Sunday, December 26, 2010

Big Foot Sightings

My daughter (the magical bird) wanted many things for Christmas.  The most important thing, however, was not princess-related, nor was it an Easy Bake oven.  No, my little girl wanted a Fisher Price Big Foot Monster.  He walks.  He talks.  He throws a ball.  He does somersaults.  And he sings.  He also happens to terrify my son. 

Oddly enough, the twin that finds this growling, singing creature frightening is not the clingy one.  No, Connor finds him fascinating.  He pats his head and tries to take the remote from his sister.  Owen, my rough and tumble boy who makes noises that oddly resemble Big Foot's sound effects is the one who keeps a distance. 

He will stand close enough to watch the thing in action...but he always has to have an escape route.  I walk into the kitchen where Irelynn and Connor are laughing as she makes the monster sing.  Owen is peering around the corner of a cabinet.  The monster says, "BUDDY..." Owen inches a little closer.  The monster moves his eyes back and forth as he makes silly sounds.  Owen creeps a tiny bit closer.  Then, the monster exclaims, "WATCH OUT!"  He proceeds to do a somersault.

"SON A BEETCH!!"  Owen shrieks as he bolts out of the room.

I contemplated correcting our son on his language...but then I figured the tumbling monster was punishment enough, as I saw him hiding in the other room.

Man, if only these things existed when I was a would have been so much more fun tormenting my younger siblings.  We had to pretend my brother was kidnapped by aliens, having been replaced by a robot version of himself, to terrify my sister.  Although, as I recall, that worked just as well...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Magical Birds and Solid Houses

I love that my daughter has an imagination.  I'm not really sure where she got it from.  Certainly not her father.  The closest thing he has to imagination is the desire to have the Star Trek universe actually exist. I have my moments, but for the most part I am a pretty boring person, as my older children can attest to...and my older children, for that matter, are not the most imaginative kids.  My son is a very literal, black and white kid.  In fact, if you begin to get into anything abstract, you begin to confuse the poor boy.  My older daughter does not like to do activities on her own...she is more than happy to have someone else take the lead in any form of entertainment.

So how did my 4-year-old become so...creative?  I'm not sure, but she is quite entertaining.  Like, last night, for example:  she came up to me wearing Owen's mittens and my colorful scarf.

"Mom...I am a magical bird."

"A magical bird?  How are you magical?"

"Well...I can make it snow.  I can also make it rain.  And I can make it rain...candycanes."

"That is magical."

Then she started making shapes with her hands, asking me to guess what they were.

" it...a planet?"

"No,'s a submarine.  Can you guess what this one is?"

"Um...a plane?"

"Nope.  Just a triangle.  Mom...I think we should paint our house with green and red stripes.  Right now it's too solid."

I hope she never loses that sense of imagination.  She helps me realize that we could all use a little magic in our lives...especially when we live in solid houses.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finding Common Ground

The difference in my twin boys' personalities is quite striking at times.  They are certainly individuals.  Both of them get put in "time out" for different reasons:  Owen is usually on a rampage, throwing remote controls, smacking his brother, or head-butting me because I told him that he could not, in fact, have chocolate for breakfast.  Connor, on the other hand, is put in "time out" because he just dismantled his father's device that connects the TV to the internet and external hard drives thus making it possible to watch YouTube...or his vast collection of Christmas movies. 

Once in "time out" (which is basically their crib...the only unit still capable of containing them...or, well, Connor...for the couple of minutes needed to teach them a lesson,) they both cry.  If Owen stops crying, I know it is because he has either cried himself to sleep...or he has escaped "time out."  If Connor stops crying, I know it is because he managed to get ahold of the baby monitor, and is busy changing frequencies...and most likely trying to send out coded messages in hopes of contacting extra-terrestrial life.  If the boy had a screwdriver and a wire hanger, I'm sure he could do it. 

One thing that the boys both agree on, however, is that it is fun to repeat naughty words.  Especially when their father is angry.  The other night we decided to make them some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I was spreading the peanut butter, as my husband was trying, in vain, to open a new jar of jelly.

"Son of a BITCH!"

The boys look at each other, smile, and repeat.

"Son a BEETCH!"

Bruce, not capable of controlling himself, continues...


The boys, in unison: "SHIT!"

Bruce, now getting the look from me, tries to catch himself mid-swear.

"GO...ah.....ARGHHHHHHH!!!!"  He is now denting the lid of the can as he beats it against the counter.

The boys giggle.

"Gahhhhhh....ARRRRRRGHHHHHHH!"  I was impressed that Owen actually repeated it, and did not resort to the actual phrase, as I'm sure he knows it by now.

The lid finally let loose, and all was well in the Sawdon household again. 

However, now Owen gets put in "time out" because when he doesn't get his way, he smacks his brother and yells, "SON A BEETCH!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Power of the Video Game

I would like to send out a heartfelt "thank you" to my in-laws, who got the boys a V.Smile game system for Christmas.  You see, previously, they were running around, throwing plastic food, jumping on the couch, licking DVD's, and yanking the gate away from the stairs.  Owen stuffed the cat into a Christmas bag, and they were dragging him around by the handles.  Then, Connor got into the box with the game system and handed me a remote.  I hooked up the system, and I am now sitting here, drinking coffee, and updating my blog while the boys both sit (yes, sit!) on the floor, playing a "Cars" video game.  Ah, sweet silence. 

I might be able to actually sit down myself for more than 30-seconds.  I never thought I would encourage my children to play video games...but with these two...I might make an exception...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Runaway Strollers and Clip-On Earrings

While I like my new house, and my husband seems to like his new job...moving has come with a new set of challenges.  Not the typical ones I was prepared for...the kids all seem to be adjusting to their new schools; even the preschooler loves her new school.  No, the biggest challenge is not having friends or family nearby to help.  I am learning how to truly be alone and handle the daily struggles of life with five kids. 

One big one is that Irelynn now goes to school four days a week instead of three.  There is no bus for the that means, four mornings a week, I dress all three younger ones down to hats and mittens, scrape off the van, drive to the school, unload the double umbrella stroller, strap them in, and herd them into the school.  I then repeat the procedure again three hours later. 

Connor will not keep gloves on.  He repeatedly takes them off...and throws them.  I need to either buy a roll of duct tape...or buy a coat a size too big and sew the ends of the arms shut.  If it wasn't 12-degrees out with a windchill of so cold Richard Simmons was seen wearing full length pants, I would just give up and forget the mittens.  But when we have to walk through a parking lot and cross two streets to get to the school...I need to do something.

I think I look like a bit of a freak as I come to the school everyday...pushing two toddlers in a stroller with my preschooler hanging on.  I'm certain of it when I pull the stroller out, and then as I unbuckle Owen, a gust of wind sends it rolling into the parking lot, and I am forced to chase it down.  Then, when trying to strap Owen into the stroller, I realize he had one of Irelynn's big, bright clip-on earrings...and he was trying to attach it to my hair.  So, he begins laughing hysterically and yanking, while I'm trying to get it out.  I finally break the earring, and get it out, but my hair is now standing on end.  I finally grab Connor and stuff him in the stroller...retrieve the mitten he just threw...and run with the stroller across the parking lot, the two streets, and into the school...where I find my daughter waiting.

"You're late, Mom." 

"I'm not that late...only a couple of minutes..."

She glares at me.

"I'm sorry, Irelynn."

I have since started giving myself 20 extra account for glove wrestling, toddler wrangling, ice scraping, stroller operating, and those last minute diaper changes because Owen is on a pretty strict pooping schedule.  This still puts me there just in time. 

I'm sure I'll laugh about this period of time in a couple of years...when all of my children are in school...via bus.  I will laugh because while I have a few hours to myself, some other poor sucker will have to deal with my children for part of the day...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stress is formidable foe.  I thought I had it under control.  I established a routine.  I layed out clothes the previous night.  I started making lists again.  I even started working out...dusting off the Jillian Michaels DVDs and pulling out the weights.  I was feeling to handle anything.  Then it happened...Owen discovered that he could climb out of the crib. 

Every child does this at some point.  It was bound to happen.  How could one little toddler throw off my entire sense of self-purpose?  I keep telling myself that it is not the is stress.  Stress is a funny multiplies.  It turns a rational person into a raving lunatic, scouring the cabinets for chocolate and telling her children that if Mommy doesn't get some quiet-time, she will send a personal message to Santa regarding coal.  And it all starts with a toddler climbing out of his crib.

No naps equal cranky toddlers.  Cranky toddlers turn into impish creatures that wreak havoc on the household.  They pull out plugs.  They wake other sleeping toddlers.  They think the litter box is their own personal sandbox.  They rip their sister's Kids Bop CD case.  They push toys through the mail slot.  They pull ornaments off of the tree and throw them at the cat.  And they make their mother have to decide who to run after first:  the child that is trying to scale the living room shelf, or the child who is surfing on the end table. 

By the time the older kids come home, I am talking through gritted teeth and counting how many bottles of beer we have left for after bedtime.  I am glancing at the clock, counting down how many more hours are left until bedtime.  I don't quite remember getting through the evening...I vaguely remember the preschooler not making it to the potty in time, leaving puddles on the kitchen floor.  I remember the teenagers arguing...and one nearly breaking a drawer in the fridge.  I remember a cranky preschooler wailing about a hurt hand that she is positive her older brother broke. 

I end the night with a couple of glasses of wine, and baked Tostitos (so as not to ruin my healthy efforts.)  Take that, stress!  Of course, in the end, stress wins.  I wake up to realize that I have gained a pound overnight.  The kitchen is still a mess from the night before...and today Connor realized that he, too, can climb out of the crib. 

