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...