- People whose child gave them an easy time with something are often the know-it-alls.
- People whose child gave them a difficult time with something are often the empathetic, sympathetic humble supports.
- When a child tells you "I dont wanna go potty in a potty", believe them. Whether *it* is going to end up in a diaper, in character emblazened undies, or on the floor is up to you.
- Many of the toddler issues that torment, terrify and frustrate the parents are resolved by age 4. By age 5 that number is almost 100%. Pacifiers, diapers, big kid bed, messy eating, odd sleep schedules, inability to use playground equipment without help, and so on. I think it is up to the parents to turn age 2 to 5 into a precious time or an anxious shameful time. (You'd think that some folks were actually angry they didnt give birth to little 6 year olds!)
- Being 34 is completely different than I thought it would be. I have to slow down and spare out my energy and really think before I commit to something. The bonus of this is much more enriching and meaningful experiences, albeit less activity and spontaneity. (I have no idea if this is 34 or if this is life with 5 kids)
- ONLY the caffeine in coffee works on me. I could drink 10 Cokes or 10 teas and go right to bed. (My ulcers come and go.)
- In more than just fashion and music ways, I am still living in the late '90's: Now it is children's television that has passed me by--where the hell are Teletubbies, Maisy, Miffy, Kipper, Little Bear, Little Bill, Boobah and Blues Clues with Steve not that horrible Joe?
- Take pictures and videos of your children. The more mundane, the better. This is not something you will get a second chance on.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Fast time from when the button is pressed to when the pic is snapped.
High quality results in most lighting.
Thats it. You all with the tiny dew drops on the frosty flowers and the fuzz on the newborn's cheeks---I can't not be a part of this anymore. My camera sucks!
I have the 1/2 bottle of Blue Mayhem left, but just have been not able to bring myself to color my hair deep dark blue right now. It seems so dark! So I have been contemplating a new spring timey-color that would be no problemo with purple (remember, I am coating it with color, not damaging it with bleaches or anything) when the idea of hot pink came to my mind. Well, tonight I popped into the naughty adult punk swear word bumper sticker drag queen shoes or whatever store in our town on my way walking to the tea house (I have to laugh at the snotty looks the little black leather teens who work there tried to give me in my hippie skirt and ratty chucks, 2 purple buns and a diaper bag/backpack with Sanrio wallet falling out alongside carrots, a pacifier, black pepper, and a GameBoy!!! Stupid teens! You'll have a purse like this someday if you apply yourselves! Now gimme my Cherry Bomb hairdye and nobody gets hurt! And for heaven's sake go wash your faces! Dirty little fools. Who would let their kid work in an S+M store? Just kidding...Kind of.)
So I am going to go hot hot pink. As soon as humanly possible--tomorrow? Pics of course to come.
- Monday: Homeschool day, little lessons I have come up with alongside some of our book stuff. (Sorry to be so vague, its been a weird year). For example, today we did varying age appropriate levels of learning and discussing our new phone number, address, and played post office, and the older kids worked on their blog as well as reading two chapters in our "Health" book--a cool kids book about how our bodies work. Steve worked 7 to 5, so we did our "4 O'Clock Clean Up", and I had dinner ready when he got home. After dinner the big kids cleared up and I nursed Eska and got out of there for Mama Go To The Teahouse Again (where I am right now!) I only stay out an hour or two and hopefully return to most kids all gone to beddy bye and a quiet sane scene. You never know though. Could be 3 littles screaming and 2 bigs covered in mud digging up bugs.
- Tuesday: Field Trip, Steve works 9 to 6, has guys over for gaming in the evening. (they are heavy into Euro-Games, which are mostly head-hurty board games about ancient wars and battles and taking over countries and kingdoms and such. Super intelligent stuff that I can't enjoy no matter how much of a super hotty geek wife I would be if only I could dig it. But I cannot. So they play. This is also a night we have been apt to get DelTaco, because they have 33 cent tacos on Tuesday nights---yum--dinner for 6, way under 10 bucks!
- Wednesday: Kinda the same as Monday, except we will do a "craft" during homeschool time. I can go out if I need, I have dinner ready nice n early, etc.
