Monday, November 15, 2010

Moved

Well, I've made the jump to Word Press. I'm still trying to figure it all out and get things up and running, so please bear with me. You can find me here: www.kristinsfourkids.wordpress.com.
Please change your readers to reflect the new blog address and come visit.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stream of Consciousness

Two of my four kids do not eat cereal with milk. It boggles the mind, as Doug and I both grew up eating cereal with milk. Granted, we didn't grow up eating the SAME kinds of cereal. I ate Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran~you know, the "good for you" cereals, while Doug ate things like Froot Loops, Sugar Smacks, etc. Annie and Izzie love their bowls of Cheerios or Kix with milk. The other two, well they're content to eat dry cereal. Weird.

****

My kids call me Moomie (or Moomers). I really have no idea why, but it's stuck. Izzie is currently standing next to me singing "Moomie" to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle". Kids. They're strange.

*****

Did you know that Thanksgiving is two weeks from today? My kids have no school for the entire Thanksgiving week. I'm pretty sure that someone's head will roll for that scheduling plan. I keep saying that I'm going to start writing down my Thanksgiving meal plan so I can start purchasing what I need, but as of today that hasn't happened. I'm not even sure how many people are coming to my house Thanksgiving Day for dinner.  I do know that I may be trying The Pioneer Woman's Green Bean Casserole though because that is MY favorite dish and her modern version looks delish. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving dish?

****
I tend to pick an author and read every single thing that he or she has written. Case in point-Kathy Reichs. She created Temperance Brennan, which the tv series Bones is based upon. I purchased the first 10 books and plowed through them in record time (obsess much?) before I reigned in my spending and got the other books via inter-library loan. The latest book is waiting for me to pick up tomorrow and I'm
ridiculously excited. Sometimes I pick an author to read and then get stuck with my choices. Take Isabel Allende for instance. I found her in college by shelving one of her books while I was working at the library, checked it out and fell in love. But then a couple of her books were really slow moving and I lost interest. Those books sit on my bookshelf, taunting me because they were the books I just couldn't finish.

****
Current debate in our house~what to get the kids for Christmas when they already have so much stuff that they don't appreciate/play with/take care of. Of course since all four of them have birthdays in the 30 or so days following Christmas (yes, I know, I didn't plan that well AT ALL) we need to consider that when we purchase Christmas gifts. We are leaning toward giving a "family gift" plus their stockings and calling it good. They have grandparents and aunts/uncles who give them awesome gifts too so maybe the less-is-more approach is the way to do it. We've always gone a bit overboard I think with our gift giving for the kids, so taming it will be a) good and b) difficult. How do you handle things in your house? Do you give lots of gifts, or a big gift and some smaller items?

****
I spent the day a couple of Saturdays ago with two really great friends, laughing, eating, scrapbooking. The day flew by, as good days always do. I realized when I headed home that night that I need more days like that~more days with friends who make me laugh, more days to just sit and be ME, more days to relax and have fun instead of running here and there. We realized that it had been almost a year since the three of us sat down together and vowed that we wouldn't let it go that long again. That's a vow I intend to keep.

Friday, November 5, 2010

November



Where the heck did October go? It's November 5th already! Yikes. I thought I'd just do some photos of what we've been up to in the last few weeks.










Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Busy is as busy does

Life here has been busy. I remember rejoicing at all the free time I'd gain when the girls started preschool, but that hasn't materialized much. I've been so swamped that I'm taking next week off from school volunteering, appointments and such and taking 6 much needed hours to myself to regroup.

Drew started soccer for the first time through our district's recreation department. He LOVES it. Turns out he's a bit of a natural at it. Natural like scoring 7 goals in his game Saturday while neither Doug nor I were there to see it! Yikes. He has boundless energy so soccer is a good fit because quite frankly, the boy can't sit still and running around for an hour somewhere other than inside my house is good for him.  He is really enjoying kindergarten. His class if full of little blond boys with crew cuts like his and it's pretty funny to look at. I'm anxious to hear what his teacher says at his conference next week. I've volunteered in his class twice and chaperoned the field trip to make fairy houses and to me, he's taken to school quite well.

Doug and I are sharing director duties for our hockey organization.  We're in charge of over 100 kids and their placement in the program. We're also in charge of the coaches and their certifications. The last couple of weeks have been non-stop hockey preparation. There are currently 7 boxes of hockey jerseys courtesy of Tim Horton's in my living room. Our season opened this past weekend and while it was an enormous amount of work we were both pleased with how well it all went off. Meg helped out on the ice for Drew's hockey session and she surprised us with how well she was skating. I'm looking forward to seeing her on the ice with her team Friday night at her first practice of the season.

Speaking of Meg, she is loving 4th grade so far. We have her school conference today and I'm anxious to hear what her teacher has to say. She is in a reading class separate from her regular class with kids at her own reading level and she's enjoying that. She is taking keyboard lessons again and despite not much playing over the summer has really improved. I look at her and am amazed at how grown up she is getting. Literally and figuratively. She's almost 5 feet tall! She wears my sneakers! What's next, my clothes?

Annie and Izzie are loving preschool. They have a couple of friends that they spend lots of time with and love doing their art projects. We knew they'd love it there after spending 3 years shuttling Drew there. There have been no tears at drop off and while they have a great time they're quite excited to see me when I return to pick them up. We're taking a field trip to the farm across the street from Meg's school tomorrow and that is always fun. 

I've been spending more time in my car than I can remember since we moved here. My dad fell and broke his arm (which if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you are already aware) and despite surgery to put an 8 inch plate and screws in his arm is doing quite well. He started physical therapy last week and is improving daily. I'm frustrated that I can't help my parents out more even though I only live 20 minutes away. I can't imagine how my brother feels as he lives in Massachusetts. My in-laws are angels and are taking my dad to and from his appointments this week so that my mom can work.

So that's where I've been. What about you?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The One Where I Got a Brazilian

(Get yer dirty minds out of the gutter. Like I would EVER tell ANYONE if I got a Brazilian)

This past weekend was Doug's 18th anniversary of his 21st birthday (i.e. he's older than me!) AND our 12th wedding anniversary, so we decided, being such romantics at heart, to combine the events and go out to dinner. I had to find us a babysitter since all three of ours had the nerve to go to college, but we found an old babysitter of ours (love Facebook) and she came to watch the kids so we could go out.

We pretty much stick to what we know and go to the same places for our anniversary~our favorite pizza place, our favorite fancy restaurant~so this year we looked for something different. A colleague of Doug's mentioned that he went to this new steakhouse on the waterfront in Portland. He said it was a fixed price dinner, all you can eat, and that he loved it. So, we decided to try it out.

Gauchos is a Brazilian steakhouse and holy cow (no pun intended) did it live up to the ravings. You get to place a card on your table with either the green side up (meaning "please keep bringing me food until I absolutely burst") or the red side (meaning "oh my god so much food in mah belly I may die"). We got offered steak, pork, turkey, chicken, more steak (oh my the steak was yummy), sausage. The salad bar was enormous but I only ate a little because I'd heard about all the delicious meats we were going to be eating and I needed room. We even saved room for dessert and Starbucks coffee. It was a really great dinner, despite the absolutely obnoxious man at the table next to us who was louder ALL BY HISSELF than the 2 large groups in the tables behind him. We happen to have a knack for being seated near really obnoxious people no matter where we go. It's a gift I tell you.

So while I'll never tell you if I got a Brazilian, I will definitely tell you that my Brazilian dinner was fab. Here's to another 12 years Doug!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Like Swirling Bubbles

Earlier today I was outside with Annie and Izzie, standing on our front lawn and blowing bubbles. The girls love to watch me try to blow really big bubbles and then chase them and catch them with their hands, face, even tongues. It's windy out though, so most of the bubbles whipped around the girls and then swirled upwards toward the sky.  While I stood there watching the bubbles swirl around and around, I realized that lately, my days feel all swirly and crazy, just like the frenzied bubbles.

