A Day With Four Kids

Things I’ve Already Done Today:

  • Wake up.
  • Change both babies’ diapers
  • Kiss The Bean goodbye as he heads off to work
  • Plop both babies in their high chairs, return to kitchen, and ponder the contents of the pantry and the fridge.  No milk.  No butter.  No cereal.  No gluten-free bread.  No tortillas.  No cheese.  No … well, anything easy.
  • Scramble some eggs.  Eggs and leftover Cheerios for everyone.  Yay, nutrition!
  • While everyone is eating, go outside.  Let Artemis go pee.  Feed horses.  Water chickens.  Water the wilted tomato plants.  Collect chicken eggs.
  • Return inside.  Dress all four children in clean clothes, brush their hair, their teeth.  Occasionally scream out “WE ARE LATE!  MOVE FASTER! WHY IS THE TV ON?!?!?  STAND IN THE CORNER! NO, WAIT, THERE’S NO TIME!”
  • Drop older boys off at Vacation Bible School so they can learn about patience and love and gentle kindness.
  • Idle in the parking lot and consider what you are going to make for lunch and dinner. Factor in your schedule. Realize there is no avoiding it – you need to go to the grocery store, RIGHT NOW.
  • Drive to Longview.
  • Arrive at WinCo.  Plop one twin in the cart, the other in a carrier, and purchase $280 worth of groceries, self bag, and get an extra cart to hold them.
  • Drag out both carts by yourself, load them up in the car, load up the babies and hand them each a squeeze pouch of apple sauce.  Realize it’s only been 41 minutes since you arrived.  Turn on car and head for home.
  • Pause at a red light and marvel at your awesomeness. 41 minutes.  You rock.
  • Turn on the latest Bloody Jack/Jacky Faber audio book.
  • Five minutes from home, wince as Magpie succumbs to carsickness and explodes vomity applesauce everywhere.
  • Pull into driveway.
  • Unload Magpie, strip her down, and haul nekkid baby upstairs and plop her in the shower.
  • Head back downstairs.  Use paper towels to wipe up the visible vomit.  Toss into plastic bag, then trash can.
  • Load up arms with as many bags of groceries as you possibly can.
  • Head back upstairs.  Deposit said bags on kitchen floor.
  • Head back downstairs for more groceries.
  • Repeat a stupid number of times.  Mentally cuss architect who invented houses with a main floor not on the ground level.
  • Bring up the last thing – a watermelon – and then head downstairs, turn off car, extricate sleeping Finn who stays sleeping.  HOORAY!
  • Creep through threshold of house, which (as always) automatically causes the sleeping Finn to wake and begin shrieking violently.
  • Plop shrieking baby on floor.
  • Grab towel, go get Magpie out of the shower, and head to her room to dry her off and put on new clothes.
  • Step over shrieking Finn, who continues to follow you around the house so he can be very certain you are hearing his outrage properly.
  • Change Magpie into clothes, then plop both babies in high chairs. Swipe contents of their still-dirty-from-breakfast trays onto the floor.  Good thing you have a Labrador, right?
  • Give them Ritz crackers to keep them quiet.
  • Clean out fridge of old food, wipe down shelves.
  • Glance at clock.  ACK!  YOU HAVE TO BE AT THE CHURCH IN 16 MINUTES!!
  • Put away frozen and refrigerated foods.  Stack the non-perishable items on the counters.
  • Lock Labrador in bedroom so she doesn’t give in to temptation, eat the groceries, and force you to skin her alive.
  • With a baby in each arm, use your chin to hit the unlock button on the van keys. Head downstairs carrying both babies.
  • Arrive at van, reach out a hand to open the door, and have it automatically lock as soon as you touch it.
  • Take a brief moment to imagine using a castration knife on the idiot engineer who decided that when you hit “unlock” on a vehicle that it should automatically relock itself.
  • Walk back upstairs with the babies.  Try to tuck the keys in the waistband of your pocketless workout pants you’re wearing.  Give up.  Grab the keys with your mouth, instead.
  • Walk back down the stairs while staring up at the left sky, right sky, left sky, right sky, left sky, right sky in an attempt to keep the keys out of the four baby hands trying to jerk it out of your mouth.
  • Get babies in car seat, pretending not to notice the still-wet vomit spots on Magpie’s carseat.
  • Drive like the wind to the church.
  • Kids are supposed to leave at 12:35.  It’s 12:33.  Put one baby in a carrier, tuck the other in your arm, head to get the kids.
  • Awesome.  Your kids are both the last ones in their classroom.  Awesome. You’re such an awesome mom.
  • Instead of “hi” your children greet you with “You weren’t there to see us do our performance on stage.  When I realized you weren’t there, I almost cried in front of everyone.  Everybody else’s moms were there.  Why not you?”
  • Try to explain about groceries, realize you’re just making them sadder, and apologize.
  • Return home.  Head back upstairs.
  • Let Artemis out to go potty.
  • Start cooking lunch.
  • Realize you forgot Artemis outside – HOORAY!  She was waiting at the back door.  Good dog.  Very good dog.
  • Put babies back in high chairs.  Swipe uneaten Ritz crackers to the floor.  Good thing you have a Labrador, huh?
  • Feed everyone.
  • Ignore the “Now can we go to the fair?  Now?  When we’re done eating, right? Right?  Then we can go?  Remember, today is fair day?” coming from the kitchen table.
  • While they’re eating, finish putting away groceries.
  • Glance at clock – 1:14 pm.  Oh, Lord.  It’s only halfway through the day.  I’m only halfway through the day.

