Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Slow Torture

Spring Break is upon us, and also the end of March which is synonymous with the end of paid help for me.  We had always planned to have paid help since we knew our kids were close in age, young and active, and because due to living in SLC, it doesn't make sense for my MIL to visit and stay with us (aka be with us 24/7 for a week or so), and my own mom would not make the trip out and would rather give me money for paid help.  So paid help we had!  And it was glorious.

But now that has all ended and our home is in a constant state of disarray.  We did manage to kickoff the week with Spring Cleaning as a family!  Cooper gave us about 30 minutes of sanity while we wiped down the wood blinds, the chair rails, the base boards, the ceiling fans, and my kids' favorite: the windows (only the sliding door and the big window in the front because have you seen our old windows?).  We cheered together, "1...2...3.. spring clean!!!" and despite Bubba's initial reluctance to participate in our cheer, we did it and Jordan later told me, "Mom, that was fun - thanks for including me and letting me help."  Did sweeter words ever come out of my 5 year old's mouth?!

But then I wanted to also do the dishes, and a load of laundry, and vacuum my entertainment area downstairs, and that was too ambitious given one demanding baby who wanted to be held after 30 minutes of being on his own.  Of course, we did make it out of the house for Dagny's dance class, something she looks forward to every week.  But as we pulled up and saw no cars in the lot, a sinking feeling that I had missed a memo somewhere (did I get a text, I might have recalled getting one, but it slipped my mind at that precise moment... and the 30 minutes prior as we were getting everyone ready and out the door) hit.  So I bribed my kids with a trip to McDonald's, happy meals, and a playground, and ate away my miserable existence and prayed we had no poop incidents.  At least the cheeseburger was good.  And they now have cuties with Happy Meals, so that was exciting too.

Back home, it was the same struggle to get Cooper to sleep, referee the kicking and bullying between  my kids (it varies between the three), and then wonder where the heck everyone was while I nursed Cooper in my room.  I changed about three times from spit up.... I did manage to get dinner going, but in the midst of the very slow torture of a day, I didn't think I would be able to.  I just had to get it done even if Cooper was right there crying as loud and as hard as he could.

Andy made it home in time to sear the sous vide chicken thighs I had made earlier (while Cooper screamed bloody murder), scarfed down that and some roasted asparagus with whatever bread we had left, and then he was off to take the boys to gymnastics.  I tried to relax a bit with Dagny and Cooper but then he wanted to eat again and then he wouldn't let me clean and cried again and again.  So Dagny took a bath while I held Cooper, then put him down, then picked him up when he cried again, and that cycle repeated itself consistently (at least he's consistent) in the hour that the big boys and Andy were gone.

So once Andy was home and we put the boys to bed.. I thought... should I go work out?  And I really wanted to lose the baby weight so off I went, but not before changing my mind five times, and trying on five different work out outfits, all of which seemed to pinch right at the base of my explosive muffin top.  It's depressing.  But I went and watched my stomach jiggle everytime I jumped up and down, thinking... I can do this... I can do this... and then I went home, took a much needed shower (how long has it been...?), spent some time with Andy, and ended the night cradling and nursing my chunk of hunk fourth baby while watching an episode of The Middle and wondering what tomorrow would bring.

And that was Monday.  Would Tuesday be any better?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Life With Four Kids For Me...

1) I am used to crying.  Extended crying from the baby, cry-whining from the 2 year old, frustrated cries and screams from the 3 year old, and angry loud yelling cries from the 5 year old.  My favorite is when the cries harmoniously create a simultaneous symphony of chaos.  

2) I am doing a LOT of laundry, especially since the baby spits up all the time so not only are you adding another kid's laundry with about 2-3 outfits per day, but my own soiled clothes when a simple pat down wipe is not enough to remove the stench.  I had begun doing a load a day before baby #4 came, and it seemed to be manageable, but I'm probably on average one load a day for about 4 days and about 2 more loads for days 5 and I try to avoid laundry on the weekend but always find myself doing 1 or 2 more loads.  I do, however, prescribe to the start to finish style, where I always wash/dry/fold/put away at least one load, even if it's not the same one.  And still, the laundry feels like a lot more than before.

