Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank you for Yesterday

Yesterday I got schooled, and humbled, in how to accept help from others.

Why is that such a hard lesson? There really are people who are kind and genuinely want to help, even strangers. The fact that I would say 'No' to such help is crazy, especially since they can plainly see I need it, or it's their job, or they just want to be nice, or... they are kind people doing their job with kindness. (That last one's not always a given.)

I have deduced that for me it's an issue of pride. Yep. Pride. Not what I immediately thought the answer would be. But we all have some level of pride about something, even women do, and so when confronted with our own inadequacy in an area, our pride is, shall we say, challenged.

As a mom of many littles, I have my hands full. Literally. But I chose to have these children. Some people don't believe in large families. I didn't exactly plan to have one, but here we are and we wouldn't trade any of them for anything. (Though I wouldn't consider 5 large. It's straddling the fence but large to me would be 7. Or 8. Or 17.) And it is challenging, these early days, regardless of how many you have. Thing is, I don't want pity. I don't want people to think I can't handle it. I don't want to appear weak or incapable or needy. But I do need help. Or maybe I don't need it, but it would be nice. A little lightening of the load.

After I had Huggyface, a friend from church offered to come over and help do laundry or something. As a mother of a newborn who had nursing issues and wanted to be held constantly, I was finding it difficult to take care of my family, make meals, clean up, buy groceries, etc. Admittedly, the laundry mountain pile was growing. And, as she offered, she said that she and her husband had opposite work schedules some days and so really I would be doing her a favor by getting her out of the house, and "allowing" her to be useful instead of wasting her time watching lame tv shows. Well, ok. She convinced me. If I was doing her a favor. *wink wink* So I could accept that. Plus, it's acceptable as a new mom to receive help, right? Never. In my wildest dreams. Could I have imagined that she would come over and spend  S E V E N  hours helping me. I was truly, truly blessed. How could I ever repay her?
I have another friend that has helped  m a n y  times by watching my monkeys, in addition to her own. Often on short notice so I could go to a doctor's appointment alone, or once all. day. long. so I could clean and paint and prepare for someone coming stay with us a while. She has made us more than one "new mom meal" and drove to my town to deliver it.
And again, I thought, what can I ever do to repay her?
The bigger question is,
why can't I just accept these kind gifts for what they are?
Gifts. Pure kindness and love and generosity and friendship. 
From the person who wanted to help put my groceries on the conveyor belt while I held a tired and hungry crying baby, to whom I said no.
From the nice nurse who got my kids coloring pages and crayons and set each of them up with clipboards and their own place to sit, moving around car seats and purses, attending to each of their needs, listening to their stories, and shifting around once again as the doctor came in, while I sat nursing a baby. (For this one, I just sat marveling how she cared for us, thanking her profusely. It's not like I could get up anyway.)
And from the gal yesterday who asked in the midst of a mothering meltdown if she could help and was met with my less than kind tone of voice and a slammed car door, screaming baby in the background. She didn't deserve me and I didn't deserve her. But she came back when my gas pump wasn't working, fixed the problem, gave me a new gas coupon at twice the discount of the one I had had, and pumped my gas, all while I sat nursing my child. (this happens a lot - the nursing. It was a long day out.) So I sat, feeling bad for my attitude and actions, tears streaming down my face, while also thanking God for her and her persistent kindness to an undeserving customer. To top it off, she even came back, put my pump away, and handed me my receipt, while I could barely squeak out a tear-stained 'thank you.'
So to all you who offer kindness, thank you. Strangers, family, and friends. Thank you, even when I turn you away. It's just that I don't know how to say "yes." But I'm learning.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Forgetting...

I'm a mom of five. Five in just under seven years. That's a lot of sleepless nights crammed into a fairly short amount of time. Sometimes I feel like I've lost my mind, both for having five kids, and because I have five kids. Pregnancy brain can only carry you so far - and then how do you explain all the forgetting.

I forget school snacks and registration forms, I forgot to bring my checkbook to the babysitter's, and then kept forgetting to pay her later - for two whole weeks. I have failed to provide immunization forms for preschool for two years, until the school year is almost over. (And last year I don't think I did it at all.) I don't forget birthdays or phone numbers or where I parked my car, but I seem to forget a lot of other stuff that makes me feel so scatterbrained. Well, I am scatterbrained.

