Once Upon A Time

11 Mar

Once upon a time there was a girl who started writing a blog. She enjoyed sharing long diatribes about the antics of her beautiful, rotten, ornery, sarcastic children. Telling stories was fun for her. It was kind of like going out for drinks with your girlfriends only she was the only one who talked. Then one day the girl had a third child. This took some more time away from her little hobby. A few short months later, the girl quit her job. Surely she would have oodles of free time now, she thought.


The last post I started was seven months ago and I didn’t even finish it. Oh yeah, I’m the girl. I know that was a tough one to figure out. I’m coming up on a year of wearing the SAHM hat. In many ways, it is much easier for us as a family to have me home. We don’t have to worry so much about back up childcare, sick days, getting to practices on time, who’s going to make dinner and many other things. On the downside, I’ve absorbed the majority of those responsibilities. Not to say my husband is suddenly sitting back and sipping a crown and coke when he gets home. He’s not because I would probably do something to make sure he ended up wearing it.

But here’s the thing, I am an incredibly self-centered person. I like my “me time.” You know, the time when you shut the door and pee by yourself. Or when you drive the car without backseat passengers fighting or asking about death, God or why you are going this way. I like to sit and type an email without someone leaning directly on my right and left arms, commenting on who I’m emailing or what I’m typing. (Also worth noting, teaching your children to read is a mistake.) One would think that once the children were in bed, one would be home free. Another lie. Just the other night I ‘slept’ with M on top of my body and Baby T under my left arm. M and I both wanted to punch each other when we ‘woke up.’Adjusting to the constant presence of my children has been more of an adjustment than I expected. I’m getting there though and so are they. I’m sure I’ll be fully settled by the time they all leave for college and then I will have to learn to appreciate the time to myself again.

Further compounding this adjustment is the presence of other people’s children. I started babysitting part-time to help supplement our income. This plan was fine as an idea. In practice, it is much harder than I expected. The rules of caring for other people’s children are different from caring for your own, as it should be. Not that I want to beat other kids. I don’t. But the way you speak and the patience you must have is much different. It’s harder to get out of the house when you have other children (anyone want to take a trip to the library or zoo with 5 kids? Anyone?) I thought I would be able to also get household chores done while babysitting. This was another lie. The only household chores you get done are cleaning up breakfast, lunch, snacks and the many accidents. And you must do this quickly. You are best to sit at a high vantage point and not attempt to do anything but try to watch five moving objects with your two eyes while correcting language and behavior with your mouth.

So, my advice to anyone considering this way of life: first, make sure you can do it on one salary. Trying to patch together additional income while also being the full-time babysitter for your kids is very hard and your options are somewhat limited, depending on your skill set. Second, try to make sure your budget includes funds that can get you out of the house without your children. For some, this might be as luxurious as a weekend vacation. For people like me, just going to the Target without my children will do. Happy hours and brunches with girlfriends are priceless. My third piece of advice is workout a flexible daily schedule for you and the kids and get out of the house as much as you can. If you aren’t in the house, the kids aren’t wrecking it, and schedules help to provide both you and your kids a rhythm and routine to the day. Fourth, do not call your husband at work unless you have a legitimate reason. As much as you have visions of him surfing the internet and drinking hot coffee, he’s probably/hopefully, actually working. He will love to hear about how many poopy diapers you’ve changed or who sat in timeout the longest when he gets home. However, on exceptionally hard days, you can call and complain, as long as you tell them, “Hey, I need you to listen to me for 5 minutes and then buy me wine on the way home.” They helped to create the little monsters who are giving you gray hair, so they should understand.


Two Months In

9 Jul

So I just found the week 3 update I wrote over a month ago. I posted it. I’m not sure if I was done with it or not, but there you go. 3 weeks of SAHM-hood documented.

On the two month anniversary of my departure from Corporate America I will celebrate by answering the most commonly asked question, “So how’s it going?”