 

Things still to do today:

  • Take all four kids to the fair
  • Cook dinner
  • Take care of horses and settle them in for the night
  • Shower
  • Exercise
  • Meal prep, so I can eat healthy
  • Laundry, so I can go to work tomorrow and smell gross
  • Sweep?  Maybe dishes?
  • Evening baths
  • Get kids in PJs and in bed
  • Find pencil sharpener and sharpen pencils.
  • Track down the creators of those inspirational “nobody’s busy, it’s just a matter of priorities” quotes you keep seeing on Facebook and stab them in the eye with a pencil.
  • Sleep?  Maybe?  Pretty please, babies?  Can this be the night you two both sleep through the night?

If anyone knows the address of the person who first said this, send it to me in an email. I’ve got a drawer full of pencils just waiting to meet them.

Winter, Blessings, and a Barn

What an absolutely brutal winter.

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That star up above represents the 800 words I just cut from this post, where I went into a bunch of boring detail describing how sucky it was for me, linking to articles proving how abnormally rainy and grey it was to “prove” it was okay for me to feel that way, etc, etc.

When I’m boring myself with my whininess I know it’s probably time to cut the words.

Suffice it to say, it was an abnormally rainy winter.  There were only 3 mild days between October and March (when there are usually 17), some months broke rainfall records that have lasted since… well, since they started recording rainfall records. Other months didn’t break those records… but they fell short by less than a tenth of an inch.

At the library we had a lot of people coming in and printing bus tickets, or plane tickets, or any other ticket they could find to get outta Dodge.  “I can’t handle it anymore.  You never see the sky,” they’d say, with a half-crazed, almost caged look to their eyes.

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How Not To Have A Relaxing November

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA WHAT WAS I THINKING.

 

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I mean, it’s not like I have a lot on my plate.  It’s not like I’m attempting NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words of writing in one month.  I’m not like I’m trying to survive the first year with my twins – who, even though they just turned 9 months old, still wake every 3 hours at night.

It’s not like I’m trying to raise my 5 and my 8-year-old sons, and all the complexities that come with kids as they grow older.  Sure, they don’t pee or color on stuff anymore, but solutions to their problems now require me to actually turn on my brain.  On the whole, I think I found the random destruction a lot easier to deal with it.

It’s not like I don’t have all of the stuff I listed above, or a part-time job, or household chores, or family visiting, or holiday activities, or or or….

But I received the sweetest email a couple of weeks ago.

“Caspian is such a dear – he never does anything wrong – but he’s not really settling in/thriving here at the barn…”

I mean, if you’re going to get politely broken up with by a barn, it was the nicest, softest way to break the news ever… but it was still a bummer.   I couldn’t disagree with her assessment – Caspian seemed lonely and a bit sad at the new barn. It was obvious a change was needed.

The truth is, I spent the first few days after receiving that email trying to figure out if I even really had any business owning a horse.

Yes, Caspian was and is receiving the best of care…. but I almost never get to see him.  I actually do have plenty of time to spend with him.  The problem is that my free time is when most barns are closed.  I have time every morning from 5:30am-7am, and then again every evening after 8pm…. but what barn is going to agree to let a boarder traipse around in the dark like that?

I spent the next week after the email looking at the hard facts.  It’s hard to justify the expense of owning a “luxury item”, so to speak, when I have so little time to enjoy him.The problem with having an accountant for a husband is that I have started taking a longer view of how much things cost.  I think it’s easy to justify a horse when you are looking at the month-to-month.  Can I afford his monthly care?  Yes.

Even if I technically can afford it… should I, when I never see him?  The times I have available to devote to my horse are probably never going to work with a traditional barns, and it’s going to be quite some time before the twins are old enough to let me visit during regular hours. Can I afford him for another “wasted” year or more, knowing that the $400 a month I have set aside for him adds up to $4800 in one year? $9600 every two years?

That’s a lot of money for a once-a-week (if that) horse habit.

And so began The Great Depression of 2016.

I hate being an adult.  I really, really do…. but I just couldn’t see any way around it. Shopping for a new horse barn just made it seem so much clearer to me.  So many of the places around where I live are self-care.  It’s not that I don’t want to do self-care – I actually really enjoy mucking stalls.  It’s that I just don’t want to do it with four kids in tow.  I’ve cleaned Caspian’s stall quite a few times while wearing the twins, and it left me sweaty and grumpy. Somewhere in the middle of it, while I struggled to push the wheelbarrow through some damp grass, desperately trying to keep it from dumping over, one twin strapped in front, one twin strapped in back, sweat pouring down my face, I thought…

Wait.  Am I actually paying to do this?  I mean, I’m not just choosing to torture myself like this, but I’m actually paying good money to do it?  I’m paying money to never ride and never groom, and just spend my time pushing around my horse’s feces?

