Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Three-in-One Postacular

I know. I know. I know. I flaked on the 3 posts/week pretty quickly. How was I to know that raising 5 children while caring for a 6th M-F during school hours and my husband gone most weekdays would be so busy? Honestly, what am I, a fortune teller? Let's not split hairs over whether or not I should or shouldn't have been posting. Let's move on and talk about  more important things.

Last week was incredibly busy. There was nothing bad-busy about it, but I found myself with more appointments than I recalled making and more decisions than I ever feel comfortable with. Scott was taking the last of his out-of-town trips, which had been getting rather taxing on everybody. Because he couldn't do it, I felt I needed to show up at some school functions. Obviously I had to be there for Kate to receive her Principals Honors certificate since 4th grade has been a bear. 3rd quarter I let it go, as they sing these days. Low and behold the child came home with straight A's. Well, and I bribed her with goodies. Either way it was super fun to see all the kids afterward and have to stop Mae from trying to slip into line with the big kids and head off to class.

The next day I felt it would do the kids good to see me at the Fun Run, which incidentally was actually fun. They did a great job, and I was able to see all but Kate. I didn't watch Molly run, but I saw her at PE, so that was neat. Once again, Mae wanted to join the big kids running laps. After Paul's class finished they all got popsicles, and Mae kept going up and leaning toward their faces with her tongue out hoping for a lick. Little Guy got to see one of his big sisters, and I was so happy to see how excited she was to see him at school two days in a row. I had to haul it out of there to a pediatric consult, and was nearly late because I also needed coffee.

Friday was a rough day. All week I could feel myself running on mental fumes. My short term memory was so fuzzy I wondered if I needed a boost in Synthroid. That afternoon I did something so boneheaded I knew instantly I would carry that mistake for a while. I locked Mae and Little Guy in the car in the hot sun. Both sets of keys were in there, one in my purse the other on the console. I contemplated smashing the window with a bat, but I was afraid the glass would cut the kids. I called 911. When the rescue team arrived I learned they didn't have jimmies anymore because if they broke my window they could be held liable.

This is the craziest thing I've ever heard. I was furious. Who on earth would hold the fire department liable for his own mistake?! I did this, you guys. I locked babies in a hot car! MY FAULT! I didn't care what happened next as long as those precious people were safe at the end. When it was clear that the locksmith that 911 called was not going to come for some time, I told the firemen to break the window. They have that cool window punch that causes all the glass to fall like rain rather than spatter everywhere. I immediately grabbed both babies out of the car. Poor Little Guy was a ball of fury and sweat. Mae was mildly uncomfortable and damp, but then again she's a full 19 months older than the baby. I cooled off the baby with a damp towel and we made sure he and Mae were fine, though I think they were more concerned about me. It turned out alright with the glass guy coming the next day and completing the install before the afternoon downpour. I ended up feeling extra blessed because LG's mom still had us over for my birthday and spoiled me with yummy food and a cool gift of relaxation gear. I spent the weekend recouping mentally and physically by sleeping as much as I wanted to and going to lunch with my friend.

Mae is just becoming some kind of kid. Lately she is all Daddy's girl. She dives over into his arms when he gets home, turns to me and says, "Bye." waiving her fat little hand in a dismissive manner. She continues to do this particular dismissing when she doesn't want you giving her the business for something she suspects she shouldn't do. Catch her mulch throwing? "Bye." Tell her to use her spoon? "Bye." Prevent her from smacking the baby with a toy? "Bye." She is also guilty of a LOT of technology thievery. Don't leave your phone laying around because Mae will have that sucker in no time, and will be very dismayed if you try to take it back.

I guess because Daddy is bearded she has also shown an indiscriminate preference for bearded fellas. One of her OTs is bearded and she loves him. Today there was a student at therapy and she wouldn't leave that guy alone. The second he put her down, she would pull on his pant leg and demand, "Up." She lay her head on his shoulder and fully intended to take a nap right there in his arms after speech. In fact, she has been a little reticent in speech lately, but with our dear bearded friend present she suddenly was a little mimic. I find it interesting that she prefers males and shows bearded men even greater preference. Her little mind is a mystery.

Other things of note are that my brother finished a 150 mile ultra. While I am impressed and happy for him, it has not inspired me in the least to run more. There are a lot of birthdays in our family this month. We still have spring break to look forward to, and I am forcing my children into either swim team or swim lessons. Yes, that includes Mariana. I am interested in how this will turn out since swim team seems more like a cult than a sport with all the practice and regulations and such. Who knows, maybe it will turn out I'm one of those ladies with the sticker on her window proclaiming to be a "Swim Mom". (Okay, I know that I'm not one of those ladies because I announced very early in this parenting gig that I would never have an Olympic commercial dedicated to me.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Can We Pray for Snakes?