Curse you, stress.  I shall retreat to my coffee and usual rant peppered with words like "punk-ass kids" and "for the love of Pete WILL YOU STOP!!" 

But just wait until I order those crib tents online...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creative Discipline

Sometimes I amuse myself.  It doesn't happen often, but there are times when a child does something so ridiculous, you have no choice but to come up with something equally ridiculous to teach them a lesson. 

My oldest son is a good kid.  He is usually a very intelligent young man...sometimes to the point where you have to question yourself.  However, there are times when he makes the four-year-old appear wise.  Tonight was one of those times.

I am in the kitchen.  Bruce is bathing the twins.  Jay is entertaining Irelynn.  Literally.  I hear him getting loud.  I roll my eyes...and follow it up with the usual, "Jay...settle down."  He continues to get loud.  I am imagining him chasing Irelynn around the living room.

"JAY.  Settle down out there!"

I then hear him talking to Irelynn.

"Go get MOM!"

I sigh, and walk out to the living room.  No Jay...or Irelynn.  I hear the sound of a struggle come from the little kids' room. 

"Irelynn...GO GET MOM!"

I walk in to find Jay...trapped under Connor's crib.  The side rail had slipped down to the floor...and was stuck.  Jaylond was trapped underneath the crib.  Irelynn was smirking across the room.

"What happened?!"

"I crawled under here to hide...and the rail fell down."

After a bit of a struggle, I got the side rail up, and he slid out...slightly embarrassed, but otherwise unharmed.

"Jay...settle down...and act your age."

Irelynn chimes in, "he was acting like a baby's age."

Jaylond scowls at her.  "You stay out of this."

I reply, "you know...bad decisions make you blog fodder."

Teenagers beware of the power of a parent with a blog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And I thought MY day was bad...

There is mustard on my shirt.  My hair looks crazy from an attempt to distract the little ones by letting them style my hair with a brush, a cooking utensil, and what I later realized was NOT hair detangling spray. 

Connor has figured out the doors in the to open them, how to close them, how to apply enough force to make them echo throughout the house, and how to lock his brother into the sunroom/bedroom/bathroom.  I realized that I need childproof locks on all the cabinets, and that those dishwasher detergent packs make great weapons when hurled at someone's face. 

The phone needs a new home.  It is currently set up where the internet and cable are hooked up in the house...right next to the television.  As I was on the phone with the school bus transportation department, writing down bus route numbers for the older kids, Connor unplugged the phone on me.  He did this repeatedly throughout the day.

The boys have learned that if they stand on a chair in the kitchen, they can reach the dimmer switch for the lamp hanging over the table.  I fully expect to walk in one of these days to find Connor swinging from the chandelier.

I have put up a gate across the laundry room, where the cat food is, because Connor likes to dump the food into the water dish...and then dump it on the cat. 

I discovered, while bringing stuff down to the basement that puddles were gathering on the floor...and a couple of boxes were wet.  I moved them, trying to figure out where the water was coming from, but had to abandon the search as I heard Irelynn scream from upstairs.  I ran up the stairs to find out that the reason for the blood curdling scream was that Owen had the audacity to take a drink from her cup.

Needless to say, by the time Bruce was getting out of work I was ready for a beer.  And silence. 

However, Bruce gets the award for "Worst Day Ever."  I found where the leak was coming from downstairs:  what looks like a drainage pipe had a cap that appeared to not be on all the way...and water was coming out.  Bruce went down to check it out.  The next thing I know, I hear a scream come from the basement.  I run down to find a horrible stench...and Bruce bent over...soaked.

His face was twisted in a look of horror...and he was spitting something out of his mouth.  I look across the floor to find water...and fecal matter...everywhere.  Apparently he twisted the cap, thinking he was going to tighten it...and instead it came off, spewing sewage water all over the floor, and Bruce.  He managed to get it back on, but not before getting covered in, well, shit. 

Today the landlord is sending someone over to take care of it...and then I guess I try to mop the floor down there with some strong cleaner to get rid of the stench that has been wafting up into the rest of the house. 

On a positive note, my day didn't seem quite so bad after seeing my poor husband standing in a pile of poop.  I shall henceforth learn to change my perspective on things...having a "shitty" day has a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane...and the Slow Lane Following a Moving Truck.

I remember moving quite often as a kid.  I was always the "new kid."  I remember the struggles...the packing...the cleaning...trying to find our cat at the last minute, only to find out that the movers had accidentally sealed him up in a mattress box and were already at the state border with the moving truck.  In all my preteen angst, however, I had never realized what the experience was like for my parents.  I just remember my mother, in her bubbly way, trying desparately to convince us that we were on an adventure...that our new town was going to be so cool...and we would love exploring it.  In reality, we didn't ever really go see the sights and attractions.  But before we moved, we viewed them all in a brochure...the Alamo!  The parks!  Canada! 

Oddly enough, I found myself doing the same thing with my kids.  Showing them the downtown, talking about East Lansing, telling them it will be an adventure (yes, those words really did come out of my mouth.)  I began having flashbacks on moving day as we searched the house for our cat, calling out to him.  Luckily, Samson was not sealed in a box, but hiding in the basement, and came out just as we we were about to take off.  I hugged my mom as I departed for my first moving adventure without her. 

The move itself is a blur...I remember screaming toddlers...children that had to go potty...yowling cats...and a Comcast guy that was four hours late.  I remember dodging toddlers while unloading the truck, my husband smashing his hand while trying to get the refrigerator into the basement, and a panicked preteen who could not find her favorite facewash. 

Thank you to all of the family and friends who helped us get don't know how much you are loved, appreciated, and missed. 

We are finally somewhat settled...amongst the boxes.  The older kids are in school today, the cats are snoozing on the sunroom ledge, Irelynn is coloring at the table, and the boys are having a screaming match in their cribs instead of napping.  I think I just heard Owen say, "seeyosee?"  Naptime is going to be a challenge.  I'm not worried, though...I have five kids.  I can handle anything.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shoe Shopping

We are about to venture  The last time we went out to purchase new shoes for the kids ended with only two pairs having been found:  Marissa's school shoes and Jay's soccer cleats.  Jay still needs regular shoes.  My picky child, he couldn't seem to find anything he any store in the mall.  However, after spending a few hours scouring the mall, with a preschooler asleep in my arms, two cranky toddlers fighting in the double stroller, and realizing that Jaylond somehow lost my keys somewhere in the mall and we were locked out of the van...we decided we were done for the day.  We did manage to find the keys, after walking the mall again and visiting each store we had been to (with children complaining that they were "starving," and three sleepy little ones reminding me why they still need naps.)  I had enlisted the help of my mother...and I'm not sure how we would have done it otherwise.  Despite the size of our family, we are usually fairly self-sufficient...but there are times when I have to break down and realize that I do need help. 

Today is a new day, though.  We have to find shoes for Jay.  School starts in less than a week now.  We are going to try Kohl's this time.  One reason is because it is a place he hasn't looked at yet for shoes.  Another is that it leaves only one store to try and find items like keys that might get dropped or lost.  I think that if he doesn't find something he likes there he can wear his damn soccer cleats to school.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Potty Training, Twin-Style

After three kids, I have taken a relaxed approach to potty-training.  The one thing I have learned, after timers, sticker charts, and candy incentives is that it will happen when it happens.  I have also learned that as frustrating as it may seem at times...none of my children have entered elementary school still wearing Pampers. 

Despite my easy-going approach, nothing induces stress more than the combination of a boy who is aware of his elimination process combined with the skills to undress himself...and the lack of interest when it comes to going in the potty.  Except perhaps TWO boys who fit this description.  I should clarify:  both have an interest in the potty:  sitting on it...slamming the lid down...splashing in their sister's pee...letting rubber duckies float in the potty...but neither one has actually put anything in there that belongs in there. 

They have different approaches to letting me know when it's time for a change.  Connor will look startled, grab his bottom, and say, "butt butt!"  He will then promptly begin to remove his pants and Pull-Up, which, if not caught in time, will leave streaks of poo on his leg...and the carpet. 

Owen is sneaky.  He will tell me, several times a day, that he has to go potty.


"Owen, do you have to go potty?"


"What do you need to do in the potty?"
"Um...poo poo.  Um...pee pee....potty." 


I take him to the potty, he strips, sits for two seconds, grins, and tells me, "teeth?"  He then scampers on top of the big potty and grabs his toothbrush.  Everyday it is a ploy to try and get into the bathroom and suck toothpaste off of his toothbrush.  Later, he will inevitably poop in his Pull-Up, and simply say, "uh oh...poo poo."

Yesterday I put the boys down for their nap.  Within two minutes I hear Owen calling out to me, "POTTY!  POTTY!"

I ignore it.  I know he just wants to play...I am exhausted...I want them to sleep.


I sigh, and go in to check on him.  I walk in to find Owen standing in his bed...naked.  His Pull-Up had been removed, and thrown onto the floor....and there is a pile...then a line of poop...streaking down his sheet.  I conjured up an image of my toddler scooting on his butt, like a dog, across his bed. 

"Mom.  Poo-poo."

Thanks for telling me, Buddy.

I suppose it could be worse.  He could have used it to decorate the walls.

I'm thinking that's what might be coming next.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


We have had an infestation.  And I'm not really sure how to get rid of the little buggers.  They mysteriously arrived when a friend spent the night, and introduced them to our daughter.  We had been monster-free until that moment.

Every night now bedtime becomes a daunting ritual of searching the room for possible monsters.  They might be under the bed.  They might come through her window. 

"What if they come in and eat the babies??"

"Would you like me to turn on your music?  Would that make you feel better?"

"But they might hear it...and want to come in and have a dance party!!"