3) I am understanding that getting out the door now takes 45 minutes of anticipation if I want to be punctual.  In that 45 minutes, I might need to nurse for 30, or change an outfit because of spit-up in the last 15, and that it takes about 30 minutes of calm repeat reminders to get the kids going so that they are out the door without you huffing and puffing before it's time.  For the most part, I am just okay with being late these days, until we find our rhythm again, punctuality is not achievable without great effort.

4) I am in love with screen time.  It's sometimes the only manageable way to safely confine my kids to a space near me that doesn't result in fighting, kicking, and crying.  My kids get along great when they're bonded by the common desire to watch a show.  For a while, Dagny was frustrated that she always had to watch shows the boys picked, but lately, they've veered back towards the unisex shows and she's grown an affinity for the pink power ranger, so there's that.  The promise of a show also does wonders for encouraging my kids to do extra things.  Case in point, today after making their beds, getting dressed, and eating breakfast, I kindly advised them when they finished taking a bath/shower, they could watch a new Paw Patrol.

5) I am constantly sniffing out funky smells.  I find my head arched in the funniest of places trying to figure our where that gross aroma is coming from.  It's pretty much always milk spit up, the older it is, the grosser it reeks, and a few times it has been me and my lack of showering from a place under my arms...  Sometimes, its a combination of the two.

6) I am constantly dealing with crap.  They say that girls who spend a lot of time together normally sync up their menstrual cycles.  Well, my kids and me have synced up our crap schedules.  I'm not sure if that's a thing.. but it's normally huge poop from Cooper, followed by Dagny announcing she has pooped and walking funny, then Jordan rushing to the bathroom to poop, and last but never least, Bubba screaming, "I'm going to the bathroom!" because he still needs my help wiping.  Somewhere in the middle of that, I am interrupted in the bathroom with obvious questions from my kids of, "Are you pooping?" because our bathroom does not have a lock on it.

7) I am not that tired... anymore.  Contrary to popular belief and historical experience of my own, the three month marks seems to have turned a tide for our little Cooper.  He is finally able to sleep on his own without being cradled for longer than 15 minutes.  He still sleeps in bed with me at night, but he nurses while I'm laying down and sleeps next to me instead of under my arms (which gave me back pains a few weeks ago).  So I'm running with the developmental joys of more sleep and hoping it only gets better from here on out.

And that is what life with four kids is currently like for me.

We've said good-bye to our nanny helper and will only see her again if I'm dying and need a break.  May luck be on my side.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Talking Back Stage

Are we teaching our kids to be passive aggressive when we deliberately, but calmly, advise them to do certain things, even when they don't respond?!  Because when we do that, we then find ourselves repeating with a kind voice... and it's pretty much never as effective as yelling.  And then it feels like we're being demure pushover parents when they don't respond and we just sit there indifferent about their lack of action.  I mean.. sometimes we provide a logical or natural consequence, but for the most part, it's hard to find something relevant and reasonable when you're ticked off.  Luckily, we don't normally stay calm that long.  For the most part, shamefully so, we are yellers.  And sadly... we've watched our oldest turn into a bit of an explosively anger management study, knowing it's mostly because of the models he's got in the form of parents.

It's really quite depressing.  This whole parenting thing is a lot harder than we initially thought when we were just covered with sleepless poop blowouts and spit up.  Turns out it does get harder.  I hate that the older parents who always warned about how fondly we'd look back to the baby days were a bit right.  Dang it!

I even signed up for a paid parenting course in the name of becoming more positive and not ever yelling at my kids again.

It worked for a while.

The problem we are running into now is that everything is out of whack once you add a newborn to the equation.  We're all trying to figure out the new rhythm of normalcy.   Meanwhile, our two older boys are testing the waters of independence, dependence, reluctance, disobedience, and successfully navigating the art of talking back.  On the bright side, Dagny has become the model child.  Stuck between the demanding difficulties of a newborn who won't sleep without being held (and who has co-slept since birth) and two older dominating and seemingly deaf brothers, she has become the good grace, innocent, fun talking, and incredibly obedient good sleeper and eater, who easily steals our hearts daily.  It's really not a fair comparison though, her temperament and love for food and sleep and a desire to obey is beyond belief.

I know we need to be less angry.  I know we need to yell less.  I know we need to change.  But knowing doesn't seem to help us much with actually doing.  You know what convinces you to do something?  Losing your voice.