So I came home, and I had a long discussion with The Bean.  And then another long discussion.  And then we had several long discussions.

And then the Bean and I sat down and had a long talk a week ago on Monday night, and we came to the final decision.

We decided to sell our house.

I know, it was a bit of a shock for me too.  I went into it thinking the conversation was going to end with, “Yeah, let’s sell Caspian and we’ll just find another horse when the time is better.”  Instead, the conversation turned into “Why don’t we just bump up our ‘find a home with enough land for a horse’ plan”?

We’re not looking to move far – we both love our town.  We just want a little land for the horse, and maybe a little more room for when my mom comes to help me with the twins.

Hey, did you know what’s easy?  Deciding to sell your house.

Do you know what’s not easy?  Cleaning your house so that it’s ready to sell…. in less than two days.  We decided to sell on Monday night, and we were due to leave for Thanksgiving on Wednesday night.

It’s not that I live in squalor, but let’s all agree that unless you are one of those fancy-schmancy OCD people, there’s a big difference between having a house that’s straightened up and having a house that’s ready for a realtor to show at an Open House.

Two days later, with every closet organized, and every bit of furniture positioned just so, and every shelf arranged, the basement cleaned, the cobwebs dusted, the floors waxed, the bathrooms scrubbed, the Thanksgiving ingredients bought and in the fridge, it was 11pm at night and the only thing I had left to do was put away the laundry in my bedroom….

And I couldn’t.

I just plain ran out of gas. I stood there and stared at the last little bit of mess in an otherwise pristine (pristine for me, anyways) house, and I just…. I just couldn’t.

 

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The Bean, who was in a miraculously good mood, looked around the room with a smile.  “We’re almost done,” he chirped, coming in with another armful of clean laundry.

I looked at him, I looked at the maybe 20 minutes of work left, and I fell face first on the bed and started to cry.  It wasn’t even a satisfying cry, either.  A satisfying cry would have involved sobs and… well, energy.  I just lay face-first on the bed and tears leaked out.  I was so, so tired.

Did you know that you can shove a bunch of dirty laundry in trash bags and that it fits neatly in the trunk of a Honda Civic?  That’s what we ended up doing, and the clothes is still in there.  We haven’t really missed the items, either.  Maybe I should just drive it to the Goodwill and dump it?

Anyways, I made it through the rest of the cleaning and through a Thanksgiving that was amazing and perfect, and kind of hazy from a fog of exhaustion.

And now my days have become a crazy string of “Quick, feed a baby…. crap, there’s a showing.  Quick, clean the house and make it look non-lived in.  Quick, grab Artemis.  Quick, grab my mom’s dog that I’m babysitting for a month.  Are the boys getting off of school?  Quick, grab a snack so they don’t turn hangry while we sit at a park and wait for strangers to stare at the house.  Quick, return home and cook dinner.  Quick, get ready for work the next day.  Quick, quick, quick….

I moved Caspian yesterday to what I am hoping is his last boarding situation – he has an huge box stall, and turnout all day, and I paid extra for him to have hay in his face all day.  He seems happy, even if I am sad I don’t get to stare at the GORGEOUS Morgans at the other place anymore.  (I’m still disgruntled he ruined my stay at my dream barn, but oh well.)

As I unloaded him, I pet his fuzzy, yellowish-grey, barely-groomed face with the large, sad eyes.  He looked… like an abandoned pony, and it made my heart sad.  I hate being the absentee owner that people on horse threads make fun of.  Caspian deserves better.

… but the neat thing is that soon he is going to get it.  As I ran my fingers under his mane he leaned in to the contact every-so-lightly, ever-so-politely, and it was so strangely thrilling to be able to say, “Don’t get too attached to the ponies here.  This is just a temporary barn.  The next move, you get to come home.  Permanently.”

Timehop keeps reminding me that 9 years ago I was a cocktail waitress in a bar, just starting to date the unassuming car salesman who liked to sit at the corner and drink a bottle of Heineken and eat chicken strips with ranch.

And now?

Yesterday I had to rearrange all the seats in my minivan to make a road trip, and when we finally returned home The Bean stood out in the pouring rain at 9:30 at night rearranging them back to normal it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it in the morning.  Over Thanksgiving weekend he took all four kids out so I could get a much needed nap.  And this morning he put up with me snapping at him (sorry Bean – I’m a cranky toddler when I’m sleep deprived) over tiny stuff, and still managed to remember to make out a check and put it where I could find it easily and change the babies diapers before heading off for his ridiculously-long day at work.

And today?

Today is the first day I haven’t had a lot on my plate.  The house guests went home (don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing and I’m so glad they stayed), and today there are no showings scheduled yet. Today I don’t work, and I don’t have to do a 3 hour round trip to drive to return a vehicle, and my husband is kind, and there aren’t any holidays looming.

