Friday, November 1, 2013

One of the best lessons in life

I stumbled across and their blog every day in November challenge. I've neglected my blog lately, so I thought I'd see if I could take the time to do this for a few minutes each day. Today's topic is: one of the best lessons life has shown me

Focus on the positive, there is always positive to find. My second grader, Hope, has been a little dramatic lately especially with throwing around the "it's not fair" statements. Without sounding too cliche, I've been trying to tell her that things aren't fair, but if she always focuses on what she doesn't have, she will find things aren't fair. If she focuses on what she does have, she'll find things more than fair. For her, it's mostly monetary things like she's never been to Build a Bear Workshop and many of her friends have been several times. But we are so blessed to live Ina privileged area and a privileged country. Many people throughout the world live in a one room home and have never even heard of Build A Bear Workshop.

Today we had a little wake up call. After being out of the house for a couple hours this morning I returned home and discovered an electrical burning smell. I couldn't figure out the source, but upon walking around the house I discovered that the power was out in part of the house. Before I could check out the breaker box the power came back on and I put it in the back of my mine so I could run out and pick up the twins from preschool. I went into making lunch mode and got distracted again until Grace went in the garage and asked why it was filled with smoke. When we opened the garage it seemed to dissipate the smoke, and again searched the garage and outlets and electrical sources for evidence of burning to no avail. Part of my introverted nature did not want to call 9-1-1 and draw unnecessary attention without an actual fire. My mother-in-law, Dori, actually insisted that this indeed was a case where we call 9-1-1. So, with sirens blaring, a fire truck showed up ten minutes before school let out on our street to announce to everyone that something was amiss at our home. They were initially as baffled as we were, running down the same list of possibilities that we went through. Eventually they noticed that the smell was stronger by the washer and dryer, and they did find the cord from the dryer was a bit charred.

They went on their way, and we added a new dryer to our to do list. Unfortunately some other electrical thing is happening at our house because there seems to be no power in about a third of the house. All these things are pretty frustrating.

Ultimately, you've gotta find the positive. Our house did not burn down. Nobody was hurt. We didn't lose any valuables to fire. We have so much for which to be grateful. We may temporarily not have a dryer, but even having a washer and dryer is a much preferred method to clean clothes over the alternative. We are blessed. There is always positive to be found.

Last week we had a cold run through our house, but it was just a cold. Makes you grateful for how healthy we are most of the time. There is so much good to be found, you just have to open your eyes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Target practice

I like Target. Alone. In the quiet of my own mind I like perusing its welcoming aisles of notebooks, makeup, jewelry, clothes, picture frames and so much more. I normally go while my girls are in school. Sage is the perfect companion either sleeping or smiling up from her stroller just content to be with mommy.

A couple weeks ago I wanted new eye shadow, batteries, and baby Mum Mums to introduce to Sage. One of those strange combinations that is divinely paired at Target. Some little girl woke me up earlier than usual and instead of running errands during preschool I opted for a nap with Sage and the luxury of finishing the latest novel I was reading. In hindsight I'm not sure such decadence was worth it.

I understand that children can be told no, and can understand that when you go into a store you are not going to buy anything they want. Unfortunately, my girls' most recent store experiences are the treasured "daddy time" where he takes them to the dollar store, and does indeed buy them anything they want. We were having a pleasant afternoon of the girls playing nicely together without being too destructive, and I confided in my mother-in-law that I was considering taking the girls on a short target trip with me. She said she had been wanting to go too and this fueled my confidence that together we could handle this. I rationally explained my plan ahead of time that we would be going to a store and there was a special dollar section where each girl could pick one item. If we had a good trip to the store and listened well, then they would all get to keep their item. If a girl did not behave, then we would give the item to the cashier and say "not today, thank you."

It seemed like a straight forward, simple to execute plan. I'm not sure where things went wrong. I occasionally take Joy and Grace to Costco and have them ride in the cart. They have asked to walk and stay next to the cart, but because there is so much traffic in that store, I insist they ride in the cart. It's practically worse than a parking lot, and I just don't think my girls are very visible until the cart is actually running them over. Feeling optimistic, I did not insist the girls ride in a cart, but could instead hold on to Sage's stroller. One girl wanted to ride in the cart Grandma was pushing and that was fine too. Until our first one strayed into women's clothing when set free in the dollar section. I tried to explain in my calm mommy voice that girls needed to stay where they could see mommy or grandma. We continued on towards the baby section and grandma got distracted by the girls' clothing. Each girl was like a Price Is Right contestant dreaming wide-eyed of going home with a new wardrobe. In the way that grandmas are seduced by Target's reasonable prices and items of mislead necessity, Dori consented to buy each girl one t-shirt. There were girls running rampant through the girls' clothing section, hiding in racks while I ran around begging them to come out. Please note: This is where I'm beginning to lose my cool but am trying to keep it together.

