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Posts Tagged ‘Children’

I guess today the answer is to blog.

I’ve been spending some time thinking about where I want to go with this.  Do I publish whatever it is I write on my little-read/unpaid blog or do I spend time trying to publish my writing for pay?  Ultimately, I think the answer is both.

It looks like my last blog post was in March and honestly, I’m shocked to see that I still have people checking in here and there.  Wow, hi!

Since then I’ve been, you know, pregnant.  That’s a lot of work.  I’ve also been a slave to the phenomenon that is youth baseball.  We had four boys playing on five different teams this year.  It was fun!  It was oh so much fun!  The only thing I can say to that is I’m eternally grateful it wasn’t four girls dancing in five different dance troupes.  I think that would have killed me.

And lest you find yourself wondering why five baseball teams should be a burden, let me assure you there was more.  There was also girl’s JV tennis, flute lessons and all of the stuff that comes with the end of the school year–art fairs, very cute preschool plays, field trips, concerts, recitals and mommy guilt.  I’m afraid to say I’ve continued to fail at getting 1,000 lap-hours of reading in for my preschoolers.  I’ve also asked my big kids to babysit too much.

*sigh*

Basically, I barely had time to think.  And I needed to think for many reasons, not the least of which was to figure out where I’m going with this writing thing.

I also barely had time to eat, which means I was subsisting on PB&J and that, it turns out, makes me into a very, very low-energy pregnant woman.  When it was finally time for school to get out and about time for me to take my one-hour glucose test I started eating much more sensibly and voila!  I had a normal amount of pregnant-lady energy again.  I also had a lot less back pain, which I find surprising.  I still failed the one-hour glucose test though.  I find out tomorrow if I passed the three-hour test.  I hesitate to hazard a guess.

Nevertheless, all of that is behind us now.  The kids opted out of summer baseball and I opted out of signing them up for any other summer activities.  That has left us with six weeks of blessed boredom.  So far we’ve managed to fill this boredom with three pool parties (two of our own and one elsewhere), gardening, yard work and long neglected household projects.  Each day feels freer when one of those household project suckers gets checked off the list.

Today will apparently be a day for moving bedrooms around in anticipation of the little one’s September arrival.  I think I may even begin the job of painting Marie’s new girly bedroom.

The next several weeks of boredom will include a trip to the White Mountains, more painting and decorating newly reconfigured bedrooms, more neglected household projects, lots of summer reading, hopefully lots of writing, some crocheting of the new baby’s crib-blanket-from-Mom, waiting for crayons to go on sale for 20-cents a box at WalMart and getting the back-to-school shopping/scavenging through hand-me-downs under control.

All in all it leaves me wondering how all you people with zero to three children manage to make it through a single day without dying of boredom.  Really, how do you DO it?!

At any rate, back to the thinking about writing thing.  It seems to me I can both blog and write for profit.  Lots of people do it, right?  I can at least try.  (I say try because it’s not exactly the golden age of writing for profit at the moment right now, is it?)

For the past little bit I’ve been working on getting some fiction going.  I took a creative writing workshop a few years ago and I think I was pretty successful.  The instructor encouraged me to enter some contests and maybe I’ll do that again.  The idea of forging ahead on my own is a little scary though.  Finding out what’s buried in my head is a little scary too.  It’s always so dark.  We’ll see where it goes.

This morning I started working on some personal essays too.  That was easier though it’s where I get stuck on the idea of separating professional work from blogging.  For now I’m going to give it a try and see how it shakes out.  There’s lots from our daily life that can find a home here.

So, here’s to beginning again.  We’ll see how long I can keep it going!

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Ah, Family Literacy Night.  Though it comes but once a year it brings with it mommy-guilt that lasts and lasts.

For those of you not familiar with the phenom that is Family Literacy Night, let me introduce you.  It’s the result of a lot of work and very noble intentions on the part of our town’s public elementary school faculty.  All three schools cooperate to present an evening of workshops, free books and performances all in the name of getting kids and families reading.  Now that’s a cause I can get behind.