We are at a loss about what to do about these monsters.  The "they do not exist" route is not working.  The "guard kitty" (her huge stuffed tiger) route is not working.  I thought about "monster spray"...but I wanted to stay firm with the "they do not exist" theory...but I might have to give up and give it a try.  I do believe it worked with a younger Jaylond. 

I did tell her that I was right in the other room...that I would never let anything happen to her...but she informed me that there would be no way I could outrun a monster.  "Mommies can't run."

I attempted to cut Connor's hair the other day, to save some did not go well.  Perhaps I should tell her that, see, the monsters are actually nice...they tried to give her brother a haircut...

I'm thinking we need to lay off of some of the Scooby-Doo...and movies like Monsters, Inc.  And that Dora chick...she looks kind of monster-ish with her huge oblong head. 

Oh, and no more feeding the boys after midnight...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Garage Sales and Tap Shoes

I come from a long line of pack rats.  I come by it honestly.  My father was discreet about his pack rat tendencies.  We did not even realize he was one until we went through his things after he passed away:  letters I wrote when I was a kid, faded Disneyland tickets, an invitation he made for his own birthday party (which I heard was quite the party...people showed up who did not receive said invitation...sans clothing.) 

My mother is open with her hoarding tendencies.  There is evidence of past lives...her's, her children's...and other people's (acquired through garage sales,) all throughout her home.  Yesterday she relinquished some of my past to me...and Irelynn.  I received a folder containing immunization records...past report 8th grade school handbook...and a picture I drew when I was around 10-years-old.  Irelynn was given a faded old box containing a pair of ballet slippers, and a shiny pair of tap shoes I wore when I was a few years older than her.  Irelynn's eyes lit up.  Mommy used to wear dance shoes.  Marissa looked at me funny.

"You used to do ballet??  AND tap dance?" 

You can't have any secrets when you have a pack rat mother. 

"Yes...when I was really little."  I skipped the part about gymnastics, too, as I think she would have doubled over in laughter.

This all happened at my mother's house, directly after walking home from a garage the rain.  Irelynn's clothes were in the dryer, the boys were stripped down to their diapers....they had fun entertaining all the people there by jumping in puddles...sitting in puddles, and dipping their heads in the puddles.  I drew the line at Owen trying to lap up puddle water with his tongue.

We brought our treasures home (from the garage sale, and my mother,) and found out just how patient Irelynn really is...Connor discovered the tap shoes.

Connor loves shoes.  He is very particular about his shoes.  We have tried putting him in other shoes, as his current favorites are getting so tight they leave red lines on his feet.  He refuses to wear anything but those shoes.  Until now.  He carefully put on my old tap shoes, which are several sizes too big for him.  He wore them the rest of the night, even while he sat in his chair, watching "Dora."  Irelynn let him...but informed me he could not wear them to bed. 

This morning he is wearing them again. 

Bruce is not particularly happy with his new shoe choice.  I'm just happy he's agreed to wear different shoes.  I do hope he doesn't want to wear them...everywhere...

At least he has some time before he grows out of them.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thunderstorms, Explained

Storms rolled through last night, and Irelynn told me the science behind lightning and thunder:

"The sky if full of ectricity right now. It stole it from my batteries...that's why my stuff doesn't work...the batteries have no more ectricity. But now the sky has too much ectricity, and so it goes like this,"

(dramatically claps hands together)

"and that's what makes all that noise."

Alas, even though she had a logical explanation, it was still we had to play her Jonas Brothers CD so she could sleep.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Making A List...

1.  Make coffee.

2.  Drink coffee.

3.  Turn on PBS for children. 

4.  Start to unload dishwasher.

5.  Remove Owen from dishwasher, take spatula away from Connor.  Commence unloading dishwasher during naptime.

6.  Feed boys breakfast. 

7.  Pick food up off floor, wipe down trays, chase down boys with washcloth.

8.  Reheat coffee.

9.  Fold Laundry.  Hide laundry in bedroom until boys are napping.

10.  Add "coffee" to grocery list.

11.  Put boys down for nap.

12.  Do actual chores while they sleep.  Take shower, eat something.

13.  Google "green poop." 

14.  Change laundry loads so clothes don't smell moldy. 

15.  Re-explain to Irelynn how to use "nice" words.

16.  Wake teenager up. 

17.  Send teenager's younger sister down to wake him up...again...with a squirt gun.

18.  If you actually get this far, eat a cookie.  You deserve it.

19.  Come up with dinner solution.

20.  Make sure there is enough money in account for dinner solution.

21.  Try to clean trail of toys, crayon marks off wall, and snack off floor with Connor on hip.

22.  Consider just recarpeting the living room in Cheerios.  Life might actually be easier...

23.  Is it evening yet?  Forget the rest of the list.  Just have a beer.  Or two.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Where Did I Go Wrong?

Somewhere along the way I lost control.  I'm not sure where it was...but I think it was after children four and five came along.  Perhaps there is a point where control is no longer an option.  I'd like to think that it isn't just my own inadequacies as a parent.

I used to be good with routines...I was even "that mom" who baked cookies and cupcakes and organized art projects for the children.  I encouraged playtime and reading...we had set reading schedules, individually and together.  Dinner time was a time to catch up on what was going on with everyone. 

Now I find myself hiding things that pertain to I now have "that child" who likes to create art...everywhere.  On the floor...the table...the carpet...the walls.  I also now have "that child" who eats items pertaining to art.  Glue, crayons...

Reading must be done after the toddlers go to bed, as they like to climb on me and try to rip pages out of books. 

Bathtime used to be wind-down time before bed.  Now it consists of splashing, soaked parents, chasing down naked toddlers who refuse to put pajamas on, and the occasional quick removal of boys from the tub because one decides to pee in it.

The library staff used to know us by name, as my children were (and still are) avid readers and participants in the summer reading programs.  They still know us by name...including the boys, who "help" return books into the slot and cry out "AWRIGHT!!!  I DID IT!"  I suppose it's still important to keep going to the library...although now, instead of being the quiet, respectful group, I am the frazzled mom who brings in five children, two of which terrorize the children's section.  Luckily it is sectioned off from the rest of the the other patrons aren't affected by my vocal boys.

I haven't figured out how to properly discipline two-year-olds.  Irelynn was easy...I was a master of distraction...and she was easily influenced.  The boys, on the other hand, do not fall for such parlor tricks.  They are masters of destruction...and I have yet to find something that deters them from that goal.

I have begun to get used to the craziness that occurs in my home...flying food at dinnertime, the broom fights in the hallway, the scaling of the entertainment center to change "DDD's."  However, I still can't handle the noise pollution...or the complete lack of fear (or common sense.)

Where's the Super Nanny when you need her? 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Don't Feed Them After Midnight...

It was like a scene out of a horror know, one of those movies with the cute little creatures that suddenly become destructive and out of control? 

Doors were slamming.  The glass candleholders were sliding precariously close to the edge of the coffee table.  Sippy cups were tossed onto the couch.  A mix of snot and saliva now adorned the screen door to the patio...leading to a jelly-stained face smushed up against it, with little fists pounding on the door. 

My brother-in-law was in panic mode...trying to decide which child to rescue first:  the one trying to  fit through the bars on the balcony railing (we were on the second story,) or the one trying to ignite the gas grill on the other end of the balcony.  The cat was hiding somewhere.  My sister and I were trying to coax them away from destruction with Oreo cookies. 

I'm not sure we left a good first impression.  I'm pretty sure we will not be invited over again for awhile.  I'm also almost certain that my brother-in-law is reconsidering starting a family.  Even "Finding Nemo" could not distract my children. 

Their new apartment was very nice, though.  Perhaps I can check it out again...sometime when my gremlins, er, children, have a baby-sitter. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yoga With Bruce

I will give my husband credit where credit is due:  he was the one who suggested we try out my new yoga DVD last night.  I purchased this DVD for both of was supposed to be designed for people who have back pain or poor posture; a series of gentle moves to strengthen your spine and relax your body. 

It did not begin well.  The routine required the use of chairs, and a yoga strap.  Bruce decided to use his belt.  The soft music started, with a montage of tranquil images of the ocean and bamboo.  He said it was already making him tired. 

As we tried to move through the stretches (having to shift positions and chairs so as to be able to see the TV and not hit each other,) I realized how I had a long way to go before I could be considered flexible.  I bent over, only really making it a few inches down.  I glance over at my husband, who was still in the same position. 

"I can't bend...this is as far as I go." 

Seriously?  Well...I guess I feel a little better.

The rest of the routine was a montage of complaints and questions by my husband:

"What does that MEAN??"
"My body doesn't bend that way!"
"I don't know what he means by that."
"Is the human body supposed to do that?"
"I don't bend from the hip...what does he mean, 'supple?'"
"Open the chest?  What does that MEAN??"
"I don't stretch like that."

And, finally, upon shifting into position for the meditation portion of the DVD, my husband lets out a long, loud fart.  I'm glad the routine helped him release some tension...but that isn't what I was envisioning. 

Needless to say, neither of us really got much out of that session (outside of the releasing of flatulance.) 

Hopefully the next session will go a little better.  Of course, if it doesn't, there is always just sitting back with a bottle of beer, and complaining about our back pain...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

THAT was the easy part??

"Just remember...the first year is the easiest."

A fellow parent of twins gave me this warning when I was pregnant. 

"They don't move yet!" 

The first year was beyond difficult.  I kept thinking to myself, "what does he mean, the first year is the EASIEST??"  In my sleep-deprived, still recovering from a c-section state, trying to figure out how to feed two fussy babies at the same with bad reflux...I could not imagine things being more difficult. 