  • We are all alive.
  • I have mopped my kitchen floor another time since the day T was born. Nevermind she’ll be 6 months old next week.
  • I sweep the floor A LOT and there are still crumbs.
  • Crumbs are the bane of my existence.
  • I’m learning not to serve streussel muffins or corn chips to small children if you don’t want crumbs.
  • Sometimes I write up things in excel just to remember how much I hate it.
  • Children are the most honest people ever. Painfully honest. All the time. If they hate your shirt or your cooking or your hair they will tell you and you have to take it.
  • I do laundry on weekday mornings now. It’s as glorious as it sounds.
  • Two little boys in the house means that your bathroom ALWAYS smells like pee. ALWAYS.
  • I get up before 7am now. I used to have to give myself a pep talk and at least 4 false starts to get those kind of results. Now I just, like, wake up and get out of bed. It’s SOOOOO weird.
  • Sometimes I don’t know what to say I “do” when people ask. I not totally a SAHM, but I’m not totally employed either. It feels awkward.
  • I stepped in Target one time and spent $100. I have no idea what I bought.
  • I really kind of love this new gig.
  • I feel guilty when others say “You’re so lucky!” It’s luck and a whole lotta meal planning and then staring in horror as the children consume an entire bag of crackers that was supposed to cover two days of snack.
  • The children are quite loud and jumpy and whiney and mentally exhausting, but they are kind of fun co-workers.
  • I like being the boss of the little people. It’s so rewarding when you get them to do helpful stuff. To the contrary, it’s maddening when they jump on the couch and stare at you like they’ve never heard you tell them to not do that.

The short answer is that I like it. I like it a lot. I do miss having whole conversations with other grown-ups and Starbucks. But I like this more. I get to have gummy, slobbery baby kisses whenever I want. I get to spend precious time with my nieces. I get to see my children work through friendship ups and downs. I get time. Time that I didn’t think I would ever get.

Oh there are still bad days, but I am happy. Very happy.

And I am grateful.

New Ventures Week 3

9 Jul

I don’t have a recap of week 2. Sorry, I’ll try to include it here.

My job officially ended on May 8th. I didn’t do much work that day. I did a lot of ‘see ya later’ dates at Starbucks. Starbucks is not in the vicinity or budget of my new normal so I sucked down as much mocha as I could handle. And it was free because I have some amazing friends who treated me on my last day.

The past two weeks have been a blur. I’m babysitting my nieces which is so wonderful and exhausting. I love them to bits, but repeatedly asking for a “Geldee sanwich” (toddler to English translation: Jelly Sandwich) at 8am is quite taxing on my mental stability. My days consist of driving back and forth to school at least three times a day, loading and unloading 1-5 kids from the car, feeding children, cleaning up the kitchen and trying to get the little ones to take a nap at the same time. Sometimes it all works and sometimes it doesn’t. I fully understand the saying, “The days are long but the years are short.” Most times, one day feels like two.

I’m getting my bearings on ways that I can be contributing to our budget. I’m babysitting and have started to look for freelance opportunities. I’m excited about the possibilities.

Enough about me. The kids! We must talk about the kids.

First off, Baby T is GROWING!!! And screaming less. The doctor started her on Zantac and she’s been an entirely new baby. She’s eating normally and I can tell she’s heavier. I take her into the doctor tomorrow for a well check. I’m so thankful that we’re turning a corner out of Colic-ville.

M is in little boy Heaven right now. He just wrapped up his first soccer season and completed his life long goal of getting a medal! He’s also started t-ball practices. He’s loving every minute of it and you can see the improvement in every game and practice.

C is getting ready to graduate 1st grade. Her school will be closing at the end of this year and she’ll be off to public school. I’m not worried. I know she’ll do great in the new environment, but I know change is always scary for her and this switch has her really nervous. I’m so incredibly thankful that I’ll be home for her this next school year. We’ve been on a quest to find a sport that she enjoys. She’s tried soccer and that wasn’t quite her thing (although in true C spirit, she’s changed her mind and wants to play in the fall…something about seeing her brother get that medal that she couldn’t stand.) She’s enjoyed swimming lessons and we recently started gymnastics. She LOVES gymnastics and I think she’s found her niche.