Normally.

The free books are great.  My five-year-old took his to school the next day for show and tell.  It was all about caverns and the various things that hang around in them.  A week later he’s still carrying it everywhere.  The performances are entertaining and enlightening.  The refreshments are even better.  But the seminars, oh, the seminars.

Last year we attended one on literacy games.  It was really good.  We played one or two of the games.  The kids decorated game pieces.  We even got a big stack of mimeographed game boards with accompanying directions.

I think we were probably still at the school when my eldest (and obviously wisest) son said, “You’ll never play any of those games.”  I strenuously disagreed.

I brought them home.

I put them in a drawer or a closet or something.

I never played them. 

When enough pieces were lost and game boards were sacrificed in the name of arts and crafts I relocated them to the recycle bin.

This year’s seminar was on the importance of reading to young children.  One of the two teachers leading the group pointed out that research shows that children need a total of 1,000 lap hours, during which they’re read to by the person who cares for them, before kindergarten in order to be reading ready.

I am not kidding when I tell you that five-year-old Ben’s head snapped around to me and his eyes widened into saucers as he silently mouthed the words “ONE THOUSAND?!”

My thoughts exactly.

I’m a little slow so it took a few days but I finally did some math to get my mind around this.  If the lap time you have with your child is reading bedtime stories, I think it’s safe to assume you’re spending about thirty minutes each evening.  At that rate you would have to be sure to never miss a day from birth to age 5.48 to achieve the magic 1,000 hours.  If, however, you don’t intend to bring a pile of picture books to the hospital in your overnight bag and you think you might have a cold sometimes or you are considering ever having an outing that ends in toddlers falling asleep for the night in the car, you might want to bump that up to 45 minutes a day.  You can reach 1,000 hours in 3.66 years that way–or you can do it in five or so years with a reprieve here and there.

Either way, good luck.

Tonight I decided to watch the clock while I read to my three little ones.  I choose wordy books (Board books are for amateurs!) to make sure we got the maximum amount of time in.  We started with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  Before we were through Ben wanted to know if he could leave.  I said no.  When the first title was complete, however, he slid off the bed, army crawled to the door and jumped up to announce “I got away!” before running off.  He lasted twelve minutes.

On book two, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, Marie was fidgeting.  She grabbed at the pages.  She bit me.  She stood on my lap, danced and tried to walk up to my shoulders.  She eventually escaped.

I’m not sure what the third book was now but James, the last hold out, stood up and walked away in the middle of that one.

We got 25 minutes in.

God help any of you who have children who can’t sit for a book because this is what happened with a couple of my kids who can sit.  I quake in fear for the others.  I guess they’re just doomed to the same fate as those who weren’t breastfeed for twelve to twenty four months or who didn’t have ugly black and white mobiles hanging over their bassinets or the ones without iPods playing Mozart in their nurseries on a regular basis.  They’re just not going to cut it in any way whatsoever.

The other day at lunch I asked Ben what he thought about needing to be read to for a thousand hours before kindergarten.  He made one of his crazy Ben faces and said, “I’m not doing that!”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it will give me a headache.”

I hope not Ben, but if I don’t get to read you a bedtime story tomorrow and we end up behind I hope you’ll forgive me.  I’m not sure if we got 1,000 lap hours in for your sister before kindergarten either but I have to go to her induction into the Junior National Honor and I might be home a little late.

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When you own a front loading washer with easy-to-push control buttons just above the door and you have small children you should never, ever put a load of towels and underwear in to wash at bedtime.

What happens when you have little kids and start a load of towels and underwear at bedtime is that you congratulate yourself for getting a jump on the morning.  You smuggly tell yourself that because of your forethought you’ll finish the 8-foot pile of laundry still waiting on the floor by dinner the next day.  You know you’re not being terribly honest.  You know it will really take until Wednesday but you still feel good.