Life seemingly passes by in such a blur. I need to stop and sit a while. Not sit on FB, but to sit and  watch  and  see  and  listen  and  hear.  I want to remember these days. The smiles, the sillies, cute toesies and nosies. I want to always be able to remember how they smelled, and how I held them as babes, how they later wrapped their chubby little arms around my neck, practically squeezing my head off, one of them.

But also in the grasping on of these days, I don't want to forget the "me" days, which seem to keep getting lost in the shuffle. I don't want to forget my dreams, my passions, how to laugh, how to dance. I don't want to be forgotten under my mom-gear, that once, once I was a whole person who lived independently of a spouse or children. My identity was found in me and who I was, mostly, and how I had become reconnected with an identity in Christ. But it seems I don't have time for all that "me" stuff anymore. Not even hardly for "God" stuff. I don't want to forget how to speak Spanish - it is my passion, my soul song, my gift. I don't want to forget how to dance and prance and not fall down when I do. I don't want to forget how to hear Him, to see Him, to seek and to hunger for him. But I'm afraid it is happening, has happened.

If only the world could stop for a day, or slow down just a tad. I could use a big pause button, to press at times so I can gather my thoughts, my messes and my intentions. But the flurry of my life, or life right now, seems like a giant whirlwind, tossed and torn and strewn about. I want to see beauty and joy. I want to  see  my life so I won't forget.

Cuz today,

I went to town to buy milk and pears.

I came home without milk.

Story of my life.

I want to be more intentional. I just hope I haven't forgotten how.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Free Stuff

I love free stuff. I love to get samples in the mail, or heck, even at the grocery store. (Who doesn't love those cute little ice cream cones they dish up? And the Cream Puffs at Sam's Club? YUM!) Even more, I love my birthday which, both sadly and thankfully, only comes once a year. Combine the two and YAY! Par-tay!

I remember as a kid getting a special card in the mail on my birthday from Baskin Robbins for a free birthday treat. That was the best! I loved their kid-enticing upside down ice cream cones decorated to look like a clown. So fun and festive. And I remember carefully staring through the glass trying to choose just the right one. I think there were other things like that too. Around here, there's not a whole lot of that going on anymore. Which is a bummer for my kids. There are a couple restaurants that sing to you, one used to give you a free dessert but now it's a free entree, and another place gave you your choice of dried out kiev or an overcooked steak, as long as you were willing to sit among the very gray-haired folks. (Even for a young-ish adult, that's not exactly my idea of a whopping good time.) So in my perusing of the great world wide web today, I found this little gem. And we even happen to HAVE one of these places near us!!!

Get great products for free. No purchase required! But if you must, get a facial, or a massage. That's what I suggest. Plus, by sighing up, you get a free something coupon to print out today!

Man, I can't WAIT til my birthday. Woot woot!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's not what you think

We are in a snack frenzy in my house. Everyone is snacking  all.  day.  long. I, of coarse, am not innocent in this either, but the kids are like ravenous dogs, constantly hungry, never satisfied. I can't tell you how many nights I send them to bed with tales of woe of how they are so hungry. (But seriously? We OFTEN eat at 7 pm, and they go to bed at 8. And by often I mean 7 out of 7 nights. Or thereabouts. How hungry can they get in that time? They've barely finished eating.)

I usually offer them good choices, like fruit or crackers, but they've gotten tired of the same old same old. The good thing is, that I've been able to bring back things old things that they were tired of but now enjoy again. Enter chocolate animal crackers.  

Lovely little things. Apparently, making them chocolate makes them not just "for babies" anymore. And anything made chocolate tends to be an improvement. (Well, a lot of things, anyway. I'm not at all interested in chocolate covered bacon. Or pickles. Ahem.) Needless to say, I've enjoyed a few handfulls myself.

