Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday morning cartoons evolve into Saturday night cartoons

It's interesting to look back on anything, cartoons included. When I was little we waited all week for Saturday morning cartoons. I am not sure if cartoons were even on during the week. Now I can watch cartoons at midnight thanks to all cartoon stations. 

In years past cartoons appealed to young and old alike. Simplicity and humor drew in all ages. Many cartoons didn't even speak. No words were necessary to explain what Wile E Coyote was doing. Now
there are cartoons for kids, cartoons for teens, and cartoons for adults only.  I can't really comment on The Simpsons, King of the Hill, etc as I never watch, I never have a desire to watch. I remember how disgusting Ren and Stimpy or Catdog were. Cartoons that aren't rated Y just don't appeal to me.

Does that imply I like cartoons rated Y? You bet. For a while kids cartoons went to almost all educational, at least for the preschoolers. They all taught numbers, letters, shapes, colors, etc.  Dora the Explorer opened up the door to foreign languages. Now, not only do cartoons teach academics, they teach manners, science, curiosity, social skills, and more.  I do have favorites and I am not sure they are the most "academic". My favorite little kid show is Olivia. Ok, Olivia was a name in the running for my girls. That's not why I like her.  But who can resist her striped tights.  I also like her creative and spunky personality. Even more I love her parents. They are the fun parents. They don't have a perfect house, they've almost forgotten a kid at the grocery store, they read to the kids every night, listen to the kids opinions, let them make a mess, and I'm pretty sure I've heard them make that <sigh>. It reminds me of home.

The other show I like is Phineas and Ferb. I think I have a soft spot for creativity. It shows unscheduled kids  being creative, working together and having awesome outcomes. They are determined and hard working. Almost as determined as their sister is to bust them, classic sibling rivalry. It's a show that appeals to all the kids from 3-15 (and a few adults) in our house. Besides, wouldn't a pet platypus be cool?

You might be surprised to here I am not all that picky. I don't really "hate" any show. Barney doesn't bug me. Dora doesn't drive me crazy. I've survived Teletubbies and Boohbah. Though I do have a peeve with the creators of Dinosaur Dan. Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to show kids you can dust for fingerprints with flour? No matter how hard it is to (for them to) clean up, how long it takes, how much trouble they get in, my kids still dust for prints every time they see that episode.

I don't think cartoons have gotten better. I don't think cartoons have gotten worse. I think they're just changed. People seem to think TV is "bad" for kids. Anything is bad in excess. Moderation is the key. I love a laid back movie afternoon, snuggled with the kids on a rainy day. I love how much fun the kids have dancing along with the Fresh Beat Band (and how hilarious it is to watch 3, 4 and 6 year olds breakdancing).  A is awfully cute when she says Nei Hao (or for at least a year wouldn't even say "hello", at least in English).  When all else fails, sometimes it's The Letter Factory DVD that gets a kid to learn their letters.

I don't know how many conversations were started from a TV show when I was young.  I remember "TV night" in our house.  I don't mean everyone watching their own TV in their own rooms.  I mean everyone sitting in the living room together, watching the same, family oriented, show.  Those were the days of Full House, Growing Pains, and Family Ties.  Now, a lot of the shows adults watch are not suitable for young audiences.  The shows suitable for young audiences don't appeal to adults.  We end up watching cable channels together.  Cake Boss, Cupcake Wars, Unwrapped, and Chopped on FoodTV.  Dirty Jobs or 19 Kids and Counting on TLC.  That's not to say that sometimes we don't just need the mindless humor of Tom and Jerry. 

We don't restrict TV in our house.  Instead we make sure that there is enough to keep them frog vegging out.  The kids do some after school activities.  We go to the park.  We go to the library.  We model a love of reading.  We provide crafts and Legos, which even our teen and tween love still.  We go for walks.  We go hiking.  We go to the Zoo.  We play board games with them.  I let them help cook.  My kids play outside with other neighborhood kids.  The truth is, we don't restrict because we don't have to.  The kids might watch an hour of TV on a weekday, if that.  Everyone needs some mindless down time, we don't need to deprive the kids of theirs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I stayed at home

There is always a bright side to things. Maybe in a few days, when the kids are more restless, I will not feel so optimistic. For now, I am certainly seeing the bright side to 2 things; back to school and a broken bone.  Today was a productive day. Everything fell into place. It didn't start that way. When I called the orthopedist at 8 am I sat on hold for 3 minutes before being told they were still on the service so I'd have to call back. Several minutes later things were looking up. No long hold time and J could be seen in 40 minutes. The day wouldn't be a waste. I wouldn't have to wait until afternoon when they're already hours behind.

40 minutes later we walk into a crowded waiting room. It takes quite some time just to receive the papers to fill out. Filling them out takes time too. The kids are getting restless. Maybe my day is turning sour.  I was expecting to wait hours anyway so it's not like I made plans.  However, several minutes later, shortly after I finish the forms, we are taken right back. In only about an hours time we've waited, filled out papers, been casted, xrayed, made our next appointment and are in our car to leave.

Since I expected a longer wait, the kids are back in school, and there's not much to do in this hot weather in a cast, there are no more plans for the day. The baby manages 2 naps. The kids get lunch, play the computer, play nicely together. I manage to clean the family room, do the dishes, and do the laundry. I can even start on deeper cleaning. While doing so I find the checkbook I looked forever for this morning. Then I find S's missing, special order, scissors. Even though I didn't say a prayer, I still quietly thank St Anthony. I am being so gracious (and while my luck holds out) maybe I should go look for E's missing ereader.

Optimism is taking over. I'm on a roll. Should I keep on the roll and clean out the pantry (the last thing on my cleaning to do list for today)? Should I start my long crocheting list? Should I do some more embroidery? Should I start a nice dinner? The baby is still napping, I probably shouldn't waste this time debating what to do.  Maybe I should just nap too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wanted: Executive Assistant

In years past there was no term "stay at home mom" because women didn't work. Women were typically "housewives". This term was easily used because women stayed home before they had kids. They took care of the "house". Cleaning, shopping, errands, as well as caring for her husband by doing laundry, cooking, packing lunches, etc were all part of a day's work. Once kids were born that job was also part of the "house". You were a "housewife" whether you had no kids or 4 kids.