- Thursday: Steve works long, 9am to 8pm, so this one can be a doozy. We are planning on housecleaning in the morning so we dont have to all weekend as much and then going to the library and possible walking around our new town's vibrant downtown right after an early supper of "kid food". I am going to rent the older kids a nice movie from the library (wholesome, free...) so that everyone an be "in bed" (even if not asleep, out of the living room) for when Steve gets home for a little Mom and Dad Date Night involving some adult food--LOL--I dont know if this makes sense to all of my readers, but when you have babies, tots, picky vegetarians, etc, there becomes a time when one set of family gets Pokemon Macaroni and apples with fruit punch and another set gets Blackened Salmon and Red Wine. 'Nuff said.
- Friday: Starting this week, we are going to be participating, if not hosting, homeschool Park Day, as advertised (by me) on our county-wide homeschooling yahoo group message board. We are hoping to spend the entire afternoon in the company of cool families under a shady tree. this is more of an event for the moms than the kids, but I hope everyone enjoys their socialization! I have made the bold move of just announcing that this is an event, and that it shall occur at the park in front of my house. I have offered to anyone who would like to, to use our bathroom, fridge, whatnot since our park has no restroom. I am deciding on my ground rules right now, and might even post them on the front door and in the bathroom--because I will not allow this to become some thing where some kids want to sit in the air conditioning playing gameboys without any adults...or what if something seemed like it was "missing" and then there was weirdness...so I will need to define the rules and have them be known from day one. The good thing about the old homeschool park day tat was at a different park was that one of my *ahem* unnamed children who is not very outdoorsy would whine about being "tired" or "hot" and I could say oh, cut it out. Now with the lure of home right there, we are gonna have to discuss. But anyhow, for the rest of summer, weather permitting, Friday will be this.
- Saturday, every other one Steve works until 2 pm. On the ones where he is home, we will all go to Farmers Market. On the ones where he works, he might take them to a cheap-show movie. I am pretty burnt out by the Saturday he works.
- Sunday open and free, except for grocery shopping and prepping for the week aka making sure there are no laundry mountains, etc.
Well, thats it! Some things we want to work on are (for 12 years now!) Me AND Steve going out TOGETHER---wacky wacky I know, and how to balance the need for sleep with the need/want to hang out late without kids and hang out. Eska has been wrecking that lately, though, and I think the 3 bedroom house is going to be somewhat trickier than we thought, but only for a while. Where we have visions of a girls' bedroom, a boys' bedroom, and Mama and Daddy bedroom, (thus the design of the majority of houses) admittedly we are more like a jumble of semi-co-sleeping, camping out on couches, taking shifts, a crib and a playpen in our room....sigh. Probably shoulda bought that king sized bed or two back in '97, but now...I'd say less than a year from now Charlie will be a going-potty boy who sleeps in a bed, not a crib, and Eska will be in a crib of her own in Greta's room...but that eliminates late night TV watching, drawing, etc for Greta....
Well it will all work out. But thats a little slice o life from our family to yours right now. Please share what works/worked for you and yours?!
Friday, April 24, 2009
And sometimes i will follow up on these ideas, and thats when it all goes bad for me. The activity I so enjoyed, and so innocently felt great about suddenly gets replaced with doubt, worry, anxiety, stress over costs, and then the entire enjoyed activity can get so lost and trampled in the process that it can be in danger of being lost--either for a while or forever! What is this about? A big part of me LOVES the idea of being a borderline-smug DIY-er who is just happy as a little clam to paint chairs polka dots (with the wrong kind of paint, no doubt!) To make and create beautiful songs on the guitar without knowing a single name of a single chord, to be able to create fruit salads and rainbow soups without a recipe or even an ability to tell anyone else how to make it themselves, to piece together curtains and hairdos and outfits, breaking all the rules, or maybe accidentally stumbling upon some of them---
But heres the thing, and this is where I get a little confused--I am NOT trying to be eclectic for eclectics' sake. I am not trying to be funky coo-coo bird just to do so. I would love to take some of my skills to the next level, but some I dont want to, and even the thought of it makes me weary and annoyed. I am lucky (understatement) to live in the self published world of Blogger and Etsy and all of it, but what do I do about homeschool? Is it okay to really just do what we want?