So this afternoon, while doling out one of a few rounds of snacks, I plopped my little handful into a bowl that was sitting on the table. It looked clean, a few drops of water in the bottom, no problem. I'm eating away, enjoing my little treat until... uh.. hm. A soggy one. Wait, what's that? What I thought was water, was not. Nope.

Try pickle juice.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The view from here

I am sitting here alone, in the quiet, nursing Huggyface who occasionally emits a grunt or two. It's nice, this unexpected solitude. I do not often get to spend a meal relaxing. No "mom I need a drink", no "I don't like that's", no spills, no yelling, no whining. Sweet sweet bliss is this. How does one achieve this? Well, live across the street from the park. That is my secret.

A sweet neighbor boy seemingly planted into the brains of my easily encouraged children that they should have a picnic. Only, he's eating at his house, but never mind. My monkeys are still so jazzed to have a picnic that they begged and begged and refused to wait, making the pbj sandwiches themselves before I had even said yes. Unrelenting as they were, I set out to finish making their meal, complete with some grapes, bottom of the barrel chips and some (half) bottles of pop. And off I sent them, to the park, while the baby slept, then woke and ate, and I... smile... I enjoyed the quiet. Ahhhhh....

So this....

This view... that's how I spent my evening. They're all in there somewhere (George far to the right, Boots on the merry-go-round, girls to the left). They're having a blast, frolicking about and enjoying this gorgeous day where the temp topped out near 70 and the sun shined gloriously all day, and I'm happily monitoring them from a nice comfy chair. Hey, I was outside all day with them. And now mama gets a rest. :D

Note to self

After reading thru my last blog post, it seems a bit cuttingly sarcastic, moreso than possibly intended. It's still kinda funny though. But I think next time I'll not write while in the midst of "marital bliss". And by that I don't mean bliss at all. It's not code for making monkeys. It's what I sarcastically call spousal disagreements that may or may not last 2 days without speaking to one another (which, btw, isn't hard when one of the parties involved is on the road for work and sleeping during my waking hours. So it's not as bad as it seems. lol). ahem.

So, funny things kids say lately. Just cuz I have a few.

Boots' new favorite thing to say when he's mad is "I don't like dad." I'm not quite sure why he picks dad, who is probably his favorite person on the universe. But it's funny. And anything you say to him has that answer (unless you say the word candy, but I even tried it with ice cream and got the same). Do you want a sandwich? No, I don't like dad. Wanna go to the park? No, I don't like dad.

Funny kid. He's trying out lots of new words and frases.

Cheeks was bawling her head off the other night as she was getting into bed. I asked her what was wrong and she says, totally out of the blue, "I miss Schweetheart." Aw. Me too, girl. sigh.

Ok, gotta go. Huggyface is freaking out and having an actual tantrum that I'm not holding him. Yeah, tantrum. Kid throws his arms in the air and balls his fists and is clearly mad about whatever situation. Usually one involving me not holding him.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reasons to become a parent

This is from Monday, and so it wasn't even Mother's Day yet.
She did this all on her own at home while I was gone.

Love my girl. She can be sweet and thoughtful. Makes a mama-heart proud.

And dontcha just love how Kinders/early learners spell?

Which reminds me. I never showed you a "love" letter I got from George. *snort*
I'll have to find that one. It'll make ya laugh. Or, at least it did me.

"Feeling Overwhelmed?"... You think?

**Warning: Sarcasm laden and snarky attitude can be found prolifically in this post.

I am on a mailing list for Oprah's email newletter. I usually don't read them. (Sorry, Oprah). Mostly, I just don't have time to read every blasted thing that I stupidly signed up for, and often times it just doesn't fit for my life.

Today, I was caught by the headline and suckered in. "Feeling Overwhelmed? Ask Yourself These 12 Questions." Please notice, it did not say "What to do if you feel overwhelmed." Thing is, I already know I'm overwhelmed. Helloooooo! I have five children age 7 and under. I'm the very definition of overwhelmed. (and I'd like to blame it on my husband. This is all his fault. He did this to me. I had no part in it. Ok, I had some part in it. But it's easier just to blame him today. grin. And he never reads my blog, he's so supportive that way, so he'll never know. smirk.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. Oprah.