In the morning you take your bad self to the laundry room and remove the clothes from the dryer because in addition to putting that one last load in to wash before bed you actually completed about four loads of clothes and diapers the day before.   Afterwards you turn to the washing machine.  That’s when the real fun begins.

You open the washer and stare for a moment of incomprehension.  Being old and pregnant (Don’t tell me it’s not true.  In medical circles I’m referred to as “geriatric OB”) and partially lobotomized from the raising of brain-sucker-outers you notice right away that something’s not right.  You just can’t put your finger on it.

Then you see the puddle of dingy, greasy water coming up to the edge of the washer door. 

Then the odor hits.

Then you know.

One of your precious little cherubs used one of their sweet, sticky fingers to press the power button mid-wash.  After allowing it to fill with hot water and spin around just enough to mix all the stuff leaky diapers left on the onesies, all the junk from the underpants belonging to pre-schoolers who haven’t mastered the fine art of wiping, all the flotsam and jetsam from kitchen rags that were used to clean things like milk spills and puddles of chicken juice, he or she shut it off.  Then, because you put it in and went to bed, it sat there souring for over twelve hours.

In a moment of homemaking insanity you turn the machine back on and choose all the same settings you picked for this particular load of laundry the night before–stain cycle, hot water, heavy soil, extra rinse.  You press the start button and take the opportunity to panic because NOTHING HAPPENS.  You press it a couple times more.  You stand there and wonder how much it’s going to cost to fix it and if you’re supposed to deal with the fetid pile of fabric and bacteria inside before someone can repair it or if that’s part of the fee.  You are surprised when it suddenly starts working.  You realize that you’re not the only confused one.   The machine also took a minute to comprehend being full of water before being powered-up.  As a result it just starts washing your laundry in The Stinkiest Water Ever ™.

Having had a few electrical impulses burst through your brain by now you’re quicker on the draw.  Without even walking away in confusion first you realize you can’t allow your intimates or the towels you’ll wipe your face with to be washed in pure bacteria.  You turn the whole thing off again and reset it to a 20-minute rinse and spin cycle to eliminate as much gross as possible.

At this point you think you’re approaching the end of this problem when you realize that draining the water causes the odor to permeate your entire house.  It was sealed in the machine when you woke up.  Now it’s being spit from a hose to a semi-open drain pipe and it’s lovely.  It lasts for hours

Finally, it’s time to start the wash load from scratch again.  You program the settings, add  the maximum amount of detergent and a half cup of Borax just to be SURE you won’t smell anything next time you open the washer door.  And you don’t, thank goodness, because if you did you’d be about to start your third hour-and-a-half cycle for this one stinking (literally) load of laundry.

You will not reach the bottom of the eight-foot laundry pile today but there is a bright side–and believe me, I’m the master of finding a bright side.  Instead of the usual three, you will only have to fold and put away one load of laundry this day.  Now tomorrow, that’s another story.

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I’m just so thrilled I had to share. I mean I initially replied in the comments section of the post it went with, but I’m positively silly with excitement over it and I need to commemorate the occasion with a full-blown, has-it-really-been-six-weeks-since-my-last-entry blog post. Having friends and family read my blog is great. Having strangers peek in and actually let me know they’re fans is great too. But a hater?

I. Have. Arrived.

(Thanks Hannah!)

So, Hannah appears to be one of the rabid John and Kate fans I mentioned in the post just below. That’s where I came good and clean with my less than enthusiastic feelings about them and child-rearing for dollars. I gotta tell ya, she let me have it. I’ll show you, actually. Here’s her reply:

wow…
i can’t help but feel bad for all of your 7 children.
it sounds to me like you don’t have enjoyed being a mother at all…
which makes me wonder why it is you decided it was a good idea to have 7 children.
Kate didn’t plan on having 7 children at once…
and if you don’t think she should have helping hands near by, then thats up to you.

but having 7 children one at at time and then complaining on a blog about how much of a bother it is to have that many children…
my god,
you need to look back over your life and think hard long and hard about why you are in the position your in.

enjoy your children while you have them…
they will be gone before you know it.