So it didn't take Popcorn long to get himself into a fix. We have a warming rock for this snake so that he doesn't die of hypothermia. Because I was worried about him getting loose I told Scott to use Gorilla Tape to tape the cord of the rock to the side of the enclosure lest this snake climb the cord and somehow with his massive snake body push the 5lb books off the lid and escape. Hey, what do I know? Not much other than a loose snake in the house is to be avoided. I guess the action of rooting around in the mulch for the snake caused the tape to come loose and the snake did in fact climb the loose cord, but he became stuck to the tape. Enter panicked children.

Now Mama has to treat this beloved creature like, well, an actual beloved creature. Listen, I love nature, I really do. I still have preferences, like birds not flapping their wings near my ears and keeping their bird feet from my person. Another preference I have is to avoid animals that seem sneaky. I easily startle, so while I can admire a creepy-crawly on a hike in the woods where I expect to encounter it, finding a scorpion on the underside of the toilet seat causes me to jump back 10 feet in a 5 foot wide bathroom. (Incidentally, if you are holding the toilet brush, you get the added pleasure of flinging toilet water and toilet cleaner on your face.)

Had you been there you would have seen 6 (2 were school friends) children hovering around while I expertly cut the large piece of tape smaller until I couldn't get any more off without cutting the skin. This was done while the beloved creature writhed and wrapped and constricted himself around me, the tape and himself. The poor thing was freaking out, not that I blamed him. I really felt sorry for this troubled snake who had now become an educational experiment for a family of small and loud humans who were giving off major stress pheromones. Much to his credit, he didn't bite me, or even attempt it. I would have, had I been him, but I'm surly that way.

So now Popcorn has some tape on his back, and faces peering in on him and grimy fingers touching him to confirm he is still alive. I have assured the little ones that he would shed his skin and all would be well. Would y'all mind praying for Popcorn? If you are not comfortable praying for an animal used in the bible to represent Satan, then just pray that I'm not a liar and that I haven't destroyed my kids trust in me. Thanks!
In other news: Gorilla Tape makes an excellent snake trap.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Comic Relief

On Sunday Scott and I went to see Brian Regan perform. Let me tell you something, Brian Regan is by far the funniest comedian in the known world. I understand that comedy is difficult to gage, but know this; every comedian working today thinks Brian Regan is a genius. Every. single. one. The reason is simply that on the way to a punch line every detail of his story is funny. All of it. He squeezes the comedy out of every story like an apple through a Breville juicer. My goodness he's hilarious.

Comedy is my favorite art form. I consider myself an art appreciator. I am not creative and I cannot produce art, but I am the exact person an artist wants to show his work. (Real artists, not faux artists who excrete edginess and condescend to those who don't get it.) I admire those who can take their ideas and create intricate pieces of art. I can most easily see God in the artist as he creates beauty out of seemingly senselessness. It never matters what the art form is, I love it, I appreciate it, and I'm transformed by it, even when I don't expect it. I'll notice the craftsmanship of a hand carved door and have an emotional reaction to its beauty and integrity. I love comedy because it draws out the simple joy of being happy. It makes fun of the painful moments in life and allows the audience to release those frustrations in laughter. It cuts tension, releases endorphins and creates a natural high that will last you a few hours if you are in good company. A good comedian will make everyone in the room feel funnier and does it in an extremely vulnerable fashion.

This week threatened to be overwhelming. Scott was leaving early Monday morning and I had many appointments and a messy home to attend. Mae had her MMR vaccination, one I can not stand because combo vaccines usually result in crabbiness for a few days. There are a host of other things still coming down the pike that I am hopeful will go off without a hitch. Needless to say, starting my week taking in a show performed by my favorite comedian was a great way to cut all the anxiety I was feeling about the coming days. It was a feeling that lasted through the week as I faced tantrums and teething and sibling rivalry. When I couldn't sleep Monday night I thought how it would make for a good story if I wasn't jerky to the kids the next morning. (I mostly succeeded, but one kid got under my skin and I fell short of perfection.) I found myself finding the silliness of having two babies crying in stereo while the dog gagged and I raced to get her outside before I had another mess to clean. It's all a little silly when raising little kids who have free will and wield it often. What a gift to have the eyes to see the joys in all this chaos and loosening all that anxiety with a little laughter.