And now, today, two kids are in school, two babies are napping (at the same time!  For once!) and I am sitting on my computer, researching fencing options.

Dude.  Fencing options, and pasture rotation details, and sacrifice areas for MY horse who is going to be in MY backyard in a few months.

WHOA.

So….. does anyone want to buy a house?

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Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

My favorite thing about nursing twins is how much weight I am losing!  It’s amazing!  I eat whatever I want, and the weight keeps falling off, and now I’m wearing a size 4!  I do feel like I am getting too thin, though…. do any of you have any meal suggestions to help me put on weight?

 

Sometimes the Facebook La Leche Group For Nursing Multiples group is a real source of help.

Sometimes it makes me just want to stab people.

I swear, if I hear one more person complain about how nursing makes them lose weight too fast, I’m gonna track down their home address just so I can throw a brick at their head.

Maybe nursing=weight loss for some people, but for me…. for me it just makes my body go into “CONSERVE ALL THE CALORIES” mode, even with nursing double time.  I mean…. I am already gluten free for my health, but because of the twins’ stomach sensitivities I’ve had to go dairy and soy free as well.

Is that sinking in?  I am exclusively nursing TWINS on a dairy, gluten, and soy free diet….. and I haven’t lost a single pound since the first week after I gave birth.

I really do think I missed my calling to live on a prairie and raise 18 babies.  If I lived on a prairie I imagine my ability to stay fat and healthy while nursing twins would be a real bragging point. I bet we’d go to all the… errr…. corn-shucking parties? (is that what olden-time prairie people did for fun?) and all the women would flock to me.

“Becky, look at your ample thighs!” they’d exclaim.  “Look at that back roll!  Can I touch it?  Can I touch your back roll and jiggly arms?  You’re so impressive!” they’d fawn. “How do you stay so fat, even though you’re been nursing your passel full o’ kids for years and years?”

…….

Sigh, you get the point.  I was going to joke about this further, but after I typed the phrase “passel full o’ kids” I realized I really would have had something like 18 babies if I’d lived on the prairie in the 1800s, and the daydream kind of made me shudder.  Maybe I’m better off in my current lifestyle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bed, without even proofreading this stream-of-consciousness bit of writing.  This post is brought to you by extreme, extreeeeeme sleep deprivation… but (if I can take a moment to pat myself on the back) – there was a post. Go me, actually managing to post every single day for 11 days straight!

Anyways, I really am off to bed, but not without asking…. if get a moment, can you cross your fingers that Magpie would actually sleep tonight?  I don’t think she slept more than 45 minutes at a stretch last night, combined with Finn’s normal 2-3 times of waking..  I’m feeling pretty ragged.

Babies

I was never much of a baby person.

Oh, I did the odd babysitting here and there in my teenage years.  I liked kids, they liked me, and it was easy money…. but I usually refused any jobs where the babies were younger than 8 or 9 months old.

If that sounds harsh it’s because the feeling was mutual – I didn’t really care for little babies, and little babies didn’t really like me. They let me know in no uncertain terms.

“Oh, Becky, it’s just in your head.  Here, hold her,” someone would say, depositing a blank-faced infant in my arms.  Almost immediately, the baby would stiffen.

“Relax – just hold her close,” they’d say.

“I am.  She feels like 2 x 4.”

“Just…. just relax.”

“I’M TRYING,” I’d say, through gritted teeth.  “Hey, uh… baby.  Hey there.  Good girl…. good…. girl.”

The baby would usually stare at me dubiously for a few more moments, and then burst into frantic tears.  Get me out of this imposter’s arms.  SAVE ME.  SAVE ME FROM HER UNCOMFORTABLE INCOMPETENCE!

It never failed – you could give me the happiest, most complacent, 100% asleep infant and I could have it crying in a matter of minutes, just by trying to hold it.

What can I say?  It was a gift.

The good news is that the first few weeks after a baby is born, they tend to be pretty much dead to the world.  They wake, they cry for food, you feed them, you change their diaper, and they go back to sleep.  In terms of being interactive, they’re about as socially fun as a hermit crab.

I think the reason they sleep so much in the beginning isn’t because they’re tired from birth…. it’s because it’s to give inept baby-handling parents like me a chance to figure out what they’re doing.  Eventually they wake up from the just-born stupor, but hopefully by that time you’re not as uncomfortable with handling your own baby.

Since I never had any desperate desire to have or hold little babies of my own,  I could never understand why people went so ga-ga over babies.  They weren’t all that cute, in the grand scheme of things.  They have swollen faces, they twist up their faces with really weird expressions, and they generally look kind of, well… weird.

I mean, here are some newborn otters:

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And here is a newborn infant (mine, to be exact):

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From a purely logical perspective, I think we can all agree the otters are cuter.  They’re fuzzy, soft, round little bits of adorableness.  You can practically feel your hand reaching out to pet one.

The newborn babies just kind of looks… pink.  And swollen.  And disgruntled.  They look like disappointed, naked little grubs…. and yet when I see those photos of the twins just after they were born, something wrenches on my inside, and I can practically feel my brain hitting the release switch on a massive load of bonding hormones.