And then, after she read the other responses and realized I’m not fond of summer vacations with the rugrats in tow she added this:

p.s. don’t take vacations anymore….
your children will be much happier if you didn’t go anywhere and there was less whining.

Oh my, but it’s delicious! I don’t think I need to think too hard about my life though. I know exactly how I managed to end up with seven children. *wink wink nudge nudge*

So, Hannah says she feels bad for all seven of my children (All of them?! Clearly she’s never met Ben.) because what I’ve written here makes it obvious that I don’t like being a parent and they’d surely be happier if I could find a way to quit complaining.

Ouch! Hannaaahhh!

I knew my point in writing that John & Kate post was to say once and for all that, no, I do not enjoy watching John & Kate because, believe it or not, people ask me if I do.

A lot.

I might have mentioned a couple of other things too–like the fact that I don’t think they’re so amazing to be doing the same job millions of other large families do without lots and lots of free help and big, free paychecks and that I’ll be more than okay if I never see another animated children’s feature. I might have interjected those things but I think I got my point across, didn’t I?

I think I got my point across so I’m confused. Either Hannah thinks I abhor motherhood based on that one post about John and Kate and the fact that I’m over Walt Disney or she’s read a lot more of my blog and she thinks I’m very, very serious when I’m trying to be funny. Whoops!

The truth is this. I never did like Anastasia but I do like my children. Even the boys. Even when they ask me to play with their Matchbox cars. They’re smart and funny and they read this blog AND they laugh about it. There are actually several comments around here from my oldest daughter telling me to keep writing and that my stories are hilarious. So, I guess she doesn’t strenuously object to my whining.

But, while we’re discussing the oh-so-horrible mommy sin of complaining I have a question. What, are we sugar-coating motherhood here? ‘Cause, you know what, I’m not the sugar-coating type and as wonderful and joyful as it is, it’s HARD. It’s expensive, labor intensive and emotionally draining. If you show me a woman who loves, loves, loves every minute of it I’ll show you a liar. In the words of the great Pat Benatar, “love is a battlefield.”

Since this is my blog however, the answer is no, we’re not sugar-coating motherhood here. As Hannah pointed out about my not thinking Kate should have help, it’s up to me. I don’t think that about Kate though. As a mother of seven who knows precisely how much work her life entails, I think most emphatically Kate should have help. I still don’t want to watch her on tv.

But that’s not even my favorite part. My most very favorite part is where Hannah uses the fact that Kate didn’t mean to have seven children at once as some sort of defense. It’s so non-sensical it makes me feel all filled with whimsy!

First of all, Kate had six children at once, not seven but that’s beside the point. How does the fact that Kate Gosselin never planned to have eight children and that she had six at once make her family more sympathetic as far as large families go? Why does the fact that she allowed herself to be implanted with more embryos than she could safely carry give her family a pass on the scorn and derision some people feel justified in spewing at the rest of us? I don’t get it. Having more than a half dozen embryos implanted despite the inherent risks to the health and lives of the mother and all the children strikes me as one of the less responsible ways to have a family.

What if I told you I didn’t plan to have seven children, what would you think of me then? Less, I bet. Okay, I know you would think less of me even though you think well of Kate. You would think less of me even though all of my seven pregnancies combined was less dangerous than the one in which she bore sextuplets after deliberately taking a potentially lethal (and one of her fetuses did die) chance by having too many embryos implanted.

At any rate, I need to thank Hannah for the stellar advice on vacations but I already decided they won’t be worth it until everyone’s old enough to pack their own toothbrushes. Staying home is fine anyway because without corporate sponsorship we happen to have a comfortable home, great yard for playing in and a nice, refreshing pool–all of which I’m grateful for until I’m cleaning them solo. And most importantly, for those days when life with seven kids really does feel like a battle to be won we have a great big bunch of friends with liquor cabinets.