Now...during my much coveted quiet time (bedtime)...I am glancing around at the state of my house.  The printer tray is broken, courtesy of Owen.  Captain Crunch berries are ground into the carpet.  Toys litter the living room.  My phone (and laptop screen) are covered in fingerprints.  Puffy paint adorns my coffee maker.  The bathroom has puddles of water on the floor.  There is cat fur by the door, where Samson narrowly made his escape from the clutches of Connor earlier.  My pots, pans, and utensils are scattered around the kitchen...and I think I see the crusts of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich wedged between the booster seat and chair.  I look in the finger print-covered mirror, and see several gray hairs starting to show.  There are bags under my eyes...and a nice cut in my lip from when Owen head-butted me yesterday. 

Now I fully understand the warning.  As tired as I stressed as I was...the boys stayed in one place until I moved them.  Now I am forever pulling them off of counters, toilets, shelves and for some odd reason, the doll stroller in Irelynn's room.  They screech.  They smack.  They knock over each other's block towers.  They overturn chairs...and drag stools to the fridge to try and push the water and ice buttons.  They eat worms....and stick their hands in pee-filled potty chairs.  They color on my table with markers...and throw macaroni at the cat.  I have been reduced to tears...actually having said things like, "what is WRONG with you??" and "we do NOT throw POOP!"  I have even called my husband, at work, out of desperation, wondering if there is any chance he would be leaving early that day.

I have even called my mother and asked if she could please, please pick me up a fountain soda because it was too early for beer.  And then called my husband and asked if he could please, please pick me up some beer on his way home from work. 

So Uncle were right.  Now...when does it get easier again???

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am not sure I can handle being the mother of a boy.  Now, I know what you're thinking...I have a teenage boy...I should be used to this, right?  Not by a long-shot.  One boy, who was the sensitive, intellectual type, years ago, was no match for Owen.  I do not say "Connor," because I believe Connor is following in his older brother (and father's) footsteps.  Is he a trouble-maker?  Yes.  That part I can handle, as all of my children are trouble-makers (I'm a veteran of mischief battles of various sorts, ranging from hair-cutting to means of scissors and markers.)  No, that I can handle.  It is the pure gross factor that comes with being a boy...a rough and tumble, fearless, slightly thick-headed boy. 

Just today alone I had a plethora of physical ailments, ranging from heart failure (when he dragged the stool to the fridge, teetered on top and grabbed a glass from the counter,) a bloody lip when he head banged me for trying to put him in pants, and a tension headache as he took his plate, covered in syrup, and set it on his head...slowly dragging it down over his face, leaving a streak of sticky syrup all over his head and nose.  He thought this was hilarious.  At lunch he tossed his fork aside to eat his noodles like a dog...face first. 

None of this compared to later, though, when we went outside to play.  First, apparently still a dog, he lapped up some dirty water on the play structure.  Then, not more than a couple of minutes later, I heard my mom ask the words no parent wants to hear outside, when there is no food around.

"What is in his mouth?!" 

Upon inspection, we realize that Owen has eaten a worm.  Half of a worm, to be exact, as the other half was laying at his feet...with teeth marks all over it. 

This kid is not even two-years-old yet. 

I cannot begin to imagine what the next few years have in store for me...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Growing a Garden, Sawdon-Style

We decided to be ambitious this year.  We started a garden.  I'm not entirely sure what prompted us to do this:  not a single one of us has a green thumb.  In fact, I have been known to kill plants...repeatedly.  A serial plant killer, if you will.  Also, as we do not have a fenced-in yard, we can rarely go out to do anything because it takes more than one adult to keep track of my clan.  It is a two-chaperone field trip just to head out to the back yard.  However...we now have a yard with pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, chard and basil attempting to beat the odds and grow. 

First there was a matter of tilling up some earth.  Luckily, my husband's grandfather happened to have a rototiller.  He, along with my father-in-law, arrived at our house with the device...and the men set to work.  This was comic genius.  My husband, bless him, has never really done any gardening before, much less used such a device.  I don't know what was funnier...him trying to use it...or the fact that his grandfather, a few feet away, was giving him specific instructions...which he ignored.  So, my children come by it honestly.  My father-in-law just looked on and smiled.  Finally, Grandpa took over...and I have to say, I was pretty impressed...that man has some energy! 

The next day was planting day.  This, too, was interesting because our plants were already half dead from waiting so long to plant them.  The boys wanted to "help," so I gave them a couple of little shovels and let them go to town.  The girls were arguing because as the older girl tried to dig a hole, the younger girl was digging next to her...and throwing the dirt quite forcefully in her direction.  After taking care of that near-disaster, I turn to see that Connor had gotten into the bag of manure...and was throwing it...which confirmed my suspicions that he truly is a monkey. 

The plants are in and watered.  We'll have to see if they make it.  They will probably have to endure some neglect at times...and invading toddlers.  Let's hope they are stronger than the houseplants.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

For Better or Worse...

My sister got married...and it was everything I dreamt it would be...crazy bachelor/bachelorette party, super cool theme, beautiful day....and my children disrupting the ceremony. 

Bruce, Irelynn and I were all in the wedding party, which created a bit of a problem when it came to a couple of over-active toddlers.  Irelynn went back and forth between being painfully shy and wild hippie child.  The family took turns keeping tabs on Owen and Connor.  I told Jay that his most important task was to help watch the boys during the ceremony, because we could not do mother would have limited availability, and my oldest niece was taking pictures.  So, as I glance out into the pews from the front of the church, frantically glancing at Jay because Owen has burst out screaming during the sermon, what do I see?  Jaylond...holding my cell phone...apparently trying to record the ceremony.  Meanwhile, his sister is looking like a lost puppy as she tries to shoosh Owen and figure out what to do with him. 

I look down at our little flower girl...who is continuing to sprinkle flower petals on the floor.  She grins at me and then asks why that guy just keeps talking and talking.  Meanwhile, Owen gets louder.  I see my stepdad, with a bad hip, finally take my flailing child down the aisle to the back of the church...Jaylond focused only on capturing video with my phone.  Connor is sitting on my aunt's lap, repeatedly sounding like a young Kool-Aid man:  "Oh Yeah!"

Luckily my sister-in-law was able to pick up the boys after the ceremony. 

Though my kids managed to disrupt the most important parts of the ceremony...the rest of the event was wonderful.  The reception was a blast, and my sister was beautiful. 

I think I'm going to have a discussion with my budding videographer before the next wedding, though...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Those Moments...

The smiles...the snuggles...the cute things they say...these are the moments that make parenthood worthwhile. 

I have to remember these moments when my four-year-old wakes me up at 4:30am, ready to start her day.  Or when I lift one twin out of the bathtub, and before I can reach for the towel, he takes off, streaking through the house, dripping wet, and slides across the kitchen floor.

I have to remember these moments when my child head-butts me because I wouldn't let him stick a fork in the outlet.  Or when my preteen screams "I hate you!!" as she stomps down the stairs.  Or when my teenage son is sent out to mow the lawn...and after several minutes I check out the window to see him standing in one place, the lawn mower running, as he pulls leaves off a tree...and stays there (thinking as long as the mower is running we'll think he's actually doing something.)

I have to remember these moments when the boys put plates full of syrup on top of their heads....or throw their entire dinner on the floor.  Or when the four-year-old demands "Dora"...for the fifth time in a row. 

Right now the boys are napping...and there's nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby...except maybe two sleeping babies;  I will file this image away in my memory folder for the next time they cause mischief...which will probably be in about an hour.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Mornings

It is too early on a Saturday.  I remember days when Saturday was a day to sleep recharge.  I do remember having to wake up with the other kids...but there is a big difference between crawling out of bed early and sitting down with one child to watch Saturday morning cartoons...or plopping them on the floor with some toys while you groggily sip your coffee...and enduring the chaos that two toddlers (and a preschooler) can create before the sun even rises. 

I still groggily sip my coffee (which took entirely way to long to brew)...but instead of Playhouse Disney or the Kids WB entertaining my bright-eyed children...they are screaming....over a banana.  Connor grips it from one end, while Owen tugs the other.  While Owen has the brute strength, and would seem to have the upperhand in the banana battle, Connor has the wit, and the footwork.  The dance preschooler looking on with glee.  As they circle around, screaming, I wonder whether I should intervene.  Connor has already eaten his half of the banana...Owen, though he never really finishes it, deserves the other half.  However, my coffee cup is still full...I have yet to take an official drink.  There is a delicate balance one must maintain this early in the morning...the coffee intake quotient must be equal to or exceed the reaction level of any situation involving children.  I have not met my quotient.

In the end, neither twin won.  Connor gave up, but not to be outdone, squeezed the end of the banana so that it released from the peel, thus bringing Owen to the floor...with a squished banana.  He then decided it would be of better use to paint the couch.  Again...not enough coffee to deal...

My preschooler has dressed herself in the meantime.  She comes out of her bedroom in a pink, brown and white floral dress shirt...some shorts with colorful animals on camo rain boots...and a navy hooded sweatshirt.  Mental note:  we will not go anywhere public today. 

Now the boys are battling over a toy. the mother of twins, I have taken into account that they will fight over toys...which is why we have two of almost everything.  The match to this toy is sitting a few feet away.  I do stand up to pick up said toy, and hold it out in offering.  Apparently the one they are currently fighting over is special...because neither care about the other.  The screaming is reaching levels that I'm sure have the neighbors wondering whether or not I beat my children.

Connor won...Owen dramatically falls to the floor and expresses his frustration. 

Oh how I long for the days when I could sit on the couch and ponder what drugs the people were on who created cartoons such as Pokemon.  And to think...I was upset back then about having to get up this early...what a fool I was. 

