Monthly Archives: August 2009

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

How do you people with a bunch of school-aged children do it?

A couple of weeks ago, I finally sat down with my calendar and scheduled in all of the boys’ soccer games. I instantly felt overwhelmed. Today, Wyatt’s coach sent a practice schedule for the rest of the season.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Can I just say—Sean agreed to being a coach because that was supposed to insure that the boys would at least have their practices on the same days. Those days being Tuesday and Thursday. But the schedule we got today? Most of the practices are days other than Tuesday and Thursday. And that schedule was made by the wife of the person who told us that Sean coaching would mean overlapping practices.

Ugh!

Next week, we will be on the soccer field every day except Monday (a holiday) and Sunday. That is largely due to the fact that Wyatt has two games AND two practices that week.

Add to all of the soccer my commitment to Cub Scouts every week, the fact that Sean’s mother is coming to town in  a week, we are going out of town for a birthday party in a couple weeks, and my mother is planning a BARN RAISING this month (yes, seriously) and I’m wondering if I will survive this month. Hmm…Maybe I should just plan for a nervous breakdown in the next week. The sooner I do it, the more stuff I can get out of for the remainder of the month. 😉

Honestly, though, we’re surviving. I can’t believe that we are already starting our third week of school. I won’t say that it is easy, but we are hitting a groove. I know this because the kids are showing signs that the novelty has worn off for them. Honestly, though, we are doing better than I had feared. Much better. Especially since I was scared of utter failure this time around. But we aren’t failing. And, so far, I feel like I’m interacting with my younger kids more this year than I did during school last year. I’m finding ways to include them in school sometimes and everyone is relatively happy with the arrangement.

I have so much more to say about life, but so little time because I’m so busy living it. And, on that note, I had better close. Tomorrow is my early morning and Caleb just came out burning up, shaking (he’s my only kid that gets the shakes like that when he has a fever), and asking for a barf bowl.

It could be a long night.

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Filed under Daily Life, Homeschooling, Kids, Parenting

Put Up or Shut Up

I knew that I would start the school year with a newborn baby.

I also knew that my garden would start producing sometime around when the baby was born.

And, yes, I agreed to putting the older two boys in soccer this year even though the season started two weeks before my due date.

I just didn’t put all of the things together to realize just how frantic my life was going to become.

I am managing to keep most of the balls in the air right now. School is getting done every day, even if I am teaching with a baby attached to my breast (something that is—surprisingly—not at all distracting to my kids). I can’t say that I’m keeping my house clean, but I am maintaining some minimal level of sanitation. The kids haven’t missed any soccer games or practices.

But my garden?

I’m having hard time getting out to even pick the things that are ripe right now. Every time I go out there, I see tomatoes on the ground that just fell off from being so ripe.

And putting everything up? Um, yeah…

A look in my refrigerator right now would reveal an obscene amount of cucumbers waiting to be made into pickles (Or relish? We may have moved past the crisp period that would generally go with pickles…). I’m sure that I have several quarts worth of hot peppers to can. I still have the ten pounds of strawberries in my freezer to be made into jam (OK, those were from the store, but still…they are waiting). And between my mother and I, we have a good 100 pounds of tomatoes to be canned in various forms (most of which, I hope, will resemble salsa).

While I realize that I am frequently given to fits of hyperbole, this is not one of those times. Seriously, we have 100 pounds of tomatoes—75 pounds purchased from a local farmer, and the rest from our own gardens.

At least I have most of my zucchini grated and frozen (somewhere around 40 cups worth). And what hasn’t been frozen has been made into wonderful things like chocolate zucchini cake. That I have been consuming for days. With buttercream icing.

I can just see my six-week post baby appointment with the midwife when they ask me why I haven’t lost any weight and I have to blame it on a bumper crop of zucchini. And then I’d be the crazy lady with the zucchini fetish who writes about vibrators. And, somehow, having them put those two things together and associate them with me at the same time could just be awkward. Because the vibrator isn’t awkward enough.

Anyhow

So, today I am spending most of the day on school work and housecleaning. At 4:45 I have to take the kitten to the vet (Which could also be slightly awkward because she doesn’t have a name and who doesn’t name a pet that they’ve had for two whole weeks now? I’m having a Holly Golightly moment). Then, I’m supposed to be at the Cub Scouts pack meeting at 6:00.

