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You made it! Here it is... the blog where you get to sit back and laugh at - or be completely horrified by - life with 5 kids, 2 parents, 1 dog, 2 cats, 1 guinea pig, & 2 turtles (and those are just the creatures we know about).

10.26.2011

Christmas Socks

Let's talk about my socks. Halloween is a few days away. Some people like to wear cute little novelty socks. I happen to have novelty socks on today. But not Halloween socks. Christmas socks. Sadly, they're a step up from what I normally wear... no socks.


I hate to do the whole "woe is mom" thing, but I often come last in my house. Some days, it's all I can do to get everyone else in the house into clean socks and underwear. I've been known to wake with a start at two in the morning with the heart-stopping realization that one of the kids has no clean uniform shirts. So, I run to the washer and sleepily start a load of whites that I will then dry sometime before the crack of dawn. 


Then, after the chaos that is my morning routine, I prepare to get myself ready (last). I open my top drawer and find the pile of mismatched socks from everyone in the family. I have no matching socks. Unless you count these nice, black knee-socks with little, red Santas on them. In my defense, they do match what I'm wearing today. As long as no one gets too close, I should be able to hide the fact that I am wearing Christmas socks 5 days before Halloween.


My question is this: Where did I go wrong? I am not the most organized person. Who decided to coronate me the Queen of Laundry? Somewhere in our marriage, my husband and I adopted these very Cleaver-like roles. He does the "man's work" - take out the trash, mow the lawn, change the light bulbs, remove the spiders. I do the "lady's work" - cook the meals, bathe the children (on a good day), clean the house (ha!), do the laundry (ha! ha!). Clearly, the laundry situation is out of my control. The dirty pile just keeps growing no matter how many loads I do. The clean pile is still waiting to be folded and put away. And I have no socks. 


I'm thinking there must be some way I can make this a family affair. My oldest is almost 8. Can I teach him to fold? Or maybe someone has developed some sort of "laundry app" for the iPad. That will get my husband interested for sure.


Regardless, here I sit in my ill-timed Christmas socks. Meh... maybe I'll just pretend I'm early for something for once. That would be the day!




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10.22.2011

Oops, I Did It Again...

I got a flat tire. Again. Apparently, the laws of Murphy were written explicitly for me. Flat tires do not happen when I'm just hanging out in my house on a Saturday. They happen when I am on my way to work. Or when Sophie has her early-release day from school and needs to be picked up in an hour. I am blessed to have an incredible family support system. If my father-in-law didn't come to my rescue (again), I'm not really sure what would've happened to the kids. I guess they'd still be at school waiting for me to get sorted out.


I have Fridays off. In theory, this sounds lovely. Every Friday, I think I am going to accomplish all sorts of tasks that have been put off all week. I think about the playdates I'll have with friends I haven't seen in a while. Unfortunately, the universe has conspired to make my Fridays a hectic mess. (I've already learned not to go to work on my day off since that is how I got my car towed away. Curse you, street cleaning day!)


This Friday started well. I dropped the kids off at school and headed to my mom's with Sean and Charlotte. Lala was going to make us breakfast. We hung out there for Moonstruck eggs and when I left, there was still plenty of time to get to Sophie's school for pick-up. Or so I thought.


Shortly after leaving my mom's house (with working tires!), I had to pull over on the side of the road because my front left tire was not only flat, but completely devoid of air. Just what you want when there are two little kids in the backseat and three more waiting to be picked up at school. Roadside assistance informed me that it would be an hour before someone could come and change the tire (which turned into 2 1/2). My poor father-in-law came and stayed with my car so I could take his car and pick up the kids. I made it to Sophie with a tire minute to spare.