The boys finally went down for a nap at 8am.  I am on my third cup of coffee, and praying that their sister does not play with anything loud enough to wake them. 

I wonder if Pokemon is on?  I think I may have reached my coffee quotient for dealing with anime.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

Life is funny sometimes.  Just when I feel like I can't go boys will decide to put plastic buckets on their heads and run around the living room in a fit of giggles...and run into each other (and the walls, and the gate,) bouncing, swaying and running again.  Or as I feel the stress build up as my preschooler starts protesting naptime...she suddenly gets quiet and says, "Mommy...did you know that I love you?"  Thank goodness for those moments.  They remind me that even though times get difficult...and there are times I want to just disconnect from my world...there is life there.  Kids are good like that...just when you feel emotionally drained, whether they are the cause or not, they can turn around and fill you back up. 

Today I decided to ignore the house.  Instead I took the three younger ones out for ice cream and a walk on the boardwalk.  I got smiles and nods...and the " have your hands full!" comment three times.  It didn't bother me today, though.  Because taking the three of them out, the boys in a double stroller and Irelynn by my side...was easy.  The fact that people look at me and think I must be strong to deal with that...actually makes me feel stronger...because they don't even know the half of it.  I suppose I am a strong person after all.  Perhaps not strong enough...but strong, nonetheless.

I am still ignoring the mess, even though the kids are napping.  Another thing that helps build up the reserves is a Diet Coke and some quiet time.  I cannot call in sick...or take a personal day...but I can rearrange my priorities for the day.  Today's priority is slowing down and remembering why life is worth living.  Tomorrow's priority will be the laundry.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Life Animated

Sometimes my life feels like a cartoon.  Of course, it would be one of those ones geared for older audiences...although there are certain characteristics that do reflect those tailored for the younger crowd.  The amplified sound, for example...reminiscent of Dora.  As well as the repetition...I feel as though I repeat things as much as Map. 

"Pick up your dish, rinse it, put it in the diswasher.  Pick up, rinse, dishwasher.  Say it with me!  Pick up, rinse, dishwasher!" 

Perhaps, if children actually listen and do it, we should all do the "We Did It!" song and dance afterwards. 

There is also the fact that my husband must now try to replace his swear words with the word, "smurf."

"What the smurf?  Who lost the smurfin' remote control again??!!"

Not to mention the Tazmanian Devil-esque nature of the twins.  After thoroughly cleaning the house during their naptime, they blow through the living room and dining room, curtains flying in the breeze, and mess up the entire room within 5.2 seconds (I timed them.)  Cushions on the floor, toys scattered about, baby wipes yanked out of the container and thrown on the floor, Goldfish crackers dumped and systematically crushed (how Owen does that in record time, I'll never know...he likes to "pop" the air out of each cracker.)

The chaos that accompanies dinner preparation and consumption can only be compared to an animated series of unfortunate events...the exaggerated facial expressions and commentary...the spills and mess that cause slipping, frantic cleaning, and a plethora of visual humor.  And all the noise...the noise, noise, noise, noise. 

Sometimes I envision myself sitting there...slowly drinking a massive cup of coffee...staring blankly with circles under my eyes, as a whirlwind of action takes place all around me.  I slowly take a sip, oblivious, as cushions fly over my head, children run circles around me, Connor grips my leg, something shatters in the background, and I hear a chorus of laughter and "MOM!!!" 

I wish I could take my life and shake it once in an Etch-a-Sketch.  Start it over, with a clean slate.  I would draw myself calm...the children quiet...the house clean.  Of course, it would all be void of color then.  And I guess I would lose all creativity if I had complete control. 

But sometimes it would be nice.  Boring can be good.  My world is full of color...colorful outfits on the children (sometimes a little too colorful,) colorful language coming from my husband, colorful toys littering the house.  Once in awhile it would be nice to just have some boring non-color.  Then I could appreciate it more the rest of the time.

This post was brought to you by the letter "C," which begins words like, "color," "clutter," and "coffee." 

I had a brilliant ending...but I see that Irelynn is trying to clean out her recorder with a squirt gun.  I must go chase her down while some catchy theme music plays in the background...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What's My Age Again?

I'm beginning to wonder if there is a certain age in which parents become outdated.  Is it the age of the parent, or the age of the child?  You know that is when suddenly a parent goes from knowing not having a clue.  Oddly enough, this onset of irrelevence and antiquity is not permanent.  It does not get worse through the years.  In fact, in the beginning stages one can be rest assured that the symptoms will only last about 10-12 years.  Just as they hit their peak....they start to disappear.  I remember this with my own parents.  Once I hit about 20-years-old, their minds sharpened...they even became...wise.  Unfortunately...that means I still have at least ten years to go with my own kids.  Twenty, if you count the process starting over again with the younger ones.

Interestingly, my symptoms vary between interactions with different children.  I notice my 14-year-old son and I enjoy the same he still excitedly lets me know that Weezer will be performing at Bayfest this year.  He also discusses other topics of interest in the media, and informs me of current books of interest he feels I should check out.  Either neither of us has hit this age quite yet...or he spares my feelings by not telling me how outdated I really am.  He does like to argue the logic of why 14-years of age is actually appropriate for learning to drive...but I have yet to get the eye roll and the "you just don't understand!" my 12-year-old daughter...I am practically a dinosaur.  In fact, I think that's about all she sees AND hears during our conversations.  "RAWR, RAWR RAWR...roar roar.  Now."  I don't know who Justin Bieber is...and I don't know why Taylor Swift and that Jonas guy broke up.  I don't understand why someone would tie a knot in the back of her tee-shirt, making it look like she has a stubby tail.  And my thoughts on hair and make-up are soooo 2006. 

Luckily my 4-year-old still thinks I'm the smartest person in the world.  She still copies everything I do.  And my youngest boys?  Well...they think I'm a dinosaur, too.  However, that is because I wave my stubby little arms at them and chase them shouting "RAWR!" which, instead of rolling eyes, they laugh hysterically and say "RAWR" back. 

I suppose being clueless can have it's advantages.  It prevents me from having to actually watch the latest Disney Channel made-for-TV movie...because, you know...I'm too old to "get it," anyway.  I also do not have to pretend to like Lady Gaga. 

I suppose it could be worse...I could be like my husband and be stuck in the '80's.  I might be clueless...but I have yet to embarrass the children by singing bad songs in public.   This is the only time our daughter prefers to be seen with me.

Unfortunately, the problem with having so many children is that by the time I'm old enough to have become intelligent in my children's eyes once again...I'll be old enough to start going senile.  Man...I just can't win, can I?  Better go YouTube Justin Bieber...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cooking with Chaos

I have decided that I think I should have my own cooking show.  I think it would be quite interesting...a cross between Rachel Ray, John & Kate Plus 8, and Home Improvement...with a dash of The Osbournes show mixed in...

I have embarked on a journey of clean(er) eating...prompted by many things:  my older children battling A.D.D., my desire to lose weight, and my husband's high cholesterol.  After much research, I have been shocked (even horrified at times) by what is in all the processed food we eat...and how the meat industry really works...and have bought a few recipe books which require you to make everything from scratch.  No food dyes...and, when I can, using organic produce and meats.  This is all well and good...but here lies the problem...don't tell anyone...but...I cannot cook.  Shocking, right?  How can a person go through years of feeding a family and NOT know how to cook?  Well...all those boxes and bags I used to buy required little more than either boiling water or throwing something in an oven.  This week I am learning...and my family is along for the ride.  A typical evening now involves me squinting at a recipe while the kitchen is in a state of chaos. 

I am making a chicken dish with pasta and a home-made sauce.  And by home-made I mean actually chopping the tomatoes and vegetables, steaming things, pureeing things and heating them on the stove with REAL onions and REAL garlic and actual spices that I don't know how to pronounce.  Prior to this endeavor I did not know how what a "clove" of garlic was...let alone how to "mince" one.  (Thank you to my mom who patiently gave me lessons on the art of using garlic.)

"Mommy...I am making dinner, too.  It's called Chicken Chicken Pasta Soup." 

"Oh...what?  Steam the carrots for eight minutes...soup?  Sorry honey..."

Irelynn is stirring a pot with a plastic chicken drumstick in it. 

"MOM.  MOM."  Owen starts bouncing on a chair he's climbed onto in the dining area.

"Owen...sit d-OWWW!!!!"  I look down to see my finger bleeding as I realize I just tried to mince it along with the garlic.  I stop to remove Owen from the teetering chair and go get a band-aid.

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit...."

", no....we don't say those words!"  At least he knows how to use them.  Thanks, Bruce.

"Mom, have YOU seen my white binder??"  Marissa is storming through the house, knocking things over in her path. 

"No, I haven't."

I begin looking closely at the recipe again when I feel my pants being tugged on.  Connor has a death grip on my leg and begins to whine. 

"Connor...not now...please...."

I begin to try to throw the onions and garlic into the pan, Connor riding on my leg as I move back and forth between the cutting board and pan. 

I finally get things going....the sauce is cooking...and now my family is very hungry.  I start rushing to chop up the Italian parsley....and once again, slice into my finger.  A different one this time. 


"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit...."

"Owen...Mommy shouldn't have said that..."

Another band-aid. 

I finally finish.   I am all sweaty now, due to the fact that I didn't think to turn the fan on over the stove.  I have several knives now lined up on the counter from having to switch due to injuries.  I garnish each plate with feta cheese and parsley.  I set it down....and the twins promptly smear their's all over their trays...and onto the floor.  At least everyone else seemed to like it...I think.  It smelled good, anyway.