Heres my example:
We will be cruising along with homeschooling, piecing together our fine and worldly and well rounded "curriculum" of workbooks and real books and trips and tales and tv and games and films and art and nature study and then someone will send out some links to some cutesy teaching website and I get totally freaked out. Should I click on 123Learn or ABCTeach or ElementaryFun or whatever? I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven if this stuff was available back when Greta was about 5 years old but now....I dunno. I dont like to be closed minded or staunch, but in my heart, I dont want to bother with that stuff. I have done it before, gotten all hyped up and printed out a gazillion little things and even paid a little money for subscriptions to little fun-n-games math type things, but....it just feels weird. but I dont want them to miss out on something that might be really cool! the internet is too big, I say.
I wonder what to make of this phenomenon, I am trying to *listen* to what it means; do I step all the way into living by my heart, or do I open my heart to new things? Or is joy's artsy stuff and the kids' education 2 different things altogether?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Well, it is Mama-go-out-night, and I am in a little tea-house. I was meaning to go to Starbucks, i know, i know, not very local business or whatnot, but I am hooked (line and sinker) to the "Espresso Truffle" (try one only if you enjoy bliss) and I kinds had that delicious chocolate taste in mind when i was out tonight...but i couldn't find parking to save my life and so here i am at a little tea house. It is precious in here. And the tea is lovely. They gave it to me in a fancy little double pot thing and i put honey in it. It doesn't taste anything like Lipton it tastes like plants or Earth or something. Gorgeous. I feel like I haven't ever had tea before and this was not one of the exotics, just "strong black" is what I asked for. yummmm. I am finding so many places around town that I wished I knew about when I was pregnant. I guess when you have had 5 babies in 11 years, almost everything in your mind is still about pregnancy. Do other multips feel this way, I wonder?
I got my tubes tied because for us, after this time, there was no more of that "maybe". Whatever a woman or a couple or a family's reasons are for doing something so permanent, we did not feel that until this last pregnancy. Some rude folks implied, implored us to do so way before 5 babies, but when we mulled it over for even one second, it was a "no". Not that we didnt get what they were saying---pregnancy is so hard on you, Joy, you guys dont have money, what about the time devoted to each child, what about the earth, arent you looking forward to no more diapers/strollers/sleep deprivation/kids hangin off yer tit....it was a "no" for me and my husband until this last time. and then, before we had any inkling that within 2 hours postpartum things would start to spiral downward for me, we knew we were done. and it was ok. I truly couldnt do it again, truly.
the last 2 months of my pregnancy were a blur of such darkness and fear, such pain and chaos, it just couldnt happen again. All those logical other reasons, all that whaddabout college tuitions, still didnt play in, it was about the sheer fact that I was DONE. I cried everyday from the pain and worry, and at that point, as insensitive, ignorant, ungrateful as it may sound now, the healthy baby to come became less and less relevant as just getting through the day, the morning, breakfast had become.
So, now you know. I am neither sad nor happy. I repeat. I am neither sad nor happy. I have meditated, contemplated, and mostly, just waited--for the feelings to come. To be honest, I mostly expected a horrifying regret to seep in, and I feared I would have exactly zero sympathetic shoulders to cry on--but it hasn't happened. I have felt tremendously private and protective of my/our decision, and I have felt the need to not talk about it to too many people until I was ready--because I did know this: I was not ready to hear "ARENT YOU GLAD??? OH GOOD! FOR GODS SAKE I WOULD HOPE SO!"....and on the same token, but the other side, i was not ready to hear or deal with "I COULD NEVER DO THAT! ARENT YOU SAD? DON'T YOU FEEL LIKE AN INFERTILE WEIRD ASEXUAL NEUTERED GENDERLESS CREATURE NOW? HOW COULD YOU MESS WITH GOD'S PLAN?..." etc.
And now? today in this fancy little tea-house? I feel peace. and I feel mending. (The word Healing has almost lost all meaning it is just so overused as to be a bit of a turn off for me at this point) but I do feel mending. I feel the tea and its strange alive texture, smell and golden hopeful color mending me. I see the weak but promising sunset poking its little face in and out of the rain clouds now (it was raining when I straggled in here) and I know it has alot of resting up to do for tomorrow-- it is supposed to be EIGHTY degrees! Today there was freezing rain!---and I feel Earth mending after a very very harsh winter. We are all mending.