We're not into any sort of routine here yet. While Drew and Meg are on their third week of school (albeit only their first FULL week), Annie and Izzie have only been to school for two mornings. Some days all the kids are up before I am (and I get up at 6:15ish). Some days it's 7am and I'm getting Meg up so that we can make the 8:10 bus at the end of our driveway. Some days Doug is home long enough in the morning to help get breakfast for 4 on the table and he puts together lunches for Meg and Drew while I lay out clothes so that kids remember to put on fresh undies and don't try to put on socks that are too small or wear pants that are high-waters. Some days he's out the door just as I come downstairs and then it's an hour  or so of kids demanding every last bit of attention I can muster without coffee in my system.

Then there's a sort-of reprieve during the day. Meg and Drew get on the bus (or I deliver them to a school to catch a bus-Meg-and head into school-Drew) and then I either take Annie and Izzie to school or we just come back to the house for more coffee and snacks/play/tv/fighting/play/fighting/lunch/fighting. You get the drift.

Then 3:45 rolls around and the bus drops off Meg and Drew and the frenzied bubble action starts all over again. The kids fight for attention to tell me about their day, Drew has a meltdown every.single.day because he can't go to a friend's house/have friends come over/smack his sisters. You get the drift. It's exhausting. I want so much to give them all undivided attention but I am one person and they are too many and it's just not possible. I've tried giving them each time to tell me about their days but they interrupt each other and there's just the general chaos that goes along with parenting four kids. Not to mention needing to make dinner or dealing with laundry or checking homework or all that other crap that you have to contend with as an adult.

I don't like the swirly, frenzied feeling. I much prefer being the bubble that floats along evenly in the sky. I prefer calm. I prefer quiet. Of course then I went and birthed four kids and that kind of all went out the window. By the end of the day I am so beat that doing anything other than putting on jammies and sitting my butt on my couch is seriously out of the question. It's not what I want. It's not how I want to feel. I want to enjoy the frenzy, at least some of the time. I want to be able to remember these days in a good light, not in the "ohgoodlordwillthiseverendandwhycan'ttheyjustbequietforfivewholeminutes" way that I'm feeling now.

But today I guess I'll watch the girls play outside in the dirt and get the big kids off the bus and try to breathe in and out when the bubbles go swirling through my house and make a good dinner and try to remember that I have it very, very good.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finding Time

I had not-quite three hours to myself yesterday while Annie and Izzie were at preschool. It was the first time since Drew was born 5 1/2 years ago that I didn't have a child in my house during the school day (not counting days when Doug is home and takes them out with him; you know what I mean). Because it was my first "free" day I didn't schedule a dentist appointment or run any errands other than the post office. I didn't arrange coffee with a couple of the other preschool moms I've known for a few years; I just wanted to be in my house and see how it felt to be taking back a little of my life.

Don't get me wrong. I love my kids. I would do anything for them. But as my daily existence is so completely intertwined with what THEY eat and THEY watch and THEY read and THEY do that I have gotten pushed to the side. My blogging time, for example, is so limited because a)it requires some brain power, b)I am constantly interrupted when I try to write or think and c)did I mention needing brain power? I can't tune out the kids when they are here so more often than not, I don't blog. Twitter on the other hand, is easier for me to manage while constantly being interrupted.

Doug called me while I was sipping coffee and asked me what I was going to do while the girls were in school. I told him "nothing". I had emptied the trash and uploaded some photos that I took of the girls yesterday, but other than that, I hung out at my computer. It was nice to actually READ a blog post instead of  getting halfway through it and needing to feed a child/wipe a bottom/break up a fight. I wasn't lonely and I wasn't sad. I was just me and it felt so good.

Once we get into the routine of the girls going to school twice a week, then I'll do more things. I'll be volunteering in Drew's class on one of those days every other week. I can go to the dentist without taking the kids with me. I can clean if I want or edit photos or scrapbook. I can read a book. I can do those things that I never find the time for while the kids are racing around the house at warp speed (like right now). I'm looking forward to a better balance of me and Mama. I think I've earned it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slow Down, You Move too Fast

How did we go from this
To this?

Happy first day of preschool my girlies. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Daze

Yesterday was the first day of school for Meg and Drew. We had a weekend of nervous tummies and cranky attitudes over the adjustment to the bus ride and meeting new people and doing new things, but yesterday morning was great. Doug stayed home with us so that he could walk down the road and put the kids on the bus too.  I was handling it all just fine until Doug asked Drew if he needed a "Kissing Hand", at which point I bawled like a baby and both kids gave me kisses on my hand to stay with me all day (if you haven't read "The Kissing Hand", do it but be warned it WILL make you cry) and I beat my husband and buried him in the woods. No, not true (the husband beating part).  Drew was quite confident, until he saw the bus coming down the road, but he got on with a smile and happily waved when the bus went back down the hill past our house.

The kids both had a great day, even though it was almost 90 degrees here yesterday and our schools don't have air conditioning. If I've learned anything from having a school aged kid for 4 years is that finding a way to let your child unwind after school is KEY to keeping your sanity. Unfortunately, I didn't FOLLOW that mantra yesterday and had a cranky son because I asked too many questions! So we'll try a different way today and see if that works!

I'm not sure how I grew such big kids though. Any ideas? In the meantime, I'm trying to adjust to having just two at home after 3 1/2 months of having them all here and finding ways to keep Annie and Izzie busy and out of trouble. I can't wait for them to head to school next week for the very first time!

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Preparation

The bus has been ridden. The teachers have been met, friends new and old have been greeted. School outfits have been chosen, cast aside, chosen again. School supplies have been delivered and backpacks are ready to be packed with homemade lunches and notes stating "I love you. Have a great first day of school".  Tension is riding a bit high around here and Meg and Drew prepare for the first day of school on Monday. We've attended the ice cream socials at both of their schools, have chatted with teachers and parents we haven't seen all summer. Books such as "Wemberely Worried" and "The Kissing Hand" have been read repeatedly to Drew, Annie and Izzie (their new adventure doesn't start until September 9th). Meg has a new desk lamp and a cork board which still needs to be hung above her desk. The traditional first-and-last-day-of-school taco dinner has been discussed and all items will be procured this weekend. The kitchen cork board has been emptied of all previous school items such as lunch menus and calendars and will be filled this weekend with reading calendars, new lunch menus. Early release dates need to be put on the calendars. A whole tote full of paperwork needs to be read and filled out, to be returned to school with the appropriate child on Monday.

Today there is a crispness in the air telling me that fall is coming. It's just around the corner. The first four days of school, however, will be hot and muggy and I'll have warm, sticky kids exiting the bus next week. But fall is coming. The cooler mornings are the telltale sign. Soon our coat rack will be filled with sweatshirts. This weekend though, we'll get haircuts and new sneakers, and maybe take one last trip to the lake on Sunday.

I think we're ready. All of us, not just me. School is such a grand adventure awaiting the kids. This school year will bring good things. I can feel it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

His Turn

When we moved to this house, it was a week before kindergarten began for Meg. It was out of our hands, of course, because when you build you are dependent upon the weather to cooperate and we had a very rainy spring that year which slowed the process down. We knew no one when we moved here, other than my husband's co-workers. No one had a child starting kindergarten. Meg was pretty much on her own.

Fortunately she met her friend B on the bus ride during Orientation and they found out they were in the same class, so she was able to have a friend on the first day of school. B's mom and I have become very good friends as well. But I've always felt bad that our decision to move put Meg in such a difficult position of having so much to adjust to so quickly. Moving, leaving her friends, starting school in a strange town. It's hard enough for adults, but asking that of a 5 year old was really just too much. She had a great kindergarten teacher who helped her adjust and learn, but it was a very long year for us all.