Years went by and women not only went off to work but pursued much higher educations. Women worked because they wanted to work. Soon the economy changed and women had to work.  Other women fell in love with their careers. Staying at home was now a choice women made depending on their situation.  Working became the "norm". Now a mom that doesn't work is in the minority. These moms who take care of their kids all day are dubbed "stay at home moms", even if they never get to stay home. Does being a "stay at home mom" mean you are only home to be a "mom"? Are you exempt from all the housewife duties? Or does working exempt you from household duties? The house suddenly cleans itself?

A few years back a mom decided she was it all. She was an accountant, mom, housewife, and chef. She decided the her "occupation" must be "Domestic Engineer". I guess "engineer" does refer to a lot of what I do. My husband is sure I'm a laundry service. My oldest thinks I'm a bus driver. My 2nd thinks I'm a  servant, why else would you ask me for a cup when your standing next to the cabinet? #3 prefers me as a maid. The rest will go for chef, as I cater to their every culinary whim. I think the term "engineer" is accurate, it sounds very hands on.

A few years back though they calculated how much it would cost to replace a "mom". They then translated that into what a moms income would be. At a salary over $138,000 a year I think my worth must be higher than "engineer" then. I mean, they usually refer to breastmilk as "liquid gold" in the mommy circles, and here I am making it while doing all my other jobs. Maybe a better occupation for me would be "Domestic Executive"? Don't executives get personal assistants?

Now Hiring-Executive Assistant, must have; extensive project management and negotiation experience, the ability to work long flexible hours, Driver's License.  Culinary, janitorial, and teaching experience a plus.  Clean background check, driver record is negotiable.  Will consider former military (preferably Drill Sergeants).  May want to consider self defense course before hire date.  Perfect job for a good self starter who can work with lots of direction.  Department budget is small.  Salary is negotiable (I'll add as many zeros as you'd like).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some days never seem to end

You know that day.  The day that is pretty scheduled but doable.  Today was one of those days.  I had 2 things on the schedule, Autism research and tennis.  It started at 8 am, the high schooler wasn't ready for the "bus" to leave so I offered to drop her off on my way to the research study.  On the way out the door the other two reminded me I promised they could be car riders on Friday.  This is still doable.

At 8 am I leave the house with 4 kids.  I drop one at the high school and then head to the university for the Autism research.  4 hrs later (that includes driving time) the kids are ready for lunch and we are running out of time.  I stop at Sonic for a semi, not on the "go" lunch.  Then we head to the elementary school to get S.  The middle school to get B.  The high school to get E.  I stop for drinks and we head to the park before tennis.

While at the playground 1 needs a new diaper and 1 needs to potty.  Where the heck did the wipies, I specifically remember putting in my purse this morning, go?  I finally change 1 (without wipes), 1 down and 1 impossible (they have no bathroom).  One's blister broke and she needs a bandaid.  She refuses to go get herself one, but baby is climbing the slide.  After much whining she goes to the car (with a sister) for a bandaid.  Where did the 2 first aid kits from the car go?  As the blistered one is whining, J falls and hurts his arm.  Of course he has fallen from the zip track ride.  The one I assured him he could do himself.  The whole playground thing today is a big parenting fail. 
When he doesn't appear to be getting better we head to tennis early, calling daddy on the way.  At tennis we get several a bathroom, S a bandaid, J some ice.  Daddy shows up to take a few kids while half the kids and I head to Urgent Care.  By 6 pm (after an hour of crying, a few x rays and many restless times) it is determined we have a broken arm.  Pain meds were given, a splint was put on.

We head home, stopping for dinner along the way.  By the time we are done with dinner it is pushing 8 pm now (bedtime for 5 of my 6 kids).  Again hubby takes half the kids home to bed.  I take the other half to the pharmacy for J's prescription.  30 minutes later we are finally on our way home.  After lots of uncomfortable positions J is finally asleep.  I say "hi" to hubby, then take the baby upstairs.  It's 10 pm, this day is over.  Or so we thought.  Why is your phone ringing?  Hubby has to run into work.  In just over an hour the day will officially "end", not sure if it will have ended in this house or not.  Oops, gotta go, the boy's up, he must need more meds...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to school

We all know that for a majority of the country it is back to school season. You have either just started back or will be soon. Even many homeschoolers do not do year round school. They are starting back to learning or to virtual classes. Kids or parents (or both) everywhere are tearing up. Some are nervous. Some are celebrating.

Today is our 1st day of school. People wonder why I'd rather homeschool. People count down, with excitement, to the kids going back. I count down with dread. I hate everything about school (except maybe being able to grocery shop, without rushing, mid weekday mornings, with only 3 kids).  This morning I got up at 6:30 am, yesterday I got up when I got up, maybe 8 am? I woke up 3 excited but tired kids. 2 more were woken up by the commotion. I made rushed school lunches instead of hot lunches whenever we are hungry.  By 7:10 hubby was already grumpy as he felt rushed. Kids were still brushing their teeth. Kids were rushing to run out the door.

The 1st to get dropped off is starting 1st grade. Her 1st year with a desk. Her 1st year on the big playground. The 2nd to be dropped off is starting middle school. Middle school is an exciting and a nervous time. When the child's maturity and social level, at times, is more that of a shy 3rd grader, it is just plain scary for mom. The last to be dropped off is a sophomore. That is sophomore in high school, not college. I still can't figure out how I ended up with a child who is referred to as a "sophomore" not a "... grader".  She is excited.  She is off to a brand new building for a specialty learning center in the district.  She is in a district that will, apparently, be issuing all high schoolers Ipads this year.

That leaves one more for school. After everyone was dropped off I attended his IEP meeting. In 2 more weeks he starts 4K. That means that today my house is quiet, chaos free. Though the baby's nap schedule is messed up because she got up at 6:30am. In 2 weeks though, for 3 hours a day, the house will be just plain empty. It will just be the baby and the preschooler. Then it will be time to tackle another challenge (yet again), potty training.

