{7QuickTakes} Belated weekly mishmash, Vol.5

My kids are watching The Good Dinosaur while I attempt to get something actual contributed to this blog!!  I haven’t abandoned it.  But y’all – May. Is. Crazy.  And I only have two in school.  But the programs, and the field trips, and the catching-up-on-everything-academic-because-the-school-year-is-almost-done-ing.  Plus, the kids are all antsy to be foot-loose and fancy-free and have all this pent-up “school’s out for the summer” anticipation and it is making me batty.  But…..I am sure I am not alone on this one.  Check out more moms (and dads!) who are probably going through this exact same thing at Kelly’s bloggin’ linkup.

ONE.

Hubby is back on shift work after a blessed hiatus.  The overnights are the worst.  The days (14 hours gone from home) are pretty bad also.  It is, for me, like being a single parent the days he is working.  He basically comes home, eats, and goes to bed.  Trying to focus on the positives…like, he does have a job.  This is a big plus.  And also, he does get to have 4 days off after his 4 days of work.  Which is nice, so we can do things together, like have a conversation.

TWO.

Two of my brothers came for a visit this week.  It is always nice to see family, particularly when we live so far away.  My youngest brother is moving back to the Midwest after his Active Duty stint in the military and my oldest younger (got it?) brother flew out to help him move back.  We are located conveniently half-way from California.  My kids get such a thrill seeing their uncles [aunts too]when they come visit.  Plus it helps that my brothers are really, really great with kids.  (PSA: Youngest brother is single, ladies – he will make a great dad someday!!!)

THREE.

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Current drama streaming obsession: PBS’s Poldark. (Find it on Amazon or DVD) What a great costume drama!  What a great love story!  What fabulous scenery!

mv5botq3nzm1mzq0ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjazntqxode-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_ Current comedy streaming obsession: Fox’s The Last Man on Earth.  (We watch it on Hulu).  I absolutely love the character of Carol (Kristen Schaal).  I think she is my favorite part of the whole show…Will Forte is good, too, but I love Carol.

FOUR.

We were at the local indoor-kids’ play gym (thanks to torrential rain and a Hubby sleeping off his night shift) yesterday and Evvie completely ‘imprinted’ on this other mom who was there with her twin boys.  It was somewhat amusing for me, because baby Evs can be pretty choosy about people she goes so far as to smile at.  But this fellow mom must have been magical to her, because she kept toddling around after her and her sons and would walk right up to her and look up at her all longingly.  The other mom, blessedly, did not find it annoying or creepy like I might have in her place, but just laughed and told Evvie, “You’re so cute!”  Then, my oldest, Junior, said (loud enough for everyone to hear), “I think Evvie wants a new mom!”  Yeah, I must be totally rocking this parenting thing…

FIVE.

I have 5,954,256 items on the floor in my office right now.  When I started writing this blog post, there were zero.  My children love me so much that they feel the need to be close to me at all times, particularly when my attention is not 100% devoted to them.  They take this opportunity to helpfully pull out every available book, crayon, office supply, piece of garbage, sticker, plastic baggie, craft item, and toss it, tornado-style on the floor of my workspace.  And Hubby thinks it would be a “breeze” for me to work from home!  Well, maybe, but at the end of the workweek the house would need to be condemned, pretty sure.

SIX.

Been seeing the chiropractor for my shoulder for a few weeks now.  It is helping, but slowly.  I find it is less painful (surprisingly) when I am well-hydrated.  And I am awful about drinking water.  I was a water-drinking champ when I was in college, or working, or pregnant.  But now that I am none of those things I find it difficult to get the requisite ounces in every day.  My main issue is that I fill a glass or bottle with water but through the course of the day, I am running all over the house and/or the car and I forget where I’ve left my water.  I think I just need to fill my Camelbak backpack and wear that all day so I don’t lose my water.  Where’s my Water? is one of the kiddo’s favorite games.  I should have invented it.

SEVEN.

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French fries?  They put me right to sleep.

 

That’s all folks, have a great week!

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash Vol.4

I was a bum last week and didn’t post!  Lots of craziness here (as though that is ever news;-)

Check out the link-up for more good times!

