th anniversary is in October, and we've been talking for a few weeks about how we should go somewhere to celebrate. We decided that it would be our gift to each other for all the holidays and birthdays where we never exchange gifts. We talked about a bunch of places, but I kept going back and looking at info on Vegas. Last week, we decided it was too expensive so we started looking at places closer to home and less money. I didn't know it, but my husband met with a travel agent to get info on a trip to Vegas and talked to my mom about staying with the kids for our trip. He was going to try to keep it a surprise until our anniversary but said he couldn't do it. He wanted us to be excited about it together :) So now, we have something fun to look forward to for the next 5 months! A trip to Vegas is huge for us because we've never been off the East Coast. We didn't go anywhere very exciting for our honeymoon, and we've never taken a big trip together. This anniversary is a big one - 10 years, and considering we have half as many kids... we deserve to take an awesome trip together! Needless to say, my Mother's Day was off to a fabulous start!

It just got better as the day continued. My husband did everything. I really wanted that, but felt guilty for thinking that I wanted an entire day to do nothing. I know how hard I work as a mom. I know how much I want a break. But I feel guilty because I know how hard my husband works at two jobs all week long, not to mention the fact that he had to work all day Saturday. So I felt selfish hoping I could get a day to myself. But that's exactly what I got. I didn't change a single diaper all day! That in itself is amazing. It was a good day for a diaper pass too. Donkey, Trouble, and 5 all pooped twice. And both of Trouble's dumps were in underwear. I didn't have to deal with any of it! Seriously, the best feeling in the world!

I needed a few things at the store, so I took Princess with me to Target. She had a gift card so I told her she could pick out something for herself. We did some shopping, then went to lunch. She was happy to get away from the boys for a while, and I was happy to get some time with the girl who gave me my first Mother's Day.

When we got home, my husband made me a margarita and we sat out on the deck talking about our trip while the little guys were napping. My husband had done laundry, fed the kids lunch and cleaned up afterward, and he got all the little guys down for their naps. As if that wasn't enough, he fixed a couple things around the house. When the boys started waking up, he told me to go relax, and while I parked myself on the couch with the iPad, he got everyone up, fed the baby a bottle, and set the other kids up with snacks outside. Later, he made dinner, cleaned up from dinner, gave all the kids their baths, fed the baby, put all the kids to bed, ran to the grocery store, ran the dishwasher, made Princess's lunch for today, and set the coffee for this morning. When he was at the store, he got me a piece of my favorite cake to have while we watched our shows and he folded the laundry. Seriously, what did I do to deserve such an amazing husband?? I went the entire day without changing a diaper, folding laundry, making a bottle, cleaning up a snack, or serving a meal. I felt like the luckiest mom in the world! This was the most special Mother's Day ever!

Me with my loves - at least 3 are looking at the camera!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Favorites of the Week


"It's a good thing I didn't have to go to school today because I need to finish the Fire Fly level on my Batman game." - Pirate

Hearing Trouble say "Fucks". Having him repeat it. Then realizing he is saying "Fox" because they are doing 'OX' words on SuperWhy. Maybe I need my hearing checked. Or he needs a Phonics lesson.

Me: "Did you touch the pee that spilled on the floor?" Trouble: "No. I just splashed my foot in it."

Other happenings

Cleaning up the puddle of pee on the bathroom floor when Trouble tried to dump his own potty seat into the toilet.

Taking apart two sofa pillows to find the microscopic pirate swords Trouble hid from Pirate.

Cutting toenails on stinky clammy feet. Seriously one of the grossest Mommy jobs out there.

Cleaning up baby pee and poop when 5 simultaneously did both all over the changing table.

Listening to the fight over fruit snacks: Scooby Doo vs. Cars

Going to Pirate's Mother's Day party. His present says that he loves me for buying him toys and shirts. Works for me.

Aunt Na's Monday

Aunt Na is my sister. Her day on Monday was funnier than anything that happened here this week. Hopefully she doesn't mind me sharing. Here is Aunt Na's Facebook status summing up her Monday:
summary of my day...Went to work in a hat because I tried to save money by dying my own hair and the result was a gorgeous shade of neon yellow, found out that my DNA is MIA b/c the lab had no record of me being there, Nate got sick but I couldn't go home b/c I have no more paid leave, I hit a giant goose on the ride home, yet am so stupid I misidentified it as a swan, paid $250 to "fix" my highlighter head (remember I was trying to save money) and now I have red hair.
I almost peed my pants as she would call me throughout the day telling me about what was going on with her. I also had the pleasure of being on the phone with her when she hit the goose, which she also referred to as a bird, duck, and peacock. In case you're wondering, her son was better that evening, her hair looks great, her DNA was found, and the giant bird is now in birdie heaven.

