Thursday, July 29, 2010


It is 3:19. I should be sleeping. Instead, I am awake, irritated at the rantings of a drunk woman. Even dumber.

Advisory #1: there is bound to be a bit of language in this one.
Advisory #2: I may express an "if you don't like it, look away or leave" attitude.
Advisory #3: I have been known to be opinionated, and with an "I don't care what you think about me" attitude.

Consider yourself warned.

I am who I am. I don't think I should have to apologize for that. In fact, I don't. Take it or leave it. I have at least arrived to somewhat of a place in life where I am confident enough in who I am to not care a whole lot about what others think of me. I have lived enough and experienced enough to know that I will never measure up to other's standards of what they think I should be, and I am happy (enough) with who I am, what I stand for, to live my life the best way I know how, for me and my family. I do my best to do my best. I strive to be a better person, I "welcome" any improvements that God or my husband ask of me, and though it may not be evident to some, I think I have grown and changed and become a better person, wife, mom, housekeeper as the years have gone by. That said, I NEVER have claimed to be perfect. Never, ever.

I'm not disillusioned here, people. I live in the real world.

That said, I am awake nonetheless because some drunk chick decided to spout her judgementalism to my husband. And this is not the first time this week that someone has shared their opinion of me with my awesome husband, who comes home and says that all of that just makes him love me more. That he is thankful for the wife he has, and glad I'm not like some other people's drunk wives. And yes, that made me tear up to write that.

So I am feeling judged. And it's keeping me awake. grrr

Naturally, I don't want people to think bad of me. I don't want the people of my small town making me the topic of their gossipy conversation, in regards to my children, my husband, the shape of my yard, my mothering skills or lack thereof. I'm human, and as much as people's opinion doesn't matter to me, it matters a little.

I know that my life, while more or less normal, isn't always the status quo. I know that each person tends to find a spouse that is well suited to them, and their marriage and household runs in the way that fits them. One person's mothering techniques aren't going to fit for all mothers. The way my parents parented me, while great and full of good examples, isn't 100% the way I'm going to do it. That's why my life is my life and your life is your life. I'm me, you're you. Due to that alone, our worlds are going to run differently.

I know there are more parents out there who have similar philosophies as mine, but it seems that there are more who don't agree. Or at least, they're more vocal about it.

I'm not a hovercraft, OCD, worrywart kind of parent. I am a perfectionist in weird ways, and housekeeping is not one of them. I value kindness over cleanliness, God over all, I am not materialistic, I want to foster creativity and independence, and common sense over a college education. (Don't get me wrong on that last one though, a college education is important. But not going to college doesn't make you any less worthy or less intelligent.) I don't have a perfectly clean house. (Get real. I have 4 small kids, and I'm pregnant.) My house wasn't perfectly clean before I had kids, and while I am ten times the housekeeper I was, I can barely keep up these days. There is always a floor that is messy, toys to be picked up, laundry to be done, dishes that need washing, a counter covered in crumbs. I am a poor time manager, and though I multitask a lot, I also get distracted, or interrupted, and just about every task is half finished. I am not a type-A, highly motivated person. Nor am I lazy. I'm motivated, just not highly motivated. I don't dust often, and I rarely iron. I don't believe in towel drying dishes, because the air does it just fine. And while the air is working, I can do something else. Like vacuum. Or blog. Which I clearly don't waste spend a lot of time on either. There are places in my house that are constant battles of clutter. If I manage to overcome that by the time I die, it will be akin to climbing Mount Everest.