All of the hassle made me want a coffee. I drove to the nearest Dunkin Donuts only to find that it had been closed for renovations. Seriously?? Who cares what it looks like? Just give me my caffeine! I decided that I really didn't feel like getting the kids out of the car, so I headed to the McDonald's drive-thru for a coffee. When the woman at the window handed it to me, I forgot which car I was driving. My father-in-law's car is smaller and lower than mine. I grabbed the cup and slammed it into the window frame. I spilled a ton of hot coffee all over myself and the steering wheel. The poor woman at the window started apologizing and throwing napkins at me. This - along with all of the other ridiculous events of the day - prompted me to start laughing maniacally. My sister was on the phone with me at the time and is still disturbed by what she could only describe as cackling. To top it all off, the coffee was horrible. I decided to take my sideshow into the local Starbuck's and treat myself to a latte. Clearly, I've got an addiction.


Once my coffee issues were addressed, I headed into the pick-up line at the big kids' school. This is where I discovered that I was going to have to get creative. I was driving a sedan. There aren't enough seats for all of my kids. I eventually did maneuver them into seat belts with some sharing involved. (Thank you to Alice for offering to help me shuttle some of the kids, though.) In the meantime, my father-in-law ended up wasting about 4 hours waiting for my tire to get replaced. It was a ridiculous day for him, for sure. I'm pretty certain he's going to retire from his own private roadside assistance. Unless he wants to capitalize on it and turn it into a legitimate business.


So, we are currently operating with full tires. But, it's the weekend and we have no plans. I'm sure the fates can arrange for something ridiculous in time for Monday morning...

10.21.2011

Sleep - The Great Equalizer

I love hanging out with my kids. They're fun, crazy, sweet, and loving. They can also be loud, crazy, obnoxious, and wild. (Yes, crazy made the list twice!) This negative set of traits is seen most often on Friday nights. 

Something happens to my children that makes every Friday - around 5pm - seem like a full moon. One minute they are happily running around playing some cute game that they made up. Then, without warning, someone is screaming, or crying, or otherwise being rude. By the time bedtime rolls around, all hell is breaking loose. These are the moments when I am about to pull my hair out and wonder if I should take up drinking something stronger than beer. 

The Friday night chaos culminates in a total crash at bedtime. The silence that ensues is almost deafening in its depth. It's that moment that makes me realize what it's all about. That moment of watching all of those tranquil faces makes the chaos simply melt away. There is nothing like looking at the sweet, silent face of a sleeping child to see the true meaning of peace. I stroll by each bed and simply revel in it. And then I  brace myself, knowing that, in just a few short hours, all of the craziness - good and bad - begins again.

Charlotte at rest
Sophie often falls asleep wherever she stops.
Patrick, Lucy, & Sean snuggling

10.14.2011

The Restaurant Paradox

My children have been raised in restaurants. Patrick went out to dinner for Greek food at The Aegean when he was just four days old. This exposure to restaurants has made the kids understand that there is a certain level of behavior expected when dining out. That is not to say that they are always perfect, but, for the most part, they know what is expected of them.


However, we all know that children, by their very nature, can be unpredictable. Which is why we take steps to try to assure that our restaurant experiences will be positive. We try not to go out too late. We bring items that will entertain them so they will be able to sit quietly. We go to restaurants that are considered family-friendly. All of these steps are taken to attempt an enjoyable meal. Unfortunately, there is a strange phenomenon that has occurred during our last few trips out to eat.


Last week, we decided it would be easier to go out and grab a bite to eat instead of cooking dinner. We'd all had long days at work and school, but we figured a quick trip to the local UNO's would be a fun, easy treat that the kids could handle. We were wrong. The kids were antsy.  Multiple drinks were spilled. Charlotte shouted for the sheer fun of it. Sean bumped his head as he was crawling under the table. In all, it was chaos. The only saving grace was that we had the children trapped seated in a booth waaaaaay in the back of the restaurant, so the only annoyed patrons were PJ and myself.


Then, a few nights later, the whole family was invited out to a sunset cruise in Boston Harbor and dinner in the North End as part of a birthday celebration (all of this after a day of apple picking). I was a little leery of how the kids might be, but I thought it would be fun. Our dinner reservations were for 8:15.  A little late for my kids these days, but still manageable. When we arrived at Dolce Vita, the place was completely packed and they informed us that it might be another 15 minutes until they could seat us. We stayed on the sidewalk and watched people bustling about while we patiently waited. Unfortunately, fifteen minutes stretched into an hour (where I was no longer patiently waiting). PJ and I each had a sleeping little one and the three older children were sitting on the sidewalk entertaining themselves with games on our iPhones. By this point, I was convinced we had a disaster on our hands. After all, my kids could barely handle UNO's, where they actually have a children's menu.