I read the article, and while most of it was totally not helpful, and didn't really pertain to me as a SAHM, I did like this quote:

Being busy or not busy is an interpretation of our activity. Busy-ness is a state of mind, not a fact. No matter how much or how little we're doing, we're always just doing what we're doing, simply living this one moment of our lives. –Norman Fischer*

Which is basically to say, that my feeling of being overwhelmed is all in my head. :P Yeah, I guess. It's a state of mind. What happens when you're losing yours? (And if you can answer that, please contact me. Thanks!)

So I get to the end of the article, and there are some suggestions on related articlesyou may like. Aw, thanks for the suggestions, Oprah. Cuz this one spoke to me: Five Ways To Get A Life. Gee thanks. (Please note the dripping snark and sarcasm here. And yet, there's truth to that need. sigh)

I got to this section and just about died laughing.
Avoid multitasking. Recent studies show that it can take the brain twice as long to process each thing it's working on when switching back and forth between activities. By learning to focus fully on one project at a time, you can regain the extra hour or two you crave. Just don't squander it on mundane chores!**
Really? Hello? I'm 1. a  woman, and 2. a mom. Multitasking is my life. However, this may explain why my brain isn't functioning properly, why I "think" I'm busy and overwhelmed, and why nothing ever gets finished, and why everything I do takes so stinking long. Of coarse it has NOTHING to do with 5 small children and a demanding spouse constantly interrupting me. Bwahahaha! Granted, multitasking is the reason I have burnt at least one piece of toast daily for the last 2 years. Getting a new toaster could help, but nevermind that. There's also the issue of that forgotten load of laundry that makes it's presence (still in the washing machine) known by the unsavory odor that fills the laundry room and kitchen. Because, see, if I just focused on getting that one load of laundry done, and just had the all other tasks wait (I mean, who needs to eat, and baby can sit in a poopy diaper for another hour and a half, right?) then that wouldn't happen.

The last line in that quote also killed me. Mundane chores. My life is filled with mundane chores. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be a mom and know I'm "priviledged" (not that it usually feels like it) to be able to stay home with my monkeys, but there's not a lot exciting about vacuuming, dishes, laundry, sweeping and picking up toys. So apparently, my life is squandered. Who knew?

And I'm REALLY interested in gaining back those one or two hours I crave that were lost by multitasking. Serious. I REALY am. I'd probably have to use them to do more mundane chores, though.

Now, to end that article on a very nice note, one of the last tips was this:
Break the habit of total self-reliance. Insisting on doing everything yourself burdens you and prevents others from feeling valuable and needed. Delegate more at home and at work, and free your time for things you love and excel at.**
Bwaaahhaaahhaaa... hahaaaahhaaaaahaha.... gasp gasp hahaha ahhahahahahaha  ahhaha O gosh, help me Rhonda. hahahahahahahah

Sorry. Just give me a moment to compose myself here.


Ok. Deep breath. I think I'm done... oh wait. hahaha... Ok. phew. Now. What was I saying?

I can pretty much guarantee you that King Kong in no. way. whatsofreeking ever feels prevented from feeling valuable and needed by my lack of, ahem, "delegating" my "mundane tasks." And that I insist that I do it all myself? haha. Yeah, right. I'm sure the new "Honey Do" list is going to be so. well. recieved. when he gets home, so that I can free up my time to read a magazine, take a nap, do my nails, or join a knitting circle. (You know, things I love and excel at. What are those again? Wait.. Who am I?)
Clearly, this article was not written for SAHmoms of many monkeys with Alpha Male spouses who would rather die than do a load of dishes. I feel I've won a war when he puts his own stinking laundry in the hamper (and not next to it). Apparently I didn't win the lottery of "husbands who are uber helpful." Tis life. I got over it a long time ago. (Or at least that's what I pretend.) But he goes to work, keeps food on the table, loves his kids with all his heart, changes the oil in my van at least once every couple years, has great home improvement skills and can figure out what he doesn't know by watching YouTube vids, and can paint the straightest line you've ever seen in your life freehanded - very helpful when painting corners next to the ceiling. So, it's not all bad.
All quotes, used without permission, can be found here: