Archive for July, 2009

it’s Friday……again….

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Most people think of Fridays in terms of TGIF.  I do as well but Friday is my self-appointed cleaning day.  Vacuum, mop, dust, clean bathrooms, you know the drill.  This day just seems to work well for me.  The house is clean while everyone is home and I can relax and spend time with my family over the weekend without feeling guilty about the state of the house.

But it always seems to be Friday again…it’s similar to the old adage that time flies.  My daily routine is governed by this rule.  Wake up.  Fix breakfast.  Get dressed.  Blink.  Lunchtime!  Blink.  Snack!  Blink.  “Hey Mom – what’s for dinner?”  Blink.  Bath time.  Blink…….you get the picture.  I feel like I just blinked and discovered that my oldest daughter will be 8 in two days and she now has 2 little sisters.  Where did the last decade go?  Have I accomplished anything noteworthy?  Someone please say yes….

That’s enough for now…I still have to finish vacuuming and mopping, clean the bathrooms and bake Abigail’s birthday cake.  Of course, it’s lunchtime.  Blink…..

11 days and counting…

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

…until school starts…thank goodness!!

We have had an amazingly quick summer.  The main objective has been survival.  An equally important objective has been to remain sane.  That’s going to require a separate blog post……..My part of the survival plan has been to keep the girls out of Robert’s way as he completes the last semester of his year back in school.  It has been the hardest semester by far.

I was great at my part in June.  The girls and I went to North Carolina for an entire week with my parents.  A week back home and then another whole week in Birmingham for camp.  I even took the dog.  This coincided with Robert’s finals for the first half of the summer.  Things were going well.

July was lackluster in comparison. Abigail and Hattie have both spent time with their grandparents, leaving us with only 2 children for a total of about a week.  The dynamic with 2 instead of 3 is vastly different.  The two left at home don’t argue as much and the one who has been gone is spoiled when she comes back.  (No problem there…that is the grandparents’ job!)  However, there have been other stresses at work.  Robert is going to graduate in less than 2 weeks.  He has been job hunting since April.  The economy is struggling.  You can fill in the blanks yourself…

As a general rule, I love summer.  I despise being cold so summer is the best in that respect.  I love the beach and the pool.  I also love the lack of schedule.  The girls have gone to a small summer camp 3 mornings a week (mostly so I can go to the grocery store alone 😉 ) but other than that our time is unplanned.  The alarm clock is on vacation and most days, the girls can stay in their pajamas all day if they want to.  We have had countless trips to the pool, play time with friends, walks around the neighborhood and a few special treats.  Over all it has been a success.

But, as August rapidly approaches, we are all secretly longing for the routine.  It is nice to have the week structured with school and planned errand and cleaning days.  A couple of days of freedom on the weekend round it out.  I don’t know why but it just works.  I’m looking forward to it already!!

I’m not feeling very funny today….

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

…I’ll just go ahead and apologize for that.

Life as a grown up is hard.  There are many factors that contribute to life’s difficulties.  The pressure to go back and finish something you wish you had completed a long time ago.  The pressure to find a job and support your family.  The frustration of waiting on someone else to decide your fate.  The energy required to raise children, be a good spouse, a good friend and a good person in general. The energy it takes to deal with things in a healthy way.

Some times it feels easier to bottle up your feelings to keep from hurting, disappointing, or just from telling others.  Merely admitting that things are not fabulous can be difficult in and of itself.  Unfortunately, not dealing with what you are feeling always comes back with a vengeance.  It seems easier to just take a day “off”.  But when the vacation is over, the laundry, stress, homework, house cleaning, upset child, job search, sick friend and spouse are all waiting for your immediate and undivided attention.  So instead of trying to avoid all the stresses and difficulties, you deal with them and focus on moving forward.

I’ve often said how great it would be to be a kid again.  The lack of responsibility, knowledge and stress that comes with age.  That being said, no amount of money would be worth revisiting junior high…..