It’s not just because they are tiny, or because they are mine… I think it goes deeper than that.  When I see tiny babies on the street, I think I am drawn to them because I know how incredibly fleeting that first period is.  I don’t see a newborn baby – I see DragonMonkey as he was when I first met him. Even though I wouldn’t trade the lanky, logical, fun boy he is nowadays, I miss his sweet softness.

Which, now that I think about it, is low-down dirty lie. He was only sweet and soft for the first 2 or 3 weeks.  After that he screamed and puked and was in all ways an incredibly high-needs baby….

But eh.  It’s a sweet lie.  If my brain is going to feed me lies, I don’t mind that one all that much.

Moving on to the whole point of this musing: I never really expected to be that “into” babies…. but lately it feels like I just can’t get enough.  You’d think it would the opposite. With two babies pressed to me all day long, you’d think I would be over holding infants, but the opposite is true.

The twins are 7 months old now, and the other day I looked at Magpie as she was stretched out during one of her naps, and I realized she no longer qualifies as a tiny baby. I saw my first hint of toddler.  It’s subtle, but it’s there – a slight lengthening of her forearms, the way she throws her arms above her head like a child instead of the tight curl of the just-born.

I’m not really sure what it is, but lately when I’m looking at the twins I can see the hints of the people they will become, and it makes me both proud and nostalgic, as if they’ve already grown, and flown away….

When in reality, Magpie is pressed against me, laying flat against the still-soft surface of my stomach.  Kraken is crashed out in his baby swing – he’ll be too big for it soon, but for the time being it’s a helpful bedtime tool.  Magpie though… lately she’s been weaning her own self off of the swing, much to my dismay.  It makes getting her down for the night a lot harder, and by the time she’s finally asleep I have a tendency to just sit still and hold her rather than risk waking her.

Besides…. the view is pretty sweet.  She’s sprawled over me in the complete, sleepy abandon that only the truly young seem to manage.  Her cheeks are flushed with the heat of sleep, one arm thrown back, lips pursed in a nursing dream.  I ought to put her down.  I ought to clean up the living room, or prepare the boys’ lunch for school in the morning.  Oh, sure, everyone likes to quote that “I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep”poem, but they forget about the other lines: “The shopping’s not done and the bills are past due, and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo.”

There’s so much that needs to be done, not the least of which is getting to bed early.  I’m very, very sleep deprived this week.  I ought to go to bed early, so I’m not grumpy and mean tomorrow from lack of sleep.

But instead, I press my hand against Magpie’s head, feeling the pleasing curve of her skull beneath my palm.  I feel the heat of her skin against my own,  brush my thumb against the curve of her cheek, and I watch her breathe… and grow.

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Yay For Procrastination!

Wasn’t I just bragging late last night that “my house is a relatively happy house”?

Dude, you totally missed my spaz-out hissy-fit I threw night, right after I clicked “Publish”.

Here’s the thing:  I decided to participate in the “Write 31” thingie.  In order to officially participate, you had to create a little button-thingie (you like my technical terms?  Be careful using them – they’re only for trained professionals).  Well, first you had to choose a category (I chose “Family”), then you had to choose a topic (I chose “How to Be a Crappy Mom), and then you had to create the button which was a hyperlink (or something?) and link up to the official Write 31 page.

Make sure you do it by October 5th! the website said.

I’m sure they intended that to read as “Do it on October 1st, but if you have to do it a day or two late, I suppose we can allow it.”

Me being, well, ME, I read that as “whatever you do, don’t do it before October 5th, because that’s just silly.”

So, as yesterday was October 5th, I clicked “Publish” and then went over there to figure out the button-link up-thingie.  I mean, it was only 10 pm at night on the absolute-last-day-possible.  I had two whole hours to work with. I wasn’t just on-time, I was practically early.

…..

And that’s when I discovered that the Write 31 link-up thingie runs on east coast time…. which is a full 3 hours ahead of me.  While it was 10 pm on October 5th in Oregon, it was already 1 am on October 6th on the east coast, and link ups had closed.

Normally I would have given a good-natured groan and simply gone on with my day….. but I’m running on a pretty horrible sleep deficit nowadays.  I’ve been staying up late every night to type not only write on my long-abandoned blog, but I’ve been writing actual posts with a theme and a TOPIC.

Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to stay on topic for five whole days in a row?

So, anyways, when I found out that I’d missed the sign ups, well…. I was just a little bit disappointed.

 

 

I handled it very gracefully.

 

I did not consider throwing the computer to the ground, only to remember it was borrowed, and expensive.  I did not settle for placing it gently on the couch beside me before stomping up to my feet and using my “special words”.

 

 

I did not ignore The Bean as he tried to figure out what was going on with me.
I did not stomp into the bedroom…. only to stomp back out to the living room to use more of my “special words” in an incoherent nearly unintelligible rant…..