The second day...a healthy version of a Cobb Salad featuring white fish, tomato, and avocado...didn't go over as well (outside of the dressing, which everyone seemed to like)...but there were less casualties in the preparation.   

I'm thinking my show could be a YouTube hit...people would tune in just to see what calamity could happen next.  Instead of Rachel's catch-phrase, "Yum-O!" or Emeril's "BAM"....mine would be "Oh Shit!" delivered by Owen.  At least he says it at all the appropriate moments.

Tune in tomorrow to see how chicken with caramelized onions and cranberries goes...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Right to be a Parent

Many years have passed since the last reminder that I was, in fact, a "step"mom.  That word does not really exist in this family.  Not because it was forced on the older children...the last thing I wanted to do was to force them to make a choice about who I was to them...the only thing I wanted them to know was that no matter who they perceived me to be...I would always be there for them.  I will let you in on a little secret...when I first met my was the kids I fell in love with first.  A little boy with light blonde hair, and a smile that could light up a room.  A baby girl with cheeks you just felt compelled to kiss, and a personality as big as the world.  I, of course, then fell in love with the man who was their father...partly because of the father he was, and is today. 

Those first years were rough.  Custody battles, kids torn between homes...a mother who, after much turmoil, finally dropped out of their lives.  It wasn't until then that they had the courage to call me "Mom."  They told me they had the desire to long before that...but were afraid.  I told them that I would love them the same, no matter what title they gave me.  In my mind, however...they were always mine.

Since then, I have helped raise them...I have volunteered at the schools...gone on field trips...signed permission slips.  I have enrolled them in classes and after school activities.  I have taken them to doctors, helped them with homework, and argued with them about the appropriateness of various clothing choices.  I have worried, cried, laughed, and consoled.  And this day...I have no legal rights to either of them.  Only if their biological mother were to give up all rights to them would I be able to adopt them.  We don't even know where she is...and I highly doubt she would be willing to do so.

Recently a certain doctor would not let me bring one of them in for care.  My husband had to be the one to fill out paperwork, and would be the only one they would release information to unless he signed release papers for me.  How is this fair? 

If a person is legally married...and that parent has full physical custody of the children, I think the stepparent should have some sort of legal rights when it comes to taking care of the children.  Especially when that is the parent who is home and giving 90% of the actual care.  I understand wanting to protect parents' rights when it comes to divorce...but there are certain things that should be taken into account.  If the primary caregiver has no legal rights, how does this benefit the child?

I'm glad, at least, I only run into this issue on a rare occasion.  I suppose it shouldn't bother me so much...I know who I am, and the children know...and that is what is important.  However, I can't say it doesn't hurt a all of the struggles...everything we went through as a family...doesn't mean much somehow.  The courts...the doctors....they don't see past the fact that I did not actually give birth to them.  Someday it won't matter at all...they will be grown and making their own decisions.  Right now it does make it a bit difficult, though.  I only hope it doesn't happen again for a long time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Landscaping vs. Raising Kids

The neighbor is putting up a fence.  My husband firmly believes that this is because they no longer want to see our yard.  They have a beautifully landscaped yard, a nice deck, a couple of older kids, and a wandering dog.  I could also point out that they can also afford to have a maid service...but I don't think that matters much to my husband, who envisions our yard as having an abundance of fruit trees, a pond with a bridge leading to an island with a statue of Buddha in the center, and a perfectly cut lawn.  Of course, our yard has none of these...outside of an apple tree that seems to have issues with pests. 

Currently our yard is in need of some work.  We do not have a working lawnmower at the moment, so we have to borrow someone's...needless to say, this has not happened in a timely manner...and our grass is pretty tall, with an abundance of dandelions.  The garden areas are in need of some weed-pulling...and they need to be cleaned out in general.  The main probem is that I do not have the time or ability to get out there myself during the week...not with three little ones and no fence around the yard.  Although my husband says he understands this...he still cannot seem to comprehend why our yard does not look like our neighbor's. 

Now, I do not want our yard to get so bad as to be the center of the neighborhood's redneck jokes...but I do have to say that I'm not quite as concerned as my husband.  We will find some time to get out there and make sure it looks appropriate.  The grass will be cut, things will look clean.  Will we have big, beautiful gardens?  Nope.  I like beautiful gardens as much as anyone else...but I'm realistic.  We are at a different point in our lives right priorities are a little different.  I am busy nurturing a different garden right now, and helping it to grow.  And how well these little sprouts turn out will have a much bigger impact than whatever we might plant outside.

I'm sure that when our kids are older, and we find we have more time on our hands, our yard will start to take shape.  I'm not sure my husband will ever really be happy with it...but at least we will have time to dedicate to improving it.  In the meantime, he will just have to live with an "ugly" yard...unless, of course, instead of complaining...he would actually like to go out there and work on it...I'm only sayin'....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dear Owen,

I know you do not want to miss a minute of life...or Toy Story, regardless of how many times you have viewed it today.  I know you do not think you are tired.  However, Mommy is tired.  When you do not nap, you get cranky.  You hit Mommy, throw fruit snacks, and steal your sister's Froggy.  I should not have to tell you that stealing your sister's favorite stuffed animal never ends well. 

Mommy needs you to start taking naps again.  So does the rest of the family.  And no, just because you are awake does not mean Connor needs to be awake, too.  Please, for the love of all that is good in this not wake up your brother.  Cranky Connor is actually much worse than Cranky Owen. 

I love you, son...but you need to nap.  I promise you will feel much better if you do...and Mommy's eye twitch will hopefully go away. 

Thank you.



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three's a Crowd

I am not ready.  I should be...but I'm not.  The twins are developing an extreme interest in the potty.  We now have two potty chairs, side by side, in the bathroom.  They like to sit on them.  They like that one of the potty chairs will sing a song about toilet paper.  Irelynn likes to be a tinkle-time mentor.

"Good job, Owen!  You go pee pee in the potty!  Don't forget the toilet paper!"

Early on, with the first children, I was very motivated to potty train them.  It was like a of those odd skills that seem to bring out a competitive nature in parents.  I'm not sure why this is...however, I have even heard of parents attempting to potty train when they are small babies, by holding them over a sink or potty chair and making a sound resembling urine spraying into their ears.  I'm not kidding...there are books about it.  How this actually benefits the child, or the parent, I'm not sure.  My boys are 18-months...and I'm pretending not to notice that they like the potty.  The thought of training two boys at the same time is a little scary to me.  I'm not interested in the bragging rights....I find it much more impressive that Connor can actually choose and run apps on my Droid phone by himself, or that Owen can open the baby gate (when most adults can't) and count out the exact number of packages of fruit snacks to offer one to each sibling plus himself.  I mean, honestly...even the older boys (yes, I said boys) have yet to learn to properly aim when it comes to going in the potty. 

However, this new fascination, I'm afraid, cannot be ignored much longer.  It is prompting one of my boys to strip naked (or have Irelynn "help") and it is making the bathroom a new source of inspired naughty antics.  Upon changing laundry loads this morning, which could not have taken more than a couple of minutes, tops, I look around to find no children anywhere.  No sounds.  Nothing.  This is one of those moments where my heart starts pounding...because I realize two very important, wherever they are, they are all together (upping the ante on whatever mischief they might be causing,) and two, they will be causing some sort of mischief.  I see the light on under the bathroom door.  I slowly open it.

On one potty chair sits Irelynn, who I'm assuming came in to use it and forgot to shut the door.  On the other potty chair is Owen...naked.  Both rolls of toilet paper (we always have an extra one in there) are completely unrolled and covering the floor.  Standing on the actual toilet is Connor...with a toothbrush in one hand...licking the mirror.  I look at Irelynn.

"Owen had to go potty."

Although Owen did not, in fact, go potty...I still tried my best to remain positive, as I'm afraid upseting them might deter the future training process.  My little mirror-licker, however, was given a firm, "NO, NO!"  to which he grinned and repeated, "NO NO!"  I removed both boys from the room (with Owen singing the chorus to All the Single Ladies,) and cleaned up the toilet paper, calmly explaining to Irelynn that is Mommy and Daddy's job to help the boys go potty. 

I guess it's time. 

I'll tell you one thing, though...I will completely freak out the day I walk in on Connor taking a dump while he's inevitabley texting on my phone.  Then I can truly say he is just like his father.  Hmmm...perhaps his father should be the one doing the training....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Large Families

There are certain phrases that make me cringe.  I hear them quite often.  I'm considering asking each person who mutters any one of these phrases for a dollar, explaining that if I had a dollar for each time I heard it, I could afford a huge house like the Duggar family, along with a well-stocked beer fridge to keep me sane with all these children.  You know the phrases:

" must have your hands full!"
(Yes, yes I do.  Is that a bad thing?)

"Are these all your's??"
(Yes, they are all mi...wait...where did that one come from?!)

"You do know what causes this, right?"
(Yes, I do.  Would you like me to explain it to you so you can have a big family, too?)

"Better you than me!"
(Yes.  That is quite obvious.)

"You look too young to have five kids!"
(Thank you...I think.)

Is it really so outragous these days to have more than two or three kids?  And if so...why? 

When I think about families, I think about my family vs. my husband's family.  Our wedding was fairly side was so small compared to his (which is why I find that particular scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding so funny.)  I see my family getting smaller...we have no (great)grandparents left to enjoy the grandbabies.  Right now...the only little ones are mine.  Even my father has passed...leaving that side of my family tree completely gone.  Bruce, on the other hand, has a huge family...with great-grandparents that are very much a part of every child, grandchild, and great-grandchild's life.  They tease the grandfather if he ever mixes up a name...but with so many amazes me that he remembers them at all!  He knows my twins, when some people still can't tell them apart.  To go to a family get-together and see so many people enjoying themselves, teasing each other, helping each other, and makes me proud to be a part of such a big family.  I try to tell my husband how special that see his grandparents holding our babies.  My own father never got a chance to meet the twins.  My grandparents never got to meet any of our children. 