~UN~

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It was really funny, whatever it was…

Made it through yet another kid’s birthday party.  Junior had a great time but these fêtes are so stressful for me to plan and execute.  It has been years since I have thrown birthday parties for my kids so I felt guilty and decided to allow all three of the older ones to have parties to celebrate this year.  (The youngest just turned one and I figured she won’t need/remember a big birthday party so we just did a family thing.)  Anyhow, I have decided on a rule regarding bday parties:  We’ll do them for age 3, 6, and 9 and possibly 13 and 16 if they are so inclined, but that is it.  Unfortunately, my three oldest are each three years apart so most of those milestone bdays will occur all in the same birthday season!  Oh well, it seems worth it simply to not have big birthday bashes every.single. year.

~DEUX~

I am worried I am heading toward shoulder surgery.  I think it is because I am getting old with a little bit of “children have wrecked my body” added in.  When Spike was born, I had a wrist thing going on for over a year.  It was the stinkin’ carseat-lugging.  It finally got better when I wore a wrist brace for most of my waking moments.  But now my shoulder has been out of whack for 9+ months.  I have tried stretching it, icing it, heat-padding it, over-medicating on Advil to no avail.  It has gotten so bad the pain keeps me up most of the night.  (And let me tell you, my 15-month-old finally started sleeping through the night and nothing breaks your bubble of “Yay! Finally a whole-night’s rest!” than being up in pain with “minivan shoulder”.)  Next stop is the chiropractor to see if I can figure this out without resorting to something more invasive.

~TROIS~

Which leads me to….yay I get to bring my kids to the chiropractor appointment on Friday morning.  Hubby usually gets Fridays off, but just after I made the appointment (that has taken me months to get around to making) he informed me he has to go in for a special work meeting this Friday all day.  Because I am really and truly a glutton for punishment, I decided to keep the appointment (hey, my shoulder really hurts), and haul the youngest three with me.  All I have to say is thank goodness for tablets.   I momentarily thought about bringing them to my bi-annual hair cut & color appointment Thursday but my good friend luckily intervened and agreed to watch the kids for me.

~QUATRE~

SAHMs need decent childcare options.  I have the toughest time with this.  I don’t need full-time child-minding, just the occasional couple of hours here and there so I can go to doctors’ appointments, or volunteer, or just have a coffee by myself so I don’t go crazy.  I have no family in the area. (and even if I did it is unlikely they would be able/willing to help in this capacity) Our town does not have good (any?) options for drop-in childcare. I have only one close friend who has not gone back to work (my other good friends are leaving SAHM-ing in droves!) and I hate to impose myself constantly on her.  Hubby does get Fridays off, but what happens when the doctor I need to see doesn’t have office hours on Fridays?  Or Hubby is resistant to “babysitting” the younger ones so I can volunteer once in a while at the older children’s school?  What do I do with them when I give blood, or want to go into a china shop?  The answer is, I either take them along (sorry dental hygienist for the mess my toddler made of your laughing gas canisters) or simply stop volunteering, stop running errands anywhere there are breakable items (so sorry Hobby Lobby! Your displays are so beautiful that my kids need to “see” them with their hands), and put my health needs last (I would love love love to be able to see a therapist at least once a month or so).  Just very frustrated.  I might just have to bite the bullet and put an ad in on Care.com.

~CINQ~

Trying to teach my kids about money.  This is challenging.  The kindergartner is still trying to wrap her head around the fact that 6 cents is different from 6 dollars.  The boys seem to be compulsive spenders, even when I explain to them the value of saving your money for something really special and dividing your funds into Save/Spend/Donate.  I can’t get any of them to voluntarily donate any of their own money.  My money, sure, but with their own cash, definitely not!  I worry I am raising children far too interested in our society’s idea of consumerism.  Parenting is tough.

~SIX~

I did art with Spike and Evvie this week!  Go me!  Normally the thought of doing crafts or art projects with my kids makes me want to claw my eyes out (the mess, the chaos, the children eating non-toxic finger paint!) but I took a deep breath and held it together long enough to let them make a total of 5 masterpieces.