It will be OK that the days are spent so laid back. We will call it recovery time. The only activity still going on from summer is tennis. Next week we will probably start having to pick up at the high school from all the after school clubs. Girl Scouts also starts next week. The week after that we start horseback riding. The next week we start soccer. The week after that we start religious education. With afternoon and evening activities M-Th we can use the down time. My kids really aren't overscheduled. Each is only allowed 1 activity.  Religion is not an option and Girl Scouts is a family activity. With 4 kids old enough for activities it adds up. 1 of them isn't even doing anything this Fall (he decided he didn't like soccer so is waiting untill Football season).  I do have 1 learning to drive. Though I am not sure I want her to drive. Even if it would cut back on my bus duties because, at her age, sports require a lot more practices.

I am not saying our summers are all lazy days. We occasionally do a day camp. We did have some sports, baseball and tennis. We do travel. But we do not typically get up early. We go relax at the lake. We try out the museums. We enjoy each others company. I will never be ready for my kids to grow up, or to let them go.  I do hope they're having a good day though. In 2 more hours they will start trickling home. No matter what you hear, teachers do give homework the 1st day of school. Do notice I didn't say "kids have homework the 1st day of school".

Monday, August 15, 2011

Half a Dozen

That's half a dozen months, not half a dozen kids.  It's been 6 months since I started blogging.  I have not done daily blogs, though I'm not sure you'd want to read daily blogs anyway.  We do have some boring days in our life.  What I have done is a total of 66 posts, that averages to 11 posts a month.  That's not to bad, I think, at least 4 a month is a good goal to aim for as I continue.  I've also gotten 24 followers.  Also not bad since I didn't expect any.  I was a little surprised by this next number, I've had nearly 6000 pageviews on my blog.  I'm even almost caught up.  I only have 5 unpublished posts left to add.

I will have to wait until the 1 year mark to do some sort of contest.  I still haven't finished my last contest item.  You probably remember the post about taking kids to the store.  Yet, there are some things I still am stuck on buying in person.  Mostly that is yarn and shoes.  Since I have gotten over my need to buy all my fabric in person, maybe this will help me get over my fear of ordering yarn.  None of the stores I went to had the yarn I needed, in the color and quantity I needed, so I had to order it.  Of course, it took several store trips until I was convinced of this.  In other words, I didn't order it right away.  I am hoping to be done soon though and be able to share.

Here's hoping I'll still be around in 6 months to do another giveaway.  Now to figure out what it will be.  Continue to watch for the rest of my catching up posts.  Maybe, if I am lucky, I can get E to do some personalized graphics for the blog.  Today though, I have to go finish the skirt set I am making for S to wear back to school this week.

Friday, August 12, 2011

We're going on a field trip

Sometimes that's what it feels like when I start to load up the car for a full day out. It reminds me of the teachers loading coolers, bags, and boxes full of stuff onto the buses for field trips. So today we are going to the water park. If you ever frequent water parks, pools, beaches, or parks (especially with sand) the $4 pop up hampers with handles from Walmart are AWESOME. The pricier ones are tall, I prefer the short wide ones (like the tall but on their side so it has a large opening). They fit towels/coverups for 8. Another one fits diapers, wipes, water slings, clothes, sunscreen, life jackets, etc. Walmart now has collapsible cloth baskets available. These fit food, water bottles, etc. I am not a huge fan of Walmart, but when you live a bit more rurally and they are the only general merchandise store for 30 mins, you learn to find what you need there.

I am thankful we own an older Maclaran Volo stroller because the entire seat is a waterproof, breathable mesh. If you toss in a nice water sling and there are your extra hands. We are going on a Sunday so hubby can come, that is my extra set of eyes.  Now to get 6 overexcited kids actually into the bus. Though I know getting them onto the bus to go is in no way measurable to the work of getting them on the bus to come home.  They'll be wet, hungry, tired. 

I frequently get asked how I can afford 6 kids.  It isn't things like this that cost that much.  Health insurance premiums, YMCA membership (where the water parks is), museum and zoo memberships, etc are all the same price regardless of if you have 2 or 6 kids.  It's those "conveniences" that add up.  I want to get them into the "bus" from the waterpark.  I'm hot and tired, they're hot and tired.  There's a McDs a mile up the road.  Who wants McFlurries?  McFlurries times 2 kids (ok, and 2 parents) in a snack size comes to $7.24, the same McFlurries times Super Sized (ok our family isn't really super sized) is $14.41, twice as much.  If you go to the water park every week it can add up. 

We don't go to the water park every week but we seem to have something like that happen every week.  Take yesterday, for instance, if you have to leave the house at 8:30 am to swim lessons you have to be up by at LEAST 8 am to get everyone dressed and towels.  If you have a La Leche League meeting afterwards that happens to be on the same road you really don't want to drive the 20+ minutes home.  Then you need to bring clothes so add a hurried 5 minutes (because I'd rather hurry than get up another 10 minutes earlier) to that 8 am wake up call.  If you have a sick fish that requires medicine from the pet shop, also on the same road, again you don't want to drive home.  By the time you're done with all that is it worth the, now 30 minute, drive home if you have to be back in just over an hour for art class?  You knew all this last night.  You had every intention of packing a lunch.  The baby woke up once so you couldn't finish the dishes, the baby woke up again so you couldn't finish the laundry, after the 3rd time you not only forgot all about the lunch but you didn't even get to brush your teething before falling asleep.  That means you could, if your Supermom, get up earlier and pack it in the morning.  Unfortunately I got demoted to "good mom" by most standards (though I think I'm in danger of another demotion), by a tweens standard I got demoted all the way to "mean mommy".  Since, not feeding the children would, not only result in low blood sugar meltdowns, but  be a bigger demotion than feeding them junk, you are at the drive thru.  A drive thru for lunch is a lot pricier than just McFlurries.

The same thing applies to the checkout line at the grocery store.  Though, seriously, who takes 6 kids to the grocery store?  Probably the same crazy lady who takes 6 kids to Target school shopping.  It was a tough decision.  I could squeeze it into the weekend since hubby would be home.  However, since we have a car wash, birthday party and splash party this weekend I thought it would be nice to get it over with.  The kids are very excited about the "field trip", which is what we have decided to make the Target trip.  4 kids with lists in hand, 1 carrier to contain the baby, and 1 toddler who is usually OK if she has a pacified backup.  Discussion is made of walking to Petsmart when we are done.  There is also a request of World Market if we behave, for good measure mommy tosses in "and help everyone else behave".  It sounds like such a fun day.  3 fights over yo yos, 2 lost lists, 1 screaming baby and lots of annoyed fellow shoppers (and $200 in supplies) later we decide to skip, wait, I decide to skip the other stores in favor of Walmart for all the supplies Target inevitably was out of. 