Who in their right mind would take five kids under age eight into a crowded Italian restaurant on a Saturday night over an hour after their bedtime? Then again, whoever said I was in my right mind?


Dinner was fantastic! Our table had a long, padded bench where the little ones slept. The older kids were excellent while they split a steak for dinner and then the girls fell asleep, too. PJ and I got to enjoy a long, delicious dinner, adult conversation, and even stayed for drinks and dessert. (We did find it a little tricky trying to get 4 sleeping children out of the restaurant!)


Sean slept through all of dinner.
The girls lasted until the steak was gone.




Who knows what you'll get from kids? Mine have been raised in restaurants, but they still have their bad nights. They couldn't handle UNO's with crayons and a children's menu, but they had no problem waiting an hour to sit in Dolce Vita and enjoy the sirloin. I suppose they just like to keep me on my toes.




Addendum:


I've been told that I missed a big part of this story. In addition to having a lovely meal in the North End, our dining experience was enhanced by a visit from my drunken sister. Apparently, the old lady doesn't get out much these days. We were fortunate enough to have her big night out coincide with ours in both time and location. She came over from across the street to join us briefly.  She also sat on one of my sleeping children, drank my water, and ate my bread (in the hopes of soaking up some of her alcohol). We even took a picture to commemorate this lovely visit:


Scary how much we look alike!
Consider yourself added, NurseNoodle! ;)

10.07.2011

The Unintentional Family Bed

We have a king-sized bed. Doesn't that sound large and luxurious? Well, don't be fooled. Many a morning I wake up with assorted bodies sprawled in crazy positions all over that nice, big bed. There are days when I'm sure I must have 47 children based on the number of feet in my face and knees in my ribs. My husband has awoken - more than once, sadly - with his head on the nightstand instead of the pillow. 


We never set out to ascribe to the "family bed" philosophy. I just found it easier, especially when nursing a newborn, to let the little one sleep next to me after they woke up in the middle of the night. That way, my sleep was barely interrupted and I got more of it. That works great with one newborn. Unfortunately, it's a tough habit to break when that newborn becomes a toddler and needs to get evicted to make room for the next newborn. 


We did, eventually, get the kids into their own beds (for the most part). We did it by buying them two sets of bunk beds.  We positioned them in an 'L' shape when the kids all shared a room.  They loved having a boys' bunk and a girls' bunk to hang out in.  The kids were happy to stay in the bunks at night because they had each other.  


Then, we made the mistake of doing major construction to give everyone more space.  We gutted half of the house to renovate all of the bedrooms.  Now there is a girls' room and a boys' room.  Who knew the girls would be terrified of sleeping in their new room?  So, after a week of living in a hotel and major construction at the house, we are the proud owners of a very expensive playroom.  The girls spend every night sharing the boys' bunk bed with them.  I guess they just like being near someone when they sleep.


Which is why we still get our fair share of nighttime visitors.  Call it lazy parenting, but I find it so much easier to mumble, "Sure. Get in," and go back to sleep when there is someone next to my bed at 2 am whispering about whatever reason they can't possibly go back to sleep in their own bed.  I just don't have the wherewithal to get out of bed and walk that child back to their room and tuck them in all over again.  


Not surprisingly, with this many children, there's almost always one who wakes up.  So, we pay the price for our laziness in lack of mattress real estate.  As crazy as it may seem, I know these years are short-lived in the long run.  It's already a rarity for the older kids to wake up scared and need our comforting.  And, I'm working on the assumption that they will have grown out of this habit by the time they're ready for college high school.


So, I occasionally wake up with what feels like 47 kids in my bed.  It's a little nuts.  But I enjoy it because I know a day will come, in the not too distant future, when PJ and I are sprawled across our king-sized mattress and it seems a little too roomy.