I kind of look at myself as a person who's a little rough around some edges, refined on others. I am a work in progress, and I feel that God is going to do a little extra refining in me this year. I curse daily, though not in front of my children, and I hardly ever use the f-bomb - I find it offensive and unnecessary. My hubs, on the other hand, uses it commonly, just not in front of me or the kids. I have been known to be inebriated, though rarely, and I don't doubt that it will happen again in the future, albeit rare. I think it's happened twice in the last 7 yrs, and I can actually only remember once. I am a Christian, but that doesn't mean I don't sin or don't have things to work on. I let my kids watch too much tv, but I don't let them play video games (except on because I think that rots your brain even more. I don't schedule lots of activities or entertain them all day, because then they learn to entertain themselves, and have a greater level of imagination and creativity in their play. I never hear, "I'm bored." I would rather let them watch Transformers than Shrek 3, because the word masturbate is not as influential at their age as bad body humor. I can't stand Calliou because he is too whiney, and we will not be watching Where the Wild Things Are again anytime soon because the bad behavior of a ten yr old boy is WAY more disruptive to my household than 20 gory, violent episodes of CSI. Not that I let them watch those either.

I am a good cook, but I do sometimes cater to my picky eater because I just don't want the battle. I am often too tired to cook a good meal, so mac n cheese and frozen pizza are not strangers to our house, but neither are lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and meals made from scratch. I breastfeed because it's convenient and I don't have to wash bottles, but it's also healthy, good for baby and mom, and cost effective. I practically did backflips trying to bf my last baby, with lots of doctors visits and major dietary changes for me, trying to figure out the problem. In the end, he got soy formula, and he, I and the entire family were better off for it.

Admitedly, before I had kids, I was/we were (silently) judgemental of other parents for their "couch parent" style of crappy parenting. That is often the reason I get off my butt and "do something", rather than yell across the room. I don't want to be that parent, or a hypocrite.

My doctor told me that babies or small children don't need to be bathed more than once a week unless they are physically dirty. Surely, I need to bathe my children more often than I do, but often times, they are dirty within 10 minutes of being outside for the day, and I'm not giving them a bath at 3 in the afternoon just so they can have clean fingernails for a trip to the grocery store, only to have them grungy again by 7. Do you have any idea how long it takes to bathe 4 children? It's not just a matter of getting them clean. They want to play in there for at least half an hour, and some of them want to take baths alone, now. I am just not anal enough to feel the need to bathe them every day. Kids are kids and kids get dirty. I am one person, and sometimes I do what has to be done, rather than what should be or kinda needs to be done. If you have a complaint about that, you are more than welcome to come and bathe them yourself. Do the dishes too, while you're at it.

I believe in teaching a child personal responsibility. This means that what we do has consequences, good or bad, and we are responsible for the outcome of our actions, and how they affect others. So if you don't obey mommy when she tells you not to stand there, and then someone opens the door and you get smacked in the head, well, yeah. That's what happens. If you tell a child not to touch the stove, and they do anyway, well, experience is a good teacher, even if the result is a small burn on a finger. The kid down the street who was not nice yesterday, last week or last year, is not a good person to play with. So chance would have it that they will probably be mean to you today, and you should not play with them. If you stand next to someone swinging a bat, you are likely to get hurt. Hitting your sister will get you some form of discipline. Just like the last time you hit your sister. CLEARLY there are boundaries based on age and maturity that have to be considered, as well as danger and health and well being. A small burn on the finger does not, to me, constitute grave danger. It is a lesson sorely learned, for sure, but not something that they will die from. A 2 yr old doesn't understand why they are not to run into the street, so obviously that is something that a parent must try to prevent. That is dangerous, even on my small town street. I never "let" my child run into the street, but it happens. Because they are kids. Because I am human, and occasionally I have to take my eyes off of one, to attend to another. Once in a while, it happens because I am not paying attention. Or trying to have an adult conversation for 1.3 minutes. Oops. My bad. Oh wait, that's right. I'm H U M A A A A A N! My now 2 yr old has really tested this this summer. The kid is a master escape artist, and after the regular locks, door alarms and barricading the door, we have now resorted to chain locks installed at the very top of our doors. He still gets out. And runs into the street.