My friends, comedy is God's anti-depressant, and it usually fertilized with pain. Rejoice in the gift of comedy, quick, before you lose your mind!

Friday, March 21, 2014

World Down Syndrome Day

I am super tired these days because we have a weirdo insomnia running through the house. Posting is tough thanks to the lovely creativity drain that not sleeping adds to the mix. The nights I sleep well, one of the kids doesn't. The nights they sleep well, I don't. Pray for me, my patience is way depleted, but I am resisting napping because I want to sleep at night, like a human being.

It is still World Down Syndrome Day, and we are so blessed to have Mae to celebrate today with us. While Down Syndrome causes some complications in our lives, it's added more patience, love, kindness and consideration to our household. May we all be so lucky to love someone with Trisomy 21. If you are so moved, look right, pick a place and donate $3.21 to the charity of your choice! It'll be fun!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Rise and Fall of the Gator Killer

So, Gator Killer died. Who is Gator Killer? Why he's Paul's lovely Christmas gift from Santa. Nothing says "Happy Birthday Jesus" like a serpent, I always say. I mention the news because Scott and I were actually very sad. We had just fed him his first "fuzzy" which is a baby mouse that has fur and is a little bigger than the "pinkies" he was eating before. While I despise the process of feeding the snake, I do appreciate that the kids learn something about nature and the circle of life. At any rate, the weather has been up and down and the light we were using for heat needed a new bulb. We did our best, but snakes need a good amount of heat to digest their food, so poor Gator Killer died from hypothermia.

I was keeping my eye on him because he hadn't been moving, but he doesn't move much after a meal, so I wasn't really concerned until yesterday. I ventured to open the hatch in the terrarium and touched him. He was freezing and his tongue didn't dart out in its usual fashion. I felt so deflated and sad. I felt sad for Paul, of course, but honestly I felt sad at the loss of our snake, a snake I never really wanted and never really cared for during his short stay. There was still the issue of informing our kids, who did care for him and did enjoy him. Over text Scott and I considered a quick switch. C was home sick today, so I asked her what she thought about parents who did such things with gerbils and fish.

"That's lying. Who would do that? If my pet died I would want to be sad about that. I don't want to just pretend it didn't matter." Leave it to Charlotte to explain to the big people the damage deception really does. It also left me in the position of not wanting to tell her that I knew Gator Killer was dead. So I didn't. I let Paul find him. Paul came running into me saying Gator Killer had mulch in his mouth and wasn't moving. I went to see and sadly informed him that Gator Killer had died. "I'm sorry Buddy." I really was. I told him maybe we could get another snake soon, which cheered my little guy up.

Losing a pet stinks. I was sad Gator Killer died not just because we had a responsibility to him, but also because we did make fun memories with him. The pride Paul felt in showing off his pet to his friends and our neighbors was beautiful to watch. The care he took in making sure to handle Gator Killer every day so that he didn't become skittish was a flash of maturity we had yet to see in our little guy. Paul loved that I didn't like snakes but let him have one anyway. He loved that most of his friends were forbidden from having a snake. He loved that Daddy loved snakes too. He really enjoyed when people who were nervous about snakes would hold Gator Killer anyway. It felt good to him to facilitate someone overcoming nerves.

When I asked Paul if the new snake would be called "Gator Killer Jr." he, without any hesitation, said, "His name is Popcorn." Popcorn came into the family last night. Apparently Daddy couldn't stand the idea of going one night without a snake in the house. He also came with a bigger terrarium, a new water dish and a heating rock where Popcorn can snooze after a big meal and digest his prey. I have so much joy to express about this turn in our lives.

Even though I'm not loving the snake thing I will close with the acknowledgement that allowing Paul to have a snake has been a spiritual exercise for our family. It's all well and good to know that to deepen our relationships in life we have to be willing to be uncomfortable at times, it is a whole other to live it. While I am the parent and, "I do not like them." is as good a reason as any not to get a pet, it's also a good reason to allow certain things. There is no danger in having Popcorn or Gator Killer because neither are dangerous animals (unless you are a mouse). I have a partner in caring for the animal if the little boy wasn't quite up to the task. It was a lot better to say yes to this uncomfortable experience than say no because I not only was gifted with watching our family bond over a seemingly unlovable creature, but I also showed my children that this family is not all about what mom and dad want all of the time. The kids don't see all the sacrifices Scott and I make, as they shouldn't, but in this case they did see one that I made, and that's good also. As for Scott, well his wife trusted him that it was important that the sole boy child in the family have some boy child experiences, which apparently include serpents. I call it a win.