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Look Mom! It’s you after a glass of wine!

 

~SEPT~

Apparently, I have a diabolical plan:  I only make really delectable desserts when I am serving positively disgusting food for dinner.  This is the honest truth.  They found me out.  It’s a vast parental conspiracy.  (Cue evil laugh)  So if you come to our house for dinner and you smell those delicious brownies…beware!  That means we are having liver, potatoes (don’t ask me – my Idaho-born children think potatoes are anathema), and something green for dinner.  No dessert unless you clean your plate.  Mean mom strikes again!

Have a delightful week!

Today’s My Mom-iversary

Today, nine years ago, I became a mom.  I still remember how tiny that little guy was and how completely overwhelmed with love I was for him the very first time I held him.  Jbaby

Nine.  Looking back on almost a decade.  Looking ahead, less than a decade to go before he graduates, leaves home , and starts his own life.  Parenthood goes WAAAAAY too fast.

I struggled when Junior was younger.  He was an exceptionally happy, easy-going baby but morphed into a manic, destructive, and curious toddler.  I literally could not leave him alone for a second.  Either he was trying to crawl into our 50-gallon fish tank or he was dumping the entire contents of the refrigerator on the carpet.  He proved so challenging when I was pregnant with my second child, Bellie, that I sunk into a deep and debilitating depression that lasted much of my pregnancy.  I simply could not keep up with him.

He also possesses an extremely sensitive and intense personality.  He is also somewhat of an empath, like me (he is very affected by others’ emotions and stress-levels).  When we were going through a very uncertain time a few years ago (Hubby was laid off, we sold our house and were living in a series of rentals while we attempted to make a huge move back to the Midwest), Junior was a mess emotionally.  He had to switch schools three times and felt very unsettled.  It was so difficult for me as a mom to watch him go through the uncertainty of daily life and I still feel so bad that he had to deal with just how stressed out Hubby and I were.

Luckily, we got through that bad period and I have to say that I am truly enjoying parenting him now.  I really love talking to him about what he is learning in school, his opinions on the new Star Wars movie, learning about his interests (Minecraft, Minecraft, and Minecraft), and listening to his crazy jokes.

The moral of this story:  Parenthood definitely has its ups and downs.  It has numerous phases.  That mellow baby might turn into a difficult toddler, who might one day actually transform into a well-adjusted human being.  As a parent, you do your best, try not to blame yourself too much for your kid’s shortcomings and truly enjoy the blessings that come with the “easy” times.  And pray for those kiddos constantly and love them like crazy.  Because this anniversary is one I am so grateful to be celebrating, for all of the trials Hubby and I have gone through as parents in the last 9 years.  It’s the anniversary that celebrates my vocation of motherhood, without which I would not be half the person I am today.  Happy birthday, Junior!

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Stop Mom, you’re embarrassing me!

 

Mama said there’d be days like this

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photo: Wikimedia Commons

There’s something to be said about days when you wake up to kids fighting, a baby screaming, juice spilled on the floor, a splitting headache and a husband who is MIA. (What?  He went to church by himself to commune with God sans children…I pretty much want to be him right now).  And that word is  POOPY.

As in poopy diapers that need changing, seemingly constantly.  A teething little one who won’t stop crying in a decibal that is about five degrees short of making my ears bleed.  A house that looks like a hurricane visited – and this only five minutes after I completely cleaned and tidied yesterday.  A toddler crying inconsolably because his big brother won’t let him play with his Hex Bugs and Santa was mean and didn’t “bring me my own Hex Bugs!!!!” Plus a shoulder that has been in moderate-to-severe pain ever since I wrenched it carrying a 357-lb infant carseat around following the birth of my youngest.

Needless to say, not shaping up to be a stellar day.

Can this day be saved?

Generally, at this point, I start snowballing down the spiral of “woe is me” and “my life sucks” and “maybe I should just crawl back in bed with a bowl of ice cream”.  It is really tempting.  Particularly when my chosen vocation is vastly thankless, undignified, and fraught with tedium and noise.  What is the point of cleaning the house if it is just going to fall into disarray again?  What use, wiping that bottom, when it will need wiping again in an hour? (my kids like prunes)  Why should I even attempt to take a shower if two three four of my children bang on the door and cry the entire time because I have left them bereft for the five minutes I can hasily loofah myself?