My 6, 5, and 3 yr old have the  freedom to play outside in our yard, at the next door neighbors, and at the park across the street within certain boundaries, essentially unattended. Because... I can see them when I want or need to. I live in a nice, rural, Midwestern small town, and I can do this. I don't worry about flying bullets, drug pushers or child molesters, because that just isn't common here. If I lived 20 minutes away, they wouldn't be as free. They do have boundaries, which are enforced, and I do spy check up on them frequently. Because... they are small children and need to be checked up on.  My children revel in the freedom they have, and want more and more all the time. I don't always give it to them. My friend and neighbor allows her same age son to play in the street, and ride his bike around to more places than I allow my son. Not because she is more lax or her son is more mature. Quite the contrary, I think she is a pretty conservative parent. But she is comfortable with her decisions and parenting experience, and when they poses a problem with her children, she pulls in the reins, just as I do with mine. There are established and tested boundaries. If rules are broken, consequences come, priviledges are taken away. My 5 yr old doesn't have the same priviledges as my 6 yo because she hasn't proven that she is ready. My 3 yr old still needs to be watched some, but she is not as daring or adventurous as her siblings, so I don't worry too much about her getting into trouble or danger. It's just not in her personality. I have to worry more about her tripping over her own feet. I also don't think it's too much, or cruel behavior, to ask a 15 yr old to babysit. Because 15 yr olds should be mature enough to handle it. I was 11 when I started babysitting. And I really don't feel it's wrong to ask a 15 yr old sibling to babysit for a couple hours so I can go to a dr's appt. That's what family does - they work together, pitch in where needed. Being a child is not a free ticket to ride. And, babysitting is not parenting. It's making sure everyone is alive and the house is still standing when the parents get home.

I do my best to raise respectful, well behaved children. I don't allow them to run around like hooligans in public places where it's not appropriate (church, Walmart, the library). I may "allow" them to run around a little, because they are kids and that's what kids do, but causing a disturbance, being disrespectful or obnoxious, destructive, or whatever is not "permitted." Sometimes it happens. But not because I was lazy or didn't care. They are kids, and kids are wont to be a little unruly at times. Mine get disciplined for it. In a restaurant, they are not likely to be the disruptive ones. Yours are.

Along with personal responsibilty, I also allow my children to learn to be independent and have responsibilities. Sometimes this is hard for me. Allowing them to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwich makes them happy, and makes a mess for me. Making them learn how to put away their own laundry is a LOT more work, time and frustration for me, but isn't it my job to teach them how to do stuff, to live, to make decisions, to care for themselves, while they are under my care, and can be guided and recieve instruction? So I have to set aside my perfectionist desire at having nice neat piles of organized clothing, or a less sticky countertop, for the sake of their learning.

Children need to be able to make mistakes, and have someone help them out or lovingly correct them, teach them a better way, so that when they are on their own, they do not fall off the deep end, and make mistakes that take years to fix or recover from. Mistakes that could greatly impact others as well as their own life. Financial mistakes, legal mistakes, relationship mistakes, educational mistakes. Ones that we've all made to some degree, and that, guaranteed, they will make to some degree, too. I don't want them to bounce checks or commit crimes, date an abuser, fail a class, have an abortion, smoke a joint. But they may do some of those. And they will learn from those experiences. I can also do my damnedest to teach them how to NOT make those mistakes, the why of it, by allowing them to live and safely make mistakes, just smaller ones. How I choose to do that you may not agree with.

In the end, I am confident that my way is not a bad or wrong way. I am confident in my parenting choices, and when I am not, I seek the sage advice of more experienced moms whom I respect. I trust my judgement and my gut feeling. I have learned from experience, from observation, and from reading.

In the end, I am confident enough to know that those people can make judgements, but know that I am the one responsible. I am confident enough to know that God has grace for my mistakes, and I trust in Him enough to believe he will  protect when I cannot or do not. I am observant enough to see the mistakes of my judgers, and to know that they are not perfect parents either.

I am immature enough to want to say "pppbbbbttt!" and "Screw you!"

So to all you judgers, to those who don't agree...
I'm sorry you have a problem with the way I raise my children. I'm sorry you think I'm a bad mom because my children play in my yard or at the park without me. I'm sorry you think I actually let my kids run into the street. I'm sorry you think I'm a bad mom because my children frequently have dirty feet and fingernails. I'm sorry you think I'm a bad mom because once in a great while I forget the diaper bag, and that it is NEVER filled with a full change of clothes for each of my 4 children. I'm sorry you feel babysitting is too much responsibility for a 15 yr old. Make sure you tell that to your 12 yr old babysitter. Mostly, I'm sorry your life doesn't have enough to worry about on it's own, that you have to focus on mine. I didn't know I was so interesting.