This weekend... I lost it.  I think partially because I have a bit of a cough, but mostly because I yelled the crap out of my kids this weekend.  I have never yelled so voraciously, but parenthood gives you abilities you did not know you had.

So now.. as I try to recoup my voice, I'm also trying to be a better parent, one who has more patience.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Fine Line Between Good and Bad

I've been thinking a lot lately about that delicate balance of being a happy and frustrated mom.  On one hand, there's the knowledge that silver linings, tender mercies, and gratitude help to shape a much more delightful experience, attitude and overall perspective.  On the other hand, being cautiously realistic and pessimistic, groaning about the woes of motherhood seem to provide ample opportunity for bonding with other parents since we're all in essentially the same boat and relieve ourselves from feeling alone in tough situations.

I've been trying to balance between the two, because I don't want to only make light of difficult situations, but I want to also be positive and lead my children by example (cuz even though I want to whine, I really hate it when my kids do...).  I also don't want to perpetuate a vicious cycle of settling for kids who don't listen and me as a screeching yelling upset and overworked mom.  I don't think it's just a stage, I think there is a way to happiness, or being better, it just takes some humble hard work and change, something that is never comfortable or welcoming, but often key.  And yet I have to be careful that I'm not too chipper, too excited about every chore and task I have on my long list because if I'm truly frustrated, I want to express that and show my kids that we can work through our emotions, even the hard ones, and more importantly, I don't want to be fake and just say it's okay when it isn't.  I want my kids to learn that being an adult and parent is hard, but we can work through it.

I want to whine to my friends, but then I want to brainstorm with them how I can be better.

I want to talk about those moments of frustration when I can't believe I made it through and just wanted to curse really loudly because nothing could free me from the situation at hand, but then I want to laugh about it and put it behind me.

I want to be a happy mom, but then I want my kids to contribute to that by helping out around the house and doing what they're asked to do in a timely manner.

I want to value the good in every situation, but then I don't want it to always be because things could be worse.

I want to laugh out loud with my kids, so hard that I am snorting and wheezing with tears streaming down my eyes, but then I want to be serious when we're doing homework or practicing and developing good habits to arm them for the future.

I want to be positive with every bad meal I cook, shrunken clothes I've washed and messy drawer that becomes, but then I want to look towards the next opportunity I have to overcome my own shortcomings.

I want to be of joy.

I want my kids to love me, not because I'm their mom and it's a default emotion, but because they genuinely love being with me and learning from me, and can't wait to spend more time with me.

I want to take those not so great moments of parenthood that I often gripe about and turn them into a learning experience where I can slowly survive... quickly continue... and hopefully consistently thrive.

I want to be better.  For them.  And who am I kidding.. for me too.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

What a Week!

Amazing - We're learning how to be with less Lynne and there have many a lot of really high and really low moments.  I'm eager for that moment when life with four kids returns to normal in the middle mediocrity.  Currently, we've enjoyed some yelling, bargaining, lots of screen time, and even some St. Patrick's Day fun.  I was able to finally live out my Pinterest joy of leprechaun footprints on the toilet and green food dye in the toilet, a treasure hunt with clues, Lucky Charms for breakfast, and some rainbow coloring.  We watched the same video as we did last year while in DC (time flies!) about the history of St. Patrick's Day earlier on during the week, and didn't repeat the marshmallow stamping debacle of 2016.

I was telling Andy that I really enjoy St. Patrick's Day and March Madness, I think it's because of my former life as an auditor, when these holidays coincided with the ending of Busy Season and a reason to party sponsored by the firm.  I was never a huge St. Patrick's Day person in college or even high school, and growing up, I hated the day so much because I rarely had any green, my mom would forget, and I'd always end up getting pinched.  But today, I noticed on Facebook that I've always had fond memories every year on 3/17 since I started working... Hehe.