In one week Drew begins kindergarten. It's a completely different experience for all of us. He already knows the bus route. He knows his teacher~she is the same teacher Meg had. The two boys that live on either side of us will not only be on the bus with him, but in his class. He has plenty of friends from his preschool to see during lunch and play with on the playground. Don't get me wrong~he's a nervous little man these days and is prone to crying over everything and not sleeping enough. We understand his tantrums better now, thanks to already having a school-age child who starts to get her cranky pants on about 2 weeks before school starts. I bought several "getting ready for kindergarten" books before he left preschool and we've started reading them in earnest. He'll head off to Orientation with Doug and me on Wednesday nervous, but with a different kind of nervousness than Meg had. He'll say hi to his friends as we make our way down the hall to Room 25, the room with Clifford the Big Red Dog on the door. He's been to the school enough that he may know the way himself.

I can guarantee you that I'll be one hot mess next Monday morning when I put both my kids on the bus together, not so much because I'll be worried about them, but because I can't believe it's his turn to climb the stairs of the bus and head off to school. I'm grateful he has his big sister on the bus with him this year, to make sure he gets off at his school and that he gets back on each day. I think he'll hold his own though, after a bit of time. I can't wait to see what this year brings for him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lessons from a Yard Sale Novice

I've never been one for yard sales. I did pick up a great bureau at a yard sale in my neighborhood many years ago and it's currently in Annie's and Izzie's room and I'm pretty sure it cost $10. Before we moved to this house we contemplated having a yard sale so we didn't have to move so much stuff. Then we found out I was pregnant and decided that we'd better keep all the kids stuff and clothes (good thing we did since I was pregnant with the twins!).

But as the stuff kept accumulating in our basement, we got a little overwhelmed. We keep all the clothes that Meg outgrows for Annie and Izzie, but we were keeping all of Drew's clothes as well. So we finally buckled under the weight of a zillion storage boxes and opted to hold a yard sale this weekend. If you've never done a yard sale before, here are a few small tips:

  1. Be prepared for people to ignore your signs and come early. We started at 9 on Saturday and people were waiting at the end of our road at 8:30.
  2. Either send the kids to grandma's house or have a babysitter come to help out. It's very difficult to make lunch for your kids when you're needed on your lawn to help customers. Kids will also play with every single toy you have out for sale and even take things back into the house during the sale. We had our babysitter with us Saturday and she was a huge help.
  3. Advertise your sale on Craigslist. We had several people tell us they saw our ad, so we weren't solely relying on our signs.
  4. Speaking of signs, make them BIG. Doug had ours printed at his office, then mounted on poster board. Everyone said they were easy to read and follow to get to our house, which is quite off the beaten path.
  5. Sunscreen yourself and your lemonade-selling oldest child because even though it's the end of August that sun is still darn hot. Oops.
  6. We sold a ton of the kids' clothes because we only put out what was in good condition. We also sold things for $.50 an item which helped us sell so much. We ended up providing bags to people who had so much that they couldn't carry what they had.
Next time we have a yard sale we'll organize the kids' clothes differently. We had everything in buckets with labels such as "Girls 2T" but next year we'll actually split out the seasons a little better so that customers don't have to fish through all the summer things to find the fall clothes. Our sale was mostly kids items and even though we put that in the ad and our signs, people still came looking for other items and were disappointed. Next year we'll be putting more household things that are taking up space in the basement.

We were really thrilled with how well Saturday turned out. Yesterday it was cloudy and ended up raining so after having just a few people stop by we called it a weekend, took down our signs and packed everything away. I was dreading the whole experience (it was a LOT of work to prepare for) but am really glad we went through with it.

Lest we sound like money grubbing whores, the money we made from the yard sale is going to a fun thing like paying for the work done on Doug's truck last week. The winter coats that we didn't sell will be donated to our local TV station's "Coats for Kids" campaign, which every winter provides thousands of winter coats to kids right here in Maine who otherwise wouldn't have one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh Yes We've Got Trouble

Right here in River City, with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool. The Music Man

Whoever (or is it whomever?) coined the phrase "Terrible Twos" most certainly didn't have 3 1/2 year old TWINS. There is just something so different about having two children going through the same experiences at the same time. 

Three is hard. Three is the time where boundaries are tested, where the word "no" is used to its fullest 2,308908l,09890 times a day. Three is where letting them be independent MUST go hand in hand with being on Code Red at all points in time (case in point~the girls locked themselves in their room and colored every available wall space blue and yellow recently. I thought they were playing nicely. Lesson learned). Three means really getting down and listening when they are talking ninety miles a second about who knows what but it must be important to them or they wouldn't be telling you all about it.

Three is just plain different with twins. The girls feed off each other and get into so much more mischief than I ever anticipated (see above). We had to remove the doorknob from their bedroom door to keep them from locking themselves in their room and taking all the clothes out of their closet. The gigantic bucket of crayons had to be put in the garage because Isabelle kept coloring Annabelle's shirt and not her paper. They hit each other, pull each others' hair, take each others' toys and run away with them. They are, in short, completely and totally exhausting.

But as much as they make me (and their older brother and sister) crazy, they have their moments of total sweetness too. They'll sit nicely and play a game together, or gather up their stuffed animals and have a picnic with them.  There are days when it seems that the bad behavior outweighs the good behavior and I wonder how exactly I'm going to manage to make it to bedtime without a massive tantrum on my part. Hugs from them certainly help and they both give great, all encompassing hugs. It's when they hug each other (and I'll admit, it's usually something forced upon them by me) that I feel like they'll grow up to love each other and take care of each other down the road.

But for now, they're 3 1/2 and have torn apart something in their closet and taken down all their hangers and they need me to go back to being on Code Red. Maybe 4 will be better? 

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Right here, right now

Right now I'm sitting here at my desk instead of cleaning my kitchen. The dishes are piled high and I really need to empty and then refill my dishwasher, but alas that isn't happening. I'm watching my very old cat twitch in her sleep next to me (on the desk, taking up lots of space). She is so old that I'm always checking to see if she's still breathing. She was my first pet EVAH (no, I do not count the fish we had as kids) and while she's old and crabby, I love her to pieces. Of course, she was young and crabby once too and I loved her then.

***
It's eerily quiet upstairs right now. I think Meg is in her room cleaning as her friend O is coming to spend the day with us tomorrow. I am trying not to make a huge deal of this playdate, even though it's the first playdate Meg has had in 2 years (other than with her friend B, who comes here with his mom and she and I drink coffee and visit while the kids all play) but you have no idea how much I want this to GO WELL. She has already lost her collective shit more than once today and I'm hoping she gets this out of her system and just has fun tomorrow.

***
We're having our first ever yard sale in two weeks. Our basement is overflowing with things the kids have outgrown. Having twins really does mean double the stuff, like high chairs and Exersaucers and clothes, clothes, CLOTHES. I'm hoping we have a)good weather and b) a good turnout and c)get rid of some stuff taking up space oh and d) make a little money as well. The biggest challenge, next to the kids trying to reclaim half the toys we want to get rid of, is the fact that we live 1300 feet from the public road, so we're hoping people will make the trip up our driveway to see what we have.

***
The eerie quiet has been replaced with yelling. Three weeks until Meg and Drew go to school. I'm starting to crave some sort of a schedule. Oh sure, I've enjoyed getting dressed at 9 every day but that's going to come to a screeching halt here soon and I'm almost ok with that. Doug and I watched some football last night and I told him that if we're going to watch football then the humidity needs to go away, the temperature needs to drop and I need to fully immerse myself in fall. Fall is my favorite season, and at least here in Maine it seems to go very quickly and gets replaced by winter sooner than I'd like.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bullets are Flying Today

Bullets are in order today. It's just plain easier.