And now that it's 5:56 am, maybe I can sleep. In this I am not confident. But hopeful.

Good night. er, good morning.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cake. It's Owl right.

Cake season is upon me again, with all the flurry of birthdays going on here in the summer. I'm a tad late in making a 4th of July post, but hey, I've got 4+ monkeys to tend to. Life's busy. You forgive, I'm sure.

Since we don't normally have her here on her birthday, I busted out all the bells tips and whistles and came up with a cake I knew Schweetheart would be happy with. She loves owls. It was a success. In fact, it may even be my favorite cake yet.

First on the birthday agenda was the Independence Day parade. The day looked to be gloomy, with rain forcasted for much of the day, but in the end, the rain ended an hour before the big parade in my "home town" and not a drop afterward. We lucked out with close parking and seating, and ended up picking a nice spot, where we soon realized we were just 2 driveway's down from my SIL's inlaw's house. (Oh, and such a gorgeous old home with beautiful woodwork of the kind you don't find today. sigh of nostalgia/envy.) And it also provided us, ok me, with close access to a bathroom. YAY! So we moved over and joined their crowd. (Sorry, no pics. Left the camera in the car.)

Kids had a great time. Restocked our candy pile a bit, and I got to see my old marching band and another local favorite marching band. (Band Geeks Unite!!!! Woot woot!) Then off for a birthday picnic in the park. Walking tacos were the requested fare, great for kids and adults and picky eaters alike. I must also say, Parks rock. Playground for the kids, essentially uninterrupted conversation for the adults. No one has to clean house. Win-win!

Sorry, I failed to get any pics of the cute, yet minimal, decor. We did do it up a little. Balloons and matching tablecloth, anyway.
We even managed to get a family picture. Any tips on how to get kids to ALL look at the camera?

We headed home for a rest (where I took a much needed nap - 3am was the time my cake decorating ended), a late supper, and then fireworks.

I love fireworks. My partner-in-monkey-making? Not so much. He poops the party in that respect. Oh well. Doesn't slow me down. (This actually was the second time we've gone to fireworks this year. The first time was blog worthy too, though for the life of me I can't remember at this mo if I blogged it. sigh. Occupational hazzard, I guess. Am I rambling?) So the kids and I, Boots included this time (his first fireworks), headed out to a neighboring small town for the explosive festivities.

This town, with it's population of a whopping 350 people, puts on a good show. And, you can park so close that the fireworks are going off essentially on top of you. (Which consequently makes those dud-bombs REALLY loud. Also, it's important to check which way the wind is blowing, and park upwind so flaming bits of paper are not landing on your head.) Parked on the side of the highway, you just whip out your lawn chairs, or stay in your car away from the skeeters, and enjoy. Tune your car radio to a local radio station for a musical simulcast thingy and viola! Instant patriotism. The kids are still a little scared of the loud noise, poor Boots was not expecting it, and I failed to prepare him by covering his ears, so he was shaking like a leaf. He hung in there for about 10 minutes and then dove for the safety of his car seat.

We were all in bed by 11pm. But do you think anyone could sleep in the next morning? By the time I get them adjusted to "my" summer schedule, it will be time to change them back. Oh well.

Oh, I almost forgot. On the way home from our afternoon picnic, we saw this deer, hanging out on the edge of a parking lot, near the university. We sat and looked at it for a long time. Did I ever mention I love where I live?