The truth is, (as Hubby so  kindly reminded me) no job, no vocation, is without its repetition, occasionally monotony, and frustrations.  The janitor at Walmart is never “done” with his job.  He cleans the restrooms, and a few hours later, he needs to clean the restrooms again.  The teacher at my children’s school faces challenges during the day, and her job is definitely never complete.  That ER doctor, I’m sure, in between rushing around saving lives, needs to fill out boring paperwork that is probably no fun and not very rewarding.

It’s helpful to know that everyone has days like this.  The difference between the “woe is me” Rebecca and the “I can keep going” Rebecca is attitude.  Or, in the very least (if I aI cannot summon positive thoughts) to FAKE IT TIL I MAKE IT.  This little mantra has helped me out on more bad days than I can count.

I pretend I am in a positive mindset and eventually I really do feel more positive.  It’s kind-of like that dumb(I thought) tip I read in a teen magazine years ago.  Even if you are not happy, smile – and that will trick your brain into thinking that you are.  The weird thing is, there is some truth to it.

My other “Get out of a bad mood quick” hacks are:

1.) Stop what I am doing and sit down with a good book.  It seems kinda counterintuitive, but when  I am frustrated with the futility of getting housework done with little tornadoes underfoot, taking a book break can give my mind a rest and energize me to get more work done afterwards.

2) Put on my ear-buds and turn up some tunes. This is especially effective to tune out the fighting, crying, and demands from the kiddos.  Make sure you perfect your “What?  I can’t hear you!?” face.

3) Watch a 22-minute show on Netflix that inspires.  My go-to show right now is Fixer Upper.  I don’t know why, but I find Chip & JoAnna Gaines really upbeat, and I get super-motivated to beautiful my house afterwards.

4) Tackle a project that I can finish.  I never realized how effective this one was, until I read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home.  She says that motivation leads to more motivation and the quickest way to get motivated about getting things done is to complete something. I think so many times in our lives, we moms get used to being interrupted.  Ergo, finishing projects, activities, movies, chores, etc is often a rarity.  I am actually surprised sometimes I ever finish cooking dinner.  But coming up with something that I can tackle and finish (the finishing is the important part) in the space of a certain amount of time is inspiring and encourages me to keep going, or at least move forward with a more productive mindset.  I have 5 minutes while the kids are distracted with something shiny!  I can match socks from the lost sock bucket.  30 minutes left of naptime?  I can do a marathon tidy of the downstairs living room while plying the older kids with candy to stay out until I am done.

5) Sometimes, the one that is the most effective is just to stop whatever I am doing, or attempting to do and SIT DOWN WITH MY KIDS. I often feel like my days are only as valuable as the number of things I can check off my “To Do” list.  I view my kids as distractions, interruptions, inconveniences to my great master goal of “Getting Things Done”.  Uh, hello?  They are the reason I have to get things done, not the distraction from it!  It can be easy to forget when you are tired, or overwhelmed, or sick of listening to kids yell at one another.  (I adore this article from Danielle Bean, which perfectly highlights the struggle and response I strive to have.) But often, I have found that my kids can sense when I am trying to put my mental and physical energy elsewhere and actually act out to try and get some of that energy back to them.  And it can be more effective in the long run to take some time out to sit down with them and play, or talk, or just be present for a few minutes instead of worrying about the laundry and the dishes and dinner and the bills and the ants that have invaded Junior’s room because he squirreled away crackers under his bed.  Sometimes a cuddle is all that is needed to rejuvenate a day gone sour for Momma and cubs.

I am a firm believer in redemption.  Redemption for human beings (no man is beyond it) and redemption for days (no day is beyond it).  This train got derailed pretty early this morning but it is not too late to drag it back onto the tracks and turn it around.  But I might go back to the cafe car and grab a bowl of ice cream just in case. ♥