I hope that all of you who read this today take a moment to think about the good things in your life.  Life is a gift.  How you choose to live it is your responsibility…..

do you like being in trouble?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

The answer is a resounding “no”.  “So why did you do that?”  “I don’t know.”

This is the most recent discussion between me and my 5 1/2 year old, Hattie.  I seem to remember asking my older daughter the exact same thing at this age….

I think most children have a distinct period of stubbornness.  If your child has never had a period of stubbornness, please do not tell me.  I don’t want to know.  And for goodness’ sake, don’t say it out loud – it could start at any moment!!  Anyway, for some children it is the terrible 2s, 3s for others.  For us, it is 4 1/2 to 6.  It’s a LONG period with a LOT of stubbornness.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that children have to discover their own identity apart from parents and siblings.  But I also know that as parents it is our job to set limits and teach our children about making good decisions and accepting the consequences of their actions, whether good or bad.  Wow.  I just realized that I might watch too much Dr. Phil…

One of my friends once said that she wanted her home to be a place where her children felt free to be themselves without being judged.  She is a smart woman. I didn’t even realize that was something I desired until I read it!

Still, we struggle between setting rules and allowing freedoms.  After having the above dialogue with Hattie for what seems like the 1000th time, I started to question the rules.  Is it really important to stay in your seat during meals?  Yes.  Is it important to be kind to others and try to remember (and follow) the golden rule?  Yes.  Is it critical to be reminded daily how much you are loved.  YES.  Is life fair?  No.  That is the most difficult thing we are dealing with in our house at the moment.  Why did (insert name of choice here) get a piece of gum at school and I didn’t?  Why does she get to have a birthday party in the summer and mine is always in the winter?  Why does she………….?

Unfortunately, “because” is no longer a sufficient answer.  My question is, why do these questions and problems always seem to come up when I am exhausted, busy or stressed?  Because life isn’t fair.  That is so difficult to understand….even for me…..

bubble magic

Monday, July 20th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I was at the Pediatric Cardiologist with my daughter, Laura.  As the nurse was doing an EKG to check her heart, Laura became upset.  VERY upset.  The nurse pulled out a bottle of bubbles, started blowing and sent the tears packing.  How quickly we forget the simple things!  A tiny soap bubble can send even the grumpiest toddler into fits of laughter…well worth the price of a tiny bottle of “magic potion”!

Several summers ago I had blown tiny bubbles to the brink of passing out.  I was on a quest…bigger bubbles…giant bubbles!  First on the list was some sort of apparatus.  We tried making wands out of string and straws, coat hangers, etc…  I was not feeling the elation I was looking for.  Within a few keystrokes on the computer I had found  Jackpot!  I ordered the family set of 4 wands.  The wait for them to arrive was near excruciating but it was totally worth it! Of course we quickly ran out of the solution they sent.  The quest continues!  A little more typing and I found a recipe!!! YIPPEE!  I don’t remember where I found this – I apologize profusely if it’s yours!

Giant Bubble Recipe

1 cup regular Dawn dish-washing liquid

1/4 cup light Karo syrup

12 cups water

Pour all in a large container and stir. You can use glycerin (available at the drug store) in place of the syrup – it tends to work better – but it’s not something I had in my cabinet already and the benefits weren’t large enough to warrant an extra errand. I usually triple or quadruple the recipe.  If you put it in an airtight plastic tub, this concoction will last all summer.  Try to keep it free of debris.  Any leaves or froth in the mixture will make it very difficult to get good bubbles. Be warned, this mixture will kill grass.  Bubbles popping on the grass will not kill it but the solution spilling on the grass will.  We learned this the hard way…..

This is hands down the best summer toy at our house. My girls love it. I have made this in a big red wagon for outdoor birthday parties.  Be warned – neighborhood children will flock to your driveway at the mere mention of giant bubbles.  Grown-ups and children alike can’t help being mesmerized.

Happy bubbling!

what was I thinking?