For months and months after the c section, indeed well past the point where I could feel much understanding/empathetic feedback, my body was just shot. Shot shot, chewed up and poorly taped back together, bent and stiff and sting-ie and quite hobbled. When I would try to do stuff, wear a baby sling, hang decorations, lift things, I would feel the ripping and the shooting/tearing pains, and I would know that the next day would find me in my quilt, in my old green chair, strapping back on my hospital-issue abdominal binder that was now too big to serve it purpose, gulping down ibuprofens like they were altoids....smiling politely at the well meaning people's suggestions of yoga classes, core conditioning videotapes, expensive herbs, but knowing it would just take time--more time than *so-and-so* took to feel grrrrr-eat again. More time than the books said. More time than the doctor said (Ha!). More time than I would have ever, ever agreed to do an elective cesarean in hindsight than. MY time. and then, it happened. Slooooooooooooowly. So, so slowly.
What happened? I began to feel that the things I would do that were strenuous in some way, went from damaging to strengthening. Finally! Finally! Finally! (This was NOT, however, some cutesy little mind-over-matter thing. I tried all that. It landed me in the green chair, belly stinging, guts falling down and out, hobbled and defeated. again and again.) It just took many, many months. But now, when I walk far, when I carry stuff, when I adjust my posture before lifting double jogging strollers over my head and into the back of the giant van, I feel like a mom, a mighty woman, an athlete, lifting weights. Fibers lining up, not shredding. Its very cool.
I kind of know why my recovery has been so slow, and some of it is a mystery, why I had such a hard time when others just do not. I had five full term babies, three of them 9ish pounds, one 11, and one 12. With three c sections in a little under 8 years, and not one single solitary "getting back in shape" episode. Nope, not one. I also was never able to obtain that elusive babymoon or get all that help they recommend in the pamphlets, so that hurt, too.
Well, my tea is cold and my meter is running out. I will definitely be back here, enjoy the unseasonably hot weather, any and all of you whom this will effect in the upcoming days!
Exhausted but in a good way, once we got home. Eska was unusually fussy at the mall...she has never been to one and didnt appreciate it. Didnt care about the fishies or the ducks or any of it. She wants to nurse and crawl around the living room, thank you very much. All other activities have become suspect, even our old haunts such as the library. she bucks in the sling like its crushing her, so I take her out and she bucks in my arms like she wants to go on the floor then if I do or can put her on the floor, she cries to be picked up. Then if I pick her up, she bucks and twists so hard to get down that i have sore aching hands and wrists....so the safety of the living room floor with the 2 baby gates and the familiar toys might be where its at right now, mostly. She also only likes the stroller if I can walk very fast, non stop. Thats ok!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Perfect timing for me!
Off to the nature center, its about 50 degrees! Woohoo!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
(I DO have drafts about family size and stuff...but Im still too--I dunno--not ready for this subject, not strong enough to hear the real ugly stuff....there was an article in the New York Times website that had HUNDREDS of people talking about how disgusting "large families" were--and the divide was almost exclusively religious folk who "let God decide" and single professionals who think no kids or maybe one is more than enough....the whole thing, the comments, were so so so ugly and hateful and extreme and it hit me hard, I was surprised at the voracity of the comments and I felt utterly unable to come up with anything cool or bold or different to say and hat scared me, what was wrong with my brain, where did Soapbox Joy go and who is this cowering crybaby? etc....anyhow....comment or not.....g'nite)
ps I currently have someone in my life who seems to really really insist that we talk about "Octo-Mom" every time we speak and the conversation is rife with not very subtle insults about the horrible people who want more than 2 kids and I am just grrrrrrrrrrrrr tired of it all.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I love to draw, can express myself better through simple drawings better than writing, and so have always appreciated her adorable insightful mothering comics she does so well.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Now before you get all nervous and squirmy and start clinging defensively to your sons' wooden nesting dolls or your daughters' robo-technics building kit, please know that this is still a well intentioned idea, and that kids now more than ever need and deserve a safe sane environment to get a mental break from the extraordinarily hyper-sexualized, stereotype limited toys and movies that are in the mainstream. SO DONT GIVE UP ! .....just dont be surprised if it doesnt do as much as you may have anticipated.....