Awful - On Wednesday morning, I asked Lynne not to come until later, and that morning was chaotic.  Bubba went to to poop while I was nursing Cooper, and then he said he was done and needed to be wiped.  I kept telling Bubba to wait, but suddenly felt like I should go help him.  So I took Cooper off, put him on the floor, and went to help Bubba.. only to find that the toilet had overflowed.  Ugh.  I'll tell you, dealing with poop water is never fun.  But when you have to also watch over four children, making sure nobody steps into the room, and disinfecting the entire area meticulously while your almost 3 month old is crying bloody murder because he not only hates being left on his own but is still hungry... it's a whole other kind of stress.  I was so mad I cursed.  My kids didn't hear me, it was more of a muttered curse under my breath.. but it oddly felt good and then regrettably bad later once I had calmed down and realized my non-cursing streak of almost 8 years had been broken.  One thing is for sure.. being Mormon has cleaned up my once quite potty mouth quite a bit, and it took a lot of toilet water, children running amuck, and a screaming baby, for me to get here.. so at least there's that.  I'm actually not sure where Dagny even was during all of this mess, but I did sadly yell at Bubba to go wash his hands, not understanding he was trying to do just that when he walked back into the restroom where I was dealing with an overflowing poop water filled toilet, when I yelled for him to get out!  Jordan was somewhere asking me to check his homework so he could go back and play.  Awful.  Just awful.  But the moral of the story is, never leave your kid in the bathroom alone for too long.

Amusing - Sometimes it's lonely in Utah because though I have a lot of friends from Church and lots of family and a lot on my plate with four kids, there's nobody to really talk to or just hang out with.  Everyone has kids and families and their own obligations!  I pretty much keep myself super busy with activities, side projects, work, kids, cooking, cleaning, etc., but lately, I'll be at classes for my kids waiting, and I'll just eavesdrop while the other moms there with their friends are chatting.  I'll try to get in on the conversation, feeling like a insecure freshman in HS, but then even if I have a few words, I'm still an outsider and they're all friends, so they are always talking about what they did or what they're going to do, etc., so really it's just easier to get on my iPhone and be antisocial.  This week, two things changed.  First, I struck up a conversation with a random mom at a class who was there for the first time who turns out has a husband working on the Lion King production and travels here and there with whatever Broadway show he's working on, and goes to Little Gym classes wherever she happens to be.  It was fun talking to her.  And realizing how old I am since I saw the production when it first came out and it's going on almost 15+ years now...   I've also begun to hang out with Andy's cousin, Dani, again, on a weekly basis.  The adult interaction and conversation is so refreshing and necessary, and it's nice to have someone in person to talk to.  I mean, I talk to my mom, my BFF, and my sister-in-law throughout the week, but there's just something different about non-facetime interactions that I suppose I need.  I didn't realize how much I missed having Dani's company as we've found it harder to reconcile our busy schedules in the last year or so after I had Dagny, but seems like we're back on track with our weekly hang outs and that makes me one happy gal.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trip to the Mall

Amazing - On Thursday, I made it to the mall with my three littles on my own while my oldest was in school, and we had a great time.  We went to the playground and had smoothies before we left.  Cooper slept the entire time.  Both Bubba and Dagny fell asleep on the way home, so I suppose they had a very active and enjoyable time. 

Awful - I never thought I'd be sad about my kid going to school for the entire day, but the more I realize Jordan will be starting first grade next year, the sadder I am that my kids are growing up.  Sure, there's always a silver lining, like the fact that it will be logistically easier to run errands without all my kids in tow, but I'm so used to having all my kids with me for most of the day, even though we do a lot of activities, they're not in daycare so besides a few 1-2 hour breaks here and there, we're used to being together most of the time.   

Amusing - It started to warm up so we've been enjoying time on our bikes, scooters, and wiggly cars and I almost wish we had this huge enclosed gate so I could just let the kids go play outside without physically being out there with them.  Too bad, get off your lazy butt and get out there with them Mom! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ice Skating Fun

Amazing - We blessed Cooper today at Church.  It was so beautiful, but I missed the lion king display by Andy because I was busy closing the voice recording (we  have recorded all our baby's blessings).  Dang it! 

Awful - My shoulders hurt so much lately, I need a massage or something.

Amusing - We went ice skating this weekend, and lucky for us, the rink had these adorable seals that you could push the kids around or use as a handle and help.  The kids looked so cute in their tiny little ice skates.  At some point, I guess Dagny was done and said, "I'm done," but OGO, who was pushing her, didn't hear, and she tried to get off.  Instead of getting off when the seal wasn't moving, she got off in the middle of being pushed, and ended up falling flat on her face.  Her poor face was hurt, and when we asked her if she had fun, she responded, "yes!" but when we followed up with, "do you want to come again," she happily responded, "Umm.. no."