As always, never a dull moment in this house of chaos!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Children Are Watching

This poem was a part of my Mother's Day gift from Pirate's school party.  It's so sweet and made me cry, so I had to share.

** I'm not into plagiarism, I swear. The Birthday Paper from junior year in high school taught me how to correctly cite my sources, and I carried that knowledge through many research papers in college. There is no author listed on this poem. I even googled it to find the author and only found 'Author Unknown'. Feel free to share if you know who wrote this.

Children Are Watching

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I learned that little things can be special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick,
and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me good night,
and I felt loved and safe.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it,
and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought i wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I learned most of life's lessons
that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I knew there is a God I could always talk to
and I learned to trust in God.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you give your time and money to help people who had nothing,
and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw how you handled your responsibilities,
even when you didn't feel good,
and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to
be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked at you and wanted to say,
Thanks for all the things I saw...
When you thought I wasn't looking!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

From riding bikes to driving cars

I took Princess out last night to ride bikes again. She's doing a great job! She's a little scared of riding on the sidewalk, so for now we're sticking to the pool parking lot down the street from our house. Both of us were still working on riding well when we went out last night. We had a good time though, laughing at ourselves getting used to riding our bikes. We even had a few races across the parking lot! I enjoyed the free feeling of riding a bike. It didn't feel as torturous as running. I did not enjoy the way the bike seat hurt my butt. I just assumed that a butt my size would provide better cushioning against a bike seat. Apparently the extra 'junk in the trunk' is for nothing. My butt is still sore today!

As we were riding around the parking lot, a car pulled in and parked near the entrance. The driver and passenger both got out and switched seats. It was a teenage girl and her mom. The girl had been driving and they switched for the mom to get behind the wheel. When they left, I found myself watching their car drive all the way down the street until I couldn't see it anymore. As I watched the car, I thought about how I will be that mom one day and how she was once me. I wondered if she saw the irony in our situations, me with my little girl on a bike, her with her big girl in a car. I immediately thought about how one day, in the not too far off future, I will be taking my little girl out to learn how to drive a car. And that thought terrified me. Not because I'm afraid of her being an awful driver, but because I realized it is inevitable that she is going to grow up.

I thought about how she will drive a car. She will go to high school. She will become independent. She won't need me as much as she does now. Not needing me is the scary part. She will have her own friends and a boyfriend. She will study and work and hang out with friends. She will go to college, she will meet the right guy for her and get married. She will have her own family. All of these things make me sad. Don't get me wrong - I want all of these things for Princess. I want her to be successful and happy and healthy. I want her to find love like I did and have a family of her own. I want her to experience the joy of being a mother and a wife. But at the same time, I don't. I just want her to stay little forever. I want to freeze time and keep her where she is in life. I like that she wants me around, and that she lets me fix her hair and give out snacks when she has a playdate. I like checking her homework and making her lunch. I like knowing where she is every minute of the day and night. I like being able to protect her from the world. I know that I won't always be able to do that.

While I was lost in these thoughts about the future, I heard "Mommy!" from across the parking lot and I snapped back to the present, to my little girl who needed a help getting started so we could race again. She hadn't even noticed the car come into the lot. I blinked back the tears from my eyes and rode over to my girl so we could finish our bike ride. As she was telling me about her day at school, I found myself really listening to what she had to say, because I realized that she won't always want to share every detail of her life with me. For now, I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible, and hope that the future stays distant. And when it comes to her driving a car, this is the only way I want to picture it.

September 2004
March 2005

Monday, May 7, 2012

Having a big family isn't an excuse...