That's not to say every field trip goes like that.  The water park was a blast, especially ending with a nice McFlurry bribe for a peaceful hour drive home.  Usually a car wash fundraiser would be lots of fun too and wear the kids out.  Unfortunately, tomorrow is calling for thunderstorms.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

These kids slay me

Every day this week I've overheard hilarious conversations between S and J. My memory is shot and hours later I've forgotten the topic of conversation much less the details.  This time I'm gonna write it down. Here you go, overheard from little ones this evening.

S: Did you get to pick?
Me: what?
S: Did you want a girl baby?
Me: no, you don't pick
S: I want a boy
Me: you don't get to pick
S: when daddy's gone Js the only boy
Me: J doesn't mind. J, you don't care if your the only boy, do you?
J: I'm a man
S: you're not a man
J: when daddy's gone I'm a man
S: daddy's fat
J: <not sure exactly what he said>
S: daddy has a big belly

I'm pretty sure the end of that was said in the context of, "you can't be daddy because daddy has a big belly" and, well, J has no belly (not that hubby has a huge belly either).  I'm sure hubby will love to hear this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sibling bonds

One of the best (and worst) things about having more than 1 child is the relationships they form. Obviously sibling rivalry is not on the top of my "best" list. Sibling rivalry probably does have some advantages, like teaching negotiation skills (or self defense).  There are some relationships that fall on the "best" list though. 

The relationships I am talking about are the bonds. When you are cleaning up the living room and hear excited squeals, you look up.  There is big sister excitedly telling you how she made her sister laugh. You can't help but give up on cleaning to just watch them interact. After 10 minutes of baby screaming in the car she finally falls asleep. A few minutes later, you notice sister is asleep too.  When you arrive at your destination you go to get baby and see that they fell asleep holding hands. This would warm even the most exhausted heart.

I am sure anyone out there who has a sibling remembers fighting with them. I think it would be the very rare person who doesn't remember good times too. I remember my sister and I making up our own languages. I remember making up games together in the car on long trips. I remember riding our bikes together to the  library, park, and school (back when it was actually safe to do that).

It isn't just sibling pairs that create bonds. It isn't just the siblings closest in age that have bonds. The more kids you have the more interesting the bonds seem to be. In our house they all seem to have a sibling they play more with. Sometimes this changes, sometimes it is a temporary change, sometimes not.  Smaller siblings, as you would suspect, always seem to look up to their next older one. There are the more atypical bonds though. These are the bonds you didn't see happening but they somehow grew strong. 

A2 is #5. #1 has always been helpful. # 1 has always loved to hold the babies. She was like that even when #2 was born, when she was only 3. When #2 was a baby she hated to hear her cry and always tried to fix it. Even when #2 was a preschooler she still would always give in just so she wouldn't cry. Somehow though A2 took the holding and cuddling to heart. E14 would carry her around even when I wanted her to get some exercise through the zoo. A2 would just look up at E14 and she would carry her instead of her having to ride in the grocery cart. Now A2 calls her "Mine". Usually a toddler wants mommy. A2 sometimes only wants E14. The other day she stood at the bottom of the stairs just crying for her. She always climbs up on her lap when she's sitting on the sofa. 

#2 has Autism. She can sometimes be a pain in the behind. She likes to antagonize and annoy people at times. As you can imagine this results in a lot of fights. She is very good with babies so the fighting usually is aimed at #1 or #3. At times #3 is near tortured by B11. Yet S6 already, at barely school age, is very protective of B11. She will even risk getting in trouble for lying to allow B11 to get away with hitting her.

J4 is #4. When I was pregnant with #5 my sister had her 1st. J4 seemed to have no interest in babies at all. We even tried introducing him to babies. We would let him hold his new cousin. He would sit there stiffly like he was afraid of the baby. When #5 came he got over that. He became a great big brother. When #6 came though he became attached. He tells everyone he taught her to crawl. Her first word was "bubba". He is certain he's her favorite. She loves to shower him with kisses. He doesn't let anyone else give him kisses without wiping them off. He even laughs and let's her pull his hair.

Of course these relationships could change. But Pope John Paul II said "it is certainly less serious to deny children certain comforts or material advantages than to deprive them of the presence of brothers and sisters who could help them to grow in humanity and to realise the beauty of life in all its ages and in all its variety".  Their siblings will always be there for them, long after my husband and I have passed.  As long as they continue to learn through the dynamics of their relationships, siblings will be an advantage to them. As long as they continue to appreciate and respect each other I'm happy.  Even when they sound like they're going to kill each other, that's ok, my hubby decided that sitting together on the sofa holding hands is a good logical punishment for sibling fighting.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Recall the ball

I was cooking dinner in a kitchen that not only was recently picked up but even swept. Yet, right there I saw it, a toy ball. It was sitting right in the middle of the floor. If you remember my post about the toothpick, you know that my daughter has broken an elbow falling over a desk at school (and on a bike with training wheels, in addition to putting a toothpick completely through her toe).  Everything I see is an accident waiting to happen.

I picture those old cartoons where the character slips on a ball and goes bouncing all over before landing hard on the ground.  This gets me to thinking about how dangerous a ball can be. I mean left in the middle of a kitchen, where you might be carrying a knife or something hot, think of what would happen if you slipped on it. Or what if it were left on the stairs?

Yet how many kids toys come with balls? This particular ball is from an entire line of toys that come with small balls (not small enough to be choking hazards). I have several of the toys so at least a dozen balls. I pick them up and put them in their bin at least a dozen times a day too. Yet, there was an escapee, right in my kitchen. 

I think, it is pretty common sense to not leave balls on the floor or stairs to be tripped on. Then I remembered that I thought it was common sense to not put a baby in a Bumbo seat on the counter from which they could fall. Or how would a baby slide down and get their head stuck under a stroller bumper bar if they're buckled? Then again, people have won lawsuits because they burned themselves on hot coffee.  Most of us would complain if our coffee wasn't hot.

