Monday, January 22, 2018

Birthday Sick

It's been the season of sick for us. We've had a few weeks here and there with just coughing, but for the most part, we've been battling germs since the beginning of November. That's why I was so excited when we managed to emerge from our self imposed quarantine this weekend. At last, we were fever free for a few days, and I'd even managed to get the house sanitized! We had made it to church and people no longer thought we'd just moved without telling anyone! I'd started making actual plans with actual people! The excitement was unbelievable.

I was so sure we'd turned the corner and then this morning, BAM, Bee starts the day with vomit and a fever. The desire to bang my head against a wall repeatedly was strong, but I resisted the urge and instead called my sister and wailed over the phone about how I am the worst mother ever, because, of course, having sick kids is obviously my fault. Now that the kids are all in bed, I've stopped fruitlessly blaming myself for the fact that our home is a gigantic petri dish and instead put my mind to good use thinking about what I've learned through these last few weeks of fever, coughs, snot, vomit, and exhaustion. This was inspired by today's realization that Bruiser not fully occupied by his twin is like a pinball rocketing around the house, knocking over everyone's sanity at top speed. It made school a little more interesting than I bargained for.

Anyway, other things I've learned through the season of sick:

  • Momming sick kids who now know how to throw up in a trash can is way easier than momming sick kids who have no concept of what in the world their bodies are doing and so let the vomit fall as it pleases.
  • If you have to get the flu while your husband is gone on a work trip, make sure that you time it so that your most responsible eldest child has already finished his round of three day fever so you can foist off all the parenting (by which I mean, the making of PBJs) on him while you lie on the couch comatose.

  • Friends who leave soup for you on the porch are amazing. So is Walmart curbside pick up when you've run out of Children's Tylenol but don't want to drag all the kids through the grocery store for it.
  • You will feel guilty for threatening to spray your son with vinegar water if he doesn't get out of bed when, one hour later, you discover he's running a fever of 103.

  • When the kids all insist on their own birthday cakes during birthday week (technically the twins shared a cake, but they are one in their own special twin bond) and then get too sick to eat the massive amount of cake you lovingly prepared, you will not be suitably upset when you discover that the dog and cats managed to get under the foil and eat half of Little's sheet cake.
  • Some sicknesses you can rally your way out of. Then there is the flu. Accept defeat and go back to bed. 
  • Littles will be so happy to not be sick that he will insist on celebrating every meal with birthday candles. This will not entertain Tiny, who is still sick. It will also backfire massively when breakfast is fresh from the oven blueberry muffins. Good thing a little wax never killed anyone.

  • The sight of your baby without a snot slug sliding from her nose for the first time in weeks will so endear her to you that you will barely be able to keep from kissing her all over. You will also be shocked to discover how much happier she is when she's not sick. It's almost miraculous.
  • Your kid might be sick if they a) curl up in their kitchen chair at breakfast, b) lie down at the top of the stair landing for no apparent reason, c) spontaneously nap on the love seat, d) put themselves to bed without parental supervision, or e) skip out on birthday tacos. You might be sick if you can't even drink your coffee in the morning. Your kids will, at that point, be convinced that you're dying.

At the very least, this season of sick has been incredibly educational. And, of course, fun for the whole family. And while it seems that we may not be quite as through with germs as I had wished, the important things remain the same: this too shall pass, God's mercies are new every morning, and a good book can help you weather any storm. Even a snot storm. But more on that one later--depending on who gets sick next.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bring on the Motivation

Someone posted on Facebook recently that quotation about how "Motivation is what gets you started; habit is what keeps you going." Unfortunately, sometimes building good habits is a challenge when you're in certain seasons of life. Habits and I don't do great when I'm getting up a lot in the middle of the night and when my days get swept up by the tyranny of the urgent which seems to be life with five kids in the home. So, sometimes I have to depend on motivation more than habit, which means I've been thinking about motivation a bit lately.

Faithful running partner

The way I see it, you can have positive motivators or negative ones. For example, a negative motivator would be not wanting to be fat, while a positive one would be wanting to be strong and healthy. A negative motivator would be not wanting to get in trouble, while a positive would be wanting to do the right thing. There's not necessarily anything wrong with negative motivators, but sometimes they leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Lately I've been focusing on staying motivated when it comes to exercise. I have accepted that 15 pounds worth of twins have stretched out my stomach past the point of no return, which means wearing a bikini is never going to motivate me. In all honesty, it probably wouldn't have been a motivator even if the twins hadn't turned my stomach into a saggy bag of play fun. What does motivate me: people pleasing.

My awesome beyond all reason next door neighbor comes over twice a week and pours my kids cereal and reads to them while I slip out the door for a quick run. Let me tell you that the emphasis is on quick because I am so grateful that she is doing this that I don't want to unnecessarily take up any more of her time. This has led to me hitting personal speed records just out of a desire not to inconvenience her. It's fantastic.

Warning, though, the desire to keep from inconveniencing others can really bite you in the rear. A few months ago, the Man went and worked out super early so I could fit in a quick run before he left for work. I'd been up and down all night with a teething Twinkle, but I got up to run anyway because--sacrificial husband! The Man tried to talk me out of it, but I stuck to my guns. He got up for me! And I was not going to waste his sacrifice. Maybe you can guess what happened next... I got about 3/4 of a mile from home before I found myself flat on my face on the concrete. I'm not sure if I fell asleep while running or just tripped and was so out of it I didn't remember what happened, but there were bloody knees and an ER visit for an infected hand. So, yeah, keep that people pleasing in check. Don't pull a me. Incidentally, the Man was gracious enough to not say that he told me so when I walked back in the house dripping blood.

One running motivator that has been really positive for me is that the Little Man has been joining me on his bike every now and then. Although sometimes when I'm running my heart out and he's cruising along on his bike like it's no big deal, I kind of want to punch him. In love. Also, he keeps trying to beat me home while I'm cooling off so that he can get sugar infested cinnamon toast for breakfast instead of a more healthy Mom approved option.

The one time I took all the kids with me.
Bruiser and Bee thought they were going to die.

I've also been motivated by the fact that every time I go running I rejoice in the fact that I'm not pregnant. I made it most of the way through Twinkle's pregnancy running, but you know what: it's really wonderful to go running with a bowling ball strapped to my front. I'm not sure if this is a positive or negative motivator, but it sure feels positive to me.

Some mornings I'm motivated to get my run done so I can get in from the cold (that's probably a negative motivator). Some mornings the finish line means a hot cup of coffee (definitely positive). And some mornings I'm doing a ten minute yoga video with a 10 month old baby ripping out my hair while I downward dog. There's no motivation on the last one. Just blind survival.

I know that habit will once again become a part of my life at some point. And I'm pretty sure that once I free up some of the forced motivation I'm using to keep my muscles healthy and my soul strong, I'll be able to motivate myself to write a little bit more (until that becomes a habit again too). In the meantime, I'm keeping those runs coming and trying to ask myself honestly how I want to spend the free moments that I do get. Positive motivator there. Instead of the negative motivator of "Well, I really should..." Here's to coffee and friends who have your back and boys on bikes instead of self hatred, fat shaming, and body consciousness. Also, here's to running fast just so I can keep up with the kids.

{If you get this blog in email form, you want to pop over to the actual blog site to see a video of Twinkle showing off her walking skills.}

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


The Man is squeezing in a post-bedtime workout, and the kids are off to dream about coughing and football and getting to wear much beloved Halloween costumes to preschool tomorrow (I guess this is the autumnal equivalent of visions of sugar plum dancing in their heads). And I am sitting here thinking about, well, honestly, nothing in particular except for the fact that I should be writing, and so here I am: writing.

Some of the exciting costumes that will be debuting tomorrow.

It's hard for me not to correct myself and say that I am merely "pretending to write". It makes me think of where that line is between practicing the piano and playing the piano. When do you stop practicing and just play? When do I stop pretending to write and realize that I'm actually writing? I'm not positive. I recognize only that this is good exercise for my mind and heart, that forcing myself to sit down and type something (anything) is healthy for me at a soul level.

Bruiser finds dinosaurs healthy at a soul level.
Also dragons.

So here's what we'll do. I'll sit here with my feet propped up on the coffee table and my window open, and I'll pretend that you're beside me, curled up with a throw pillow on your lap, and I'll tell you the things that I think you may want to know.

Here's Iron Man being artistic at the aforementioned
coffee table.

First, I'm really sorry that all three of the pets are in the room grooming themselves. I realize that it's rude. I didn't know that dogs could chew their nails before Trigger. I wish it was still a thing that I didn't know because loud.  And also, gross.

Trigger's partner in nail chewing.
She may be cuter than he is though...

Second, I apologize for the lack of pumpkins in our home. I realize that, as a basic white female, I am breaking lots of rules by not having a pile of miniature gourds gracing my mantle and at least one very large decorative pumpkin that will be skillfully carved into something amazing before the 31st. The truth is that we've been planning to take the kids to get pumpkins but first we realized that the Man was actually home and so we kind of wanted to take him with us, and then we got side tracked by twenty gazillion other things, and then the kids got sick (see above coughing reference) and now it's the 25th guessed pumpkins. Seriously though: profuse apologies all around.

Fall mantle: no pumpkins.
Will we survive?!
Third, I'm sorry that I can't sit still for longer than ten minutes at a time but Bruiser was convinced that Blythe was still in his room (she wasn't), and then Tiny wanted me to light the candles at the top of the stairs, and then Bruiser felt the need to inform me his throat hurts (yes, that's what happens when you get sick), and now I'm hearing the baby (but I'm going to pretend like she's going back to sleep on her own). This is why my thoughts are all disjointed and out of whack. Also, I had a six year old tell me today that I have too many kids. Which is a distinct possibility, but I like them all so much that I'm not sure which one I should give back.

I especially like this one.
Fourth, here at the home front (important news you are dying to hear!), we are finishing up football season. Tonight was Littles' last game and tomorrow is Tiny's. At the beginning of football season, I wasn't sure we'd survive, but at the end, I'm actually a little sad that it's over. I made football mom friends. I sliced oranges like a boss. My slow cooker and I bonded at a deep level. And it was fun watching the big boys learn and grow and be awesome under someone else's supervision. Do you think they'll give me until Christmas before they start trying to talk me into baseball?

Real men play sports and take care of their baby sister.

Fifth, if I go back and add a few cute pictures of the kids, can I give myself a check mark for today and move on with my life? Especially if I promise to next time actually write something bordering on coherence possibly with a legitimate point? Thanks. Good plan.

Let's go get ice cream now.

This is pretty much everyone's response to this blog post.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bookish Blog with Baby Sightings

Last week was drenched in happy rain which meant cancelled football practice, puddle jumping, hot cocoa parties, pillow piles, and, you guessed it, lots of books. I thought I'd share a few of the ones that have been circulating in our home, just in case you were looking for reading material of your own.

First, the kids and I are still plowing through the Little House books. Plum Creek wound up last week, and this week we are already neck deep in Silver Lake. So much drama: new baby Grace! dead Jack! blind Mary! And we're only on chapter two. Also, Bruiser took the time to ask me if Trigger was old or new. You know, just in case Trigs decided to join Jack in the Happy Hunting Grounds.

Meanwhile, the twins and I re-enjoyed (for the third time) The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson. Cute, cute, cute. And Donaldson gave us some great discussion about when your fears are just in your head instead of based on reality. Here's Bee showing you her favorite page.

We satisfied Bruiser's need for machine books with Firefighter Duckies by Frank Dormer (which was charming and funny and needed to be read at an excited yell) and Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. As Dewdney's work goes, Little Excavator was not one of my favorites. Sure, it rhymes and it scans, but mostly it just fit the bill for a book about something with a motor and wheels, which is about as discerning as three year old boys get. Sad truths. I didn't find it to have any of the humor and sweetness of the Llama Llama books, but maybe that was just me. Bruiser loved it.

For the inquiring minds that need to know, Twinkle enjoyed any and all books presented to her. This isn't saying much as she tends to happiness, not discernment. I'll give her a grace period.

The Bigs have been obsessed with Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale (the author, not the spy, but based on the spy, not the author--which I thoroughly enjoyed). True confession: I haven't read all of them but I have skimmed through parts. I did also do my research. History in comic form with a good dose of humor and imagination thrown in.