And when I come home? Tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

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Filed under Daily Life, food

And Now the Real Fun Begins

Before I move on to anything else, let me just be clear on one thing:

You people suck.

Or, at least, those of you who had it in your power to help me out of my kitty conundrum and didn’t.

Yes, the sweet little kitty does now have a permanent home. That’s the problem. Do you have any clue just how difficult it is to nurse a baby with a kitten laying on your chest an head-butting you for attention? Writing this blog post is presenting its own challenges with my furry little friend on my lap begging for attention. And I may never eat a turkey sandwich in peace again.

Yes, people, I am an enormous sucker. I’m also kicking myself for forgetting the fact that absolutely no surface is safe from a cat. Is it even possible to teach them to stay off of the table? Or will this be the thing that finally pushes me into a complete emotional breakdown?

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of emotional breakdowns…

At some point around Saturday evening or Sunday morning, it occurred to me that Monday was the first day of school. (This is why I arranged all of the school supplies BEFORE the baby was born—I knew I wouldn’t be thinking about it once she was here.) So, yeah. Sunday evening I told the kids that, by the way, we would be starting school the next day.

Sean called me Monday afternoon to see how our first day had gone.

“Well,” I told him, “The baby screams if I try to set her down, Noah was crying half-way through our math lesson, Eli has poured out a box of tapioca—TWICE and, oh yeah, I’m pretty sure the ferret is dead.”

To his credit, he said some encouraging things after he finished laughing. To MY credit, I didn’t mention the part where I found the one-year-old playing in the cat litter. (And, yes, the ferret was dead. At least I was expecting it—he had stopped eating a few days earlier and was obviously not doing well.)

Three days into the school year, though, and I’m feeling a bit better about how we’re doing. I’m not saying that I’ve achieved a groove that leaves my house looking anything other than terrifying, but we are doing everything academically that we are supposed to every day. Heck, we’ve even gotten a few extra lessons in here and there.

And that brings me to another confession. I have decided that I’m not keeping track of how much time I spend on lessons this year. I’m just leaving the default times and not stressing about if we are actually doing the time requirement every day. Because you know what? If I sent my kids to public school, they wouldn’t be getting instruction the whole time they were there. Not even close. And I’m not going to drive myself crazy holding myself to a higher standard on something as unimportant as how much time it takes us to do the work if we are DOING THE WORK.

I’m sure that some people will see this as some glaringly dishonest flaw in my character. Undoubtedly, I am mere baby steps from knocking over banks and selling my body to strangers. Oh well. I can live with that.

At least my sanity will have a shot at surviving.

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Filed under Daily Life, Homeschooling

Just Call Me Yente

OK, folks. I’ve got a little problem:

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Sean’s grandma found this little kitten hiding in our bushes this morning. My fat dog became obsessed with her, following her around and licking her. I guess she took it as a sign that she should move into our garage. Every time we go outside, she follows us around rubbing on our legs and just trying to be part of the family.

Oh, and she has been desperately trying to move into our house.

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Yes, that is the kitten CLIMBING our screen door.

Honestly, it is the sweetest little kitty that I have ever seen (I usually don’t even like cats). She let Caleb buckle her into a stroller and push her around (until I noticed and put an end to it). She follows the kids around when they are outside. And she’s not at all scared of my dogs (which makes me nervous).

Here’s the thing, though. I have five kids, three dogs, a ferret, a gecko, a goldfish, and a husband who is allergic to cats. There is NO WAY that I can take her in.

But I’m a total softy and a sucker. And ignoring her and hoping that she moved on to another house wasn’t working, anyhow.

So, here’s the deal…Does anyone want a kitten? Or know anyone who could give the world’s sweetest little kitty a good home?

Obviously, this is for the people who know me in real life. And I’m dead serious. I need to find a good place for this little thing to live. I just don’t think it is going to go away, and I can’t ignore the poor thing as long as she is rubbing my legs every time I go outside.

Someone? PLEASE? Anyone???

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Filed under Daily Life

The Birth Story (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here

We arrived at the hospital around 1:00 am.