We settle on a t-shirt for Joy and Grace and are ready to move on to the big girl section to pick out a t-shirt for Hope. Joy has now come out of grandma's cart and all three girls are roaming free while grandma abandoned me to go grab her items that she came for promising to meet up with me in the beauty section. All the girls went in different directions again trying to find the best shirt for Hope, picking the most expensive and sparkly shirts they could find. More mommy yelling resumed as I tried to keep track of my three hellions. Joy has now wandered out of the big girls section and into the front aisle where people are trying to get into check out lines, and a Target team meeting is breaking up. I'm trying to corral the Joy back to the stroller and an employee notices at the same time as I do that Joy is no longer wearing shoes. She had flip flops on and I feel pretty sure they are in Grandma's cart on the other side of the store. He says, "she can't be in here without shoes." Ugh. You think I want her running around without shoes either? I ignore his suggestion and get the girls moving along to the makeup section.

I had also promised new nail polish, but that meant that I had to find the dollar nail polish before they got their hearts set on the designer nail polish. This is more challenging because all the nail polishes are in different brand areas. I try to keep the girls and namely Joy hidden at the end of the aisle so we don't get kicked out of the store by an employee. There at the end of one of the aisles was the Holy Grail for Grace. The Hello Kitty makeup section. Grace loves makeup. I tolerate makeup. If we are working towards a special reward at home with good behavior, it is often makeup that Grace is working towards. Branded with Hello Kitty, it was more than her late afternoon temper could handle. She went into negotiation mode. Could she trade her dollar section item for an overpriced Hello Kitty makeup set. No. Puh-leeeaase? No. I really want it. No. And then the meltdown followed. Full crying and whining. I spied Grandma and sent Joy and Hope to meet up with her while I dragged Grace out of the section with promises that we could do makeup at home. Luckily Grandma consented to check out for us and meet us in the car.

I took all three girls to the car feeling like a shipwreck survivor. Hope and Joy did get their dollar section items. Grace fell asleep on the car ride home.

They say hindsight it 20/20, but I'm still not sure how I'm supposed to handle these situations. I'd rather avoid them because it seems more painless than enduring the tornado we charge through the store. At what age will I feel comfortable letting them all be out of the cart, because I don't see it in the foreseeable future.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sleeping Arrangements

I came across this image on Facebook recently and thought I should share how the sleeping arrangements are in our home. This is obviously from a husband's point of view, but it is so far from the truth in our bed that it's quite comical. 
Most of our friends know that we are co-sleepers. What this has meant for us is that while our children our infants, we feel that sleeping with mother is the least disruptive to everyone's sleep, and the most natural and comforting for the baby. However, transferring out of mother's bed when the time is right can be challenging. Joy and Grace are still challenged with sleeping in their shared bed all night long. We've chosen to have them share a queen bed because they have spent so much of their lives cuddling during sleep that it seems like a comforting practice. This is how things would ideally look every night all night long. As I type this at the beginning of the evening, it is in fact how they are sleeping.
 Peaceful nights like this one usually don't last that long. They are in fact all sleeping here, and it's a priceless photo.
 This is how our sleeping is distributed at much later points in the evening or early morning. Gradually throughout the night, Joy or Grace creep their way into our bed. Depending on our points of exhaustion, we might redirect them back to their bed a time or two, but eventually we get worn down and just don't notice that they've come into the bed until you have Joy sleeping on top of the covers and cannot move.
 And eventually, this is how things look by morning. On this particular morning, Andrew had moved into Joy and Grace's bed, leaving me wrenched between three girls. I carefully climbed out of bed to capture this picture. In the center of the bed is Grace. I was laying in between Grace and Sage (on the upper right) and Joy is reversed on the right side below Sage. 
I know that we have chosen this path, so I'm not really complaining. Even as I try to focus on our need to keep redirecting Joy and Grace to their bed in the night, Andrew admits that he likes cuddling with one. One is sweet. But three at a time in a queen bed is a little too much. Maybe we just need a bigger bed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