I included both shots of Tiny reading Nathan Hale simply because I couldn't decide which was cuter: the cat in the background or the baby butt exiting the frame. So far the boys have plowed through One Dead Spy (set during the Revolutionary War), Big Bad Ironclad! (Civil War), Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (WW1), and Alamo All-Stars (which was what got them sucked into the series initially). If nothing else, I love that these books are giving us a chance to talk about history. The illustrations help my boys envision the past more fully. We had a rousing discussion of about war tactics (trench warfare, guerrilla warfare, attacking head on, etc) which about used up all my military knowledge. From now on, I'll be fielding all questions to the Man.

Meanwhile, I plowed through two different trilogies. The first was Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder series. If you like your sci-fi with a heavy dose of physics, philosophy and time travel theory, these will be a good fit for you. Personally, I find all of the above to be quite fun, and I like it when a good novel (or three) makes my mind work as well as entertaining me. I also didn't mind thinking through the evolutionary framework Card insisted on providing. It's always good to consider why I believe what I believe and then go from there.

The other trilogy was Colors of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty. So many great plot twists that kept me engaged while also teaching me fascinating information about Isaac Newton, color, and light. Moriarty's humor keeps it fun but her writing provides depth and empathy, helping the reader see from multiple perspectives. Young Adult fantasy done right.

Lastly, I've been relishing Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect. It's been on my To Read list for quite some time, and it's been worth the wait. It showed up at the library at the perfect time, enabling me to think through how I really want my days spent and who I want to be. Months ago I had a friend tell me that as she passed her 35th birthday she thought to herself, "Is this who I want to be at forty?" and adjusted accordingly. This book goes hand in hand with that idea in my mind. It's helping me to slow my mind and heart even as my hands are busy caring for the precious ones entrusted to me.

Anyway, now that you've enjoyed the myriad pictures of my myriad cute kids, go forth and stock your book list! And know that I will never lead you astray, even if Bruiser valiantly continues to brainwash me into accepting machine books as classic lit.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Megaphones, Elephants, and a Side of Football

I'm only blogging right now because I'm trying to keep myself from buying book two in the trilogy I'm reading. My library doesn't have it yet and the immediacy of kindle is so tempting... Evidently, my ability to embrace delayed gratification has died an early death this week.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm also eating a spoonful of hot fudge straight from the jar, because I've discovered there are few things worse than not having decent dessert options while a) your husband is out of town and b) you're supposedly trying to lose what's left of the baby weight.

With that said, I thought you'd like to know that the twins started a two day Kids Day Out program because, get this, I'm not super mom. They're only gone for about three hours, and I have already trashed my grandiose plans to actually get stuff done during that time, but what I am enjoying: there has been a dramatic reduction in noise. Hands down the hardest thing for this introverted, homeschooling mother of five is the noise, noise, noise, NOISE (name that quote!). And my two worst culprits are the twins, who like to tie on blanket capes and charge from one end of the house to the other bellowing a mash up of "How Far I'll Go" and "Let It Go" (pretty much the same song) like a herd of trumpeting elephants armed with megaphones. So yeah, it was a little blissful.

Then we went to pick them up and got to hear all about their day which was essentially doing exactly what they would've done at home: playing with each other (except I didn't have to hear them do so). I asked them if they'd made any new friends which prompted confused looks from both of them. Why would they play with someone else when they can play with each other? Twins: a universe unto themselves.

I was gratified to discover that they missed me (so, maybe not quite a universe unto themselves) when Bruiser dissolved into a puddle of tears on the drive home demanding some 'nuggles NOW. Sorry, bud. Mom doesn't snuggle and drive. He got half an hour curled up in my lap once we got home before we had to start prepping for Tiny's first football practice.

What can I say about Tiny starting football? I'm glad that he started this week and Littles doesn't start until next week (in spite of the fact that I get to spend this whole week hearing Littles sigh pathetically about how he can't wait until it's Monday). This way, they're kind of easing me in. I have also discovered that doing football with five kids is going to stretch my multitasking abilities to their uttermost.