I have been hard pressed to find ANY commercials on tv that are for Slinkys, Legos, Playdoh....and the ads I have seen show boys only playing with boys and racing and aggression and girls playing only with girls and collecting and adorning pastel animals....I tried and still do try to not allow any of that yucky gimmicky commercial stuff in the house, and frequently point out to the kids why that stuff is not cool....and I really do think that alot of parents, at least in the younger years, do somehow manage to find their kid stuff like wagons and fingerpaint and bowling sets and teddy bears and nesting blocks, and then the kids really do just show a preference for stuff and if youve got a little gun kid he/she will play powpowpow with an organic banana, right in front of Grandma......and if youve got a lovey dovey nurturer, he/she will cuddle and pretend to breastfeed a can of soup, right in front of everyone in the grocery store, shirt lifted.
And this is what I really wanted to mention---Eska, at ten months old today (Happy Bday angel!) crawls and digs her way through 5 kids' lifetimes of toys collections, and scrounges until she finds anything that resembles a kitty or a baby and just coos and giggles and beams at it--even hugging it, no matter how tattered tiny or old, if she thinks she has found a kitty or a baby or anything with a face on it, she just goes into coo-ey cuddle mode! She stares at it and says "Naaaaa....Naaaaa" and even lays on top of it, smiling.
I havent seen that behavior since.....baby Greta!
Also, the difference between Eska and the boys at that age, but that Greta did, is that she stays by me. The boys seemed hell bent on mobility for the sake of going far away. I can crawl now, BYE BYE! It isnt that she is clingy fearful or shy, its that she is oriented towards people, and really does sit there and hang out with you. She wants to be by you, playing with and examining little dollys (we hardly have any dolls, per se, guess Ill have to get some, but she has found the little felt-folks from our doll house and Lego people and stuffed animals) and chewing them, and coming up to you and patting you and singing little songs "Dadada-Babababa-Mamamamama-Yayayaya" and making proclamations while showing you her little spitty doll "A-Ba!" "A-Ba!".
She does not want to disassemble the VCR, take plug covers out of the sockets, climb the baby gate, pry the door open, or do any type of destruction--ahem--curious hows-it-made stuff. My past three babies (BOYS) sure did. If Eska sees a fine tower of blocks, she doesnt instantly smash it.
And as much as I love and adore my boys, I am not a boy, and dealing with their ways has been a big challenge for me. It is so clear to me now more than ever why boys have so much trouble in elementary school, and how girl oriented the idea of sit still and produce fine-motor-creations to please the nice teacher----that just is all so contrary to everything (my/many) boys are into. When the sitting is torture, the hands arent ready for the writing, and you cant sit still for more than 5 minutes and pleasing the grown up just isnt tops on your list, where is the hope for "success"?
Greta liked nothing more than to color. She would sit with me at like age 18 months until--well, we still do it--and we'd just chat and have a nice little dish of cookies and color and talk. Contrast that with the sweating, disheveled lunatic that being the mother of a boy from age 6 months until--well we still do it---and you find a very humbled psych student who is the proud Mama of 2 girls, three boys, and for whom the real differences are a source of smiles, tears, and a grimace for the know it all that I used to be, but also learning everyday.