Anyone who has ever given birth in a hospital is painfully aware of the annoyance that it the labor and delivery triage room. Never mind that I couldn’t walk from the car to the front door without stopping for a contraction. Or from the front door to the check-in desk. Or that I had to wait a minute before signing my name on the medical release forms because I was in so freakin’ much pain. I still had to go directly to the hospital equivalent of a cubical to be strapped to annoying monitors and have my cervix checked to make sure this wasn’t just some amusing game of make believe that I was playing.

Of course, I now understand why.

You see, while I was panting my way through admission forms, an ambulance pulled up. Out came a pregnant woman on a gurney, lying on her side and writhing in agony. No one expected her to sign her name during the peak of her contractions…She went straight upstairs to her own curtained cubical. By the time I got there, she was yelling and screaming about how she was in the WORST PAIN EVER and they had better get her a doctor because her last labor was less than an hour, start to finish. And she knows labor because she’s already had six kids. And WHY THE HELL won’t anyone give her anything for the pain because she is surely about to die!

Over the course of the next three hours, I learned that she had already spent eight hours in the triage room a couple of nights earlier, this was the worst hospital that she had ever been to, and OH MY GOSH it is time for her to push! She knows it!

Oh yeah. And I also learned that she was only dilated one centimeter and the monitors weren’t recording a single contraction. Mind you, no privacy laws were broken for me to obtain this information. Everyone in that room knew it because she didn’t shut up. Ever. I listened to her screaming and moaning for three solid hours.

I have now fulfilled my quota of the number of times I should hear the F-word for at least the next year or so. As I told Sean at the time, I pitied whatever orderly would eventually have to clean the pea soup off of the walls once her head inevitably started spinning.

At one point, I asked my nurse how many times a week they get patients like that.

“Oh about once a shift, probably,” she sighed.

If that is the case, the triage room really should have an isolation chamber. No woman who is legitimately in labor should have to hear that.

But this is supposed to be my birth story.

When I got to the triage, they checked and found that I was already dilated six centimeters. Woo Hoo! I have never gone in and actually been that far into labor. Despite the obvious fact that I wasn’t faking it, they hooked me up to the monitors, rendering me unable to move around to deal with the pain. OK, now that is bad enough for the standard 20 minutes of monitoring. It is intolerable when you are left there for three hours.

I found out later that I went into labor on a particularly busy night. My transfer to an actual room was impeded by a combination of no rooms being available and, once one was ready, my nurse and midwife having the audacity to be off delivering someone else’s baby instead of dealing with me.

And so, since I’m not a demanding screamer and Sean tends to express his desire to just run in terror from the room throughout the whole birth process, I laid in the bed strapped to the monitors and unable to do anything to effectively deal with the pain (and I’m pretty sure Fairy Teamsters Local 666 spent the entire time using those ice picks on my lower back).

By the time they finally moved me to a room, I was dilated eight centimeters. If the situation had been different, I may have been so encouraged by how far dilated I was and gone for the natural birth that I have always wanted. Instead, I was terrified and begging for the epidural. It didn’t even occur to me that I could now move around if I wanted. I was informed that they had to do blood work and get a bag of fluid in me before that would be possible. Later, when I begged my nurse to tell me that I could get the epidural soon, she put her arm around my shoulders and told me to prepare myself for the possibility that they may not be able to do one in time. Hello, terror.

I effectively fought against my body (great, huh?) and, after more than an hour of horrendous contractions in my room, got my epidural a little after 5:00 am. Shortly after that they broke my water, which was meconium stained. I was informed that this meant that we would need to have someone from the neonatal intensive care unit on hand when I delivered—just in case.

Around 7:00, the midwife who had been working with me (who I had never met before I came to the hospital since she is newer in the practice) and another midwife (the one who had delivered all of my other children) came in to tell me that they were set for a shift change but the first one could stick around to deliver me if I wanted since I was ready to push. How do you nicely say, “Um, thanks but no thanks”? I went for a noncommittal “whatever works best for you,” and was thrilled when the midwife that I know stayed in the room.

I won’t get all graphic on the details of pushing. I will say that the nurse suggested giving me some pitocin once. Just once. My reaction to that was probably the most assertive I was about anything during the whole labor.

At 8:12 am on July 29th, after just under an hour of pushing, Violet was born. They were able to suction her before she cried and she was able to come straight up to my chest and stay there. The NICU person never had to touch her. She was 21 inches long, 6 pounds 15 ounces, and had an amazing head of almost black hair.