For Better or For Worse

This post was inspired and a challenge from Living Locurto (see her post on the topic here: Amy of Living Locurto shared how her husband could not part with his pre-marriage blanket and asked if there was anything one or the other member of our partnership could not part with. I'm going to ignore the possibilities that I might be tragically hanging on to some such sentimental item and quickly turn the tables on my beloved. Let me introduce you to what's been hiding in the back of our closet since the beginning of our marriage: the Wilson's hunter green leather jacket with extra zippers, buckles and gathered waist. It's a good thing Andrew is very charming and intelligent and I was able to bypass that he was wearing this atrocity. I mean, really? When was colored leather ever fashionable for men (or women)? Please remember that we met and were married in 2000, and though I might not be up to date with the latest trends, I'm pretty sure this was not a raging trend of the year 2000. I'll toss the question out there like Living Locurto did, what item is hiding in the back of your closet that can't be parted with?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our Growing Family

A friend of mine recently asked why I hadn't updated my blog in over a year. The easiest answer was, I have four kids. Occasionally when I venture into public with my children in tow I get comments of, "I don't know how you do it." And the truth of the matter is, I don't. I have no idea how people manage to keep their kids clothed, fed, and educated and still have time for cutesy blog posts. By the time I have three or four children sleeping at night, I just want to sit back with a few Oreos, milk, The Big Bang Theory, and just breathe.

I was trying to figure out just where to start posting again. The last post was Hope starting kindergarten; do I post the picture of her starting first grade, lest you think she is repeating kindergarten? (She's not.)

I suppose it might be easiest to do a quick summation on our family members like a belated Christmas letter.

Andrew has been working for HP for over two years now. From this wife's point of view, it's great. He works from home with occasional travel. He enjoys what he's doing; he's in a capacity that draws on his strengths. He genuinely enjoys the people he works with. They are easily people that we would be friends with if they lived closer and weren't scattered across the country. Win-win-win.

I stay at home and go about with the children. I have many moments where my patience is tried and I'm worn ragged (lest you become deluded into thinking I'm a perfect mother), but I am happy to be a mother to my four beautiful, bright daughters. I still like crafting and party planning. We recently celebrated Joy and Grace's 4th birthday with a princess party. ( I served as the president of our local mothers of multiples club last year, but was happy to release the title when I became pregnant with our fourth. I still enjoy the friendships within that club, as well as newer friendships with the local Mothers of Preschoolers. I enjoy helping out with publicity and flyer design for these groups. I spent last fall and spring accompanying Hope's elementary school choir, and it was a fun way to get to know some of the kids and families at school a little better.

Hope has really been enjoying school this year. I was worried a little when she spent the last half of kindergarten saying that she hated school, but I remember her telling me after school one day that even though she had a hard time getting up in the morning, that she really did like school. First grade is a fun year when they start really reading and writing. It's almost a little dangerous because we used to letter spell words that we didn't want the children to understand, and her brain is always going, listening all the time and figuring out what we're saying. I love listening to her read Magic Tree House books, and I love seeing her mind always going. This year has been special for her because she has truly developed a, as she would put it, BFF. She adores her friend, and loves recess and lunch all the more because they are together. She loves sleepovers and play dates and planning a lifelong friendship together. She's told me that they plan to be mommy friends together someday, and I hope that's true. I know that friendships come and go, but they serve great purposes at the points in our lives when we need them.

Joy is very loving and thoughtful. She often looks for ways to help out with the baby or bring you something you might need. She loves princesses and dancing and singing. She often sings her own made-up songs, or will sometimes do free play on the piano, as my mom said I did when I was her age.

Grace is our budding scientist. Hope really loves science (we thank Grandma Dori for encouraging this trait), but I don't remember her being this strongly interested in science at this age. Grace is currently our resident roly-poly rescuer (or murderer if you count all the suffocated ones that we've taken out of the wild and put in a plastic container). We can hArdly step out of the house without her searching the sidewalk and finding a roly poly.

Sage brightened our world last December. She came in her own time (four days late) in her own way (she broke her arm during birth), but she is a delight to the whole family. All of her big sisters love holding her and can't seem to give her enough loves and kisses. Hope will sometimes just randomly say, "Sage is soooo cute." Despite her broken arm (which has healed completely now), she is a good tempered baby. Andrew seems to think she might be our fussiest, but sometimes she has to cry a little longer than the others did while I am meeting the needs of older sisters. Or sometimes, the tired mommy or daddy just don't have the same energy and patience that they did when there was just one or three children. She is really quite patient and will reward me with sleeping in some mornings so I can help get kids ready for school or will happily play in her bouncy chair in the morning.

I hope to post more frequently, but as a mother of four and constantly encumbered with unpredictability, I'm not making any promises.