Over the weekend, I learned that having a big family is not an excuse to not do things. It definitely makes certain things harder, but we can't always use it as an excuse to get out of doing stuff. There are still things that we won't attempt because of having so many kids. But there are things that we are able to do that we hadn't  done before. Nothing major, but things that we pushed off before thinking it would be too much. Going places is still difficult, and will be for a while. If we're truly not going to enjoy going to an event because we're spending the whole time managing the kids, we'll wait on that until they are older.  I will continue to choose to stay home during the day over taking all of the kids out for a quick trip to the grocery store to to pick something up from Target. With 5 kids, there is no such thing as a "quick trip" anywhere. Loading and unloading the van in itself takes more time than it is worth. If I have the choice to run errands during the day with all the kids or wait until the evening when my husband is home, it's a no brainer! But I know from experience that if the school nurse calls and Princess is sick, I can load the four boys in the van and get Princess back home in ten minutes. That is truly a Mom Superpower!

There are times where it is just easier to say no to doing something. There are also times where we try something and find out that before we try that again, we have to do things differently. For example, last weekend we went to my sister in law's house to eat crabs. Having a newborn, a one year old who is scared that we are just dropping him off therefore crying when anyone else even looks at him, and a terrible two year old who gets into absolutely everything in sight, made it impossible for either of us to sit down, let alone attempt pick and eat crabs. (I am aware that is probably the longest run-on sentence ever.) Sometimes if we get invited somewhere it is easier to not go, or to have just one of us go and take a couple kids instead of all of them.

The last time we went to church as a family on our own was in July of 2009, about a month after Trouble was born. Pirate had just turned two, and couldn't sit still. Trouble cried for the last half of the Mass, and Princess and Pirate whined almost the whole time. Back then, my husband was working every other weekend, and I never would have attempted taking three kids to church by myself the weekends he was at work. We thought it was too hard to take all the kids to church, so on his weekends off, we would take turns going to Mass, or just not go. We all went to church when Trouble was baptized, then again when Donkey was baptized. Both of those times, we depended on our families to help with the other kids while the baptism took place. Princess made her First Communion last weekend, and we only took Pirate with us to the Mass. We  realized that it is important for at least the older kids to go to church, so this weekend we decided that we will go back to taking turns taking the kids to church. Eventually we will attempt taking everyone, but not for a while. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of doing things that are important to your faith.

We have never hosted a playdate at our house. Princess has gone to friends' houses to play before, but never invited anyone over here. When she would ask, I would always say, "One day. It's too hard with all the kids at home right now.". In my defense, I don't know a lot of her friends' parents very well. Having all the kids is an excuse not to go to her school to visit during the day or to volunteer at events, just because you can't take other kids. She has had friend parties for her birthday the past two years, and I have met the friends' parents, but I don't know them well. We also live on kind of a main road, and most of our neighbors are older. If we lived on a court or in a smaller neighborhood, I'm sure we'd have kids in and out all the time. Anyway, Princess hosted her first playdate yesterday with her best friend. They ride the bus together, go to Religious Ed together, and Princess has gone to her house to play before. I am so glad I finally gave in and let her have a friend over. We worked around naps and the boys running around and the girls were able to play together. They had a great time! When her mom came to pick Princess's friend up, she brought her little brother who is Pirate's age. They will go to kindergarten together next year. He jumped right in and started playing with the boys like they had been friends forever. It made me so happy to see the kids having friends to play with, and knowing that if I give things like this a chance they will work out fine. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of doing things that are important to your kids.

This weekend I also took Princess and Pirate to do a fundraising walk for March of Dimes. In the past I never would have attempted to do this with all the kids. Having my husband home on weekends is definitely a help because I didn't have to take everyone. That would have been impossible. I took the oldest two kids with me and they did great! I should note that I completely underestimated how far 4 miles is, and given the choice again, I would have just taken one of the little guys in a stroller. Princess walked the whole thing and didn't complain once. Pirate made it halfway then had a complete meltdown. He was sweaty and dragging. Why did I bring him? Because I gave in that morning when he started crying that he wanted to go. Again, completely underestimated how long it was. *Sidenote - this walk made me a little nervous about the 5k I am supposed to "run" at the end of June. I can't imagine the sweat. Thankfully, one of our friends offered us an umbrella stroller for Pirate so he could take a break. At first, he freaked out about the stroller. I guess it's degrading to be going on 5 and riding in a stroller. I didn't care, it was the only way to finish. In the end, he was really happy that he got to ride the rest of the way and eat his goldfish. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of doing things that are important to your friends.