First, I packed dinner for everyone (Tiny ate in the car on the way home) because when one has a baby who is very attached to her early bedtime which is in direct conflict with someone else's football practice, one gets creative with scheduling. Second, I played soccer with kid number one while holding kid number five and watching kid number two (who demanded that I send multiple video clips to his dad). In the meantime, kids three and four were charging up and down the bleachers with reckless abandon while I lovingly reminded them that there are no ER visits allowed while Daddy is on work trips. Third, I decided that I was not going to resign myself to this season in life but instead accept it as a new and exciting logistical challenge. I also promised myself the couch, a good book, and a bowl of popcorn if I could get everyone in bed by 8. Which I did. Because I may not be super enough to dismiss the opportunity to farm out a couple of my kids two afternoons a week but I am definitely super enough to respect the blessings of bed time. Amen.

This is how Twinkle pulls off dinner (with a side of football).

One last note: I ended up chatting with another mom of multiples as we left practice. She asked me if I was baby sitting the other kids. Nope. They're all mine. This is my circus, and I do love these monkeys. Even the ones who masquerade as megaphone toting elephants.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Having five kids is kind of like waking up on a Monday morning and discovering that you have just enough milk to make a double batch of pancakes (if you partially substitute with the buttermilk that expired a month and a half ago). First, though, you pour a splash of milk into your waiting mug for the coffee you're about to make. Unfortunately, in your morning delirium, you then accidentally pour the coffee grounds into your mug instead of the coffee pot, thereby destroying the tablespoon of milk that you had explicitly saved. You then contemplate drinking your coffee black--something only sad people do--or bothering the neighbors. But THEN you realize there is ice cream in the freezer! So you get to start your day with a scoop of ice cream melting deliciously into your mug small bowl of coffee.

Alternatively, having five kids is kind of like going to shake the new bottle of lemon juice before opening it only to discover that 1) your super helpful oldest son already opened it for you and 2) he didn't replace the cap leading to a fountain of lemon juice drenching your kitchen. Since lemon juice is a natural disinfectant, you can now put off cleaning the kitchen for another week. Also, it covers up the smell of wet cat food so...winning!

Finally, having five kids is like accidentally typing "quacamole" when you meant "guacamole" and knowing that there is a great joke there if you could just figure out exactly what it was and laughing anyway at the joke that you can't quite put your finger on.

I'm telling you this because it might help you understand why there are such massively long gaps between blogs right now. But also because I'm here tonight to provide you with a brief break in your obsessive checking on the status of Hurricane Harvey. Tonight I don't have for you any deep thoughts or thought provoking words, only a few funny moments that happened because we have a truck load of kids. So, for your entertainment pleasure:

  • Last night at 1.30am, stumbling blearily towards' Twinkle, who is yelling happily for her second middle of the night feeding, I see the light on in the twins' room. I go in to investigate, assuming there will most likely be pee waiting for me in someone's bed. Instead, I discover empty bunk beds. I notice that there is also light filtering up the stairs, accompanied by the sound of small voices. I find the twins playing stuffed animals on the couch. They inform me that they're tired of sleeping. I inform them that I'm exhausted and don't care. I haul them off to bed (protesting) while Twinkle continues to demand milk NOW. I realize that this is the closest I get to a theme song.

  • The votes are in: our creepiest child is definitely Bee. The other day she informed me: "Mom, I have slept with one eye open. I have slept with two eyes closed too. It was very dark." She also shared with me in confidence once that Bruiser saw a pepperoni on a tree outside. Alrighty, then...
  • Tiny recently expressed his frustration because there was a) too much bacon on his bacon and egg burrito, b) the bacon was too brown, and c) the bacon was too crispy. We are considering excommunication.
  • You know you're reaching new parenting lows when the following conversation occurs:
    • Bee: what movie are we watching?
    • Me: The Jungle Book
    • Bee: you mean, The Jungle Movie
    • Me: no, The Jungle Book
    • Bee: The Jungle MOVIE
    • Me: sure, whatever

