Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When I Run the World

Someday, when I'm the Queen of Everything, I'm making some major changes around here.

First, the will be no more snow in April, especially the four or so inches that I had on my lawn this morning.   The way I see it, there are four seasons, they can each have three months.  I figure our first day of sunshine, daffodils and 60 degree temperatures should be March 1st.  (March 1st people!  Not May 1st!)

Second, Moms will require no more than 6 hours of sleep for optimal functioning.  Interrupted sleep counts.  In fact, while I'm at it, let's declare it a rule that kids won't even be able to bug their parents between the hours of 11 pm and 7am.

Teething?  Let's just do away with it all together.  Baby teeth will appear easily and painlessly.

No one will be required to do anything that necessitates any kind of brain function before 9 am.

Baby poop will no longer be the neon yellow shade of, well, baby poop.  And it will be easy to remove if it accidently gets on, say, your white duvet cover.

Laundry?  It will come with a self-cleaning feature. 

The hours between 5pm and 7pm will hereby be the calmest and quietest hours of the day.

It will be good to be queen. 

How about you?  What are you changing when you're in charge of the world?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Words to Live By

We try not to impose a lot of arbitrary rules for our kids.  Max, however, has taken some of the things we've said very much to heart. He tends to repeat these ad nauseum, especially when he's about to do the very thing we've warned him against. So today, we present to you Max's Rules for Living, by Max, age 2 1/2:

1. Don't pick nose.

2. No poop in bathtub.

3. No brush hair!

4. Shhh!  Ian's sleeping!

5. No cookies for breakfast.

6.  Don't touch the poop.

7. No throwing shoes church.  (He probably means no throwing shoes when at church.  He got in a little bit of trouble when he launched his shoes about three benches in front of us last week and beaned someone in the back of the head.)

8. No tantrums.

9. Don't break the phone.

10. (And most important, to us and to him, for vastly different reasons...) No go bed!

I feel like we might be living in Max's version of David Shannon's "No David!"

But I also admit to cracking up every morning when he's in the bathtub and reminds me "No poop in bathtub." I wholeheartedly agree.  Who said you learned everything you needed to know in kindergarten?  "Don't poop in the bathtub" seems like a pretty important rule to me!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Abject Humiliation and other fun

So as I've mentioned, spring break is this week.  And since, according to my girls, we're the only ones in the whole wide world who didn't get to go somewhere really, really fun for spring break, (you have to read that in a whiny 7-year-old voice for maximum effect) I decided I was going to be the fun mom and plan enough activities so that we didn't spend the week getting on each others' nerves. 

Since we have to be in Salt Lake on Wednesdays for lessons/rehearsals for Abby anyway, we decided to pack up all the kids for a day of fun.  I enlisted my new blog friend Morgan and her four boys, and we spent the morning gabbing our faces off and taking turns losing children at the Childrens' Museum. 

Ian and Ezra became fast friends.  For about two minutes until Ian, the big bully, starting yanking on Ezra's ear.

And that, my friends is the only picutre we have of the outing, because not only did both of us forget our cameras, but we were both chasing children too often to remember to actually take pictures.  But there will be more get togethers with Morgan and her boys, because she's cool and we laughed a lot, and didn't get to finish any of our conversations.  And we've exchanged about 547 text message since then, planning our escape vacation where we leave all the kids except the nursing babies at home and we run away to talk, eat, nurse the babies, and catch up on sleep.  Sounds divine, right?

OK, back to my story of abject humiliation.

We went to Abby's violin lesson, and everything went swimmingly.  I was, once again, making the mistake of patting myself on the back for being super mom and handling a day out with all four children by myself.  And we all know what happens when I start patting myself on the back.

We had an hour or so to kill while Abby was in rehearsal, so I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A, and sent Ashlynn and Max to play in the play land for a bit to burn off residual energy.  I had no sooner started debating between nuggets and a chicken sandwich when Ashlynn urgently ran up to me: "Mom!  Come quick!  Max threw up!"

Ashlynn has a bit of a tendency to overexaggerate, so I asked her "A little bit or a lot?"