 


… Only to stomp back into the bedroom with a “Well, FINE.  I’m just going to go to sleep.  It doesn’t matter anyways.  It’s all STUPID. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO FIX IT.  IT’S ALL STUPID.  GOOD NIGHT.”

Okay.  Maybe I did do a little of that.

But seriously, you have to understand just how tired I’ve been every night as I stay up to finish my post…. my post which has been both ON TOPIC and following my theme.

How tired am I?

Well, after I stomped off to bed last night, I made a decision to chart how many times I was up at night, just so I could share with you.

Now, normally the Kraken is the crappy sleeper and Magpie is much, much better.  If I were better about sleep training she would definitely be sleeping through the night at this point.  Unfortunately, she’s been having a rough week this last week, so she woke up 6 times last night.

That’s 6 times between 10:30 and 6:30 am.

The Kraken was much better and only woke up twice.

Still – that was 8 separate wake up periods requiring me to detach one tiny little boob leech (yes, we’re co-sleeping – The Kraken between The Bean and I, and Magpie over on an Ikea crib we attached to the side of our bed like a little sidecar), roll over, pull the other baby close, and go back to sleep as they nurse.

Sure, I don’t have to actually get out of bed and walk to a different room, so I’m able to go back to sleep fairly quickly…. but it’s still waking up, and it doesn’t make for a restful night of sleep.

Anyways, now you know why I found my lack of involvement so disappointing, and why I had so few reserves to deal with it.

After spending the day thinking about it though, I have decided it’s actually kind of a good thing.  No, I won’t be able to officially participate….. but I’m still planning on doing the exercise, and I feel that by doing it on my own I am now free to choose my own topics. Sure, nobody was going to hunt me down with a pitchfork if I’d strayed while “officially” participating, but still.

So, there’s your warning.  If I start posting about pets, horses, books, childhood memories, working at the library, or whatever instead of my kids, you have been forewarned.

Now if you’ll excuse me, sleep (GLORIOUS SLEEP!) is calling me…. at least for an hour or so.  On the other hand, who knows?  Maybe tonight will be the twins’ first night sleeping through the night?

A girl can hope?

 

Rationalization: How To Be A Crappy Mom

It’s Sunday morning. I should make everyone bacon.

Oh, yeah.  Bacon and pancakes.  That’s the sort of thing an awesome mom would do on a Sunday morning.  She’d get up, and put on her blue bathrobe, start the coffee, and then she’d fill the kitchen with the scent of sizzling, popping bacon and delicious gluten-free pancakes.  She’d probably even hum a little tune, and remember to hug each child in turn, and inquire about their sleep in a pleasant, never-ruffled voice.

I’m gonna do it.  I’m gonna make them bacon and pancakes and I’m gonna totally be that mom today.

Oh.  Wait. I don’t have any more gluten-free pancake mix.  Crap.

Well, that’s okay.  It’s not like I said the word “pancakes” out loud.  The kids won’t know what they’re missing.  I can always make bacon and eggs instead – Lord knows I have enough eggs.  With, err, “three” chickens (just like the city ordinances require), I definitely have enough eggs.

Eggs and bacon is still a really awesome thing on a Sunday morning. It’s an American staple – who doesn’t love it?  Bacon and eggs.  I’m gonna be that awesome mom who makes the whole house smell like bacon and eggs on Sunday morning.

Except….. except I can’t find any bacon in the fridge.  Or the freezer.  Or the basement freezer.

Well, crap.

Eggs and…. eggs?  Or maybe Miguitas – eggs and tortillas?  How many times have I cooked that this week? Will they go for it?  I glance at the sleep-tousled boys in the living room, lounging in their mismatched pajamas as they stare blankly at cartoons.

“Hey boys… you guys want Miguitas for breakfast?  Or do you just want me to make them over-easy?”  I take a moment and pride myself in the way I managed to word that – it gives them the illusion of choice, but still leaves them without a real decision.  If that’s not being a real mom, I don’t know what is.

Neither boy bothers to take their eyes off the flickering screen long enough to respond.

“Chicken nuggets.  I want chicken nuggets.”

“Me too!  I want chicken nuggets, too!”

What?  Eww.  Gross.  “Chicken nuggets aren’t a breakfast food,” I say. “How about cereal? Cereal and milk?”

“No, thank you,”  DragonMonkey says, all pleasant politeness.

“Yeah, no thank you,” Squid echoes.  “Can I please have chicken nuggets?”

“Guys.  This is Sunday. You can’t have…. it’s just….”  I stare at them, frustrated.  It’s Sunday morning.  We’re supposed to be eating pancakes and eggs… or at the very least bacon and eggs. You can’t have a beautiful, Norman-Rockwell style Sunday morning with frozen gluten-free chicken nuggets heated up in the microwave on scratched Ikea plastic plates.

This morning was supposed to look like this… only with pancakes instead of turkey.

I mean, technically you can, but nobody is gonna be painting a picture of it any time soon.

I open my mouth once again, drawing breath to tell them no, that they can’t have chicken nuggets for breakfast, that it’s trashy and gross, and terrible nutrition, and we have higher standards than that, and….