I don't mean to make light of recalls. Some are very important. When a carseat doesn't properly work, that's an important recall. When a stroller collapses during use, that's an important recall. I wonder though if so many frivolous recalls are going to result in people no longer paying much attention to recalls. Maybe the safety commission will think this same thing and reevaluate how recalls are done. If not I am waiting to see when they recall the ball because my house is full of them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ponderings of the Sabbath

As a fairly optimistic person, married to a fairly pessimistic person, you have probably noticed I say "it's all in how you look at it" an awful lot. This applies to so much more than just whether the glass is half empty or half full.  Theologians and different religions ponder, not only how the bible is translated, but how it should be interpreted. The average person doesn't even get that indepth. Instead they try to find ways to make the interpretation fit what they want it to say. Buying that 56" television isn't actually materialistic because it is a "need".  Making sure your yard is as great as the neighbors has nothing to be with coveting because the HOA requires your yard be "upkept". A white lie isn't really "lying" if you're using it to "protect" someone else.  Everything seems to have a "loophole".

Another thing you'll notice about me is that my mind wanders, A LOT.  How did I end up pondering the great web humans seem to weave these days? I was contemplating the fact that I didn't really feel like getting up and cleaning the living room today. It hit me that today is Sunday, a day of rest, so maybe I'll just crochet, sew, clip coupons, and hang out with the kids today. What makes crocheting not "work"? There are people all over the planet that crochet as a job.  Crocheting is a hobby for me, relaxing, does that make it completely different then crocheting as a job. They both are done the same way, they both have the same outcome.

This reminded me of a few weeks ago when my husband and I were debating whether we would help our ox out of a ditch if it fell in on a Sunday. Though I think the only good that came from that conversation was some bible reading. The conversation itself took a wrong turn and ended up at humorous. Our daughter was not familiar with the bible verse though, so she got to practice looking things up in the bible. Then we read and discussed a few verses.

And what became of the Sabbath? So far I'm still sitting here blogging. Sadly, noone pays me to do that so I guess it's not "work".

Sibling jealousy

Another long ago written, but never posted, out of the blog vault.

One of the biggest concerns among parents about to have a 2nd child is
jealousy. That and how can I possibly love another as much, are the
most asked questions I get.

The love question is easily answered. The answer everyone gives is
pretty much the gist of it. Your love doesn't divide, it grows. To
add to that, they get additional love. Both children gain sibling
love. Sibling love is something that cannot be duplicated. Sibling
love is different than parental love. Sibling love will be there long
after their parents are gone.

Jealousy is a bit harder. I have trouble answering that question
because we've never had a huge issue. I do not know the actual reason
we don't have an issue. I am not going to say we haven't had
jealousy. It is subtle. It can be a toddler that's a little more
clingy, we just cuddled them more. It can be a preschooler who's a
little more defiant, we just try to be understanding. Maybe these
issues aren't as apparant because we don't push siblings aside for the
baby. I can cuddle a toddler watching TV while I nurse a baby. I can
take a preschooler to the playground with baby out of the way in the
sling. I can take an older child to scouts with the baby tucked away
in the Ergo.

In our house jealousy of the baby isn't so much the problem. The
jealousy the baby causes can be more the problem. She got to hold the
baby longer. He's hogging the baby. I was playing with her first.
They all want to hold the baby, play with the baby, sit next to the
baby, etc.

I don't think you could find prouder older siblings. My son was so
proud holding his new sister (the same boy who was scared of babies 2
years earlier). They will hold the babies hand in the car to help her
fall asleep. They get the most excited when they make a baby laugh.
They want to bring their baby to show and tell.

Only in my house do the kids actual want more siblings. Yes, like
every other kid, mine don't enjoy sharing. That doesn't matter to
them when it comes to babies. B thinks we should have 20 kids (sorry,
not happening). S is mad that we won't give her twin baby brothers
(as if mommy isn't crazy enough). Sorry guys but we have no plans
to be the next Duggars.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week: It's not always what you say

Ok, I'm a middle of the road kind of gal. I am pro breastfeeding but I am not as out there promoting it as I  am babywearing and attachment parenting. It isn't that I am scared of cans with worms in them. You know that's not the case because I talk about spanking. I think my issue is modesty.  You never expect to hear that from someone who has breastfed in public for the last 6+ years. 

Yes, I breastfeed in public, without a cover, but I don't undress to do so.  Breastfeeding moms do not enjoy flashing you, we are not closet strippers, and many of us have stretch marks we'd much prefer stay under wraps.  We try to be as modest as possible  We do it because a baby has to eat, a lot, it's just not feasible for anyone to expect a baby to be able to wait. They have tiny tummies, hunger is a new sensation that they can't differentiate completely from a "pain".  Developmentally they have NO concept of time.  It is also unrealistic to expect a mom to be able to stay in her house for 2 years (the minimum amount of time the World Health Organization recommends babies breastfeed).

Yes, I also attend Le Leche League meetings. We talk about breasts, breast issues, and we nurse. That is the topic at hand, in a room full of other nursing (or formerly or some to be nursing) women. We help each other, we support each other. It's almost a necessity.  My personality just doesn't feel comfortable talking about breasts (nursing), sex (birth control), or penises (circumcision) to any stranger or acquaintance out there. If it's not something I would show in public, I don't feel like it's something I should be talking to the world about.  That doesn't mean I don't talk about nursing. As I said, I do at La Leche League meetings. Having nursed more than a few kids I also get asked a lot of questions, I never hesitate to answer.

My lactivism is silent but powerful, it's nursing.  Why do I feel that's so powerful? Because it was for me. When my 2nd was born (my oldest was only part time nursed a week) I was new to breastfeeding. I had just gotten the confidence with my latch and feeding at home. I couldn't stay in the house forever, I had a 3 year old.  Every time we went somewhere I fed the baby first. We took E to dance class. It was only an hour and the car was nearby for nursing. Our second week there another nursing mom sat right in the lobby and nursed, uncovered.  Noone noticed, noone said anything. When B was hungry I tried it, covered. All the  nearby kids wanted to know why the baby was hiding in the blanket. We went to storytime. Another nursing mom nursed her baby. Soon B was hungry. I could do this, that mom was. I nursed B, uncovered, right there in the library.  Noone cared, noone noticed, noone said a word. The next week at dance I tried uncovered. Not a word was said that time. Soon I was nursing at the restaurant while we waited for our food, the zoo, the museum, through the ballet, the park, even in the sling as I shopped the mall.  Noone said anything, noone cared.