She grabbed my hand and dragged me back in response where I saw my little boy, standing in the middle of a giant circle of throw up. 

Now, for maximum effect, we had picked the restaurant's "Family Night" so every table in the restaurant was full.  All the little children were making grossed-out noises, all the moms were glaring at me, and Max was screaming.  All I wanted to do was run away.

I grabbed the nearest 16- year-old employee I could find, handed him the baby's carseat before he could object, picked Max up by the armpits and lugged him out of there, feeling the glares from the other mothers following me all the way out to my car.  I had to restrain myself from yelling: "I didn't know he was sick! I'm not a bad mom who brings her sick kid out in public just for a nugget fix, I promise!" 

I used about half a carton of baby wipes to wipe us all down, stripped him off and put him in a clean pair of shorts, and we booked it back to Abby's teacher's house.  I dreaded the fact that we still had an hour drive ahead of us, knowing that Max never just throws up once. 

To spare you the rest of the gruesome details, I'll just let you know that our carseat cover is in fact washable, that it takes an advanced degree in mechanical engineering to get the carseat cover back on the carseat, and that Zofran the wonder drug is our friend.

And just in case you're wondering, when the stomach bug inevitably makes its way around your familiy, one of the blessings about having older children is that they actually learn to throw up in the toilet or the bathtub, instead of just leaning over the bunkbed.  However, do not make the mistake of assuming that when you child uses the bathtub to throw up in that they will actually wash it down afterwards. 


Ok, now that we've got all that grossness out of the way... (Do I have a glamorous life or what?  Really, my mission is just to make you feel better about your life.)

Thanks for all the kind comments and advice about homeschooling.  We're still kicking the idea around and talking about logistics, but it's so good to know that I have so many friends to lean on.  (And probably complain to!)

We're still house hunting.  Who knew that it would be so difficult to find a place?  Looked at a fantastic house tonight, but things are up in the air with the current owners until they find out if his job transfer is going through.  This place was fantastic, but so is any place where we wouldn't feel like we're stacked on top of each other.  But I really, really liked this place and it has everything we need, so we'd appreciate any positive vibes you can send our way.  Our soon-to-be renters are being patient.  Hopefully we will find something soon, because I'd really rather not move myself, my husband, and my four kids to my mom's basement.  Call me crazy, I know. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heaven Help Me

I'm thinking about homeschooling again.

I've always had the heart of a homeschooler, but never had the determination or organization to make it work for us.

I actually homeschooled Abby for the better part of her kindergarten year.  I've always viewed it as one of my epic parenting failures, and confess to breathing a sigh of relief the first time I sent her off on the school bus, but the girls still frequently talk about the fun things we did that year, so perhaps it wasn't the disaster I thought it was.

I really feel the education my kids are getting is sub-par.  I'm not sure if it's the district, the schools, the teachers or what, but it just doesn't seem like there's a lot of learning going on.  Ashlynn has gotten the raw end of the deal this year with a teacher who has been gone with health problems more than she's actually been in the classroom.  There's not much learning can actually get done when you're as familiar with the various substitutes as you are with her teacher. And Abby's class isn't much better.  The better part of the third grade year at the girls' school is devoted to putting together a Disney Program full of costumes, songs and dances from Disney movies.  Now, I support music and performing as much as anyone, but when days and weeks at a time are devoted to rehearsing "Kiss the Girl" from "The Little Mermaid," I start to wonder.

The school is constantly having assemblies.  More than once my girls have come home and told me they watched movies in PE.  I don't want to be the mean fun killing mom who insists on academics at all costs, and blames the terrible school system for everything without offering up any solutions, but come on!  Movies in PE?  Seriously?

But there are other factors too.  The more involved my kids get in their musical instruments, the more they both need me.  The sad truth is, there's just not enought time between 7:00 am when everyone is supposed to start their practicing and 8:25 when they're supposed to leave for school for me to spend adequate time and energy with my pianist, my violinist, the crying baby, and the demanding toddler, make the lunches and get everyone out the door on time when all I really want to do is go back to bed.  I hate being pulled in a million different directions and feelng like I'm short changing all four of my kids simultaneously.