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Why do I get myself into these situations?  I should know by now that it never goes smoothly…

Robert is out of town.  I didn’t want to cook (no surprise).  So I decided to take the girls to a local pizza joint.  I was in such a good mood I even let the girls invite one of our neighbors.  WHAT WAS I THINKING???

We get there.  Fine.  We pay.  Fine.  We get through the line and find a table.  Fine. Everyone starts eating.  Great!  It doesn’t last long…

…the littlest one asks to go to the potty.  Wow. I’m amazed.  We dash off to the potty with no issues.  We get back to the table, I set her in her seat and she screams at the top of her lungs – “I need to go POOP!”  Wow.  Didn’t see that one coming!  We dash back to the bathroom for nothing more than a little air and head back to the table.  No problem!  As soon as we get there, the other 3 girls jump up and head for the bathroom.  Of course the little one wants to go too and starts pitching a fit.  I didn’t want to leave the table unattended because the girl busing tables was really eager and I didn’t want to lose all the pizza I had just paid for.  A minute or two of suffering and I finally get the 2 year old settled.  Just then my oldest daughter comes running back to tell me that the middle child needs help.  Woo hoo!  With the 2 year old in tow I head back to the bathroom.  Three times in less than 10 minutes.  Can I call Guinness Book of Records yet?  Finally everyone has used the bathroom…in a big way. I’ve washed my hands so much that my fingers are starting to prune.

Back at the table, everyone has finished dinner and is eating dessert.  Out of the blue Abigail suggests that I might want to let the girl at the front know that the toilet is clogged.  YIPPEE!!!

As a final stab to the gut, the neighbor child says “Hey, there’s an arcade in the back!”  Don’t even get me started on that….

it’s not the number…

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

…it’s the shape of the body on top.  I’m referring to my scale.  I’m being honest here…the number is fine.  It’s not where it was 8.5 years ago but you can’t gain and lose 30+ pounds twice and 40+ pounds once and still have the same number as before you had any children.  At least for me, that’s not a goal.  Like I said, this is not about the number…

It is, however, about the shape.  Once I lost the majority of the weight from my pregnancies, things didn’t seem to be in the same place as before…NO one told me about that when they were handing out tidbits of baby wisdom!! So, now I am left with wobbly bits (thank you for that fabulous phrase Bridget Jones!) in places where I’d rather not have anything wobble.

Time for a plan.  Eat right, exercise.  It’s sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Once again, one side of my brain is in hysterics.  I have three young daughters.  I don’t have or want a nanny or maid.  My days consist of refereeing arguing sisters, doing laundry, lifeguarding the girls at the pool, savoring nap time, doing laundry, supervising crafts, doing laundry, cleaning and coming up with something healthy and palatable for dinner.

I have read enough articles and seen enough reports on my favorite morning show to know what to do to get in the shape I want to be in.  I don’t need a trainer or even a gym membership. It’s just a matter of doing it.  Now that’s going to be the hard part….  😉

who’s in charge here?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

That’s an excellent question.  I’m beginning to think that it’s not me.

I came to this realization a few moments ago when I was rocking the 2 (almost 3) year old to sleep for her nap.  That’s right – I said it – rocking her…to sleep….for her nap.  What exactly is going on here?

When Abigail and Hattie were little I made sure they fell asleep on their own and I turned up the music and ran the vacuum when they were napping so that they would learn to sleep through anything.  Guess what?  They can sleep through anything.  Thunder, lightning, nuclear holocaust…anything.  With Laura, we have quiet time during her nap.  There is a rational explanation….if she doesn’t have a nap, the latter part of the day is almost unbearable.  One half of my brain wholeheartedly agrees with that logic.  The other side is laughing at me.