  • I went to my high school reunion and had a BLAST! We walked in the door at 6:30 and back out again after 11. It was fun to see people who had no idea Doug and I were married; the look of shock was almost too much fun to resist. Two of the attendees were guys (men?) that I've known since I was 3 and 6. We got a great photo of the 3 of us together. It was also fun to watch those who, after 20 years, haven't figured out that we're supposed to have grown up. I'm ready for the next reunion, so bring it on!
  • We were on "vacation" last week. Instead of doing many fun things, we spent the majority of the week dealing with our fridge, which just stopped keeping cold. Our awesome neighbors lent us a small fridge, which saved some of our food and we have a commercial freezer in the basement so we were able to save the few frozen items that didn't melt, but we still don't have a fixed fridge. It's sitting in the garage, awaiting a new compressor later this week. We do have a loaner fridge in the kitchen, and a huge scratch on the kitchen floor from the movers taking the old one out. Lucky us!
  • We did manage some fun things on vacation. We took the kids to Santa's Village in New Hampshire with our good friends on Wednesday and had a great day. All four kids rode the log flume! With my bad neck, I was restricted to the merry-go-round, the train and the sky train. But I snapped 207 photos so that was good!
  • Doug and I got a night away Friday night and went to Meadowbrook, which is an outdoor concert venue, to see Heart. We had great seats and saw an amazing show. Ann Wilson still sounds like she did 30 years ago!
  • We're on the school countdown. Meg is heading to 4th grade and Drew to Kindergarten in 27 days; Annie and Izzie head to preschool in early September.  There is so much to do to get them all ready and I'm avoiding it all like the plague! We're still waiting for Drew's teacher assignment and the school supply lists for both of the school-age kids to arrive in the mail. It's making this Type A Mama a bit crazy. I've been busy marking down the schools' ice cream socials on the calendar and arranging childcare for the girls so we can take Drew to his orientation later this month! Hard to believe he's going to be riding the bus with Meg soon.
  • I waffle daily between wanting the kids to go back to school and wanting them to just hang out in the yard playing, smelling of sunscreen and pool water and sunshine. I suppose that the days that they're driving me the most insane are the days I'm ready to ship them all off to boarding school, but when they're getting along and having fun, I want to keep them nearby and watch them over the top of my book or through my camera lens.
 So who wants to share what's new with them?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Twenty Years? Really?

I made a last minute decision to attend my 20th high school reunion this Saturday night. Twenty years. It's a prospect that both thrills me and makes me want to curl in the fetal position and suck my thumb. I originally replied "no" to the Facebook invite. Doug and I attended our 10th back when I was pregnant with Meg. We see people here and there; after all we did live for 4 years in the town we grew up in and not everyone ran screaming for the hills and moved away. My father routinely makes fun of me for coming back to Maine because when I left for college in New York I swore I was never coming home.

High school was, for me, a difficult time. I was smart. I played in the band. I was always an outsider, even within my own group of friends. I cared what people thought of me and took it very hard that I was never well liked. I was happy to leave high school and its issues behind.  You know, until I met, fell in love with and eventually married a boy from the football team. Ahem.

So the reunion just didn't have any pull for me, even though some of my old friends were going to be there and I hadn't seen them in many years. I got a disappointed email from one of my oldest friends (we met in 7th grade) expressing disappointment that I wasn't on the guest list. I can't remember the last time I saw him and I felt really bad saying we weren't coming. Doug could care less whether we go or not. He doesn't care one lick about what people think of him. He is perfectly content with who he is and what he has in life. (Did I just say "one lick"?) I would give my kingdom for a sliver of his attitude.

Monday I got an email from my friend Brooke saying she was contemplating coming to the reunion and was I going. I said no, but as we chatted back and forth on Monday I felt like I should go. We weren't close in high school but she was always nice to me and we've become better friends through our blogs. I haven't seen her since our graduation. I arranged a babysitter for Saturday night and voila~Doug and I are attending the reunion. Brooke will be there as well and I am beyond excited to see her again.

I can honestly say that I am horribly nervous for this reunion. I am not good with large groups now that I spend 95% of my time at home with my kids. Most people that we have seen don't recognize me at all, but everyone knows Doug. I am glad he's going with me because I'm pretty certain I wouldn't go alone. If this were my college reunion, I'd have no problem packing up and heading to New York, solo. I loved college and if my friends (I'm looking at you Nettie) would consider attending a reunion one of these years I would be there with bells on even though it always conflicts with my wedding anniversary. Bells. On. This reunion causes me to revert to my 14 to 17 year old self and I don't want that. I want to have fun. So I will.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Neglectful

Hello? Is this thing on? Anyone out there? Anyone? Bueller?

Well this poor blog has been seriously neglected this summer. So has the laundry, the piles of paper that need sorting and about a dozen other things.  Dishes get done just before Doug gets home so it looks like I've done something other than sit with a book while the kids play in their pool. Weekends are full of family time, with a little me time thrown in there lately, and all the things I meant to do keep getting pushed back further and further. At least I remember to pay the bills on time!

I've missed writing about the kids. They've only driven me partially insane this summer, with Annie and Izzie unleashing their inner Picasso on their bedroom walls and the way the four kids fight over dumb things like who made the mess in the playroom.  As a family we've done some fun things and I've had my camera with me every time but I think the photos are still on the card and not even on the computer. How pathetic is that?

So I'll try to be less neglectful of the blog. I'll try to write more and share photos of the kids. But maybe first I should fold some laundry and put it away.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Missing Him

Doug has been working on site in Portland for a couple of months now. This project is winding down, but then he's going to another one in another town. He leaves every day at 6:30. Some days I barely open my eyes to say goodbye to him. Some days the kids aren't up yet (but most days they are). Some nights he's home at 10, some at 7. If the crews are working, he has to be there, even if they're just digging, digging, digging.

I know the kids miss him. They literally start acting up the minute he closes his Explorer door and drives down the driveway. They yell "Doodles" and come running to hug him. They climb all over him, fighting for space on his lap. They interrupt each other just to tell him a little thing about their day.

I miss him too. We have so very little time together as just us. We have to carve out adult time from family time, which is already so small that we can't stand it. We're going to see Heart in concert in New Hampshire in two weeks, and that seems years away. We've arranged to have our parents each take a pair of kids so that we can go early, walk around, see the show and stay overnight. It's so very little time together, so we have to let it fill us up and enjoy it.

I may not always be very nice to him, because I'm tired and crabby from caring for our very demanding kids all day, but I really  hope he knows how much I love him.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This week

So far this week I have:

Done a zillion loads of laundry

Yelled way too much

Turned the air conditioners on and off and wished I'd had my father-in-law install the central air when we built this house

Cleaned crayon off every reachable spot in Annie's and Izzie's room

Forced the kids to box up their toys that they refuse to put away

Been unable to grocery shop because my kids fight too damn much

Let my kids watch 30 minutes of tv and then dealt with the aftermath for 25 minutes

Ate Cocoa Puffs for dinner at 10pm Tuesday night when Doug finally got home

Put first aid ointment on scratches on Annie's faces inflicted by Izzie (again)

Haven't taken a single photo

Haven't downloaded the photos I took over the long weekend

Haven't put fresh water in the kids' pool or let them go outside (much too hot)

Wished I was anywhere but here

Really hoping next week is better

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Strike (Edited)

This school vacation has been far from a vacation and we're barely two weeks in. The kids have done nothing but bicker most days. They've been demanding and incredibly rude, both to me and each other. Their once-clean rooms and playroom are so trashed they can barely get into them, let alone actually play in them. The weather has been pretty uncooperative as well, which hasn't helped the situation.

Tuesday was my birthday and I asked the kids to help me tidy up the downstairs as our friends were coming for lunch. Their response was a resounding NO and they went off to play, leaving me frustrated and sad, and having a house to tidy myself. It got done, but it left a very sour taste in my mouth that my kids are so self centered that they couldn't even help me out for a bit.

So last night after I made them a quick dinner because Doug was running late, I announced that I was on strike. I told them that I do everything around here, from all the laundry to taking out the trash, making them meals and snacks and since they are not nice to me, I was done. I am exhausted at the end of the day from breaking up constant fights, unlocking their locked doors when they lock each other out, listening to them demand things from me without a simple thank you, and that I wasn't doing it anymore.  I know Annie and Izzie don't truly understand why I'm upset, but Meg and Drew are quite old enough to understand that we're a family and that families need to work together. Since my words don't mean anything to them, I'm hoping that this action does. They cleaned up the table last night and Meg vacuumed the floor, so that's a start.