… and at least it has protein?  I mean, what exactly are pancakes, anyways, but flat, uninteresting doughnuts that you pour sugary maple syrup over?  Chicken nuggets don’t have a high sugar content.  I mean, it’s not like they’re asking to shoot up heroin, or juggling puppies, right?  It’s just chicken nuggets…. and gluten-free ones at that.

Surely that gives me some kind of bragging power?  I mean, sure, we’re not eating gluten-free by choice, but the fact that it’s gluten-free (and therefore “healthy”) balances out the fact that it’s 7:30 in the morning and I’m pouring ketchup as dipping sauce for my kids’ breakfast, right?

Right?

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Write 31 Days – How To Be A Crappy Mom

I’ve got four kids, a horse I rarely see, a husband I vaguely remember, a dog I never walk, a house that’s never clean, and laundry that’s never done.

Obviously, this is a really good time for me to take on a new venture, right?  I mean, after all, this used to be called “The Blog of Becky: How Not to Live Your Life”.  I need to live up to it, right?

Anyways, the title is self-explanatory: I’m doing the “Write 31 Days” thingie.  In case you’ve never heard about it, for the month of October I will write 31 posts in a row, about a certain topic.  I’ve been planning on participating in this for several months, and as such, the topic I have chosen in:

 How To Be A Crappy Mom

I’d like to say the reason I chose this topic is because I spent several days coming up with a witty title, cross-referencing it against other people’s ideas, referencing the 31 topics I would address, etc, etc………

But if I did you know I’d be lying.

The truth is that my older boys were wild with energy tonight so we went to McDonald’s and let them blow off steam… where they filled up on sprite and fruit & yogurt parfait instead of eating dinner.

Yay, me.

Now they’re crashed out in bed, whereas my twins are now refusing to sleep.  I have no idea why they’re refusing to sleep, although I suspect it’s because their bellies hurt because I’ve fed them bananas too many days in a row and now they’re constipated.

Double yay me.

I could feed them nice organic baby food I got from the store, prunes or veggies or something…. but I forgot to pick some up from the store, and now it’s late and I don’t wanna go.

Triple yay me.

So, there you have it.  It’s 9pm at night, I have one kid latched on my boob, and I’m awkwardly typing over him while his twin sister whines in my husband’s arms as she waits her turn.

I mean, I could nurse them at the same time but I can’t tandem nurse and fit the laptop on my lap at the same time. Priorities, you know?

Also, I just remembered I really need to research the Gluten-Free festival I promised I’d take my oldest son to tomorrow, but instead I’m on Facebook, and if I don’t finish this up in less than 3 hours I will miss out on the “31 Days” aspect of 31 Days, and and and….

And “How to Be a Crappy Mom”.  It’s not the sexiest topic, but it’s probably the only topic I have plenty of material for without having to think too hard.

So, there you go.  I apologize in advance for the content quality.  Perhaps the quantity will make up for it?  I’m so out of practice in actually writing, instead of just sounding out the words in my tired, tired head.  I really mean what I say: I apologize in advance for the content quality – I’m hoping it will pick up by the end of the month.

And now, in the spirit of “How To Be A Crappy Mom”, I give you:

A love note to my daughter

 

Rat

 

Seasonal Pluviophile Disorder

Pluviophile (noun):  A lover of rain. Someone who goes outside and sees the grey skies swirling low, feels the mist beading up on her skin, and just feels content.

 

Pluviophile - Lover of Rain Wallpaper by TelephoneWallpaper.com

 

 

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder):  A mood disorder characterized by depression, usually brought on during the darker hours of fall and winter.  An insidious response to lack of sunlight and lowered Vitamin D levels that has nothing at all to do with whether or not you dislike rain.

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PluvioSADophile (Becky Bean):  Someone who steps outside on the first grey, drizzly day of an Oregon autumn, tips her head back to the cool grey skies, smiles at the rain sprinkling her face, and thinks, “This is amazing.  I’ve missed this so much.  My soul feels cleaner in this beautiful mist….”  And then immediately realizes, because her body is stupid and can’t seem to get with the program, “Maaaaan, I’ve gotta start doubling up on my Vitamin D,  cuz this is gonna suck soooo much in about a month or two. ”

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Stretching Those Unused Muscles

What do you do when the words come back, and you long to write…. but it’s been so long you’ve almost forgotten how?

I guess the best answer is you just jump in and start writing, and eventually you’ll find your groove again .

**************

 

I’m enjoying my children.

 

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When did DragonMonkey get so old?

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I think Squid wanted to pop this pony in the back of our minivan and take her home

What a bland thing to write.  I know.  A good life doesn’t really make for very interesting writing, or stories, not unless you put some real effort into it.  I do feel a small pang of regret that I won’t be able to look back on the twins’ infancy the way I am able to with DragonMonkey and Squid’s.

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Aside from a few Facebook entries chronicling my sleep deprivation, or sharing a couple of pictures of the Kraken crying, I just haven’t really taken down too many of their stories.