We're also hoping to move sometime in the next few months.  Somehow, 4 kids and 2 bedrooms just isn't working, and we need a bigger place.  We'll be staying in the valley, but a lot of the homes we're looking at are in the boundaries of the school we had such terrible experiences with last year, and I will not send them back there.  There are, of course, ways I could send them to another school in the valley, but it just doesn't address the nagging feelings that both my husband and I have had that the girls might be better off at home.

I know it wouldn't be all sunshine, lollipops and fluffy bunnies.  In fact, I seriously wonder at my abilities to cope with all four of my children all day everyday, and be responsible for their education on top of that.  (Especially on days like today- we're only on the second day of spring break and the chorus of "I'm bored!" was deafening at times!)  But part of me wonders if things might move more smoothly if our family wasn't forced into an artificial school schedule. 

Yesterday was delightful.  By noon, all the chores had been done, Ashlynn had done nearly an hour of piano, Abby had done almost 2 hours of violin, and I'd been able to spend significant time with both of them. The girls practice so much better at any time but 7 am (and I can't say I blame them!) and practicing with both girls was so much more productive than it usually is.  I felt less rushed, and I'm sure that translated into a more casual environment for them. I think that bringing the girls home would create a better, less rushed, and more productive environment for all of us.  I think we could get the chores, practicing, and school part of our day all done in the time the girls are usually at school, leaving their afternoons free while I am teaching.

But then I wonder.  What do I do about doctor's appointments?  Grocery shopping?  I've mentioned several times how I would rather poke myself in the eye repeatedly with a toothpick than take all four kids grocery shopping, but if all four are home with me all day, I don't think I have much of a choice.  And I'd have to forget about those spontaneous mornings out with my mom friends and the quiet hours in the afternoon when the baby is sleeping and Max is watching his one movie for the day. 

I'm wondering if I'm really sane even thinking about this. But I'm also wondering if it's the best thing for them and for my family.

So I know I have a lot of homeschooling friends that are readers here.  How do you make it work for your family?  How do you balance everything?  Do you still find time for yourself and your own pursuits?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pardon my dust...


Yes, it's still me! (Is it still you?)

I'm undergoing a complete blog-y makeover here- do you like it?  I mean, I look like a real blog and everything!  A header, a cool custom font, and even a navigation bar! Okay, the links in the naviagtion bar are completely empty, but still, it makes me look like I actually know what I'm doing and stuff. 

Except now all I want to do is play around on my blog instead of actually paying attention to my children, who all seem to think I'm their entertainment director.  Bah.  Did I mention that my husband is gone again?  Because he is.  To Vegas this time.  And now I have four children, two of which are home from school on spring break, and I've heard "I'm bored" more times than I care to count today. 

Is it bedtime yet?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Motherhood Math

I am one person.

I have two arms, two hands, two ears, one mouth and one lap.

I can be in precisely one place at one time.

I also have four children.

And two bedrooms in our tiny house.

And seventeen violin students.

Somehow it just doesn't compute.

It's a good thing I'm a musician.  Obviously, I was never very good at math.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Because I'm the grown up, that's why! (And the world's best chocolate chip cookies)

When I was a kid, I was always reluctant to go to bed because I was convinced that the minute I fell asleep, my parents brought out all the good movies, all the yummy treats they wouldn't share with us, and generally had a party.  They assured me life after bedtime was boring and they did nothing fun.  I, of course, stopped believing them when I would routinely smell popcorn shortly after bedtime.

Last night, after a fantastic day of conference watching, we put everyone to bed on the early side and commenced being boring and having no fun. 

The only problem was, we started making cookie dough and turned on the movie without verifying that my girls were actually asleep.  When they both came down to protest this epic unfairness, it was met with that most grown-up and mature of answers: "Because we're the grown-ups, that's why."  (Really it might have been because we didn't want to share the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole world.)

But, because I'm your friend and because you love me, I'm going to share the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole world.  Trust me on this one.  They're amazing. They make an appearance at our house around once a week. I've searched for years, and this is the one.  Throw away your Neiman-Marcus $400 cookies, and your Mrs. Fields cookies. You'll never need another recipe again.  You're welcome.  And if you make them, you have to promise to come back and tell me how much you love them.