But this isn't just about them cleaning (although truth be told, they really need to work on that). It's about their lack of respect for me, Doug, and for each other. In the last two weeks I've had things thrown at me in anger, been hit, kicked, screamed at and I have had enough. I refuse to take them to the grocery store after the rotten way they acted Monday, causing me to have to reprimand them at the deli and not hear the person asking me if I had been helped yet (which then caused said deli worker to COME AROUND THE DELI COUNTER to ask what I'd like to order, leaving me mortified). The kicker is that when they go places with Doug, they use their manners and behave like normal kids, but when they're with me, it's mayhem.

I don't know how successful this little experiment will be. The kids woke me before 7 this morning (again) banging and being much too loud, and then Meg was vacuuming the kitchen at 7:04. But Doug is on board and reminded the kids that they are on their own today. Meg got everyone breakfast and is, at this moment, cleaning up the living room. I'm sure their "enthusiasm" will wane soon. I'm not asking for them to make every meal and do all the chores. I'm asking for their respect. I'm asking for them to help when I ask them to help, for them to be polite to me and to each other, and for them to realize that this will be a much happier household if they do that. I'm tired of being the Mama who yells all the time, since yelling causes them to ignore me and do whatever they want anyway.  The kids have almost no special privileges, so there isn't anything we can take away from them. So we're taking me away from them. I'm not going anywhere of course, and I'll be here to keep them safe, but it's high time that they realize that a little respect goes a long way. A happy Mama makes for a much happier house.

Edit. I want to be clear that the goal of this is NOT because I need a break (which, of course I do. I am home, alone, with four kids for 12 hours or more a day). The goal is for them to realize that I am NOT a doormat and that I am tired of them thinking that they can walk all over me all the time and expect me to do everything. I love doing things for my kids when they are being nice and respectful, but I do not want to do things for people who whine, cry, fight and tell me that they hate me all the time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eye Opening

It's the first full day of summer vacation. The weather over the weekend was iffy~gray, humid, not incredibly warm, rainy at times. That weather has carried over into today as well, so the kids have pretty much been inside instead of outside playing.

Over the weekend I was kind of caught up in trying to figure out where Meg's friend O lives, so that we can send her the photo that I took of them on the last day of school (courtesy of the bus driver who let O and another friend A get off the bus at our driveway for the shot) and also so we can invite her to come over. It was a little bit obsessive on my part, and I couldn't figure out until today why I was so focused on getting these girls connected for the summer.

But while Meg and I were making oatmeal raisin cookies, it occurred to me that she spends the majority of her time at school, being a big girl, and then comes home to a 5 year old and two 3 year olds, and very rarely gets to spend down time with kids her own age. And my heart hurt for her, because when I was a kid I spent all my time with kids my own age because my neighborhood was filled with my friends. We don't live in a neighborhood. We live on a long gravel road with one neighbor who has a 9 month old, in a town where everything is very spread out. It's not the childhood of my youth, and I wish that it was, for her sake. I wish she could get on her bike and ride to a friend's house and play and be a big girl and not have her siblings be her only playmate all the time. It must be so hard for her to switch from big kid to little girl every day in order to be on the same level as Drew, Annie and Izzie.

So I'm going to endeavor to spend more time trying to focus on her and what she likes, instead of forcing the four of them to play together all the time. We spent some time this afternoon playing with her American Girl dolls, something she's never asked me to do before. We cuddled on the couch and read our book, which is something we usually save for bedtime. I'm going to try to give her space to just be herself this summer and try to get her together with some of her friends from school so that she can remember that she is a big kid all the time, not just during the school day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vacation Dreams

I want to go on a vacation. Alone. It's not that I don't love my children or husband, but given the opportunity to go away, alone, I would take it in a heartbeat. I'm sure I'd miss them, but as I've had a child attached to me every day for the last 5 1/2 years and everything I do is for or about my kids, I want a little alone time.

I want to rent a house by the ocean, a  little cottage. I want to pack my van full of my scrapbooking supplies, a couple of years' worth of photos, and make albums. I want to wake up when I feel like it, sip hot coffee by the pounding surf, and relax. I want to listen to my IPod and not hear the same Taylor Swift songs over and over and over (while all four of my kids sing along), take walks, eat seafood (I married a man who eats nothing from the sea and it KILLS me), take new photos. I want to take a nap without someone waking me up by crying. I want to sit at a table and put our family memories into the albums I've purchased. I want to read a stack of books and hang out in my jammies if I feel like it and take long, luxurious showers. I don't want to deal with mounds of laundry or boo boos or bills needing to be paid or tantrums, just for a little bit of time.  I want to relax, enjoy my surroundings and be me.

What about you? Would you take a vacation alone? What would you do?

Endings

Today is Meg's last day of 3rd grade. In just a couple of months she'll be entering her last year of elementary school, as our district sends the 5th graders to the middle school. Given the choice, Meg would attend school year round. She prefers a schedule, not the laid back attitude of summer vacation. She likes being with her peers, going to music class and gym, having lunch in the cafeteria, riding the bus home with friends. She is a very good student, strong in reading, spelling, writing, music. Maybe she'll be a teacher one day.

She made a friend on the bus this year, a little girl O, who is in 4th grade and new to our little town. They were thick as thieves, sitting together all the time, their brown and red heads bent together as they scribbled notes, shared marbles and waved crazily at me when the bus arrived each afternoon. O is going to 5th grade in the fall, which means she'll be on the earlier bus and not with Meg. Watching my girl sob in her room this morning because she'll miss her friend was just about more than I could handle today. I hate endings. My heart hurts for Meg, because she doesn't make friends easily and knowing that it will be a year before the girls will really see each other again makes me so sad for her. I'm going to do my best to find a way to get the girls together this summer so they can spend time together, but I don't know O's parents, so that could be hard.

I'm glad that Meg had a chance to make such a nice friend. She was always so much happier on the days that she and O sat together. I hope that they will be able to spend time together and grow up as friends. Nothing would make me happier, and that would erase the sad ending we're having today.

Monday, June 7, 2010

One and the Same

If you follow me at all on Twitter, you'll see that I follow lots of New England sports sites, and lots of parents of multiples. I love following the other moms and dads of twins, triplets and quads. We commiserate, laugh and enjoy the fact that there are others out there who understand what raising multiples is really like. If you know me, you know that Annabelle and Isabelle are fraternal twins. They both have the same delicious chocolate brown eyes, but that's where the similarities end. Annabelle is 2 inches taller and 5 pounds heavier than Isabelle, and her hair is darker too. Isabelle was a slow walker but speaks so well that at times I forgot she's only 3. Annabelle colors as well as Megan, staying in the lines and using lots of detail. Annabelle loves to give hugs and tell me that she loves me, while Isabelle would rather snuggle a stuffed animal.