I think I realized in the beginning that I would have to make a choice:  Do I chronicle the twins’ infancy – the small details, like the way Magpie would only “talk” at first if she had her dimpled, tiny fingers wrapped firmly around an index finger, anchoring her so the sound could bubble up out of her?  The way I broke down sobbing at six weeks, crying out that I‘ve done nothing but sit on this couch nursing twins for six weeks straight, I even sleep sitting up, people aren’t made to be in a sitting position for this long, I’ve been sitting on my stupid butt for so long I actually gave myself hemorrhoids, please I just want to go outside, I just want to sleep more than two hours at a stretch, please I want to feel the sun on my face….

 

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Shouldn’t I be writing down the intricacies of the Kraken’s cry, the way it starts out sounding like a stalled engine every single time he wakes up, or the silent way he laughs? What about the way his small, warm body curls against mine at night?

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Shouldn’t I be writing about that, so I can have the memories to luxuriate in at a later date?

Or do I breathe them in now, pouring out my love in the small, simple touches of mothering that leave no time for anything but, only to have time and sleeplessness wear away the details until I’m left with nothing more than a vague sense of memory?

In case you can’t tell from the crickets and tumbleweeds on this blog, I went with option two.

 

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I’d like to say I’m doing all sorts Pinterest-worthy mothering to my four kids…. but mostly, I’m just being lazy and enjoying the heck out of them.  I suppose I ought to be doing more – signing them up for some sort of school sport, or reading more to them, or coming up with brain-growing crafts, or something like that.

 

I mean, I’m not saying it’s all perfect.  I yell too much some days.  The older boys get loud and obnoxious with each other.  The babies scream.

 

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Marvelous Magpie

It’s not perfect and I’m not perfect…. but overall?  It’s good.  Real good.

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I find myself sinking into the feel of the babies in my arms, or eavesdropping on the older boys’ playing with all the lazy indulgence of a binge eater nibbling on the last few chocolates in a box.

They say that childhood is fleeting  –  “they” being the people who no longer have access to it as much as they would desire.  If you ask the mother of a cranky two-year old toddler how fleeting childhood is, the answer will invariably be “not fleeting enough”…. but I feel it. I feel the press of time weighing down on me like the weight of the summer sun, and I feel the way this will be gone all too soon, so I drink it in, trying to drench my skin and my soul in the feel of this brief moment before it’s gone.

 

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I’ve always had these moments of joy in my kids – I just never really write about them. There’s something very easy and simple to invite strangers on the internet to take a peek on the funny, embarrassing, or frustrating areas of my life.  It’s a lot more dangerous to invite them to look in on the private things I love.

 

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If I share a story about how am stupid, and someone reaches out to tell me, “Hey, Becky, that’s pretty stupid”… well, obviously we agree with each other.

But… but I don’t know how my heart could handle hearing a similar about something that’s actually precious to me.  Oh, sure, I could get over it, but mostly I think….why risk it?

The thing is, I know why I feel this need, this sense of urgency to just take joy in my babies.

I have a friend.  Had a friend.  Have a friend?

 

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Oh, it wasn’t one of those uber-close friendships.  She was just someone I knew briefly in high school and only reconnected with recently because of the internet.  On the surface we had a lot in common.  Silly stuff.  We’re both tall.  We both grew up in Huntington Beach.  We both went to the same church.  We both had the same group of church friends.  We both loved sports, and the outdoors, and the color burnt orange and Calvin and Hobbes.  We both got married and had some kids.  We both believe in Christ.  We both had twins.  Of course, we have our differences too.

I never had to leave my husband because of…. well, let’s just leave it at irreconcilable differences.  I never had to move cross-country with six-week old twins.  I never got diagnosed with aggressive cancer when my babies were three months old, either.

I’d been following her story for a while – the radiation, the chemo, the sickness, the laughter, the trials… if you ask me, I think it’s easier to be brave in a single moment than it is to be brave through a long, hard slog.  She was brave.  She even had the tattoo to prove it.

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Bravery in the small things seems so much harder to me

 

And eventually it came down to the end.  And that’s where our stories differ, too.  I got to spend my summer snuggling my babies.  She got to spend hers learning how to say goodbye, to watch her babies turn to her parents as their primary caregivers, to be looking to transition to that next stage in life – heaven.

I received the news of her passing via Facebook… which is as it should be.  I wasn’t a close family friend, or someone who was all that close with her in the end…. but her passing still hit me.

I loaded up the babies into a stroller and we all headed out to the park – the boys bouncing and chattering about Pokemon Go, me quiet in contemplation of inevitable mortality, the simple joy of the sun on my shoulders, and the sound of my children.

For the record I’ve decided it’s impossible to be truly sad when you have to focus on herding children down a sidewalk – it takes too much effort and concentration to keep them all heading the same direction.  Besides, there was something healing in just being a mom to my kids in response to her finally resting from her fight, and flying away home.

I know this is heavy stuff, so I guess I’ll end it here.  I just wanted to take the time to say….Julianne, I can’t wait to hang with you in heaven.  And in the meantime…. thank you for making me a better mom, and for reminding me that it’s okay to just enjoy my kids.

 

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