RIP Gator Killer. Go give Saint Patrick one of your kisses. I heard he loves snakes as much as I do.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The I-Can't-Believe-You-Call-This-A-Post Quick Takes

YOU GUYS. I'm a rock star. Just the fact that I have made it through this week + no one was injured *knocks on the woodlike desk* = ROCK STAR HUMAN.
Paul woke up with a fever on Monday. It was a low grade fever, which means I wasn't all that convinced he was very ill until he threw up when I was packing up my loot from Target. Luckily he had one of Mae's Aiden and Anais blankets, so that absorbed most of the ew. He only did this one time, and it was probably due to the fever. My major prejudice in life is the effect fevers have on people. Our oldest runs unusually high fevers, and though she is far more chatty than her usual chatty self and has trippy dreams, she still is very collected about the whole deal. Therefor, when a kid runs a 100.3 degree fever and gets super lethargic and sickly, I think he's milking it and haul his Motrin-ed body to the Target. (Which I realize isn't so much Rock Star as Negligent and Narcissistic, but read on to be more impressed with my mothering skillz.)

So then, I've been battling some wicked insomnia and Monday into Tuesday it came a courtin' yet again. Unfortunately my stealthy throwing off the covers type behavior kept Scott awake and he missed his early flight to wherevertheheck. He then had to rent a car, but was able to help with Sick Kid, who wasn't really sick, but was banned from school until he was 24 hours fever free. I took Little Guy and Mae to therapy where we impressed everyone with our "How old are you?" routine.  But then I had to care for Sick Kid, Little Guy and Mae all day until pick up (Hero). That night I was battling slight insomnia so I spent a lot of time mopping. Our steam mop broke back in December, and no, I hadn't really mopped since then. #dontjudge #gross
On Wednesday I actually stayed home and did lots of housework and laundry and stuff. It was amazing. I washed the sofa slipcovers. I still haven't put them back on because we have a new OT coming for an evaluation tomorrow and I would like the dog hair to be at a minimum when she comes. This is the OT Mae has already had and who is well acquainted with my brand of crazy and Mae's bad side.

Also on Wednesday I removed two seats from Mama Grizzly and put three bikes in the back so K, C and M could go to triathlon training after school. This was incredible because I had a slight major backache.  I also managed to get Molly's change of clothes to her via Mrs. M.  I also cooked a delicious and healthy dinner of left over chicken, peas and mashed potatoes. As evening crept toward nighttime I cleaned the outside of my cabinets with furniture polish. Send me a medal.
And then there was Thursday. Not only did I knock out a pre-written post. I also broke out the bank card and did a little Zulily shopping. I know. You can not even handle my greatness. I did manage to take care of Mae and Little Guy while doing these Very Important things. I also kept up with the laundry, took out the trash including things that are not taken by the trash company, but are taken by the dumpster divers. I really wanted to tip those guys when I saw them loading up my stuff. I know that isn't how it works, but my garage is slightly less hazardous.

I picked the Big Kids up from school, talked to a neighbor while Kate made snack, broke my lenten sacrifice, made dinner that was questionable, made Paul clean his room (sarcasm aside, that was a freaking feat), snuggled Mae-Bee, and sat down to blog. I'm beat. Where's my awards?
Friday in lent is a day of abstinence. I shall abstain from further bragging. Instead let me complain in a more-than-a-little ironic way. You see, our neighborhood has a Facebook page, which is chock full of good info and a great place to ask for recommendations on fence companies, painters, etc. However there is an epidemic of the aggressive complaint. Let's just say that neighborliness doesn't seem to mean the same thing on this page as it does elsewhere. You have the posts sarcastically thanking the person who flew through the neighborhood and ran over a kid's remote control car on Christmas followed by a string of insulting comments about said offender. This often leads to the offender commenting with something like, "Hey, I live down the street. Come talk to me. I am really very sorry, but I don't think I deserve to be tarred and feathered here. Of course I am sorry and I'll fix the situation to the best of my ability." And then you have the posts that say, "What are the rules about dogs peeing on the grass nearest to the street because my daughter was just screamed at by a neighbor." which leads to the "Everyone needs to chill around here." and "Actually I don't appreciate YOUR dog in MY yard." comments that never ever end well.