D has been working like a dog. I hope this week is slower because it’s his birthday week!!! We will be eating brownies and Chinese food to celebrate. The kids are excited. Mostly because his birthday means brownies and Chinese food for them too. We’re also going to take a brewery tour. I’m super excited because we get T-SHIRTS! I get to wear t-shirts all the time with my new gig and nothing screams stellar stay at home mom like a brewery tour t-shirt.


New Ventures Week 1

27 Apr

I’m at the first page of a brand new chapter. Through a string of unexpected events and some sacrifice I finally got something I’ve wanted for a long, long time.

In two weeks I’ll officially start my new job of Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) with three direct reports who have several write ups for insubordination in their files and their two furry minons who sometimes take off in the middle of a work day. I’m certain this will be the hardest job I’ve ever had.

Our babysitter’s part-time gig turned into a full-time gig that could not be refused. I sent D the notification along with a note that said something to the effect of “I’m not finding a new sitter. I’ll sell my plasma if I have to.” After a brief discussion and six budget scenarios in an excel file, the decision was made. If D knew how many excel files I’ve screwed up at the job that pays me money, he would not have gone for this. But he doesn’t, and the math looked nice on paper.

I’m so excited and scared I don’t know quite what to do with myself. So, I have done what any reasonable person would do. I started a Pinterest board with ideas and tips for SAHMs. Most of the ideas are nice, but to quote my nephew, there’s not much practical advice. Like, what am I going to do when the kids are total jerks and there’s no job to escape to? Or when I realize blowing $100 at Target on crap we don’t need, but is super cute and/or I’ve made a use case scenario for it, is no longer an option? What if we are hit with another polar vortex? My spirit isn’t sure she can handle that. What am I going to do when I can’t just go buy Legos to pacify my children so I can have a moment of peace? How am I going to function without my smartphone? Somehow I think this last one might solve the other concerns I have.

But I’m also so excited. The chances of me missing one of T’s milestones are significantly reduced. Our lives will be so much calmer with someone here to manage the chaos. The laundry won’t have to be done on Saturday and Sunday, I’ll have the other five days too. I can go outside to see what the weather is instead of using the Weather.com app. My summer will be outside instead of in a cube farm. I might get a tan! I won’t have to worry ever again if C or M’s most recent meltdown is a result of not having consistency between the babysitter’s and home. I can make them cookies when they get home from school. We can go to the zoo on weekdays. I could coach one of my kids sports, or just be on time for the practice.

I can’t wrap my head around not having a place to be everyday or a paycheck every two weeks. I have had a job or three since I was 15, and I’ve never quit something without a concrete plan in place for what is next. This feels so extreme my arm hairs stand up if I think about it too long or deep. I imagine this is what retirement must feel like in some ways. I feel like I’ve jumped off a cliff and am in a dizzying free fall. Through this whole week of impulse decision-making, good ole Robert Frost (do you think his friends called him Bobby? I want to call him Bobby.) kept echoing in my ear:

Two roads diverged in the wood, and I, I took the road less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.

So here’s to week 1.

The Last Birth Story

20 Mar

Time for another quarterly update!

First things first…I’m not pregnant anymore! I had a baby two months ago which is reason numero uno for my lack of blogging. Here’s the story on our baby girl, our last baby…we’ll call her Baby T.

I started nesting like a freak of nature about two days before Baby T came to be. I decided that I was D-O-N-E with pregnancy and I was going to nest until this little bundle of joy was born. Of course, this nesting did not include anything that would be helpful for my co-workers. I dusted, I vacuumed, I cleaned the ceiling fans which have not really been cleaned since we hung them seven years ago. I swore my house had been attacked by ninja spiders because it seemed that there were suddenly spider webs every where I looked. D took pictures of my giant pregnant self teetering on a wobbly kitchen chair to clean the ceiling fans and texted it to my mom, just to see how fast she would call our house phone to yell at me to “SIT DOWN, ALREADY!!” and yell at D “MAKE HER SIT DOWN, ALREADY!!” We both giggled and she told us we were nuts. All was right with the world.

About the time the kiddos were in bed, the last spider web vanquished and D on his way for some Rooster’s wings (with Donkey Garlic sauce because I was NOT messing around), I sat down, turned on the TV and my water broke. Not a trickle, but a raging river of amniotic fluid. I couldn’t move. The dogs stared at me. I finally managed to waddle/slosh myself to the bathroom. M met me in the bathroom, of course, since he hadn’t yet been tucked in 458 times, questioning my every move. Shouts of “Mommy needs privacy!” were ignored, as always. I called D and he didn’t answer. I called my mom and told her I was apologizing on behalf of her granddaughter because we were on our way to the hospital that night (She had taken a little too much allergy medicine and felt like total crap and had told me the baby couldn’t be born until Tuesday). I called Sister and said please come to my house because mom feels like total crap. She did because she is Sister. And then I got on my work computer because I was about to leave a pile of proverbial crap on many desks Monday morning.

Sister arrived. D came home with wings that I decided not to eat, instead opting for a banana and protein bar. M refused to go back to bed. C was sound asleep at this point. After an hour or so of work, we headed off to the hospital and the contractions started up. At the hospital the idiot nurse questioned me down about my water braking. I asked if she would like to see the cushion to our sofa. Eventually she concurred that yes, we actually had broken water. Then I found out the crap news, Dr. I Hate His Guts was on call that evening. If the baby were to arrive before 8am he would deliver her. I hate this doctor because he is a gigantic a-hole. He’s rude, degrading and makes off-color remarks, and I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting with him ONCE. I did not want that clown ruining my daughter’s birthday, so I asked if I could opt for a midwife or a nurse or if we could just go home and have the baby there. They said I could have a midwife so I took it. I was validated in this decision when every nurse on the Labor and Delivery floor said they would have done the same thing because he’s a good doctor but a major a-hole.

The labor began to pick up. D and I walked the halls. I wanted so bad to make it through the labor without drugs just for the personal accomplishment, but Baby T was positioned funny and I had the world’s worst back labor, so 3 cm in, I got the epidural. I debated getting it that early. I was so scared it would stall labor and I would end up with a c-section, but I was also terrified that if I didn’t, I would be too worn out for the final stages of labor (after all, I had just scrubbed my house from top to bottom). The epidural was sweet relief. I slept for a bit and expected to be ready to push the next time the nurse came in. But I wasn’t. In fact, I hadn’t changed at all. I started to freak out a little thinking I had done it and was on my way to a c-section. Dr. I Hate His Guts was called and said to put me on pitocin at 7am. It was 5am. I had pitocin with C and only remember it as horrible. While I was thankful c-section didn’t come up, pitocin wasn’t my favorite subject either.

As luck would have it, my doctor, Dr. I Love Her To Death, happened to be awake around 5:30am, feeding her own newborn and saw all the notifications that I was hanging out under the care of Dr. I Hate His Guts. She knows I hate his guts, so she called in and told them to start the pitocin right away and that she would be in as soon as possible. With that, they started the pitocin around 6am and by 8:39am our beautiful girl was born in one push! It’s amazing how much easier the labor is with subsequent pregnancies. The pregnancy was extra crappy, but you are rewarded with relatively easy labors.

One of the things I was most excited about for Baby T’s birth was that I would finally be able to donate her cord blood! I had tried to do this with M, but wasn’t able to due to the location of the hospital where we would be delivering. In four years, things had changed for the better and I was able to get a donation kit through a cord blood donation program. They had me fill out an online questionnaire and then followed up with a phone interview before I was eligible for the kit. Once I received the kit, there was an additional questionnaire and I had to ask my doctor to become certified by taking a brief online course. I was so proud that we were able to do this and I’m so frustrated that there isn’t more information about this out there. The blood can be used to treat cancers or for research. If the blood isn’t used or destroyed and our family should need it, we can request it. To me, it’s a win-win for everyone and I hate that not many people are aware of it.