Princess just recently learned how to ride her bike with not training wheels. Yes, we are aware that most kids knew how to ride way before now. It was one of those things that we would think of teaching her, say we'd do it next weekend, forget, then remember at the end of the weekend. It's ok though, she is now an official bike rider, and only occasionally hits a street sign :) Pirate wanted to start riding his bike as well, and my husband made sure he took time to take them each out individually to ride over the weekend. He also bought a bike that both of us can use so we can go riding with the kids. He was able to go out for a ride alone yesterday. Then I did it too - I rode a bike for the first time in probably fifteen years. It has probably been longer than that because I didn't look at my bike again once I started driving. It's funny how when you're a teenager you can't wait to drive and not use a bike and now that I'm an adult I can't wait to go for a bike ride when my husband gets home today! We also spent way more time outside this weekend than we have in a while. Donkey doesn't get to play outside much because I need to be there with him, so usually I just stay in with the babies while the three big kids play in the yard. I do take him for walks with me around the neighborhood, and he got to play out back for a while over the weekend. Watching a new walker get used to walking in Crocs and on the grass never gets old! We spent lots of family time outside getting active this weekend, and it made us feel really good. We set a good example for the kids showing them that we can go for bike rides and long walks and run and enjoy ourselves. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of things important to your health.

It is difficult to have a big family. I know that it is a challenge to do anything having so many kids. I know that we will not do some things as a family until the kids are older. 5 may not see the inside of a restaurant until he is a teenager! But I know we can't stay shut inside our house forever. It is important to get out and go places and exercise and play with friends and support great causes. The best part? Doing all this stuff out of the house completely exhausts the kids so they go to bed without argument and sleep all night!

ready for bed!

exhausted after a fun weekend!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Favorites of the week


"When I grow up, I'm going to marry Princess." - Pirate when he sees Princess in her First Communion dress.

"Ew, Pirate. That is so gross. You can't marry your sister." - Princess reacting to the above statement.

"I hided my ninjas from Trouble. But I hided them too good. I can't find them anywhere." - Pirate

"You can come down from timeout, Pirate, but you can't throw your place mat on the floor anymore!" - Trouble letting Pirate out of timeout, but it had nothing to do with a place mat.

"My teacher was at school today. I guess she didn't have her baby anymore." - Pirate after his teacher came back from maternity leave.

Other happenings

Cleaning poop off of the kitchen floor after changing a poop filled Pull-Up. It was also on my arm and Trouble's legs and foot. Needless to say, we had an emergency bath at 9:30 pm and lost a pair of pajamas. I don't clean poop off of clothes.

Watching Trouble dance to "I'm Sexy & I Know It" when it came on Pandora, and beingimpressed/embarrassed that he knew a lot of the words.

Seeing Princess ride her bike all on her own, finally! (She only hit two signs and a post.)

Donkey swiping Trouble's juice cup when Trouble wasn't looking, drinking the entire cup, and both of them crying at the same time because the juice was gone.

Catching Trouble running around the basement after taking off his pants for no apparent reason.

Donkey sticking his fingers in our noses. He hasn't learned that you can't pick your friend's nose.

Trouble was scratching his butt and I told him to stop. He proceeded to start singing "Scratchy my butt hole" to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman". I can't make this stuff up!

Never a dull moment in this house of chaos!

No. You will never sleep again...

Ok, maybe the title of this post is a little harsh. You will sleep. We need to sleep in order to survive. But you will never sleep the same again once you are a parent. If you are a woman, your sleeplessness (I totally made up that word) will begin while you are pregnant. And from that point on, you won't sleep, like really really good sleep, again. You'll get used to this new way of sleeping, and eventually it will be all you know. It's been a little over 9 years since I found out I was pregnant the first time. I barely remember what sleep was like before that time.

So, when you're pregnant, sleep sucks, at least at the end anyway. If you're lucky like me, it sucks most of the way through. In the beginning I was up to pee 157 times every night. When that wore off a little, the most insane heartburn kicked in. I slept with antacids on my nightstand. I would wake up with acid in my throat like I was choking. That lasted through the end of the pregnancy. This last time, I had horrible hip and leg pain from 5 months to the end. I'm assuming it was because of being pregnant for 2 straight years. Then I had sciatica on top of all that. My hips and legs would hurt after a half hour or so, so I'd have to roll to the other side. It's like trying to roll a beached whale back into the ocean. Add in three or four other kids who randomly wake up at night, and you're screwed.