2 eggs
1 C shortening (Yes, I know.  Shortening.  But don't sub it out for butter, just trust me on this one.)
1/2 C White sugar
1 C Brown sugar
1 tsp (or more) Vanilla (Don't even think about using the cheap imitation vanilla.  Seriously.)

Cream above ingredients.  The secret to these cookies is to make sure you really cream them well- just let your mixture run for a few minutes until it's almost white and fluffy.  Then add:

3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 salt
2 1/4-2 1/2 C flour
1-2 C chocolate chips  (I prefer one cup, hubby prefers two)

Mix em up really good and bake in a 375 degree oven for 9 minutes.

Oh, and double the batch.  Because you'll eat them all the first night.

Like I said, you're welcome.

Anyone else have cookie recipes to share?  Someday, I night need to make some cookies that aren't chocolate chip.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Craniosynostosis Surgery- a year later


Before my son was born and diagnosed, I had never even heard of it.  Once he was diagnosed, I had to ask the doctor to say it again and again, then finall had her write it down so I could come home and research it.

Now, nearly two and a half years after that diagnosis, not only have we had two surgeries and a whole host of complications to go with them, but I could probably bore you to tears spouting more information, facts and stories than you ever wanted to know.  I could probably challenge most pediatricians in a game of "Cranio Jeopardy" and win. (And wouldn't that be a riveting game show?)  I could tell you the best-known surgeons in the US, (and Great Britain for that matter), I could decribe in depth the difference between the endoscopic repair and the more traditional CVR, and I could give you all the secrets you would need to spend a week at a Children's hospital. 

This week marked a year since Max's second big surgery.  I can't say that I've been feeling nostalgic, but I've done more than a little looking back this week and thanking the powers that be that cranio isn't something we worry about on a day to day basis anymore. 

In general, we are satisfied with the results of the second surgery.  To an untrained eye, (in other words, to anyone except me and other head picking, cranio-obsessed moms,) he looks like any other little boy.  His long crazy curls cover up the fact that the top of his head has more bumps and ridges than a moguls course.  The poor boy will never be able to rock the shaved-head look. He still has some weird lumps on his forehead, some narrowness above his eyebrows, and every so often we'll see what has to be a screw poking out underneath his skin, but there's nothing that would make us consider another surgery for a second. 

I mean, really, could he get much cuter?

I called yesterday to make an appointment for his one year follow up with the craniofacial surgeon.  Just talking with someone at the hospital made me start to sweat, and it took close to a half hour after that phone call before the adrenaline stopped pumping.  Just envisioning being back in that hospital, no matter how benign the reason, gives me a minor panic attack. 

But for the most part, the medical chaos that followed us for the first eighteen months or so of Max's life seems to have subsided dramatically.  He hasn't been to the doctor more than once in the past six months, which is quite a change from the first year of his life, where we were lucky if we went a week without one doctor appointment or another!  He is a bright, happy, cheerful, busy, trouble-making, tantrum-throwing, house-destroying toddler, and thankfully, we wouldn't have it any other way. 

To know Max is to love him.  You can't help be captivated by his crazy hair, his infectious laugh and his hilarious take on life.  (And yes, I realize that his hair is long enough to take over the world, and yes, I probably should get it cut.  But I can't bring myself to do it.  It's his third head of hair.  It's never gotten this long without someone strapping him to an operating table and shaving it off, then handing it to me in a little plastic bag marked "biohazard."  So we're probably gonna be keeping it long for a while yet. And in my defense, it doesn't always look this crazy!) You would never guess all he's been through in life just by looking at him. 
 A year ago, we were sitting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children's Hospital.  Max's swelling was at its peak, and we were all praying that his sodium levels would get under control soon so we could be moved to a regular room.  We were trying to find a pain medication that would do the job and desperately praying for comfort for him and for us. 
I still tear up when I see this picture. 

Today, Max spent the morning playing in a cardboard box with his sister, jumping on the trampoline with the neighborhood kids, and watching Elmo videos.  What a difference a year makes.

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