  • Being a homeschooling mom of five kids when the youngest is teething like a beast and refusing to sleep for longer than 2.5 hour stretches at night has left me feeling a bit like Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone...except I'm living off caffeine instead of unicorn blood. Still, pretty much the same thing. I've rejected the idea of finding the blood of my father (unknowingly given), the flesh of the servant (willingly sacrificed), and the blood of my enemy (forcibly taken) simply because I'm worried that I will lose my nose in the process, and I really like being a rebel with a nose ring. No nose ring with no nose. If only He Who Must Not Be Named had thought that one through a little more.
  • Your hormones might still be a bit out of whack if your husband finds you crying while watching American Ninja Warrior. This is a public service announcement.
Not shown: book I was simultaneously reading to Bee,
while playing cards with Littles and Tiny,
while balancing Bruiser on my shoulders,
and keeping Twinkle from face planting.
  • One must always be prepared to walk into the bathroom and inexplicably find a long turd sitting in the sink. Preparation is key to not screaming hysterically, "WHAT THE CRAP!?" only to discover that it literally is crap and you just said "crap" in front of the child who gets in trouble regularly for saying, you guessed it, "crap". Explanations as to how said turd got in the sink are only understandable if you too think like a 3 year old twin.
  • Icing your bruised knee with a tub of ice cream while you simultaneously eat said ice cream is like making lemonade out of life's lemons but way better. 

  • The twins decided to move their humongous dresser across the room during rest time today and position it directly in front of their window. Then they pulled all the clothes out of their closet and deliberately snapped a third of their hangers in half. One day I will understand why they do the things they do, but today is not that day.
  • Twinkle peed on the kid who has been pulling out all the stops in the misbehavior department this week. I enjoyed it more than I should've.
The kids are on stair duty as our future mountain climber
risks life and limb and Mom's sanity.
  • Some people bring themselves to full consciousness by splashing a little cold water in their faces and drinking a cup of coffee. Last week, I got the same effect during early morning snuggles with Bruiser when I discovered a cockroach crawling up Bruiser's leg.
  • Our unrepentant beast of a dog stole one of the kids' quesadillas during a picnic the other day. I got him back by looking directly in his eyes while I proceeded to eat every bite of the leftover chicken I'd been planning to share with him, and then licking off my fingers. Slowly. 

And this is now way more entertainment than you called for. Good luck and good night!

I leave you with Cat Face.
Two seconds after I took this picture,
she decided to stretch out both paws
and knead my chin.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Broken Record Truth

A few weeks ago, I plowed through Psalm 119. It took a few days, and by the end, my snarky self was convinced that the psalmist had an alternate identity as a broken record.  Seriously: 176 verses of the same thing over and over again. Evidently the psalmist didn't consider conciseness to be a virtue worth having.

But then, I realized that the psalmist is doing exactly what I have to force myself to do all day long: preaching the truth to himself. Our world is antagonistic to truth. Our hearts are as well. And so if we want to walk in truth, which is the only way to peace, we have to remind ourselves of it over and over again.

Sometimes this gets repetitive. I remind myself minute by minute that not only does what I do matter, but how I do it matters too. I remember that Christ is with me, Emmanuel. I hold before myself the suffering Christ and then the hope of the resurrection. I tell myself that being present is more important than being productive. I repeat truth to myself like it's a paying job that can provide for my expensive book habit. All day. Every day. And sometimes it gets tiring. Okay, often it gets tiring.

At the close of the day, I am tired of reminding myself of what is Real and just want to wallow instead in what is easy for a little while, knowing that the next morning and the battle to believe truth will come quickly. But here is my joyful realization for the week: this is why God gives us the Church. Because when we are the Church for each other, we know that others are walking alongside us fighting the same fight, struggling to remind themselves of truth as well. We are not alone in our fight to live in the hard truths instead of easy numbness.

Simultaneously, when we are part of the Church, there are moments of reprieve when someone else can speak truth into our lives for a bit. This is one of the reasons why Sunday morning church is so important to me: because for just an hour and a half every Sunday, I get to just listen as someone else reminds me gently of what I have to forcibly fight for the rest of the week. This is an incredible gift.

If you are someone like me who struggles to remember what is real, I hope you find others who can help you remember. I also hope you try memorizing Scripture with your children so that then the inner voice repeating it to you throughout the day has a really cute voice. Most of all, I hope you don't beat yourself up over the off days but just keep trying to jump back on the broken record band wagon of truth. It might make for a ridiculously long Psalm, but it also makes for a richer life.