Friday, February 17, 2012


Laying on my side, I feel the cold hard tires of a bright yellow Ford truck creeping up the side of my head and over my ear. The fact that it has 'Mattel' stamped on its undercarriage and weighs as much as a small carrot, makes the odds of my survival favorable. I turn my neck and squint open my left eye to see my two year old son sitting at the top of my pillow. He greets me with a, "Hi, mom!". The special sound effects from the chest cold I have make my reply to him sound like an unintelligible combination of The Chipmunks and synthesized balloons deflating. I turn back over to reach for my cell phone and check the time. It is just after six in the morning, which explains why it is still dark and why I am trying to justify to myself grounding a toddler. The cell phone light is bright enough to pierce my soul and I consider actually bargaining with Heaven for a few more minutes of uninterrupted slumber.

I hear the first sounds of my two oldest girls moving into the bathroom from their room. They have a field trip today and they are up early, undoubtedly because of their excitement. My second two year old joins her twin at the top of my pillow, but not before pulling at every single root on my scalp by walking across my hair, and says, "Wate up , mommy! Waaaate up!". Moments later, Stinky Pete slides almost silently on to Shawn's empty side of the bed. A workday for the Department Of Defense starts early so I am left with my freckled red head laying in an outline of his dad's mattress indentation, eyes closed and smiling. The twins are rummaging through the drawers of the nightstand looking for some delightful treasure like lip balm, a marker, or, hoping for the motherlode, some gum. They rhythmically take turns pushing each other to the side with their hip to assert control of who will get their hands on any sort of treasure first.

At this point the girls are standing at my doorway urgently pleading with me to get up. They lecture me compassionately and slowly so that I understand their need to get to school because they don't want to miss their special field trip. I inform them that it is 6:13 and I am absolutely sure that there are no buses loading or yet en route to the Orchestra. I begin to pep talk myself out of bed with the promise that in sixteen short hours or so, I will sleep again. I am well aware, after years of parenting, that the mornings you are sick or extra tired, are the ones that usually begin the earliest. It's a proven rule.

The girls busy themselves making toast and scrambled eggs as I pull on my pants from the day before and throw on a t-shirt. I feel instant gratitude that they are able to be so independent. I brush through my hair in the dark and pull it in to a quick ponytail. Turning on the lights would just confirm that I am awake which is something I am not yet ready to do. Charlotte has found a Valentine's Day lollipop and is racing to get off the wrapper without taking her eyes off me. Her frantic unwrapping grows exponentially with each step closer to her I take. I immediately, in my head, begin cursing the lollipop company, candy in general, and myself for not hiding it better. Sam is in the hallway with a stray pencil drawing a small circle on the wall. I grab it with the stealth prowess only a mother develops from being yards away from her toddler and an uncapped Sharpie. I dress them, all the while listening to my daughter mourn the loss of her sugary companion. We make our way down the stairs. The twins are hungry and I am super excited to get started on the laundry pile sitting next to the washer.

After everyone is fed and lunches are put in backpacks, we are ready to walk out the door. Madeleine, with a Chief-of-Police-like furrowed brow, looks me over and says, "Mom, what is wrong with your hair?". I remember that I fell asleep damp headed last night but I reply, "I woke up too early. That's what's wrong with it." We make our way out the door to the car. I am barely stopped in front of the school when the doors fly open and the kids race out of the car. I enjoy a sentimental moment watching my crazy, amazing children shouting out spontaneous "I love you's" as they run to their classrooms. I feel a moment of mom pride that so far they seem to be surviving my parenting just fine and as I turn on my signal to make my way out from the school and head for home, I look down and realize I put my pants on inside out.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas 2011

There was bribery. There was the typical chaos of arranging a gaggle of children with the naive hope that this time we would catch a unanimous smile. There is no synchronization here, but there is love. We share it with you and wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hamming it up

My son takes himself way too seriously.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Exhibit D:

Exhibit E:

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Compassion

So many of the days during my husbands deployment were a blur. Not because it was all terrible but because the load I carried seemed to give me little time for processing. I do remember one winter afternoon, clearly. I was at the grocery store with my toddler son, waiting for a prescription, after just having spent much of the afternoon waiting for a visit with the doctor, after having spent the last sleepless night caring for and worrying about him. During the short wait at the pharmacy, his discomfort grew as well as my anxiety to get him home as quickly as possible. He hadn't had much of an appetite, yet I had been giving him Motrin to help with his fever, which doesn't always sit well on an empty stomach. I grabbed the bag, paid for its contents and tucked him up into me as I hurried to the car. As we approached, I noticed a cart blocking my door. I quickly pushed it up past my car door, focused on getting us home. As I started to open the door, I heard the two men behind me express their disapproval of me not putting my cart back. Looking straight at me, yet talking to each other, they made sure I understood that it was selfish and lazy of me not to do so. (If you read one of my previous posts, you would know exactly how I feel on the matter.) My immediate reaction was a bit of disbelief over how forward and critical they were. Then my son threw up. I started to clean him up, struggling to see what I was doing through the tears. I wanted so badly to tell them they had some nerve and no idea what was going on. That I was tired, alone, worn, and a nice person that usually returned my carts and that it wasn't even my cart to begin with! I drove home feeling a combination of self-pity and deep irritation. I kept thinking about what I would have said to them had I been given another opportunity. I looked back at my son through the mirror and saw his sweet little face. And that red, tired face softened my heart. The anger I was feeling slipped away and everything seemed to quiet around me. I knew it was learning time. So I listened. And in my heart and mind came the reminder that though the lack of compassion shown to me was wrong, so was my withholding compassion from the seemingly compassion-less.

Compassion is something I think a lot about. It is an attribute that is not just one on my checklist of attributes to have but one that finds its way into my introspection on a constant level. The times I missed an opportunity to carry or "be there" for someone stay with me and serve as reminders in my every day life. So why did it seem that in some of the most crucial moments where what I needed most was compassion, did I receive the opposite? Like that afternoon, over the course of time, I am being taught that sometimes my Heavenly Father wants me to know that He is the only one that can know all of the details. That sometimes He is the only one that will know my heart completely and that I am striving, trying, and putting my cart back when no one else knows it. And I have to be okay with that. Over all, I can't consider myself compassionate if I can't show compassion in situations where it is being directly withheld from me. Man, I have a long way to go. But I think I am also okay with that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The day started with the standard alarm signal. We invested in a special device which has twin speakers. One repeatedly chirps while the other grunts and occasionally spits out a low pitched growl/emergency broadcast signal. It is an effective method at killing slumber, as effective as a sling shot pebble between the eyes. It is also self programmed and varies its signals every so often. We wouldn't want to get too comfortable, now, would we? Shawn and the girls have whizzed out the door with lunches, briefcase, toast and backpacks in tow. The kitchen looks like an inventory specialist popped in sometime during the night and made sure to leave out every single item from every single drawer and cupboard. The peanut butter sits open on the counter with a butter knife sticking straight up. I know immediately that it was Madeleine who had left it this way. She had wrapped the knifes handle in a wad of napkins. She does so to keep her hand from getting peanut butter on it after digging in to the bottom of the container. I considered a complete kitchen renovation which, at the moment, seemed like an easier task than cleaning it.

I walked down the hallway and opened the twins bedroom door with the standard exclamation, " Good Morning, stinkies!" and reveled in the joy and excitement of their response. Charlotte started to repeat her "eeewwww" sound she makes when she needs a diaper change and I noticed that something smelled a bit "rosy". I moved in closer and could see that her diaper was laying neatly folded over in her crib next to a big wet puddle. "Eeeewwwww" was right. And I just, JUST washed their bedding and returned it to their cribs the day before. I learned years ago that the surest way to have a ginormous spill is to mop the kitchen floor. Works every time. Obviously, a universal rule.

The babies are fed and dressed and playing in their room while I fold laundry. Seth came in with a mini Leatherman on the scissor setting and a button suspiciously similar to the decorative buttons on my duvet. He said, "Look! I found a button to your comforter!" I asked him if he "found" the button by cutting it off of the duvet cover. He said, "no". I asked him if he was sure and he said," weeeeeeeeelll". He shot me his signature crooked and long smile which made me instantly visualize discovering through an ancestry search the The Grinch was in fact our relative. I couldn't help but laugh. It is absolutely impossible for me to imagine him grown. The charm of his bright blue eyes and freckles is so appealing at 4 years old. I admit it has probably saved his life a time or two.

In the distance I could hear a rhythmic whack of a maraca followed by a squeal from Sam. It continued till I reached the door. Charlotte froze and smiled with the incriminating evidence raised in her hand above her head. She has done this before and I put the maraca up thinking it would help. It didn't. Ten minutes later I heard the child-sized tambourine tapping against something and the same Sam squeal following it. Today she somehow got hold of the maraca again. I fear that Sam may develop a twitch that will manifest itself anytime he hears latin music. We played and played. We read stories and stacked cups, put shoes on and took them off, repeatedly. Charlotte tugged at her doll and said "Piiiiitttttteeeee. Piiiiiitttteeeeee" Someday she will pronounce it "pretty", but until then I am happy to hear her high pitched voice chirp away. Just not in the form of an air raid siren.