One of the other people I follow on Twitter is a twin herself. Abigail Pobegrin recently published a book called One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned About Everyone's Struggle to Be Singular. Abigail wrote to me recently and during our conversations, she sent me the following that, while directed toward twins, could also be applied to my situation as the mother of four:

  Since my book about twins came out in October, I’ve been asked the same two questions over and over: How does being a twin affect my parenting, and what would I advise parents of twins, based on my two years of research, numerous interviews with adult twins, and my own twin experience?   
      My first answer is: spend separate time with each child.  It may seem obvious, but so many parents of twins don’t do it because they see how happy their twins are together, because they don’t want to intrude on their effortless bond, or because it’s just plain easier to take two at a time.  But listening to my sister Robin tell me that she’s not even sure to this day that our parents truly know us apart and that she has struggled with a sense of distinction in the world made me very clear that individual time can make the individual.  I am now hyper-aware of spending separate time with my two children, who are 12 and 10 years old.  I make sure to wander into each of their rooms at odd times, and just flop on the bed and see what they have to say, or to take just one of them out for a meal.   I know how the rough-and-tumble of life often gets in the way of independent outings:  we’re all rushing to the same activities or taking the same trips together.  There isn’t always that open-ended time to just chat or take a walk with no particular destination in mind.
      My sister admits in my book that one of the reasons she didn’t have a third child was because she missed separate memories with our parents and didn’t want to risk having too little time for too many kids.  It should be said that we had a wonderful, colorful childhood, and I think Robin wouldn’t trade it.  But the absence of undivided time resulted in a muddying of Robin’s sense of self, and now that I’ve spoken to so many experts, I understand how common and problematic that can be.
      The other advice I’d offer is to resist comparisons.  They’re so tempting, but so destructive.  Believe me, siblings will inevitably measure themselves ceaselessly, without a parent’s prodding.  So many of the twins I spoke to said they were aware of who was favored, or what their convenient labels were – “the athletic one,” “the brainy one.”  All those tags did in the end was make them feel boxed in.
       One of the major themes that came to me in the process of writing this book is that twins are also muffled by everyone’s investment in their perfection.  Yes, twinship is a kind of utopian intimacy, but it isn’t always idyllic, and there has to be room for chinks and conflicts.   Psychologist Joan Friedman talked about the pressure on twins to be constantly equal and constantly unambivalent about being twins, whereas that same expectation isn’t there for non-twin siblings.   Sometimes one twin won’t get invited to the party and parents have to restrain themselves to try to “make it right” and get the other twin included.  Life isn’t always fair, and twinship shouldn’t confer an unrealistic sense of the world.  Robin and I were ill-prepared for imbalances and we sometimes didn’t know how to handle them when they happened.
      So that’s my guidance from a front-row seat on twinship: Spend separate time.  Don’t label.  Don’t compare.  And let the relationship be a real one – with all its bumps and disparities.  Also – pick up a copy of One and the Same! It will give you the insights of adult twins who remember where things went right and wrong: I feel sure you’ll glean some invaluable guidance.
      Being a twin emboldened me, supported me and protected me.  But I understand now that it’s also more complex than some want to believe, and parents should be the first to let the complexities breathe.  Your twins will be better adults for the honesty.  

I also asked Abby a couple of questions and she was kind enough to answer:

What prompted you to write this book?
I had never read a book about twins that I thought really captured the reality of what it's like to grow up as one.  There were all kinds of parent-guides and of course, all those strange fictional stories or movies about odd or evil twins, but few that got at the depth of the intimacy or the hurdles that come with that kind of closeness.  I wanted to understand twinship from a journalist's perspective--from the outside looking in--but also from a twin's perspective -- from the inside looking in.  What I found, after two years of research and interviews with every living expert and many twins, was much more complex and fascinating than I think most people presume about twins.  I'm not saying my book is the definitive truth about twinship, but if I were a parent raising twins, I'd want to hear candid experiences from adult twins who have lived through the entire experience, in order to best understand how being a double really plays out over a lifetime.

My twins are very different little girls, even at 3. They look similar, but they are not identical. People are often surprised when I tell them that yes, they are twins. Do you think that identical twins have a disadvantage over fraternal same-sex or boy/girl twins, in that identical twins appear to be "one" where of course boy/girl twins or fraternal twins are just two kids born at the same time? For example~I almost never call my girls "twins". I call them my "girlies" (as does their older brother). Does this make sense?

What you say makes a lot of sense, and I think you've hit the nail on the head: identical twins have a much greater challenge in terms of distinguishing themselves in the world and ultimately forging their own identities.  Their relatives, friends, and teachers constantly -- and lazily -- confuse them, and often make a game out of telling them apart or comparing them, which is sometimes fun for the twins, but gets tiresome as they grow up.  There are also so many presumptions about identical twins -- that they have the ideal relationship, that there's never any conflict, that they're similar in every way or it's odd if they're not similar.  It's hard sometimes for them to feel the breathing room to be like other siblings.  That said, I found that fraternal same-sex twins can still have identity issues because they're also always being compared.  The twins who have the easiest time in terms of feeling sure of their individuality are definitely boy/girl sets.  
Finally, I'd say you also hit on an important point: so many psychologists I spoke to kept emphasizing the pitfalls of calling twins "The Twins," or giving them cutesy names.  They told me it's crucial, especially as twins reach school age, that they hear their real names or nicknames that are clearly separate, distinct and specific to each of them, so they have no sense -- even subliminally -- that they have a shared identity instead of their own.   
 
What Abby is saying is so very important. I want all my kids, including Annie and Izzie, to grow up feeling that they are individuals, with their own tastes, likes, dislikes. I'll be the first to admit that it is incredibly easy to lump Annie and Izzie into "one"~for the longest time, we dressed them alike because quite frankly, it was cute. Now we're buying clothes that may be the same pattern, but different colors (even though the girls always want to wear the same thing!) because they are not the same child. Now that they will be attending preschool in the fall, it's even more important for me to help them distinguish themselves from each other so that they can grow into strong, separate women. I'll be adding Abby's book to my reading list as well, so that I can learn from other twins what it's like to be a twin and help Annie and Izzie along the way.
 
 

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Dance

We have a dance, she and I. I'm not sure if it's a tap dance or a jig, but it's a dance we do daily and it's wearing me out. I offer suggestions and then wait, holding my breath, my feet waiting for the dance to begin. Will she yell, scream, slam doors, tell me she hates me? Or will she just simply say "thank you Mama" and go about her business? Sadly, the former is more of our life lately and it's hurting my heart.

Softball. She's the veteran on the team by a year. She is a good fielder; good arm, good idea of where she needs to be and when she needs to be there. She asks to pitch and Doug lets her. She struggles and we both offer suggestions. Suggestions lead to full on meltdown in front of parents, players, coaches. Lots of "I'm horrible, I stink, I don't want to play" fill the air. Is the pressure too much? No one expects perfection. We just want her to have fun. She is not having fun. Neither are we.

Music. She is taking keyboard lessons weekly at school and practices at home on our piano. She is learning the recorder for music class. She rushes through each practice session like she's on fire, never stopping to really learn any of the pieces that her teacher has given her. When she struggles, I try to help. I've been a musician since I was 10. She is better than I was when I was younger. Hell I didn't learn to read bass clef until I was in college and she already knows it. She fights my suggestions, getting defensive. "I'm no good, I won't earn my belt" she yells. Then she puts the recorder away and goes to her room to read and will yell at me when I reminder her that she still has at least 20 minutes of piano practice time to get in.

The dance has left me sad. It's left me angry. I don't want to do this dance every day. If I leave her to do things on her own, then I hear that "I don't care about her and don't pay attention to her" and if I remind and try to help and pay attention, I get hear "You make me nervous. Go away. I don't want you here".  It's a never ending dance. I go right, she wants left. I go forward and she takes three steps back and whirls away. Do I let her go? Do I pull her closer at the risk of pushing her further away? Some days the dance is too much and I put away my dance card and tell her I'm done.  Some days I wake up hopeful that the dance will be a slow, easy dance or even no dance for the day. My feet are tired and I keep stepping on toes that I'd rather not step on. When will this dance end?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Free For All

I am so very happy it's Friday. It's sunny, cool and crisp outside. Doug is off today, which was planned, then unplanned, then magically happened at 5 pm last night. So, I had him take the big kids to school with the twins in tow, took a long, hot shower and started the first of eleventy bazillion loads of laundry that I do on a weekly basis. Hell I even got to shave my legs! It's a good day indeed.