When Abigail was a baby, I rocked her to sleep every night until she was 15 months old.  She was my first child and I cherished those moments with her.  When she got too big to put her in her bed easily after she fell asleep, we suffered for a few nights while she learned to self-sooth and fall asleep alone.  I had learned my lesson.  When Hattie came along we put her in her bed with her blankie and left the room.  She’s never had a problem.  You would think that I would be a master at this for the third child, right?  I don’t know what happened!!!  Maybe it’s because she’s my baby…my last baby.  Maybe it’s guilt.  Laura has a congenital heart defect that she got from me.  It requires a pacemaker that was installed when she was 13 months old.  Even though I know it’s not my fault there is still some subliminal mom guilt in there somewhere. There’s always been a reason for her (my?) need to be soothed to sleep.  Skinned knees, moving, stomach bugs, surgery, ear infections, bumping her head on the coffee table…the list goes on and on.  Now, I put Laura in her big girl bed, fix her blankie and leave the room.  She waits about 15 seconds then moves out into the hallway with all of her paraphernalia.  She proceeds to lie down, talk, read books, ask us to fix her blankie, etc…until finally falling asleep.  Before going to bed, I pick her up and put her in her bed where she stays for a while before climbing into bed with us.  I’ll ask again…what exactly is going on here?

On other issues, we are better parents.  She goes to time out for hitting or yelling and even goes to her room on her own if she knows she’s been bad.  But still she gets a lot more slack than the other 2 girls.  It seems a lot worse when I put this all in writing….

I guess it’s time for a shift in the balance of power.  I’ll start when we’re out of potty purgatory…or tomorrow…..

dream dinner

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I have this dream.  It involves dinner.  It consists of a family of five – father, mother and 3 daughters.  There is an entire meal of peace.  Everyone loves all the food on their plate and eats it without complaint or face-making.  There is pleasant conversation at a reasonable volume.  No singing or wild gesturing.  Everyone stays seated and uses utensils.  No one ends up with more food in their hair than in their mouth.  There is no fussing, fighting or tattling.  Manners are innate.  Gastric emissions are neither heard nor smelled.  The whole shebang lasts about 30 minutes.  Everyone earns dessert by eating just enough to sustain life. This charade may one day progress to a venue other than in my own house.

Is that really asking too much?  Dream big, right?  😉

potty purgatory

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

I am in potty purgatory.  Trapped somewhere between diapers and big girl underwear.  This, of course, applies to my youngest daughter Laura.  She will be 3 in a few months.  My first 2 successful potty training journeys were almost identical.  There were constant accidents the first day followed by fewer and fewer accidents until the girls were completely trained.  We talked about the potty, used all the right words, sang and danced over every little “accomplishment”.  It took less than a week.  No problem.

This third little girl, however, is different.  She does all things according to her own personal calendar despite what her father and I think.  Week before last, I decided that it was time to potty train.  Laura had shown all the signs of being ready.  Plus, I had a block of 4 days during which I didn’t have to leave the house.  So, last Friday we pulled out the potty seat, put on the panties (I am not in favor of Pull-Up type undies so we went straight for the big girl variety) and started happily down the trail to full potty awareness!  I am the first to admit that the first day was not going well.  I had washed sheets on every bed by 2:30.  Then Robert had one of those genius moments of parenting and said “Hey, don’t we still have that little potty somewhere in the garage?”  Within 2 hours of cleaning off the little potty and setting it up in the bathroom, Laura had not only tee-tee’d (sic?) in it half a dozen times, she had also pooped.  We had hit solid gold!!  She went accident free for FIVE WHOLE DAYS!!  She went at home, at summer camp and at our next door neighbors.  Of course I got cocky.  I told everyone.  We sang and danced about our big girl and it was fabulous.  Until….

Day 6:  Laura decides she likes diapers again.  For 4 days now, we have had tantrums about sitting on the potty.  She needs to go but doesn’t want to use her potty…or the big potty.  She doesn’t want to use it in the bathroom, hallway, kitchen, living room, outside patio or van.  She says that going on the floor is gross…but she does it anyway.  We are stymied.

Robert and I continue to cheerlead and sing and dance and we are beginning to see small glipmses of our once perfectly potty trained little girl. I have been a mom long enough to know that with time, this too shall pass.  Again I am reminded that I am lacking about a fourth of the patience that this job requires. But like all tunnels in my life, I know that there is light at the end….