Now, off my soap box and back to Baby T. She was adorable and our tiniest baby at 7 pounds 15 ounces and 20.5 inches long. She had a smidge of brown hair (M said she had “Daddy kind of hair) and blue-gray eyes. This was also the first time I had decided to have the doctor lay the baby directly on me after birth. For many years, I have held the belief that this was the most disgusting thing ever. But after M was born I was changed in my view. He came out and I remember instinctively reaching for him, only to have the nurses take him to clean him as I had asked. It bothered me more than it should have, so with Baby T, I decided to suck it up and hold a grossly fresh newborn baby. I can’t explain it, but I’m so glad I did. She was so calm and precious.

We’re very lucky that she came out so calm and precious because after her birth, chaos erupted in the form of sick kids, obnoxious dogs, two polar vortexes and colic. More on that later.

In other news, I’ve lost my mind

30 Dec

This blog is quickly turning into quarterly updates with random major news thrown in to keep it interesting. So, I finished up football/volunteer season only to have the holidays blow up in full force, along with uncertainty in the future of my children’s school. And by the way, I’m still pregnant with a girl which translates to I’m currently the biggest, hormonal jerk of all time and I don’t even care. If only the rest of the world could stop being stupid, then I could be nice.

Yeah, so all of THAT going on and then one evening the neighbor, who’s home is for sale, stopped by just as I got home from work with my two psycho spider monkeys. While the kids screamed and climbed all over the rental car (mine is in the body shop and will be forever), the neighbor explained how things were going for them. I’ve never been more grateful for my blessings that sometimes seem like burdens. In the course of the conversation, she asked if we might be able to take their dog (the dog that I kind of think of as half our dog anyway, and the kids and husband like better than the dog we already have). I told her yes, absolutely, but I would have to ask D. I told her not worry, if he said no, I’d declare a democracy and the kids and I would surely out vote him. So 3 days later, we were the proud owners of an obese golden retriever. The kids have decided she is their dog and I can have the beast.

The beast and the neighbor dog are getting along quite well. The neighbor dog seems to have adjusted better than the beast. The only issue is that she refuses to go to the bathroom on a leash. Since we live in the country I’m not too terribly concerned about it. I do need to get her to the vet to find out what to do about her excess poundage, but that has to wait until I have my car back because I’m not sure I can or want to try to fit her in the rental. Otherwise, I’m pretty much feeling like Caesar Milan since we’ve made it a week and neither dog has killed the other.

 For those reading this and trying to do math at the same time, yes, that means we now have two dogs, will have three children in less than a month, and I haven’t been drinking.

What I’ve been doing that’s not blogging

29 Sep

Hi! Remember this blog? It’s been the thing below the thing that is the lowest thing on my priority list. Life is just blowing up folks. I mean this in the best way possible. Here’s a brief run down since my last post, two and a half months ago:

  1. Hey guess what? We switched babysitters AGAIN! It’s like I strive for total inconsistency in the lives of my young, routine-dependent children, but it had to happen. If C made one more remark that sounded remotely like that of a PMSing 16-year-old, she was destined to lose all of her baby teeth at once. Needless to say the language and behavior my two lovelies were learning from the other lovelies at the old sitter’s house wasn’t settling well with me. As fate would have it, our babysitter before this babysitter (you might remember, I ran over her cat.) moved back to our town in the same house they used to live in. While M still throws a fit every morning about getting out of the car, he has stopped screaming in my face and routinely assaulting D and me at home. I consider this a stunning improvement over our summer.
  2. In another fun twist of fate, newish babysitter ended up with another cat. A random stray decided to spend a week with their family. I believe Ollie’s ghost warned new cat of my driving and new cat continued on his way.
  3. We’re back to school!! I have a love/hate opinion of back to school. I love it because the kids aren’t “bored” anymore. But hate it because none of us get the chance to be bored as the routine rules our lives. M started 3-day preschool and couldn’t be happier about it. He LOVES school and was apparently craving the independence required of him there. He demands to walk in by himself and is loves that so much responsibility is demanded of him. This doesn’t really carry over at home, but as long as it’s happening somewhere, I’m happy for it. C is off to 1st grade and has decided it is the worst ever. There is only 1 recess. There are no snacks. There are no naps. Her hand hurts from writing so much and she doesn’t understand why all we ever do is read, read, read. The only good things are lunch and Mrs. P.
  4. Volunteer work has taken over my life. I’m in the second year of a two-year term as the communications coordinator for our parent-teacher organization. Last year it was a piece that I needed in my life. This year I’m pretty sure it’s going to kill me. I’m circling closer and closer to becoming a psycho PTO mom. You know the type that starts screaming at people when they ask dumb questions, sends scathing emails and can’t hide her snarkiness? Yeah, that will be me in a few weeks. I’m required to coordinate 25 or more volunteers for each home game of the local university’s football games. These volunteers work a concession stand and we receive a hefty donation from the university. Great fundraiser, if you can get people to work. I’m having trouble with that this year. The hardest part is seeing the people who give their time week after week and balancing that with the people who make up ridiculous excuse after excuse as to why they can’t work. That peppered with the dumb questions are getting to be more than I can take. Only 4 more games left.
  5. C and M are sharing a room now. Do you want to make yourself go completely, over-the-top insane? Move your two kids into the same bedroom, go on vacation, go camping, start school and throw a new babysitter into the mix all at once. Your children will simply stop sleeping. Because all of that, combined with BUNK BEDS, is more than their brains can manage at one time. It’s been over a month and we are just now starting to see improvements in our bedtime routine. Meaning the threatening of lives (ours and theirs) has dwindled to only 2 times each evening. It was a constant barrage from 8:30pm until 10pm. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.
  6. Why make your kids share a room you might ask. First of all, I think it’s good for their social development. D and I both shared rooms with our siblings and I think we’re better off for it. But the bigger reason is that a new little heathen will be joining our family in a few months. And since new little heathens tend to have unpredictable schedules and wake several times over the course of an evening, she’ll be getting her own room until she can handle a big girl bed. No sense in disturbing the sleep schedules of the older siblings.
  7. So yes, we finally made a decision and are so excited for this little lady to join our family. We’re going to be working on her name up until she goes to college. D and I are at opposite ends of the naming spectrum to say the very least. I would like it if she’d be a little gentler in her kicking, rolling and elbowing me. I’d also like the sciatic nerve pain to settle down so I can stop dressing like a hobo at work. This pregnancy has been a trip for sure. I’m slowly starting to feel more normal (aside from the sciatic nerve). But to properly document all my aliments for future reference, I have suffered from the following: hives, crackled eczema, two rounds of steroids, migraines, nose bleeds, ridiculous round ligament pain, sciatic nerve pain, and mood swings. I’m currently under the care of our local urgent care, a dermatologist, acupuncturist, OB/GYN and will soon add a chiropractor or physical therapist to the list. Whoever makes me not feel like crap first wins naming rights to the baby. Just kidding, sort of.
  8. The new little heathen. I mentioned she is not a gentle fetus. Meaning there are times I go to, you know, breathe and she takes that as an opportunity to move so hard that I yelp and double over in pain, certain that my uterus has just performed its own c-section. I only have one ultrasound picture where she doesn’t look like a blur. Every technician and doctor has commented on what “an active baby we have here.” I’m wondering if I start taking something now, if it will settle her down before birth. I don’t want to defy what she’s intended to be, but I’m running on zero most days and her siblings are already “active” children. A lazy baby, who self-soothes, sleeps through the night and potty-trains by two would be nice.

So that’s the past two months. I’m sure there are many details I’m forgetting, but these are the major highlights. I’m hoping to do a much better job of journaling our family over my maternity leave in the spring.