I'm glad he's home today because the kids have been nightmares lately. Everything is a battle with them. They won't put away their toys, or take their dirty clothes to the laundry room or wash their hands when they come inside. I'm constantly refereeing wars between them over one of the thousands of toys we have, or where they will sit on the couch to watch their very limited tv. It's exhausting. I may have to take my mother-in-law's tactic of threatening to give them to the Indians, except that is so totally not PC, so maybe I'll just give them to the gypsies. Ok, that's not PC either, so would it be bad if I just left them in the woods aka Hansel and Gretel? No? Crap.

Tomorrow we're leaving them with our excellent babysitter Erika and going with friends to see the Red Sox play the Yankees. The last time we attempted such fun with these friends, we got this. Guess what the weather is predicted to be in Boston tomorrow? RAIN. COLD. Sigh. I guess it's our destiny. At the very least, we'll get a beer and a sausage sandwich from a street side vendor and have some fun.

Sunday is Mother's Day. Mother's Day hasn't always been kind to me since I became a mother. There was that Mother's Day in Rome, where Meg had a massive meltdown in the middle of St. Peter's Square because we wouldn't let her get in a fountain. We actually videotaped her "act" and replayed it to her in the hotel so she could see how horrible she had been acting. Then the Mother's Day a couple of years ago where we had to cancel our family brunch because the kids were acting so awful while we were trying to get the house ready and we just couldn't imagine having people come and deal with them. This year ALL I want from my kids (of course I want lovely sentiments from Doug) is for them to treat me, and each other, nicely for that one day. I want a day of not having to yell at them, of not having to separate kids while they're pulling hair and scratching faces, of not hearing how my kids hate me and want me to go away. Maybe I should go away for the day instead of setting the bar so high. It seems like a pretty lofty goal.

I'm going to enjoy some of the lovely weather with my girls. They like to help water the gardens. I have them get their sand buckets or empty pots and fill them with water and they get to water the bigger bushes while I water the rest. It appears to be a good project for them to help me with, except for when they pour the entire bucket of water on their pants!  Enjoy Friday!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where I've Been

Oh hi. So it's been a bit since I last posted (and of course I had to post 3 days in row, then drop off the face of the earth). It's been....busy. Busy to the point that when I sit down, I just want to close my eyes and nap, and I'm not a napper unless I'm sick. So I've tried to force myself to stay awake by reading Kathy Reich's first book and watching extremely stressful Bruins playoff hockey.

Back to the busy. Three weeks ago Doug went back on construction inspection duty. He was on construction inspection duty for eight really, really long months last year. I was never more grateful for Daylight Savings time this past fall because it meant he'd be home before 7 after leaving at 6:30 every day. He normally works a 10 or so hour day in the office, but he has breakfast with the kids, picks Drew up from preschool three days a week then come home for lunch, and is normally home for dinner. When he's on construction site, his days can be 12 hours, plus the 30 minute commute each way. To say that the kids miss him is an understatement. I text him for adult "conversation" over the course of the day so I don't lose my mind.

I am so grateful that he has a job. We've spent the bulk of the last year playing the "let's get through the tough months and everything will get back to 'normal'" game, dealing with mandatory furlough days and reduced paychecks, so I'm not going to bite the hand that feeds me, but these construction jobs do a number on our routines (oh good lord that was an incredibly long, compound sentence). The kids are up before 6 every day because they want to see him for a few minutes before he leaves. Since no one naps anymore, our days are long and often fraught with temper tantrums (not all by the kids) and cries for Dad. Blech.

The busy also includes Meg's softball season and Drew's t-ball season both beginning. Turns out starting next week they will have their games on the SAME NIGHT and DIFFERENT FIELDS (Meg travels for her games, so not even in the same TOWN for some). So I won't get to see Meg play softball during the week but will catch her Saturday games, and Doug won't get to see Drew play t-ball at all (he is Meg's coach and yep, that is just a cosmically bad planned thing). Those nights also mean super early dinners that are not the greatest meals. I had a bowl of Kix for dinner at 8:30 last night. And a handful of chips. Super healthy. But I fed the kids a chef's salad! So hooray for me!

I know I had more to say but I apparently didn't have enough coffee today and it's almost time to figure out dinner for the kids and get Meg to practice her piano. Then there's wrangling four kids into the car to go to Drew's t-ball practice and hoping that the thunderstorms hold off. Because while they can play in the freezing cold and pouring rain (like their first practice last week), thunderstorms halt play. And make kids cry.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's all in your head

I have suffered from migraines since I was 15. If you've never had one, consider yourself a very lucky person. Migraines are horribly debilitating. My doctor, at the time, did an adjustment on my back and neck to see if I had a pinched nerve (no, and also OMG my back was out of whack). He also sent me for a CT scan of my sinuses, which showed a cyst in the left cavity, just below my eye. My left eye is where I feel the most intense pain from my migraines. For a few years, I took beta blockers to help deal with the issue, but after awhile, they became ineffective. I distinctly remember attempting to take a college final when I had a migraine. It was not pleasant. You don't "live" with migraines. You try to survive them.

(On a side note, I had one of these yesterday and it freaked me the hell out and I thought I was dying)

Meg has been complaining for several months about headaches. I took her to the eye doctor after a routine school check showed her right eye to be "off". She is nearsighted, like her Mama, and we got her the cutest glasses.

The glasses, however, did not help with the headaches. So, today at her well-child checkup, I spoke to our doctor (the SAME doctor I had when I was 15!) about the headaches. They don't appear to be migraines (thank goodness) but they may be stress related. Considering I live with a child who worries about whether it might rain five days from now, stress related makes sense. Then I got to see him do the same back adjustment to her that he did to me many years ago (22 if you're keeping track of my old age). It was so bizarre. It brought back that first time that that he made my back go snap-crackle-pop. I was also insanely jealous because he can no longer adjust my neck because of the herniated discs and the arthritis (boohiss).

I hope that she never has to experience the awful pain of a migraine. I would give anything to protect her from that.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sick Days

Something wicked this way comes (Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I)

It started a couple of weeks ago, with Megan complaining almost incessantly of a headache and an achy stomach. She is kind of a drama queen (oh what a bad, bad mother I am for saying that), and went about her daily life of school, piano practice, etc. The day after the Daddy-Daughter dance she was so beside herself that her head hurt that we forced her to take a nap. The next day she seemed better so we didn't come up with anything more than her being overtired.
Of course that next day was the day that Isabelle woke up feverish and couldn't manage to keep down her breakfast or a snack. She too complained of a headache, but a long nap cured her of what ailed her and she was back on her feet the same afternoon.

Oblivious that what ailed Isabelle was the same thing that ailed Meg, we went about our week last week. Until Thursday afternoon, when Drew started complaining of a headache. We went for a ride to the nursery to get ideas for our gardens, and on our way home he vomited all over the inside of my van. He spent ALL day Friday sleeping on my couch and limped his way through Saturday and most of Sunday. Then we realized that what Meg had had spread to the others.

Last night, we couldn't find Isabelle; we thought she was with the big kids playing, but no. She was in her bed, asleep. At 6:15. By 10:15 she was up, vomiting, again. She has spent today in and out of sleep on the couch. Annabelle, not to bed left out, has joined the ranks of the fallen with the fever, a headache and as AndreAnna calls it, "flowers".

My poor kids. I sat all day Friday with Drew on the couch while he burned up and slept. I sat all day today with Izzie while she burned up and slept. I made countless trips to the bathroom with Annie and tried to console her. I feel AWFUL for giving Meg such a hard time about all her complaining. I hate when my kids are sick and there isn't a damn thing I can do for them.

I think I'll take to wearing Lysol in a holster on my hip, garlic around my neck (who knows, it may work on more than just vampires) and giving alms to whoever we pissed off so that my kids can get healthy again. In the meantime, I need rest, coffee, rest and a vacation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Next Big Thing

I am not sad that Drew is going to kindergarten in September. I am not sad that Annie and Izzie will be attending preschool for 6 hours a week in September.