Seriously though, did anyone else happen to catch the episode of John & Kate Plus Eight when they had movie night? Because you can be my witnesses. It wasn’t a blast. While Kate seemed to be yukking it up (for the cameras?) John was decidedly stressed out and NOT having fun. I guess he should have considered that before agreeing to IVF. Hmmmmm.

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People who know me and say things like “You’re so relaxed you’re like Xanax,” may be surprised to know I’m really a nervous wreck. (I have this nagging feeling I’ve blogged about this before.)  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that while my internal dialogue is going like this:

Aaaahahahahahhaahhhhh! They’re using my car’s cigarette lighter to ignite napkins, tissues and football practice jerseys?! Holy crap! I am a terrible mother! What in the world was I thinking by procreating so many times? They’re all talking about me and what a terrible mother I am. Oh, God. That’s the least of my worries. DCFS is definitely going to come knocking at my door this time.

What comes out of my mouth is more like this:

Oh, my! Thank you so much for telling me about that Bill. (Walks quickly but calmly from the front of the van to the door.) David, get out of my car. Your coach is here and you can practice now. Ben, go play on the jungle gym. (Turning back to the other parents and pocketing the lighter with a mental note to never put it back.) They’re trying to kill me. (eye-roll) I guess I can just add this to the list of things I’m going to do to them and their things as payback when they grow up. How long until they move out?

Somehow, no matter what flippin’ insane things are going on around me I can’t bring myself to convey the flippin’ insane way I feel. Instead, I come across with a calm response or a joke or both. On the one hand, it’s probably good. On the other hand I don’t wonder why funny people like Chris Farley and John Belushi end up addicted and subsequently dead.

Anyway, that’s how it goes most days. Other days, not so much. The time I drove myself and four small boys to Boston for a postpartum doctor’s visit was one of the not-so-much days.

Ever the optimist I arranged for Todd to meet us in the parking lot so he could take care of the children in the waiting room. Of course he was late. Todd doesn’t do on time. This required me to lug two rowdy preschoolers, a toddler and a newborn into the office by myself.

It was lovely.

The waiting room was A SCENE. I seem to remember having to let other patients go in front of me as my appointment time came and went without Todd. I can’t say for sure. I’ve blocked out some of the more horrible parts. I know that when he finally did show up I was led away from the waiting room and seated in an orange plastic chair. Given the circumstances it was the most awesome orange plastic chair E.V.E.R.

As the nurse took my blood pressure she asked how things were going. I heard the doctor laugh out loud in his office when I responded that it was great if you like living in a frat house for little people.

Ten minutes later he walked into the exam room, sat down and started a conversation that went like this:

Doctor: Frat house for little people, ha?
Me: Yeah.  (Insert pathetic attempt at a chuckle.)  Didn’t you see them in the waiting room?   (Bursts into tears and begs for pharmaceuticals.)

Okay, it wasn’t EXACTLY like that but, sadly, it wasn’t all that much different either. Which brings me to my point.

I still live in a frat house for little people. Maybe more now than I did then since all the boys in question are now walking and talking and spending as much time as possible acquiring new and ever more creative ways to converse about body parts and their various functions. They’ve also broken my couch by diving onto it from an end table when they think they won’t get caught.

This very morning I was sitting on the broken end of the couch folding Mt. Laundry when Ben suggested I move.

Mom, he said. You shouldn’t sit there because you could break it worse with your big butt.

Oh, the tact.

I didn’t answer at first. I just continued folding and thinking about the fact that I really could lose some weight but, honestly, I don’t care. Then it dawned on me that hey, even if I have more to worry about than my weight at the moment, I don’t really want to hear comments about it from my five-year-old so I said, You know, Ben. Women don’t really like it when people tell them they have a big butt. His response? Well, you do.

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

I guess I should have known my college aversion to all things Greek would eventually come back to bite me in the ass.

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