I do not know how long it would have taken me to get up my courage without seeing other nursing moms. I do not know how long I would have been able to sustain car nursing only. I do not know if I would have kept on nursing without the ease of doing so where ever I had to go. Moms nursing in public was a huge  support to me nursing my daughter. 

In over 11 years and 5 nurslings I have only had 5 comments (I recall) to me nursing in public. The 1st was  the kids wanting to know why baby was hiding. The 2nd was a surprised man when he peeked into my sling to see baby before I was able to stop him, she was nursing and he wasn't bothered, he only apologized. The 5th was the same thing only a woman. The 3rd was a woman who commented how wonderful it was, she had nursed all her kids. The 4th was the closest I got to a negative. An employee at a children's museum offered me an office to use "for privacy".  Since she was older and easily distracted I took it so I am not sure anything bad would have happened had I politely declined.  Now it doesn't even matter because the state I live in has laws protecting a mom's right to nurse in public.

The hurtful nursing in public stories make the news all the time.  They go viral among breastfeeding advocacy forums. The stories of people who nurse all the time in public, and noone takes a 2nd glance, are left untold.  No wonder moms are nervous. I am hear to share, that isn't always the "norm". 

I hope that the mom who sat down to breastfeed (covered) after asking if I minded, (minutes after I finished nursing) grew more and more at ease. I hope the mom who nursed her daughter (covered) in the row in front of me, right after I finished, was assured that it's OK because noone even noticed. I hope the nervous new mom who sat down next to me to nurse her new baby, while I nursed mine, ended up having a long and successful breastfeeding relationship. Most of all, I wish I could go back and thank those moms who, unknowingly, helped me. And I hope that maybe I have reassured even just 1 mom, when they saw me. Or maybe I put the idea of breastfeeding into 1 future moms mind. Silence can be powerful.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Georgia Aquarium, it's all in how you look at it

This is the last in the "series" (or so it seemed) on our trip.  It's funny how yuo can write so much about 1 day.

The fact that Georgia Aquarium is the "largest indoor aquarium" can be deceiving. When you hear "largest" you expect it to have a lot, to be grand. If you've ever been to an outdoor aquarium though, this may disappoint. Being all indoors, you can take your time. You don't get hot or cold. You don't have to worry about rain. It has some exhibits that are typically reserved for outdoor aquariums, such as dolphins.

All indoors has it's own issues though. It can only admit so many people safely. It sells out, so advance tickets are extremely recommended. Advanced tickets also lock you in. In other words, if you've already bought your $20 tickets and you arrive to a crowded mess you are kind of stuck going anyway or losing your money. The limited number of people they admit is still so many that you may not ever get to see some of the exhibits. Actually, in my opinion, there are so many people that I'd worry about my kids being trampled in an emergency.

They have some nice exhibits. If you've ever been to another aquarium, the most interesting will be the Whale Sharks. The Belugas are interesting too if you haven't been to a large outside aquarium that houses them. Manta Rays are neat but I've seen them swimming off the coast of Florida (and I was just standing on a pier). Dolphins are neat but I've seen them swimming off the coast of Florida and South Carolina (from shore, pier, boat, etc). A lot of the smaller fish I see at the aquarium inside our local zoo. Penguins I see at almost every zoo I've been to. Our local zoo has an awesome exhibit with 3 different species. Though, so far, my favorite exhibit is at the aviary in Pittsburgh. Otters are at several zoos too. The tunnel was neat because the Whale Sharks were there. Otherwise, it didn't seem any better than Ripley's, Tennessee, etc.  Maybe there were more interesting things to see but it was so crowded we couldn't get through to see at least 1/3 of the exhibits.

They do have a play structure. The climbing area though was limited to a small range of sizes. Only my middle 2 were small enough but big enough (barely) to play.  That's like a teaser to a 3 year old, yes I do see the playplace, yes other kids can go in it but unlike other playplaces you are too small, sorry.  Thats a tantrum waiting to happen.  They also have a touch tank. It was very similar to the touch tank at the PPG aquarium (only the PPG has a neat tunnel so the kids can crawl under) and other similar aquariums. Though it was very crowded.

I expected a lot more from the dolphin show. I am not sure if that is because it was an extra $15 or if it's  because the only other dolphin show I've seen was at the Seaquarium. They made it seem like it was a show with a storyline that the dolphins were stars of. The storyline was sorely lacking though. I would barely consider it a storyline.  The hype is much more than the actual show. The show was only 30 minutes (and another hour in line and waiting) but my smaller kids couldn't have handled longer. The dolphins were cool but the story was really needed to get it to last 30 minutes. They just need a better storyline.

If you're just looking for someplace for the kids to see "fish" then there are so many other aquariums. If you have to take them during a peak time it may not be worth it.  If you are an enthusiast though this place may be for you. It may have species not housed elsewhere (I'm not an enthusiast with the knowledge to say). It also has many (albeit expensive) additional options. You can tour behind the scenes, swim with the Belugas, or go snorkeling in the big tank. My daughter did a behind the scenes tour with school and said that was great. You got to see more things and it wasn't crowded at all.

The aquarium also features a cafe but I cannot comment on that because it was too busy to try. I would  recommend sunscreen and water. I didn't bring either because it is an "indoor" aquarium and outside food/drink is not allowed. However, despite having a 1pm ticket, we had to wait in line from 1pm (the earliest they will let a 1pm ticket get in line) until about 1:30pm. This line was 90% in the 100 degree sun. There really wasn't anywhere to get water without getting out of line.

There is a parking garage but you may want to consider a prepaid ticket. They were sold out by the time we got there so were only letting in prepaid tickets (which we had). If you also have a large family and therefore a large van, the garage is only 6'8". They have a special entrance for vans though, the one next to us was a  Sprinter or similar so it can accommodate tall vans. The same ticket was valid for this entrance and when we were there spots were aplenty in that section.