I'm pretty sure this makes me kind of a freak in the parenting world. Don't get me wrong. I'll cry when he gets on the bus that first day, but I know he'll be with Meg and she'll make sure he gets off the bus at his school before she heads on to hers. Annie and Izzie will be going to the same school and will be with each other, so while I'll shed a tiny tear, I'll be happy they're together to start their journey.

The reason that I'm not sad that my house will be a bit quieter in September isn't because I don't love my kids. It's not because I really want to clean my house without little hands and feet messing it up right behind me. And it's not because I just want to drink my coffee while it's hot and watch a little Today show (ok, well maybe a little of all of that because I'm only human!)

It's because the school experience is the next Big Thing. It's what I've been preparing them for since they could walk and talk. Not in overt ways like flash cards and workbooks, but in more subtle ways like reading to them and practicing letters and spelling word after word after word for them. Ways like counting rocks and and using fridge magnets to spell A-N-D-R-E-W.  Ways like giving them a hug at the door to the bus or in the doorway of school and saying "have a great day!"

I think what makes all of it easier for me is that I've been there and done that with Megan. I've put a child on the bus for the first time (and yes, I met that bus at the school and watched her walk in the door that first day). But, I've seen how she thrives in school. I know that I cannot give her what she gets from going to school every day. I feel that same way for Drew, Annie and Izzie. I believe I've given them the tools they need to start the next Big Thing. Of course I'll be here to help them if they stumble along the way, just as I've been with Meg. I'll support and encourage them, cheer their successes and wipe away their tears.

So if this makes me a freak in the parenting world, so be it. I know it's right for them, for all of us. And I can't wait to see how they spread their wings and fly.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Things

It's school vacation week. Again. If you're keeping track, here in the Northeast the kids have vacation at Christmas, again in February, and one last time in April. I would love to say that I enjoy school vacations, but I simply do not. I enjoy not having to rush out the door every morning to either drive Meg and Drew to school or get Meg on the bus, but that is where the enjoyment ends. Meg hates school vacations. She'd rather be at school. So she is miserable for days on end and drags the rest of us down. It's really hard to be cheerful when your child is screaming how much she hates being home with you.

Today on this Patriot's Day (a holiday only for people in Maine and Massachusetts), here are happy things that make me cheerful:

Coffee
My cell phone

Sharpies (and yes, I have almost every color imaginable)
My camera (Canon Rebel xsi DSLR)
Books
Clean laundry
Smiling kids
Big hugs
This blog
Scrapbooking (this is all I use)
Coffee
Did I mention coffee?

Do you have a list of happy things? I'd love to read about them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let's Dance!

Saturday night was the 4th Annual Daddy-Daughter dance for our school district. Meg and I had a very difficult time picking out a dress that wasn't too babyish or too slutty (my kid wears a size 16, which nearly pushes her to the Juniors department, which is so NOT appropriate for a 9 year old, ahem). We finally found the PERFECT dress at Target. It's a Liberty of London dress and just screamed Megan. I had to do a little tailoring (thank goodness for Home Ec class in 7th grade) to make the straps stay put and the bodice a little tighter, but it was exactly what we wanted.




She has grown up so much since the first Daddy-Daughter dance when she was a kindergartener.



She's such a grown up girl. I am already dreading the teenage years! (Oh, and Meg is totally standing on the top of the porch and Doug is one step down in that last picture, but I'm pretty sure that's what she's going to look like in another 5 years).


Friday, April 9, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party!

It's that time again! 5MinutesforMom's Ultimate Blog Party is here!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Welcome! I'm Kristin and I'm the relatively sane Mama of four kids~Meg, Drew, Annie and Izzie. I love a good book, hot coffee and peace and quiet (so, two out of three isn't bad!).  I've been married to my husband Doug for almost 12 years, but we've been together for 19 years.We live in Maine, surrounded by trees and not much else, and we wouldn't have it any other way.


Meg is 9 years old, a 3rd grader with a love of books, music, hockey and softball.  She's pretty well-rounded for such a young thing.

Drew is 5 years old and will be entering kindergarten in the fall. He loves hockey, dogs, cars, dinosaurs and dirt, like any good boy should.

Annie is 3 and loves giving hugs, snuggling her stuffed cow Mooie and coloring.

Izzie is Annie's twin sister. She loves lambs. I mean, really, really loves lambs.


It's a crazy life, but it's my life. Won't you stay awhile and visit?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letters

It's been awhile since I've done some Open Letters. This should be fun.

Dear Annie:

I love your hugs. They are truly the loveliest hugs in the world. What I do not love though, is your insistence that you are the boss of this house. It's dinnertime when I tell you to get in your seat, not when you feel like it.  When I tell you to put on your shoes so that we can get Meg to the bus on time, it's not a negotiation. As you've seen, Mama will just throw you in your seat shoeless and go about her business. Let's get on the same page here and make everyone happy, ok?

Love, your tired, overworked and very underpaid Mama

Dear Izzie:

You are a great snuggler. I love it when you curl up in my arms and coo. What I do not love is your insistence on breaking things~your bed, toys, books, crayons. You will end up with nowhere to sleep, nothing to play with and nothing to read or color. Do you really want to challenge me on that? Where are your blocks? Oh yes, in the garage, taken away due to your inability to treat them nicely. Let's get on the same page here and make everyone happy, ok?

Love, your tired, overworked and very underpaid Mama

Dear Drew:

You can be the sweetest, most loving little boy a Mama has ever known. I love that Drew with all my heart. What I do not love is the Drew who throws toys at me and his sisters, who hits, who screams "I hate you Mama" at the drop of a hat and who is generally irritable from sun up until sundown. That Drew can find a short pier and take a long walk. Bring back the good boy that I love, ok?

Love, your tired, overworked and very underpaid Mama

Dear Meg:

You will always be my little girl even if you are getting closer every day to being as tall as me. I love you to the moon and back. But for the love of coffee (and Mama loves her coffee), could you please please please stop acting like a baby every time I ask you to do something or you don't get exactly what you want the veryminuteyouaskforit? Your crying and carrying on is enough to make me go postal and quite honestly, that takes too much energy. You are such a smart kid, so let's get on the same page and make everyone happy, ok?

Love, your tired, overworked and very underpaid Mama

Dear Sheldon:

No more nights away from the house ok? Your big kids were so worried about you and I can't deal with all the crying and carrying on because you've disappeared into the woods where the coyotes live. So remember not to piss off the hands that feed you and come in at night.

Love, yo Mama


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Keeping Quiet

I've started a dozen posts in my head, but none have even made it to the "draft" stage on the blog. Life is moving along, some days quickly (like Monday) and other days are just so....long and boring. I guess boring is the wrong word when you're the Mama of four kids though. How about long and tedious? Yes, that's better.

I think the hardest thing about writing blog posts is that I use other social media like Twitter and Facebook so I feel very much like I'm repeating myself, or that I have nothing really to say. I have plenty I want to say, but some of it is not my place to blog about and other things are just so....annoying to blog about, like the kids constantly fighting. I mean really, who cares, right? Kids fight. But that is the extent of my daily existence, so instead of blogging, I keep quiet.

Keeping quiet is a double-edged sword for me. There are things I want to blog about but choose not to because they are too personal in nature. There are things I want to blog about but choose not to because I am afraid to say what I'm thinking. I'm afraid to say some things because putting them out there makes them real, but keeping quiet means they're just floating around in my head and that is a safer place for them. Doug reads this blog. I think it would be pretty awful if he read something that I blogged about that I'd never mentioned to him.

Having this blog means that I have to pick and choose what aspect of myself to show my "audience". Lately that is becoming more difficult for me to do. I was never sure of the direction of my blog when I started it just over two years ago. I don't know where I want to go from here with it, either. My blog is certainly about more than just my kids because I am about more than just my kids (although at times it does NOT feel that way). And there's the issue. Maybe I need a new blog name. Maybe I need to be more comfortable in my own skin, which will allow me to write what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking.

Am I the only person who feels this way?
Should I stop blogging?
Should I change my blog name?
Thoughts? Suggestions? Vodka?