Is it stressful to have so many kids?  Sure, at times.  Do I have my hands full?  Yes...and I prefer that to having them empty.  In fact...I hope my hands are always full.  I have five beautiful children.  Hopefully that means that I will have lots of grandbabies of my own someday...and hopefully I'm around to enjoy great-grandbabies, too.  And hopefully my husband will remember all of their names...

In the meantime...I think I will start charging a dollar for every ridiculous phrase.  Then at least I can use the money to spoil future grandkids...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eating Out

Why do I continue to trick myself into believing that taking children out to a restaurant would make for a nice family outing?  I remember being young and going out to eat...watching other children misbehave in restaurants.  I always thought, "my children will have better manners."  I was going to raise my children to behave better than that.  This, of course, would infer that a child has the capacity to not only learn how to behave...but to have the will and desire to do so.  This also infers that a parent actually has control over said child.  A laughable notion, anyone can attest to who has ever had to leave a grocery store mid-shopping to carry a screaming toddler out (sometimes in a football hold so as to avoid getting kicked.)  Or whose face has turned several shades of red as his or her child innocently asks why the stranger next to them (insert embarrassing question regarding stranger's physical appearance and/or odor.) 

We always seem to create situations for ourselves where we are out running errands at the wrong time.  Sometimes it is because it took much longer to get ready and leave the house than we initially planned.  Sometimes it's an impulsive decision based on the fact that we just really need to get out of the house.  Sometimes the errand just ran longer than planned (because we had to carry a screaming toddler out of a store and sit in the van while the other parent finished the shopping.)  Whatever the reason...we inevitably find ourselves far from home at dinnertime.  Such was the case a few days ago...and so we decided to stop at Red Robin...a family-friendly restaurant where we could sit down with the three little ones.  It was close to Irelynn's birthday, so I even tipped the waitress off that we had a soon-to-be 4-year-old dining with us that night.

It started off okay...Owen was entertained with my phone.  Connor was behaving.  Irelynn was...well, she was having issues with the booster seat, which she thought was funny, but other than that, she was okay.  Then it started going downhill.  She refused to eat the corndog she ordered.  Owen spilled lemonade all over himself.  Irelynn lost her shoes under the table, which I did not discover until I ran her to the restroom when she said she had to go...and she was in her socks.  Owen wanted to play with the skewers that the chicken came on...I took them away, prompting a temper tantrum which ended with him screaming and throwing his ketchup-covered chicken bits at me....leaving my white shirt with nice bright ketchup stains all over it.  Then...the staff surrounded our table to sing their birthday song to Irelynn and give her balloons and a huge ice cream sundae. 

Why do we continue to do this to ourselves? 

I do know that when my children are grown, and I am actually able to have a civilized dinner out somewhere, I will certainly have a new perspective on things. If I see a mother or father struggling with a child in a restaurant, I will smile warmly and know that they are doing the best that they can. 

In the meantime...I think I will wait a few months before trying to eat out again.  There is no shame in frozen pizza.  Well, no publicly visible shame, anyway...

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Happens When My Husband is Away

I am having deja vu...I think I have written this post before. 

My husband wonders why I get so stressed out when he leaves the state, forcing me into the role of single mom.  I am sure that any mother, regardless of the number of children she has, could tell you that it is stressful to have to handle the children, the house, and everything else alone...all the time.  (Feel free to post so, ladies...he does read this.)  Yes, many women handle it for hours while their husbands are at work (and, let's face it...the majority of it even when the husbands are home.)  However, there is a certain amount of reprieve when your significant other is home.  Whether it is someone to help bathe the children or clear the dinner table....or even something as simple as sitting out in the living room with them watching that you can bathe the other children and clear the dinner table. can never underestimate the importance of adult conversation.  Trying to spend the entire day translating baby talk (which I really believe is a dialect of either Chinese...or Klingon,) coaxing the toddler to use her words, rather than whine and scream, and explain common sense to a teenager who's interpretation of daily life makes you begin to wonder what planet she (or he) came from (maybe it's an extension of those early years of speaking Klingon, I don't know)...makes you go crazy. 

Yesterday I was lucky enough to have my mother's help through various parts of the day.  I sincerely hope she wasn't scared off, as he has an upcoming trip to Kentucky...where he will be gone for three days.  The children were all in true form.  Before my mother got there, I had to confiscate my handheld mixer from Owen, who was dragging it down the hallway by the cord, as well as the broom from Connor, who was in close pursuit, holding it over his head.  Doors were slammed (and locked.)  Babies climbed on the dining room table.  My mom picked up Jay from Jazz Band, and the older two argued pretty much as soon as they walked in the door.  Connor kicked his brother.  Irelynn bounced off the walls (and at times, her brothers.)  Dinnertime was a cacaphony of sound.  Bathtime was insane, as all three little kids were in the tub, splashing, laughing and pushing each other.  Water flew everywhere.  Owen wanted to lay down.  Connor wanted to dump water on his head.  Irelynn wanted to tickle them.  I think my mother was ready to dial 9-1-1 at any given moment. 

Luckily things slowed down after bathtime.  We put in "The Princess and the Frog," the little ones' new favorite movie, and dimmed the lights.  Not long after, the twins went to bed.  It was the end of a long, energy-draining day. 

I'm sure someday I will look back on these days and laugh.  Someday when my daughter is grown up and realizes I really DID have her best interests in mind and wasn't just out to ruin her life; when my son realizes that you can't always take the easy way out of things; when my youngest daughter has realized that stomping her feet does not help her get her way, and when both my boys have learned to speak English....then I will be able to look back and laugh. 

Until then, though...I shall have to keep the beer fridge stocked.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Maureen + Boot Camp Aerobics at 5am = Ibuprofen and Messy House

So, I've been doing this thing where I get up at the butt crack of dawn to go work out.  I've been very proud of myself.  I work out on the elliptical machine...or the treadmill.  Yesterday I even gathered the courage to go stand next to Loud Steroid Man and lift weights to work on my arms.  (I have lovingly nicknamed him "Loud Steroid Man" because he is about five times my size, lifts ginormous weights, grunting loudly as he does so...every morning.)  I thought today I would go a little easier...maybe walk on the treadmill for a half hour and then tan...because, you know...I deserved it after working so hard. 

As I put my stuff in the locker, a perky woman greets me.  It is 5am, so I crack a small smile, nod, and concentrate on remembering how to tie my shoe.  I notice she is still staring at me.

"Will you be working out with us today?" 

I look around, there are no other women in the locker room. 

"Um...I guess...?"

"OH GREAT!!  We don't have too many women in the class, and I need to meet my four person quota!"  She is practically bouncing up and down.

Now I'm really confused.


"Yes, it's an aerobics class, but I try to switch it up a bit.  Today we're doing kind of a bootcamp thing...we'll do things like jumping jacks, and work on our arms, legs and abs." 

What did I just agree to?  Oh boy.

I walked into the class, and see two older women (old enough to be my grandmother,) and one woman that had to be about my age, maybe a little older.  I'm thinking this can't be too bad, right?  The instructor (bubbly lady from the locker room) had us grab some heavy weights. 

Now...when you are at home, looking in the can fool yourself into thinking that maybe you have lost some weight and that you look ok.  You are also standing up straight...looking at yourself from the best angle...and *maybe* sucking in your stomach...a little.  When you are in a room with mirrors surrounding you, doing jumping jacks...mountain climbers...and a football training see yourself in all your glory.  And it ain't pretty. 

My face was beet red.  My pants kept falling down because I was wearing my comfiest sweatpants figuring on walking, not jumping.  My muffin top was bouncing like crazy.  I at once realized that one, I do NOT look good...and two, I am so out of shape, it's pitiful.  I couldn't make it through the ab sessions.  I wanted to say that I've had twins...and a c-section...but I suppose that excuse is only valid for a year before it expires...and it's been 18-months.  I somehow survived the class, realizing I had no time to tan now, because I actually spent enough time to get a "real" workout...not a half-ass "I went to the gym so I'm gold" workout.

She asked if I would be back next Wednesday.  I smiled...and said "maybe."  We'll see how long it takes me to recover from today. 

So...I guess I can legitimately be proud of myself, at least, today.  You know you've had a good workout when it actually hurts to lift a gallon of milk. 

I will tell you one thing...not much is getting done today.  I'm thinking I might just continue with the class.  It reminds me how far I really have to go...but will also (hopefully) provide me with a way to get there.  Next time, however...I will wear tighter-fitting pants. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Experts, Schmexperts.

There are many studies out claiming that it is beneficial for families to sit down together for meals.  I'm not exactly sure how this is beneficial...and I don't have the time or energy to look up said studies.  I wonder what they base these studies on...certainly not my family.

We have always sat down together as a family for dinner.  Let me give you a brief synopsis of how virtually every evening goes:

We serve the twins first to keep them happy while we dish up the rest of the family's dinner.  They take a few bites, throw the rest on the floor (or at each other) and then begin to rock back and forth violently, making their booster chairs bang against the chairs they sit on.  We, after several attempts, coax the 3-year-old to the table, only to be informed by said 3-year-old that she does not like what we are eating...can she have chocolate milk....and she has to go potty.