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Between the weight and the hair, if I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have believed she was mine.

As everyone was doing the things that are done right after a baby was born, Sean sent out a tweet announcing her arrival. When I laughed about him tweeting so quickly, the nurse commented that she had never used Twitter, but liked Facebook. As the Facebook discussion continued, I commented that I had a blog.

“Oh, that’s right,” my midwife said, “you’re the one who writes about her vibrator.”

Gasp.

Seriously, people, my nurse visibly recoiled from me.

“Well, I don’t know about writing about stuff like THAT on my Facebook page,” she mumbled.

And suddenly I found myself stammering about how I wasn’t that kind of person, but the elderly man who owned our house before we did apparently was, and OH MY GOSH you would not believe how much a World War II era sex toy resembles a hand mixer…

This is not how I pictured those first magical moments with the miracle of a new life on my chest and my woman parts being tended to.

After I gave birth to Eli, I was talking to the third midwife in the practice and had mentioned the post about the antique vibrator. She insisted that I show her, then had me email pictures to her. When I went in for my six week checkup after Eli was born, I found out that she had taken the pictures into the office.

A year and a half later, it would appear that the whole office still thinks of me as “The Vibrator Lady.”

Lovely.

Everything from that point was mostly normal. Apparently, I am the best patient ever since more than one nurse commented that she wished all of their patients were as easy as I am. Personally, I just enjoy the peace and quiet and would rather they all just leave me the heck alone while I’m there.

Violet almost didn’t get to come home at the same time I did. She was jaundiced and just on the border of having to go under the lights. Luckily, though, they finally decided she was ok and we came home together.

So far, the adjustment is going well. The boys adore their little sister. Violet is still in the sleepy newborn stage, though, so I haven’t declared myself The Amazing Conqueror of the Mommy World just yet.

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If things are still going this well a month from now, though, I’m buying myself a tiara and a jeweled scepter.

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Filed under Parenting, pregnancy

The Birth Story (Part 1)

I suppose that it really is time that I write out the whole birth story before I forget the whole thing. And, really? It is amazing how much I remember, forget, remember again, and marvel at how fluid the details of the whole thing can be. Of course, that’s what happens when you go all night with only an hour of sleep and bone-crushing pain.

Sorry if you’re reading this and hoping for an uplifting, “contractions don’t really hurt” sort of birth story. This is more of a writhing in pain with my eyes rolling back in my head sort of a story. Not that it necessarily had to be, but that’s just how it ended up.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I should start by saying that I was having contractions off and on for an entire week leading up to when I went into labor. Not the eye-rolling, bone-crushing ones. Just a little more noticeable than the braxton hicks ones I had been having for a long time. On Tuesday morning (July 28th), they were definitely different. More frequent. More intense.

I told my mom that I wouldn’t be surprised if something happened soon. She told me she went to the hospital, certain she was in labor with my brother (her fourth) and it wasn’t anything. So, you know, I was probably just being overly-hopeful and would be pregnant forever. Or something like that. She’s a never-ending supply of encouragement.

I told Sean that I wouldn’t be surprised if something happened soon. He reminded me that we weren’t even close to the weekend and having a baby this early in the week really wouldn’t fit into his schedule very well. He’s lucky he was twenty miles away, tucked safely in his office at that point.

I went through the day like that. Nothing I couldn’t deal with, but definitely more than I HAD been dealing with.

And then we sat down for dinner. That’s when the contractions picked up some more in intensity and started to feel kind of real. I told Sean, and then I sucked it up because we had to take the kids to soccer practice. That’s right. I spent an hour and a half trying to keep my younger children off of the soccer field IN LABOR. Contractions were probably still ten minutes or so apart for most of the time, but they were enough to make me stop whatever I was doing, which is a little inconvenient when the one-year-old is heading for a group of six-year-olds kicking balls in every direction.

Practice ended, I told Sean that SOMETHING was happening (although I still wasn’t totally convinced that it was the REAL thing), and we headed to the store. Labor or not, we were out of crickets for the gecko and milk for the family. Wyatt went into the store with me to make sure I made it back out, and Sean headed to Sonic to buy the slushies (What? Did you think I was kidding about having a slushie for labor?). This is the point at which Sean sent out a tweet saying that he didn’t think I was going to make it until the weekend. And this is what his office mate tweeted back:

She needs to respect the schedule and grab the duct tape.