Then you have the baby and sleep in the hospital, but let's be honest... hospital beds aren't ideal. To me, getting home in my own bed and finally being able to sleep on my stomach is like heaven. Except there's a newborn sleeping in my room who wakes up to eat every three to four hours. With Princess, my husband and I were novices. We both got up every time she cried that first night home. We didn't know what we were doing, bumping into each other in her room, making her bottle, trying to figure out who should feed her and change her. When she would go back to sleep, I would get this panicky feeling that she wasn't breathing or that she might stop breathing or that something might happen to her. I think I stayed awake all night worrying about her being ok. The next day my mom gave us this amazing idea where we could take turns at night. That way one of us could get a few hours of sleep while the other one got up. It helped us a lot. But when the baby wakes up, regardless of who gets up with her, the other parent wakes up too. So, you're not exactly sleeping through the night.

By the fifth baby, the first night home wasn't as scary. I went to bed at 8:30 right after the other kids, so I had a solid four hours before he woke up for my feeding. When you have a baby sleeping in your room, you're always aware of the baby's presence. You hear all their noises. This time, 5 would start to grunt as he was waking up, right before he would cry. That was the cue to get up and get him out of the room before he woke everyone else. Having a lot of kids makes nighttime trickier. We have the three older kids in one room, and the babies in the other room. We kept the baby in our room for the first two months, so Donkey basically had his own room. He's a really light sleeper and we were concerned about having to go in his room to get the baby. We didn't need two babies awake at once. When 5 started sleeping through the night, we moved him to his crib, and for the most part it is working out well.

But we still aren't sleeping normally. We get the new baby to start sleeping all night, and of course one or two or sometimes three of the other kids starts getting up. Trouble wakes up crying during the night because he has kicked off his covers. The kid who opens the front door and escapes, climbs onto the dining room table, and tries to fix his own snacks, can't pull up his own blankets? I don't get it. But he wakes up crying for us to cover him. He was also waking up crying last month because he had molars coming through. Expert mom that I am didn't realize this until I got a BabyCenter newsletter saying 'your two and a half year old may be getting molars at this time'. No wonder he was shoving toys in his mouth all the day. I just equated it to him being trouble. At the same time, Donkey's first set of molars was coming through, so he was waking up crying at night too. Then there are the normal night time wake ups where Princess or Pirate have to go to the bathroom or need a drink. Twice in the last 3 weeks, Pirate has fallen out of bed, so we have to go put him back in his bed. Princess and Pirate have bunk beds, and Pirate is on the bottom. He has plenty of space. Like my husband has room to lay with him in the bed and still have space. But as I've mentioned before, Pirate is a hoarder, and has about 286 stuffed animals in his bed with him. The other night I seriously caught him taking Donkey's stuffed dalmatian out of his crib because "I just love this puppy so much and I need to sleep with him". Apparently the other stuffed animals weren't enough and his hoarding has turned into stealing animals from his brothers. Anyway, the animals took over more than half of the bed, and Pirate fell out. Twice.

Now we've also hit the times where the baby wakes up Donkey or vice-versa, so we have two babies up at the same time. We get 5 when he wakes up because we don't want him to wake up Donkey, so we take him and give him a bottle. Or we'll grab Donkey real fast so he doesn't wake up 5. But we're not always quick enough, and sometimes they're both up at the same time. That's a blast because we both have to get up to deal with them.

So, yes, we sleep. But nothing like we used to. I can vaguely remember being a teenager and sleeping until noon on weekends just because I didn't feel like getting up and I had no responsibilities. Now, if we stretch it, staying in bed until 8 on a weekend is a treat! This usually involves having at least two of the kids in our bed watching tv. Last Saturday we had all five in our bed. But they were happy and weren't rushing us to make breakfast. Most nights when they wake up they end up sleeping in our bed for at least part of the night.

I know things will calm down and at some point in time, they will all sleep all night with occasional bad dreams or trips to the bathroom. And one day, they'll be teenagers going out at night (shudder), getting home after we are in bed. My guess is that I still won't sleep soundly, and I'll be worrying about where they are and if they are safe. I think once you're a parent, you never sleep the same again. I'm in no rush to find out for sure. For now, I'll take the sleep how it comes, because I know my babies are all safe and in the big picture, I'm lucky to get to wake up with them during the night. But I do still miss my good sleep!