We give the boys something else to eat (and eventually throw,) as we sit down.  The teenagers commence a conversation that starts out mildly inappropriate, and quickly turns into an argument.  The preteen girl then spills milk.  Next, as the twins grow anxious and begin yelling, the toddler (who has returned from the bathroom) now leads them in a rousing chorus of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," to be followed by "Jingle Bells."  This involves, for some reason, their hands up in the air, swaying back and forth, and singing so loud it echoes in the room.  Not to be outdone, the teenagers raise their voices, so their insults can be heard over the concert.  I begin glancing at the clock, and rubbing my throbbing forehead. 

Many attempts to get the toddler to eat later, which include the "bite count," and threats of time out...we decide to get the boys into a bath as they have now put whatever remaining food there is on their end-of-the-meal ritual accompanied by the loud "dah-dun!" 

We begin bathing them as the teenagers continue to argue, and the toddler continues to avoid eating her dinner by turning her attention to the teenagers and provoking them. 

I'm not exactly sure what the benefits are to this kind of interaction.  I suppose at least I always know where my children are in the evenings.  I should probably enjoy that now, because I'm sure that will change once the oldest can drive. might be kind of nice to have some of them eat at a friend's house once in awhile...I can see benefits to that, too...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oatmeal Antics

Sometimes I think I should pop some popcorn, and just sit and watch my children.  They never fail to amuse me.  I buy oatmeal in bulk at Sam's Club, as it is one thing that the whole family can agree on for breakfast.  Another reason, newly discovered, is that it provides ample entertainment for the twins if I set the box on the floor in the living room, having dumped the packets out, and get them to toss the packets back into the box.  For some reason...this is the coolest thing EVER.  It keeps them busy for quite some time.

The other morning I made Irelynn some oatmeal, and after removing Connor from the top of the table as Irelynn screamed and held her bowl protectively to her chest, I pulled out the box, and set the twins up with some packets.  They giggled as they tossed them into the box.  Then Irelynn called me to the kitchen.

"How many bites do I have to take?"  She gazed up at me with her Backyardigans bicycle helmet on, swinging her legs back and forth.  This is how we go into every meal...with a bite count.  She cannot eat anything without knowing exactly how many bites she must take to be "done." 

As I tried to calculate how many bites it would take to eat about half of what she had left, I hear a scream...and a giggle...from the living room.

I run out there to find Owen sitting in the oatmeal box...with Connor sitting on his lap.  I remove the grinning boy off of his brother, and try to pull Owen out of the box.  His butt was firmly planted in it.  He started to whine.  Connor started to giggle, pointing at his brother.  I finally yanked the box off of his bottom and set him down. 

Perhaps I should eat oatmeal instead of popcorn while I watch them...the packets are already out on the floor, anyway.  If only I could adjust the volume, I'd be all set.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Deer, quit scaring the kids...

I have found some strange things in my yard before.  Particularly with having never know what might get left out there.  I have even found dead animals before...mice, birds...even an occasional rabbit.  Nothing could have prepared me, however, for our latest discovery...the head of a deer.  Not mounted...just cut off, and laying in our backyard. 

It was the first really nice, warm day of the season.  I took all three younger kids out into the yard (a risk, I know...we don't have a fence, so I knew I'd be chasing children.)  At first, Connor was unsure of the ground.  It was then that I realized the poor child had very rarely been outside.  As he awkwardly stepped onto the lawn, he looked up at me and started this slow, sad whine. He stood on one foot, afraid to put the other one back down on the uneven ground.  Owen, on the other hand, was in all his glory.  His eyes glistened with his newfound freedom.  He took off running...and, predictably, within about 10-seconds, fell flat on his face.  He laughed it off, though, and took off again.  I had to carry the whiny child over to the swingset. 

It did not take Connor too long to decide it was acceptable, and off he went, running across the yard, with me and Irelynn hot on his heels.  It was then that we met our new friend.

"MOMMY!!  WHAT is that???"

I grabbed Connor's arm and held my other arm out to stop Irelynn.  I redirected them, and took a closer look.  Sure enough, it was the face of a deer, staring up at me.  There was an orange DNR tag still stuck to one of it's short, nubby antlers.  Now...I have grown up in a family of hunters, so I am not a stranger to dead deer, or deer parts, for that matter.  However, there is still something about seeing a deer head sitting in your yard that is super creepy. 

Luckily, my brother came and "saved the day," by removing the head from the yard.  Irelynn watched carefully...she was positive that the deer was going to come and get her.  I let her watch Chris take it away (from the kitchen window,) only so she knew that it was gone.  It had really freaked her out.

I am hoping that some large dog had dragged it over from someplace...and that it was not intentionally left there by someone.  We did call the DNR and filed a complaint...they can trace who it "belonged" to from the tag. 

I can never say my life is boring.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

I love that the Imagination Movers are dressed in kilts and singing Irish songs today.  It reminds me, one, that it is St. Patrick's Day, and two, some men should not wear a skirt.  I miss being a child on this day.  My mother would sing every Irish song she knew, and...if we were a little jig.  We were reminded that we were, in fact, royalty, as those with the spelling -mack in McCormack were supposedly decendents of a king.  I look now at my 3-year-old, dressed in a white frilly dress and plastic crown, and smile.  Perhaps she truly is an Irish princess.  I'm thinking I should refrain from telling her, though, as she already has it in her head that she is a princess.

I am ashamed to admit that I have nothing planned for today.  No green cookies.  No green drinks.  Not even a single shamrock displayed anywhere.  The older kids wore green shirts out of fear of being pinched at school, and hinted at wondering what I may have planned for when they return home from school.  I don't know what happened this year.  I always wanted to make this day as fun for my children as it was for me growing up.  I wanted them to be proud of their Irish heritage.  Last year Irelynn walked in the St. Patrick's Day parade.  This year we didn't even go to it. 

I need to put aside my recent bouts of bad luck and get into the spirit, though.  I shall pop in my old Irish CD (although I might have to start with a little Flogging Molly to get it out of my system...we'll work up to the cheery stuff)...and break out some sugar cookie ingredients...and green sprinkles. 

I think I might just have to invite Grandma over, too...because it would not be St. Patrick's Day without some traditional singing and dancing from the Queen of this Irish family herself. 

I wonder if I have some green food coloring and beer...that might help, too....

Monday, March 8, 2010


There are many things I have learned on my journey through motherhood.  I have learned that "selective hearing" really does exist.  Just when you think that you need to take your child in for a hearing test (after he repeatedly cannot hear you tell him important information, or your husband yelling at him to take out the garbage,) you discover that when you lean over to whisper to your husband a suggestion of going to Ci-Ci's Pizza while driving in the van, he has heard you perfectly clearly...even over the screaming babies, his iPod blaring some Greenday song, and the toddler loudly arguing the finer points of the difference between "hitting" and "patting" someone.  I have also learned that toddlers, much like Spock or Data from the Star Trek series, do not understand the figurative or connotative meanings used in human language.  It is best, when explaining things to them, to stick to literal meanings, lest you wind up with a child trying to stuff your cat into a bag, because he heard someone had let him out.  My most important lessons, however, revolve around housework.

One thing I have learned the hard way is that you cannot organize clutter.  You can buy bins, folders, baskets and plastic drawers...but the clutter will not really go away or take up any less room.  You can blame the kids, the husband, and the house...but it won't help.  The clutter will still mock you from the corners, the counters and the pantry.  The only thing you can do is roll up your sleeves and dig in.  And you cannot be sentimental...because in the end, are you really going to be glad you kept every single drawing your child did from pre-school through the 5th grade?  Are they going to care or want to keep them when they grow up?  Nope.  But a few special ones will put a smile on your face every time.

Another thing I have learned is that yes, they really can...and like that.  Letting things go because eventually SOMEONE will pitch in and clean something just means that your house will look like a pig sty.  Because the children honestly do not care.  They do not see the dirty clothes, the spilled milk or the pee that missed the toilet.  Those things will stay there until you clean them...or get angry enough to yell at someone else to clean it.  Subtly hinting that perhaps people should pitch in...or whining that you do all the work will not make the house clean, nor will it change the people living in said house.  It will only make you more miserable.

The most important lesson that I have learned, though, I did not learn on my took actually reading a book (late at night, in small increments because it was the only time I had) written by someone called the "Fly Lady," to help me understand.  I am a perfectionist...not lazy.  The reason things would get so messy at times was because I would get so overwhelmed, and realize I did not have time to clean it "correctly."  And by correctly, I mean not only sweep, but mop the entire floor, scrub the floor boards and wipe down the walls.  So, instead, the floor looked even worse that day, because I avoided it and stressed out even more.  There is a quote from this book that really hit home with me...and I feel bears repeating:  "Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family."  It does not have to be perfect.  And with five children, I will tell you it will never be perfect....and I have learned to live with that.  I have established routines that keep it functional, and relatively the point where I will not be embarrassed if someone stops by and needs to use the bathroom.  I don't freak out when one of the boys lifts the toilet lid and sticks their hands inside.  However, on any given day you will find laundry ready to be folded on the couch, Legos on the floor, and blankets strewn around the living room from children snuggling up under them while they watch "Scooby-Doo."  You will also find piles of computer parts on my husband's side of the bedroom...but we won't go there. 

Do I still feel upset when I see someone make a mess without cleaning it up?  Sure.  Do I still feel like it's unfair that I do almost all of the housework?  You betcha.  However, I have found that as long as I keep up on my routines, and just do what needs to be done, I have much less stress.  The children get off to school without too much drama, the kitchen stays relatively clean, and nothing strange grows in the bathtub.  And I'm ok with that.  I will have plenty of years to make my house sparkle and impress company...but for now, hopefully they will be impressed with my youngest children's technical prowess, my oldest son's guitar playing skills, and my older daughter's beautiful artwork on the fridge.  I know I am.