The one place I was partially impressed with was the gift shop. In my opinion it's location is predatory. The  aquarium exit is through the gift shop. The prices were one of the most reasonable I have seen. A decent sized stuff animal was only $15. The $16.99 animals were on sale 2/$25. T shirts were a bit pricey, the one my daughter got was $22.

All in all I'd rather go somewhere less crowded. The kids are just as impressed because they haven't seen "everything" a bunch of times yet.  For the price they charge for admission I'd expect them to limit admission to a number reasonable enough that we can actually see the exhibits. This is coming from someone who grew up at Disney World, the king of lines.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's all good

I'm sure, after all the stories of this trip, people are wondering if we vacation often and why would we. Believe it ot not, that is an unusual trip. When things go wrong I don't stress. Stressing about it won't change it. Sometimes they go so bad the only thing you can do is laugh.

Every trip has it's challenges. Every trip has it's good times. We had fun swimming together with nowhere to really be. Even if it was 9 pm at night, Anna and I had some nice (semi) quiet time walking together (even if she did try to run into every bar we passed). Once everyone's quiet it's always nice on a car trip to get some peaceful time (in the van) to just chat with hubby.

9 months ago I drove, alone, with 5 of the kids to meet the other and hubby. It was supposed to be an 11 hour drive that ended up being about 13 hours. It wasn't 13 hours because of problems or kids. It was because we stopped to eat breakfast and lunch. We stopped every 2 hours to nurse a baby. Our GPS got us lost in downtown. We got caught in traffic. The kids, including the 3 month old, did incredibly well. It was only the last hour, lost and stuck in traffic, that was an issue. We stayed there 4 nights without issues. Looking back we just laugh at the less than perfect parts. I mean, the GPS was trying to kill us. It told us to turn the wrong way down a 1 way road, once into a wall and once get off at a non existent exit (in it's defense, despite having just been updated, the city was under construction).

I've spent a week at a hotel or condo (many times) with all the kids while hubby worked all day. Sometimes it's the little things that make memories. At hotels there are few dishes and laundry to do. One trip, despite daily swimming, beach trips, and the mall, the kids most remember the rainy afternoon we all snuggled on the bed watching a movie. One of the things they always love to do is to collect the brochures of all the tourist attractions. Even if we don't go to even one, it's fun to spread them out, pass them around, and talk about the places. When we do have time to do them it's fun to vote, debate, and persuade over which to try. 

Even if their behavior this weekend looked like they never eat out or travel, you'd be surprised how much a family our size does do those things. I'm not saying we regularly go out to 5 star restaurants. Most of the kids' favorite is Cracker Barrel. Some of the kids prefer Olive Garden or Uno's (only on the day the balloon man is there). B likes ribs so always votes for Carolina Wings and Rib House and no kid argues since they have a video game room. We have family across the East Coast so we travel North and South. We're even known to just drive 2 hours to shop, pick apples, visit a museum, etc. 

They are seasoned. They're also just kids. We expect everything to run smoothly but are prepared for it not to. We'll travel again. I'd love to say we'll wait until I catch up on my sleep. But we know that isn't happening anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And the not so happy ending

Friday we loaded up the kids and headed to the University to get my oldest. I had great plans to drive out to Atlanta from there to spend the weekend. We could do the aquarium, Centennial Park, the Zoo and whatever else we could squeeze into around 2.5 days. Since the hubby agreed (especially after not letting me go last year, just because I was 37 weeks pregnant), I told the kids. Unfortunately his work decided on other plans, which included him flying out of town on Sunday.  I would have just cancelled, with plans to reschedule. Hubby thought we could squeeze something in and the kids would have been upset, so off we went for the night.

The plan was to stay the night near the University (much closer to Atlanta) and then pick E14 up early in the morning to head to the Georgia Aquarium.  As long as hubby was taking the day off, I thought we could head over early to check in, swim, then grab dinner. The plan went so perfectly. The kids behaved well on the way. The baby slept. They had lots of fun swimming.

I am sure you know things never go "perfectly". That is where it ended. I thought walking to a close dinner would be better for kids contained in a vehicle all day (even if they just finished an hour of swimming). We even took the kids to a favorite place. They loved walking there. At dinner EVERYONE was so restless it was chaos. We finished so early I didn't want rambunctious kids stuck in a hotel room disturbing guests. We decided to go buy them University T shirts instead. We loaded up and immediately it didn't go well. The baby was crying from the 1st second. On the way out of the parking garage the van was too tall for the gate and scrapped along the top. J4 had a potty accident and was TICKED. I was so happy to be headed back.

It's a challenge to get 5 kids to sleep at home, in a hotel steps it up a notch. I thought hubby might have better luck if it were quieter so I took 5 and 6 for a walk. I told him to call or text when 2-4 were asleep. My hope was that 5 or 6 would fall asleep on the walk.  5 never got tired, she walked and walked around the hotel, then around the block, for 45 minutes and wasn't tired enough to ride. 6 didn't even rub her eyes or yawn once.

Things have to be going better back at the room. The crying baby, at the rehearsal dinner down the hall when we got off the elevator from the store earlier, should have been my 1st warning. The 2nd being that I haven't heard from hubby. We get back upstairs and people from the rehearsal dinner are occupying their kids by letting them run up and down the hall. It's nearly 10 pm. We're at the very end of the hall, far from the dinner. The kids are running all the way to the end, running into the wall, yelling, then running back. Needless to say, when I text hubby, only 1 of the 3 he has are sleeping. We travel with a sound machine in case of noise issues, but when it's right outside your door even that doesn't help.  I wait a couple extra minutes (with the stroller blocking the hall) before we head in.

Neither 5 or 6 are anywhere near ready for bed. Getting them asleep takes forever (unusual for them). Despite that, packing and breakfast goes fine. Even picking up E14, lunch, and the drive go fine. Lulling us into believing we're in for a good day.  Again that "1st warning" should have been that the parking garage is sold out, they are only accepting prepaid tickets. We have a prepaid ticket and they even have a special van entrance (since the one we hit the day before was 6'10 and the regular entrance of this one is 6'8). The 2nd warning should have been the line that made Disney World's look short. We had already spent $200 on prepaid tickets though. I try to reassure myself. They limit ticket sales, they sell out, so I'm sure it's reasonable inside or why bother limiting sales. Sure.