I do know some wild, wild, WILD little girls, ones you cant even say Hi to without them bucking out of your arms and up onto the refrigerator. I also know some gentle, people oriented little boys, who really do want to sip the tea and do Beatrix Potter coloring sheets and converse at length. But for my kids, raised by 2 parents and homeschooled with very strict access to tv and movies, there is still a big big difference in how they move, how they play with the exact same toys, and what they do with their mobility skills as they grow. As babies, the girls are quite chilled out, into cute stuff that is cuddly, and seem very oriented towards interacting with me and showing me little things and staying nearby. As babies the boys cried and cried and cried, and I have videotape to prove it,it was an angry cry not a sad plaintive cry, were very into getting far far away, climbing, and touching and breaking every and any thing in the room that was not for them and generally wild and very very difficult to take places due to destruction, running away, and complete inabilty to "get" that "we dont do that here" (Library, Grocery store, etc)
I LOVE my children, I LOVE my boys so so so so so much, please dont get me wrong. They are so hilarious and adorable and life-filled and sparkly and great, they are just so great and so free. But its physical work, and emotional work--the actual keeping of them can be outrageously exhausting, (and remember mine were BIG, big boys, all over 20 pounds by THREE months old -- the size of little rosebud Eska now) and emotionally, its alot of helping them to "get" the social cues that I completely took for granted when raising Greta, the little stuff like thinking about others, and how-do-you-think-that-makes-so-and-so-feel, its just different. I have tried to read those books about raising boys but they creep me out and upset me, seem very anti-wholistic and just seem to hyper scrutinize everything to the point where I get paranoid and fearful and thats when I throw the books down and love my child, just hold them and kiss them in the middle of the living room, in all their dissasembled electronics and their plain pasta and their it hurts when you wash my hair and their refusal to wear chapstick and their legos and their dominos and they are my dear babies, my huge dear babies and maybe none of the other stuff matters. But it is harder than raising girls. so far. for me. For us.
As theyve gotten older, its amazing to see how their babyish ways have changed into very interesting and diverse interests---I look forward to writing about this soon!
Any one out there wish to share their adventures, myths and truths about raising a boy or a girl or many of them? Did you, like me, "know it all" until you actually had one of your own?
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Saturday was better, even though Steve had to work, when he got home he took the less sick kids out to get me a present--and they got me great ones! A huge box of assorted dark chocolates (YUM DARK CHOCOLATE) and a cord to hook my electric guitar up to my amp. And 8 cool picks to play the guitar with. And new strings to re-string the guitar! SO COOL!
I am not really in a position to be playing guitar right now too much, but the idea that it is there for me makes me feel great. They also baked me a cake and it was really, really good. Darkest chocolate with darkest chocolate frosting. We ate in in a day. I miss it and want it to come back!
The antibiotics are helping the kids alot but they are still weak coughing and cross. It also has been SNOWY so thats normal but rather limits taking the sickies on a little sunny walk.
I have like 6 things in "drafts"--not like me. I dont know if my hesitance is some kind of maturing thing where I think before I speak or more insecurity/feeling like my story(ie)s are going to upset or offend, blabla.
Anyhow at least a health update: I took the 3 youngest kids to the doctor last Friday and Charlie and Casey had double ear infections, and Eska had some inconclusive blood work and chest xrays and Casey had "pneumonia sounds a little bit" in his lungs and they are all on Amoxicillin. They started getting better in about a day and a half, meaning going from high pitched crying and hacking and choking all night with Steve and I camped out taking shifts and noone sleeping to just some kids with productive coughs and clear sniffles. Phew.
Where I was already saying that it was going to take alot of time for us to heal from the past years' stresses, now it is going to take even longer. Like, I am not going to bust us all out to some giant daytrip as soon as we are better. We are going to, like, go out in the back yard for 15 minutes. thats how weak and pale and tired and wiped out we are. WHEN it is really summer and we are really partying and diving into pools and covered in strawberries and barbecue sauce, it will be SUCH a victory and wonderful!
I am still in my deep thoughts mode, savoring the moments and reading and such. Letting go of past hurts, learning new ways of living, forgiving myself and my husband for parenting errors and mess ups and trying, so hard, to just look forward and not wallow in regrets and guilt. Sorry to be so shady and mysterious, basically we feel we "used to be so nice and happy and now are so mean and angry" and the time lines of all this nostalgia is vague. It doesnt matter WHEN or WHY life turned really stressful, but we are really really trying to get on top of it all.
I went and visited my old job, the Detroit Curling Club (I was bartender there last year) and even though I felt shy and weird going in there were alot of people who were like "JOY!!!! OMG HI!!!!" and that was so so so cool. I want my job back in the fall and I plan to make it happen somehow. I loved it and this time I wont be pregnant so all the nausea, exhaustion, horrifying smells and guilt about the chips and soda and heavy lifting and so forth would be gone as well! Getting out of the house, talking to adults, driving and listening to NPR, Sonic Youth, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sports Talk radio, wearing makeup and outfits.....and yeah making money too---so awesome! They better take me back.