Monday, July 5, 2010


I am, slowly, but not so surely working on this new background and stuff. To help ya'll with being able to actually read my posts, and because I don't want people hating me, **wink wink** ** you know who you are** I did alter the margins in the only way I know how, so you can now read the words. You're welcome. :D

However, as you can see, there's a huge blank space at the top. Yes, it annoys me too. I am working on changing that, but I haven't figured out how to change the margins of my posts/sidebar only (I have figured out how to do it for just the header).  (For now, I changed my body margins, if you must know. Which affects the whole dang thing. Even the nav bar. grr. sigh.) So if any of you html wizards can help with that, I'd be happy to take your advice. Until then, I appreciate your patience. Thank you, and have a nice day. *big toothy smile*

A little serious

I promise I'll follow this with a happy, festive post. But I've been thinking. And I need to spit this out.

I've been noticing and thinking about this for a while, about how I feel stuck in between the need to's and the have to's. Both are necessary.

It's life's struggle between all that I have to do. I have to make meals, do laundry and clean the house. I have to love on my kids. (Not that I don't want to love on them, I do. It's because I love them that I know the importance of having to love on them.)

I'm not talking about a spic and span house, beds all made, laundry put away, counters cleared, 4 course meals on the table inclusive of all the food groups, afternoons spent frolicking at the zoo, or daily crafts that grow their imagination and fine motor skills. I'm talking about the basics. And I seem to barely, or not, have time for even the basics.

The house getting clean is the least of my worries. (And trust me, if you saw my house you'd believe those words.) Making food for their bellies, (and mine, and my hub's) is not optional. Neither is laundry. I can try and wear the same outfit a couple days in a row, but eventually I gotta change, and there's still lots of laundry. (Like, for example, the work clothes that I should have going for the Kong, right now. And lemme tell ya, he's a " wee bit" cranky when he wakes up, and when he wakes up and has no clean draws or socks, he's really cranky.) ahem.

No, I would not know that from experience. Who me? ;)

Loves, hun. :D smoochy smoochy

What I seem to still not make or have time for, is really sitting down and enjoying my children, all 5 of them currently residing in my house. A quick hug and and 'I love you' while hands gloved and full of dishwater suds seems to be about all I can manage to squeeze in. And I'm sad about it.

I'm sad about the fact that George said to me that I should play with him sometimes. When I agreed, he told me I just needed to have courage. Now while that interchange was cute, it also was not. It was not because my son needed to tell me, with WORDS, a thing he is not long on, that I need to spend more time with him.

I'm sad every time Schweetheart comes up and gives me a hug that I didn't do it first. (Not that I'm sad she hugs me. That part I like mucho.) Because I know she need, wants and loves hugs. And she's a lovable hugger. And I love to do it.

I'm sad I haven't take Boots to the park in over a week, and then it was another week before that, I think. For a kid who longs to be outside all day, everyday, that's not good luvin.'

(Koko and Cheeks are off the list because I fixed them a tea party lunch today, so that was something. Only I guess I didn't enjoy it with them. So maybe they're on it too. sigh.)

And lately, while my kids seem to be driving me insane begging for my attention, all I can seem to do is scream about being quiet and leaving me alone for one cotton pickin' minute.

It's never been a secret to me that I'm not the best time manager. I can multitask, sure. What mom/woman can't? But I shouldn't be multitasking while loving my kids. Unless the tasks include relaxing, having fun, laughing, etc.

Part of the struggle lies in not having personal recharge time. Gypsy Mama said it best in her recent post, "Parents as people seem to exist only in the fringe hours of the day. And those hours are frayed around the edges." Which says it well, for me. I feel frayed around the edges. I feel lost from my free time, my husband seems like an alien. And when it comes to taking care of all the little people, I only seem to manage the bare minimum.  No, I'm not a bad mom, and I take essentially good care of my kids. But, in my own whacked out way, I'm a perfectionist, so I don't want to be just a good mom, I wanna be a great mom. Yes, this to shall pass, and blah blah blah. I just worry about getting down the road and wondering "who am I, who are we."

So, you magical Wonder Mom's, do tell. How do you do it? What's your secret? How do you balance it all? And please don't answer "by having fewer kids / I don't know how you do it". Those are now long unoriginal statements. lol This really isn't a whine post. I just want to hear your tricks. Or, your struggles. Cuz a little commiserating is good, too. :D