Hours later we are worn out. We drag ourselves to the car, we head home. The plan was to be home by 10 pm. The baby screams. We decide to stop for dinner. The kids are not happy when Olive Garden's wait is hours and we say "no way". Chili's 45 minutes. We end up at IHOP.  Not that the kids behavior would have worked out at Olive Garden. Back on the road it looks like we'll just make our 10 pm time. The baby cries every 10 minutes. Teething tablets do nothing. We're out of Advil. We finally stop for Advil and nursing. She finally falls asleep.

That's when we get a flat tire. She's no longer asleep or happy. Over an hour later we're back on the road. She eventually falls back asleep. We pull in the driveway near midnight. We rethink ever vacationing again.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Van Vacation Curse

I am going to start this post with a little background because I definitely think it calls for it. 2 years ago we went camping over the summer. This was not only my 1st time tent camping but there were TONS of kids since it was a Girl Scout family campout. I brought my family which, at the time, included a 9 month old, 2 year old, 4 year old, 9 year old, and 12 year old.

At the end of the weekend I was tired and ready for a real shower but we stayed after most left to help everything get packed and cleaned up. On the way home the baby is tired, kids are restless and hungry.  We forgot that after a certain city there isn't much until you get close to the next city (about an hour) so we accidentally passed the one without grabbing dinner. We are hoping the kids don't overtake us before we get to the next city. The baby finally falls asleep. Then it happens, our transmission dies.

The good news was we had AAA plus so can get towed 100 miles (and we're 88 miles from home). However, we have 5 kids and noone has a car big enough to pick us up. As luck would have it though, my sister was only 30 minutes behind us with her minivan. This only was lucky because we got the only tow truck I've ever seen with a back seat.  Her husband and older kids rode with my husband and older kids in the tow truck so I could fit my carseats in her minivan.

Getting home wasn't the only challenge though. My kids were scheduled to start swimming lessons in 12 hrs. My husband drives a 2 door sports coupe or a 2 door 1965 (read as no seatbelts) pickup truck. I got to switch between the sports coupe and my moms Civic. You are correct, neither fits 5 kids so that was a challenge too. 3 weeks later our transmission is fixed and we are thinking about the backup car dilemma.

While thinking of the backup car dilemma time passes and I am now pregnant with #6. In other words we need a bigger car. Needless to say we keep this in mind when we are shopping. To have reliability when we travel we bought a 2010 van. Just in case, we kept the minivan.

Without a thought we take our new van with it's new tires, transmission, engine, oil, gas...and did I mention tires on a trip.  We load the kids up and drive 3 hrs away to pick my oldest up from the University. The next day we have a full day in nearby Atlanta and then head the 3.5+ hrs. The plan is to be home by 10pm. After 2 stops and lots of screaming the baby falls asleep.

It was finally so quiet that we were actually able to hear a horrible hissing noise.  What the heck is that?  I am looking for a toy gone wild. That is until my husband who knows what it is says something I can't remember now but, if I had to guess, I couldn't repeat it anyway. I turn around and see the air pressure light on. Yep, we're in the middle of nowhere again, just passed the last of the big city a few miles before. It's 9 pm at night so pitch dark. The next exit is still 2 miles away.

I know most people would view being unprepared as a bad thing.  I, however, am optimistic. My hubby pulled off as far as he could without pulling into the ditch.  But I still didn't want him changing the driver's side flat with cars flying by at 75-80 mph in the dark.  We have a jack, we have a spare, but we have no flashlight. We get to wait an hour for AAA to show up and change our tire. Though, I am pretty sure my hubby would prefer that anyway because who wants to use the dinky jack that comes with a vehicle to jack up a 7000 lb 12 passenger van.

The baby immediately woke up and didn't go back to sleep until 30 minutes after we were back on the road. Everyone else took turns waking up to whine.  We finally pulled in our driveway at midnight. Hubby thinks that we probably ran over something in the Publix parking lot, where I made him stop after the baby had been screaming an hour, to pick up more Advil. Sure, make it my fault.

I am beginning to think our vans just don't like the extra work of vacations. Next time we go anywhere my hubby better listen to me, and pamper the vehicle with an oil change. I'll even get the kids to give it a nice sponge bath too.

Monday, August 1, 2011

This week in history

This is an eventful week in history.  It has been 1 year since my grandmother passed away.  As L's 1st birthday approached this was on my mind.  It has been like she is telling us she is right her with us.  I was making L's 1st year video and I needed a song to finish it out.  I am glancing through songs on Amazon and what catches my eye but "You Are My Sunshine", my grandmother's favorite song to sing to babies.  It was a beautiful rendition so I got that, soon the video will be done to share.  Then, on her birthday I find that A2 has ripped the gift bag so I run to the store to get another.  Right there at the end of the aisle is a board book "You Are My Sunshine" so I had to pick that up as part of the gift.  I think I am going to pick up a special book for every child's birthdays in remembrance of her since she loved books and was always buying them for the kids.

We haven't really celebrated L's birthday because my oldest was out of town.  We did since to her, make her a cake, and give her our gift though.  We will celebrate after hubby returns from his business trip.  But yes, last year this week the midwife wasn't all that happy when, despite her best efforts because of my history, she missed L's birth.

Today is A2s birthday.  3 years ago at this very time I had an uneventful midwife appointment.  I had to resign myself to the fact I would not be having the baby that day.  Instead it turned out to be that I would not be having the baby at that hospital that day.  3 years after her much more eventful birth, A2 still has quite a spirit to her.

This week in history is a celebration of life.  A celebration of new life and a celebration of a wonderful life passed.  This week in the present is not as celebratory.  My 2 little babies grow up this week.  For the others we have school registration day.  Even though we have 2 more weeks after that, of summer, it seems like registration day is the day that reality is shoved in your face.  Summer is ending.  We have activities in the summer but the end of summer seems like it is back to the grindstone.  On school registration day we will start trying to cram things in before summer is over.  I will already start mourning the kids going back to school.  It's odd because I know so many parents who already have a countdown going.  I am not sure if and why they don't enjoy summer but we love it.

Hopefully, despite all this I'll be able to get some blogs caught up.  I have a post about our trip ready to post but Blogger was acting up yesterday.  Today I wanted to post A2s birthday instead.  Maybe you can hear our trip troubles tomorrow.