Pity me for the lack of sympathy that I endure.

We got home and I had Sean put the kids to bed so I could sit down and relax. Based on past experiences, I was determined to do things that would make the contractions go away if it wasn’t the real thing. So I kicked back, closed my eyes, and dealt with the pains that still were about eight minutes apart and something I could deal with.

Around 9:30 or so, my mother called to see how I was doing. I told her that this might actually be it and asked if she would want to come sleep in our spare bedroom so she didn’t have to get a call in the middle of the night. That’s when she told me that, after getting stung repeatedly while messing with her bees earlier in the day, she had taken a Benadryl to deal with the swelling. Then, when that didn’t get rid of the swelling, she took another dose before she was due for one. So now? Well, she thought she should probably just go lay down in her own bed before the Moon Fairies dancing around her living room decided to form a union and attack her with ice picks (it’s an election year and Grandma is feeling a little uneasy about the union folks this time around…). Um, yeah. There’s nothing to ease you into labor like the realization that the person you plan to leave responsible for your children is loopy on antihistamines. We agreed that we should both go and try to get some sleep.

I tried to sleep. Really, I did. I wasn’t successful, though. As things continued to intensify and I became increasingly convinced that it wasn’t going to stop, I decided that, blood-thirsty fairy folk or not, it really would be a good idea to have my mom come over and sleep in the guest room. Around midnight, I called and told her that I thought I would end up leaving for the hospital sometime during the night so I wanted her to go ahead and come over. She said she’d be right there. I decided to get up and pack the last few things that I wanted to take with me.

Wow.

Changing positions had a definite effect on me. The only way I can describe what I experienced is to say that ten minutes later I was calling my mother to ask where she was (it just doesn’t take that long to walk next door, folks) because it turns out that I needed to leave for the hospital…NOW.

A few minutes later, she was in the house and we were in the car. I spent the next twenty minutes twisting and moaning (and begging to PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM THE SPEED BUMPS) towards the hospital and an experience that I just wasn’t anticipating…

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Filed under pregnancy

Adding to the Gray Hair Count

Around here, Saturdays are not a time to relax. Sean and I vie for the opportunity to complete projects that are just too difficult to do on our own with the kids around. He hopes to mow the lawn and do projects like putting in new windows. I go grocery shopping and do more involved house cleaning. It is always a day of constant movement and commotion.

Saturday dinner is frequently a little on the late side, and almost always a bit more casual than other days. Tonight, we threw some hamburgers on the grill, cooked the corn I bought this morning at the farmer’s market, and sat down to eat. Noah insisted we open a jar of the pickles I canned with my mom this week. Sean brought a cutting board to the table and sliced up a tomato my mom had given my boys fresh from her garden.

I rushed through my dinner so I could nurse Violet, who was becoming unhappy. As I sat with her, Sean and the kids started clearing the table. At one point, as Sean was in the kitchen, I heard Eli messing around on the table and had a terrible thought. I called into the kitchen, asking Sean if he had already cleared the sharp knife he used to cut the tomato. He rushed in to be sure that Eli hadn’t grabbed the knife since he hadn’t taken it off of the table. Eli didn’t have it.

It wasn’t on the table.

Caleb was nowhere to be seen. Sean started rushing around, calling for Caleb. As he entered Caleb’s bedroom, I heard the panic in his voice as he kept saying, “Is that blood? Where is the knife?”

Caleb was crying. He had one hand over his eye. His hands were red. Redness filled his mouth, dripping out and down his chin. I grabbed a washcloth to clean him up and try to figure out where, and how badly, he was cut. Sean went back into the bedroom to try and find the still-missing knife.

As I started dabbing at Caleb’s mouth, Sean came out with…an open tub of cherry Crystal Light mix. That’s when we looked and saw the missing knife, safely sitting in the sink.

And now you know—if you ever need to look like you’re bleeding to death, just try to eat a container of powdered drink mix. It is ridiculously convincing.

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Filed under Daily Life, Kids, Parenting, Scary Bits of Life