Can we all agree to just handle our business in private with the people it actually involves without the public shaming? I'd really hate to quit our neighborhood page because Some People don't know how to act.
My incredible productivity this week is crushing my creativity and now I don't know what else to write. You guys, this is really hard! Seven is a lot of things. Perhaps I should point out those dog paw bumper magnets that say, "Who saved who?" drive me crazy and make me want to turn to vandalism. There also is a current commercial that I heard twice--and paid close attention the second time--that messes this up. It is "Who saved whom?" "Whom" friends, it's a word. Look it up.
Oh yeah! Pope Francis. It was his 1 year anniversary as pope. Gee, I love this guy. I love him for making me feel like a dirty dirty sinner and yet like I'm super special to God Almighty and can go to confession and do better! Pope Francis is the kind of guy you'd feel like calling Frank without being invited first. Pope Francis would not be impressed with my Facebook woes or my grammar frustrations. Though I think I could slide on the grammar thing since I feel like I'm honoring my mother when I get stabby about grammar. I read one of his quotes that said the Christian cannot be sad and I was all, "Want to bet? Tell it to weeping Jesus!" But that was my baggage talking, and I realize he meant as a state of the heart. We get to have Hope in the darkest dingiest recesses of our souls, and he's so right about that. I really hate the celebrification of religious people, but I don't feel like a fangirl. I feel like I just want my kids to go and give the guy a hug and introduce him to our pets. I wonder if Pope Francis is afraid of snakes.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Feed The Hungry

I've mentioned before that Scott and I decided to focus on works of mercy as a family for the year 2014. We are extremely scattered people, so it wasn't as large an undertaking because there are 52 weeks in a year and 14 works of mercy. As Catholics we do not believe that we can work our way into heaven as many wrongly infer. However, we do believe that if a person has true faith, his works will bear fruit. The works of mercy is a list of ways we can serve our fellow man either physically in the Corporal Works of Mercy, or spiritually through the Spiritual works of Mercy. The works are as follows:
Corporal Works of Mercy
  1. To feed the hungry;
  2. To give drink to the thirsty;
  3. To clothe the naked;
  4. To harbour the harbourless; (or shelter to the homeless)
  5. To visit the sick;
  6. To ransom the captive;
  7. To bury the dead. 
Spiritual Works of Mercy
  1. To instruct the ignorant;
  2. To counsel the doubtful;
  3. To admonish sinners;
  4. To bear wrongs patiently;
  5. To forgive offences willingly;
  6. To comfort the afflicted;
  7. To pray for the living and the dead
The first work we tackled was to feed the hungry. As a mother, this is easy given how often I feed my children. The children were responsible for feeding their pets, Kona,  our dog, Gypsy,  our cat, and Gator Killer, the snake.  We also sent in can goods to the food pantry on Wednesday of that week, something we are guilty of forgetting though it is what the school does every week at the all school mass.

This was a very easy work to accomplish, but I thought that it was good to point that out to the kids. Sometimes what God asks us to do to serve each other isn't earth moving. Sometimes God just wants us to do something, even if it is a small thing, to serve one another. It also made me realize that I often feel inappropriate guilt that I am not out handing out sandwiches to the homeless. I am a mother and therefore many of these works will be built into my daily living. It is good to make certain I go outside of my routine to be of service, but it is also important to really see the work I do as service to others. If I do not, I run the risk of feeling bitter and keeping score. Thoughts of "Don't these rotten kids see everything I do for them? Why is it never enough?" can invade our hearts if we do not have the eyes to see the good we do.

There is another point I like to make when I chat with people about donating food to the food pantry. Many of my friends get frustrated that their families are on a budget, while it seems like the people who are "takers" have no appreciation, and in fact, have an entitlement problem. My friends, who cares what the disposition of the hearts of those who receive our gifts are? When we serve one another, there is no guarantee that we will be appreciated, but it seems we as human are inclined to keep score anyway. When we feed the hungry we ought to consider how God sees it, rather than how the recipient sees it. I personally can not tolerate the idea that a person went hungry when I could have done something to help. It's why I give money to those who ask for it, even if I am convinced they will use it for drugs. I can not help what a man will do with what I have offered, but I can help myself be more compassionate toward those who are in need.

As we continue to explore the works of mercy, I think it will become obvious that feeding the hungry is one of the easiest works to accomplish. Feeding the birds, our families, or donating to a food pantry can be done with zero discomfort. If you are looking for a place to start being merciful to your fellow man, I suggest this one. You will be surprised how easy it is to pick up the tab for someone else's bagel and coffee, and how often you consider it. Feel free to share in the comments any ideas you have on ways to feed the hungry. We are discovering that there are seemingly infinite ways to accomplish our works of mercy, and we love hearing about things we haven't thought about.