A lot happens before ten a.m. And it's good.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This next statement will shock you; I love Christmas! We have been happily looking at lights, staring gooey-eyed at our tree, sipping cocoa, reading stories, laughing at the twins attempts at candy cane wrapper infiltration and visiting a lot with the kids about why we celebrate. The girls had a little fundraiser to earn money to donate to the Children's Hospital, and Seth has been anxiously deciding what to get his beloved Bunny for Christmas. The babies play with the tree ornaments like a cat does with a dangling string, which is why the tree looks a bit bare from about two feet down. We spend much of our family time huddled in the front room and it has been magical.

I kept my list of things to do simple this year. But I did manage to get a couple of dolls made for my girls. I am by no means a skilled seamstress. I love to create but I also like to work quickly. And on top of it, I am overly critical of my work. A few years back, I made some dolls as gifts. Though I sewed with my mom while growing up, it was not something I was too interested in and lacked practice. As an adult I truly wanted to add it to the list of things to improve upon and looked at many cute patterns and ideas with wide eyes. But when I made those dolls, and looked at my work, I decided not to give them away. They just showed my lack of skill too perfectly. Shawn was the one who told me to give them away with the intention I had made them; to share my love with some special little girls. He was right and so I gave them with equal parts of excitement and embarrassment. And it was something that has helped me grow. I can now say that my skill is improving and on this round of dolls, I am happy with the results. I finished Abigael's first. I altered the pattern a bit by making the skirt removable since the girls love to dress their dolls. I made a few extra accessories for Jane like the hair bow and felt brooch, and made the face a bit differently in an effort to make her look more like Abi. Anyway, meet Jane. I like her.... a lot.

I can't wait for the girls to snuggle them every night. They aren't perfect. But perfection is overrated anyway, right?
The original pattern is from bitofwhimsy on Etsy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I was asking myself which way I should make my bed. Just pull the duvet up and toss the pillows on or fold the duvet over and style the pillows nicely. Maybe I will be a total rebel, revel in all sorts of willy nilly and not make it at all, I think to myself. I was feeling like I could justify ignoring my bed a bit. I had a sink full of dishes, babies to feed and bite and three other kids with a long list of summer adventures filling their daydreams. I decided to fold the duvet over because whenever I ask myself those kinds of questions, I always end up taking the "extra mile" route.

It's kind of like me with shopping carts. I am generally mindful to run the shopping cart back. And even though I park next to the Shopping Cart Return to simplify, there are those few occasions where I don't. Where the kids are going nuts, the babies are fussing, and let's face it; I'm just wanting to get home ASAP. I will tell myself that just this once it is okay to leave the cart. But then it comes. That guilt over the fact that some poor kid is going to have to work extra hard in the heat/cold to wrangle all the stray carts. And maybe, just maybe, my extra cart will be the one to send him into a fit, make him quit his job, and never go to college. So I sigh and return the cart anyway.

Okay already! I will make the bed pretty! I looked at my bed with satisfaction. Such a fluffy welcoming bed that tells me I don't hang around as much as I should. "But I have five kids and a set of twins.", I tell it. "But look how soft and pretty I am now that you dressed me." "I know bed, I know. There will come a time when I will visit more often." "Just for a minute?!", the bed pleads. And then it happened. I gave in. Just like that I fell right into my soft pillow and into sweet bliss. As quickly as I hit the bed I began negotiating the terms of my stay. Two minutes and that's it! I started bouncing my thumb on my hip in thought. There is definitely more bounce on this hip then there should be I think to myself. I need to get on that. Then I think about breakfast for the babies. Stonyfield yogurt and pureed berries I thought. I laid there staring into the ceiling fan. There is a slight, slow mechanical wallop sound and I think to myself that even my fan has a southern accent. The shadows on the ceiling change quickly as a group of clouds moved over head. I think to myself that I should blink.

"Pssssst!". Stinky Pete has slithered in silently and is now staring at me sideways. He leaps up on to the bed effortlessly and immediately begins to jump. "Hey, Mom! Loot at me!" Then he starts into his signature break dance moves. He tells me to "Look!" repeatedly so I won't miss his next trickier trick. All the while he has that look on his face. That look of I am so cool becauseiamabreakdancerandiloveitwhenmymomcheersmeon look. Then he asks me to MC a break dance show on the bed for him. I smile and grab my imaginary mic and we are set. "Wasssuuuup yo! Welcome to the greatest break dancing event in history. Tonight the Red Devil will blow you away........" My two minutes in bed turned into more like fifteen (because after any good dance-off there has to be tickling. Lots of tickling). Soon, Stinky Pete moved on to his next conquest and I was energized. Thanks bed. 'Til we meet again, bed.